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FEBRUARY 2002

Official English-language paper of UWB Students’ Union

FREE

REIGN OF

DRUG

TERROR NOT OUR FAULT, SAY STUDENTS UNDER FIRE DRUG ABUSERS mas-

querading as homeless people to con money out of locals and students, have started to damage local businesses with their constant presence. The problem has been prominent in Upper Bangor for some time,

especially in areas where the students are most likely to spend time and money. Now they are growing in confidence, and have moved in on local shops to beg and bully money out of customers to fuel their drug habit. Local businesses have been working

THIS PROBLEM COULD HAPPEN IN BANGOR

with the police to gradually decrease the presence of these people in the area, but there is not enough that the police can do to prevent these addicts, suspected to come from the Caernarfon area, from loitering at any given time. One concerned busi-

ness owner says, “I feel sorry for the students because they are getting the blame for the huge drug problem.” The police have also added, “The comment that they are all drug addicts is not one that the police would make.” It is true that there

is a genuine homeless presence in Bangor, but the many of the people who approach students, who have little money to spare anyway, do not spend their money on food but drugs. One shop worker has actually seen a suspected drug CONTINUED PAGE 3

VALENTINE’S SPECIAL inside: inside: sexy sexy food, food, love love letters, letters, dating dating tips tips and and more more


NEWS

2 SEREN February 2002

news@seren.bangor.ac.uk

H.E. REVIEW CAUSES STIR

FUTURE OF WELSH EDUCATION THROWN INTO MASSIVE DOUBT ON THE 16th January, the Edu-

cation Committee of the National Assembly published its review of Higher Education. Three main issues were addressed, namely, student funding, welsh language provision and the structure of HE in Wales. The minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, Jane Davidson, said that, “The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to Higher Education in Wales. We want to ensure that the sector remains competitive and is able to make an effective and growing impact on the Welsh economy, community and culture.” The Committe plans a strategy to improve the structure of HE in Wales, by calling for increased collaboration between universities. This could result in a pooling together of resources to benefit students. However, these proposals could lead to the University of Wales being abolished and for five new universities to be set up to deal with HE provision in Wales. Ban-

gor’s Student Union President James Brownsell, believes that this “would inevitably lead to a degradation of student services.“ Administration would be centralized and jobs loses would subsequently be inevitable. This could potential led to situations in which students would be forced to travel between the varying campuses. This ultimately would not benefit the students. On the 22nd January the Assembly will be holding a debate in Cardiff to discuss the report. This is a key time for the University of Wales and its future. It’s a step forward that will hopefully benefit the students of Wales. James Brownsell said, “this report has brought some key flaws in the Welsh HE sector to the fore and has made constructive recommendations about overcoming those. If these ideas are to be implemented, it must be done so that it is the students of Wales that are to benefit, not the full council or government coffers.“

James Brownsell:plotting the downfall of Jane Davidson on his laptop, yesterday

BONNIE PRINCE TARDY!

EXPLORING THE

graduated from the University of Wales, Bangor, last summer with a 2:1 honours degree in World Agriculture has finally been awarded the Dr Richard Philips Award. This Award is awarded annually to the best agriculture student at the University of Wales, by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, and has been won for the second year in succession by a Bangor student. The presentation of the Award was delayed by the cancellation of last year’s Royal welsh Show, but the disappointment was more than made up for, when Mark received the Award from HRH Prince Charles at the Christmas Fair held at Builth Wells recently. The Award comprises a Certificate and £150 prize and a published article in the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Journal. Mark Malpass is currently continuing his studies at Bangor, following an MSc in World Animal Production.

SECONDARY SCHOOL

MARK MALPASS, 21, who

Prince Charles awarded the belated prize to Mr. Malpass

BUSINESS WORLD pupils from across Wales now have the opportunity to combine exciting adventure travel with personal development, following the launch of a new company, Camre Cymru Outlook Expeditions. It was formed by three Bangor graduates, who came to university with the express intention of gaining management and business skills. They work with individual school group of pupils aged between 15-18 years old, to design and plan their own unique expedition. Packaged around the expedition is an intensive development programme for young people, culminating in a month long expedition to Bolivia or Patagonia. While abroad, the expedition will undertake social or environmental voluntary work as well enjoying some outdoor activities or visiting cultural sights. The eighteen month develop-

ment programme also includes a sponsorship package so that each individual can raise sufficient funds to finance his or her own trip. “What we are offering young people is an ‘opportunity of a lifetime’,“ said Expedition Programme Director Rhys Davies. “We feel that the whole package, the experience of working on community and environmental projects in South America, combined with an intensive personal development programme will ensure that those taking part will gain valuable experiences and transferrable life skills that they can use in other situations.“ Matt Wells BA, LCIPD and Andrew Longman BA, two of the company’s founders, were both members of the 9TH Parachute Squadron R.E. and the third founder, Rhys Davies, MSc, Rhys Davies MSc, was previously the Biodiversity Officer for Snowdonia National Park.


academic@seren.bangor.ac.uk

DRUG FEARS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

deals taking place on the business premises. Seren readers are strongly advised by police to avoid giving money or food any to homeless people in the Upper Bangor area, and to consider donating to The Big Issue or organised, registered charities instead. Not only are these people ruining honest businesses by frightening away custom, they have a suspected involvement in thefts and public disturbances.

BANGOR FUNDS SPORTS BANGOR UNIVERSITY

have revealed plans to offer £3,000 of Sports Scholarships to new students. The five scholarships, worth at least £500 each, are in recognition of sporting potential and excellence. Professor Peter Williams, Chair of the Physical Recreation Committee, says of the scholarships, “[They] will not be restricted to any particular sport, and will be awarded to those, who in the judgement of the University, have already displayed excellence in their chosen sport, or show promise of excellence in the future.” The University hopes to encourage the sports stars of the future to realise their potential and join the array of impressive individuals who have already represented the University in sporting events. To apply for a sporting scholarship, applicants need to complete an application form, available from Amanda Smith in the Marketing and Public Relations Office.

ACADEMIC NEWS

SEREN February 2002 3

BANGOR IS BEST

TIMES SUPPLEMENT REVEALS ALL AT A TIME

when the government is setting targets of 50% participation in higher education for young people, and for the proportion of students from under represented poorer backgrounds, the University of Wales, Bangor has been named among the access elite of UK universities by the Times Higher Education Supplement. The higher education weekly newspaper looked at four factors, in selecting the access elite: institutions that take higher than average numbers of students from post-code areas with low socioeconomic indicators, those that also have low drop-out rates, as students from families who have not traditionally sent children to university are more likely to leave before completing their courses; the survey also wanted to ensure that the universities encouraging students from non-traditional backgrounds were also providing the highest quality education. Universities were also rejected from the access elite if they did not provide excellent teaching and conduct excellent research. The University of Wales, Bangor was among a small group of 28 universities which made it through the rigorous process. “We are delighted that this table reinforces exactly what we are aiming to achieve here at Bangor,“ said Vice-Chancellor, Professor Roy Evans. “Our broad based mission to provide excellent teaching, conduct excellent

research and to make our achievements relevant and accessible to the regional and wider community. Our achievements in this pursuing this mission was recognised by the recent report on higher education in Wales made to the National Assembly for Wales. It is good to see that our work is also gaining wider recognition in the UK.“ The University has a strong tradition of providing education to the local community and to people from every walk of life. The University was established by public subscription to provide education for the local population and has a long tradition of educating a large number of mature students. Its Talent Identification Programme, which works with school-children in areas with a high proportion of socio-economic groups 4 & 5 is one of the largest widening access programmes in the country. The University has a large and progressive Department of Lifelong Learning, which delivers short courses and part time degrees. The University was also instrumental in establishing the Community University of North Wales, a initiative to develop and provide learning routes through further to higher education, delivered throughout the north Wales region. Other institutions that have done well in this survey include many from Scotland and Wales.

Tony Blair can only hope all unis are as good as Bangor

SURVEY REVEALS SEX FOOD SECRETS IT SEEMS the reputation of British men as ‘beer monsters’ or ‘football fanatics’, may be a little unfair, as a new survey reveals 48% of men admit they would rather be enjoying a night of passion! In comparison 73% of women would prefer to eat pasta or chocolate than practice their moves in bed. That still means, however that about half of men would not like to be enjoying sex on any given night. Snackstop’s ‘Food Love and Life’ survey has uncovered that the most unlikely foods are unleashing libidos nationwide.

While the usual suspects such as strawberries (64%) and oysters (30%) top the list of aphrodisiacs, one in ten Scottish men find haggis the most sensually arousing. Males (14%) are also more likely than females (9%) to find sausages a turn on. SnackStop also tested women’s sexual knowledge by asking them to explain the meaning of a pheromone, discovering that an alarming one in ten thinks it is a French flower. Men appear to be the real ‘sexperts’ when it comes to lingo (despite 7% believing it to be Greek seafood dish) with 50% cor-

rectly identifying a pheromone as sexual stimuli, compared with just 32% of women. Across the UK, two in ten East Anglians find sausages the most sexy, whilst 12% of Yorkshiremen prefer fish fingers. Handy information if you ever wish to seduce an East Anglian or a Yorkshireman. Conversely, 88% of women find neither haggis, sausage or fish fingers a turn on, which is hardly surprising. Instead they prefer strawberries, chocolate and Ice cream. Perhaps it’s all a matter of personal taste. SAUSAGES: THE FOOD OF LOVE?


COMMUNITY

4 SEREN February 2002

community@seren.bangor.ac.uk

LEFT OUT IN THE COLD Concerns for the health and well being of the older generation in the winter THERE IS currently an appeal

running in Bangor High Street, a campaign targeted at helping the elderly in the cold weather. It is being coordinated by Age Concern, which goes on red alert each winter. Each year they give hot meals and sometimes install home insulation. This year, with the freezing weather threatening to persist for several more months, they are hoping to do more. Sponsoring the Fight The Freeze appeal are Halifax, who are collecting this winter, and the Bank of Scotland. On the High Street, look out for a ‘Fight the Freeze’ blue collection box. People are being asked to fill the plastic bags provided with their leftover foreign European currency and put it in the box. There are 12 participating countries in the Euro Zone, excluding the UK. Euro notes and coins were available from the 1st of January; European national-currency notes and coins will be withdrawn from UK circulation by February 28th. Until this point Halifax and the Bank of Scotland will buy back foreign European national banknotes (but not coins!) and travellers cheques. From 28th February any remaining foreign (European national currencies) money cannot be used in the Euro Zone. None of the above applies to countries that have not joined the euro. Please donate national-currency foreign European coins (such as the change from your holiday money) to Age Concern.

This money will be used to buy blankets and other goods and services for the most vulnerable elderly in the community. Age Concern (a federation of registered charities) are trying to prevent winter deaths. The aim of this appeal is to help older people in the UK survive the winter. In the winter of 1999/00, 46,520 more old people died than died that summer. In 2000/01, this figure was still 22,700 more deaths than in the summer. A fuel-poor household is defined as one spending over 10% of its net income on energy. This is the case for most older people. For every 1(C drop in temperature there are 8000 more deaths. More people in the UK than in any other European country die as a direct result of cold. Old people are affected most of all as many can’t afford to heat their house (which may often be in poor repair), or to eat properly to fight off illnesses. Old people need £150 a week to live on, but 75% of pensioners in the UK don’t have this much. FTF (http://www.fightthefreeze.org.uk) is an appeal that aims to raise £1 million in foreign currency. You can also donate UK currency at Menai Bridge Co-op. 60p pays for 1 emergency phone call to be handled. £2 buys a hot meal; £5 a warm blanket; £10 a packet of winter clothes. £20 pays for 20 befriending visits to old people in their own homes. £50 buys an emergency heater.

FIGHT THE FREEZE: These pensioners feel the benefit Old people face a lot of difficulties in winter, such as dark, cold days, icy pavements and depression. There is isolation because people often can’t get out, or don’t want to go outdoors. Hypothermia can easily kill an elderly person, who may not notice themselves getting colder over days or weeks. People with hypothermia gradually lose sensation and awareness. Their consciousness

level falls and they eventually lapse into a coma. Advice to old people is to have at least 1 hot meal and several warm drinks a day, keep the room temperature at at least 21(C, to get some exercise, and to dress warmly, even indoors. They can wear insoles in their shoes. They can ask Age Concern for a volunteer to befriend or visit them. Volunteers and trainees are always welcome, and

Bangor Hish Street has a Help The Aged charity shop. Call Age Concern on (01286) 677711/ 678310/830590. Gordon Lishman, director-general of Age Concern, said, “These unnecessary deaths should not happen. [This appeal] can help us make a big difference to the lives of many older people. [It is] the best way of wishing older people a very happy New Year.”

STUDENTS NEED TO SOBER UP DOES CHRISTMAS

and ‘high spirits’ have to mean wrecking someone else’s day? That was a question posed by an elderly resident of Upper Bangor, who did not wish to identify himself. Over the Christmas period several shop and residential windows were smashed, in separate and unrelated incidents apparently caused by people taking too much alcohol. Some students on Glanrafon Hill had a kitchen window kicked in, in an attack with no apparent motive. Since it was around Christmas, this was not repaired for a while. In lower Bangor and the High Street, a fireplace shop near the cinema,

and the Barrels nightclub near Kwiksave, were also among properties to be damaged by vandals smashing the window. Not all incidents were confined to Bangor, occurring in other parts of the North Wales coast. At a similar time, for example, Peters Hi-fi and Video shop in Llandudno had a window pane shattered. It’s fine and a good idea to leave your car keys at home on such occasions of partying. But don’t leave your brain and your social conscience behind when you go out to enjoy yourself. The non - student population of Bangor deserve more respect from students than this.


culture@seren.bangor.ac.uk

CULTURE

SEREN February 2002 5

“SO THERE IS A GOD, BUT HE IS A LIAR AND HE’S MORTAL.” provocative and unusual concept, that I knew the rest of the book would be worth reading.

BOOK REVIEW Philip Pullman The Amber Spyglass Point £6.99 Until January, the name Philip Pullman was practically unknown, and his work existed outside of the hype that was reserved for a certain series of children’s novels. However, this month history was made when The Amber Spyglass, the third in his Dark Materials series, became the first children’s novel to win the Whitbread Prize Book of the Year. It was also the first children’s novel to get as far as the long list for the Booker prize a few months ago. Catapulted in to the limelight, Pullman is currently one of the most talked about authors, and his works stand as proof that he deserves it. I discovered this trilogy last year, and have been telling everyone who would listen, and often those that wouldn’t, how wonderful these books were. I first heard about this book when a newspaper did a full-page feature about how some American States had banned this book for its alleged blasphemy and celebration of atheism. Hidden in amongst the children’s section, published by Point of all people, they are nothing of the sort, as Pullman himself will argue. Undaunted by any of his critics, Pullman believes in what he writes. Quoted in the Sunday Telegraph, he says “… if there is a God and he is how the Christians describe him, then he deserves to be put down and rebelled against.” In The Amber Spyglass, he explores such ideas as what would happen to the Kingdom of God, if God dies. To me, that was such a

Of course, his books are not just about undermining the Christian religion, if they are about that at all. About growing up, passing through adolescence, and leaving behind the innocence that is childhood, his books take the reader on journeys to places where imagination is set free. Labelled as a children’s novel, but written in an attempt to touch everyone, his novels are enjoyed by adults and children alike. The unfortunately inevitable comparisons to Rowling’s work is emerging, but the clichéd and slow-paced nature of her work means that , at least for this reviewer, there is no contest. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Harry series, but Pullman’s novels are far superior. And with rumours that a film of his trilogy is being planned, I feel safe in my belief that he will never allow the production of such a lumbering, uninspiring film with mass merchandising sell-outs to happen as with Harry.

STOP PRESS! COMEDY! No, I’m not joking. Our own

humble little main bar is a venue in the forthcoming tour of The Best of The Comedy Network tour, sponsored by WKD. And so, in the continuing trend of big name comics visiting Bangor, Chris Addison, Andy Zaltzman and Spenser Brown will

be performing. Support Bangor’s growing comedy reputation, and have a really good night out - go and I promise you’ll laugh your socks off! It’s on Monday 4th March, starts at 8:30pm, and is FREE!!! So you’ve got no excuses…


MOVIES

6 SEREN February 2002

movies@seren.bangor.ac.uk

All the right movies TOLD YOU SO, did I. Said

it was gonna be better. Full of smugness am I. Right, so LOTR was better than Potter. I don’t owe anyone any sweets, thank Christ. Sadly, Potter is making more money. But I’m still happy. This, dearest reader, will be my last appearance as Movie Editor of this fair newspaper. I’ve wielded the position rather like that cool throwing blade from Krull for two and a half years. And you’ve put up with me all that time. Losers. It’s been fun, but, you know, needs must when the devil expects coursework in after Easter. Same old third year excuse I guess. Don’t fret though, you adorable little mites, I’ll be popping back to do a bit of writing from time to time. We do need a new movie editor though. So who wants it? Eh? Eh? Put that hand down, Laura

Pemberton! God, she’s such a bitch. Anyway, to see the section out on a ‘high’, witness the return of ‘Genius!’ to the opposite page. Hope you like it. Think of me whenever you catch Commando/ Superman II/Transformers/Dr Who on TV, and I will be with you. Not in a voyeuristic sense of course. I’m not like that. Any more. Yes. Anyway, movies eh? Don’t you love ‘em? Some potentially great ones on the way! Exciting excitement! Spider-man’s out in May. The movie editor has high hopes for this one: Evil Dead’s Sam Raimi in the director’s chair (bringing with him icon of icons, Bruce ‘Hail to the King, Baby!’ Campbell), thoughtful and thankfully geeky (as that’s what Peter Parker is really, a geek) Tobey Maguire in the lead and the often excellent (don’t mention Speed II) WilleM Defoe as The Green Goblin.The trailer captures just

the right mix of action, gravitas and wish fulfilment geek-madegood comedy that should see Sam Raimi safely into the credible entertainment mainstream. Star Wars II will be better than Star Wars I. To a lot of people, that won’t be saying much. But the fact that Lucas has somebody (the writer from Young Indiana Jones in fact) to help him with his silly little writing should prevent it from being too shit. And minimal Jar-Jar! Yay! Still, Two Towers will be the one to watch. Resident Evil will suck. And Star Trek X will break the ‘even number=good Trek film’ by being sadly shite. Austin Powers 3 will suck my wonderfully hairy bottom. Kirsty says that Eight Legged Freaks will ‘blow chunks’ whatever that means. Cuba Gooding Jnr will die.

LYNCH MOB COMES TO TOWN Mullholland Drive, out on limited release now MOVIE REVIEW CALLING A David Lynch film

weird is like saying that a Baz Lurhmann film is shit (i.e. stating the obvious), but God Mullholland Drive is weird. After the relative normality of The Straight Story, we now find ourselves back in prime Lynch territory, and it’s scary.

MIRROR, MIRROR: David Lynch is looking better than normal these days

Describing the plot is a near pointless exercise, because as soon as anything approaching a story is established, Lynch switches to something new. Seren is confused, but so will you be. Suffice to say it apparently centres around two different people; an actress who has forgotten who she is and a screenwriter involved with the Mob. The film also takes in lesbianism, the jitterbug and a bunch of freaks in a nightclub, and the whole thing hangs together with the surreal logic of a nightmare. So forget understanding what the

hell is going on, and just sit back to appreciate some fine acting (especially from the unknown Naomi Watts), some great cinematography (L.A looks like a neon washed vision of hell) and some sly references to classic Hollywood noir (especially Sunset Boulevard). Then sit there gobsmacked when Lynch presses the button marked “Fuck Shit Up” towards the end. The weirdo. It is also worth a quick look because it features a certain Justin Theroux, brother of the TV weirdnesshunter Louis. If he had ever seen this film, he could have done a whole series of weird weekends. Fans of Lynch will love it, the critics will hate it and the merely curious will find much to intrigue them further. Lynch is a true Hollywood maverick, something for which we should be thankful. Go and be confused. MMMMI


c.ukmovies@seren.bangor.ac.uk

MOVIES

GENIUS!

SEREN February 2002 7

(SPECIAL RUN)

The Largely Heinous Return of One Self-indulgent Man’s Dark Desire of Doom to Watergate Those Movies That are So Bad, They Are Somehow… Gooooooooooo(gah!)oooooooooood

The Highlander Saga I AM PLOT! AND SO’S MY WIFE!

N

RIGHT, WE’RE talking the whole rambling series of films here, four of the fuckers in all (with a fifth supposedly on the way, gah!). In the first film, Scotty dude Conor McCleod discovers he’s an immortal dude. He gets taught by a dude. He kills another dude. He wins. In Highlander 2: The Quickening, Conorr saves earth with dudey sun protection shield. He fights a dude. He wins. back Highlander 3: The Sorcerer- A ing dude comes out of a cave. Conner wn fights dude. Conorr wins. Highcin- lander Endgame: Conorr meets a Duncan McCloud (from the tv and series don’t you know). Duncan sic kills Conor. Duncan kills some Sunset dude. Duncan wins. gobes the p” o. It is ause Thernessr seen ea ends. 1) SPECIAL K The art of creating an evil baddie e crit- is to first create for him a really evil name. These names must ch to be brought to you by the evil leth is ters: ‘Z’ ‘V’ ‘X’ and most imporsome-tantly by the letter ‘K’. If the e Highlander saga does one thing sed. good, it knows that a ‘K’ tastic name makes for a decent baddie.

THE 8 STEPS TO ENLIGHTENED CIVIC GENIUS:

Perhaps it knows this a little too well. Thus we have Kurgan (ooooh) in the first film. Katanga (evilsyllabletastic) in the second. Kane (loses something if portrayed by someone called ‘Mario’) in the third and Kell (sounds a bit like ‘kill’, kool) in the fourth. Kane especially is the true genius baddie name having appeared in fiction ranging from Dr Who to the Bible. You cannot say these names without feeling the genius need to over-stress the harshness of that special ‘K’. It’s evil. It just is. Geniuser and geniuser, these ‘K’ warriors are played by a group of EVIL (and sometimes a bit camp) actors: Clancy Brown, Michael Ironside, Mario Van Peebles and Dungeons and Dragons acting powerhouse Bruce Payne. Nice. From now on you will all refer to me as Kris Khapman. Genius! 2) “IT WAS FIVE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, ON THE PLANET ZEIST…” Highlander 2 is evil genius. It begins with the most gratuitous continuity ass fuck the world has ever known. Turns out that Conner’s not a mythic immortal, he’s actually an alien. Never mentioned in the first film, never. Not only an alien but also from the planet Zeist. The Planet Zeist I tell ya! ZEIST! The unapologetic immediacy of this raging cinematic head turd is legendary in its baffling genius (excellent use of evil ‘Z’ though). Even Christopher Lambert looks confused as he lays it down. And the Planet Zeist is red! Teehee. And it disobeys the ‘I’ before ‘E’

rule. Genius! 3) SEAN CONNERY IS A WHORE Shhean pops up in the first two films, Jeremy Irons-Dungeons and Dragons style, waving his hands around a bit, going ‘shh’ in his words, then sprinting straight to his trailer and collecting his large cheque. Despite dying in the first film, he still manages to come back in the second. All Conor has to do is say his name (which amusingly is ‘Rameirez’, painting the permanently Scottish Shhean as a Spanish Egyptian. Yeah right) and Shhean comes back to life. Strangely he isn’t at all miffed that it took Conor 50 years to get around to doing this. But Shhean, he no stay long, he wanna go play golf. He helps Conner a bit but then decides to go get killed by a great big metal fan. He’s smirking the whole time. ‘Go on without me,’ he grins, knowing full well that he’s been paid $3.5 million for nine days work and ten minutes of screen time. Shhean you Hollywood Whore. Genius! 4) SUBWAY PHYSICS In the second film, Katanga materialses on Earth (from the Planet Zeist, don’t you know?) inside a subway train. He kills the driver and speeds the train up to 400 miles an hour (Yeah!). That’s silly enough. But somehow, soooommmmeeehoooow, the people inside are thrown to the back of the train as it goes faster and faster. Now, I’m not a science wizz here, but that’s just silly. They’re inside the moving object, how can they be thrown back by the speed

at which that object is moving? Katanga seems happy enough though. Genius! 5) CHRISTOPHER LAMBERT’S CLOBBER Tight blue jeans, muddy white trainers and Columbo-esque long coat. ALWAYS! For an immortal, the eighties will never die! Genius! 6) SORCERER DUNDEE Highlander 3 suffers not only because it is shit, but also because it got teeny tiny budget. Thus Kane only does a little bit of magic, just whenever the film crew get extra cocky and think that they can afford it. In genius style, Conor traps Kane in a cave for 400 years, then Kane gets out. No explanation as to why it took him quite so long, he just turns up in time for the sequel. This leads to genius Crocodile Dundee-esque fish out

of water comedy. And death. But comedy! Genius! 7) A FINAL WORD ON CONTINUITY So, to sum up the continuity of the films: The second film ignores the first film. The third film ignores the second film. The fourth film ignores the third film and the second film and bits of the TV series. The first film sits in a corner and cries. Don’t worry first film, deep down, you’re a bit shit too. Cheer up. “Remember what you are, Chapman, you are an immortal from the Planet Zeist.” “Yeees, that’s right. It was five hundred years ago, on the Planet Zeist… or was it last week in the pub… oh who cares?”

COLOGNIC IRRIGATION: THE PAINFUL TRUTH


GAMES

8 SEREN February 2002

games@seren.bangor.ac.ukgam

GAME REVIEW

Alien Vs Predator 2

GAME REVIEW

Return to Castle Wolfenstein PC (500MHz, 128Mb)

Before Doom, Quake or

Counter-Strike were even thought of, there was a game called Wolfenstein 3D. This game defined the First Person Shooter. And now it’s back, eating danger and crapping victory all over again. The visuals are nothing short of fantastic; from character models to graphical effects like flames and phantoms, the stand-

PC (500Mhz, 128Mb) “ “Two of the most terrifying movie creatures ever seen, slugging it out in an epic FPS? Sign me up!” That was my first thought upon seeing this game. With a formula like that how could it fail? Famous last words… You pick your character and enter the various levels, complete with your particular set of weapons and the pros and cons that come with them. The developers have worked hard to try and capture the feel of each race, using sound effects and visual techniques to make the gameplay experience more satisfying. And they almost succeed. They get all the little details RETURN TO CASTLE WOLFENSTEIN: ONE SHOT, ONE KILL... right; the Marines motion tracker and gadgetry, the Predator’s ard never slips. The environguarded fortress. Each is a disshoulder cannon and I.R. vision, ments are convincing and well tinct experience. And of course, the Alien’s wall walking, everydesigned, with lots of fun refyou must eventually face the horthing. And then they go and erences to the old Wolfenstein. rors of castle Wolfenstein itself… spoil it by putting all those great Enemies are so detailed you can Sounds are pretty good for this things into a Game On Rails. tell their rank by the decorations sort of game; with convincing There is only ever one path to and insignia on their uniform. As SFX, apt and atmospheric tunes take at any one time, the rest well as looking good these badand audio cues (a la Thief) that of the level being sealed off dies are intelligent and deadly let you know what may be coming by “locked” doors. No alternate routes, no secret areas, nothing. and will attack from all angles. next. That aside, the combat is satYou’d better stay alert or you will isfying and frantic, requiring end up dead. The best elements of the classic some amount of skill to come game are blended seamlessly through alive, and the plot Gameplay is in the familiar FPS with new technology and gameis engaging, with a certain mode (find key/switch, kill boss play tweaks, creating something amount of overlapping going on etc) but is done in such a that stands out from the rest of way that you really don’t notice. the FPS crowd. This title re-estabSecrets and set pieces break lishes Wolfenstein as the definup the more formulaic stuff ing game of the FPS genre, and nicely. There are varied missions I don’t hesitate to recommend it to undertake, from infiltrating a to you. German hamlet at night to assassinating key targets within a MMMMM

between characters. What saves this title from mediocrity is the use of tension in all the right places; scary set pieces, shadowy corridors and sudden attacks all combine to make the player a little paranoid about turning corners and running into new areas. Graphically dated and unimaginative in design, AVP2 could have been a waste of a terrific licence, but it is saved by its use of suspense and its faithful reproduction of the best parts of each Alien/Predator film. Still this could have been so much better. A missed opportunity. Recommended for true fans and the very bored.

MMMII

THEY’RE COMING OUT OF THE WALLS!

X BOX UPDATE With Mike McGeachin

MAD! When The Drugs Do Work 4. Harvest Moon: Back to Nature (2001)

Choose farming.Choose a name. Choose a dog. Choose a horse. Choose crops. Choose carrots, cabbages and cucumbers. Choose axes, hammers, scythes and hoes. Choose flowers. Choose bees. Choose chickens. Choose sheep. Choose a big fucking barn full of big fucking cows. Choose fish. Choose mayo makers, cheese makers, yarn makers. Choose friends. Choose a girl. Choose harvest festivals, cow festivals and sheep festivals. Choose tomato fights. Choose cock fights. Choose to forget that you chose cock fights.Choose staying indoors. Choose staring at your big fucking television for hours on end, PlayStation controller in hand. Choose wondering what happened to

your life.Choose farming. Moon.

Choose Harvest

BOX OF DELIGHTS: Microsoft’s new console


GAMES

games@seren.bangor.ac.uk

SEREN February 2002 9

BUMPER YULE TIME ROUND-UP

Welcome back!

Christmas has been and gone, bringing with it a crop of games that narrowly missed inclusion in the last issue of Seren. Not wanting to deny you the opportunity to stay well versed in the comings and goings of the console world, The Games Section proudly presents a summary of the good, the bad, and the unsavoury from the pre-Christmas spurt. Enjoy!

with very good (if occasionally irritating) voice acting, Jak and Daxter has it all, even down to the sublimely ridiculous title. Granted, it could’ve been better: more variety, such as some sub-games in the style of the aforementioned Spyro, would have granted it an extra star. However, if carefullytimed jumps, smashable boxes and slippy-slidey ice levels are your bag, then this is the title for you.

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springs to mind), TM:B looks great, sounds great, but handles like a turd in a shopping trolley. The player has little idea about how well they are performing, and death comes all too readily. A real shame, as a bit more thought could have made this a world-beating party game. Instead, gamers should look to Grand Theft Auto 3 for a dose of cars ‘n’ carnage, and leave this on the shelf to think about what it could have achieved. MMIII

the latest instalment looks set to follow a similarly naff path. This would be unfortunate, as the game does have some merit. A cross between MGS and the ever-popular Tomb Raider, there are gadgets galore, and any number of ways of offing terrorists and gangsters. The graphics are a bit bum, rather resembling the very first of the ‘Raider series, and the sounds hardly impress, but there is much to keep the gamer interested. A fine title for those who either do not own a PS2, or who cannot be bothered waiting for Solid Snake’s latest outing. Just don’t expect to be blown away. HHHII

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2) 3D platform shenanigans ahoy! Resembling such luminaries as Rayman Revolution and Spyro: Year of the Dragon, this release from Crash Bandicoot creators Naughty Dog breaks few boundaries, but it shows how this genre should be handled. Thoroughly gorgeous,

At last! Seren, in conjunction with Press X Games, is proud to present the concluding chapter in the exciting tale of Next Generation Gaming! The X Box has landed, and it wants your soul... Refreshingly chunky after the bite-size GameCube, the X Box has an oddly retro-futuristic style – all black and grey, with a hint of green. Four frontmounted slots stand ready for control pads, and Microsoft have opted for the PS2style CD drawer in opposition to Nintendo’s toilet-seatesque flip-top effort. The controllers are practically identical to those of the Dreamcast. The differences come in the colour (mostly black), an additional analogue stick, a couple of extra buttons, a built-in vibration unit (as is standard

Twisted Metal: Black (PS2) Syphon Filter 3 (PlayStation) Mmm... Sinister. This is a title which is loaded with promise, but, as is all too often the way, it fails to deliver. An untidy cross between the wonderful Carmageddon and a simple shoot-em-up (Reloaded

nowadays) and a more rounded shape, which is kinder to game-weary hands. Some may still find the pad a bit unwieldy, but your strongof-finger Games Editor found it quite pleasant. So there. But what of the games? A fine stack of playables was on offer, ranging from racers to boarders, with shooters and adventurers in between. Two titles were recommended, and duly played. These were the Half Life-ish Halo, and the latest in the ever-popular beat-em-up series Dead or Alive 3, with its unfeasibly well-proportioned female combatants. Both games were truly impressive. Gravity-mocking mammaries aside, the graphics defied description. Laced

This series of espionage-centred gunfests was rather overshadowed by the mighty Metal Gear Solid, and, what with the second MGS being just around the corner,

with detail (such as Halo’s tumbling grenade-stricken corpses and DOA3’s watery splashes and snowy footprints), the games were plainly designed to be visual masterpieces: the steadily-increasing crowd of amazed onlookers stood testament to the X Box’s graphical muscle-power. The sound certainly didn’t suck, either, with some nice little sonic touches apparent throughout. The games themselves played very well, with very little loading time for either title. Halo was especially surprising, given that first-person shooters often bite buttock on consoles. The game was quite simple to control, with the extra analogue stick coming into it own, and the simple thrills of blasting alien scum remained thoroughly enjoyable. DOA3 was also

Shenmue 2 (Dreamcast) Another sequel, which this time delivers the latest adventures of Ryo Hazuki and his fascinating, yet somehow quite dull, quest for vengeance. Those who are familiar with the first game will know exactly what to expect: aimless wandering interspersed with parttime jobs, puzzle solving, and ass-whuppery. Ryo’s morals seem to have slipped slightly, though, as this time he can gamble his savings on armwrestling, street fights and ball dropping games. The graphics are simply astounding, and the voice acting has improved tenfold (mainly due to the dialogue being in Japanese, with subtitles). There are some horribly irritating sections, but the game as a whole is far less tiresome than the first. Any Dreamcast owner who is gifted with a truckload of patience will reap many rewards from Shenmue 2, but those looking for a quick fix should pass this by.

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a delight, although this It will retail at a hefty reviewer was playing like £299.99, with the games a donkey (with hooves!). starting at £45 (although Suffice to say, Microsoft the Press X-men claim have delivered a gorgeous that they will reduce audio-visual platter, with this price on some titles just a pinch of sick genius to a slightly more waland a side order of solid, let-friendly £40). 25 old-fashioned playability. titles are already waiting Sound delicious? for the launch date, so You should see what’s for Microsoft’s decision to pudding... The console wait until after Christmas has a fat 8-gigabyte hard may just pay off. Will disk, thus eradicating any Bill Gates conquer the memory card blues, and console world? The fate may be connected to of the future of gaming is an Ethernet network, for in your hands... multiplayer action. Proposed add-ons include a broadband Internet connection and a DVD remote, so turning a simple games system into a complete home entertainment unit. Less a console, more a God... The X Box should have its official release on X BOX CONTROLLER: HANour shores on March 14th. DLES BETTER THAN IT LOOKS


MUSIC

10 SEREN February 2002 Happy New Year! And a

happy one it looks like being. The music scene is vibrant! Bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (believe the hype) are rocking out of nowhere. The NME Carling tour is doing the rounds – though not to Bangor, it’s not my fault. The Brit nominees are out – jaws hit floors at the presence of the Aphex Twin. Good news in that Glastonbury is back on. Bad news in that it’s make or break – buy a ticket cos fence

hoppers means no more festival. In other exciting news, the Isle of Wight festival is back after more than thirty years. Yep, 2002 is gonna be a good one. This month we’ve gone all debut – a whole bunch of new bands and new music to cast a glance at. My personal favourite is the fabulous Custom Blue, but most of the albums here are worth checking out. Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more live talent in Bangor over the next month keep your eyes open for more

music@seren.bangor.ac.uk

announcements! Meanwhile, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all, and apologies to Emmah Bentley that we couldn’t include your article - the rest of you can rest assured that next month we have a really great piece for you. Finally, keep your lugholes pinned back for Trash’s Battle of the Bands starting on the 20th – the overall winner gets to play the summer ball (or so I’m told). Till then, keep on rockin’ in a free world. Ian Fallon, pictured right.

ALBUM REVIEWS THE BEST AND WORST MUSIC

epic ‘Silent to the dark’, where they become just a tad morose and overblown – today’s answer to Pink Floyd only without the muso-watering guitar solos. A disappointment, we’ll just have to wait for the live album in a couple of years. HHHII

The Cooper Temple Clause See through this and leave Morning Records The debut album from these upstarts and it’s hard to know what to make of them. Sure, they rock out, especially on the single ‘Been training dogs’, but they’re not all about loud guitars. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they have urges to be the Aphex Twin on ‘555-4823’, it’s certainly an interesting wash of samples and electronic beats. ‘Who needs enemies?’ comes on like the Bluetones (circa ‘Solomon Bites the Worm’) with the lead singer from Terrorvision guesting on vocals; and the opener ‘Did you miss me?’ starts with almost trip hop beats and stylings only to turn all Prml Scrm halfway through. The Cooper Temple Clause is a hard act to pigeonhole and that can only be a good thing – so long as they can keep on mixing styles into their own musical soup. Definitely a band to watch out for in 2002.

HHHHI LHB Tell ‘Em Who We Are Telstar This isn’t that special. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that this kind of dance music is inherently bad – ‘We live in cities’ has an almost Daft Punk feel and ‘No transmission’, with it’s flute samples and groovy bassline, is very funky – but the album as a whole is just fairly

insipid. LHB seem loath to abandon their trance influences but don’t seem to have the balls to do anything particularly new or exciting with the genre. ‘Olivia Newton Christ’ seems a case in point, the vocoder work is incredibly cliché – even S Club 7 have used a vocoder. LHB may have a future in remixes though, judging by ‘Coming up for air’ – Imogen Heap’s voice has an almost Sarah McLaughlin quality and the song seems fine even if it does feel like a cheap dance remix. At the end of the day, LHB won’t set the dance floor alight till they can get their hands on something fresh.

fashion style for the fans to follow (yet). Track by track this EP is musical gold, opening with ‘One More Time (Dub Mix)’ – reminiscent of Doves or Unkle in its blend of guitar music and dance beats – moving on to ‘Maya’ – a subtle instrumental, a nudge over two minutes of fingerpicked guitar. ‘Concetration’ is all gloomy swells and beautiful harmonised vocals, and the EP is rounded off with ‘In A Rut’, electronic beats, chiming guitars and a superbly crafted crescendo. Chuck on a tune filled with jangly, chorused guitars as a hidden bonus track and you’ve got a stunning debut. Custom Blue will, hopefully, go far.

quite make it. The rest of the album is fairly pleasant indie rock – especially tracks like ‘Try Me’, and ‘Someday Always Comes’ sounds very much like Gomez – but the tendency for a riff to dominate a song is not always a good thing. Sort it out, Dave, or resign yourself to ‘also ran’. HHHII

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Custom Blue EP One Island Take two singer-songwriters (yawn) and add electronic beats. Sounds like a recipe for truly appalling music. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, Custom Blue is certainly one of the most immediately interesting bands debuting this year – especially in that they are not re-inventing punk, they are not oppressively loud and they don’t have a whole

Swell Everybody Wants To Know Beggars Banquet

The Electric Soft Parade Holes In The Wall DB Records

Swell is just one guy. It appears this guy David Freel does everything except for the drums. This could go some way to explaining why he’s running short of a few ideas. There seems a definite theme to this album in that the majority of the tracks are based around a few bars of music repeated until you have a song. This is no more apparent than on ‘Inside a Bomb’, built entirely on a three note bass line of a monotonous quality that may cause headaches. He’s trying to be the Eels but failing. ‘I don’t think so’, placed as it is on the track listing, comes as a blessed relief being entirely instrumental – as though there are lyrics trying to get through but they just can’t

The Brighton boys release their long awaited debut album. Eagerly anticipated by, well, at least the guys who came along to their gig at Main Bar last year and were fully rocked by their energetic performance. The trouble is this album fails to capture the youthful vigour that goes with their live show – it lacks any real passion, perhaps due to overly polished production. All of the songs, while not falling flat, fail to stand out. There’s little excitement on the record and that’s a real shame cause the songs are all good – props to the recent single ‘There’s a Silence’ – if a bit too much like the standard indie rock fare. The only real black spot on the album is the nine minute

Boy Hits Car Boy Hits Car Epic Lately, rock and metal music has been dominated by dull, spiritless corporate muppets, each one a carbon copy of the other. So it was with a sense of trepidation and foreboding that this reviewer set Boy Hits Car’s disc into rotation. Prepare to breathe yourselves a soul-purging sigh of relief, as this is an album of refreshing honesty and passion. Each track overflows with churning guitar and heartfelt vocals, the result being thoroughly satisfying and occasionally quite uplifting. Comparisons can be made with System of a Down (with the occasional suggestion of Tool and early Korn in the guitars and vocals respectively). However, Boy Hits Car possess enough of their own identity to make them a smashing little band in their own right. On the downside, the tracks are a little samey, but the quality stays high throughout. Worth a try if you’re in an experimental mood, especially if you are a fan of any of the aforementioned bands. A damn good effort, sirs!


11 SEREN February 2002

seren

says

Well done to the police of North Wales for cracking down

on the problem beggars of Bangor. There has also been a council proposal to increase the number of bobbies on the beat, in accordance with the wishes of the residents of North Wales. If the plans to recruit a further ninety three policemen and women are approved, then we can look forward to even better protection on the streets. But we can’t afford to relax yet. It is our time to give something back to Bangor, and help however we can in tackling this issue head on. The students of Bangor need to prove themselves as responsible by following the sound advice given in our front page, and by reporting any suspicious people or unusual incidents to the police. All begging is illegal as a breach of the Vagrancy Act, and we have to discourage people abusing our trust by scrounging off us. Giving money to these people undermines the wonderful work of The Big Issue and charities that help the homeless. If you really want to help, give your spare change to a worthwhile cause, and not to these fraudsters.

With the renewed interest in grants, following Labour’s plans to give grants to the very poorest students, Seren wonders if this latest blatant bid for popularity hasn’t come too late for Mr. Blair. The students hit hard by his replacement of grants with sky high fees have long since lost faith in the Labour Government. has How much longer must students tolerate their educations, and itless future, being treated as little more than a political wrangling for e a public approval? And when will the Tories and Lib Dems stop it bitching in the back benches and take a positive stance on the on education issue? It’s all very well for the opposition to criticise the ewer government, but they cannot win votes purely by entering into a ota- mud – slinging contest. Once again, students need to make their rvoices heard in the fight against fees, and maybe this time the government and the opposition will sit up and listen.

ion. urnThis month has seen the tragic death of Princess Margaret. ls, Seren would like to spare a thought for all her family and friends atis- at what must be a time of great difficulty. It was refreshing and uplift- moving to see the Royal Family show such emotion and compasade sion, especially in Prince Charles’ tribute to his aunt. This is the the side of the Prince of Wales that all too often is hidden. Hopefully, ol and Princess Margaret will be remembered with fondness as the lively, spirited person she was. er, h of em a Finally, some people may have noticed a slight change in own Seren this month. Darien Graham - Smith has resigned his post racks as Editor – In- Chief of the paper, and after two years of doing a ality fabulous job, the staff here would like to salute him and wish him h a all the best in the future. His absence as an editor and as a friend al will be felt by us all. As the new editor of the paper, I hope I can succeed Darien competently and in a way that the readers would oned approve. As always, your comments and opinions are welcomed. sirs! Email at serensays@hotmail.com

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EDITORIAL

editor@seren.bangor.ac.uk

END OF DEBT? After four years of campaign-

ing, the National Union of Students in Wales has won a huge victory in its campaign for the reintroduction of the student grant. In a statement made today (Tuesday 12th Feb), the Assembly Education Minister announced the re-introduction of grants for students living in Wales. Additional financial support will be given to mature students and students with child-caring responsibilities. The Education Minister plans to introduce an Assembly Learning Grant that will be available for students in further and higher education. Also contained in today’s announcement was the introduction of Financial Contingency Funds (FCFs). Replacing the old access and hardship funds, FCFs will be available to all students in Wales and Welsh students studying in other UK home nations. So does this mean that we have won? Unfortunately no. These moves by the assembly will benefit approximately 43,000 students in Wales. There are over 250,000 students in Wales alone. Student hardship is not a problem for the minority. Don’t get me wrong – we should be grateful that the Assembly is taking the issue of student hardship seriously, but if the Assembly thinks that this will end poverty within Higher Education, then they are very much mistaken. To clarify, students whose parents’ combined income comes to under £15,000 will receive a grant of between £700 and £1500. If, for example, you are entitled to take out the full loan of £3,000, then that is the maximum ‘income’ for your year. You then have to pay out for rent. The average price for a hall of residence in Bangor is £1950. Add to that payment of £1000 tuition fees, and what are you left with? Fifty pounds. £1500 is the average shortfall between the maximum ‘income’ you can receive and what you

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have to spend out on books, bills, food, and travel – before you even think about buying a beer or two! So while the introduction of a small grant for a small number of students is a step in the right direction, we must remember that it is only a small step, and we must continue to put pressure on central Government to influence the current review into student funding. The Assembly must use its best endeavours to persuade the UK Government to abolish tuition fees, introduce a living, means-tested, grant of up to £4,500 pa per student and to have a firm commitment against student borrowing at commercial rates. The current proposals from the Government’s review are as scary as they are ridiculous. The recommendation of the Treasury at the moment is this – abolish tuition fees (woo-hoo!), introduce a

At commercial rates, your debt would double every six years after graduation.

graduate tax (this would be OK if you could estimate exactly when a student has benefited financially from participation in HE – Lord Cubie set this at graduate earnings of £25k), introduce grants for those at the most extreme of poverty – those whose parents combined income comes to under £12k (very few people in Britain are in this category), abolish the existing interest-free student loan, and introduce students borrowing at commercial rates. At commercial rates, your debt would double every six years after graduation. We must use this chance to stand up to the Government and really influence this review. “Well,” you might think, “what can we do to influence the government, stuck up here in a

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remote corner of North Wales?” What indeed. During the 2001 general election campaign, our lobbying work and our press stunts were so successful that Mr Blair himself admitted that the decision to introduce the current system of student funding was the most unpopular decision ‘on the doorstep’ of the first term of Labour ‘s reign. We must keep this up. On February 20th, there are buses going down to London from Bangor to join up with some 20,000 other students to march though the streets of London. We will be demonstrating against student hardship. We will be using the mass media to put the most amount of pressure possible onto those men in their ivory towers in Whitehall. The bus leaves the SU at 3am — please join us. The difference that we could make, not only for ourselves, but for the students of the future, could be phenomenal. There are free tickets available from the SU shop, and there will be lots of time after the demo to sightsee, shop, or bugger off to the pub. Please email me if you would like any more information. In 1994, when he was the Shadow Education Secretary, David Blunkett said in the House of Commons, “Students hardship is a badge of shame and a national disgrace.” Since Labour came to power, student debt has increased by £7,525 per student. If the government is serious about establishing the knowledgedriven economy, it must invest in its greatest asset – the people of Britain. Through education and training, we will equip our country with the skills and talents to build a society that is economically strong and socially just. We must create access to a high quality Higher Education system based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.

James Brownsell,

To advertise in Seren, call 07074 692773 or email us at ads@seren.bangor.ac.uk. Seren is distributed free to every Students’ Union site, every hall of residence and many other locations around Bangor. We offer competitive rates to business and discounts for Union clubs/societies.

Next Issue

The next issue of Seren is planned to go to print in March, subject to change. Anyone can write for Seren, simply email us or call into our office on the second floor of the SU Building. All submissions to be considered for the next issue must be submitted by the 8th March.


LIFESTYLE

12 SEREN February 2002

lifestyle@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Why I Love Valentine’s Day LAST YEAR my girlfriend took me to Chester Zoo on Valentine’s Day. She kept the destination as secret as possible, even making me stand outside while she bought the train tickets. She had prepared a picnic (also in secret) full of all of my favourite cold lunchables. All the way there she was insufferably smug, merely smiling enigmatically at my repeated guesses at our destination. It was a wonderful day. The zoo was practically empty, and the weather was cold, but crisp. To be honest, it could have been blowing a wet gale filled with screeching pre-school hellions, and it would still have been wonderful. And that is why I love Valentine’s Day. It is an opportunity to, in as sneaky and underhand a way as possible, show someone how much you love

them. Granted, it comes with its fair share of card shop tackiness, but so does Christmas. In a way, Valentine’s is better than Christmas, as all of your attention is focussed upon one person, allowing for greater creativity and thought. Valenti ne’s isn’t just for couples, though. I have never known of a person who hasn’t thoroughly enjoyed the intrigue of receiving an anonymous love message, or a card from a close friend. And that’s the point: it isn’t all about smoochy, snoggy lurve. It can be a time for appreciating the ones you love platonically, just to remind them that they matter. It’s about the love that lies above the waist. Whilst I can understand

the point of view of those who debase the most shamelessly love-strewn of

the Saint’s Days, I don’t share it. I used t o . Once there was a time when I thoroughly despised this day

of hearts and flowers, probably because I had no positive associations with it. No negative ones either. Just nothing. My first big change of heart came during my first year at university. I lived on a corridor populated mainly by singles, and it was decided that we would host a sort of anti-Valentine’s party. So it came to pass that our kitchen was packed with single people having stupid amounts of fun, and not a trace of bitterness spoiled the scene. Without wanting to sound at all Darius-esque, there really was a lot of love in the room, and the party brought

us even closer as friends than we were before. The spirit of Valentine’s Day was with us, even though we were railing against it. And that was that. I was hooked, and, as is only natural, I looked with eager anticipation towards a time when I would be able to share the day with someone I loved as more than a companion. My inner romantic had been set free from his cage of cynicism and ennui, and he was ready to fly. With great big pink wings. Made of flowers. Happy Valentines Day to all of you, be you single or attached. Take some time out to cherish those who matter to you, and I guarantee that you’ll feel better for it. Just enjoy the day. Only one thing remains to be said. To my fiancée - I love you...

The Dating Game WITH VALENTINE’S Day here again, it’s the time of year when practically everyone wants to find someone to spend February 14th with. There seems to be a mad rush around this time to find a date for that “special” night, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be any easier to find someone. Whether you are looking for a long-term relationship or a one-night stand, it appears to be the sentiments of many that it is getting harder to find someone. The intranet before Christmas was full of complaints by students that there don’t seem to be any single girls or guys in Bangor. Of course there are, it’s just we’ve forgotten how to look for them and approach them. Our parents did it, our grandparents did it, so why is it that we can’t seem to be able to strike up conversations with the people we fancy anymore? In this age of text messages it appears we have lost the ability to talk to people. We do everything by text message now: ask people out, ask how people are and even in some cases I have heard of people being dumped by

text message. But be honest - do you get more excited by the sound of a text message arriving on your phone or hearing your phone ring? Calling people up and asking them out for a drink has been replaced by “Do u wanna go 4 drink 2nite?” Where’s the romance in that? Lets change it back! This Valentine’s Day ask your date out over the phone or even better in person, not via text message. But this would require confidence and it appears we have lost that as well. When was the last time you talked to someone you didn’t know and to which you hadn’t been introduced? Even better, when was the last time you bought someone a drink to strike up a conversation with them? “Can I buy you a drink?” This is probably the only decent chat up line out there. Others are corny and sometimes quite insulting (e.g. “Are you dancing? Right, well, you go and

dance while I talk to your mate!”). Stick to the classics. Even better, just be yourself. Just tell the truth. If they look really pretty, tell them; if they’re wearing a nice outfit, tell them. It’s not as difficult as you may think. But be warned Dutch courage is not always a good idea. You will end up looking stupid and possibly quite slutty or sleazy. You will say things you mean, but didn’t really want to say, or say things you don’t mean and end up regretting it when that person never speaks to you again. Just be confident in yourself, walk with your head high and shoulders back. Go out with your friends to have a good time, don’t spend the evening looking for someone. You are more likely to find someone then because you will give off a confident air which is always attractive. It’s a biological, reproductive, evolution-

ary thing. This may sound really patronizing; I mean it’s always what your smug couple friends tell, you isn’t it? Unfortunately, they are right. The other problem faced by us singletons is the dreaded “I have a friend, they’re completely your type. I know you’d get on so well!” Every single person dreads that phrase and for good reasons. The friend always seems to be the complete opposite of your “type” which highlights the fact you should never, ever, ever go on blind dates with your best mate’s boyfriend’s/ girlfriend’s best mate. If it doesn’t work out it will be awkward, almost guaranteed, especially if the date ended on a uncomfortable note. Always try and find your own dates. If it happens to be the best mate of your best mate’s boyfriend/girlfriend then fine, but make sure you want them for them and not because it would make going out on dates and parties easier.

THE TOP FIVE TIPS FOR EMBARRASSMENT-FREE DATING 1) Be yourself. 2) Be original and use the phone not text messages. 3) Don’t use chat up lines. 4) Don’t allow yourself to be set up on a date. 5) Ooze confidence. With any luck these tips will lead you to having fun, on Valentine’s Day and beyond. Remember; bite the bullet ask that person out. The worst they can say is no and trust me, you’ll get over it. But you may be pleasantly surprised….


Seren - 168 - 2001-2002 - February 2002