Monday 7 February 2011
Can you be religious and gay? Comment Page 4 Mark Cockroft
igher education has become one of the most talked about sectors in the country, so what better time to get involved in the University of Salford Students’ Union than right now. Elections are taking place this month, with a variety of Union positions up for grabs, so if you think you are a worthy candidate and would like to make a difference, put yourself forward for one of the roles. Nominations open at 9am this Wednesday. The deadline for the Union to receive your completed nomination form is Wednesday 16 February at noon. A strong Students’ Union is vital in maintaining a fair and equal experience for all University students. Get involved, stand as a candidate and if elected, you will be involved in important projects throughout the year to help enhance students’ lives at Salford. Ricky Chotai, the current president of the Union said; "My elected roles over the last two years have included vice president of Health and Social Care and now president. I decided to run to be a sabbatical officer as I have a strong passion for representing the student voice. Prior to my elected positions I was a faculty rep where I represented the views of students in the Business School at faculty level to both the University and Students' Union." "I would strongly encourage anyone who has a passion for student representation to stand in elections, now more than ever do we need a strong Students’ Union. Politically we have seen the government increase UK home tuition fees, there have been proposals to slash work visas for international students and huge cuts to higher education.” The Students’ Union plays a key role in the big decisions made by the University, so for those students who want to make a change, your voice will be heard and your opinion will count. There are a range of roles available with different time commitments. There are four, full-time paid positions known as sabbatical officers and these comprise the president and vice presidents, who each represent the student voice and lead the Students’ Union on your behalf. Our Students’ Union is the only union in the country to have a sabbatical officer overlooking each college which means that
every student at Salford is represented. Get elected as a sabbatical officer and you’ll become involved in a range of projects to help enhance students’ lives at Salford, as well as developing advanced skills in leadership, communication, teamwork, planning, problem solving, presentation and motivating others. You will work closely with other students and make great friends along the way. Career wise, the work you will be involved in is sure to boost your CV, and the skills you will gain will help you stand out to all those future employers.
Monthly Pull-out Wallplanner Keep up to date with your Union
Love It or Hate It?
Student Direct’s Guide to Valentine’s Day
The current sabbatical team: Maros Kravec, Christabel Brown, Jim Dale, Ricky Chotai, and Caroline Dangerfield.
The Union is also looking for four student trustees who will hold voluntary, unpaid positions on the organisation’s Trustee Board and make decisions about all levels of your Union’s activities. Student Trustees can hold their positions while they continue their studies. If this doesn’t appeal then there are also the NUS Conference Delegate positions up for grabs, as well as the new Student Council where students will be able to direct and scrutinize the work of the sabbatical team to help improve the Students’ Union. Ricky explained how to go about running; “The simplest tip is to be yourself, get out there and talk to people about the issues. Do not worry if you do not know much about the Students' Union. I will be running training sessions so you can find out all about the Students' Union, who we are and what we do." "My year as president of the Students' Union has been one of the most exciting, rewarding experiences I've had. Now is a fantastic time to get involved in student politics and to really make a difference to students' lives." Don’t worry if you haven’t been involved in your Students’ Union before – it really doesn’t matter as you’ll be provided with all the support you need. So why not take charge of your education, and stand in an election which can really make a difference to both you and your fellow students. If you do not stand in elections, then you really should take the time to vote. Voting will be via Blackboard and you’ll be able to vote anytime between 4pm on Friday 25 February and 4pm on Thursday 3 March. Good luck to all of those involved! For more information on standing and voting in the elections visit the Students’ Union Take Charge site: w w w. s a l f o r d s t u d e n t s . c o m / takecharge
Students of Salford . . . It’s time to take charge of your education!
February 7th 2011 / Salford Student Direct www.salfordstudents.com
07.01.11 News Page 02 News Page 03 The Review Page 04
Is folk another fad? Cage the Elephant Review Big Screen Review Hot or Not
Comment Page 06 Can you be religious and gay? Melanie Phillips response Cynic’s Eye
Planner Pages 18-19 Salford Students’ Union Wallplanner!
Salford Bill of Rights announced at AGM Laynei Notman
THE University of Salford Students’ Union last week introduced a new strategy they hope will come into practice in order to further help students during their time studying. ‘The Salford Bill of Student Rights’ was discussed during the Union’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), organised to inform students of the activities undertaken by their Students’ Union over the past twelve months. The Bill, made up of seven recommendations, will be presented to the University in the hope that they will adhere to the suggestions. The Union’s sabbatical officers drew up the recommendations after collating student opinions from a range of sources, including the National Student Survey and Salford Student Experience Survey. These requirements, which the wider student population at Salford are to be consulted on shortly, are deemed extremely
Page 31 Sabbs column Contact Your Sabbs
Features Page 32 Mac Toot Comic Erasmus Times
Breaktime – Valentine’s Special Page 33 Top ten tips Valentine’s day Recipe Happy Break up day
Sport Page 34 Ice Climbing with Jim Dale Tom Doyle – Australian Open in quotes
Sport Page 35 Men’s Football
Don’t lose faith in Students’ Unions Emily Barker HIGHER education has made the headlines in the past few months, as severe cuts for universities and the scrapping of EMA have outraged students everywhere. Ed Marsh, the Vice President for Union Development at NUS, spoke at Salford’s Students’ Union AGM last Wednesday. He explained that banding together with NUS and the Students’ Unions was the only way to fight these proposals.
important in aiding students in their learning and are considered to be a necessary change to create greater learning opportunities. They are: 1. The right to know the full costs of a course before applying with no other compulsory costs hidden. 2. The right to good quality, constructive feedback on assignments, which are to be returned within three weeks. 3. The right to relevant, and high quality careers advice. 4. The right to effective, independent representation at course, school and college level. 5. The right to appropriate, high quality learning resources. 6. The right to advice on good academic practice. And lastly, 7. The right to well managed, organised timetables. All seven have been key issues many students desperately want to address with the worst performing area of the University being student feedback. He spoke about the Lib Dem MPs who did not keep to their word after signing a pledge which said they would not vote for a rise in fees and the devastating cuts in all arts funding meaning many of these courses will not survive. Despite protests from students across the country, the rise on the tuition fee cap went through last year and many cuts to higher education are still to come. The NUS are seeing tough times ahead and Ed urged; “We just cannot allow students to lose faith in the students’ unions and the National Union”. He worried that the value of education would heavily increase and students’ unions as well as universities would feel the blow. Students paying such high fees will be expecting a high quality service and it is up to the establishments to make sure they provide this. The future of higher education may look grave, but with continuing support from both NUS and union’s throughout the UK; there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
Many feel that feedback is not given back promptly, and at times does not include detailed or constructive enough comments. A third year law student stated, “I submitted a key assignment in mid November. It would have been useful to have the mark and feedback before term finished, so I could use it for revision.” Although some schools are said to be very good, the quality differs between school to school and at times is inconsistent. For example, 75 to 78% of students are satisfied with quality of feedback from schools such as Law and Nursing, in comparison to 29 to 37% satisfied in Business and Built Environment, a low considered unsuitable by the Union. Extra hidden costs is also a relevant issue with examples coming from MA Product Design students who could have to pay up to £1,235 in order to fulfil their course needs for necessary equipment. Not doing so could leave a student at a disadvantage and is an increasing worry for students The Union stated; “Whilst it is not realistic to expect all extra costs to be eradicated, students should be made fully aware that these extra costs exist and estimated expenditure should be given.” Extra hardship funds for poorer students enrolled on these courses have also been recommended to help those with larger course related financial commitments. Many other issues were addressed such as providing better careers advice, and better learning resources such as digital media books, computer programmes and one to one support. The final document is soon to be presented to the University. To support these recommendations students are advised to share their opinions by completing the survey at: www.salfordstudents.com/rights or emailing the USSU at firstname.lastname@example.org Other key issues addressed during this year’s AGM included education cuts and up-coming protests, the Union’s financial report, commercial services and the Union’s achievements over the past 12 months. More information on the upcoming bill can be obtained by contacting the Union’s sabbatical officers, or by visiting www.salfordstudents.com/rights
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Welcome back to the first edition of Student Direct of this semester. I shall re-introduce myself to those who have never glanced over the pages of Salford’s student newspaper before. My name is Emily Barker; I am studying an MA in journalism, but took some time out to run this paper for all you folks. I have been in higher education for almost five years now, so believe me I know exactly what you’re all experiencing: from late nights in the library to turning up bleary eyed to lectures after the night before. This is why I want to make this paper as great as it can be, but I can’t do it on my own. All my writers so far have been brilliant, but if you fancy seeing your name in print then get in touch. Don’t worry if you have never written anything before – that’s what we are here for! All my editors and myself will help you get those ideas out of your head and onto the page. I know the fear of staring at a blank word document, it is a daunting prospect, don’t let that put you off though. Believe me, its not as hard as you might think. To explain Salford Student Direct further, we share some of our pages with Manchester (you may have noticed). Salford has 12 pages, and Manchester has the rest. You will notice at the top of our Salford bits (which are of course the best) it has our web address, so you know you’re reading the work of your fellow students. There has been much doom and gloom in the news of recent, higher education is getting yet another punch from the cutting of EMA and students continue to fight for their degrees. To stop you feeling too glum, we here have created a myriad of content to keep you amused in the first week. There is a wallplanner in the centre, with everything that is going on at your Union including Students’ Union Elections, Give it a Go and the Salford Social. To prepare you for the dreaded day of Valentines we have top ten tips for dates, a romantic recipe and Sam Dawson informs you why he doesn’t feel all loved up on February 14th. For all those prospective writers and photographers out there email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and for everyone else enjoy our first edition. Keep reading! – Emily
Contacts @ Student Direct: Salford Edition Postal Address Student Direct University of Salford Students’ Union University House Peel Park Campus Salford, M5 4WT Advertising Postal Address Student Direct University House The Crescent Salford M5 4WT
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Comment Editor: Laura Johnson L.J.Johnson@edu.salford.ac.uk Arts Editor: Tom Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
News Editor: Mark Cockroft email@example.com
Cartoon: Mac Toot Photography: Jonathan Isaacs firstname.lastname@example.org
Salford Student Direct / February 7th 2011 www.salfordstudents.com
EMA cuts could affect University education Laynei Notman
EDUCATION Maintenance Allowance will be scrapped after the House of Commons had a majority vote of 59 last week. EMA, a means tested financial scheme to help students from poorer families, was said to be “poorly targeted” by Education Secretary Michael Gove, and is due to be cut from July 2011. Mr Gove stated: "If we really believe in generating social mobility in this country then the question we have to ask ourselves is - how is every pound best invested?" Students are now in fear of
having little financial support during their A levels, whilst some are claiming they may be forced to leave college to work longer hours. Kate Haynes, a student now studying Media Technology at the University of Salford received the full EMA payment and argued “If I were a school leaver right now, I would not have aspirations to attend college, never mind university. “Not everyone has financial support from home, and it’s totally unreasonable to expect teenagers at 16 to attend college full time and work enough hours to cover all their expenses.” Labour MP Andy Burnham has stated that the cut is
“kicking away the ladder of opportunity” for young people, and an attack on student aspirations. However not all students are completely against the cut, Joe Reiser from the University of Salford claimed that there could be better ways to invest money in those poorest instead of the EMA scheme. He said: “Although I received EMA and it helped me a lot in my situation I think it was quite a gross misappropriation of funds. The same money could have been put to much better use within the system. “ “If the money were to be funnelled into another scheme I would probably be for it. But as it’s just being cut to save money
and it’s going to really affect those that it did help I’m still not happy about it.” Campaigners have suggested that the cuts will also have a damaging effect on Higher Education as students dropping out of A levels due to a lack of funds, will not be able to proceed onto Higher Education
without their completed A level grades or equivalent. These worries have also been augmented due to University tuition fees increasing in 2012.
although due to cuts there is no confirmation that colleges will be able to afford to provide for all students that are in need of support.
However, the government claims it now plans to support the most needy students by the introduction of a discretionary fund administered by colleges,
This news comes as last week hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Manchester to protest against tuition fees and education cuts.
Changing Equality in Sport Emily Barker
The University of Salford celebrated the beginning of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history month on Thursday 27 January; with a number of events including a film premier, sports master classes and an evening reception. The theme of this year’s event is sport to coincide with the 2012 Olympics, and to deal with the bigger issue of prejudice against the LGBT community in the sporting world. Supporting
Stockport born John Amaechi, an openly gay former NBA player. He is now a psychologist and involved with the ABC Foundation, a local sports charity. He along with several others spoke at an evening reception about the Olympics and the future of equality in sport. During his key note speech Amaechi criticised the people involved in sport who do not do enough to change views and help those who need it. He went on to talk about how the process of changes in equality will evolve over time “We are making progress. The change will be slow, but the
results will be gratifying and will be worth it.”
teachers to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.
Amaechi said of the event "I believe it's important to support organisations in their efforts to promote equality. One of the ways of doing this is by showing young people that diversity exists in areas of society where they may not see it, including sport."
Martin Hall the Vice Chancellor said: "Homophobia is a virulent form of stigma that, along with other forms of prejudice, needs to be countered through education. LGBT History Month is an important opportunity to focus on these dimensions of dignity and human rights."
The event saw many staff and students in attendance, including the Salford Students’ Union LGBT society. LGBT History Month also ties in with schools, helping promote equality and diversion. This included a series of workshops held to help
The event which in 2010 attracted around 30 people, had over 200 in attendance this year. It comes just after the University of Salford was named one of the LGBT charity Stonewall’s top 100 employers.
Salford Crescent Station £12 million makeover
LAUNCH A new year brings new shocks and surprises. But this one is purely for your aural pleasure. Shock Radio! Is set to launch it’s second semester broadcast on Wednesday the 9th of February. Be sure to tune in at www.shockradio.co.uk for the only radio station aimed at you – the gorgeous students of Salford University. Featuring some familiar voices and the new kids on the block, the second semester broadcast is not to be missed out on. The schedule for all your favourite shows is coming soon. If you want to be part of Shock! Radio, and how it is run,
positions on the exec are still open for applications. Send a quick email to email@example.com for more details.
Salford Crescent station, used by hundreds of Salford University students each day, is to receive a £12 million make-over to improve passenger safety.
Kicking off at 10am, the broadcast launch will tie in with the build up to the University Societies Rec Night on the 9th of February.
Network Rail has proposed to carry out the work in order to ease the threat of passengers falling off the narrow platforms.
Nnei Opia, the new Shock! Radio station manager, is brimming with excitement. “I’m eagerly anticipating an exciting second semester broadcast. We are currently lining up some fantastic celebrity guests to come into the studio so be sure to tune in!”
The multi-million pound scheme was first discussed four years ago, when transport bosses warned of the risks passengers could face if an accident occurred. Now the station, used by more than a million people a year, will be closed for three months while work is carried out.
Salford Crescent is the only central stop where passengers can catch a train to either Manchester Victoria or Piccadilly, but it has proved so useful to students and commuters that its narrow platforms have become dangerously overcrowded. The platforms are squeezed into a stretch of track surrounded by points and signals which prevents them simply being extended. Network Rail plan to move the ticket office from the platforms to the road level above and build a new staircase with a lift for disabled passengers. Platforms will be lengthened at each end, and a new canopy built so passengers can wait under cover.
Any budding journalists who fancy becoming news hounds get in touch with either the editor Emily Barker at Studentdirectfirstname.lastname@example.org or the news editor Mark Cockroft at M.Cockroft@edu.salford.ac.uk
February 7th 2011 / Salford Student Direct www.salfordstudents.com
the RE-ViEW Hot or Not Tom Miller
HOT JESSIE J – PRICE TAG (single) – Never mind doing it like a dude, this song is actually bloody good. All the hype around Jessie J naturally made us all go “huh?” when we heard that first single. This one, however, is brilliant. And it’s got a message, which is nice. REM – MINE SMELLS LIKE HONEY (SINGLE) – REM are back, and on form. The video is awesome too, and we can only hope the album is as rocking as this tune. CHROMEO FT ELLY JACKSON – HOT MESS (single) – Apart from the awesome video and the dirty funk grooves, this rehash of an earlier song has got better simply because Elly Jackson is in it. This does make me wonder if adding Elly Jackson to any song could improve it. Stairway to Heaven featuring Elly Jackson could certainly spruce it up a bit before it gets good at the five minute mark, for example. CHASE AND STATUS – NO MORE IDOLS (album) – Whether this is the future of music or not is still yet to be seen, but Chase and Status are an excellent team, and some of the collabs on the album are cracking. CHAPEL CLUB – PALACE (album) – It’s good, just it feels like we’ve all heard this before, and music can move on from this sort of thing now.
NOT LOICK ESSIEN FT NDUBZ STUTTERING (single) – The worst thing about this isn’t that N-Dubz are on it, or that it’s a pretty shit cover. The worst thing is Loick Essien isn’t that bad, and should be doing better stuff than working with absolute tosspots like Pinky and Perky from N-Dubz. NELLY FT T PAIN AND AKON – MOVE THAT BODY (single) – As good as being hit in the face with a brick. RIHANNA – S & M (single) – Awful is a word used too often in music, so instead I will simply describe this song (and it’s video) as Mubarak. THE GOVERNMENT – It is not cool getting rid of BBC Electric Proms, due to cuts. And it’s really not good getting rid of BBC World Service. Or Asian Network. Basically, the Tories are making radio more white.
Is Folk Another Fad? After releasing his new album, Been Listening, Johnny Flynn explains why it’s important to him that he isn’t grouped as purely ‘folk’. Robyn Wilson
With its somewhat credulous and courteous manner the twenty-first century has found little difficulty in giving way to pushy labelling. Forceful attempts at sectioning bands and singers, alike, into singsong pigeon holes show no limits, as the latest girl/boy-child fan eagerly searches for the next big thing in far flung corners; queuing up to stamp their name on its fresh, unclaimed brow, whilst shouting: “I was the first to hear of this new ‘technopunk-funk’ sound.” Folk, however, always seemed safe from the youthful music junkies of the world and their need for a quick fix. Tucked away in its
calm, Celtic corner, it overtime, became like the music it mothered: known of, but only heard if you really searched for it. So what changed? Johnny Flynn, a singer and songwriter and the “latest ‘hip’ folk thing to listen to” reckons that this is “unhelpful for artists,” he explains: “I don’t really like labels or the idea of labels. For me, folk isn’t just a sound. This is what really bugs me. People call things folk because of the instruments they use but it’s more of an idea.” A valid point in today’s world of music; where anyone using a banjo or mandolin is clamped down in the “folk only zone,” unable to move out of it until the end of their music career. But, as Johnny tells me matter-offactly, “all music is folk music,” whether it sets out to be or not.
“Folk is story-telling basically: poetry. For me, really, folk is whatever’s going around at the time—stories. You could call Shakespeare folk.” Something that you wouldn’t find hard to believe coming from Johnny’s lips—the sleeve from his new album, Been Listening, sporting a rather telling picture of Johnny in an antiquecluttered room within which is a volume of Keats. He makes an interesting point, though—you only have to look at the back catalogue of past folk musicians such as John Martyn or Joni Mitchell to see that labelling and pigeon-holing were far from their minds. Maybe this is where the controversy’s at today when we hear of folk artists like Mumford and Sons being criticized for “not
being folk enough.” Groups releasing albums are expected to live up to the supposed genre. Possibly, something for the lead singer of Mumford and Sons, Marcus Mumford, not to dwell on since their recent album Sigh No More was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2010. Likewise, the evermore popular Laura Marling has caused a commotion in traditional folk circles over her nomination in BBC2 Folk Award 2011. Apparently, her being a possible choice for “best original song” is a wacky idea. Johnny reckons, he can “see why people that go for the more traditional folk scene would be annoyed but it confuses me and I know it confuses Laura too” and I reckon it confuses me as well. Why
do we need, so badly, to group these bands under one heading? The funny thing is, if recent trends are anything to go by this folk phase won’t last much longer and then what? Pushy labelling will come-a-lookin’ for the next latest sound that sells and whoever once was labelled folk will be deemed to forever wonder the streets with their guitars and fabled lyrics looking at ways to change their, no longer popular, sound. Who knows? Until someone says anything different, however, it’s preferable to be comforted with the thought that folk will never die out. There will always be the musicians and fans willing to sidestep the industry to keep the music they love close to its roots.
Thank You, Happy Birthday CAGE THE ELEPHANT REVIEW back and think for a bit… you know, for when you’re sore from all the dancing you would be doing for the rest of the record.
Grunge is back. Well, not to the extent of Kurt Cobain coming back
to life and telling everyone that he did indeed kill himself, but the style is back. Apart from Topman selling plaid shirts with hoods and readyruined trainers, this is a good thing. You can tell from the off the record has taken on a lot of grunge and hardcore punk influences. From the Black Flag-esque “Sabertooth Tiger” to the ‘could have been on a Pixies record if the Pixies wrote it’ ”Aberdeen”, there are even a couple of ballads on the record. Thankfully, Matt Schultz’s wavering, emotional, (and crucially) non-autotuned vocals take away any cheese that could possibly come from a decent ballad and instead just makes you sit
BIG SCREEN REVIEW
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel.
delicate white swan she is portraying in a performance of Swan Lake. But pressure from both her mother and ballet teacher causes her mental state starts to deteriorate and she becomes more like the evil black swan.
In a dramatic twist of fate, America has given rock music another go. This isn’t some pedantic rant on whether guitar music is in fact dead or anything, as guitar music will never die. We’ve had our eighties obsession and now that’s over we can move on. Cage the Elephant have now proved this point with their second album, “Thank You, Happy Birthday”.
Black Swan Release date: 21 January 2011
Nina Sayers (Portman) is a meek ballet dancer from New York striving to be perfect; just like the
The important thing to remember, despite all the grungeyness and punk attitude and aggression the album possesses, there is also one huge reason why the album got to number two in the billboard charts in the USA. It’s got some excellent pop melodies. “Shake Me Down”, the first single off the album and “Around My Head” (which has to be a single) have choruses catchier than most well known STIs.
This film plays perfectly on audiences’ fears. Its skin crawling scenes depicting self mutilation and hatred are close to the knuckle and
Lincoln Parish, meanwhile, is starting to become one of the more accomplished guitarists in the rock scene at present. His ability since the last album has improved greatly, to the extent of starting to develop his own proper sound. If the melody and the tunes are the main reason why this album is gonna kick ass when it does finally hit the UK markets in March, the reason why we will remember it is because of Parish. If this is anything to go by, rock music is going to be getting a lot better very quickly. If we’re very unnerving; and the spine chilling soundtrack is nearly as distressing as the images themselves. Winces ripple around the audience as the plot, and Nina’s mind, slowly unravels. Her struggle isn’t helped by the jealousy between her and her rival, Lily (Kunis), making the whole film very sexually charged; marking Nina’s change from white to black swan.
lucky, the nineties will be coming back. The time that gave us bands like Nirvana, the Pixies, Pearl Jam, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (before they started getting all “drugs are really bad for you because they make you write amazing music” on us) might just well start influencing the new sound. And hey, this is not a nineties album. This is more definitely a tens/teens/2010s album. Cage the Elephant have taken influence, and created something new. And it’s not La Roux. The special effects to emphasise this change are amazing, and the actual ballet performance of the black swan is stunning. After several edge of your seat moments and feeling the genuine frustration of the characters’ relationships yourself – I’d recommend Black Swan with a strong drink.
Salford Student Direct / February 7th 2011 www.salfordstudents.com
Comment A Cynic’s Eye View
Homopious Can you be religious and gay?
2011 Gay Christians in a pride March in America.
love. We kept it quiet, for the society we lived in was severely homophobic; yet despite existing in secrecy we were, for the most part, happy.
When first approached with the title for this article I was, needless to say, a bit shocked. Having read such an article in The Mancunian I had thought quietly to myself about whether or not all the bases had been covered, and then in a recent debate it was brought up that I would be left to burn in hell no matter how ‘good’ a Christian I were. It was all in jest and I shrugged it off, if anything I had been the one to deliver the ‘punch-line’, but it left me thinking. That was when I decided to change the question. The original proposal seemed silly, can you be religious and gay? Of course you can! I, like many others, are living examples of such despite passages such as Romans 1:26-32. The real question is ‘Why?’ Why continue to practice a faith that estranges you due to your sexual preferences? I can’t answer for everyone. I can, however, comment on why I continue to practice, and hope to do my belief justice here. The epiphany of my sexuality is fairly recent, after years of brushing off remarks from peers (not intellectual, thankfully) it is only recently I questioned my sexuality. Enter my first real
To say I come from a religious background would be somewhat foolish. My maternal family were brought up in Roman Catholicism, however once out of the clutches of their small town in Ireland it was quickly renounced by my grandmother, mother, and uncles. They’ve all lived quite happily as agnostics since. I on the other hand was never forced into religion from birth, and this is what separates me from them. I’ve consciously made the choice to practice my faith rather than have that choice made for me by my familial elders. This, I feel, only strengthens my bond with the Lord because I know of life without Him taking an active part in the life I lead. I know many atheists hate this but my faith is my security blanket, like it or not, however it is not out of fear, it is a form of relief. After and during tough times of my life I have always turned to Him, and I know that He’ll always care. So what if I’m gay? I remain one of His creatures, one of His sons, a creation of His image, and if I wish to love another person who is also in His image what is so wrong with that? So when I and my first love were together, I
Yes, Melanie Phillips has often been the purveyor of prejudice, but she now risks becoming the new Jan Moir Laura Johnson
I don’t usually read The Daily Mail. My reasoning is that if I have to pick a purveyor of the national news from a selection of equally biased and sensationalised newspapers, then I might as well choose a broadsheet. Thus my reading of Melanie Phillips’ recent and infamous article about gay people was purely by chance.
Melanie Phillips caused a commotion on Twitter after her article on Gay rights in the Daily Mail went viral.
It is difficult to respond to the tirade that Melanie Phillips gives in her article (entitled, in typical Daily Mail style, “Yes, gays have often been the victims of prejudice. But they now risk becoming the new
could still hold my head up high and say that I was a good Christian, and furthermore a good man. And when we broke up after a long and tiresome dispute, I had someone to turn to. Someone that would listen for hours on end. Him. When one of my closest friends passed on, He was there for me. He still remains so throughout the turbulence of my life. The Most Reverend Archbishop Tutu gave a resounding comparison between homophobia and the South African apartheid: “We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about; our very skins… We make them [homosexuals] doubt that they too are children of God – and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.” I think that’s why I can be religious and gay at the same time, because I know that I’m not doing wrong, despite what others might think and say, and because I know that He will love me no matter what for I am His child. I might be wrong, but I will continue to live as I see morally acceptable, and just ask that people allow me to. I’m willing to leave it for Him to judge in His own good time, and so should you.
McCarthyites”). I do not want to follow the lead of many people in giving what I would call the kneejerk reaction to the bile that Melanie Phillips has written. Melanie Phillips is clearly a homophobe, thinly disguising her unacceptable beliefs beneath a veil of supposed intellectualism and ‘evidence’-based values. Yet it’s not enough to simply call her a homophobe, denounce her beliefs, and move on; we must do so in a manner that takes up the gauntlet that Phillips has thrown down in her ‘evidence’-based treatment of the issue, and prove exactly why she is wrong.
She refers to gay people as a “small sexual minority”. She either completely dismisses, or ignores, the fact that since homosexuality became more acceptable in society, more and more people are feeling comfortable enough to come out about their sexuality, and as such it is inaccurate to refer to gay people as "a small minority". She also ignores the fact that sexuality is fluidic; it is impossible to refer to people as “completely straight” or “completely gay”. In short, Phillips over-simplifies sexuality, undermining its importance in people’s lives, in order to prove her points.
My first problem with Phillips’ article lays not so much in its content as in its language. Phillips refers repeatedly to “the gay agenda” and the “gay inquisition”, something she seems to regard with as much suspicion as you or I might reserve for the BNP agenda. Yet Phillips is determined in her aim to sensationalise, referring to gay people's quest for equality as “obsessive”.
In the manner of many Daily Mail writers, Phillips goes on to state her points as though expecting her reader to throw the newspaper down and cry, ‘surely not!’ “Catholic adoption agencies were forced to shut down after they refused to place children with same-sex couples. Marriage registrars were forced to step down for refusing to officiate at civil unions”, she raves, as though
January is an introspective month. The tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions and the tendency to look back at the successes, failures and memories of the past year makes January a month of making a myriad of promises to yourself. I will lose weight. I will go to the gym. I will stop drinking. I will stop hating slow-walking people. By February, the promises are broken. The carbohydrate-free diet probably fails by the second day. We forget to sign up to the gym. The people in the supermarket still drift, staring slack-jawed and vacant at cans of beans, so we still get angry. As for alcohol, I often find the strength of my resolution to stop drinking rum is directly correlated to the amount of grammatical errors I find in The Guardian or the amount of mistakes the coalition makes. The introspection of the start of the year, however, lingers, at least for me, when I find myself thinking many “this time last year” thoughts. This time last year, the Cynic’s Eye View was a column that had only just been conceived of, and I had newly taken the ropes of the position of comment editor. In those days, much of my writing and thought was consumed by the oncoming general election. My first article of 2010 – the first one that I ever wrote for this very section – was a speculation about who I would vote for. I didn’t know. I was one of the many “floating voters”. One year on, am I any surer of my choice? No. I am still a floating voter, and rue my decision to vote for the party I did, even if they only got 57 miserly seats in the end (and even if my vote didn’t contribute to those seats). One year on, I still stand by my claims that David Cameron is useless and Nick Clegg spineless. Some things change over the course of the year, like waistbands, dress sizes and haircuts. However, some convictions stay the same – and my despair at British politics remains constant. applying for adoption and having civil partnerships were not things that gay people should rightly aspire to. Phillips knows her audience well. Phillips also outright contradicts herself. “Penalising religious people for speaking and acting in accordance with their beliefs is neither liberal nor tolerant” she argues. Replace “religious people” with “gay people” and accept that religious people are neither liberal nor tolerant, and what do you get? A massive contradiction. Perhaps it's wrong of me to expect anything else but sensationalism, flawed logic and homophobia from a writer of the Daily Mail. That paper, after all, is hardly renowned for its sense of fairness, tolerance and rationality. Some people have argued that Melanie Phillips should not have been allowed to make such statements. Yet whilst I do not agree with what she says, I borrow from Voltaire when I say that I would defend to the death her right to say it. It is important that such beliefs are
expressed, that the Daily Mail continues to publish such things. For such articles manifest more articulately than any other gay person could that there is still much to be done in terms of altering the perception of gay people in society. Ironically, Phillips has both decried and justified the “gay agenda”.
7pm Bar Yours
Book Lake District trip by today!
9.30am-4pm, Boardroom Two, University House – £20
5-6pm, Tom Husband Leisure Centre £3 Book your place!
Comedy Night Bar Yours 7.30pm – £3
Feb 9 The Salford Social 42nd Street
REMEMBER: Book Blackpool Pleasure Beach trip and First Aid Course by today!
First Aid Course
6-7pm, Tom Husband Leisure Centre – FREE
4-4.45pm, Tom Husband Leisure Centre
Squash 6-10pm, Tom Husband Leisure Centre – FREE
First Aid Course
Quiz Bar Yours 7pm
Book your place!
6-8pm, Tom Husband Leisure Centre £2.50
4-7pm, Tom Husband Leisure Centre – FREE
Five-a-side football 6-8pm,Castle Irwell Playing Fields
£1 The Salford Social 42nd Street
Have your say Vice President and President question time. 6pm Lady Hale Building.
Students’ Union Elections voting opens!
Lake District trip Boxing 3-4pm, Tom Husband Leisure Centre
FREE Blackpool Pleasure Beach Trip End of Give it a Go!
at Bar Yours 7pm
Results Night Mar 3
The Salford Social 42nd Street
12-1pm, Room MS151, Mary Seacole Building – £20
Bar Yours 7pm
6-7pm, Tom Husband Leisure Centre
Tang Soo Do
Students’ Union Elections Nomination Close
12-1pm, Room MS257, Mary Seacole Building
6-7pm, Main Hall, Allerton Building
Cricket – £3 Kung Fu – FREE
Rec Night – Musicals Theme
The Salford Social 42nd Street
Students’ Union Election Nominations open 9am
WALL PLANNER :19
Salford Student Direct / February 7th 2011 www.salfordstudents.com
February 7th 2011 / Salford Student Direct
18: WALL PLANNER
Salford Student Direct / February 7th 2011 www.salfordstudents.com
Students’ Union the elections, or just want to find out more visit www.salfordstudents.com/ takecharge . The higher education sector is rapidly changing and soon we will be seeing the government’s white paper on higher education. We will also be finding out about the national bursaries and scholarships in the next few weeks. We must continue to challenge the government to ensure that future generations are able to take part in higher education, just as we are able to do so. It is not just UK home students that are being affected by the changes proposed by the government, but international students also may be affected. The UK Border Agency is discussing proposals concerning changing around Tier 4 student immigration rules. These include;
SABBS COLUMN: Ricky Chotai, President Welcome back to Semester two, I hope you all had a relaxing time over the Christmas vacation and if you had any exams they went well. Week two of the second semester and things are already busy here at the Students’ Union, last week saw the Students’ Union
AGM. The meeting was unfortunately not quorate however it was a great opportunity for us to celebrate the success of the Students’ Union over the last year. We were also joined by Ed Marsh who is the Vice President Union Development for the National Union of Students (NUS) he spoke about the challenges
that we face nationally in the coming weeks and months. During my speech at the AGM, I talked about the challenges that we face here at Salford. Nominations open this week for the elections and now more than ever, we need a strong Students’ Union, this includes having highly contested elections, but also as many people as possible voting. If you are interested in standing in
• Closing or restricting the Tier 1 post-study work route • Restricting courses available below degree level
Don’t forget about the Salford Social – every Wednesday from 10pm. The Salford Social night breaks with 42s indie tradition by playing a good mix of most musical styles from chart, 80’s, 90's, dubstep, disco, 60’s , with a bit of indie thrown in for good measure. One thing is for sure, it won’t be like any other night at the club!
Tickets are just £2 in advance at www.42ndstreetnightclub.co.uk or from General Office and Bar Yours in University House, and the Students' Union shops in Horlock Court, the Allerton and Adelphi Buildings
Most drinks only £1
• Raising the level of English required • Requiring students to return home between courses • Limiting the rights dependants to work
The NUS is doing a lot of lobbying work on this issue on a national level and in the coming weeks and months I will keep you updated on these of the key issues. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch. President-ussu@ salford.ac.uk 01613515400
Students’ Union Elections
Contact Your Sabbs: Ricky Chotai:
Vice President Business, Law and Languages.
Vice President Science and Technology.
Vice President Health and Social Care.
Christabel Brown: Vice President Arts and Humanities.
This February is your opportunity to stand in the Students’ Union Elections and become an elected leader of the student body at Salford. This is a vital year for higher education so you could be playing an important role in the changing face of universities and students’ unions. The roles available:
Sabbatical Officer Trustees
Student Council NUS Delegate
Check out www.salfordstudents.com/takecharge for more information.
Sort your money out! Kirsty Booth
For most students, sorting their finances out is something that often gets left by the wayside in favour of more interesting pursuits. Unfortunately, by the time most realise that their finances are in a mess they only have enough money left to live off baked beans for the rest of the semester. So to help you out here are my top tips for getting your finances in order and avoiding the endless meals of beans on toast and potential financial difficulties in the future • Create a budget. Seriously, it takes maybe ten minutes to complete a comprehensive budget and you should include everything you spend on a monthly basis. Then, using these figures, work out how much of your student loan (or your wages) needs to be put aside to cover all of it. • Open a student account. The vast majority of banks have accounts especially for students, and most throw in an interest free overdraft too. Shop around though, you may find that one bank offers you a lot more perks and a bigger overdraft than others. It’s also worth bearing in mind though that the overdraft will need to be repaid once you’ve graduated so only borrow what you need. • Open a separate account for bills. If you lump all of your money into one account how will you know what you can spend and what needs to be saved? Open a basic current account and stick any cash in it that needs to be put to one side for bills to prevent you from spending it. • Avoid credit card debt. Banks often offer students credit cards but they often come with horrendously high interest rates so avoid at all costs if you can. • Shop around. Whilst buying everything from the local supermarket might mean you spend less time shopping and more time sleeping, if you want to save cash check out local markets for cheap fruit, vegetables and meat. The same goes for clothes and toiletries. • Get an NUS card. It’ll save you plenty of money so it’s well worth the initial investment. If you are in financial difficulties then don’t be afraid to speak to somebody about it as ignoring the problem will only make things worse.
February 7th 2011 / Salford Student Direct www.salfordstudents.com
Useless to a certain degree… Erasmus Times Goodbyes, Bad Byes The number of young Nicole McCarthy
people going to university has continued to increase every year. This number is sure to decrease with the coming tuition fee rises, but it is still high enough to make people question if there is any point to having a degree. Having qualifications used to be a way to get ahead in the employment market but now everyone has them. Does it really set you apart from the crowd when everyone has degrees? The increase in university attendance could be seen as a good thing, in that it means young people will generally be smarter, but if everyone has the same qualification how are graduates supposed to stand out to prospective employers? Years ago only the very intelligent had the opportunity to attend university, but with the introduction of universities that cater to people of all abilities, nearly everyone has access to higher education if they want it. Subject areas are becoming more and more diverse and vocational with the rise of ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees, including degrees in Football
Management, Stained Glass Windows and Happiness. Academics are warning that standards are dropping and eventually everyone will have some sort of degree but no-one will have the ability to fix a car or be an electrician. Going to university gives students ideas and ambitions, so are we going to end up with a generation of doctors and lawyers who can’t get their car or plumbing fixed? Because of the recent Labour government’s pledge to get 50% of young people into higher education, all sixth form students are encouraged into going to university when it might not necessarily be what they want. They do it because they want to please their parents or do not know what else to do. Generally university is the only option for certain careers, such as law or medicine but for subjects such as media and arts, career paths are unknown and degrees sometimes unnecessary. Also research has shown that three years after finishing their studies 40% of recent graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree. As well as the obvious massive debt many students acquire to put themselves through university, it could be argued that degrees are not necessary to have a high paying, successful job. Many people question the need for a degree when entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson have shown that you can be a billionaire without one. Unfortunately this assumes that the most happiness in a career comes from the highest wage, which for the most part is not true. Also, success stories like Richard Branson are not tena-penny and there are far more uneducated people on the lower pay scale than there are uneducated billionaires. University is the time when young people learn who they are and what they want to be, time to think and grow as opposed to being thrown in at the deep end in employment. The years spent at university can be the best of your life. As well as a degree, invaluable life skills are gained and friends for life are made. Qualities such as confidence, responsibility and independence are achieved in experiences you could not have elsewhere. So while the qualification may be becoming more redundant, the experience certainly is not.
Goodbyes are horrifying. When a friend looks you in the eye at an airport gate and whispers ”You’ve been like a sister/brother to me”, your heart must be made of cold and solid rock if it doesn’t make you even think of dropping a tear or two. (The other option is to cry like a baby, but I choose to do the first one.) The end of semester means loads of goodbyes for exchange students. When we said bye to our friends in our home countries, the byes aren’t good or bad; we just said bye knowing that there’ll be a day when we’ll hang out together again and everything will keep on going as it was before we left – and if not everything, at least most things. Erasmus people know that after the last hugs have been shared, it’s highly unlikely to have a fun evening in the same old pub with the same old group of people ever again. The famous and so-often-praised social media might help us stay in touch and low-cost airlines help us visit each other, but obviously it’s far from being the same.
Friendship is a gift that comes with a price. If you feel the physical pain of missing someone so badly, you can’t really comfort yourself by saying “this only shows I care”; I already knew I cared, now go get me some Cadbury’s! Those of us who stay for another semester have another tough job to do whilst we’re still recovering from the previous goodbyes; we should stay open and helpful to the newcomers, who are exactly like we were in September. At the same time getting to know the new people feels exhausting, since we know that the better we get to know each other, the closer we become and the harder it is to let go. What’s with the goodbyes anyway? Bye for good? Shouldn’t it be badbye, bye for the bad rest-of-my-lifewithout-you? I’m not saying all goodbyes are bad; of course we’re sometimes more than happy to see the back of someone and knowing it’s the very last time we see that smartarse’s annoying grin. But usually we don’t bother to say bye to these people. Actually, we don’t bother to talk to these people at all, unless they’re our bosses or mother-in-laws. There’s nothing good about real goodbyes. Soon we’ll struggle our way out of the grieving and realise that it was all worth it, and it will be worth it again. When my favourite hello turns into the hardest goodbye, I still wouldn’t change a thing.
Trafficking is still a major problem Amy Gun
Trafficking is the luring away of people from their homeland into sexually exploitive conditions. This horrific practise on an international level is on the increase, and what with two to four million people trafficked for sexual exploitation per year; it is the second biggest organised crime in the world.
This grievous modern day slavery exists through inadequate laws and governments and continues to exist on a worldwide scale. A victim of trafficking can be unable to escape their situation because authorities treat them as criminals of flawed justice systems; the effective prosecution of traffickers for the crimes they commit against their victims has managed to evade most countries to date. In order to maintain trafficking prevention strategies, it is essential that the protection of its victims do not result in any criminal scrutiny which means that they could be subjected to prosecution alongside the accused trafficker. Protection of the victim should be just as important as victim prevention. Increasingly, victims are forced to return home, usually without aftercare, and are therefore consequently left vulnerable to further exploitation. While 117 out of 192 UN member states have ratified an Anti-Trafficking Protocol in 2005, these laws are in place to fight trafficking and provide a common basis for criminalising trafficking at an international level, with members
incorporating its very minimum standards into their domestic laws. Although the protocol provides for specific measures to prevent trafficking, protect victims and prosecute the criminals, these are only minimum standards which are easily tangible. There are generic guidelines set on an international level, not all of these states provide absolute domestic laws. Current laws in the United Kingdom do not clearly distinguish between trafficking, smuggling migrants and prostitution. The United Kingdom has no specific anti-trafficking law, nor any criminal law against forced labour. The United Kingdom has no specific residency procedure for trafficked persons as exists in other member states who promise to meet the minimum trafficking prevention standards as outlined by the UN, such as the United States and various other European states including Italy and the Netherlands. While the current system is staffed by individuals against trafficking, the idea of trafficking as a form of immigration crime must be reassessed. With over 18,000 people trafficked to the UK per year, victims
should not be abused by the flawed systems, whereby they can be prosecuted for illegal immigration. For those victims of trafficking, there is restricted access to justice, despite the fact that trafficking within the UK is on the rise; legal remedies within the UK are still not satisfactory. Acknowledgement of trafficking on a domestic level is limited, and governments still consider trafficking to be equal to prostitution. International law should be applied domestically through municipal legal systems. Only the states internal legal systems can prevent the state from trafficking and thus, prevent violations of international law.
Bethany Cunniffe Buy your girlfriend a candy bra. This gift is sweet, sexy and is exactly what it says; a bra made of candy. It won’t break the bank and is perfect if your partner is up for a laugh. I should point out that having been given this gift myself, it isn’t really practical for the bigger- chested girl! If you are single, but have your eye on someone, then freefalluk.com has the ideal gift to catch your girl or guy; the Love-gun Cupid Catapult. Just load the plastic cupids into the catapult, aim and fire. Unfortunately love is not guaranteed.
If you fancy staying in on February 14 then why not watch a couple of Romantic-comedies in bed. If your other half doesn’t like the sound of that, point out that as you’re in bed, there may be other things to do should you get bored... Chocolate is never a bad idea. Ever. Thorntons have amazing personalised gifts that include chocolate and flower combinations, as well as numerous Valentine’s themed chocolates which are all reasonably priced.
Kirsty Booth Want to impress that special someone with a home cooked dinner this Valentine’s Day but not sure where to start? My foolproof three course dinner is easy to make and won’t break the bank. A few well placed candles and some chilled out music and you’re all set for a romantic night in.
The Houdini Heart Padlock puzzle is a quirky little gift to send your partners mind and heart racing. A padlock and two keys are all you’re given. It’s harder than it sounds! Available at iwantoneofthose.com.
Easy three Course Valentines Meal
of two for £9.99.
There’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned candlelit dinner. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Manchester and most places will have special Valentine’s Day offers, for example La Tasca is giving away a free glass of Chardonnay for that extra treat.
If you’re more of a visual romantic, invest in some heart shaped flying lanterns. They will look really pretty in the sky and are nice to watch. iwantoneofthose.com do a pack
Spend the day having 100% control over your other half with the ‘Control a woman/man’ remote control. For only £4.99 what could be better? Start with a romantic breakfast with the ‘Love on toast’ toast stamp. Okay so maybe toast isn’t the most extravagant or romantic food, but come on we’re students. And it will have ‘LOVE’ imprinted on it. Aww.
Valentine’s Da y
Salford Student Direct / February 7th 2011 www.salfordstudents.com
Lastly, you could be absolutely crazy and do something totally outlandish; ignore Valentine’s Day. After all it is only a day. I should note that if you are in a relationship and you do ignore February 14, make sure your other half is on board, if not, next year you might be shopping for a Lovegun Cupid Catapult.
Starter - Bruschetta Main Course - Pollo alla Pesto Dessert- Banana pancakes You will need 2 skinless chicken breasts diced (if you’re veggie substitute for Quorn chicken pieces) Half a jar of basil pesto 400g cherry tomatoes 200g dried spaghetti Half red pepper Half red onion Handful fresh basil leaves Half a ciabatta loaf
2x Bananas 1 cup plain flour 1 cup milk Chocolate/toffee sauce or golden syrup Salt Pepper 1 egg 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Oil Grated cheese to serve 2x scoops vanilla ice-cream
1) Dice the onion and pepper and quarter half of the cherry tomatoes. Roughly chop the basil and mix together. 2) Preheat oven to 200 degrees (gas mark 6). Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil and the balsamic vinegar over the remaining tomatoes and roast for 15- 20 minutes. 3) Slice three thick pieces of ciabatta per person and arrange on a baking try. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until crisp. 4) Heat a splash of oil in a pan and fry the chicken pieces until golden. Wrap in foil and place in the oven to keep warm. 5) Cook spaghetti according to packet instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking, serve the ciabatta with the salad piled on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar to serve. 6) Drain the pasta and put back in the pan, mix in the pesto and the chicken so everything is evenly coated. Serve with the roasted cherry tomatoes piled on top and sprinkled with cheese. 7) For the dessert, use the same cup (any cup or mug will do) to measure the flour and milk add the egg and a pinch of salt and whisk until a smooth batter is formed. 8) Heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan and pour in enough batter to just cover the base of the pan. Flip the pancakes when golden, and once cooked fold into quarters and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest (if you are feeling artistic you could trim the quartered pancakes into hearts). 9) Serve the pancakes with the sliced bananas topped with a scoop of ice-cream and a drizzle of your choice of sauce.
Happy Breakup Day! Sam Dawson
You may remember a couple of months ago I said I loved Christmas, and if there was one thing that annoyed me about it, it was killjoy scrooges seemingly revelling in their hatred for the festive season. I may have come across like a hopeless romantic, in thrall to an old-fashioned version of Christmas that never was and never again will be. Now, you may call me hypocritical, a killjoy, or a miseryguts if you like when I confess the opposite set of feelings apply to Valentine’s Day. Which I despise with a deep, brooding, murderous passion. For starters, it appears to be the only
‘festival’ that’s selective in terms of who’s allowed to enjoy it. At a time when Christmas and Easter are secularised so non-Christians can join in, whose idea was it to perpetuate a celebration that has, from the other side of the fence, the sole purpose at heart of making single people feel miserable? Imagine having to say ‘well I got divorced last month, so unfortunately I’m not allowed to celebrate Christmas this year’? Exactly. In fact, there’s a ‘Christmas Careline’ open just in case you’re not enjoying yourself. Don’t see that on February 14th do you? ‘Ah!’ the armies of the smug might chorus, ‘But you could go out on Valentine’s Day, go on the pull and find another single person!’ Three words: Traffic Light Party. One word: No. Valentine’s Day singles events don’t so much as carry a whiff of desperation as bottle of it and hand it out free upon entry. Most of
them seem to be a way for singles to congregate and confirm exactly why it is they’re single in the first place. And even if you’re in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is a saccharine-pink, rosepetal-spattered minefield of faux pas waiting to happen. Worst-case scenario for a singleton, frankly, is beginning a relationship within a month prior to Valentine’s Day when you’re still at the tentative, will-this-last stage, then finding this tender sapling of a relationship threatened by the size-12 hobnail boot of lurrrve that is Valentine’s Day. Getting it right in this scenario requires hostagenegotiator levels of diplomacy. Overdo it with a surfeit of tasteless tat or ignore it altogether and you might as well book a ticket to Dumpsville in advance. Even if the relationship’s established,
Valentine’s Day conspires to make it worse. Declaring your undying love on the same day as everyone else because the card shop told you to has a nasty habit of making restaurant bookings difficult and everything else extortionately expensive. Leave this too late by, say, a month, and you’ll end up left with the dubious curry-house that serves what look suspiciously like wellpresented doner kebabs with a side order of stray cat. Honestly, I’m willing to bet Valentine’s Day has wrecked more relationships than it’s celebrated. To be honest, the only way to avoid all this is a quiet night in with a bottle of wine and a DVD. However, if your relationship has lasted
over the years, weathering trial by pink cards and wilting roses, trial by bad restaurant and trial by diminished post-Christmas wallet and you’re truly committed to each other, enough to think about raising a family, there is only one thing for it: Attempt to conceive in the week containing May 14th. That way, for the next 13 years or so at least, any notion of Valentine’s Day will be bulldozed out of the way by the ramifications of having to organise a child’s party. And you’ll be doing your offspring a big favour too. For the rest of their life, they’ll actually have a genuine reason to celebrate February 14th.