14th - 27th February 2014
Vol. 78. Issue 1444. www.redbrick.me
Leading Academics Condemn Student Suspensions "These suspensions are at odds with freedom of speech and the right to protest"
News / Page 3
Study Drugs: are you popping? Charlie Moloney investigates the students taking Ritalin in an effort to focus during revision
Comment / Page 7
Claire Burling on her Erasmus year in Strasbourg
Roanna Burt reviews the latest shows from Scandinavia
Matt Moody reviews Klaxons' brand new single
Jacob Ingram discusses 2014's upcoming movie releases
Travel / Page 16
Television / Page 18
Music / Page 21
Film / Page 14
14th - 27th February 2013
News Tweet of the Week
The Autism Play Project The Play Project is a chance for students to involve themselves in interactive play sessions focused on improving the communication and social skills of autistic children. The children are able to have have fun in a safe environment, engaging with others through games and activities. An enhanced DBS as well as child protection trainng will be needed to work with the children. For more details - email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or visit http://www.guildofstudents.com/volunteering
Online in Redbrick News
Birmingham Mosque Stabbing Read more details on the arrest of 32 year old Mohamoud Elmi, who was arrested in conjunction with multiple stabbings of two worshippers and a police constable in the Madrassa Qasim Ul Uloom Centre Mosque.
Launch of Murder Inquiry Over Missing Woman Police are seeking information regarding the disappearence of Lisa Bennett, 39, in the summer of 2013. For further information or contact details, visit our website. See more at http://www.redbrick.me/ news/
Photo of the Week: 'Austria' Katrin Busch
'Mermaid Pride' Charlotte Wilson
Redbrick Editorial Team Editor Josh Holder firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment Editors Julia Bayer Charlie Moloney Jonathan Simpson
Multimedia Editors Molly Garfoot Julia Yan Max Powley
Deputy Editors Charley Ross James Phillips email@example.com
Sport Editors Alex Kronenberg Tom Kelly David Morris firstname.lastname@example.org
Arts Editors Katherine Keegan Stuart Found Benjamin Carver email@example.com
Life&Style Editors Marianne Lampon Victoria Haworth Alexandra Landes firstname.lastname@example.org
Film Editors Becky McCarthy Tom Lofkin Ben Jackson email@example.com
Digital Editor Ashley Kirk firstname.lastname@example.org News Editors Izi Hicks Adam Rowe Sabrina Dougall Vanessa Browne email@example.com Crossword Editors Matthew Robinson Thomas Hutchinson
Music Editors Ludo Cinelli Susie Dickey Sam Dix firstname.lastname@example.org
Travel Editors Hannah Stevens Elizabeth Waind Tamara Silver email@example.com
Television Editors Hannah Mason Daisy Follett Rochelle Stanley firstname.lastname@example.org
Food Editors Gemma Bridge Lynette Dakin Millie Walker email@example.com
Sci&Tech Editors Soumya Perinparajah Claire Harris George Bearman firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography Editors Charlotte Wilson Emily Hickey-Mason email@example.com
Senior Editorial Assistant Isabel Mason Editorial Assistants Molly Garfoot Bethany Tilston Ellie Jarvis Ella Parsons Toria Brook-Hill Michael Smith Lucy Moseley Emily Trivette
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Internationally acclaimed academics voice anger over suspensions Adam Rowe
Online News Editor @adamrowe93 Noam Chomsky, an American academic voted as the ‘world’s top public intellectual’, has added his name, amongst other leading academics, to an open letter published by the Guardian which criticises the University of Birmingham for being ‘at odds with freedom of speech’ after 13 students were arrested and suspended from university. Another signatory is the Secretary of State for International Development, as well as Birmingham MP Clare Short who said that ‘These suspensions are at odds with freedom of speech and the right to protest, setting a threatening precedent for how dissent is dealt with on campuses across the country. We condemn these suspensions in the strongest terms and call for the immediate reinstatement of the students affected.’ Deborah Hermann, a University of Birmingham student and one of the 13 that were arrested told the Guardian that ‘the repression of the protest shows why the protest is so important’. ‘It is unjust, I have been treated very unfairly. I know the university doesn't care about me, they just want to intimidate students. They try to stop any kind of protest. Anything we do, they call it illegitimate. Instead, they have just repressed us. In 1968, students occupied the same Great Hall as us. It was emotional, but incredibly frustrating to be there doing the same. Then the police came. It is clear the university
doesn't care about our opinions whatsoever.’ Edd Bauer, former Vice-President (Education) at the Guild and current campaigner with the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, also told the newspaper ‘The university is telling people not to protest and threatening them. Their message is that anyone who wants to protest, anyone who wants to occupy buildings, ‘We will have you arrested, we will suspend you and cut
"We will have you arrested, we will suspend you and cut you off fro education"
you off from education’. The University has said that there are a ‘variety of ways’ that students can voice their concerns. The spokesperson also said that ‘Whilst peaceful protest is part of university life, the university will not tolerate behaviour that causes harm to individuals, damage to property or significant disruption to our university community.’ The open letter is in response to the 13 arrests made on 30th January after a Defend Education protest resulted in a banner being dropped from the top of Old Joe, after the Clocktower was broken into. The police were called after the protesters caused criminal damage and a smoke grenade was thrown at University security.
‘Abusive’ Guild Facebook Group Closed Down
Sabrina Dougall News Editor
The Guild Development Forum, an open group on Facebook, has been deleted after a vote was passed in the Guild Council meeting on 30th January. The group, which had around 400 members, had been deemed ineffectual in terms of policy development, as well as a hotbed for arguments and ‘personal’ remarks.
"hotbed for arguments and 'personal' remarks" The Facebook group had been set up as an online forum for debate and discussion of Guild policy ideas, in hopes that students and Sabbatical Officers could engage in profitable discussion of free and fair political debate. ‘There were very strong opposing views [on the Facebook group] – which is good,’ explained Thomas Wragg, Vice President for Democracy and Resources. However, he went on to admit that some of the comments were ‘getting quite personal.’
The group had been set up with specific guidelines regarding discrimination. However, as time went on, these rules were adhered to less and less. The online forum, which had a skull as its Facebook icon, became notorious for its heated discussion. Disabled Students Officer Ellis Palmer and Women’s Officer Mae Rohani were among the six people who liked the post on Facebook stating that the group was being deleted as per the Guild Council mandate. In an interview with Redbrick, Wragg argued that the Guild Development Forum had been ‘useful’ as a place where students could occasionally receive updates on the progress of their enquiries to Guild Officers. On the other hand, Wragg also pointed out that there are particular demographics of students who were not being reached through the Facebook group, such as international, postgraduate and mature students. He added that these are ‘students who are normally hard to reach anyway,’ underlining the flaws of using social media to engage students in Guild politics. The termination of the Facebook group raises questions surrounding the future use of online resources in communication between the Guild and the student body. As part of this, Wragg went on to ex-
plain that the Guild is currently undergoing a Democratic Structures Review since September 2013. This was set up with the aim of analysing the ways in which students are participating in university politics through the Guild. As part of the review, ideas are being developed surrounding an effective way to feed back discussion of students’ ideas to improve university life. ‘During the Democratic Structures Review, we’ve been looking at how people discuss stuff online, how people bring ideas in, how people ask questions of officers and know what they’ve answered,’ said Wragg. He pointed to findings from the Student Life Survey which took place last semester. Analysis of the responses from 3600 UoB students has shown that students would prefer to have their say in face-to-face general meetings. The second most popular response that stu-
"However, as time went on, these rules were adhered to less and less" dents gave expressed a desire to affect change in Guild policy via the internet. ‘We are look-
ing at the potential of how students engage online,’ Wragg said. Wragg suggested that a moderated ‘mobile-optimized system’ on the Guild’s website would be a more viable long-term platform for profitable student discussion than the de-
"it's pointless and we should get rid of it" funct Guild Development Forum. This would enable students to post policy ideas up online, with others able to vote up or down. Under this potential system, popular suggestions would then proceed to a deliberative forum. ‘If people see stuff changing, if people see others being listened to, and an opportunity to put their idea in, then hopefully they’ll grab it.’ A full report on the findings of the Student Life Survey is yet to be published by the Guild. Guild Councillor Frankie Greenwell was adament that the Guild Develpment Forum had 'degenerated into abuse, name-calling and downright meanness' and that 'nothing of use has been discussed in that forum for... a year and a half... it's pointless and we should get rid of it.'
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Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture
Online News Editor
On Tuesday 11th February, Vice-Chancellor Professor David Eastwood presented himself in an academic capacity, as opposed to his managerial capacity. Eastwood has caused much controversy over the past six months due to his salary increase to £400,000 which many argue could be cut in order to pay other staff the living wage. Eastwood has an MA in History and a DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy) from Oxford. Eastwood’s academic specialism is 18th and 19th Century British history and his distinguished lecture was titled ‘The British State: Past, Present and Future’. The lecture, given in the Elgar Music Hall, focused on the history of the British state from the medieval period to the future of the United Kingdom, including the Scots
referendum happening later this year on whether Scotland should be independent from the UK. However, after Eastwood’s welcome by another member of staff, the Vice-Chancellor was about to begin his speech when a member of Defend Education interrupted before Eastwood spoke one word. Due to an already high security presence, the activist was forced out of the Music Hall, after a member of the audience shouted. ‘sit down!’. After the activist was removed, another stood up and attempted to unfold a Defend Education banner onto the stage. There were approximately another five students who stood up and attempted to interrupt, these students were promptly removed by security. In the meantime, Eastwood walked off the stage and waited at the side. The lecture then carried on, after a short apology by a university official, Eastwood made no personal comment.
University of Birmingham launches policy commission report Ella Cohen
News Reporter The University of Birmingham launched its report in Parliament on Monday 3rd February on a commission entitled Healthy Ageing in the 21st Century: The best is yet to come. The commission itself is headed by Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice for the Care Quality Commission. The report comes as the Care Bill 2013/14 nears its third reading in the House of Lords. The University had been undertaking research about how best to define ‘good’ ageing and what ‘good ageing’ looks like in today’s multicultural societies, using the ‘super-diverse’ city of Birmingham as its case study. To conduct the research, the commission’s consultation groups looked at people’s views on ageing, in what situations they felt ‘old’, and what this meant in relation to their identity and culture. Overall, it concluded that different cultures think about ageing in different
ways, and these differences cannot always be understood in our society. The report also emphasised the importance of evening out economic inequalities amongst the youth to prevent the rich-poor divide from impacting the ageing process. The report has recommended that policy-makers recognise and accommodate super-diversity when creating policies that concern the ageing population, stressing the importance of ‘cultural sensitivity’ when planning services for older people. It also highlighted the importance of ensuring older people have a ‘louder voice’ in their environments and local communities, suggesting the creation of the post of Commissioner for Older People in England. Vice Chancellor David Eastwood introduced the panel. Speakers on the panel included University of Birmingham academics Prof Heather Draper, Professor of Biomedical Ethics and Professor Jean McHale, Prof of Health Care Law, Director of the Centre for Health Law, Science and Policy.
Birmingham student runs for NUS James Phillips Deputy Editor
A University of Birmingham student has been nominated for the position of Vice President of Welfare for the National Union of Students. Kelly Rogers, an International Relations and Political Science student, is set to run against three other candidates: incumbent, Colum McGuire; MidKent College Student, Charlotte Bennett; and Re-Open Nominations. Rogers is one of the five students currently temporarily suspended by the University following the Defend Education national demonstration last month. However, as elections to the NUS require candidates to be registered students or elected student union officers, this suspension may affect her candidacy. The NUS is expected to make
a decision about Kelly’s eligibility by Wednesday 19th. Kelly said 'I am running for the VP Welfare position primarily to use it as a platform to condemn the inaction...in the face of increasing repression on university campuses.' Additionally, in her manifesto, Rogers emphasises her belief that the NUS should not 'betray students' and states 'my union failed me' in reference to the Guild’s statement on the protest. She says that she has been declared 'guilty until proven innocent' by the University’s decision to suspend her. If elected at the conference in April, Kelly will take on the full-time position of representing 7 million students across the UK on issues including housing, money, health and faith. University of Birmingham students will be represented at the conference by Poppy Wilkinson and the eight delegates elected in November.
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New Street shortlisted for MIPIM Award City train station could win an urban regeneration award from world's biggest property trade fair in Cannes, France next month Melissa Woollaston News Reporter
Birmingham New Street Station is one of 28 finalists nominated for a prestigious award for exceptional urban regeneration. The awards ceremony will be held on 14th March, and the prize will be given to the project with the most public votes on the MIPIM website. MIPIM is the largest property trade fair in the world, held annually in Cannes, France. The nomination comes just weeks after the station was announced as the worst station in the UK by Passenger Focus. Birmingham New Street Station is in the process of a £600m regeneration that began in 2010. As well as developing modern and accessible station facilities, the redevelopment will include a new Grand Central Birmingham shopping centre to replace the closed ‘Pallasades Centre’, as well as a John Lewis department store. The project is due for completion in Spring 2015 and will create an estimated 1,000 jobs. Sir Albert Bore, Birmingham City Council Leader, praised the redevelopment project in the Birmingham Mail: ‘The transformation of Birmingham New Street, alongside Grand Central, will deliver not only a transport, shopping and community hub in the heart of our city and a gate-
way to the wider region. Reaching the finals, pitched against some of the most prestigious projects in the world, is testament to our ambition as a city and I would urge people to vote and make our station a truly international people’s choice.’ Psychology student Anna Kubinski, 20, commutes to The University of Birmingham most weekdays via Birmingham New Street Station. She explained to Redbrick how the regeneration process has affected her commute: ‘Train departure platforms are continually being changed last minute due to building progression or a rush of delayed trains and at the moment the station is not big enough to accommodate such a large number of people at the same time.’ Nonetheless, Kubinski told Redbrick that she believes the finished product will be worthy of the award: ‘The new development is a good investment for Birmingham, being one of the busiest stations in the UK, and improved facilities for commuters is definitely a bonus with much more extra seating, coffee and food shops. I do believe it should receive the MIPIM award for making travelling a little bit easier. The development also offers many more help points which are very useful for train-related information.’ Voting is open to the public online until 7th March.
Dunlop factory moves out of the city Melissa Woollaston News Reporter
Goodyear Dunlop Ltd is set to close its Dunlop Motorsport tyre factory in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, resulting in a potential 241 job losses. The decision to shift production abroad has been condemned by governmental figures, including Prime Minister David Cameron. Jaguar Land Rover purchased the lease on the tyre factory last May, and production is expected to cease this May in preparation for the closure of the plant on 1st September. Dunlop plan to shift production abroad, possibly to France or Germany. This announcement closely follows a meeting between Dunlop and several promi-
nent figures including Business Secretary Vince Cable, trade union representatives, local MPs and Birmingham City Council members to discuss the possibility of relocation within Birmingham for the final time. Dunlop declined the three candidate factories proposed, along with the offer of a financial reimbursement package. Prime Minister David Cameron pledged his commitment to obstructing the move away from Birmingham during Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday, at the request of Erdington MP Jack Dromey. Cameron stated, ‘The recovery of the automotive sector, particularly in the West Midlands . . . has been hugely welcome for our country. Dunlop is a historic name and a historic brand, and I’ll certainly do everything I can to work with the Business Secretary and him to get a good outcome.’
However, Dunlop marketing communications officer James Bailey insisted that the firm had no alternative but to shift production elsewhere. He told the BBC, ‘The challenge that we have is within the timescale
"A historic name and a historic brand" that we have, to move a very complex manufacturing process to a newly-built factory is simply not possible.’ Dunlop is the latest in a wave of companies to end Birmingham-based production in recent years. In 2005, car manufacturer MG Rover closed its Longbridge headquarters after going into administration, resulting in around 6,000 redundancies. The manufacture of iconic Midlands brand HP Sauce
shifted from Aston to the Netherlands in 2005, causing 125 job losses. Last April, Premier Foods closed its Hovis bread factory in Garretts Green after 50 years, causing 610 redundancies. The news comes ahead of the upcoming Birmingham Day exhibition, to be held in The House of Commons next month. Hosted by three local MPs, including Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart, the exhibition on 5th March will be a governmental showcase of the economic contributions of Birmingham and the greater West Midlands area. Speakers will include Andy Street, chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and John Lewis Managing Director, and Cllr Sir Alan Bore. The first Birmingham Day was held last October and saw the attendance of speakers, MPs, businessmen and journalists.
Attacks on NHS staff continue to rise Tara Dein
Figures from around Birmingham, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Dudley have highlighted the high number of physical attacks on NHS staff, which show a rise in the last 12 months. According to data from NHS protect (an organization seeking to ensure the safety of staff), there were 2,215 reported incidents of physical assault, a five percent increase across the region. These numbers continue to raise concern, due to the fact that out of 60,000 attacks reported nationally, only 1,459 offenders received criminal sanctions. As shown in the release of new statistics, it was Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS foundation trust that had the highest ratio of attacks in the region, with 317 per
1,000 members of staff. In addition to this, there were seven attacks at Birmingham Women’s Hospital foundation trust, the highest recorded figure since 2005. Health bosses have voiced concern at the rising number of assaults in the West Midlands which have been described as ‘unacceptable.’ Nationally, the total number of attacks exceeded 60,000 for the first time in eight years. However, despite the general rise across the West Midland regions. Queen Elizabeth and Selly Oak hospitals saw a drop in reported assaults, from 89 to 72 in the last 12 months. This is relatively low compared with other, similar hospitals in the region. The rise in attacks may be a consequence of the increased pressure on NHS staff, with the service suffering a £20 billion budget cuts in the new government scheme.
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Comment "It would give me an unwanted altertness and twitchiness for hours" Second Year PPE Student: 'I first came across Ritalin at uni when a housemate brought over a few dozen strips of them back from Africa to sell to fellow students. I had obviously heard about it being used in America to help kids with concentration so it seemed worth a try when it came to exam season. At first I found it really helpful, as it would prolong my concentration span enormously, but I soon found it would give me an unwanted alertness for hours after finishing revision. I decided to not (as many have) experiment with it in exam conditions, as I worried it would distrupt my mental process.'
Comment On Campus: Study Drugs
"One of my friends failed an exam because of it" First Year Music Student: 'I have ADHD, so I've used Ritalin since GCSEs. Originally I didn't think that I was going to be able to go to university, I thought that I might do a vocational course. But Ritalin is fantastic, I could focus completely and it helped me get through GCSEs and A levels. I haven't found any negative side effects of it. Although saying that one of my friends failed an exam because of it. He thought he had done really well in the test, so when he failed he asked for the script back. When he looked at it he saw that he had written the same sentence over and over again for pages.'
"All of my friends who do it are the ones who are getting straight firsts" Third Year English Student: 'I have a lot of friends who take Ritalin, or Modafinil, I'm not sure. I always thought that people who take Ritalin don't really get good grades, but from the people I know who take it, they all do really well. Although they say that sometimes it does backfire. One of my mates who broke up with his girlfriend was revising when he suddenly saw her walk past. After that he was still really focused, but he could only focus on her for about six hours. I don't think you can control it perfectly...I would never do it personally.'
Ritalin, Modafinil, even Speed. When degrees get hard and the will to go on gets low, some students take the plunge into the world of stimulant drugs. Coffee, though still being a staple in the diet of a busy stuent, just doesn't seem to cut it anymore, as more students turn to stronger chemicals to keep going. Despite a lack of real evidence, most people have a sense that ‘study drugs’ are happening behind the scenes. A spokesman for UK universities, an organisation representing Vice Chancellors, said that ‘we are not aware of any new research or data to suggest that such drugs are widely used and available among the UK’s higher education student population’. There have been attempts at exploring the seemingly growing craze for, what the Daily Mail has called, ‘Brain Viagra’. Susan Watts, running an investigation for Newsnight, found 761 people responding to a questionnaire about prescription drugs, with 38% saying that they had tried prescription drugs so that they could work harder. Unsurprisingly, many of these were students. With the rise in graduate unemployment rates and tuition fees, its easy to see why students feel that they need to achieve the best grades they can in their degrees. In a recent inquiry by Sky News, one student at Oxford claimed up to one in four students had taken Modafinil. A survey
14 said they had heard of Ritalin/Modafinil
64% of those who had heard of study drugs would not try them 29% of those who had heard of study drugs said they would try them 7% of those who had heard of study drugs said they had tried them
You're Not on Study Drugs? Good! Charlie Moloney
22 said they had never heard of Ritalin or Modafinil
by the Cambridge student paper, Varsity, found that 10 per cent of students there admitted taking study drugs. Despite the studies that have been carried out, nobody really knows the extent of the craze at universities. In my own study, I found only one person who was willing to admit to having done a study drug. It’s easy to understand why people keep their pilly habits under the radar. Ritalin is a class-B drug, and possession can land you in jail for up to five years. However, much anecdotal evidence exists. Tom Newham, blogging for the Guardian, described his encounters with the study drug Modafinil. He says ‘They certainly work. While I was dozing off, bored senseless by revision, my mates were more focused than a Buddhist monk midmeditation’. Many of the people who I interviewed told me stories of that person on their course they heard of who was up for 20 hours on their dissertation, or that fresher who took four or five ritalins as a substitute for MDMA. I was relieved by the results of my survey. Having researched study drugs, I would never try them. Professor Barbara Sahakian, a leading neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge has said ‘At present there are no long-term safety studies of these drugs in healthy people. We know that the brain is in development into late adolescence. Therefore we do not know the long-term consequences of the effects of these drugs on a healthy developing brain’. Tom Newham said that ‘Modafinil changes people's behaviour too.
Over those weeks my friends became different people – in turn aggressive, cold and reclusive. Eating was "a waste of time" and so was conversation’. The Daily Mail interviewed a Modafinil taking student last October who reported ‘I had mood swings and was quite irritable. It was as if I didn’t like being around people. We had quite a lot of arguments. It also destroyed much of my social life’. Like most drugs, study drugs are not free of their consequences. Worse still, to acquire these drugs you have to visit ‘The Dark Web’. By following a certain trail on the internet many people visit an underground blackmarket where they can easily purchase all sorts of dodgy pharmaceuticals. This year alone, 9,610 illegal websites around the world selling counterfeit and unlicensed medicines have been closed down. Trusting an illegal manufacturer in Hong Kong to help you get through your exams surely can’t be a good idea. Professor Sahakian said purchasing online is ‘a very dangerous way to obtain prescription-only drugs. You do not know what you’re actually purchasing’. It’s possible that I’ve been lied to by all the 36 students that I surveyed, or even that they happened to be the only students who aren’t constantly popping prescription pills. I like to think that UoB students are less inclined to turn to the chemistry mafia when times get tough. In light of the emerging evidence that study drugs may just have the potential to ruin your life, I would suggest that the next time you’re struggling to revise
14 20 S
E L E C M T A I E ON T ER
From Wednesday 26th February candidates will begin to campaign for YOUR VOTE in the Friday 21st February at
M ELECTIO TEA N R E
14 20 S
There will also be numerous hustings taking place on campus see
VOTING OPENS: MONDAY 3rd MARCH AT 10AM th
For more information, visit:
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Why Nigel Farage Will Have The Last Laugh George Reeves Commentator
At the moment, a week doesn’t seem to go by where the right wing, Eurosceptic party UKIP don’t hit the headlines for negative reasons. Despite the fact there isn’t a single UKIP MP in the House of Commons, the party is well represented in local councils and the European Parliament, and even better represented in tabloid front pages, with frequent stories of party members being exposed for holding racist and extreme views. The popular press appears unanimous in its disdain for Nigel Farage’s organisation, with even the Daily Mail featuring regular articles critical of UKIP and its members. So how is it that a party so vilified and supposedly so riddled with extremists is on the rise in Britain, frequently outdoing the Liberal Democrats in opinion polls? Make no mistake about it, UKIP does
"The popular press seems unanimous in its disdain for Nigel Farage's organisation, with even the Daily Mail featuring regular articles critical of UKIP and its members."
indeed have its fair share of 'fruitcakes'; some of the more prominent cases featured in the news recently include Peter Entwistle, a party official in Bury who hit the headlines for calling Barack Obama an Islamic terrorist. Victoria Ayling, a UKIP councillor from Lincolnshire, featured in the Daily Mail recently after she was filmed expressing her desire to deport all immigrants, whilst David Silvester, an elderly councillor from Henley, achieved national fame a few weeks ago for claiming that the recent floods that have hit Britain were sent by God as a result of the government’s decision to legalise gay marriage. The media and the political elite have concentrated on these individuals in an attempt to tarnish UKIP; indeed, mocking UKIP seems to be considered fair game in Westminster, with David Cameron describing the party’s members as fruitcakes and closet racists, whilst Conservative veteran Ken Clarke branded the party as a ‘collection of clowns.’ So why the hostility towards UKIP? Is the party simply a front for racists and bigots? Mainstream political opinion would have you believe so, but the fact that they are so widely supported suggests they have a wide appeal. Every party has its extremist members, but that is one of the pitfalls of a democratic system. However, UKIP appeals to those who feel let down by the liberal consensus which seems to govern the three main parties. David Cameron’s ‘compassionate conservatism’ may have been intended to shed the Tories of their ‘nasty
"Every party has its extremist members, but that is one of the pitfalls of the democratic system" party’ image, but has also alienated many on the right wing of the party who long for a return to Thatcherite principles. To those voters, UKIP is an attractive organisation, but indeed it also appeals to those traditional working classes who could never bring themselves to vote for the Conservatives, but yet feel alienated by New Labour. In reality, Nigel Farage is just another privately educated politician, but yet he has skilfully created the public image of a chain smoking, beer swilling, flag waving representative of the disillusioned working classes, appealing to the ‘Essex boy’ stereotype so crucial to Margaret Thatcher’s electoral success. The political elites may be laughing at UKIP now, but if they continue to dismiss the party’s credibility they will be in for a nasty shock when Nigel Farage gets the last laugh.
"If they continue to dismiss the party's credibility they will be in for a nasty shock when Nigel farage gets the last laugh."
It's Time To Talk About Female Genital Mutilation Esme Myers Commentator
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a procedure that intentionally alters or causes injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons. Sounds barbaric, right? Well that’s because it is. But another major issue is that it also sounds like something that would only occur in faraway lands; as part of alien cultures and at the hands of people that we will never meet or be able to understand. But no. The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation took place last week. This UN sponsored day appears to have shed light on the fact that this is not just an international problem: a horrifying amount of girls in the UK also suffer from this form of abuse every year. FGM has understandably been illegal in the UK since 1985, but there has not been a single prosecution brought against anyone who has committed this brutal crime. Unfortunately this is not because FGM doesn’t happen. Figures have shown that around 66,000 girls in the UK have been victims of FGM and a further 24,000 girls under the age of 15 could be under threat. The idea that this is happening in the UK with no repercussions cannot be ignored and the difficulties in bringing perpetrators to justice need to be resolved. It is common for FGM to be committed by the victim’s family and the procedure can be performed on girls who are only a few weeks old and almost always occurs before a girl hits puberty. This immediately causes problems as vulnerable young girls are understandably unlikely to testify against their own family members. Like other forms of child abuse it is hard to prove who the perpetrator is; FGM can be committed by other family members without the consent of the girl’s parents. Loopholes in the law are also doing nothing to help the situation as UK criminal law
only applies to British Nationals or settled children; this leaves recent arrivals and children from mobile communities unprotected from the risk of being taken abroad to be mutilated. Obviously steps need to be taken to deal with these issues and those who are found to have committed this atrocity should be punished, but prevention seems to be key. By educating people to stop FGM happening in the first place, suffering and an extremely complicated legal situation can be avoided. This is a view shared by Fahma Mohamed, a 17 year old student from Bristol, who is the face of the Guardian’s anti-FGM campaign. Fahma has been petitioning to the education secretary Michael Gove in order to encourage him to make FGM a government priority. The aim is to get Gove to write to all schools in order to make the dangers of FGM clear. She has recently argued that 'If every single head teacher was given the right information, we could reach every single girl who is at risk of FGM. We could convince these families not to send their daughters abroad and help those girls at risk.' It is also significant that she, and the others involved in the campaign, want this to be achieved before the summer holidays. While for most children in the UK, the summer holidays are a time to relax and have fun, for an unfortunate few ‘Cutting Season’ awaits. While some are taken abroad to have the procedure performed research has also shown that FGM does also occur in the UK itself. The FGM taboo needs to come to an end and must be a subject that people can talk about and be educated on if vulnerable young girls are to be protected. They need to be empowered to know that what is happening to them is wrong and those who are considering committing the crime need to know the real risks. If you are interested in finding out more and helping Fahma petition Michael Gove, then have a look for the Change.org petition and get involved.
14th - 27th February 2014
Guilty Until Proven Innocent Ellicia Pendle Commentator
The saying goes that you are innocent until proven guilty. Yet recently the media seems to have inverted this logic, being quick to label, criticise and accuse those still awaiting trial. Just last week, 81 year old Coronation Street actor William Roache was cleared of two charges of rape and four charges of indecent assault. One of the women claimed he raped her in 1967, when she was 15 years old, but later changed her mind about how old she was at the time. Another woman claimed she was warned about Roache by fellow Coronation Street actor Johnny Briggs, who played Mike Baldwin,
before it was revealed that Briggs was not in the soap at that time. In light of the verdict, the media made a swift U-turn; instead of comparing the actor with convicted paedophile Jimmy Saville they compared the trial to that of a witchhunt, and lamented the ruined reputation of the world’s longest serving soap star. Ironically, much of the damage had already been done by the media themselves. Many other celebrities have also faced child sex allegations following the hysteria surrounding the Jimmy Saville sex scandal, including entertainers Rolf Harris and Freddie Starr and Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis. Also accused was Roache’s Coronation Street co-worker, 48 year old Michael Le Vell. It took just four hours for the jury to unanimously clear him of raping
a six-year-old girl. Despite his innocence, his private life was publicly dissected as a result of the accusation, and his alcoholism and extra-marital affairs were revealed and splashed about in the tabloids. TV presenter Phillip Schofield tweeted after the verdict: ‘Michael Le Vell not guilty on all charges. It’s bloody ridiculous a man’s life and reputation can be so comprehensively trashed.’ Indeed, in these cases the jury’s verdict is virtually meaningless in terms of the accused’s reputation. Their status has been permanently tarnished in the eyes of the public and in the eyes of anyone who enters their name into a search engine for years to come. Roache himself suggested that those being accused should have the same anonymity as the alleged victims, stating that
‘these people are instantly stigmatised some will be innocent, some will not, but until such time as it’s proven there should be anonymity for both’. However, how do you strike the balance between the press’s freedom of speech and an individual’s right to privacy? Anonymity for those being accused would prevent the press from freely reporting about the case, which in turn would decrease public awareness and could prevent other victims from coming forward. Perhaps rather than anonymising the accused, the press should be held more responsible for what they print. News reports should stick to providing just that: the news, the facts - and should wait for the jury’s vote before delivering their own verdict.
Woody Alle(n)gations- Truth or Lies?
Vafa Motamedi Commentator
On the 1st Feburary, Dylan Farrow, estranged adopted daughter of famed film director Woody Allen, wrote a letter in the New York Times claiming that in 1992 Allen had sexually molested her. She was seven years old at the time. Allen replied with another open letter, aggressively denying the accusations. At this, the internet, as it often does, split into two, between those who believe Dylan is telling the truth andNetwork those that believe Rail she is lying. Countless of articles have been written in print and online, fervently espousing each viewpoint. But are their reactions to this event helpful and what do they say about our societies’ response to accusations of this manner? At the time when the molestation was supposed to have taken place, Allen was going through a break up with Mia Farrow, Dylan’s mother. The break-up had been caused by Allen’s affair with Soon Yi Previn, the then 19 year old adopted daughter of Mia Farrow from another relationship. Soon after the break up these allegations came out and Allen was investigated on suspicion of child molestation. The prosecution
felt they had enough evidence to go to trial but didn’t feel that Dylan was mentally stable enough for it. However several investigators felt that the allegations were falsely created at Mia’s behest in order to get back at Allen for his betrayal, though a judge disagreed. The case was dropped and nothing was said until this year when Allen won a Lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes, prompting Dylan’s letter. Even by recounting the events surrounding the accusations, it becomes apparent that by discussing these events we are wading through a murky family dispute; with no real light available to be shed. As such, rushing in with a set in stone opinion with next to no clear evidence either way is foolish and downright irresponsible. We live in times of paranoia. The boogeymen of yesteryear give way to fresh new ones in which to fret over. In the 50s it was the Red Scare, the noughties, the war on terror. Along with Operation Yewtree and the abuses by the Catholic Priests, the Woody Allen case represents a growing fear towards sexual violence within the corridors of power, especially that pertaining to children. The spectre of Jimmy Saville looms large over this paranoia. And not just of Saville himself and his reprehensible crimes but the shadow of our own. It was our complacency as a society that allowed
Saville’s crimes to occur; our doubting of the victims and our disbelief that anything so horrifying could ever occur right under our noses. Can we, in all good conscience, dismiss Dylan’s claims as lies? Her account is passionately told and in such excruciating detail. It could be easy to dismiss our paranoia as unfounded. But here we stand in the grip of fear. The fear of ‘what if?’ What if we let another one get away with it? What if we tell yet another victim that they are mistaken, lying, overreacting about something so utterly traumatic? Conversely, if we choose to believe Dylan are we not forced to condemn Allen for a crime that we don’t know for sure even occurred? No real evidence has been presented, aside from Dylan’s accusations and there has been no court ruling to determine Allen’s guilt. Are we unknowingly getting swept up in a series of witch hunts? ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is the foundation on which our criminal justice system stands. Can we afford to reject it? Look at William Roache, a man whose guilt seemed all but assured in the eyes of the public and media until it was taken to trial and revealed how flimsy these accusations were. Take the case of Bijan Ebrahimi, murdered by a neighbour who falsely suspected him of being a paedo-
phile. By condemning Allen, by blackening his reputation are we not ourselves softly taking the law into our own hands? A trial does not appear to be forthcoming. However, a trial by media (and now by Twitter) is no trial at all. Any attempt to find any evidence from the original investigation is hampered by supporters of each side twisting the facts to fit their point of view. All we are left with concretely is a ‘she said/he said’ pertaining to a crime that is notoriously difficult to prove anyway. As such we are stuck in a moral limbo. Do we ignore a potential victim or shun an innocent man? Within this piece there have been many questions and too few real answers. The only honest conclusion, though an uncomfortable one, is that we just don’t know. If anything this case demonstrates the sheer importance of the Criminal Justice system within western society. Without it, we cannot come to a consensus and will be forever split in two. I hope somehow that this case goes to trial; not so Allen can be either exonerated or jailed but because the truth needs to come out, whatever that may be. Worrying about letting a paedophile go free or sending an innocent to jail isn’t the issue here. What is important is the truth and to trust in the justice system’s ability to find it. In the end, what else can we do?
14th - 27th February 2014
The Immense Negativity of the Student Body Alexander Blanchard Commentator
Regarding student protests, history repeats itself - though without yet becoming farcical. In May 1968 around 20,000 students and teachers marched towards the Sorbonne in Paris to protest the expulsion of 150 students from the University at Nanterre along with its consequent closure. As soon as the marchers approached they were charged and beaten by baton-wielding police who had been called in by the University administrators. Altercations ensued, cobbles were torn up (“Sous les pavés, la plage!”), and the police responded with tear-gas and more charging. After further confrontations it was revealed that the police had participated in the riots and had provoked further unrest by setting cars alight and throwing Molotov cocktails. Similar scenes erupted in Berlin after student Benno Ohnesorg was shot by police during a demonstration against a visit by the Shah of Iran. Contrary to their Parisian counterparts, the Berlin police opted for water cannons and charges on horseback. More recently there was the 2011 incident at UC Davis where the police officer John Pike, dressed in riot gear and wearing a helmet with visor, discharged orange tear-gas in the eyes of students peacefully occupying a quad at the university. Pike was alarmingly collected in his actions, and an internal investigation concluded that he had acted ‘appropriately’. So, one wonders whether the shock at seeing these pictures is just as much at witnessing students attacked in a place of study as it is at seeing the benign mask of democratic liberalism fall from the good officer’s face in such a casual manner. It should be no surprise to us that student movements are ended, repressed and foreclosed through the use of violence, and that non-violent practices (and it is important to maintain a distinction between violence and destruction or damage) such as occupations, sit-ins and marches are to be met with the retaliatory violence of the police. In our political society which we call ‘democracy’ we all believe that the power controlling us is our own, and yet we know, intuitively or not, that when we test these institutions there is at some point, somewhere, some violence awaiting us. The school pupils who had the audacity to join the 2010 student protests in London against tuition fee rises found themselves eventually trampled by horses (though the police later argued that the horses were ‘trotting’ rather than ‘charging’ – a useful distinction). For some the violence comes sooner: recall the 2012 incident where a 21-year-old was strangled in the back of a Police Van. The victim’s ‘problem’, as the offending police officer put it, was that he would ‘always be a ni**er’. When an institution has such a privileged recourse to violence and force for achieving its ends then it will habitually seek that recourse, eschewing argumentation, deliberation and discussion. However, this violence should not be conflated with power. Violence is distinguished by its instrumental character – it gets things done quickly even without a majority backing – whereas power here corresponds to the human ability to act in concert, to sustain and endure through promise and agreement. Power is the property of a group of people who come together to achieve certain aims. Once the university aligns itself with the police and its radical contempt for the inquiring individual, once the university’s administrators make use of an institution which invariably demonstrates
its love of violence for its own sake, then they have in effect conceded their powerlessness in favour of violence and force. Of course it can be objected that the university is empowered, that standing behind it and its use of the police are 28,000 other students who chose not to take part in the protest and who have largely overlooked, avoided, or been unaware of previous occupations and demonstrations. Indeed, after the event, some students actively took to the internet to shun the demonstration. ‘The cause is valid but the method isn't’ ran one pithy comment, and a previous occupation saw the cancellation of an exam for which one student complained he had missed a weekend in Budapest – poor thing. In actuality the university is here up against what Hannah Arendt described as an ‘immense negative unity’. To claim that a tiny unarmed minority has through ‘violence’ successfully disrupted timetabled exams and university events, as well as damaging the education of others, is highly misleading. What has in fact happened here could rightly be considered more disquieting: the majority of the student body has silently chosen not to come together and combine as a concerted ‘power to’ in order to over-power the ‘disrupters’. If the academic process breaks down, and if university life is disrupted, it is in part because no one was willing to raise more than a Facebook status in favour of the status quo (this was exemplified well by an article which implored everybody, protester or non-protester, to return to and stay in the library). The merely on-looking student majority, amused by the spectacle of a minority of students tussling with security guards, is in fact already the latent ally of the minority.
"Thomas Paine once advised: 'Lead, follow, or get out of the way.' It is a terse encapsulation of this problem" This in part undermines the criticism levied against Defend Education that they are in no way representative of the student body. Even if Defend Education had claimed to be representative of the student body (and it is quite another thing to claim to be representative of someone’s interests) the student body itself is still out on this matter. Besides, how often do we hear of social and political movements that began out as fully representative? Full representation is presumably the point at which a movement either begins to transform out of its embryonic stage or disbands. The women’s suffrage movement did not begin as fully representative, but that is no argument against its happening. This criticism premised on ‘representation’ is found to be, at the slightest consideration, as vapid as it is lazy. Thomas Paine once advised: ‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way.’ It is a terse encapsulation of this problem, but if we are serious about democracy then we must all lead and follow from different directions. It is each and everyone’s prerogative to get out of the way, though to do so is to concede that there is more legitimate power in a group of 200 active, positive students with valid demands then there is in a university administration which cannot even rely on a similar portion of 28,000 students to leave their desks in opposition to these demands.
14th - 27th February 2014
Life & Style
The Rise of Cosmetic Surgery With cosmetic surgery being on the increase, Life&Style writer Bethany Kitchener discusses how our opinions on the controvercial procedures seem to have changed. Since the first boob job 50 years ago, cosmetic surgery has been booming in the UK with over 50,122 cosmetic procedures in 2013 alone (BAAPS survey). With the rise of celebrity culture and the likes of Kim Kardashian, Megan Fox (who both deny ever going under the knife) presenting the ideal woman that women crave to be, cosmetic surgery is now seen as an ideal solution rather than a last resort. And sorry girls, even the ideal female role model, Marilyn Monroe had a nose job.
"I was bombarded with offers for 70% off surgery to lift my drooping eye lids, or a procedure to suck excess fat out of my thighs and stomach." In a quick 5 minute search on Google for "cosmetic surgery", I was bombarded with offers for 70% off surgery to lift my drooping eye lids, or a procedure to suck excess fat out of my thighs and stomach. However, with the recent mass commercialisation of cosmetic surgery, lower standards were bound to follow. And whilst
cosmetic surgery is most commonly perceived as a pursuit of women, it has recently been expanding into a whole new male
"Even Marilyn Monroe had a nose job." market. With over 4,757 of them going under the knife last year, the most popular procedure was Rhinoplasty (nose jobs) with 1,037 procedures performed, showing that no one can escape the cosmetic machine. Every other day in magazines and on the television there is some horror story about a botched up surgery and there are two which have stuck out in my mind. Firstly there was the American woman who had black market bum injections that turned out to be silicone (the type you put around your bath) and ended up losing all four of her limbs due to blood poisoning. The other being the PIP scandal that saw 40,000 UK women anxious as to whether their implants would rupture, which could have proved fatal if not treated in time. Yet, all theses stories of botched up surgeries still haven’t put off half of British women from going under the knife, with even the likes of Michelle Obama saying that she wouldn’t rule out surgery in the future. Personally my idea of cosmetic sur-
gery has changed drastically over the last few years. Once a believer that all cosmetic surgery was totally wrong and that people should embrace their looks and natural beauty, my views have somewhat changed. I now believe that if a person really despises a physical feature then why shouldn’t they change it to make themselves feel good and help them learn to love how they look? But what really does
"Even Michelle Obama said that she wouldn't rule out surgery in the future" frustrate me are those celebrities who present this perfect image of themselves, but deny the surgery it is so obvious they have undertaken. This inevitably just puts pressure on us “normal” people to somehow strive to emulate their perfection. I think our attitudes have changed towards cosmetic surgery in the last 10 years, but whether it is for the better, I shall leave for you to decide.
Hot Yoga Victoria Haworth Life&Style Editor
Barefoot is a small yoga and pilates centre with a mission to provide a quality exercise experience for all members of the community. Barefoot offers a wide range of classic and holistic classes, catering from beginners to pros. Their purpose built studios allow Barefoot to cater for a multitude of classes, including the latest holistic craze: Hot Yoga. Hot Yoga claims to offer a complete mind and body workout achieved through a series of postures practised in a studio heated to 36 degrees. The heat proves beneficial as muscles stretch and compress more deeply than a normal session, reducing the risk of strain or injury. Meanwhile the heart, lungs and circulatory system also work harder, providing a particularly effective cardio workout. As a relative ‘newbie’, I first turned to yoga in a desperate attempt to destress ahead of my January deadlines. People had always recommended the classes to me (a friend’s mum once insisting that the meditative exercises were the key to her inner happiness), however, like any other student, I always claimed to never have the time, or more importantly, the money. But finally I
gave the classes a go (part of my otherwise failing newyear’s resolution) and I found that not only did the breathing routines work wonders on the third-year stress front, but the exercises themselves did the world of good. No longer were my muscles tight and stiff, but flexible and, in a weird way, comfortable. I even began the doyouyoga.com 30 day yoga challenge (which I am yet to complete), which provides a 20 minute daily youtube taught session. So when I was invited to try Hot Yoga with Barefoot, I jumped at the opportunity. Consulting the website, they warned “Your first class will be HARD. Take things gently and go at your own pace.” But taking on the challenge, I headed over to Harborne for their Wednesday evening class, and I was pleasantly surprised. Walking into the reception, I was taken aback by how stylish it was. With a free herbal tea in my hand, this didn’t feel like a place for vigorous exercise; rather, it felt chilled out and welcoming. Heading up to the hot room, I could feel the temperature steadily rising. But it was more of a gentle warmth than vigorous heat, and surprisingly cooler than I had expected; it was going to be a breeze. However, once we began our first poses, this warmth turned to a thick heat. The instructor Ambra, a former ballet dancer, talks you through each move, showing variations along the way, describing the benefits of each pose you do. Making each move look so easy (and so elegant), her guidance took the strain of the entire novel process. I could feel my inner core tensing with every pose that was held, my heart pumping as if I’d ran on a treadmill for twenty minutes. This is a hard work out, and a sweaty one too. I had stretched muscles in so
In honour of World Yoga Day, on Wednesday 19th February Barefoot are offering a free Hot Yoga session, exclusively for students. If you are interested in giving it a go, sign up now on barefootbirmingham.com or search for Harborne Hot Card on Facebook.
many new ways and pushed myself to balance in ways that I’d never done before. It feels amazing, even if you’re a hot sweaty mess. Drawing to the end of the class, we had time to relax, or ‘surrender out bodies to the ground’ as Ambra said. She talked us through focusing on the good and the present, and to let go of the stress in the past and the future. This was something that I thought I’d not take seriously, but it certainly felt encouraging to hear these words and unwind from all that happened that day..
Barefoot is conveniently located on Harborne High Street, offering free mats, free water and hot showering facilities.
14th - 27th February 2014
As we say goodbye to the cold winter months and the dark colour schemes, Life&Style writer Olivia Rafferty explores a colour which is set to overrun our Spring wardrobes.
As we gradually wish farewell to dark colour palettes of winter, the romantic hue of pastel pink sets to be big in Spring this year and has already stormed the runway for the 2014 Spring/Summer collections for the likes of Alexander Wang and Balenciaga. Pink is the new base colour for all outfits and introducing some of this candy shade in your wardrobe shows that you’re on top of your fashion game. A great way to wear pastels, is with other pastels just as the gorgeous Paloma Faith pulled off at the Burberry show. Either team these key pieces with other pastels focusing on the textures and patterns, or pair with white and black components, which always make happy collaborations. These following pieces will begin your journey down the candy stripe lane to looking as good as Paloma.
Vintage Fairs Vintage clothing has taken over Birmingham for 2014, with bigger and better fashion than ever before! Check out the Custard Factory website for all the latest events, such as the Vintage Kilo Sale this Saturday.
BAFTAs 2014 Gracing our screens once again on Sunday 16th February, this year's ceremony is certain to be a night of glamour, celebrities and couture as we discover the worthy winners.
Supermarket Games Hot meals are still desperately needed in the cold weather, but playing the 'Who can get the best meal for a pound?' game makes the whole cooking process much more fun! 20p noodles anyone?
Even though this pink leather skirt is a little expensive at £30, this wearable River Island piece could be used as a base for any occasion, dressed up or down. It's also made from faux leather fabric, so what more could you want from a skirt? Similarly, a simple cami can be worn with anything and as the weather gets warmer (fingers crossed) these polka dot spaghetti strap tops from Rhiannas' River Island collection will become a staple to any outfit and at the very reasonable price of just £10, it won't break your budget rocking the pink this season. To top off any pink ensemble, accessories are key. Simple yet well chosen candy coloured accessories will update any outfit, bringing you right to the forefront of fashion. This vinyl edge satchel from Topshop fits the criteria perfectly, coming in at a very reasonable £28.
Real Life Carrie Bradshaw: The Debut Shoe Collection Tamir Davies
Since Sex and the City invaded our television screens, every girl has aspired to folLife&Style Writer low in Sarah Jessica Parker's footsteps as a fashion superstar. Well look no further , as she finally unveils her very own debut footwear collection. With each and every design you could possibly imagine, the range will go live exclusively at Nordstorm; an American department store. But do not fret for us British shoppers, as we can still secretly indulge once our pay checks come through via their website. Parker's collection is feminine, exquisite, sophisticated and with a dash of colour. The collection takes inspiration from Parker's childhood as each style features a grosgrain ribbon and the range includes T-bar heels, metallic stilettos, flip flops, sandals and wedges with prices starting at $195. Parker's new collection comes after great expectations and she says, "I've taken inspiration from things in my life such as the grosgrain ribbons I tied in my hair as a girl, to the flower accents from the Sex and the City wardrobe, to references to classic styles from the late Seventies and early Eighties”. The collection is yet to imprint on the fashion scene, though fashion insiders say it will be one of timeless glamour.
With the exclusive opening of her collection, many Sex and the City fans will be extremely pleased to hear that Parker has named a particular shoe after her most infamous character 'Carrie Bradshaw'. The nude, toe T-bar pointed style is described by Parker herself as an "ode to her...can be worn for day and night". This collection is no doubt going to have heads turning and with other styles such as The Lady, a lace up boot for those who prefer to stay away from traditional styles, it'll be hard to go wrong with this range. With every possible style for occasion and comfort, Parker has got it sorted. With SJPs collection vogue, it will be of no surprise to her fans how fitting her shoes are to those residing in Bradshaw's closet.
"Parker's collection is feminine, exquisite, sophisticated and with a dash of colour."
Provided you haven't already spent your student loan on ten pairs of must-have shoes or the next iPhone 5x, y or z, there are plenty of new vouchers and discount codes out at the moment, saving you money on everything from cinema trips to tree-top climbing!
Easter Eggs Row upon row of chocolatey goodness has been taunting us from the shelves for weeks now, but it'll be a while before we actually get to treat ourselves!
Housing Deposits We're already poor, and making us pay for a house we won't actually live in for almost another year is just emphasising our empty pockets.
Repetitive Tunes If they gave a pound for every time a DJ played Teenage Dirtbag, Mr Brightside and Stacey's Mom at the end of a night, we'd all have enough to pay off our student debt!
Procrastination Time seems to be passing faster than Usain Bolt on steroids this term, so ignoring all that work in favour of watching old episodes of Breaking Bad is sadly no longer an option.
By Bethany Barley
14th - 27th February 2014
Focus on: 2014 in Film
Critic Jacob Ingram discusses what's in store for film fanatics in the upcoming months...
Details Release date: Friday 7th February 2014 Director: José Padilha Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson Running time: 118 minutes IMDB rating: 6.7
´´´´´ Daisy Edwards The cinematic year is well underway and we currently stand in the shadow of awards season. The Wolf Of Wall Street, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle have all grabbed the attention of both the critics and us regular film-goers, and considering this year's Oscar nominees it is obvious that 2014 is going to be a big year in cinema. So far it can be seen that blockbuster sequels will be a running theme with The Hobbit: There and Back Again and The Hunger Games - Mockingjay continuing two of the biggest film franchises in recent years. However, don't be quick to ignore some of the smaller spin-offs and sequels that are slated for release. In the animated sphere this year, the Despicable Me franchise will be satisfying fans' demands for a Minion-centric origin story, while four years after the release the critically-acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon, its sequel follows the adventures of Hiccup and his dragon Toothless in defending the Island of Berk.
"2015 is anticipated to be a huge year for superhero flicks but that doesn't mean that 2014 can be ignored" Speaking of sequels, since last year's release of Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel, comic-book cinematic universes have been quiet compared to previous years. 2015 is anticipated to be a huge year for superhero flicks, but that doesn't mean that 2014 can be ignored. The franchise that started it all fourteen years ago, X-Men, is merging its two incredibly popular time lines in X-Men: Days of Future Past. This story arc will see
the original cast, McKellen and Stewart, communicate with the new cast, McAvoy and Fassbender, as humans and mutants alike face a new threat. The second superhero movie to add to your calendar is The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Operating outside of the Marvel universe, the second rebooted Spiderman film will see Peter Parker coming up against villains that were popular in the 90s animated cartoon. This move intends to enter Spiderman into the fight for cinematic dominance waged between the Marvel and DC universes. With that in mind, 2014 is quiet on the DC front whilst Marvel injects two films into it's Avengers continuity. Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy will be released this year, expanding the Marvel universe to include characters lesser known to fans of the films. Captain America's origin story will be revisited whilst he fights Bucky Barnes, his best friend from the past who was frozen and resurrected as a Russian weapon, The Winter Soldier. Guardians of The Galaxy, filmed predominantly in CGI, will add an intergalactic twist to the Avengers continuity. The film will boast a cast almost as star-studded as The Avengers with Bradley Cooper voicing a main role, Vin Diesel, Zoe Salanda, Chris Pratt and Lee Pace making up the central forces, and Benicio Del Toro supporting. Outside of the fantastical realms of the superhero universes, waves are set to be made by the likes of Scott Cooper and Ryan Gosling in directorial roles. Cooper made his name on the film Crazy Heart, breaking onto the scene in an effort that won Jeff Bridges the 2009 Academy Award for Best Actor. This time, Cooper will be leading Academy Award nominee Casey Affleck, Academy Award nominee Woodey Harrelson, and Academy Award winner Christian Bale in the gripping crime thriller, Out of the Furnace. Gosling is no doubt looking to follow in the footsteps of Cooper with his neo-
noir fantasy, How to Catch a Monster. This well-known leading man, celebrated for his recent roles in Only God Forgives, The Place Beyond the Pines and Drive, is looking to get the same critical approval reaped by Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Don Jon last year. It will be interesting to see if Hollywood's politest heart throb can carry his success from in front of the camera to behind it.
"Waves are set to be made by the likes of Scott Cooper and Ryan Gosling in their directorial roles" Finally, for those who have been waiting with baited breath for the next cinematic instalment from Christopher Nolan, November 2014 might be the date to look forward to. Two years after the internationally anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan is set to take cinemas by storm in his secretive science fiction film, Interstellar. Famed for his ability to keep his scripts and cast under a dark veil, little is actually known about the project. However, Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are confirmed for possible lead roles with Michael Caine supporting. Regardless of its shadowy production, the recent success of McConaughey in The Wolf Of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club hints that Interstellar may be the film of the year. This has been the Redbrick run down of films to look out for in 2014. It has already been an incredible year for film and looking at the features to come, the quality will no doubt continue.
The plot of Robocop follows Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), a Detroit cop who falls victim to a car bomb, and the only way to give him a fighting chance of life is to remove the majority of his body and replace it with robot technology. The film deals with issues such as the morals and science behind prosthetic limbs, which is played out well through Gary Oldman as Dr Dennett Norton. We briefly see how the nature of warfare and crime changes with new pieces of technology at the beginning of the film. As the plot attempts to develop we see how far Omnicorp, the conglomerate in charge of the Robocop scheme, will go in order to sell the perfect product to the public. Despite having thought provoking moments, Robocop is littered with action shots which take up much more time than is necessary, and the plot is convoluted with the use of a television channel hosted by Samuel L. Jackson. This television channel opens the film, where we see war machines patrol the streets of the east and continually search and scan people who live there. Oddly enough, the television presenters are surprised and shocked when there are people who don’t like having their homes invaded and being constantly disrupted. Robocop seemed to focus more on the glory of being American instead of the actual plot of a man coming to terms with his new life, and as you can imagine this was beyond irritating. Although an under-developed plot is present and Americanism is constantly shoved down your throat, there are some great actors in this feature, in particular Abbie Cornish as Clara Murphy, Robocop’s wife. Through her we get see some of the realism of Alex Murphy’s situation and prevents the plot from becoming too far-fetched.
14th - 27th February 2014
Film News Mark Reeves Critic
The excitement keeps building for the new Avengers film as Paul Bettany has been announced to play ‘The Vision’, an android created by the films big baddie, Ultron. It is unclear however whether Bettany’s character will have any connection to his existing role as Iron Man’s computerized butler J.A.R.V.I.S.
Pitch Perfect fans better be excited for some acamazing news, as both Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson will be reprising their roles in the sequel to the musical smash hit. Pitch Perfect 2 will also see the directorial debut of Elizabeth Banks, who both produced and stared in the original.
Review: Dallas Buyers Club Continuing his renaissance, Matthew McConaughey brings to life Ron Woodroof, the whiskey-swigging cowboy smuggler of AIDS medication.
Details Release date: 7th Febuary 2014 Director: Jean-Marc Vallée Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner Running time: 117 minutes
see his impassioned denial followed by the tug of wrinkled skin, pulling apart cracks in Ron's facade of vigour - our protagonist finds himself in the library. This glimpse into his studiousness feels, at first, out of character; in reality it is the start of this man's slide into greatness as he becomes more and more dedicated to alleviating the symptoms of his disease. As the story develops, it becomes genuinely fascinating, especially in regards to the different, often controversial medicines whose histories have developed much further since Woodroof's
"Dallas Buyers Club succeeds in pairing the nevertrivialised homosexual plight with personal legitmacy and intimacy."
Dallas Buyers Club stars McConaughey as Woodroof, a rodeo aficionado diagnosed with HIV. What may at first appear to be a powerful McConaughey-driven character study morphs into a tale of AIDS patients in the US struggling with the oppressive mandate of the FDA. It's a biography, sure, and it often feels anchored to the lead performance but Dallas Buyers Club is actually much more interesting. Woodroof is introduced in a flurry of sex, drugs, bulls and bets for around ten minutes. It's a performance that simply cannot be understated. Matthew McConaughey has talked of how dedicated he was to Woodruff's 'rage', and it certainly shows Ron throws his skinny, damaged weight around with neither mercy nor compassion. After his diagnosis, at which he is given just 30 days to live - handled beautifully as we
death in 1992. As the film develops, we meet the supporting cast. Whilst Borten has been bold and sometimes controversial in his creation of Woodroof, he is more finely nuanced in his creation of Rayon, a composite of multiple transgender activists the writer spoke to, played by a rather attractive Jared Leto. Rayon is interesting, beset by her own demons, and above all unexpected (for us and for Ron). She remains the second-most vibrant character for most of the film. By contrast, Jennifer Garner cannot quite pull off the composite Dr Saks. She interacts in a pleasingly three-dimensional way with Dr Sevard (Denis O'Hare), touching on some of the debates around the drugs in question, but her sympathy and emergent love interest are thin - not even saved by her back-and-forth with Woodroof. Overall, the film maintains a distinctive tone not unlike a Woodroof character study.
IMDB rating: 8
´´´´´ Online Film Editor
This succeeds in pairing the never-trivialised homosexual plight with personal legitimacy and intimacy. Nothing can be swept away thanks to the weighty performances and the well-paced scenes. This is not a film of montages, but it skips through the years at an ever-appropriate pace. The only failure in this department is the rather pallid ending, but it is a small flaw for a film that was always going to be difficult to conclude. Because of its pacing and its continued opening-up of Woodroof’s situation, the character’s redemption is one of the most convincing I have ever seen – but he is redeemed a while before the ending. It has been argued that the film presents a 'spurious and somewhat pandering version of gay history.' This criticism is returning to the lacunae in the film's representation of what 'really happened'. But a lot is owed to early dedication to character, and the parallel problems of Rayon and Woodruff set against a backdrop not of empowered homosexuals in the US, but of the FDA and its difficult relations with those it is supposed to be looking out for. It has been suggested that Woodroof was himself gay or bisexual, despite Dallas Buyers Club often showing him to be aggressively homophobic. However, his heterosexuality is not the story I enjoyed in the cinema, just as I did not feel like I was watching any version of gay history. A critic of Ron's homophobic portrayal has said 'it was more a case of Ron starting out as selfish and self-serving and growing into a larger role beyond his own survival.' This is exactly what I feel is shown in the film. As for gay history - it is never a secret that Woodroof is acting out of self-interest. It is the coincidental (but, of course, hugely important) that he forges such a significant relationship with the homosexual community. The film gradually unveils its biography and (key to this) its exposé, thus it is not arrogant or insistent on its 'truth'.
After the tragic news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death it has been reported the actor had one major, emotional scene left to shoot for the final part in the successful Hunger Games series, Mockingjay - Part 2. Some issues will have to be resolved to tie together the story without completely affecting the source narrative.
Lars von Trier’s latest controversial piece Nymphomaniac has been unveiled at the Berlin Film Festival, with the director sticking to true form by refusing to go to the film's press conference. Shia LaBeouf decided to walk the red carpet with a brown bag over his head with the message 'I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE' written across it. We can’t argue with that.
14th - 27th February 2014
The animal issue: where to see Alaska
When we think of Alaska, possibly the first animal we think of is the bear. Alaska is home to black bears, brown bears and polar bears; whereas the polar bear populations are concentrated along the Arctic coastlines, black and brown bears can be found throughout the entire state. In some areas the density of brown bears is as high as one bear per square mile, and both black and brown bears can pose a problem to humans as they come in close contact with them on a regular basis. Alaska also hosts a variety of canines, including the Coyote and the Grey Wolf. The Coyote, a very secretive animal, is rarely seen by residents of Alaska, but in contrast, efforts to control the wolf population through aerial hunting has been a cause for controversy in recent decades. Alaska is also the perfect location for seal fans, including the Bearded seal, the Elephant seal, the Harbour seal and many others. These are of course found along the coasts of the state, and many tourist boat tours run from all locations to see the huge variety of seals that the Alaska boasts.
South Africa provides a whole wealth of wildlife for tourists to enjoy, with animals ranging from Cape buffalo and kudu to leopards and a variety of snakes. These animals saturate the African landscape and make even the most arrogant human feel irrelevant in comparison to their elegance. Safaris are a-plenty in Africa and every tourist will be able to find one to suit them. The list of animals is almost endless; with wild cats to give you that adrenalin rush, and majestic elephants and rhinos, there is nothing that will not amaze you. Safaris allow you the chance to get up close and personal to these beautiful creatures that portray a way of life that is purely instinctual. Africa provides an opportunity to stray outside of our comfort zones and into an entirely new world, where you are stripped of modern comforts and you can focus on the wildlife around you.
Being the largest tropical rainforest in the world, the Amazon in South America boasts millions of insect species, tens of thousands of plant species, 20% of the world’s bird species, as well as dangerous species such as cougars, jaguars and anacondas. With such wildlife and raw nature, it is unsurprising that over half of the rainforest is located in Brazil, known for its indigenous tribes and cultures. The best way to experience this wildlife as a visitor is by staying in an eco-lodge; sleeping just a stones throw away from crocodiles, swimming with pink Amazon river dolphins, and fishing for piranhas. However, the bane of any traveller’s life, the mosquito, is sadly not a stranger to these parts of the continent. Buy DEET repellent in it’s bucket loads because the Amazon is truly rife with these badboys. Any lover of wildlife would be a fool to miss an opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands while in South America, a boat ride from the West coast of Ecuador. Home to extraordinary numbers of fish, bird, reptile and mammal species, this is the place to get in touch with your inner David Attenborough. If less exciting and tropical animals are more your style, treat yourself to the copious amounts of llamas and alpacas in Peru and Bolivia (their wool being sported by most back-packers out there). If still missing the classic British wildlife, head to Argentina where cows are not hard to find. Seeing one wander around the city of Buenos Aires is somewhat implausible, but if you like your steak like I do (still moo-ing), then head to one of their many infamous steak restaurants, and you won’t be disappointed!
Antarctica offers a relatively unorthodox experience fo tion. Yet, with climate change making its future evermor pristine landscape and broad diversity of wildlife. Perh the former are more likely to be found, through their pre and regarded as shy, friendly giants amongst visiting t but rely on the ice for their existence. Seals, such as the ing them warm from climatic threats. The Weddell is th In contrast, other species, like the sharp-toothed Leopa selves, are fairly distinctive. The Rockhopper, Gentoo a feathers used to attract a mate. A range of other birds nevertheless remain notable for both their populations a to be seen for their scavenging of the ocean’s easy picki wonder and admire.
Brum students abroad This week Claire Burling tells us about how a year in Strasbourg has defied her expectations... A year abroad is a deceptive thing. To 'nonyear abroaders', the elusive ‘best year of your life’ is one giant holiday, be it relaxing on an Australian beach, skiing in the Alps or soaking up the metropolitan buzz of an Italian city.
"Being a little off the beaten track means that I'm making new discoveries, even now." To 'year abroaders', the reality is very different. I found myself in Strasbourg (which most people think is in Germany, not France) for my Erasmus year, at one of
the largest and ugliest universities in the country. Nothing is open on a Sunday, the lecturers use chalk boards, and Starbucks is nowhere to be found – not an ideal combination for a self-proclaimed Anglophile. However, five months into this year, I could not imagine spending my time any-
"Starbucks is nowhere to be found " where else. I love my cycle along a river to get to campus each morning. I love that there are patisseries decorating every corner of every street. I love that I have a beautiful time capsule of a city to call my home. And I really, really love that you can have wine at lunchtime. My research for
choosing my Year Abroad destination was a little haphazard (think scrolling the first page of Google Image results), but Strasbourg has so much more to offer than I first realised, and so picking somewhere I had neither heard of nor been to before was definitely worth the gamble. I may not be in Paris or Barcelona, but being a little off the beaten track means that I am still making new discoveries, even now. I was seriously apprehensive about this whole experience, with the cloud of French bureaucracy and a packed timetable weighing down on me initially, but it turns out that this is so much better than any holiday. This is a year of living like a local, of soaking up a city and its ways until it is second nature and, as it turns out, living the best year of my life.
14th - 27th February 2014
e what wildlife Scotland
The island of Madagascar is famous as one of the world’s most diverse and interesting countries when it comes to wildlife, and is definitely a place to visit if animals are at the top of your list of things to see. The only country to be the natural home of the lemur, Madagascar hosts over 100 species of this monkey-like mammal, the most well-known of which is the ring-tailed lemur with its beautiful black and white striped tail. Lemurs can be spotted with a guide in dedicated patches of protected land, but you’re also likely to find them on even a short trek through any patch of rainforest. Madagascar is also famous for chameleons, of which it holds an amazing two-thirds of the world’s population; it has been proposed that the island is also the origin of all chameleons. These fascinating reptiles comes in all shapes, sizes and colours in Madagascar, including the smallest chameleon in the world, the Brookesia micra, which is around the same size as the head of a matchstick. Madagascar also boasts a number of other mammals, including the cat-type fossa, and over 300 species of bird. No wildlife fanatic should miss a trip to the beautiful African island of Madagascar.
You don't have to leave the UK to see exotic wildlife as nearby Scotland is home to some rare and fascinating species. If you are a fan of all things cute and aquatic, you'll jump at the chance Scotland provides for seeing seals, with around 70 percent of Europe's grey seal population living in Scottish waters. For dolphin watching, head to Moray Frith where the only Bottlenose dolphins in the North Sea have made their home. A species unique to this area is the Scottish wildcat, the largest mammal predator in the country and the only remaining wild feline species in the UK. The wildcats are under threat from inter-breeding with feral domestic cats. During the spring and summer months, the Hebrides are the perfect place to catch puffins, a seabird famous for its tame nature. The country also hosts a number of wildlife parks and nature reserves, as well as the Knoydart peninsula, famous for its natural beauty and spectacular wildlife watching opportunities.
Australia is on most traveller's 'one day' wishlists and although it is a long way away, once you get there it would be a crime to miss out on seeing the extraordinary wildlife that is native to the country. Impressively, more than 80 percent of Australia's wildlife cannot be seen anywhere else in the world! It is a nation famous for being the home of the kangaroo and the Tasmanian devil. Koalas are populous all over the Eastern coast and wombats are frequently seen in the Blue Mountains National Park. If you're looking for a thrill, you'll be pleased to know that Australia has more species of deadly snake than any other continent and a diverse array of lizards and dragons. When most people think 'Australia' - they think desert, however the country boasts it's own rainforest reserve and several good zoos. Finally, be sure not to miss the world-famous Great Barrier Reef; where you can swim amongst spectacular corals and fish. Australia is a top destination if you're looking for a rare wildlife adventure.
or travellers, with its bitterly cold temperatures, tiresome journeys and ‘empty’ reputare uncertain, an increasing number of cruises flock south to see the melting permafrost, haps the continent’s most impressive creatures are the Orca and Blue Whales. Whilst edatory instincts and climatic versatility, the latter, although larger, are somewhat rarer, tourist groups. Indeed, none of the animals found in Antarctica are solely land-based, e Elephant, are extremely well-adapted to their environment; a furry blubber coat keephe most widespread, found resting on ice, and hunting in the water for fish and squid. ard seal, can also be quite predatory of neighbouring penguin colonies, which, themand King possess striking yellow eyebrows, bright, orange-coloured beaks and golden s can also be found in the region; rapidly becoming extinct, Black-browed Albatross and appearance. Likewise, common Skuas and long-beaked Shags are frequent enough ings. Wherever you are in Antarctica, there will always be animals at which to marvel,
The Top 5...
Best Valentines Day spots in Brum Sara Tryon Travel Writer
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Lickey Hills Country Park
Tucked just behind The Vale are 15 acres of botanical gardens which provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic stroll. There are also 4 glasshouses and a bird aviary containing birds and plants from a range of geographical areas
Shakespeare’s birthplace is a cheap 45 minute train-ride away and can offer a welcome change to the hustle and bustle of Birmingham life. The quintessential town will offer an interesting historical escape for you this Valentine’s Day.
Not far from Longbridge station, this public park offers a hint of countryside not far from the city. Follow a sculpture trail or embark on one of the many walks whilst keeping an eye out for a variety of flora and fauna.
The recently developed and refurbished Mailbox hosts a wide range of restaurants if you’re looking for a special meal out. Certainly a convenient and preferable option if the weather doesn’t hold out, although advanced booking may be necessary.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery The museum’s All You Need Is Love guided tour aims to express how love has been depicted through the medium of art across the ages. At only £2 per person and lasting 45 minutes it’s a student friendly dose of culture.
14th - 27th February 2014
Review: Bodyshockers Daisy Follett reviews Channel 4's latest gawp-and-stare documentary, and asks, really, what's the point? Six years ago Katie Piper had sulphuric acid thrown in her face as she left an internet café in London, in an attack organised by her exboyfriend, designed to ruin her dreams of a career in the media. After 40 operations to repair her sight and damage to her face, and with both boyfriend and accomplice serving a minimum of twelve years in prison, she has overcome the odds extraordinarily. Over the past five years she’s hosted a series of successful TV programmes, both in the UK and America, which have examined not only at her own experience but also those of other individuals suffering from a disfigurement, and the way they’re perceived by society.
"Katie's a good choice as host, she's not judgemental but she's not a wet flannel either, and the subjects clearly like her" Now she’s back on our screens in a four part series for Channel 4, Bodyshockers, which visits people who have had 'extreme' body modifications, and now want to change them back. The premise seems to loosely be that Katie herself had no choice in the change to her appearance, and must therefore be curious to meet people who change themselves voluntarily. The first two episodes look at piercings and tattoos; we meet Emily, a woman with earlobe extenders the size of beermats, and Grant, who has the word 'JAPS' tattooed on his eye. Five points if you can spot the pun. It’s mildly interesting, but this content
isn’t really up to Channel 4 standards. Most of the episodes consist of people with horrible tattoos saying how horrible they are, having laser treatment to remove them, and then saying how horrible that was as well. The third episode will also be on tattoos, so it’s hardly breaking the mould - although there is a segment shot in Magaluf, so hopefully we’ll get to look at some idiots. It’ll either be a tattoo of the name of a one-nightstand, or the classic 'MAGALUF 2k13'. Bets, please. Katie’s a good choice as host, as she’s not judgemental but she’s not a wet flannel either, and the subjects all clearly find her easy to talk to without needing to get defensive. There are a few interesting tidbits, for example watching Cherelle, a trainee lawyer, undergo dimple surgery. This £3,000 procedure involves having little pieces cut out of the inside of her cheeks, which are then sewn back together, leaving her with a permanent fish face. We also see what happens if you rip out someone’s earlobe extender, and it’s not pretty. But overall it’s pretty predictable stuff. The participants have poorly thought-out tattoos and lots of piercings, but they’re nothing you don’t see on an average night at Indie Lounge or Goth Soc (I assume.) Besides, Channel 4 has loads of other programmes on similar topics which are far more extreme, see My Tattoo Addiction or anything in the Bodyshock series for starters. This doesn’t even have good gory-surgery scenes. Plus they clearly haven’t got enough content to stretch it out to an hour, so half the programme is spent rehashing the back-story of every participant. As much as I do like Katie, this program is really trying to make something out of nothing. At the end of day, it’s an hour watching strangers getting laser removal. Meh.
All Things Scandinavia This week saw two programmes inviting us to revel in the glory of Scandinavia, from the gory world of the Vikings to the rather tamer exploits of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall today
Roanna Burt Tv Critic
The latest fad attracting viewers has been the allure of gruesome and sexy historical dramas, like Rome, Spartacus and The Tudors. The newest edition to this gory clan is The History Channel’s Vikings. Premiering in March 2013, this Canadian-Irish production delves into the lives and battles of Scandinavian Vikings and their legendary hero and raider, Ragnar Lothbrok, played by newcomer Travis Fimmel. Written by the team behind The Tudors, the first series contains less of the unnecessary raunch of Spartacus but has just as much action, gore and compelling dialogue as other big hits such as Game of Thrones. Vikings is in a category of its own, and confronts the era of exploration and raiding of the British Isles from the perspective of the Norsemen. It is an interesting take on an era of innovation, with revolutionary long boats and strategies
14th - 27th February 2014
Have You Seen? Girls Siobhan Palmer TV Critic
When Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow’s New York comedy Girls hit UK (computer) screens (totally legally) last year with unabashed discussion of abortion etiquette, opium tea and 'the stuff that gets up and around the side of condoms', I fell in love. It was relatable, modern, unpatronising and truly funny. Better than that, it was GIRLS being truly funny. With the new season now in full swing, (episode six airs on HBO next week) I have to admit that I’m not feeling the same level excitement when I watch it now. I think this is because the characters have become fundamentally unlikeable. The once beautifully nuanced people with a realistic mix of flaws, neuroses and redeeming features are becoming caricatures of themselves; a pitfall of many long-running sitcoms. In the first few episodes, Jessa has admitted and discharged herself from rehab in order for her grandmother to continue financing her New York life, Hannah has become self-absorbed to the extent of losing basic social skills, and Marnie has gone from an uptight but ultimately loveable character to a down-right mean person. When it originally aired, the show attracted criticism for being yet another sitcom about young, rich middle-class white girls, with no realistic diversity. These were true criticisms and, in that respect, the show was not as progressive as it got credit for. But these criticisms seem to have been taken on board in slightly the wrong way. ‘We know!’ the writers are effectively yelling at
for navigation, as well as the politics of inter-clan strife. Despite this capacity for indulgent and mindless brutality, Vikings deals with the nature of brotherhood and family within society, especially between Ragnor and his wife, Lagertha, a mother and shieldmaiden warrior in her own right. Relatively historically accurate, (despite the dodgy American and Australian accents creeping in from some actors), the scenes depicting Ragnar comparing religions and societies with his captive, a Christian Monk, are really quite thought-provoking and reinforce just how remarkable this period in history was. Still, there is an undeniable amount of hard-hitting violence and lusty Queens for the diehards. After all, it has been called a hairier, dirtier version of Game of Thrones, just with some pillaging thrown in. The show is clearly riding on the success of Game of Thrones with a fool-proof formula of sex and swords, but it also has enough historical and emotional weight to be a gripping series. Already nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards, Vikings is one not to be overlooked this year.
us as Hannah says she doesn’t care about her editor dying, ‘They're irresponsible and self-involved'. ‘Don't worry,’ they are shouting through Shoshanna’s unsubtle and unrealistic remark at Hannah’s 25th birthday party of, ‘Oh my God, isn’t it totally, like, crazy how like, little guys have achieved since graduating college?’ - ‘We are not glorifying their spoilt lifestyle'. Then, just to hammer the point home, in the next episode Marnie quits her job, buys a kitten, then gets mad at Hannah when she won’t come round and play with it. It’s becoming farcical. And the worst part about this loss of character in the show is that the male characters have undergone an opposite but equally heart-breaking loss of dynamism. In the first two seasons, the dudes were rounded, interesting supporting roles to an awesome cast of ladies. They have now become nothing but calm mediators in a pageant of hysterical and unlikeable women. Adam, the aloof ex-alcoholic hookup of Hannah’s has returned in series three as an unconditionally loving and committed live-in boyfriend. Ray, Shonshanna’s highly
"It was always a sitcom with a hint of irony, but now it's become just another moralising, middleof-the-road, middle-class sitcom." self-conscious and cynical ex, is now the rational, arbitrating observer, calling out Marnie on her excessive judgement and lack of direction and Hannah on her lack of feeling. After a shake-up at the end of season two, this is the first time the writing team of Girls is majority male. I’m not necessarily making a connection between these two things. I just think they are both worth mentioning. I loved the fact that Girls didn’t seem afraid to allow us to relate and empathise with not wholly savoury characters. Despite the fact the girls it focused on lived in nice
Scandimania Ever find yourself saying: ‘Well in Sweden they do this’ or ‘Norway is so great because’? There has been a lot of hype around Sweden, Denmark and Norway recently, partly due to the fact that they have been voted the happiest countries in the world. TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is showing us all why in his new documentary exploring the natural, cultural and culinary delights of these Scandinavian countries. These particular places are praised for their awe-inspiring natural landscape, amazing food, popular dramas and general high quality of living. Often seen as models of prosperity and equality, Sweden, Denmark and Norway are rapidly becoming the envy of the world. The first episode sees Hugh travel far from his English cottage, starting his journey in Sweden. He seeks out everything stereotypically Swedish – you guessed it, IKEA, ABBA and a spot of elk hunting. Hugh certainly sheds some light on all the wonders of Sweden but, being the culinary mogul that he is, his narrative often
Williamsburg apartments on non-existent wages, it didn’t feel sugar-coated. That’s quite a feat. If anything it was self-aware in this respect, and turned it into a focus of the show; the first ever episode introduced us to this theme, showing Hannah’s parents threatening to cut her off. It was always a sitcom with a hint of irony. But now it seems to have lost that element, and have become just as unrelatable and moralising as every other middle of the road, middle-class sitcom. The modern edgy truthfulness for which it was originally acclaimed is still there, but in token form. A five second shot of Gaby Hoffmann's unshaven fanny replaced all presence of honest feminist discourse. Girls season three is still worth the watch. Characters aside, it is still beautifully shot and structured, and has retained an individual aesthetic which is instrumental in its success. Unfortunately though, the flaws and neuroses in all the characters have become defining features, and for me, they are no longer the engaging or likeable characters that were going to get my privileged white arse through graduation and beyond.
flits back unnecessarily to the food side of Sweden, when I can’t help but think that there’s just so much more to see. It’s clear that the show needs to decide whether it’s a travel guide or a cooking programme. However, this documentary is certainly well-
"IKEA, ABBA, and a spot of elk hunting." balanced and isn’t just about the positives. Writers successfully juxtapose all this perfection with the nitty-gritty side of everyday life, in the form of rising inequalities facing immigrants integrating into society. It’s these interesting elements that reveal a capacity for more depths to be explored in Scandimania. So if you’ve got a penchant for all things Scandinavian, look out for this new series, even if it’s just to cringe at Hugh slipping into an outdoor hot-tub doing or his rendition of ABBA’s ‘Gimme Gimme’.
14th - 27th February 2014
Music EP Review: George Ezra - Did You Hear The Rain? Hannah Skolnick Music Critic
Album Review: Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire For No Witness
At just under fifteen minutes long, the foursong EP Did You Hear the Rain? marks George Ezra’s much hyped debut release. At just twenty, Ezra is creating something of a splash in the folksy(ish) scene- he was long listed for the BBC’s Sound of 2014, and MTV and iTunes have named him as a singer-songwriter to look out for in 2014. Kicking off with his first single, ‘Budapest’, it’s hard to resist the sing song lyrics and foot tap inducing beat. Named Zane Lowe’s Single of the Week, there is nothing overly spectacular about this songthough Ezra’s voice is undoubtedly engaging. Despite this, ‘Budapest’ is a more than acceptable three minute pop song, and boy is it catchy. Following ‘Budapest’ is the grittier, grisly toned blues number, the eponymous ‘Did You Hear the Rain?’ Equally catchy, but darker and with a greater depth, Ezra scratches and howls out his chorus ‘you can try and run and hide, tearing at the chain oh, Lucifer’s inside.’ Complete with full instrumentation, the sound is dense and imposing, yet some of his tonal delicacy has been lost in the studio recording- his acoustic version of this song, the one recorded at Glastonbury for instance, is far superior. Beefing out the EP are songs ‘Benjamin Twine’ and ‘Angry Hill’. The former, a ballad of sorts is an upbeat childhood reminiscence, with slightly predictable lyrics, and an equally predictable melody. The later is a quieter, more introverted, delicate acoustic song- ‘Angry Hill’ adds another, more subtle string to Ezra’s bow. This song feels more personal, Ezra’s lyrics are tender, and his voice is thin and weary. Moving forward, Ezra has already released a new single, ‘Cassy O’, taken from an EP of the same name due out next month, and his tour of the UK is mostly sold out. Despite being but four songs long, this EP displays the breadth of Ezra’s talent as a vocalist, and though comparisons to Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie seem a little farfetched, it is without a doubt that Ezra is one to watch.
Ludo Cinelli Music Editor
Up-and-coming artist Angel Olsen wasted no time in following up to her critically successful 2013 record Half Way Home. The Chicago-based songwriter releases Burn Your Fire For No Witness on the 18th of February, and it is good news. The sophomore album’s musical focus shifts from track to track; ‘Stars’ is a dreamy indie rock track not unlike 'The Walkmen' or 'Yuck'. ‘Hi-Five’ combines a bluesy rhythm with some understated guitars and slick piano work, not to mention some wailing worthy of Win Butler on Funeral. The slow folk song ‘Enemy’ is reminiscent of some of Laura Marling’s work. All this variation is mesmerising; the record beckons to be listened to. Olsen draws on so many different styles that she can’t help but sound fresh and original. Innovation appears again and again in the song structure too; while some tracks stick to a verse-chorus-verse formula, many are much more elusive. There is a perfect balance of the expected and the unpredictable, complemented by Olsen's lyrical
prowess. 'White Fire' contains the album's title in some exquisite lines; 'If you've still got some light in you / Then go before it's gone / And burn your fire for no witness / It's the only way it's done.'
"All this variation is mesmerising; the record beckons to be listened to" An extremely honourable mention should be given to Olsen’s impressively versatile voice. Whether the song requires a low, rumbling country-rock performance like ‘High & Wild’, or high notes sung with crystal clarity like on ‘Windows’, Olsen gets singing right every time. She barely sounds like the same person from song to song, passing from a whisper to a warbling, emotional croon. The vocals are a real treat and perhaps the album’s greatest strength. 'Forgiven / Forgotten' might be the best track on the album, and an evolution of the
hints of grunge found on Olsen's debut. The two minute lo-fi jam rocks a solid bassline and scratchy guitars worthy of Guided By Voices. No doubt this is Olsen incorporating elements of her former career in punk bands with her more refined sound. This is a move in an undiscovered direction, and hopefully there will be more of it where this excellent track came from.
"Olsen draws on so many styles that she can't help but sounding fresh and original." What Burn Your Fire For No Witness continues to show is promise from the young artist; she has varied influences, a knack for songwriting and an absolutely gorgeous voice. Angel Olsen has built on the success on her debut, and by the looks of it, she has more than enough steam to keep her exciting music coming.
14th - 27th February 2014
Tweet of the Week:
@justinbieber: 20 in 20 days
Single Review: The Orwells - The Righteous One
Single Review: Klaxons - There Is No Other Time Matt Moody Music Critic
Matt Moody Music Critic
If you’re a guitar band hailing from the east coast of America, being compared to The Strokes is almost a rite of passage. While such a comparison might have been valid in the past, The Orwells are headed in a new direction on ‘The Righteous One’. The new single does away with jangly guitars and double-time drums borrowed from New York’s finest and replaces them with an allusion to some of the finest moments of 90s guitar music. While the bass and lead guitar interplay is pure Pixies, frontman Mario Cuomo’s capricious delivery is what sets this apart from The Orwells’ previous work – surly descriptions of smoke filled rooms in the verse give way to a chorus that’s as heavy as it is catchy, with shouts of 'it’s not fair!' reminiscent of Nirvana when they were still having fun. Supporting America’s new favourite rock stars, Arctic Monkeys, on tour seems to have worked wonders for The Orwells: as well as borrowing their Helvetica on cream theme of ‘Suck It and See’ for the single’s artwork, the song itself is sharper than anything they’ve done so far. A recent slot on US chat show Letterman has them poised to break into the mainstream with a quality second album, and if this is anything to go by, it’s a safe bet.
Single Review: The Jezabels - The End
In 2007, Klaxons’ debut blew everything else out the water with a neon-splattered burst of energy that won the hearts of critics and music fans alike...and then they dropped right off the radar. After a seven year gap punctuated only by a disappointing second album, the band’s third had been starting to sound a bit like Nu-Rave’s answer to the Chinese Democracy: just crazy enough to be brilliant, or a crushingly strung-out disappointment. Comeback single ‘There Is No Other Time’ is pointing firmly towards
option B. Touted by the band as a return to form after 2010’s self-important, no-fun-allowed second album Surfing the Void, ‘There Is No Other Time’ is the complete opposite. Where songs like ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ were packed with exhilarating twists and turns, the new single trudges along over a hackneyed house beat and completely forgettable lyrics. Old Klaxons songs were so jam-packed with ideas that listening could be almost disorientating; so heavily does ‘There Is No Other Time’ rely on copying and pasting as a crutch for ideas that it led one Soundcloud commenter to mistake the track for a club remix, asking 'right, so where’s the original?' Of course there’s nothing wrong with 'moving forwards' as frontman Jamie Reynolds sings in the chorus, but less isn’t always more, and this is far from progress. A poor comeback single will do little to quell fans’ excitement for the new album, but on this evidence, Nu-Rave has been dead for years.
Jack Crowe Music Critic
It would be unfair to dismiss The Jezabels' new single, 'The End', as uninspired. On balance ‘predictable’ would be a better word or, kinder still, ‘OK’. While the vocals are earnest and the chorus’ warbly singalong is just a notch below earwig (woodlouse perhaps), there is little going on to support its declaration that 'I want a new beginning'. This sounds, at best, like a dated chart shrug; a U2 single never considered for the greatest hits. After the breakdown, where the band drops out, and whispery quietude near comically forecasts the finale’s rousing smarm, 'is this the end?' is a pretty appropriate question to be asking. Even as singer Hayley Mary pours her heart out, there is the feeling of boxes being ticked, of tab A being pushed into guitar B. The lyrics do occasionally stray from the pop-ache path, but lines like 'the highway I belong / Open ended as a wizard to the sun' only defamiliarize their vagueness. Nothing about 'The End' is terrible – not a reason to state its title in a broader, ‘of civilisation as we know it’ sense. That would be melodramatic, a trait the song verges on.
EP Review: Frank Turner Polaroid Picture Liv Raﬀerty Music Critic
Frank Turner was relatively unknown before his latest album Tape Deck Heart reached number one on the iTunes chart and with his songs being regularly played on Radio 1, it was like he'd just been discovered on Youtube. But in reality Frank Turner has been around for a long time, releasing his first album Sleep Is For The Week in 2007 and with three great albums following that he built up a respectable and loyal fan base. Frank Turner always remains down to earth and focuses on the music he produces remaining separate from the world of celebrity he could be a part of. As a result it means he constantly produces meaningful and well crafted songs, leading to his latest EP entitled Polaroid Picture. The most admirable thing about Turner is the way he weaves expressive narratives into every song, a great example of this talent, is his song 'Long Live the Queen' from his second studio album 'Love Ire & Song', where he tells an emotional tale of the death of his close friend. You can tell he truly
loves the art form and is a great purveyor of it. This admirable talent continues in his latest EP especially in the song 'Polaroid Picture', where the lyrics say, 'So honey I just need a little time / To take a little time today / To save all the triumphs and tragedies / before they slip away'. Each of the 5 songs on the EP gives you a different and significant insight into aspects of his life which I'm sure many can find meaning in for themselves. The 'Modern Leper', full of angst, is the compulsory song about self doubt and love, again with quirky expression, 'You must be a masochist, to love a modern leper'. As well as the slow songs you're likely to sway to, Turner also has the up-tempo song in there, 'Sweet Albion Blues' which you can see becoming a definite crowd pleaser on his very interactive live shows, another thing he is great at! Polaroid Picture is a great EP and a definite step in the right direction after is very successful album Tape Deck Heart. In these 5 songs alone, Frank Turner displays exactly what he can do, providing insight for the newer fans into this relatively low key artist, whilst remaining true to his roots and previous work for long standing supporters. Not only is Frank Turner a superb live act one who can actually sing, a rare occasion these days - but his song writing is impeccable, he's hard working and deserves all the success he can get. This Polaroid Picture EP is great extension of his previous work and is a great piece of art to listen to and appreciate.
14th - 27th February 2014
GMTG Exclusive: 'The Comedian' Georgia Tindale caught up with Josh Sood and Leo West for their upcoming musical 'The Comedian' Without giving too much away, could you give us a brief summary of the plot of 'The Comedian'? Leo: ‘The Comedian’ follows the rise to fame of stand-up comic Tim Adams, and how he copes with the new pressure that being a celebrity puts on his life. With a title like 'The Comedian,' should the audience expect a light-hearted evening when they come to see the play? Josh: Perhaps not! What’s unique about this show is that we use real stand-up comedy sets that break the fourth wall, and we hope audiences will really take to those. On the whole the story is essentially a tragic one. Leo: The idea was to tell the story as frankly as possible, and this leads to highs and lows alike; after all, stand-up comedians are people like everyone else. Where did your inspiration for 'The Comedian' come from? Leo: The original idea for the show was to adapt a Shakespeare play - Timon of Athens - into a musical, in the way that West Side Story is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Having said that, the show as it stands looks nothing like Timon of Athens - it evolved through the writing process, and it's better for it.
Do you have any favourite musicals which we might find hints of in 'The Comedian'? Josh: I was influenced by shows like Rent, Spring Awakening and Next to Normal where the scores are based on rock music. I also took stylistic influences from bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Beastie Boys and Oasis. Leo: Perhaps our greatest shared influence is Stephen Sondheim. We wanted to write something that was recognisably musical theatre, while deliberately making unusual decisions - risks, if you like. Is it a ‘musical of our time'? Josh: Given the latest media scandals and the relationship between the press and celebrities, I would say that this is a contemporary musical dealing with contemporary issues, and is certainly relevant to today's society. How has working together been so far? Josh: I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Leo. I think the fact that we're both so determined to see this show succeed has really helped to motivate us. Leo: The most encouraging thing - and the reason the project got finished, I think - is the constant enthusiasm having a writing partner brought. This is a brand new musical straight out of your heads. Is it coming together as you expected it to on the stage? Leo: There have been compromises, as there are with any-
thing. Having said that, the picture that's coming together is close enough to the one in my head for it to be weird and elating. Josh: We've had an overall vision for the show which has been stuck to fairly consistently. At the same time we've wanted to give the actors as much room for expressing themselves as possible, to see what ideas they can bring to the table. Finally, are you hatching plans for future shows? Josh: We haven't got anything concrete lined up yet, but I think we're hoping that we would be able to receive a professional production of the show in some shape or form in the future. The show is running between 25th February and 1st March in the Debating Hall. Buy tickets at: www.guildtickets.co. uk/gmtg
'Some Girl That I Used To Know' Laura Simmons Critic
Denise Van Outen stars as Stephanie Canworth in a onewoman show about a successful designer who speaks directly to the audience about her love life. The staging was aesthetically pleasing, set as it is in a spacious hotel room with bright lighting. The play itself is good overall. It begins a bit slowly, partly due to long pauses between the ‘bleeps’ of texts. The play also has theatrical elements, as Denise Van Outen uses this opportunity to showcase her singing ability. She has a nice clear voice and masters it with good control and depth. There were times when the music overpowered her and perhaps she could have experimented with her higher range to make the songs more interesting. I found the musical element to be entertaining at first, but after the second song every other one that followed sounded the same. Sometimes she would even sing the same song again. The issue with too many songs is that they prevent the story from progressing. It became irksome when she was telling the audience a pivotal moment of her story and then broke out into an irrelevant song. After a while, no one could care. The play is best suited to a middle-aged audience. There are references to celebrities from Van Outen’s time and a younger generation would probably miss these. Van Outen has good stage presence and makes use of the space well. Her interaction with the audience does achieve some laughs, as the script has a few good jokes that were well timed.
"I disliked her casual outfit and would have preferred something more playful and feminine" For the majority of the play, she wears ‘jogging bottoms’ and a plain black top. Her costume varies little, as she slips out of black items into more casual attire for night. I disliked her casual outfit and would have preferred something more playful and feminine as seen on her leaflet. Her character has a masculine edge because of her physicality, as she adopts typically male stances. Denise Van Outen is a good performer and has written an interesting script on the whole. If the storyline was longer, slightly more complicated and included fewer songs, it
Closer look at:
Famous comedians, West End shows, 100 years of history - it can only be the New Alexandra Theatre The New Alexandra Theatre, commonly known as the Alex, is a theatre located on Station Street in central Birmingham. The theatre has had a turbulent history, changing ownership around ten times since its construction over a century ago in 1901, and has even been supported by local residents of Birmingham, making up 85% of its ownership. Following a series of refurbishments every few decades, the New Alexandra (so named in January 2006) is regularly host to musicals and plays that tour after their successful West End runs in London.
The theatre currently seats 1,371 and has played host to many comedians in recent years including Stewart Lee, Seann Walsh, Jack Dee and Micky Flanagan, each having performed commercially successful runs of their shows. For more information on the theatre’s programme, see the ATG ticket website at: www.atgtickets.com/venues/newalexandra-theatre-birmingham/
14th - 27th February 2014
'The Last Five Years' @ What's On: The Old Joint Stock
With Valentine's Day approaching, is there love in the air? Jess Syposz Critic
It’s here again. Valentine’s day is looming, and the constant reminders of romance are enough to make even the most dewy-eyed young Romeo vomit. So what has the lovely Old Joint Stock got in store for us to banish the blues? Boy meets Girl. Boy and Girl fall in love. In New York. Pretty clichéd, right? On the surface, maybe. Nevertheless, Jasons Robert Brown's semi-autobiographical musical makes for a moving and intimate two hours that is a little different from the traditional fare. The Last Five Years tells the tender love-story of Jamie, an ambitious writer, and Cathy, a struggling actress, who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. For Jamie, the tale begins in 2000 just after their first date and ends at the demise of the marriage in 2005. Cathy's side of the story is told in reverse, working backwards from the end of their relationship to the day they first met. It's this interesting time device, coupled with engaging songs, that allow it to be more than just another tired love story.
"The pressure really is on the actors to produce solos of merit, but they don’t disappoint" The death of their relationship is told through a series of solos; the characters never directly interact except for the sublime wedding duet 'The Next Ten Minutes.' The pressure is really on the actors to produce solos of merit, but they don't disappoint. Chloe Jean is superb as Cathy, fully inhab-
iting the role during each painful post-break-up moment and every hopeful dream for the future. Karl Steele's Jamie is extroverted and charming, but his portrayal also hints at hidden doubts and regrets. The songs are an eclectic mix of styles, with everything from pop, jazz and folk to Jewish klezmer music. Wistful ballads and heartfelt laments like 'I'm A Part of That' and 'Still Hurting' contrast with the pithy humour of 'A Summer in Ohio' and the punchy rock 'n' roll of 'Shiksa Goddess.' Added energy came in the form of pianist Ian Stephenson, who accompanied them live on stage. The Old Joint Stock is known for offering its audience affectionate freebies that relate to the play: this time a whiterose on every seat and a bag of sweets as wedding favours. It’s little touches like this which give each performance a more personal feel.
"...it is rarely dark or clever enough to be a complete subversion of the genre"
Penny for your thoughts: free tickets for reviews
Join us Wednesday at 2pm in Student Development Tap Factory Dance @ New Alexandra Sun 16th February 7:30pm World Tour Three of a Kind Ballet @ Hippodrome Weds 19th February 7:30pm 2 Free tickets (or £15) Prince of the Pagodas Ballet @ Hippodrome Tues 25th February - 7:30pm 2 Free Tickets (or £15)
Maybe it won't offer anything startlingly new to musical romances and it is rarely dark or clever enough to be a complete subversion of the genre. But in its bittersweet way, The Last Five Years fights against what so many other musicals and romances have led us to believe. Sometimes love doesn't always triumph against all the odds. Not in the tragic, doomed-lovers style of something like West Side Story, but through a love that sadly and quietly unravels over time. So maybe the Power of Love isn't everlasting, but the power of musicals is enough to move and surprise us. This theatre comes highly recommended, and look out for Karl Steele in the Old Joint Stock's upcoming production of Avenue Q.
'The Dishwashers' @ The REP Diana Murgulet Critic
'Emmett used to be a high flyer in the City until the financial crisis abruptly changed his life. He was used to dining upstairs amongst the glitterati but today he’s back with a new career – as a dishwasher.' The Dishwashers by Morris Panych is a play about belonging, class, ideals and culture. It offers a close-up of a hidden world marked by anonymity, one that we fail to notice but still rely on. The play was not plot driven and there was little action. However, the carefully crafted set and
the witty lines combined with the skill of the three actors made the show a worth-seeing production. The artificial (neon provided) light and the lack of windows in the room highlighted the claustrophobic nature of life in the basement of the restaurant where the three main characters worked.
The greasy looking walls with the missing tiles came in contrast with the purpose of the location and with what a customer would expect to see behind the doors of a fancy restaurant. The smoke and fog amplified the sensation of obscurity and neglect. The stairs were used as a separation line, dividing a world of money, music and laughter from a world of frustration and dirty plates. David Essex’s performance as Dressler was flawless, Andrew Jarvis’ character - an
old man who has spent most of his life working there - was extremely powerful, making the audience burst into laughter with his mumblings but also causing a stirring sadness with his decrepitude. The director skilfully played with the cliché of white light as a representation of death, stressing the old man’s banal existence. I loved how the play questioned the idea of class and of
having a defined place in the society. Dressler growing carrots under UV light seemed to be a lesson of acceptance and adaptability for the young Emmett. The feeling of not-belonging in either world, leading to an existential crisis, was amplified by Emmett’s final speech and turned into a harsh reflection and criticism of today’s world with its labels and instability. As director Nikolai Foster states in an interview: 'one of the great things about the play is that it’s timeless and it could be anywhere, and that’s what makes the tragedy and the poignancy of these men’s lives and their stories universal.' The circularity of the play, with the young man that replaces Emmett introduced to the audience in the exact same way as Emmett was introduced comes to validate the truth of the director’s statement. The Dishwashers is on at The Rep until the 15th of February.
14th - 27th February 2014
Our Writers Review The Food Court Saﬁyyah Gareeboo
Go! Britannia, burrowed underground of University Centre, is a hidden gem in terms of finding a place to eat on campus. It is part of the wider refurbished and revitalised canteen areas across the university and it certainly offered an authentic flavour of great British food. I visited with a friend on a busy Thursday lunchtime at what I call peak time: 12:15. Although there was a queue, we didn't have to wait long as the efficiency and friendliness of the staff ensured orders were processed quickly.
Mexican food is already a very popular evening meal choice for those people looking for a quick-fix at the end of a long day if you really can’t be bothered with the hassle of spending an hour cooking over the stove followed by seemingly endless piles washing up to do. Due to the emphasis on strong spicy flavours, Mexican food can never be considered a bland or boring meal choice. It’s easy enough to make your own or you can also check out the Go! Mex food outlet at the food court when you’re on campus and need to grab a quick lunch in between lectures.
Typically, when eating on campus, I will grab a sandwich from the Mason Lounge and think nothing of it. If eating with friends, I may be pushed to have a jacket potato at Joe's or even have a burrito at Go! Mex of whom I'm an advocate. However, in delegating areas of the Food Court to review, I felt it only fair that I should try
As somebody who is generally quite sceptical of the methods used in the catering industry, I had mentally prepared myself for waste of epic proportions and cheap ingredients bought in bulk before starting my first shift at Go! Central. How wrong I was!
"We didn't have to wait long at all!" I chose the fish, chip and pea special undoubtedly a true British classic. My friend, on the other hand, opted for the less traditional southern fried chicken dish. This might not be a distinctly iconic British meal, but there were a variety of dishes available to select from. In addition to the meals we picked, there were also the options of two other types of chicken, a chorizo and chicken pasty, gammon and vegetarian chilli. These could all be accompanied by side orders comprising of mashed potatoes, chips, peas and beans, as well as complimentary sauces.
"There were plenty of available seats" The condiments were all laid out neatly and there was plenty of space to find a seat. My friend commented that at other places to eat across campus, it can often be difficult to find somewhere to sit and eat your meal, but this wasn't the case at Go! Britannia. Moving on to a review of the food - the fish was cooked beautifully; a crispy outer case of batter encrusted a medium sized fillet piece. The side orders were on a serve yourself basis, which was advantageous depending on how hungry you were feeling. The peas were slightly soggy, although this is only a minor criticism and did not affect my overall enjoyment of the dish.
"Soggy peas are my only complaint!" Likewise, my friend was satisfied with her meal. At a bargain price of £3.25 for the chicken and chips combo, this dish was widely popular. The seasoning provided a spicy coating to the chicken, although the meat was on the bone and it would have been easier to cut had it been presented as a fillet piece.
"Bargin at £3.25 for the whole meal...it's worth a visit" In all, Go! Britannia is part of the student friendly sector in the new food canteen area. Offering a selection of dishes associated both with our homeland and others from across the pond, this place is definitely worth a visit for your lunch!
"Make your way to Go! Mex for a speedy lunch mid-way through a busy day" The menu includes burritos, nachos and fajitas. There isn’t that much variety, but the food is yummy and satisfying nonetheless. I opted for the classic burrito topped with rice, kidney beans, beef chilli, salsa and cheese. Instead of chilli, you could also choose grilled chicken pieces or pulled pork, which, I noticed, was quite a popular choice. Other additional toppings include sour cream, guacamole and mixed salad. If you’re looking for something with less carbs then the naked burrito may be a wise choice, this includes all of the toppings mentioned above minus the tortilla wrap, rice and beans. The price for a burrito with all the sides is £3.95, which I was very pleased with. Each burrito is sufficiently well stuffed with your chosen fillings so you definitely get your money’s worth even though you find yourself losing most of it once you start tucking in!
"Kick back and relax with a tasty meal" You are offered the choice of eat in or take away which is handy if you’re in a rush. I discovered that eating in might not have been the best option when attempting to get your mouth around the wrap whilst trying so hard to eat in an elegant manner and not lose any of the food in the process. If you are looking for a change of scenery, however, there is plenty of seating space available and the atmosphere is calm and chilled if you wish to do work at the same time or just kick back and relax whilst enjoying a tasty meal.
"I'm pleased to say, I was not disappointed!" something new. I am a massive fan of Indian food. The spices, the flavours, the colours - everything about it is fabulous. However, as you may know from reading our Chinese New Year issue, sticky-sweet food is not a favourite of mine and I will go to any lengths to avoid it. Therefore, on choosing to write about Go! Asia, I enlisted the help of a friend to make sure we tasted the best of everything on offer. There were plenty of seats to spare as we arrived slighly earlier than what you'd call 'conventional' lunch time. We were right to do so because the place filled up within minutes.
"The dish was spicy but not overpowering and the flavours were lovely." Queuing up, we passed sealed plates of sushi, soups and snacks which were all tempting but unfortuately too cold for a winter's day. Our food was served piping hot and I'm pleased to say, we were not disappointed! My friend chose the 'Oriental dish of the day', which was a sweet chicken dish, and had it served with the egg noodles which she thoroughly enjoyed. I went for the chicken Dhansak (as opposed to the vegetarian version) and chose to have the basmati rice. The dish was spicy but not overpowering and the flavours were lovely. We also tried the spring rolls and onion bhajis, both 90p. Both were a decent size and, when smothered in the free sweetchilli dipping sauce, they were very tasty. That's not to say they aren't tasty without the sauce, we simply forgot to give them the chance. Go! Asia won't provide the best Indian or Chinese food you've ever tasted, but it will certainly give you a lot of good food for a very good price. Perfect for a campus lunch break.
"The food is fresh and fillings are all made from scratch" The staff were very kind, and quickly explained what I had to do; even though they have to explain this to every student who covers a shift there, they were very patient and helpful throughout the day. My fears and doubts about campus food were swiftly curbed as I began to see how much it exceeded my expectations. The food used was fresh, with many fillings, if not most, being prepared from scratch on site using simple ingredients. The staff made a whole range of fillings, from coleslaw to potato salad, all in the kitchen area just behind where the food is served in between Go! Central and Go! Mex. I was similarly surprised to see that the products used were of great quality, much of it was the same stuff we use at home on much bigger scales. From tortilla chips to salsa, I'm not surprised that students love the taste - it's probably what most of us pick up on our shopping anyway! This made a great change to the cheaper substitute ingredients used by other food outlets off-campus, and my cruelty-concious mind was put at ease by the use of free range eggs used in the mayonnaise. In fact, in 2011 the University of Birmingham was given a Good Egg award, meaning that all egg ingredients used within the University are sourced from cage-free eggs.
"In 2011 the university was given a Good Egg award." In addition to this, what pleased me the most was the general lack of waste. Fillings were made as and when they were needed, which was often, us students are a hungry bunch! This ensured they wouldn't be out for too long and there wouldn't be a lot to throw away after. Whilst some last-order students did sometimes seem disappointed that the odd filling had run out, I think that it was much better to have a little bit of restricted choice towards closing time as opposed to masses of waste at the end.
"They restored my faith in campus food." Overall I was very happy that I had this experience; yet again Worklink were able to allocate me to an enjoyable shift on campus and restored my faith in campus food at the same time. I have since been many times, and certainly plan on continuing to go.
14th - 27th February 2014
Review: Bodega Gemma Bridge Food Editor
To suggest ingredient issues that you want solved, email: email@example.com Ingredient Ideas
Location Bodega is pretty hidden, located mid way down Bennett’s Hill. It is close to New Street and to the shops so it is a perfect choice for a spontaneous lunch out or a meal with friends. Atmosphere The restaurant has amazingly colourful bright blue walls and contrasting colourful chairs. The artwork on the wall makes the restaurant look a bit like an artist's studio. There was cool Latin American music playing in the background which added to the relaxed and decidedly cool atmosphere.
"I would go back just for the nachos- they were divine!"
When you just don't know what to do with your last....
Lemon Lemons are such a versatile ingredient that can be used for all sorts of purposes around the home, such as cooking and cleaning. They also have great medicinal properties if you’re ever in need of a quick and easy homeopathic remedy. These are just a few ideas for using up that last sad looking lemon sitting at the back of your fridge.
"The churros were so amazing! Sweet and sticky" I also decided to try the flambed bananas which were very sweet and rich but still amazingly moreish. The food was also very reasonably priced and great value for money!
01. Refreshing lemon fizz: Instead of using your regular Tesco or Sainsbury’s own bottled lemonade to mix with your evening alcoholic beverage; opt to make the fresh and healthier version. First pour out your choice of alcohol into a glass, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon (watch out for pips!), add some ice and then top up with sparkling water and some apple juice. Sweeten with a little sugar if necessary. Fresh taste guaranteed!
02. Zesty lemon cupcakes: Food There was lots to choose from on the extensive menu. With a range of South American favorites like nachos, which I could not refuse, and burritos which looked and smelt amazing! I think I might have to go back to Bodega just to try their burritos. The main dishes on offer were varied. I had steak which was cooked to perfection.
Drink The was a large array of drinks on offer. From cocktails like margaritas to fresh juices and coffees. Aqua fresha was one of the juice specials that was available and this freshly made fruity drink was very refreshing - perfect accompaniment to the Mexican feast that I enjoyed at Bodega.
I first discovered Hummingbird Bakery a few years ago when I purchased their signature cookbook. I would highly recommend the buy; you will be spoilt for choice with their creations! This is their recipe for classic lemon cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 170C/ 150Cfan; in a large bowl add 120g of plain flour, 150g of caster sugar, 1 ½tsp of baking powder, 40g of butter and 2tbsp of lemon zest, beat this all together. Slowly add 120ml of milk and 1 egg and continue beating. Spoon into paper cases and bake for 12-20 minutes (depending on your oven type). For the lemon icing, beat together 75g of butter, 200g of icing sugar and 2tbsp of lemon zest until light and fluffy. Heaven!
03. Tangy lemon chicken:
It was served with an interesting side salad, a spicy coleslaw and the most amazing sweet potato chips I have ever eaten - I would go to Bodega just for them!
"It was the best cooked steak I have ever eaten!" For dessert there was not that large a selection, however, what was on offer looked delicious. I decided to try the churros, these were deep fried batter strips similar to doughnuts that were dusted with sugar and cinnamon and served with a caramel dipping sauce.
Service The waitresses were very kind and helpful. There was no long wait for the food or drink and throughout our meal we were asked how the food was and whether we needed anything else. Overall experience A traditional Latin American atmosphere with helpful staff and excellent service. The food and drink were amazing and I will definitely be going back! I would advise booking a table if you are going for dinner though as the restaurant seemed very popular!
Add some fruity zing to your Chinese chicken stir-fry using this lemony sauce. In a small bowl, mix together ½ tbsp of honey, juice of half a lemon, ½ tbsp of soy sauce and 125ml of chicken stock. Dice up 1 or 2 chicken breasts and coat with plain flour. Fry the chicken for a few minutes until browned and cooked through. Add your choice of veg to the pan and then proceed to add the lemon sauce and heat through.
04. Freshen your home: You may often come across some rather unsavoury smells in your home. Whether it’s a funky odour from your fridge or a musty scent in the bedroom, an easy homemade air freshener will do the trick. Combine 1tsp of bicarbonate of soda and 1tsp of lemon juice to create a white paste. Add 500ml of hot water and mix. Leave this mix to cool before placing in the area of the home where it is required. Sarah Dickinson Food Writer
14th - 27th February 2014
Science & Technology
Controversial cancer Creature Feature: The Quokka! campaign Named the happiest animal on the planet, it's not difficult to see why we
have chosen to feature this little guy. Quokkas are nocturnal marsupials, and
Soumya Perinparajah Science and Tech Editor
Pancreatic Cancer Action, a UK charity aiming to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer, has sparked debate this week following its current campaign. The ‘I wish I had breast cancer’ poster has been particularly controversial, featuring 24 year old Kerry, who is a pancreatic cancer sufferer herself. Both cancer sufferers and cancer charities have voiced their opinions, with views being polarised. Samia al Qadhi, the chief executive at Breast Cancer Care, says 'It is unhelpful to pit one cancer against another’,' but Macmillan Cancer Support have backed the campaign, with their joint chief medical officer Prof Jane Maher emphasising that pancreatic cancer has a poor survival rate. In her defence, Ali Stunt, the founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action and a pancreatic cancer survivor herself, stresses that the point of the posters has unfortunately been misinterpreted. 'Our advert is not stating that someone wished they had cancer but rather they wish they could swap pancreatic cancer with a cancer that gives them a better chance of survival.'
Pancreatic cancer has a mere 3% five-year survival rate, compared to a significantly higher 85%, 97% and 67% five-year survival rate for breast, testicular and cervical cancers respectively - this is the very point that Pancreatic Cancer Action wished to highlight in their campaign.
are only found on certain islands off the West Australian coast.
"It is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, and is often diagnosed in its terminal stages" Despite the controversy, the campaign has been successful in putting pancreatic cancer in the spotlight. It is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, and is often diagnosed in its terminal stages or even left undiagnosed due to its very vague symptoms including abdominal pain, jaundice, weight loss, lack of appetite and back pain. Patients face an average life expectancy of four to six months, with surgery being the only treatment option.
Snow, Carbon & Polyurethane: The high-tech ingredients of the Winter Olympics Beth Carney Writer
Its halfway through the ice cool Winter Olympics and as well as watching some incredible athletes and witnessing new sports, there have also been a number of new technologies showcased by Team USA in Sochi. The first thing that caught my eye was the skis that use nanotubes in their construction. These nanotubes are sheets of carbon atoms that can be rolled up like chicken wire which form minuscular tubes, 10-9m wide to be precise! As a result of rolling up the sheets of carbon atoms, the strength of the tubes are greater than steel or diamond and with their low weight, nanotubes are ideal for being used in skis. So where exactly are they in the skis and what advantage do they present? The nanotubes are placed between the layers of the skis, holding them together whilst the skiers speed down the mountain’s rough terrain. As a skier hits a mogul (mounds of snow that build
up) or unexpected bumps in the terrain, the skis absorb an enormous amount of energy. The nanotubes then spread out the energy
"The nanotubes are placed between the layers of the skis, holding them together whilst the skiers speed down the mountain's rough terrain" which dampens the vibrators creating a smoother ride. A second use of carbon has also been seen in the vehicles for the bobsled, luge and skeleton. This time it is carbon fibre adding the edge to the sport equipment technology. Although you may be quite familiar with carbon fibre
used in F1 cars, tennis rackets and bike frames, the carbon fibres used in the redesign of the sleds have been made using a different technique by BMW. This technique has allowed precise control over the density of the vehicles and sheds 22.7kg off its weight. So could the USA end their 78 year bobsleigh medal drought? A final technological improvement for Team USA is in the lycra suits used by the speed skaters. Under Armour, an American sports clothing company, teamed up with Lockheed Martin, an American aerospace, defence and security company to develop the new suits and the development process is equally as impressive as the suits themselves. The skiers were fitted with special sensors that tracked their body movement as they sped around the track. The sensors gathered information, which was used to build fibreglass mannequins that mimicked a series of positions. Then the real testing began, as suits were fitted to these mannequins that were then put through hours of vigorous testing in wind tunnels. As a result of these exper-
iments, a number of design changes have been made. Polyurethane shapes have been added to the suits to block the airflow on certain parts of the body, and different material has been used to decrease friction on areas where there was a high air resistance. Also, the zip has been moved and dimples have been added to the back of the hood all to increase the aerodynamics of the suit. The Americans think that this ‘Mach 39’ suit has the edge over everyone else but the Dutch had something to say about that on the first day of the Olympics. Now it would be unfair only to let the Americans have the advantage in these Winter Olympics with all their high tech design. The International Olympic Committee have this year made it a standard to use an electronic start gun. This gun is not limited by the speed of sound and instead when triggered, it gives off a flash of light and speakers behind the athletes sound a starting bang. So keep watching the Winter Olympics and see if this new technology has given the USA the edge!
14th - 27th February 2014
Mystery disease for US starfish
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Rachel Taylor looks into what is causing sick starﬁsh
Marine Biologists, Prof. Drew Harvell and Assistant Prof. Ian Hewson from Cornell University, have begun to genetically investigate the pathogen responsible for Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. This is a horrific disease which has spread throughout Starfish across the Pacific coastline since June. As the source is still unknown, they are compiling the genetic sequencing data of bacteria and viruses found on the starfish to see if it is caused by an external pathogen. This is the largest loss of starfish in living memory, and it is still unknown whether it is also linked to a smaller outbreak on the east coast near Maine and Rhode Island, or if it has infected any other marine life. The race is on to stop the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome from spreading to more than the 12 currently infected species, whose limbs have
formed ulcers and twisted away from their bodies until they tear and fall off. Usually starfish can re-grow any lost limbs, but this illness spreads across the body, leaving their innards in a pulpy mass, killing the organism. The, as yet unidentified, cause of the disease could even be a sign of environmental stress. For example, warm water currents in the ocean, which tissue decay and fragmentation are normally a sign of. This is why Western Washington University’s Dr. Benjamin Miner is performing experiments on the disease’s transmission. He does this by placing a group of diseased and healthy starfish in shared tanks and another group in separate tanks with shared water, to see if the transmission could be via a shared current. Meanwhile, Prof. Pete Raimondi’s University of California team is
mapping the outbreaks to determine if there is a single origin of infection, or many. Two websites have already been set up to help track the spread of the infected starfish. So, if you’re scuba-diving in the Pacific coast of the US any time soon, you may want to take a look at these: www. sickstarfish.com and seastarwasting.org.
Plans for Valentine’s day? Well take some advice from these crazy creatures!
Cold-blood, warm heart? Claire Harris
Science and Tech Editor
It appears that even cold-blooded reptiles need someone now and then! Research into socialising amongst these scaly critters shows that veiled chameleons thrive better when they are in contact with others. They are reported to be more confident when around their conspecifics, and what’s more, they even turn brighter colours! Two’s company, so they say.
Polite marmosets We could all learn a thing or two from these master conversationalists. It seems as if marmosets politely wait to for each other’s calls to have finished before responding. Much like human conversation, they even speed up their replies to match each other. This is the first evidence of its kind from the animal world, and could aid studies into the evolution of human chit-chat. So the next time you feel the need to interrupt your date, take a leaf out of the marmoset’s book: listening is key!
Dolphins never forget Allie and Bailey the bottlenose dolphins began their acquaintance more than 20 years ago in Florida. Yet Bailey still remembers the signature whistle used to represent Allie’s name, more than two decades later! It is one of the longest standing social memories from the animal kingdom, and further research suggests Bailey isn’t a special case. Experiments show that bottlenose dolphins respond to calls of their past tank mates, no matter how long the separation. Jason Bruck, a biologist at the University of Chicago, believes that dolphins aren’t just remembering sounds either; their behaviour suggests they actually remember absent friends. One thing's for sure, these dolphins sure know how to hold a candle!
14th - 27th February 2014
Birmingham's fencers maintain unbeaten record
Charlotte Wilson Photography Editor
Birmingham men's fencing 1sts advanced into the quarter finals of the BUCS Trophy with a convincing 126-107 win over Nottingham 1sts. Having advanced through the competition unbeaten, Birmingham’s team of five were eager to retain their unblemished title.
"Having advanced through the competition unbeaten, Birmingham's team of five were eager to retain their unblemished title" The teams started with the sabre and newcomer Tom Hendra launched the Brum boys into a comfortable lead with a handful of successful parries and subsequent counter-attacks. However, this lead was shortlived and, despite Birmingham making several attempts to claw back their initial lead, Nottingham turned up their offensive and emerged victorious 45-36. Unperturbed by the early loss, Birmingham came into their own in the following two categories; foil and épée. Tensions ran high in the foil when several of Birmingham’s charges were thwarted by the determined opposition, allowing them to edge their point score back up. Yet the home team refused to yield and put in a strong combined performance with Pascal Delany denying Nottingham even a single touch in the fifth bout and Greg Carty stretching their lead impressively in the eighth. The match climaxed on the épée. Touches were largely calm and collected with a few impressive lunges striking home on the deft feet of Nottingham’s fencers. Pascal Delany, team captain, voiced his delight over the team’s success in the tough match. Pleased with the collaborative efforts in the sabre, especially given that only one of the three actually play that particular weapon, Delany said he knew they could edge into success in the foil and épée. Special mention went to newcomers Tom Hendra and Joe Schumacher whose solid performances have ‘helped boost the squad'.
"A cup win certainly seems plausible for Birmingham's fencers and with their next match possibly taking place in the grandeur of the great hall, they're certainly a team to watch" A cup win certainly seems plausible for Birmingham’s fencers and with their next match possibly taking place in the grandeur of the great hall, they’re certainly a team to watch.
14th - 27th February 2014
Sharks brush Cambridge aside Birmingham Sharks
Aussie rules social secretary
The University of Birmingham's Aussie rules side, The Sharks, began 2014 with their first away win over Cambridge in two years. Despite horrid weather across the country, the game managed to go ahead at the Coldhams Common facility, with the pitch being in good shape considering. The Shark’s line-up combined a mixture
"The Shark's line-up combined a mixture of experienced internationals and inexperienced first year players, still in the infancy of their football careers"
of experienced internationals and inexperienced first year players, still in the infancy of their football careers. The first quarter saw a big start for the Sharks, with stand in match day captain Alex Markham kicking the first goal of the afternoon. More goals followed with both Sam Willatt and playercoach Will Slatter slotting from marks, putting the Sharks firmly in control. Cambridge's slow start saw them kick only one goal in the first quarter leaving the score at Cambridge 1.1 7 Birmingham 3. 2. 20 After the quarter-time break the game continued in much the same manner as the first quarter. Strong rebounding defence from the half-back line, lead by Luke Murchie and Olly Harvey, saw any Cambridge venture into the forward line quickly turned into a Shark’s attack. A combination of quick ball movement and strong attack on the contested footy saw the Sharks open up a big lead. Willatt kicked his second, with resident full forward Ian Kafka also getting on the score sheet. Jack Wood topped off a great quarter by wheeling around and slotting a big goal after a strong mark. Cambridge themselves had opportunities to bring the half time margin closer, but missed chances saw them goalless in a second quarter dominated by the visitors. The second half saw Birmingham take their turn to miss several chances to put the
game beyond Cambridge’s reach, with only one goal being scored. Cambridge were restricted to only three scoring shots, with one resulting in a goal. The ruck work from Tommy Deo and Ryan Crawley throughout was outstanding, giving the on-ballers a constant supply of possessions at stoppages. Debutant Luke Costa also played an outstanding game in the middle, taking several big grabs and running hard throughout. By the end of the third quarter it looked like the Sharks were on course for the win, with Cambridge needing a big last quarter to rescue the game and wipe out a 34 point deficit. The final quarter saw Cambridge give
"A combination of quick ball movement and strong attack on the contested footy saw the Sharks open up a big lead" the Sharks a bit of a scare, as indiscipline led to several chances for the more experienced home side. The hosts bagged two goals early on leaving the Sharks worrying about their missed opportunities. Yet the defence ral-
"By the time the final whistle blew, a largely dominant display from the away team was reflected on the scoreboard"
lied, with President Ollie Di-Lieto showing his international pedigree to steady the ship, and Luke Murchie throwing in a huge hit in the half-back line. The fourth quarter saw several behinds being kicked by the Sharks but finally Kafka scored a major after playing on and sending a wobbly kick through the big sticks from 15 metres out. By the time the final whistle blew, a largely dominant display from the away team was reflected on the scoreboard; Cambridge 4.7.31 plays Birmingham 8.13.61. This was an important win for the Sharks in a tough game in which Cambridge’s slow start ended up costing them, with too much ground to make up after a poor first quarter. Best-on-Ground went to ruck-man Ryan Crawley for his excellent performance in the middle, with the Best Fresher award going to Luke Costa for an incredible display through the middle. Half-back Luke Murchie was awarded the Hard Hat for his big hit in the final quarter.
14th - 27th February 2014
Debate Should Kevin Pietersen have been dropped? No
Firstly let’s make it clear. Kevin Pietersen is one of England’s greatest ever batsmen. With outstanding technique and powerful, creative strokes wowing crowds, he has championed Test cricket. This is a man who has made 13,797 runs, including a starring role in his debut Ashes series in 2005. It was his 158 that all but secured the title against unquestionably one of the best Australian Test sides in a long time. But as the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end”. Perhaps Pietersen is fortunate that it did not end sooner. There are questions as to whether England made KP feel special enough. Why should they have to? Pietersen is a grown 33 year old man who should be able to perform and not get into arguments with his teammates without being told that he is the star man around which the team is being built. The idea that one player should be given special treatment because he is volatile is a simply outrageous notion. Still, arguably yet more ludicrous was Shane Warne’s suggestion that rather than being dropped, Pietersen should be made vice captain, and given an authoritative role in the team. Let’s just remember KP’s last stint in a role of authority in the international setup. It was disastrous throughout and ended up with him losing his position as captain after a bust up with Peter Moores, who also lost his job. Placing the 33 year old in a position of authority would set completely the wrong precedent, and show the younger players of the team that selfishly troublesome behaviour will be rewarded. This would be the ultimate ignominy for respectable members of the team such as Matt Prior. Sir Alex Ferguson was famous in his approach that no single player was bigger than the team. This was a notion that saw players such as David Beckham, Jaap Stam and Ruud Van Nistelrooy amongst others leave Old Trafford. There have been fears for a long time now that Kevin Pietersen felt he was bigger than this England team. That his team-mates were just lesser participants
in the Kevin Pietersen show. Imagine captaining a player who feels he is more important or better than you. This was arguably the fate faced by Alistair Cook. The fact is that KP was fortunate to retain his place in the international setup after the South Africa/ Andrew Strauss debacle. Pietersen should have considered himself very lucky to be allowed to undergo the process of “reintegrating”. His bad-mouthing of fellow players and rumoured advice on how to remove Andrew Strauss from the crease should have been enough to end his playing days. That was the ultimate betrayal.
"England do not need troublesome players who think they are bigger than the team." Instead he was allowed to re-enter the fold for a further 18 months. The time is now right though for Pietersen to go. The ECB have made the correct decision in backing Alistair Cook, who at 29 will almost certainly succeed in breaking the record for the most runs for England. Four years Pietersen’s junior, this decision highlights the faith in both Cook’s talent and his captaincy skills, something which keeping Pietersen in the fold would certainly have undermined. KP is unfortunate to be the sole scapegoat of a poor Ashes series, but the time is right to integrate new blood, as the introduction of Ben Stokes has proved. While this should have extended throughout the setup, that is not to say that Pietersen deserved to retain his place. England do not need troublesome players who think they are bigger than the team. They do not need egos who will undermine team-mates. Thank you very much for the memories Kevin (of which there were many), but the time is now right to evolve, and Pietersen is rightfully one of those to fall in this process.
Kevin Pietersen is England’s leading run scorer in all forms of international cricket with more than 13,000 runs, he was England’s top run scorer on the never ending abomination of an Ashes tour and he was England’s second top run scorer in the summer Ashes. Many would say he was England’s best player, and yet the ECB say he will never play for England again. KP has had his well publicised problems in the past, losing the England captaincy after a conflict with head coach Peter Moores and the South Africa text-gate scandal being most infamous. He has often been maligned as an individual working in a team environment, an ego too big to fit in with the rest of the team. There have been plenty of times where it would probably have been the right to decision to rip up KP’s central contract, especially after the text-gate scandal, but the ECB decided to reintegrate him into the team, and everything seemed to be going better, so why now? The ECB have a dual reason for the enigmatic batsman’s departure, the meaningless rhetoric ‘we are building for the future’ and ‘he could not be relied on to trust captain Cook’. Firstly, if we are rebuilding for the future, why has Jimmy Anderson not
"If KP was out of form it would be understandable, however he has been one of our best batsmen over the last year." been dropped, he took 14 wickets at an average of 43 in Australia and his prowess looked to be waning. If KP was out of form it would be understandable, however he has
been one of our best batsmen over the last year and it is important to keep senior players as a core to mould youngsters around them. Many cricketers play until their late 30s and with Pietersen only being 33, it is possible to build for the next four or five
"KP's ego has never been a problem, every star player has it, and every successful team has a player with it." years with him being part of the plan. Also it has been said by former England bowler Darren Gough that KP has never got on so well with a team as the current one, making the timing of this announcement even stranger. In regards to not trusting Cook, it is impossible to comment on this, as the ‘wishey washey’ ECB statement gave no inclination as to how Pietersen has shown his distrust, or why this is an issue that can’t be worked on. They wouldn’t be the first two sportsmen to not get along but still work in a successful team. KP’s ego has never been a problem, every star player has it and every successful team has a player with it. Chris Gayle, Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt all have giant egos and that’s what makes them amongst the best players in their sport. England are now left with the talented but unintimidating and uncharismatic batsman such as Cook, Bell and Root, who are unlikely to put bums on seats and can’t take a game away from you like Pietersen. For KP this could be a lucky escape as he will now most likely enjoy the riches of being a travelling T20 specialist, whilst the ECB are left to make the tough decision of who will replace KP as England’s new scapegoat when things inevitably go wrong without him.
14th - 27th February 2014
Things to look out for this weekend
2. Team GB will have opportunities to claim medals in Sochi over the weekend with Yarnold and Rudman in the women's Skeleton and Zoe Gillings in the snowboarding.
Performance of the week
Tweet of the week
1. The FA Cup will be without two of the top clubs in England for the quarter final draw as Manchester City host Chelsea and Liverpool make the trip to Arsenal. With both home teams having recently lost to their opponents there will be extra incentive to make it into the next round.
@mikephillips009 '@NiallOfficial come down to training in the week big boy. Bring the rest of The Beatles with you'
Jenny Jones securing GB's first ever medal on snow
3. Tyson Fury returns to the ring this weekend as he takes on Joey Abell in his first fight since "retiring". Fury will be expected to coast through this fight.
The lighter side of sport
Last Sunday saw Rene Meulensteen return to Old Trafford as manager of Fulham for the first time since leaving in the summer. After crashing out of the FA Cup and sitting bottom of the league, Fulham took an unexpected early lead against Manchester United. They defended well before conceding two goals in quick succession, but salvaged a deserved point thanks to Darren Bent's tap-in in stoppage time.
1. An unnamed Bayern Munich player has been warned by his sponsors, Adidas, that he must not practise the controversial 'religion' scientology. Included in the player's contract was a clause stating that the sportswear company could terminate the contract if he belonged to an organistation associated with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
15/1 With several competitive games scheduled for this weekend's FA Cup action these are the odds for both sides to score in: Arsenal v Liverpool, Manchester City v Chelsea, Sunderland v Southampton, Cardiff v Wigan and Brighton v Hull. Goals, goals, goals.
2. USA Bobsledder Johnny Quinn found himself trapped in the lift in his hotel only days after getting locked in his bathroom. The former NFL players is adament he's not accident prone, just unfortunate!
Photo of the week
Online this week
Sport quiz 1. How many goals were scored in the last round of the FA Cup? 2. Who is the all-time leading try scorer in the Six Nations? 3. How old is team GB's bornze medalwinning snowboarder Jenny Jones? 4. How much did IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore pay for Kevin Pietersen in 2009?
Beckham's Miami Mission Constaninos Akrivos takes a look at David Beckham's plan to set up a club in Miami and asseses the risks involved for the former England captain.
Six Nations review: Ellie Jones reviews the second round of games in this year's Six Nations.
5. How many defeats has Tyson Fury had in his professional boxing career? 1.28 2.Brian O'Driscoll (26) 3.33 4.$1,550,000 5.None
The David Moyes Debate Alex McKenna takes a look at Manchester United's current woes and questions whether David Moyes deserves more time or not.
The Redbrick Crossword
Successful completion of this week's crossword could win you a drink from Starbucks, because it's cold and miserable outside. Crossword by Tom Hutchinson
Please complete this form before you hand in your completed crossword to the Redbrick office or send a scan or photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org Name: Email Address: Phone Number:
1. Visible radiation from the sun (5) 2. Defenders (6) 5. Rhythmic tune (5) 3. A dull sound (4) 8. They're super in comics (4) 4. Gospel (5) 9. Spirit (4) 6. Hidden from sight (6) 10. Earth, globe (5) 7. Hue (6) 11. Always passing and can't be stopped (4) 12. Snapshots, scenes frozen in time (8) 12. Al Stop! (anagram) (6) 13. Women of high society (6) 15. Deities (4) 14. Flat circular object (4) 18. Gaseous phase of H2O (5) 16. Harvester of souls (6) 20. ____ Clapton, guitarist (4) 17. Sculpting material (4) 21. Elbowed limbs (4) 19. This means death for the French (4) 23. Three in a yard (4) 22. Male homosapiens (3) 24. Tobacco for snorting (5)
1`2`3~4~56``7 ~~`~8```~`~~` ~~`~`~`~~9``` 0````~-```~~` ~~`~~~`~~`~~` =````q~~~`~~` `~~~~`~~w~~~~ `~~e```~`~r~~ `~t~~`~~y```u `~`~~i```~`~` `~o`p`~~~~`~` `~`~`~~~~[``` `~~]````~~`~~
14th - 27th February 2014
P 30 - David Morris and Ashley HIrschberger debate whether the ECB were right to drop Kevin Pietersen from the England setup.
Birmingham storm past Durham into the last eight
Birmingham men’s 2nds hockey team put five past Northern 1A leaders, Durham 2nds, to progress to the next round of the cup. After an even first half Brum went through the gears in the second half and ran out comfortable winners in terrible conditions at Bournbrook. It did not start promisingly for the home side as Durham forced an early double save from the keeper. But as the sun came out and the ice melted, Birmingham started to dominate possession and move the ball around better. This spell of pressure was rewarded 15 minutes in when a Birmingham attacker was unceremoniously dumped to the ground inside the D and the referee
pointed to the spot. Centre back Myles Rawlings stepped up and smashed the penalty flick into the bottom corner to give them the lead. The away team, who had only lost one game all season, were far from out of the game and after Sam Tombs saw yellow for a high stick they pushed for the equaliser. They failed to make the most of their pressure as they wasted three consecutive penalty corners through a mixture of poor routines and weak finishing. The whistle blew for half time with an even half ending in Birmingham’s favour, mainly due to the lack of cutting edge offered by the visitors. It was after the break that Birmingham really stepped up a notch and began to outclass their northern opposition. The crucial
"It was after the break that Birmingham really stepped up a notch and began to outclass their northern opposition."
second goal came ten minutes in when Matt Pacey got to the dead ball line with an excellent run and found Josh Kelly at the near post to divert the ball past the keeper. Birmingham were now full of confidence and Durham looked helpless as the hosts poured forward in search of another goal. Birmingham showed the away side how to be clinical from penalty corners minutes later, when a slap from the edge of the D by Tombs was deflected in by centre back partner Rawlings for his second and Brum’s third goal. Durham were unable to cope with relentless pressure and were blown away by quality attacking. Minutes after the third went in, Birmingham had a fourth – an incisive reverse pass from midfielder Tom Clarke-Knowles found Zac Sherwani, who coolly went round a defender before finding the bottom corner on the angle. By now the hosts were completely dominant. Durham were struggling to connect passes up the pitch as Birmingham’s pressing game shut down any opportunities from open play and Durham’s penalty corner rou-
"It was a fantastic performance from the hosts whose attack looked the exact opposite of their blunted opponents." tines misfired. With a four goal advantage Brum were happy to sit back and use the pace of their forwards on the counter. This strategy paid off nicely in the final minutes when Josh Hood sprayed a pass out to Pacey on the right wing. The forward cut inside the defender and after seeing his attempt saved was first to the rebound, smashing in from the tightest of angles to put the icing on the cake for Birmingham. It was a fantastic performance from the hosts whose attack looked the exact opposite of their blunted opponents. This cup performance against a side top of their respective division will give them confidence that they can catch Oxford Brookes 1sts, who sit two points above them in Midlands 1A.