Friday 28.10.11 Volume 58
Students flock to The Oracle What’s for price drop Lock in Inside?
Students queuing for the event. Photograph from The Oracle Facebook Zoe Crook
Students flocked to the Oracle on Tuesday 18 October to attend Total Student’s annual Student Lock-In, eager gain access to exclusive discounts, entertainment and giveaways. Students gathered with desires to splash out, acquiring access to bargains and an eventful night. The occasion, organised by Total Student, a student event website, has run for four years. The Oracle held the ninth of 10 student Lock-
In’s this year, often housing up to 9,000 students, occurring in cities such as Reading, Sheffield, and Bath. All that was necessary to enter was to fill in a form and bring a valid student ID. Once the Oracle closed at the usual 8pm, it reopened for 8.30pm, where over 30 shops and restaurants participated, including Reiss, Office and Hotel Chocolat. Oasis, French Connection, and numerous other retail stores held discounts of up to 20% off their stock, whilst restaurants such as Jamie’s Italian
had discounts on a set menu, and Xfeet had 50% off a fish pedicure. Topshop, one of the stores participating, offered 20% off all stock, whilst also maintaining a mid-season sale. They additionally offered a complimentary tote bag with each purchase, and provided the opportunity to win a £300 winter wardrobe. Despite the event not initiating until 8.30pm, queues began to gather at 7pm, by The Oracle’s Minster Street entrance, as students keenly anticipated the event. Free samples began flow-
ing, as Wagamama tasters were distributed amongst the students awaiting the opening of the doors. Not only were discounts available, but the free event also housed many complimentary gifts, as cans of Relentless flowed, tote bags were provided with purchases from Mango, and free Krispy Kremes were enjoyed by the first 240 students to enter. House of Fraser also offered a selection of free refreshments, including vodka-orange juice mixers, Pringles and beer. Competitions provided the opportunity to win prizes, such as a £100 Oracle gift card once a month, and Lola Lo gift bags were widely distributed. The overall hype was amplified and livened by the live DJ on the top level, outside New Look, establishing a party atmosphere and creating a unique shopping experience. Due to the popularity of the event, queues were of a substantial size, causing numerous shoppers to leave, and later return in the hopes that they would reduce. After the initial surge, queues minimized as the Lock-In came to an end. Despite The Oracle closing its doors at 11pm, numerous shoppers proceeded directly to Lola Lo’s, who hosted the after party all the way through to 3am, with Tabu Tuesday’s. Shoppers benefited from the BBands that were in their gift bags, offering guest list entry prices and discounted Shark Buckets, rounding off the event in true student style.
Council says no to new Tesco application Chayya Syal
Tesco’s plans to open their 13th store in Reading have been rejected by the council after a meeting on Wednesday 12 October. The supermarket giant wanted to open a small Tesco Express on the Parsons Garage Site on Oxford Road. The proposed store would have been the 13th in Reading with plans to open a 14th in the place of the Westside pub on Tilehurst Road on the horizon. However, the council feared that the opening of this store would
have lead to increased levels of traffic, noise and disturbed residents on Oxford Road. Councillor Chris Maskell said that the application would have attracted more traffic and that would have added to the traffic chaos that they witness on a daily basis. He said that this reason alone was why the council rejected the application and went against the planning experts’ advice. He added: “Oxford Road doesn’t flow through the day, that road is very, very busy.”
The council have also dismissed claims of “Tesco-bashing”.
The new application would cause traffic chaos They said that they have regarded this as a brand new grocery store coming into Oxford Road with necessary parking, and that they had to pay attention to the issues of traffic and the overall safety in the locality.
Although council officers had recommended the store to get approval, they insisted that Tesco should only be open until 9pm because of the store’s proximity to residential areas. Councillors on the committee expressed reservations as to whether or not Tesco would agree to this condition. However, Cllr Tony Page said: “I’m concerned about the applicant seeking 7am to 11pm opening hours. I’ve no reason to believe that they regard that condition as acceptable.”
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Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Is Reading as safe as houses? Mark Powney
According to recent statistics from both the Home Office and Thames Valley Police, burglary in Reading is on the decrease compared with the previous year’s statistics. Burglary is a natural concern for any household occupant, especially for students whose lives are often contained within the few gigabytes of their laptop, smartphone or Ipod. Thames Valley Police crime reports and surveys have shown that over the last few weeks the amount of burglaries committed in Reading has dropped.
During the last month there was a total of 110 reported burglaries in Reading During the last month there was a total of 110 reported burglaries in the whole of Reading, which is a reduction when compared to the same period in 2010 that recorded 123 burglaries. On a larger scale, the Thames Valley Police statistics for 2010 and 2011 illustrate that Reading was well below the national average, with only 268 per 10,000 households being victim of burglary while the national average was set at 317 per 10,000. This drop is also apparent in local stu-
dent neighbourhoods as well, with the amount of burglaries reported in the RG6 postcode area decreasing from 65 reported incidents in March 2011 to only 35 reported for August 2011, according to Thames Valley Police website.
The RG6 postcode area is among the worst hit Although these statistics show that on the whole the rate of burglary in Reading has dropped, it does not reduce the fact that it is still common in student neighbourhoods. Out of the total number of burglaries in Reading during August 2011, nearly a quarter of those were in areas populated by student housing. Detective Chief Inspector James Hahn said that the “concentration of multiple occupancy houses is a major factor” in the cause of burglaries. He also says that “Students are young people and can be quite naive and often offenders know this and prey on them”. Superintendent Stuart Greenfield, commander of Reading Police, explained that “when you get a dense population you get a greater number of burglaries”, but this is normally an unavoidable situation for most of the students living in the RG6 postcode area as most of these are in the form of terrace houses.
Student housing is not always the easiest type of residence to protect against burglary due to the fact that it is only a rental property. Installing an outside light, which is one of recommended deterrents on the Direct Gov website, is down to the discretion of the Llndlord and may not be one of his top priorities. On top of this, with students going on nights out in town it can leave a tenancy very obviously empty, along with people coming and going at all hours of the day and sometimes night, neighbourhood watch schemes often fail to take off as there is no way of ever being certain of what is occurring. One second year student I spoke to, who has moved into a house from halls, has been burgled twice this year alone, once in July and once in September. He said that ‘with ten people living in the house it is too difficult for an alarm to be useful’. Although an outside light has now been fitted, they still only have dummy alarms as a deterrent and so he has installed his own personal motion detector in his room. It appears that burglary statistics are another piece of data that students it seems will have to take into account when renting a property, in addition to working out who exactly to live with. So even though the statistics show that burglary is decreasing in Reading as a whole it is a valid concern for students living in rented housing.
Photograph from thisislondon.co.uk
New Vice Chancellor Kate Delaney
From January 2012 Sir David Bell will take up the post of Vice Chancellor at the University. Until then, Acting Vice Chancellor Tony Downes will continue to hold the post.
Mr Bell has 30 years of experience Mr Bell currently holds the position of permanent secretary in the University’s Department of Education. He came to the university in 2006 after serving at Her Royal Majesty’s chief inspector of Schools. In total Mr Bell has 30 years of experience in the field of education, including being the most senior civil servant in the country and holding the position of Secretary of State for three Prime Ministers, so has much to offer in his new post. Mr Bell has worked his way up through the education system, originally working as a primary school teacher. Mr Bell said “I am joining one of our country’s leading universities at a time of great change for
higher education, a time in which our universities have a hugely important role to play. “The University has a tremendous reputation both nationally and internationally for its groundbreaking and world-renowned research, outstanding teaching, high quality student experience and extensive business engagement. Crucially too, it is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, a place where staff and students alike can thrive. “I was also attracted to Reading because it is an ambitious institution, playing an increasingly influential role in addressing many of the major issues of global concern, such as the prevention of heart disease, tackling the impacts of climate change and understanding the importance of food security.” Mr. Christopher Fisher, President of the Council of the University of Reading, said: “I am delighted that an individual of David Bell’s stature and reputation has agreed to become the next Vice-Chancellor of the University. Not only does he bring the rich experience of an exceptional career, but also outstanding leadership qualities and a passion for education at all levels.”
Sir David Bell, new Vice Chancellor. Photograph from Cambridgefirst.co.uk
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
Students prepare to protest against cuts and fees Chayya Syal
Thousands of school children and university students plan to march on the City in a mass demonstration against cuts in education on Wednesday 9 November. This revelation comes after experts predicted that a new wave of protests, occupations and sit-ins will kick off in London following the anti-tuition fee marches last year. The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is organising a march which it hopes will mark the start of an “autumn of resistance” in the capital.
Protesters are hoping for an “autumn of resistance” The campaign wants schoolchildren to walk out of lessons and join university students on the march which is expected to go through London ending at London’s Square Mile. The group has already received backing from the National Union of Students (NUS) and expects to attract around 15,000 people. The campaign will target the capital’s financial centre to protest about the government’s “marketisation” of universities. Michael Chessum, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, said: “Education should be a public service – not a corporate enterprise.” The group said that their protest will send a clear message to the
Government and show that they cannot get away with handing over education to markets. He added: “Last year MPs betrayed a generation of people when they voted for a tripling of tuition fees and scrapped the education maintenance allowance.” He says that the fight for education is not over and that the group is determined to set the tone for an autumn of protests if it is necessary to do so. Last November, students stormed the Conservative headquarters and barricaded themselves into university buildings across the country to protest against the rise of tuition fees. Goldsmiths University lecturer Des Freedman praised the demo as “magnificent” and predicted that students will launch more mass protests. He said: “People have learned from last year and the student movement is more sophisticated.” Edward Bauer, vice-president of education at Birmingham University said that city traders had first speculated with homes, jobs and public services causing misery for millions. “The Government is now demanding cuts to our education and the privatisation of our universities,” he added. “The city lies at the heart of the political and economic problem that caused the crisis. It is there, that we will make our voices heard loudest.” The march on 9 November will start from the University of London Union in Bloomsbury and work its way towards London’s Square Mile.
Previous student protests. Photgraphs from Ruddy’s Society
Apple Day at MERL: exhibits, fun and cider for all attendees Calum Mcintyre Rogers
The Museum of English Rural Life put on an apple-themed display including treatises and other artifacts hundreds of years old
With nary an iPod in sight, ‘Apple Day’ was celebrated at MERL on Saturday 22 October. In addition to hosting apple-themed stalls and entertainments (apple and spoon races, ‘longest peel competition’, etc) MERL delved into its collection and displayed documents and artworks hundreds of years old. The ‘Herefordshire Pomona’ of c. 1880, in particular, was fascinating to look at – they just don’t make books like that anymore. There was also a display of a working apple press by Duncan Mackay, which squeezed the juices from a mix of cider, crab, and normal apples in order to produce the cocktail of liquids which eventually turn into a lovely pint. The University also had a stall explaining its increasingly prominent role in British and world agriculture and biology, with its lead role in ‘The Catalogue of Life’ programme; UoR Professor Frank
Bisby is one of the leading staff on the project. Additionally, the University has a lead role with the Farm Advisory Services Team in curating the ‘National Fruit Collection’, the project under the aegis of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to “protect plant genetic resources for the future”. The exhibit critiqued the increasing standardisation of apple species, as more unusual sorts of apple are being disregarded by supermarkets that expect uniform appearance and taste above diversity.
The university has a leading role in world agriculture Tutts Crump organic cider also had a display on – with samples, to my joy. Although I’ve not had as extensive an upbringing with cider as I did with beer and wine (cider
isn’t quite as popular in South East London as it is in other parts of the country), I could appreciate that what they were offering was pretty flipping good.
Many sorts of apple are not wanted by supermarkets I was informed that Tutts used sweeter varieties of apples than the conventional ‘cider’ apples which produce a darker, dryer solution. I was wary of a sickly taste, but thankfully I found it instead very palatable. If you want to know more, MERL is open to visit most days of the week (except Mondays), and on request you can even view their copy of the Herefordshire Pomonary – with cotton gloves and extreme care, of course. It’s well worth the short trip for that alone, the illustrations are famously gorgeous.
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Number of foreign students double in under ten years Sarah Lienard
The latest figures show that the number of foreign students in UK universities has almost doubled in a period of less than 10 years. In a report published last week, Universities UK found a 48% increase in the number of international students between the year 2000 and 2006, compared to a 20% increase in students from the UK. The report found that China continues to provide the highest number of international students for first degree, postgraduate research and other undergraduate courses, while Greece was the main contributor from within the EU.
The number of foreign students in the UK has almost doubled in less than ten years The University of Reading itself boasts an impressively multinational status, with over 125 nationalities represented within its student body. Petros Petrou, an undergraduate student from Cyprus, is currently studying Investment and Finance in Prop-
erty. He says that it was the high quality of teaching that attracted him to studying in the UK, and Reading in particular. “It is one of the best universities in the world for my course,” he explains. “It was definitely worth moving to be able to study here.” But he also acknowledges that the experience of studying abroad brings a lot more value than just the academic side of university. “Studying in a different country really develops your independence,” he says. “Living by yourself without relying on the practical help of others is definitely a challenge.” While students from within the EU have increased by a third, students from outside Europe have increased by a massive 121% since 2000, currently making up 11.3% of the student population. As the law stands, these students can be charged much higher tuition fees than those from the UK and Europe – in some cases up to eight times as much for the same course. This has lead some to question whether Britain’s higher education institutions are becoming increasingly dependent on these extortionate fees to supplement their already inadequate funding – a situation which will only be exac-
Graduates host film screening and ocean conservation Q&A Calum Mcintyre Rogerz
On Friday 21 October, Ocean Focus screened Rob Stewart’s documentary film Sharkwater at the funky Global Café on London Street as part of ‘European Shark Week’. The poster I’d seen on campus promised free drinks for the first 10 to turn up, and since I’ve always been partial to sharkthemed media (my first ever junior school project was about sharks) I decided to bite. Arriving at seven for a half seven screening, I was at first alarmed that I was the only person to have yet turned up, but it gave me time to chat to two of the Ocean Focus activists. They were, themselves, UoR graduates of Applied Ecology and Conservation; they commented that their degree programme had limited study of ocean conservation, however, so they’d set up Ocean Focus upon leaving their studies. Eventually an audience of about seven came along, including three UoR students, who told me they’d been made aware of the screening by an email from their department. The film itself was made by an activist-journalist by the name of Rob Stewart. Stewart was filming a documentary at the Galapagos when he spotted a Costa Rican vessel illegally ‘finning’ sharks; cutting off the fins whilst the animal is still alive, and then dump-
ing the body into the sea. Most sharks can’t respire unless they’ve got water flowing past their gills; when finned, they’re immobile, and asphyxiate. Stewart then began investigating the illegal trade in shark fins, which he commented was secondary in lucrativeness only to drug smuggling for the Taiwanese mafia.
Ocean Focus is run by two UoR graduates At one point, Sea Shepherd (who Stewart journeyed with) was asked by the Costa Rican port authorities to escort a shark poaching boat under arrest. Upon approaching the port, the authorities cancelled the arresting order and instead placed Stewart and the crew of the SS under arrest instead, attempting to confiscate their footage of the illegal fishing. In the Q&A after the screening Ocean Focus criticised the EU’s policies regarding shark fishing as being riddled with easily exploitable, and responsible for 42% of Mediterranean sharks becoming endangered. The film is well worth viewing for its journalistic value. It’s not often that organised crime rackets in South America get documented so extensively, and the brazenness of their activities is astonishing.
erbated by the planned increase in tuition fees. The report by Universities UK showed that student fees currently make up almost a third of universities’ income, compared with less than a quarter a decade ago. In January this year, the director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, Bahram Bekhradnia, told the Times Higher Education magazine that it was “likely that many EU students will never pay back their loans”, raising concerns about the impact that an increase in foreign students may have on the economy. The latest UCAS figures show a 9% drop in university applications for next year, with 7,000 fewer students applying at this point compared with last year. However, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, warned against drawing conclusions from the data, saying that it was “too early to read into these figures at the very start of the applications process.” With the fees set to increase from September 2012, only time will tell whether the trend of students traveling abroad to study will continue to increase, and what effect it will actually have on the UK as a whole.
University applications fall Bethany Lunn
Applications for university places in 2012 has fallen by an average of 10%, which is possibly the highest fall recorded, except during the first and second world wars because of the rise in tuition fees to £9,000 per year. There is a huge recorded fall in applications to universities where living costs are particularly high, including applications to City University in London falling by 41.4%. The release of this data by UCAS follows the deadline for applications to medicine, dentistry and veterinary courses at Oxford and Cambridge, which closed on 15 October. This news is not surprising to those of us who applied last year in a panicked frenzy to beat the rise in fees. The situation appears to be deteriorating as university lecturers’ leaders claimed they proved that ministers “risk consigning an entire generation to a scrapheap of inactivity”. There appears to be a large fall in mature students who fear that they are less likely to be able to pay off tuition fees than someone who has just finished school. In Scotland there is a large drop in applications this year too, despite students not having to pay the higher fees. The Government promised that the change in tuition
fees would not affect pupils from poorer families, however there appears to be a drop in less wealthy students applying. The figures represent a failure in Coalition to properly plan the future of universities. They are set to cut the higher education teaching budget by 40% over the next four years. This will increase institutions’ reliance on international students who pay the full cost of their course. This can be counter productive for those applying from the UK because it means possible places that could be filled by ‘local’ applicants are given to international students who are prepared to pay higher fees.
Nearly 30 universties are considering lowering their fees to £7500 Nearly 30 universities are considering lowering maximum tuition fees to £7500 to make their institutions more attractive to students and to qualify for government incentives which promise universities charging £7500 or less have a possibility of funded student places. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union explains the problems with
this idea, “Universities simply cannot do more for less and threatening universities with fewer places if they don’t drop their prices is likely to drive down quality and see successful courses that cost more to close.” It is in the government’s best interest to lower tuition fees again, because they have realised that under the current regime some students may be left with a debt of around £50,000 that they simply cannot pay back fully. The current job market will not provide employment for everyone, and some students will not find work that pays £21,000 per year, which is the minimum needed to begin paying back the loans. This could amount to billions of pounds that are simply given to undergraduates, increasing the national debt crisis. It is clear that something needs to be done about the current situation, and the government appear to be haphazardly trying to repair the damage caused, but without any real long term plan. There must be major consideration by all parties, students, universities and government officials to come up with a workable solution, but in the mean time many pupils will never become applicants and many applicants will never become students because of the incredible rise in tuition fees.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
Student Officers get scrutinised at new meeting Zari’aat Masood
As the representatives of over 22,000 students, the Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU) student offices are the face of many opinions. The student officer scrutiny allowed a cross section of the student body to grill their reps on the promises made in their manifestos, and find out how close they are to delivering them. As a follow up to Student Voice a week ago, the scrutiny was an opportunity to go into more detail over each officer’s individual agenda, and how they planned to implement their policies. With the expansion of online voting, RUSU has become a democracy of which it is much easier to be a part. Ben Haines, VP Democracy & Campaigns, was questioned on whether there is sufficient awareness of campaigns and voting within the student body, as there seemed to be a general consensus that not enough is being done in the way of promotion. However, there was assurance that money has been made available in the budget solely for promotion, to heighten the students’ awareness of how they are affected by these campaigns, as they “want to provide incentive, for you to feel you want to take part.” Community cohesion and involvement was a big initiative for Jack Legon, VP Student Activities, whose main targets are to
strengthen communication links and make sport more attractive to students. The issue of the increasing cost of services provided by sportspark was a central one, with the subject of rising recharge fees coming up frequently. However the RUSU officers hope to lower the fee and stop charges rising for use of facilities at Sportspark, which was well received by the audience.
RUSU aim to lower the cost and stop charges rising for use of facilities at Sportspark Among the many issues raised was that of the Student Safety Net app which hopes to help students safe when travelling alone. The main concern was that of the cost of the app, however Steph Johnson, VP Welfare & Representation, explained that the app was of no cost to the university as it was entirely government funded, and that the University of Reading actually received a £500 grant in order to promote and advertise the app, which she hopes will “reach students in a slightly different way.” Along with the student safety bus, it is hoped that these new initiatives will lower the number of burglaries and assaults that take place in Reading.
Perhaps the best received news was the agreement of the university and Barclays to install two new cash machines to ease the strain on the single machine currently outside the campus shop. This accomplishment was, however, overshadowed by the issue raised on minimum card spends in most university establishments. One audience member noted that it seemed the university seemed to be “more concerned about making money than serving students”, but it seems that, due to bank charges and regulations, there is likely to be no changes in this are an the near future. When asked how he felt the student officer scrutiny had gone, Ben Haines was pleased with how many questions and issues had been raised by the audience, and hoped that in future Student Voice is able to attract as many debates and queries. He hopes to have more people attend every week, aiming for 100 by the next meeting, but highlighted that it is difficult to get people interested in democracy meetings. Voting has already started on the Student Chosen Campaign, the winner becoming the priority for RUSU for this term. The campaign proposals are that of a 24/7 study room, student finance failing students and the services provided by sportspark, so for the chance to have a say, sign up to vote online now.
Student Officers: Alex Slater VP Academic Affairs, Jack Legon VP Student Activities, Karl Hobley President, Steph Johnson VP Welfare and Representation, Ben Haines VP Democracy and Campaigns
Youths start Bridges Hall demolition early Kate Delaney
Police were called to Bridges Hall on the Wednesday 26 October in response to a disturbance. Upon arrival at the scene officers found broken windows at the back of the main building of the hall. A University of Reading maintenance person told Spark* that four youths who do not belong to the University had broken in and vandalised the area. Inside the building the youths had graffitied the walls, broken the glass in the doors to the dining room and pulled up parts of the floor. They had also thrown around rubbish and debris. They left the scene with broken glass every-
Bridges Hall vandalism. Photographs by Kate Delaney.
where and furniture strewn across the area. Bridges Hall has been uninhabited for the last year and is due to be rebuilt in the near future so the damage to the building should not cause any problems for students. The area is being cleared of glass and other vandalism and the windows are being boarded up. The doors to the rest of the halls of residence had already been boarded up but the ground floor windows had been left uncovered, so vandals managed to break in. The Police are not yet aware of who committed the crime. Anyone with more information regarding the crime should contact Thames Valley Police.
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Fortnightly Media Blog what’s going on? It’s that time again, for the media blog and it’s been an exciting couple of weeks at RU:ON TV! We’ve had our termly programme meeting to decide what new show ideas to produce and we’ve also held a series of workshops training people in Tech, Presenting and Editing. We’ve also just launched a new group calling for actors and actresses alike who want to get involved in some of the short films and dramas we are producing this year. You can find a link on our Facebook page at: www.fb.com/ ruontv. We don’t want to give too much away, but you can expect a new site to appear soon, and plenty of new shows – we’re working hard to pull everything together for a big launch this year. In the meantime there are some very exclusive interviews with some famous faces and of course a look back at this year’s Freshers all available online and on demand. Looking ahead the best thing to do is to keep an eye on our events tab on Facebook, as we are about to announce the next few events including a Screenwriters Lunch, in which you can pitch up with your idea for a short film, or even completed screenplay, and like-
Fusion- Halloween Soundclash 2
Services and Ents Forum
Saturday Union ft. Beat A Maxx
Hello one and all
next issue of Spark* out: RU:ON at Freshers’ Fayre. Photgraph from RU:ON Facebook minded writers will all discuss work and bounce a lot of ideas off each other! After all the best films were written on the back of a napkin!
Anyway, That’s all for now folks! We hope to see you at one of our events soon! Toby Rinkoff Station Manager of RU:ON
Friday 11 November 2011 across the students’ union
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7 POLITICAL COMMENT
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
POLITICAL COMMENT Neo-Conservative Interventionism
The death of Colonel Gaddafi has marked the end of a successful revolution in Libya. There can be no doubt however that the rebel victory would have completely failed without the assistance of NATO forces. The British and French led assistance meant that Gaddafi’s military advantage was strategically pummelled into a negligible state. Since 9/11 there has been a vast increase in interventionist foreign policy, a spill over from the “War on Terror”. The regime changes, first of the Taliban and later Saddam Hussein, were controversial hallmarks of Neo-Conservative foreign interventionism.
Neo-Con interventionist policy can be seen as a truly monumental success for justice Certainly there is much controversy over the reasons for entering Iraq, and those believed guilty of misleading the public ought to be further investigated until all accusations can be put to rest. Also, in Afghanistan there remain serious problems both with safety and corruption within the current government. However, given the fractious nature of countries made up of tribes it seems all too easy these days to blame the intervening forces for the troubles of an area. Even the briefest research shows how difficult it is to maintain a country when each tribe is vying for a greater share of the power. Indeed, it is these power struggles which create the Gaddafis and
Husseins of the world, the monsters whose stranglehold of power throttles the liberty of their own people.
To police the world is far from a desired end It is with this in mind that the Neo-Con interventionist policy can be seen as a truly monumental success for justice. The recent interventions may have brought their own problems, but to continue with the alternative is to neglect both justice and freedom. Better a nation struggling to be free than a people subjugated under a mad dog. Let us also not forget that the targets of the intervening forces have also been met by massive levels of success. The death of Osama Bin Laden was without doubt a triumph for justice and a moment of relief for people across the globe. The liberation of Iraq can also not be denied as to the world’s good. And further still, the military aid given to the Libyan rebels led to a victory for the people and the end of a tyrant.
Better a nation struggling to be free than a people subjugated To police the world is far from a desired end, but to protect people from tyranny and injustice, to bring about democracy and the rule of law and to help a nation prosper surely shows the real virtue of Neo-Conservative interventionism.
Occupy Wall Street, occupy everything Dominic Bangay
Last week, the Occupy Wall Street demonstration that began in New York over four weeks ago inspired a number of similar protests worldwide. The original demonstrations aimed to alert politicians to the ‘voice of the people’ and prise them away from the influence of the financial sector. It was so successful at not being moved on by the police that a likeminded protest was organised for last Saturday in London, attracting students, disillusioned young professionals, activists and the inevitable anarchists to take part. It is certainly admirable that, in a year dominated by violent protests and rioting across Europe and the Middle East, a movement that is characterised by non-violent action and peaceful protest has gone global in its expression; one must go back quite a way to see so many culturally diverse activists and members of the public throwing their lot in with a single protest group and adopting a brand moniker so freely.
more surprising was the number that felt the protest would ultimately be unable to affect any sort of change. The demonstrations are, sadly, without a solid foundation and likely to collapse simply because their demands are too varied, too vague and frankly inaudible behind the same-old anti-capitalist rhetoric that haunts these kind of events. And now that the cold weather has finally begun to bite the community that has planted itself in front of St. Paul’s will soon dissipate unless some clear leadership and a unified sense of objective are established.
Their demands are too varied, too vague and frankly inaudible The protest against the Iraq War left a lasting impression on the remainder of Tony Blair’s time in office as PM and, whilst you could argue it failed in its primary objective, i.e. persuading Parliament to withdraw the UK from the conflict, it shaped much of Britain’s
foreign policy for the next decade. Those protesters that flooded the streets of London in February of 2003 were united behind a common (albeit much simpler) objective and were led by lobbyists and politicians alike. About the only thing unifying most of the protesters on Saturday was a vague mystification as to why so many people had turned up as Guy Fawkes. Perhaps it is the near-impenetrable haze that surrounds global economics or maybe it’s simply the sheer volume of complaints the last few years have given rise to, either way, the impotency of the Occupy protests has ensured they are unlikely to cause many shockwaves on the global scene any time soon. And whilst there is clearly a sense of injustice bubbling away under the surface of the Western world, until the protesters can fully identify themselves with, and recruit from, the 99% of the population they claim to be speaking for, these demonstrations will remain ineffective and just as outof-touch as the politicians they are rallying against.
Demonstrations will remain ineffective and just as out-of-touch as the politicians they are rallying against However, whilst all those taking part in Saturday’s protest agreed, quite rightly, that their very presence there indicated a level of frustration that could not go unnoticed , many could not pin down precisely what they believe needs to change, be it in the social, economic or political arena. Even
Is economic stagnation inevitable? Chris Brook
‘Time is money’, a cliché that it seems the US government and the euro-zone are ignoring at global peril. You would not think that at the slow speed of decisions taken and constant bickering between governments that there was a money crisis that requires swift and wide-reaching action. It would be right to say that the markets will not wait for the politics and without action unemployment, inflation and the public anger will continue to rise. But it’s not that easy – this recession is different to past economic woes. Rather than a price collapse or an inflation spiral, the problem
we have today is an overburden of debt. Unlike recent recessions where governments can just spend their way out a recession, the idea being injecting money into civil projects will spark new growth, a debt-based problem cannot be solved by adding more debt to be paid off later.
If the rest of the world suffers, then so do we 2008 saw many world governments taking the debts of banks onto their own books. With government finances relatively fixed each year, its ability to pay off the debt as well as finance the public sector is
greatly restricted. The only way to change this is to either raise taxes and/or reduce spending – the UK Coalition opted for reduced spending, to varying degrees of success. Whether the rate and depth of the cuts are being implemented right is up for debate, but in comparison
to the euro-zone, where bailout after bailout of Greece has done nothing but spark general strikes and violence and the US, where political stalemate over budgets and a large increase in public debt has led to credit-downgrades and its economy barely growing, the UK hasn’t fared comparatively badly (so far). The cuts should leave the UK in a good position by the end of this all, with little debt and tighter regulation, however, this is a global problem and whatever the UK government may do; if the rest of the world suffers, then so do we. That is the nature of globalised economies - the good times are
very good, but the bad times are equally as bad.
Without action unemployment and inflation will continue to rise So as the summits and bailouts rumble on, stagnation becomes much more likely. Realistically, this will continue until most countries have paid off most of the debt they owe, so be prepared for this to carry on for the long term. The party is most definitely over and we’re in for a long and unpleasant hangover.
Friday 28 October 2011
Frank Turner finds time for Spark* What is it that you miss most when on tour?
I think it has definitely got to be my friends and family. Oh, and cooking my own food, and taking baths. I take showers, obviously, but it’s not the same as a relxaing bath!
I miss cooking my own food and taking baths. I take showers, obviously! So, what has been the highlights of being such a high profiled artist? Don’t be too modest.
I’d have to say that the highlights of what I do for a living definitely include playing to people all across the world. Also, playing with bands that I love and respect, which is really great! I guess just generally having the opportunity to be a full time traveling musician. Now, on a totally unrelated note we really want to get to know the real Frank. What is your favourite type of cheese?
Uh, mozzarella. Have you got any good jokes to share?
interView by russ, edited for spark* by Diwa Sharma
Reading University Singer Songwriters society (RUSS) managed to secure an exclusive interview with the popular musician, Frank Turner. For those unfamiliar with Britain’s hottest talent, Turner’s music is best described as folk/ punk. The singer-songwriter from Meonstoke, Winchester initially the vocalist of post-hardcore band Million Dead, embarked upon a primarily acoustic-based solo career following the band’s split in 2005. He now has a following of about 100,000 strong. With hits like I Still Believe, Reasons Not To Be An Idiot, and Long Live The Queen he has taken the UK by storm. Here is what he had to say on his success. What was the first record you ever bought? My dad bought me Killers by Iron Maiden when I was about eleven, on my request, but I think the first album I bought with my own
pocket money was a record called Transfusion by a band called Apes Pigs & Spacemen, who have been largely forgotten by history, alas.
sively, and play a little guitar to myself to get myself in the mood. It’s more functional than mystical (laughs).
Who are your musical influences and inspirations?
Is there anyone who’s not quite made a name for themselves yet, but who you’d really recommend having a listen to?
I think the people that most inspired me have got be along the lines of Springsteen, early Dylan, Neil Young, Loudon Wainwright III, Townes Van Zandt, the Weakerthans, Henry Rollins... I could keep going for hours.
Work as hard as you can and expect nothing in return, you might be pleasantly surprised Do you have any routines or things you like to go through before you go on stage? I don’t have any werd routines that some artists do, generally I warm my voice up pretty comprehen-
Ben Marwood, Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun, Emily Barker... I try to take bands out as tour supports who I think deserve more recognition, so that’s a pretty good indication of what I’m into at the moment. If you were to offer advice to prospective musicians/singer/ songwriters, what advice would you give them? Also, what advice would you give to someone who wants to ‘make it’ with their music?
Work as hard as you can and expect nothing in return, and you might just be pleasantly surprised. Your music career has been extremely successful during both
your time as lead vocalist in ‘Million Dead’, and as a solo artist. What’s been the most important thing you have learnt from your career as a musician?
The people that most inspired me have got to be along the lines of Springsteen and Dylan I think life on the road teaches you an extraordinary degree of selfreliance and independence, which is something I’m grateful for. I can survive in most situations on my own courage and wit. You talk about courage, what have been the toughest aspects of touring? Lowlights, well, the road can be hard. Touring takes you away from most things which people regard as “normal life”, which can be trying at times. But I’m not complaining.
Why did the hipster burn his mouth? He ate the pizza before it was cool. So, that was an interview brought to you by Spark* from the up and coming new society, Reading University Singer Songwriters Society (RUSS). Spark* thought that this would be a great opportunity to introduce this young and exciting society to those of you that did not have a chance to meet them during Freshers Fayre. Reading University Singer Songwriters is a new society whose aims are to get people performing in front of an audience and to write their own music. RUSS put on regular gigs at the South Street Arts Centre, the first of which is tonight (Friday 28 October, 8pm, free entry) with Eliza Shaddad headlining and support from RUSS members Phoebe Larner and Josh Massey. See ‘Reading University Singer Songwriters’ on Facebook or email email@example.com to be added to their mailing list.
Friday 14 October 2011 Spark*
The Adventures of Tintin: Billions of blistering blue barnacles, it’s good! Directed By: Steven Spielberg Starring: Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis Running Time: 127 Mins Genre: Action/Adventure
colourful as the illustrations in the novels, the action sequences are amazing and has the most fluid animation I’ve ever seen, mostly thanks to motion capture technology, every physical expression is fully realised to great effect, and it looks even better in 3D.
In the past year or so I’ve had a steady bombardment of nostalgia. That’s not a bad thing, mind, Hollywood just seems to have taken a keen eye to some childhood favourites of mine. While there’s been some that truly pay tribute to what I’ve grown up with (like Nolan’s Batman series and the recent TV and film versions of Sherlock Holmes) there are some that have ruined those sweet memories I had as a child (I’m looking at you Smurfs). So before watching Dreamwork’s adaptation of Tintin, I was worried it would share the same fate as Alvin and the Chipmunks. Thankfully, this was put in the hands of Spielberg, and not only did it beat
The film is quite clearly made from passion for the franchise rather than profit
my expectations, it has beaten most films released this year. The story is fantastic, clever and gripping enough to be engaging but as it’s a family film it’s not difficult or confusing to follow either. The film follows Tintin (Jamie Bell) and recently formed partner
Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) in search of an old treasure hidden in the wreck of a ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor, while at the same time, antagonist Ivanovich Sakharine (Daniel Craig) plans to get it first. Visually, this film is stunning as well. The style is as
The beauty of the film though is it’s cast, Jamie Bell is great as the adventurous Tintin while comic pairing Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the perfect choice for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-esque characters Thompson and Thomson. The most interesting choice of casting, though, was having a Bond play the villain. Daniel Craig has all the same suave as he did in Casino Royale, yet is as fresh as it is familiar, bringing something more sinister to make a brilliant antagonist.
The star, however, has to be the motion-capture veteran, Andy Serkis. Watching him play the eccentric Haddock is a beauty to behold, booming every line in a thick Scottish brogue that was unexpected, but fitted perfectly with the loyal but drunken sailor. This isn’t a lazy recreation of the series to make quick money, there is true care to detail and is quite clearly made out of passion of the franchise rather than profit, all the costumes and personalities of the characters are parallel to their novel counterparts.
Visually, the film is stunning This is a brilliant family movie, mixing a perfect blend of light and dark humour for children and parents, but I advise anyone who has any relation to the Tintin series, watch this movie as it is lovingly crafted to be the perfect tribute, and I only hope that the inevitable sequels will be just as good.
Paranormal Activity 3: Girls, ghosts and videotape Directed By: Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost Starring: Christopher Nicholas Smith, Lauren Bittner, Jessica Tyler Brown, Chloe Csengary Running Time: 84 minutes Genre: Supernatural Horror
to finish, which I think the first two films lacked. Although the hand-held cameras can make you feel a little motionsick at times, it certainly adds to the overall effect of the film, making it feel like you are right there with the spirits. This is nail-biting stuff and I watched most of it on the edge of my seat, spilling most of my popcorn. Even hardcore men (or so they thought) were screaming and jumping, especially when the pace picks up towards the end.
Paranormal Activity 3, the prequel to both one and two, traces back to the origins of the sisters, Katie (star of the first movie) and Kristi (star of the second movie), and their childhood dramas that have followed them through to adulthood.
Without a doubt, it is as scary as the first two Set in 1988, the girls' family moves into a new house, and beset by what seems like an earthquake, but what shows up with some strange activity on VHS, their step dad Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) decides to set up cameras
This is nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat stuff
around the house to capture and assess what's going on. The actors were strong for a horror flick, and the inclusion of the older Katie and Kristi that we have seen in the previous two movies certainly helped with continuity and to jog the memory of what had already happened. Personally, I don’t think you need to have seen the first two
to be able to understand this one, but it would help. The tale centres on the young Kristi (Jessica Tyler-Brown) who has an "imaginary friend" named Toby, with increasingly sinister consequences. Once again, it is the suspense that is the most thrilling part of the movie, particularly when Dennis sets up a swivel
camera that pans from one room to another and back. Guaranteed that if you see something strange or frightening in one frame, you have to wait until the camera pans back again at a slow speed to see more, and that is hard to bear. The good thing about Paranormal Activity 3 was that there were several terrifying moments from start
Was it as scary as the first two? Without a doubt. This was by far the best out of all three, despite some audience members leaving the cinema due to their extreme terror. The reason why all the paranormal activity is occurring is divulged at the end and is a little disappointing; nevertheless, the scenes are riveting and draw plenty of screams from cinemagoers.
FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - Looks like Bond is ditching the action! Director Sam Mendes has admitted that he wants a Oscar worthy movie for the next film
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Real Steel: It’s a knockout! Director: Shawn Levy Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo Genre: Action/Sci-Fi Running Time: 127 mins Sam Burgess
Real Steel is the sort of delicious surprise that the entire Transformers series should’ve been, had the entire Transformers series not been directed by a chimp waving a 3D camera. But no, Real Steel is, wonderfully, the real thing – it’s an action movie that is not a series of shiny set pieces, book-ended by actors gazing at each other in an apparently significant fashion. Instead, it’s a full-bodied story, complete with a plausible plot and replete with characters who ring true and clear. Jackman is Charlie, a roughneck who pits increasingly decrepit robots against other robots, suffering humiliating losses in the ring. When his long-estranged son Max (Goyo) is given over to his custody for a summer, they form an unexpected bond; but not before
they discover, buried in the mud of a scrap pile, a robot that may just be what Charlie needs to make a name (and money) in robotic boxing: Atom, a powerful and, dare your humble scribe say it, plucky sparring bot with an eerily human face. If all this sounds like done-todeath contrivance, then you can take pleasure in how Real Steel allows its characters to actually develop out of the clichéd story into genuinely interesting figures. The interplay between the leads is endlessly engaging; Charlie is not simply on a set course to understanding his son, but acts with all the uncertainty and occasional assurance that anyone would in, to them, so alien a situation. While his son seems to be as over-capable with the future-tech as any kid in any science fiction movie, he never stops being an actual child, with all the hyperactivity and earnestness that entails. Charming, too, is the treatment of the shaggy dog. Unlike the bots of I, Robot, Bicentennial Man or, heaven help us, Lost in Space, Atom is never the point, never
the focus, never shown as having something as logically absurd as a soul, even if the film flirts with the idea at times. The movie never forgets that he is the project over which the humans form working relationships, and doesn’t ever become as sickly as to suggest Atom to be an outright character. Competing as it does against a miasma of movies that confuse
great action cinema with some hearty, and quite frankly unnecessary, shaking of the camera, Real Steel is a real underdog, put together with more clarity, coherence and even style than dozens of big-budgeted pictures. See it as soon as you can; you cannot fail to be charmed.
Whenever a faun, fairy, or fantastical beast of any shape strides into a Guillermo del Toro movie, it is invariably a creature built more from blood and shadows than fairy dust and starlight. It may be a thousand feet tall, it may be twoheaded, it may be a legless goblin or an obsidian god, but it is always real. Real, insomuch as it always
has a sense of history and lineage, and that if del Toro turned his mind to it, he could make a whole narrative around any one of the monsters that populate his mind. He is unlike any other director specialising in fantasy, past or present, and his future looks just as assured. In simplest terms, no other director working today makes movies with such a command of every single disparate element. Colour in a del Toro movie is as significant as the action. The designs of the single creature or world would be enough to fill an entire artistic movement. And all of it is held so beautifully, consistently together! His integration of fantasy characters with ‘real-world’ settings is charmingly analogous to his capability to bridge the gulf between commercial acceptability and the powerful impact of his images. How he does it seems maddeningly simply; del Toro loads down every image with hidden meaning that, even if you need the director’s commentary to make it entirely clear, still hits at some primal level. The discarded shoes in the lair of a monster and in the time of the concentration camps, the recurring contrast between the cold,
10. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
What if it started raining orange juice instead of water, and icecream instead of snow? An entertaining film illustrating just how crazy the weather can really get.
9. Despicable Me
Steve Carell as the titular “despicable” character, with his sarcastic one-liners and bumbling yellow Minions, is definitely the main appeal of this comedic evil-vs.-evil showdown.
8. Howl’s Moving Castle
A colourfully rendered and richly themed animation that attracts both children and adults to the magic of Studio Ghibli.
Will Ferrell leads the voice cast of this immensely enjoyable tribute to the superhero genre with a different take on who the real heroes and villains are.
The Cinema of Guillermo del Toro: Get your freak on! Sam Burgess
Top 10 Animated Films (not made by Disney!)
6. Wallace and GromitThe Curse of the Wererabbit
The world’s first vegetarian horror, an enjoyable Claymation film full of dry English wit and comic inventiveness.
5. Chicken Run
An Aardman classic! This memorable film about chickens attempting to fly out of their prison combines the right elements of drama and slapstick humour.
4. How to Train Your Dragon
An engaging film of forbidden friendship, which manages to intersperse genuine warmth with nail-biting thrills, set to a riveting score by John Powell.
Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s bestselling fantasy horror story, this film combines beautiful visuals with an eerie plot about the dangers of wishes being fulfilled. straight lines of the human world and the warm, scarlet roundness of the magical realms... everything in a del Toro movie has triple the significance that you might first think. But what strikes you most of all when watching a Guillermo del Toro movie is that he has never condescended to his audience, even as he asks them to accept the most extraordinary of scenarios
and situations. In a movie by any other director, the appearance of a faun might be cause for a cheerful indulgence, a stop-off for a quaint encounter. The fauns in a del Toro movie, on the other hand, have always got a dagger in their pouches, and never, ever, lose the wicked gleam in their eyes. Recommended Viewing: Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The well-known parody of contemporary fairy tales, with a moral about true love and happily-everafters amid all the pop culture references and fart jokes.
1. Spirited Away
A film that offers the best of director Miyazaki’s vivid imagination, bringing to life fantastical and eccentric creatures in gorgeously drawn scenery.
FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - Director of We Need to Talk About Kevin says her next movie will be a sci-fi version of Moby Dick. That’s right, whales in space!
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
We Need To Talk About Kevin: A devil of a film! Director: Lynne Ramsay Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly Genre: Thriller Running Time: 112 Mins
less individual who is as indifferent to his family as he is to the outside world.
Probably the scariest film of the year
What should one do when one’s child is also one’s nemesis? This is the terrifying dilemma facing Eva (Swinton) in We Need to Talk About Kevin, in which she desperately tries to make sense of her tragic life and its chief character, her devilish son Kevin (Miller).
The comparison to a horror film is not inappropriate From its vivid opening scene to the bitter end, Lynne Ramsay’s stylish film is shot in the form of Eva’s flashbacks to a time, not so long ago, when she was affluent, married to a loving husband (Reilly) and living an otherwise happy life but for her disturbing son. Often to darkly comic effect,
Kevin proves, from conception to puberty, a hostile child to his struggling mother, yet acts the content ‘all-round American kid’ to his dad. While films like The Omen (1976) also depict seemingly evil children, this one is different in that Kevin is entirely conscious of his own evil nature and the misery he is able to inflict. The comparison to a horror film is not inappropriate, either, for this
is probably the scariest film of the year.
Ezra Miller is so convincing as the teenage psychopath Before the film’s tragic climax, only Eva suspects that behind Kevin’s black eyes and boyish good looks lurk a sinister, emotion-
The Three Musketeers:
All for silliness and one for blowing things up! Director: Paul WS Anderson Starring: Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen Running Time: 110 Mins Genre: Action/Comedy Jonathan Edney
Paul WS Anderson traditionally makes films that entertain at the most basic level e.g. Resident Evil (2002) and this is no exception. You don’t have to have read Alexandre Dumas’ novel or seen other film adaptations to realise that the original tale has been updated to engage modern audiences similarly to 2009’s Sherlock Holmes. In this adaptation, Aramis (Macfadyen), Athos (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) are joined by a young swordsman named D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) to rescue diamonds belonging to the Queen of France and prevent a European war. The cast all enter into the fray with gusto, with Matthew Macfadyen’s Aramis providing the film’s closest attempt at character development through his relationship with Milla Jovovich’s Milady. James Corden provides the film’s official comic relief as the muske-
teers’ servant, Planchet, although much amusement can be found from the film’s dialogue, which won’t be troubling the Oscars with lines such as ‘You must introduce me to your interior decorator’. Orlando Bloom’s Duke of Buckingham only needed a moustache twirl and he would have been a pantomime villain, although in fairness there was probably only one way of playing that part. Christoph Waltz’s Cardinal Richelieu is slightly more effective at conveying menace but one of the stranger aspects of the film was Freddie Fox’s King Louis XIII,
who aspires to match the Duke of Buckingham’s fashion sense while pining for Juno Temple’s Queen Anne. The set pieces are spectacular, with the traditional sword fights giving what you would expect from a Musketeers film. However, Anderson takes it up a notch by bringing in grenades, multiple cannons and airships for considerably louder fights that are consequently more fun. The tone throughout reflects Pirates of the Caribbean due to the cannon fire and sword play and Paul Haslinger’s score providing more than a passing resemblance to Hans Zimmer’s work. There are also homages to Indiana Jones with 3D map sequences to show journeys and a Raiders-esque vault, and the comic-book opening sequence and slow-motion fights bring this tale into the twenty-first century despite the fact that the costumes and setting are relatively traditional. Despite having only seen the film in 2D, I would recommend it in 3D, as the film’s impressive visuals and action scenes would benefit even more from this, even if the dialogue and occasionally camp performances don’t exactly swash your buckle!
In the film’s present, Eva is a wretched outcast, haunted every waking and sleeping moment by the memory of Kevin’s terrible crime and terrorised by the society that blames her for it. Blame is the key to this film. Just like Eva, the audience must decide whether Kevin is somehow evil from birth or inadvertently made so by his loving but reluctant mother who made critical mistakes in raising him. It must be said that Swinton is tremendous in the leading role, but Ezra Miller is so convincing as the teenage psychopath that you have to remind (and reassure) yourself that he’s only an actor speaking lines from a script. This is filmmaking of the highest order: flawlessly acted, directed, and boasting both a cool soundtrack and
soundscape which take you deep into Eva’s darkest memories. So, if you want to watch a genuine horror film this Halloween and can bear to watch some scenes of a sexual nature involving John C. Reilly, or even face up to the dark truth that so much of who each of us are is decided by powers beyond anyone’s control, give this great film a try. It’s contraception in celluloid form.
This fortnight at the RFT... Student Tickets: £4.50 This week at the Reading Film Theatre; A Seperation follows a middle class couple in Tehran and covers issues class, gender and religion as the pair seeka divorce, drawing in friends and family as the plot twists and turns. Also, Beginners, the story of a newly outed pensioner and how both himself and his son (played by Ewan McGregor) deal with his newly discovered sexuality. So if you’re after a truly inspirational film, head down to Palmer G10 and lose yourself in someone else’s world.
Tuesday 1 November (19.30): A Seperation (PG) Thursday 3 November (20:00): Beginners (15) Tuesday 8 November (19:45): The Skin I Live In (15) Thursday 10 November (20:00): The Salt of Life (12A) Tuesday 15 November (19.45): Jane Eyre (PG)
Prices: Members £4.50 Non-members £6.00 Annual Membership £10.00
FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - As the 23rd Bond movie gets underway, Hugh Jackman has already thrown in his bid, saying he wants to inherit the license to kill!
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
Fringe, Season 4: Is your life on the fringe? Jack Marshall
For those of you reading this that have never heard of Fringe – where have you been? Yes, it’s American. Yes, it’s from the creator of Lost. But don’t dismiss it, because this is truly unmissable! What’s more, there’s never been a better time to hop on board and start viewing. Striding into it’s fourth season after the critically acclaimed third, Fringe’s lead creators and writers J.J Abrams (Lost, Alias), Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, Star Trek) have given the show a bit of a reboot to allow for new viewers to drop right in, going all the way back to the original premise.
New Writers Wanted! Want to watch and review the latest films for FREE...? Want to give YOUR opinion on the latest TV series...? Then why not write for Spark* Film & TV?
It’s definitely an act worth watching! Agent Lincoln Lee, played superbly by Seth Gabel, is our eyes and ears for the first episode of season four as we’re effectively reintroduced to the key characters, central plot ideas and overarching storylines from the previous three seasons. There’s no doubt about it, Fringe is complicated. There are strange, inexplicable, wacky, weird and wonderful things: telekinesis, pyrokinesis, shapeshifters, LSD, genetic hybrid monsters, teleportation and even a parallel universe.
Fringe’s coverage is endless and as such draws comparisons to classic sci-fi TV hits such as Altered States and The X Files. Though don’t be put off by the science fiction (which scarily borders on being factual: each episode’s sci-fi content has roots in real science), because at the heart of this are three fantastic characters: beautiful, bold and brilliant FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), the funniest, sweetest crazy scientist you could ever wish to encounter, Dr Walter Bishop (John
Noble), and his troubled, reluctant son Peter (Joshua Jackson). The casting is superb; the chemistry as electric as the National Grid while the support cast (including a cow called Gene - don’t ask, just watch) all collate like a huge intangible puzzle to cement this show as being one of the best of the decade. Fringe is not just about science fiction – it’s about people and how their lives intertwine, interact and engage. If character was not so core then a reboot at this stage in a series’ screen-life would not be
possible; many writers wouldn’t even consider it. It is testimony to the strength of this show that the fourth season has been able to go back to the beginning to allow for a brand new chapter of storytelling, bringing in new viewers and yet keeping existing fans happily sitting right on the edge of their seats! Fringe sure is spinning a lot of plates and it’s definitely an act worth watching! Catch it on Sky1, Friday nights at 10pm.
ANYONE can be a writer for Spark* Film & TV. All you have to do is search Spark* Film on Facebook or email your interest to film.spark@reading. ac.uk You could also come to the meetings every Friday at 1pm in the Lounge
Upcoming films to watch out for: Editor’s Choice Steven Howse
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
Due to the fact that I have taste in cinema, and my balls are still attached to my body, I can’t admit that I am personally psyched about this movie. However, since the series has made $1.7billion I have to include it and to be honest its a pretty big deal to a major section of the movie loving demographic.
This film is a breath of fresh air on the movie industry. A black comedy about a man contracting cancer and his recovery with the help of his best friend. Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star.
Happy Feet 2
Luckily for the first Happy Feet, it was released with Pixar’s Cars and thus won the Academy Award. With such success, a sequel was inevitable, look for Elijah Wood and Robin Williams to return.
Think 300, but much, much bigger! Playing on the increasingly
popular greek mythology genre, Immortals stars Henry Cavill, aka the next Superman!
Puss In Boots Come on... who isnt just a little excited about this movie? Everyone knows that the best part of Shrek since the first movie has been Antonio Bandaras’s absolutely
incomparable Puss. While other characters in the Shrek series grew boring and stale, Puss in Boots only grew more loveable and it was only a matter of time before he got his own feature film.
Arthur Christmas This seasonal tale comes from the brilliant Aardman Animations
(Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit), and follows the story of Santa’s youngest son, Arthur. Okay, so this one might be aimed a little more at younger viewers, but this promises to be a nice little enjoyable film to put you in the mood for Christmas. Plus, the voice cast is superb, featuring James McAvoy and Hugh Laurie among others.
FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - With a $90 million budget, Akira is splashing out on an all-star cast with Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham-Carters set to star
Spark* Friday 2011
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
INTRODUCING Local girl-band Fanfair!
Did you know that Reading has its very own girl-band, right on its doorstep? It all started earlier this year when London Irish signed four glamorous ladies to help entertain the crowds at matches – a
day of rugby and pop, what more could you want? Enter Fanfair. Made up of Roberta, Anara, Jessica and Aimee, the group have turned home games at the Madejski into a real event, with fun for all the family. It’s a mutually beneficial deal that suits
Every piece of gadgetry has formed into something faster, slicker and smaller
In the space of ten years, one charming, chubby little fellow has grown into a dapper, highperformance beauty, sought after by every music consumer with more than half a dozen albums in their collection. Apple’s iPod has epitomised a trend of the last 10 years in which every piece of gadgetry has developed into something faster, slicker and smaller. Before its emergence, commuters on the tube wouldn’t bother faffing around with their clunky walkman and the tangle of wires that inevitably came with it. And whether inadvertently or as a direct consequence, the world’s first accessible mp3 player also spawned a few other things...
Fanfair’s music is a frisky mix of contemporary sounds. One of their best tracks, Miracle, was written by esteemed Norwegian songwriter Ina Wroldsen who’s previously penned records for the likes of Britney Spears, Leona Lewis and the Pussycat Dolls.
It’s fair to say Fanfair are in safe hands. This autumn, the girls have taken to YouTube to perform some lovely little acoustic cover versions of their favourite songs - it’s well worth checking out their take on Labrinth’s Let The Sun Shine.
The impact of the iPod, ten years on...
iTunes People tend to cite the iPod as the real gamechanger in music consumption, and indeed, in the grand scheme of things that’s definitely the case.
both sides – London Irish get a nice boost to their audiences, Fanfair get a ready-made fanbase for their music. It represents an exciting partnership and Fanfair have capitalised on it quickly – over the summer they were already playing big support slots for The Wanted. They say pop music moves fast, and these guys are right on the pulse of it. If some of the girls look familiar, that’s because you’ll have seen them around. Anara is a regular on the London socialite scene, hanging with pals like Rochelle from the Saturdays in all the trendiest Mayfair clubs and bars. She’s also modelled for the likes of Levis and even scored a cameo role in a Guy Ritchie film – now that’s what we call multi-talented! Aimee, meanwhile, is a familiar face on the pop scene; from beginnings on Popstars: The Rivals, she ended up in girl band Clea, scoring three Top 40 hits in the process.
But the real turning point came in the rise of the digital music store. Today’s chart is made almost solely out of digital downloads. Those awkwardly large £3.99 singles dominating the shelves of HMV are today housed in bargain bins and Poundland aisles and combined with the popularity of Apple’s increasingly-tiny Shuffle range, the mp3 generation was born. Limewire Whilst many were compliant in paying 79p for their favourite new track, some were spending their time absorbed in the thrill and criminality of illegal downloading. Despite Limewire and similar platforms’ initial power however, a virus-infested, inefficient and guilt-inducing shamble.
Ask a good few of your friends and you’re bound to find at least one account of somebody seeking the new Beyonce album, only to find themselves lumbered with a knock-off porno and an unresponsive computer. Last.fm/Spotify/Hypemachine/ Soundcloud Today’s current internet-addicted crop of teens are happily flooded with wonderful music apps, all centered around enhancing the listening experience. Last.fm found momentum in 2005, giving users weekly charts of all the songs they’d been listening to, Hypemachine established itself as the go-to online-hub for hipsters seeking obscure rarities and you won’t come across many music websites today without stumbling upon a smart, colourful waveform streaming player courtesy of Soundcloud.
In the past ten years we’ve seen a genuine decline in the value of music Perhaps the most berated of the above, from the perspective of those working inside the music industry, would be Spotify. A song that gains 25,000-odd plays
will pocket the artist in question a less-than-lavish £3-odd worth of cash. Nonetheless, it’s a legal, free platform used by millions. The Playlist/The Podcast This again lies at the door of the iTunes store which began with a selection of songs before expanding into audiobook, movie and podcast territory. As a result, musical curation has a new face. Gone are the days of romantic mixtapes - in comes “party playlists”, smart, niche music podcasts, the rise of internet radio. Every song has a genre and every genre has its very own playlist. Even the concept of a DJ has changed dramatically, with some chancers even turning up to club venues with just a couple of iPod docks, plugging their own housemusic playlist out to a carefree crowd.
In the past ten years we’ve seen a genuine decline in the value of music, an entire revolution in how albums are packaged and sold. Bit by bit, every artist, including, most famously, The Beatles, has declared themselves converted to the digital market. There’s very little doubt that the iPod changed music; changed the manner in which we listen to music; arguably, changing the type of music we listen to. But a few little commodities still remain: Vinyl sales have recently gone up 40%; tapes and cassettes remain in flux with independent labels and small artists; radio is far from dead; MTV’s avoided sudden death thanks to Jersey Shore and maybe, just maybe, there’s someone out there happily placing a compact disc into their circa-1997 Walkman. It’s a romantic thought.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Sour Mash
With Liam Gallagher’s poorly conceived Beady Eye project already slipping away from the public consciousness on a treacherous slope of mediocre sales and even worse chart positions (the less said about that dreary Reading & Leeds
Can Noel Gallagher out-do brother Liam in the solo stakes...?
set the better), the baton falls to Noel – the man traditionally hailed as the more talented of the brothers. That said, the penchant for bonkers band names clearly runs in the family, first Beady Eye, now Noel Gallagher’s... High Flying Birds... Birds aside, this album’s high flying ambitions are writ all over it. Opener Everybody’s On The Run is Noel at his very best, cut free from the limitations of his former band to truly indulge as both songwriter and solo musician. The result is a far richer, more involving level of production than Oasis ever really entertained – with lush, sweeping strings, the song rides on a Bond theme-esque level of cinematic scope. Dream On is pure Oasis throwback, revelling in the kind of retro stompy piano chords that worked so well in The Importance of Being Idle. The trouble here is that Dream On sounds like the
tired leftovers – the dregs that have been left swilling around Noel’s brain for rather too long. Of course, with a man of such considerable talents as Gallgher, even here the weaker points on High Flying Birds are still more than a match for any of the young upstart bands who all wish for a fraction of the success Oasis had. Noel Gallagher, the original prince of Brit-pop, and still the best.
This album’s high flying ambitions are writ all over it Truth be told, the album’s greatest asset – sounding like Oasis – is also its greatest problem. There’s not a dud track on here, but equally, a great deal of the record, tracks like If I Had A Gun and Record Machine, are nothing we haven’t already heard before a hundred
complexity in places, like the short but sweet guitar solos that give the track an edge. Liela Moss repeats “I don’t look back” in an infectious manner that draws you in so much that you almost miss the album moving on to the next track. Although this shows the power the first song has, this is also the downfall of Bruiser.
It’s clear that The Duke Spirit mean business The Duke Spirit Bruiser Fiction Records
It’s not often that a band can wait three years between albums and still return to a loyal fanbase. More often than not, fans become bored and flee, with damaging results. The Duke Spirit have been fortunate enough to surpass this problem, maintaining fans during the wait for their second and now third albums. Bruiser follows two years of hard-touring their acclaimed second album Neptune, studio time in their new London space and a slight line-up change, bringing with it an album that mixes the expected and perhaps some of the unexpected too. Produced by Andrew Scheps, who has previously worked with the likes of Metallica and Johnny Cash, the album is exceedingly sharp but with the right amount of rough to prove that they still are, and always will be The Duke Spirit. From the opening seconds of Cherry Tree, it’s clear that The Duke Spirit mean business. Whilst the arrangement seems fairly simple on the surface, there’s a
Whilst there is no doubt that most tracks on this album pull you in as they’re playing, once they are finished, they become forgettable as they begin to merge into one another. Of course there are highlights, from the heavier Surrender, with its looping chorus hook “I just want to surrender” to the lighter Villain, complete with the unlikely addition of a piano. This is seen again on Northbound, where the album again takes a dip in speed and we see the other side of the band, a definite upside to the album, as we can experience the variety that The Duke Spirit can clearly produce. Bruiser ends on Homecoming, a track with a haunting yet beautiful melody, topped with Moss’ soothing voice repeating “I will always think about the way I wanted you.” A perfect ending to an album full of highs and lows. Whilst this album has its fair share of highlights and genius moments, it’s not the album we were expecting. There seems to be something lacking to push them to the next level. Still, it’s worth a listen, if only to see if it was really worth the three year wait.
Black Swan Lane Staring Down The Path Of Sound Eden Records
A way to describe this album would be as one that invokes a somewhat delayed response. Initially unimpressive, it starts to shed its skin as you move through it, accumulating a sense of grace and a delicate power that seems to push more than pull, resulting in the listener’s ability to secondguess the album’s direction and ultimately removing any drama or tension. The first half of the album does not raise high expectations but the second half holds more promise as it moves away from half-hearted anthems and plodding, indistinguishable tracks and into a groove more reminiscent of a new-wave sound. While there are some tracks that have a certain life to them, there is nothing that catches and there are certainly no indie classics in here. As Staring Down The Path Of Sound comes to its conclusion, the final track Thaynara tantalisingly
times. Where High Flying Birds really shines is on gems like the horn-riffing fun of Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks and the stately elegance of Stop The Clocks. There’s a beauty in these songs, a soaring sense of some part of Gallagher’s spirit, trapped away inside him, finally set free. The most fascinating moment here though is without a doubt the lead single What A Life. Eschewing everything else on the record, the song jumps into a psychedelic mix of groove-driven beats and relentless piano chords – it’s not quite Noel Gallagher-does-housemusic, but it’s getting close to that. Fellow Manc legend Ian Brown has made a career out of penning weird, wonderful tracks like this and it’s refreshing to see Gallagher walking the same path; unafraid to push the boundaries – something which proved the downfall of Liam’s stale, unadventurous Beady Eye project.
What’s even more promising is that High Flying Birds is just the very start. Not one to rest on his laurels, Gallagher has already recorded an accompanying album, a collaboration with electronica outfit Amorphous Androgynous (try saying that one when you’ve had a few beers). The group previously transformed the Oasis single Falling Down into a 22 minute exploration into the very limits of sonic innovation, so things look promising. Situated at the heart of High Flying Birds, What A Life serves as the appetite-whetter, the budding shoots that hint at the experimentation yet to come - that moment we’ve all been waiting for when Gallgher will once again blossom into the flower of British songwriting perfection that over the past two decades has given us some of the greatest songs of all time.
offers a branch, as if to climb to a superior album but the leap is all too high, and one is left tumbling into the laconic, mesmeric epilogue as the lyrics “We’ll all disappear” prove true of the actual experiences of the album, and you wake to find it was all nothing more than a dream.
Missing Andy Generation Silenced
It seems like a case of pulling in all directions and not moving in any of them Black Swan Lane has previously been compared to Joy Division and one can certainly hear snatches of Ian Curtis’s ‘sung from inside a bucket’ vocals in Jack Sobel’s own, if a little bit richer. There are also definite hints of REM in the mix and Sobel’s Stipe-like whispering and it makes a pleasant and refreshing change from the American drawl or public-school twang adopted by so many of BSL’s contemporaries. This is an album that doesn’t disappoint, but that is mostly due to there being little promise of a truly stellar piece. There are some interesting shifts, but it seems a case of pulling in all directions and not actually moving in any of them. Hampered by lacklustre lyrics and a by-the-numbers approach to song construction, the album ultimately feels stagnant but with suggestions of an underlying passion that perhaps isn’t immediately evident. It’s certainly no ugly duckling but it won’t be taking flight anytime soon.
What is sadly lacking in the top forty currently is music with a message, and a purpose. Enter Missing Andy, an Essex five piece who have a voice, and actually want to use it. Their debut album, the aptly titled Generation Silenced is packed with tracks ranging from upbeat indie anthems to understated ballads, and not a ‘filler’ track to be heard. Some highlights include Kings for the Weekend, a catchy, escapist indie track and In a State, an acoustic record lamenting a lost love with lyrics that can only be described as a sort of street poetry, beautifully playing on the vocal range of lead singer Alex Greave. The boys state some of their influences as The Clash, The Jam and Blur, and it is clear to see this in their music. Their lyrical social critique could be said to falter just once, after the final track Scum, a brutally honest, almost biting perception of class prejudices. Greave speaks about their discontent at the people being branded and judged, but seems to be reiterating the message conveyed in the song itself. Having said this, the album concludes with the message the band dedicates their album to promoting, and they do just what the title suggests, communicate for a generation who are not heard. “It’s about time that someone actually made an album that means something to people” they say, and they succeed with a fantastic debut.
Parade Parade Warner
For British girl group Parade, it’s all in the name. When I first interviewed the band earlier this year, I described to them how their name conjured up the image of a marching-band type procession traipsing down the road, trailing a banner of brilliant pop colours amidst a world of grey identikit stars who pursue trends like their life depended on it. Parade are something refreshingly different, five incredibly down to earth, street-smart girls who come with the looks and the tunes to win a nation of music-lovers around.
Debut single Louder did exactly that. From its beginnings on the Rimmel adverts through to it landing a place in the UK Top 10, it set the agenda loud and clear – Parade had arrived. Along with its followup, Perfume, Louder mined a vein of sleek, modern R&B-laced pop that played to all tastes. A little bit of this, a little bit of that; the girls were just right for this age of instant-access audience gratification – forget The X Factor and its public votes, Parade were right there, leading the charge on Twitter, chatting with fans and getting feedback on exactly what their next move should be. Here was a band that were evolving right in front of the public eye – an exciting new group for the Internet age. What of their self-titled debut album then? Alongside the confident duo of singles, Ticking On It stands out as an obvious highlight - pop at its most pure. It might be nearly winter now, but this track’s sun-kissed vibes and calypso rhythms can make us believe the last hints of summer are still hanging around for a while yet. With its snazzy little horn riffs and slap bass, this is good old fashioned pop, the way it should be done. The vocals are light, carefree; the voices of genuine goodtime
girls instead of sexed-up pop puppets. Like You feels like a close cousin to Ticking On It, more sunny vibes and party grooves and the middle eight is brilliant. A track devoted to finding the right boy and all the things this ideal man will do, it underpins the core Parade ethic: the band work because their songs speak out to their target audience. Just A Girl strikes out for a kind of limbo between Beyonce’s forceful, empowered anthems and the soulful Supremes style retro-pop that’s all the rage at the moment. It’s a mix that really gels together and gives Parade what could quite easily be a toasty Christmas hit. You can practically imagine the jingle bells on this track already.
The vocals are light, carefree the voices of genuine goodtime girls Looking again to the big US stars, Knock On My Door is fizzy lighthearted stuff that could slot effortlessly onto a Rihanna or Katy Perry album. Of course, Parade, the track – like all the album – is given an unmistakeably British sheen. It’s playful, coquettish, always there with a cocked
eyebrow or a wink. Parade never take themselves too seriously, and the freedom and fun that affords them comes through time and time again in the songs. Stars, with its hypersonic trancey synth riff, is properly amazing. Oh, and the girls even get to rap on it. The fans have been raving about this song ever since they heard a snippet of it on the album mini mix and you can hardly blame them, it’s a real all-out club banger. Stars is one of those instant ‘my god this is the one’ tracks. ‘We’re looking like stars in here,’ sing Parade, hitting on that feeling of rocking up in a club, feeling absolutely on top of the world - Nothing anyone says is going to dent that rock solid confidence, not tonight. Next up are the super glossy midtempo R&B jams that are Shoes, Pretty Ugly and Yes You Are. Both are at heart classic ‘stand up for womanhood’ anthems, retail therapy in musical form. Those pick yourself up and dust yourself down moments, a call to turn things around with an immovable positive attitude. Parade don’t give you a chance to be sad, upset or down – if you’re with them, you’re having fun: Fact. That sounds pretty good by us. Weatherman is of much the same
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
shape, throwing a lovely 80s riff into the pot too. These four tracks are the meat and gravy of Parade’s debut album, the foundations from which a pop career is built – this is their sound, their stamp. In a world where Sugababes members change every few years and bands are dropped from their labels at a moment’s notice, establishing that unique place for yourself in the market is crucial, and in the consistency and togetherness of their album, Parade have certainly achieved that. For me though, it’s the final track Rollercoaster that stands out as the strongest statement on Parade’s debut. It’s sure-fire single material; upbeat, sexy, and riding on a filthy synth bassline – the vocals are pumped through all kinds of distortion, racing to keep up with the relentless pace of the track. Teasing, catching; the girls have all bases covered here and by the time it gets to the laser-tastic sci-fi middle eight you’re lost, bewitched, whatever you want to call it – just watch the YouTube video of the band performing the Rollercoaster dance routine and you’ll know what I mean
SINGLES Enter Shikari sink their fangs into a bit of grime... ‘grime’, which reminds me of the music that the kind people at the back of the bus used to play for me on the way home from college.
tones, an intriguing style similar to that of Thom Yorke and Bon Iver of recent times. The exquisite guitars of Benny Little are no more than what we’ve come to expect from this band as the sound hastily gallops towards a climax, before petering out into nothing (a recurrent technique of theirs).
A guitar riff wraps its viper-like fangs around you
Enter Shikari Sssnakepit Ambush Reality
The only way I can describe Enter Shikari’s new single Sssnakepit is to give you, the reader, yet another bizarre analogy. Imagine if you will, that a ‘Chav’ and an ‘Emo’ are two completely different elements on the opposite sides of the periodic table. This is the highly explosive compound they form, when polymerised in a secret underground military research facility. The track misleads you with an eight-second pop intro, which is suddenly hijacked by venomous
Twenty-five seconds later and, out of nowhere, a guitar riff wraps its viper-like fangs around you. The poison seeps into your veins, leading into the shouting post-hardcore genre that Enter Shikari execute so well. You are left chanting along to the chorus until the song reaches its climax – the breakdown! This certainly sends you spiralling down into the snakepit and is personally my favourite part of the song. My criticism of this track, is that it just doesn’t seem to know what it is. I know Enter Shikari like to mess around with a combination of genres, but it feels like they’ve crammed too many into this one. However, it is a good song overall and I am definitely looking forward to the release of their as of yet unnamed album.
It has a melancholic after-taste Wild Beasts Reach A Bit Further Domino Records
With a few months passed since the release of their third LP Smother, new single Reach a Bit Further provides us with tales of love, loss and longing that are ever present in Wild Beasts’ repertoire. Much like a lot of Mercurynominated Two Dancers, Hayden Thorpe and Tom Flemming’s back-and-forth vocals dominate proceedings, giving the initial easy going style a more melancholic after taste; Thorpe seems to have perfected the art of presenting angst through beautiful falsetto
Familiar rattling drumbeats seem to complete this already practiced formula. But with the success that came from their previous album, who can blame them for sticking to their guns. And despite the overwhelming sense that this could be on any of their three albums, the pleasing delivery makes up for it. As a result, the whole thing gives off a feel you might call cathartic, but these terms are best left at home when dealing with young indie bands from Cumbria, we don’t want to get too pretentious. A more fitting perception of this jaunty number would be a genuine, energetic love song, not unlike much of their previous work.
Helena Beat Foster the People Columbia Records
Helena Beat is the follow up to debut hit single Pumped Up Kicks from the album Touches. The high pitched vocals and synths running throughout mean the basis for the single follows in Foster the People’s previous direction. The song may be judged as simple repetition, but why change a combination if it works? An easy flowing dance floor track, the song echoes back to the sounds of early MGMT and Daft Punk, but with MGMT’s latest offering taking a move in a different direction, Foster the People have been able to occupy this synth-rock scene. However, the ‘woos’ and ‘hand-claps’ on this tune might be considered a little generic. Will it pass the test that the first single seemed to manage with its eyes closed? Will it create the same hype on the beer splattered, sticky dance floors at indie nights around the country? We will have to wait and see.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
Arts&BOOKS One woman, one man,one confrontation Review of Blackbird Progress Theatre, Reading Thursday 20th October 2011 Chris Grove
Blackbird starts in a smoke filled room, filth and garbage strewn about the stage. Over the next 90 minutes the play that unfolds is challenging, awkward in some places but worth the effort. I am not sure what I was expecting from Blackbird, but this was certainly not it. Strangely, this is also one of the most compelling features of the play: the audience only knows that a woman has tracked a man down for a confrontation before Blackbird starts, a fact which allows the full impact of Blackbird’s themes to be expressed whilst stopping the audience from judging the play (and it will be judged) as something too serious to see. Blackbird, at its heart, is a play about rejection, confusion and love.
Being largely acted by just two actors (Sumner Smith and Matt Tully), Blackbird uses the same minimalist style found in Beckett’s work (Endgame). This can be confusing at times, particularly when the jarring dialogue repeats in the play’s single scene. However, it reflects the awkward situation that Una (Smith) and Ray (Tully) find themselves in perfectly. Una herself does not seem to know why she has tracked Ray down, switching from one emotion to the next, something which defines the confusion she feels. Smith and Tully manage admirably to hold the audience between them, and though the acting at the beginning was slightly stilted, this also works as a stylistic affectation in keeping with the style of the play. Smith and Tully bring across the awkwardness of the situation very well, it being clearly discernable that neither character quite knows what to do. That the actors take their time to explore their thoughts is possibly the
greatest achievement of this play: it wouldn’t work without the audience managing to see the gradual development of each character. In many ways this play is about Una’s attempt to reach an epiphany.
A play about rejection, confusion and love This play is not all seriousness though; it does have several memorably funny moments that relieve the play’s tension, notably some suspicions that involve Kleenex. The minimal lighting and props also provide an unexpected delight in that they force the actors to remain the focus of attention and resulting in magnifying their impact when they are put into use. In short, this is an intriguing play to come and see, and though it does require an open mind before you enter the auditorium, don’t let that put you off a play which has so much to offer.
Arbeit macht frei Review of The Passenger English National Opera Jim Birdsall
Arbeit macht nicht frei. It takes guts to write an opera set in such a wretched place as Auschwitz. Mieczyslaw Weinberg's The Passenger takes us into right into the camp alongside the prisoners and their captors. Walter is a German diplomat on a ship heading to Brazil with his wife Liese Franz. Walter is your typical post-1945 guilt-ridden Germanic but Liese has real reason to feel guilt as it soon unravels that she was Commandant Franz in her earlier years. The drama unfolds as Liese suspects she recognises a woman called Marta onboard the ship; one of the prisoners of the camp with whom Liese had a curious relationship. Marta's presence on the ship shakes Liese's world and is cause of much anxiety and this leads to a series of Auschwitz flashbacks-this is our way into the camp. Soon after this, the setting shifts from the ship to the camp and there is a trio of SS Officers expressing boredom at their current situation yet grateful that they are at Auschwitz rather than Stalingrad. Their subject matter was dark in the extreme, one of
them expressing the desire for the camp to process one million people per day, but this trio had a slapstick quality to it in the way they sing, the way they sit, and the way in which they have no idea how much they will be condemned by the civilized world for what they are doing. Brilliant low voices all three of them but the opera as a whole suffered from there being a lack of male voices as most of it was dominated by women.
Their subject matter was dark in the extreme The drama at the camp focuses on a group of female prisoners who are from all over Europe, now with close-cropped hair and wearing dirty striped rags. The women share stories about their homes, one French woman teaches another prisoner her tongue in the hope that one day freedom should allow a visit to France, prisoners discuss God and wonder if the Germans have a god, a Russian woman sings a beautiful folk song from her motherland, unaccompanied, in one of the highlights of the opera. At times I felt like a fly on the wall and maybe that's the best
way to approach a subject like this, not by trying to give a total history but by focusing on the stories of individuals and spending some time with them, absorbing the banality and helplessness of their situation. The German characters in the opera all sung in English which although was good because it wasn't necessary to look at the surtitles, it was odd because this whole event in history is so deeply associated with the Germanic that hearing our own language spoken detracted from the authenticity and realism of the drama. Act 2 opens in a strangely beautiful way as the lights from back stage illuminate the characters as they work and bring equipment to the front of the stage. The lighting works very well throughout-a particularly good touch was to have two men in uniforms on either side of the stage in towers pointing down searchlights onto the stage. The realism in general is astounding-at one point a recording of a Waltz is played and it sounds like it's coming from a phonograph with that characteristic reverb of older amplification systems. Marta's man is Tadeusz, a fine fiddler who is requested by an officer to learn to play the Commandant's favourite waltz. This waltz is in-
terwoven into the music superbly by Weinberg and he clearly did his job well because that music didn't leave my head until I fell to sleep, it kept coming back to me like a bitter-sweet memory. One of the characters described it as 'the waltz from Hell'. Tadeusz is put in front of the SS Officers and prisoners so he can play this waltz but instead, in an act of defiance he plays instead Bach's Chaconne. The juxtaposition of this Baroque piece in the middle of all this degradation and violence was beautiful. The orchestra gradually joined in with the solo violinist until he was beaten and taken away by the SS thugs. The score was very percussion-rich and much like Shostakovich at times with his Eastern European sounding orchestral drive. Most of the vocal music is unremarkable but it was delivered well and convincingly by the singers.
The realism in general is astounding After Liese initially suspects that the passenger is Marta she has a panic and tries to convince herself that “all's forgotten”. I'm sure we all have events in our past that we would not like to be brought up,
things have a way of creeping up on one when one least expects itthis the premise for the story. And what a hell of a story it is; there is an amazing role reversal in that in Auschwitz Liese was in a position of control and Marta was at her mercy, now on the boat it is completely the opposite. The way the stage works in relation to this is ingenious yet simple; on the top half there is the boat scene and then underneath there is the camp. Whenever Liese is in the camp she is in her SS uniform but in the final scene when she is forced down there by the veiled Marta she is taken down in her frock that she was wearing to the dance. Marta had asked the band to play the Commandant's waltz and this confirmed to Liese that the passenger was indeed Marta. It was a brilliant dramatic device and was the perfect way to begin Marta's confrontation with her former captor. Interestingly, the last words sung in the opera are from Marta. All this and it was Weinberg's first opera and he never saw or heard it in his own lifetime. This composer is recently having some sort of revival, partly thanks to our own David Poutney, the director of this production. He's certainly someone worth looking out for.
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Don’t miss the Whitley Arts Festival! Whitley Arts Festival Reading 13 - 30 October Roxana Tohaneanu-Shields
Reading is held to be famous for the three Bs – Biscuits, Beer and Bulbs. This is what I tell people who ask me where I study and live when I go abroad. But then I feel compelled to tell them much more than that; there are a number of good pubs in Reading, two excellent art centres, two theatres, a museum, the Oscar Wilde gaol, the Reading Abbey, the pop festival, the university with its Beckett archive, and the wilderness, and since 2004, The Whitley Arts Festival. The Whitley Festival presents an eclectic multi-disciplinary combination of visual arts, theatre, music, installations, film, performance, seminars and workshops. This weekend is the last opportunity to take part in this autumn’s art festival; there is an art trail this Friday evening on Litton Road and The Experimental Film Festival at the Rising Sun Arts Centre on Saturday. What intrigued me the most was the variety of venues which are involved in this cultural celebration: pubs and coffee shops (The Retreat, The Butler, Blagrave Arms, Workhouse Coffee Shop and Picnic), art centres and galleries (Raising Sun Art Centre, South Street Arts Centre, Open Hand Open Space, Jelly and Takeaway Gallery) and different urban areas (St Mary’s Church or Litton Rd). I was interested in having an intimate look at the intricacies of creating a contemporary cultural practice that was specific to Reading as a place so I interviewed Jo Thomas the curator of the Whitley Art Trail which takes place this
Friday between 5-9 pm in Whitley, South Reading. I asked Jo what the Whitley Arts Trail was and she told me that the trail takes place in five locations that meander through the streets of Whitley, starting in Litton Road and ending up in Dawlish Road. She explained that the aim of such an artistic endeavour is an attempt to look at different ways of engaging with places and people and to draw the audience attention to the relationship between art and home; ‘Rather than public buildings, or artists' homes, the work will be found in everyday homes. Residents of Whitley have volunteered their homes for the night, to allow friends, neighbours and other visitors to experience their works. ’
The trail is an amazing effort of all the people involved My next question then was about how many people are involved in the art trail. Jo responded that there are three groups of people who interacted to create the trail: the artists, Mark Aerial Waller, T. R. I. P. O. D. , Steve Mcpherson, Martin Creed and Ann Rapstoff, the Whitley community and the volunteers from Reading College and the university who are helping with stewarding the trail. Speaking about the double role that she has as both practising artist and curator I asked her if the trail itself is an artwork and how it is related to her own art? Jo’s response was that by creating the trail she gained new insights into how other artists work which in turn illuminates her understanding of her own practise. She also add-
ed that; ‘It was really important to me to work with people in their homes rather than creating a 'gallery' in a living room. The work is being experienced in homes. It will be interesting to see what this brings to visitors’ experience.’ On the art trail leaflet there is an interesting question that highlights Jo’s motivation for creating such an artistic trail; ‘What happens when the context of an artwork shifts, what infiltrates the ordinary to become extraordinary?’ The trail is an amazing effort of all the people involved and Jo is very enthusiastic about the artists and their take on the concept of a sense of place. She patiently unravelled each artist’s work and their thoughts about the Whitley area and the homes involved. I quote a short paragraph about one of the artists; ‘Mark Aerial Waller is an artist working in video, sculpture and event based practices. His work explores arcane gateways between reality and fiction, transfigures the distinction between past, present and future, and eradicates boundaries between low and high culture. His work for the Whitley Arts Trail is a film entitled Karpouziaaa which documents a Saturday in 2009 and shows a live and relaxed portrait of the amazing characters and community of Whitley. ’ I can’t wait to take part in this peripatetic art work this Friday 28 October at 5pm. The festival website (www. whitleyartsfestival. co. uk) has all the information about each event. If you want to spend a weekend immersed in art, what better place to start then Litton Road, for the art trail on Friday and Silver Street on Saturday for the experimental film festival. Enjoy!
Images courtesy of; www.whitleyartsfestival.co.uk
Halloween special: terrifying reads! Let The Right One In John Ajvide Lindqvist Nadine Michaels
Orginally a Swedish novel and now a major film, Let The Right One In is a terrifying supernatural story yet also a moving account of friendship and salvation. Oskar is a 12 year old boy living with his mother on a dreary housing estate at the city’s edge. He dreams about his absentee father, gets bullied at school, and wets himself when he’s frightened. Eli is the young girl who moves in next door. She doesn’t go to school and never leaves the flat by day. She is a 200-year-old vampire, forever frozen in childhood,
and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood. Oskar and Eli befriend one another, and at first Oskar is happy to have found a friend, but soon realises his new friend is not all she seems.
A terrifying supernatural story Let The Right One In is an immensely readable and highly disturbing book in which grim levels of gore and violence are tempered by an unexpected tenderness. It mixes a `coming of age' story of friendship and love, with the horror of the supernatural. Not for the faint-hearted!
The Witches Peter Curtis Nadine Michaels
Set in 1959, an 'old-maid' schoolteacher, Miss Mayfield, is sent home from her missionary school in Africa because of her own illness, accompanied by a nervous breakdown, and after an unhappy time at a horrid comprehensive school, lands a job as a headmistress at Walwyk village, a beautiful English community kept in rather feudal manner by one Canon Thorby. Miss Mayfield soon begins to suspect that some of the villagers are practicing witchcraft and have a young girl, Ethel Rigby, in mind
for a mysterious but darkly ominous purpose. She feels she must protect the girl, but what can she do? Who will help her? Can she ven trust anyone?
some of the villagers are practicing witchcraft and have an ominous purpose When one of her potential allies is killed and the other frightened off, she realises how nasty things can get in lovely, secluded Walwyk, but, nevertheless, sets out to save Ethel from a fate worse than death.
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
reduce CoppaFeel, people! Cancer: your risk Sarah Lienard
It is estimated that cancer will affect four out of ten of us at some point in our lives. Although there are numerous factors that determine whether or not an individual will contract the disease, many experts believe that making healthier choices could help reduce your risk.
Eat a Healthy Diet
COPA FEEL ON Campus, edited by REnate cumming-benson
As young women we all want to look and feel our best, but when it comes to serious illnesses like breast cancer we more often than not turn a blind eye; breast cancer is a disease for women over 40, right? Try telling this to Kristen Hallenga, who at 23 was misdiagnosed twice for the disease. Now living with secondary breast cancer, Kristen decided that instead of simply recovering she wanted to make young women aware of the fact that breast cancer does not discriminate according to age, and so in 2009 the CoppaFeel! campaign was born. The CoppaFeel! people want you to do just what the name of their charity would suggest- get a hold of your boobs and check them for lumps. Contrary to what the NHS might have us believe, young women are at risk of breast cancer, but the good news is that if caught early it can be treatable;
it’s just a case of being aware of any changes or abnormalities that can then be brought to the attention of your doctor. Don’t be shy, knowing your boobs could save your life. To spread the message, CoppaFeel! Student Boob Teams will be on campus this term as part of their “Hello Boobs!” campaign (a pastiche of the 1994 Wonderbra ad “Hello Boys!”), encouraging young women to get to know their boobs better by naming them. Everyone who takes part will have the opportunity to sign up for CoppaFeel!’s free SMS reminder service, which sends you a text once a month reminding you to check yourself. You can set up this free reminder by texting BOOBS (boob name) and (boob name) to 70300. Alternatively, look out for members of the Boob Team around campus, who will be organising a whole host of activities to get involved in. Visit the official website at www. coppafeel.org for more information.
Protect Yourself Know Your Boobs Getting to know your boobs is important so that you are aware of what’s normal and what isn’t. Checking your boobs for the first time and aren’t sure what you should be looking for? Ask your GP or nurse to check them for you so you know what they should feel like in their ‘normal’ state.
Check Yourself Check your boobs once a month for any abnormal changes (see Coppa Feel’s symptom checker if you aren’t sure what’s normal and what’s not) and if something isn’t quite right, do not hesitate to contact your GP.
Be Persistent You are young, and according to your doctor it’s not worth doing any more tests because you are at a low risk because of your age. It’s your body, your health and your life- ask for a second opinion and don’t take no for an answer.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related, but luckily, it’s one of the easiest areas you can change. It’s important to aim to eat a variety of foods in your diet, as there isn’t one particular chemical that protects against cancer, but a whole range. We’ve all heard of getting our ‘five a day’, and with good reason. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables could reduce the risk of mouth, lung and stomach cancers, and some studies have found that people who eat the most of these foods can lower their risk of cancer by about a quarter. As well as increasing overall consumption of vitamins and minerals, plant foods are a good source of phytochemicals, which help protect your cells from damage. Fruit and vegetables are also a great source of fibre, which can reduce the risk of bowel cancer by a quarter. Try swapping white bread, pasta and rice for brown, and eating wholegrain products such as oats, and even popcorn (in moderation). There is also evidence to suggest that red and processed meats, such as beef and ham can increase the chances of developing bowel cancer. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the occasional steak, but on average the government recommends aiming to eat no more than 70g per day – that’s three rashers of bacon, or two sausages. Another risk factor is high intakes of salt in the diet. Even if you don’t add it, many foods contain more than you might think, such as ready meals, jarred sauces and baked beans. Paying attention to labels can help you make lowersodium choices. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends aiming for the lower end of the healthy weight range to prevent cancer - between a BMI of 18.5 and 24.9. Being overweight can wreak havoc with hormones,
increasing chances of cancers of the bowel, breast and others.
Quit smoking Smoking is one of the most damaging things you can do to your body, and inhaling secondhand smoke can be almost as harmful. Of the over 7000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, 250 are known to be harmful, and 69 have been specifically linked to cancer. Smoking doesn’t just cause cancer of the lungs – it can also affect the mouth and throat, pancreas, stomach and cervix. But here’s the great news – quitting smoking, or even just reducing your intake, can greatly cut your risk. “The earlier you stop, the greater the impact,” says Hazel Nunn, Cancer Research UK’s health information officer. “But it’s never too late to quit. People who quit smoking at the age of 30 live nearly as long as non-smokers, and those who quit at 50 can still undo half the damage.”
Wear sunscreen Taking care when you’re in the sun can help you avoid more than just a red face. Luckily, skin cancer is one of the most easily preventable types of cancer - just wearing sunscreen when you’re out and about can cut your risk significantly. Stay out of the midday sun, spend time in the shade and definitely give tanning beds a miss. Bottled or spray tans can give a similar result, without damaging your health.
Limit alcohol intake It’s not popular news, but drinking, even if you don’t get drunk, has been firmly linked to seven types of cancer. While no-one’s expecting you to turn tee-total straight away, simply limiting yourself to two drinks a day for men, and one for women, can greatly cut your risks of cancer, as well as improving your concentration in lectures! The overwhelming evidence shows that it’s never to late to make a change – anyone can reduce their risks, no matter how many years they’ve been smoking, drinking or completely avoiding vegetables. The key is to take small steps that will build up over time, and make a huge noticeable difference to your health in the long term.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
Food Peckish? Lunchtime decisions made easy chine is working).
1pm on campus and the lunchtime rush is at its peak. You’re feeling a bit peckish - be it from a hard morning’s work or that lingering hangover - and you can see queues forming at eating establishments left right and centre. Which one do you join? Whatever your needs, Reading Uni caters for them, and with the help of this article, you need never hesitate to choose again. University-run eateries (anywhere with ‘Eat’ in the the title) Eat at The Square – 9am-3pm MonFri Best: choice of food The swanky new dining location boasts the widest variety of foods of the Eat establishments on central campus, including a ‘deli bar’ of baguettes and salads, a hot meal ‘servery’ of lasagne and curry, and a ‘fusion’ counter for stir fries and pasta dishes. I can’t flaw the food, but the clinically contemporary decor and bright lighting makes the space a little intimidating for a lunch venue, especially if you are dining alone. I can’t help but feel they could have made the space a little more comfortable for a student eatery. Cafe Libro – 8am-10pm Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm Sat-Sun Best: late night coffee boost Cafe Libro’s staff promise me ‘the best coffee on campus’ – important for those long library sessions! They offer the standard selection of Eat sandwiches, salads, wraps and fruity drinks - which I have to say I do find get repetitive across campus, especially in the smaller Eat venues. The staff and atmosphere are welcoming though,
Eat at the Square. Photograph by Petrina De Gouttes making me want to venture into the library, which can only be a good thing. Dol.cHe Vita – 8am-9pm Mon-Fri Best: sandwich selection This cafe provides a range of sandwiches, salads and wraps, a variety of pastries and cakes, and hot foods ranging from soup to paninis. Soya milk and vegan options are also available. If anything, Dol.cHe Vita is held back by its limited seating, especially in winter. Staff promise good customer service, and claim that though some people find them pricey, it’s worth it for the quality. Eat at HumSS – 8.30am-4pm MonFri Best: keeping it simple The standard Eat menu plus pies, potatoes and paninis, HumSS offers a cheaper and more relaxed lunch venue than the swanky cafes. Nothing special but no complaints. Student Union-run places (yes, those bars you so often stumble
into drunk also do food!) Mojos – 12pm-9pm Mon-Sat Best: atmosphere Call me biased, but with relaxed pub-style decor, booth seating, quiz machines and pool tables, and Junction 11 playing in the background, Mojos has the best atmosphere of any of the places to eat on central campus. It’s a great place to come relax with friends for reasonably priced pub grub and a few cheap beers, and food can be made in take away boxes if you want a proper warm meal to take home for dinner, but don’t come for lunch at peak time and expect to grab it and go, as food can take up to 45 minutes when busy. The menu is regularly reviewed and improved, with new additions this year and weekly specials. It also caters to Halal and vegan dietary requirements (though the vegan options are a little uninspiring). Beer and burger deals and 2-for-£6.50 deals operate from 4pm daily, and card is now accepted for orders over £5 (if the card ma-
Cafe Mondial – Breakfast from 8.30am, Lunch from 12pm Mon-Fri Best: for a working lunch Cafe Mondial offers a bright, relaxed space, comfy sofas, free international newspapers and a wide variety of fair trade herbal teas and coffees (available flavoured by every syrup known to man), making it the ideal environment for a study meeting over lunch or to unwind with a newspaper and slice of cake. You can expect to find freshfilled baguettes, hot soup and tasty cakes on the lunch menu, with sausage or bacon baps, porridge pots or toast available in the mornings ideal to pick up en route to early lectures in the mornings. Collect eight hot drinks stamps and get one free with the wicked loyalty card. Double stamps are awarded if you bring your own mug, making this coffee offer the best on campus. Jacket Potatoes in Upper 3Sixty – 12-2.30pm Mon-Fri Best: for peace and quiet Many of us are familiar with drunkenly grabbing a portion of cheesy chips on a union night but you may not be aware that jacket potatoes are also available from Upper 3Sixty. A mere £1.50 per potato and topping makes for a really cheap, healthy lunch. Additional toppings are 50p and I recommend you splurge if you like a decent filling-to-potato ratio. It’s a little no-frills up there though bring your own drink as none are available, and possibly your own condiments because I couldn’t find any when I last went. And maybe bring a book because the peaceful location can be a little boring. And bring cutlery if you get frustrated by plastic...
Cerealworks – 9am-5.30pm MonFri Best: flexibility Everyone loves Bagel Man for his friendly conversation and delicious bagels, and Cerealworks is certainly the most flexible place on campus in terms of personal preference. Choose your own bagel, choose your own sauce, change an ingredient – Bagel Man caters to the fussiest of eaters (including vegetarian and vegan). Card payment is not accepted but with your typical bagel costing less than £3, the Bagel of the Day a mere £2.30, and a meal deal only a pound extra, you’d be hard pressed to make a minimum card payment. Not just a place for lunch - shakes, smoothies, porridge and cereal cups make for tasty grab-and-go breakfast choices too. Proper Pasty Company – 8.30am-5 .30pm Mon-Fri (+ open days) Best: surprises The proper Pasty Company continues to impress me. I have always been delighted by the surprisingly meaty veggie sausage roll – I thought I’d been given the wrong thing the first time I ordered one because it’s so delicious and a bit meaty, making it a welcome change to limp vegetable pasty fillings. Service is quick because everything is ready to go, but don’t worry about freshness because the traditional Cornish produce is fresh made daily. They also boast a celebrity pasty of the month and Halal accreditation, and the friendly staff informed me they are soon to introduce breakfast bacon or sausage rolls. Special offers include the meal deal for £3.10 and the buy nine pasties get ome free loyalty card.
More treat than trick: roast pumpkin wedges Sarah Lucas
This Halloween it’s all about the perfect pumpkin. Weighing in up to 1,810.5lb (821.24 kg), it’s possible to get a whole lot of pumpkin. However, before flying off to the shops and deciding between the biggest ever jack-o-lantern and your grocery shopping, there’s a few things you should know... Firstly, pumpkins are delicious. Secondly, they are also exploding with natural vitamins and minerals helping towards that five a day! A member of the squash family, they
are hugely versatile in cooking, but with so many recipes available for your hallows eve discards it can be difficult to decide between pies, soups, salads, scones and even cocktails.
Pumpkins are also exploding with natural vitamins and minerals Although, personally I’d leave the pumpkin juice to Hogwarts and focus on the food.
Tuesday 1 November will probably find you more zombie than human, so it’s probably best to leave the soufflés alone and just whip up something simple. Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes Ingredients ∙One small pumpkin, with all of the seeds removed and cut into wedges around two centimetres thick ∙Three tbsp olive oil ∙Salt and pepper to taste
To Roast: Preheat an oven to 250°C. Place all the pumpkin wedges in a roasting pan with the olive oil and season them generously with the salt and pepper. Place them in the preheated oven. Leave the pumpkin to cook for 15 minutes, then turn them and reduce the temperature to 200°C and leave them to cook for 30 minutes, turning them once again after 15 minutes. The pumpkin wedges should be crisp and dark golden brown.
21 HALLOWEEN HORROR
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Halloween horror Spooky or just plain Stupid? Do you believe in ghosts?
With Halloween fast approaching, an eerie atmosphere has started to gather around Whiteknights campus. Is this being created by the cold October wind, or could there be another explanation? If you believe in ghosts, as I do, then you may lean towards the latter. We’ve all been there. You wake up in the middle of the night and hear a spooky noise just outside your window. You try to reassure yourself it’s a cat, but the niggling worry that it’s a ghoul moaning can never leave your thoughts. The reason for this is the fact that GHOSTS ARE REAL, and now I am going to prove it to you! But first, let’s just get things clear. The definition of the term ‘ghost’ from the Oxford Dictionary is “An apparition of a dead person that is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image,” basically a dead person in cloud form. The key signs of ghosts are unexplained noises, doors and cupboards opening and closing, lights turning off and on, items disappearing and reappearing, strange animal behaviour and the feeling of being watched. I think we can all agree that we have experienced one, if not all of these of these signs at one point in our lives. The main reason for not believing in ghosts is fear of the unknown. Safety is a natural human instinct, and when we experience a sign of a ghost we psychological reject it, because our brain is trying to make us feel safe. However, the reality is that these experiences are what your brain initially thinks: that there is a ghost in your presence! The argument that really gets me is strange animal behaviour. Dogs especially react to a stimulus, for example, when they see a human they will bark or move. Those of you that have dogs will know that they sometimes start barking and acting strangely for no apparent reason (or for no reason obvious to the human eye). Animals have sharper senses than humans, and so they are more aware of the presence of spirits or ghosts. So even if you personally have not seen a ghost, you will have seen an animal go crazy for no clear
reason. This is evidence that ghosts do exist, and even if you haven’t seen one, it doesn’t mean you haven’t been around one. Also remember, seeing isn’t always believing! We have all witnessed a horror film of some description. Now the main thing about scary films and stories is that the all bare some form of truth. Paranormal Activity, for example cannot fully be a fully be a product of pure imagination. The directors of such films often claim they have experienced some form of ghost or spirit, in which their unnerving and bloodcurdling story lines originate from. Also, speaking of Paranormal Activity, I’m sure at least one of you is going to see the third movie that has just come out. Do you realise your purpose for going? You want to acknowledge your hidden awareness that ghosts are real! A further reason for a belief in ghosts is fact that there must be an existence beyond our lives! Death is surely not the end, as we only exist on earth for a small amount of time. The fact is ghosts exist, and so we all have the possibility of an afterlife. There have even been sightings of famous ghosts, such as Marilyn Monroe near her tomb in Westwood Memorial Cemetery, LA, and Elvis Presley, who still haunts his former mansion. These universal figures were far too important to die so young, and so they remain as ghosts, to keep their legends alive forever. I think millions of people believe in ghosts because it is comforting. No one knows what there is in store for us after death, so similar to those who believe in a heaven or any type of afterlife, believing in ghosts is a way of rationalising the unknown. Many find believing in ghosts a way to think contact your loved ones after death. For these people there is nothing scary or spooky about ghosts but a presence that can watch over those who have been left behind. I have only touched upon a few reasons why you should believe in ghosts. When you Google the word ‘ghost’ you get over 91,000,000 results. Surely if they did not exist, this would not be the case. Ghosts are real, and they probably inhabit a corner of the University of Reading near you!
You wake up in the middle of the night and hear a spooky noise just outside your window
Research discovered that stimulating the brain leads to seeing people who aren’t there
Death is surely not the end, as we only exist on earth for a small amount of time
It’s the end of October, and that scary time of year is coming around again. I am talking, of course, about Halloween: the night when all things ghostly, ghouly and downright creepy supposedly come to life and haunt the earth. But do these things really exist, or are they merely the product of our imaginations and deep down fears of things that go bump in the night? Naturally, now is a time when the world considers these things a little more closely than usual, and with the climate of fear and spookinesss around us, the question arises: do you believe in ghosts? Almost everyone knows someone who claims to have seen a ghost, or experienced something supernatural. However, in my experience these people tend to already have been open to the idea, and personally I have never come across a skeptic who has seen one. A lot of the encounters people have also seem to have been taken place in somewhere which they were specifically told was haunted, leading me to believe that the power of suggestion may have had some effect on their experience. Whether it’s the memory of a deceased loved one provoking a reaction, or merely a location that is associated with death such as a graveyard or church, there is almost always a trigger for this sort of thing: have you ever heard of someone seeing a ghost in a supermarket? This is only backed up by the fact that an awful lot of businesses like to promote themselves by claiming to be haunted, from hotels, to ‘ghost tours’ of haunted towns, to even pubs and restaurants! Ghosts are a big moneyspinner, especially around Halloween, but not just confined to this holiday if the number of ghostthemed events is anything to go by. I myself have been drawn into one of these situations in my local theatre, the Theatre Royal of Margate, which dubiously claims to be the only haunted theatre in the country. During a tour of the theatre, the group I was with was first told again and again about the actress who supposedly haunts the place, to the point where we
were led over to the spot where she had last been ‘seen’ and asked if we felt anything. Of course, many people immediately claimed to feel cold or dizzy, but I wonder how many would have said the same if they hadn’t known of the significance the spot was reputed to have? Also, rather more cynically, I wonder if the theatre’s tour would draw in nearly as many visitors if the pull of the possibility of encountering a spirit wasn’t part of the package? Even if you have so far managed to avoid the lure of the supernatural, ghosts are still ever present in the media. From TV shows (e.g. Most Haunted), to films (such as Ghostbusters), to even cartoons (Casper the Friendly Ghost), the world is saturated with spooks. No wonder so many people believe in ghosts, if they are constantly exposed to them throughout their life. And for the whole of October you can’t even nip down the shops without being surrounded by grinning white sheets on everything from teacakes to toilet roll. With the figure of the ghost so prevalent in fiction, is it any wonder that we begin to see them in reality? On a more scientific note, neurology researchers have discovered that stimulating part of the brain leads to the subject seeing people who aren’t there, and even feeling like that person is telling them to do things. This over-stimulation of the left temporo-parietal junction is similar to an epileptic fit in that it often has no causes and only lasts temporarily, so perhaps this is an appropriate explanation for at least some of the sightings of ghosts and ghoulies. You may think that I am just a skeptic, but I am also a Christian so I do have faith in things other people may dismiss as impossible. However, ghosts seem to be a product of the mind rather than a physical being, and belief in them is fuelled wholly by the media, and desire for definitive proof that there is something waiting for them beyond the grave. Such proof, however, is a little bit too good to be true, and whatever awaits us after death will always be unknown.
22 HALLOWEEN HORROR
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Monster Madness The Vampire Kerrie black
Photograph by Rosi Hirst
The Ghost Laurence Green
It’s got to be the Theres just someclassic ‘white sheet thing about vamghost’ – simple and pires that creeps cheap to pull off, me out. And i don’t there’s still somemean the sparkly thing inherently kind. It’s the idea of terrifying about still be human but seeing a disembodwithout your huied pale mass floatmanity, lusting afing towards you. ter your blood. The perfect hunter.
Frankenstein Diwa sharma
He is Halloween. I’m not sure if it is the green face that gets me or the idea he is made from loads of dead people, but Frankenstein (or his monster at least) is just plain scary!
Photograph by John Winchester
Photograph by Rosi Hirst
Carve up a real treat this Halloween
Photograph by Kerrie Black and Tom Wood
Pumpkin Carving 101
Photograph by Rosi Hirst
My personal favourite part of Halloween, pumpkin carving is brilliant fun and with a little effort and imagination you can create masterpieces! Here are a few helpful pointers.
1. Choosing a pumpkin
The best pumpkins are firm, smooth and with a stable base. Make sure the pumpkin you buy is completely fresh- if it smells bad, or is brown or soft in places, get another one.
Don’t feel obligated to stick with the traditional face; why not try something a little more ambitious like monsters or a message? If you’re stumped for ideas, the internet is absolutely flooded with unique pumpkin art for your inspiration.
Before you start, make sure you’ve newspapered the carving area and have a bowl for the pulp. Cut around the stem to create the lid. Put a notch in one side to mark which way round it should be replaced. Scoop out as much of the seeds and stringy insides as you can- the cleaner the pumpkin, the easier it is to work with.
Copy down your design onto a piece of paper, and then cut around it and tape it to the front of the pumpkin. Get a sharp pencil and poke dots through the paper around the outlines- once you remove the template this will be visible on the skin of the pumpkin for you to use as guidelines.
Carefully cut along the dotted lines with a knife, pushing the cut-out sections through and removing them. Start with the smallest areas and work your way up so the structure of the pumpkin won’t collapse. Also, large areas can be cut into smaller chunks to make them easier to remove.
If you are using a tea-light, cut a small hole in the lid before replacing it and light it using extra-long safety matches or a barbecue lighter. Always check the rules of your house or halls before using candles; a torch or electric tea-light can always be substituted instead.
Photograph by Kerrie Black and Tom Wood
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
HALLOWEEN HORROR 23
Don’t blame it on the Oogie Boogie Top 5 Halloween Tunes
Bobby Pickett The Monster Mash (1962)
Elvis Presley reportedly thought this was the most ridiculous song he'd ever heard and NASA used it to wake astronauts around Halloween time. If that isn’t enough of a reason already then I don’t know what is! This song has stood the test of time, being re-released on numerous occasions It has made it into the UK charts twice! Laid down in only one take, this song made number one on the Billboard charts in 1962 and still receives air-time today and no Halloween party is complete without it!
Micheal Jackson Thriller (1982)
This song was originally going to be called "Starlight", but aren’t we glad that Jackson decided to change the name at last minute? While music videos cost around $100,000 to produce in the early eighties, this video was shot on a then-unprecedented budget of $500,000, and boy is this song worth every dollar. All the extras had to do two weeks of dance training for this video. This is the Halloween song of all time, which no one can resist trying to copy dance!
The Cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show [Lets Do the] Time Warp (1975)
This is the song that tells you that “it’s just a jump to the left”. From the Cult Classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, everybody knows how to do the Time Warp even if you don’t like to admit itin front of other people. And dressed up in your Halloween fancy dress you will be unable to resist the hypnotic voices telling you to pull off ever more compromising, but let’s face it, hilarious dance moves. This is perfect to get your everyone moving and shaking.
Alice Cooper Feed My Frankenstein (1992)
Vincent Damon Furnier changed his name to 1975 to one of the most recognisable names in the music industry, Alice Cooper, and the American rock singer hasn’t looked back since. This song is one of the hidden gems of any Halloween party, if not only for the barrage of “We’re not worthy” quotes that accompany it any time it is played (and bat-shaped cookies if you know what film this song is in). However, be warned “I’m a hungry man, but I don’t want pizza” Cooper is “gonna eat ‘ya!”
Ray Parker Jr. Ghostbusters 1984
From the film with the same name, Parker states that he thought that it would be impossible to write a theme song for the film given the fact the title sequence had already been shot beforehand. Luckily, Ghostbusters was given its big break when Parker heard an advertising jingle on television, and thus one of the most iconic Halloween and theme songs were born. A perfect song with a great guitar riff. In 2010 the remix club edition was produced but we still prefer the original!
Halloween on the Silver Scream Top 5 Horror Movies CAlum Rodgers
Alien (1979) Ridley Scott's Alien was a great take on the original 'haunted house' story; unfortunate occupants of an inescapable setting in dire peril working together to prevail. It’s a true classic in which the crew of the Nostromo follow up on a distress call, and in so doing, pick up a parasitic organism which begins exterminating the crew one by one. The dark corridors of the ship and pitiful helplessness of the cast, when faced with such a formidable killing machine, make for a compelling view.
The Fly (1986)
There’ve been a few versions of The Fly, the hubristic story of a maverick scientist who figuratively flies too close to the sun with his teleportation experiments, but the 1986 film starring Jeff Goldbloom is by far the very best. When he accidentally combines his DNA with that of a passing, pesky housefly, he is subject to some truly horrific and suitably gorey mutations in which his human form slowly deteriorates, and manfly takes over with his increasingly freakish appearance. Not for the faint-hearted.
Let the Right One In (2008)
Straight out of Sweden, in 2008, came the horror movie Låt den rätte komma in. The principal focus of the story is on two young children. 12-year-old Oskar makes up half of the infant pair, whilst the other is a centuries-old vampire in the body of a young girl, known only as Eli. Her only apparent friend is a reclusive, elderly man with creepily unsavoury nocturnal habits and a very nasty secret. It’s a story of horror and love, with the child actors providing truly sterling performances, and making for a must-see film.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) FBI star pupil Clarice Starling is asked to assist in the ‘Buffalo Bill’ case concerning an insane serial abductor and killer. Her first task is to quiz the incarcerated psychiatrist and murderer, cannibal Dr Hannibal Lecter, for clues as to Bill’s identity and twisted frame of mind. The chase to catch Bill before the death of a Senator’s daughter takes a back seat to Antony Hopkins’ performance as Lecter, which earned him the 1992 Oscar as ‘Best Actor’.
The Omen (1976)
Damien Thorn is not the innocent wee boy he may at first seem. Entrenching a new horror trope forevermore, ‘creepy orphans’, The Omen’s premise is that a man, Robert Thorn, secretly switches the dead baby which was stillborn by his wife with a mysterious orphan who was born on 6th June, 1966 at six in the morning, without her knowledge so as not to leave her distraught. This is shown to have been not a terribly smart as the film progresses and Damien’s true and terrifying identity is revealed.
Ghoulish Games Top 5 Horror Games Ben McCarthy
Killing Floor (PC, available on Steam)
Developed and published by Tripwire Interactive, this zombiefied first-person survival shooter puts you up against wave after wave of ‘Zeds’ as you work together with up to five other players to battle the zombie onslaught. While it doesn’t provide the cheap scares of other games, when the more powerful enemies and bosses enter the fray you’ll surely be sweating buckets.
Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox 360 and PC) Monolith Productions’ first-person horror game will send a shiver down your spine with its psychological thrills and incredibly intuitive AI. With a focus on visceral melee combat rather than gunplay, Condemned is as refreshing as it is chilling. You play Ethan Thomas the FBI agent, framed for murder. Ethan begins searching for the serial killer that set him up. Something is terribly wrong in the city.
F.E.A.R. (Xbox 360, PS3 and PC)
Under the same development team as Condemned, F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) will undoutbedly frighten the life out of you. On top of its solid gameplay mechanics and outstanding AI, the game boasts an eerie and terrifically terrifying atmosphere heavily inspired by Japanese horror. Facing an evil little girl with supernatural powers? If that isn’t scary then I don’t know what is.
Dead Space (Xbox 360, PS3 and PC)
Visceral Games’ third-person shooter Dead Space puts you in the boots of engineer Isaac Clarke as he battles his way through the a mutant-infested mining starship. You’ll be facing endless numbers of reanimated human corspes, known as ‘Necromorphs’. They are utterly grotesque, and the first time you encounter one in Dead Space will be a moment you won’t forget - as much as you’d want to.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC, available on Steam)
This survival horror will have you sleeping with the light on for the rest of the year, I guarantee you. Armed with virtually nothing but your own ability to avoid the disturbing monsters which haunt the castle you are exploring, this game is a real challenge. Not knowing what is around the corner, this game is utterly traumatising. This really is not a game for the faint-hearted.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
HALLOWEEN HORROR 24
Costume Nightmares? Kate Delaney
For those of you who have seen the film Mean Girls you will know that the answer to a good costume is to be as slutty as possible. And for those of you who believe that, you will look very silly this Halloween. The real answer to a good Halloween costume is children’s toy shops. Last year I had the challenge of coming up with two different costumes in a short space of time. In this situation there are three places that will save you bacon. Children’s toy shops offer a fantastic range of costume accessories that can turn a boring stripy t-shirt and black harem trousers into a real live pirate. To make our outfits more effective we picked
up a set which included a pirate themed matching waist coat and hat, an eye patch, and of course a hook for only around £4. Twinned with a whole lot of eye liner and a hoop earring this makes for an amazing costume.
The real answer to a good Halloween costume is children’s toy shops In fact it was the toy shop which also gave us the basis for our second outfit. For just a few pounds you can get a full face make up set to help you look as scary as possible (or in our case, look dead). This brings me to another of my
Trick or treat? Jessica Cropper
Trick or treating has become more and more popular over the recent years, owing perhaps to the increased influence from American films and television. Whilst I have no issue with the increasing Americanisation of our society in general, I do have an issue with this trick or treating trend. To encourage children to go around demanding sweets from neighbours and/or strangers and then playing tricks on them or their property if refused is not just rude but also a little morally dubious. On any other night it would be called harassment, rudeness, or blackmail. And it is a ‘game’ that is very easy to be taken too far. What kind of tricks are played on those who perhaps don’t have anything to give, or just want a quiet night in and don’t want to open their door to hoards of children high on ridiculous amounts of sugar? What about the little old lady who might be intimidated by
masses of demanding unknowns at her door? Maybe their house is egged, maybe they are sillystringed, maybe this could become an excuse for yobs to vandalise property. Despite my somewhat grumpy attitude to this relatively new tradition, I can see that it can be fun if supervised children are doing it in a neighbourhood or area in which the people who are being ‘trickor-treated’ have been informed. However, I am also very aware that not all children will be supervised this halloween, might not stick to light-hearted and harmless tricks, and the tradition is the perfect excuse for badly-intentioned yobs to vandalise or terrify vulnerable people. Is it really right to pressure people into going out and buying vast amounts of sweets and chocolate just to feed rude, expectant children? I vote not, and I feel that this is one new tradition that this country could definitely do without.
Dear Auntie Adelaide Dear Aunt Adelaide, I am writing to you for help at what I consider the very worst time of the year. I am not a student but a local resident, so perhaps strictly speaking I shouldn’t be writing in to a students’ newspaper, but frankly what I have to say should be heard by everyone. Here we are again with Halloween – that time of year where everyone thinks it’s great to celebrate evil, nasty little things and I don’t mind telling you I’m sick of it. I’m sick of the silly costumes. I’m sick of the ridiculous decorations all over the shops. I’m sick of the fact that the younger generations are only celebrating Hallow-
een because they’ve learnt about it from American television shows. But what I’m especially sick of is the trick-or-treaters. Since when do we condone children knocking on people’s doors asking for free stuff? And it’s not just children – last night I’m certain four twentyyear-old students knocked on my door. This is surely unreasonable! So my question to you, Adelaide, is this: how do I stop children from knocking on my door? Yours, Disgruntled Resident. Dear Disgruntled Resident, Install a doorbell. Yours, Adelaide.
costume savers, Primark. Primark offers cheap clothing so you can ruin it with less guilt. To dress as a dead prisoner, you just need a stripy top, black leggings and a pair of scissors. The trick is to not be afraid of looking stupid, as Halloween is the one night out a year where you don’t have to think about what is fashionable and how to have your hair. Bad is good and the worse the better! Finally, Claire’s Accessories is always a winner around the Halloween period. This year my friends have found glow in the dark skeleton tights which, paired with a plain white t-shirt and some scissor work, can be made into a very effective scary skeleton. Happy fancy dressing!
Outfit One: Pirate
Outfit Two: Dead Prisoner
Survive this Halloween...
Halloween is a time when spirits from the grave become more active. There are three main types of ghosts that you should be looking out for at this time. The first is known as a ‘death echo’. These are the spirits of those who have died tragically and are repeatedly reliving the moment of their deaths for all eternity. You need not worry about these spirits, they are not dangerous.
The second is what we call a ‘death omen’. Though not dangerous in themselves, these spirits will show up as a warning to you that death is coming your way. If you figure out their message fast enough, you may be able to save yourself. Be warned though, the danger could be anything from faulty wiring to a homicidal housemate. The last ghost is the one you should be most careful of. These are the ghosts that are out to kill you. Your first defence would be
to line all the doors and windows with kitchen salt. Line salt under each window and door. This should be enough to keep the ghost out. If not, you may want to keep yourself armed with a shotgun full of rounds of rock salt, or perhaps just an iron poker. If you want to take a more offensive approach, find out what it is keeping the ghost tied to the human world; their human remains are usual but they may be attached to an object, so salt and burn whatever it is. This should send the ghost to rest.
Halloween Halloween traybake memories Sophie Elliot
This is a brilliant tray-bake and a great way of using up left-over pumpkin.
When I was about 14 one of my best friends had a Halloween party at her house. We were all going to dress up as scary things, bob for apples, tell ghost stories and watch horror films. I’m not that imaginative when it comes to fancy dress and looking through my drawers all I could find were ballet uniforms and fairy wings. So my dad had the genius idea of making me into a dead fairy. He proceeded to enjoy making me look dead rather too much, complete with fake bloody bandages to create the idea of a reattached head and leg, scars and wounds, some of which, in marker pen, didn’t come off for days. Thanks dad!
For the cake 300g self-raising flour 300g light muscovado sugar Three tsp mixed spice Two tsp bicarbonate of soda 175g sultanas ½ tsp salt Four eggs , beaten 200g butter, melted zest of one orange One tbsp orange juice 500g (peeled weight) pumpkin or butternut squash flesh, grated 200g pack soft cheese 85g butter, softened 100g icing sugar, sifted zest of one orange and juice of half
My favourite halloween memory is throwing home-made slime out of a window onto unsuspecting trick or treaters below!
Butter and line a 30 x 20cm baking or small roasting tin with baking parchment. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas four. Put the flour, sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, sultanas and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. Beat the eggs into the melted butter, stir in the orange zest and juice, then mix with the dry ingredients till com-
bined. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch. TOP TIP: As the pumpkin has a lot of moisture, your cake could take longer to cook so just leave it in for however long it needs, until it is light and springy. To make the frosting, beat together the cheese, butter, icing sugar, orange zest and one tsp of the juice till smooth and creamy, then set aside in the fridge. When the cake is done, cool for five minutes then turn it onto a cooling rack. Prick it all over with a skewer and drizzle with the rest of the orange juice while still warm. Leave to cool completely. If you like, trim the edges of the cake. Give the frosting a beat to loosen, then, using a palette knife, spread over the top of the cake in swirls. If you're making the cake ahead of time, keep it in the fridge, then take out as many pieces as you want 30 minutes or so before serving. These Will keep, for up to three days in the fridge.
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Halloween: Gothic chic poppy nowicka
With Halloween just around the corner it is time for some fancydress inspired fashion. Embrace your dark side with Gothic contrasting textures, which are essential in creating a dramatic look and get into the Halloween spirit. Gothic edge is one of the biggest looks for Autumn/Winter 2011 as seen on various catwalks around the world. Take inspiration from the Romantic Gothicism collections which featured hints of velvet, textured black winter lace, fierce accessories and Morticiastyle gowns, all in artfully layered looks. There are many options available on the High Street to compile your own Halloween themed outfit, so in the style of Lanvin, embrace the look with some of the high-street’s hottest offers. Topshop have just released their new “Midnight Angel” Collection which features items which are perfect for Halloween themed wear as well as being great for winter.
A black lace dress is the key piece to achieving this look and they are very easily sourced at the moment; River Island, Topshop, French Connection and New look all currently stock them. Team this with a simple black belt to create a defined silhouette, attention grabbing shoes and statement accessories, such as chunky necklaces and Halloween inspired jewellery which can be found at Claire’s Accessories - no, you’re never too old to shop there! Alternatively, Topshop, Warehouse and Dorothy Perkins also currently sell Gothic inspired jewellery. If it is just too cold to expose your no longer sun-kissed pins, then there is some great Gothic style hosiery on the high street to keep you warm and covered. These can also be found in Claire’s Accessories, Topshop or H&M. To complete the look, work a glossy dark red or purple lip colour with these dark, moody pieces and heavy layered black and silver jewellery and accessories. Flick to the beauty page for more make-up tips.
Topshop necklace, around £14
New Look black lace dress, around £20
French Connection belt, around £28
Halloween accessories Claire’s, Creepy Bone Hand Hairclips, around £5
Topshop, around £4 lily brown
Do you think you’ve got your Halloween outfit sorted for this year but can’t quite find the right accessories to make it perfect? Well look no further. This year the catwalk has been showcasing some ‘gothic glam’ looks including black lace and dark purples which are perfect inspiration for Halloween. High streets shops have taken note of the colours and trends on the catwalk and responded with some wonderful accessories for this time of year. TopShop have bought out a range of masks and hair accessories for Halloween including sequined bat masks in blue, black
Topshop, around £4
Claire’s, Glow in the Dark Skeleton tights, around £5 ing people’s attention you may want to take a look at the ‘Creepy Bone Hand Hairclips’ at around £5 which will be sure to get more than a few double takes. If you’re looking for something to cover you up against the cold try these ‘Glow in the Dark Skeleton tights’, which will literally light up the room when you walk in. Priced at around £5 from Claire’s Accessories, they will transform any dress or skirt into a great Halloween costume. Halloween is a great excuse for trying something new and going a little over the top in terms of accessories so go for something you wouldn’t normally be seen dead in and make the most of it.
Topshop Stereo Suede Studd Shoe Boots, around £90
Frankie goes to the Student Lock-in event francesca farrow
Claire’s, Caught in a Cobweb ring, around £4
and nude at around £4. Whether you want to dress up a little black dress or complete an entire outfit these masks will look good and certainly not break the bank. For a cuter take on the Halloween look TopShop are offering faux fur cat ears at around £4 much in the style of Lady Ga Ga. Following the gothic trend Claire’s accessories are offering a range of glamorously spooky jewellery so we can join in with the festivities while still looking amazing. A personal favourite is the ‘Caught in a Cobweb’ ring at around £3.50. With the glittering red and black gems you’ll be sure to stand out at any party. If you’re looking for a more dramatic way of catch-
Illustration by Nathalie Hammond
It’s a cold Tuesday evening in October and instead of staying in the warmth, curled up on the sofa with a nice hot cup of tea and watching catch ups on BBC iPlayer, I ventured outside, into the cold, to experience the ‘Student Lock-in’ event at the Oracle shopping centre in Reading. I arrived at the Oracle just after 7pm and was greeted by a giant queue of earlier arrivals than myself. My initial thought was, ‘this is going to be a very long night!’ and ‘Why am I doing this?’ for the doors didn’t open until half past 8. As I queued up outside, I ensured my gloves stayed on, texted a few friends and had a bit of a chat with the people standing in front of me: four girls, who were all fresher’s, hoping to find some nice Topshop items at a reduced rate. When the security guards finally opened the doors, everyone rushed forward. With freebies being handed out, a DJ sat in the middle of the top floor booming out loud music and free alcoholic drinks on
offer, the whole event was definitely aimed at students. I had a wander around, not really knowing what I was looking for, just wanting to have a browse and see if I could make the most of the 20% discount on offer at the majority of shops. In the end I didn’t buy anything for there was nothing I particularly needed or wanted. I did enjoy the fact that all the shoppers were students and there was a sense of exclusivity about being in the shopping centre at that time of night. The atmosphere was lively and the people that worked for the Oracle made you feel welcome and handed those that were amongst the first lucky few to enter a goody bag. Overall it was an enjoyable experience but I would recommend that you go with a friend or two, so that you have someone to chat to whilst waiting outside in the cold. Also try to see how fast you can get through the various shops without being crushed in the process by all the other enthusiastic buyers!
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
Introducing... Hello Margaret
follow us! @fashspark
“Husband stood next to K Middy in Eat. She bought a sandwich was wearing beige cashmere jumper + black skirt. Love the detail. Well trained.” - @aliceolins_mc
“If you google ‘celine’ the 1st result is phoebe philo’s label, the second is official celine dion website, better be careful where I click”
Hello Margaret is a new clothing brand set up by fellow University of Reading student, Jenny Cook. Introduced to the Reading fashion scene at the Vintage Society Tea Party event here on campus, the brand is growing more and more popular with their range of affordable vintage, re-made and retro fashion. The original idea for the brand came from the remodelling of large men’s shirts into unique dresses. The designs attracted so much attention from friends and family, who wanted pieces designed for them, that the brand was born. Hello Margaret now offers an eclectic range of completely unique clothing including dresses, tops and jumpers. Not only is the clothing fashionable
and affordable, but many original pieces are made from 100% recycled materials, keeping you eco-friendly and stylish at the same time! As well as offering a range of clothing, Hello Margaret also offers an array of hand-made jewellery with a quirky twist. Featuring designs from the 80s through to the present, with necklaces, earrings and bracelets, there’s something for everyone in this delightful range of accessories. Every piece in the range is around £20 or less, which is hard to believe with the designs that are available. Now you have every opportunity to own an amazing outfit that none of your friends will have, whilst keeping your bank balance healthy. After the success at their first stall in October this year, Hello
Margaret is working hard to create more amazing pieces to be showcased and sold at future events. They are currently in discussion with the Vintage Society about lining up more dates for fashion stalls. They are also hoping to have a stall during the University’s Green Week, to promote being environmentally friendly with their range of recycled clothing. So next time you’re thinking about buying a new outfit, whether it’s for day or night, remember Hello Margaret. This is DIY fashion at its best; make sure it’s not something you miss out on! For more information on the designs and pieces available, to contact the brand and to keep track of upcoming stall dates and other fashion events, ‘Like’ the Hello Margaret Facebook page.
Worldwide media sensation Cheryl Cole has finally pushed aside her recent American heartbreak to focus on something far more important; fashion, launching a new shoe range in December this year - just in time for Christmas! The ex Girls Aloud star has teamed up with prolific online fashion website StylistPick to create a her very own range of shoes for their online stylist wardrobe service saying “I got to design a shoe. What girl in the world doesn’t want to design their own shoe? It’s like a dream come true!” Although specific details aren’t yet known, the collection is set to boast a range of fun, loud and statement prints, materials and styles with ideas reflecting the use of leopard print, polka dots. There
Winter’s most wanted accessories
Mustard Cluster Floral Snood, around £16, Topshop So you think floral is just for summer? Think again. This cosy mustard coloured snood is easy to wear and will brighten up any dreary winter coat whilst keeping your neck toasty. All this and it acts as both a scarf and a hood. Two for the price of one? Yes please!
Aztec Fairisle Earmuffs, around £5 New Look
Reverse Knit Mitten, around £9, New Look
Any earmuffs can look cute, but adding an Aztec twist keeps them current and will flaunt your fashion credentials. If you’re not a fan of woolly hats or would like to add some variety to your choice of winter head gear, these are practically perfect.
No one likes losing one glove and having to style it out in an MJ fashion during winter. Thankfully, these cute woolly mittens will solve that problem. The fur cuffs give them a classy edge, and they can be matched with any winter coat and scarf. Although, paired with a dark burgundy or emerald green would make them stand out and really show them off.
Knitted Turban Hat, around £10, ASOS Designers such as Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier and Donna Karan were clearly inspired by 1940s glamour for there Autumn/Winter 2011 collections. This turban hat is an elegant, and slightly daring choice, reminicscent of that classy decade. Match it with a pencil skirt and a dash of faux fur to achieve that incrediably sophisticated look.
will even be a special Valentines Day inspired design of pink and monochrome. Cole’s collection also promises to take into account the fact that not all people want a platform stiletto day in day out. She says, “I like glamour, so, I have to be careful as I’m aware that not everybody wants to wear a high heel all the time.” To keep up to date on Cole’s progress so far just visit http:// www.stylistpick.com/cheryl-cole where there will be a regularly updated video clip diary of the shoe making project. Until they’re released we can only anticipate whether or not Cheryl has the style knowledge to pull off such a big project, but, if we are to have faith in her fashion sense we will believe her when she promises, “It’s going to be amazing.”
Blogspot james quinn
“New Grass”, a blog created by Thrice guitarist Teppei Teranishi concerns itself with detailing new styles, ranging from its creator’s obsession with all things footwear, to handmade leather items and seasonal jackets. Teranishi focuses on the love and soul poured into crafting these items, although gives great ideas for more affordable menswear from usual highstreet retailers. Other posts include a tour journal, food tips, and general insight into a musicians life away from the road. A blog to keep an eye on for the autumn and coming winter.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
Halloween Make-Up ELLE TURNER
Here’s how to create a sexy vampire inspired look for less this Halloween: Firstly, start off by contouring your brows (with brown eye-shadow) so they arch down towards your nose, then begin drawing a black outline from the inside corner of your eye with the liquid liner (you can get this for as little as £1.99 from places like Superdrug by choosing the cheaper brands such as 2true). Follow your natural upper lid line before flicking it up towards your brow bone when you reach the outer corner of your eye.
(make sure you’ve stocked up on the Vaseline beforehand as dry or cracked lips can be difficult to work with). To make your lips extra glossy, apply clear lipgloss over the top to vamp it up. Go all out: For an edgier look take a larger brush and dust the dark brown eye shadow across your temples and cheekbones. Make it messy as it’s supposed to look distressed. Take a black eye pencil and draw lines haphazardly across these areas. To finish, take some eye glitter and dash it across your face in different directions and add coloured contacts for full on Halloween style.
Add coloured contacts for full on Halloween style Simply fill in the outline with the liquid liner before drawing along your lower lash line (joining it up with the flick at the end). Avoid using the liquid liner too close to your waterline as it can irritate your eye. Instead, use the black pencil liner as this won’t run. To finish off the eyes simply apply mascara, or for a more dramatic effect add false lashes. To achieve a super-sexy pout apply red lipstick to your lips
New Product Alert! EMMA WARD
Hair Envy Meet the Professionals: EMILY BUTLER
If you were to tell our younger selves, in the playgrounds of the 90s, that one day in the not so distant future red hair would be cool, enviable even, you would have been laughed at. A couple of years ago though, that all changed. When Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine appeared at the Brits in 2009 with her trademark auburn hair, her photo was plastered all over the magazines and she single-handedly did what our young selves could never have thought possible: she made ginger cool. Welch dyed her hair bright red at the age of nine, and has opted for a wide range of colours and styles ever since, returning to the tresses that she is most famous for only a few years ago. It’s a colour that’s sticking around too; the deep red that suits anyone’s flowery festival summer look as well as a darker, more gothic winter style doesn’t show any signs of loosing its popularity. As we move towards Halloween and all things spooky, and then the dark chill of November, even more of us seem to be in a deep state of hair envy. So, for those that haven’t already, maybe now is the time that we will see hoards of people from all over heading into the hairdressers and saying ‘we want her hair’.
Backcombed hair might just come in handy! Coming from the cult beauty brand itself, this tool is designed to help hair look extra voluminous for those extra special nights out. Not only this, but with Halloween just around the corner, backcombed hair might just come in handy!
The brush comes in three cute designs- birds and mountains, cartoon characters and swirl- so pick your favourite and invest! The best way to achieve the back-combed look is to tease the roots of the hair, because this is where the volume is created. Freshly washed hair doesn’t always backcomb too well either, so this style is best for unwashed hair, so leave it for a day or two in preparation.
at a number of huge events, most noticeably the past 14 seasons back to back at London Fashion Week. Speaking about what London Fashion Week means to her as a hair stylist, Lara claims: “it’s massive! It’s the most important thing to get your head around to be a fashion stylist. It gives you the core strength to do this job.” ROBYN SWEENEY
In a phone call one afternoon Lara Zee explains she’s just got home from travelling and is chilling indoors with her boyfriend before jetting off again, all part of life as an established hair stylist. Spending 90% of her time doing hair as a hobby, it took a friend pointing out the obvious to Lara for her to realise hair styling was her calling. Having worked for a man who she, along with most others in the industry, label ‘The Godfather of Hair’, Sam McKnight, Lara worked her way up from assistant to the role of his producer. With her bubbly, easily approachable nature however, it’s no wonder Lara has achieved so much. Whether working under Sam McKnight or for herself, Lara’s career has proven to be a spiralling success, seeing her styling hair
“If you learn from the best, you’re set for life” Moving from strength to strength Lara tells me she has her “fingers in a lot of pies with the hope that one will pay off!” Explaining what she regards as an “old school hierarchy” Lara warns potential future hair stylists to understand that despite the ‘glamour’ associated with the industry from the outside, “when you work on the inside there is little ‘glamour’ involved.” Attributing her skill to her unforgettable time under Sam McKnight, “if you learn from the best, you’re set for life,”. Lara confesses, having worked two years unpaid at the start of her career, “You have to be willing to put in a hundred million percent, or don’t bother. It’s the whole hog and you don’t see it pay off for years.”
terrifying talons and creepy claws SOPHIE WOOLLAN
Big, back-combed hair was seen plastered all over the catwalks for Autumn/Winter 2011/12. When we heard the news about a new tool to help achieve this look, we couldn’t help but get a little excited. Therefore we introduce to you the Kent Back-Combing Brush, RRP £9.05.
Lara Zee, Hairstylist
You can tell a lot about someone by the state of their nails, right? This Halloween, make a statement with your cat claws, and let your creative side shine. Browsing the Internet, it’s easy to find a load of great ideas on how to glam up your nails, and the best part is it’ll cost you a lot less than your costume! Start by painting all of your nails white. Then, for the ‘BOO’ design, take the black nail art pen and start to draw on the letters. Start with very thin letters and build it up, rather than smudge them straight away and have to start again! The spider web idea can be a little fiddly. Luckily, the nail art pen has a very thin tip, which makes application simple. Carefully draw on the web by creating small wave like lines across the nail. Repeat this step,
making the lines smaller as you go along. Then, join up the peaks of the ‘waves’ with some straight lines, creating the web effect. I find this often looks best when it is done on an angle with the lines getting smaller and smaller as they reach the top of the nail, as shown on the image. To go with the spider’s web, you need a spider. Draw on a round body, leaving room on your nail at each side for the legs. Next, draw on four curved lines coming out from the body to the side of your nail on each side of the body. After this has dried, use a cocktail stick and white nail varnish to add in two eyes to the upper part of the spider’s body. For the spooky face, simply draw on two eyes and a mouth, before adding vertical lines in order to make the face more eerie.
If these looks are too outrageous for you, and you’d prefer something a little toned down but still effective, I would suggest using the black crackle glaze varnish on top of a white base. This look will work with all outfits and looks. Just use: White Matte Nail Varnish, Barry M, around £2,99 (Nail Art Pen, Model’s Own, around £6)
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
DELIVERY UNTIL 5AM
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Valid at Reading store only. Please mention when ordering. Not valid with any other offer. Not available online. Minimum delivery order £9.99. Please hand coupon to delivery driver. *Free pizza must be of lesser or equal value to the first.
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Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
FIFA 12The beautiful game
Capturing the essence of our national sport is often an incredibly difficult thing to do. Anyone who has tried to explain ‘why football?’ to an unconverted friend or a curious relative knows the anguish that comes with trying to put into words what is in many ways, just a feeling. Games are no exception. Increasingly impressive graphical updates and improvements in the physics engine go only some of the way to re-creating football. This has been proved time and time again by the curious Football Manager series, which, most football fans will agree, captures the ‘triumph and despair’ nature of the beautiful game using only a 2D pitch with small blobs representing a spreadsheet. These blobs make you ‘feel’. So how does the latest attempt of the sports games giant Electronic Arts measure up? Having played the FIFA series for the last 10 years or so, and the last three episodes somewhat religiously (including notching almost 100 online games on 12) I feel I am in a good position to judge.
Capturing the essence of our national sport is often an incredibly difficult thing to do Put simply, this is the best football game ever, and being as objective as possible, it is on par with Madden 12 and Fight Night Champion as one of the best sports games of all time, not forgetting, of course, Chris Kamara’s Street Soccer for the Playstation 1 (yes, that existed). FIFA 12 is most certainly not the yearly graphics and transfers patch that FIFA 09 and 10 felt like. Firstly, lets look at the changes outside of the football, in the modes available and the menu system. Its just better. The variety of options keep you coming back to play. The ‘Support your club’ feature lets you choose your team the first time you load the game. You then amass ‘experience points’ for your team by doing anything online or offline. To ensure that Man United and Liverpool fans don’t monopolise the resulting league table, an average of the amount of experience gained by fans of a team is worked out, meaning that
the table represents which team has the most unemployed fans, rather than the team with the best fans. Doncaster Rovers are currently top of the table. Whilst this feature doesn’t affect my experience that much, friends of mine feel almost obliged to play a few matches a day to keep their team involved in the higher echelons of the points table.
FIFA 12 is not the yearly graphics and transfers patch that FIFA 09 and 10 felt like A far more exciting new feature, in my view, is the ‘Challenges’ mode. These are frequently updated unique games, which provide a link between the videogame, and the goings on in the real footballing world. For example, the ‘Challenge’ last week was to win the North London derby by two goals, controlling the team of your choice. In other areas, ‘Career’ mode and the popular ‘Pro Clubs’ feature have been tweaked and improved. ‘Career’ mode now feels more personal, with players popping up in the newsfeed before games, pleading with you to give them a game. Also, the AI is vastly improved, no longer do they score screamers and then miss open goals. However the transfers are erratic and unrealistic (in my first Season Messi transferred to Barcelona for £20million, Chicharito joined Sunderland and I managed to get Robin Van Persie to join Norwich for a wage decrease). If you want to manage, Football Manager is still the only option. One thing that is direly needed back is Andy Gray. Chauvinist he may be, but Alan Smith is a dreary, dull excuse for a summariser. And don’t even get me started on Andy ‘I played for Ireland once’ Townsend. Where the off-field dynamics of the game have improved most significantly are in the online arena, which is where most of my in-game time is spent, and where the future of gaming as a whole increasingly lies. In FIFA 11, online head to head games were largely pointless, with a vague and illexplained ‘level system’ which led to very little genuine competition. For example I managed to reach level 22, but had no idea what
that meant or whether I should be happy. Also, players could quit the game when they weren’t going to win with no consequences, and the sight of ‘player has lost connection’ making an appearance on the screen after the third goal went in was a constant downer. This year, there is a fantastic league system. Every player starts in League 10, the lowest, with league one being the highest. Each player has a unique ‘season’ which lasts 10 games, in which if they get enough points they can gain promotion, whilst not getting enough points will earn you a relegation. The dynamic is that when you get matched against a person in your league for a game, they may be involved in a relegation six pointer, whereas you may need just a point to go up. I am currently mid-table in league four after a couple of promotion seasons in a row with Chelsea and their beastly front three.
Put simply, this is the best football game ever ‘Quitters’ have been expertly dealt with, in what seems a fairly intelligent (surprisingly for EA) idea. If someone leaves (after five minutes in), then you win. It has gotten to the stage now that if I go three goals up, I am actually willing the other person to quit so I can go on
to the next game. Etiquette and ‘doing the decent thing’ has been flipped on its head in a weird and almost perverse way. Now, to the game itself. As always, its very pretty. The camera angle has been lowered to give a broader, flatter pitch angle. The players look more realistic than last year (although they still haven’t bothered to map Darren Fletchers face), the stadiums look slightly better and the crowd looks a bit more lifelike – but this is all to be expected. The real changes lie in the tactical defending, impact engine and precision control. Tactical defending has its critics. It removes the ‘homing defender’ that meant that a player could simply hold ‘B’ down for the entire game and rush against forward players and more often than not get the ball. On 12 there is a separate stand tackle button, rather than just running into the player with the ball. There is also much more emphasis on jockeying and containing the opposing teams in tight areas where they are more likely to give the ball away, rather than simply ‘getting the ball back’ straight away. This changes the game completey. No longer is every game an end to end ‘excitement fest’ with both teams holding the sprint button throughout the game. In 12 build up play is king. With Barcelonaesque smooth, controlled, patient passing moves dictating much of a games’ character. Having said
Number 2 felt oddly out of place all of a sudden
that, the ability to break against such controlled moves maintains the fast, exciting nature of last years game. To ensure that getting the ball back and breaking is not as easy as last year, there is also ‘precision dribbling’ allowing players to weave their way past defenders rather than using pace and power alone. This can also be used to protect the ball from defenders, meaning that diving in now is much more likely to lead to an opportunity for the other team. Both of these changes create realism, but not at all for the loss of excitement or quality.
A host of small but significant changes have dramatically improved the game All in all, FIFA 12 is a superb and faihtful football game, there is room for improvement, there always is, but this is the first time that I truly feel every time I take to the metaphorical field, that I am capable of scoring 10 or conceding 10. Neither of those has happened yet, but that’s not important. What is important is that the game creates that feeling, and at the end of the day thats exactly what football is: a feeling.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
The Sims 3: Pets It’s a dogs life Kerrie Black
Electronic Arts are back with another addition to add to its ever growing The Sims franchise. The Sims 3: Pets is the fifth expansion pack for the vanilla Sims 3 game and as you might have guessed from the title, this expansion brings about those critters that have been much anticipated by die-hard Simmers for so long. This is a sound addition to the franchise, rating much higher than the previous and seemingly redundant Sims Generations, and if you ignore the fact that this is the fifth expansion for a game that EA reported would “have no expansion packs” it is actually a pretty good game, adding an abundance of additional content and new gameplay. I was a little worried about this expansion pack. EA and Maxis have similarly released The Sims: Unleashed and The Sims 2: Pets and it seemed like this new expansion pack would turn out to be just another stale money-maker without anything new to offer. Luckily this game is fresh and doesn’t seem to reach any stalemate with its predecessors.
This is a sound addition to The Sims 3 game, creating a completely new experience There are basically three different types of pet on offer in this game. The first, ‘wild animals’, do nothing for the overall gameplay apart from make it look more aesthetically pleasing and are a pleasant surprise to gameplay. Wild deer frolic in the woods and raccoons come and knock over your rubbish at night for example. For The Sims 3, a game that prides itself on its realism and verisimilitude compared to the cartoon nature of the second game, such features are really welcomed. If EA could only produce weather system like that in The Sims 2: Seasons then the game would reach an almost unholy level of simulated realism. The second type of animal is the ‘low-maintenance pet’. These animals live in the Sim-verse like the wild animals, however they can actually be caught and domesticated as a pet in your Sims home. Such animals include rats, snakes, tortoises, lizards and birds. There are an abundance of different breeds of all of them, each with its own rarity value making it fun to try and catch all the different animals on offer. These animals have limited interactions such as being able to be played with and fed.
However while this is all very well the best animals are the ‘cats, dogs and horses’ which all have countless interactions and possible gameplay options for you to discover through trial and error. The animation of these animals (especially the horses) is perfect and with the fact that each animal can be given its own personalities and traits, you will spend countless hours trying all of the varying customisation options. You can have a destructive and hyper dog or a genius and faithful cat. It is easy to recreate a familiar family pet without much trouble to near perfect detail.
Along with dogs, cats and horses are many other smaller pets such as snakes and rats Speaking of experimentation, the absolute best feature of The Sims 3: Pets is the coat design options. For me it is worth buying the game for this alone. While the game’s default breeds are all normal and realistic, you can create pretty much anything you can think of with the easy-to-use tools. You can even save a custom coat, and later breed it with something else. Like with human Sims, DNA has always been a fun addition to the game,
so your markings and colours may transfer over to kittens and puppies.
The animation of the included animals is perfect and adds real character to them Abolishing the Sims 2 era feature of animal careers is also, in my opinion, a step in the right direction. This idea was ridiculous, even for EA standards, and provided no logical purpose but to suck your pet into a rabbit-hole for hours at a time, with no chance to actually play with the created pets. Now pets take on more logical functions; cats can hunt and collect the previously mentioned low maintenance pets, as well as fish. Dogs can be trained to sniff out collectables such as gems, fossils and space rocks, which, although added back into the base game, were up to this point incredibly difficult to find. It is the horses which are the brand new introduction in this game, and the wealth of things that this addition brings are what help make the game what it is. Not only can they be used as a form of transport they bring with them new opportunities and even a brand new career. Horses can
It shall be mine, oh yes, it shall be mine
be trained in running races or equestrian competitions, providing your Sims with an almost gamebreaking amount of money once the horse is trained to full capacity. Moreover, it seems like EA has taken a leaf out of Red Dead: Redemption’s book allowing the small and infrequent opportunity to find mythical horses in the wild. All the animations for the animals are perfect, from a kitten sleeping on the floor to a deer loping across your front lawn. You’ll need a lot of room on your lot to take advantage of larger animals, but coincidently a new neighbourhood called Appaloosa Plains features large, roomy lots which are all decently priced, unlike some of the other neighbourhoods which are almost inaccessable unless you are playing a legacy game and have large amounts of cash. It was a very good idea for EA to add this new world along with the expansion pack as the pricing of some of their latest online store neighbourhood leaves a lot to be desired. Sadly, there are very few new clothing options and absolutely nothing new in Build Mode. This could be seen as a cop out but as so much of your time will be spent tinkering with the pets themselves, you probably won’t notice. Quickly I must point out that that this review is based on the PC version of the game. From my previous experience (going
right back to The Sims 1 for PS2). The Sims just does not work on consoles. Functionally it does, just about, but the act of squeezing it onto the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 strips the game to its bare bones. Reported lagging gameplay, an array of glitches and bugs and slow loading time means that this game is never going to be as great on consoles as it is on the PC. I am still waiting for the day when a version is made for consoles that is able to fully capture the essence of the it’s bigger PC brother, but unfortunately I don’t think this will happen soon, if at all.
The newly included Appaloosa Plains neighbourhood offers a change of surroundings In conclusion, I would say this is a more viable and much better value-for-money expansion pack than some of the others in the ever growing catalogue of content that is now available for you to fully customise your Sim-ing experience. Hopefully this means that EA are back on track and all minds are now focused on what might come next in one of the biggest selling game franchises of all time.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
travel Spellbinding Scotland Milly Chick
This time last year I was sunning myself on the beautiful isle of Koh Phi Phi, with the diamond scattered waters gently frolicking in the near background. As you would expect, I was not giving a thought to where I would be in a year’s time. This happened to be Scotland. At the end of Britain’s infamous summer. In a tent. Just as BBC news were announcing the backlash of a hurricane hitting the Northern parts of Britain. So how did it all start? It is Monday morning and we are sitting inside a car which is packed to the brim with sleeping bags, tents, long johns, wellies, plenty of sloe gin and, dare I admit it, tinned chilli con carne. Meanwhile, on the outside, duct tape is the only thing holding the front bumper on to dear life. Starting in Cheshire meant we only had two hours to go before we reached the border. ‘Welcome to Scotland’ – wahoo! No sign of frostbite and the car remains intact - first challenge completed. All I could really say after this was, ‘wow’ and ‘ahh this is amazing’, in my appalling Scottish accent. After passing various captivating lochs, glens and bens, we eventually arrived in Oban. With Mull posing in an inviting manner over the waters, plenty of height around to gain a spectacular view and the sun gracing us with his warmish presence meant we were living the dream! However, a
night of sleeping under a thin canvas was lurking around the corner. Morning arrived and we woke up to find that all was fine. I actually felt I had slept and had not suffered from the cold. We unzipped, and got out to stare at sheep sprinkled hills and glistening bays surrounding us – utter bliss. It wasn’t long before I spotted the empty bottle of sloe gin. That explained the good sleep, warmth and also the splitting headache which welcomed that morning.
Give Scotland a chance, it captivates you with its spellbinding castles
itself around us. Meanwhile, that once magnificent view had now transformed into a plane of bleak grey rocks hidden behind an alien mist. Nevertheless, the sense of achievement in reaching the top and even more so when we reached the bottom, was incredible. Scotland furnishes itself with great pubs, vistas and water sports, (although an 8mm wetsuit would be recommended for these!) and although we visited many places, Applecross stood out as one of the most mouth-watering. Rested at the end of a hairpin road that closes during winter, Apple-
cross comprises of an atmospheric pub that gazes across a striking example of Scotland’s water and mountain amalgamation and of course, a few houses. On asking where everyone under the age of 30 was, my boyfriend casually replied ‘Ibiza’. This most probably was the case. Nevertheless, if you have done the full moon party and realise that nothing else can beat it or just fancy something closer to home that will make you feel as if you are millions of miles away then give Scotland a chance. The tranquillity of the mesmerising milieu makes you feel as if Scotland has
opened its pure heart and shared millions of year’s worth of secrets with you and only you. It captivates you with its spellbinding castles that the air gently dusts with mist and the friendly locals that are more than happy to pour you a strong whisky to help you en route. Alternatively, if this isn’t for you - just visit the enchanted city of Edinburgh packed with culture and a night out that certainly rivals London. But, the hills and the waters still poke through the breaks in the prominent buildings as if to hopefully say ‘give me a chance as well’.
Packed and ready to return to the supposed ‘A’ roads, we began to prepare for our next mission climbing Ben Nevis. We arrived at the bottom wearing wellies and a pair of trainers, only to come across an imposing checklist looking down on us from a towering board. Listed were: compos – no, walking boots and poles - definitely not, map – no, whistle – no, and lastly but more promisingly a raincoat – check. Without letting the inventory faze us, we set off up a rockstrewn track, while on the bright side (literally), the day looked promising. Perhaps it will be clear at top, we thought. However, our optimism soon faded when we reached the 700 metre mark and the cloud started to swathe
Porto: The dark city with the colorful people Evangelia Kravvariti
The adventure starts even before the airplane lands, when you see - if the weather permits it- the ocean’s waves meeting the Portuguese coast to create a magical picture.
For any student looking for a lowbudget trip, Porto is the ideal destination. Almost all the low-cost airlines offer cheap tickets and have regular flights going there and the cost of life in this city is a pleasant exception to the general European standard (indicatively, a
coffee costs around 50 cents while you can find a proper meal for around four euros). The recommended period to take this trip seems to be the winter as the rainy weather, the old architecture and the dark river passing through the city, composes a magnificent scenery, amplifying the colors of the characteristic ceramic roof tiles which cover all of the buildings in the town. An interesting walk starts from the monumental central avenue (Avenida dos Aliados) and descending towards the river. In your path, you can admire many buildings that UNESCO has declared as World Heritage sites. Try to get lost in the alleyways of Ribeira, the neighborhood along the river, and enjoy the river’s view from the Eiffel’s bridge (Ponte Luis I).
Porto gives a warm feeling of safety. People there are usually friendly, happy and tranquil, ready to help any visitor, even if they do not speak English. Don’t be scared if any Portuguese grab your hand and walk with you just to help you find your way! Porto has a rich gastronomic experience to offer as well. Portuguese people have a special affection for codfish (bacalhau). In fact, Portugal offers more than 365 recipes made with this fish. Taste it in fish cakes, with cream, with potatoes, with eggs and any other combination you could imagine. Another traditional dish of Porto is Francesinha. Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to explain what is, but if you are not afraid of the overload of calories, it is worth a trial. Last but not least, Porto wine. This sweet and red dessert wine
is a reason in itself to make the journey. In Vila Nova de Gaia, the city in the other side of the Douro River, are the cellars where the wine is kept to mature for years. Visitors can enjoy a tour around the cellars, learning about wine’s production process, after which you can get a tasting. Porto’s nightlife is not quiet enough. There are a lot of ways that someone can pass the night. Monday in Ribeira is the student night, where you can meet people, hang out with friends or just enjoy the view in the evening. As well as that, during the week there are a number of options around the city, such as quite bars and night clubs in Galeria de Paris. In whichever way someone decides to enjoy Porto, one thing is certain; by the end you will be left with a sweet feeling of a warm city and an enthusiasm to visit it again!
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Antibiotic resistance: a chapter closes? Laura Brierley
Will Antibiotic Resistance close a chapter closing in antimicrobial therapy? It has been recently reported that the sexually transmitted infection (STI), gonorrhoea, has become resistant to nearly all current methods of treatment. As this is a common STI, this could pose a serious problem and an increased risk of complications when treating this infection.
Gonorrhoea is a very common STI Antibiotics are commonly used in both medicine and agriculture and are a common feature in everyday life. Nearly everyone reading this article will have taken them at some point to treat a bacterial infection. When these drugs were first introduced in the early 20th century, they were described as miracle cures for bacterial infections and drastically improved survival rates for what we consider today minor and easily treatable conditions such as gonorrhoea, chest and throat infections or abscesses. Despite being described initially as ‘wonder drugs’, a number began to lose their effectiveness in the treatment of various bacterial infections, in particular penicillin, the first antibiotic to be discovered, and others soon followed. This phenomenon has been termed ‘antibiotic resistance’.
Bacterium that cause infections may no longer be as sensitive to antibiotics The term ‘antibiotic resistance’ is thrown around in the media, in hospitals and within the scientific community, but what does it actually mean to us in our everyday life? The basic definition of antibiotic resistance is when a bacterium that causes an infection is no longer as sensitive to an antibiotic as it was previously. In the laboratory this can be a small change in sensitivity in a bacterial species to an antibiotic. However this may not translate to the use of that antibiotic in a clinic as a much higher concentration of that drug is administered to the patient to treat the same infection. This is confusing as the media will
often describe bacteria becoming resistant to a particular antibiotic, however this is often seen in the laboratory and is not seen so much in the clinic. Antibiotic resistance only begins to affect us in the clinical situation when the concentration of antibiotic used in medicines is no longer effective in treating a particular condition. This is what is starting to be observed with various strains of gonorrhoea. So do we have to worry about this in our everyday lives? There is no simple answer to this question. There is a rise in so called ‘Superbug’ infections such as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or ‘MRSA’ (see image, right) and Clostridium difficile (C.diff) in hospitals. These bacteria are resistant to a number of antibiotics and limited treatment options are available.
Very few new compounds are being developed to treat infections The NHS has measures in place to prevent the spread of these infections through screening patients upon admission to hospital to see if they carry these bacteria in their natural flora, and through effective use of biocides to kill these bacteria before they have a chance to cause an infection. In recent years the number of out-breaks of these infections have slowly started to decline. Resistance mechanisms to antibiotics are easily spread between different species of bacteria by a number of other biological mechanisms and due to this, antibiotic resistance is seen to some extent with all bacteria. Over time this will translate to the clinic as these resistance mechanisms become more widespread and sensitivity decreases.
A proactive approach is required, rather than a reactive approach At the moment there are diverse ranges of chemical structures used as antibiotics, therefore there are options in treatments for infections. However, very few new compounds are being developed in the scientific community to treat infections. So as resistance
become mores widespread, there is a real possibility that we may run out of options to treat bacterial infections as no new products are appearing on the market.
We may run out of options to treat bacterial infections So could this mean that we could return to the dark ages before the discovery of antibiotics where a simple chest infection could be
fatal? This is the worst and certainly the most extreme outcome. But, in my opinion, this could be a real possibility in the future maybe even within our lifetimes. However, the ongoing advances medicine makes every day render this outcome the very extreme. Microbial resistance to antibiotics is a real threat to the modern world. Therefore, a proactive approach is required rather than a reactive approach. New antibiotics need to be developed before bacteria become resistant to the currently used treatments,
rather than waiting until there a no longer options available for treatment.
At the moment there is no serious threat This will mean that there is always a solution to infections. At this moment in time there is probably no serious threat to any of us in our everyday lives. However this is a situation that is seems very likely to only get worse in the future.
Friday 28 October 2011
News in Brief
Radiopaq ‘duo’ headphones review Mat Greenfield
Mere weeks after the death of its creator, Steve Jobs (above), the Apple iPod range celebrated its 10th anniversary last week. Arguably, this device set the precedent for all major MP3 players to follow in style and function. At the same time, Jobs’ authorised biography hit the shelves. It is revealed that the CEO of Apple believed the iPhone 4 antenna controversy to be a smear campaign by rival Google. Also, Jobs had initially resisted allowing third-party apps onto the iPhone and firmly believed that Google had stolen many of Apple’s ideas.
A study has shown possible links between cot deaths and parents co-sleeping with their child. It has been shown that nearly two-thirds of cot death cases at Great Ormand Street Hospital were of children who regularly co-slept with their parent. No direct cause has yet been identified, however.
American DVD rental service Netflix has announced its intention to launch in the UK, competing with British rival LoveFilm.
The photographs taken by the first astronauts on the moon in 1969 have gone on sale to be auctioned off at Bloomsbury’s in London.
After espousing their new “face unlock” feature, Google is forced to make an embarassing climbdown after it was proven that a photograph could fool it.
There seem to be two extremes in headphones and most people inhabit one or the other exclusively. On one hand, you have the people who are quite content with the tinny travesty that either comes with their MP3 player or they can get from Argos for less than £10. On the other, you have the pompous sound-snobs who have never spent less than £100 for a set of high-end headphones. These are the people who claim to have the ‘golden ear’ that can discern sound quality differences between encoding bitrates. When I establish my Reich, these people will be forced to listen to Jedward’s Eurovision song Lipstick repeatedly through their overpriced headphones until they puncture their own eardrums with a rusty screwdriver to make it stop. As with a lot of technology markets, there is a neglected middle-ground in headphones that so far only Skullcandy has any real brand identity in; the problem is that Skullcandy’s memorable but garish designs are most definitely an acquired taste. Can the ‘duo’ headphones from Radiopaq, available for around £20, bring an air of understated style and quality to the melodic mid-range? Radiopaq espouses the comfort of wearing the ‘duo’ headphones, and indeed they withstood prolonged use without making me look or feel like Gary Lineker. Rather than entombing the ears in the earpieces as most headphones do, the ‘duo’ instead presses lightly on the edges of one’s lugs with its enormous padding. Indeed, the whole headset is encased in so much padding that, had this not been a review model that I am obliged to return in full working order, I would’ve dropped it just to see if it bounced. However, the sad outcome of all
this padding is a product that I am almost physically repulsed to touch, let alone wear on my head. Both the rims of the earpieces and the upper-headband are covered in padding wrapped in a slippery plastic coating that almost made my drop-test an inadvertent reality. Overall, I found the overuse of padding to be very off-putting. Sure, I’d much rather have that than a brushed metal finish that would cut into my cranium like a carving knife, but it still feels like overkill. Within the earpieces themselves, the speakers are covered in an oddly ill-fitting material that is extremely loose, feeling more like the underside of an elderly iguana (trust me). Where the wires meet the earpieces, the grips are also very loose, so unless you remain eerily still in listen-
ing to music, you’ll get the grating crackle of static if you knock the wire. The headphones are available in a wide variety of colours, from low-key black to a green that I avoided for fear of it being radioactive. All things considered, the ‘duo’ headphones look and feel poorly built, and though relatively cheap you would still expect better for the price. But enough of my vain fixation on form, what about function? Well, the sound quality in these headphones is...fine. Just fine. I can’t fault them on sound quality, they certainly do better than cheap earbuds that make it sound like you’re listening to your tunes from the inside of jam jar, but at the same time they lack anything to make them particularly memorable. Radiopaq describes the bass as “de-
fined [and] mellow”, which sounds like a terrific way of saying ‘imperceptible’. I don’t claim to have the ‘golden ear’ but I do have at least two semi-functional lugs that can’t detect any notable management of bass. Sound comes through crisp and clear, which I suppose is all you can really expect.
Radiopaq describes the bass as “defined [and] mellow” Portability is usually the dealbreaker when it comes to deciding between headphones and earbuds. If you’re studious enough to have a bag crammed with books but too much of a Luddite to have replaced them all with an eBook reader yet, then you won’t want to shoehorn a cumbersome set of headphones in there too. Luckily, the ‘duo’ headphones can fold in and out like a Transformer and tuck away rather nicely. The earpieces are lean enough that they could be fairly portable without this feature, but it’s useful all the same. So if you’re looking for a set of functional and portable, if otherwise unremarkable, headphones, and you don’t mind feeling like you’re routinely handling a dead eel, then by all means look into Radiopaq’s ‘DJ-style duo’ headphones. If you’re willing to shell out a little more you can get more solidly built, higher quality or even wireless headphones that will serve you far better. Incidentely, wireless headphones, with an average price tag of around £30, can double-up as a cheap Cyberman costume for Halloween when combined with tin-foil and a voice synthesiser.
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
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Friday 28 October 2011
Fairtrade News on Campus
As a Fairtrade University, Reading is obliged to have a steering group which runs all Fairtrade activities on campus. One activity involves making sure that there are Fairtrade products available around the University, in places such as Dolce Vita, Campus Central, and The Cedar Room. The group has also organised and run successful events throughout the year. The Fairtrade Fashion Show boasted many highlights, with designers of some of the clothes from the Fine Art Society and performances from the Bellydance and Circus Societies. The event brought together both the town and University communities! There are currently plans for a second Fashion Show on 9 March 2012, organised by the Fairtrade Society, sure to be just as successful. Equally, the steering group held a talk between the Rainforest Alliance and the Fairtrade Foundation, explaining similarities and differences of the two organisations. All of these events highlight that the University is actively supporting Fairtrade, and raising awareness amongst its students. The University gained its Fairtrade status in 2008, and this December we will be re-applying for renewal of this status. This process involves us informing the Fairtrade Foundation about what we have done over the past years to promote and endorse Fairtrade around the University. In November the Fairtrade Society will be hosting an event with the Global Poverty Project (an organisation that aims to catalyse the international movement to end extreme poverty). The presentation centres its talk on the 1.4 Billion Reasons campaign. It is a thought provoking presentation that moves audiences to make simple lifestyle changes in an effort to end poverty and raise awareness about the differences we can make every day, such as buying fairly traded products. The Global Poverty Project describes the presentation as “a simple yet ground-breaking presentation that is travelling the world, inspiring and empowering audiences in its path”. The presentation will take place in Palmer 109 on 15 November at 7pm. For more information check out our Facebook page!
Does Spark* talk to you? If not, talk to us! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Any comments, suggestions, complaints or praises are always welcome
Green Week 2011 will run during the week 7 – 11 November and will include a range of events, from a launch event where we need your help to make a unique 35% carbon reduction statement, to the annual environmental public lecture and plenty more. If you have any suggestions or would like to get involved, let us know at email@example.com.
P.O. Box 230, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AZ Tel: 0118 378 4140
Hi everyone, I am very excited to have the chance to write to you on behalf of the Development & Alumni Relations Office. We are a team that is not very well known to students while they are at University, but once you have graduated, we guarantee that you will know exactly who we are and what we do, as we make it easy for you to stay in touch with the University and one another long after you have left! So, what kind of things do we do to keep our former students (or ‘alumni’) in touch with us? Well, for starters, we publish ‘Connected’ magazine each year, which goes out to 100,000 alumni worldwide. We also send our alumni quarterly newsletters, organise a range of exciting events, and chat with our alumni about University life on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. Importantly, we are also the office that is responsible for bringing in donations to the University. Many of you may have already heard about the Annual Fund - a charity that was set up in 2004 to enhance the student experience.
And do you know where the majority of donations to the Annual Fund come from? Yep, you guessed it, our alumni. So far, over 6,000 generous donors have raised a cool £2.7 million. You know the fifth floor of the Library? Donations from alumni funded its refurbishment. Have you received a grant to go travelling as part of a study trip? Well, that money was made possible thanks to alumni donations. Are you a member of a sports club or society? The chances are the Annual Fund has provided new equipment for you. The list of projects our alumni have funded is long and varied, and over the next few weeks, I look forward to casting the spotlight on some of them. For now though, check out our website: www.reading.ac.uk/alumni and join us on Facebook (search ‘University of Reading Alumni’) and Twitter (@UniRdg_Alumni)! Laura Garman Alumni Communications Officer
Vol 58. Issue 3
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Lucy Ponder and Kerrie Black
Diwa Sharma with Ellis Wheatley interview.spark@
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Science & Tech
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Arts&Books Editor: Nadine Michaels email@example.com Fashion Editors:
Petrina De Gouttes and Roberta Sarll
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Fun&Games Editor: Chris Ryder firstname.lastname@example.org Sport Editor:
Sophie Elliot and Cameron Humphries
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Sophie Elliot, Becky Pinney, Jessica Cropper, Laurence
Spark* is written, designed & typeset by students at the University of Reading. Printed by Newbury News Limited, Newspaper House, Faraday Road, Newbury, Berkshire. RG14 2DW. Published and funded by Reading University Students’ Union firstname.lastname@example.org. Spark* is completely editorially independent. Complaints should be made to the Editor, in the first instance, and thereafter to RUSU. All complaints should be made in writing. All articles, letters etc. must include a name, address, and contact number/e-mail address. These may be withheld from publication at specific request. Spark* or RUSU can take no responsibility for products or services advertised herein. Spark* reserves the right to reject or edit any submissions. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the Editor. The views expressed in Spark* do not necessarily reflect those of the Editor, particularly those expressed in the comments pages, which are often the opinions of the specific authors. Photographs in Spark* are copyright to the photographer concerned.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
fun&games Crossword 028 15. Heads off chickens, ultimately procuring prize (3)
18. Too many people going through the en-
trance is starting to break the side of it? (8) 20. Said to arrange a small change about wedding (7) 22. Rioters to be drunk and disorderly? (7) 23. Lesser monopoly held on providing service (6) 26. Little boy abandoning honesty for compassion (4)
Straight Clues ACROSS 1. Long wooden pole used as a medieval weapon (12) 8. Container for the mixing of two or more chemicals (7) 9. Provider of food and service at a party (7) 11. Type of breath-freshening sweets (10) 12. Inner part of the hand (4) 14. Superficial (8) 16. Official removal of blame for a crime (6) 17. Food chewed by ruminant creatures (3) 19. Dismantle (6) 21. Small daggers (8) 24. Revolve (4) 25. Arrange again (10) 27. Chemical element with the symbol “Y” (7)
ending in chaos (7)
28. Descriptive of an animal that lives in
28. A barrister taking you at one from the
29. Performing music without the aid of
29. Improvising a meal out of barely any
written notation (7,2,3)
1. Old stick to cut personnel by seventy-five per cent? (12) 8. God drops a century on to the pile (7) 9. Provides meal Tom brought back again
DOWN 1. Shakes in fear (7)
1. As poetry, but without end notes (7)
2. Part of a ship between the middle and the
2. Looking for packs of cards in sections of
3. Excellent; huge (8)
3. Note if a hundred take rights to the
4. Deliver words from memory (6)
5. Add up (informal) (4)
4. Repeat is recondite after cancellation of
6. Ahead (7)
second half (6)
7. Off-road race (5-7)
5. Carry short pole (4)
10. Nostalgic memory (12)
6. Introduction to book rumoured to be
19. Take apart a Frenchman’s forge (6)
13. Drawing exaggerating the subject’s
21. New taxi regularly reverses and drops
7. Going over fields in a disagreeable state
15. Drinking vessel (3)
off around the blades? (8)
18. Side piece of a door frame (8)
24. Go to listen to seabird (4)
10. About to skirt area surrounding College
20. Type of vows given at a wedding (7)
25. String instrument in swell fashion again
22. Act boisterously (7)
13. Ride with one losing power in acquisi-
23. Talk given in a church (6)
27. Element of surprise I must try without
tion of satirical picture (10)
26. Feel sorry for (4)
and again (7) 11. Spinster mother shaking up herbs (10) 12. Appropriate tree (4) 14. Make up alien visiting from outer space (8) 16. What an average fellow! (6) 17. This one is clued oddly – chew on that!
Dear Auntie Adelaide... Against all advice and previous experience to the contrary, some poor dodo has decided their problem is desperate enough to have written to Adelaide Featherstonehaugh, official Spark* agony aunt. Never mind. Dear Aunt Adelaide, Yesterday I came home early from work to find my husband (who works from home, or so I thought) in bed with three women and a man who I think works at the Post Office.
I have been married to him for twenty-three years (my husband I mean, not the man from the Post Office) and I am totally devastated. The worst part is that the man from the Post Office is the spitting image of a man I once had an affair with some years ago and of which my husband is unaware. During the natural argument that followed my discovery, I think I may have fallen in love with him. It was just something about the way his nostrils flared when he
Cryptograms Decipher the codes to read the six quotations below. Beware - the code is different for each puzzle! Try looking for single and two letter words at the start, as well as recurring endings such as “-ed” and “-ing”. Good luck!
1. T CYUZFZLZTJ JAAMB FPA TKZUZFI FY EYHAFAUU QPTF ZB SYZJS FY PTCCAJ FYWYHHYQ, JAGF QAAO, JAGF WYJFP, TJM JAGF IATH. TJM FY PTXA FPA TKZUZFI TEFAHQTHMB FY AGCUTZJ QPI ZF MZMJ’F PTCCAJ. - Sir Winston Churchill 2. VDI TNHMLRVMQ NFNK, QDDP VDI LBN CDDJ RZ DLBNIK; VDI TNHMLRVMQ QREK, KENHP DZQF SDIJK DV PRZJZNKK; HZJ VDI EDRKN, SHQP SRLB LBN PZDSQNJCN LBHL FDM HIN ZNANI HQDZN. - Audrey Hepburn 3. X ILTGM HF ALGEXSL QFY OXZJEL EXWL KFCEB IL XW FML QGB G ALTCEGA AFCHXML HF WFEEFY YXHQ WXNLB QFCAO, G WXNLB OGEGAD,
a month. It will be an enormously relaxing holiday in which I intend to distance myself from other people’s problems, just like a graduate from a potential job.
Thank you for taking the time to help me,
As such, quite honestly, I am so busy and excited and distracted today that I simply couldn’t find any enthusiasm to read your letter even if I had a high-powered microscope to ease the work. Which I don’t.
Dear Whoever You Are, Tomorrow morning I am getting up at four o’clock because I am going on holiday to Mauritius for
GMB PLAD EXHHEL FAXTXMGE HQXMUXMT HF BF. - Roald Dahl 4. MOJ KORKBO NDFCE VRHO NDQC NJR RH NDHOO NFVOL Q UOQH; F DQPO VQYO QC FCNOHCQNFRCQB HOKINQNFRC MRH VULOBM XU NDFCEFCS RCTO RH NJFTO Q JOOE. - George Bernard Shaw 5. RHMZ HC BMHIPRN CKJE JHBM BMKOEC, SEU H PEKJ EK KBMZO OZAZUN BMSE BK WSCC TFHIPRN BMOKFLM BMZA. BMZ RKELZO JZ UJZRR KE KFO AHCMKOBFEZC, BMZ LOZSBZO HC BMZHO WKJZO BK MSOA FC. - Voltaire 6. K’E CKXNKXO KM KXVBQFUKXODP NKCCKVWDM MH UKEYDP LFDR NHLX MIQ UMBQQM. KX XQL PHBR, K NFUIQN KX MH AWP F AKO YFKB HC UWXODFUUQU MH VHXVQFD EPUQDC, AWM MIQ OWP AQIKXN MIQ VHWXMQB UIHWMQN “IQP! KM’U NB. IHWUQ.” - Hugh Laurie
Answers to last edition’s puzzles (Friday 14 October 2011)
was shouting at my husband - I couldn’t help myself! I have gone to stay at my mother’s for the time being, but what I should I do in the long-term?
I’m assuming it’s the usual old drivel I keep hearing about love or parenting or dreams about suggestive objects, so I’m go-
ing to give you a list of typical answers and let you pick the one that is most appropriate to your problem: • • • •
Sleep on it. Give it another six weeks and see how it goes. Take up a brand new hobby, such as collecting apple stickers. Don’t put it in the microwave again.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
Rooney needs to go to the European Championships Matt Davies
Since UEFA announced the threematch ban that Rooney would receive, the debate that has ensued is whether or not it is worth taking the striker, who will miss the entire group stage The Guardian, for example, ran a poll asking what fans thought, the result being 48.6% saying yes, but a small majority of 51.4% believing he should be left behind. However, as England’s best player, the possibility of leaving Rooney out of the England squad, seems a remarkable proposal. Evidence of this came during the Manchester United and Liverpool game. From Welbeck’s performance. Rooney had been left on the bench, with Ferguson citing that he (Rooney) was ready to
play following his disappointment at the extensive match ban he received. From Welbeck’s performance, we could see that it was in fact a good decision for him to be included.
Welbeck exemplified effort, speed and determination Welbeck exemplified effort, speed and determination in a match that saw him run the lines, close down defenders, chase lost balls and make himself available for the ball. However, this was not enough to spark the Manchester side in the way that Rooney has so often done. The creativity Rooney brings is undeniable, something
England and Man United’s Danny Welbeck: is he up to the mark? both teams lacked in the match at Anfield. Rooney assists defensively, and is a phenomenal contributor to the build up play; his passing and link up is crucial to unlocking the stern defences England will encounter in Germany and Spain, amongst others, should they make it past the group stages.
It is wrong to rely on just the starting XI This is why Rooney is crucial to the England side when he plays,
but isn’t the only reason he should be taken. The international finals are a squad effort, and it is wrong to rely on just the starting XI. Spain for example, during the World Cup 2010, used 20 substitutions, making use of all three substitutions in every game except one, in which they used two. Of these 20 substitutions, there were nine different players that made appearances coming on from the bench, Fabregas, Torres, Silva, Mata, and Pedro to name but a few. Here lies proof that in order to consistently perform; squad play-
Simply a myth in the Premier League Cameron Humphries
Following Wigan Athletic’s defeat by Newcastle on Saturday, Roberto Martinez gave additional firepower to the age old argument that referees favour the so called ‘bigger sides’. Martinez was quoted as saying, ‘it’s just that we’re Wigan Athletic and it’s very difficult to get it wrong against us.’
Is it merely a myth that small sides do not get the decisions? The idea has been around for so long that many football fans and managers mention it as if it is fact, but following Martinez’s comments, a question must be asked: is it merely a myth that small sides do not get the decisions? As a fan of English football, any suggestion of considered bias towards certain clubs is disappointing, we all want to see fair, unbiased officiating in football. Yet it would be naive to think that incorrect decisions really do even
Roberto Martinez was disappointed at the decision not to award Wigan a penalty against Newcastle United last weekend themselves out over the course of the season, as if by magic. The reality is that certain clubs are going to get more decisions
over a season, the season after that, that club may get less, but do the bigger clubs get more of these decisions?
The evidence does not suggest that they do; indeed, no evidence or study has ever proven such a claim. However, there are other factors that influence the chances of teams getting decisions. Manchester United famously went 10 years without a penalty being scored against them at home, with only three penalties awarded in that time. This leading to many fans to declare that it was impossible for smaller clubs to get a decision at Old Trafford. Yet those claims do not allow for the quality of player at Manchester United, the team throughout that time was top draw and logic dictates that top-quality players are less likely to concede penalties and more likely to win them than lesser players. It is true that the more fans in the stadium, the more voices the referee has to block out. Naturally, some referees are going to be better at this than others. It could be argued that teams with bigger stadiums such as Arsenal and Manchester United are
ers have to be allowed to make an impact. Similarly, England relied on using their three substitutions in all but one of their games, where they also used two, underlining the squad’s importance. The more crucial fact however, is that England brought three outfield players that didn’t make a single appearance; Warnock, Carrick and Dawson, whilst Ledley King played just one half. If the England squad can bring along three fringe players that are unused, there is no reason why one of these shouldn’t be replaced by Rooney. Should England progress past the group stages, he has all the attributes to make a big impact and will add flare and drive to the side.
He has all the attributes to make a big impact and will add flare As a squad game, it is essential to have a large group of very talented players in order to assist the team’s regulars. Having Rooney as fresh and ready as posible to play after the group stages, could be integral to England’s ambitions at the finals.
more likely to get decisions due to this. However, if the crowd is raucous, such as at Loftus Road on Sunday, surely the amount of people in the stadium is insignificant in comparison to the atmosphere.
However, there are other factors that influence the chances This season, both Kenny Dalglish and Andre Villas-Boas have argued that decisions have consistently gone against their respective sides. As the managers of Liverpool and Chelsea, their claims do not do much to support Roberto Martinez’s words. Martinez may feel harshly dealt with and he may feel that Wigan get less decisions because of who they are. In reality, there is no reason that Wigan will not be on the end of beneficial decisions before the season comes to an end. The fact is, the argument that ‘smaller clubs do not get the decisions’ is just a myth.
Friday 28 October 2011
Challenge yourself with the Reading Half Marathon Sam Nikos Arbon
Reading University Athletics Club have recruited a new coach, Brunel graduate Nick Bates, and are inviting all students to come and give their sessions a go! There are lots of ‘social’ runners and all abilities are welcome, so for more details, get in contact with email@example.com or the Facebook group ‘Reading University Athletics Club 2011/2012’ The club specialises in cross country, short-mid distance running and jumps, but are also looking for other athletes to compete with them. With the chance to compete in the London Olympic Stadium at the BUCS Outdoor Championships, this is shaping up to be a very exciting year for the club. One of the main long distance events of the year is the Reading Half Marathon and RUAC are inviting all sports clubs, societies,
ally increasing up to an amount so you’ll be prepared for the full 13.1 miles.
‘This is shaping up to be a very exciting year for the club’
Each year the Reading Half Marathon attracts thousands of runners students and staff to enter the event with them. The 13.1 mile run is held on Sunday 1st April and attracts over 12,000 competitors. Whether you’re a fitness freak or a first-time runner, the club are encouraging you to take part. Anyone who does so, will have the opportunity to raise money for RUAC’s chosen charity, Launchpad
(formerly Reading Single Homeless Project), which helps some of Reading’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people to turn their lives around. Unlike some charity places, you don’t have to commit to raising a certain amount. Athletics Club have their own training programme, beginning in January with a couple of miles and gradu-
Football Premiership action Jack Bowyer
Has there ever been a greater statement of intent made in the history of the Premier League? Manchester City crushed their city and title rivals Manchester United in a 6-1 demolition at Old Trafford to establish pole position in the title race. It was United that started the brighter of the two sides, but a distinct lack of creativity meant that they were unable to break City down. The visitors were more than happy to soak up the United pressure before mounting swift counter attacks. One such attack was finished superbly by Mario Balotelli as City went in 1-0 up at the break.
It was United that started the brighter of the two sides The turning point came when United’s Jonny Evans was rightly dismissed early in the second half for bringing down Balotelli as the last man. This left City a goal and a man up against the last team to ever resort to damage limitation. United’s attempts to pour forward in search of a comeback were valiant, but ultimately desperate and City wasted no time in slicing through their opponents at will. A second goal for Balotelli, two for Edin Dzeko and one each for Sergio Aguero and David Silva completed the rout. A stunning strike by Darren Fletcher, making the score 3-1 with nine minutes to play, was the only consolation for United. They have lost derby games before, but this was different, a humilia-
RUAC have 10 places from Launchpad, where runners will need to raise a minimum of £100 (and pay a registration fee of £10). Or if you don’t think you can raise this amount, you can still raise money for Launchpad, but you’ll have to pay your own entrance fee (£33.50). If you do this, there will be no minimum target you have to reach-raise as much as you can, whether it’s £2 or £200! Sweatshop, the race organisers, are giving Reading University Athletics Club members discounted entrance to the Reading Half Mar-
athon and guaranteed entrance, so if you want to wait until Tuesday 1 Novemer, RUAC members will receive 20% discount. For everyone else, it’s estimated that places will sell out by late November. If you want to enter online now, go to http://entry.readinghalfmarathon. com/onlinentry/. This is fantastic experience and anyone can get involved. For more information, come along to the RUAC Half Marathon evening on Tuesday 1st November in Palmer 102 at 7:30pm for details and to sign up, email ruathletics@hotmail. co.uk or find the Facebook group ‘RUAC Half Marathon Runners 2012’ if you can’t make it. If you just fancy coming for a run with a friendly group of people or are eager to start your preparation for the Half Marathon, come along for a run with RUAC! More information can be found at www.ruac.org.
Reading Rockets A RUSU REPORT
Hertfordshire 57 Reading 62 After a shaky start which saw Hertfordshire edge ahead on the scoreboard Reading began to establish themselves in the match, commanding drives to the basket from Matzeder ensured the first quarter was ended strongly with Reading leading 20 – 24.
A flurry of baskets for Reading at the end of
the players and saw them go into the final quarter ten points ahead. Hertfordshire were relentless in their efforts to get back in the game and with their home crowd being loud it seemed easy for Reading to become intimidated. With two minutes to go, Hertfordshire were within three points but clutch free throws and solid defence in the final minutes ensured Reading held onto their lead and ended the game 62-57. Reading University Rocket’s coach stated after the match that ‘We should have beaten this team by 50 but it’s the first game and we have a lot to work on’.
the third quarter riled the players
Manchester City go five points clear at the top tion. An immediate response will be required if they are to keep in touch with City who now have a five point lead at the top. City, on the other hand, are flying. If they manage to produce similar performances against the other top teams then their fans may have a lot to shout about come the end of the season. Elsewhere, Chelsea missed the chance to move above United into second place after a shock 1-0 defeat to newly promoted QPR at Lotfus Road. Liverpool dropped points at home against Norwich in a 1-1 draw, whereas Arsenal look to be rectifying their poor start with a 3-1 victory over Stoke moving them up to seventh. Unbeaten Newcastle sit in fourth spot after a 1-0 win over Wigan continued
their excellent start to the season with Tottenham, Norwich and Stoke occupying the other top half positions.
Liverpool dropped points at home against Norwich in a 1-1 draw At the bottom of the league, it’s not looking good for Blackburn who are currently propping up the table with Wigan and Bolton above them in the drop zone. The likes of Wolves, Fulham, Swansea and Sunderland will also be looking to improve their recent displays, but at this early stage of the season there won’t be too many concerns just yet.
Persistent full court pressure from Hertfordshire caused problems throughout the match for Reading and this was never more evident than in the second quarter where turnovers hampered any significant lead Reading began to carve out. Composure on the ball was also lacking in both teams - arguably down the short space of time together in training before the first match. A flurry of baskets for Reading at the end of the third quarter riled
If you want to keep up to date with all the Reading University Knights results and team news then just go to the Facebook group ‘Reading University Knights’.
Spark* Friday 28 October 2011
All Blacks cling on in tense RWC final convert later opportunities into a winning margin and New Zealand appeared to be happy to restrict their play and count down the clock. ‘Generous’ would perhaps be one view of referee Joubert’s attitude towards the home team as many decisions seemed to benefit the All Blacks at key points but, ultimately, the home side had played the length of the tournament better than the French team.
New Zealand 8 France 7 The sentimentalist inside me can’t quite help feeling that, had last Sunday’s final gone to Marc Livremont’s erratic French team, the nation of New Zealand might just well have had enough. After an indisputably tumultuous year off the pitch, which has seen an earthquake, a mining disaster and an oil spill affect the small islands, the national rugby team finally brought joy to the ‘land of the long white cloud’ in the Rugby World Cup final.
What transpired, though, was grittier stuff The match was not as anticipated. Newspapers, radio and Twitter were speaking of 20 point margins and and All Black domination. What transpired, though, was grittier stuff. France came out on to the Auckland pitch and played
playing your best rugby. In the end though, despite Piri Weepu’s off-colour kicking performance, the All Blacks grim refusal to lose won out. The winning points came in the 45th minutes of the game, with soon-to-be Bath player, Stephen Donald scoring in front of the posts. However, this was closely followed by a Dusautoir try which seriously threatened to spoil the fairy-tale ending to the competition. How ever, France failed to
Reading valiant in defeat against Kingston Toby Spark
Reading Knights 2nds 8
This was the first away game for the Knights second team and after starting the season with a convincing win at home last week, the team were keen to follow it up against Kingston this week. The Knights were unfortunate to lose Leahy in the warm up to injury, with one member of the side claiming ‘he still needed time to get over wales losing in the world cup semi’s and Sam Warburton’s red card.’ In the first half, Reading had the wind behind them so kicked a lot of ball to try and gain territory. However, Roehampton had a very good fullback who made a lot of
ground running the ball back when Reading did not hit touch with our kicks. Reading also made a lot handling errors which gave the opposition a good platform to attack from. This resulted in them scoring a couple of tries and a penalty. Despite this, Reading’s scrum was dominant and managed to score a push over try from a scrum on their five metre line and scored three points from a penalty. The second half started much like the first half with Kingston scoring a try early on, after using the wind to kick long down into Reading’s half. However, the Knights continued our dominance in the scrum and this gave the team a good base to attack from.
They spent most of the second half camped in Kingston’s 22 winning a succession of penalties at the scrum which eventually resulted in a yellow card for their prop. Reading threw everything at Roehampton and came close to scoring on various occasions, although were unable to break their line and the game ended 23-8. The team was very disappointed after the final whistle as they knew they could play better than they did. But they can take positives from their scrum, and also the commitment that everyone showed in the second half. Kingston are Reading’s main rivals for promotion, so will be sure to be pumped up for Roehampton’s visit to Reading later in the season.
Walkover for rugby thirds Last week Reading’s third team played London School of Economics seconds, winning 27-0. In the first half, both teams were fairly evenly matched with only one try scored by winger Will Falleyn giving Reading a 5-0 lead into half time. Reading’s defence throughout the game was solid with their try line
Calling all writers...
If you would like to write for Spark*’s sport section, then please get in touch! You can contact us on sports. firstname.lastname@example.org and be added to our mailing list.
What a time to be playing your best rugby with skill, determination and flair. Led by an outstanding performance from blindside flanker Thierry Dusautoir, who fronted France’s arrowhead formation as the All Blacks performed the haka, the northern hemisphere team very nearly bowled over New Zealand. If the All Blacks were not tense in the first half, it could be argued that they were perhaps surprised by the French performing better than they had managed all tournament. What a time to be
rarely threatened, and in attack they looked dangerous every time they had ball in hand. In the second half, substitutes were made and Reading immediately picked up their game and went on to score four further unanswered tries. Replacement 13 Rhys Williams scored two brilliant tries with
scrum half Tom Elliot crossing over the line in the last play of the game to seal the victory. Other debutants who had great games included Rhys Jennings, Ed Price and James Cutlin. Reading had a lot of new players in the team this match and taking this into consideration the team can be proud of their performance.
Alternatively you could find the Facebook group ‘Spark* Sport 2011/2012’.
How different, perhaps, the final would have been had Wales progressed past the semi-finals and yet, you can’t deny the All Blacks answered suspicions of a possible ‘choke’ with their win at Eden Park. It wasn’t the same of the final of 1987 but Richie McCaw’s limping but defiant performance, including a bit of ball pirating in his usual style, summed up New Zealand’s game. Not the beautiful rugby we often comment upon, but a win, nonetheless.
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University Sport in Brief
Roehampton 10 - 2 Reading Men’s Tennis seconds Reading arrived at Wimbledon park on a sunny, still day, strongly anticipating the first match of the season. ‘A perfect day for tennis’, claimed team captain George Pugh. Reading always knew Roehampton seconds would be a tough match, with the national tennis centre (located in the heart of the area) attracting a lot of talent from all over the world to the university. The doubles matches were strongly helped by perfect weather conditions. Team captain George Pugh and tennis vice president Elliot Tiffin
continued on from excellent performances last year, winning the first doubles match. Freshers Callum Heptworth and Auberry Higgin had their first match together, but struggled under the strength of their opponents. The match was even, with both teams having a win under their belt at the start of the singles. However, it quickly became apparent that all 4 of the Knight’s players were struggling. This unfortunately resulted in a 10-2 loss for the University of Reading seconds.
Reading Ladies Squash 4 - 0 Kent Reading arrived for the match feeling very positive, knowing Kent were only bringing three players, guaranteeing the Knights at least one walkover before play had even begun. First up to play was Reading’s third player Rachel Fine, who played against a surprisingly strong opponent, with one Reading player even claiming that she was stronger than Roehampton’s second player. The scores were very close for the first two games, with Rachel winning both. Unfortunately the Kent third won the third game off Rachel, but only narrowly.
The fourth game was very close, but Rachel saw off her opponent for a 3-1 victory. Reading’s second lady Luisa played fantastically well, barely giving her opponent any chance to get ahead, winning her match 3-0. Reading’s first player Sam played another successful match, letting her opponent get slightly ahead in the last two games, but always coming back. Eventually winning the match 3-0. All in all a fantastic match from a team of almost all new players, with great support present. The match is an indication of a bright season ahead for the squad.
Friday 28 October 2011 Spark*
Reading held to Chichester stalemate Cameron Humphries
Reading Men’s 1st - 1 Chichester Men’s 1st - 1
Rugby World Cup
Inability to make their first-half dominance tell cost Reading dear as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Chichester on Wednesday. Reading took the lead with only three minutes gone when Vinny Cacioppo showed great composure under pressure from two defenders and the goalkeeper to apply a neat finish into the bottom left hand corner from six yards. However, after the break Chichester improved their intensity and were rewarded with the equaliser at 66 minutes. A cross from the right by-passed the entire Reading defence and the number 11 was left a free header from just three yards. It was a result Reading will certainly be disappointed with, after dominating play for the first 45 minutes.
Reading failed to create many real clearcut chances
Reading University Athletics Club
Not long after Cacioppo’s goal, they perhaps should have been awarded a penalty when Alex Geerts appeared to be held back in the box. George Rogers fired a stinging shot from just outside the box that the Chichester goalkeeper could only parry. In attempting to get to the rebound, Geerts was crowded out by a defender and the sprawling goalkeeper. The Reading players were incensed when nothing was given, and even more so when a goal kick was signalled.
Reading in action: George Rogers (Left) pulled the strings for Reading in midfield In spite of their dominance, Reading failed to create many real clear-cut chances. For all their possession and pressure, their next real opportunity didn’t come until the 25th minute. A whipped cross from the left evaded everyone, despite a packed penalty area.
It was a result Reading will be disappointed with, certainly after dominating play for the first 45 minutes George Rogers was pulling the strings in the centre of the Reading midfield, picking passes that gave his team-mates time and space on the ball, and making tackles to break up opposition attacks.
The only facet of the Chichester team that could have potentially been worrisome for Reading was the goalkeeper’s enormous kicks. His ability meant that Chichester gained vast amounts of territory, and was a shrewd means of instigating attacks. But for the most part, Joris Jivet did well to win the majority of aerial tussles at the heart of the Reading defence. As the second half began Chichester came out with an entirely different agenda. They were taking the game to Reading in a way that they had not been able to in the first half. They probably should have scored the equaliser at 52 minutes when the number nine dragged his right foot shot wide of the goal from a great position. Just two minutes later he had another great chance when he was first
to a cross from the right, but his flicked attempt just went wide.
Reading showed that they were still a threat in the 63rd minute Chichester weren’t having it all their own way, and Reading showed that they were still a threat in the 63rd minute when a free-kick was floated into the area. Yutaro Kawakami, very much Reading’s flair player, did brilliantly to control on his chest, but his first time volley was straight at the keeper. This result was set in the context of a week where the Reading Univeristy Knights had a total of 10 wins, 11 losses and four draws.
Knights Hockey report Sports Quiz Royal Holloway 1st 3 Reading 1st 2
Premiership football round-up
Reading started the match very poorly, with a few careless passes leading to two quick Holloway goals inside the first 15 minutes. However, through some solid hockey and much better communication Reading managed to get a goal back through Huw Cookson, who scored a reverse stick shot after good build up. Just before half time Reading added a second goal, through a well struck short corner from Harry Waters. At half time the score was 2-2.
As the second half progressed, Reading continued to look dangerous, but failed to convert their promising build up into goals, allowing Holloway to counter on several occasions. A brave stick save on the line from a Harry Waters short corner kept Holloway in the game, but five minutes from the end Holloway scored a well executed move to give the home side the lead. Reading continued to press, but could not quite link up with the forwards, leading to chances being wasted. At the final whistle the score was 3-2 to Holloway, but the score line could have been very different had Reading started the game well.
1. Which Welsh former international announced his retirement from all forms of rugby this week? 2. Which British athlete announced she was returning to her previous discipline of heptathlon in time for the 2012 Olympics? 3. Which British golfer was named PGA Golfer of the Year last week? 4. How many miles in length is the Reading Half Marathon? 5. How many men were Chelsea reduced to during their recent match against QPR?
1. Gareth Thomas 2. Kelly Sotherton 3. Luke Donald 4. Thirteen 5. Nine