HOUSING CO-OPS SAYING GOODBYE TO BAD LANDLORDS
FOSSIL FUELLED UNIVERSITIES’ DIRTY OIL INVESTMENTS
TRIUMPH OR TOKEN? BLACK HISTORY MONTH EXAMINED
LONDONSTUDENT PAGE 10 | FEATURES
PAGES 8-9 | FEATURE
PAGES 16-17 | DEBATE
Issue 2 Volume 34
Monday 7th October 2013
Europe’s largest student newspaper
Police raid union bar, ULU vicepresident arrested
to 15 cops in •Up drug search accused of •Police racial profiling OSCAR WEBB Editor Upwards of 15 police officers entered Royal Holloway University of London’s (RHUL) students’ union last Friday, undertaking what the college called a “routine drugs education and awareness exercise”. Police used sniffer dogs and stopped and searched students who they thought were carrying drugs. Daniel Cooper, University of London Union (ULU) vicepresident, was violently arrested after questioning why police were searching a group of minority ethnic students. According to student union sabbatical officers and others who witnessed the scene, ten uniformed officers, two police sniffer dogs and up to five plain clothes officers were present. A former RHUL student and eyewitness on the night, Amar Singh, told London Student how he was stopped and searched by police twice in the course of 20 minutes. He said that the police stopped and searched him on the grounds
Library director quits following scandal Pressler broke financial rules
In charge of botched Shakespeare folio sale JAMES BURLEY News Editor
They added: “The Force refutes any suggestion that such searches carried out during Friday's operation were in any way as a result of ‘profiling’.” Royal Holloway management claim in a statement put out on the staff/student intranet that it was the student union’s staff and elected officers who invited the police into the student union. However, the elected student union officers deny this.
The director of Senate House Libraries announced his resignation last Monday after failing to declare his partner’s employment at an auction house the library did business with. Last month, Christopher Pressler, who had been at the Library’s helm for three years, admitted breaching the University of London’s financial regulations when he did not reveal that his partner worked at Bonhams. The auctioneers had been appointed to oversee a recent and highly unpopular attempt by the library to sell four of its seventeenth-century Shakespeare folios for an estimated £5m. Academics suggested that Christie’s or Sotheby’s would have been a more natural choice. The Times claimed a Sotheby’s source told them that the company’s specialists were amazed not to have been appointed to the sale because they had offered generous terms. Scholars strongly opposed the attempt to sell the books – which were donated to the library on the condition they would not leave it – with one branding it “an act of stupidity of the highest order”. The sale was eventually abandoned “in view of the feedback already received from the academic community”.
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that he was ‘loitering’, adding that he “felt rather dehumanised as they trawled through everything trying to find drugs.” After the second search “the police finally left me alone,” he said. “In the three years I spent at RHUL I never came across the police like this in our SU.” He said he didn't want to accuse the police of racially profiling those they stopped but said: “I find that the facts of the matter do point towards this.” Daniel Cooper, ULU vicepresident, intervened in one such stop-and-search, asking the police what they were doing. Then in scenes of confusion, captured by Felipe Mora on his phone, police informed Cooper that he was under arrest. Cooper repeatedly asked them “what are you doing?” before four or five
“In the three years I spent at RHUL I never came across the police like this” officers bundled him to the ground. Onlookers trying to film were pushed out of the way. Mora had union staff and police shout at him to stop filming and one of them tried to knock the phone out of his hand. Videos show Cooper being carried out of the union by five or six officers. He was taken to Staines police station where he was held for
7 uniformed officers bundle Cooper out of the building. An additional 5 plain clothes police had infiltrated the union party Image: YouTube still
several hours before being released with a caution for obstructing a police officer. A spokesperson for Essex police said that officers were present “as part of an intelligence-led operation aimed at disrupting the supply of illegal drugs.” They confirmed that a 23 year-old man had been arrested and subsequently accepted a caution for obstructing a police officer. They said: “The use of stop and search is an important and effective tactic in the prevention and detection of crime.”
Monday 7th October 2013
Heythrop president quits after vote of no confidence Reasons for discontent undisclosed President was UKIP member KEUMARS AFIFI-SABET The president of Heythrop College’s students’ union resigned last month after a motion of no confidence was passed against him. Peter O’Neil, who was at the start of his term in office, accepted the result and quit on the same day. The student union’s executive passed the motion on 22nd September in a “secret” ballot with seven officers
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for, two against and one abstaining. It had been put forward by an anonymous student for reasons that are not yet clear. London Student understands that O’Neil was the subject of a number of complaints from the student body in the summer, and many felt he did not treat his role with due respect. He is a member of the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party. The former president himself claims to be in the dark as to why his colleagues showed no confidence in him. He said in a statement: “As there has been no transparency on the matter, and the call for a by-election has occurred before any minutes are published, it has been left only to speculation what the full reasons were.” “Incidentally, because of this ambiguity, it is unclear if it was
constitutional but I am not going to contest the decision of my team (which was not unanimous) and have as such left office,” O’Neil added. Samuel English, the union’s vicepresident who led the executive meeting, said: “No sabbatical officer wants to be faced with the prospect of chairing a meeting about one of their colleagues; however, in light of the motion of no-confidence handed to me from the student body I acted in accordance with our union constitution.” English, who is now the acting president, went on: “I don’t feel it is at this time appropriate to comment further but I would at this point like to place on record my thanks to Peter for the work he has done over the summer with the union and wish him well in his course of study this year.”
Jobs ‘at risk’ at SGUL KEUMARS AFIFI-SABET
year strategic plan to make enough “efficiency” savings to create a 5% surplus, to be reinvested in areas including research and teaching. A St. George’s spokesperson said: “A small number of posts have been identified as at risk and consultation is underway with unions and relevant individuals.” “We have a legal duty to minimise any redundancies and it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage at the possible result of these consultations.”
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A number of staff at St. George’s, University of London (SGUL) have had their posts marked ‘at risk’ as part of a planned restructuring. The major reorganisation, due for completion by February 2014, will result in the disbanding of three divisions and one joint faculty, and the creation of three new research institutions and an individual teaching institute. It is part of St. George’s five-
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Pressler leaves UoL
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A University of London spokesperson denied that Pressler’s personal links with a Bonhams employee had influenced the decision to appoint them. They also stressed that Pressler’s partner had no involvement in the sale proposal, as they worked in a different department. Last month London Student also revealed that the library had purchased a manuscript of a W. H. Auden poem from Bonhams for £15,750 over the high estimate. This again broke the university’s financial regulations, which require staff to declare in writing if they have “a connection with any outside organisation which sells or buys from the University”. However, a university spokesperson said that in this case Pressler had “not broken the spirit of the financial regulations”. The spokesperson did acknowledge there had been “mistakes”, but said the University was taking steps to ensure they did
not happen again, such as “raising awareness among its staff of the need to comply with its financial regulations”. They also confirmed that the university is reviewing the “process by which Mr. Pressler broke the financial regulations”. Announcing his departure, Pressler said: “Following much thought, I have decided to resign as Director for personal reasons and in order to pursue other opportunities.” A university spokesperson said he would be “greatly missed” and thanked him for his “considerable achievements”. They said these included technological innovation, raising the library’s profile and reducing its deficit. During Pressler’s time as director, the library cut 307 academic journal subscriptions. It also stopped collecting books for its Geography, Law, Health Studies and the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine collections. He claimed this was simply the library reviewing its collections, as all libraries do.
Schoolchildren, students and campaigners released 107 red balloons at Westminster fire station in protest. Photograph: Hubert Libiszewski
ULU supports firefighters’ strike ADAM TILIOUINE Staff Reporter Members of the University of London Union (ULU) came out to support the Fire Brigade Union’s (FBU) strike last month over proposed changes to pension terms. In the first national walkout for over a decade, members of the FBU from regions all over the UK left their stations at 12 noon on Wednesday 25th September to set up picket lines. They were challenging government plans that would leave firefighters having to pay more into their pensions and receive less in retirement, as well as having to work frontline duties until the age of 60. During the four-hour strike, ULU vice-president Dan Cooper was joined by over twenty University of London students, as well as forty schoolchildren, in attending various fire stations around London to offer their support to firefighters. The group visited stations in Clerkenwell, Southwark, Peckham and Euston, before ending up at Westminster fire station. On arrival, they held up 107 red balloons – each one representing a year that the fire station had been in existence. FBU General Secretary Matt
Wrack told the Independent that the strike was “solidly supported” by firefighters across England and Wales. He went on to praise public support, such as that provided by ULU, saying: “Firefighters across the country are reporting a fantastic response from the public, who seem to understand that the government’s proposals on pensions are ludicrous.” ULU are working alongside the FBU to oppose various government plans affecting the fire service, including strongly opposed station closures. They intend to bring together all separate campaigns opposing the proposals from around London at a meeting next month, gathering them under a single “umbrella campaign”. Cooper told London Student: “Fire stations are a vital public service and the issue of a local fire station remaining open is a matter of life and death in many cases.” “Students, who make up about an eighth of the London population, live in all the communities potentially affected by fire station closures.” He added that action in support of the fire stations was unlikely to stop any time soon and claimed ULU was “advocating occupations” of stations due to be closed.
NEWS • 3
Monday 7th October 2013
University in talks to sell off ULU spaces UCL health centre may move into ULU building in 2014 Largest number of threatened redundancies at college in over ten years OSCAR WEBB The University of London may sell off a large part of its Malet Street building, which currently houses its student union (ULU), to UCL after it closes ULU in July 2014. UCLU sabbatical officers received written confirmation from a UCL senior manager at the end of September, which said that under joint UoL and UCL plans UCL will move its GP practice into the Malet Street building in 2014. It’s unclear how long the university will lease the space to
the health centre for. However Maureen Boylan, deputy university secretary at UoL, said that the plans were not certain. She said that only “very tentative initial discussions” had taken place between UoL and the UCL health centre, formally known as the Gower Place Practice. If it goes ahead, the UoLUCL plan would go against the previous proposal for the Malet Street building made by the ULU review group in May, which called for a ‘student centre’ for all UoL students. The student centre plan, which passed University Collegiate Council in May, aimed to “achiev[e]… the best quality of provision for University of London students”, not just UCL students. Boylan assured London Student that if the health centre does move into the Malet Street building, it would not be exclusively for the use of UCL students. She said it would maintain its links to UCL but
would also cater for anyone else living in the WC1 area. The Student Centre Planning Group, a body that discusses the future uses of ULU, was completely unaware of the UoLUCL sell-off plans, said ULU vice-president Dan Cooper. But Boylan said that the group “clearly listed” a GP practice as a possible future use of the building. A statement released by UCLU and ULU welcomed the health centre plan but accused UCL of ‘putting students and medical professionals in the position of uncertainty’. Michael Chessum, ULU president and one of the authors of the statement, said: “UCL management have used this opportunity to try to drive a wedge between ULU and UCL students. It’s simply not responsible for UCL to rent space in a disputed building without speaking to all parties, because it might not exist.” Moving the UCL GP and dental practise into ULU would signal the end of an on-going
and popular student campaign to save the health centre, which was being forced out of its current premises by the college without any other building to move into. However, it is also likely to raise questions in other UoL colleges who will be missing out on the deal. David East, SOAS student union co-president democracy and education, said: “This is an attempt by the University of London to play constituent colleges against each other. The ULU building must remain under democratic student control. At the very least, the new health centre should be open to all UoL students.” SOAS does not have its own dedicated health centre, David added. Taking a different view, Jay Stoll, LSE Student Union General Secretary, said: “It’s clear that UCL have merely taken advantage of a space publicly available to lease… UCLU should be congratulated on winning their campaign to keep their health centre open.”
ANALYSIS A total sell-off of ULU to UCL or others may now be on the cards The news suggests that a complete sell-off of the Malet street building by UoL could now be a possibility. The university recently announced plans to sell off the Garden Halls, three of its largest student halls, to private property developers. UCL’s plans to acquire the Malet Street building have been apparent for a number of years. In a recent report on the future of ULU, Julie Adams, ULU’s chief executive, described these intentions as “common knowledge”. UCLU sabbatical officers said earlier this year that the then UCL Provost, Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, was seeking to acquire the whole ULU building. Oscar Webb
LONDON STUDENT Monday 7th October 2013
Over 40 Birkbeck lecturers at risk of redundancy Largest number of planned redundancies in over ten years Staff union vote to resist the cuts OSCAR WEBB Birkbeck College is proposing to make many of its lecturers redundant. The Birkbeck branch of the University and College Union (UCU) puts the figure of planned redundancies at over 40. At the end of September Birkbeck issued notifications of possible redundancy to 41 lecturers in the
schools of Arts, Social Sciences, History, Politics, Philosophy and Science, claims UCU. The vice-president of the Birkbeck branch of UCU, Dr Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick, said that more redundancy notices from the college were “coming through every day”. The college press office confirmed that a number of lecturers were at risk of redundancy but refused to comment on numbers. The majority of the lecturers facing redundancy are part-
time and teach short 11-week courses, said UCU. Such courses have traditionally been one of the mainstays of the college since its founding, attracting adult part-time learners who couldn’t otherwise participate in higher education. Mike Berlin, co-president of Birkbeck UCU, said the short courses are “really at the core of what Birkbeck should be about”. He lamented: “It seems the college is turning off that tradition… driving older students away”. The cost of an 11-week course at the college has gone up nearly fourfold in the last five years, from £110 in 2008 to £400 today. Many of these courses have seen a drop in student numbers in recent years. At a UCU branch meeting on 24th September, Berlin said that these courses were being “priced out of the market” and said that the loss of these courses would be “disastrous” for the college’s reputation. The college blames the drop in enrolments on some of these courses on changes in the way the government funds higher education and on increased fees. The UCU meeting on 24th September voted almost unanimously in favour of condemning the proposed compulsory redundancies and initiating “a public campaign of resistance in coordination with other trade unions, students and alumni”. The college said that it is “working closely with both the staff and the local branch of UCU... to redeploy staff and actively consider alternatives to redundancies wherever possible”.
Beth Sutton, UCLU Women’s Officer (left) and Susuana Antubam, ULU Women’s Officer (right)
ULU joins other unions in banning ‘Blurred Lines’ Seventh student union so far to ban song DANIEL HAYEEM The University of London Union (ULU) has joined other students’ unions in banning Robin Thicke’s hit song ‘Blurred Lines’ from being played in its bars because its lyrics “normalise rape culture”. ULU is the seventh student union to have banned the song, which contains lyrics such as “I know you want it / You’re a good girl”. Other universities whose students’ unions have boycotted the song include Kingston, Edinburgh, Leeds, Derby, West Scotland, and Bolton. At Queen Mary University there is a
Facebook page and petition calling for a similar ban at the students’ union. A ULU statement said: “We are happy to announce that we’re also joining the list of students’ unions who will not be playing Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ as we think that that student spaces should promote consent and not normalise rape culture and believe that we should start sending out strong messages to those who capitalise on misogyny on campuses.” SubTV, a channel broadcast in over a hundred students’ unions, including ULU, removed the song from its playlist after lobbying by student union officers. Susuana Antubam, ULU women’s officer, said that SubTV’s decision came as “a big surprise”. She claimed that SubTV realised that continuing to
play it “would trigger those offended to leave bars and clubs playing it” and thus “harm the channel’s whole business”. As part of an anti-censorship backlash to the bans, the student’s union at the University of St. Andrews voted 13-7 to continue allowing the song to be played. Sadie Hochfield, the community relations officer at the union, said that the music charts are filled with offensive songs. “Unfortunately, there is sexism, there is racism, there is domestic violence, and if you ban one it’s a slippery slope.” However, Antubam said the student body’s response to the ban has been mainly positive, although one student who spoke to her said it was “similar to the policies of North Korea”.
Unions angered by NUS failure to consult Police raid Royal Holloway Most London SUs not contacted over new city-wide union ADRIAN POLGLASE Assistant News Editor The National Union of Students (NUS) has come under criticism for not consulting a sufficient number of London’s students’ unions on its plans for a new London-wide body. Rachael Mattey, NUS vicepresident, named only four students’ unions as consulted parties for the planned ‘NUS
London’ area when questioned by the National Executive Council (NEC). The only unions consulted over the new proposals were City University Union, Greenwich University Union, King’s College London Students’ Union, and the London School of Economics Union. A London students’ union source said that NUS officers predominantly consulted sabbatical officers “they would get the right answers from”. A statement being circulated among London union officers complains that there was no mention
of an ‘NUS London’ area last month, when the interim executive of the London Union of Students (LUS) met with an NUS staff member. Upon seeing the NUS preliminary plans, the interim executive of LUS submitted an amendment pushing for a more full-blooded union. However, the NEC rejected its hearing 17 votes to 13. Mattey commented: “Ultimately the decision about whatever additional representation exist sits with London students’ unions. Following the NEC, NUS will continue to further consult with them on plans”.
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Jamie Green, Vice-President Communications and Campaigns at Royal Holloway student union, said that the elected officers did not invite the police. “The sabbs were not consulted,” he said. However, Green said that the “commercial arm” – the full time staff of the union – did know that the police were coming, but weren’t informed of the scale of the operation. Val Swain of the Police Monitoring Network, described police actions at Royal Holloway as “unnecessary and disproportionate.” She pointed out that “the use of stop
and search on university campuses is generally likely to be counterproductive, reducing trust between students and the university, which has a duty of care.” She added that the police ombudsman, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, had recognised such problems with the use of stop-and-search earlier this year. A protest was held at Royal Holloway on Wednesday 2nd October demanding “cops off campus”. The organisers, the Royal Holloway Anti-cuts Alliance, said they were protesting against “the excessive and heavy-handed police presence at Royal Holloway.”
NEWS • 5
LONDON STUDENT Monday 7th October 2013
UCL makes £1.7m a year from Kazakh university partnership Country has ‘dreadful’ human rights record Similar concerns surround UCL Qatar JAMES BURLEY University College London has made £7m in profit from its partnership with a university in Kazakhstan, a country with a “dreadful human rights record”. Through its involvement in two departments of Nazarbayev University, which is named after Kazakhstan’s autocratic leader, UCL has made an average of £1.75m a year since 2009. UCL helps deliver Nazarbayev University’s Foundation Programme and is the international partner of its School of Engineering. Students at Nazarbayev University receive full scholarships but must work in the country for five years after graduating. Mike Blakemore, Amnesty International UK Media Director, said: “Everyone connected with UCL should be in no doubt that Kazakhstan has a dreadful human
rights record.” “Torture is rife in Kazakhstan and the security forces have shot dead striking oil workers.” He added: “In having any ties with Kazakhstan, UCL should take great care to ensure that it does not itself become involved in human rights violations, for instance by allowing itself to be censored on Kazakhstan or by permitting partner-organisation staff to be made subject to draconian laws.” A UCL spokesperson maintained that it “is making a significant contribution to the enhancement of higher education in Kazakhstan through its participation in this national educational project.” UCL is also involved in Qatar, an authoritarian monarchy often criticised for its human rights record. It has an institute focussed on archaeology at Hamad bin Khalifa University, named after the country’s former ruler who recently handed over power to his son. Freedom House, a nongovernmental organisation based in Washington, reported that Qatari scholars “often practise selfcensorship on politically sensitive topics”. The construction of the building
where UCL Qatar is housed was managed by KEO International Consultants, who are currently responsible for building one of the football stadiums for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. A recent Guardian investigation uncovered evidence of forced labour on one World Cup construction site, while the International Trade Union Confederation claimed 4,000 migrant workers would die before the tournament started. A spokesperson for the UCL Union (UCLU) Amnesty International Society said: “We hope that UCL has taken great attention to ensure that the construction of [the building that houses] UCL Qatar has not contravened the human rights of any construction workers, and that they have all been treated fairly.” A UCL spokesperson said: “From the start of our engagement with Qatar we have been concerned about the conditions of marginalised communities”. “We know from discussions with our Qatari partners that the issue of these workers in the marginalised communities is of genuine concern to them and that there is sustained movement for improving their conditions and treatment.”
Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan Photograph: UCL
At his inaugural lecture, Michael Arthur, UCL’s new Provost and President, was asked by student Matthew Deaves for his view “on UCL collaborating with and providing prestige to dictatorships in Qatar and Kazakhstan”. He responded: “You can construct an argument that if we’re there and we take our values and our principles and education, we may help the situation and over time might help those countries improve their human rights records.” But Arthur went on: “I can also quite clearly see the other argument – that human rights are so bad that
we would be deeply worried about associating ourselves with such regimes.” He concluded: “This isn’t an easy area.” Katie Kokkinou, the welfare and international officer at UCLU, said: “Although UCL states that it is an ‘ethical university’, it should be very vigilant that it does not turn a blind eye to partnerships where there are highly concerning human rights records. She added: “UCL must be aware that in stamping its name in such places, it may run the risk of becoming complicit.”
Pro-choice Goldsmiths students Security tightened in SOAS bar to avoid challenge anti-abortionists drug raids
Leafleters handed out ‘distressing’ material
They also handed out Abortion Rights leaflets and made clear to passers-by that the SPUC
ADRIAN POLGLASE Goldsmiths students launched a counter-demonstration at the end of September against anti-abortion campaigners who demonstrated next to the college’s campus in New Cross. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) handed out anti-abortion flyers with slogans such as “abortion is about a child not a choice” on 25th September on Dixon Road, between the Richard Hoggart building and the library. Members of Goldsmiths Students’ Union (GSU) responded by creating makeshift pro-choice placards and following the anti-abortion group down New Cross Road.
One of those giving out pro-life leaflets Photo: Howard Littler
campaigners were not affiliated to Goldsmiths. Karis Hanson, one of GSU’s women’s officers, said that the SPUC’s material was “offensive and potentially distressing to students due to its moralistic and sensationalist language and judgmental framing of women who have chosen to have abortions.” Later in the day SPUC published a blog post condemning the union’s response. It said: “What began as some simple leafleting ended with us being followed by a group of 15 aggressive pro-abortion students.” The SPUC also claimed they were smeared by the student union’s newspaper, The Leopard. The group said that they had been situated on public footpaths off-campus and “harassed” by members of the union’s feminist society.
Bouncers now patrol checking ID cards JAMES BURLEY Additional security was introduced to the School of Oriental and African Studies bar last month to avoid it “getting raided regularly by the police” and to stop the student union from losing its licence. An email sent to students by Peter Baran, the General Manager of SOAS Students’ Union, announced “we have been working with the School to integrate some extra security in the bar”. He told students that from Monday 16 September security guards “will challenge you if they think they can smell weed being
smoked”. He explained: “If we did not put this in place, we would start getting raided regularly by the police.” In addition, the union would risk losing its license, Baran said. He also claimed: “SOAS Bar has a reputation... But over the summer it has also got worse, and a large haul of marijuana was seized on the premises by the police. After which some of the more laissez-faire attitudes down in the bar have to change”. Baran acknowledged that there had been “a few complaints” to the move, but said: “Most students understand why we’re doing it.” But Maham Hashmi, Black Students’ Officer at University of London Union, said: “The security in the bar have been racially profiling students.” “I have yet to have heard about a white person who has been ID’d.”
NEWS • 7
Monday 7th October 2013
Minister makes assurance on student loan interest rates But no legal guarantee that they will remain fixed ADAM TILIOUINE The National Union of Students (NUS) has received a written assurance from a government minister that interest rates on student loan repayments will not be changed as the result of a sell-off. In a letter to NUS president Toni Pearce dated 13th September, universities and science minister
Michael Chessum The coalition government’s vandalistic, neo-liberal agenda for higher education has been pretty clear ever since it came into office. In June, Danny Alexander announced the icing on the cake: student debt itself was to be packaged off and sold to private companies. Because student debt is unprofitable – there’s so much of it that a lot won’t be repaid – this will either
David Willetts wrote that if the government does proceed with the sale of the student loan book to private companies, “the interest rate charged to borrowers will remain at RPI or base rate +1%, whichever is lower”. Pearce, along with NUS vicepresident Rachael Wenstone, had met with Willetts the previous week to raise concerns over the sell-off. The written assurance is a step towards ensuring the government will not change how interest rates are determined on repayments of student loans taken out prior to the new funding system introduced in
2012. However, it does not represent a legal guarantee, and the government could still change interest terms to make the loans more attractive to private buyers. Pearce expressed concern at this last Friday in a blog post which announced Willetts’ assurance as a “win” for the NUS. She wrote that the NUS “does remain concerned that new borrowers’ terms and conditions are not yet fixed in law” and will push for a legal guarantee. Only this will ensure “genuine protection for student borrowers”,
mean a bizarre government subsidy for the companies or, almost unbelievably, a retroactive hike in interest rates for all graduates since 1998. In response to fears, David Willetts has now written to the National Union of Students declaring that no such hike will take place. No-one should believe a word of it. Somewhat strangely, NUS is claiming this as news and as a victory: we’ve actually known about it since June, and these reassurances are, in the long
run, meaningless. If debt is sold off, it will be in the hands of private capital. Private capital will always look to make as much profit as it can, and by and large, future governments will help it to do so. In practice, that will mean students paying more. The story of the past 15 years of marketisation and privatisation in education has been one of governments going half-way to doing something awful, then waiting a few years, and then going all the way.
Chinese students forced to sign ‘suicide contracts’ Waiver absolves universities of blame in cases of suicide ADAM TILIOUINE A university in China has made over 5,000 new first year students sign ‘suicide contracts’. The contracts, described as a “student management and self discipline agreement”, act as a waiver to absolve the City College of Dongguan University of Technology of any blame should one of its students commit suicide. The move has elicited angry responses in China, with many highly critical of the university’s stance on the issue of student suicides. Ms. Li, the parent of a first year student at the college, told Time magazine: “The school should provide counselling services and other help for students, instead of trying to absolve themselves of responsibility even before anything has happened.” The father of another student harboured similar concerns, telling
the Independent: “The university shouldn’t pass the buck when things happen on campus.” The use of such contracts has a precedent in China’s business sector. Foxconn, a manufacturer that has produced for companies such as Apple, Nokia and Sony, introduced similar contracts at some of its factories in 2011. There had been a number of suicides by workers the previous year – including seven in May 2010 alone. Other measures taken by the manufacturer to counter the problem included putting up nets outside workers’ dormitories to prevent people jumping from their balconies. The university in Guangdong province is not the first to use such measures. In March 2011, Shandong Jianzhu University asked 20,000 students to sign a similar waiver relating to suicide and self-inflicted injuries. Despite the news that the university is introducing the measure, the suicide rate among college students in China has remained relatively stable over recent years, at well below the national average with between one or two suicides per 100,000 people.
she claimed. The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts criticised the NUS for declaring the assurance as a “win”. It released a statement saying: “The assurances do not really constitute a victory of any kind. The NUS is actually harming the student movement.” Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary of the Treasury, formally announced the sale earlier this year as part of a plan to raise £15bn from sales of public assets, with many students and academics voicing opposition. Just as surely as £1,000 tuition fees in 1998 became £3,000 in 2004 and £9,000 in 2010, it is relatively easy to imagine that in 2020, repayments will have been uncapped by act of parliament. You might think that future governments ‘wouldn’t dare’ pursue such an unpopular policy – but after 2010, are there really any limits on what they might try? That is why it is vital that we mobilise against the sale of the loan book and toxify the policy before it gets oxygen.
London universities excel in world rankings while rest of UK lags ADAM TILIOUINE Britain fared worse than international counterparts in this year’s Times Higher Education World University Rankings, but London’s universities generally did well. The UK boasted thirty-one universities in the top 200, with three in the top 10 – the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. But many British institutions – including the universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol and St. Andrews – have dropped down the table. London universities seem to be the exception to this negative trend. It has six universities in the top 200, and a number of them are climbing the table. Queen Mary is the biggest mover, climbing from joint 145th to joint 114th. King’s College also rose from 57th to 38th. Royal Holloway moved up from 119th to 102nd and the London School of Economics from 39th to 32nd. Two of London’s most prominent universities, however, dropped down the table slightly. Imperial fell two places to 10th and UCL four places to 21st. Yet both remain the city’s best performers in the rankings.
Delhi students battle publishers in court Presses’ attempt to stop photocopying comes under criticism DANIEL HAYEEM Students are fighting publishers at the Delhi High Court over photocopied course packs that act as a cheap alternative to books. Last year Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Taylor and Francis filed a lawsuit against Delhi University and its local photocopy shop for alleged copyright infringement. They argue that the Rameshwari photocopy centre, who sold course packs containing chapters from books at the fraction of the retail price, broke the 1957 Indian Copyright Act, which ensures that the right to reproduce the material rest with the copyright holder. Last Tuesday the Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK) spoke in court to defend the shop and the university. They represented students who see the photocopied course packs as essential in making their studies possible. ASEAK have also filed an application to remove a court injunction that stops any more course packs being produced until
the case is settled. In addition to the students, many others have criticised the publishers’ actions. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen wrote: “As authors and educators, we would like to place on record our distress at this act of the publishers, as we recognise the fact that in a country like India marked by sharp economic inequalities, it is often not possible for every student to obtain
a personal copy of a book.” He was joined in his criticism by over 300 academics and 33 of the authors that the university presses claims to represent. Lawrence Liang, a legal researcher, pointed out that “section 52 of the Copyright Act [has] at least two provisions which exempt ‘personal use including research’ and ‘reproduction of any work by a teacher or student in the course of instruction.’”
8 • FEATURES
Monday 7th October 2013
HOUSING CO-OPS: A CHEAP FRIENDLIER WAY TO LIVE IN Houseshares where the property is co-owned by the tenants offer an alternative to renting, but few students know this option exists
en’s garden traps the sunshine, which spatters the fruit and vegetables he and other members of the co-operative have planted there. Ben, a final year fine art student at the Slade, is talking about the place he used to live. “It was really expensive” he says “and just these rooms with beige carpets and white walls that we didn’t feel like we could change in any way—[it] just felt kind of like we were living in someone else’s house.” The house beside us is beautiful. It’s Georgian and Grade II listed, on Royal College Street just behind St Pancras. Inside it’s personalised; bicycles are suspended from the hall wall and the floor is wooden and whitewashed, like a boat. It has intrigue, and that mildly dilapidated, frayed-around-the-edges look that only old buildings can pull off. Ben paints in the basement, where there’s
Can I live in a housing co-operative too?
To join Carol Street Housing Co-operative you must have lived in Camden beforehand. Although an independent venture, the co-operative is sanctioned by the local council and on their register (which means that long-term tenants may be offered council housing, eventually). However, other housing cooperatives exist across London and there are organisations that will support people creating new ones. The nature of these varies.
a table tennis table and the leg of a plastic mannequin lying on the floor. The washing machine is in a slightly crumbly attached outbuilding, full of jeans. “I know this probably sounds a bit airy-fairy,” Ben says, “but just having that extra space really makes you more peaceful in your mind and able to think clearer. Being able to sit out in the garden in a place that’s relatively quiet is a massive deal. Just to be able to do it every so often is enough to keep you sane.” I compare the house to the boxy, 1960s ex-council flats I’ve lived in since moving to London three years ago. They don’t compare well. At the moment I pay £450 a month to live twenty minutes away, at the other end of Camden Road. Like most students, I rent privately from a landlord. We don’t have a living room, let alone a basement or our own garden. Last year I paid £469 for a smaller, shabbier room in a similar location – and I consider myself lucky; most of my friends pay more. Until last May, Ben lived in a While Carol Street Housing describes its aim simply as “to provide affordable housing for people who may find it difficult to obtain housing within the borough,” others can be defined by politics, or lifestyle. Radical Routes, for example, “is a network of radical co-ops whose members are committed to working for positive social change”. 26 coops across the UK are part of this organisation, including one in north London. Whether or not you want your housing to be politicised, it isn’t difficult to find housing co-operatives online, or through local councils, who should be able to provide a list. “I think a lot of people don’t really realise that co-ops exist,” says Ben. “I’d urge everybody to do research into whether they have a housing co-op in their own borough and whether they can move into it, because as a young single person who doesn’t have much money it ticks all the boxes”.
flat like this too, rented with friends, “just a little further up, towards Chalk Farm, still in Camden”. Ben started off paying about £430 a month, but every year, for the three he stayed, this went up. Still, these rents are nothing compared to those on Royal College Street, where Foxtons suggest private tenants pay over £1000 a month per room. But Ben only pays £379 a month and he owns a £4 share of the house. In six houses on his street and two houses on the next street, 35 people pay the same as Ben, and also own shares. This is because they’re all members of the Carol Street Housing Co-operative, set up in 1991 to provide affordable housing to people in Camden. Before I interviewed Ben, I knew very little about housing cooperatives. Ben didn’t know much about them either until he moved in last May. This was a year after he heard about the place from a friend. He says that this delay was largely down to him. “I studied on exchange [in New York] for four months at the beginning of my third year so I left straight after going on the waiting list,” he says. When he got back in January, he turned down a second interview, because he didn’t want to move while working on his dissertation. Ben explains the procedure to me. His initial interview was with the co-operative’s allocations department, he says; “they just asked me a few really simple questions, like, ‘what could you contribute to the co-op’. I said I’m fairly good at maintenance, DIY and that sort of thing but, also, I really want to learn a bit more about gardening. I said that I was an art student, as well; there are quite a few arty people here.” Allocations approved Ben and he entered a pool of prospective tenants. When a room became available he was offered an interview with the specific household. The second time this happened, in spring, he attended. “It was a really nice interview,” he says, “we went to the pub”. He moved in a few weeks later. Ben adds that usually the process doesn’t take this long; his housemate Ally moved in about a month after applying.
I ask Ben what makes the cooperative different to any other house share. He explains that everyone has to participate in running it. As well as allocations – which sort out tenancies – there are three other departments: development, maintenance and finance. Every resident is assigned to one. Ben is part of the development department, which is responsible for “thinking about the resources the co-
I compare the house to the boxy, 1960s ex-council flats I’ve lived in since moving to London. They don’t compare well operative has and how it can develop itself, further itself and survive.” The maintenance department is responsible for upkeep, and finance does the accounting. The only members of the co-operative are the residents, so there are no other interests involved. The highest authority is the committee, which consists of two delegates from each department, a treasurer and a chair. I ask about the other members. “The average age is probably about 30,” Ben says, “technically you’re supposed to be single – i.e. living without anybody else that you’re going out with – obviously you can have a girlfriend or a boyfriend that you don’t live with.” There are four other people in Ben’s house: Ally, who works in the record industry; her friend Jasmine, who’s just graduated from Westminster; Luke, a chef; and Sammy, who works in finance, is staying temporarily. “It’s a really social environment,” Ben says, “if we have a house meeting we all go to the pub after.” In general, Ben enjoys living in the co-operative, but he does admit that some things can be annoying. While he appreciates the democracy with which the organisation is governed, he complains about how unnecessarily complicated everything seems sometimes. He had to wait two months to move in,
Share certificates make those who live in
for example, because the previous tenant hadn’t realised she needed to give notice – even though her room was empty, Ben wasn’t allowed to move in until her tenancy had officially expired. Sometimes there are problems between residents too, although this is the same in most house shares. “There was talk in the last AGM (Annual General Meeting) about employing a mediator,” Ben says. There’s also always the option of moving people between houses. All this means that being part
FEATURES • 9
Monday 7th October 2013
APER AND N LONDON?
walking LO N D O N
with The Blondoner
From King’s Cross to Holborn through Bloomsbury [Content warning: suicide]
ondon has never been kind to its youth, these days least of all. If you’re reading this there’s a decent chance that you’re studying at one of the central London colleges: King’s College ( Fa b i a n - t u r n e d - n e o l i b e r a l ) , SOAS (colonial-turned-postcolonial), or University College (utilitarian-turned-dystopian). There’s a curious feel to the part of central London that houses these seats of learning. It doesn’t feel studenty like the student-designated quarters of other cities, perhaps because no students can afford to live around here. Or perhaps because there’s more sediment here, beneath the three-year hamster wheels, than you might find in Hallam (Sheffield), Fallowfield (Manchester), or Headingley (Leeds). If you’ve recently moved to London from the provinces, or more specifically “The North,” as I once did, this is the first part of the city you hit. You may glimpse the wonders of Barnet or West Hampstead from a slowing train carriage, but by the time you step out, you’re right here in Zone 1. If you’re lucky, you might find your room a short wander away, in the
the co-operative part owners of the property Photograph: Charlotte England
of the co-operative can be timeconsuming, but Ben says it’s possible to avoid becoming too involved. “If you let it, a lot of stuff can accumulate,” he says of the internal politics. “I’ve had weeks when I’ve engaged with that a little bit and then I’ve had other weeks when I’ve been really busy and just been like ‘no, I’m not dealing with that’.” For Ben the advantages easily outweigh the disadvantages. He says twice that, as a student, it suits his needs perfectly; the house is a
15-minute walk away from UCL and it’s almost impossible to afford space like this in central London otherwise. “I think [I’ll stay] for as long as I possibly can,” he says. “I was fairly resigned to the fact I was going to have to move home and live with my parents [after graduating], until I found this. I saw all the rents going up and I was thinking, ‘shit man, I’ll either have to stay in London and work or move home and paint.’ But this looks like it’s going to be a way for me to do both, which is great.”
The area is fundamentally square, defiantly at right-angles in a city which still mostly follows a mess of medieval layouts King’s Cross development, which was, while under construction, advertising some student rooms starting at “just £145 per week”. Mooching around the King’s Cross development at the moment is a strange affair; there’s no compass. Most parts of London implicitly point towards somewhere, and there’s a flow of
people going mostly one way. But here builders, dog-walkers, pop-up-restaurant-goers and bird-watchers bumble about in all directions. It’s like the end of a journey nobody wanted to take. To get out, strike a line for one of London’s most celebpacked churchyards. The Old Church of St. Pancras claims to be the oldest site of Christian worship in Britain, dating from a time when Roman soldiers stationed at a barracks nearby brought the religion over from the continent. I was given a tour of the churchyard by a man who might have been around then but for his homely burgundy jumper betraying him as a product of the Church of England. This is where the poet Percy Shelley, and his future wife Mary Wollestonecraft Godwin, planned their ultimately ill-fated elopement. This is where the Beatles played a prank on the crowd waiting for them to turn up to a photoshoot for the White Album. I won’t tell you what they did; it’d put the churchwarden out of a job. And this is where the young architecture student Thomas Hardy had the task of disinterring the corpses of half the graveyard, when the railway was first driven out of St. Pancras. The disturbed headstones were placed around a young sapling which has grown up twisted among them.
rom the Hardy Tree, south into Bloomsbury. The area is fundamentally square, defiantly at right-angles in a city which still mostly follows a mess of medieval layouts. A couple of winters ago, one corner building which belonged to SOAS was squatted for a while. It was around the time of the public sector pensions dispute. I remember the squat: huge, wellorganised, large quantities of dinner cooked in massive pans, the usual stuff. I found the main upstairs room full of people watching a film about how radical punk fashion was; it was then I knew that the movement was heading for certain defeat. I went back recently; it’s the Doctoral School now. You couldn’t get much further from youthful exuberance if you tried. Further down towards Holborn and I’m lost again in
squares. This time, it’s the Inns of Court. You can walk around here, although everything is designed in order to make you think that you can’t. This is one of the many ways in which the place resembles an Oxbridge college; the braying voices and antiquated costumes of the professional schmoozers of law are more giveaways. A man on a cigarette break with a much younger colleague bemoans his lot: “I’m not sure my life’s really moving forward in this job any more.” His T.M. Lewin
shirt, still slightly too big for his doubtless rapidly expanding waist (perhaps a strategic purchase to be grown into), flaps in a slight breeze. He could be you, if you’re clever and British enough to soldier on through the academic square-bashing. Squeezing out of the geometry, I find myself opposite Brooke Street, site of the end of one of youthful London’s most tragic tales. Thomas Chatterton came up to London from Bristol at the age of seventeen in 1770. An up-and-coming poet, he moved to the place anyone possessed of the romantic pretension of wanting to “be a writer” would move: Shoreditch. However, it being the eighteenth century, he couldn’t support himself with a job as a freelance social media consultant and soon found himself living in an attic here. Frustrated by a lack of recognition, the promise of the city unfulfilled, he swallowed arsenic and died. London has never been kind to its youth. Especially those who want to break free from the squares.
10 • FEATURES
Monday 7th October 2013
TIES THAT BIND: THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY AND UK UNIVERSITIES Universities won’t touch money from the tobacco industry, and many have broken ties with the arms industry. With climate crisis looming, will fossil fuels be next? Natasha Gorodnitski
he links between the fossil fuel industry and UK universities have largely avoided scrutiny until recently. But campaigners have claimed that these ties keep the petrochemical industry alive: providing funding for research; honorary degrees for big oil executives; advertising agreements; sponsorship of professorships and special institutes – all of which maintain a ‘veneer of respectability for fossil fuels’. University investment portfolios and opportunities for companies to groom students on campus give fossil fuel companies the money and people they need to continue. Universities are crucial to the economy and the future of climate change, and the outstanding climate research that goes on in these institutions every day is being undermined by maintaining such strong ties to the fossil fuel industry. Despite what universities and the industry want us to think, these financial links do influence what is researched and taught, who is employed, and what employees and students do once they leave. Universities aren’t keen to share what goes on with their money. Surprisingly little is known about where funds are invested and spent, and existing information is often difficult to access. A new global movement known as Fossil Free is opening up access to this information, and is putting pressure on institutions to break their ties with fossil fuel firms. It has had great success already; in the United States 18 cities and 6 higher education institutions have already agreed to the campaign demands. Similar campaigns are now popping up across the UK, spearheaded by student network People & Planet, calling on institutions to break their fossil fuel ties and stop the privatisation of higher education institutions, and digging up information on universities’ money. One step toward increased transparency is ‘Knowledge and Power: Fossil Fuel Universities’, a report being released this month by People & Planet, Platform, and 350.org that explores the intricate ties between the fossil fuel industry and our universities. ‘Knowledge and Power’ will be the most wide-
ranging report for the UK on this topic to date. The groups’ initial findings show that UK universities’ endowments – usually money from donors – contain investments in fossil fuels of up to £1 billion, and that the total investment wealth in fossil fuels, including pension funds, could reach over £6 billion. Of the top ten largest UK university endowments, three are in London – LSE, Imperial, and KCL; the 11th is held by University College London. Campaigners argue that a decision by universities to divest would send a powerful message to the oil industry. Fossil Free campaigns across London include those targetting the Borough of Camden, University College London, and the University of East London, as well as a general organising group, Fossil Free London, which aims to start more campaigns throughout London institutions. Campaigns elsewhere in the UK include the Oxford University Fossil Free petition, which gained nearly a thousand signatures after the university announced a partnership between Shell and its Earth Sciences department, and a new campaign to encourage the Church of Scotland to divest from fossil fuels. Imperial College London has a reputation as a ‘fossil fuel university’ – its ties to the fossil fuel industry run deeper than perhaps any other higher education institution in the UK, or at the very least the connections are most public. The
UK universities’ endowments contain investments in fossil fuels of up to £1 billion chair of Imperial’s Department of Petroleum Engineering stated publicly that companies in ‘the industry’ should visit to talk about their needs. As Imperial has worked with some of the largest names in fossil fuels, they’re in ‘the best position to try to solve problems’. A brief look at Imperial’s website reveals that it is filled with departments, degrees, and research the goal of which is to aid the oil industry in drilling deeper and improving profits and fossil fuel extraction efficiency.
Might universities’ non-compliance signal the sunset of the fossil fuels industry? Photograph: CC
Imperial receives more research funding from fossil fuel companies than any other UK institution, with £17.3 million from Shell and BP alone. There are ‘named posts’ (lecturer positions with a company name in the title), and many fossil fuel executives also sit on university committees. 9.1% of Imperial’s total endowment (£4,356,285) is directly invested in non-renewable energy. People and Planet argue that the relationship between the fossil fuel industry and the institution is ‘blatant’, and the two seem ‘inseparable’. Degrees and departments are industrytailored to train students in subjects beneficial to the fossil fuel industry, and the bombardment of sponsorship branding, fossil fuelfocussed and exec-hosted lectures, and careers events guides students directly towards the industry. Honorary degrees are given to prominent figures in the industry, and academics often have a history of working in fossil fuels. However, Imperial is also committed to reducing carbon emissions by 20% by 2014, and has a Climate Change institute that boasts ‘world class research that makes a difference’ – a drop in the ocean when considered
in context. University College London (UCL) has a different approach to its reputation and involvement with the fossil fuel industry, and is far more reflective of the general attitude in higher education towards these ties – one of greenwashing and secrecy. Throughout UCL’s guiding policies and principles, there are repeated commitments to environmental and ethical responsibility. However, in December 2012 students discovered that UCL has investments in at least nine companies that are among the world’s 200 largest fossil fuel companies by proven carbon reserves. £6.8 million of funding for research comes from BP and Exxon alone, and honorary degrees have been handed out to oil company managers and founders. Perhaps the most shocking relationship is between BHP Billiton (BHPB), the world’s largest mining company, and UCL’s Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR). BHPB is the sole founder of the ISR and of the Energy Institute in Adelaide, funding each with a donation of an equally split $10 million to be used over five years. In an interview conducted in early 2013 with the deputy director of the ISR, Katherine
Welch, she denied that there was any conflict of interest or hypocrisy. Although she claimed that BHPB has no influence on the ISR’s research, recruitment of students or academics, and teaching, it was also revealed that a business engagement board was being formed that would include BHPB and other businesses. The board would discuss research, and a ‘BHPB Chair in Sustainable Resources’ was being hired (and is now employed at UCL). Campaigners claim that it is becoming increasingly apparent that the fossil fuel industry doesn’t look good for anyone’s reputation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released what the Guardian referred to as ‘the most important climate change report ever written’, which states that the amount of carbon we are able to safely burn is far less than the amount stored in fossil fuel reserves and that the world is on track for disaster. Barack Obama’s recent call to ‘divest’ in a climate speech spread like wildfire in the media. Universities are leading the way in sustainable research. Campaigners demand that they practice what they preach and go fossil free.
ISSUE 2 7 OCTOBER - 28 OCTOBER
LONDON’S BEST ARTS AND CULTURE: CURATED
POETRY SCENE 101 BRICK LANE STREET ART BEST COFFEE IN THE CITY OF MONTREAL’S KEVIN BARNES LONDON FASHION WEEK COCOROSIE GIG REVIEW FOX HUNT MENSWEAR KINO: FILM OPEN MIC
Pssst! YOU SHOULD PROBABLY WORK FOR US. get in touch >
FROM THE EDITORS Uni’s kicked in, which means no more
corresponding across borders and time differences with our travelling section editors. The editorial team is back in the Big Smoke, juggling pitches, edits and layouting with uni readings, presentations and meetings. Tough, but worth it, and we hope you agree. London is always busy, but especially so in September. Our brilliant cover was shot by Nigel Pacquette at the Sophia Webster viewing during London Fashion Week. Emma made her way into London Fashion Weekend, but did it compare to its prestigious older sister? Read about her experience on page 5. (She did score a cute Cheap Monday jacket there.) The music scene is no less exciting: we got to interview Kevin Barnes, the frontman of of Montreal, when they played Electrowerkz on the 25th. Read about his love of London and how he turns to his music to save his life on
page 6, alongside the gig review on page 7. For all the doses of caffeine we’ll need during the semester, check out our selection of London’s best coffee on page 14. Also in the Food section, we’re introducing Street Feast for cheap, delicious and fresh eats. There are cocktails on offer too – we believe in a balanced diet. We’re also paying homage to our brilliant alumni – a bit of inspiration to get us all through the academic year ahead. Turn to page 11 to read about John Stezaker, a former student at Slade School of Fine Art. On page 8, we’ve found nine UoL alumni who’ve had an impact on the screen: Steve McQueen, Christopher Nolan and Derek Jarman to name a few. And who said humanities degrees are useless? Your humble literature students, Rena & Emma
LONDON’S BEST ARTS AND CULTURE: CURATED
EDITORS IN CHIEF
Emma Hope Allwood Rena Minegishi firstname.lastname@example.org
SUB EDITOR Anna Tomlinson
DESIGNER Emma Hope Allwood
4 FEATURES The Eye: UCL student Julija Bainiaksina on her Fox Hunt Menswear line
Katherine Rodgers email@example.com
5 FEATURES London Fashion Weekend: worth the hype?
Costanza Beltrami Liza Weber firstname.lastname@example.org
of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes talks about their new album Lousy with Sylvianbriar and his love of London
7 MUSIC Live & album reviews, feat. CocoRosie, Body/Head
8 FILM UoL alumni in the industry, feat. Christopher Nolan
Kit Harwood email@example.com
Kino, a film open mic / The Comedian review
Art Outside the Gallery: East London Street Art
10 ARTS 11 ARTS
Emma Hope Allwood firstname.lastname@example.org
Postmodernism of John Stezaker / Tom Phillips
12 FASHION To Faux or to Fox?
Bryony Bowie email@example.com
13 FASHION London Fashion Week
14 FOOD Street Feast / London’s best coffee shops
Sarah Fortescue firstname.lastname@example.org
A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Pope Joan
Get into the London poetry scene / The North (and almost everything in it)
Elizabeth Metcalfe email@example.com
16 POETRY & BOOKS 18 DAYS & NIGHTS London’s best events, 7-29 October
19 FROM THE ARCHIVES Women in student march, Battersea Park, February 1992
the hunt is on
JULIJA BAINIAKSINA OF FOX HUNT MENSWEAR Yeah, that’s where Fox Hunt is going, really classic but with some modern twists. I came up with the idea of manufacturing everything in Britain, everything handmade and bespoke, but the idea really evolved over about two years.
THE EYE: Every issue, The Smoke aims to feature University of London students and their creative endeavours. For this issue we’re speaking to Julija Bainiaksina (below), a 23 year-old Engineering student currently completing a Masters at UCL. Born in Lithuania, Julija started her own bespoke knitwear company, Fox Hunt Menswear, when she moved to London. Her garments are sold in boutiques and to private customers, and Julija was recently featured in the Daily Mail. How did the idea of Fox Hunt Menswear come about? Three or four years ago, I was reading an issue of Stylist magazine dedicated to businesswomen and how they started their businesses, which I think is what inspired me. I started thinking, ‘I want to do something on my own.’ My family was in the knitwear business, or at least they used to be, so it seemed to be the easiest route to follow. I spoke to my mum, who is a knitwear technician, and she said, ‘why don’t you do it?’ So this was when you were living in London? Yeah, this was when I’d just come to London. I started thinking about what I could do and just came up with this idea. But initially, it wasn’t Fox Hunt. I changed the name last summer. Before it was under a really tacky name: ‘Julija Handmade’. [laughs] That’s not tacky! [laughs] It is quite tacky! So when did you shape the brand into what it is today? At what point did you think, ‘I want to do bespoke men’s knitwear’? At the beginning, it was just knitwear. I wasn’t focusing on just men. To start with, I found some ladies in Lithuania who had been doing some knitting, so I had them produce my designs. At first it was accessories, mainly scarves and stuff, all handmade, but not produced in Britain. I started selling it in markets in Hackney Wick and Brick Lane, but I realised I needed to find some sort of niche. I decided to focus on menswear as I’ve found that working with male clients is easier. With a boy you can say, ‘yeah, you look great, buy that one!’ [laughs] And I think that especially with knitwear, there are a lot of classic male styles that aren’t going to go out of fashion.
Can you talk me through what happens when you have an idea for a product— the process, starting with an idea and ending in the production? The way I work usually is for bespoke stuff: let’s say a client contacts me and says, ‘I want a vest made for me’. We come up with the design together, so I’ll show him patterns and he’ll tell me what he likes. We usually use 100% wool. I do sketches and show them to him and we take measurements, then I send all this to the women who do the knitting. Altogether, the process takes about a couple of weeks. It’s completely made to order. Later on I would like to expand more into ready-to-wear. I’m still making ready-to-wear samples, but mostly just do bespoke orders. Do you think there are any words that really nail down the core values of Fox Hunt menswear? The core values? Handmade in Britain and unique. Do you think there’s a growing demand for products that are made in Britain as so much manufacturing has been pushed overseas? Definitely, the demand is very present. Whenever I speak with my customers they complain about how even brands like Marks and Spencer used to do great quality knitwear, and now everything is made somewhere else, and the quality is compromised. More and more people are looking for good products – they will even spend more to get something that will last longer than one season. I think that that kind of attitude is quintessentially British, something that people used to believe in the ‘50s! Back then it was much more that people bought things, wore them and really expected them to last a long time. We’re in such a throwaway consumer culture now. Yes, I want to bring back this attitude:
to make people buy less, but buy good quality products. What’s the point in buying ten jumpers?! How has the response been to the brand? At the moment, I’m not getting bad responses. No one has written, ‘oh, her jumpers are so bad!’ [laughs] Everything I’ve gotten has been quite good. It’s quite unusual to have an engineering student working on a menswear brand. How do you think your background, in this respect, has come together with Fox Hunt? I did some classes last year on entrepreneurship, I’m doing economics, finance. Engineering actually helps a lot when developing products. In engineering we’re constructing a bridge, but it’s a similar process to creating anything else – brainstorming, design. I think a lot of people tend to lump engineering with maths and science as something that isn’t usually seen as creative, but I think it is. Yeah, it’s really creative! It’s not just maths, it’s everything; how you come up with a product, why you need it, where it’s going to be used, what it’s going to look like, why it’s done this way and not that way. How have you found balancing starting a company with your studies? I never have any time off! [laughs] Even on Sundays, we’re in here working. I work most of the time. After lectures I used to meet clients, then go back to lectures, then do my coursework. So it’s kind of a juggling act! It means I’m always running around. Not sleeping much either? Yeah! Waking up at six o’clock. If you want to do something, just wake up early! I think that’s true, when I want to do things and I get up early I always feel like, right, it’s eleven o’clock and I’ve done so much! The day is so much longer that way.
I think if you have an idea you can always do something with it. Don’t give up.
Do you have any plans for the future? Any collaborations or events? We’re planning one event at the moment in December, a pop-up shop event. We’re going to bring together more menswear brands: suits, shoes, bags and accessories. We’re looking for a location. We’re going to name it ‘The Dandy Lab’, we’re going to create a very gentlemanly environment, even get a shoe-shiner! We’re going to try and sell some items but it’s mainly going to be a promotional event. For next year, I’m trying to put together the ready-to-wear collection for department stores, but the brand is still young; the name isn’t out there enough for the likes of Liberty or Selfridges. They aren’t going to buy your collection if they don’t know your name! I showed my collection to a Liberty’s buyer but he said, ‘we’re just not ready for you yet; the name isn’t known enough,’ but I’ll keep trying! One day, maybe! I’m sure! So finally, do you have any advice for young students who want to be entrepreneurs or start businesses? Work hard! [laughs] I think if you have an idea you can always do something with it. Don’t give up, just try, and try to get business advice. I’m sure every university has a business society or something, so get involved in business events. Start hanging out with people who are actively doing something. So surround yourself with similarly minded people? Yeah, that’s the thing. I remember when I started I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I started going to business and networking events where you listen to other speakers. It got me thinking and gave me ideas about what I wanted to do. I think those were really helpful.
To discover more about Fox Hunt Menswear, visit the website at foxhuntmenswear. com and search Fox Hunt Menswear on Facebook. / INTERVIEWED BY EMMA HOPE ALLWOOD / KCL / CO-EDITOR PHOTOGRAPHY BY NERINGA REKASIUTE, IMAGES COURTESY OF FOX HUNT MENSWEAR
IMAGE: EMMA HOPE ALLWOOD
IS THIS WEEKEND WORTH IT? LONDON FASHION WEEKEND IS BILLED AS ‘BRITAIN’S MOST EXCLUSIVE FASHION AND DESIGNER SHOPPING EXPERIENCE’. WE DECIDED TO CHECK IT OUT WHEN IT HIT SOMERSET HOUSE TO DISCOVER WHETHER THE FASHIONLOVING STUDENTS OF LONDON SHOULD SPLASH OUT SOME OF THEIR HARD-EARNED CASH ON A TICKET. I turned up to Somerset House for London Fashion Weekend not really knowing what to expect: would it be full of über-stylish people who’d deem my leather trousers/shirt/ black jumper combo unworthy? What goodies awaited in those custom Sister by Sibling tote bags? What would the catwalk shows be like? Unfortunately, the slightly inflated ego that comes with a press pass – ‘move aside lowly attendees, I’m a member of the press’ – was punctured all too soon, as I discovered that my ticket made me eligible neither for a tote nor for entrance to the catwalk. ‘Where can I go, then?!’ I asked the bouncer who denied me entry to the tent. ‘You can just go in and shop,’ he replied, stony-faced. It turns out that London Fashion Weekend is, well, just a glorified sample sale tacked onto the end of the real London Fashion Week. It isn’t a bad one – across Somerset House, clothes from designers such as Dolce and Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood and Céline hang on the rails. However, though heftily reduced, they’re still at prices that would cover the average student’s rent and drinking bill for a good few weeks. The target audience seemed to be nipped and tucked over-50s with cash to splash and 17-year-olds trying valiantly to strut in New Look heels. On the plus side, I did manage to find a moss green teddy jacket from my favourite Swedish brand
Cheap Monday for £15: £75 off the asking price. There was a talk by some of the editorial and art team from Elle magazine, free nail polish and lip balm from Maybelline and a poster from Canon, as well as the awesome opportunity to get photographed by 50 cameras firing at every angle (so GIF-able). Still, I felt a little cheated. Where was the runway? Where was the glamour? I decided that while I was there, I might as well try and make the most of it. If I couldn’t get into the catwalk with my press pass, I’d have to try and blag a photo pass for tomorrow’s shows. This consisted of standing awkwardly for 10 minutes while some Made In Chelsea-esque PR girl chatted to her friend before I could get her attention, but eventually she shoved a pass into my hand like she was giving a tissue to a child that she wanted rid of before it got its sticky hands on her dress. Good enough for me. I returned the next day, photo pass in hand, for the Giles show: a so-called ‘designer highlight’ collection which featured items from Giles Deacon’s AW’13 collection. After a bit of a blip where I was informed by yet another bouncer that I needed a lanyard, I was in. It was impossible not to feel a thrill as the lights went down and the models emerged – admittedly, not the famous faces that had walked during the show’s original run, but still exciting. The audience were even treated to a very special guest, as the designer himself joined host Angela Scanlon on the runway. Admittedly, this was
mostly an opportunity to promo his new collaboration with DFS, who have just released his £3.5k ‘Lipgloss’ sofa, but still cool. Over the next couple of days I returned to shoot the Julien Macdonald highlight show and one of LFWeekend’s ‘trend’ collections – where four different trends are paraded down the catwalk.
Clothes from designers such as Dolce and Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood and Céline hang on the rails. Though heftily reduced, they’re still at prices that would cover the average student’s rent...
The racial diversity of the models was pleasantly surprising. At a time when models of colour make up a shockingly small fraction of those walking at fashion weeks worldwide (Jezebel.com claims that just over 17% of models who walked at NYFW back in February were people of colour), it was refreshing to have a runway that wasn’t solely dominated by a steady stream of beautiful Aryans. So, would I recommend that the students of London spend their cash on a trip to LFWeekend? It depends. Tickets cost between a reasonable £16 and an eye-watering £125, which is a very hefty sum to spend on what is essentially a shopping trip. The shows are fun to watch and there are some interesting talks scheduled, from those in the industry offering career advice to behind-the-scenes looks at brands like Topshop, but it all feels a bit tame and commercial. Sample sales aren’t hard to come by in London (there’s even one listed on our events list on page 18), so unless you’re desperate to get your hands on some of the left-over LFW glitz – or to try your own hand at blagging a photo pass – it might be worth a miss. / EMMA HOPE ALLWOOD / KCL / CO-EDITOR iMAGES COURTESY OF AUTHOR
kevin barnes IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT OF MONTREAL HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR ALMOST SIXTEEN YEARS - WITH AN IMPRESSIVE ROSTER OF TWELVE ALBUMS, THE BAND HAVE CONTINUALLY WOWED CRITICS WITH THEIR UNIQUE BRAND OF PSYCHEDELIC GLAM-POP. GEORGE MCVICAR CAUGHT UP WITH ENIGMATIC FRONT MAN KEVIN BARNES TO TALK ABOUT LONDON, CASSETTES AND SYLVIA PLATH. So you’re playing in London tonight - do you have a particular interest in the music that comes from here or connection with the city itself? Yeah, definitely - I love music from sixties London; The Stones, The Kinks et cetera, which became my first connection to the city, but then also punk from the late seventies and Britpop too. As a band we always find that our best shows are either in London or Paris. Can you tell us a little more about what’s special about tonight’s show? Well, this is just a little promo trip for the new album, so it’s going to be a totally stripped-down acoustic gig tonight. This new album is a lot less ornamental and can work with just vocals and guitar. When I was writing the album I wanted it to be centred on the lyrics. I was listening to a lot of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and usually when you think about that music, you tend to focus on the voice and the message. So I wanted to make something that was more direct in that sense, more about the lyrics and the voice. Would you say this album is more of a personal record than your previous releases? Yeah, I feel like our albums are getting increasingly personal, especially this one. Having said that, I have a very short attention span so one verse might be about something very close to home and then shift to something completely different. For example, in ‘Blade Glade Missionaries’ the chorus is very political; but the rest of the song, not so much. The lyrics always include some attempt at poetry [laughs]. If I’m going through a very difficult time, I’ll turn to my music to save my life, but if I’m functioning normally, I’ll usually wind up writing things that are a bit more abstract or poetic. Do you think that performing live is a kind of ‘gendered’ act? For instance, when you perform, do you think you act more feminine or more masculine or is that a false distinction altogether? Yeah I think it’s probably more nebulous – I don’t really think about it but there is some bravado and some swagger that you would say is more masculine and some more sensitive things are more feminine. I was reading this James Brown biography and he was of course extremely macho and abusive and basically a complete egomaniac. But he was also extremely vain, and on a certain level very feminine, because he would wear a lot of make-up and fake eyelashes. He would have a hair stylist that would travel around with him. So it’s interesting how a lot of male performers are able bring that part of their psyche to the surface. I could wear anything on stage – things I wouldn’t even think to wear walking down the street – it gives you a liberating outlet. This album also feels a lot more dynamic and groove-oriented. Can you tell us a little bit about how the album was made and how the process shaped the sound? The funk and RnB influence has been with us for a while, but when I was making music on my computer it was a much more detached process. This album was basically all cut live and everybody was in the same room at the same time so it was a very communal experience. We also did it all within about
two weeks, and recorded it using analogue. I used to work with analogue before I worked on a computer, and this album is the first time in about ten years that I’ve gone back to it. So that definitely affected how the record sounded. With analogue you can’t fake anything, you can’t click a mouse and change your part, it has to actually sound good when you play it. So it was quite a fun challenge thinking, ‘oh I’ve got to actually play my part well’ [laughs]. With recording nowadays, everyone seems to be moving towards perfection, ironing out all the little mistakes and making it sound perfect, but that doesn’t really capture the mood or the atmosphere of the particular time and place in which you recorded the song. So is format something you care about when making music? I understand you’re releasing your new album on cassette. Yeah definitely – it’s such a different experience having everyone in the room and watching the tape machine run and getting excited about that for some goofy reason. We started recording to cassette around the time of the False Priest LP when we did a tape box set of all our albums. The cool thing about cassettes is that people generally don’t think they have any value, so you can pick up a great album on cassette for about twenty-five cents. Tapes and the whole ritual that surrounds it make tapes feel more timeless. I think the physicality of the music makes a big difference in how you value it. Lousy with Sylvianbriar is an intriguing album title, can you tell us a bit about where it comes from? Well ‘Sylvianbriar’ is a word I made up. I was reading a lot of Sylvia Plath when I was writing this album. In one of her poems, the opening line is something like ‘Girl your room is lousy with flowers’. I guess I’d never really heard ‘lousy’ used in that way, so it’s a kind of homage to Plath. She was a big influence on me when we were making this album, along with Henry Miller, Cormac McCarthy and William S Burroughs. / INTERVIEWED BY GEORGE MCVICAR / QUEEN MARY / CONTRIBUTOR
OF MONTREAL ELECTROWERKZ, 25.9.13 It’s fair to say that of Montreal are renowned for their elaborate stage performances; costumes, dances and lights create a spectacle of dizzying theatricality. As part of a turn towards a mellower aesthetic, of Montreal played an acoustic set that was quiet and intimate, with none of the ornamentation that their live shows are so well known for.
Without the embellishments that usually accompany his performances, songs like ‘Suffer for Fashion’ sounded altogether more heartfelt, allowing their folk origins to ring out louder than before. The performance also highlighted Barnes’ talent as a singer, as he hit every falsetto note with passionate conviction.
Whether this concert marks the start of a new chapter for of Montreal is unknown. But playing the songs this However, if I had any doubts way, stripped of all the extras, paid off enormously. over the strength of Barnes’ Without the full band to lean songwriting, they have now back on, the attention of the disappeared. audience immediately turned to the intense lyrical content / GEORGE MCVICAR / QUEEN MARY / of Kevin Barnes’s songs, who easily has enough wit CONTRIBUTOR and charm to spearhead an entire performance.
BIRTHDAYS, DALSTON 25.9.13
The Scottish electronica trio CHVRCHES is surprisingly surrounded by hype. Their songs are so slight, so painfully pretty that they seem like the sort destined to grace indie film scores and record store vinyl bins, to be hailed as a tragically under-appreciated cult classic, rather than to be played in a cramped Dalston venue with people standing on bar stools to catch a glimpse. But CHVRCHES’s surface simplicity belies cleverness absent from most of the current victims of the hype machine. On first listen, lead single ‘Gun’ may sound like pop-by-numbers, but attentiveness reveals a wonderfully constructed elegy which manages to be equal parts menacing and euphoric - ‘I will be a gun, and it’s you I will come for.’ Laura Mayberry’s vocals are impeccable - a glacial croon that surfs the waves of synths and beats expertly conjured by bandmates Iain Cook and Martin Doherty. Tonight’s set revealed CHVRCHES as a band prepared to meet the hype head-on. / KATHERINE RODGERS / UCL / MUSIC EDITOR
OVAL SPACE 1.10.13
CocoRosie have always seemed like something of a botched lab experiment - a collaboration between a polished formerly-professional opera singer (Sierra) and a gravelly female MC (Bianca), who astonishingly also happen to be sisters. CocoRosie are art-pop of the most impenetrable and intriguing nature - their style skitters from a feral groove redolent of Volta-era Björk (‘Rainbowarriors’) to lush dream-pop (‘Lemonade’) to the downright uncategorisable (‘Smokey Taboo’). This eclecticism doesn’t always work in their favour - ‘Smokey Taboo’ quickly nose-dives from interesting to unbearable, as Sierra breaks into a harrowing extended wail. But as volatile as their set may be, truly beautiful moments come thick and fast, and every element in their performance is so beautifully thought of - from the bewitching visuals that ticker behind the sisters, to their stage costumes, which are lurid, exaggerated displays of femininity reminiscent of burlesque. Not a perfect show by a not (yet) perfect band, but probably the most interesting thing you’ll see in ages. / KATHERINE RODGERS / UCL / MUSIC EDITOR
au revoir simone
MOVES IN SPECTRUMS
Returning with a brasher, unapologetic sound, the much-adored dream-pop trio are back after a four-year-long hiatus. Whilst Move In Spectrums, their latest attempt, is still sown with the clapping and skittering beats that have long been the band’s trademark (particularly in the dazed, should-have-been-on-the-OC soundtrack Still Night, Still Light), they have been updated into a sexier, more confident sound. The twittering of their vintage keyboards is swapped for a more visceral tone, particularly in ‘Crazy’, which opens with a single power-chord, and leads to the most unforgettable chorus of the record: ‘oh girls you drive me crazy’, chanted over swelling synth. Whilst Move in Spectrums presents a dizzying waltz between the band’s lighter, previous efforts and a new, darker sound, what is consistent is the band’s ability to make music that creates a world of its own. / EMMA MADDEN / UCL / CONTRIBUTOR
(MUTE RECORDINGS) It’s been almost four and a half years since the release of Polly Scattergood’s debut, but Arrows proves that it was time well spent. While Polly’s debut was a mixed bag of maudlin songs with the odd electronic flourish, Arrows finds her going full-blown electronic pop. The album begins with ‘Cocoon’: a stark, fragile vocal coda reminiscent of her debut, swept up into a slick, expansive wall of sound. Sure, shoegazing, misty-eyed moments are still present in ‘I Miss You’ and ‘I’ve Got a Heart’, but they are presented here with gravitas and poise, rather than her debut’s clumsiness. ‘Disco Damaged Kid’ and lead single ‘Wanderlust’ provide sizeable hooks and throbbing analogue synths, not unlike label-mate Goldfrapp. After Polly Scattergood’s bumpy start, Arrows finds her finally taking flight. / ROSS MURDOCH / QUEEN MARY / CONTRIBUTOR
BODY / HEAD
DJ Rashad shouldn’t be an unfamiliar name. His unique take on Chicago’s juke music has earned him attention not only within the sphere of electronica, but from lovers of experimental music everywhere. Released on the legendary Hyperdub label, Double Cup is testimony to Rashad’s dedication to exploring new textures of sound, as he incorporates intriguing elements of breakbeat, trap and techno. The album’s enticingly-named lead single ‘I Don’t Give A Fuck’ has a distinctly stripped-back sound, sometimes pared back to a single note. It’s a brave move, and it pays off enormously well. There are also some unexpected four-to-the-floor moments here, such as ‘Acid Bit’ - an oddball juke/techno hybrid with Addison Groove. The album even swerves into jungle, as amen breaks are peppered throughout tracks – juke and jungle are a long overdue pairing, and typical of Rashad’s mastery, it works astonishingly well. / GEORGE MCVICAR / QUEEN MARY / CONTRIBUTOR
Body/Head is the spooky love child of Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth) and Bill Nace. Coming Apart is their debut: an explosion of dissonance and shrieking guitar experimentation. First track ‘Abstract’ sounds like a motorbike going through an existential crisis, and this is a fitting opener for a largely harsh, industrial album. Fans of Sonic Youth looking for familiar soundscapes will find themselves a little lost here: structurally, these aren’t rock songs. They’re more trance-like, with repeated riffs and lyrics and barely any percussion. Sometimes they collapse completely, jarring and fragmented. Gordon’s voice is both powerful and delicate - she veers from blood-curdling wails to sounding like she’s on the verge of tears. Coming Apart is a fitting title for an album so overflowing with emotions. It’s a bundle of nerves, anger and fear. You may need therapy afterwards, but it’s an intriguing experience. / RUBY CLYDE / UCL / CONTRIBUTOR
FROM STUDIES TO SCREEN
Universities are often keen to plug the Nobel Prize winners amonst their alumni, but the average student would be forgiven for being totally unaware that several top filmmakers, screenwriters and actors walked our campuses. For many of the people below, their time studying at the University of London played an invaluable role in developing their careers. And who said your humanities degree would get you nowhere?
STEVE MCQUEEN Steve McQueen, born in 1969, grew up in West London. He first became interested in filmmaking while studying at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, going on to study Fine Art at Goldsmiths. While studying at Goldsmiths, he began producing short films. After university, McQueen continued to make short films before moving on to the feature-length films Hunger (2005) and Shame (2011). His artistic background is evident in his experimental style. His highly anticipated next film, Twelve Years a Slave, is due to be released in January 2014.
DEREK JARMAN Derek Jarman studied at King’s College London and then went on to study at UCL’s Slade School of Fine Art. He is known for his films Jubilee and Caravaggio, specifically for his unique aesthetic style. Born in 1942, Jarman was open about his homosexuality and fought for gay rights, a theme which is present throughout his work as a filmmaker. In addition to making short and feature films, Jarman also created numerous music videos from the late 70s to the early 90s, for bands such as The Smiths, Pet Shop Boys and The Sex Pistols. He died of an AIDS-related disease in 1994.
SAM TAYLOR-WOOD Like Steve McQueen, Sam TaylorWood studied at Goldsmiths, where her interest in art also led her to filmmaking. In 2009 she directed Nowhere Boy, a biopic about John
Lennon’s teenage years. TaylorWood’s second feature-length film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey, due to be released in August 2014.
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN Christopher Nolan, born in London in 1970, was interested in filmmaking from an early age. Although he decided to study English Literature, Nolan specifically chose UCL for its filmmaking facilities. During his time at university he became president of UCL’s Film Society, regularly hosting film screenings. Using the society’s equipment, as well as investing his own money, he shot his first short film in 1989. Nolan shot part of Batman Begins (2005) in Senate House, and Inception (2010) at UCL. In 2006, his university named him an Honorary Fellow for his work in film.
he would soon be performing a couple of small gigs in London as the character David Brent.
RUTH PRAWER JHABVALA Ruth Prawer Jhabvala CBE fled with her family from Germany to Britain in 1939 to escape the Nazi regime, and lived in Hendon during the war. Jhabvala attained an MA in English Literature from Queen Mary. She adapted her novel The Householder into a screenplay after being approached by Merchant Ivory Productions, and continued to work with the production house, making over twenty films in total. She received a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for adapting her Booker-winning novel Heat and Dust. Jhabvala won two Academy Awards for adapting E. M. Forster’s A Room With a View and Howards End.
BORIS KARLOFF RICKY GERVAIS Ricky Gervais studied Philosophy at UCL and worked as an assistant events manager at ULU, the University of London Union. On leaving his job at ULU and going to work at the radio station XFM, Gervais met Stephen Merchant, and together they began writing comedy. In an interview, Gervais cites “years and years standing round a student bar hearing bad comedians getting rounds of applause” as one of his inspirations for his sitcoms such as The Ofﬁce, in which he draws attention to bad, cringeworthy jokes. Gervais has recently confirmed on Twitter that
was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in television and motion pictures.
William Henry Pratt, better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was born in London in 1887. He attended King’s College London, intending to go into the consular service, but dropped out of university in 1909 to become a farm labourer. After starring in a few films in Canada, Karloff travelled to Hollywood and began acting in silent films. Karloff rose to fame in 1931 as Frankenstein’s monster in the James Whale film Frankenstein. During the same decade, Karloff went on to appear in two other Frankenstein films, and did a lot of other acting work, both in and out of the genre of horror. Karloff
DEVIKA RANI Born in India in 1908, Rani won a drama scholarship at RADA, where she also studied architecture, texture and colour design. During this time she met scriptwriter Niranjan Pal, who would eventually write many of her most successful screen roles. Rani married Indian producer and actor Himanshu Rai in 1929. Together they starred in Karma (1933), and soon after founded the Bombay Talkies film studio. In 1936, she starred in Achhut Kanya, her most notable film. In 1958, the President of India honoured Devika Rani with a Padma award. She also became the first recipient of the prestigious film prize the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1969. She is considered to be one of India’s earliest film stars. At her funeral, Devika Rani was given full state honors.
ANDREW DAVENPORT Most famous for creating the Teletubbies, Andrew Davenport studied Speech Sciences at UCL. While there, he was president of UCL’s drama society. After completing his degree, he set up a theatre company and has since won several awards for his work in children’s television. / SOPHIE MAWSON / KCL / CONTRIBUTOR
BORED OF THE SAME OLD OPEN MICS? HEAD TO KINO FOR A NGHT OF FILM FUN few entry requirements, I had muted expectations on my way there: the words ‘open-mic’ instill a special kind of fear in me, a fear shared by anybody who’s had to sit through hours of unimaginative noodling on an acoustic guitar. The night was held in the Islington Metal Works (AKA Electrowerkz). Entry is a reasonable three pounds, but drinks are on the expensive side. The frugallyminded amongst you might consider popping into The Angel for a swift one beforehand – if you’re not averse to swatting away a few flies, that is.
Kino is a monthly open-mic short film night with only three rules: films must be under 6 minutes, include the Kino logo, and be introduced by the filmmakers themselves. With so
Don’t dally, though. By the time we got there the place was almost full, forcing us to scramble for seats without picking up our free popcorn (though, in the spirit of community, the group sitting next to us shared theirs). We did, however, manage to nab our complimentary copy of Gorilla magazine, which is definitely worth getting your hands on if you’re
interested in short films or filmmaking. After a brief introduction from our hosts the programme started, with each film being, as promised, introduced by the filmmaker. The lack of curation resulted in an eclectic mix of genres and styles; a ‘Gritish’ gangster short might be preceded by a horror comedy and followed by a psychedelic art film. My personal favourite was introduced by a man who, for tact’s sake, I’m going to describe as looking like he was eligible for a free bus pass. Entitled “Wally Wibble and the Wibblettes”, the film starts as a video-diary before morphing into something far stranger than your average deeply sensible curated festival pomp. This is one of the great advantages of nights like Kino: it allows the genuine misfits to come out of the woodwork in an age of high budget festival-bait wankathons. The personal introductions from the filmmakers were a great addition, breaking up the evening and
THE LONELY LONDONERS
Loneliness is a fragile and intimate emotion, universally felt yet rarely recognized – perhaps not quite gelling
The titular comedian Ed, played by Edward Hogg, is a 30-year-old call centre employee, attempting to forge a new career in the comedy clubs of east London. He begins a relationship
If you make films, showing at Kino is a no brainer – but the night isn’t some back-slapping circle that only filmmakers can enjoy. Go if you’re after good vibes and some great films. Kino will return to the Islington Metal Works on October 16th. / KIT HARWOOD / KCL / FILM EDITOR
TALE OF DISENFRANCHISED QUEER YOUTH IN LONDON
These characters – the 20-35 creativetypes who live in shared houses and take on dead-end jobs while their dreams take a backseat – are not frequently depicted in films. All of my friends probably fall into these brackets, though. Admittedly, a 20-something in London with little money and no big plans doesn’t necessarily make a brilliant story.
with British stoicism and pride. It is a testament, then, to Tom Shkolnik’s subtle first feature, The Comedian, that it dares to display loneliness in the Big Smoke with such understated realism, avoiding resorting to melodrama to justify its presence. The loneliness in The Comedian isn’t a source of tragedy or the outcome of negative events: normal people feel it as a regular aspect of their lives. Londoners aren’t exempt from this.
I’ll admit the average production value wasn’t at blockbuster levels. If you’re a stickler for perfectly constructed lighting and crystal clear hi-fi sound, I’m afraid Kino is not for you. But one of its greatest strengths lies in its raucous, infectious atmosphere. This helps cut through the superficial surface and brings out the best qualities of all the films shown. Sure, there were a few that, in my opinion, failed to hit the mark, but it is an open-mic night after all. Happily, the standard was far higher than I had expected.
THE COMEDIAN: A RELATABLE
with Nathan (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, from C4’s drama Misfits), a young artist he meets on a bus. Edward may or may not be bisexual; confusion lingers, surrounding his beautiful singersongwriter housemate Elisa (Elisa Lasowski).
Films paint London as being quaint, foppish and privileged; arty, busy and exciting; or dark, seedy and violent. London is a large city, and due to its size, able to subsume all three of these facets. However, there is one emotion felt by the inhabitants of all big towns: loneliness. We’re all familiar with the archetype of the isolated New Yorker, or the solitary Parisian. Loneliness is a theme frequently explored in art, and yet depictions of London tend to shy away from addressing this ubiquitous experience.
providing some context and personality to the films that is missing from today’s often online viewing experience.
What is compelling about the film, then, is seeing your own life transposed on screen, which only succeeds because The Comedian is so utterly convincing in its sheer realism. The Comedian could be the British answer to Mumblecore. Shkolnik himself stated: “I wanted to make a film about a London that I could recognise; about people who were poor but not starving, living on estates but not in council housing, who were foreign but not asylum seekers, black but not gang members, gay but not camp... These were the people that filled my life and yet our lives didn’t seem to fit into any genre and so for the large part remained invisible.” London itself is the London seen every day - the buses, kebab shops, small ex-council flats. It’s not Richard Curtis’ Notting Hill, but neither is it the estates
in Ladbroke Grove as envisioned by Noel Clarke in Kidulthood (incidentally, the two are practically the same area). The characters’ struggle to create meaningful connections with each other is supported by Shkolnik’s faithfulness to verisimilitude. Reminiscent of the Dogma 95 movement, Shkolnik imposed strict rules for the shoot of the film, which was made up as they went along; actors use their own names and aspects of their lives, there was only one shot per scene with two cameras (which makes an emotional exchange between Elisa and Edward towards the end of the film all the more staggering), and in true guerrilla-style, it was all shot in real locations at real times, without disturbing the people or the activity of the location. This approach, however, may also contribute to some of the flaws of the film. Without a clear plan and structure for his narrative, Shkolnik ends The Comedian on a note that feels so dangling and incomplete that even fans of the genre may feel unsatisfied. Still, the film effectively captures London, the people and the loneliness that so often characterises the experience of the city, and there is solace and comfort to be gleaned from that. Tom Shkolnik, a young filmmaker in London, has made a film about his friends – and as a young film student in London, it feels like he has made a film about my friends too. / SNEZHANA KUZMINA / KCL / CONTRIBUTOR
ART OUTSIDE THE GALLERY A NEW SERIES
TOM MOUNA TAKES THE SMOKE ON A GRAFFITI TOUR THROUGH ONE OF LONDON’S BEST STREET ART DESTINATIONS, BRICK LANE The prestige of London’s galleries is no secret, but after surfacing from London’s underground in the early 2000s, street art has been building its reputation as a movement reflecting the city’s subculture. The constant regeneration of street art means there is no better free exhibition than what can be seen on the buildings and walls around you – and trust us, there’s a lot more to it than Banksy. Scattered all over London, street art pops up by dual carriageways like Gold Peg’s enormous paintings, or is found tucked away in the most inconspicuous of corners like the Invaders miniature mosaics of space invaders. For a quick fix of graffiti, head to a space of concentrated works, as in Southbank, Leek Street, or Brick Lane. This article is a tour of one of these hotspots, a tour of the gritty beauty of Brick Lane. Despite the changing nature of street art, Brick Lane is like following a trail;
snaking up from Whitechapel Road to Bethnal Green Road, the street is flanked by hidden alleys of graffiti heaven. Between Wentworth Street and Fashion Street is a tiny nameless alley covered in stickers, posters, tags as well as large and time-consuming works, which gloriously opens out into a quasi-gallery. Posters by the likes of Ace and huge spray-painted works by Milo Tchais
Brick Lane is like following a trail; snaking up from Whitechapel Road to Bethnal Green Road, the street is ﬂanked by hidden alleys of grafﬁti heaven.
were recently on show. One part of this urban painting emporium utilises the crumbling architecture so that each work occupies its own little niche, akin to the frames of a painting separating one from another, creating a French salon for graffiti in East London. There are even gallery-like niches, (above), the space giving each artist their own specified “canvas.” Following the trail further, Pedley Street, another narrow alley, seems to have legalised graffiti within its twenty-metre jurisdiction. Brazilian artist Cranio’s work (below left) was recently seen here. Also spotted nearby was Diaz’s elephant octopus (below centre), hand-painted in Indian inks. Hitting Grimsby Street is where the trail begins to run cold. Here the building site’s temporary wooden
structure is the artist’s canvas. Look out for works by the likes of Raeo and Shok-1. Shok-1’s ghostly heart (below right) here subsumes a garage door. Within the heart are numerous carefully rendered watches and clocks, visible only on close inspection. Street art, like all art, is a world of the good, the bad and the absolutely awful. For every well-painted work that draws you in through its strange narrative or aesthetic beauty, there are ten crudely constructed posters or amateur tags. The level and frequency of the superb works is, however, more than enough to make up for this. Visit Brick Lane to discover an art so contemporary that the paint is, very often, still wet.
/ TOM MOUNA / COURTAULD / CONTRIBUTOR IMAGES COURTESY OF AUTHOR
ALUMNI FEATURE JOHN STEZAKER SLADE SCHOOL OF FINE ART, GRADUATED 1973 Until the 1970s, the Slade School of Fine Art used Arthur Thompson’s Anatomy for Art Students as an educational reference when teaching the nude form. Thompson’s book – a catalogue of skeletal structures, muscles, and subtle features of male and female anatomy – proved not only a core academic source but also vital inspiration for the student John Stezaker.
TOM PHILLIPS AT FLOWERS GALLERY
Born in 1949 in Britain, the conceptual artist Stezaker has played a pivotal role in the artistic developments of the last three decades, a position consecrated in 2012 by the prestigious Deutsche Börse photography prize. Stezaker relies on collage as a technique to realise his conceptual vision. Through his art, he criticises popular mass media images. Cutting and pasting photographs, film stills and vintage postcards as found art, Stezaker’s collages are altogether postmodern. His acclaimed series Portraits and Dark Star successfully appropriated cinematic images. Yet unlike his contemporaries Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince, Stezaker retained the original scale of film stills, a manifestation of his artistic desire to preserve imagery in its original state. Stezaker soon moved from cinematic imagery to the nude. Where in the 1970s he was engaged with the culture of the image, in the 1980s his interest turned to the nature of the image. After this turn, the sources of Stezaker’s imagery have become multiple. Over the years, his work on film still collages has alternated between depicting the culture of the image through landscapes, cityscapes, and topographical images, and depicting its nature through the nude. The use of cinematic imagery is one of Stezaker’s best-known techniques. An exhibition celebrating York Art Gallery’s purchase of two Stezaker works is currently on show at the Contemporary Arts Society’s London Gallery. Here, Stezaker’s anatomical collages hang next to works by other artists such as William Etty, a prolific 19th century artist who inspired the works of Rubens and Titian. The pairing seems casual at first, yet ultimately enhances Stezaker’s vision: as your eyes move from Etty’s wholesome, classical aesthetics to Stezaker’s postmodern, fragmented images, you will inevitably experience the shocks of the new. / AZMINA ABDULLA / UCL / CONTRIBUTOR
IMAGE: THE SCREENS, 2013 ©TOM PHILLIPS, COURTESY FLOWERS GALLERY
TOM PHILLIPS Flowers Gallery Until 12 October Free entry Artist, writer and curator Tom Phillips CBE RA presents himself as “the complete recycler” in his current exhibition at Flowers Gallery. Fragments of used-up, disposable palettes are composed into collages featuring both abstract and figurative subjects, including, for example, a work that resembles Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. His newest body of work originates from Terminal Greys, a series begun in 1969. The majority of intimate, small-scale, postcard-dimension collages confirm his retirement as a portraitist but more subtly expresses his love of recycling. Phillips’ interest in recycling discarded material has its foundations in one of his earliest and ongoing projects: A Humument. A Treated Victorian Novel. In this project, he reinterpreted – or ‘treated’ – a forgotten 1892 Victorian novel titled A Human Document by W.H Mallock by applying painting, collage and cut-up techniques over the original text. His most recent edition consists of collaged magazine cuttings, maps and old postcards, revealing the artist’s intention of transforming such ephemeral remains into attractive novel-turnedartworks, thus archiving and preserving unwanted everyday material. This is also the case for Phillips’ recycled paint palettes, remodeled into panel paintings and now on display at the Flowers Gallery. Several of the collages are mounted on random scraps of written text, linking Phillips’ past and present projects. The largest and most intriguing work on display, facing the back wall on entering, supports the artist’s commitment to recycling, reading in conspicuously large-font capital letters WASTE NOT, and on the lower tier in smaller font THE REMAINS OF THE DAY.
IMAGE: JOHN STEZAKER DISPLAYS - JOHN STEZAKER AT THE CONTEMPORARY ART SOCIETY PHOTO: JOE PLOMMER COURTESY: YORK ART GALLERY
The artist’s academic background in both art and
literature enables him to question the viewer’s perceptions of art in playful ways. In The Remains of the Day, the interface between image and text is word-play on the artist’s own work practices – the dried-up paint on the palette is the painter’s leftovers after a day of work. The phrase resonates deeper than being just a literal description of the artist’s method, however; it is derived from the title of Kazuo Ishiguro’s historical 1989 novel, and originally a recycling of Sigmund Freud’s concept of Rückstände des Tages (the last thoughts of the day), which manifests in the form of an encoded dream. Similarly, Phillips re-elects the palette as a medium ‘at the end of the day’, after having worked on his other paintings. He is reworking his everyday artistic tools into desired compositions, as described by Freud in his theories on dreams. A comparison can be drawn between Jackson Pollock’s Action Paintings and Phillips’ collages, since both artists record the act of painting. Yet where the former relies on chance, the latter’s work displays more deliberate intention. Phillips’ first encounter with disposable palettes as the primary source of his collages was a serendipitous one. First introduced to them by portrait painter Daphne Todd, he admits he had an epiphany one day ‘when he observed that the mixtures and random conjunctions of colours on his palette were perhaps more exciting than the picture he was painting.’ If not a coincidence, Phillips’ collage displayed directly opposite The Remains of the Day – composed of palette shavings and thick application of glue – looks like a Pollock. Entirely different from Pollock’s gestural paintings, Phillips’ recycling manifests on multiple levels of both medium and text. Tom Phillips at the Flowers Gallery is not to be missed, for both his palette and his recycling techniques. And between Phillips’ thin layers of plastic, it’s possible to get a glimpse into the artist’s mind, emphasizing the overall intent of the exhibition. / LYELLE SHOHET / COURTAULD / CONTRIBUTOR
to faux OR
to fox? WINTER IS WELL ON THE WAY, BUT SHOULD WE TAKE THE DESIGNERS’ ADVICE AND INVEST IN FUR? LAUREN CLARK INVESTIGATES. Fur has had a renaissance for Autumn/Winter 13. Bumblebeeesque fur pieces clothed models at Versace (above right), whilst ombre fox was paired with camouflage at Christopher Kane (above left) and rainbow mink took over the catwalk at Fendi (above centre). Statement and classic hides were standouts of the collections back in February, with designers almost unanimously incorporating the material. Indeed, according to British Vogue, 69% of the shows featured fur, and for the first time since the 1990s it has become a staple that can transcend the fashion merrygo-round. The Guardian declared recently that “fur has made a stealthy return right to the heart of high-end fashion.” However, should we so easily forget that just 20 years ago, the word ‘fur’ incited thoughts of PETA and violent veganism? Stella McCartney and the rest of the anti-fur brigade have already spoken out against its revival. Nonetheless, alongside pastels and masculine tailoring, fur is a covetable new season trend; London’s fashion-conscious students will no doubt be hunting down the perfect cold-defying coat to lay their paws on. Faux fur or the real deal, though? Fur has been marked as a wise investment, but it remains a
contentious moral issue. There was a time when the fashion world treated fur like a poisoned chalice, and believed it commercially disastrous to become associated with. Indeed, in 1994, five supermodels including Naomi Campbell were photographed for the famous ‘we’d rather go naked than wear fur’ PETA campaign. The alleged lack of ethics practiced by the fur industry resulted in high-profile protests by anti-fur campaigners who burnt buildings, doused wearers in red paint, shot graphic advertisements and served persistent mink-wearer Anna Wintour a dead raccoon in a New York restaurant. However, despite many stylish minds praising the virtues of faux, the real stuff crept back into vogue at the turn of the century.
If you don’t fancy living in fear of being attacked by paint-wielding PETA members, faux fur may be the safest option.
The British Fur Trade Association estimates that the production of mink pelts has risen by an annual ten per cent in the past few years, and a high proportion of London Fashion Week designers regularly incorporate it in their collections. Mink, chinchilla, fox and beaver made guest appearances at LFW. However, some have taken a deliberate moral stance. Selfridges, Topshop and Zara refuse to stock it, whilst Stella McCartney is a wellknown anti-fur advocate. When British Vogue’s Emily Sheffield in her highly praised ‘What Fur?’ September issue article spoke to McCartney about fur’s aesthetic pulls, the designer argued that ‘the use of real fur is just repulsive and I think there are plenty of ways you can make a coat or a bag look great without it.’ Where does this leave the styleconscious London student who was, in all likelihood, an oblivious toddler when Naomi stripped? In every vintage store in the capital, there is usually a decent real fur selection. Could second-hand be the answer? Since the vintage craze began, fur coats, stoles and gilets have been adorning females under twentyfive across the city. Fur is no longer the domain of Joan Collins, purely for eveningwear nor particularly shocking to own, yet others argue that buying vintage still condones
its production. If you don’t fancy living in fear of being attacked by paint wielding PETA members, faux fur may therefore be the safest option. It’s a lot cheaper, and now significantly improved in standard. Topshop is the high-street leader on the faux front, and will be your go-to if you are daring enough to work the colourful Fendi look. Other brands such as ASOS and River Island also have a great selection, but make sure you follow the care instructions and keep your faux away from any rain to avoid having a jacket that more closely resembles some kind of mystery roadkill. Fur is glamorous, irresistibly warm and can be thrown over anything. It’s a no-brainer, surely, if we were thinking only of ourselves. Emily Sheffield muses that Stella McCartney’s clarity on the issue is desirable: ‘It is not easy unearthing any levity in this controversy. It appears there are only positions on a sliding scale one can adopt.’ Many would obviously feel uncomfortable wearing real fur; however, does faux really fill the void? There is no doubt that this season fur is a key trend. So the question is: will you faux, or will you fox? The answer is up to you. / LAUREN CLARK / KCL / CONTRIBUTOR
LONDON FASHION WEEK
another whirlwind fashion week just stormed through london, but what did spring/summer 14 have to offer?
THE HIGHLIGHTS ALL IMAGES THIS PAGE: NIGEL PACQUETTE / BIRKBECK / CONTRIBUTOR
London Fashion Week had a definite hint of brand-focusing, positioning and commerce in the air. Christopher Kane’s show was served up fresh from the announcement that megaconglomerate Kering, previously known as PPR, had purchased a hefty 51% of the business. On the day of the show, the brand announced that their first store would open on Mount Street, Mayfair in the near future. Expectations were high, but some had concerns: would the Kane magic be lost in the torrent of commercialism? He turned out another version of the now-expected ‘posh’ sweatshirt - this time with ‘PETAL’ embroidery. It wins the prize for most literal fashion statement of the season, and was teamed with a cutout skirt in the same design. For a brand with no online interface, one might question how the collection would have been received had the store announcement come a day later. The shouting sweatshirt assault continued at recent Woolmark Prize winner Sister by Sibling’s show (centre right). Last season, they kept a rapt audience at the ICA with Cara Delevingne opening, presenting knitwear that pinpointed the cool Sibling vibe. But this month, the trio
pulled up their socks to produce a more grown-up collection that also seemed even more commercial than Kane’s multicoloured extravaganza. Commerciality was not the sole word on the industry’s lips. As rumours spread of a JW Anderson buyout by LVMH (the fashion world’s biggest dog, behind Dior, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs and more), there were murmurs of “who would be next?”. Simone Rocha was on the list: the young Central Saint Martins graduate showed her edge with a collection that closed with veiled brides in pearl-embellished knee highs (near and far right). These elements of DIY fashion (designed to appeal to the tumblr girl, no doubt) were evident at Meadham Kirchhoff too, where the duo showed a Jacobean Wednesday Addams aesthetic on a rose-cast runway, showing that slogan jumpers aren’t for all. But with the old big bucks sits Burberry. Fans gathered on Kensington Gore for the arrival of Harry Styles – journos with young daughters got their photographs taken with the king of tween pop – and the whole front row seemed a mist of celebrity factor. Logistical limitations pinned the Burberry
THE LONDON LOOKS
show to the floor: live-stream timing and a tight London schedule forced press to miss shows in pursuit of catching the advertiser – Burberry collaborated with Apple, ahead of their iPhone 5S launch, to capture content live. Luckily, the clothes took a step forward from traditional staple trenches to exciting separates that made the runway nearly shoppable – if only your bank account allowed it. In all this, an awkward question arose: what is the point of the fashion show? To show clothes to buyers and press, or to the consumer world? Burberry, amongst other brands, has established itself on a global scale. Topshop’s last season show was click to buy, arguably voiding the buyer’s role. At the end of another round of fashion month, some insecurities hang in the air. New York’s With Oscar de la Renta’s closed guest list for only select press, the British Fashion Council’s blogger clamp-down and street style exhibitionism unhooked by senior editors in flat shoes: where does this leave the show season? For now, safe, but perhaps not for much longer. / ELEANOR DOUGHTY / QUEEN MARY / CONTRIBUTOR
beauty If there’s one phrase to describe the beauty look that many designers sent down the London runways for Spring/ Summer 14, it’s ‘barely there’. Natural, demi-matte skin with minimal lip or eye make up glowed on the faces of models at Christopher Kane, Marios Schwab (far left), Giles, and many more, providing an easy to wear, go-to look for the new year. Many designers opted to leave the focus on nails. Whilst the butterfly-adorned look seen at the Sophia Webster show (see
cover) may not catch on, it’s clear that a killer manicure will be taking centre stage for SS14. In London, Sister by Sibling led the pack (left) by drawing attention to tips and half moons, painted black with butter LONDON’s Union Black polish (centre). The Mary Katrantzou show was the best example of a new lip trend: the ‘just bitten’ look. Models’ lips were flushed with MAC’s upcoming line of lip stains in hues of diffused red, reflecting the colours of the
collection. Soft, feminine skin created using MAC’s Mineralize foundation complemented the look. As we turn up our collars against the first cold winds of the coming London winter, it’s easy to feel like next spring is a long way off. But one thing’s for sure – when the new year rolls around, there’ll be plenty of great beauty looks for us to sink our teeth into. / EMMA ALLWOOD / KCL / CO-EDITOR
FEEDING THE MASSES:
STREET FEAST LONDON There are many reasons to welcome street food with open arms. It’s a window into far-flung cuisines and home-grown specialities, and a quick and easy way to dine. Since kitchen space tends to be limited in the working bellies of food trucks and tents, traders build their culinary identity upon a few choice dishes. Still, after the novelty of free Turkish delight wears off and the steam from giant pans of paella and curry evaporates, you start to notice something’s not quite right. Once a stall develops a following, it disappears, then reappears somewhere like Selfridges’ food hall. Street food is now a wellknown success story. Innocent drinks,
for example, started out as a group of university friends who set up a smoothie stall at a music festival. Now they’re an international brand owned partly by Coca-Cola. So, is it every little food truck’s dream to make it big? No, not always. There are some important differences between the supermarket and the food market. For one, I can’t talk to the rather dashing CEO Richard Reed every time I get an Innocent smoothie. But head down to Street Feast London: you’ll find a broad selection of cuisines from Bengal to the Seychelles with only a light graze on the student pocket lining. I’ve spoken to some incredibly
dedicated traders at Street Feast London, some of which have developed almost a cult following. With the likes of The Ribman, Rola Wala, Mother Flipper, MotoYogo and You Doughnut, the vibes are distinctly grassroots up, rather than top down. Street food is counterculture that requires a lot of work. And how do you show off the open-air, nomadic street food revolution at its best? At Street Feast’s Dalston Yard location, you’ll find a shabby-chic styled warehouse missing its roof, an open-plan layout with the occasional bench made from planks balanced across a pair of oil drums. Towards the rainier end of summer there are also fire pits in barrels, which keep punters warm and leave Twitter fans glorifying in the smell of smoke and gin. Markets are the new night out. Start the evening by choosing a cocktail or
THE DAILY GRIND A GUIDE TO LONDON’S BEST COFFEE It’s taken as a traveller’s truism that London has terrible coffee – but I’m not so sure that’s true. It may be easy to find terrible coffee in London, when every second step leads to a heat-radiating, free-wifibearing Costa, but coffee artistry is on the rise. Young people are seeking the perfect grind as their parents did the perfect bottle. So, to help you keep your finger on that pulse, here are a few of London’s best cafés: MONMOUTH Monmouth Coffee is a tiny shop that started off as a sampling room. Whilst it still caters to the connoisseurs, it’s also a place where the less coffeecrazed can get wonderful pastries and delicious coffee. Monmouth is currently using a blend of Brazilian, Colombian and Guatemalan beans for
espresso, but it varies – ask one of the helpful staff and they’ll fill you in. You can also buy bags to take home (left), which are guaranteed to impress any early-rising house guest. 27 Monmouth Street Covent Garden Monday to Saturday 8am-6.30pm DAMSON From the damson painted on the exterior to the counter heaving with baked goods, Damson looks so good it would probably be worth a visit even if the coffee and cakes weren’t amazing. The good news is that they are amazing. They use London-roasted Square Mile beans, with a good selection of teas and cold drinks as well, and the charming flower arrangements are the ethically-traded sugar on top of the organically-sourced cake. 64 St Giles High St, London Borough of Camden Monday-Friday 8am to 6pm Weekends from 10am TAPPED AND PACKED (TAP) Though the bicycle hiked up above the doorframe may cause you to raise an eyebrow, never fear. Tapped goes beyond the trendy décor, offering wonderful coffee and equally wonderful service. They’re also pretty good bang for your buck. Ask and you’ll be handed a card printed with a bicycle: get six riders
craft beer at the bar, then pick your starter, main, and dessert from any one of the tried and tested stalls and trucks, before making your way over to your similarly chuffed in-the-know friends (or friends-to-be). You can even chat whilst perching on the side of a keg (there are bog-standard sofas, tables and chairs too, but you’re there for something different, right?). Like the student dream, maybe street food is a little rough around the edges, but it’s also a hub for good times, while they last. Street Feast is set to return in midOctober at a heated, covered location. Keep up to date by following Street Feast on twitter @StreetFeastLDN or online at www.streetfeastlondon.com / LOUISE WANG / KCL / CONTRIBUTOR IMAGES VIA STREET FEAST LONDON
stamped and your seventh coffee is free. Beans come from Square Mile, Climpson & Sons and Union Hand roasters and they have a good selection of salads, sandwiches and soups. Just don’t be surprised if a stranger asks to share your table. When lunch rolls around, a coffee grinder isn’t the only thing here that’s packed. 114 Tottenham Court Rd, London Monday-Friday 8am-7pm Saturday 10am-6pm / TAHLIA DAVIES / UCL / CONTRIBUTOR IMAGE VIA MONMOUTH & TAP
SHAKESPEARE’S CLASSIC COMEDY AT THE NOEL COWARD THEATRE would have been right.
Michael Grandage’s new production is one of the most imaginative, inspired and altogether appealing visions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to appear in recent years. Its stars also ensure it’s the funniest. The Michael Grandage Company season at the Noel Coward Theatre has been turning heads since 2012, after details of its five plays featuring homegrown Hollywood stars such as Daniel Radcliffe, Judi Dench and Jude Law were announced. Despite this impressive line-up, most intriguing were
David Walliams has divided the critics over his performance. The application of his signature camp style, especially when performing the part of Pyramus has drawn the most negative criticism. He overacts, he hams it up, he milks every second of his Shakespearean debut; but it works. Walliams is an arse. It couldn’t be more apt that he is at his best as the ass, Bottom. From productions at RADA to the RSC, the character of Nick Bottom has irritated, disappointed and, at best, slightly amused me – yet it is Walliams with his own brand of flamboyance and unique comic timing who has finally brought the part to life, making it genuinely funny.
television actors Sheridan Smith and David Walliams. Any theatrical production boasting popular television stars carries fairly big risks; the obvious benefit of selling out a show with new faces is balanced by the danger of heightened expectations going unmet. New and perhaps younger viewers of this Dream may have expected aspects of the endearing, chain-smoking Janet of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps to accompany a selection of camp characters from Little Britain; they
In contrast, his fellow TV performer co-star is cementing her reputation as a celebrated Shakespearean actress – and rightly so. Sheridan Smith’s Titania, a liberated joint-smoking hippy, revels in her position as fairy queen. Similar to a young Zoe Wannamaker, she is able to capture all that appeals about a complex character and effortlessly portray them with admirable truthfulness. In this Dream, she gives the play its heart.
Although the performances of Smith and Walliams are no doubt a highlight of this remarkable production, they do not define it. Excellent as they are individually, it is the collective effort of this outstanding company, and their ability to execute perfectly the roles created for them, that allow Grandage’s ambitious vision to triumph. The sexually-frustrated energies of Stefano Braschi’s Demetrius and Katherine Kingsley’s Helena, the endearing naivety of Sam Swainsbury’s Lysander carry the first half of this two hour production, whilst the wonderfully silly humour of the parts of Lion, Wall, Thisbe and Moonshine leave the audience crying with laughter. The task of (re-)creating this classic comedy for modern audiences is not easy. Visionary, surreal, and often obscure, standards and expectations are among the highest with new interpretations of one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. Grandage’s festivalthemed fantasy world will resonate with an array of audiences, and has succeeded in creating a Dream for 2013. / SARAH FORTESCUE / CSSD / THEATRE EDITOR IMAGE VIA NOEL COWARD THEATRE
A MEDIEVAL TALE FOR THE MODERN WOMAN The National Youth Theatre’s production of Pope Joan left me feeling angry yet moved. Pope Joan is a medieval tale about the alleged first (and only) female Pope, who rose to the top of the Vatican by styling herself as ‘John’. She is devout, brave and willing to risk anything to be close to God. Prior to the start of the play, Joan has revealed her true identity to a cardinal, slept with him, and is now carrying his child – obviously a problem if she is to maintain her disguise as a man.
of ornate church walls and stained glass. She has pushed the altar back and has filled the floor space with an enormous horizontal white cross. This acts as a raised stage for the action, and is a constant reminder throughout the play of Christ’s bodily sacrifice to God, reflecting on Joan’s own physical struggle.
Joan is not blameless in the child’s conception, and does not wish to keep it as it will reveal her identity. However, she feels that an abortion is a disavowal of God’s reproductive gift to females. Sophie Crawford, who plays Joan, portrays this pain and conflict in a tour de force performance. She is torn in a fundamental dichotomy between her faith and her biology. Joan dies a martyr: she goes into labour whilst delivering a sermon in the pulpit, her identity uncovered as she is dying.
Louise Brealey’s debut script is brilliant – particularly the dialogue between Joan and her antagonist, the snarling Cardinal Anastasisus, played by Robert Willoughby, who wants the papacy for himself. The most powerful moment in the show is a silent physical scene where director Paul Hart uses the National Youth Theatre’s ensemble to create a staircase up the aisles toward the church altar. Crawford climbs the staircase, breasts bared, reaching out in desperation to the edifice of Christ above her head. She is prepared to give her body to Christ, but it is the same body – and the child growing inside her – that supposedly nullifies her connection to God.
St James’s Church makes a perfect set for the production. It allows designer Fi Russell to create an atmospheric setting that builds on the backdrop
Richard Geller and John Lipman excelled in creating costumes for this performance. In tandem with Russell’s design and the church setting, Joan’s
papal robes are heavily brocaded, creating an authoritarian sweep around her as she commands the Vatican, cutting through the dust of the Church. Anastasius is dressed, fittingly, in long and satanic-red robes, emphasising Willoughby’s tall figure, threateningly towering above Joan. The strengths in this production are typical of the National Youth Theatre: the incorporation of the space into the ensemble’s work. As you sit in the pews, the Vatican shouts all around you, creating a multi-sensory experience. Although it is a fictional story, one ingrained in Christian and urban mythology, the tale of Pope Joan reflects and emphasizes the sexual discrimination women face at work even today. Pope Joan is an aptly timed show, performed just as a bill allowing female bishops in Wales was passed: proof that the Church is beginning to accept that the strength of faith should be more important than gender. / HANNAH ELSY / KCL / CONTRIBUTOR
SOPHIE CRAWFORD AS POPE JOAN IMAGE VIA NATIONAL YOUTH THEATRE
poetry and books
THE WORD ON THE STREET A GUIDE TO LONDON’S POETRY SCENE Want to get into the London poetry scene? I’ve got one piece of advice for you: go to as many open mics and events as you can. Once there, don’t fret! Everyone panics – even the pros. Fear is normal, and that sense of intimidation is part of the process of initiation. Try to see where your poetry might fit, or where it might provide something new to what’s already on offer. Of course there are veterans and regulars, but chat to these people: they’ve been exactly where you are now. And listen, listen, listen, because spoken word travels by word of mouth. Find out who you like, find out who likes you (someone will), find out what’s on next and then go. A great place to start your poetic odyssey is at the world-famous Poetry Café in Covent Garden. It might sound a bit like playing the O2 when you’ve not done the back room of your local yet, but bear with me. Poetry Unplugged on Tuesday nights is one of the most inclusive, friendly and diverse events in town, and is definitely worth going to on a regular basis whether you’re starting out, trying out new material or are looking for the chance of some selfimprovement. Host Niall O’Sullivan is
incredibly supportive, particularly of his ‘Unplugged Virgins’. Given the very open nature of the night, you’re sure to hear a range of poetry – which may startle, delight and even serve to improve your confidence about your own work!
Find out who you like, ﬁnd out who likes you (someone will), ﬁnd out what’s on next and then go.
‘It’s not pornography but it’s still pretty good’ is their tag-line; great poetry is appreciated by vigorously-shaken milk cartons full of chickpeas and rice; it’s been voted the best regular spoken word night: Bang Said the Gun is a one-off that keeps coming back and re-loading. It’s live every Thursday; their Raw Meat Stew Golden Gun award adds playful competition to the open mic and is well worth having a shot at.
The experience of performing at Bang is totally unique and forces you to look at your own work from a completely different angle. I would liken it to how different a song sounds when listening alone in your room comapred to when it’s played loudly at a party. Bang is all about atmosphere and it definitely has plenty of it.
of understanding craft as well as community. We made this decision together, as an emerging collective. We meet once a month and showcase featured acts alongside our own poets and we welcome new members. / EMILY HARRISON / KCL / CONTRIBUTOR
Jawdance, a monthly event at the Rich Mix, is the closest you’re ever going to get to a poetry variety night. If you’re thinking: “poetry? variety? really?”, well, it’s a goody-bag of featured acts, an open mic and poetry film shorts with the opportunity to ‘rub your chin and make meaningful noises’. It’s the perfect night for seeing and hearing the possibilities of live spoken word while having a good time in an equally brilliant venue. Finally, Burn After Reading is a new poetry community established by Jacob Sam-La Rose, the big man of the London poetry scene. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of this group from the outset; we write, we read, we perform, we publish – as widely as possible. We celebrate a diverse range of poetics from ‘spoken word’ to ‘page’ and points in between. We celebrate the importance
BOOK REVIEW In any writing about the north of England, it’s a cliché to begin by asking where the north itself begins. It only takes The North (And Almost Everything In It) six pages to raise the question, but more than five hundred to answer. This memoir-cum-history-cum-miscellany, by the music journalist Paul Morley, is more than anything else an account of how he came to identify himself as a northerner. The only truly coherent answer on a personal level, it seems, is that the north begins where you find yourself to be northern. The narrative, to the extent there is one, is driven by the description of Morley’s childhood in the modest suburbs of the south Manchester satellite town of Stockport. Looming over the story is Morley’s taciturn, unhappy father – a kind of Willy Loman character – who killed himself in 1977. In between Morely’s personal story are asides on biography, place names, buildings, natural features, songs, films, books and television. We read
how Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, grew up behind a shop in Moss Side, Manchester, which later became a West Indian shebeen. Certain passages – like Morley’s description of how he came to know the counties of England through cricket – have a weird power, locating his childhood in a certain time and a certain England, as well as in a certain idea of the north. In other words, his vision is expansive rather than parochial. Later he describes locking himself away in a cupboard in his bedroom to read, listening to the rain and his own breathing. Outside, he writes, the mill chimneys were like mysterious obelisks from another age, whose meaning was unknown, transmitting secret messages. There is, however, something that mithers me about Morley’s approach, for all that the memoir is beautiful and compelling. His vision of the north is essentially timeless. He jumps from Joseph Priestley to Bernard Manning to Peterloo.
In an extended passage on the eighteenth century novel Tristram Shandy (written by a Yorkshireman, Laurence Sterne), Morley describes how Sterne deliberately avoided cohesion, a single narrative voice, or a clear sense of order and direction. Though he does not say so explicitly, Morley has clearly taken Tristram Shandy as an influence for his post-modern narration of the north, borrowing ideas and stories from many sources, and many times. However, although it may make sense for a music journalist to identify the Sex Pistols’ two gigs at the Free Trade Hall in 1976 as a kind of northern space-time singularity, it doesn’t much help anyone else to identify what the north is now, or what it might become in the future. If there is, as Morley seems to imply, a permanent northern character, then how do we explain change in the past – or activate it for the future? This is a beautiful book, an important book, but if writing about the north is always going to be based upon the
assertion of an unchanging thread from Thomas de Quincey to Shaun Ryder, then I just don’t buy it. / HARRY STOPES / UCL / COMMENT EDITOR
days and nights ANITA’S VINTAGE FASHION FAIR
ORWELL’S LONDON: A WALKING TOUR
13 October, 11am-5pm 20th Century Theatre, Westbourne Grove £2
Great Portland Street Station 12 October, 10am £16, includes a copy of Orwell’s essay Politics and the English Language.
The Shacklewell Arms 29 October, 8pm £6, 18+
ONLY IN ENGLAND: PHOTOGRAPHS BY TONY RAY-JONES AND MARTIN PARR
RICHARD ROGERS RA: INSIDE OUT
57TH BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL
Until 16 March Science Museum Students £8
Until 13 October Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy Students £5
Until 20 October Location and ticket prices depend on film
OUR CURATED PICK OF LONDON’S BEST EVENTS OVER THE NEXT TWO WEEKS.
STEPNEY FARMERS’ MARKET
12 October Stepney City Farm, near Canary Warf Free
DESIGNER SALES UK SAMPLE SALE
PENELOPE LIVELY A first look at her new memoir Ammonites and Leaping Fish 9 October, 7pm Keats House, Hampstead £5, including a glass of wine
POETRY MEETS BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE Eleven poets create poems in response to the life and work of eleven contemporary scientists. 10 October, 7-9pm Keats House, Hampstead, NW3 2RR Free, booking essential
DANCE & DISOBEDIENCE Somaye fuses jazz and Middle Eastern music, and DJ Lucinda will spin old school, hip hop, drum & bass, breaks. 12 October, 12-5pm Rich Mix, Shoreditch Free
THE CLASSIC CAR BOOT SALE 12 October, 10-6pm Southbank Centre £3
2013 MAN BOOKER PRIZE READINGS
The Parisian fusion electronic duo makes their first UK appearance. 10 October, 10pm Plastic People, Shoreditch £5 before 11, £7 after
Readings by the six short-listed authors for the Man Booker Prize. 13 October, 7.30pm Southbank Centre £5-£6 for students
WE STEAL SECRETS - THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS + Q&A
Showcase your own talent onstage. October 11 Free
Roxy Bar and Screen Free, suggested donation £20 16 October
FLUX SOUP 11 October Kennington Cinema Museum £7 for students
24 October, 12-8pm Chelsea Old Town Hall £1 – £2
INTERNATIONAL FOOD MARKET 25 October UCL Main Quad
Raouda Choucair celebrates a pioneer of abstract art in the Middle East Until 20 October Tate Modern £8.60 for students
LONDON RESTAURANT FESTIVAL Until 21 October 195 Piccadilly (BAFTA) From £15
LUTZ BACHNER: BLACK BEAUTY
ROOTS & NATURAL
Until 17 November Institute of Contemporary Arts Free
Market offering natural, organic and handmade products. 25 October UCL Main Quad
FASHION MEETS MUSIC
CONTEMPORARY ART SOCIETY: NOTHING BEAUTIFUL UNLESS USEFUL
Six week pop up with events, activities and designers. Until 18 October Westfield Stratford City Free
Until 1 December Whitechapel Gallery Free
NATIVE SPIRIT FILM FESTIVAL
Until 30 December, 9pm Temple Studios (Paddington station) Discounted tickets available
Brunei Gallery, SOAS Free, suggested donation £5 per film Until 19 October
SALOUA RAOUDA CHOUCAIR
Islington Metal Works £5, £3 with flyer
The world’s first major museum exhibition of Lebanese artist Saloua
A DROWNED MAN: A HOLLYWOOD FABLE
FASHION RULES EXHIBITION A collection of iconic Royal outfits, spanning a 40-year period Until 4 July 2014 Kensington Palace £12.40 for students
FROM THE ARCHIVES
STUDENT MARCH - BATTERSEA PARK 12 FEBRUARY 1992 © NIC KENT
Unfortunately, our internet searches for this London Student photographer alum turned up nothing, but we liked this image too much to damn it to the bottom of the archive pile forever. London’s students have never been afraid to exercise their right to protest, and these women are certainly no exception. Gender and the act of protest are closely linked: ‘protests offer women the opportunity to combine our anger from individual grievances with the revolutionary power of the collective. It’s here that we can challenge the institutional power that is the source of our oppression,’ commented Shanice Octavia McBean, Women’s Officer for King’s College. This image is topical: last month, as the English Defence League attempted to infiltrate Tower Hamlets, hundreds of women gathered in counter-protest encouraged by group Sisters Against the EDL. In a time where riots are still largely male dominated, their attempt to increase women’s visibility in protest is vital and remarkable.
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FEATURES • 11
Monday 7th October 2013
NOTEBOOK ANNIE COHEN
he beginning of a new academic year, be it school or university, has always made me very happy to live in a country with seasons. Buying stationery and spending an increasing amount of time in libraries go very well with autumn. The prospect of finally having something to do every day that I actually like, and in a part of London that I love, is a joyous one. I have spent the last few weeks trying to dislodge the dust from my brain and reacquainting myself with libraries, pubs and my history degree. And trying to not get lost in the faff of sorting out important things such as having money and a place to live. I am once again in the process of indebting myself to my future self, via the Student Loans Company. Maybe I should think of it more as my future – hopefully prosperous and responsible – self buying current, directionless me a really good present. Because I have post traumatic stress disorder, which counts as a disability, I have been given extra forms, letters, and dates with ‘services’ to seek out extra sources of funding and support. This somewhat dampens its own value, as an effect of PTSD is the substitution by my brain of ‘panic’ for ‘common sense’, and I have a paralysing fear of any paperwork or phone call involved in the administration of my own life. As a result I have made ‘getting ready for term’ feel like a Kafka novel.
was advised by the Student Loans Company to contact the Jobcentre, not to ask for money but to ask how much money I could have been given had I have asked for it a few months ago, as this might affect the size of the loan for which I am now eligible. I spent a total of eight hours on the phone before I discovered that the Jobcentre has implemented a clever division of labour between two separate phone lines: one that answers questions and another that fills in forms. So if when filling in a form over the phone you ask a question, you are transferred to the other line, abandoning the form and starting the whole process again. As a mature, recently unemployed but formerly employed student with both mental and physical disabilities, I apparently span too many categories, and I definitely asked too many questions. Eventually I got fed up playing ‘what is my economic status/class/ how functioning are my limbs’, gave up on the Jobcentre and instead photoshopped a picture of the dog from ‘Up’ with the caption: ‘Hello master. I was hiding under your porch because university costs £9k now. Can I have a loan?’ Another source of faff has been that at any given point during the past six weeks I have had either two places or no places
to live for the start of term. The weekend before freshers’ week I had finally managed to average these to one agreed rental, until I was told on Monday night they had decided not to let to students. So freshers’ week was mostly spent first looking for accommodation, and then shunting possessions from my old house to my new one, about a minute’s walk away, and fantasising about how much better it would have been with a wheelbarrow. Left with so much of this at the last minute, I didn’t see much of Freshers’ Week Proper. Probably no bad thing, as it would have been my third one and tends to involve a lot of queues and loud shit music. I did wander into the main campus on Friday morning, feeling a bit the worse for red wine, and was immediately lost in swarms of people, mocking me with their youth and ability to sneeze off hangovers. I left very quickly.
he night before classes started I went to see Woody Allen’s new film ‘Blue Jasmine’ at the Hackney Picturehouse. I’ve been meaning to go to that cinema for a while, so that was pretty cool. Hackney itself is pretty cool. Cate Blanchett gave an excellent and haunting portrayal of the state a person can get into when their stress levels go beyond what is tolerable. But I could have done with something a bit less dark and nerve-touching for a pre-term wind down. I think everyone could probably do with a dirty martini and a Xanax after watching that film. At least it put my own current stress levels nicely back into perspective.
The present and the past
n Wednesday evening I went to the Southbank Centre to hear Simon Schama give a talk on his new book and documentary ‘The Story of the Jews’, hosted by David Aaronovitch. I have enjoyed the documentary, it has a distinctly Jewish feel to me and reminds me of discussions in my own synagogue. The event had a similar vibe, with Schama making a joke about circumcision within the first 10 minutes, in response to being asked to guess how many Jews were in the audience. Schama’s approach is varied and thorough, and a massive range of topics were discussed. Through the talk and the documentary I have learned about numerous events and concepts in Jewish history that were previously unfamiliar. It therefore irritates me that much of the discussion I have heard prompted by Schama’s colourful project has disproportionately focused on his declaring himself a Zionist. I was even annoyed with myself for putting my hand up at the end of the talk to ask a question about Zionism and was almost pleased that I didn’t get to ask it because other people beat me to it with questions about Venice and secular Jewish humour. A lot of recent popular Jewish history seems to organise behind arguments either in favour of or against Zionism – viewing it as a kind of Fukuyama-esque ‘end of our history’ or as an aberration that needs to be corrected. I am anti-Zionist because of what is happening in the Middle East today, and because I do not believe that Jews must be a nation in order to survive, particularly as that nation has become dependent on subverting the human rights of others. But I used to be a Zionist, and I do not think anyone with any knowledge of Jewish history can fail to be sympathetic with it as an ideology. I do not, as Aaronovitch suggested in a statement that was nonsensical even within its own rationale, equate Zionists with ‘mates of Jimmy Savile’. Dumb comments like that from both sides reduce the whole debate to the point where no one can remember what it is actually about. Zionism does not refer to the actions of the state of Israel, nor does it refer to the rights of the Jewish people. The debate is about nationalism and national self-determination, about
the need for and value of a Jewish state. Schama’s history, and his own stance, provide the basis for a nuanced understanding of Zionism as a legitimate ideology based on very real events, but still one that can be disagreed with. The use of history as a tool for legitimising the present is a tricky issue, particularly as it is often justified. Events that happened within recent history, particularly horrific events – in this case the Holocaust – can obviously not be ignored. But I still believe that current situations should take priority when it comes to making political decisions. Jews are right to fear our history repeating itself, but for the most part we do so from places of relative safety, remembering rather than reliving our traumas, while what is happening to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is happening now. I often feel that history is given too much or at least the wrong kind of significance in the present. I felt this recently when, after the parliamentary decision on intervention in Syria, more air time was given to ‘what it meant for Britain’ than what it means for Syria. A trip to the Foreign Office during the Open House weekend confirmed my diagnosis that Britain suffers from an obsession with its own historical prestige. The extravagantly decorated but unwisely named ‘Locarno Suite’ and ‘Entente Cordiale’ meeting rooms reminded me of last year’s Olympic opening ceremony. Perhaps if those who conduct our international affairs are to do so surrounded by reminders of our history, these should focus less on the inherited grandeur and more on the actual history. If I worked in those buildings, I would definitely be inspired to drink pink gin and contemplate foreign invasions by mid-afternoon. Attempts were made throughout the unguided tour to downplay this pomp and circumstance, chiefly with information about the FO’s recycling efforts and how much money they save per energy saving lightbulb in their massive chandeliers. A display detailing the activities of FO officials abroad contained descriptions of tough conditions, quoted in bold: gems such as ‘I literally had to assemble the bed myself.’ Illustration: Christian Inkpen
12 • FEATURES
LONDON STUDENT Monday 7th October 2013
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS ENDEMIC, BUT STUDENTS CAN ‘HOLLABACK’ One in two students experienced or witnessed sexual harassment around their campus last year. But only 17 per cent reported it.
Lauren Van Schaik Smith
saw him again a few weeks ago at a club. I was very uncomfortable, and Stephen acted like everything was normal. Clearly he doesn’t know that what he did was wrong. That’s how normalised it is. He thought it was harmless flirting.” For Melissa (names have been changed), her last encounter with Stephen, on New Year’s Eve, was anything but harmless. Stephen, a fellow student at King’s and friend of her friends, singled her out after she became visibly drunk at a house party in Camden. His advances started casually – “he’s touchyfeely with a lot of people,” Melissa’s friend said – but they made Melissa uncomfortable and escalated as she became drunker. He slipped his arm around her shoulder, stroked her arm, and told her repeatedly how good-looking she was. At first Melissa protested, telling him she had a boyfriend and at one point hiding in the bathroom to avoid him, but Stephen was persistent. “You should be used to this, a pretty girl like you,” he said. Later he trailed her to the couch and pushed her head into his lap. He didn’t unzip his trousers, but it was still “overtly sexual” and terrified Melissa, who was by that point too inebriated to move. Stephen’s advances didn’t progress further – a friend “rescued” Melissa from the couch soon after – but they left her feeling vulnerable and “like [she] didn’t want to go to parties anymore or hang out with guys.” She also felt like she had no recourse against Stephen. She didn’t know KCL’s policies about sexual harassment, particularly about incidents that happen among students off campus. According to Debbie Epstein, Harassment Adviser at King’s, students like Melissa can seek intervention or mediation from the college regardless of where they have experienced harassment. Had Melissa approached Epstein about the incident with Stephen, she would have had several recourses against him, ranging from informal warnings and requests for no further contact to a formal complaint. Melissa didn’t want to initiate formal disciplinary action against Stephen – “he isn’t a creepy sex offender; he’s just a normal dude,” she said – and because the incident was a one-time occurrence, Epstein wouldn’t have
recommended it. Melissa also balked at the idea of an informal warning or request Stephen no longer contact her, worried the friends she shared with him wouldn’t back her up. She also wondering if she was overreacting. “I still don’t know if what he did was harassment,” she admitted. Still, she felt uncomfortable enough around Stephen to confide in a friend about his aggressive advances when she spotted him in a queue at the club recently. “I just wanted someone
BEYOND CAT-CALLS RECOGNISING HARASSMENT Sexual harassment can include, but is not limited to:
Unwanted touching, hugging, groping, cornering, pinching, and leaning over; other invasions of personal space; touching or rubbing oneself sexually against or around someone; public masturbation and exposure
Unwanted sexual looks or gestures; winking, throwing kisses, licking lips; staring, ‘elevator eyes’; following, stalking; displaying sexually explicit material
Sexual comments about a person’s clothing, body, or looks; sexual innuendos or stories; questions, teasing, and jokes about sexual history, fantasies, and preferences; calling an adult ‘girl,’ ‘honey,’ ‘babe,’ ‘hunk’; unwanted pressure for sexual favours or dates to stand beside me,” she said. Fortunately, this time Stephen kept his distance. While sexual harassment is chronically under-recognised and under-reported, a recent ULU survey indicates Melissa’s experience, and her feelings of powerlessness and confusion about university policies, are hardly anomalous. Conducted online in June, the Hollaback! survey recorded experiences of and opinions about campus sexual harassment from more than 400 students from 16 constituent universities. Some shared lengthy personal accounts of harassment and university blunders; others recorded their experiences
only in multiple-choice answers. But memories, witness testimonies and statistics contributed to the same picture: sexual harassment is pervasive on our campuses and among students, but most don’t know how to report it, or meet intransigence and insensitivity from university administrations when they do. One respondent recalled being terrorized “sexually, physically, and mentally” by students in their halls during their first year and how little effect their written and verbal complaints to the university had. “They blamed me for the harassment and suggested that I was just not tolerant enough of normal ‘lad behaviour,’” the student recounted. University staff also said “there wasn’t any point in moving rooms”. Other students described being groped in union bars and at club nights and receiving predatory phone calls and Facebook messages from peers. Some highlighted the insidious nature of sexual harassment, describing how harassment disguised as banter – like joking but persistent requests for phone numbers and ‘ironic’ humour about rape and sexual assault – can create hostile and intimidating environments in classrooms and bars. Two respondents even recounted experiencing or witnessing college security staff participate in the sexual harassment of students. “During my second year at UCL, my girlfriend and I were harassed in the union bar by college security staff, who leered, used hate speech, and made us kiss whilst they watched and took pictures,” one respondent wrote. This student, unlike many others, reported the incident to union staff immediately. “They were amazingly sensitive and kind,” taking a detailed report of the incident and banning the perpetrator from union premises. “I have every confidence that my union is well-poised for dealing with sexual harassment, [but] I was appalled university staff would behave in that way,” the student wrote. According to ULU Women’s Officer Susuana Antubam, this disparity between university and union in cases of sexual harassment is typical. “Universities are usually a lot more hostile than students’ unions when it comes to recognising sexual harassment on campuses,” she said. When Antubam set out to transform a culture of harassment and victim-blaming on campuses,
Hollaback! Survey Results
36% said it occurred in areas surrounding their campus
53% of respondents reported they’d either personally experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in or around their university in the last year
50% of respondents who’d reported experiencing or witnessed sexual harassment said they’d spoken about it confidentially with a friend
34% said they’d been personally harasssed and 40% said they’d witnessed another student being harassed
36% didn’t tell anyone
While 48% of students believed their institution took sexual harassment very seriously, only 26% felt the systems in place at the uni made them feel confident in reporting sexual harassment
57% of those who’d experienced or observed sexual harassment said it occured in university venues 54% said it occured online she knew she had to start at ULU. Her first step was to write and pass new grievance and disciplinary procedures for the union, outlining students’ rights and recourses when reporting or facing disciplinary measures for sexual harassment that has occurred on union premises. Last month the union also passed a Safer Spaces policy, written by LGBT+ officer Andrew Turton, to ensure ULU is a safe environment for students and one in which they feel confident reporting experiences of harassment and discrimination. These measures and this summer’s survey are the foundations of a broad campaign to tackle sexual harassment across University of London campuses, powered by the grassroots initiative Hollaback!. Founded by feminist activists in New York in 2005 as a blog for women to share accounts and photos of sexual harassment, Hollaback! has expanded into a global campaign, with activist branches in 62 cities, including London, and a mobile app for users to record and geotag experiences of street harassment. “Hollaback! is all based on getting people to be active rather than passive” in confronting sexual harassment, Antubam said. Hollaback! ULU requires member unions to agree to foster a zero-tolerance culture on campuses and to develop and publicise clear and accessible reporting systems for sexual harassment. Staff are required to undergo training, learning to recognise sexual harassment and sensitively and appropriately respond to allegations. A number
Only 16% said they’d reported harassment to the authorities
of unions have signed up so far but only the students’ union at Royal Holloway has completed all steps to become a full member of Hollaback!. Antubam hopes that as more unions enlist, the Hollaback! ULU website will become a safe venue for students to share experiences of sexual harassment on campuses and to access their unions’ and universities’ harassment policies. Hollaback! ULU is starting small, seeking to transform the spaces directly under union control, but it has the wider goal of uprooting a toxic student culture of normalised harassment, sexism and shaming, wherever it occurs. Students like Melissa, who experienced harassment outside university spaces, are still encouraged to “hollaback” in whatever ways they feel comfortable, be it through university mediation or complaints or just through anonymous accounts on a website or mobile app. Melissa didn’t want to pursue disciplinary action against Stephen and ultimately she recounted her experiences only to her therapist and closest friends. But a platform like Hollaback!, allowing her to anonymously document the harassment, would have been useful. “Sharing these experiences is vital in proving that there is something wrong with our culture,” she said. “I don’t think geotagging my friend’s couch would be helpful in this case, but it’s important to start discussions about a culture that insists these actions are ‘harmless flirting.’”
Monday 7th October 2013
SAVE THE NHS
Pages 16 & 17
Three meanings of Black History Month
More is needed to fend off privatisation of the service
Keep cops off our campuses Student unions should be student-controlled spaces of free social and political life – the police have no business intruding Andrew Dolan
ith over fifteen police officers present inside the students’ union, profiling and searching students as they entered the venue, the Friday of freshers’ week (27th September) at Royal Holloway was far from ordinary, and even further from the serene picture our university so often presents. For an institution that misses no opportunity to trumpet its ranking amongst the top twenty safest universities in England and Wales, the events of last Friday seem at first glance strikingly out of place. After all, why the unprecedented concentration of so many police officers in an area with, statistically, so little crime? Although Surrey Police’s presence seemed apparently incongruous, their excessive and intimidatory presence and their dubious use of stop and search powers – targeted disproportionately at black students – fits a pattern of recent events which reflect the state’s unwillingness to tolerate behaviour that falls outside the increasingly ideological and
contracting boundaries that shape social and political norms in the UK. The mass arrests of protesting students in 2010, of anti-fascists last month, and even of revellers at 93 Feet East club in Brick Lane earlier this year are merely some of the most obvious examples of this trend, but so too, although minor in comparison, is what happened at the SU last Friday. The police were not there, as they claimed, with the intention of catching criminals, but rather to criminalise students, since 2010 an increasingly politically-active constituency. They were not there to protect but rather to intimidate, to discipline and ultimately to assist in the production of socially and politically obedient subjects. The police were almost exclusively inside the student union, a venue that requires university identification to access. As such it is worth asking the question, how many drug dealers carry Royal Holloway Student Cards? Or, in other words, how many Royal Holloway students are drug dealers? Anyone who has spent time amongst the student body most likely knows the answer, and for those that haven’t it is as telling as it is obvious. Protecting students and arresting drug dealers were not, it seems, a high priority. In fact, according to the Police Ombudsman, use of stop and search powers to detect minor
offences is both a waste of police resources and highly likely to damage community relations. Given reports by students who were present that police officers targeted black students for searches, the implications for community relations are obvious. According to Val Swain of the Network for Police Monitoring, “it is never acceptable to use racial profiling as a basis of selection for stop and search.” The Students’ Union Commercial Services team, which runs the commercial services within the union building but which is not elected by the student body, and which invited the police onto campus, must also be considered to have failed to fulfil its duty of care to students. What was paramount in the police action, it is apparent, was disciplining students. For those who were entering their student union for the first time, it now seems unlikely that they will view the union as a place where they can relax in a comfortable environment, let alone as a site of political exchange and action to which they can contribute; for those of us who have known it as both, the symbolism was obvious. This was not merely a spatial occupation, but also one of ideology. Despite their many failings, students’ unions (even as nightclubs) and the university environment in general still have the potential
to produce radical subjectivities that challenge the social and political status quo. The extensive, heavy-handed police presence at the union last Friday, when considered in tandem with previous undercover operations carried out in daytime throughout campus, must be viewed as an attempt to disrupt this process of personal development and intimidate those who participate or may be on the verge of participating in it. A students’ union on a Friday night may seem an entirely apolitical environment, but the intentions of the police and even those that invited them were not apolitical. Despite being uninvited and unwanted by students, the police appeared last Friday to have more right to enter and leave the union than students themselves did. All who challenged their presence and actions were forcibly dismissed or in one case arrested. Students’ unions and university campuses must remain free from police interference, unless in exceptional circumstances. Any solutions to the problems that arise with the running of the venue must come from the cooperation of students, their elected representatives and workers. Unless absolutely necessary, there is no place for the police imposing themselves from without and attempting to disrupt and criminalise the very communities they claim to represent.
Worried about London fire stations closing? “Get stuffed!” says Boris Johnson Why you should care about the mayor’s draconian cuts to the capital’s fire service Artemis Kassi
n 11th September, at a meeting of the London Assembly, the Mayor, Boris Johnson, was challenged on his planned cuts to the London Fire Brigade. These cuts will result in the closure of 10 fire stations, the removal of 14 engines and redundancy for 588 frontline firefighters. He was accused of breaking a pre-election promise not to cut the emergency services in London. His retort? “Get stuffed!”
Allegedly, these cuts to your fire service are about austerity and decreased incidence of fire. In some parts of London, fire deaths have increased during the Mayor’s term. Fires requiring the attendance of three fire engines have increased. Every borough in London will see increased response times, and in a fire every second counts. So the Mayor is saying “get stuffed” to students living in high-rise halls of residence or (often poorly maintained) private accommodation, who will have to wait longer in the event of fire. But it is not just in a fire that students will have to wait longer. To think that it is acceptable to cut the fire service because incidence of fires is down is to swallow
the first of many Boris’s red herrings. You as a student depend upon the London Fire Brigade for so much more. Fire fighters respond to terrorist attack, flooding, chemical spillage, road traffic accidents, and smoke on the underground, as well as fires. Student cyclists may already know that road accidents are up by as much as 50%. This affects us all: in our homes, places of work and places of study. Going out to a restaurant, a club, a cinema or theatre? These cuts will affect your safety there too. Travelling through London to get to somewhere else? These cuts will affect you too. Because your safety everywhere in London will be compromised by these cuts.
London is moving towards a 24-hour economy, yet the Mayor is reducing our emergency cover and hoping to convert Grade II listed fire stations into luxury accommodation or “free schools”. The London Cable Car, one of the Mayor’s pet projects, cost £60 million to build and costs £6 million per year to run. By way of comparison, it costs £1.4 million per year to run Westminster Fire Station. The Mayor’s 2020 vision for London predicts a surge of investment in transport, a population of 8.7 million by 2016 and a need for 400,000 new homes. And yet, thanks to the Mayor, London will have ten fewer fire stations. His plans are illogical and dangerous.
14 • EDITORIAL
Monday 7th October 2013
Established as Sennet in 1954 Volume 34 Issue 2 University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY. Telephone: 020 7664 2054 firstname.lastname@example.org
Young face bleak future in Tory Britain Encouraged to see their degree as the starting point of an uninterrupted, fulfilling professional career, students are generally not inclined to think of the benefits system as especially relevant to them. The government’s assault on the welfare state since 2010 has provoked a much more muted response from students than its assault on the principle of affordable education. However, students would do well to pay attention to the latest proposal from David Cameron, made in his speech on the last day of the Conservative party conference in Manchester. In the next Conservative election manifesto, Cameron promised he would outline a plan to make all under-25s not in education or employment ineligible for housing benefit or unemployment
benefit. Cameron claims that this will ensure that all young people are either “earning or learning,” rather than beginning a life on benefits. This is a typically glib and intellectually underdeveloped response to structural youth unemployment from a government which prefers a moralised language of “doing the right thing” to an admission that with public sector cuts and near-zero growth, the economy is failing to provide enough jobs. If Mr Cameron’s policy goes ahead, those of us unemployed after university will receive absolutely no support from the state. Unemployment affects everybody, including university graduates. The Higher Education Statistics Agency, the independent
body which monitors the sector, compiles a survey of every graduate cohort six months after they leave university. Of the 2012 cohort, the most recent for which statistics are available, most were employed or enrolled in further study six months after leaving university. However, these figures include young people working part-time, those working freelance, those working on short-term contracts, temporary workers, voluntary workers and interns. 12.7% had only managed to find part-time work. Almost 4% of those who were working were doing so unpaid. Only 45.4% of graduates had a secure, paid, long-term contract six months after graduating. 7.3% remained unemployed.
Moral questions mustn’t be ducked
Michael Arthur, incoming President and Provost of UCL, was perhaps unwise to kick off his tenure by inviting questions at his inaugural Lunch Hour Lecture – he found his opinion sought on a panoply of tricky issues, including what he thought of “UCL collaborating with and providing prestige to dictatorships in Qatar and Kazakhstan”. His answer, setting out both reasons for and criticisms of such engagement without coming down firmly on
either side, showed his flair at evasive management-speak, but left us none the wiser as to the ethical direction we can expect to see under his leadership. This evasiveness over ethical issues is characteristic of modern university managements. Yet this is a question that mustn’t be ducked by any higher education institution, least of all at a time when ethical issues are beginning to exercise students more and more (witness also the growing Fossil Free campaign
for divestment in fossil fuels). As the questions grow louder and more insistent, so it will become harder to respond with empty words. It is increasingly a truism that universities are run as businesses – but it is also increasingly the case that we hold businesses to higher moral standards than we used to. We need to keep asking our universities these awkward questions, and they need to start coming up with satisfactory answers.
Of the 2009 cohort of graduates, 3.2% were still unemployed three and a half years after graduating. This trend, visible in the 2003 and 2005 cohorts, predates the present crisis. Even three and a half years after leaving university, most graduates will still be below the cut-off age of 25 and therefore, under the new proposals, ineligible for benefits. Meanwhile postgraduate education, one place to escape the employment crisis, is becoming even more unaffordable. Mr Cameron is effectively proposing that every year thousands of graduates should be forced to survive on nothing. No dole, no housing benefit. For those without parental funds to fall back on or a family home in a high employment region to return to, this is a grim prospect.
LETTERS SIR - There is an epidemic sweeping the presses: the epidemic of ‘slamming’. No longer do people challenge, chastise or criticise their opponents, now they must always ‘slam’ them. How disappointed I was to see that this worthy title had succumbed to the same disease (‘Thousands of London’s academics on precarious zero-hour contracts’, Sept. 18). Might I suggest that all future uses of the word be replaced with the phrase ‘closed swiftly and audibly’? For example: “The UCU closed the widespread use of such contracts in higher education swiftly and audibly”. If that construction does not fit, perhaps it is time to find a more appropriate verb. Tim Rees-Jones, BA (Lond), York
FROM THE ARCHIVE | “REGGIE LOST” - 19TH OCTOBER 1954 Kingsmen in general and King’s engineers in particular are flabbergasted at the audacious theft of “Reggie,” tutelary deity to so many King’s students past and present. With a slickness that would have done credit to the K.L.M. gold robbers, the 4 cwt. lion was abducted from his throne in the vestibule of King’s at about 6 p.m. on Thursday, during a period of minutes while the porter was temporarily absent. The culprits are as yet undetected, but Q.M.C. are darkly suspected by many Kingsmen with guilty consciences over the theft last year of Q.M.C.’s mascot. King’s officials have put up a brave front on it all, and a notice in the Chesham states that “H.R.H. Reggie appreciating the imminent arrival of the Lion of Judah ... has retired to take the waters.”
Further developments are awaited with interest. The 26th October 1954 issue of Sennet contained a follow-up to this story: An interview with J. Thornton-Smith, a member of the gang which stole Reggie, gives us more details about the way in which Reggie was taken from King’s. [...] The porter at the gate was tricked in to opening it by the oldest ruse in the world: a 3-ton lorry which was backed up to the main door. A member was placed in each corridor leading to Reggie’s position to intercept any people who might interfere. [Finally Reggie] was heaved into the lorry, and driven off down the Strand. Reggie found a resting-place in Chigwell until he returned on October 20 after a night spent in the city. Illustration: Christian Inkpen
COMMENT • 15
Monday 7th October 2013
The fight to save the NHS is not over Thousands marched on the Tory party conference in Manchester, but much more pressure is needed to stop the privatisation of our health service
he former Tory chancellor of the exchequer Nigel Lawson once derisively referred to the NHS as “the closest the English people have to a religion”. Now, a Tory-led government is engineering the effective dismantling of an institution held in the highest esteem by the people in this country. Under the guise of making the NHS more efficient and more cost-effective, the Conservatives, with virtually no opposition from the Liberal Democrats, are doing more than any government has done to further a neo-liberal privatisation agenda. On Sunday 29th September, thousands of people, including many students, marched on Manchester on the first day of the Conservative party’s annual conference. Their message? They are not prepared to accept what is being done to the NHS. The demonstration was organised by the TUC and supported by numerous trade unions, as well as by the National Union of Students. In the end over 50,000 people from all over the UK marched in
Manchester (at least 10,000 more than expected by the Greater Manchester Police). This mobilisation highlighted clearly the public’s deep dissatisfaction with the government’s policies on the health service. Without any mandate at all, the Tories are introducing more market forces into
Students and the wider public must act before the NHS, once a revered institution, becomes nothing more than a logo the health service than ever before, through the Health and Social Care Act. The £20 billion of so-called “efficiency savings” amount to no more than cuts, and the increased outsourcing of services to private healthcare companies is a thinly-veiled backdoor to privatisation. It is not, of course, the usual type of privatisation that we have seen before under Thatcher. Rather than selling off masses of shares in a previously public institution, as happened with British Gas in the past and is happening now with the Royal Mail, a much more subtle and slow process of privatisation is taking shape,
working to slowly introduce market forces and private profit into health provision. The Conservatives may have felt that this approach would meet with less opposition. Privatisation of the health service, however, is not just the work of the Tories, or even the Lib Dems. The Labour party has a lot to answer for too, in that it did nothing to reverse the introduction of an internal market into the NHS by the Conservative government of the 80s, and extended the use of Private Finance Initiatives, which have led to massive inefficiencies and decreased standards in the health service. Pressure has already been put on Labour, with many campaigners having lobbied Labour’s conference in Brighton on 22 September. More pressure is still needed, however, if people are to expect anything like a repeal of the Health and Social Care
Act, or the reversal of the cuts. After initially appearing apathetic about the damage being done to the health service, while education services are also experiencing cuts, students have shown themselves to be just as active as any other group in campaigning against the government’s handling of the NHS. Student groups such as the NCAFC (National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts), as well as Medsin (an organisation for student medics) will be organising a week of action on 23-30 November in order to mobilise against privatisation and cuts to the health service. The highly successful campaign to stop the closure of Lewisham Hospital in south London shows just what can be achieved and how cuts can be resisted. If more isn’t done, we may well see in the future many of our services being provided for by for-profit companies like Virgin Care and Serco. The latter are already running an out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall that was condemned as “substandard” by MPs on the public accounts committee, but will not be excluded from bidding for future health service contracts. Students and the wider public must act before the NHS, once a revered institution, becomes nothing more than a logo.
‘Red Ed?’ Here’s why this generation doesn’t really care about ‘old’ Labour Ed Miliband’s quasi-socialist policies aren’t bad. They’re even popular. But they’re increasingly irrelevant to the young people of our day and age
n his speech at the Labour party conference in Brighton, Ed Miliband staked himself some territory somewhere left of centre. Most press coverage has been given to his pledge to freeze energy bills for 20 months after the 2015 general election. He has also pledged to lower the voting age to 16 and raise the minimum wage. 5.3% of all jobs in the UK are paid at the minimum wage, and over 1.5 million of us are aged 16-17; these promises potentially appeal to large numbers of people. Perhaps most dramatic was the announcement of a penalty for ‘land hoarders’ – companies possessing land with no intention to build on it – which
was denounced as “incoherent and statist” by the Daily Telegraph. Potentially, local councils could issue ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ ultimatums to firms with the power to forcibly buy land back if refused. Almost all Miliband’s key proposals would extend the reach of the state in fundamental ways. This is not the Labour party of the 1970s, but it is the closest any Labour leader has come since. But here’s the thing. Our generation doesn’t really care. By our generation I mean anyone under the age of 30 – ‘Generation Y’ as we’re sometimes called. Studies show that we’re more individualistic, more ‘live and let live’ than any other generation. We’re sceptical of ‘big’ – big religion, big banks, big newspapers and, most notably for our purposes, big government. We vote less than our parents. In the 2010 general election, 44% of young people voted, compared to a national average of 65%. We don’t really follow set
political ideologies. According to Ipsos MORI’s ‘Generations’ survey, around 15% of ‘Generation Y’ sees itself as a supporter of a particular political party. Jump up an age level to 31-44 year olds, and this percentage shoots up to 30%. We’re also far cooler towards the concept of spending on welfare. Just two in ten under-30s rate the welfare system
This is not the Labour party of the 1970s, but it is the closest any Labour leader has come since as one of Britain’s proudest achievements, according to a report by the think tank Demos. Across the whole population, this rises to five in ten, and for the generation born before 1945, seven in ten. Increasingly, young people in the UK are demonstrating a libertarian streak. Of
all countries in the EU, Britons aged 15-35 were most likely to have started their own business. We know the state can’t solve our problems, and, increasingly, we don’t want it to. Economic strife has made us into a dogged, competitive generation. We know our problems can’t be solved by government-led superficial ‘quick fixes’ or throwing money about in its billions. Rather than empowering Goliath, equip the Davids and let them come up with solutions as individuals or in small, dynamic peer-to-peer networks. In a sense, it’s a sort of vicious circle. Ed Miliband, by the very nature of his position, has to declare policies which his party, big newspapers and older generations (who are, after all, more likely to vote) agree with. But those policies don’t inspire us. With that, our disinterest and disconnect from government grows even greater. We’ll change the world, but we’ll do it our own way.
16 • COMMENT
October is Black History Month This month, many black Londoners, including thousands of students, will be attending one of the hundreds of events that mark Black History Month (BHM), a month dedicated to the histories of black people. BHM is intended to encourage black people living in Britain to become conscious of these histories, as well as to enlarge the general understanding of British history as a whole to incorporate them. BHM was first instituted in this country in 1987 by Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Council, which was arguably the most prominent left-wing power centre in the country in an era of repeated Conservative majorities at Westminster. As such, although BHM as an idea originates in the United States, it emerged in Britain from a particular domestic political context and spirit of opposition to dog-whistle politics and racist policing. Local councils, libraries and archives in places such as Lambeth and Lewisham are important organisers of, and participants in, events such as seminars, lectures, exhibitions and debates. However, although BHM has been an important vehicle for advancing an anti-racist, pro-diversity agenda at an institutional level, it also carries particular significance at the individual level, especially for those who identify as black, including members of the University of London community.
For Amanda Elhag-Paul, BHM is important for many reasons, particularly the opportunity it affords her to critically consider the meaning of black identity. Implicit within her writing is a tension between her own unique experience as an individual, and the concept of a unified black identity on which, at least to some extent, BHM is premised. For Amanda, this tension is resolved in the act of examining that identity, a process which BHM facilitates. For Neelam Chhara, in contrast, BHM has broadly negative consequences, in that it reifies and reinforces difference rather than promoting unity. Although black or other minority identities may be experienced as real because they exist in and through the structures of society, race is ultimately a social construct which BHM helps to continually reconstruct. The ethereal nature of ‘race’ (despite Richard Dawkins’ attempts to locate it in a dictionary) is exemplified by the widespread habit in early nineteenth century England of describing the Catholic Irish as a different, altogether inferior race. Nevertheless, for Wail Qasim BHM is an opportunity to affirm an active, positive conception of ‘black’ identity that draws strength from struggles for justice. While black remains a category that carries meaning in social life, events such as BHM will continue to be necessary.
Monday 7th October 2013
Philosophy student at Birkbeck college
This should be a space for remembering the racism of the past and present
n a year where we saw George Zimmerman acquitted of all charges relating to the killing of his victim, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American high school student, it is hard to think of Black History Month as a space for celebration, so much as a reminder of the history of a struggle that continues today. This very month at the Royal Courts of Justice an inquest into the death of Mark Duggan enters its third week of ten. In August 2011 Mark was shot dead by a Metropolitan Police firearms unit. The Duggan family, like too many others in their situation, received no explanation as to why Mark was killed. The shooting was simply the latest in a long list of black people in the UK who have died after contact with the police. This is why the family have had to organise a campaign for justice. Given the context of apparent police impunity – the last police officers convicted even of minor offences after a death were those involved in killing David Oluwale in 1969 – it is hard to see what attaining justice
Why when the police kill black people is the state so lacklustre in giving the families the truth they deserve? would look like. For many families, just having an adequate investigation take place to answer their questions is a major site of struggle. The family of Sean Rigg, who was killed at Brixton Police Station after an episode where he felt mentally unwell, were forced to bring to light themselves the police’s own CCTV footage that was later crucial evidence at the inquest into his death. Why when the police kill black
people is the state so lacklustre in giving the families the truth they deserve? Each year since 1999 the United Families and Friends Campaign – a coalition of people who have lost loved ones after they came into contact with the police – and their supporters march from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street to ask this question. At the end of this year’s Black History Month, on October 26th, they plan to march again. The campaigns for justice that UFFC and others undertake often take years to get even initial information about the death. The Duggan family have just begun their inquest more than two years after the fact. For the Rigg family it was four years before an inquest verdict. Azelle Rodney’s family waited eight years to hear that a firearms officer had unlawfully killed him and we are all no doubt aware that it took almost twenty years before two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers were convicted. For those involved, this time is painful and unrelenting, with little respite from campaigns that come to dominate their lives. The rest of us are able to forget until we are reminded by (often minimal) media coverage, or by a further death. Black History Month is therefore a chance for us to be reminded of these injustices that we are usually able to ignore. What is just or good is perhaps contentious, but the suffering of black people brought about precisely in the name of state justice systems certainly doesn’t meet the lofty criteria of the just. Thus far I have mentioned struggles over deaths at the hands of the police. Yet this same injustice reaches much further. Talha Ahsan, a SOAS graduate, was extradited to US solitary confinement this time last year and has still not been tried. As I write this, Jason O’Connor, attacked by police who found nothing during their stop and search of him, is in court charged with obstructing those officers. If Black History Month is to have any historical ramifications, it has to be in the name of No Justice, No Peace! We have to join the campaigns that promise no rest for the state until justice is delivered.
COMMENT • 17
Monday 7th October 2013
One month a year is not enough for the histories of black people
As black individuals, we should use this time to interrogate our identities
Politics student at SOAS
lack History Month, if nothing else, provides a welcome change from the constant Second World War propaganda that passes for collective historical memory in Britain. However, the practice of dedicating a separate month to celebrating the struggles, advances and achievements of one ethnic group of people needs to be questioned. The roots of BHM in this country stem from the political concept of diversity espoused by the former Greater London Council (GLC). In an attempt to create social cohesion by celebrating different races and cultures, the GLC in fact cemented difference and the segregation of communities rather than creating a true form of equality and a shared sense of humanity. The annual celebration of BHM is a manifestation of this. BHM originated in America, and was a direct influence on the decision of the GLC to adopt the practice in London in 1987. Carter G. Woodson, an AfricanAmerican historian, initiated the concept in the hope that one day the history of black people in America would be considered as a fundamental part of the history of America as a whole. Regardless of this, Woodson’s aims have not come to fruition. Instead the essentialist advancement of diversity politics has created a society that celebrates difference rather than human commonalities. Although a month that looks at sidelined or ignored histories makes a welcome change from the other eleven months, surely it is now time that Woodson’s original aims be upheld. BHM in the UK seems to imply – inadvertently perhaps – that although one month of the year celebrates and recognises many successful movements and heroes of with black skin, the remaining eleven are for white folk and the celebration of Britain’s glorious colonial history. Not only this, but the hero-worship of a few individual black figures needs to be revised. I for one am tired of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, and yes Mandela was inspirational, but when are we going to acknowledge Malcolm X’s advancements for black people not only in
Law graduate and journalist
the US, but globally? Or Patrice Lumumba’s pivotal leadership in Africa? And last but by no means least, where would black people be today without Marcus Garvey’s remarkable movement? The last thing I want to do is dismiss the political debate generated in the month through various discussions and debates held throughout the UK. After all, London is certainly a great place to be during October; events range from historic walks, to workshops, to debates that discuss current issues regarding black people in the UK, as well as their history. However, this should not be shoehorned into one month, but go on throughout the whole year, acknowledging not only the history of black people, but that of many other ethnicities and cultures in the process. The fact remains
The remaining eleven are for white folk and the celebration of Britain’s glorious colonial history that many black people in this country consider themselves third generation Britons yet black history is banished to one month of the year. This idea is regressively enforced by the institutional division of people by race. That is not equality. Nor is it integration. The late great reggae artist Peter Tosh sang “I need equal rights and justice”. It’s high time we resurrected this message and opened a progressive discussion on the relevance of Black History Month. The history of black people and those of other ethnic origins should be understood as integral parts of British history – and of world history. A universal history that encompasses all histories should no longer be evaded. The categorisation of race can never be a good thing. A universal, internationalist approach to our shared history will signify real equality, integration and a shared sense of humanity that is long overdue.
f you identify yourself as black, as I do, you will presumably have asked yourself what BHM means to you. You might wonder whether one can condense the history of an entire people into a month’s worth of bitty seminars and events. What, after all, does it mean to be black, and does it even matter? It may be a dangerous generalisation to say that at least two of the questions above have been asked by most black individuals at least once in their life. It may be an even more contentious generalisation to say that at least two of the questions above remain unresolved matters or unanswered questions. The object of my commentary on this issue is not to write on behalf of all black people, but rather to offer my own perspective. Some of my fondest childhood and adolescent memories are of me sitting in BHM assemblies at school or entering essay competitions, trying to research as much as I could about the longstanding black presence in the British Isles. Later, though, I began to realise that I actually saw BHM as a reductionist mock-homage and a very poor acknowledgement of the contribution that Africans and those of African descent have made not only to the modern Western world, but to mankind itself. And yet, for all these objections, I loved BHM, because, as I realised, for once I actually felt a sense of ownership. I felt acknowledged and I found a sense of comfort because someone else’s history was not more important than mine for a change; indeed, there was actually an entire month designated for the appreciation of what people like me overcame in our past. Given the impact and power which BHM can have on the individual level for black people, one must further interrogate the category of ‘black.’ The practice of history as an academic discipline is premised on the idea that particular categories have meaning: the idea of black history requires us to define the notion of ‘black’. The question therefore follows: is the essence of black history a story about a homogeneous, separate collective of people that since time immemorial have had to
overcome the oppression of others? Again the answer is of course not. My history as a member of the African diaspora runs parallel to your history whoever you may be; just because you and I are not taught it in schools as a part of the
Black is not a simple statement referring to a single culture or even a single people modern history syllabus does not mean it doesn’t exist. The very fact of my existence proves that there is a history about a people defined as black. And so, once more, what is being black? The answer has to be that I don’t know. Being black is whatever the black person you encounter at that given moment defines as black. Being black is at the creative behest of the individual who defines themself as black. This is because being black is a diverse and even nebulous thing; there are a variety of African identities and narratives, not to mention the identities of African peoples who have long been in the diaspora, be they AfricanCaribbean, African-American, AfricanSouth American or African-Arabian, to name a few. Being black is not a simple statement referring to a single culture or even a single people. Therefore being black has to be what the black individual makes of it, nothing more and nothing less. Hence, for me, the value of Black History Month. It’s a time to question, interrogate and refine my own sense of my identify, beyond the tropes that may be presented to me by everyday life in a country in which I remain part of a minority. I figure the onus is on me as a black person to respect the multiplicity of black identities and at the very least to discover, decide and define my own black identity.
18 • FEATURES
LONDON LO♥ES BECAUSE HURTIN’ HEARTS NEED SOME HEALIN’
he organisation of the date by Cupid was a little confusing; however, in the end I found myself at this quaint little family-run restaurant that had decor straight out of a Cath Kidston look book. Although it looked like my grandma’s house, the Italian owner was welcoming and we chatted a little whilst I waited for my date. Problems immediately arose, however, when my ‘date’ walked in. I had only been told that my date would be wearing red lipstick (but “not to worry as it’s a small restaurant”); I was on my own in the place and so I presumed the first person to walk in resembling a 20ish student with lipstick on would be my date. I bounded forward from the table to greet her, and covered the ground far too quickly, as I was already in an embrace before she murmured “I’m not Beatrice”. I had just kissed and hugged the owner’s daughter! I sheepishly cowered back to my seat, now a lovely shade of tomato, and my real date almost immediately appeared. No longer a calm and collected man, I was now sweating like a beast. Though London Loves has so far pitted two people together who were diametrically opposed, Beatrice and I had an unbelievable amount in common: she had just started her term as president of The Cheese Grater Magazine Society, which I have always greatly enjoyed, and I have been president of the lacrosse club and the sports officer at UCLU. To begin with we spoke mostly about the Union and our plans for the year. I felt at times I had to
Organising blind dates is no easy matter. First you have to find two people who are willing to go on one, and very few people are. Next you have to agree a time that they can both make and book their restaurant, bearing in mind that they can only spend about £20 (yes readers, don’t worry: I’m not spending all of the newspaper’s money on wining and dining my friends). After this you have to make sure that the two people turn up at the right place at the right time. Next you have to leave your
be a little on my toes when discussing the rugby club and their misdemeanors, but I couldn’t compare it to a meeting between Xenia Onatopp and 007 as Beatrice shared with me some of Cheese Grater’s dirtiest secrets. Then, to my chagrin, the evening was interrupted halfway through by Cupid, who wanted to take a ‘few’ photos, and then proceeded to take so many I’m surprised he didn’t bring out an extra SD card. I hate my photo being taken when I’m sober, and I would have had far more wine if I knew he was coming. After this we settled into the regular find-out-more-about-me conversation, going through courses, life history and life plans etc. And whilst doing this a strange thing happened: as Beatrice has a lovely American accent, and I had spent the previous summer in America, I gambled on the topic and told her about my trip down the East Coast. Beatrice turned out to be from Maryland, which is where I spent most of my time when in the US. Weirder still is that an affiliate student from the University of Maryland, who came to UCL last year and played lacrosse, was a mutual friend. Obviously I delightfully regaled Beatrice with some of the stories of how UCL Lacrosse had devilishly corrupted her sweet friend into a notorious booze-hound. The last thing I have to say about the date is an apology, because I found when I was washing my hands at the end of the date that I had had a piece of pink paper napkin hanging from my hair for the duration of the evening! A truly embarrassing realisation and I understand if you never want to see me again.
upid had told me that my date was with a “sports lad,” which did not bode well. As a child I picked sports based on how cute I thought the uniforms were, threw up in the pool at my first swimming competition, and had to sit out in gym class after doing a sit up and thinking the pain in my side was appendicitis. I started the night strong by turning up late (having locked myself out of my flat) to find Bruce sitting alone. I’d told Cupid my identifying feature would be red lipstick, hoping it would add to the exotic mystery of my identity, but after running from Oxford Circus I imagine that the red lipstick I’d hoped would be beguiling blended in with my sweaty red face. The only other person in the restaurant was a woman Bruce had mistaken for me, who delighted in our awkward small talk. Bruce knew my name but I didn’t know his, and although I weighed the benefits of going
the whole night having no idea who he was, I decided it was probably for the best if I knew who I was sitting opposite. I definitely wasn’t expecting there to be a story behind the name, but there was, and to this day I’m not entirely sure if my date was with David, Bruce, or some alter ego known as “Brucie”. It was soon revealed that Bruce actually knows someone I went to high school with through playing lacrosse, and although I know a pitiful amount about lacrosse, I do know an awful lot about the wonderful state of Maryland. Much of our conversation was dominated by the sports culture at UCL, however, so I wasn’t able to slip in my favourite Maryland fact (no natural lakes!) or our state sport (jousting!), but I hope I held my own. I signed up to London Loves as a joke when I was a few pints into a night out, and it seemed like Bruce may have done so for the same reason. Luckily that meant there wasn’t very much pressure, and it is very possible the groups around us were more invested in our night than we were. I may not have found true love or a green card marriage, but I did get a free calzone. Sorry for drinking most of the wine, Bruce.
office, go the restaurant and take their photo. And then to top it all off you have to nobble them both to write up the date. Nope, being Cupid is no easy matter. Why do I do it? It’s a matter of duty. It’s my duty to you, the reader, to entertain you with accounts of awkward mismatched dates. And if this isn’t good journalism, then I really don’t know what is. Dare you run the love gauntlet? email@example.com
SCIENCE • 19
Monday 7th October 2013
Got the winter exercise blues? Jog on FELICITY GOSSAN
Even the humble Victoria sponge is the result of some complex chemistry Photograph: CC
Baking Bad: the chemistry of cake BELLE TAYLOR Science Editor With the start of the new term and a definite chill in the air, thoughts turn to cosy nights in and, inevitably, to baking cake. I’ve often wondered who thought to mix together flour, sugar, fat and eggs: was it preconceived or just a glorious accident? The mixing together of these ingredients is so similar to a chemistry experiment; indeed, it is edible chemistry, if you will. So let’s spare some thought to the hard work that all these ingredients are doing: what is the Chemistry of Cake? Standard ingredients in a cake are flour, sugar, fat, eggs and a raising agent. Each of these work with a high temperature to produce the delicious result we all know and love. Flour provides the structure of the cake, as the proteins glutenin and gliadin link, with the help of water, to form a stretchy web of gluten. A very gluten-rich bake is dense and bready in texture, so other ingredients are added in order to weaken the gluten bonds
and to incorporate air into the mixture. The first is fat: a shortener. Fat forms an emulsion with water from the egg whites and so isolates the water from the flour; this inhibits the formation of gluten, leading to a more crumbly-textured cake. It also serves the second purpose of coating air bubbles that have formed and helping to keep them in the cake. Sugar is important for many reasons. It prevents the production of gluten by binding to the proteins in flour. The incorporation of sugar into the mixture also leads to air bubbles being caught on the sugar crystals (and thus to a light and airy cake) and of course adds to the cake’s sweetness. The sugar undergoes a Maillard browning reaction which leads to the golden top we all know and love. Egg mimics fat by forming layers around the air bubbles; however, they exhibit one main difference. On heating, the egg (specifically the egg white) protein becomes rigid, thus making sure that the air bubbles do not escape
and the desired texture is preserved. Water for the formation of gluten is provided by the egg whites and the yolks provide a rich, delicious taste. To add airiness, a raising agent is often used, usually baking powder. This is a mixture of baking soda and an acid salt which act to produce carbon dioxide bubbles upon heating without the unpleasant results associated with too much bicarbonate of soda. The amount to put in is a fine science – too much, and too many bubbles will form, which will inevitably pop and result in a flat cake. You have been warned. Optional extras such as salt and milk act to strengthen the gluten web, although when adding extra liquid, there is a danger of making the mixture too thin. For similar reasons, the keen baker must be wary when experimenting with cake mixtures, as all extra ingredients act to change the fine equilibrium that is a perfect cake. As with all good science experiments, repetition is the key to success. So don that apron and, hopefully with a little more insight than before, get baking!
Autumn is upon us. Gone are the constantly surprising 30degree heat waves of summer, replaced by woolly jumpers, browning leaves and the doI-wear-a-winter-coat debate. Obviously, a dip in temperature makes us all a little bit more apprehensive about getting outside and exercising, but what are the physiological changes brought on by exercising in a lower climate? How does the temperature we exercise at affect how quickly we fatigue? A group from Edith Cowan University investigated the effect of temperature on a group of cyclists. They found that muscle activation and power output decreased when cycling at 35°C compared to at 15°C, attributed to the body decreasing muscle stimulation to avoid the body temperature reaching a critical level. The major problem with exercising in a hot environment is the body over-heating, potentially leading to heat stroke. The hypothalamus maintains a core body temperature of 37°C, and when the internal body temperature exceeds this, such as during exercise, it takes certain steps to cool the body
down. The immediate response to an increase in internal body temperature is vasodilation, a phenomenon where the blood vessels become wider to increase the surface area of blood in contact with the skin, increasing heat loss. This diversion of the blood creates competition between the skin and the oxygen -hungry muscles, putting greater demand on the heart to pump more blood more quickly. However, the diversion of the blood also decreases the stroke volume, the amount of blood pumped per beat of the heart, which leads to an increased heart rate. Hence, the person exercising feels more tired more quickly. In addition to greater strain on the heart, it is believed that when exercising in a hot climate the hypothalamus sends fewer nerve simulations to contract the muscles, which is perceived as fatigue, even if your muscles are not tired. When exercising in heat, the muscles also produce a greater number of free radicals, which actually do contribute to muscle fatigue. So, there go all of your excuses for not exercising during the winter. Apart from the minor risk of frost bite, there is no good reason not to. Put down your blanket and your cuppa and jog on.
Photograph: Adam Gillett
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Gold and silver for UoL rowers at international championships
Matt Bedford (left) and Wilf Kimberley fight their way to a silver medal at the U23 Rowing World Championships in Linz, Austria Photograph: University of London Boat Club
George Jackson London rower James Fox and his crew won gold at the World Championships in South Korea, while at the U23 tournament in Austria, Matt Bedford took silver, with Emily Craig and Rosa Atkinson bringing home bronze. Fox (20) races in the LTAMix4+ category. This entails four-person, mixed gender teams with impairments, but movement in legs, trunk and arms, racing over two kilometres. His boat came into the Championships in inconsistent form. In practice, they were clocking world record efforts as well as times that would struggle to win them a medal in the big event.
The crew also had to cope with trying weather conditions. The summer heat, in the central Korean city of Cheongju, can prove debilitating to athletes who have not adapted to the climate. This year was no different, with temperatures rising over 30°c. Despite this, the mood was confident leading into the heats. It was clear they had a winning race within them. With only six entrants in the event, the heat was a ‘race for lanes’ before a final the next day. The Italians went out hard, but the British crew reeled them in and rowed past them to secure a 6 second victory, and an ideal lane for the final. Nevertheless, the dangerous
Italians were handily placed in the next lane, and their quick start was a weapon capable of causing an upset. The British boat, however, proved too strong, and recorded victory by several lengths to take the gold medal. Fox hopes to build on this achievement and compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. Linz, Austria was the venue for the U23 Rowing World Championships this July, and a clutch of London-based students were part of a high-flying Great Britain team. Matt Bedford (22), along with his partner Wilf Kimberley (21) of Imperial College Boat Club, competed in the Lightweight Pair. Among the pre-tournament
favourites, they stormed to victory in their heat, and went straight to the semi-finals. Here, a strong display held off a determined Czech challenge to take them into the final unbeaten. Emily Craig (20) and Rosa Atkinson (20), who were racing in the Lightweight women’s quad, went directly into the A final after a powerful finish won them their heat. The Lightweight Pairs Final was close, and once again Bedford and Kimberley were able to hold off the Czech challenge. However, the Italians pulled clear to take the title, with the British athletes crossing the line for silver. Craig and Atkinson’s final was a tense one, with the Danes
pushing hard throughout. Strong Australian and German crews had pulled away after 500m leaving the rest to fight it out for third place. Still, after a well-structured race, the British rowed clear in the last 250m to win a bronze medal. While Great Britain took fifth in the medals table, the performance of University of London students alone would have achieved fourteenth position, ahead of nations such as Canada and Russia. Inspired by the success of previous greats of the sport, and buoyed by the events of London 2012, British rowing is in a great position, with University of London students playing a major part.
Published 7th October 2013