Friday 25.11.11 Volume 58
Students app-ly themselves to resolving the problem of the waiting room
The three students meeting Prime Minister David Cameron Lizzie Pollington
A group of students from the University of Reading were afforded the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister for creating a mobile phone application that could help to cut waiting times in Accident and Emergency departments of hospitals. Wenni Gu, a third year International Relations and Economics undergraduate, Chris Alexander, a Robotics Masters student, and Anna Robinson, a Medicine student from University College
London, came up with ‘A&Express’ with the aim of providing those patients suffering with non-life threatening issues the appropriate information on which A&E department to choose in order to receive the most appropriate treatment as fast as possible After experiencing first-hand the inefficiency of one particular A&E department, Wenni Gu realised that with so many hospitals to choose from, it would be useful information for patients to know where they would be seen quickest.
This would not always be the closest hospital and so the app is designed to share this information. Using government data on actual hospital waiting times and crowdsourced data from patients, the system aims to provide more specific data on how long a patient will have to wait before being seen by a doctor. Not only this, the app can plan the patient’s route by car, foot or public transport, as well as offering other information on their hospital. The app then tracks the patient and offers guidance as to when they will be seen and how
their wait time compares to the average. When asked about the app, Wenni Gu said “In some places like London there are lots of hospitals to choose from, but at the moment there is no way to compare which would be the quickest place that you would be seen.” “We hope this will help to hold hospitals to account as people will be able to check for themselves how quickly they are seen and how this compares against the average. It could also reduce pressure on waiting times in busy departments by encouraging patients to go further afield if they knew they would be seen more quickly.” The president of UoR’s entrepreneurial society SStartup, Oli Gibson said “Students are increasingly aware that they need to do more than just graduate to secure their future, which is why more and more are looking to turn their bright ideas into workable, profitable businesses. Reading students are grasping this opportunity, which is vital not only fortheir own prosperity and that of future employers, but also for the health of the whole economy. Silicon Valley comes to the UK (SVC2UK), a not-for-profit organisation that tries to endourage Brtish technical entrepreneurship, awarded the group the ‘Appathon’ prize for students. But not only this, alongside other winners the group visited 10 Downing Street on Wednesday 16 November and got to meet David Cameron, the Prime Minister. Mr Cameron spoke about the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship in order to inject some new ideas into Britain’s economy.
MERL’s annual lecture showcases Afghan ‘Archers’ Calum Mcintyre Rogers
This year’s Museum of English Rural Life annual lecture will be an ‘Archers special’. MERL has housed a great deal of Archers-related objects and archives, from marketing material to collectors memorabilia in the exhibition ‘everyday stories of country folk’. The lecture will focus on the global influence and popularity of the BBC Radio 4 serial, which is now in its 60th year – establish-
ing it as the longest running soap opera in world history. This is also the 60th anniversary of MERL. The lecture was hosted at the ‘great hall’ on the London Road campus, on 24 November. Overseas Archers-equivalents include Urunana (or ‘Hand in Hand’) in Rwanda, Dom 7, Podyezd 4 in Russia and Naway Kor, Naway Jwand in Afghanistan, which has an educational theme. The Afghan programme has been broadcast by the BBC World Service since 1994; agriculture aside, the programme
is also written so as to teach the listeners how to avoid minefields, and has content relating to the Taliban and the opium trade. Ms Finch had a role in helping train the actors in the Afghan programme, about which she will speak during the lecture. She said: “It’s been an amazing journey for me to travel to countries like Rwanda and Afghanistan where they have their very own radio soap operas, using The Archers as their model. These programmers provide a lifeline for millions of
listeners as they both educate and entertain through their strong storylines and characters. I am really looking forward to sharing all of my experiences at the MERL lecture.” Although attendance for the lecture is free of charge, visitors will need to book tickets in advance. To get them, email merlevents@ reading.ac.uk or telephone 0118 378 8660. Go to http://www.reading.ac.uk/merl for other information regarding the museum and the lecture.
What’s Inside? Debate
Should University be free?
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- part 1: the review
Try out our tasty recipe for banana bread!
Adventures in charming Cambodia
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Student Voice: Why aren’t you involved? Kate Delaney
The current Sabbatical team, who were in attendance at Student Voice. Photograph by RUSU
The second Student Voice of the term was lead by VP Democracy and Campaigns officer Ben Haines on Tuesday 22 November. Despite minds being distracted by the prospect of free Dominos pizza at the end of the session, the group did manage to focus on some serious issues. One of the main issues on the agenda was to discuss the Student Voice sessions themselves in an attempt to make them as student friendly as possible. The meeting only attracted around 30 people, which mainly consisted of Sabbatical Officers, Student Trustees, JCR Committee members, student representatives, and of course some of the Spark* team, so much of the meeting was dominated by thoughts on how to get students more involved with their Students’ Union. Discussion leader, Ben Haines, reminded the group that promoting Student Voice to such a large group of people is difficult, although an email is sent to all students many do not really pay attention to what is said when they have a large number of emails from the university. Student Trustee, Freddie Clifford, wants there to be a huge attendance drive, the aim of which should be to get over 200 attendees at the first student voice of next term. It is likely the number will drop after the first session it will
hopefully encourage more people to come than there is currently and will attract people who as yet do not know how to get involved.
The aim should be to get over 200 attendees at the first Student Voice of next term There was plenty of interest last year when a policy was being debated regarding the sale of ‘lad’s mags’ in the Union shop but unfortunately not everything in student politics attracts quite this much attention. Student Trustee, Hannah Hayes, suggested the Sabbatical Officers offer a drop in surgery in addition to Student Voice meetings. This will give students a time when they know the officers are there to answer their queries. The Officers do currently have an open door policy . The idea was supported by a few of the students there. The idea was expanded by VP Welfare and Representation Steph Johnson who suggested students could go round all the sabbatical officers in groups so they get a chance to ask relative questions to the appropriate officer. VP Democracy and Campaigns Officer Ben Haines explained his idea of having a student voice for a specific topic which would be advertised as ‘Student Voice: Topic’ and would
hopefully invite more students to come along because they would not be put off by other business that would not necessarily interest them. A student suggested a way of increasing the attendance would be to target the range of societies and clubs that the university offers. These students may have issues relating to their group which they do not currently know how to voice so it would be beneficial for them to turn up. Another student who attended the meeting suggested that fellow students may be put off starting up a campaign because previously there have been incidents where abuse was directed towards campaigners. This kind of behaviour will not exactly encourage change at our university. Students may think that there will not be enough support for their ideas so choose not to bother at all. When it comes to voting on issues, one attendee admitted that when a student sits down to a computer, voting on a RUSU issue is very rarely at the forefront of their minds. The Sabbatical team have attempted to set up voting stations before but were unfortunately let down by technology so it was mostly unsuccessful. Students also suggested setting up a voting system which allows students to vote via text messages. Ben Haines summed up the event with his words: “Student Voice needs a breath of fresh air and a new lease of life”.
RUSU remains with the NUS
101: Got your number
The Reading student body has voted to remain affiliated with the National Union of Students, it was announced on 18 November. Of the 22,000 Reading students (figure from RUSU’s 2010 annual report), 771 voted in the referendum which ran from the 14-18 of this month. Since the referendum required an overall turnout of at least 4% (in this case, a turnout of 750) to become binding, and a 75% ‘yes’ vote of that 4% was required to continue affiliation, the result was valid only by a small margin. The results were 726 pro-affiliation and 38 votes against, with an additional 7 spoilt ballots. RUSU will remain affiliated with the NUS for a further two years, after which there will be another referendum on the (presumably) same terms. Despite the perilously small turnout, Ed March, Vice President Union Development for NUS commented on the results that he was “delighted that 94% of students agree with [him]” in that affiliation was the right decision. Marsh had appeared on a debate panel in a RUSU debate on 9 November, hosted in Café Mondial at 6.30pm.
On 14 November a new method of contacting the police in non-emergency circumstances came into operation in Reading. The new 101 number will put the callers directly in touch with their local or nearest police station. The incentive behind this system is to try to make it easier for people to get in contact with their local constabulary, as it will replace the previous 08458 505 505 contact number in Reading (which will still be active until March 2012 to allow for the changeover) with the three digit number, which is much easier to remember. It will be fully rolled out over the country by the start of 2012.
Calum Mcintyre Rogers
Affiliation with the NUS is set to cost RUSU £40,000 each year, though affiliation-advocates maintain that it is a sound investment, as Reading students reportedly make more than that back through usage of NUS discounts. RUSU Vice President of Democracy and Campaigns, Ben Haines, said that “After what has been a really engaging and useful couple of weeks, we at RUSU are enormously pleased that such a large majority of the student body that voted, has felt that we should remain a part of the National Union of Students. “By being a part of the NUS we benefit far more than just on a financial level. The decision we have made here at Reading, will assist in creating positive change for our students on a local as well as national level”. The NUS claims to be affiliated with 95% of the UK’s higher/further education institutes, under whose aegis 600 student unions function. Some unions, such as SUSU (that of Southampton University), have historically voted to be non-affiliated, a state of affairs which has persisted since 2002.
Around 70 per cent of calls made to 999 are pertaining to not urgent issues It is a nationwide service with the intention of freeing up the emergency service phone lines which are often taken up with non-
emergency calls, since according to statistics around 70 per cent of calls made to 999 are pertaining to non-urgent issues.
The new number could lead to al calls being answered within ten seconds Between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day of 2009, the Greater Manchester Police received 1,377 emergency calls, yet only a fraction of these were genuine instances of concern for the GMP. One of these calls came from a lady as a result of her cat “doing her head in” after playing with a ball of string. This is quite a significant figure when an emergency service call centre can take anywhere from 350 to 600 or more calls per day, and with only 97 per cent of these calls being answered in ten seconds, the new number could lead to all emergency calls being answered within that time. With the new number, residents would be able to contact the relevant authority regarding
incidents of burglary or damage to a property, if a car has been stolen or broken into, minor traffic collisions, relaying information about a criminal inquiry, vandalism or graffiti, abandoned vehicles and even just general enquires about the local neighbourhood. Although the service will cost 15 pence as a flat rate for any length of call, the response from people has been mostly positive towards the new system since many people were uncertain of how to contact the police regarding smaller issues before.
The service will cost 15 pence as a flat rate for any length of call This number joins a growing trend to introduce non-emergency numbers, such as the 111 health number for less urgent medical enquiries. Nevertheless, it does not replace the 999 or 112 number for when trying to contact the police in an actual emergency situation, such as when someone’s life is in danger or being threatened with violence.
Spark* Friday 25 Novermber 2011
I’ll have a Vodka and chloroform please Laurence Green
Bottles of vodka containing chloroform were discovered in a store room during a routine search of licensed premises in Woodley.
58 crates of Drop Vodka were uncovered in an operation by the Police and the Council 58 crates of the brand Drop Vodka were uncovered in the search on the 14 October as part of a joint operation between Thames Valley Police and Wokingham Borough Council. Chloform is often an ingredient in cleaning products. The consumption of the substance and prolonged expsure to it has been linked with an increased risk of cancer.
One of the dangers of the substance is that its effects may not be felt immediately PCSOs Clare Towse and Dominick Perera explained the dangers
of acidental consumption of the product. They said “I would like to warn you about this drink as it is unsafe due to it containing chloroform and isopropanol which is often used in cleaning fluids which is potentially dangerous.” One of the chief dangers of the substance is that its effects may not be felt immediately and therefore can be left untreated for some time. While it is not thought any of the affected bottles had been sold by the store, Wokingham Borough Council are conducting further investigations into the affected bottles to ensure no repercussions occur as a result of the incident.
Contaminated bottles of the vodka were also found in Leeds and Wakefield Further bottles of Drop Vodka seized from premises in Leeds and Wakefield were also found to contain chloroform, widening the scale of the issue. Trevor Gray of West Yorkshire Trading Standards warned that those found to be selling the illegitimate vodka could face hefty fines of over £20,000.
General Dynamics sponsors Reading seminar on the British army: Northern Ireland Secretary of State attends Lizzie Pollington
The first seminar in the series entitled ‘British Military Campaigns Since 1969: An Audit of Performance’ was held at the University of Reading on Wednesday 9 November and chaired by Professor Colin Gray and sponsered by General Dynamics Research Foundation. This session, assessing the British Army’s strategy during the troubles in Ireland was attended by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The session was held at Park House on the Whiteknights Camous and was given by the former General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland, General Sir Rupert Smith. The topic he discussed was ‘Military Operations and the Good Friday Agreement.’ The General was in charge of British military operations in Northern Ireland from 1996 to 1998, the period in which the Good Friday peace accord was signed, and when 29 people in Omagh were kiled by a legitimate IRA car bomb. He stressed that whilst he was in command, the role of the British military was to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary and to
conduct themselves within the rule of law. He also summed up the role of the British Army in Northern Ireland for nearly 30 years and listed a number of successes that they should be proud of. However, he wanted it to be clear that some of the strategic principles developed in Northern Ireland could not be applied to other situations unless context was seriously considered. The next topic addressed was ‘Belfast: A City in Revolt’, discussed by Professor Geoffrey Warner, a former Fellow of Modern History at Brasenose College in Oxford University. He spoke about the role played by General Sir Ian Freeland who was the head of the Army in Northern Ireland when the troubles first started in 1968. The insights he provided were based on his recently released private papers and revealed the difficult challenges that he had to face and explaining the aspirations on both sides to bring the confrontation of the period onto the streets of Belfast. The rest of the series of seminars intends to conduct an audit of five other British military campaigns since 1969. The next seminars will be next year and they will
concentrate on Britain’s involvement in the Falklands, the Balkans and the first Gulf War, with the aim to bring together former commanders and academics in order to present papers addressing key issues, before treating other conflicts in the same way in other seminars. Dr Geoff Sloan, who organises the seminars, said “The first seminar of the series was particularly pleasing on two counts. First, the diverse audience ensured a healthy debate between practitioners and a former operational commander. Secondly, having the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland participating in the seminar underlined the openness and frank approach of Owen Paterson to understanding the past as a guide to the future. “The presence of the Secretary of State in the audience underlined his desire to understand the long and complex history of the British Army’s involvement in maintaining peace and the rule of law in Northern Ireland. “It also demonstrates that in the field of Strategic Studies Reading University can mount seminars of real quality.”
Some of the guests on the steps to Park House, University of Reading. Photograph from Peter Castle
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Benyon JCR bake cakes to raise cash for the kids Chayya Syal and Calum M Rogers
Benyon Hall, known formerly as Reading Student Village, raised a total of £287.76 for the charities Children in Need and Diabetes UK, between the days November 14 and 18 for a ‘charity week’. This was the committee’s first charity week of the year.
Tickets to Yates were £4 each, but £1 per ticket went directly to the charity On Monday 14, Benyonites travelled en-masse to Yates fully ‘blued up’ as part of Diabetes UK’s ‘go blue for diabetes’ campaign. In an email to Spark*, Aleksandra Taskovic, the Benyon JCR treasurer described how participants went as Avatar characters, smurfs and ‘blue crayolas’. The boyband Blue also made an appearance among the students. Tickets to Yates were £4 each, but the JCR levied an additional £1 per ticket to go directly to the charity. The JCR established ties with the charity, and distributed free awareness-raising material from DBUK. In addition to a direct
donation from the JCR treasury, a total of £100 was raised. On Friday 18, Benyon hosted a cake sale in aid of Children in Need, dubbed ‘Eat sweet for Children in Need’. The JCR staff stayed up all night baking their socks off: brownies, flapjacks, banana bread, and cheesecake (which sold-out in a flash) were all on offer the next morning. An astonishing £187.76 was raised for CIN, some of which Aleksandra informs us was donated even without an exchange of cake.
Benyon raised a total of £287.76 for Children in Need Benyon reportedly plans to host more charity events throughout the year, with plans including a Christmas raffle and a pancake sale. JCR Social rep Liz Ward added: ‘’I was really proud to see not only the Benyon hall students but students from across the uni getting involved with the cake sale. In total from the two events we made over £200 - and a lot of people happy!
Feeling Blue? The Benyon Hall JCR sell cakes to raise cash. Photographs from Benyon Hall JCR.
Rachel Stevens, Ella’s Kitchen and Reading team up to improve toddler’s diets Sarah Lienard
Research funded by the University of Reading has provided the basis for a new campaign to improve the diets of the next generation. Ella’s Kitchen, pioneers in food products for toddlers, has teamed up with Rachel Stevens in an attempt to encourage young children to increase their intake of fresh vegetables through the medium of music, in a campaign called ‘Tasty Tunes’. Stevens, former S Club 7 singer and new mother, has recorded several songs aimed at young children based on nursery rhymes, which the company hopes will encourage a healthier relationship with food from an early age. The songs will be available to download free from the Ella’s Kitchen website. Paul Lindley, Ella’s Kitchen founder, said: “Ella’s Kitchen is passionate about helping babies and toddlers eat healthier food. With the worrying figure that less than one in five kids are eating their five-a-day, we partnered with the University of Reading to conduct research into children’s eating behaviour and created the Tasty Tunes collection with Rachel Stevens. We hope this initiative will encourage more kids to eat
their veg, creating healthy eating habits that last a lifetime.” Making the research possible was Paul Dazeley, who is currently working between the Psychology Department at the University of Reading and Ella’s Kitchen to deliver a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) worth £150,000. This collaborative scheme allows the two to work together in exchanging knowledge and strategies to develop the campaign.
“Children can be fussy about trying new foods, and refuse to eat food that is unfamiliar” Research was carried out with nursery school children to determine the factors that encouraged them most to try out unfamiliar foods. The research found that using senses such as touch to familiarize the toddlers with foods, as well as incorporating play activities such as singing, were beneficial in encouraging the children to eat new foods which they may otherwise have rejected. Dr Carmel Houston-Price, from the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at Reading,
said: “Young children can be fussy about trying new foods, and often refuse to eat food that is unfamiliar to them. I’m pleased that through the success of this link between the University and industry, Ella’s Kitchen is now rolling out these songs to encourage healthy eating. With a growing body of evidence linking diet in early years to a child’s prospects later on in life, anything that is shown to help children to eat more healthily is welcome.” A second KTP allows Ella’s Kitchen to access Reading’s Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, a world-class research facility. Using these resources, the company is developing strategies to provide the company with a high standard of raw materials, cut waste and maintain a consistent level of quality of its products. Researchers at the University of Reading have already shown that there is a strong link between children’s exposure to pictures of unfamiliar foods and their willingness to eat them. Scientists are now working on a brand new project examining different ways in which to encourage young children to eat much more healthily, with results likely to be published next year.
Reach for the stars. Photograph from Peter Castle
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
Students scurry down London streets Zoe Crook
Protesters congregated in London as students campaigned against the renewed Higher Education White Paper on Wednesday 9 November. The riots arose almost a year after the initial, violent riots, following the House of Common’s vote enabling the tripling of university fees. The protests, consisting of students travelling from as distant as Scotland and Ireland, fought for concerns over rising tuition fees and education cuts. With the latest cuts entailing students being required to pay more, over an extended duration, with increased interest rates, 2,000 students proceeded to the streets to assert their beliefs.
2,000 students flocked to the streets to protest the Higher Education White Paper Over 4,000 police officers were on patrol in riot gear, armed with batons and rubber bullets, arresting approximately twenty students, twelve for a breaches of peace. With insufficient violence, police numbers appeared excessive, yet
their substantial force is assumed to have quartered the quantity of students attending. The recent abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance did not leave protesters short of objections, as numerous students camped outside St. Paul’s Cathedral. Criticisms of education becoming merely for the rich and it being a breach of human rights soared, as David Cameron was widely criticised, despite taxpayers tolerating paying £9 billion towards education each year. The protest, featuring slogans such as ‘Education Not Business,’ and ‘R.I.P Life in the Name of the Father, the Son, and Capitalism,’ was also highly scrutinised. Harry Phibbs, a Daily Mail reporter condemned the riots, believing that ‘students having obtained their mickey mouse degree they can glide into some public sector nonjob - gaining a higher salary than many of the non-graduates doing real jobs from whom they have been scrounging’. Yet despite retaining this notion, he neglects essential courses, such as Medicine, without which we would lack fundamental professions, such as doctors. PhD student, Aaron Peters, a protester, studying at Royal Holloway University of London argued that “we are marching because we want power over our own lives
and not be subject to lives of debt. We want an education premised on human flourishing and not one dictated by corporate interests and employability skills.”
We are marching because we want power over our own lives The riots, organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, were deemed by them to be a ‘real success’, but they believe this ‘needs to be the start of a renewed campaign of student action’. On Wednesday 23 November, a national student day of action has been organized by the group, featuring both protests and walk outs, whilst campaigning for a reinstating of EMA, free education, a universal grant, and a withdrawal of the white paper. A second group of protesters later gathered in Trafalgar Square, forming a unity, chanting ‘who’s square, our square’, camping in twenty tents, however police quickly ceased this, making numerous arrests. With the Green Party being the sole party aspiring for free education, the concept currently appears improbable to being modified, yet with avid protesters, there is always potential for amendment in the future.
Protesters flood the streets of London. Photograph from lbc.co.uk
Professor Roz Shafran’s research Professor receives award into mental health gains award for science education Kate Delaney
A researcher in the University of Reading has won a prestigious award for research within the field of mental health.
Professor Roz Shafran received the Marsh Award for Mental Health Work 2011 Professor Roz Shafran received the Marsh Award for Mental Health Work 2011 on Saturday 12 November for her outstanding contribution to the field of mental health research. The award, which is run annually, is given to an individual working or volunteering within the field of mental health. The award commended the clinical implications of Professor Shafran’s research into mental health. The award is given by the Marsh Christian Trust in partnership with Rethink Mental Illness, who are the largest national voluntary sector provider of mental health services.
Professor Shafran works within the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Science at the University and is the founder and co-director of the Charlie Waller Institute of Evidence Based Psychological Treatment at the University of Reading. The Charlie Waller Institute is currently investigating the treatment of schizophrenia in the NHS and is helping to train new clinicians to treat people with mental health problems in the UK.
The CWI is training clinicians to treat people with mental health problems Professor Shafran’s research includes studies seeking to better the understanding eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder. One part of her research that the team judging the award highlighted is the discovery of a way of potentially detecting a thinking problem that is common in those suffering from obsessive com-
pulsive disorder and therefore significantly speeding up their treatment.
The reseach can potentially detect a thinking problem common in OCD On receiving this award she said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive such an award. It means a great deal since the main purpose of my research has always been to try to improve the lives of people who suffer from mental health problems. To have some indication that this goal has been achieved is fantastic.” Rethink CEO, Paul Jenkins said: “I’m delighted to present this award to Professor Shafran, who has made a very valuable contribution to the everyday lives of many people affected by mental illness. The research and training she has conducted has had a hugely positive impact on the treatment received by people with mental illness, and we’re very pleased to recognise that work.”
Dr John Oversby, a professor from the Institute of Education at the University of Reading, has been honoured for his contribution in science education. Dr Oversby received the 2011 Education Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry on Friday 11 November for chemical education at the awards ceremony in Birmingham. His career has involved teaching through collaborative research both across the UK and in Africa. His work has been crucial in encouraging teachers to conduct their own educational research in their respective fields. For 14 years Dr Oversby convened the PALAVA Teacher Researcher group, a model that helps teachers volunteer in the field of science education research. The research has lead to considerable development is the teach of science to children. Dr Oversby has said “If teaching is a profession it is not just what we do in the classroom but being part of building up the discourse. I have always been interested in people learning about my discipline and being excited by it,
whether or not they are going to become scientists”.
“It is not just what we do in the classroom but being part of building up the discourse.” Head of the Institute of Education, Professor Andy Goodwyn, said “I’m delighted that John has been recognised for a lifetime educating children ad teachers, particularly in the sciences, his work with the Institute of Education is indicative of the University of Reading’s leading role in teacher training and educational research in the UK. I and my colleagues have been lucky to work alongside him for many years and he continues to make an outstanding contribution to education through his many roles.” Dr Oversby worked at the Institute of Education from 1992 and retired last year, but still stays on as a part-time member of staff. He also works for Brunel University as a researcher and has completed work for the House of Commons as an expert on education.
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Fortnightly Media Blog This issue: RU:ON Hello all, Programmes are on the rise at RU:ON after releasing our production schedule. Legendary mockumentary The Lounge is making a comeback with an all new writing team, production began this week and this series looks bigger and bolder than the pilot. The show stars the majority of the exec team playing themselves in quasifictional scenarios of production mishap, budgeting crisis and marketing collapse, also joining in are special guest stars from Junction 11. Second on the list is the reboot of The News Show, a team for which is currently being assembled and is rumoured to to contain links to Spark itself; hopefully we should be seeing some joint projects between both RU:ON and the newspaper in the near future. Veteran game show Accumulate! will also make a return, hosted by the one and only Daniel Peake, as will film review show Cinematic Squad led by Head of Development Jack Wickson. Both shows have begun production and should hit the internet within the week. Finally RU:ON’s brand new gaming show R U Playing has made a splash with its wry premiere episode, featuring reviews of
what’s going on? what
The Blanks live performance
Antidote- LGBT Social
RUDS presents: Kafka’s The Trial
next issue of Spark* out: presenter and creator Stanley Jackson. As one last final point, RU:ON’s website is getting an early spring clean, enabling our videos for all smart phones and tablets. If you’d like to get involved or have any ideas, drop me a line at email@example.com
Friday 9th December 2011 across the students’ union
The friendships you make on day one stay with you
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7 POLITICAL COMMENT
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
POLITICAL COMMENT The New European Democracy?
The London Occupation lives on
Now with Italy, the Eurozone’s third largest economy, fallen to the whims of the markets and other leaders and now passing painful austerity budgets, Berlusconi has every right to be angry at how he was deposed as leader, despite being a maverick and being mired in sex scandals. It wasn’t his people who voted him out, it was the European bureaucrats pushed by the markets who forced his hand and that, despite his actions, goes against the very idea of democracy.
Something troubling happened in Greece, the birthplace of democracy, the other week. A democratically elected leader was forced from his post, not by his parliament or even his people, but by an international panel of inspectors, bureaucrats and other national leaders. People who should have no real say in how an independent national government is chosen, said what they wanted and got it. Surely there’s something wrong with that? Whatever your opinion of George Papandreou was, you cannot help but feel sorry for him in some respect. Not for his economic mismanagement, or his inability to balance Greece’s books, or the corruption in all levels of his government (guess where my opinion sits?) but when you consider his referendum proposal, it was actually a good idea.
These are of course ‘exceptional times’ which clearly require ‘exceptional measures’ It is true the markets wait for no one, especially the politics, but up until that point everything Greece had to do was dictated from Brussels, Berlin and Paris. Papandreou and his technocrat successor Lucas Papademos have and will continue to be at the mercy of Euro-cratic dictate since the markets have decided Greece cannot pay its debts and they need the Euro’s help. By having the referendum, even if the only real choice was ‘yes, we want the bailout so we’ll carry on with austerity’, it offered a democratic credence to what Brussels was decreeing – it made the whole experience more palatable to those enduring it. But no, that wasn’t good enough, for something
needed to be done immediately as these are of course ‘exceptional times’ which clearly require ‘exceptional measures’. But are these measures too far? The newly-coined Frankfurt Group, compromising of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Luxembourg Prime Minister JeanClaude Junker, Christine Lagarde of the IMF and the various heads of the components running the European Union clearly do not think so and are offering leadership in matters which usually rest at a national level.
Everything Greece had to do was dictated from Brussels, Berlin and Paris In some respects, they have every right considering the fact that most of this money is coming from German and French coffers. But another respect, I doubt the Germans or the French would appreciate other countries coming in and telling them what and where they can spend money and what they must cut away if they were in a similar position.
Britain, despite its own troubles, would do well to steer clear of this ever growing mess Much of Europe does not understand why Britain is wary of further European integration – surely, they argue, it can only lead to greater stability and cohesion between countries with similar ideals? From what we are seeing at the moment, I’d beg to differ – it is clear that the ideals held by the European Union and it’s currency union as its foundation, democracy and fairness, dissolve away when ‘exceptional circumstances’ come along and force countries to put money where the markets are.
It wasn’t his people who voted him out, it was the European bureaucrats Clearly, something has gone drastically wrong at the core and Britain, despite its own troubles, would do well to steer clear of this ever growing mess in the heart of a dysfunctional, federal currency union.
The momentum behind the eviction of the St. Paul’s camp in London is picking up pace with the Corporation of London set to take the Occupy London movement to the high court within days. After defying the eviction notices, which had given them until 6pm Thursday 17 November to disband and move from the site, the protesters are now set to face similar actions to the American movements in New York and Oakland – which were last week evicted and their camps destroyed by the authorities after almost two months of continued presence in the respective financial districts. The London camp has now been active since 15 October, when around 3000 protesters gathered in a square outside the London Stock Exchange to show their discontent towards the economic inequality, social injustice and corporate greed that they feel the banks are responsible for – with the general perception that their inefficiency is behind the financial crisis which the western world currently finds itself in. The activists were moved from the London Stock Exchange and chose to set up camp in the nearby churchyard of the iconic St. Paul’s cathedral, which, unlike the Stock Exchange, wasn’t privately owned; allowing the occupation to commence. Since then there have been significant actions as a result of the campaign – most notably the resignation of the churches dean, Dr Fraser, who although initially supporting the protestors, feared that evicting
them could lead to “violence in the name of the Church.” There has also been widespread political reaction to the campaign, with Members of Parliament coming out for and against the protestors demonstration against the banks in London. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been critical of the positioning of the campsite, with his Home Secretary, Teresa May, speaking out against the protest because of the damage it was doing to the image of the UK as a tourist attraction – especially at St. Paul’s where the cathedral is experiencing a sharp fall in visitors compared to previous years. Labour leader Ed Miliband however has called the campaign a “danger signal,” and seemingly supports the action of the protest, arguing in an article for the observer that the “gap between [the protestors] values and the way our country is run” is a “concern for millions of people.” Although it has not become the main political issue at present, what with the issues across Europe and the Eurozone taking precedence, the movement has become a part of mainstream politics, creating debate across the country and bringing awareness to the occupy movement. The protests of St Pauls have also been significant for many students, who see the protests as an extention of the Student Protests of 2010 and 2011. The protests are against the corrupt system which brought this country to its knees, and which we are now subsequently paying for – through the cuts in funding of universities and increases in tuition fees, which come in next year. However, even though ultimately this will all end in the removal of the protesters, the occupy movement has been undoubtedly very important in portraying the discontent that people are starting to feel against an unjust system, and the call for a drastic change to be made.
Friday 25 November 2011
Students in the community: ‘drunken, partying, selfish people’ ellis wheatley
Unfortunately, the effect of this upon the other 50% of residents can be quite intimidating. One of the things that upsets the residents greatly is when the students turn round and say to them “well, you’re living in a student area, what do you expect?” And if there is anything like a red rag to a bull, that is it!
This week Interview decided to call upon some of the additional expertise, here, at the University of Reading to address issues in our communities. As a second year this July, I and five other girls who I share with, moved into a new student house. I soon noticed that not only did we move into our six bedroom home, but also into an established community. Ann Westgarth is the Community Relations Manager at the University of Reading and also sits on local resident groups (Redlands and Univeristy NAG) monthly meetings, where Ann both represents the university and aims to alleviate issues which may arise. Ann kindly agreed to spare some time to tell me about her important work and in turn, to help us student readers overcome and avoid any issues within our new, extended, homes. What seems to be the most prevalent issue in your day to day work?
The most prevelant issue that is brought to me from members of the commnity is that of noise nuisance. ‘Students are all drunken, partying and selfish people actually’ is the impression that permenent residents say alot; clearly there is a clash of lifestyles there. I encourage people to contact the university about those things because, if there is anthing we can do about them, we will. You produce Community magazine, which I have recieved through the door of my student house. Is this magazine just delivered to student houses, or within the wider community also? I really enjoy putting this magazine together! It is delivered to fifteen thousand homes, twice a year - in October and again around Febrary/March. It is a great opportunity to tell the local community about the positive impact of having the university and it’s students in the local area. The magazine is very well-received by our local residents and students alike and we often get alot of our residents participating in university events, often as a direct result of Community Magazine. Similarly it is a great opportunity to tell local residents of the success of our students in many fields, from sporting to volunteering.
‘You’re living in a student area, what do you expct?’ It’s like a red rag to a bull! Is it as simple as students Vs permenant local residents though?
Ann Westgarth, Community Relations Manager at UoR You mentioned student volunteering, could you tell us some of the great work of students in their communities? Actually, last year the University of Reading celebrated it’s 4000th student to participate in student tutoring. These students help in forty of Reading’s local schools. Another example of the great work of our students is through The Giving Tree Appeal, a scheme coordinated by students at Reading, which helped to raise two-thouand gifts for disadvantaged children and young people in Reading last year. There are numerous examples of students engaging in local communities where they originally came to study, and in many cases, stay and live here. How else is student’s success relayed to the wider community? Does this work fall on your shoulders alone? I am part of the ‘Communications team’ in Whiteknights House, this includes the press team who cover alot of positive stories in the local media, such as our rugby team, who do exceptionally well in the BUCS competition, for example.
Have you ever represented our past students in times of adversity too?
There can be a ‘snowballing’ effect of negative press. I would never deny that students can be antisocial and behave, sometimes appallingly, but I do believe that the vast majority of students are Reading are well-meaning and want to represent the University well in their communities. University is often a student’s first experience of ‘independent living’ and renting. Could you tell us a little about private student lettings and their effect on the communities?
Tyically the problems which arise from private lettings to students are noise nuisance at night and the occasional house-party, however student do not always help themselves. Our local community has specific characteristics, particularly narrow terraced streets from university to town, many of which have now become private lets to students. In some streets up to 50% of houses are private lets to students, this can feel like the students are living in a hall of residence in a street of houses.
No, I know that students, living like anyone else in the community, want to live in a safe, clean, quiet environment and I do get complaints from students about other student households. Sometimes complaints about a particular, noisy household are not as simple as they seem; it might be that the students are having difficult internal disputes: your friends who you go out drinking with might not be the best person to share a house with. People within that household are trying to cope.
what they say, those people have probably had a party in that house for each 21st birthday and that is different to a neighbourhood with very few student households. Consider that if your neighbour isn’t very keen on the idea of your student party, it is because over the years their experience of having one is quite negative. Agree a realistic finishing time for your party, do not break your neighbours trust! Three or four taxis, engines running, ‘you get in that taxi, I ll get in this one’ at 11pm when children are trying to sleep and then all again at 2am… Come and go quietly. If someone complains to you, apologize and make sure it doesn’t happen again if you say so. What is your procedure when you receive a complaint about a student household?
Would you categorically advise against a student house party?
Every complaint is logged on a database and, if it is a particularly noisy household in the community, will be visited by ‘student community liason officer’, Don. Don will ‘put the complaint to them’. Students then have the opportunity to respond to this complaint. Don will reiterate that the university treats complaints incredibly seriously and that it is in the University Regulations of Coduct that “students residing outside the university in rented accommodation or in halls operated by other providers have a responsibility for maintaining a proper regard of their neighbours in the local community and should ensure that they and their guests behave in a considerate and seemly manner in order to maintain the good reputation of the university.” If someone is persistently antisocial the university can fine or even suspend those responsible, but there are a whole range of sanctions and most complaints never reoccur following one of Don’s visit.
A lot of people like to have a party in their house, but I would advise against telling your neighbours ‘we are having a party’. Instead, ‘we are thinking of having a party’ and then listen, very carefully, to
Ann also told us that there is a team of professionally trained Student Advisors in the RUSU Hub who you can go and speak to if you are experiencing difficulties in your student house.
I try to integrate students in the community, when you tell people, they are very willing to help In what ways can we ‘help ourselves’. Could you give us a ‘guide to getting along in your community’? Begin with friendly introductions to your neighbours on both sides, to the front and behind your house, then it is alot easier to approach your neighbours.
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
Should University be Free?
Do the crippling debts make it worth it? Yes No Lucy Ponder
When I graduate in July next year, I know I’ll be walking away from university with a huge debt hanging over my head. I knew this before I went to university and I don’t think I will ever regret my time at Reading due to the money it has and will continue to cost me. The repayments are relatively small when you first start earning, and in all likelihood shelling out monthly installments to repay my student debt will be one of my smallest outgoings. Despite this, having such a massive debt hanging over my head for the next 10-20 years is not something I’m looking forward to. Banks will be less likely to approve me for a mortgage if I still have my student debt when buying a house. They also hold it against your credit rating so it can be harder to get credit. With the introduction of the massive increased university fees, there is a very high chance that some students will never be able to pay back all of what they will owe. If a university can charge £9000 just for tuition, you could graduate with a debt totalling around £36,000. This is a huge amount of money, and although it may be only lightly chipping away at your monthly salary, it will nevertheless be eating away at it for many years to come. I know I could not have afforded university without my parents lending me money, working throughout the holidays, and using the money I saved in my gap year. I am fortunate that my parents have been able to help me, because I really don’t think I would have been able to juggle having a job with studying. An overdraft does not last long when you are paying high rent prices and most overdrafts don’t exceed £2000 even in your final year. Most banks will also start charging you huge amounts of interest on your overdraft once you leave university, meaning your debts will only get bigger. If university was free, the pressure of trying not to build up a large overdraft would be consider-
ably less as it would be my only debt, going into my career. The number of young people denied the chance of university due to their disadvantaged background is considerable. Although the Government does offer student grants that don’t have to be paid back and are means-tested, for many people it will have to stretch extremely far. Books, food and other living costs can be enormous, and hugely stressful if you are very worried about your grant or bursary covering them. By gaining a university education students will not only get a degree, learn vital life skills and probably have the most fun of their lives, but they will be aiding society by pursuing high flying careers. We will have to pay tax on our earnings for the rest of our lives, why tax our education as well, before we have even been given the chance to get the most out of it. Free education is vital if we are to have a country that utilises the most talented and hard-working rather than the most financially fortunate. I never had any doubts that I wouldn’t come to university despite of the costs because I knew I had to get a degree to have the kind of career and salary I wanted. But I would seriously consider not going if I was starting next September. Starting your working life with a debt of nearly £40,000 is overwhelmingly staggering considering you only attend for six months of the year. The pressure to work in the holidays is enormous with these fees, as students will want to minimise their debts as much as possible. This pressure detracts from the main reason of going to university, to get a degree. It’s hard to complete your reading list if you realistically need to work full time in the holidays. I say students should be given a chance to enjoy university without the threat of crippling debts hanging over their heads for years to come. Bring back free university education, and bring back the right to start your graduate career debt free.
Having such a massive debt hanging over my head is not something I’m looking forward to
There has been too much emphasis on going to university, regardless of the course
It will be a small outgoing and hopefully it will be worth the investment
University should not be free. When I complete my degree in 2014 I expect to have amassed a debt exceeding £20,000. Does this worry me? Of course it does. I will be paying off my loan for several years, if not decades, but I think it’s important to consider that figure as an investment. The plan is, at least, I will earn more for having a degree than I would without it. Once upon a time university was free for students. The 1962 Education Act saw that local authorities paid for full time students’ tuition fees and would also provide a maintenance grant to help with accommodation and food bills. However, at the time, only 5% of the population went to university. Today, that figure is nearer 50% and so realistically we cannot expect university to be free. With the government being forced to cut back on spending in all sectors of society, it is impossible to expect all tuition fees to be fully paid for us. While it was once the privilege of a few, today a university education is seen by many people my age as an entitlement. We can apply to five courses, if none of those accept us we can look for a course through UCAS Extra. We can select a firm and insurance choice of course and failing that, turn to Clearing to ensure, that one way or another, we would have a place at university. You can study part time, or full time, live on campus or at home; a university education has never been more accessible. Of course, education is incredibly important for both individuals and society. It should be encouraged and promoted for everyone, at every age, and nobody should be told that they are no longer allowed to learn. However, in my opinion, we need to start considering at what point does a university education become a waste of money? With so many people choosing to go to university, the value of a degree is lessened. Being a graduate is often no longer enough to guarantee employment and further training,
or work experience, is commonly expected from employers. When university was free, the government viewed graduates as assets to the economy and so they could afford to make an investment in their education, today there are just too many people coming out of university for that to be a viable option. We can also question the selection of degrees on offer today. While some will lead directly to specific careers such as Law and Medicine, and many are well respected such as Maths or History, there are a growing number of niche degrees dubbed by the press as “Mickey Mouse” courses. For 2012 entry seven universities offer a degree in acupuncture, eight offer golf management and four offer courses in tree or woodland management. Should such vocational courses be awarded degree status? After all, it is quite possible to have a successful career in those areas without having a degree in them. With tuition fees now set to cost more than ever, perhaps going to university will no longer be the most preferable option for some students. This I consider a good thing. There has been too much emphasis in the past on going to university regardless of the course you are taking. If students now have to consider university more carefully and look into other education options such as business funded training schemes, perhaps some of the prestige of gaining a degree will be restored. Meanwhile, no one should be completely deterred by the fees; in many ways my student loan will be the best loan I ever have. Currently you have to be earning £15000 a year (or £1250 a month) before you have to start paying off your loan. Then, anything you earn over this threshold, you pay 9% back on. For example, if I earn £1750 a month, that will be £500 more than the threshold, and so every month I pay back 9% of £500, which is £45. Realistically it will be a small outgoing and hopefully it will be worth the investment.
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
comment Questing for caffeine One man’s search for coffee at Occupy London Angus Ferraro
“Occupy!” That is the cry ringing out across the globe. There are now 900 occupations in place worldwide in financial districts and centres of government. They are the focal point of a movement to take power back from the vastly influential super-rich. Who could argue with that? Well, quite a few in fact. The Occupy movement has received warm support from many - donations flood into Occupy London at £1,000 per day and it has 30,000 supporters on Facebook - but for others it is intolerable. Some dismiss the protests because there are no easily-articulated demands. Others claim it is a protest for the lazy unemployed, or that it is a vacuous rebellion of the privileged middle-class youth. But one of the strangest criticisms was articulated by Tory MP Louise Mensch when she attempted a joke on Have I Got News For You. She said that the anti-capitalists invalidated their own arguments by buying their coffee from Starbucks. Ian Hislop, looking incredulous, responded: ‘You don’t have to want to return to a barter system in the Stone Age to complain about the way the financial crisis affected large numbers of people in the world, do you?’
Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that many occupiers argue for an improved form of capitalism rather than its abolition and have a think about this. It is very hard to know who to believe in the mass media, so I thought I’d go down to see for myself what the occupation was all about. The main campsite is at St. Paul’s (there is a second at Finsbury Square), where the occupiers were moved after being trapped in a police kettle in Paternoster Square outside their intended target, the London Stock Exchange.
Anti-capitalists invalidated their arguments by buying coffee from Starbucks One of the iconic imagines of the occupied St Paul’s Yard is the sign ‘Tahrir Square, EC4M. City of Westminster’, drawing parallels with the occupation in Cairo against the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Just down the colonnade, past a whole host of other posters, lies the offending coffee shop: Starbucks. They have certainly positioned themselves well. They sit right on St. Paul’s doorstep, juxtaposing ruthless corporatism against the ancient,
monolithic institution of the Church of England. Starbucks had presumably paid big bucks to get this lucrative spot right in the eyeline of the thousands of tourists visiting the cathedral. It is literally a few steps away from the nearest tents. For the average occupier it certainly wins on convenience. What are the alternatives? I made a circuit of the cathedral. On the south-east side I found another Starbucks: one of 17,000 globally. A few doors down was a branch of Costa Coffee: 1,600 locations. Nearby, Pret A Manger: a mere 156 shops. Moving around next to the tube station I found Caffe Nero: 420 shops. Then, across the pavement, there was the independent Casa di Caffe. I rounded off my tour on the north side, where I came across Tea, another independent, and Paul’s patisserie (453 stores). The evidence suggests it is difficult, but not impossible, to get coffee made by a small business in the heart of the City. When I first arrived I expected not to be able to find an independent cafe within easy walking distance. It turns out I was wrong. I mulled this over as I sat down on the steps of St Paul’s for the occupation’s General Assembly, hot drink in hand. I had opted for Tea, which also did
coffee so it functioned as a general caffiene club. The General Assembly allows the whole camp to discuss issues ranging from practical matters of governance (such as what times the kitchen serves hot food) to issues of how the camp interacts with the Church of England, the Corporation of London, and the rest of the world. Decisions are reached by consensus. It’s time-consuming and messy. But, as one of the banners hanging from a nearby fence proclaims ‘This is what democracy looks like’.
It is against my personal principles to buy coffee from Starbucks I came away from the camp thinking Mrs Mensch had missed the point. She had misleadingly taken arguments of financial and business reform to their extremes. Claiming that advocates of financial reform cannot use Starbucks is like saying those who support private enterprise in, say, the education sector shouldn’t use the publicly-owned road network. It is against my personal principles to buy coffee from Starbucks, and I would discourage other oc-
cupiers from doing so. One can get cheaper, better coffee from smaller business rather than giving more money to a corporate colossus which wipes out competition and encourages sanitised ubiquity across our city centres. But this is not an anti-Starbucks protest. It’s not even an anti-capitalist protest (though there are some occupiers who are anti-capitalist). In my opinion it is not even a protest. It is an occupation. It is an experiment in direct democracy, a space where people can come together and work out what kind of world they want. They reject existing power structures. They refuse to be co-opted by political parties or pressure groups. They want to work out how the world can move on to a future that is sustainable economically and environmentally. ‘You have made your point, now go home,’ say the doubters. No one ever achieved anything by just making a point. The cathedral demanded ‘pack up your tents voluntarily and let us make you heard’. But these people don’t need the help of an ancient institution to make themselves heard. They can do it on their own. And you can too. People are trying to work out how the system can work for the majority. Go down to the camp and see for yourself. Just remember it’s not all about Starbucks.
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
Do you have ‘the Hollister look’? Simon Truscott
Perhaps even if you weren’t looking particularly hard, you may have noticed an awful lot of Hollister around the place recently. New to Reading, and seemingly an instant hit with consumers, what is it that really attracts us to this brand, and how does it create this attraction?
Overt sexualisation and ‘desirable lifestyle image’ of Hollister On a Saturday afternoon, if you’re able to navigate your way up and over the pointless front steps and into the trendy gloom beyond, you will be met with a “hey dude” or similar synthetic greeting. This must be a cushy job for those deemed attractive enough to be granted the position. However, it is partly this Hollister ‘look policy’ that is so grating. In 2009, parent company Abercrombie & Fitch made national news, by allegedly preventing an employee with a
prosthetic limb from working front-of-house, confining her to the stockroom. Equally, the very entrance to any Hollister store, with those pseudo-Californian beach hut steps presents a certain challenge to a wheelchair user. Are they meant to shout until an employee hears them and comes to open an alternative door? The more realistic situation would be that the disabled customer is simply not included, or indeed welcome.
Those beach hut steps present a certain challenge to a wheelchair user The consumer base for Hollister might be split into three uneven categories. The smallest is perhaps the middle-aged man or woman who thinks that they still have ‘it’. The next is the young teenager, and occasional purchaser, who will parade their paper bag along with their Jack Wills equivalent on their arm until it practically disin-
tegrates with overuse. The third consumer is the university student with more loan than sense, and a lot of their friends are wearing it, therefore they will too.
I’ve worked it out. As an English Literature student at Reading University I pay £3,375 for four hours of contact time a week. That’s 80 hours for the whole year for nearly three and a half grand. That means I’m paying £42 for every single hour of teaching. Is it me or does that seem a little steep? I’ll grant you that the four hours I actually do get to see a tutor are normally very insightful and interesting. But to make any of this time worthwhile I need to have basically taught myself the book or poem we’re studying before I’ve even turned up. With no lectures there is no introduction to the text, just the assumption that we will have researched it so it actually makes sense. Perhaps I’m being lazy. Perhaps doing a self-taught degree will be useful to me in later life, as I will have learnt vital self-discipline lessons. But right now, it really doesn’t feel like that. I can only talk for English Lit students, and maybe not everyone feels like this, but we have so much work at the moment, and our money doesn’t seem to be getting us any help.
Everyone at the university works hard On top of this workload I live with chronic fatigue, an illness
that means I will wake up after 10 hours sleep, and feel like I haven’t been to bed. Now I know that there are students with a lot worse problems than this. My illness doesn’t generally affect my mobility or mean that I am away from university at long lengths of time, so I know that it could be a lot worse. The thing that really irritates me is the complete lack of help the university offers. I don’t want extenuating circumstances, or any additional help in my work. But maybe it would be nice for my tutor, (who told in me in no uncertain terms that unless I was hit by a bus there was nothing the university could do), to send me an email asking how I’m finding third year. Is that too much to ask for an hourly rate nearly seven times the minimum wage?
I’m paying £42 for every single hour of teaching So not only are third year English Lit students, and I speak only for them as this is all I know, I’m sure other subjects are the same, expected to do all the research for a text themselves, write a dissertation with minimal help and complete four essays a term, but we are apparently also supposed to find a career path and possibly a graduate scheme in our spare
But is there really any way to escape it? Yet I fell it important to share my experience of the brand, and if it saves someone else from my fate then I might not drown in Hollister branded wares in vain.
Are we attracted to Hollister because we might become beautiful people? Throughout the store’s interior, an overpowering and presumably extortionately expensive aftershave is in the air. This is not entirely unpleasant; however it is accompanied by the overt sexualisation and ‘desirable lifestyle image’ upon every bag that leaves on the arm of each customer. Are we attracted to Hollister because by wearing it we might become beautiful people? It seems that, even though this drives us, it is unavoidable in society to be judged by our appearance - and arguably, it has always been that way. For that reason, who can blame the store for appealing to these natural responses and cashing in on it?
Paying for nothing? lucy ponder
The final thing that I must admit is that I have an extensive collection of Jack Wills and Hollister clothing. Evidently I am more than a slight hypocrite. Materialism is bad, there is no doubt about that.
time. I’m sorry, what spare time? Apart from incessant emails from the careers department about C.V. workshops, and graduate fairs that are mostly aimed at accountancy and finance, the only advice I’ve been given about my future is that it will “work itself out”. I kid you not, this is the advice I have been given regarding a future which starts in six months. Brilliant, thanks for that.
I have so much work at the moment, and our money doesn’t seem to be getting us any help I am under no illusion that many tutors and other members of staff work very hard. In fact everyone at the university probably works very hard. But I am so frustrated in their ability to translate this into literal help and guidance. Oh and noisy neighbours, you’re really not helping either!
Straight and narrow Sarah Mason
The path of any one life is not always straight and narrow. It twists and bends and kinks in a way that we do not always expect, and if you are not careful, you can twist your ankle in the grooves and pits of the bumpy road that is existence. To look at me, I’d doubt you would be able to guess what I have seen in my earlier years. They say some of the best artwork comes from the most despondent circumstances. Some years ago, never mind how long precisely, having saved a little money in my purse and nothing particular to interest me at home, I thought I would travel about a little and see some other parts of the world. I’ve met a lot of strange people and done much that is looked down in mainstream society.
The end result of my rather misguided years was a handful of memories In those days, under heavy influence and fuelled by an entirely naïve curiosity, I did as I wished and cared not a jot for anyone to contradict me. I carried around
a small sketchbook, drawing and writing when I could hold a pen or trying desperately to hold onto the ideas that were flooding through my head until I was composed enough to put these wonderful images onto paper. The end result of my rather misguided years was a handful of memories that could be distinguished from the rest of the haze of my slightly addled existence and a sketchbook or two stuffed full of loose pages. All of these covered in scribbles, drawings, ideas, sketches. Some were logical and made a kind of sense but others were simply gibberish accompanied by nightmarish pencil and biro renditions of the grotesque wanderings of the inebriated and paranoid imagination. Though much of it could be considered as a passable imitation to Dali’s notebooks, it has taken me many years to realise an important point about that which I took to be so important in the days of careless hedonism. No matter how much I frantically tried to put down everything I believed to be important in the moments of realisation, I have recognised that not only were the ideas repeated in various forms, but inextricably linked. You can learn a lot from anywhere, look for the patterns and look out for the pits.
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1: A horrifying rom-com! Director: Bill Condon Starring: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner Running Time: 117 Mins Genre: Fantasy romance Hayley Garwood
I will be assuming that most readers are more than aware of the basic Twilight Saga plot. A small-town Sheriff’s daughter, Bella (Kristen Stewart) falls hopelessly into a masochistic obsession with the brooding ageless vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). This fourth installment sees the engagement, marriage, consummation and after effects of rushing into a vampire/human union. I will say, I adored the first Twilight film when I saw it. Okay, I saw it twice... maybe three times in the cinema. I also read all of the books in the space of a month much before the release of New Moon. Nonetheless, even the most avid 'Twi-hard' will admit that the films have been riding down the slippery slope of sequel-hood and, with an increased budget, comes some cringe worthy, questionable spe-
cial effects and greater emphasis on pristine vampire fashion and Jacob's abs. Moreover, the whole initial atmosphere of the film has been lost to plastic-like vibrant clarity differing from the blue ominous tones of the first film. The dark humour of the first film has reduced itself to sheer farce and, likewise, the awesome soundtracks of the first two films, featuring Muse, Bon Iver and Grizzly Bear, has been replaced by songs such as It Will Rain by Bruno Mars.
The film sells itself to romantic clichés, something that the Bella and Edward of the novels never bought into. I have no quarrel with the casting of Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner, but Kristen Stewart on the other hand! Let's all be honest, Bella Swan is a feminist's worst nightmare as it is without the dithering two dimensional Stewart moping about. She lacks any on-screen chemistry with Pattinson and her best acting was as the near-dead Bella,
struggling to survive pregnancy because, I'll be frank, it involved her not talking. The little screaming 13-year-old inside willed me to continue and see the films out, as inferior as they will always be to Stephanie Meyer's novels. I left the film confused more than anything. What was a pretty engrossing set of books has undoubtedly sold out, but I am not even sure what to! The scenes of Bella's pregnancy belong to the most gruesome of horror flicks and the CGI of the inter-wolf meetings are so terrible that they seemed to be mocking themselves and would be more at home in Vampires Suck. Most of the film deals with Bella's lusting for sex and immortality and so the previous genre of the 'teen-movie' is also shot to bits. What is left is the backbone of a good story with some really terrible acting from Stewart (not to mention the supporting Vampires) and a genre more confusing and selective than the novels would have ever allowed. If you are looking for sparkle, you may be disappointed.
The Rum Diary: Fear and loathing in Puerto Rico Director: Bruce Robinson Starring: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Rebecca Heard, Giovanni Ribisi Running Time: 120 minutes Genre: Drama
Johnny Depp and his flawless acting is what saves this movie. Once again he displays his versatility, showing that he can perform outstandingly in any role he pleases. At times, he managed to evoke warmth and humour, which were enjoyable to watch, and was very welcome respite from the general drudgery of the film, until I was back to being confused once more.
Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Hunter S Thompson, all I can say is that I hope the book was better than the film. In an interview, (executive producer and leading man) Johnny Depp said that Thompson was a little reluctant for the film adaption to take place and it is easy to see why. Complicated and a little clumsy in its confusingly swift changes of setting, The Rum Diary was extremely hard to follow and very slow moving. The film starts by introducing the main character, Paul Kemp (Depp) along with his obvious fondness for alcohol, just as he wakes up to his first morning in Puerto Rico, surrounded by
bottles. Here he joins the failing newspaper, The San Juan Star, and in his quest for a good story throws himself into the highlife, which of course includes a lot of excessive drinking, drug taking and the harbouring of an obsession for an engaged woman. I was expecting so much of this film, particularly in its depiction of the partying lifestyle in the
It is one of those films which you have to watch again at least once, making sure you are paying attention all the way through, so you can get the full effect and it is definitely one that deserves the second go. But if you are looking for a light hearted romp, this is not for you.
1960s Caribbean. But everything seemed to lie just a little flat and lifeless. What may very well have been brought to life on the page, was not done so on the screen. This was the same for the budding romance of the film and the chemistry between Kemp and Chenault (played by Amber Heard) felt wooden and lacking any passion or emotion.
FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - Sorry Muppets fans! The Oscars will be lacking in felt this year as Billy Crystal has been selected to replace Eddie Murphy as host.
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
Immortals 3D: Singh’s legacy will not live for ever Director: Tarsem Singh Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto Running Time: 110 mins Genre: Action Phil Lamplugh
If we look at some of the major films set in Ancient Greece it becomes apparent that Immortals doesn’t have to do a lot to stand out. Troy was an inaccurate mess of a film (it was doomed the moment it claimed to be a ‘retelling’ of the Iliad) and The Clash of the Titans remake was a fantastic example of mediocrity. The one film that stands out from past attempts at the genre is 300, for being a masterful display of gritty violence, though admittedly not much else. It is with great shame that I have to admit that Immortals completely hooked me with its marketing, and I went to the cinema expecting to see another 300. This was not the case. Immortals follows the story of the young Theseus (Cavill) as he rises from his mother’s guardian to soldier against King Hyperion (Rourke; Iron Man 2, The Wrestler). Hyperion has the diabolical plan to acquire a legendary weapon called the Epirus bow and free the Titans before killing the Gods who he believes forsook him
when he needed them most. On paper this sounds like a brilliant film, and it looks the part too: Theseus’ village by the sea, as well as Mount Tartarus and the Wall are some of the highlights of the film, purely for the breathtaking factor that comes with looking at them. Less impressive is the acting which is definitely a mixed bag. Pinto’s (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) performance as Phaedra sets her up as a strong but flawed Oracle who helps Theseus on his quest. Rourke portrays Hyperion as a bitter and ruthless man, but not much else which is a huge shame: the tragedy that surrounded his past could have been reason to show more than just anger, and
a couple of sorrowful scenes to create a sense of pathos for the character wouldn’t have gone amiss. Cavill also fails to make his Theseus stand out, which could be an early warning alarm for the Superman reboot (Man of Steel) hitting in 2013. One scene near the end of the film particularly stands out as a failure of Cavill: Theseus is giving a motivational speech to some soldiers; only his words are severely lacking motivation, namely there is no enthusiasm and no changes to dynamics. It is nothing more than wooden in its delivery. The fact that this scene made it into the film in all its shame is nothing less than depressing.
The very writing of the film seems to take no risks whatsoever. The film is predictable at almost every turn and the speech in the film is full of clichés. The only major element of the film that isn’t unexpected is how riddled with historical inaccuracies it is. I always admire when directors pursue another take on a certain period, especially as Ancient Greece is full of variations of the same stories, but Singh seems to have not even glanced over any contextual tales. Theseus was not illegitimate; the Gods did interfere with mortals, excessively so; and most importantly the Titans were not at all like the infected from 28 Days Later. Immortals’ saving grace is in its combat, though admittedly it is scarce. The inclusion of slow-motion in some of the scenes allows you to really appreciate what is going on during the fighting, especially as Singh doesn’t shy away from gore. The 3D is thankfully unobtrusive in application, though for a 3D film there were more than a handful of moments where the 3D could have been used to great effect, or where the 3D simply wasn’t amplified enough. Ultimately, Immortals is a disappointment. The story is predictable, the dialogue is dull and the film ends up like a flatpack bookcase that has only been halfassembled, and even then with the
shelves upside down. It’s better than Troy and only just about on equal level with last year’s remake of Clash of the Titans. But 300 still manages to reign supreme, five years on.
Machine Gun Preacher: It means well Director: Marc Forster Starring: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon Running Time: 129 Minutes Genre: Action, crime
the civil war and finds himself in the Sudan fighting for the lives of orphaned children being kidnapped by the LRA and forced to become soldiers. He simultaneously sets up a church in his hometown for exsinners such as himself and an orphanage in the midst of the Sudanese brutality. However, it proves an impossible feat to save so many children with such little funds and a short fuse such as Childers'.
When I agreed to see this film I admittedly had no idea what it was about and the title plus the Scottish beefcake Gerard Butler gave me a rather distorted expectations. I thought Vin Diesel could possibly turn up at any moment with a machine gun, preaching about how necessary it is to mow people down. This was pretty far from the reality of this film, which is actually the real-life story of an ex-convict/ drug addict/ misogynist hell's angel who finds Jesus. Sam Childers was a Pennsylvanian ball of rage with a stripper wife, who rather cheesily cruises around on his motorbike with a heavy metal soundtrack hating the world. After hesitantly agreeing to be baptised at his wife's church he is
similarly, Gerard Butler is not enough to save this film. Whilst the film has a poignant message, there is no doubt, the stark gritty realism of the African setting seems so at odds with the casting of Gerard Butler and the massive Hollywood action clichés: “I've done a lot of things that I
ain't proud of”. This story would have been much more effectively told in a documentary form rather than tried to squeeze the struggle of these nameless children behind Butler's brutish ego.
We can never tell if Butler is a good guy or not
suddenly a reformed man with a good job, family and a yearning for some do-gooding.
Gerard Butler is not enough to save this film He travels out to East Africa to help rebuild homes destroyed by
One of the biggest faults of the movie was the inconsistency of Butler's character. In the middle of all this he seems to relapse into a Godless hooligan (although he may have sufficient reasoning). The point being that we can never tell if Butler is a good guy or not! There remains a coldness about him which maybe he never shook off after 300. Sam Childers is not enough to save all the orphans in Sudan, despite his attempts and,
FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - The Weinstein Company want Bryan Singer to remake The Six Million Dollar Man with Leonardo DiCaprio being approached to star
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Arthur Christmas: Aardman’s Early Christmas Present Director: Sarah Smith Starring: James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy Running Time: 97 Mins Genre: Animated, Comedy
The voice cast are all top notch, with James McAvoy giving Arthur heart and enthusiasm. Jim Broadbent voices Santa with gentleness and understated emotion, which contrasts with Bill Nighy’s loudmouthed Grandsanta and Hugh Laurie’s efficient Steve. There are also surprise voices for the numerous elves so you’ll have to guess the star and then wait for the credits.
Christmas seems to start earlier each year (at least as far as the shops are concerned) and the cinema seems to be following the same path by releasing a Christmas film in November. However, Arthur Christmas is jolly and Christmassy enough to have you singing Christmas songs whilst leaving the cinema, even if it is a month early! Christmas has literally become a military operation at the North Pole, headed by Steve, who supervises the enthusiastic army of elves whilst his dad, Malcolm, the official Santa, acts as merely the figurehead due to his age. However, when one present is left behind, only Arthur, Malcolm’s other son, believes that this one child must have their present and enlists the help of Grandsanta and an elf
10. George Sampson (2008) Dancer He failed to reach the semi-finals the year before, and the extra practice clearly did him good. He gave an absolutely fantastic audition and went on to win the whole competition that year.
9. Paul Burling (2010) Impressionist
called Briony to get the present to her before she wakes up. The opening of the film is pure genius, as the elves execute their Christmas deliveries with the utmost efficiency. Full of gags and ingenious twists on the Christmas tradition, it brings the Santa Claus legend firmly into the 21st century and will certainly require repeated viewings to fully appreciate it. As the film develops, particularly when the journey to deliver the present begins, it feels as if the
filmmakers are forced to come up with obstacles to extend the running time of the film. There are plenty of in-jokes along the way (including an homage to a certain inventor and his dog) but the plot thread of the sleigh being mistaken for a UFO seems unnecessary and detracts from the Christmassy feel. The ending more than makes up for it though, as it reminds us of the magic of Christmas for children and gives the film its essential feel-good factor.
It reminds us of the magic of Christmas for children The visuals are stunning, with the 3D particularly enhancing the sleigh-ride and opening sequences, and there are plenty of blinkand-you-miss-them sight gags for adults and children to enjoy. Despite the padding, this is a fresh take on the Santa Clause legend that is clever, funny and heartwarming.
The Awakening: Spine-chillingly good! Directed by: Nick Murphy Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton Running Time: 107 Minutes Genre: Horror/Thriller
the First World War hangs heavily over all of the characters, leaving them haunted in an entirely different way, providing some scares that really are far from supernatural. Dominic West’s recovering soldier in particular adds a depth to the plot that isn’t often found in horror films. The science of ghost hunting was also a new plot device for me, and was used to highlight that some things really are beyond measurement and proof.
I am a very tough audience when it comes to horror films; I sat through Paranormal Activity 1, 2 and 3 almost unmoved, pointing out plot holes and just generally feeling underwhelmed. When it comes to ghosts, I just can’t suspend disbelief. Perhaps in some ways, I have a few things in common with Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), the protagonist of The Awakening, who has made a career out of proving that ghosts don’t exist with cold, hard, scientific evidence. But I’m glad I don’t have too much in common with her, because things are about to get decidedly creepy. I can honestly say that The Awakening, while not quite being sleep-interruptingly frightening, features more than a few genuinely spine-tingling moments. I definitely felt the hairs on the back of
Top 10 Britain’s Got Talent Auditions
my neck stand up. This is partly due to the excellent atmosphere of the film; colours are bleak and blue toned, giving everything a cold, isolated feel, and the setting of a huge, grey house is common yet effective horror film territory.
An overriding sense of anxiety that builds throughout the film Similarly, several classic horror tropes, such as doll houses and boarding schools, are used in ways that seem fresh and scary.
Extreme close-ups of faces reveal little and build a delicious tension regarding what could be lurking just off camera, and the tight framing gives a claustrophobic feeling that a viewer can’t help but get caught up in, too. Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Dorian Gray) really shines in this film, and even manages to bring some sass and sarcasm to the proceedings, all the better to balance the overriding sense of anxiety that builds throughout the film. Something that sets The Awakening apart from other films of the ghost horror genre is the fact that
I definitely felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up The Awakening is certainly worth a view, especially if you’re a fan of historical horrors such as The Others (2001), which, I will admit, absolutely petrified my 11 year old self. The Awakening delivers some satisfying jump-out-of-yourseat moments that will catch out even a hardened horror fan like myself, and a great sense of building dread, though the twists and turns may leave you feeling a little disappointed.
The majority of impressionists on this show are awful. But this one completely surprised the judges with his excellent voice impressions of cartoon characters. And you could actually tell who they were!
8. Greg Pritchard (2009) Singer With ear piercings and a goatee, he is the unlikeliest man ever to be singing a female operatic number!
7. Damon Scott (2007) Puppeteer How could you not a love a dancing monkey, lip-synching to Michael Jackson? Enough said.
6. Razy Gogonea (2011) Dancer I didn’t even know the body was capable of bending as much as his did during the audition. One of the most entertaining auditions ever!
5. Michael Collings (2011) Singer/Guitarist Stepping onto the stage in tracksuit bottoms and a hoody, the judges thought that they had him completely sussed. But as soon as he started to play, his talent was obvious. Shows that appearances aren’t everything.
4. Escala (2008) Musicians These four talented string players made chamber groups cool. By adding an electric feel and looking amazing, I think they changed a lot of people’s view of classical music.
3. Faryl Smith (2008) Singer Faryl was only 12 years old when she auditioned, yet with a technique that was equal to an adult opera singer.
2. Connie Talbot (2007) Singer One of the youngest entrants, she gave a surprisingly mature performance of Over the Rainbow and, as an added bonus, she managed to get through her performance without crying in the middle.
1. Susan Boyle (2009) Singer Of course this is has to be number one! The world fell in love with her incredible voice and personality, and she is one of the most successful finalists ever, despite not even winning the 2009 show.
FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - Bill Nighy will be taking up his mantle as a kick ass bad guy again in Stuart Beattie’s upcoming horror adaptation I, Frankenstein
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
500 Days of the Matrix: Wait, what? the world to show alternate events and what could have been at low points. Now, if we think that the machines have identified him as ‘The One’, they would put in a distraction to stop him achieving his potential; enter Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), a shadow of a real person who fits Tom's type exactly (if Trinity in The Matrix is anything to go by). Summer was sent in to distract him from his purpose, even succeeding in removing Tom's belief in pre-determined fate (this lack of belief in destiny is also seen in The Matrix Reloaded). Following through this idea, it also shows Tom's abilities to shape other programs, where he implants a belief in pre-determined fate in Summer, making her believe in love (in the same way he removed the machines control from Agent Smith).
You'll have to bear with me for this one, but (I believe) there is heaps of evidence showing that 500 Days of Summer is a prequel to The Matrix trilogy, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a young Keanu Reeves before the film trilogy takes place. Now I'm not saying this was done intentionally by the writers of 500 Days, and a lot of evidence is flimsy at best (the fact Tom Hansen sounds like Tom Anderson is a rubbish link, for example) but there is still a lot more evidence which is more than just circumstantial (though it is totally circumstantial). For this comparison to work, you must assume that you, the viewer, are watching Tom's life within the matrix through recordings (explaining the non-linear fashion of the movie), observing his manipulation of the world around him, in essence, revealing himself as 'The One' without his knowledge (the narrator at the beginning could be doing this to show you, or the machines, that he is 'The One' that the resistance has been looking for). His manipulations of the world in 500 Days were taken as merely methods of narrative, but are actually him shaping the world
around him (fitting, as he is to be trained as an architect). These manipulations include turning the world into a music video (and bringing cartoons to life!) during high points in his life and splitting
500 Days of Summer is a prequel to The Matrix trilogy Summer herself is also a link to the trilogy, with her and Autumn (the next love interest in 500
Justice: The one where Nick Cage dances Director: Roger Donaldson Starring: Nicholas Cage, Guy Pearce, January Jones Running Time: 105 minutes Genre: Action/Drama Jack Marshall
When Will Gerard’s (Nicholas Cage) wife Laura (January Jones) is severely beaten and raped, a mysterious stranger named Simon (Guy Pearce) appears in the hospital and offers Gerard the chance for justice – though the kind which is above the law and order of a corrupted New Orleans, where the action is based. Taking Simon up on his offer, Gerard is thrown into a world far from teaching juvenile delinquents at a local school. The film opens with a decent amount of intrigue which is enough to hook you into the story. However at times this story appears a little vague – is it about this ‘justice’ organisation, Gerard and his wife or the wider conspiracy involving the ‘justice’ organisation and New Orleans itself? There’s a lot going on in this film and tying them coherently would greatly improve it. As it stands, Roger Donaldson (Dante’s Peak, The Bank Job) hasn’t really included any scenes that involve a
lot of depth with regard to character and story. Short, rapid scenes would usually increase a movie’s pace but there are just too many in this film over the course of 105 minutes for this to be the effect. Having said that, the car chase in this film is one of the finest-shot sequences I’ve seen in a while and Donaldson really makes good use of multiple angles to capture the pursuit. It’s just a shame that it takes so long to come about! Both the beginning and end are well defined with plenty of tense, gripping action but this film sags in the middle. I’ve put off commenting on Nicholas Cage’s performance but something has to be said. As good as he might be when immersed in action, I found Cage’s acting a little wooden in the ‘emotional’ scenes involving his wife. Some of Cage’s finest films are action based – I’m thinking about the likes of Con Air, Face/Off and National Treasure – and he’s at his finest in this film when he’s being chased, shot at or being thrown around in an abandoned shopping mall. Knowing this, a director should never open a movie where Nicholas Cage has to dance - please, never again! The little-known January Jones does well as his tormented, rapevictim wife and the film’s conclu-
sion doesn’t seem too far over the hill when you consider her extreme circumstances (I’ll say no more!). Overall this is a good effort from all involved, the idea behind the plot is a good one and it’s appropriately set in New Orleans – a city scarred by Hurricane Katrina and struggling to rebuild in the aftermath, and it seems the film itself seems to have a lot to say about this.
Days) looking, and acting, similar to Trinity (really it's just poorly developed characters, but that's splitting hairs). Summer is also an immature man's view of the perfect woman, maintaining this
perfection until the moment she leaves Tom, plunging him into a downward spiral. The moment Summer has left, Tom immediately meets someone shockingly similar, named Autumn. Obviously these are just the machines attempts to distract him, similar to the woman in the red dress concept introduced by Mouse in The Matrix. 500 Days of Summer is a prequel in the best possible way, because it's not known as a prequel. Usually, prequels ruin themselves because they are released after the initial franchise, meaning you know exactly what will happen (for example: Star Wars, X-Men: Origins), contrary to this, a prequel that you don't know is a prequel at the time (for me, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) is much better, as it still has the suspense of a new film. 500 Days of Summer works as a prequel to The Matrix because it's not meant to be a prequel, you don't know what's going to happen because you don't know there's a film afterwards, it also rewards you for figuring out it is a prequel on rewatching, with subtle hints towards the rest in the series. Rereading this, I seem to come off as a conspiracy theorist. Oh well, a man can dream.
This fortnight at the RFT... Student Tickets: £4.50 This week at the RFT: French comedy Beautiful Lies follows an impulsive hairdresser who receives a love letter from a colleague and, in an attempt to cheer her up, types it out and sends it to her mother. Also motor racing documentary Senna which looks into the life of legendary drive Ayrton Senna. So, no matter what you’re into, there’s something at the RFT for everyone!
Tuesday 29 November (20:00): Beautiful Lies (12A) Thursday 1 December (20:00): Senna (12A) Tuesday 6 December (19:15): Melancholia (15) Thursday 8 December (19:15): Poetry (Shi) (12A) Tuesday 13 December (20:00): Jack Goes Boating (15)
Prices: Members £4.50 Non-members £6.00 Annual Membership £10.00
FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - Ricky Gervais has announced on Twitter that he will be hosting the Golden Globes for the third time. Beware, citizens of Hollywood!
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Sticks + Stones – The musicians beating back the bullies
Every year, as the first glimmers of winter chill creep across Britain and those toasty Christmas adverts start popping up on TV, November plays host to an incredibly important campaign: Anti Bullying Week. With previous themes of ‘difference and diversity’ as well as specific focus on cyberbullying, 2011 sees the campaign offering a sobering slogan: ‘Stop and think – words can hurt’. What’s more, this year some famous faces have been helping raise awareness about the true extent of bullying in a rapidly-changing digital age. In one of the most high profile cases, Welsh opera singer and Forces’ sweetheart Katherine Jenkins was subjected to continued online bullying by a specific user on Twitter for a year, culminating in the user sending a crude, insensitive question to a chat show Katherine was participating in.
This prompted an impassioned reply from Katherine: ‘Dear ******* I find it very sad that even as an adult you think it’s okay to bully someone. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’m not under any false illusion that everyone is going to like me but you have no right to harass me as you’ve done over the past year with comments like ‘bring out the dead daddy story again’. You’ve set up a false account in my name where you slate and destroy my character. After blocking you, you still tried to find a way to get to me and this morning was one step too far. Sending in a question to be read on live TV (which didn’t even make any sense!) to ‘make me look clueless’ is utterly pathetic and you clearly failed. I’ve tried to ignore you but after this it’s time to stand up to you. The sad thing is you’ll probably enjoy the attention which is why I haven’t mentioned your twitter
name but I know you know who you are #StopCyberBullying’ In a time of uber-guarded, PR friendly interviews and statements from popstars, reactions like these speak with refreshing honesty. These are clearly matters close to the heart. It is a subject that held such relevance to Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts that she wrote a song about it for her debut solo record: ‘I don’t like the people who leave comments on the Internet / they preach they’re perfect while they’re killing you with intellect.’ Attending the Diana Award national anti-bullying conference on Monday 14th, Nicola revealed her plans to meet with Education Secretary Michael Gove to discuss government strategies for tackling bullying. When pop meets politics, you know things are serious. Nicola is not the only one to tackle themes of bullying in their songs this year – X Factor star Cher Lloyd’s album features an ironically embittered ballad confessing the torments of peer pressure: ‘It’s beautiful people like you who get whatever they want, who suck the life right out of my heart, who make me cry, because nobody else could be nearly as cool as you’. For every song like this, there is undoubtedly a multitude of young people in schools across the country for which themes like this represent their daily lives, real problems that need to be addressed. Perhaps most shocking though is the kind of online abuse Cher Lloyd herself was recently subjected to; one particularly offen-
sive internet ‘troll’ tweeting at her: ‘Shut the fuck up before I kill your mum in front of you’. You have to wonder, what possesses these people to come out with outbursts like this. Do they believe that because musicians are in the public eye, they are fair game for the kind of comments that’d get you a punch in the face if expressed in person? Or is it born of petty frustration – a befuddled understanding that in their small lives they’ll never
achieve even a fraction of what these young musicians have. You’re left with a sour taste in your mouth reading comments like the above, an image of pasty white adolescents sitting in dingy rooms, furiously banging away at a sticky, yellowing keyboard. For these sad, lonely ‘keyboard warriors’, this is all they can achieve – if it can even be deemed an ‘achievement’ – brain-cells slowly exploding under the pressure of a dull, glowing anger at someone they don’t even know.
FEATURE Heaven knows Smiths fans are miserable now
It’s a complex mix of emotions: seeing one of your favourite songs being brought to the masses. For one, you’re slightly satisfied that your taste is being backed up by some important ad agency, with their assurance that this certain
song is going to be adored by hundreds of thousands of people. But then, you feel a tinge of pride in the tracks’s original form; a sense of ownership at what was previously an unsung discovery. Such a paradox is being dealt with by hardcore fans of The Smiths, this Christmas. Please
Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, a song previously restricted to fans of the band’s b-sides, has been transformed into the most sentimental of piano ballads, accompanying shots of a slightly adorable child actor giving his parents extravagant gits, all in the name of John Lewis. Smiths fans have had their fair share of challenges, from putting up with Morrissey’s ridiculous onstage remarks (one being condoning the tragic Norweigan shootings of this year) to seeing Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before being smothered in ghastly Mark Ronson-affiliated horn sections. Their songs, though a good 20 years old today, are still culturally celebrated in certain corners, all desperate not to let the masses into their little secret.
A similar dilemma’s cropped up in the form of oh-so-delicate newcomer Birdy, a fairly hopeless, 15-year-old “singer songwriter” who takes critically acclaimed songs under her belt and turns them into sappy, forgettable hits. The xx and Bon Iver have fallen victim to her monotonous sobbing, with The National also playing the victim role in her debut fulllength. It’s as if she’s gone from the outset to upset the fickle bunch who call themselves music snobs. But is it really that heartbreaking to see your favourite song soundtracking a commercial Christmas advert? Morrissey’s message of “good times, for a change” is, in fact, a fairly apt one for a Recession-addled generation, counting their pennies before heading off to do their Xmas shopping. It’s a charming little song, one that’s
shown its face already on Danny Boyle’s This Is England, having even been performed as a cover by Muse, a few years back. It’s a cult classic, rearing its ugly head for mass consumption. Birdy is a slightly different conundrum, making a career out of already penned songs. But let’s face it, Drake relies on full-length tracks for samples and Rihanna has probably never glanced at a songbook in her life. Pop stars aren’t expected to write their own material - their job is just to make a song exciting and culturally relevant. The Smiths’ classic could not be more relevant and the adoring public, who already fell head over heels in love with Ellie Goulding’s Elton John cover at the same time last year, are all set to lap this up.
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
ALBUMS Can Rihanna keep up the standards on her sixth LP?
Rustie Glass Swords Warp Records
If there’s one phrase that sums up Rustie’s output, it’s “go hard or go home”. In the hands of anyone else this album would likely have turned into a catastrophic mess, but it’s fair to say Russel Whyte has the midas production touch, combining a cacophony of different sounds and genres into a single album without it ever becoming unlistenable, and ends up being all the more interesting for it. Whyte is unafraid to show his true colours and broad variety of influences, however cringeworthy they may be: the type of cheesy slap bass unheard of since the 80’s, indulgent prog rock guitar you’d find in your dad’s dusty record collection, chipmunked vocal samples, day glo synths and 90’s video
game samples all play their part here, and surprisingly combine to great effect. There are gigantic hooks abound, and not the hardto-avoid kind that have invaded the chart recently, but carrying genuine complexity, with twists and turns around every corner and giddy highs. This is an album with both style and substance: a track like the single Ultra Thizz has the raw power to go down a storm in clubs, but listen to it on headphones at home and you can clearly hear a vast variety of elements in play: Whyte isn’t just happy with bare bones, he embellishes his creations to the full. His drum programming switches between the scatter patterns of complex hip-hop freakouts, the steady kick and snare of dubstep, and on City Star a menacing grime palette which shows how much versatility he possesses. Listening to the album it’s clear that Whyte has finally fulfilled the promise of his previous releases where he had obvious talent but was lacking focus: the overall feel here is varied and exciting whilst still coherent. Although not a classic, this is a massive stepping stone to a very promising future, and along with other up and coming British talent like his partner in crime Hudson Mohawke and Jamie XX, shows our shores have some very bright prospects indeed.
HHHH then rewarded with one of the greatest metal riffs ever written, with pulverising drums to make sure your ears are now definitely bleeding.
The perfect recipe for a metal album
Machine Head Unto the Locust Roadrunner
This is the album of the year for metalheads, fact. If you thought 2007’s The Blackening was an unbeatable album, you were wrong. Machine Head have taken this to a new level of all time greatness. Starting off with a three part sonata, a monk style chant draws you in with the words sangre sani (meaning blood saint). This then develops into a simple groove riff and chants of phrases such as “I am death!” you know this is going to be heavy. After two minutes of tension build up, your ears are
One of the things I love about Machine Head is that their shouting is actually tasteful and understandable compared to other bands of this genre. Yes I am halfway through the review and still talking about the first track of the album, but you won’t understand how monumental this record will be for the history of rock and roll until you listen to it. Think along the lines of Master of Puppets: that’s how big this album is going to be in the future. To finish off, the best part has got to be the chorus, lyrics such as “I am hell to thee” just make me want to smile. Right, I’m sure you’re thinking right now that the opening track is the best on the album, since I’ve dedicated a whole two paragraphs to it. Well it was the best eight and a half minutes of my life until I heard this next piece. Undeniably This Is The End is the best track on the album, no doubt about it.
Rihanna Talk That Talk Mercury
There’s something admirable about the way Rihanna makes being a global chart super-star look easy. Her stratospheric rise to the top - banging out an album a year, cherry-picking from the cream of pop producers – might seem peerlessly dominating, at times predictable – but the fact she’s made some blindingly good tracks in the process is inescapable. Lead single We Found Love is ‘Rihanna: The Brand’ operating at full capacity: a sleek, precision guided missile to the heart of that music-buying drive. For all its effortless appeal though, it’s hard to shake the fact that considering what both Rihanna and Calvin Harris are capable of producing at their absolute best, We Found Love Machine Head pushed themselves to the limit to create this. Robb Flynn (founder of Machine Head) even took extra classical guitar lessons to aide him in the creation of this Mona Lisa of music. Out of nowhere, drums slap you in the face. One of my all time favourite riffs grabs you by the throat, and Robb Flynn’s voice crashes on top of you like an unstoppable tsunami. Locust is also another competitor for best song on the album as it makes you feel like you’re marching into war. However, both I Am Hell and Who We Are were very strong competitors for this title too. This album is just so solid.
Out of nowhere, drums slap you in the face In summary, Unto the Locust is like the perfect recipe for a metal album; supersonic solos, riffs that have been given a distorted crack of the whip, Machine Head’s signature chorus setting, Robb Flynn’s lionesque roar and truly unique metal licks that melt you to the core.
is not the staggering dance-pop juggernaught it could have been. On the collaboration front, the album’s title track team-up with Jay-Z is a more inventive affair. Talk That Talk struts forth with attitude and buckets of machinegun beats, oozing with the universal charm that has won Rihanna a place in the hearts of so many the world over. It’s no Umbrella, but then, what is? You Da One feels more attuned to Rihanna’s Bajan roots than the blitz of future-pop her dancier singles have so often based themselves on. Pert and playful sounding, it makes for a nice break from the uber-sexualised Rihanna that sets the Daily Mail comment pages alight. Rihanna’s knack for landing on radio-friendly smashes is uncanny, but for all its cheery tropical flavours, You Da One just doesn’t rank up with Rihanna’s alltime greats. When you’ve set the bar as high as she has in the past, the unfortunate truth is that one day, you’re going to falter. Where Have You Been on the other hand is bold, exciting, packed full of drama – exactly the kind of record you expect of RiRi. A return to the darker sounds of her Rated R album, the track blends atom-splitting acid house synths with rhythmic guitar hooks to create a kind of amped-up version of Cheryl Cole’s Will.i.am collab 3 Words. All things considered, for all Rihanna’s sexual posturing in her
videos and performances, Talk That Talk as a whole is remarkably tame compared to some of the star’s past work. If anything, the dollops of production sheen wrapped around every track instead give it a cold, machine-like feel. There is, of course, an exception – the tantalisingly named Cockiness. It’s a struggle to take any song with lyrics such as ‘suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion’ seriously, but the stuttering dancehall percussion does little to redeem this interlude-style ode to foreplay. Jaunty ‘rock’ number We All Want Love is this album’s California King Bed, but lacks that track’s killer chorus. Roc Me Out is a surprising late-album standout, coming on like a head-on collision between Rudeboy and Pendulum’s Slam (the drum and bass act cowrote and produced the track). Sure, like much of the album, Rihanna is mining her past glories all over again, but she does it with such swagger, such enthusiasm, that the end result is a definitive thrill-ride of a success. The lasting impression of Rihanna in 2011 is of her not only talking that talk, but walking the walk too. Her greatest asset is herself – even when the music falls short, the sheer force of her personality more than makes up for it.
Liam Blake You and Other Stories
ed melody highlights Blake’s soft and soulful vocal. After the welcome passing of Coming or Going and Rush, Tell Me Beth, Do You Recall? exudes a well formed, sophisticated sound with a more mature lyric perspective and a greater tendency to experiment. A subtle homage to the 60’s rock tradition provides a welcome break and emphasises his ability to cross genres effortlessly. I Felt Alive brings an upbeat country dynamic to the record, a welcome distraction from the droning of some fillers on the release. Rather than gracefully scaling like other records, the guitar melody bounces, and Blake’s voice exudes vivacity. Again, Blake is able to effectively take inspiration from different genres, whilst maintaining a sound true enough to himself for the tracks to unify with one another. Blake’s ability to sample within other genres is refreshing, although his lack of imaginative lyrics let down his compelling vocal performance. Blake’s assortment of stories is comprised of a few bestsellers, among a collection of mediocre fiction gathering dust on library shelves.
Singer-songwriter Liam Blake’s debut You and Other Stories is an acoustic-pop record with a strong folk influence and clear inspirations from west coast singer-songwriters of the 70’s. Blake’s debut is sentimental and romantic, but although his vocals remain flawless and his arrangements bordering on heavenly, his lyrics have a tendency towards the predictable. The album commences with For Your Sake and although the melody is impressive, the hook (“for your sake” would you believe) lacks imagination. I really want to like this song, but something is stopping me, there is an air of unfulfilled potential, and listeners are left wondering what is lacking. It is not until the third track that I can stop my awkward attempts to enjoy the music. Feather possesses an almost otherworldly beauty, evoking a simultaneous innocence in the voice and maturity in his craft. The sound he creates relies more on the folk tradition than previous songs and the understat-
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
SINGLES Jessie J lends her talents to James Morrison’s gravelly tones James Morrison feat. Jessie J Up Island
Up is the latest single to be released from Brit singer-songwriter James Morrison, and the second to be taken from his current album The Awakening. In an attempt to recreate the success of the Nelly Furtado collaboration Broken Strings, James has once again teamed his vocals with those of a female partner. This time, James is dueting with one of 2011’s biggest female stars, Jessie J. It’s definitely an unusual collaboration, and reportedly James originally wanted Adele to sing the female vocals, only to be persuaded by his record label to give Jessie a try. But rather than the snarling bitter Jessie seen on
hits like Do It Like A Dude, this one is a much more vulnerable and far more soft version. However, this doesn’t make Jessie’s vocals any less powerful, and her softer sound is offset beautifully with James’ husky and more gravelly tones. Lyrically Up is an emotionally powerful song, detailing the troubles of a strained relationship, with James and Jessie respectively playing both sides of the feud. It delivers a heartfelt message that is easily relatable to, and creates a bizarre twist between the coldness of lyrics with the warmth of the vocals. Jessie J makes an undeniably unlikely duet partner for James Morrison, and yet the poignant lyrics and moving vocals create a truly brilliant and really very haunting song.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Nothing But Our Love Warner
If you are a fan of Darwin Deez, then this Detroit duo will be right up your street. Formed in 2009 by Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein, the band have been growing from strength to strength and have released this four track EP to coincide with their first gigs over in England. The title song from their EP fuses poppy, synthesized melodies with Foals-esque guitar dits to create a summery, atmospheric tune. This merging of sound is then complimented by a gentle layering of soft harmonic vocals, which although lyrically heartfelt, leave no long lasting impressions after listening.
The rest of the EP moves along on the same mellow path, with no real gems in the rough, but also with tracks that don’t leave a sour taste after listening.
They are a band to look out for in 2012 The Nothing But Our Love EP is a preview of what sort of things can be expected from the guys when their LP It’s A Corporate World is released over here next spring. On the first listen it didn’t really do it for me, but it’s definitely a grower. They are certainly a band to look out for in 2012, where I can see them popping up at festivals across the country; after all, they have something of a reputation for high energy live performances.
Real Estate It’s Real Domino Records
New Jersey band Real Estate’s recent signing with Domino Records has allowed them to release this superb song, full of reverby jangle and propelled by a high to low register bass line and trashy tight drums. The verse vocals are surrounded by clean guitars and a halo of reverb which blooms up into the lush chorus. Lines like “I walked on decomposing leaves” have a feeling of calm autumnal romance that perfectly complement the music and this time of year. Best of all the song is lodged firmly in your memory in under 2:50!
LIVE Arctic Monkeys ask the O2 Arena to suck it and see...
Arctic Monkeys 29 October 2011 O2 Arena, London Elliot Baker
When Arctic Monkeys burst onto the scene with their break-through album Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not audiences were stunned. It was a decade since such bands as Oasis, Blur, or The Stone Roses set such an influential sound post-Britpop, but Arctic Monkeys seemed more raw, or real, or maybe more relatable to the generation that was so intently hooked to the lyrics. But they were shy. The boys from Sheffield were quiet on stage, maybe not in quality of performance but surely in confidence. Gigs would go by where the interactions with the audience could be counted on one hand. Slowly this dissolved, as they found loyal fans loving all the songs instead of radio favourites, and as singles became anthems and alcohol made them superheroes on stage and at award shows. But five years on, three more consecutively astounding albums,
and dozens of new haircuts later, Arctic Monkeys are full stride, and their recent gig at the O2 is a great example of why. Frontman Alex Turner made multiple interactions to the audience as a whole, but interestingly referenced the Millennium Dome rather than the O2. “Millennium Dome, we are Arctic Monkeys from High Green. Are we gonna have some fun together tonight?” It was rhetorical, no doubt about it, but Turner said it in such a way that flirted with the audience - teasing what was next constantly. They opened with their latest album’s most popular single Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair to warm up the arena, followed by other popular hits such as Teddy Picker and Crying Lightning. But this idea of warming up the crowd seemed to be exactly what they were doing. From there on out it was a collage of their impressive back-catalogue of singles, love ballads and hidden diamonds in their previous albums. Their confidence as a band began to show. This ranged from Alex Turner’s stripper like removal of his Danny-Zuko-esque jacket fol-
lowed by wolf whistles to his dance moves. They offered Evil Twin, the latest B-side to come from the Suck It and See album, which clearly not all fans knew after its recent release but it still went down like a classic. It all began to link together. They knew what they were doing, choosing whatever songs they liked and knowing they’d hit the right spot with the audience. Before the band played recent hit single Brick by Brick, Turner chose to introduce drummer Matt Helders, who takes the vocals on the verses of the track, like a boxer walking into the ring. But their finale was the pure essence of how much they’ve grown. After taking a very brief break before their encore and then delighting the crowd with a delicate acoustic version of Mardy Bum, the band paid tribute to Jimmy Savile and questioned if “he fixed one more thing for us” on the night. They introduce Miles Kane to the stage, long time friend and bandmate of Turner’s from The Last of the Shadow Puppets. He came out in a red jacket, only for Turner to joke saying “Straight from Butlins!” The band ended, as they fittingly have done with so many of their gigs with 505. This was their perfect end. The real “anthem”. The real Arctic Monkeys. The romance, the heartthrob and the crudeness which gels to make beauty. And five years on since I first saw them, it seemed like they could finally portray all the feeling through their selves; and not just the music.
King Charles 10 November 2011 Scala, London Angus Griffin
It is not everyday that a venue houses an evening of regal jaunts. The Scala, London, was however lucky enough to flaunt the snarling sensation known to his dandified fanbase as King Charles. The latest stop on his aptly named Tail Lights Disco Tour, was a night filled with bohemian fashion, poppy hooks and head banging extravagance. Strolling onto the stage with a swagger Jimmy Page would be proud of, the noble genius opens with his newly developed array of pop. A stark movement away from his crude, coarse take on Rock n’ Roll of earlier years, Bam Bam (the debut single, released on 14th November) shows how a heavily rhythmic, more delicate sound from the band can provide the perfect backdrop for a pop tinged performance by the King. Perhaps not quite as complementing a genre for the rock n’ roller, the foot thumping, body bumping
drive of the lyrics and the bouncing pulse, still provides a refreshing shot of pop to the musicthirsty, offbeat crowd. As it progresses, the energy increases. Shivers of happiness ripple through the audience as the King breaks from his pop cocoon and emerges as the dishevelled, jagged satanic majesty we all know and love. Brightest Lights ricochets around the room, and screeches of delight erupt from the crowd as the King breaks into a blues tinged, hard rock explosion. Lights flashing, cymbal crashing and pop harassing, the head banging commences and although his latest single appeals to the masses, his performances electrify even the most hard to impress. He’s come a long way since the days of BBC Introducing and support slots and it’s no surprise that he has now been snatched up by Island Records. He adds a majestic touch to an otherwise crude musical experience – it’s alternative fashion, rocking guitar, eclectic virtuosity and fervent lyrics, all welded together in royal achievement.
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
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Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Girls on film Review of The Actress Now art exhibition The National Portrait Gallery Abigail Bashforth
The Actress Now is the newest exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery, showcasing never seen before portraits of the iconic British female faces of film, television and theatre from the 1950’s to the present day. The exhibition celebrates the lasting legacy of older actresses including Dame Judi Dench and Vanessa Redgrave, as well as newcomers who quickly had an impact on the industry, such as Sienna Miller and Gemma Arterton.
In each portrayal the women are no longer performing Portraits in a range of medium take the concept that the profession has been transfigured by the media and fashion world. Attention is paid to what one looks like and what one is wearing rather than the film itself and the talent within. Each portrait is accompanied by a brief description of their career, paying tribute to their hard work and success. In each portrayal the women are no longer performing. Photographs and paintings capture moments between scenes or in an
intimate setting in their free time. Although still in front of a lens, be it optical or photographical, this time they are not playing a part. Here we see the real woman. These women, with passion and an inner compulsion to act, who have worked hard to get where they are in such an ambivalent climate, star as themselves. Dame Judi Dench, captured by Alessandro Roso, is a large oil on canvas. Standing, facing you, surrounded by a white background; immediately you feel compelled towards her. The painting commands the viewer’s gaze and certainly has a presence on the Gallery floor. The subtle paintwork is integral to Roso’s photographic qualities in his painting, although, some tonal elements of brushwork are retained. He captured this moment when she was unaware in the National Portrait Gallery. The result is a portrayal of the actress in a role cast for her by the artist, highlighting portraiture’s paradoxical nature, creating a depiction of appearance and a mask. The painter depicts Judi as a demure, reserved character with a wealth of wisdom. Vanessa Redgrave’s photograph, by Jillian Edelstein, is a serene, content depiction of the artist, with the blurring of the foliage in the background to communicate a soft and warm woman. A more humble representation of an actress. In contrast Keira Knightley’s photograph is a juxtaposi-
tion of pose and costume. The photograph was taken in between scenes; Keira is dressed in period costume with feathers, jewels and gloves but is hunched up and sat on the floor, conveying the contrast between role and reality.
Here we see the real woman The oil on canvas by Victoria Kate Russell of Fiona Mary Shaw is more impressionistic than other paintings with obvious brushwork. Though not always accurate or precise in replication and perspective, the artist really captures the essence of Fiona. She is pictured sat in a brassiere and a towel, in her London home. The sheer scale of the portrait may suggest a larger than life character, the towelling drapery in the background, a set to be changed and her semi-nakedness an un-layering of roles to come closer to her real life character. An accompaniment to The First Actresses, an exhibition of actresses in eighteenth century Britain, of which some of the stars were inspired and indebted to, The Actresses Now exhibits unique portraiture, a celebration of another form of art and the empowerment of women in the industry. The Actresses Now in The National Portrait Gallery is open now until the 1st January 2012.
Photograph of Emma Thompson by Tim Richmond. Courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery
Arrival to the new planet Arrival Creative story Adam Knowles
“Deceleration in fifteen seconds.” Captain Zorion’s fingers danced across the control panel, each tiny motion shifting the craft a thousand miles. At each diode’s flicker, 1,000 litres of liquid hydrogen cascaded burning across the sky. For a moment, the light from the forward thrusters washed across the lead glass of the ship’s visor, and the stomach of the machine lurched as it began to fall. It had been falling all along, of course, but it was only now that it finally approached the ground - a mere 50,000 kilometres ahead - that the captain began to feel it. The planet grew bigger and bigger. At first, it seemed nothing
but a blue-grey sphere, but soon details began to emerge.
For a moment, there was a fleeting illusion of gravity Clouds drifted lazily across its surface: billions of cubic metres of water vapour seeming nothing more than soap scum in a kitchen sink. Within minutes, land had come into view, ochre and green peeking out from beneath a blue haze that grew with the planet. What had started as a tiny shadow against a star, a black pearl in the heavens’ golden crown, now had a horizon. The planet loomed too large to be contained within the titanium frame of the cabin window. Though its light was a pale
reflection of the fierce sun tethering it, the planet shone brightly, throwing dim shadows across the instruments as Zorion adjusted his course. There was a creaking groan as the ship spun, and the planet itself seemed to move. Its light faded from a porthole to the right, as though eclipsed, and the horizon shifted, coming to rest parallel to the visor. Zorion was reminded of driving on Earth, with the sea or a mirage visible far away, casting light up from a long, flat road. The scene ahead was like this, but uncannily different; the planet’s light shone downwards. The ship hung in a void, suspended from the surface of the blue sphere, and yet, also, hovering miles above it. There was no sensation of falling now that the planet was overhead.
For a moment, there was a fleeting illusion of gravity - Captain Zorion felt himself being pushed back into his seat - but it was only the autopilot adjusting the height of the ship’s orbit.
The ship hung in a void, suspended from the surface of the sphere There was a sigh as the computer squeezed the smallest drop of thrust from the starboard engine, executing a manoeuvre too subtle and delicate for human hands and minds. And then the craft was still. Captain Zorion reached for a button on his headset, ready to make the announcement.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he spoke into the microphone. “This is Phomo Four. This stop: Phomo Four. Will passengers for Phomo Four please make their way to the landing pods. Thank you. The local time is ten-forty a.m., taking into account an eight minute gain due to relativity.” There was a faint lurch as the pods detached and began their ascent down towards the planet’s surface. A few minutes later, there was another lurch as the next set of pods docked with the ship. Zorion waited for the new passengers to reach their seats, then began his next announcement. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said. “This is the service to Irthon, via Zakylon, Panth and Disney Planetoid Twenty-Three. For the comfort of other passengers, please do not smoke. Thank you. ”
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
An evening with...Eliza Shaddad Review of “An Evening With” South Streets Arts Centre Matthew Crist
One-woman music machine Eliza Shaddad appeared at Reading’s South Street Arts Centre as part of the “An Evening With” event put on by the Reading University Singer Songwriters. The performer, who once shared a stage with Finlay Quaye, put on an impressive display, showing off a varied selection of her tracks, both old and new. Shaddad, now a resident of London, has lived in no less than seven different countries as well as having Scottish and Sudanese roots. The influences and experiences of her past are reflected in the majority of her work. Armed only with a guitar she is able to create the ambience and atmosphere of an orchestra, assisted by a voice that would fill a room twice the size, without being overpowering or distorting. Confidently telling stories about her past, and even throwing in the odd cover version and a capella Irish folk song, it is clear to see why she is fast becoming one of the most
Reading University Singer songwriters Nadine michaels
Reading University Singer Songwriters is a new society with the aims of getting people performing in front of an audience and writing their own music. A couple of gigs are put on each term at South Streets Arts Centre. The Singer Songwriters first An Evening With... event at the South St Arts Centre was a big hit. So don’t miss Cambridge based postrock band City Seventeen, who will be heading the next Reading University Singer Songwriters An Evening With.... event, with support from RUSS members Patch Bawn and Jamie Strand. It will be an evening of brilliant live music.
talked about acts on the live music scene. Also appearing was Reading based talent Phoebe Larner with her heart-felt yet up-beat songs, to the tune of her own infectious guitar melodies.
Armed only with a guitar she is able to create the ambience and atmosphere Fellow University student Josh Massey, who put on a superb display of two-minute musical miniatures which involved the kind of comedy and romance usually found in a Shakespeare sonnet, said that he still managed to squeeze in topical events such as the recent riots in London in his own unique way. This was the first of what organisers hope will be many such nights, designed to show-case musical talent from around the country as well as from the local area. And on this evidence that can only be a good thing for music lovers and artists alike.
Don’t miss Cambridge based post-rock band City Seventeen
Photograph courtesy of the Reading University Singer Songwriters society
So come on down on to the South Street Arts Centre on Friday 9 December, 8pm. £2 entry (£1 for RUSS members). Contact RUSS at readinguniversitysingersongwriters@hotmail. co.uk or join their Facebook group "Reading University Singer Songwriters".
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatrical hit Review of The Phantom of the Opera: Encore Screened live to Vue cinema from The Royal Albert Hall Laura Howe
This year Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical The Phantom of the Opera celebrated its 25th anniversary. Since its debut in the West End in 1986, it has grossed over £3. 2billion worldwide and has won over 60 theatre awards. In honour of its 25th anniversary, the show was performed at the Royal Albert Hall and screened live to cinemas all around the country.
The staging of the production was brilliantly executed Having never before seen The Phantom of the Opera, my preconceptions were entirely influenced by the shows popularity. Therefore, when I entered the cinema, I had very high expectations. Luckily, I was not disappointed. I recognised most of the songs and was immediately engaged. The opening scene depicted Paris in 1911, where an auction of old the-
atre props was in progress. The plot was introduced by a music box in the shape of a monkey and shattered chandelier which were up for auction. These objects prompted the auctioneer to reminisce about "the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera". The audience was then taken back in time to 1881, as the mystery of the Phantom of the Opera began. The staging of the production was brilliantly executed. The first scene contrasted considerably
from the rest of the show. The flashback transported the audience from the mundane auction house to the splendour of the Paris Opera House. The effects used in the scene where the Phantom leads Christine into his underground lair were particularly stunning. The use of smoke and dimmed light created a mysterious atmosphere which gave the scene a surreal, dreamlike feel. The chandelier hung over the audience, producing spectacular bursts of light to imi-
tate it crashing to the floor at the most climactic moment in the music. A digital screen was situated at the back of the stage, which relayed images of the audience in the opera house. This helped to create the idea that the audience was witnessing the creation of a theatrical production. The camera angles allowed the audience to appreciate the lavish costumes and the skill of the costume designers. They also provided a close-up view of the Phantom’s make-up and emphasized the intricate detail.
The chandelier hung over the audience, producing spectacular bursts of light The part of Christine Daaé was played by Sierra Boggess, who infused the role with emotion and energy and portrayed the naivety of the character flawlessly. Ramin Karimloo played the part of the Phantom, conveying his power whilst also earning sympathy from the audience. All the members of the cast were strong and the singing complemented the orchestra beautifully, honouring Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous score.
This special performance ended with an encore in which Andrew Lloyd Webber made a speech to the audience. The cast then joined him on stage, followed by the cast of the original 1986 production. The encore also included a special performance by Sarah Brightman (who played Christine in the original production) and the previous phantoms. Although viewing from the cinema doesn’t quite measure up to experiencing a production in the theatre, the live screening comes pretty close. A bonus is that the camera angles allow you to see the action up close, which is impossible unless you are in front row of the theatre. However, you do miss out on the theatrical atmosphere. This was particularly noticeable during the encore, as the audience in the Royal Albert Hall were participants in the celebrations, whereas as a viewer in the cinema, I felt more like a spectator. For Phantom of the Opera fans who missed out on getting tickets to see the production at the Royal Albert Hall, it has been announced that there will be a UK tour in 2012. The live screening from the Royal Albert Hall will also be released on DVD on 14 November, which would be an ideal Christmas present for fans of the musical.
The Suit: Man’s best friend james quinn
The suit. Perhaps the most important feature in any gentleman’s wardrobe. The look of the suit is closely tied with the confidence and audacity of the person that wears it; you only have to look to the gents on the red carpet to see that this is true. But the cut and fit of a suit can make or break a look, as well as the accessories that compliment the suit, something that even big names can miss. Suits can be used as a display of great vanity or subtlety, both important when examining the person behind the clothes. When we look at a suit which is slightly miss fitted, a prime example being George Clooney’s dark grey suit at the New York Film Festival premiere of The Descendants we realise the despite the man’s reputation, a cut that does not compliment the person within it can become disastrous. So Christmas 2011 rolls in, and the usual formal invitations worm their way into your letter box, and the prospect of donning a threeyear-old suit covered in mysterious stains and holes doesn’t appeal. As ever, the usual high street retailers guide the seasonal trends, Topman favouring suits that delve into a autumnal colour palette of browns, charcoals and greys. Textures also play a big role, with Herringbone, Tweed, and smoother materials all struggling for attention. Zara, River island, and Burton all seem more concerned
The main article of attraction at H&M however, is, the shops collaboration with Versace. Though the choice of menswear is limited for those with less outlandish tastes, the collection offers some sharply cut black suits for a total reaching just over the one hundred mark. For the quality offered, the price is astonishing. Of course, the collection also offers a vivid cerise suit for the bold amongsty us.
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
The fit of a suit can make or break a look
with a slicker look, playing with metallic colours and closer cuts and fits. H&M seems to balance itself between these looks, featuring the more quirky stylings of Topman with other pieces that might be more accessible to those who don’t want to wear maroon velvet.
The versatility of the looks H&M offers, as well as the affordability of the suits in trend, seem to mark it as the top place to look for men’s suits. With blazers ranging from £40-60, as well as trousers starting from a very reasonable £34.99, it justifies itself.
If all of the above fails to interest, the other solution would be online. Asos.com features a great deal of very good suits at reasonable prices, however be aware of size. The most important thing when looking into online shopping is to know your measurements – purchasing a suit which does not quite fit is a frustrating process. Bear this in mind if looking online, particularly on auction sites like Ebay. It is always preferable to try the suit on, ensuring a neat, comfortable, and powerful look. This careful consideration of fit, coupled with an on trend or simply classic colour and material will have heads turning. With a bit of scouring, a great suit can be found for less cash than expected. The formal parties that lay ahead this winter will be a great place to try out any suits you do manage to purchase.
www.hanneli.com A combination of a personal and street style blog, hanneli.com is run by Hanneli Mustaparta, a former Norwegian model who documents her own personal style as well as taking street-style photographs for inspiration. Hanneli’s style is minimalist, slightly masculine but with feminine accents and with a loud pop of colour. Due to the success of her blog, Hanneli has an impressive resume landing jobs writing and photographing at Vogue and her own collection of t-shirts at Zara.
When the designer met the high street robyn sweeney
A dress from the recent ‘The Very Best of Versace’ collection for H&M
When Donatella Versace released her ‘The Very Best of Versace’ Collection for H&M on 17 November the entire stock, both in store and online, had sold out in 30 minutes. Creative director Donatella hoped the collection would “recall the vibrant heritage of the brand, complete with leather, prints, colour, and exuberance in exclusive materials at fantastic H&M prices.” In an interview with the New York Times, Versace identified the economic situation as bearing a huge significance to the world of fashion, saying “The thing that was wrong, when the depression came in 2008, was that many people said let’s do safe clothes, because the economy is down and people are going to invest in things
they can wear over and over again.” Releasing a collection set to crush this turn away from high fashion and current trends in favour of ‘safe’ items Donatella added, “Nothing can be more wrong than that. Fashion stands for new, glamorous, daring and sophisticated.” When asked specifically about her H&M collection she said “The thing about H&M that makes me very happy is that I can reach an enormous crowd of young people, because they are looking for inspiration.” However despite this seemingly loyal dedication to ‘young people and inspirational style,’ regardless of their budget, Versace faced criticism in the build up to the line’s release for declining to have her items photographed on “real women.” So despite making
her brand available to the general public at relatively affordable prices, Versace refused to display members of that same general public she was selling to, wearing the clothes - an issue is raised. Does this not then urge us to believe that the Versace brand collaborated with high street guru H&M for no more than a simple publicity stunt? That indeed, despite her claims of loyalty to the ‘enormous crowd of young people looking for inspiration’ Donatella was simply exploiting an ‘easy option’ with a guaranteed quick pay back. Aren’t we ourselves, as the buyers of this cut price Versace brand, the ‘easy option’? But, before we condemn Versace’s intentions we must first consider our own. When considering why the demand for the collection caused it to wholly sell out in 30 minutes we must also consider
consumer ethics. It’s pretty much fair to assume that if we asked any of the buyers that day why they were buying what they were, regardless of the item itself, their first response would be, “because it’s Versace!” So who’s to blame in the long run? We could easily blame Versace for their supposed ‘exploitation’ of the mass demand for their products and for falsely asserting a sense of ‘mergence’ between high street and high end fashion through this collection. But on the other hand we as buyers are just as to blame for assuming that mass consumerism can ever be luxurious. Can we really claim to have bought ‘in the name of fashion,’ because of the structuring, the style and the cut of a garment, when we all know we just bought it because the label says ‘Versace.’
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
Leather vs Lace: Will you toughen up or go soft and sultry this winter? MELISSA THOMAS
Oasis Dress with faux leather and fabric, around £55
At the autumn/winter shows back in February two fabrics completely inundated the catwalks, and now we can see them taking up room on editorial spreads and as staples on celebrities. The high street has been at it too; you couldn’t get away from them even if you tried. They are leather, for the braver ladies, and lace for the more demure among us. For those in the know this season, a pair of faux leather trousers is a must-have. Nowhere near as scary as they sound, Topshop do a fantastic pair of ‘pleather’ (plastic-
leather) trousers for around £32. They are both fashionable and flattering - believe it or not - the thick material actually sucks you in and smooths any bumps, unlike unforgiving body-con or normal jersey leggings. One of the best party dresses of the season so far, by Warehouse, provides a perfect balance of rock chic and glamour by teaming leather with feathers in a beautiful piece sure to turn heads, although currently sold out, keep an eye out for it! For those who just want to dip their toe into the world of leather, panelling is the perfect option.
Wear a leather panelled t-shirt or skirt for a more dressed-down take on the look. The other material that we can’t get enough of this winter is lace. From innocent, girly detailing to full-blown gothic styling, there really is something for everyone with this trend. For those who want to embrace all things lace, head to the online store ASOS (www.asos.com) where you can find a great deal of luxurious lace and some very convincing mesh imitations. If a subtle touch is more your thing, head to Urban Outfitters for subtle lace adorned jumpers.
ASOS, Sheer Lace Jacket, around £45
Introducing... Raspberry Vintage Suggestions: Clothing and Galibardy Statement Jumpers
Necklace, around £20, Galibardy NATHALIE HAMMOND
For me, the world of vintage fashion can sometimes be a bit expensive. Whether this is because I’m too frugal or because none of my friends are willing to spend the necessary amount of time required to find a perfectly priced beautiful fashion find, I am not so sure, which is why finding a leaflet at the vintage fair in the Students’ Union with the name ‘Raspberry Vintage Clothing’ on it showed me looking good, costs very little. Raspberry Vintage Clothing is an independent online affordable vintage store and when it says affordable, it truly does mean it. You can easily pick up an entire outfit with shoes for under £30 which is
Cardigan, around £5, Raspberry Vintage Clothing
Necklace, around £16, Galibardy
excellent for there is little money left in what seems to be the ever depleting student bank account. For someone who enjoys a bargain and vintage fashion, this website is sure to satisfy, rarely is any one item over £10 and covers t-shirts, cardigans, dresses, scarves and much more. Although Raspberry Clothing sells jewellery at an amazingly inexpensive price, great finds can also be found at a little-known online boutique called ‘Galibardy’. Galibardy jewellery has been featured in many publications such as Elle, Look and Marie Claire. This website offers quirky and inventively designed jewellery for both men and women with a boutique section if you desire to
spend that little bit more and treat yourself to some serious statement pieces. What is great about these designs is that they are so unique in comparison to what you could find on the high street for around the same price. The designs and products are frequently updated giving the public a constant supply. These two websites provide cheap and very affordable unique style, so if you ever find yourself in want of a bargain outfit or fancy a bit of peculiar jewellery to refresh a look you already own, it might be worth having a look at what these places have to offer. Visit raspberry-clothing.co.uk and galibardy.com to look at the range.
Gift ideas: Secret Santa poppy nowicka
For a gift idea under £5 you may want to consider this burnished gold multi band ring from Freedom at Topshop. At around £5 it is a bargain and a simple yet classic statement piece that any girl is bound to appreciate. It would look great with any outfit, to wear either in the day or on a night out.
For under £10 these beautiful big statement feather earrings would be ideal, again from Freedom at Topshop at around £10. They would add a boho twist to a day outfit or perfectly glam up a simple evening look.
Envelope-style bags have been everywhere this season. Found on ASOS for around £15 you may want to consider this beautiful ontrend metallic clutch for a friend this Christmas. It’s perfect for a night out during the festive season
The Christmas Jumper (eBay, around £20) This is a trend that reappears year after year and Christmas is the best excuse to wear the most out-there piece you can find. eBay is a great place to start with reds, greens, snowmen and reindeers, even flashing lights if you’re brave enough! If you’re not, high street stores like Topman have a great selection of festive Fairisle sweaters to keep you warm.
For a gift idea under £20 this lovely black top from River Island would be perfect. At around £18 it is an absolute bargain and could be dressed up or down. With scalloped edging which is bang on trend at the moment, it is a staple for any girl’s wardrobe.
The Grandad Jumper (rokit.com around £45) The comfiest of winter warmers and an item that everyone should own. Vintage stores are packed with them at this time of year in all shapes and colours. This one from rokit.com is a great example of one that can be put with any outfit, the colour is neutral but the cable knit design adds detail, while for practicality’s sake, the chunky wool and ribbed neck and cuffs are sure to keep you warm.
Tweetbox ‘Just nearly got attacked at waterloo by a man because he thought I was wearing real fur. The dangers of a good fake.’ - @Bethan_L_Holt ‘Marc Jacobs’ entire SS12 collection has been stolen. If you see anyone thin acting suspicious in broderie anglaise, pls report #fashion’ - @JessC_M Follow Spark* fashion on Twitter: @fashspark
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
BEAUTY The real price of beauty? LUCY TOMLINSON
Hitting the news recently have been stories that a simple trip to the beauty salon could poison you. Are these speculations one step too far into the depths of health and safety? Or are salons, initially considered as places of relaxation, really the ‘death traps’ that newspapers are suggesting? Let’s take the humble wax as an example. Not the most comfortable experience, yet we all put ourselves through the momentary pain because it does make life that bit less hassle free. However, one reporter has claimed that aside from this pain, waxing can remove the upper layer of the skin leaving us susceptible to dangerous infections such as MRSA. To continue with these claims, in this same article, it is said that simply having your hair shampooed at the hairdressers in their special washbasins can result in a
stroke. Does this seem ludicrous? Apparently this occurrence even has a medical name, predictably Beauty Salon Stroke Syndrome. Evidently the extension of your neck to position yourself comfortably may constrict arteries, restricting blood circulation in the brain.
Waxing removes the upper layer of skin leaving us susceptible to dangerous infections like MRSA Finally let us turn our attention to the fish spa. The beauty treatment du jour, and undoubtedly a great way to achieve smoother skin on your feet, is currently in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Health experts have warned that using the pedicure treatment can
result in the spreading of diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV. Both are big name diseases and have undoubtedly grabbed the attention of the beauty crowd. The Health Protection Agency have warned that whilst the risk is low, it should not be ‘completely
My ‘must have’ product ELLE TUNER
After hiding my pasty pins all summer, I decided that mid November was as good a time as any to get them out (for Hugo from Made in Chelsea’s appearance at a club in town). The only problem… weeks of fresher’s antics meant very bruised knees which were magnified by the colour of my milk bottle legs. Cue my housemate Gemma with Asda’s Instant Bronzing Gel for around £3. Now I’m no expert with fake tan, in fact I was reluctant to try it having been traumatised by my last attempt (which resulted in orange streaky legs for a good week and a half) but this stuff is idiot proof!
You can see the colour instantly which makes it easier to rub in evenly and if all else fails, you can wash it straight off in the shower.
I’m no expert with fake tan The key is to exfoliate first as this prevents any patchiness, and to rub in circular motions (using a latex glove) paying particular attention to your knees, ankles and toes because the gel tends to stick to these areas. I found that if I took a cotton bud and some make up remover I could lift any darker stains, although there were hardly
The Twilight beauty saga... LILY BROWN
Not only has the Twilight saga sparked a new popularity in vampire related books and films, but the phenomenon has also made fans around the country want to emulate the styles seen in the films. Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella in the films, has become a style icon in her own right with her alternative take on the glamorous red carpet look. Natural skin and gothic hair has become the order of the day with celebrities like Jessie J and Christina Perri ditching the bronzer in favour of a more natural look.
Kristen’s quirky style is quite similar to that of her character, Bella. To create the ‘Bella’ look, try rough drying your hair after washing it to create texture and then add a few waves throughout. In the films the emphasis is on flawless skin and dark lips. To create this look apply a thin layer of foundation to hide any blemishes and then use a light highlighter to emphasise the cheekbones. Next, apply a few coats of mascara to your eyes. To complete the look, red or pink lip tints are perfect for an intense colour that lasts throughout the day. The characters also wear coloured contacts to
Beauty News EMMA WARD
excluded’ from the public’s minds when deciding whether to have the treatment. The increasing popularity and decreasing price of beauty treatments have also impacted their decision to issue a warning, as salons stand a greater risk of not following correct hygiene procedures. All of these warnings, from the three aforementioned to the dangers of getting headlice from the hairdressers, and cancer from the UV light used in manicures, are issued to those with existing health issues. This leads us to ask the question: in the eyes of health and safety, is anything safe? The answer, if we listen to the critics, would be a resounding no. I don’t know about you, but I am certainly prepared to dice with a bit of danger in pursuit of my beauty fix! However, it has made me think twice about how far you should have to go in the quest for beauty.
November is a busy month in the beauty world with the build up to Christmas. Perfume is always a big seller at this time of the year, so we were excited when we heard the news that pop icon Rihanna had put her own stamp on the world of fragrance, in the shape of Rebl’ Fleur. Insiders say that the bottle is designed on the shape of a heel, in homage to the megastar herself. Reviewers of this new scent have commended it on it’s high quality for a low price, and love the fact that it stays on the skin longer than most perfumes. In other news, don’t forget that you can still get a free NailsInc nail varnish with this month’s Glamour magazine. Readers can choose from four colours; Tate (rich red), Victoria (cherry red), Picadilly Circus (cerise) and Basil Street (toffee) and they normally retail for around £11. So go on, get down to the shops before it’s too late!
Beauty and the brows any. The result? Instantly tanned, toned thighs and killer legs! After applying, the colour warms slightly producing a gorgeous golden tan that looked amazing next to my beautifully bronzed housemates. Unlike most fake tans, the smell was bearable, the only negative being that I noticed some very faint tan marks on my white sheets the next morning (although they’re practically invisible). Overall, It was well worth the relative ease of going from practically Scandinavian to Brazilian and to top it all off, I had a lovely conversation with my new bestie Hugo. What a babe!
make their eyes look more intense, and these are available from most fancy dress shops or online. Hey, if it works for Bella...
So we’ve all heard the saying ‘big is beautiful’, and when it comes to this season’s brows this could not be any more true. Inspired by designers such as Chloe and Prada (to name a few) the ‘big brow’ has been seen all over the catwalk and appears to be the must have accessory to accompany any make-up look this season. Therefore, if you’re usually tied down to the tedious chore of plucking a rather bushy brow then this is great news for you and now it’s time for you to shine. If you’re slightly ‘thinner on top’ achieving the look yourself is just as simple; you can either, 1) wait for them to grow or 2) grab yourself a brow pencil or some brow powder and use these to fill the gaps and voila: thick, full and beautiful brows in a matter of seconds!
Remember full does not automatically mean fuzzy! When working this trend, keep all other make-up to a minimum. It’s all about keeping it simple, fresh and youthful so that the brows can do the talking. When filing, make sure to follow the natural shape of the brow in order to frame your face. The aim is to look sultry,
not scary and remember full does not automatically mean fuzzy! Brows still need to be shaped; think strong, thick and perfectly defined rather than big, bold and out of control. Messy, un-groomed eyebrows are a big ‘no no’ so make sure to keep stray hairs at bay with regular tweezing. Embrace the likes of Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn to get a look that is beautiful rather than beastly. And if you really love the look, you can make like Calvin Klein and go all out by filling in your brows a shade darker for the ultimate brave brow. So, what are you waiting for? 1, 2, 3 grow! Because after all, eyes are meant to be the windows to the soul, so make sure you dress yours with the prettiest and most on trend curtains that you can!
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Your winter health ‘survival’ kit purposes, onions help promote the healthy bacteria in the body that then fight off the nasty ones. It’s really easy to inject some onion into your diet so you don’t have any excuse not to! Other great foods for winter are pulses, packed with protein to keep you strong and healthy, cranberries and blueberries for their vitamin C goodness and squashes for all their vitamin and mineral packed and tasty flesh.
It’s getting towards the end of November. The days are short. The weather is miserable. The temperature is low, low, low! Deadlines are looming. What does that mean for us students? Cold viruses are practically guaranteed. And what do we need less right now than feeling tired, snuffly and bunged up? So here are a few top tips to remember when trying to survive the dreary winter weather.
1. Vitamin supplements Vitamin C is a godsend at this time of year. It is a massive boost to your immune system and helps keep your body fighting fit against all the nasty germs that breed in cold damp weather. Rather than eating your body weight in oranges, it is really easy to take vitamin C supplements; you can get them as tablets, chewy sweets or in effervescent form and none of them will break the bank. Alongside this Echinacea is a homeopathic remedy that is believed to also bolster the immune system. Although there is less science to back this up than vitamin C, it can’t hurt to give your body all the help it can get. While you should take this every day in the winter in order to stave
off unwanted illness, dosing up when you first start to feel rough will help too.
Rather than eating your body weight in oranges, it is really easy to take vitamin C supplements
2. Super foods
3. Stock up
While supplements are efficient, easy and quick, it is important to eat the right stuff for the season too. Onions are a great staple to have in the house in the winter. Not only are they truly versatile, adding depth of flavour to any meal, they are a bit of an unknown super food. They were used in medicine for centuries and there is some evidence that they may help prevent tumours in the colon. But more specifically for winter health
No matter how well you eat, how vitamin and mineral-ed up you are, sometimes you just can’t avoid the nasty things people spread around at this time of year. So if you are unfortunate enough to come down with something, these are your must haves. Olbas oil is an amazing thing! It is a decongestant made of entirely natural substances, including eucalyptus, juniper berry and clove oil. You can get in the form of a very pungent liquid
that, when mixed with hot water, makes the perfect vapour for unclogging your nose. When I was a kid I used to put it on a hanky and snuggle up with it when I went to bed so that I could breathe through my nose and sleep better. It is a wonderful thing – and natural too! Of course you will need tissues, tissues and more tissues if you get a cold, but do your nose a favour and get soft ones; that delicate skin does not need to be roughed up by abrasive, cheap (I know, we’re students, but take care of your poor nose!) tissues. You will also need to eat more of the above to give your body as much of a chance as possible to fight off the
4. Rest. I know this might sound impossible, with coursework deadlines looming, Christmas shopping waiting to be done, and partying always an option, but just try and get to bed early(ish) at least a few times a week. The more rest you get the better your body can heal itself and the more productive you will be when you are awake. So have no fear! Winter may be here but we are students, hear us roar! Who’s afraid of a wimpy little cold anyway..
Top 5 winter fat traps (and how to avoid them) Sarah Lienard
Cold weather and comfort food doesn’t have to mean packing on the pounds. Here’s five ‘fat traps’ and how you can avoid them, while still indulging this winter.
1. Calorific Drinks There’s nothing better than a steaming cup of hot chocolate, but make it a daily treat and your waistline won’t thank you. Try a lower fat milk, like 1% or skimmed, and save the whipped cream and marshmallows for occasional treats. If you’re feeling particularly virtuous, try black or herbal tea, both of which contain antioxidants, and are naturally low in calories.
2. Hearty Roasts It might be a balanced meal, but cook your roast the wrong way and it can be a lot less healthy than you think. Instead of red meats like
beef, pork or lamb, try choosing lean meats such as chicken, which tend to be lower in saturated fats. Cook your roast potatoes using a moderate amount of heart-healthy olive oil instead of butter or lard, and make sure to include lots of vegetables to reach your 5-a-day!
3. Indulgent Puddings Let’s face it, anything with the words ‘hot’, ‘chocolate’ and ‘fudge’ isn’t likely to be very nutritious. For a lighter alternative packed with vitamins and fibre, try sprinkling an apple with cinnamon and a pinch of brown sugar, and baking or microwaving it until soft, or make a healthier apple crumble with some stewed apples, oats, margarine, cinnamon and a little sugar.
4. Hibernating Even if you’re an exercise addict in the summer, you’re much less likely to venture outside if
you have to wear several layers of clothes just to step outside the door! Luckily there are lots of things you can do inside to make sure you keep moving, even on the chilliest day. Make a point to take the stairs instead of the lift, do sit-ups in the advert breaks while watching TV or even dance around to get your heart rate up.
5. Comfort Eating If you are someone who tends to reach for the biscuit tin when things are getting you down, it might help to try boosting your mood naturally. Studies have shown that high-fat foods boost the serotonin levels in our bodies, so try and get in some essential fats every day, such as nuts, olive oil, or oily fish like salmon. In the winter, a lack of sunshine means that our natural levels of vitamin D can drop – leading to lethargy. Even if it’s not sunny, getting outside for half an hour could give you a boost.
Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
Food A healthy
The click list twist on an old favourite: banana bread
As part of a new regular feature, Spark* readers, writers and editors list their favourite websites for lovers of all things food Rosi Hirst
The internet is a bizarre and brilliant place and contains many unusual food websites to explore, of which I would like to share a few of my favourites. Although these are perhaps not what you might expect from food-based websites, they are certainly worth looking at, either for inspiration to make your own version or merely to browse the weird and wonderful creations that are out there!
Banana bread is one of those cakes that everyone knows and loves. Although it sounds healthy (it’s got bananas in it right?) the amount of sugar and fat in a normal banana bread recipe isn’t exactly great for you. So here is a recipe that is just as tasty, but better for your body.
Ingredients: 85g/3oz wholemeal flour 115g/4oz white flour 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt ¾ tsp cinnamon 85g/3oz brown sugar 3 medium overripe bananas, mashed 2 medium eggs 75g/2.6oz margarine 1 tsp vanilla extract
ing powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat together the sugar, margarine and vanilla extract, then mash in your bananas. Beat the two eggs separately and add them to the banana mixture, mixing well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine quickly, being sure not to over-mix the batter. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf tin. Pop in the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes or until the banana bread is golden and springy to the touch, or a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
This is a site that really pushes food to its limits! The brains behind this hilarious Canadian website film themselves creating the most enormous, unhealthy, fattening meals possible, usually involving gratuitous amounts of Jack Daniels and bacon strips- and then eating them in one sitting. Among their most adventurous creations are the TurBacon Epic (a quail in a hen in a chicken in a turkey in a pig), chicken Mcnugget smoothies and candied bacon strips. Do not attempt this at home unless you don’t mind the odd meat-induced heart attack. www.epicmealtime.com
Food Porn Daily This site is not quite as dirty as it sounds, but just as tantalizing. It consists almost wholly of giant, high-definition photographs of the most gorgeous looking food you can imagine, and clicking through them for hours on in quickly be-
A taste of what Food Porn Daily offers. Image from foodporndaily.com comes unbelievably addictive. A warning though: don’t come here on an empty stomach, it will make you ravenous within seconds! www.foodporndaily.com
Pimp That Snack Just like the TV show it is named for, Pimp That Snack takes ordinary snacks and makes them bigger and better. Ever wondered what it would look like if a Jaffa cake was the size of a normal cake? This is the place to go. Handily, it also provides detailed recipes for each item in case you want to make a Crème Egg the size of a rugby ball, Jammie Dodger the size of a dustbin lid, or twofoot-long Fudge bar (complete with wrapper!) www.pimpthatsnack.com
In this offshoot of humour website The Sneeze, the titular Steve seeks out and eats the most disgusting or off-putting food he can find, usually with absolutely hysterical consequences. So if you’ve ever wondered what dog treats, fourteen-year-old cereal, breast milk or disease-infested corn (unbelievably, an actual delicacy in Mexico) taste like, then this is a must-see. www.thesneeze.com/steve-donteat-it
Got a list of favourite food blogs or sites you want to share? Email your list with a short commen-
tary on each to
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/ Gas Mark 5. Prepare a loaf tin by lining it with baking parchment and spraying with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the flours, bak-
Steve, Don’t Eat It!
health.spark@ Photographs by Sarah Leinard
An example of Epic Meal Time’s epic food. Image from metro.co.uk
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Here there be Dragons...
RPG’s have always been the crème de la crème of the gaming world (that’s role playing games to you laymen out there). Dragons, undead horrors, elves, magic and a multitude of assorted bladed weapons – to your average RPG connoisseur, these are the everyday building blocks of life. And for the past year or so, the only word that has been on the lips of these gamers is Skyrim. The follow up to the staggering landmark release that was Oblivion, Skyrim is the fifth instalment of the iconic Elder Scrolls series. When it comes to RPGs, the Elder Scrolls series is the equivalent of a royal warrant. It is a seal of assured quality – not only do you know your hard-earned forty quid is going to a game of massively superior standards compared to its competitors, but you can count on it giving you unparalleled amounts of playing time. While your average shoot-em-up or action bonanza will at best last a good ten hours or so, Skyrim offers a much-touted ‘infinite’ experience – basically, months down the line you’ll still be playing it, still finding new things to immerse yourself in, still hacking away at all manner of slimy monsters.
hands to bashing your enemies in the face with your shield. With Oblivion, there was a sense that no matter what path you chose to pursue in the in-game world, your character would ultimately end up the same: an all-powerful clone skilled in everything. With Skyrim, the sense of specialisation is far more balanced – while all paths are still open to you at any stage, you feel far more inclined to stick to just one. Other new features include powerful ‘shout’ moves, gained from killing dragons and harvesting their souls: these shouts address one of the key issues Oblivion had, being able to deal with multi-enemy combat. Previously, it was nigh on impossible to battle more than one enemy at once, now it represents an exciting, far more manageable prospect. Without a doubt though, the most appealing aspect of Skyrim is its sheer scale. You can interact with pretty much everything: travelling through the opening areas of the game you will be attacked by wolves. Kill these and you can take their skins to craft into leather armour which can then be worn. Stop off at an inn and the bartender will be happy to offer you a bed for the night (ten gold coins please), giving you a chance to chat to the locals for work and cook up a stew on the fire. Or, if
Skyrim is the fifth instalment of the iconic Elder Scrolls series Like any RPG worth its weight in gold, Skyrim’s foundations are its intuitive levelling-system. It is this experience-points based system that fuels the drive to continue playing as you plough hours and hours into improving your blacksmithing skills or concocting a new, vibrantly coloured potion. While many elements of the game system remain essentially the same as that which powered Oblivion, there are a few new tweaks; chiefly, the perk system. This will prove familiar to players of Fallout 3/New Vegas (both series share the same developer: Bethesda Studios) – with the new perk system you are given a choice of bonuses with every level-up ranging from being able to spout fire from both
RAWR!!! I am a big scary dragon!!!
you’re feeling particularly malevolently inclined, you can kill the town shopkeeper and rob everything from his store – though this will most likely end in you getting carted off for a long spell behind bars. Yes, that’s right, Skyrim even has its own justice system and politics – in short, it’s just like our own world, but full of big scary dragons and raging Norseinspired barbarians.
Powerful ‘shout’ moves add to the already succesful formula Which neatly brings us on to the look and feel of the world, surely a key part of any fantasy RPG. The truth is, Skyrim is gorgeous, completely and utterly beautiful – there are times when you’ll forget all about your quests or the goblin whose brains you’re presently battering in, because, quite simply, the visuals are so jaw-droppingly amazing. Bleak, windblasted tundra stetches away into the distance on all sides, towering mountains peeking up from the mists on the horizon. Glistening rivers blast through craggy ravines, catching the first rays of morning sunlight. Skyrim’s visuals are the kind that you want to dive head-first into, never to emerge – in comparison,
Oblivion looks blunt, profoundly second-rate; plagued by its population of rubber-faced individuals. This was another chief fault of Skyrim’s predecessor – the characters you met on your travels didn’t just look goofy, they acted goofy too – often running headfirst into boulders and getting stuck behind them. With Skyrim, the AI is given a first-class fine tuning, resulting in people that look and feel like actual human beings – as such, the overall experience is again made just that little bit more immersive. Skyrim is a thing of immense scope, of incalculable scale, and when I say the game world is huge, I mean absolutely massive. An average journey between quest locations will often take twenty minutes or so, and this represents a mere twentieth of the entire game world – and that’s before we even consider the multitude of creepy, monster-filled dungeons and caves of Skyrim’s underworld. Funnily enough, some of the best new innovations in the game come from other genres – the influence of Call of Duty (COD) on the brilliant opening sequence is clear as you are carted along in chains to an execution, before the timely intervention of a dragon allows you escape. As with COD, you feel like you’re being given the chance to play the lead role in a Hollywood action movie, leaping from one
high-octane sequence to another. With every hour of gaming, you find yourself writing your own script as new possibilities, new eventualities, occur.
Skyrim is gorgeous, completely and utterly beautiful In one particularly shocking instance I was riding my trusty horse at top-speed towards the next quest, when I unwittingly galloped over a ridge of sharp black stone. The horse trips, breaking its front legs, and I am catapulted off its back and over the edge of a cliff to my instant death. My body smashes like a rag doll against the snow-covered slopes, and I am forced to re-load an earlier saved game (loading times are thankfully now much improved from the agonisingly slow process they were in Oblivion). It’s little stories like these that become a daily occurrence in Skyrim, drawing you back again and again – you find yourself leaving behind the monotony of essay deadlines and pot noodles, to once again explore this beautiful, fantastical realm; to seek your fame and fortune in a land of heroes, dragons and magic.
Spark* Friday 25 Novemeber 2011
Blocks of fun for all Stanley Jackson
November is the month of the sequel. It’s the month of the mega money über-release. Christina Aguilera, Jonah Hill and the rapper Example were some of the many celebrities who made appearances at the launches of TES Skyrim and the mammoth Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. Games are big business, and the more they become lucrative and commercial, the greater the desire of titanic publishers such as EA and Activision to tighten their grip on the money spent on games every year. It is extremely encouraging then, that during this month where many will be playing games that have been plugged and re-plugged with enormous amounts of cash, 4million people will be happily enjoying an indie game which is a labour brimming with love. Although still in its two year Beta (Ed.’s Note - final version has just been released as of publishing), Minecraft has exploded into the limelight, with its legions of fans captured by its deceptive simplicity. The growth, in true Minecraft fashion, has been organic. With not a celebrity in sight, or boasting a T.V. ad campaign, it has been up to fans, by online forums, word of mouth, and YouTube; to preach the blocky gospel. In September 2010 there were around 14,000 Minecraft videos on YouTube, within three months there were 400,000. Minecraft is a gaming phenomenon. If you have never seen or heard of Minecraft, it is a sandbox game where the player is allowed to manipulate a randomly generated landscape, filled with cuboid blocks of dirt, sand, stone, as well as rare items of ore. All of these can be crafted together to make better objects, for example creating glass from sand, torches from coal, or mini circuits from Redstone blocks. There is no story, nor any attempt at photorealism. When you first encounter Minecraft, although immediately struck by its rapturously modest graphics, smooth feel, and endearingly cute farm animals you will undoubtedly ask yourself the question ‘What am I supposed to do?’ There are no instructions, no guides, no handy voice actor to explain that you press the spacebar to jump, no cut scenes, no character creation. Eventually you learn (by trial and error) that you can break the blocks, and then arrange them again on top of each other. So ‘What am I supposed to do?’ still reverberates around my gaming conscience, too used to
being streamlined into a story, to having objectives and goals neatly laid out and constantly referred to if I stray too far from the created path. Minecraft doesn’t suggest that you do anything, but the possibilities are endless. That epiphany is a gradual one; most players start by building a rustic dirt shelter, more out of necessity (monsters and zombies can attack you at night) than creative spark, but you soon discover you can add stone, ladders, torches, railway track, glass, pictures, until the enormity of the structures and the inexhaustible ambitiousness of potential projects becomes increasingly clear. I myself was astounded at my own ingenuity and problemsolving guile when I managed to build an underwater house for myself (and some sheep). I was impressed, and a bit proud of my achievement. Until I found out what some people had been making with this 21st century Lego. To understand the diversity and impressiveness of what ‘can be’ created, I had the chance to talk to Ian Stapleton, better known as the You Tuber SSundee, (“http://www. youtube.com/SSundee”) whose popular YouTube shows ‘Minecraft Top 5 creations of the week’ (look it up!) feature some of the best monuments, contraptions and machines made by the Minecraft community. “Every week I go through about 150-200 emails of people who have made these insane creations” says Ian, whose respondents include those who have created a working calculator to the Notre Dame Cathedral. But is it just a waste of time, as some people could justifiably assume? “You could say it’s a
waste of time to sit on the computer and make something on Minecraft, says Ian, or you could tell an artist or a sculptor its a waste of time to create a masterpiece. The things you can create in Minecraft are just mind-blowing; I have never seen anything like this in a game before. It inspires creativity, it inspires your imagination to go beyond a videogame. Ian also feels that it changes people’s attitudes to gaming, and what they want to experience when they go online. “It’s not like Call of Duty where you want this guy to do badly so that my stats will look better, you want everyone to do well so they can help, its far, far more communal, its refreshing. We’re going to see a lot more creation-based games from this. I think Minecraft shows that gamers have always had the talent to make
cool things, this game gives them a platform to show that. ” The online community is a vibrant and flourishing one. The player made mods keep the game feeling fresh and new. For example the recent Poke Mobs mod brought the original 150 Pokémon into the game world as animals you could discover, capture, name etc. Another player took this idea and created a map for Kanto, one of the islands on which Pokémon is set, from which a third player brought the two together. It is these innovations in variety that keep people playing. Even when we return to the subject of building, the game is only as big as peoples’ ideas. After building the standard castle and railway I was all done, but thankfully there are brighter and more innovative people than I, who can inspire other projects. As Stapleton alludes to, there is far more camaraderie between your average Minecraft server than other online games, for the simple fact that to succeed it helps to collaborate, without the constraints of level and gear which plagues ‘collaboration’ in dungeons in some massively multiplayer online games. This may be one of the contributing factors as to why so many teachers are looking to utilize Minecraft in the classroom. Those at http://minecraftedu.com are amongst pioneers using games technology in education. Mojang offer special copies of Minecraft tailored to engage and educate in different curriculum types, especially those with special social needs such as autism. What better way to enable children to learn how to work as part of a team and
Hours of hard work and dedication lead to incredible structures
make something cool with their friends? And what better vehicle for games in education than Minecraft? Why does it matter that people are creating things? It’s different. That’s important. Much of the reason we love gaming, our entertainment medium of choice, is because of the variety of roles it allows us to fulfill. Soldier, gangster, cop, zombie killer, footballer, knight, to name a few popular ones. Therefore when a new genre appears, which is what I feel Minecraft constitutes, we should attempt to embrace it. In particular the unstructured nature of Minecraft and its limitless possibility is an idea that should be applauded. Perhaps not everyone will like the game, or its intentions. For example it’s far less stunning or vast than the monumental Skyrim, but it is an innovation all the same. The evolution of core concepts and ideas is equally as important as graphics and game engines, and is ultimately what will bring gaming forward. To be ‘good’ at Minecraft, one needs an engineering prowess or an artistic zeal, an inquiring mind or persistent nature. Minecraft players illicit the skills above in abundance, the same skills that if written on a C.V. would be sought after dearly. So in the month where the uber releases will mean that gamers, more than usual, will be criticised for being dull, insensitive to death, perverse and stupid, to name but a few. I hope that the incredible success of Minecraft can be celebrated, and all its positive aspects, of which there are more than enough, thoroughly exploited.
30 SCIENCE&TECHNOLOGY firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Opinion: The SOPA is a thinly-veiled attempt to seize control of the Internet Mat Greenfield
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: America is considering following China’s lead and debating over new legislation that will give the US government power to block websites at will. Now before you throw out poorly researched Nineteen Eighty-Four references that would make Orwell rise from the dead just to slap you, read these words very carefully: this is not an attempt to quash free speech. At least, that’s not what this bill pertains to, but the implications of it are far-reaching and, as much as I hate to dust off a journalistic chestnut, the Orwellian censorship scenario is not impossible.
The legislation would allow the governments to block national access to sites The ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA) is ostensibly a measure being brought in to stamp out piracy, copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property. The problem is, as I will come to explain, the measures they want to implement in order to do so seem, to my computer scientist nouse, like overkill. In a nutshell, the bill extends the definition of illegal file-sharing to include sites that provide links to third-party sites that host copyrighted video, images and the like. Previously, these sites were protected on the basis that they themselves didn’t deliver the material and simply acted as a middleman between the users and the files, usually hosted on open file-sharing sites like Megaupload and Rapidshare; though this rule did not prevent the conviction of the founders of The Pirate Bay in 2009. For any of these sites in the US, a court order can be brought against them that would obligate them to cease all illegal activities. However, socalled ‘rogue sites’ that operate in other countries are, by definition, outside of US jurisdiction and thus requesting a court order would be an ineffectual (and poorly thoughtout) action. Though the US is powerless to stop these sites, the new legislation will make it possible for copyright holders to request, and give the government the power to
ensure, that all access to the site within the US be blocked through removing it from DNS servers. DNS (Domain Name System) servers contain what is essentially a list of every registered domain on the Internet. There are many DNS servers across the world that contain identical lists, and it is the first port of call for your web browser when you type in a website address as it matches the domain name you’ve entered to the IP address where the webpage itself is held. Under this new bill, websites found to be in violation of this can be removed from all American DNS listings or blocked from resolving, just as the socalled ‘Great Firewall of China’. Technically speaking, a DNS block is not a difficult thing to circumvent, but doing so requires a small degree of technical know-how (or an impressive memory for IP addresses) and would constitute a criminal offence. Unsurprisingly, this bill has the full support of a myriad of film and television groups, for whom money made from selling pieces of plastic or downloads for extortionate prices is their living. I’m certainly not trying to say that these people don’t deserve to be paid for their good work, but that’s the point: their good work. Through piracy, I discovered the early episodes of The Big Bang Theory and become an instant fan; I pirate episodes because I don’t want to wait for their episodes to be shipped over here and clunkily strapped into 4oD, but I own every available season on DVD. Similarly, through piracy I caught the first few episodes of True Blood, found it to be incredibly trite and haven’t bothered with it at all since. I, as the consumer, shouldn’t be expected to sink cold, hard cash into shows that are utter tosh just for the sake of finding that out.
upon them. This represents a lot of cost, legal concerns and work for these companies solely to protect the interests of another industry. In a letter to the US Senate and House of Representatives, companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others wrote that the bill is “a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation’s cybersecurity.” Bloggers, owners of independent websites and other Web users are understandably also opposing the bill. Video-sharing site YouTube has something of a trigger-happy attitude when it comes to claims of copyright infringement, wherein the offending video is automatically taken down until the uploader (the accused, not the accuser) has proven either legal right to the footage or show that copyrighted material has been used in conjunction with the ‘Fair Use’ clause of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. In most cases, use of copyrighted material can be justified if clips are used for the purposes of comment or criticism. Independent sites that reviews films, for example, may use clips from the source material spliced in. Though this would fall under ‘Fair Use’, if a similar ‘shoot first, ask questions
later’ attitude is adopted whenever a film studio cries wolf, it could lead to exhaustive legal battles, massive financial impact and loss of livelihood. Yet, the film studio will lose nothing from making a claim, the defendant stands to lose a great deal even if innocent. If YouTube, in order to keep the film industry lawyers at bay, will enforce a policy of ‘guilty until proven innocent’, then how can independents hope to grow or compete if this is the attitude of the governance in the Internet at large?
We cannot allow this: the line must be drawn The film and television industries persist in their failure to understand that one pirated movie does not equate to one lost sale. The Internet has introduced a system of try-beforeyou-buy, in which the consumer can see if the show or movie is actually worth investing in. In the Information Age, their business model is antiquated and should be subject to the adapt-ordie rule, but due to the amount of money this industry has, the powers that be are bending over backwards to appease it. They must realise that piracy actively
helps their industry, it encourages people to watch new shows that they may have missed on television, potentially become a fan and buy more episodes, DVDs and whatever cheap merchandising has been squeezed out of the show. What’s more, it creates competition and sets the bar higher for quality, as the show now has to sell itself to an audience with far more choice. If you want to extrapolate the idea of a Government having the power to block websites further, you inevitably face the prospect that this bill may be the first nail in the coffin of free speech on the Internet. This bill will set a precedence that says it’s fine for governments to block websites for any contrived reason when the one with the most money says it should. We cannot allow this: the line must be drawn. I’m not saying that large-scale piracy is good, and the film and television industry is well within its rights to defend itself, but petitioning the government to utilise such extreme, near-authoritarian measures that won’t solve the problem is the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to split an atom, and then using that sledgehammer to bludgeon anyone who criticises it. I, and anyone else who values free speech online, have the right to defend ourselves too.
Piracy actively helps their industry Opposed to the bill is practically every Internet company you could name. As the legislation also requires US companies to cease any advertising networks with that site (such as via Google’s Adsense program), strike them from search engines and exact what basically amounts to a traffic blockade
Above: a banner popup that many small, independent websites added to their homepage to promote opposition to this bill.
Friday 25 November 2011
In Other My experience on Internet forums News Tom Hill
Aaron Sorkin, writer of The West Wing and 2010 film The Social Network, based on the creation of social-networking site Facebook, is “strongly considering” writing a film about the life of recentely deceased Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
As Amazon attempts to bring the US tradition of ‘Black Friday’ to British shores, Apple have also announced their intention to reduce the price of the iPad and the iPod for the day. Traditionally in the States, the first Friday after Thanksgiving sees shops massively slash their prices for the day. Online eCommerce sites, such as Amazon and Apple, are continuing this tradition. Since this edition will go to print on Black Friday, you’d better get there quick before they sell out.
In a startling display of sour grapes, Microsoft’s chief strategy and research officer Craig Mundie has asserted that Windows Phone 7 has had a word recognition system just like Siri in the iPhone 4 “for over a year.” Which begs the question of why Microsoft didn’t make a bigger thing of this a year ago.
As Rooney Mara’s character said in The Social Network, “You write your snide bullsh*t from a dark room because that’s what the angry do nowadays.” Before coming to university, this is what I imagined all Internet forums to be like: places were selfdeclared experts in a particular niche bicker and argue with everyone else, simply because they don’t share the same views on any given subject. But since arriving here and starting to use them, the future looks brighter to me because of it. Though I suspect that not every forum is as friendly as the ones I have visited (and even on these, some forum threads are exactly as I described), I yet believe that forums are a force of good in the future. Firstly, I should clarify that when I talk about modern forums, I mean sites such as Reddit, Digg, Tumblr & 4chan. On these sites information is collected and shared; with people voicing their opinions on it, having conversations, sharing related information and interacting in a way not possible otherwise. The information shared could be jokes or funny pictures (lolcats, memes, XKCD comicsthe list goes on), news stories, reviews of games and films or even question and answer sessions. Through this information sharing, people can expand their horizons, learn things
about people with completely different lives to them, or news that may not have been covered in their country. It’s information crowd-sourcing in a space dedicated to one topic or other. These websites don’t just help you learn things, they let you meet new people and maintain contacts in topics of interest through posting, and even could benefit you farther afield. For example, my computer harddrive failed and a quick question posted on Reddit helped me diagnose the problem, find a cheap replacement hard-drive and even get a free Windows 7 acti-
vation key from a very friendly contact, who I had previously had an interesting discussion with about the new Batwoman comic. Though it was just a stroke of luck that I was gifted like that, good things do happen due to the truly kind people you find on the Internet (check out: reddit.com/r/Random_Acts_Of_ Pizza if you don’t believe me). Forums have been used for over a decade now to help people with problems that can be solved over the Internet, social interaction at the same time is just the next step up. Who knows, you may even learn something.
There is always the argument that you don’t know who you’re talking to, if they know enough to help you, if they’re just trying to mess with you or even just trying to sell you something. But if you look past this, you stand to benefit hugely from the potential to do anything on the Internet with the collective knowledge of the users. Go a step further and have a discussion over the latest news with someone in Canada, give your own opinion as well as listen to others. Have faith in someone you don’t know and good things can happen.
Above: A screenshot from VideoJug’s excellent ‘How to behave on an Internet Forum’
Write for Spark*, get free cake (probably) Anyone who has been paying close attention to the editions of this Science & Technology section in Spark* may (if you’ve been keeping count for some reason) have noticed that we’ve only printed one science-related article this year, and all articles have been written by the same four people: the two editors and two non-regular writers. We are always looking for new people who are interested in a diverse range of topics who can write engaging and interesting articles for us. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a great writer or your grammar offends the Nazis, it’s our job to put your ideas to print clearly and we’re happy to help. If you’re interested in writing for us, contact one of us (the editors) at the e-mail address at the top of the page or add yourself to our Facebook group at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/ scitech.spark/ and we’ll contact you through that. Cake not guaranteed.
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
travel Charming Cambodia Mlly Chick
We decided to take the, shall we say less beaten track, across the border into Cambodia; however, we were ignorant to this at the time. After eventually deciphering what we had to do to gain access to this mysterious country, (which turned out to be giving them $40 for a visa) we headed into the nearest taxi, and by taxi, I mean the back of a pickup truck. Slightly unsure of where the obliging local was taking us, we kept repeating Battenbang in the hope that we were pronouncing Lonely Planet’s first recommendation correctly. Throughout our journey, Cambodia tendered us an impression of being more deprived and less advanced than the neighbouring Thailand. This was highlighted by the sight of three people on a moped taking somebody to hospital. Thus opening my eyes to the real Asia, rather than the ‘love you long time’ party atmosphere encompassed within the Thai islands. Following a stressful taxi ride, which turned out to be a traumatic mixture of torrential rain and breaking down on the side of a cloudy cliff, we eventually arrived, relieved, in a somewhat sunny Battenbang. I was a little disappointed on arrival, as my tour book had led me to believe that the town featured many elegant buildings that remained from the French Occupation. However, the town was rather shabby and
contained a huge market area in the middle. Nevertheless, we managed to find an amazing hostel that worked out at about $2 each for the night. The inexpensive living costs continued throughout the whole country and we hired a tuk-tuk tour guide for around $10 dollars the subsequent day.
This wasn’t the ‘love you long time’ atmosphere of the Thai islands Battenbang is a town that boasts friendly locals and a warm welcoming atmosphere rather than magnificence and grandeur. Coco, our tuk-tuk driver, set in motion our tour with a visit to a nearby village’s ‘Bamboo Train’. However, the train was essentially a bamboo platform on wheels that transported grain, people, and the odd cow back and forth to a neighbouring village. Nevertheless, the locals embrace an overwhelming sense of pride in everything they accomplish and are never forgetful of their smiles. The countryside that we passed delivered some striking scenes of bright green paddy fields with mountains perched on the outskirts. The rest of the tour included some of the French buildings, an eerie disused Pepsi factory, and a shot of a very alcoholic rice wine, followed by a section of a freshly fried snake. We could not refuse the latter as
the locals were already laughing at our cowardice. We also visited a crocodile farm and Coco’s asking whether we wanted to stay for the night in order to see the dazzling eyes in the dark, became our cue to leave for supper and something to drink. Siem Reap was the next place that we journeyed upon and as we arrived at night, we thought only suitable to visit the infamous ‘Pub Street’. This, as its name suggests, is a road bursting with an array of colourful, bustling bars. After a fantastic night of cheap beer, meeting people from all over the world and a highly recommendable midnight marketplace visit, we stumbled into bed in our nearby hostel. It is 7am the following morning and we are awoken by our tour guide (that we had booked in advance) to visit the renowned Angkor Wat. Oh dear! Loathingly and still intoxicated we departed for a day of culture. What were we thinking? Conversely, this turned out to be one of the most amazing places that the world secludes. Every inch was breathtakingly beautiful and I simply cannot do the place justice with language or photographs. With the temples spanning over 400 km we only saw a few of the best. Additionally, it turns out that running around as if you are in Tomb Raider amongst the ruins and tree roots makes for a fantastic hangover cure! I cannot stress enough how amazing this country is. It embodies every-
The sunshine state Lizzie Pollington
When you are nine years old, the prospect of going to Disney World Florida is about enough to make your head explode. Of course, if you are anything like me, the prospect at 21 is still pretty damn exciting. When I first stepped foot in the sunshine state as a wide-eyed young critter I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of everything, the friendliness of Americans and the fact that I was about to go to Disney World. Everything seemed all the more magical than it ever could have done if it was back home in the UK. Since then I have been to the States many times, I must confess, I really do love it. The actual country is so astoundingly beautiful that I found it quite hard to take in sometimes. Such amazing natural wonders as the
Grand Canyon, epic Redwood trees and stinky yet mesmerising geysers are in abundance in the USA and the National Parks that have been created to preserve them are excellent; informative, accessible and entertaining don’t even scratch the surface of these places. Now let’s face facts. Florida is not known for its monumental natural appeal or gorgeous vistas. It is known for theme parks and swamps. Which is pretty fair, that is basically all you will find. But they are not to be sneered at. Oh no! With far more theme parks than you can shake the proverbial stick at, there is something for everyone. The first time I went we predictably stuck to the kiddy friendly parks; Disney, Universal, Sea World and Wet n’ Wild. We were limited by a week and my parents
patience of course. But this time round, with two whole weeks, there was so much more open to us.
Theme parks and swamps are not to be sneered at My top Florida theme park has to be Busch Gardens, with the perfect mix of animals, adrenaline rides and wet rides, you would have to be a seriously miserable bum not to enjoy it. Of course, there is no way I can discuss Florida 2011 without mentioning the H word. Oh yes, Harry Potter Land. Clearly, there was no Harry Potter Land in 1999, the films wouldn’t even come out for another two years – god that makes me feel old! But nine year
thing that you want from travelling (even if you do not know what you want). With amazing hosts, a fantastic night out, culture, and eye opening scenes that broaden your mind, you most certainly gain a tremendous perspective on life.
However, if it is beaches and parties you want then Thailand is your place and if you do tire of such bliss then I recommend a trip to Cambodia as you will be surprised at how captivating a country can be.
old me would have been in utter ecstasy if it had been. The mocked up Hogsmeade is (pardon the pun) truly magical. The fake (albeit glittery?) snow gave a sense that you may well be in the depths of Scotland, even in the middle of a Floridian summer and the shops were perfect. Although there are few rides and experiences, they have been done very, very well. The Harry Potter Experience ride is a must for any die-hard HP fan, and of course, if you leave without trying a Butterbeer there is something wrong with you. I left Harry Potter Land with far less cash then when I entered it, a carrier bag full of merchandise and a heart full of my nine year old self’s glee and joy for everything Harry Potter. I don’t think it would be fair to brand Florida with just the cheesy and over the top. If you are into
the scenery and natural glory of a destination, as I am, then the Everglades are not to be missed. They aren’t the stinky, murky marshes we assume them to be. In fact, the water is totally fresh and clear, and full of verdant green foliage. If you make it to the Everglades you are guaranteed to see a crocodile – I saw five in 10 minutes, no exaggeration. For something a little bit different again, the Florida Keys are almost impossible to define. Whilst undeniably American they have an almost Caribbean feel to them, and the hospitality there puts the theme parks to shame – trust me, that’s saying something! From the simply joy of theme parks for a nine year old, to the nostalgic emotions and appreciation for nature of a 21 year old, Florida held its own. If you haven’t already been, why not?
33 SOCIETY SPOTLIGHT
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
In this feature, Spark* shines a light on what the societies of the University of Reading have to offer This issue: The University of Reading Oxfam Society (OxSoc) collette naden
If you are interested in getting involved in a charity then the University of Reading Oxfam Society (OxSoc) is for you. When one thinks of Oxfam, images of charity shops and heart-wrenching adverts probably spring to mind. However, Oxfam is much much more than that. As their website puts it, ‘Oxfam is a vibrant global movement of passionate, dedicated people fighting poverty together’.
OxSoc is an ideal society to make a difference Oxfam campaigns for change that lasts, and through OxSoc you can become a part of that movement. OxSoc is not simply about raising money and sending it off. Raising awareness about issues is just as important as fundraising. Oxfam gives a lot back to the society by providing training and other opportunities for members. Here, OxSoc President, Coralie Frost answers some questions about the society.
What are the aims of the Oxfam Society? The Oxfam Society is a public awareness society that aims to reach out to the student population on campus and get more students to join the global movement! What does OxSoc do? Each term we have guest speakers, campaign events and meetings to make sure that the society is as knowledgeable about Oxfam in order to spread the word. We are continually gaining members, and also forming friendships with likeminded societies! As we are in the middle of Oxford and London, we are in a prime location for helping externally with campaigns - and also attending meetings! What has OxSoc been up to this term? Recently, we have had two speakers who have both spoken about Oxfam - but from two different perspectives! It is interesting how everyone gets involved in different ways, puts different energies into it and helps the causes. What has the Oxfam Society got planned? The Oxfam Society’s termly structure has three guest speakers
Fresher’s Fayre: Treasurer Josh Lambert and President Coralie Frost
plus any campaigning events that Oxfam has already going. We also have exciting events and opportunities such as campaigning at the Coldplay gig at the O2 arena, visiting Oxfam HQ in Oxford, Oxjam and visiting Oxford’s humanitarian warehouse. The speakers that have visited OxSoc so far are Richard Turner and Makmid Kamara. Richard Turner is an Oxfam GB alumni and a current SolarAid campaigner. His talk focused on ‘aid’ and the growing movement of a different approach, the ‘marketing’ of Africa. Richard has recently got back from Tanzania and Kenya working with the organisation SolarAid in places where they “sell” solar lights to communities. Many years ago, Richard and his team set up a ‘refugee camp’ on a farm in Reading. Over a weekend, participants were able to get a glimpse of what life must be like for those living in poverty and how charities such as Oxfam help. This is something that the OxSoc would be interested in doing again. Speaker Makmid Kamara comes from one of the poorest countries in the world, Sierra Leone. Makmid has worked with Oxfam GB in Sierra Leone, on advocating and campaigning to promote women’s
empowerment, to strengthen the capacity of local governments. His work in Sierra Leone also involved helping communities improve their water and sanitation facilities and promoting education for all. Makmid came to the meeting with first hand experience of poverty, social injustice and its consequences. His talk was very moving. It was interesting to get a real perspective of life in Sierra Leone, not a Hollywood interpretation such as Blood Diamond.
Oxfam gives a lot back to the society The next speaker is Boyowa Roberts who will be giving a talk on 28 November. Boyowa is the Food Security Coordinator in Nigeria, who launched the GROW campaign in the country this summer. He will discuss how Oxfam is implementing its biggest, most ambitious campaign yet. OxSoc is an ideal society to make a difference, whilst having fun and making friends in the process. Join today. I promise you won’t regret it.
OxSoc promoting the Oxfam GROW campaign in London
Further information: The Oxfam Society is free to join. Although it is free, members are still asked to sign up on the RUSU website so that the society can continue running. The next OxSoc meeting is Monday 28 November, from 6.00 - 7.00pm. Meetings are held in HUMSS G10. For further information or to join the mailing list, email Coralie at c.p.frost@student. reading.ac.uk or join the University of Reading Oxfam Society group on facebook. You can also follow OxSoc on Twitter: @ReadingOxsoc
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
Letters & Events Do you think your first year at uni should count? Should first year be a chance to experiment academically, settle into life in Reading and get everyone in your classes up to speed? Do you think if you’re paying £9000 for each year of your degree then having one that doesn’t count is just no longer acceptable? Does it annoy you that all your hard work in first year doesn’t really count for anything? Come along to RUSU’s debate on Wednesday 30th 2pm in Agriculture to hear from students, academics and the NUS president Liam Burns and have your say.
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Any praises, comments, suggestions or complaints are always welcome
Hello from the Development & Alumni Relations Office, Two weeks have passed since I wrote to you in the last edition of Spark*, and our feet have barely touched the ground in the Development & Alumni Relations Office! On Wednesday 16th November, we held a networking reception for our law alumni in London. Over 50 law graduates enjoyed catching up with one another, their old professors, and current law students at the event. Russell Ede from the Photographic Society very kindly took photos of the evening, so do take a look at some of his stunning shots on our Facebook page (search ‘University of Reading Alumni’). Once you leave the University, you can be sure that we’ll be inviting you to events like this too - we host occasions for all alumni, from various subject areas! We have also just sent out the autumn edition of Connected online– the email newsletter. In this issue, there is an article about how the University is improving mental health support for young people; a photo gallery of recent activities on campus; and some exciting news about where Read-
ing is placed in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings- to name just three of the stories! If you’d like to read the November issue, drop me an email and I’ll send you a copy: firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Facebook group where you can have a look. In the last edition I told you that our Annual Fund telephone campaign was well underway – in which 50 current students are tucked away in the Palmer building telephoning our alumni to share stories about University life and to ask them for a donation to the Annual Fund. Well, the campaign is in its fourth week now, and an amazing £140,000 has now been raised from our generous graduates. All of this will be spent on enhancing the student experience. Good luck with any coursework or exams you may have over the coming fortnight – don’t forget to join us on Twitter (@UniRdg_ Alumni) and Facebook (details above!).
Laura Garman Alumni Communications Officer
P.O. Box 230, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AZ Tel: 0118 378 4140 Vol 58. Issue
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Fun&Games Editor: Chris Ryder firstname.lastname@example.org Sport Editor:
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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 25 November 2011
fun&games Crossword 030 party that’s cut short – what a farce! (8) 20. Enemy’s dealing with unknown biological device? (6) 21. Mess with interior of empty vehicle to make it go a different way (6) 22. Almost never sold ’em off (6) 26. Work place back in Balmoral (3)
How to play anything on the piano
Actually it’s perfectly easy to play anything on the musical instrument we have come to know as the “piano”. I have been playing the instrument for some twenty-seven years now and have realized only quite recently that everything is in fact played in the same way on this marvellous contraption. The method is simple: Sit yourself in front of the piano. Then, place your right hand on the keys with the fingers spread and push down. You should immediately
ACROSS 1. Traitor (8) 5. American word for a dinner jacket (6) 9. Short sleep (3) 10. Very easily learnt (7,2,2) 11. Study extensively (8) 12. Bicycle for two people (6) 15. Ballet moves in which the dancer twirls repeatedly on one foot (10) 19. How necessary or meaningful something is (10) 23. A range of eight musical notes (6) 24. Condition in which the skin takes on a yellowish appearance (8) 25. Finishes until tomorrow (5,2,1,3) 27. Termination (3) 28. Early stage in the growth of a baby inside the womb (6) 29. Energy that keeps something moving (8)
Cryptic Clues ACROSS 1. Go and cover the snake (8) 5. Kiss on day of party while wearing this (6) 9. Look back at the rest (3) 10. Inn too tight? Loosen it up – simple! (7,2,2) 11. Find out about quarter master? (8) 12. Two letters working together? (6) 15. Letters about a game with a wheel left out that goes round (10) 19. Bring in article of religious significance (10) 23. Collection of notes and books lain across opening (6) 24. German – yes! – and with cold or other condition (8) 25. Gives up, as man does for twentyfour hours? (5,2,1,3) 27. Point at terminal (3) 28. Bore my pants off about early
stage of development (6) 29. A bit of uncertainty to get you going! (8)
DOWN 1. Singers singing notes (6) 2. Concerned with the time before meal (6) 3. Tintin’s dance? (3-3) 4. Eleventh claimant deducing a poor conclusion (10) 6. Lifts up a star, for example? (8) 7. I like eggnog regularly (3) 8. Dickens character is captivated by work and money in Great Expectations (8) 13. Charge tax (4) 14. To hold up copper could be right, or turn risky (5-3-2) 16. Wife no longer revoiced problems (8) 17. Spring time dispute (4) 18. Bad-tempered, standing outside
Dear Imogen, Last weekend I found myself once again with the same old problem I expect you’ve heard it a thousand times. It was Saturday evening. I’d had a long day working at the second job I do at the weekend to pay the
bills. On my way home I stopped at the local pub and had three pints on my own, then came home to an empty house and sat vegetating in front of the TV - alone. I was sitting watching Agatha Christie’s Poirot, which I’d recorded the previous evening, when the programme ended abruptly because my video recorder is dodgy and frequently misses off the end of prorammes. Please, Imogen - it’s been driving me mad all week - please tell me
hear the piano’s magical voice sound. Try this for a little while and don’t be afriad to use all five of your fingers. Now for the secret: take your left hand and place that on the keys too, somewhat to the left of where your right hand is pushing down the keyes with such vigour. Then, do the same with your left hand as you are with your right! Again, feel free to use all five fingers of both hands for a truly amazing sound. That’s really all there is to it. But don’t take my word for it - watch any of the masters at work and you’ll see that’s exactly what they’re doing. Good luck!
DOWN 1. Male singers (6) 2. Meal (6) 3. Music hall dance involving high kicking (3-3) 4. Disappointing result after a buildup of expectation (10) 6. New and improved versions (8) 7. One’s self-image (3) 8. Positive outlook on the future (8) 13. Tax on certain imported items (4) 14. Descriptive of an uncertain situation (5-3-2) 16. Woman who was previously married (8) 17. Expectorated (4) 18. Ridiculous mockery of the real thing (8) 20. Type of protein used by the body to aid in chemical reactions (6) 21. Distract attention from (6) 22. Rarely (6) 26. Room for conducting experiments
Dear Great Aunt Imogen... With Adelaide Featherstonehaugh still on holiday in Mauritus, it falls once again on Imogen Colquhoun to provide a meaningless gap-filler to someone’s serious problem.
Joanna Pluckter the piano
that you saw it too and know who the murderer was! Thanks, Ben Dear Ben, I didn’t watch all of it, but I did catch part in the middle, and I reckon it was definitely that bloke with the fedora. Hope that helps, Imogen
Answers to last edition’s puzzles (Friday 11 November 2011)
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
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Spark* Friday 25 November 2011
SPORT Successive wins give England Euro hope England Spain
England don’t often go into home games as the rank outsiders, but this was certainly the case as they entertained Spain, the reigning world and European champions, at Wembley. With the 2012 European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine on the horizon, both teams were looking to kick start their preparation with a win. Fabio Capello was experimental with his starting line-up, selecting the centre-back pairing of Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka and handing Phil Jones only his second cap in midfield alongside Scott Parker and Frank Lampard.
The match itself wasn’t much of a spectacle, a fairly drab affair in which the two goalkeepers were rarely tested.
A tight, no-thrills display was enough to claim a 1-0 victory This suited England though and a tight, no-thrills display was enough to claim a 1-0 victory. Any team that keeps a clean sheet against Spain will have defended well by default, with Jagielka and Lescott both staking their claim for a regular place in the side. As impressive as the defensive display was however, there was one player who stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Scott Parker put on an absolute master class performance in his holding midfield role, almost single-handedly nullifying his Spanish counterparts. At 31 years of age, many football fans would have thought that they’d seen the best of Parker, but his form is now peaking at an ideal time for both club and country. His determination to win the ball and limitless energy in closing down his opponents was instrumental in England’s victory and he was deservedly named man of the match as a result. The £5.5 million transfer that saw him move to Tottenham Hotspur from West Ham United in August is already looking like the signing of the season. The England goal came in the 49th minute when James Milner’s in-swinging free-kick from the
Tap In: Lampard was left with the easiest of finishes against Spain, for his 23rd international goal
Frank Lampard’s conduct in his post match interview after the win against Spain was as exemplary as his performance on the pitch. He warned that England would not get carried away with the win against the world champions, that were they to lose against Sweden then all their hard work in that victory would be forgotten. England didn’t get carried away, and they didn’t lose; better than that they dispelled a 43 year period in which the Three Lions had not beaten the Swedes. Whilst it was a typical friendly game lacking atmosphere and thrill, England were again defensively strong. They restricted Sweden to few shots; Hart and Carson’s greatest tests were a corner that nearly bent in, and a wayward cross that
looked like dipping under Carson’s bar. Capello further experimented with some of his younger players; Kyle Walker and Jack Rodwell were handed starts, and the Italian kept his faith in Phil Jones’ ability in midfield.
England dispelled a 43 year period in which the Three Lions had not beaten the Swedes Each defensively minded, Gareth Barry, one of England’s more experienced players, stayed deep, giving licence to Rodwell and Jones to make use of their speed and skill in more advanced roles. Despite this it was Barry who all but scored England’s 2000th goal that ultimately secured the win, but it was the two younger midfielders that really shone. The youth Capello injected into the side were full of attacking
left was met well by Darren Bent whose header beat Iker Casillas only to rebound off the post for Lampard to head into an empty net.
Any victory against the world’s best team has got to be positive Spain responded quickly with David Villa rounding Joe Hart only to hit the side-netting. Danny Welbeck and Jack Rodwell combined well for England’s best move of the half, with the visitors showing their frustration in picking up two bookings in as many minutes. A cagey last twenty minutes saw almost constant pressure from
Spain, but England did just enough to see the game out. The result will have come as quite a shock to many, but given the overall nature of England’s performance it is unlikely that the mood surrounding England’s chances at the European Championships will have changed much, if at all. However, any victory against the world’s best team has got to be a positive one especially without the super talented likes of Rooney, Gerrard and Terry; no matter how committed the Spaniards were to the cause. Capello will know that this England team can play much better and, in Scott Parker, he has a player that is ready and willing to take on Europe’s best which could prove a most valuable asset next June.
Young talents: Jack Rodwell and Phil Jones are impressive, encouraging prospects for England
flair; and it was through them that many of England’s chances came. An explosive, surging run by Phil Jones, capitalising on some sloppy Swedish play meant the 19 year old almost notched his first goal for the senior side, but his outside boot finish was just inches wide. Shortly afterwards, Rodwell was wasteful in front of goal. He headed against the post, but displayed fantastic strength and positioning the make the chance such a good one. Other notable efforts by the Everton midfielder were a blocked volley from a Zamora knockdown, and a truly instinctive strike, where facing away from goal, the 20 year old was able to direct the ball on target; both shots winning corners. The real performer however, in this starting trio of youthful exuberance was Tottenham Hotspurs’ Kyle Walker. Going forward, Walker’s pace proved impossible for opposing
defenders to deal with, and defensively this weapon meant that on the odd occasion that he was out of position, he was able to quickly recover. Man of the Match was deserved recognition of a player that staked his claim for a place in the 23 man squad in commendable fashion. Zamora was yet another player Capello wanted to experiment with. It would be unfair to say he didn’t play well; he won fouls, held the ball up, and brought midfielders into the game, whilst still getting himself opportunities in front of goal. The Fulham striker gave a good account of himself, but lacked the creative genius of Rooney, was not finishing as clinically as Bent and he doesn’t possess the pace of either Wellbeck or Sturridge. Despite playing well, with only one friendly left until Capello names his final 23 players, Zamora hasn’t shown that he offers anything to the squad that isn’t much
more effectively available elsewhere.
England have signed off 2011 with a win, remaining unbeaten throughout the year England have signed off 2011 with a remarkable win, remaining unbeaten throughout the year; all this with frequently alternating line ups. This is a very encouraging set of results indeed; but the most reassuring thing of all is that England are certainly not resting on their laurels. They know there is still a lot to do before the finals in Poland and Ukraine, and it is this refreshing sense of realism from within the England camp, that gives us the belief that they will continue to improve as a team all the way up until Euro 2012.
Friday 25 November 2011
Reading University Knights Reading University Pool and Snooker Society Chris Porter
The University Pool and Snooker Society has started the 2011-12 academic year in spectacular fashion. All three competitive teams remain unbeaten at the time of writing and our newly formed football side that plays in the intramural setup is also yet to lose. We have only played one game of football, a 6-5 thriller against Mackinder, but a bunch of pool players, unbeaten at an outdoor physical activity – we’ll cling to it while it lasts (it won’t). The Monday Pool team play their home fixtures at Mojo’s in the Student Union, but kicked off their season with a 7-3 win ‘on the road’ at The Horncastle on 31 October. The Wednesday first and second Pool teams went very different ways about winning their first matches on 19 October at the home of the Pool and Snooker Society, Cremyll Road Riley’s.
All three competitive teams remain unbeaten at the time of writing The first team nearly choked on a 5-1 lead (matches are best of 11) before eventually scraping over the line, whilst the second team thought it would be a great idea to play complete garbage and fall 4-1 adrift in record-breaking time, before stabilising and then winning the last two frames to take it 6-5. However, these early season results, tables and statistics aren’t desperately important to us. Our true measure of success is the health of society in a wider sense. Even more Freshers than in recent years have joined the society this term, which is obviously very
encouraging, and our first social of the term has been and gone successfully. Our attention now turns to the coming months, with two tours, more socials and a couple of new initiatives to look forward to. A key date on the calendar is an American 9-ball event in Liverpool over the last weekend in November. We are historically hopeless at this form of pool, so we just get hammered once we are knocked out and have a whale of a time in Liverpool City Centre.
Our attention now turns to the coming months Back in Reading, we plan on holding another social during week seven or eight of this term, before turning our attention slightly more seriously towards an English 8-ball tournament in Great Yarmouth in February, where we expect to do reasonably well. As alluded to above, the Autumn term sees the Reading University Pool and Snooker Society (RUPS) launching a couple of new events to look out for, whether or not becoming a full part of the society is for you. Posters should be springing up across campus to point you in the direction of the Committee Challenge on selected Mondays at 8pm at Mojo’s. Basically, if you can beat three of our committee members back-to-back, you win a pitcher of your choice. Entry is £1; win your money back if you win the first two but fall at the final hurdle. Committee representatives will be selected at random, and with our ability levels ranging from Ronnie O’Sullivan to Ronnie Corbett, you’ll never have a better
chance to win a jug of Mojo’s finest multicoloured liquid courage! The second event, also Mondays at Mojo’s, is an inter-hall pool tournament. The format and rules have been passed on to all Hall Sport Reps, with further posters strewn across the university. Prizes are up for grabs, so look out for your opportunity to be a part of it.
At the RUPS, we happily acknowledge that winning isn’t the be all and end all At the RUPS, we happily acknowledge that winning isn’t the be all and end all. Yes, there are teams that provide the platform for those who like the competitive side of the sport, but the society is about bringing together people who enjoy a social game and a pint, with no pressure or expectations, unless you do choose to be part of the match teams on Monday or Wednesday evenings. We play socially as a society every Wednesday from 2:30pm until approximately 6pm at the aforementioned Cremyll Road Riley’s, which has English Pool, American Pool and Snooker tables available for our use. If you want to come along, please feel free to get in touch via Facebook (search: Reading University Pool and Snooker) or email rups@ live.co.uk and we will help you get involved in any way possible that suits you. Keep your eyes peeled throughout the year for regular updates, results and reports on the general progress of the Pool and Snooker Society in Spark* and across campus.
Knights Squash Nyall Driscoll
All the boys improved drastically from their poor performances against UCL last week. Nyall Driscoll managed to keep his focus this week and won 3-0.
All the boys improved drastically from their poor performances against UCL last week Ed Hopkins played a very tricky player who was apparently injured
but was still flying around the court. Mind games were clearly at work. Ed played well, keeping the ball tight and eventually forced his opponent into making too many errors through his lack of fitness. Ed won 3-1. Fraiser Richards also improved drastically from last week’s performance. His opponent was also very tricky and gave Fraiser some problems, but a few huge rallies in a row in the fourth game and his opponent pretty much collapsed. Fraiser took the next five points on the bounce to win 3-1.
Henry Withrington played less than brilliantly but still managed a good win. His match result was 3-1.
His opponent was also very tricky Ed Howkins was also solid at 5. He cruised home to a quick 3-0 victory after playing some really very clever squash. He was also helped in that as his opponent was possibly the slowest person at changing direction I have ever seen.
An update from RUKA Asa Burnett
The third round of the London College’s cross country league took place at Wimbledon Common this week. Set against a scenic back drop in cold but dry conditions, the course promised to be a stiff test for all, with steep uphill sections in the latter stages of the 2.9 mile loop. The RUKA team took on the challenge with enthusiasm and, keen to show the benefits of the hard miles in training, produced an excellent set of results. The men’s team had its strongest result of the season so far, placing as the 11th ranked team. A steady early tempo proved fruitful as Asa Burnett (32nd), David Kirk (37th) and Graham Hewett (45th) led the team home. Mantsane Onkarabile of note showed strong progress from the previous round, climbing up to 54th. The women’s team also showed improvement, moving up one place in the team rankings to 16th with Toni Bamford (39th), Becky Cromie (45th), Charlotte Morrison (51st) and Nicky Park (52nd) producing a consistent performance on the demanding course. Special mentions must go to David Kirk for his appearance
not convincing the woman at the bar that he’s over 18, and lastly to Laurence Stech, for demolishing two dinners and being caught napping, quite literally on the journey home Also a quick note about the Reading Half Marathon. Anyone can run it, whether you’re a fitness freak or a first time runner. You just need commitment and determination. Running 13.1 miles is a fantastic personal achievement. You’ll also raise money (with no minimum amount required). Reading University Knights Athletics (RUKA) are supporting a very worthy local charity, Launchpad, which helps some of Reading’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people to turn their lives around, so you’ll be giving back to the community too. The race is on Sunday 1 April 2012 so you have plenty of time to prepare for it. We start training for it in January. RUKA provide specialist training for the run so you’re prepared for the day. For more details on running the Reading Half Marathon with RUKA, email ruathletics@ hotmail.co.uk asap because places are going fast!
Reading Knights Canoe Club Darryl Dilley
Sunday November 20th and the Knights Canoe Club brave the fog to get back onto the water, this time at the Nene Whitewater Centre in Northampton. With a little help from it’s friends, this was the perfect time to get some coaching and really develop those whitewater skills and have a great Sunday out. A great turn-out of over 40 paddlers took to the water throwing themselves down waterfalls and surfing small waves on the tricky course. Unlike regular trips we paddled the same features over
and over until we had it perfected… almost. Despite the cold and a few swims everybody had a great time on the water. The trip wouldn’t be a canoe club trip without a trip to the pub to end the evening, so a few hours spent in the Cotton Club relaxing our tired muscles.
Remember, the club paddles three times a week and we always welcome a fresh face. For more information on getting involved find “RKCC - Reading Knights Canoe Club” on Facebook, go via the website at RUCC.CO.UK or email us email@example.com.
Spark* Friday 25th November 2011
Reading Knights Jitsu return with bragging rights Adam Hartley
On 12 and 13 November, Reading Knights Jitsu competed in their annual BUCS competition at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. Although the events primarily focus is the competition, the two days were split in half. The first half is a training session taught by instructors from across the UK and the second half was purely competition. This year saw special guests and instructors from outside the UK, such as Jitsu South Africa and Jitsu Canada. We travelled down on the Friday (11th) and we called it an early night in preparation for the fierce battle we all faced the next day. Day one started bright and early at 7am and it was my responsibility to drag everyone out of bed (trust me it isn’t a great job trying to wake martial artists up, we’re actually quite lazy). At 9am we arrived at Ponds Forge ready to get our game on, and the sight of over a thousand other competitors set our new members a little on edge, but a quick game plan chat given by myself just before the
course on the first half of the day started seemed to work.
In the dojo we might try to harm each other but we do it to protect ourselves Lunch; time to run and get food in time to compete and not throw up skill is needed to judge how much food you need against how much time you have left to digest it. Some people at the competition got it wrong but none of us did which was a relief. So, details of the day one competition. Six of us entered, two of us entered the finals, but no medals. However, I would like to make special mention to the fact that each group had at least 40 people in it and there was approximately four groups in a category. So in comparison, one person is competing against 160 odd people, so I think we can let off the slack a little right?
Wrong. One of our lower grades and myself got into the finals! That’s at least 8/160 and what do we think about that? It’s not good enough! However that’s where day one ended. Day two started with a huge talk by myself stating the usual stuff like victory, annihilation and domination of the other thousand students there (I joke, I joke. It was more like go own them and bring back gold but make sure you have fun). The day two course went well with a lot of high level teaching and again the rush and bundle of lunch set in. Competition day two was when the stress levels rose for me. It was time for me to stop organising and making sure everyone else was alright and in the right area. Now it was time to worry about the other people in my finals competition. I was told our other finalist competed hard and valiantly but came seventh. The only chance of getting some glory for RUSU or some BUCS points for Reading Knights Jitsu rested with me but I failed to come fourth, which
The Jitsu team happy with their performance is out of the scoring zone for this competition. Our hunt for medals and eternal glory ended in failure however in the scope of what we were up against, we gave them all a good beating on our way. We all met old friends, made new ones and that’s the ethos of Jitsu. In the dojo we might try to harm each other, but
we do it to protect ourselves and as such create a bond which can span beyond international borders. If you want to find out more about us as a club go to https:// www.facebook.com/ReadingKnightsJitsu and maybe we’ll see you soon. Don’t forget, if you are a student you get a free first session with us.
Hockey match report: Reading beat Worcester on penalties
Football match report: 4th team surge up table
Worcester 2 Reading 1st XI 2 (Harries, Billings)
Reading traveled to Worcester for frustratingly late start of 4 o’clock, having battled a one way system in the centre of Worcester, Reading arrived in high spirits hoping for a long cup run. Following a good warm up Reading began the game sloppily, giving the ball away frequently at the back, inviting pressure from the hosts. From the start there were signs this could be an ill tempered game, with frustration building over from poor tackles and inconsistent umpiring, the umpires made it clear that they would not take any dissent. Reading have been working on the forwards movement and combining it with quick passing hockey, this was exactly how the first goal was created, with Tom Harries finishing a beautiful passing move down the right. At this point Reading needed to take control of the game, however, more sloppy defending led to Reading giving the ball away on their 23m line, this time Worcester punished to level at one each, which was how it stayed until half time.
By the start of the second half, a large partisan crowd had amassed, which acted to spur on both teams, throughout the second half Reading controlled the game but failed to lack the composure in front of goal to take the lead. With 12 minutes to go, the home side won a soft penalty corner and the flicker managed to send the Reading keeper the wrong way to take the lead. Conceding the goal prompted Reading to go to three at the back and throw men forwards, more chances were created but they were unfortunate not to score. Worcester, relied on their aerial to escape danger, however, it just invited the pressure back on from Reading.
Sam Rayner had a flick for the win which he finished with great aplomb With less than a minute to go Sam Rayner found himself in space on the right and proceded to drill a 30 yard pass into the D, where Tom Billings managed to divert the ball into the goal, an incredible piece of skill and Reading were jubilant.
The final whistle blew and the game would be taken to golden goal extra time. Reading were definitely in the ascendancy with momentum and decided that they would go for the win in extra time, Worcester on the other hand seemed content to take the game to penalties.
Reading progressed through to the next round Reading had chances and the Worcester keeper made a pair of fine saves, but ultimately it went to flicks, Reading’s extra fitness showed throughout extra time. No doubt coach Elliot would have been pleased. Owen and Adams scored Reading’s first two flicks and were matched by Worcester, before Masters unfortunately had his attempt saved. But then Worcester missed the target with their next stroke, Jellings dispatched his and the fourth Worcester flicker managed to hit both posts without the ball going in. Sam Rayner had a flick for the win which he finished with great aplomb. Reading progressed through to the next round, but should have done more comfortably than they did.
Guildford, College of Law 1 After three weeks without a game, the Reading 4th team showed no signs of rustiness with a more than convincing win against the College of Law, Guildford, albeit after a shaky start. In the first minute, new goalkeeper Will Carlisle’s mistake gave the opposition an empty net to pass into and an early lead. From this moment on Reading dominated the first half. The first goal of the comeback came from a 35-yard free kick from Simon Griffiths that the keeper could only parry in to the path of Chris Page to equalise for Reading. The second goal came from some good play by Reading on the right by Dave Lynch and Sam Wheeler as they supplied Jamie Thomas, who caused problems all game for the Guildford defence, exquisitely rifling his shot past the keeper. Reading were playing confidently, showing excellent composure on the ball. Martin Butcher and Pat Cannon were the anchors of this, distributing the ball well to both wingers, Harry Pople and David Lynch who
had support from the non-stop running full backs Tom O’Hagan and Sam Wheeler. The third goal has to go down as a moment of brilliance. Griffiths picked the ball up just inside the opposition half, dribbled past three players before chipping the ball from 20 yards into the far top corner to leave the keeper in no mans land; a special goal. The fourth goal came after Pople broke through the defence and supplied a sublime cross into the corridor of uncertainty for Griffifths to finish from six yards. Half time and the game was all but over with Reading leading 4-1. Guildford made a tactical switch at the start of the second half in an attempt to try and keep some pride. With their comfortable lead, Reading took their foot off the gas yet still created a handful of chances with Pople the main source of creation. Substitute Matt Stott completed a five-star Reading performance with a late goal. A resounding 5-1 victory for Reading that must give them great confidence for the season ahead. Reading followed up there victory with a 1-1 draw away at league champions Southampton, a result that puts Reading in the driving seat to win the league.
Friday 25 November 2011 Spark*
SPORT Inside Immortals live up to their name as Knights struggle to break through
Last Sunday saw the Reading Knights American Football team hit another barrier on their road to the play-offs as the Imperial Immortals’ assaults left the Knights with a 27–6 defeat. The Immortals, who currently reside at the top of the league with three wins and zero losses, played exceptionally well; their defence pushed back the Knights at many crucial moments in the game, while their offence consistently punished errors in the Knights defence. While the Knights pushed into the red zone many times, their efforts came up short against the highly talented Immortals, only managing to break through once with a pass to ace receiver Alex Hughes.
The team and their coaches are proud that they could bring their best efforts to the field
Despite the loss, the team and their coaches remain proud in that they could bring their best efforts to the field, not giving up until the very end. The common theme in the Knights losses of small mistakes being made at crucial moments remains, but no one can deny that in every game the Knights have approached the pitch with both the right attitude and the sportsmanship expected of a top team. While many commentators predicted victory for the Knights, the team failed to deliver and added
another loss to their season record, which currently stands at one win and two losses. Their first game of the season against Solent set up the Knights as a strong contender in the Thames Valley Conference, showing masses of potential on both offence and defence resulting in a win of 44-7. Quarter Back Edward Hopkins passed for 114 yards with a 73.3% completion rate, but even more impressively rushed for 133 yards earning 4 touchdowns.
The Knights had the right attitude and the sportsmanship expected of a top team Alex Hughes, who played as both Running Back and Wide Receiver in the game, ran an amazing 71yard kick-off return touchdown on the first play of the second half, then followed it up with a second
touchdown when he returned to the field after the Defence had forced the Solent Offence to a 4th down, forcing a fumble and recovery by Solent just 14 yards from the Touchdown, passing play to the Reading. Receiver Tom Powell completed a pass for a gain of 47 yards before being taken down by two of Solents’ players, unfortunately breaking his collar bone in the process. The team looks forward to his return in the spring term where he will once more prove himself a valuable asset to the team. After the victory against Solent a loss against the Southampton Stags at 27 – 6 in week two cast a shadow over their initially bright start. The result doesn’t show just how close the game was, Head Coach of The Knights Christopher Hartley commented that he was “gutted by the result against the Stags” and that “we played hard and were able to match them for
In action: The Knights defence line up against the Stags
most of the game. There were a lot of little mistakes that we need to stop if we’re going to beat the bigger teams.” These little mistakes seem to have plagued the Knights in their game against the Immortals, where once again the score doesn’t reflect on how well matched the teams were. The Stags were first to score with an early touchdown in the first quarter, but the Knights hit back hard with one of their own in the second by Alex Hughes. Henry Miller led the Knights defence, which for the most part worked well at locking out many of the Stags pass plays. The Stags eventually broke through with some impressive efforts from receiver Andrew Halteh and running back Tristan Demuth. The third quarter also saw Adam Adeniran of the Stags make a touchdown on a punt return, running 47 yards to achieve it. While the game against the Imperial Immortals has placed a burden of two consecutive losses on the team, the Knights are entering the next week feeling renewed. Regardless of winning or losing, they will enter training with just one aim; beating the Worcester Royals this weekend. While it’s just a friendly game between the two sides the Knights will be looking for a win and they’ve proved their more than capable of achieving one. The team can be followed on Facebook under the group ‘Reading Knights’ and will always welcome new members. Feel free to contact us on Facebook or come along to watch a match and show your support.
Reading University Knights Netball match report Reading 2nd V Queen Mary 1st Amelia Burrows
The game didn’t get off to a great start, with Reading losing the first centre and Queen Mary converted it into a goal straight away, then again at their centre pass it went straight into the D, Queen Mary scoring. Reading were rushing, fumbling and not playing netball the way we have done in the last couple of games. Queen Mary were a good side but there was no real reason why Reading lost the match, the final score does not reflect how well
Reading played and how hard we fought to try and win the game back.
The score is no real reflection on how well Reading played However by the end of the 1st quarter the score was 12-4, in the break Abbie told the girls to wake up and that we can pull it back if we put our minds to it. The second quarter was much better, Queen Mary kept pulling further ahead but Reading kept it together and were really testing Queen Mary and putting them un-
der a lot of pressure forcing them to make mistakes. As a team Reading made many interceptions and vital tips which interrupted the flow of the oppositions game. The number of turnovers achieved from interceptions was a lot higher than other games this season. The second quarter ended up 9-21. The third quarter didn’t go very well, Reading only managed to score two goals however did manage to stop Queen Mary scoring as many as they had done in the two previous quarters leaving the score 11-29. In the last quarter Queen Mary turned on their game and scored
a whopping 12 goals with the final score 14-41.
Reading still need to work on using the whole court The score is no real reflection of how well Reading played and how much pressure they put on Queen Mary. The attack worked the ball in and around the D much better, the movement in the circle got better as the game went on as the defence were very tall although Reading were unable to use their usual tactic of overhead balls to get the ball to the shooters.
Reading still need to work on using the whole court to their advantage and feeling confident with strong, hard, long passes to create more space and to open up the play. Reading also need to put some work into not giving away so many penalties and also using the set plays we have practiced in training and incorporating them into a game. The really disappointing thing about this match is that the score does not match the way the game went and doesn’t truly show how hard the girls worked and how good a level of netball Reading were truly playing at many poimts in the match.