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Bangor Students’ Union’s Festive English Language Newspaper

ISSN 1755-7585

Issue No. 209

Christmas Issue 2009

LOAN-FREE THIS CHRISTMAS

INSIDE:

Willow gets an umbrella

We have a chat with Peggy Sue

Student anger at University response to loans crisis Liz Stevens & Jo Caulfield

E

leven weeks, or roughly 77 days. At the time of writing that was the amount of time that had elapsed in semester one of this academic year. 77 days had passed since students were supposed to receive the first payment of their student loan, yet 77 days later and around 70,000 students are still yet to see a penny. In Bangor, there are still a large number of students in this situation, many of whom will not receive their loans until after Christmas. As such, they’re scraping the bottom of their overdrafts to pay rent and buy food. It is surprising then, given these statistics that the University’s money support scheme hasn’t been handing out more loans and grants to their students in need… and the

question here, is why? Bangor University offers a hardship fund to help students in crisis. According to their website: “the Hardship Fund provides financial help to ‘home’ students who face difficulty in meeting their living costs for whatever reason, whether it is due to their personal circumstances (e.g. mature students, or disabled students), or because they fall into hardship unexpectedly. Assistance is given in the form of a non-repayable grant.” Surely, under this criteria all students who are yet to receive their loans have therefore fallen “into hardship unexpectedly” and should be eligible. It seems this isn’t the case. It is important to note at this stage that the University has (through their Money Support Unit) given out £147,000 in hard-

ship loans so far this year, which is an impressive figure and one which the University deserves praise for. Some of the students who’ve received this money have become eligible due to their student loan problems. However, Seren has been approached by a number of students who feel inadequately supported by their University. One of these students is 1st year Imogen Lewis, who attempted to apply for a hardship loan after being told by the Student Loans Company that her application could take until week 10 to process. Entering week 11, she is still to receive her loan. “I can’t pay my hall fees and it’s really stressful. I went to the Money Support Unit and they’ve been a bit rude about it. Although they say they do understand the situation, they’re still quite

standoffish.” She went on to say: “I enquired about the Hardship Fund but was told as I wasn’t in the priority group and therefore was refused.” When Miss Lewis demonstrated that she could not pay her next month’s rent due to her overdraft limit; “I just told there was nothing they could do about it. That was it.” This isn’t an isolated case. A second year student (who wishes to remain anonymous) also tried to apply for a hardship loan over the summer after, due to unexpected family circumstances, having to move to Bangor permanently. “I was at the bottom of my overdraft by May this year and then, when it turned out I had to pay 4 months rent over the summer, I went to the

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Student Christmas Special

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ft r or So e e B f ug o ry 4 Fre e J k w i t h eve e d dr i n e rs b o o k di n n


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EDITORIAL

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Festive Issue 2009 Contributors: Jez Harvey Thom Flint Stephanie Williams Lucy Orchiston Stephen Clear Adam Sandland Mike Huntley Kenneth Padley Tigz Noyce Dan Marsh Lizzie Blowey Milo Mannion Gareth Davies Emily Collins Nik Hughes Tom Clarke Gemma Howell Ian Davies Daniel Smith Kev Spruce Kim Pemberton Lucy Baird Danny Southward Gregory Keeling VIcky Osten Florian Breit Catherine Johnston Aimee Robyn Carter Gemma Brook Matthew Cox Callum Rymer Katie Dyer John Price Luke Patchett George Aungier Anni Nurminen Robert Fell Photography: Aaron Wiles Special thanks to: Jez Harvey Wak Le Mouse Proof reading: The Sabbs

Hello readers! Here is your Christmas ed ition of Seren. There’s a lo t of good stuff in this on favourite part (although I’m e. My biased) is the interview wi th Peggy Sue on the music They are lovely, you can ch pages. eck out their music on Mys pace – it’s well worth a look The Travel pages and Crea . tive Corner are also looking especially good this issue. Willow’s trip to Rhyl is brilli ant, she has some festive he adgear too which you can’t Thanks to the Seren team miss. for being so good again. W e’ve been working on the mantra and have thus far co Seren me up with “Made with pa per, filled with love (and str redbull)”it’s not official yet ess, and but I’m sure we’re onto so mething. Have a good holiday, eat to o many mince pies and I’ll see you back here in Janua Happy Christmas. ry.

Love long distance, Georgia Xx PS. Incase you are wonder

ing, in the picture I was pla ying Fleet Foxes.

THE SEREN TEAM

Editor News Features Music Creative Corner Film Travel Sport Design Team

Georgia Mannion Liz Stevens Stacey Gannon Aaron Wiles Gemma Ellis Louise Cotteril Rachel Stretton Martyn Singleton Dan Turner Jo Caulfield

RECYCLE

Here at Seren, there’s nothing we love more than Mother Nature and d’you know what she loves? Recycling! After you’ve finished with us, can you put us in your blue box and make sure we get made into something else? Thanks very much. And Merry Christmas!


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NEWS

The Money Support Unit has been helping students negotiate with landlords, the halls office and banks to see them through their troubles. Contacting banks to extend students’ overdrafts is a method employed by the Money Support Unit to see students though a tough financial time. It does seem to be a little backward however, for the University to be encouraging students to get into more debt, rather than helping them with additional emergency grants. In light of these problems, the Students’ Union is concerned with the University’s response to the crisis. At the next meeting of Senate (the democratic body responsible for passing Union policy), President John Jackson and Deputy President Spencer

tion” as to what support these students are entitled to and to email this information to all students. They also pledge to raise the above issues with the University’s Student Support Services and to work with them to avoid these problems arising again. Spencer George told Seren “I feel the system needs to be fairer and more accessible to all students. The ‘priority group’ system needs reviewing to make this support available to as many students as possible. Why should a third year student be more eligible for University support than a third year? They are both students, after all.” Obviously, the University are not wholeheartedly to blame for the wider issue. The shambles surrounding Student Finance England are no secret; only those living under a rock will be unaware of the

Fees, Glorious 3 strikes and Fees you’re out Ministers launch review into how students pay H.E fees

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he Government has launched a review into how, and how much, students should be paying for higher education. Although the review is not set to be completed before the next General Election, ministers will consider the question of increased participation in university, and the need to simplify support for students; the suggestion being that the review will consider much more

review will pave the way for higher fees and a market in prices that would see poorer students priced out of more prestigious universities and other students and universities consigned to the ‘bargain basement’. This would be a disaster for UK higher education and must not be allowed to happen.’ Worry also stems from the gulf between what students want and what poli-

than just raising the current £3225 tuition fee for English students. The question is raised, however, just what the options available are, and how this will affect students in university education. Controversy surrounds the debate of raising the current cap on fees; a thorn in Labour’s side for years, with the Conservatives too hinting that an increase is likely inevitable. Some have called for a range of prices reflecting the prestige of a degree – but such a proposal was met with disdain, claiming on the lower end of the spectrum degrees would become devalued. The issue of bursaries and grants will also be considered – just how students are awarded their income and the need to simplify the system will be a much wrangled point. The review has been instructed to consider that the university landscape is now not limited to just school leavers and live-in students; how this new array of student body funds their education will be scrutinised. There are fears, however, that the date of publication will allow politicians to continue to skirt the issue of fees and support, and the National Union of Students have warned that the review cannot be allowed to become a ‘stitch up’. Speaking to the BBC, NUS President Wes Streeting warned: ‘There is a real danger that this

ticians have arguably accepted as inevitable; NUS also warning that there is little public sympathy for an increase in fees, a recent survey suggesting only 12% of the public support such a move. It is no secret, however, that universities are eager to see the current cap lifted - two thirds of Vice Chancellors anonymously advocating to the media their desire to see fees ranging between £4000 and £20,000. Although politicians have been warned that they cannot accept increases as inevitable, it remains to be seen if this will cease to be the case. If the review is to become a question of fee increase and bursary limitation, it will not sit well with students or their Unions. Student leaders in November threatened to name and shame MP’s who did not show their support to a campaign against tuition fee increases, with a clear and simple message: ‘Candidates must vote with us, or students won't vote for them.’ The review therefore, is likely to ruffle a number of feathers before its results are published next year. Unfortunately however, in the meantime all that can be done is to speculate on the results; its full impact and effect will not be clear for a great while yet.

“NUS have warned the review cannot become a ‘stitch up’”

Liz Stevens

Government’s new monitoring system for International students causes a stir

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he Government has once again been fanning the flames of controversy by introducing a new monitoring scheme for international students in UK universities. The scheme will come into force on the 16th of this month, and its effects will be backdated through November and October. Students are to be subjected to a points system; misbehaviour and non-attendance will accrue points against the student concerned, when a certain number of points are gained, the student is hauled before their respective university panel for interrogation. Many have expressed dismay at the plan, which has resulted in a new visa system, comparing it to a tagging of students, and claiming that it is discriminating against them. User guides for the scheme refer to ‘anything to report on a student’, and expresses that if their points accrued should reach 6, then action should be taken to interrogate and investigate the student. The system will

one week. Perhaps most startling of all is the declaration that the above is not an exhaustive list; a request is included for feedback from universities regarding the actions. Students are also required to report to a designated monitoring point on a regular basis to report their presence. Should the student in question remain in constant breach of the provisions, they may be reported to the UK Border Agency. This has not sat well amongst Students’ Unions, in particular here in Bangor. Students’ Union Deputy President Spencer George has drafted a proposal to present before Senate, undersigned by Union President John Jackson, criticising the provisions, which states Union opposition to such a scheme, purporting that it is discriminatory to monitor simply international students, and could be detrimental to their university experience. The scheme for the near future, how-

“Many have expressed dismay at the scheme, comparing it to a tagging of students, and claiming it is discriminating against them” prolong for the time the student spends at their respective university. 6 may appear a fair number, but it is realised as incredibly disproportionate when the points system as a whole is considered. One ‘unjustifiable’ or unexplained absence from a tutorial will incur 1 point, subsequent unjustifiable absences 2 points, unjustifiable absences from personal tutor meetings 3 points, missed examinations 4 points, and missed laboratory sessions 2 points. Most national students would themselves admittedly incur 6 points within

ever, will remain in place as legislation. How this affects international students however, will remain to be seen; the conditions imposed on them are certainly stringent. It will be imperative to analyse whether such strict rules can be imposed without negating their experience in the UK.

Liz Stevens

BANGOR IN BRIEF

“I showed them my bank statements and told them I was selling belongings to pay rent they still wouldn’t give me a form”

BANGOR IN BRIEF

intense problems and delays in processing student’s loans. But the situation has become a laughing stock; with applications being made from January of this year onwards, the figures up to November 1 reveal 23,000 applications are still being processed, 13,000 maintenance applicants have been approved, and up to 34,000 students have been asked to provide further information. Seren would like to advise all students that the Students’ Union Advice Centre can offer a £50 crisis loan to any student in hardship, which is repayable and the terms can be negotiated according to your needs. Email advicecentre@ undeb.bangor.ac.uk for more details. Any student struggling financially should also visit the Money Support Unit sooner rather than later for advice, information or guidance on any aspect of student funding, budgeting etc. We leave you with the words of Imogen Lewis – who, at the time of printing, has still not received her student loan or any support from the University: ‘It’s so frustrating because it means I can’t participate in simple things, ‘I’ve phoned the Student Loans Company about 5 times, as have my parents, but every time they are incredibly vague and offer no explanation as to the delay. My halls fees haven’t been paid and I have to live off my overdraft. It’s devastating and no one seems to want to help.”

BANGOR IN BRIEF

George are submitting a policy for motion to specifically deal with the problem. An extract from the motion says: “according to specific instances, there appears to be confusion on both the part of students and the University staff as to exactly what type of financial aid is available to students affected by these issues.” It goes on to say that the Union resolves “to request clarifica-

BANGOR IN BRIEF

University to apply for a hardship loan. I couldn’t believe it when I was told I wasn’t even allowed to take a form because I wasn’t in a ‘priority group’. When I showed them all my bank statements and told them I was selling my belongings to pay my rent they still wouldn’t give me a form. In the end we had to refuse to leave the building unless we left with a form. It was only then that we managed to get one.” Although the last case is not directly related to the Student Loan Crisis, one has to wonder what would have happened to that 2nd year if he didn’t receive his loan in September. Thankfully, the student in question got his hardship fund by the end of the summer, but it’s still disappointing that the University were unwilling to help in the beginning of his trouble. In response, The University’s Money Support Unit has said: “Since the start of the academic year we in the MSU have seen a dramatic

increase in the numbers of students visiting the MSU for advice and information. Of the first years whose student loans were delayed, only a very small number have required financial support which we have given in the form of short term loans. The majority have with our help received their funding or will receive their funding soon.”

BANGOR IN BRIEF

[Continued from front page]

BANGOR IN BRIEF

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Bryn Eithin: Quality of Life? Questions have been raised recently about the quality and state of accommodation offered at Bryn Eithin. Residents at the site do not have access to a common room or laundrette, and in the past few weeks complaints about the condition of rooms have increased due to the bad weather. Independent senators have and are planning to raise the issue at Senate, but a number of people have expressed dismay at the Halls Office and the University at the lack of effective action taking place.

Bye Bye Wrexham?

Students of Healthcare Sciences at Bangor’s campus in Wrexham were informed during Fresher’s Week that there was a good possibility that the campus was going to be closed down and they’d have to transfer either to Glyndŵr University or move to Bangor to continue their studies. This brings obvious problems for many, either moving them and their families 100 miles (as many students are mature students) or transferring to a less recognised University. The Students Union are continuing to lobby the University to make sure the best outcome is achieved for students of Wrexham.

Pensions Polava

It is not just students suffering a financial deficit; recent plans announced by the University to amend the pension’s scheme will leave a large proportion of University staff out of pocket. Blaming a service deficit and the increasing costs of providing occupational pensions, major changes are being made to the operation of staff pensions, which will see administrations staff the worst hit, suffering the loss of personal pensions account and protection. In response to these proposals, angry staff members staged a large protest outside the University’s Finance Office on Friday 27th November, vehemently opposing this proposed new scheme.

European Excellence Bangor’s School of Psychology has been awarded an ‘excellence’ ranking by a Europe-wide review of universities. Bangor was one of only 22 UK universities included in the rankings, which provide prospective European students with a comparison of the best research rankings. Regarding the publication, Bangor’s Head of Psychology, Professor Oliver Turnbull, commented: ‘I was pleased to see that the other Psychology departments in the list include institutions such as Oxford, UCL, York and the like - departments we have traditionally competed with. So, again, we’re in good company.’


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NEWS

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Wales on Sunday shame United we stand

Students and communities stand side by side in the fight against racism

National media accuse students of being violent cheats

S Violence and cheating? Just a normal Monday in Bangor...

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e all own guns, cheat our way to our degrees and threaten to kill each other along the way –that’s at least what the Wales on Sunday thinks being a student in Wales in all about. With accusations that would put even certain local media outlets to shame, the WoS recently fired a malicious attack at students across all universities in Wales; the allegations levelled extraordinarily disproportionate, serving once again to highlight the disparities and falsities even national media possess when it comes to separating myth and reality with regards to student life. Claiming to ‘expose’ and ‘unearth’ our antics, the WoS have trawled through disciplinary files dating back to the academic year 2007/08, and have found instances of plagiarism, disciplinary hearings for violent and harassing behaviour, and in one of the most ‘horrific’ of instances, a student in Bangor threatening to kill his peers. It is not to disagree that such behaviour took place, or to deny that it should be condemned and the culprit apprehended appropriately. But sensationalising and generalising such behaviour across the entire Welsh student body is unfair; the article accuses students of routinely verbally threatening staff and engaging in violent behaviour, using

Carnage (which will not be taking place in Bangor this academic year) to further highlight our ‘debauched’ antics. Bangor University currently has approximately 10,000 – 11,000 students; 66 punishable cases of unfair practice are highlighted by the article. In reality, whilst there are those who seek to cause trouble for others, this number accounts for a very small percentage of students. Why has the name of every student in Wales been dragged through the mud alongside the small minority who cause trouble, and why is a reputable media outlet allowing such assertions to see the light of day? Welsh University Unions have banded together and responded admirably to the allegations by writing an open letter to the newspaper, arguing that the allegations put forth by the outlet were both ‘unfair’ and ‘unrepresentative’. Undersigned by the Presidents of all the individual Welsh Student Unions, including the President of NUS Wales, the response reiterates that it is the minority that is represented in the allegations, highlighting that in actuality many of the offences referred to in the article were simply alleged cases. The letter also seeks to emphasise the positive role and effect the students have on their local communities, whilst the WoS simply chose to stress the negative, stating the article ‘aimed to portray stu-

dents in a disproportionately negative light and the idea that this is an accurate picture of student behaviour is highly offensive to our membership. Such misrepresentation of students is unacceptable.’ It would appear, however, that this will not be the case; the newspaper taking the decision, apparently based on ‘a lack of space’, to publish a much edited version of the Unions’ response, thus allowing such biased views to stand. Regarding this decision, and the accusations made by the newspaper, Students Union President John Jackson commented: ‘‘We simply don't have space’ is not an acceptable response when they managed to find plenty of space to write the poor attempt at an article in the first place. Writing such an unbalanced piece is a contributing factor as to why journalists have such a poor reputation in the first place.’ He continued: ‘The student body is a microcosm of society, and there are bound to be cases of crime and negativity within it, as it represents the wider society as a whole. Students should not be painted as complete angels, but to paint them in such a negative light is not correct either.’

Liz Stevens

Seeing (red) O

n the first of December this year, and for the last 21 years, people around the world gathered to mark World Aids Day. Bangor played its part as well, with people from the local area and University gathering in the cathedral at a service organised by Unity Bangor, RAG and the Anglican Chaplaincy. As one of several events to mark World AIDS Day around Bangor, residents and students have raised over £1000 to give to AIDS charities, both nationally and internationally.

Founded as part of a public information campaign by the World Health Organisation, it is a day marked by services around the world to mourn those who have passed, spread some hope to people and perhaps most importantly of all, to raise funds for AIDS charities. AIDS, as all of us should know, kills many people around the world daily, one every ten seconds. In 2007 it was estimated that 33 million people carried the disease, and over 2 million people succumbed to it during that year alone, bring the total deaths to 25 million. That’s nearly 1 million people a year, as the

Students at the event show their support

aturday the 21st of November saw far-right campaigners and anti fascist demonstrators converge on Wrexham in what many feared would be a dramatic confrontation. Welsh Defence League (WDL) spokesman Mickey Smith had announced plans to draft in members of the anti-Islamic movement, which has been likened to the National Front of the 1970s, from across the UK to protest against the construction of a mosque in the town. They were opposed by anti fascist and leftist groups such as Unite against Fascism, the Wales Trade Union Congress, the Fair Trade Foundation, the Socialist Party and Unison, under the title Wrexham Communities against Racism. Over 200 police officers were brought in from Chester, with hundreds more rumoured to be standing by, hoping to prevent a repeat of major riots caused by the WDL’s English counterpart. The WDL’s protest took place entirely outside The Elihu Yale pub on Regent Street, despite plans to hold speeches in the centre of town. Police confined approximately forty far-right demonstrators near the franchise, leading to fighting that saw four arrested on public order offences and others requiring emergency medical care. Wrexham Communities Against Racism held a ‘festival of community’ throughout the day in the town centre, with speeches from trade union leaders and politicians, including Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, along with music and displays. Event organiser Dylan Roberts told reporters: “We want to create the atmosphere of a village fete, only on a bigger scale, with music, food stalls and dancing”. The event, devised as “a celebration of Wrexham and its diverse society” was attended by around 200 overall, according to local press.

Police described their operations on Saturday as a success, with Regent Street closed down for a short time. Temporary deputy chief constable Ian Shannon said: “I am pleased with the success of the police operation today. Our aim had always been to allow the protest to pass peacefully whilst taking into account the rights of the people of Wrexham to go about their normal business. People have a right to protest, but our priority is to safeguard the public and maintain order, which I am pleased to say we achieved today.” The two main groups were kept separate by a strong police presence. The weather played a strong element in the day’s events, with many protesters deterred by the heavy rain and gale force winds. Bangor student and protester Hannah Gentiles said: “The weather really was dreadful. It was a great day out and a worthwhile cause, but the rain and wind certainly put a lot of people off. All the same, I’m really glad we could go”. First year psychology student Becky Cleasby said: “It made me realise how important it is for people outside the community to go in and support a community and a cause like that. It’s very important that people who are like minded can support each other.” The Festival of Community was attended by a small group of Bangor students, representing Bangor Students Union. Student Union Chairperson Jez Harvey told Seren: “It was great that students went. I think it’s fantastic that we’re starting to get some actual political movement within the Union- it’s been a long time coming. Hopefully the Students Union will be able to support more protests in the future”.

Thom Flint

Societies join together to mark

21st annual World Aids Day

first recognized death from AIDS wasn’t until 1981. Perhaps the most challenging thing about the disease is that those it affects now are usually the most separated from Western society. Far from it being the “gay disease” as some think, it is now the disease of the poor, the abandoned and the abused. From intravenous drug users to

West have given those of us with access to these programs the information we need to protect ourselves, and done much to stem the tide in Western nations, and the anti-viral medicines are available to most of us with relative ease. For many sadly, they don’t have either the information they need or the medicines if they succumb. In many subSaharan African countries AIDS denialism has done much to hurt the populations of countries like Zimbabwe or South Africa. In fact, the President of South Africa Jacob Zuma once said that he had protected himself from contracting

“Whilst in danger of sounding like Terry Wogan, these charities need your support, your help and mostly your money” refugees raped by soldiers, it is a disease that hurts those already most in need of help. Social education programs in the

AIDS by showering after sex. As well as this, the Catholic Church, which still holds a lot of influence over many Africans still refuse to allow the use of condoms, and Pope Benedict has said that condoms do not stop the spread of AIDS. Some Catholic groups in Africa were found in 2003 to be telling people that condoms have tiny holes in that make them useless. This is the sort of misinformation that AIDS charities across the world are trying to prevent, and need your help to do it. Whilst in danger of sounding like Terry Wogan, these charities need your support, your help and mostly your money.

Jez Harvey


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NEWS

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

We are Supreme Will judges of the UK’s new Supreme Court flex their muscles?

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ack in 2003 Tony Blair made it sound easy. Abolish the post of Lord Chancellor, replace the Law Lords and introduce a new Supreme Court. At last, in October 2009, we have our new Supreme Court; the new highest appeal court in the United Kingdom, in effect replacing the judicial functions of the House of Lords. To use the term ‘replacing’, however, is somewhat misleading. It may be more appropriate to say ‘relocating.’ After all, the same ‘Law Lords’ are making that short, but significant, walk across Parliament Square to their new ‘home’ to sit as ‘Justices.’ The Government has described this constitutional reform as “vitally needed modernisation.” Getting there, however, was no short task. Expensive and time consuming delays were incurred whilst officials contemplated where exactly to put the thing. Far be it from me to ‘judge’ progression on this matter, but surely with a budget of 59 million pounds and a time scale of over five years, even Phil and Kirsty would have been able to realise a bit quicker that the perfect “Location, Location, Location” was just across Parliament Square? Perhaps then this expensive move would not have taken place in the midst of a recession. In order to keep things in best fit with true British tradition, the Middlesex Guildhall was renovated with grand Victorian-Gothic fittings, with the final bill reaching just over £59 million; significantly more than the £34 million our former Lord Chancellor, the then Lord Chancellor Falconer, predicted in 2004. Most of this will be met by legal fees paid to the

justice services. Estimates indicate our new court will cost nearly £10.8 million a year to run. There are obvious fears amongst justice groups that this will put up court costs, and thus the cost of justice. The obvious question that comes to mind, therefore, is

What we had under the old system i.e. having the Law Lords sit in the House of Lords, blurred this separation. In order for a Bill to become law, the House of Commons are required to pass it for consideration by the House of Lords. It was simply deemed by Parliament too risky to have the Lords and Law Lords sitting together in one House (even though this has been the case for centuries.) Now the judicial role of the House of Lords as the highest appeal court in the UK has ended. A new £60million building? No wonder they look so From 1 Ocsmug... tober 2009, why was a new Supreme Court necessary? the United Kingdom Supreme Court asLawyers, academics and politicians all sumes jurisdiction on points of law for all accept that one of the core, fundamental civil law cases in the UK, and all criminal requirements of our unwritten constitucases in England and Wales and Northern tion is the doctrine of the separation of Ireland. powers. In its simplest form, this means So what can we expect? Constitutionalthat there should be a clear separation of ly nothing should change. The function of the legislators, the people who make the the Justices in the Supreme Court should law; the judiciary, the people who enforce be the same as that of the Law Lords in the the law; and the executive, which runs the House of Lords. However, there could be government. In order to maintain a demoother consequences of this new separacratic state the divisions between these tion. The move of the highest court to an bodies should be clear. entirely separate building may mean the

judges will want to stretch their powers that little bit further, and the new physical independence may see judges flexing their muscles, particularly on administrative issues such as judicial review; a means by which public bodies are held to account, a way of putting checks and balances on each of the institutions, if you will. What we can expect, as many commentators have already suggested, is a rise in public interest cases, in effect a shift of power from Parliament to the judiciary. The past 25 years have certainly seen a rise in cases of judicial review on grounds of public interest, for example the arms deal and the war in Iraq, and this slight shift of powers, combined with new physical independence may see the judiciary simply ignoring Parliament. On the 1st of October, when the Justices made their move to their new home, one seat was vacant. Lord Neuberger left. He openly spoke of his fears that the creation of the new court “may encourage judges to assert their authority against Parliament in a way that they did not when they were members of it.” Surely these discussions, fears and worries should have been dealt with years and millions of pounds ago. What will be interesting now is to see the judgements our new Supreme Court make. As the new Supreme Court Justices take up their new residence, we will see just how far they are going to flex their muscles. All one can do is to watch this space!

Stephen Clear

Blood Bank Bonus I

f you have ever tried to donate blood in the UK, you will have been faced with a proverbial labyrinth of questions on everything from your travel habits to your exposure to ‘Mad Cow Disease’. Tucked among these probing questions is a particularly interesting one; ‘Are you a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man (even if you used a condom)?’ The UK National Blood Service currently bans any man who has ever had sex with another man from donating blood. Ever. No questions asked. Well, except the really ambiguous one about your sexual habits. So, what is all this fuss about Sweden welcoming abstinent homosexuals to fill their blood banks, then? It does seem like fairly random criteria to present, doesn’t it? Well, if you are lucky enough to be a gay Swede and you’re planning to be in Sweden on or after March 1st 2010, you will be able to give a blood donation (provided you haven’t had sex with a man for a year). This – in the light of the UK’s status at the moment – is a brave move and one that has been met with firm congratulations from National AIDS Trust, Stonewall and the Anthony Nolan Trust. Sweden has decided to listen to the calls of LGBT and HIV/AIDS organisations to classify the term ‘high risk’ in accordance

Sweden lifts ban to allow homosexual men to give blood with behaviours, rather than sexualities. Conversely, in the UK, a woman who has had sex with a different man every night

There were no sex education classes or government campaigns about STIs and, sadly, a lot of gay men were infected with

“Sweden has decided to listen to the calls of LGBT and HIV/AIDS organisations to classify the term ‘high risk’ in accordance with behaviours, rather than sexualities” for a year could give blood straight away, but a gay man who hasn’t had sex in 10 years could never donate. The NBS here in Britain has been petitioned for years to judge potential donors by their behaviour rather than banning a whole, diverse group of people based on an inaccurate prejudice (that gay men are more likely to have HIV/AIDS). It seems Sweden has decided to lead the way forward in a new, more accepting era. So, why the ban in the first place? When the HIV epidemic began in the early 1980s there was a massive rush to stop anything putting people at risk from this devastating disease. Vaccines were stopped, infected people were stopped from working and all gay men were banned from giving blood. At the time - because homosexuality was such a taboo - sex between men was often a rushed and clandestine affair, leaving little time or thought for condoms.

HIV. The rushed ban probably saved quite a few lives at the time; considering approximately 200,000 people were infected in these early years. However, homosexual men were by no means the only people with HIV. Now, we are about 20 years on and although we are yet to find a cure for HIV or AIDS, we have made some huge steps forward. The most prominent of these steps must be the development of antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV; lessen the symptoms and decrease the likelihood of developing AIDS. Another important development has been the blood testing procedures put in place by the NHS and NBS in the UK. Anyone can now go to their GP and request a HIV test; in fact, they are encouraged to. The NBS also tests every single donation they receive for HIV and other infections. So, in light of all this, surely it would

be wise to categorise a potential donor by his or her lifestyle. ‘Do you inject drugs?’ for example, or ‘do you engage in unprotected sex?’ Sweden has decided to place the period of abstention at 12 months (i.e. if you’ve engaged in any ‘risky’ behaviours within 12 months, you aren’t eligible to donate). The reason behind this is that HIV can take up to 6 months to present itself, either on a test or by showing symptoms. Monica Axelsson, a spokeswoman for the health board, told AFP that donors would have to fill in a questionnaire about their sex lives and all blood would be tested before being used, as usual. Axelsson has also said that a number of other countries in Europe have already lifted bans on gay blood donors. On a lighter note for UK citizens; the government's Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) is currently undertaking a review of whether the comprehensive ban should remain. It is expected to report back next year. LGBT organisations are expected to be placing increased pressure on this review, so watch this space. Oh, and a big ‘well done’ to Sweden.

Emily Collins

Dawn of a new day EU’s President and Foreign Affairs Representative appointed

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espite much wrangling and allegations of string pulling, the new President of the European Union and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs have been announced - Herman Von Rompuy and Baroness Cathy Ashton respectively. Von Rompuy will take office in January 2010 at the end of Sweden’s presidency; Baroness Ashton taking the helm in December 2009 when the Lisbon Treaty comes into force. Prime Minister of Belgium as of December 30th 2008, Von Rompuy has been appointed to steer the Union through what will be a difficult few years; politically and economically, nationally and abroad. Although a relative unknown internationally, the 62 year old Belgian soon became the front runner in the race to be appointed President; a change in direction from many EU nations in favouring a ‘chairman’ over ‘statesman’ resulted in the candidacy of Tony Blair becoming increasingly unlikely, with smaller European nations fearing that a statesman

“Although lacking the gravitas of a well known figure, both have produced diplomatic results” from one of the heavyweights would undermine their own ambitions. As President, his tasks will include liaising with EU leaders and arranging summits, and importantly, he will become a central ‘go to’ figure for the world’s superpowers. But despite the even handed demeanour he is not free from controversy. He is a passionate Federalist and is keen to see the use of exclusively European symbols in replacement of national ones. Perhaps more divisive is his opposition of Turkey joining the EU; his fear that Europe’s ‘fundamental values of Christianity will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country’. Ashton’s selection is perhaps more surprising than Von Rompuy’s. Not many people would have heard of Baroness Ashton, let alone understand her role in British politics. Although effectively Britain’s fourth choice, she nevertheless ensures Britain has a say at the top seats of EU politics. Like Von Rompuy, she is (contrary to many commentators) experienced in both domestic and European affairs, if not an easily recognisable figure. In 2007 she took over from Lord Mandelson as EU Trade Commissioner. It is here she built a repuatation, not unlike Von Rompuy’s, for her ability to negotiate and build consensus on ‘key issues’. Her controversial past, however, has been used to criticise her appointment; in particular he role in the CND and alleged ties with the former Soviet Union. At the head of the European Union there is now a balance between left and right, and not insignificantly, of gender. Though lacking the gravitas that a well known figure would have brought to the table, both have in the past produced diplomatic results. As the European heavy weights seek to dominate, the smaller nations will hope that the faith placed in these individuals will be justified, and the effects of both appointments will be interesting to monitor.

Martyn Singleton


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Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Positively discrimination Hot new men! NUS Gender Balancing: why is this predjudice acceptable?

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he NUS currently have a policy in place that dictates to associated Unions that they must ‘gender balance’ their delegations to conferences. In plain English, this means that Union’s wishing to send members to attend any conferences must send an equal amount of females and males. Now, before I continue I would like to make it clear that I am a woman. I am fully appreciative of my right to vote and am aware of and understand the implications of sexism. However, I think the afore mentioned policy is completely unreasonable. I’m writing this article in the shadow of a greater news story: Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre-right party in France has proposed legislation that would see women make up half the figures in French boardrooms by 2015. In short, this would enforce gender equality in the business world and, in my opinion; make it harder for employers to make judgements based on skill and/or qu a l i fications. At this point the term ‘positive dis cr imination’ usually starts being touted around liberally and a stale-mate is assumed. I’m not

really one for labels so I’d like to do it the old fashioned way; with an analogy. So, there’s a conference to attend in the next month and four people are allowed to attend from MadeUp Ltd. The topics to be voted on are fairly non-consequential and unrelated to gender equality. There are 6 people who have shown an interest in attending, 4 male and 2 female (because that’s roughly the percentage split of males to females in the average business workplace) and the most qualified and experienced candidates are the 4 males. Now, as a manager of this situation, I’m having a lot of trouble. My 4 male employees are more qualified and more likely to further my business prospects, regardless of their gender, yet I am legally obliged to send two males and two females? How could this be considered fair on anyone involved? The two rejected males lose out on an opportunity and the two females are thrust into a situation that causes animosity among staff and a lack of representation at a conference. According to Daniel Randall’s report on the NUS conference where gender balancing was debated, the general response seemed to be “gender inequality doesn’t really exist, so why do we need this?” Whilst obviously there is evidence of sexism in some areas, I have to agree with this sentiment. There was a time when throwing ourselves in front of

horses and burning our bras was relevant and important, but now it’s got to a point where business and political choices should surely be about the person, not the gender. I can practically hear the roar of angry feminists as I write this and I’m not sure what to say to quell them. I think my major issue with all of this is that enforcing gender equality feels so redundant. There will always be a quiet, downtrodden section of every group of people. But the ironic thing is that most of the people involved in proposing and debating the NUS policy were women. There are women in positions of power everywhere, in business, politics and the arts; why do we need to force them anywhere else? Obviously there need to be support groups for people who do suffer abuse (the same is true of racism and homophobia) but you would never dream of mandating racially- or sexuality- balanced delegations, would you? Women and men are equal, regardless of how many of each gender are in a certain room at a certain time. Women can stand up for themselves. If they want to go to a conference, they should ensure they are the best person for the job, not flaunt their women’s society card and waltz amidst a cloud of bitter feminism.

Emily Collins

Audrey’s feelings about dating websites

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was ecstatic the other day to much more interesting things than all find my freeview was working, I becoming Cupid’s bunny boiler. haven’t watched TV in months, I Adverts from dating agencies put even started to appreciate the adverts more pressure on those between the until I saw match. com. I cannot ages of 25 and 35 because they feel understand the obsession with people that that’s the time they should be having to find the one, the love of your settling down and having a family. life, your soul mate. The likely hood Unfortunately it’s affecting more than of you staying with your partner for their target audience. People as young the rest of your life is slim. People as 18 are joining because of this need change, you change and your partner to be in a relationship. I could be totally will change. wrong and we’re all going to end up It seems today that people expect in a fairy tale like Snow White, but too much from others. I’m not saying then again that shows such a brilliant that there isn’t someone reading this representation of reality, because that in 50 years time will be celebrating seven dwarfs will come running to their golden wedding anniversary you once you found a bad apple and because out of 100 there will be at then prince charming will sweep you least two who are off your feet and happily committed “People expect too much you’ll live happily to each other. ever after. Leave from one another!” People today give anything you ever up too easily. Why aspired to do search so hard for because it doesn’t something that fit in with your life you can throw right now because away because it your other half is got too tough? To having it off with me it seems that if their secretary it’s that important and you’re to you, if you stop stuck paying a searching it will mortgage you hit you right in can’t afford, but the face. It’s like I’m sure that’s when you lose just one case in a your keys and million. search for them for hours on end, give I just think you should enjoy your up and they’re staring blankly back at life and stop worrying, value your you, sitting there the whole time. time, have fun make friends and This subject confuses me beyond see what happens or in the words of belief. Why can’t be people be happy Melissa Joan Hart “Prince charming is without someone by their side? We a d*ck, bring on the frogs.” have so many cultures, countries and

A disturbing trend H

uman Rights Watch have recently published a report detailing allegations of UK complicity in the torture of 5 British nationals by Pakistani authorities between 2004 and 2007. Whilst the report stresses that no UK officials took place in such practices as whippings, beatings, sleep deprivation and the pulling out of fingernails, it alleges that they were fully aware of what was happening, even putting pressure on the Pakistani authorities to ‘get results’. If true then this constitutes a violation of international law, not to mention being indicative of a level of hypocrisy which condemns that from which it benefits. In this report we have another disturbing response to the threat of terrorism which undermines the liberties that

we stand for. New Labour’s ID cards scheme (put on hold while the budget deficit

imprisonment…which is problematic due to the malleable way in which ‘glorifying’ can be interpreted (e.g. is

offers a depressing picture when put together with the fact that the UK is one of the most watched places in

“Another example of a heavy handed response by the state at the expense of individual liberty which provide scope for abuse by the powers that be” is addressed. You would have thought with it supposedly being so important for our safety it would have stayed on the agenda, but hey ho) cited terrorism as one of the things that it would prevent despite the distinct lack of empirical evidence to back up this assertion. The Terrorism Act of 2006 contained a clause relating to ‘glorifying’ terrorism which carries a maximum 7 years

expressing sympathy with an animal rights activist who damages property ‘glorifying’ terrorism?). The 90 day detention without trial for terror suspects that Tony Blair attempted to push through parliament in that same act provides yet another example of a heavy handed response by the state at the expense of individual liberty which provide scope for abuse by the powers that be. Taken together, this

the world with various methods of surveillance tracking everything from store transactions to car number plates. Whilst allusions to 1984 are clichéd as well as an exaggeration of the current state of affairs, there is cause for alarm at this lurch towards authoritarianism and hypocrisy that has occurred in response to the terrorist threat; the apparent

use of foreign security forces to extract information in a manner that constitutes torture; the proposed concentration in the hands of the state of personal information of every citizen over the age of 16; the enacting of laws that are wide open to abuse by the powers that be; all responses to the threat of terrorism, that threaten to berate and alienate innocent people who these measures are supposed to protect. Edmund Burke once said “Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe”. Let us hope that this protracted divorce of these two ideals proceeds no further.

The Popinjay


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COMMENT

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Banglesey Fail

Local newspapers' battering of students has gone on too long

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or as long as I have been in Bangor (and presumably since before then too), there has been a dark undercurrent that subtly shapes life for students here. Let’s start with some obvious facts: Bangor is proud of its Welshness and it’s a university town. During the summer the population more or less halves as students trundle off home for a rent free, care free few months. Bangor is a ghost town from July to September. For the brave few who stay behind propping up HMV’s DVD sales and taking the odd scone on the pier, Bangor shows its other face and it’s not a very nice one. The duplicity of the city is reflected everywhere. From the geographical split of Upper and Lower Bangor right down to the fact that we have two WH Smiths (why?). The students and the locals also live in two dimensions. For a lot, first year is spent blissfully unaware of how unwelcome students are here but when second year brings the inevitable decent closer to town and into shared houses, the great divide becomes much more difficult to ignore. Only last year a local shop owner blamed the global recession on us. Hilarious as that was, it was just a small part of the unrelenting animosity aimed at us every day as we’re blamed for all that is wrong in Bangor’s community. Our Union, instead of administering a swift back hand to the face of this cold contempt, came up with a solution to show how working together is ultimately extremely beneficial: Love Bangor.

Completely ignoring all the hard work that went into the scheme and the success that followed; a local newspaper which remains decidedly hostile towards students reported

"The students and the locals live in two dimensions" on the planning permission which was recently refused for another multiple tenancy house on Deiniol Road. It quoted a letter in opposition to the build “The student population is essentially transient, makes no investment in and has no interest in the needs of the local community.” The newspaper makes no attempt to balance the argument and seems to be applauding the writer for adding to the list of things that make students awful. The housing situation for families in Bangor is dire, but is it the students’ responsibility to fix this? Are they not as deserving of roofs over their heads? Surely the attack should be being made on those who are exploiting the fact that more money can be made from students than families? In a city as small as Bangor you wouldn’t be considered foolish to expect rent to be low. In fact, some student housing is cheaper in Manchester and Liverpool where students are welcomed and not shunned. One student’s immediate reaction to the article was “So the city doesn’t benefit from the £3,750 investment we all make every year?” and she is

right. Yes, I admit, it’s bloody annoying when you get to the bread section in Morrisons and all that’s left is a Kingsmill Little Big Loaf and you probably can blame everyone on Ffridd Site for that. But students are the ones who blow their loans in the high street shops, who take trips to explore the local landmarks, who get their parents to foot the expensive restaurant bills when they come to visit and who selflessly volunteer in the local community on a regular basis as they have been doing for years. The same newspaper published later an article on The People of Bangor Community Group which hopes to “reach out” to students. As much as this is a step in the right direction the entire article maintains the “us vs them” sentiment that the paper has been propagating and barely acknowledges the achievements of the Love Bangor scheme. It almost seems like the local residents’ resentment is being fuelled by the one sided, lazy journalism posted through their front doors every Thursday brewing up unhealthy tension in a city which needs more investment into it’s peoples’ lives be them student, local or both. It’s about time this propaganda machine stopped pointing the finger at the easiest target and did some actual work to help the people it exists for, asking real questions and getting real answers.

Georgia Mannion

Adam Sandland describes life as a Unity newbie

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’ve told myself every year I’ve been at Bangor that I would join a society, but I never quite made it until this year. I went to Serendipity, I signed up for the mailing lists, I received the e-mails telling me where to be and when to be there. But I never ended up going to anything, and I never ended up joining Unity in previous incarnations. I tried to excuse myself with various reasons for not going, late lectures and the like, but frankly I was too scared to go along to talk to a group of people I didn’t know about a topic I wasn’t sure if I was comfortable discussing. That all changed very quickly when I turned up for my first meeting. My final year had just started and it dawned on me that this really was my last year of University life. My last year of living in Bangor, taking advantage of the things to do and the things to be a part of - so I pulled myself together and went along. Naturally I turned up a good twenty-five minutes late, but I quickly realised what a fool I‘d been. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, the

discussion mature yet fun, and I realised the scope of the society was much bigger than I thought. I even stayed behind at the end to have a little chat with people to learn a few names and faces rather than scurrying home. I’ve only been involved a few weeks now but I’ve achieved and enjoyed plenty:

for never bothering to turn up before. It’s saddening to think in hindsight: ‘Wow, I’ve been here for three whole years and I’m only just getting in on the fun now, way to go!’ But it does me no good to dwell on it. I’m in Unity now and I’m enjoying it, and that’s what really matters. But reflecting on this, I would say enjoying your time is the most important thing you can do while at University. It will probably only happen just the once, and as I‘ve learnt, a lot of that enjoyment can come from societies and for me, from Unity. So my message I direct towards everyone, not just LGBT people, sat at home thinking to themselves, “Hey, I’ve got an interest in that, but I don’t know about the society” and I say: Go for it. Chances are you’ll enjoy it, and you’ll make a whole bunch of new friends - and more importantly you won’t be sat where I am two or even three years later thinking “I should have done this earlier”, because regrets won’t get you anywhere, and of course, you only live once.

“I realised the scope of the society was much bigger than I had thought” I’ve made lots of new friends to irritate (via Facebook), I’ve helped in preparing Fruit Salad and actually gone along for the first time; I’ve learnt about charities and foundations that campaign for equal rights; I’ve learnt about World Aids day and other events - ones that would have passed me by; and I’m anticipating helping out with the December Fruit Salad, as well as all the other future activities that are coming up. While I’m glad that I’ve participated and enjoyed everything thus far (especially learning the magic art of ‘turning up on time‘), I find myself berating myself

Did the BBC give in to Griffin? When a national institution becomes a platform for fascism is it time to pull the plug on free speech?

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he appearance of Nick GrifNewspapers were unanimous in defin on BBC1’s Question Time nouncing him, all but one that I could generated, as you may have nofind dedicated their front page to such. ticed, just a little bit of derision from Interviewees and talking heads on members of the public. Watching the every channel reprimanded him but show in time to people’s updates on Fa- assured us that his glaring ineptitudes cebook and Twitter, it seemed as if the were laid bare for all to see. Yet I believe whole world was watching, and venting more was laid bare on that show than their exasperation online. In fact, some just Mr. Griffin’s gross inhumanity. The of us had seen most of show already, inability of intelligent, politically aware released segment by segment as ‘sneak people to challenge such horrific bigotpeeks’ on BBC News the hour previry appropriately should worry us even ously, interspersed with clips of riotous more. Don’t get me wrong, the BNP Anti Fascists being used to polish the leader’s monstrous ideology could floor of Television Centre. not have been much more intensely It is profoundly worrying when an mauled than it was on Question Time. avowed fascist can be given airtime Yet here we had an unprecedented on the BBC. Many people, not least chance to destabilise the BNP, to reveal the 500+ protesters baying at the gates their policies for what they really areof BBC HQ for Nazi a cocktail of thinly blood, hold the opin- "It is profoundly veiled opportunism, ion that such people rampant, Victorian should be forced from worrying when an narrow-mindedness, the airwaves. Yet there avowed fascist can and pure ignoranceis something more be given airtime to the public and to worrying still about their supporters. The on the BBC." the response he got, BNP could have been and not just from driven back to its unhis supporters. On the show the BNP derground origins, lurking in darkened leader was brutally derided, attacked alleys and whispering racist slogans in by the audience and his fellow panelcrowded bars. Instead, abuse and unlists. Why? What was the purpose of al- intelligent questioning dominated the lowing him on the show, only to attack broadcast. This is what the BNP is him there? In the months prior to filmused to getting from those who oppose ing, controversy engulfed the proposal; them, they are immune. It is their lanwith people attacking the idea of him guage. It shouldn’t be ours. Mr. Griffin’s appearing fearing he would receive the policies should have been toppled one ‘oxygen of publicity’. Invariably, these by one, starting with the postal strike. outcries were answered with the meas- He should have left Television Centre a ured response that, if challenged in a destabilised leader, grassroots support fair and open debate, he would fall flat melting away as his half-baked policies on his face. Yet when it came down to in lay shreds. He did not. Instead, he it, there was nothing fair or open about left strengthened, knowing he would the debate. He was mocked and abused appear to his supporters as the helpless brainlessly, even childishly. His fellow victim of bullying tactics by those who panellists indulged in the opportuought to know better. He had made his nity to savage the MEP alongside the breakthrough into the mainstream poaudience. Not a sinlitical scene. gle BNP policy was "[Mr Griffin] should We have to acmentioned, let alone cept that, however have left Television vile a person, howscrutinised. Of course he had Centre a destabi- ever mind-numbthe right to appear ingly putrid their on the show, despite lised leader... He policies, once they what some say. He secure a national did not." had the right because elected position, almost a million people voted BNP in the rules change. If they are as ignorant the European elections in June. He had as we assume, their downfall should be the right because he is an elected MEP easily brought about, but by intelligent who is paid by the public to represent debate. The BNP see themselves as havus –god help us- in Brussels. Yet how ing left the streets, as being beyond the can we stop him and his prejudiced, slogan-chanting and the abuse. The ignorant views if we allow him into the question that faces us is whether we acpublic arena, only to silence him with a cept that the fight back against them, torrent of abuse? Where is the freedom and their million or so supporters, of speech in that? And if all we can do takes place there or not. is point and yell, how much better are we than the mindless thugs that elected Mr. Griffin? After the show, everyone was quick, perhaps too quick, to announce how much of a fool he made of himself.


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FEATURES

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Hark the Herald Angels Sing! T

he 2009 University Carol Service is being held in Bangor Cathedral at 7pm on Monday December 14th. Organised by the University Chaplaincy Team this bilingual service is especially for staff and students plus their friends and families. We will be hearing again familiar Christmas readings and singing traditional carols. However, there will be plenty of modern twists. Several of the readings will be dramatised by members of BEDS, including - so I’m told - the story of Adam and Eve! It is also hoped to include a welfare speaker to give the service a contemporary, Bangor and

student focus. As well as leading the singing, the Anglican Chaplaincy Singers are also working hard on several choir anthems. With wine and minced pies afterwards, what more seasonal cheer could be asked for? Please come along and extend this invite to your friends!

Kenneth Padley, Chaplaincy Team Coordinator

Rostra - A Midsummer Night’s Dream A review by Tigz Noyce

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s I braved the wet weather to go and see ROSTRA perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream I was thinking back to their last stab at Shakespeare; Hamlet. A play I thoroughly enjoyed, presented unusually and imaginatively; much to my disappointment my expectations were somewhat left wanting. While I am far from a Shakespeare aficionado I do like classic plays and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an iconic Shakespeare piece. Overall I did enjoy the performance however there were a couple of things that distracted me; most notable of those were noisy shoes and unclear voices. I understand that some of the

the stage with his presence. I was perplexed by the role played by the fairy interludes; they seemed to distract from the main storyline and didn’t seem to add value to the overall performance. Backstage efforts had obviously been made; the lighting fitted the mood and helped create the atmosphere for each scene; the use of the stage was effective. Due to such varied scene locations a black background was a sensible choice. The use of the whole stage was good however some use of the area in-front of the stage may have created more depth and brought the audience closer to the tension in the build up to the finale. The

The lighting fitted the mood and helped create the atmosphere for each scene

cast needed to wear heals, to fit their parts and adhere to the script, however it was hard to hear them talking when they were moving around the stage, also you could hear them in the wings which distracted from events on stage. Some of the voices were unclear I know there are no microphones and it isn’t the easiest thing to project your voice round the room (some say I may be able to) however slowing down what you are saying and talking louder will make you clearer. There were several characters that stood out and I feel that without them the performance may not have gone so well. Puk / Phillostrate (played by Medwyn Roberts) was very passionate and his performance was strong and entertaining. The actor who played Bottom (Neil Ellis Jones) did an excellent job, in all the performances I have seen him in, his character has been believable and genuine, A Midsummer night’s Dream was no exception. Theseus / Oberon (played by Daniel L. Cummings) was another strong actor his words were clear and he filled

A review by Mike Huntley

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Midsummer Night’s Dream is an early comedy written by William Shakespeare in the early Elizabethan era. The play is based around four Athenian lovers, a group of actors and their encounter with the fairies who dwell in the forest. The story is introduced with Hermia & Lysander, Helena & Demetrius and their complicated story of love. This is tale is twisted further by entering the forest of The Fairies, King Oberon and Queen Titania. King Oberon’s companion Puck is a major character who is mischievous and full of trickery within the Forest. Joining the Athenian lovers, the group of amateur actors Bottom, Snug, Snout, Quince and Flute rehearse their version of Pyramus and Thisbe

costumes seemed something of a mismatch between modern and themed. Helena was in a red backless dress (hardly authentic for the time) yet her contemporary Hermia was a pretty full length period dress. I think that the Shakespeare plays fit far better into minimalist acting such as that shown with ROSTRA’s Hamlet rather than the more elaborate theatre used here with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sadly I was left disappointed by the performance; I know the team have better in them so fingers crossed that their New Year offerings will be more satisfying. When I went to see Hamlet the cast seemed more experienced and the play seemed like it had more fluidity; unfortunately with Midsummer Night’s Dream I didn’t see this. I hope this review is seen more as constructive criticism than a 600 word rant at their performance. I will attend their next show and look forward to seeing what I have come to love and expect from ROSTRA.

C

all me a grubby cynic, but I was under the impression that Shakespeare’s comedies had aged about as well as an old wrinkly thing. They were always (Ancient) Greek to me, with their “hilarious” misunderstandings, twisty-turny plots and sub-Tommy Cooper puns. I’m sorry, but there it is. And if this statement hasn’t yet got you tutting at a deafening volume, or ripping up your copy of Seren in an apoplexy of bookwormy rage, then you may well understand my apprehension when I heard that Rostra were putting on a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I will admit, reader, I went along to the Friday performance with

T

his production has been put on by Rostra. If you are interested in seeing some of their work, their Christmas play, Brief Encounters will be held in Powis hall on the 11th of December at 6.30pm. It will also be in JP hall at 1.30pm and 7.30pmon the 12th of December.

If you are interested in reviewing for seren please send them to seren.features@bangor.ac.uk

“But what about the cast? Get on with it!” I hear you scream at the inanimate print before you. Well, I haven’t forgotten them. The cast were by and large a treat; Neil Ellis Jones brought a hilarious swagger to the character of Bottom, a character whose status (and name) precedes him in Shakespearean comedy. In fact, the entire amateur group threatened to steal the show at some points, particularly during the delightfully botched performance in honour of Thesesus and Hippolyta’s Royal Wedding in Act 5. Other standout moments included the love “square” between the young Athenian lovers Lysander (Tom Warlow), Hermia (Emily Cox), Demetrius (Dan Roach) spirited

Rostra’s production almost completely seduced me

a fine collection of piss-andvinegar lambasts in mind and a massive TESCO bag full of rotten cabbage at the ready (okay that bit’s a lie). However, much to my irritation, Rostra’s spirited production almost completely seduced me. It was an almost unmitigated triumph. So damn them. Damn them for pulling the whole thing off with such surprising deftness. Curse Martin Pritchard for his admirably well-judged reading of a play that interweaves three separate narrative strands into one messy whole. Damn them and applaud them, because it’s a tricky one. In the first place, the action of the play may be daunting to newcomers, juggling as it does the amorous adventures of four Athenian lovers with the endeavours of an amateur dramatics troupe and the machinations of Theseus, Hippolyta and all manner of supernatural beings, including Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of all things Fairy). And yet despite all this, Rostra’s direction was both kinetic and lucid, and the performances bore the mark of a director who knows this territory well.

and Helena (Karen Attoney), and although the enunuciation could have been more polished at times, the performers brought such vigour to their roles that the whole affair never lost its sense of fun. Medwyn Roberts also stood out as a rather blithe Puck , although that may be partly because he inexplicably resembled a sort of panto Ziggy Stardust, - all bleached hairdo and face paint. The only real let-down came during the musical interludes, which were shoehorned in with as much grace and subtlety as a lazy journalistic analogy. These moments threatened to tarnish everything that Rostra had made, and whilst I appreciate that they were supposed to convey the artless mischief of the fairies, it all looked a bit like a Primary School gym and dance class; worse still, the extremely modest musical accompaniment failed to drown out the pachyderm thundering of feet on stage. Still, a fun time was had by all as they say, and most of all, Rostra made me eat my bitter words in the end. And for that, I take my hypothetical trilby off to them.


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FEATURES

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Fashion

wn Hand-dra! artwork

with Stacey Gannon

Tis the season to be jolly, tralalalala lalalala, escape the crowds and ditch the trolley , tralalalala lalalala... Enjoy seren’s online shopping review. This month I conducted a survey of your favourite online shops to help beat the Christmas rush and grab those bargins in the January sales in the happiness of our own home and hopefully with a cuppa .

Number 1

2 r e b m u N

Y

our favourite online clothing store was ASOS. This year they are doing delieveries up to the 24th of december if ordered before 2pm (if you live inside the M25 area. If not it’s next day delievery where orders must be in before 6pm on the 23rd December

E

bay is creating a large space in the market for unknown designers to place their clothing lines for people to buy. These orignals and inspiring ideas are fresh and great for whe n the ‘fashion’ doesn’t suit you.

Number 3

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ing companies s one of the biggest online trad h on the list. schu nd fi to ise it wasn’t a supr and outstanding With they’re amazing offers . quality it’s easy to see why Schuh are delievering for free up until the 20th of december and are doing next day delievery until the 22nd.

Number 4 R

outeone is a sportwear online site that caters for more than just that, from selling clothes, accessories and shoes to inlines and bikes. Definately one to keep an eye on.

: keTIyP a em s

pe thi Kee inimal pes up m mas, e ng t ri s wea rs. Chri f i y l cial t colou ter h h i br g highlig to y l a App ascar our & m tuate y en acc eatures f

Pretty Monstrous

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very woman needs a good pair of heels to elongate your legs makes you feel and look stunning on a night out; even if by the end of the night you are tottering after dancing for way too long. A recent fashion show has brought up the concern of “How high is too high?” as shoes are becoming more outrageous and extravagant. Alexander McQueen a well known shoe designer has brought the world’s attention to the armadillo, after two models fell down during the Prada fashion

show hosted in Milan. Standing 12 inches tall the armadillo is a complete monster compared to the normal stiletto. Is there such a point to designing shoes this high? I have decided no. Of course they’re intriguing to look at and you really want to try it on just to see how far you can get (well I do anyway) but I really can’t see any point to them. No movement, no dancing, no getting to the bar, sore feet: seems like a bad night to me. Plus they really weren’t made for wales and B**** hill.


10

UNION

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

? l l a r o f n o i n U h s l e W a – B UMC separate: Reasons to UMCB will be able

r. This means of Decembe on the 15th that UMCB m ts 6p en r ud st ango the 3,000 r, UMCB (B of the Union be at em in th pt ith w Se a p until Union, represents tly ts’ ould have en w en rr ud cu ho St w Welsh Students’ iversity, and or Un ng e previous Ba th d in of an rs department atic membe 0 of the m to 00 bers of 3, au em l m en al be ently unted n d learners 196 are curr Union) co ajor decisio speakers an years, only m a sh el at W an th s y’ to ns Universit tation of rs. But due CB. This mea en be es UM pr em re m 09 ic re 20 e futu as automat l elections of language is regarding th d e Sabbatica d the Welsh outcry in th hadn’t realise students an ho those who w sh el of CB W 7% UM of an to by members nds of less th are allowed ha rs e ke th ea in sp elsh p of ed. es that non-W ent, a grou s themselv will be affect UMCB Presid who define the way or on at rs r th vote for the pe ke d te ea y es sp An bers requ arner, Welsh nguage or ected be UMCB mem a Welsh le esident is el la Pr as sh el CB W UM ho e w th rest in in which an sh-speakers of UMCB has an inte that only Wel become part r their changed so can opt to udents’ may vote fo St re e ltu CB th cu UM m in fro is ith sing a card are active w ly way for th ha Bangor on rc ve e pu th Lo , by ur er yo wev w ith president, ho in the confines of the la r £2 (or £1 w ember fo m l n io cia fi Un of with titutionally out being an ns ith to be done co not be W e ill ). w m rd co re ca futu to be ion itself, vote on its is for UMCB Students’ Un of UMCB a e th e m th fro in separate voices with took place possible. ’ members’ te recently weakening its similar deba iversities. e University. A th Un e g or rin ef d ou er hb by senate an Union and th of our neig ed e Students’ ss on pa sh at el as W w h’s ring Union policy (Abersytwyt eeting ensu come a m l be CA ra to UM ne ge ed at separation cently decid is then ratified re th ’ Union n) ts of io en ty Un ud ssibili of Welsh of their St t n that the po en tio ystwyth m cia rt er so pa Ab de g an As students at this year’s and formin d allow all their future idered for an ns co on e as er te w w to vo Students CB cards l instability University elections. UM udents’ Union the financia sabbatical St ents due to ce would e id en th es Pr nd of pe rt de ld pa in at this wou created as nstitutional th co e? so e cid at m th de he CB s sc hat will UM bers of UMCB Activity Card mean. But w ld the mem ou l ra sh ne le ib Ge ss e at th be po ge the system in JMJ at vote to chan take place ill w ch hi w Meeting

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ur voice o y d n a m e D MCB card! U n a d n a dem g: JMJ – in t e e m l a r e UMCB Gen 6pm 15/12/2009

members of Only active idents. re UMCB Pres tu fu r fo to vote

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at on ill have a se President w ly be te CB ni fi UM de e ill Th there w the Senate and hich forms w the Union’s dy bo e ice on th a Welsh vo ical policies. Union’s polit ovide ntinue to pr ’ Union will co ts en ud St e Th ant. an annual gr UMCB with

stay: Reasons to represent

Ho! Ho ! Ho! Fr om John P . Jack son & all a t Bango r Studen ts’ Union. Have a grea t Christ mas!

As part of Give it a Go scheme and with SVB, Bangor Students’ Union are once again running the Rotary Shoebox scheme. Last year we filled 25 boxes which were gratefully received and so this year we are going to try and do it again! You can come and pick up a box from Ceri or Helen on the third floor of the SU building, fill it yourself and then bring it back or if you would rather you can simply drop off a few items and we will do the rest. Anything you can give will be much appreciated. Visit www.bangorstudents.com/giag/ rotary.asp to find out more information. Thank you! Ceri and Helen

Rotary shoebox appeal

all ld esident shou ill only w t bu , An UMCB Pr rs arne ithin kers and le are active w Welsh spea to those who atus le st ab e er th sw ith w be an be efore happy er to th le d ab an UMCB ill not be gh UMCB w that wishes p ou gr quo. Althou y an y against want nondiscriminator who do not efore those ill still not w te vo to join – ther to rs to be able ke interest ea an sp s sh ha el ho W as anyone w ish w r ei th . t ge do so ill be able to in joining w Union ep to certain ill have to ke d to it and te ec UMCB will st nn co der to stay for an policies in or . It will also be easier bers’ ities em cil m fa e th its t e ns us t to act agai ecks en ch id s es n’ Pr io Un e UMCB not have th ical ill at w bb it Sa as e th wishes hich make d w an es es nc di la and ba several bo swerable to Officers an committees. vote not have a esident will ittee, which The UMCB Pr m m co e iv n Execut half of on the Unio ions on be to-day decis voice on a ve makes dayha nor will they orate the Union, makes corp Board which e.g. e n, te io us Un Tr e e th th behalf of on ns io decis ions. financial decis n an applicatio ve to make s ha n’ io ill w Un e CB th UM way as t in the same CB Presiden UM for its grant e Th . cieties do ion over the cis clubs and so de e th voice in ill also will have no ed. UMCB w will be provid e of its m so g in amount that us r the Union fo ns. have to pay lding electio ho g. e. s ice serv


11

UNION

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

SpencerGeorge 1,378 Tweets

To Tweet or not to Tweet? Latest: SpencerGeorge is running a nice bubblebath for @jezharvey about 2 hours ago

For years the Students’ Union has looked at ways to improve its communication with the student body. Trust me, as the sabbatical in charge of overseeing the SU’s communication strategy, it’s certainly not an easy task. We spend literally thousands of pounds every year on communication. Everything from printing this wonderful newspaper through to producing thousands of handbooks for new students. We are only one of a handful of Students’ Unions to have a year round radio station and after months of negotiation with the university, we’ve finally got our own student mailing list. Despite this however, the question remains, how do we, the Students’ Union, communicate with as many students as possible at any given moment in time? This is the question that the Students’ Union Communications Committee is currently looking into. The committee is made up of students and representatives from our media groups (Y Llef, SEREN and Storm FM) and their task this year is to produce the SU’s first ever communications strategy. The strategy’s aim is to clearly identify who we want to communicate to (Students, University, Local community etc), what message(s) we want to deliver and how we go about delivering that message. Already the committee have looked into furthering last year’s re-branding exercise and are looking at introducing more modern forms of communication into the strategy. For example, The SU has already successfully embraced Facebook as a less formal approach to keeping students updated (over 2000 students are now on the SU Facebook group) but should we be following in the steps of many other Students’ Unions by embracing Blogging and Twitter? With the introduction of Bangor TV, should the SU be providing visual and audio communication via its website? In my opinion, whilst we will always be restricted by finite resources (especially our financial resources) we are behind the times when it comes to communication. Whilst there will always be a place for pen and paper, posters and face to face contact, we need to embrace these new communicative tools if we are going to inform and enthuse students about their Union. Not only would doing so allow the SU to inform students about events and issues, but it would also allow us, the sabbatical officers, to update you on our activities. Which meetings we are going to, who within the university we are talking to and what issues we are talking about. Whilst it’s not as black and white as I make out, I honestly believe it’s the direction in which we need to be heading. The Communications Committee is always looking for more students to get involved. Whether you’d like to have your say on the above issues or maybe you’re a student whose degree would benefit from being involved then please feel free to come and join in. The next meeting takes place on Wednesday the 9th December at 13:30 in the Students’ Union Committee room.

Love Bangor hits the ground running…

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s you will have read in previous articles, Love Bangor be putting together a proposal for a government grant to pilot such a project over the course of one year. It’s a big is the Students’ Union’s big campaign of the year, focusing on improving community relations. So far task but we’re up for the challenge. Moving away from the Card scheme, Love Bangor is the campaign has been widely welcomed and has received positive press from local media outlets. The Love Bangor also focusing its efforts on the promotion of recycling and environmental responsibility. Whilst I can’t say too much at Card has been snapped up by over 1000 students here in this stage, the end of semester 2 will see the culmination Bangor and this has incentivised more businesses to get of months of work on a fun and exciting campaign the likes involved. of which haven’t been seen in Bangor before. Trespass, one of the newest high street retailers immediately signed up to the In conjunction with this, SVB have applied a ch su at for funding to create a hybrid environmental scheme and now offers 20% off “It is believed th ge hu a selected items to holders of the project which would see the continuation of e se ld ou w move Love Bangor card. Bar Uno will be ber of beach cleans accompanied by the introduction m nu e th in se offering Christmas meal dinners of inner city clean ups. Such moves have been increa discounts welcomed by all stakeholders involved with both in a Love Bangor week later this nesses offering si bu ts month and we are currently in Bangor and its parent initiative, Bangor ld benefit studen Love Pride. The Students’ Union will also be looking talks with several other businesses which wou ” e. ik al s nt at how Love Bangor can be incorporated into including Debenhams at how to and local reside other community projects including working further develop the scheme. One with local residents groups and helping run events where option which businesses are keen the whole community comes together. For more information on is the introduction of a Love Bangor card accessible to all about Love Bangor and Bangor Pride, please visit: www. members of the local community who could then, as is the case for students, benefit from high street discounts. It is bangorpride.org.uk believed that such a move would see a huge increase in the number of businesses offering discounts which would benefit students and local residents alike. The Students’ Union will

Spencer George


12

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

This year Willow is breaking free from the confines of Bangor to bring you repor ts from places as exotic as Llandudno and Anglesey. So I think you’ll agree that this year promises to be an even better one than the last.

Not one to always do North Wal the obviou es’ seasid s I decide e resorts: d to chec Rhyl is loca R k out one te d in Denbigh hyl. of seaside to shire and wn prior to was once the Secon Rhyl has an elegan some surp d World W t Victori ar. If you rising mod there by do the rese an ern histor members y: John Pr arch of the pu Rhyl has escot was blic during had some egged the 2001 notable in woman to ge ha neral elec bitants su be hanged tion. ch as Rut killer Pete in the UK h Ellis, th r Moor w in 1955 an e last ho murde d ‘for fun’. It th e serial red four m has howev en appare er as Lisa Sco ntly tt-Lee from had some happier citi steps, Car Rhyl still re ol Vorderm zens such ceives a lo an and Le t of touris summer ti e Evans. ts from Nor me and is th West En easily acce My tour of ssible by tr gland in th R hy l w e ai as hosted a night ou by a native n and car from Ban t in the to gor. Rhylonian wn on a Fr was fun an and starte iday night. d involved d wit This soun slightly w ds scary bu h orse for w eighties bar and va rious club ear we to see what s/ pubs. Fe t it ok a trip it has to around Rhy eling offer. We being the l the next visited th best swim day to e ‘Sun Cen ming attr the North tr e’ ac w hich boas Wales wea tion in Rhy ts ther that l, it’s also then took a ‘Sun cent fitting wit a walk alon re’ is in fa h g the prom parts of th ct indoors. enade and e Rhyl skyl We ine: the S saw one of the new ‘D ky Tower. th rift Park’ e fa mous The promen developm scheme in ade also ho ent Rhyl. We lds then visite which is part of a amusemen re d ge t arcades ‘Terror To neration mbs’ one in Rhyl an the dance of d played revolution the many on racing machine, D for my da games an which I sa ncing. We d on dly lost an then visite Lisa Scott d got a gr d two of R Lee’s hom ade hyl’s othe e and the was erecte r attraction picturesqu d by Edwar s: e Rhuddla d I in 1277 I actually n ca st fo le llowing th enjoyed m which e First Wel back for a y tr ip ar ou sh visit. I thin nd Rhyl an War. k that the been put d will de regenerati into place on schemes finitely go and includ and recons e the sate which have truction of llite of Llan the I hope that drillo colle it can be re West end of Rhyl w ge ill benefit stored back Rhyl a lot. to its origin al prestige .

Rhyl has some surprising modern history: John Prescot was egged there by members of the public during the 2001 general election.

utes I a fun filled twelve min North Wales and for und aro cks tra ting car There are many goon Anglesey. ut fifteen rtioMôn’ race track so it only takes abo decided to try out ‘Ca lyhead in Bodedern Ho of e sid days in advance as out t k jus boo d to ate d loc nee is no CartioMôn A55. There is the weather, and m Bangor along the is not dependant on minutes to get to fro up on the day. Racing ather for if you l we cal t lsh jus , We xed the to rela ing the track is quite ed which is handy ow uir req en wh ting there is also floodligh ned up nder was that I tur ge! mer and my first blu the really fancy a challen sum had re the the in d ôn rke tioM wo Car who I decided to try out fortunately the lady ing gear we hit the s not a good idea; rac wa in d ich cla wh y full ops fl ng ipwearing fl iners. After bei you’re vibrating and lent me her tra long, however when same size feet as me red flag was s doesn’t sound like ute que min che 12 the le. er sty Aft . ugh track wacky racers roaching a more than long eno is app it On oor ld. fl cou the I m as fast about two inches fro me and I sped off as barriers. hin the wit into ited ck ign tra rit e spi off the waved a competitiv ended up spinning crashed and I t on tha aks ant bre me the s and slam whole twelve minute corner I then had to the d that I for rrie ing wo s rac d wa sh and I I approache the only one to cra This was then how my knuckles were ck tment I was in fact tra oin the app on dis s my ute To four times. off. After twelve min ’s - with heats, a ag or even get sent l arrange Grand Prix might get a yellow fl hard. The track wil so print out of your on n ow ing r grip you m get l white and aching fro o takes a ride you wil wh ne ryo got our print out eve we en for Wh and , kart. semi final and a final ried within each gocar ers ond nsp tra of the lap speeds, courtesy leadership board. have les, CartioMôn also , at the bottom of the centres in North Wa I was ,needless to say ting car nt ere re suitable to my diff mo ny be ma r ht eve mig how ich wh There are s for children carting located in battery operated car Certio dan do, indoor a small track with So if you fancy ting centre is Redline n. car r sio ula ses r pop r hou f the a hal driving skills. Ano minutes to £26 for . 6 ting for kar £6 m gofro nd y me var om Caernarfon. Prices I would definitely rec erent in North Wales diff ing eth som ng doi

My first blu turned up w nder was that I earing flipflops


13

STORM & SVB

Freshers’ Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Marc Freddie Collinson (some illiterate bloke who appeared from Yorkshire) and Will Faithfull (a refined Hampshire resident) have paired up to present RADIO BLAH BLAH on Storm FM. The show promises topical chat with guests, a bizarre collective sense of humour and music befitting its hosts and their erratic musical tastes. The hosts urge you to not adjust your set and kick off your Wednesday with a bang: All we hear is...RADIO BLAH BLAH.

The SVB Sbectrw m Project – Volunt eering with childre Autism and Asperg n with ers Syndrome

Join Dan Williams and Ian Scott every Monday from 6-7pm for the best hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Featuring classic tunes from artists like Queen and Journey, The Time Tunnel provides you with you weekly dose of nostalgia. The guys also keep you up to date with Students’ Union events. With all the classic tracks, The Time Tunnel is the perfect way to get ready for a Monday night in Time/Amser!

The Forum is a weekly discussion of all the major news stories, and a few local ones that matter to you. The show is hosted by the Storm News Team with different guests each week. The Forum is back for another year with new presenters and new topics. With even more hot debates your Tuesday night is not complete without your weekly dose of topical news and discussions. Hosted by our brand spanking new presenters Alison Kennedy and Cassie Alltree, it’s better than Charlie Brooker having a rant about WI-FI on Nandos. Is there are topic that matters to you? Perhaps we can feature it in an edition of The Forum. All you need to do is e-mail news@stormfm.com and let us know!

Is there something you would really like to be played? Get in touch with us via the Nifty Little Form on www.stormfm.com or text STORM + your message to 60300! Do you want something we may not have? E-mail playout@stormfm.com and we’ll get right on the case!

we had a g Bangor this week as not only have t’s busy times for Student Volunteerin being assessed ) week (this also are we but to le theme night to organise and attract peop an Investors in Volunteers Award. by the Welsh Assembly Government for of it, in People and if we’re deemed worthy tors Inves like Investors in Volunteers is a lot rtunities are oppo g teerin volun our that unity comm it’s going to show the university and the really hoping to achieve it, so by Christmas, we’re top notch! It will have taken us 2 years to have something to celebrate! are having a SVB-land apart from that? Well, RAG So, what else has been going on in Basement the in night Need ent with their Children in very productive time of it at the mom ’ (support for exways ‘Path are ties chari local n chose s raising well over £200. This year, RAG’ HIV sufferers). and Body Positive (a local charity for servicemen with post traumatic stress) er Cymru and Shelt ng helpi s, RAG will this year also be In addition to these very worth cause the Everyman Cancer Charity. up in the run couple of exciting projects coming The Promotions Team also have a doing Candy Canes, ‘Mean We’re for. out look nitely defi ld up to Christmas that you shou ht yourself one in your life (or you’ve recently caug Girls’ style. So, if there’s a special some sweety SVB with it say year, this n your feelings… lecture lecturing) and want to make know goodness!

I


Seren’s very own agony aunts are here to answer all your problems. Big or small, they’ve got an answer for you. Contact them on advice@seren. bangor.ac.uk if you have a question you need solving

Social

Q – My housemates consist of a flat mate from first year, a girl who lived downstairs from us and another girl I met on my course. We all got on really well last year, although I had only lived with one of them I had no worries about us living all together. However this year, it is impossible for us to agree on the smallest of things. I thought we would all make dinner together and have a really good laugh but it has been far from it. How can we resolve this? A – Try and create a rota, so arguments can’t stem from issues such as housework and cooking. Also try and communicate in an adult fashion. Despite how you feel right now, at one time you were all very close. Maybe try to suggest a night in watching a DVD together and you can have a discussion about why things went wrong.

Relationships

Q – I am in my first year and have meet a lovely boy however he is from Ireland and I live in Surrey out of term time. I really like him and he has told me he feels exactly the same. Finding him has really helped me settle here and I’m really happy. But Christmas is approaching and I am worried we will grow apart and the distance will become too much. A – You may be reading too much into the situation. The Christmas holidays are only 3 weeks. Your time will be filled by spending time with family, seeing old friends and revising for your January exams. Whilst you are apart try to communicate as much as possible, but remember you have a life away from him as well. The distance may be a test to see if you are both as keen when you come back from the holidays. It could be a positive sign of what may come. If you find you do really want to see each other over Christmas, what is stopping you from spending a weekend with each other?

Sexual Health

Q – After seeing this guy for a while, one night things got a bit carried away and although I was comfortable to sleep with him as I really like him, we didn’t use a condom. I’m on the pill but I am still worried there’s a chance I may have caught something. But I’m too embarrassed to go to the GP. Is there another way? A – We’re afraid not, if you want proper results and tests carried out in a professional manor then a GP is the only way. There are tests that you can purchase over the counter but this doesn’t test all the potential sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) you could catch. It is wise that you are tested immediately as you may not see any signs until it becomes a real problem. We suggest in the future you use protection, if you go to the Students’ Union you will find you can get £1 x10 condoms. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Lifestyle

Q – Because of excessive nights out, shopping, food and numerous other things I have frittered my money away. I can’t tell my parents, they will be so disappointed and aren’t financially stable themselves and I wouldn’t want to put the pressure on them to try and help me. What can I do? A – Don’t panic, it happens to the best of us. First of all think about what it is exactly you spend all your money on and whether these are vital necessaties. Then try and allocate your money and budget accordingly. Try to do one weekly shop and plan your meals so there isn’t any waste. Instead of buying new clothes when you go out shopping, try to accessorise and customise your existing clothes. If there is a part time job which is heard about, ask for details. This will provide you with extra cash and experience. If things hit rock bottom, go to the Students’ Union and talk to a money adviser on the second floor, they should be able to help you.

!

LD I W E IN TH

ssionals, ey aren’t profe Disclaimer: Th hope to help. o wh uls so e just two sensitiv


WANTS

YOU!

Promising reporter, developing design geek, or potential paparazzi, we have something for you. There’s loads of ways to get in touch, find us on facebook, send us an email to editor@seren.bangor.ac.uk or check out our website: www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

ONE MINUTE WELSH Na, dydw I ddim eisio sws No, I don’t want a kiss. Nah, duh-doo ee thim a-sho soos.

Gai peint os gwelwch yn dda? Can I have a pint please? Gah ee paint os goo-el-ooch un tha? I need a cup of tea Dwi angen panad. Du-ee ahng-ehn pa-nahd. Does dim byd dda ar y teledu There’s nothing good on the telly Dois deem beed dah argh ugh tell-eh-dee

Mae gennai gormod i ‘neud. I have too much to do. My geh-nye gohr-mod ee naid. Dwi’n casau gwneud gwaith. I hate doing work. Doo-een cah-sai goo-naid goo-ithe.

Do you want to learn Welsh or even just a couple of phrases? Cymdeithas Llywelyn (the Welsh learners Society) is right up your street! We offer taster sessions at 6.30 on the last Wednesday of every month in lecture room 5 to help you learn those handy phrases. We also hold social sessions every Wednesday night in the Glôb at 8pm; this offers a chance to practice what you’ve learnt. Email llywelyn@ undeb.bangor.ac.uk for more information. Dwi eisio ysgrifennu i Seren I want to write for Seren Du-ee a-sho us-gree-venee ee Seh-rehn


14 DV Ds to get you thr oug h Ch ris tm as

16

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

through ing your halls halfway Whether you are deck ocking g supermarkets for st November or boycottin films to o early, we have some to rs da len ca nt ve ad on. tide you over this seas

History forces its way into the present

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fter a night of drunken revelry involving Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies (and my personal favourite, a girl dressed as a Cacti!), I woke up on the afternoon after Halloween ready to recharge my decaying brain cells with some high brow intellectual entertainment courtesy of Storm FM’s resident Time-Lord, JPC, presenter of the wonderful Past Force. What came out of my computer however was far from what I was expecting. Instead of the usual stuff, which normally reads like an episode of Blackadder turned into a documentary (Nelson sprawled out on the deck of the victory singing “I’m So Ronery,” springs to mind,) I was confronted with a listening experience like nothing I had ever heard before. For coming from my computer were the sounds of JPC interviewing none other than JACK THE RIPPER! At first, it seemed like one of James’ usual jokesI scoffed at the absurdity of it all and hoped that it simply served as the intro into the first song. As the hour long extravaganza continued however- I became more and more convinced that what I was listening to was genuine. At times, it gave me goosebumps and at others at I was clutching my sides in hysterics. James was clearly in his element as he piled up the evidence alongside some strangely appropriate music- Sir Charles Warren, commissioner of the yard and who later went on to help Baden Powell with the founding of the Scout movement was seized upon with a comedy take of the Village People by Billy Connolly entitled In the Brownies, for instance. Kerry Morris meanwhile played a blinder as an extraordinarily convincing Jack the Ripper, denying most of James evidence, putting his own spin on the evidence and laughing at the failures of the police. The most praise however must be heaped on the fantastic dénouement. James’ evidence has more than convinced me that he was right about Jack’s identity- and I don’t think I’ll ever look at Alice in Wonderland in the same way again. It is here that Past Force has finally come of age. No longer is it just a small nothing tucked away in the corner of the schedules- it is a power to be reckoned with. Whenever listening to James, now I can’t help but think of the wonderful Fred Dibnah, who so enchanted me as a child with his entertaining wit. Somewhere, I like to think, he is smiling down on James and his new order. We can only hope that the future is as terrifying, exciting and as hilarious as this was.

Dan Marsh

For an older audience

Childhood classics Miracle on 34th Street Basically, Richard Attenborough thought David was getting a bit much attention with his Life programme and tried to out do him by being Santa.

Die Hard Classic, cheesy, American film where Bruce Willis runs around in a vest being blown up and saving children. What Christmas is all about.

Home Alone Mcauley ends up hilariously fighting off two stupid thieves who try to break into his house, he wins and everyone lives happily ever after…until the sequel when pretty much the same happens, but somehow it’s funnier.

Love, Actually I love this film, actually (sorry I couldn’t help myself). It’s really 8 Christmas stories in 1, a lot of brilliant actors, a very funny Rowen Atkinson cameo and even Martine McCutcheon wasn’t bad. A round of applause for Richard Curtis please. Gremlins So you receive a cute but slightly weird creature for Christmas, name it Gizmo and then it starts to ruin your life. Now THAT is a sucky Christmas present.

The Grinch Jim Carey in a Dr Seuss story. What more could you want? Elf Will Ferral plays a man raised by elves who has gone to New York to find his real father. This is not the Anchorman of Christmas but it isn’t bad either.

Blackadder’s Christmas carol Surely this doesn’t need any explanation. It. Is. Hilarious. Gavin and Stacey 2008 Christmas special Oh! Oh! Oh!....Merry Christmas!

Oh! TV Specials!

The Hogfather This is a film based on the Terry Pratchett book of the same name. It isn’t actually about Christmas at all but the intriguingly similar holiday of Hogswatch. It’s dark, weird, funny and avoids most seasonal clichés. Well worth a watch. Christmas with Morcambe & Wise Christmas wouldn’t be the same without them.

Something a bit different

Some Girls Like The Family Stone but better and without Sarah Jessica Parker. Has the old “everyone’s family is crazy!” moral that’s supposed to make us feel better when the actual day rolls around. Tokyo Godfathers A Japanese anime film about 3 tramps who find a baby and decide to return it to its parents. Bizarre, funny and unconventionally heart warming. La Buche With tagline “‘Tis the Season to be jolly!” this film starts off sarcastically, and what else would you expect from the French? The story revolves around 3 sisters and their mother and they couldn’t be any more different. Despite their differences and difficult lives they show love for one another and a new side of Christmas that Hollywood rarely captures.

Buy a 6” sub & 21oz drink get a 6” sub FREE with this coupon! Regular subs only, Love Bangor card holders get any sub! Coupon only valid at Subway Bangor. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer.

Remember every Sunday 2pm-6pm is BOGOF!


17

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

BOOKS & BOX

“You go round saying someone’s a slag, you’re going to get a slap!”

W

hen I first saw the trailer for Misfits I thought it was going to be Skins meets Heroes and all a bit naff. After the first episode I was hooked. A bunch of chavvy teenagers wearing their ASBOs on their sleeves get caught up in a storm which changes their lives forever. Kelly is easily my favourite character. She can hear what you think but paradoxically seems unable to express her feelings verbally. With her scraped back hair and huge hoop earrings those who make snap judgements about her often regret it as in the third episode she brazenly declares “You go round saying someone’s a slag, you’re going to get a slap!” and subsequently head butts the girl she was talking to. It sums up her character beautifully. Alongside Kelly there are Alisha the party animal who stirs men into a frenzy, Curtis who discovers he can turn back time, Simon who can turn invisible and Nathan who is an arrogant pillock who is yet

to discover his power. The interesting thing about their powers is that they all relate closely to the characters’ fears, hopes and regrets. They are reluctantly bound together when their probation officer attacks them and is killed by a swift blow to the head with a paint tin. The situations they find themselves in are bizarre, interesting and almost comic book in the way the way they unfold which sets the series apart from anything else on TV right now. It’s not serious but you’ll find yourself being drawn into it and really caring about the believable and genuine characters. It’s a well thought out, fresh and truly funny new drama from Channel 4.

! N WI

Georgia Mannion

Email editor@seren.bangor.ac.uk with your best idea for a super power. The funniest will recieve a copy of the first series of Misfits on DVD!

The Time Traveller’s Wife

I

picked out this book because I loved the author’s surname immediately; sharing strange, rude and sexually-orientated surnames with people is one of my hobbies; because I have one myself. OK, that’s a lie, I admit; I committed the heinous crime of seeing the film before I read the book. So shoot me, it was an AMAZING film, and Rachel McAdams and the very handsome Eric Bana made a perfect on-screen couple. I am not a hopeless romantic, but the film, and indeed the book makes for a passionate, heart-rendering story that will give even the most heartless of people (even supposedly-manly individuals - my boyfriend was in tears at the end of the movie) a lump in their throats. I’m not going to tell you why, because it will ruin the plot, which I will now briefly explain. Henry DeTamble is a librarian who suffers from a rare condition that causes him to time-travel randomly back and forward to periods in his life and the book focuses on him and his wife Claire Abshire, an artist as they struggle to maintain a relationship. At the start of the book Henry, at 28; meets 20 year old Claire having never met her before, even though she has known him all her life. It is Henry’s constant disappearances and reappearances into his and Claire’s life, meeting her for the first time when she is six years old, that revolves around how their relationship is at the same time strengthened and tested. The stunning imagery, plot sequence and characterization all link to that fact that Audrey Niffenegger is herself an artist. The book was originally meant to be a picture book, but she realised that time-travel could not be depicted particularly well in this medium, and yet the metaphors of her own experiences are reflected throughout the book, and Claire’s frustration and longing at Henry’s absence are beautifully transcribed through her artwork. This is starting to sound like an essay, but if you’re looking for a sci-fi romance with a twist (and why indeed wouldn’t you be?) this is a great read that explores the love and loss of a male and female whose lives are twisted together by fate and controlled by time and the lack of it. Not quite a chick-flick, but definitely a comforting winter read for those having discovered or lost, love. Now I sound like an agony aunt. Happy reading.

Lizzie Blowey

I

f you haven’t seen spooks to date, I’ll start by telling you that it is one of the most dramatic, gripping and vivid programmes ever to hit our screens. Created for the BBC, it is now in its eighth series and after 67 episodes, you might be asking “What is it and why is it so good?” So I must answer this question before we continue, I suppose. Spooks is about MI5 – the British secret service as far as internal matters are concerned. The series follows a particular group of “Spooks” (or spies) and their efforts to constantly fight the forces of terrorism, corruption and general matters of national security. They counter terrorism; they deal with unwanted, clandestine American, Russian and Far Eastern operations on British soil, they even do their own dodgy black ops dealings. The current “main” character, so to speak, is Lucas North. Lucas, unlike the previous team leaders is a troubled character, sometimes seeming unstable as a result of his 7 years of torture in a Russian prison and he, along with the hard-faced Ros Myers, bring an extra gritty feel to the 8th series, comparable with the effect of Daniel Craig on the James Bond films. The tag line is very appropriate – “Your life depends on us”. In watching Spooks, you are

slowly convinced that things of national and global safety are constantly being battled by this team of unsung heroes, saving our lives without us ever knowing we were under any threat. Every week there is a new serious threat to the country or MI5 but the plots for each episode are so well written that every terrible event about to go down in the country is thoroughly believable. There’s something pretty special about Spooks. I don’t know of many TV series that have run into their eighth series without even a hint of stagnation, but Spooks just has. It’s a programme to really get into, one where the untimely death or otherwise loss of a character genuinely saddens you. On that note, Spooks is again one of the only TV shows to my knowledge that regularly re-shuffles/kills off main characters. You don’t have that “well it’s alright, everyone will live and it’ll end happily”, Hollywood feel, it’s darker and more thrilling and unpredictable than that. Spooks isn’t just for those with a real feel for spies though, it really is just an outright thrilling drama that is definitely worth an hour of your time on a Wednesday night, 9pm on BBC1. It’s my midweek saviour, and I’d recommend it to be yours too.

Battleship Williams


18

MUSIC

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Music Editor, Aaron Wiles, brings you the best and worst seasonal favourites

Ashanti Ashanti’s Christmas Cheating a bit here because this is a whole album, I know! Ashanti made a Christmas album, what more could you want?!

Metro Station Last Christmas

Yep, the band that brought you the annoying Shake It have covered Wham’s classis Xmas track, and completely ruined it.

Rihanna - I Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas Without You

Lady Gaga Christmas Tree

I never, ever thought I’d fail a Lady Gaga track but google the lyrics and you will understand.

I just stumbled on this older track, it’s not well known but it’s got the typical Xmassy music style, very nice.

Cliff Richard

Girls Aloud - I Wish It Could be Christmas EVeryday

How many Christmas songs has he done now? Either way, it’s one too many.

The Darkness Christmas Time

Girls Aloud also made a Christmas album but their cover of this classic is the album’s highlight.

I have no other words to say how rubbish this, well I did but the editor wouldn’t let me print them.

Bo Selecta Proper Crimbo

How could this have not gone in? I bought the CD, I’m not even ashamed.

by Georgia Mannion.

Do you have favourite songs to play live? Rosa: All the songs in the set I really like. Some people ask us to play old songs and we’re not really into that because it was kind of a different band. Katy: As soon as we have a new song we add it in and take out our least favourite so it’s like a constant process. Olly: Every song is fun to play K: My favourite song to play at the moment is Saltwater ‘cause it’s really loud and we can rock out. You’ve just come back from America, how was that? R: Absolutely incredible. We’ve been to America about 3 times this year. Then we did the first proper tour we’ve done there. I say proper tour, we did 3 weeks and we still only covered a small area. K: It’s ridiculous how big it is.

YOUR

This Month:

Rated & Reviewed

jezbangor

Track

PEGGY SUE

Times played

Ray LaMontagne 135 Noah & the Whale 134 Kings of Leon

116

John Mayer

111

Kate Micucci

87

Modest Mouse

59

Martin Sexton

55

Feeder

46

John Martyn

45

The Beatles

44

Wiles’ comments:

Noah and the Whale are known for possibly the happiest song around, shame the rest is so depressing. However Kings of Leon = good, as does The Beatles. You listen to a lot of credible acts Jeremy, good stuff!

Music Taste Rating: 7/10

M

In the kitchen of a backroom in a little bar in Manchester, Seren sat down for a chat with Peggy Sue’s Rosa, Katy and Olly. This interesting alternative folk trio began in the bars of Brighton and are incredibly hard to confine to a music genre as they’ve been known to take on anything from Port O’Brien to Missy Elliot, they fear nothing...

R: We were doing 17 hour drives to get from city to city. It was incredible though, I don’t think I liked it that much as a place until we toured it and it’s beautiful. K: We drove up the Pacific coast highway which just goes up the West coast and you follow the mountains and the sea is next to you on the other side, incredible. K: I wanted to move to pretty much every city. Are the crowds different over there compared to home? R: They move more. They do funny dances O: I don’t think they’re that different though K: Yeah I think there’s something different about people that like us ‘cause you have to search us out, it’s not like Peggy Sue saturation everywhere. If you like us you’ve probably had to put a bit of research

odern ‘heavy’ music has found itself in a frankly awful state as we trudge towards the end of the decade. In the new-millennium we’ve endured Nu-Metal berks imploring us to continue ‘rolling’, ‘Punk’ acts making hypocritical statements, bands that re-package ideas that were executed far better in the 1980’s, and in more recent times, bands that make use of controversial effects such as autotune, and perform to a backingtrack. One of these bands features a member whose is role to turn on the lights and the fog machine. God knows how his performance fares at three in the afternoon at a summer festival. Oh, and a genre dubbed ‘Crabcore’ has emerged. Yeah, you read that name correctly. Fortunately, Hardcore Punk and its DIY ethic may just be able to save the heavier end of music from degenerating any further. Bands of the genre are reviving formats such as the seven-inch and cassette tape, releasing material on these formats with the added

B-Side. These releases offer more to fans than a lifeless digital download, and establish a greater relationship between band and followers. But what of the music itself? Kingdom Of Dogs is seven tracks of intense modern Hardcore that does not falter, from roaring opener ‘Crooked Hands’ to the squealing feedback of ‘Heir Of T h e D o g ’,

promise of rare or exclusive tracks with handmade artwork, which fans will undoubtedly clamour for. Their refusal to represent themselves as anything other than what they are, and constant pursuit of originality is something to be admired. Anglesey’s Bastions present one of the finest examples of the aforementioned ethic. Having just released third effort, Kingdom Of Dogs, the EP will feature varied artwork for every hundred printed, and is available on both CD and limited edition tape with an exclusive

played by four men with no studio trickery and no bulls***. The sound is fiercely intelligent and absolutely colossal, reminiscent of US legends Converge and Botch. Guitarist Jamie McDonald excels himself at every turn, with a heavily distorted yet pleasantly organic tone, and math-y riffs juxtaposed against experimental sections that hint at a Post-Rock influence. John Potgeiter’s bass bolsters this, creating a dense yet defined backdrop, along with Drummer Danny Garrod, who wrestles the music back from the

into finding out who we are. We’re not that easily accessible. The people that like us here are music people and the people who like us there are music people. O: Especially there. K: People mostly know us through another artist or because they’re like super music geeks and are really into looking for new interesting thing. R: It was nice, every show we played there was someone who had trekked from somewhere. When we played in Seattle and we’d gone for a drink in a bar and this group of girls came up and were like “it’s you!” and I was like what the f*** I’m in Seattle, I have no idea who you are and she was like “we’ve been searching for two hours to find your gig” and it was really nice so we gave them all CDs and stuff. How do you find time to tour and record like your monthly CDs? R: We never had time to do that!

brink when it sounds near collapse under its own weight, holding everything together without making the band sound restrained. Vocalist Jamie Burne is in fine form, reminding of Poison The Well’s Jeff Moreira, only with enough of his own flair to give the band a sound that is very much their own. His delivery is so convincing that listeners may fear for his health, as he forces the lyrics from him with such desperation, as evident on standout ‘Matriarch’. Crowds up and down the country will be yelling “KILL THE KING” right back at him in the coming months. Another highlight is the jagged ‘Her Casket Holds No Bones’, which has impressively earned a place on heroic Holy Roar Records’ third anniversary tape. Kingdom Of Dogs is a stunning effort by a young band with enormous potential, and a victory for music as an art form, not just a product to be sold. If you have even a passing interest in how modern heavy music should present itself, make sure that you are in attendance for Bastions’ return to Rascals Bar in Bangor on the 10th of December.

Gareth Davies

Seren Recommends Converge You Fail Me

The The Chariot – Fiancée


19

MUSIC

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

K: We toured a lot though last year when we did them. R: We made them with so many people; we recorded at our friends’ houses or in a shed and backstage areas. We did them all over the place really. K: Elvis Perkins is our absolute favourite and I wrote him a geeky message saying “I really love you, you’re playing in London on my birthday, can we support you?” and we didn’t hear anything back and then we went to New York to record our album and a week before my birthday we got an email asking if we wanted to support him at the ICA. K: I looked up flights and was like “We’ll just fly back and play the show and fly back and carry on recording!” and everyone was like “No Katy we won’t!” So that’s the one time touring and recording didn’t really work. R: Also when I was writing my dissertation and we were touring, that

didn’t really work either. You managed to write a dissertation and tour? R: Yeah. Well… K: No R: I wrote 2. One in 3 weeks and one in 2 days. It was…really bad. (Hilarious but irrelevant sideconversation about dropping things) You’ve supported a lot of people with different styles such as Johnny Flynn and then Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. Who has been your favourite? R: A lot of the time, the people we play with are friends so it’s weird because certain tours have been a lot better for us as a band and playing with people and some have just been really fun. Blood Red Shoes are really g r e a t friends a n d people who like

them tend to just like music so the crowd is always quite responsive. Mariners Children are a really good band to tour with, especially now that our bands seem to be completely crossing over. I don’t think we make that much sense with Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip but they’re really great guys. If you could play with anyone who would it be? K: I wanna tour with Pink! R: Oh f*** off! K: Ok I don’t really want to tour with Pink. I’d like to tour with Bright Eyes to be honest. O: I’d like to tour with the Rolling Stones R: I genuinely don’t want to meet people that I love, I quite like the distance. I like just touring with friends.

THEM CROOKED VULTURES

W

hen the members of some of the world’s most successful bands come together the results can be as unpredictable as the behaviour of the musicians themselves. Audioslave came along in 2002 and though largely successful and critically acclaimed, they did sound simply like Chris Cornell had accidentally stumbled into a Rage Against the Machine rehearsal. Similarly when Velvet Revolver formed from the outcast Guns n Roses members, Stone Temple Pilot’s front man Scott Weiland and some bloke with a dodgy porn star moustache, it was simply Guns n Roses with a different voice. Hardly much pressure then for the project dreamt up by Dave Grohl back in 2005. It seems that at the moment, the ‘supergroup’ is the in thing; with Jack White’s Dead Weather, Chad Smith and a couple of Van Halen types in Chickenfoot, the little one from Hanson in Tinted Windows and a splash of metal legends in Cavalera Conspiracy. You get the point; there’s been the odd collaboration or two of great musical minds recently. So what do Them Crooked Vultures have to offer

M

usic for Men is an album that has featured a lot in my life since the summer thanks to Bangor’s own DJ Mouse, and since then the love for the Gossip, well mainly Beth Ditto has taken over. So it’s of no surprise that I was never going to turn down the chance to see them live. The gig was in Manchester’s Academy and we were quite lucky that it was still going ahead, the band had to cancel their Birmingham and Belgium shows due to doctor’s orders as Beth is currently suffering from Bronchitis, something which was easily noticeable as she coughed her way inbetween songs, but surprisingly not during as her voice was spot on as she belted out the band’s hits. The band kick off with Hannah on the drums, Nathan on guitar and Beth nowhere to be seen, as they start playing the music the crowd can here Beth singing from somewhere, then she steps out on stage and everyone goes wild, she makes her introduction and then gets right stuck into Dimestore Diamond. Amongst the singing, and then the coughing, Beth always manages to keep the crowd on side as she makes jokes about how tough she is and how she’s scared of no one, apart from the devil, as “Satan is quite scary”. The band continue into

with their self titled debut? Well for starters the members have more than a little in the way of credentials. Lead singer and guitarist is none other than king of stoner rock Josh Homme. Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters front man is back where his musical career started, behind the drums, and finally there is bassist John Paul Jones, hailing from the godfathers of rock and roll, Led Zeppelin. Big names, check. But what about the sound? As the line up does not disappoint, neither does the music. Them Crooked Vultures is something fresh and new; as awesome as a blend of Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin would undoubtedly sound, Them Crooked Vultures manage to create their own unique sound that is entirely worthy of standing next to the members original records. Testament to the anticipation of the band is their forthcoming UK tour; Deserve the Future, selling out in 12 minutes. At the point of the tickets going on sale the group had yet to release any official material, take from that what you will. It is hard to pick a particular highlight from an album teeming with such brilliance, with the exception of the laboured Warsaw

other tracks off the album, Heavy Cross, Men In Love and my personal favourite Love Long Distance as well as performing previous album material, You’re Mangled Heart and Listen Up! As the gig comes to an end and the band says their goodbyes, the crowd are sure an encore is inevitable as the song that pretty much made them hadn’t been sung yet, and as expected, they return on stage to sing the song they are most famous for, Standing In The Way Of Control. This wasn’t to be all though, Beth then gets the crowd into a full on chant of We Are The Champions and then most surprisingly, she’s left on stage on her own, requests that the lights are turned down, and begins to sing the Etta James classic, At Last, as the saying goes, they definitely saved the best till last. This was to be their last stop of this tour, but if in the future you get the chance, tickets to the Gossip live are highly recommended, I’ve been to a few gigs this year, and this was arguably the best.

Aaron Wiles

or the First Breath You Take which is by no means a bad song (kind of like the ginger one from Girls Aloud - sure she’s good looking, but she’s no Cheryl Cole). New Fang is powerful and energetic with a slide guitar that wouldn’t be out of place on a Primus record. Elephants is very reminiscent of a Led Zeppelin epic and Scumbag Blues feels like a hidden gem from one of Homme’s Desert Sessions records. The album is certainly most influenced by Josh Homme, the psychedelic sound of QOTSA’s early albums is far more evident than the radio friendly riffage of the Foo Fighters. Having said that, whether you are a fan of Queens, the Foo’s or Led Zep, Them Crooked Vultures is insanely catchy and once started you will not be able to stop listening to this masterpiece of musical fusion.

Nik Hughes

Seren Recommends Queens of the ongs Stone Age - S f ea D For The Soundgarden er ng fi badmotor


20

CREATIVE

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

R E N R O C E V CREATI

Mira Dane was an old school sweetheart Mira Dane was an old school sweetheart But our love was lost when we said goodbye The schools days passed and the hard days came Even yesterday when Mira died

Kim Pemberton

When we met we were barely twelve We were sat in a park called "The Apple Grove" She was eating strawberries, while I was feeding ducks With Warburton’s mouldy bread She gave me a smile But I turned away It was always a chase To catch each other’s attention We were near fifteen When holding hands became a kiss on the cheek It was from that day I did not stop smiling But yesterday I lost my smile She was eighteen And I bought a ring of friendship With so much happiness I made her cry And yesterday I cried We were 21 when Mira was ill The Cancer had spread There was nothing could be done And yesterday Mira stopped

Lucy Baird

I am 25 and still my days are young Remembering The Apple Grove The smell of strawberries And a beautiful Mira Dane

Paper Copy My sheets are stained with ink, (Rubbed) from her back, legs and naval. I wrote my mind all over her When i needed correcting i made her sweat like a sailor. I wrote this round the pillar, From her hips to lower back: “get to know her branch by branch Like an avalanche, (in slow motion). All consuming, All giving, no more grieving”.

Mira Dane was an old school sweetheart Who I never had the chance to Wed She will stay in my thoughts forever Even in my dreams, when I rest my head

And i hated that last word so we made like spring My quill was wet and my canvas smeared blue; “Like a humid midnight, (condensation captivates our passion)”

Mira Dane... I love you!

Kev Spruce

An extract from Dave:

Busy day today, had to separate the Sinclair sisters by a couple of hours after their fight last week. Took on a new patient, Dave Winceson, to fill the space between the two. Passed on to me by another counsellor. Very closed man, will have to pay more attention to him really, but my usual attendees keep demanding more attention. Emily continues to suffer from paranoid delusions that make her believe her sister is out to get her. This week she believes she predicted a future in which her sister was coming at her with a knife and refused to listen to reason. She said that the dreams wouldn’t lie, which was worrying. Rachel is similarly suffering from paranoid delusions and I am beginning to believe that I may have to check for other clinical characteristics of schizophrenia. Not extremely rare that both twins should develop the same psychological problems.

Danny Southward

Where you lay that night on the pillowOh so sweetly- read, “The ellipses of light” in backwards print, Just to remind me, (that like a dove you’ll take flight), Unlike a bird and more like a kite Ill hold your string give you lots of slack And when you, inevitably crash, Ill be there with a paper copy, of what, I wrote on your palms, finger webbings and hands back “Your voice makes my strings ring You don’t often find love resonating that way, In the ellipses of night; You’re my morning. . .”

Gregory Keeling


21

CREATIVE

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

Want to see your creative work in print? Whether painting is your passion or you just enjoy the odd doodle we want your work! Poetry, short stories, and artwork are all welcome and can be sent to: creative@seren.bangor.ac.uk

Kim Pemberton

Park at Midnigh t

Rainbow

:

Sparkling promise glist’ning brightly o’er us, A sign of God’s eternal love for all. Singing silently the Angels’ chorus, That echoes through God’s splendid shining halls. This bow which, Heav’n and Earth, together ties, Filling the Earth with its most glor’ous dreams. This arch that bends the never-ending skies. Encompassing all with its wondrous beam. This miracle so rarely does appear, But, when it does, all share its golden light. To hearts brings joy, to eyes it brings a tear, And where it shines it fills all with delight. In all my life no beauty has there been To equal this wonder that I have seen.

Catherine Johnston

Aimee Robyn Cart

er

Short story extract:

On the outside she is floral, slow, and beige; a fan of CountryFile, church fetes and Viennese Whirls? She lugs her trolley, it is heavy on her arms; the pain pulls out the memories, little stabs on her nerves. It’s been almost a year now, but she still buys two pork chops – double wrapped, of course. The butcher suspects nothing; his superficial concern lasts only a few moments. They talk about the weather, the litter on the high street and his niece’s engagement: it’s been so windy lately, the streets such a mess, and it’s hard to believe the little girl is now so grown up. She says a polite goodbye, without the fretting. That stopped months ago. It’s two potatoes in Marks and Spencers’ and a bag of carrots too. Organic today, she is feeling slightly under the weather. Some English butter and a pint of milk; it’s all so commonplace for her thin white curls. A polite exchange is even easier here, briefer and less personal. She is fine, thank-you madam. And no, she does not need a bag.

Vicky Osten

The Legates of Enrageme nt Darkness reaping, slowly falling in th e light. The riders of the do omed are just and right: A sheering envoy of the rising nigh t. Do not here, youn g man!, do not alig ht! Rageing grasps of dying sprites, Spreading wings an d flying in the nigh ts. Pulsing wights on mountain hights: Envoys of their in nate fights.

Sullen horses carr y darkness' freigh t, Only troth remains of one's last plight , Held up by the m asons of the legit ri te! Do not here, youn g man!, do not alig ht! O hearten thee, ke eper of the lights! Hearten thee, take r of the merry lig hts! Dieth you, fighters of the darkened kn ights! If only yester wer e these gloomy ni ghts... Outrageous wrath of dwarfeous mig ht, wrestling with that old man's deir blig ht! One last ray of ho pe by dusk in sigh t: Do not here, my so n!, do not give up your right!

Florian Breit


22

FILM

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

DVD Review

Bruno

Where The Wild Things Are

A Christmas Carol

S Twilight:

(Out 11th December)

(Out now)

A

dapted from the well loved children’s novel by Maurice Sendak, this film promises to be the ultimate piece of escapism this festive season. When little boy Max bites his mother after a tantrum, he runs away into the forest of the wild things, a place that is inhabited by scary yet cuddly creatures known as the wild things. This film is guaranteed to wake up the inner kid in even the most grown up of individuals.

D

irector Robert Zemeckis new re-telling of the classic Christmas story is well worth a look. The film is made in performance capture animation (Beowulf (2007), The Polar Express (2004)) and stars Jim Carey as Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet to come; it’s the perfect film to get you in the Christmas mood.

Avatar

(Out 17th December)

A

rguably the most anticipated film this winter, Avatar is director James Cameron’s biggest film project since his mega blockbuster Titanic in 1997. Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation) stars as paralysed ex marine Jake Sully. He takes part in the Avatar program, something which will enable him to walk again, while also helping his fellow humans infiltrate the alien planet of Pandora. Combining action, romance and stunning CGI, Avatar is the film I’d spend my last tenner on this festive season.

Sherlock Holmes

(Out 26th December)

I

f ever there was an excuse to leave the house on Boxing Day then this re-vamp of the Sherlock Holmes world is definitely it. The classic detective character of Holmes is played by Robert Downey Jr and his faithful partner Watson is being played by Jude Law. With director Guy Ritchie on board you can guarantee that everything you knew about Sherlock Holmes is about to go out the window…

V

New Moon

ampires, werewolves and a love so strong it’s almost scary. Let out the breath you’ve been holding, ladies, New Moon is finally here. For the uninitiated, New Moon, directed by Chris Weitz, is the second film in the moving Twilight Saga, picking up where the 2008 film Twilight left off. Our heroine, Bella Swan, is ready to forget the near death encounters, shocking revelations and beautiful, bloodthirsty vampires that made up her first year in the rainy town of Forks, and start a peaceful life with her beloved Edward Cullen. But things are not destined to go so smoothly. When a birthday party goes awry, Edward is convinced that nothing less than leaving Bella will keep her safe. In the absence of one of the protagonists, the character of Jacob comes into the fore, affording female viewers more than their fair share of eye candy. It would be nice to argue that the many topless scenes are integral to the plot and not merely a ploy to attract more female viewers, but, alas, no such claims can be made. Still, though it is a shameless tactic, I’m sure it will not go unappreciated.

The artistry of this film shows itself in the scenes when Bella is alone to deal with her grief. Without Edward, Bella stumbles, speechless, through beautifully constructed scenes in many stunning locations in the woods or along the coastline. Not all of the scenes can be achieved through nature alone, CGI is used constantly throughout the film, notable scenes involve Bella’s hallucinations and the very real werewolves. That is, very real to the plot, unfortunately not as real to the eye as viewers have come to expect with recent developments in technology. Nor do the too-pale vampires seem quite as ethereal as, perhaps, they should. Still, not even these small slip-ups could detract from what is, essentially, a film about love. Whether it be romantic, fatherly, brotherly or sisterly, it has a place in New Moon. Although the film tackles both sides coin, audiences will not fail to feel uplifted as the last lines are spoken and although primarily a film for the girls, it engages with issues that all viewers can relate to. The only thing left is to await to continuation of the saga.

Katie Dyer

And a few reviews from our Facebook friends... Daniel J K Smith: Three wet rags mope about feeling sorry for themselves for 2.5 hours. Done. Gemma Howell: Girl decides between necrophilia and bestiality, with bad acting and the same facial expression. Done. Ian Davies As a former editor of the page in question, I feel compelled to write a review in defense of the film. But my other half’s [Gemma Howell] comments about said film have rather taken the wind out of my sails.

acha Baron Cohen's first feature, the infamous Ali G In Da House was derisory and meagre to say the least and even everyone’s favourite Kazakhstan man, Borat was not everyone’s cup of tea. His most contemptible creation to date is, as each person knows, exceptionally offensive in more ways than one. Bruno suffers the same problems as Borat in to the way in which a film is drawn out of a seemingly random spread of sketches. Bruno's plot is easily its worst attribute, with many skits warranting no vindication at all, and while this would for most films be a fundamental flaw, for Bruno it is a cataclysmic error of approach. The experience renders more a long TV episode and even though Bruno is riotous, the crude wit oversteps the mark in so many senseless and futile ways that you will be recoiling more than laughing. The sexual situations are not exactly what I would call endearing or winning momentous achievements in film, but then Bruno was never about cohesion and common sense, it was about pushing the boundaries to the limit, and they have been breached injudiciously. Ramming down all the crude humour down peoples throats is hard to bare for most people, but I felt that even though Bruno simulates and exposes the prejudice against homosexuals he is doing no one any favours by portraying and exaggerating every cliché and stereotype shaped by the medias disclosures. It reminded me very much of Scream3 where the film very much became what it was mocking and for that Bruno is truly indefensible. The bravery of Sacha Baron Cohen cannot go without reference but his flamboyant creation has created a true rift of love/hate from film-goers. I feel that Bruno levels out at an even, though average rating with far too many flaws (more subliminal than others) that override the hit and miss laughs that are produced. Overall Bruno feels forced, strained, artificial and slightly embarrassing which means it cannot avoid a bad recommendation.

Callum Rymer

In summary: it’s trash. But god damn if it ain’t a lot of fun!

The Men Who Stare At Goats A

nyone remember Wanted? It had an excellent cast, full of well-known actors clearly just having a good time on set. You sense James McAvoy had more fun curving bullets around Angelina Jolie than he did moping around with Keira in Atonement. Similarly, you can be sure George Clooney had more fun parting clouds and calling himself a "Jedi Warrior" in Grant Heslov's The Men Who Stare at Goats than he did in Michael Clayton, even if the latter was more satisfying. The film follows Ewan McGregor's reporter, Bob Wilton, as he goes through a nasty divorce and, seeking a new purpose in life, flies out to Kuwait to investigate the Iraq War. Ultimately, he gets caught up with psychic spy Lyn Cassidy (Clooney), and they're soon tearing through Iraq. Undoubtedly the scenes involving these two are the highlight, where Clooney's religious faith in the "Jedi order" and psychic ability meshes with McGregor's understandable scepticism. Everything about the film screams "offbeat". Cassidy's

commander, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), is essentially a glorified hippie. Cassidy himself runs a dance studio. However, this is the ultimate downfall of The Men Who Stare at Goats; it gets lost in its own zaniness, with plot being the victim. The film really lacks a suitable climax. The finale feels contrived and, when combined with an ineffective plot twist, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. The film is also somewhat confusing in that it (or you) never really knows whether to take the "jedi" seriously or not. As mentioned, at one point Cassidy seemingly parts clouds with his mind. This implies some pretty serious psychic ability, but then you have Kevin Spacey's character, Larry Hooper, giving Cassidy a "palm tap of death". Cassidy explains that the "palm tap of death" has been known to kill people...18 years after the fact. Of course, this is funny, but that's not the point: is Lyn a fraud or isn't he? The film itself seems confused about the answer, and considering it is (to

some extent) based on a true story, that seems like a problem. You can't ignore this movie's multiple assets though. As has been said, The Men Who Stare At Goats has a superb cast, and they perform with a freedom only achievable in something like this, an offbeat, somewhat bizarre comedy which doesn't take itself too seriously. Special mention has already been given to Clooney, but Kevin Spacey also does an excellent job as the film's "villain". He's just as spaced out (pun intended) as the others, but he represents the "dark side", adding some much-needed conflict to the laid-back adventure. Watch out for the scene where he tries to guess what's in a drawer without looking at it, it's particularly hilarious. All-in-all, Men Who Stare at Goats is a good way to spend an hour and a half. It's not without its flaws, but only if you examine it more than the concept merits. It is, after all, a film about psychic spies staring at goats.

Matthew Cox


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FILM

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

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e’ve all seen the films predicting the end of the world due to some sort of natural disaster, witnessed how these men fearlessly strive to save loved ones and inevitably humanity, heard the speeches made by government heads declaring the end of the world, and watched as the heros eventually lead the world to safety. However, as predictable and unoriginal as the story line may appear, 2012 is a definite must see for any disaster movie fanatic. This film is big in every sense. The huge scale of destruction is brought vividly to life with some of the best CGI sequences ever filmed and amazing special FX. The action is truly alarming, demonstrating the undoubtable force of 'Mother Nature'. From collapsing buildings to crumbling roads, erupting volcanoes and giant tidal waves, this really is a feast for the senses and a movie made to be viewed on the big screen. The movie begins in the present day. Having discovered some disturbing sciencey correlations that will ultimately lead to the end of the world, American geologist Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Eijofor) rushes back to Washington D.C. to inform the US President (Danny Glover) and Chief of Staff (Oliver Platt). Shortly thereafter other heads of state are made aware of the situation and together design a plan to strategically choose 400,000 people for admission to a series of huge arks which they secretly commission for construction in the Himalayas. Jackson Curtis (a rather old looking John Cusack) is the heroic flailing writer / part time father of two who leads the cast from Los Angeles on the trip of a lifetime. During a camping trip with his kids in Yellowstone National Park, Curtis discovers that their usual camping spot fenced off and is surprised to be escorted from the site by the National

Guard. Here he meets Helmsley who recognises him as the author of a book predicting a threat to humanity from a natural disaster (coincidentally), and Charlie Frost (Woody Harrleson), a radio show host and conspiracy theorist who claims not only to possess proof of the existence of an ark project, but also maps showing their location. So 30mins in and the scene is pretty much set. We’ve got scientists trying to persuade the government to act quickly, a crazy ‘prophet’ spreading his theories to the masses, a broken family ready to be endangered and a government trying to shield the entire population from the devastating truth. Basically we now get 2 hours of incredible mass destruction interspersed with unsurprising dialogue and tear jerking sentimentality Emmerich ensuring that the special effects are nothing less than jawdropping. 2012 seems to have split the critics, some saying the unrealistic build up, poor acting and bad taste left by the ending makes this film nothing more than a pathetic attempt to rival its predecessors, however there are also many who brush off these cynical views and hail 2012 as a masterpiece, perfecting the formula of a blockbuster. You may not be surprised when Curtis’ estranged wife (a solid performance from Amanda Peet) happens to be dating an amateur pilot, but you’ll certainly be blown away as we see him navigate their way out of a crumbling city, weaving a small aircraft through collapsing buildings and huge fireballs. And so, with a multitude of nail biting twists and turns, it inevitably ends with the usual moral dilemma and heart wrenching speeches about

Actor Profile: Michael Caine

saving humanity. I admit I welled up a few times during this, but whether you laugh, cry or simply go to pick holes in the continuity, I heartily recommend a big dose of 2012. 158mins represents a heavy investment in time and popcorn but Emmerich has outdone himself this time, dwarfing the formidable Independence Day, and giving us front row seats to the apocalyptic event of the year.

Gemma Brook

2012 FILM FATALE D

W

ith over a hundred films to his name, Michael Caine is undeniably one of the finest actors that our British shores have ever produced. Michael decided to turn to acting when he returned home from serving in the Korean War. He got his stage name ‘Michael Caine’ by simply looking around Leicester square for inspiration. A film called ‘The Caine Mutiny’ was being advertised, Michael Caine was instantly born. After a few minor theatre roles, his big break through came when he was cast as a snobby army officer in epic Zulu (1964). Caine made many great and now iconic films during the 1960’s and 70s. Alfie (1966) and Get Carter (1971) are two of Caine’s films from this period that I personally recommend everyone to go and watch. Get Carter is arguably one of the best vengeance films ever made.

He is one of only two actors to be nominated for an Oscar in every decade since the 1960’s. The two that he has won were for his performances in the films Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and The Cider House Rules (1999). In more recent times he has appeared in the Austin Powers and Batman franchises, and his recent film, Harry Brown, more than proves that age is only a number and that he still has what it takes to fulfil the lead actor role. Since it’s the festive season what better way to show you’re appreciation for Sir Michael than by watching him play a fantastic Ebenezer Scrooge in A Muppets Christmas Carol. Michael Caine and Muppets, arguably the most genius idea ever.

Louise Cotterill

as Leben der Anderen/The Lives of Others is an outstanding film. A German film directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others combines story, characters and setting to create a powerful and moving story. The film starts off in East Berlin, 1984. East and West Berlin are still separated by the Berlin wall, the East Berlin government are suspicious of anyone and everything that may have inclinations of loyalty towards the West. Main protagansit Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe), is assigned to spy on playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch)and his girlfriend, actress Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). High officer, Minister Bruno Hempf has instructed that Dreyman be bugged as he suspects him of western loyalties, although it soon becomes clear that his motivations for doing so are for another reason entirely. Wiesler and his colleagues break into Dreyman’s apartment and bug every corner. He and a colleague hide up in an attic listening and recording all the activities that go on within the apartment. It soon becomes clear that the couple live for each other, their art and their friends. When Dreyman’s close friend commits suicide after years of being blacklisted by the East German state he is torn with grief. During this time he also discovers that Christa-Maria is having to

participate in unwanted sexual liaisons with Minister Hempf. In the aftermath of these two events, Dreyman is urged to take action in any way that he can against his totalitarian state. He decides that with help of friends from the west, he will publish a damaging article exposing the cover up of the high suicide rates in the east. Although Wiesler now has damaging evidence to incriminate Dreyman he finds himself torn for the first time in his life. Wiesler has become so wrapped up in the couples lives that he has began to question his own life and loyalties. Wiesler withholds this information from his superiors, risking his own career and freedom in the process. When the article is published in a West Berlin publication the East Berlin state declare it a public disaster. Dreyman becomes the prime suspect in the writing of the publication when he is exposed by Christa-Maria after she is threatened by Minister Hempf. In a dramatic turn of events Wiesler chooses to help Dreyman one last time by going into his flat and disposing of the typewriter that will identify him as the writer of the article. Dreyman is relieved and dumbfounded when government official s search and find that the typewriter is now gone from its hiding place. The grimy, real life reality of the German streets in the 1980’s are perfectly captured in the film, they also provide an essence of bleakness and drama to the lives of Georg and Christa-Maria. Ulrich Mühe who plays Wiesler puts in an outstanding performance from start to finish, the awards he won for his performance are more than justified when viewing the film. I haven’t revealed the dramatic and moving events that end the film but all I can say is that The Lives of Others left me speechless and I fully recommend that you go and watch it. A true Film Fatale masterpiece.

Louise Cotterill


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Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

TRAVEL

The market days are coming...

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he way we plan our trips abroad how much it’s going to cost and what you role of the armchair traveller. Anyone is changing. Of course, this has should do when you get there. (If you who has travelled for an extended period been going on for a long while haven’t, then come see me and we’ll talk of time will, I’m sure, share my frustranow, ever since the internet began, pretty about how the smell of old books is intion at having had to write practically the much, but I’ve always been a bit slow to toxicating.) same email twenty times in a dimly lit catch on, especially when it comes to It was with some difficulty therefore, cafe where the internet cuts out on avertechnology. Out walking a few weeks that I put aside my cynicism and precon- age once every four minutes, to send to ago, I passed a group of scouts as they ceptions when I began the research for friends and family who, bless them, love were being shown how to use their GPS this article. The blogs, for the most part, to hear about your adventures. With trackers. They looked at me, and my were exactly what I expected: Badly writblogs, they can simply subscribe and your dog-eared map, with something akin ten, unreliable and self-indulgent, rather email is cut down to a few lines of perto the curiosity you often see etched like someone’s journal that had been sonal greetings, leaving you more time to onto people’s faces in museums. I’m published on the net for popular con- actually explore. the same with travel guide books. Call sumption. Of course, this is essentially Forums cover advice on everything me old fashioned, from buying a rucksack to but nothing quite “I took a whirlwind trip around the heart of Ethiopia, getting a visa, from where beats sitting down travel to how to travel, and reminisced with a stranger about gruesome statues at to when you’re supand whilst they may not Prague Castle.” posed to be packalways be completely reliing or sorting out able, they have again that something boring like travel insurance what travel blogs are. What I wasn’t expersonal touch. You can ask questions and reading the culture section or the list pecting however, was my reaction to the directly to someone who has been where of sights and deciding exactly what you’re blogs. After a whirlwind trip around the you’re trying to get to. going to do when you get there. heart of Ethiopia, I looked up to discover This doesn’t mean I’ll be throwing out Of course, even I can admit that books that an hour had slipped away without my Lonely Planets of course. They are rewith 1000-odd pages aren’t the most my noticing. I reminisced with a com- liable and unbiased where blogs and fopractical thing to be carrying around in plete stranger about gruesome statues at rums are personal and open to interpreyour rucksack, although I know one girl Prague Castle, sympathised with another tation. Many guidebooks include a short who got around this problem by massa- as I read about her experiences of being guide to history and culture, which can cring her Rough Guide to India and simripped off in Italy and was hooked by at least be glossed over at the airport if it ply carried around the pages that related jealousy to an entry describing the cel- sounds a bit too much like work to read to the cities she would be visiting. They ebrations in Berlin a few weeks ago. them beforehand, and of course it’s inalso go out of date quickly, even more so There’s something raw and personal valuable to have a list of hostels and usewith the stressed Euro-Sterling relations about travel blogs that is simply lacking ful phone numbers you can carry around caused by the recession, and I am rather in a guidebook. It isn’t hard to imagine with you. I like to think it’s not just my ashamed to add, my Lonely Planet Gera traveller taking time out in an internet tendency to be old fashioned that makes many has battle scars from when I’ve felt cafe halfway around the world to update me believe that guidebooks will not die insulted on behalf of smashing little Ba- their blog for a virtual audience. out as more people rely on internet blogs. varian towns that simply don’t feature in Blogs fulfil a variety of functions. I Both can be useful in different situations. it. Even 1000 pages isn’t enough it seems. find that they are an effective balm in Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bandSo this is where the internet comes case of an attack of itchy feet, a tempo- wagon to jump on. in. Of course, you already know this. rary one at least, and a friend who has You have probably been using travel no intention of ever actually travelling, Rachel Stretton blogs and forums for years to discover for various reasons, rather enjoys being the best countries to visit, where to stay, able to experience the world within the

C

hristmas has never been so exciting as in Cardiff this year. St. David’s 2 has 88 new stores as well as a city centre face lift to compete with other big shopping complexes such as Bristol Cribbs Causeway and London Oxford Street. Opened earlier this year, Cardiff has also opened Wales’s first John Lewis. It is the second biggest in the UK. Costing £675 million to develop the new centre, Cardiff is now within the top five shopping destinations in Britain. In the last two decades, the Welsh capital city has been transformed. The Cardiff Bay, for example saw people dumping rubbish bags to the docks. Now heading towards 2010, it is where Doctor Who is filmed and has Cardiff’s only five star hotels, St. David’s Spa. Also built to tourist’s satisfaction “Tiger Bay” now has Wales Millennium Centre, the biggest opera house in Wales. Not to mention, one of the most historic buildings – The Pierhead Building. This landmark is situated next to the new Welsh Assembly building built in 2006 and opened by the Queen costing less than £70million. You can’t visit Cardiff and not see the backbone to the capital city. The Cardiff Castle, built in 55AD by the Normans to protect themselves from the Romans. Some original bricks are still found scattered across the castle. It has witnessed some great acts in front of live audiences. In 1998, Stereophonics sung in front of 10,000 people whilst Green Day also performed live in 2002. Tom Jones also came and entertained back in

2001. Sport has always been a dominant feature in Cardiff. In 1999, built for the Rugby World Cup, the Millennium Stadium is Wales’s national stadium. Seating 72,500 people now is competing with Twickenham and Murrayfield with the capacity and glamour. The stadium which is fully visible from the River Taff also has a roof which opens and closes, depending on the weather conditions. It has witnessed some great competitions including the FA Cup and Heineken Cup. Every year, the rally GP’s finishing line is at the stadium. It’s not just sport which Millennium Stadium is used for. Madonna, U2 and Rolling Stones have performed live in front of five-figure audiences. It is very easy to access Cardiff from Bangor. By car, you have two options. The longer route is through the A470 from Llandudno. The road will take you through breathtaking views and will eventually you’ll arrive to the centre of Cardiff in five hours. The other choice will take you a shorter time. Follow the A55 to Chester and go down the M6, then M5 until you make it to the M4. This will take about four and a half hours and the same applies for the train. A direct train is available from Holyhead to Cardiff. So come on and visit the “European City of Sport 2009” and don’t miss this year’s Winter Wonderland outside the National Museum of Wales.

John Price

C

hristmas is fast approaching and what could be more seasonallyapt than a visit to a festive marketplace to stock up on fun, joy and merriment aplenty. Although Christmas markets originated in the German-speaking part of Europe as early as the middle ages, to tie in with the celebration of advent, they have since spread out and hit the U.K too, so there is no need to traipse halfway across the continent in order to enjoy a little bit of a Christmassy treat. So grab a scarf and your spirit of adventure and why not visit one of the fairly-local and completelyawesome markets listed below that are running this year.... Chester’s Continental Market: This is based in the Town Hall Square and is open from the 5th till the 20th of December, and it is open until 8pm - enabling you to make a twinkly evening of it too. Stalls are set up as wooden chalets which look incredibly cosy and welcoming selling all sorts of bits and bobs. Virgin trains are offering a special £11 day return deal up until Christmas Eve! Manchester’s City of Markets: Situated around numerous central locations, this is one of the biggest and most spread UK markets going. Traditional European music and delicacies are a strong feature, with stalls bursting with gifts, from the delicate and pretty to the wacky and unique. Just a £7.25 train ride away f r o m Bangor if you book in advance! Wrexham’s Victorian Christmas Market:

Now in its sixth year, this Welsh market will have around sixty stalls and be found around Church Street and St Giles’ Church. From Christmas trees and ornate cards, to hot chestnuts and mulled and spiced beverages, there is plenty to see, taste, touch, and try from December the 10th. So, forget the mistletoe and wine, it’s all about hand-styled crafts and hot cider, don’t you think?

Victoria Osten

Christmas in Cardiff


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TRAVEL

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

The Wild West’s Disney Land A fter four months in the shadow of Wyoming’s personal chapter of the Rockies, living in ‘The Cowboy State’, in a cowboy town, I can only conclude that Jackson is a very peculiar place... Decorated with a spider web of wooden boardwalks and with station carriages trundling down the streets, the town’s western theme is indisputable. There is no doubt that Jackson’s previous credentials as a wild west trading town, and the spirit that gives birth to Morricone-serenaded clichés is still very much alive. It is only when you see the majestic, hand painted wagons creak to a halt alongside snarling jags at red lights, do you question whether the town still remains a legitimate incarnation of a world it once helped create. Jackson is proud of its history. It’s hard to learn anything of the place without being referred to its grand centrepiece; a town square cornered with looming arches constructed entirely from the horns of Elk. However, while it genuinely remains similar to the way it stood years before, nowadays it’s impossible to pass under an arch without being sniped at with the flash of a dozen cameras, as families grin moronically in the structure’s wake. I’m quite sure if you were to search for pictures of the arches on Google, I would be in the background like some spectre perpetually stalking the area. If it is indeed a holidaymaker’s town, it isn’t in the same boat as resorts that have begun to fester in the bacteria of cheap tourism. Jackson is a rich whisky-sipping hightipping town. A town where greedy faces, disgustingly smug on account of the profit they make from the place, huddle around tables in cosmopolitan cafes and sip cosmopolitan coffees. Tummy-tucked middle aged women, dog in handbag, cling to their husbands side and success and watch a stream

George Aungier goes in search of adrenaline in Eastern Europe

I

was first introduced to canyoning while crawling around in pitch black caves below Budapest with a group of backpackers. We got talking about our latest exploits and I heard of a new craze that had been spreading through the mountains of Europe. The craze was canyoning; an adventure sport that had become available to the casual adrenaline junkie. We were informed by our fellow spelunker that it consisted of flinging yourself down waterfalls, leaping into clear mountain pools and possibly breaking bones. It sounded fun, like a giant natural water park full of slides and diving boards. Fast-forward five weeks and I’m in Slovenia travelling on the first bus from its capital Ljubljana to Bovec; a town devoted to adventure sports in the Triglav National Park. After arriving in the Julian Alps I pitched the tent in the Eco Camp I’d be staying at and settled down for a night of DIY barbecued pizza. The

image of the canyoner whizzing down fast flowing rivers had lodged firmly in my mind whilst white water rafting in Bosnia and cliff jumping in Croatia. This would be the final challenge. The next morning I awoke to the sound of the surging Soča River, refreshed and ready for adventure. Our guide kitted the group out with wet suits and hard hats before trekking up the Sušec gorge. The trip down the icy Sušec consisted of deep pools linked by steep waterfalls, as high as 12m, which became our slides. But when the slides were too small we had to jump. This was the heart pounding reason why so many risked life and limb whilst canyoning; the chance to leap into the unknown from ledges between 6 and 12m high. It was worth it, to stand on the edge, heart racing, adrenaline pumping and then dive into the bracing depth below. Do it yourself. • For more information on the Eco Camp and its activities visit www.adrenalinecheck.com. Prices start from

45€pp for a half day canyoning and accommodation costs 9-15€ppn. • Or for a local alternative there are canyoning activities in Snowdonia with prices from £45pp for a half day experience. Visit www.adrenalinantics.com, www. outd o or a d v entu reactivities.com or w w w. u p 4 a d v e n tures.co.uk.

of equally rich and equally greedy strangers appease their lust for the western spirit through stereotypes and overpriced trinkets. When I questioned a passer-by on just how much of a cowboy town he believed Jackson still is, he flashed an arrogant and all-knowing grin, that only a comfortably wealthy man in his mid 50’s could gurn, and drivelled “Tourists can still feel it, that spirit. I was raised on a ranch in Utah, and I can feel it”. I’m sure he may have been right, but if this man was indeed the Cowboy he was so keen to convince me he was, the bright yellow T-shirt he sported, that obnoxiously bragged the word “WYOMING” seemed to personify the values of the ‘tourists’ he distanced his own ego from. His chubby, spongy stature also suggested that if he indeed once did sweat and bleed on a ranch, his position in our (and by ‘our’, I suppose I refer to the ‘tourists’) societies financial spectrum had evidentially succeeded in subduing his rugged, sh*t-kicking soul. Then again can the tourists really feel it? For me, it wouldn’t be farfetched to speculate that many of Jackson’s visitors travel to the mountain refuge in search of a western haven from the worlds they regularly operate in. Working in a shop that caters exclusively to tourists in search of a pair of boots to prove they embody the spirit of the Wild West, I watched a swarm of city-dwellers sweep through the town, ready to revel fanatically in any crumb of a western cliché they could find. The place, regardless of whether it still is the town it once was, relies on the delusional fantasies of those who stay in it, just as much as it does on its rich history.

Luke Patchett


26

SPORT

Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

HERE’S SOME NEWS F R O M y T HE AU t i s r a V h t 0 2 h Marc

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is one of the The Ki-Aikido club the Students oldest societies in rs from within Union, with membe ersity, all iv and outside the un rounds. Many g with different back mar tial ar ts r began with no prio u have never experience, so if yo ts before, ar attempted mar tial d give it a go! an don’t be deterred

Contacts; tes Captain: Andrew Ga ) .uk .ac gor ban (peua8c@ rminen Secretar y: Anni Nu ) (ospa4b@bangor.ac.uk ation For fur ther inform club at: please e-mail the .ac.uk gor ban eb. und o@ kiaikid ; Or visit the website k/kaikido www.undeb.bangor.ac.u ebook fac bs clu the or find page.

Anni Nurminen

What is Ki-Aikido?

Aikido literally means the way to union with the Ki of the universe. Through the study of Ki-Aikido we learn to coordinate mind and body, to work with others positively, and realize our full potential. We learn to lead our opponents instead of colliding or fighting with them, and apply these same principles directly to dealing productively with people in daily life. Originally developed in the 1920s-1930s by Morihei Ueshiba, who is referred to as O-Sensei (great teacher); it was derived mainly from the martial art of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, but incorporated other arts he studied. Emphasis is placed upon neutralising your opponent or enemy early, mainly through throws or joint manipulation; but also by defeating your attacker

mentally, to win with mercy and without need to fight. Its influence upon Aikido is easy to see, as studying the art is as much about learning technique, as developing your state of mind; thus harmony between body and mind. At the core of aikido is the philosophy of peace, nonaggression and “loving protection of all things”. However, this does not prevent joint locks from being bloody painful! Ki-Aikido itself was founded by Koichi Tohei sensei, who was a student of O-Sensei. He was largely responsible for introducing aikido to the Western world, first teaching in Hawaii in 1953. Some years after O-Sensei’s death in 1969 he split from the Aikikai organisation to create his own Ki no Kenkyukai.

The emphasis thus became the ‘Ki’, the universal energy, in the function of aikido techniques. Techniques are performed in a relaxed way, using your opponent’s momentum and aggression, rather than by application of force. Tohei sensei devised a list of four basic principles to simplify his teachings; - Keep one point - Relax completely - Keep weight underside - Extend Ki These are the key principles for attaining mind and body coordination. Though Tohei sensei has now retired from teaching, the Ki no Kenkyukai is now headed by his son, Sinichi Tohei sensei. The university’s dojo is linked to the main UK headquarters, which is directly linked to the Ki no Kenkyukai HQ in Japan.

How to join and what do you need?

There are no specific introductory classes so you can join at any time of the year. The classes around serendipity and serendipity II are more beginner friendly, but we can always accommodate new people. You will need to have an AU card and joining the club costs £5. Clothing should be loose and shirt and trouser sleeves long, to avoid matburns. Slippers are advised for off the mat as this will prevent the transport of dirt into the practise area. You don’t need to be super fit to join, and don’t worry if you can’t roll or

fall; beginners will learn gradually through the learning. Therefore regular attendance is advised if not compulsory. It’s not easy, but that’s the point, it wouldn’t be worth doing if it was. The most valuable things that you can take away with you are the ability to remain calm and relaxed in difficult situations, concentration and spatial awareness. In terms of self defence, you will learn to protect yourself without the need to injure your attacker, but mastering these techniques will take a lot of practice and patience.

Mutual respect and assistance are fundamental. Always address the instructors as sensei and always bow when entering and leaving the dojo, as well as bowing to your training partner before and after exercise. Training is at Normal Site Gym 2, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8-10pm, and on Sundays 12-2pm specifically for weapons: wooden staff and sword as well as techniques against knife attacks. It would be helpful if you arrived early to help lay the mats ensuring that there is more training time. Thanks!


Christmas Issue 2009 www.seren.bangor.ac.uk

27

SPORT

. . . . N O I N I P O

and as yet unsuitable to undertake the endeavor that could last two years. The Utrecht court ordered Dutch authorities to take temporary guardianship of Laura until psychologists could determine whether she is able to undertake such a difficult voyage. Confusingly, Judge Mirjam Oostendorp said the investigation by a psychologist and the Dutch Child Protection Agency showed that

, ra Dekker, 14 u a L r o il a S h Is Dutc nd Sail Solo Arou too Young to the World?

A

t 14 years of age, the Dutch sailor Laura Dekker intends to set sail on a round the world voyage, if completed in her planned time, she would become the youngest person to do so. The current record for youngest assited solo round the world circumnavigation, is held by the British sailor, Mike Perham 17. He won the record from the American Zac Sutherland, also 17; who had only held it four weeks. Her plans however, have seemingly been scuttled by a Dutch court ruling, preventing her from embarking on her venture. Such action raised not just legal issues but also moral questions. Is she too young to undertake such a challenge or should she be granted with all the luck and encouragement possible? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the press has been almost unanimously in favour of the Dutch courts. Psychologists and sociologists both advised and ultimately influenced their

“Although it is claimed, by her parents, that she was born at sea, this is pathetically irrelevant” decision, that she is too young. At the October hearing, and overruling parental consent for the voyage, Judge Oostendorp agreed that; ‘She would be confronted with difficult situations that will challenge her mentally and physically’,

Laura, who turned 14 only last month, appeared emotionally, intellectually and physically fit for such a venture. Concerns were raised primarily in reference to knowledge of first aid, sleep management and overall safety plan; as well as arrangements for distance schooling, to meet the compulsory standards of Dutch education. Not all hope for her is lost however. The court told Laura Dekker that, if a further investigation contradicted the present doubt of her suitability and safety, she could begin her voyage as early as July next year. Her sailing skills and technical ability were not in doubt. So the response from

Dekker’s side was mixed. Although pleased that they acknowledged her ability, they were disappointed, as it would significantly reduce the window to complete the voyage in time. Outside the courts; criticism still remains

encounter but making choices on navigation, the myriad chores of trying to keep a small boat at sea when everything requires constant maintenance and repair and the battle against loneliness.’

“It is true that records are there to be broken. But there must come a point at which, too young, is too young” about her suitability and experience. Although it is claimed, by her parents, that she was born at sea this is pathetically irrelevant. She began sailing at 6, and solo at 10; navigating Dutch rivers and crossing the North Sea from Holland to Lowestoft once, earlier this year. Incidentally it was it was when she made port in England, was her ambition revealed; the Harbour Master alerting child authorities in the UK, who then alerted their Dutch counterparts. Experience wise, it may well be true that she is technically able; but as her lawyer argues; ‘they say she has not got much experience of solo round-the-world sailing. That is a bit weak, how do you get experience? By doing it.’ But this ignores many important issues. Issues of fatigue and to an extent safety, can be controlled too some degree by stopping regularly and having others nearby to keep a lookout for you. Isolation could be that significant boundary that is pushed just barely, out of reach. ‘Yet Laura will still be short of the most valuable weapon in a solo sailor’s armory: experience.’ You can be as prepared as much as you like, but experience on the water is something that cannot be substituted for. ‘There is almost no limit to the range of problems a solo sailor can face and all of them are easier to face with experience. This goes not just for the inevitable storms Laura will

At her age she is in the middle of her adolescence. Mental and physical strain will take its toll on such long voyages, exacerbated by her age. More sinister is the potential danger she will face in many ports; a concern shared by her mother, ‘She can sail like the devil — that’s not the problem, but I see problems when she stays in Third World ports, and in the psychological challenge of being alone at sea. She is not yet grown up.’ Senior and experienced sailors among others applaud her ambition. Despite being barely old enough to ride a bike safely on the road, she is showing a degree of maturity and ambition for one of the toughest challenges in the world; that should be admired. A more suitable role model for upcoming and existing generations that is currently available. Her route is the safest possible, she will at all times be shadowed by another vessel, manned by an experienced yachtsman; and it is not nonstop. But it will still be an ordeal. It is possible, as the Dutch Courts agreed. But should it still be allowed? Agonizingly, it may even be futile. If she does set sail without legal consent, and completes the voyage, she will not be officially recognized by the Guinness book of records, as it will not recognize entries that are that dangerous without proper legal consent. Furthermore, if she does take the two years planned to complete the endeavour, she will be 16. The youngest yes, but not quite the non-stop solo effort by the two 17yr olds, Mike Perham and Zac Sutherland. It is true that records are there to be broken. But there must come a point at which, too young is too young. As this is written a young Australian schoolgirl, Jessica Watson, 16, has not long set off on her own quest to become the youngest round the world sailor. It could or maybe should be the last such attempt.

Martyn Singleton

Terrace Talk..... STOKE CITY, the season so far......

S

toke City this season are being viewed in a completely different light to last year. In the 08/09 season all the pundits and so called experts predicted Stoke would be unable to cope with the rigors of top flight football. One bookmaker even paid out on Stoke being relegated after Stoke’s very first Premier League game a 3-1 defeat to Bolton. Well everyone knows how the season panned out. Stoke surpassed all expectations finishing 12th, comfortably away from the relegation zone and with an attitude that stuck two fingers up to all the doubters. This season all last seasons doubters are clambering to get on the Stoke bandwagon predicting them to be comfortably in mid-table or some predicting a top 10 finish. Make no mistake about every Stoke supporter would be happy if they get it right this year. In the summer Robert Huth and Tuncay were the two most notable signings pushing £11million combined for the pair from Middlesbrough. Stoke have made a very respectable start to the season currently sitting 9th in the table just 3 points behind Aston Villa who lie 5th. So all would appear to

be rosy. Well not quite. The last 3 games have seen a string of poor performances and many supporters baffled some of the selections being made by Tony Pulis. The 2 games before Saturday saw the Potters throw 5 points away from leading positions against strugglers Wolves and Phil ‘Tango’

Portsmouth, was not a classic by any stretch of the imagination and Pompey were arguably the better team. Stoke simply weren’t at the races in the first half and had ‘keeper Thomas Sorenson to thank for a penalty save within 10 minutes of the game starting. The second half saw a better offering from Stoke with clearly unfit Salif Diao

“A great goal which deserved to grace a better game than this one...” Brown’s Hull City. Tuncay seemingly can’t get a game and Rory Delap (the man with the rocket propelled throw-in) is playing on the right wing instead of one Ireland’s recent star performers Liam Lawrence. Delap simply isn’t a right winger. he provides great ability in the center tracking opposition runners but he’s now 34 and it shows when he plays on the wing. Sunday’s match at the Britannia Stadium in front of the Premier League’s loudest supporters against

before the hour mark with Delap moving to his natural position in the middle. Stoke now had a far better balance and were coming into the game more. Late in the second half Stoke’s first move of real quality told. The bang in-form Matthew Etherington swapped passes with Dean Whitehead then laid the ball to the charismatic talent Ricardo Fuller who turned majestically on the edge of the box, before bending the ball around the Pompey keeper into the bottom corner of the net.

A great goal which deserved to grace a better game than this one. Andy Wilkinson Stoke’s right back and clear Man of the Match was unlucky not to get his first Stoke goal when he intercepted a pass in his own half then beat 3 or 4 Portsmouth players before smashing a shot narrowly over the bar. He in truth deserved a goal for that move and his efforts throughout the game. The whole back 4 deserve credit for working well on the day but Wilkinson a local lad was a shining light. Stoke fans should be grateful to Tony Pulis for how well we’re doing. However, the truth is we tend to see more talent sat on the bench than actually starting games and really this needs to change. Lawrence has to start on the right as Stoke look a better team when he’s on the pitch, and Tuncay ought really to get his chance alongside Fuller in place of a clearly unfit James Beattie. It seems though Pulis doesn’t think Fuller and Tuncay can play together which

seems to be frustrating the Turkish captain as much as the fans. In truth 9th at the moment is great for Stoke, but the Potter’s performances need to improve and it would to see the handcuffs loosened and start having a go at teams a little more. Especially those below us in the table. This is not a call for Stoke to think they can play like Brazil, everyone saw what happened to West Brom when they thought they could. But Stoke have real quality in their squad now and it would be nice to see a bit more of it.

Robert Fell


Get Fit At Maes Glas Mondays Precision Lunchtime ‘The Beast’ Kickaerobics Cycling Aerobics circuit 1:10 - 1:50 pm 5:00 - 5:45 pm 6:00 - 7:00 pm 7:00 - 8:00 pm

Tuesdays

Balltastic

Precision Cycling

Step Combo

1:10 - 1:50 pm

5:15 - 6:00 pm

5:15 - 6:00 pm

Wednesdays Morning Mix

Lunchtime toning

Boxercise

Circuits

Aerobics

9:10 - 9:50 pm 1:10 - 1:50 pm 5:10 - 5:50 pm 6:00 - 7:00 pm 7:00 - 8:00 pm

Thursdays

Legs, Bums & Balltastic Tums 12:10 - 12:50 pm 5:15 - 6:00 pm 6:00 - 7:00 pm 7:00 - 8:00 pm Boxercise

Precision Cycling

Fridays Precision Trim & Tone Boxercise Cycling 1:10 - 1:50 pm 5:15 - 6:00 pm 6:00 - 7:00 pm 7:10 - 7:50 pm Body Max

Saturday

Sunday

Precision Cycling

Precision Cycling

11:15 - 12:00 pm

9:15 - 10:00 m

(01248) 382571 or call in for details

www.maesglas.co.uk maesglas@bangor.ac.uk

Maes Glas Sports Centre Ffriddoedd Road, Bangor LL57 2EH

Seren - 209 - 2009-2010 - December 2009  

This is the December 2009 issue of Seren, Bangor Univeristy's English Language Newspaper. Produced by students for students.

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