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Friday 28.09.12 Volume 61


Olympian opens new halls What’s

inside? Interview


Jonty Clarke and Sir David Bell. Photo from Kate Delaney

The University of Reading has added another new set of student homes to its Whiteknights Campus. On 4 September, Vice Chancellor Sir David Bell formally opened the new Childs Hall and Stenton Townhouses. He was accompanied by ex-Childs Hall’s very own celebrity, Jonty Clarke, a member of Team GB’s Olympic men’s hockey team. The Vice-Chancellor commented “While it is the challenging academic standards and excellence in teaching at Reading that first grabs the interest of our future students, we know that providing facilities appropriate to our worldclass standing and international reputation is also hugely important”. Sir David reminded us of the importance of a “high quality student experience” particularly with the increase in tuition fees. The new additions to Reading student accommodation are replacing

the outdated Childs Hall which has been in use since the 1960s. New Childs Hall holds 594 student bedrooms and the 25 Stenton Townhouses contain 12 bedrooms each over three floors and include a communal living area.

We know that providing facilities approapriate to our world-class standing is important Third year Chemistry student, Gagan Singh, has chosen to live in a Stenton Townhouse over the other halls. He told Spark* “I chose to live there because when I saw the accommodation being built they looked fantastic” he added “I’m looking forward to living there since they are brand new they will be really clean and modern”. Students living in the £30 million project will have Park Eat and

The new accommodation has proved a hit. Photo from Park Lounge nearby but are fully equipped with self-catering facilities. The halls are also located near the main academic buildings in the centre of Whiteknights campus.

“I’m looking forward to living there” Tasha Jones will also be moving in to a Stenton Townhouse this com-

ing year. She told Spark* “I wanted the townhouses because I like the way they are set up like a proper house with communal living space unlike most other halls”. The Townhouse study bedrooms boast four foot wide beds and plenty of storage space including under the bed. Jonty Clarke represented Great Britain at this summer’s Olympic games. The Team GB mens’ hockey team came fourth overall.

University wins silverware at Royal Berkshire Show Zoe Crook

The University of Reading shone at the 2012 Royal Berkshire Show. The University achieved two awards at the show, which promotes agriculture and education. The annual event focuses on improving horticulture, agriculture, forestry and rural crafts and

skills, as well as educating the public on the same subjects. This year’s show focused dominantly on dairy practices and produce.The University achieved first prize in both, the best large trade stand, and best local trade stand. Utilising activities and sharing home grown food, the stalls stood out amongst the rest. Cont. page 3

NUS claim London MET students victory Sophie Elliott

Last Friday the NUS claimed victory in the on-going dispute concerning London Metropolitan University’s international students. Welcoming the UK Border Border Agency’s ‘decision to allow London Met Students to complete their course or continue to study up until the end of the academic year (2012/13), whichever is sooner’. Liam Burns, NUS President said: “We are delighted that as a result

of our third party intervention, interim relief has been granted by the High Court to current international students who have been unfairly affected by UKBA’s decision.” “It is welcome that UKBA are now complying with the Court’s ruling and guaranteeing protection of the position of international students at London Met for the duration of their courses and the coming academic year, whichever is sooner.”

Deputy ViceChancellor Prof. Tony Downes on Reading in Malaysia

“These students came to London in good faith and had already spent tens of thousands of pounds on their education, before having the rug pulled from under their feet.” UKBA had previously announced it would serve notices to all international students at London Met on Monday 1 October 2012, giving notice of only 60 days leave to remain in the UK. The NUS have been campaigning heavily on this issue since the original decision was announced and it was a topic of debate at the

recent NUS and Amnesty International Media Summit, at which Liam Burns was a speaker. However, the issue is far from resolved. Commenting on future challenges, Liam Burns said: “The future for international students at London Met after July 2013 is still uncertain and we need clarity as soon as possible.” “This whole ugly episode has also thrown up wider questions about the treatment of international students in this country.”



Summer film reviews



Food swap

Travel ‘Staycations’


2 News

Friday 28 September 2012  Spark*

Reading strikes gold RUSU and University reveal new Zoe Crook

Not only was the London 2012 Olympics a great success for Great Britain, the University of Reading also shone. What is hailed as the greatest GB team ever featured nine students of the University of Reading, who together won two gold, as well as a pair of bronze medals. The Reading squad members comprised of eight rowers, the most athletes ever to compete in an Olympic Games from Reading University Boat Club (RUBC), and one hockey player. The RUBC members included seven graduates, and one current PhD student, Anna Watkins, currently studying Maths. Anna Watkins and her teammate, Katherine Grainger went on to win gold in the women’s double skulls. After her win, she confessed, “at the end of the day, silver would never have been good enough,” following her disappointment at only receiving a bronze at Beijing. Maintaining the lead from the start of the race, graduate Alex Gregory and his fellow rowers dominated the final of the men’s coxless four, leading them straight to victory. Watkins was evidently not the only one to feel the pressures of striking gold, as Gregory also admitted, “The morning before the race I was feeling the pressure, and we really has to win in that boat.”

Bronze medallists Ric Egington and Alex Partridge formed a quarter of the men’s eight rowing crew. Despite their lead for much of the race, their position slipped in the final meters, leaving the squad with bronze. Although Partridge settled for bronze, he would have undoubtedly been proud to step upon the podium on home soil, as he shared, “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for any British athlete. The Olympics is every four years, but we won’t have another home games for another 50/60 years, so it’s a really special experience that I will treasure.” The Director of Rowing at the University, Will Rand, stated, “I would like to thank the University for its unwavering support.” Reading graduates did not only make their way onto the screen in the Olympics through sport, but previous Olympic athletes James Cracknell, Garry Herbert, and honorary graduate, Sir Steven Redgrave joined the commentary team. Redgrave also carried the flame into the stadium, at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, on the final leg of its journey. As four Reading students took to the podium, there are high hopes for the future of RUBC, which boasts world class training facilities. The club will have a stand at the Fresher’s Fayre.

See page four for a feature on Reading’s medallists.

Reading student charter Calum Mcintyre Rogers

Earlier this week, the official Reading University Student Charter was unveiled on the University website. The charter was a collaborative effort between Reading University staff and RUSU, having been a campaign promise of exPresident Karl Hobley in 2011. We are informed by RUSU that between 60 and 70 students were consulted during the creation of the document. The aim of the project was to provide a “strong document” which would explain the relation-

ship and obligations of staff and students.

The charter was a campaign promise of Karl Hobley in 2011 However, the charter is not a legally binding document - a student cannot refer to the charter when making a formal complaint against the University. Despite this, RUSU President James Fletcher insisted that the charter was nonetheless strong and aspirational,

as it sets out guidelines on staff giving timely and constructive feedback to studens - something he says other student charters lack. The Charter will be made official on October 10, when it will be signed by James Fletcher and University Vice Chancellor Sir Davidl Bell. The President informed us directly that he will talk to students about their satisfaction with the charter. New students will also be given copies of the charter alongside their campus cards. You can view the full charter below.

The Reading University Student Charter verbatim


Staff and students have worked together to develop this charter that clearly sets out what we all expect of each other. It recognises the importance of an effective partnership commitment, in which the University and its staff have professional obligations but where students are also responsible for themselves as learners and as individuals.

Students expect the University:

To provide an excellent and varied learning experience; To deliver degrees with relevant content informed by the latest research; To provide access to learning resources and facilities that allow you to excel; To offer opportunities to gain knowledge and skills useful for life beyond University; To support students’ professional development and access to career information, advice and guidance; To provide a broad range of social, cultural, sporting and co-curricular activities; To facilitate opportunities to express views which are considered and responded to.

Alumni fund helps students Students expect staff: Becki McKinlay

Last year, graduates of the University pledged over £527,000 to the Annual Fund in order to support current students at Reading. The Annual Fund was established in 2004 to enable the University to receive donations from alumni, staff and friends. To date, £3.2 million has been raised from over 6,000 donors – and all the money raised goes to support projects that would otherwise not be possible for our current and future students. Over the summer, RUSU clubs and societies benefitted from over £42,000 of Annual Fund grants. This money has funded many different projects, including the provision of new equipment for the Rugby Clubs (Union, league and Women’s), Caving Club, the Dance Society and RU:ON. Here at Spark*, we were delighted to receive funding for new newspaper stands to bring you more copies of Spark* around the campus. Over half the money raised through generous donations to the Annual Fund will provide a range of bursaries and hardship funds to support students in need. Visit the help desk in the Carrington Building for more information.

The Annual Fund team, based in the Development and Alumni Relations Office recruits a team of students each year to work as callers on the Annual Fund telephone campaign, in which they contact alumni to update them on University news and seek their financial support. Recruitment for the November telephone campaign begins in the next few weeks, so if you want to help raise money to support your fellow students, watch out for the job advert in the next addition of Spark*.

To teach in an engaging and varied manner that inspires learning; To give timely and constructive feedback on work; To provide effective pastoral and learning support when needed; To respond, communicate and consult in a timely and effective manner; To recognize the student body to be a diverse collection of adults who are partners with an equally important voice in their learning.

The University expects students:

To work hard at their studies and to be active partners in shaping their experience of HE; To seek out opportunities to enhance their understanding and to develop practical and intellectual skills; To take advantage of the wealth of activities (social and developmental) provided by the University and the Students Union; To be aware that their conduct affects other students and reflects on the University, and to act accordingly; To provide constructive feedback on their time at Reading through the Students Union and directly to the University.

Staff expect students:

To be pro-active in managing their learning and in seeking help when needed; To be enquiring in their thinking; To manage their time to fulfill academic and other commitments; To engage fully with all academic commitments; To conduct themselves and to engage in their studies with honesty; To keep appointments and to communicate with staff in a timely and courteous manner; To take ownership of their own health and well being.

We all expect each other:

To treat one another with respect, tolerance and courtesy, regardless of identity, background or belief, both in person and online; To show responsible stewardship of the university environment, facilities and resources; To challenge one another intellectually and to contribute to the advancement of knowledge; To work fairly and effectively with one another both inside and outside the academic context; To be accountable for our actions and conduct; To recognize and value positive contributions from others.

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012

Reading win at county show The show, which was held from 15 to 16 September, not only featured stalls, but also livestock. Ponies were raced and Richard Savory’s ‘The Sheep Show’ returned, displaying sheep shearing, educational demonstrations, and oddly enough, sheep dancing.

Guests were given the opportunity to make their own smoothies with pedal power Continued from page one Zoe Crook

Students did not fail to coincide with one of the dominant intentions of the show, and shared an educational feature within their stalls, as they displayed their research in agriculture, rural heritage and food science. One of the students’ stalls featured cheese, smoothies and yoghurt, developed from their own dairy cattle, of approximately 600 animals, which is located on the Earley Campus. The milk from the cattle was transformed by academics into these foods at the Food Pilot Plant on the Whiteknights campus, which is part of the department of Food and Nutritional Sciences. Guests were given the opportunity to make their own smoothies with pedal power, using the yo-

ghurt produced by the university’s self-made milk. Another of the university’s stalls, Battle of the Bacteria, also allowed children to view bacteria through microscopes, as well as being able to mould their own versions of good and bad bacteria.

One stall featured cheese, smoothies and yoghurt developed from the University’s own dairy cattle Featuring more than 72 food stalls, over 80 craft stalls and more than 600 trade stands, the University achieved great success in beating off the strong competition, by achieving their pair of wins.

Aberdeen Angus cattle were also on show, allowing them observe the animals up close. The day did not solely focus on agriculture, as sport also featured throughout the day, with the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities, ranging from rock climbing, to hockey, to mixed martial arts.

‘The Sheep Show’ displayed sheep shearing and sheep dancing With over 3,000 people attending the event this year, the university’s achievements were widely shared and praised. The annual event plans to return in 2013, so keep an eye out if you hope to attend.

News 3

More changes to the university Sophie Elliott

The new student accommodation is not the only change to the University of Reading’s Whiteknights Campus over the summer break. RUSU has seen some big changes over the holidays, with Blackwells bookshop moving to the front of the building, next to the Hub. A new ‘job shop’ has also been opened, opposite Cerealworks, which will feature on and off campus part-time jobs. The bright orange room is hard to miss and will hopefully be useful to students wanting to supplement their student loans with a little extra cash.

RUSU has seen some big changes After its official opening during the summer term, the Minghella building, home of Film and Theatre studies, is now ready for its first Autumn term. The new building, next to HUMSS, is named after the late film director Anthony Minghella whose work included Cold Mountain and The English Patient. Keep your eyes peeled for some very cool new Spark* newspaper stands around campus, too. Thanks to the Alumni Annual Fund, Spark* were able to order new stands to

showcase the newspaper around the campus. The black stands, featuring the Spark* logo, will be placed in the library, HUMSS building, and the HUB amongst other places so use them as an opportunity to pick up copies of Spark* throughout the year. The Lounge, home of the University of Reading’s student media has similarly changed this summer. The Spark* newspaper office has been redesigned and decorated. Junction 11’s studio has also been moved around. Read more about it in their media blog on page six.

A new ‘job shop’ has also been opened which will feature part-time jobs Physical changes are not the only alterations to the university. Staff changes include, for example, a new Professor in the Meteorology department. Professor Peter Clark, appointed as the Joint Met Office Chair in Weather Processes, joins Reading from the University of Surrey. Professor Clark’s research interests cover a variety of topics which are important to understanding and forecasting atmospheric phenomena.

Night out? RUSU launch Sir John Madejski re-appointed as University Chancellor ‘pay later’ taxi scheme Nikhil Bowry

Have you ever been stranded on a night out with no money left? Fresher’s week is fast-approaching and of course there will be some students, albeit too drunk, stranded in town with no way to get back home. RUSU has teamed up with local taxi service Top Cars to introduce a new 24-hour scheme; ‘Pay Later’ taxis.

The rates are standardised to £6 in most student areas If you forget your wallet or purse, we’ve all done it once, all you do is ring Top Cars quote the ‘pay later scheme by RUSU’ and hand them one of your ‘Pay later’ cards which they keep. To get your pay later card back, all you have to do is come into the Student Union hub and pay the taxi fare so that you can use it again. The scheme is a cheap and safe alternative to having to pay the taxi fare on the spot

with little or no money. The rates are standardised to £6 in most student areas. This scheme is one of the safest ways to get around Reading without cash and if made permanent, could be a great success. The service is 24-hours so whenever you find yourself having spent your last fiver on a pint or out of pocket, you can always use Top Cars.

RUSU has teamed up with local taxi service Top Cars Remember to sign up and get your two ‘Pay Later’ cards online and throughout Fresher’s week. There is a deposit of £6 per card, which amounts to one journey, but you’ll get this back at the end of the year. Now you can relax and enjoy Fresher’s week properly without worrying about running out of money and how to get home safely. Have you used the service? Do you plan to in the future? Get in touch at www.sparknewspaper.

Beth Lunn

The University announced the reappointing of Sir John Madejski, OBE, DL, DLitt as the Chancellor of Reading University for the period up to 31 December 2017. This decision was made by the Council of the University of Reading at its meeting on 9 July.

“I take great pride in the excellence of the teaching being undertaken at the University” Mr Christopher Fisher, President of the Council of the University said that Sir John was “an energetic ambassador for the University” He added: “On behalf of the University Council, I am delighted that he will be reaffirming his strong association with the University and look forward to his continuing help in ensuring we maintain and, indeed, enhance the excellent profile of the institution

locally, in the UK and around the globe.” Sir John was born during the war; circumstances which gave him “issues about his identity and relationships”. He rose from humble origins, setting up his company Thames Valley Trader (now called Auto Trader) in 1976. Sir John became Chair of Reading football Club in 1990, and gave his name to the Madejski Stadium. Sir John helped to fund the John Madejski Academy which is geographically near the stadium. He is also a benefactor to the Royal Academy of Arts, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Reading. He is also the patron of the John Madejski Centre for Reputation at the University’s Henley Business School.

Sir John has a real love for his “hometown” Reading Although Sir John has entertained the Queen and was awarded an OBE and was knighted in 2009, he

has a real love for his “hometown” Reading. Sir John Madejski, Chancellor of the University of Reading, commented: “I am delighted to be invited to continue my role as Chancellor of the University of Reading. I take great pride in the world-wide impact of the research and the excellence of the teaching being undertaken at the University, as well as the significant contribution that the University, its students and staff make to the economic and social well-being of the communities in Reading, Wokingham and the wider Thames Valley.”


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

On your marks, get set, gold! The University of Reading and the London 2012 Games There was ecstasy, there was despair. We saw smiles, we saw tears. James Bond jumped out of a plane with Her Majesty the Queen. The Olympic and Paralympic Games had everything. London 2012 will surely go down as one of the greatest sporting spectacles in history and the University of Reading is proud to have played its part in the success of the Games.

Oar inspiring – Reading strikes Olympic Gold twice Before the Games Connected Magazine met-up with some of the athletes from the University of Reading’s Boat Club (RUBC) chosen to row for Team GB. All the rowers did themselves and the University proud at venue Dorney Lake, with two achieving the ultimate goal, Olympic gold. But what were their emotions before the biggest week of their lives and how did they react after their dreams became a reality?

From gold prospects… For maths PhD student Anna Watkins, London 2012 was the chance to get even…or better still ahead! Four years ago in Beijing there was heartbreak when she finished 3rd in the women’s double sculls. Just 0.2 seconds stood between Anna and gold. “I’ve spent the last four years trying to get two feet faster!’’ said Anna. “Our training programmes are designed so we undergo as much workload as physically possible. Improvements come from training hard year upon year, rather than doing anything out of the ordinary.’’ And how much commitment does it take to become an elite rower? ‘’I’ve lost count of the number of weddings I’ve missed out on due to training camps,” continued Anna. “I’ve been rowing so long you forget what you’re missing out on but

it is sad to miss milestones in your friends’ and relatives’ lives. “But it’s all worth it! Although it’s my second Olympics I’m more excited this time as what could be better than having a chance to win a gold medal, at the world’s biggest sporting event, taking place in your home country? There’s such a great buzz everywhere you go, in supermarkets or just walking down the street, everybody is talking about the Games. The memories make it worthwhile.” Geography graduate Alex Gregory also had unfinished Olympic business. As a reserve at Beijing he had to watch from the stands as the men’s four rowed to Olympic victory. “Watching the guys get their medals spurred me on even more,” said Alex.  ‘’I don’t know what will happen but I feel proud and excited to be representing Team GB. There is added pressure because I’m in a boat with three guys who won gold in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, so if we don’t win, I’ll feel really bad!’’ Getting chosen to represent your country is the result of a massive effort…and little sleep. “One of my favourite memories at Reading was getting up at the crack of dawn, doing my training and coming back to Halls when everyone else was only just waking up,’’ recalls Alex. “It was funny to think I had already done so much when my friends would only just be surfacing!”

…to the gold rush

There was no disappointment this time. Anna and her partner, Katherine Grainger, put in a tremendous performance to win the women’s double sculls, beating the Australian pair by over a length. ‘’I can’t believe we’ve done it,” said Anna “I don’t know what planet I’m on at the moment. It’s been very odd walking around

and people saying ‘Look it’s those girls!’ “We have never been beaten as a combination. We were targeting gold and anything else would have been devastating. It wasn’t until we crossed the line that I dared to think it was the Olympic final.” And for Alex Gregory Olympic glory was also his. Racing in the men’s four Alex and his crewmates led their final from the start to be crowned Olympic Champions, despite pressure from another Australian crew…and from within. “It certainly will take a while to sink in,” Alex told Connected Magazine. ‘’I’ve had many years of disappointment, failures and injuries which slowed down my progress, but gradually over the years I have developed a dream to become an Olympic Champion. ‘’Thank you everyone at the University of Reading who has helped me along the way, I can’t put into words what the support means and how it has helped, but it really has and makes more of a difference than anyone knows!’’ The University of Reading is steeped in Olympic rowing success. Four years ago in Beijing, Reading students and alumni added three medals to Team GB’s impressive tally. In the 2004 Games in Athens, Reading rowers brought home one gold and two silver medals. In London 2012, at nearby Dorney Lake, three was once again the magic number. Anna Watkins and Alex Gregory struck gold while Zoology graduate Ric Egington and Alex Partridge, currently undertaking an MBA at Henley Business School, formed part of the men’s eight crew who won bronze in what was one of the rowing races of the Games. Anna, Alex Gregory, Ric and Alex Partridge are four of the ten University of Reading alumni and students that made the GB rowing

squad, the highest number from any UK university. But what is Reading’s golden secret?

Members of the University of Reading in the Great Britain Olympic Rowing Squad

The University of Reading’s Midas Touch

Charles Cousins (BSc Psychology 2010)

The University offers student rowers strong support, both in and out of the boat. Gold medal winner Anna Watkins said: “Reading had a really good reputation and I knew it was the best choice for me as it has the right combination of academic excellence and passion for rowing. I’ve been able to take time out of my PhD to focus on the Olympics and the University has been positive and helpful throughout my time there.” Alex Gregory, who graduated in 2006 and was in the victorious men’s quad, added: “The University was unbelievably good in supporting me. I joined the senior GB rowing team while at University so I was away a lot at training camps, sometimes weeks at a time. I had great support in my training from both the University and fellow RUBC mates.” Reading also boasts world-class facilities. Its SportsPark is home to the £2.23million Vo2 sports centre which contains a state of the art fitness studio. The natural, yet as important, training facility the River Thames, is a mere five minutes away from the Whiteknights Campus. Iain Akhurst, Director of Sports and Recreation at the University of Reading, said: “I am delighted that the University contributed so many talented rowers to the Great Britain Olympic Squad. The University is proud of the support it offers student athletes and of the facilities we have that helps them achieve their goals. But of course it takes commitment as well as talent to reach Olympic standard and we are delighted their hard work paid off.” University of Reading alumni have played an important part in Reading’s Olympic success. Thanks to the generosity of graduates, staff and friends of the University, over £3.2 million has been donated to support students via the Annual Fund. Will Rand, Director of Rowing at the University, said: “I would like to thank the University and its graduates for their unwavering support. We train in fantastic boats, only made possibly by monies donated by the University’s Annual Fund, which are of enormous benefit to the Boat Club and contribute to our success in major rowing events such as the recent Olympics.” This feature is an extract from the latest edition of Connected Magazine, which is circulated to 100,000 University of Reading graduates each year. If you’d like to request a copy of Connected Magazine, simply drop the Development and Alumni Relations team an email: alumni@

2012 Olympic crew: men’s quadruple scull – finished 5th Ric Egington (BSc Zoology 2001) 2012 Olympic crew: men’s eight – finished 3rd Debbie Flood (BSc Physiology and Biochemistry 2005) 2012 Olympic crew: women’s quadruple scull – finished 6th Adam Freeman-Pask (current student studying for a PhD in Biological Sciences) 2012 Olympic crew: lightweight reserve Past achievements: gold in three 2012 world cup races, 6th in the 2010 World Rowing Championships Alex Gregory (BSc Geography 2006) 2012 Olympic crew: men’s four – finished 1st Bill Lucas (BA Politics and International Relations 2009) 2012 Olympic crew: men’s double scull – finished 5th (with Sam Townsend) Natasha Page (BA Art 2007) 2012 Olympic crew: women’s eight – finished 5th Alex Partridge (current student on Henley Business School MBA programme) 2012 Olympic crew: men’s eight – finished 3rd Sam Townsend (BSc Rural Environmental Sciences 2010) 2012 Olympic crew: men’s double scull - finished 5th (with Bill Lucas) Anna Watkins (current student studying for a PhD in Maths) 2012 Olympic crew: women’s double scull – finished 1st

Let us know what you think of Reading’s Olympic success. Visit our website at www. Photo: J J Hunt photography

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012

Henley Business School to host European Financial meeting Zoe Crook

The University of Reading’s Henley Business School will host the 2013 European Financial Management Association meeting. This annual meeting will be spread over four days, and features research and theories from the financial, investment, money and banking sectors. The event will begin two days prior to the end of the Summer term, on 26 June 2013, and will come to a close on 29 June. In 2011, the event was held in Braga, Portugal, followed by Barcelona, Spain, in 2012. This year, the meeting will reach the somewhat colder England, where the Henley Business School is the chosen location. Normally featuring approximately 250-300 papers, the submissions are already open, and will close on 15 January 2013. These papers may be submitted on the subject of finance, ideally European finance. Sessions throughout the meeting will include academic research, panel discussions, presentations and tutorial lectures.

These sessions are intended to spark ideas, discussions and debates amongst the academics. The keynote speaker at the event will be Professor John Campbell, the Chair of the Department of Economics at Harvard University. Having published over 80 articles on finance and macroeconomics, and having previously been the President of the American Finance Association and President of the International Atlantic Economic Society, Campbell is sure to give an impressive address.

Their expertise and excellent facilities make them an ideal host for the EFMA Many awards, with the worth of around £1,000 to £2,000, will also be presented at the event. These include the EFMA Conference Award, NYSE Euronext Capital Markets Award, PhD Student Best Paper, GARP Risk Management Award and the LANG Corporate Award.

The EFMA was established in 1994, in order to provide an organisation for academics, who share an interest in financial management and theory, to spread and share their knowledge. A Senior Lecturer in Finance at the ICMA Centre and Chair of the 2013 EFMA conference, Dr Simone Varotto stated, “hosting such a prestigious event is an amazing opportunity for both our staff and students to be exposed to the highest level of discussion, interpretation and policy development. Listening to Professor Campbell alone discuss finance is a privilege,

Calum mcintyre rogers

On Friday 7 September, the University of Reading’s School of Biological Sciences hosted an event that celebrated 60 years of Microbiology. The University has offered Microbiology since 1952 and it is the country’s longest running degree programme of its kind. It was also the UK’s first ever Department of Microbiology, established in 1951.

The University has offered Microbiology since 1952 The first unified BSc (Bachelor of Science) degree in Microbiology in the UK was launched at the University of Reading in 1952; a year after the department was created. Since then, the department went on to become a part of the School of Biological Sciences. It has played a leading role in microbiology research in the UK. This is highlighted by visits by many prestigious microbiologists including seven Nobel Laureates such as Alexander Fleming. The Department of Microbiology also hosted a visit by Her Majesty the Queen, to open new buildings as part of the celebration of the centenary of university education in Reading back in 1992. 

Today, the BSc in Microbiology remains hugely popular amongst students. Microbiology at Reading boasts world-leading experts in virology and bacteriology as well as a vibrant community of young researchers coupled with excellent teaching and research facilities.

The department has played a leading role in virology research Recent graduates have a 100% employment rate and have gone on to work for organisations such as the Medical Research Council, South East Water, Royal Berkshire Hospital and the Health Protection Agency.

never mind the hundreds of other great financial minds that will be gathered at Reading.” The Executive Director of EFMA, John Doukas also admitted: “I am delighted that the 2013 EFMA conference will be held at such a prestigious institution as the University of Reading. The ICMA Centre and Henley Business School, who are organising the event, are well established and highly regarded in academic finance circles and the finance industry. Their expertise, excellent facilities and proximity to London make them an ideal host for the EFMA annual meeting.”

Reading University scientists have published research into the treating of epilepsy with cannabis extracts in the British Journal of Pharmacology . The project, in collaboration with GW Pharma and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, aimed to treat epilepsy while avoiding the side effects which are common with current treatments, which can induce uncontrolled shaking, organ failure and even lethal stomach acid build-ups. The team succeeded in isolating cannabidivarin, a non-psychoactive compound (ie, one that does not produce a ‘high’), which

“strongly suppressed” seizures in six experimental models used in epilepsy research. Medical marijuana treatments have been used against epilepsy for hundreds of years, and are available in Canada and the USA to this day. The Reading team sought to remove the psychoactive effects of the drug, so it could better be used as a medicine. Dr Ben Whalley, who leads the research, said “Our work has highlighted the potential for a solution based on cannabinoid science. It has shown that cannabidivarin is the most effective and best tolerated anticonvulsant plant cannabinoid investigated to date.”

Recent graduates have a 100% employment rate Professor Simon Andrews, Head of Biomedical Sciences said: “We are proud of the illustrious history of microbiology at Reading and the leading role many former colleagues have played in furthering the understanding of infectious diseases. Today, we are continuing that legacy, conducting research and teaching future generations

News in brief Satisfied students The University of Reading is ranked in the top 25% of higher education institutions in the UK for the quality of the student experience it provides. The University’s students gave Reading courses an 88.5% satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey 2012, ensuring that the University maintains its consistent success in the annual survey of student satisfaction.

UoR celebrates 60 years of Joint research by School of world-class microbiology Psychology and Pharmacy Chayya Syal

News 5

Dr Gary Stephens, Dr Ben Whalley and Dr Claire Williams demonstrate that you can get away with anything in a lab coat

Calling all cat owners! Researchers at the University of Reading are looking for volunteers in the area to take part in a series of studies, to find out whether domestic cats are having an impact on bird numbers. Hedgehog help needed Dr Phil Baker from the University’s School of Biological Sciences is launching a study to examine hedgehog populations in gardens throughout Reading and the surrounding areas, and needs help from local volunteers. Hedgehog numbers are widely thought to have declined in the UK within the last 20 years, and changes in agriculture are believed to be part of the problem. However, one habitat where they may be doing well is the suburbs of our towns and cities. If you are interested in taking part, and you live in Reading or the surrounding areas, email Dr Phil Baker - University gets green light The University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus has once again been judged as one of the best open spaces in the country with the award of the prestigious Green Flag - a sign to visitors that the Whiteknights campus is wellmaintained and well-managed, with excellent facilities. The Green Flag Award scheme is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK. Judges were impressed by the University’s 134-hectare site which contains wooded areas, open meadows, a lake, shrubs and borders and county standard sports pitches. A network of paths links these different and exciting areas, making it an accessible and enjoyable place for all to take pleasure in. At the ceremony to hoist the Green Flag over the Whiteknights campus, the Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell said: “We are delighted to have gained a Green Flag Award for the second year running. This award is testament to the hard work and expertise of our committed grounds and facilities maintenance teams.”


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

Fortnightly media blog Junction 11

Hello to all, Freshers and returnees, we here at Junction11 Radio hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer and enjoyed those few sunny days. For those of you that don’t know Junction11 is the student radio station for the University of Reading. We aim to be the sound of your student experience here at Reading and we broadcast live Monday to Saturday and have shows available 24/7 On Demand. We are out and about all freshers week so come say hello, we will be around central campus on Monday and Tuesday and then broadcasting at the Freshers Fayre on Wednesday and Thursday. We will also be hosting Mojo’s Bar at Freshers Flirt! (with Greg James of Radio 1) on Wednesday night.

For any of you that love free stuff, we have several competitions running over Freshers week. The first is the chance of winning £50 worth of tasty treats courtesy of Sacla, to enter simply visit Junction11 and click ‘Like’, it’s that simple. Keep up to date with Junction11 Radio and enjoy some fab tasting food.

Junction11 is the student radio station for the University of Reading The second competition we are running is to find Reading’s own ‘Super Fresher’! The winner gets free entry to every flirt! of the first term. To enter find us at Fresh-

ers Fayre or Freshers Week and take the Baked Bean Challenge on! Check our website or find us this week to find out more!

we broadcast live Monday to Saturday and have shows available 24/7 On Demand If you are interested to get involved with Junction11 Radio this year our first Station Meeting is on Tuesday 9 October in Café Mondial (RUSU) at 7pm. The Lounge is home to RU:ON Junction11 and Spark* Newspaper so feel free to come and visit if you are interested in becoming part of Reading’s student media.

what’s going on? what



Welcome Mash Up

3sixty, RUSU


World Music Rave

3sixty, RUSU


Fresher’s flirt!

3sixty, RUSU


Freshers’ Quiz and Karaoke

Mojo’s Bar, RUSU


Saturday Union

3sixty, RUSU

when SEP





next issue of Spark* out:

Friday 12 October 2012 across the students’ union

Intelligence Officers | £25,056 + benefits | UK based Analysing information. Making connections. Seeing things others don’t. This is what MI5 Intelligence Officers do every day. Working together, we help safeguard national security. This challenging and vitally important work demands strong communication, analytical and organisation skills – not to mention attention to detail and great patience. If you enjoy solving problems, becoming an MI5 Intelligence Officer is one of the most rewarding and interesting career paths you could choose. Make sense of it at To apply you must be over 18 and a British citizen. Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member.

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012



One student’s view: a glimmer of hope for our democracy Jack Thompson

We’re halfway through the current sitting of parliament, and what have we got to show for it? Continuous economic woes; coalition infighting; an uninspiring opposition; is it any wonder that political apathy is reaching a high? I for one have abandoned the party I leant my support to during the 2010 General Election, and a sense of cynicism has settled in. Usually a fierce debater of policy and current affairs, I’ve found myself lacking for a reason to argue and discuss. It wasn’t until a new campaign was unveiled that I perked up and paid attention to the system again.

Time for a breath of fresh air, wouldn’t you think? Democracy 2015. Launched by founding editor of The Independent, Andreas Whittam Smith, and group of graduates, they aim to oust the political class that has grown comfortable in Westminster by 2015. Because, let’s face it, the general consensus is that parliament is full of spineless politicians, widely regarded to lie their way through each successive sitting and eventually coast on to comfortable executive jobs and the lecture circuits. And they make it through each successive parliament because they’re so adept at said lying. We fall for it every time. When was the last time a mainstream politician took

a stand on an issue, or offered a radical solution to the countries woes? They don’t, because they’re content to sit through parliament, breath hot air, and then stand up every election and declare what a change they’ve made and how their policies have saved the country from disaster yet again.

Democracy 2015 aims to oust the political class that has grown comfortable in Westminster by 2015 I’m not saying nothing has happened in parliament the last few decades, and I’m not saying all that did happen was bad, but all we hear about is partisan infighting and general corruption. The expenses scandal proved how comfortable the political elite have become. Time for a breath of fresh air, wouldn’t you think? Democracy 2015 proposes a nationwide campaign that encourages public participation to establish policy, and the nomination of various people from different walks of life: Business, charity, teaching etc. These nominees will run in the election of 2015 with the understanding that they are one term politicians. They bring their expertise to the table, they enact the broad legislative manifesto that would have been created through public consultation, then leave at the end of the parliament sitting, freeing them of any need

to compromise their integrity in a future election.

Democracy 2015 proposes a nationwide campaign that encourages public participation The vast majority of our representatives are professional politicos. They have been in the political bubble the majority of their working lives. That means while they’re very good at negotiating the intrigues of Westminster, do they really have any idea what it’s like for the average Brit, who pay their taxes,  watch television, and get on with normal life? How can they credibly govern for us, when they don’t understand us?

How can they credibly govern for us, when they don’t understand us? In addition, the lack of term limits and design of our political system mean some politicians can just idle through Westminster, reaping the rewards without delivering anything to their constituents. And those that have to fight for their seats end up conceding on their values so that they can survive another five years. Our esteemed Deputy Prime Minister is a perfect example with his own ‘Bigotgate’ a few weeks ago. For those un-

aware, a draft of a speech referred to those that opposed equal marriage as bigots. It was leaked, and the subsequent uproar caused a frantic rewrite and a confirmation that Mr Clegg lacks a backbone. Someone obviously cared enough about equal rights to call out those that vehemently oppose them. Mr Clegg wasn’t calling everyone who opposes same-sex marriage a bigot, just that those who use any excuse, such as economic woes, are clutching at straws in an attempt to block something that I personally, and imagine others, believe is a civil right. However, the passage was edited, because it offended some people. Mr Clegg could have taken a stand and said “No, I’m a proponent of equal rights. If you oppose equal marriage, then let’s have a civilised debate over the matter.” But the fact of the matter is some people flat-out refuse to accept equal marriage. Obviously the Deputy PM’s aides worked out that if you offend people, you won’t get their votes. So the quote was presumably added to a list of things that might get Mr Clegg ousted (which probably includes “Tuition Fees” and “My name is Nick Clegg”). It’d be nice to have a group in Westminster that just want to get on with the job, have productive, open debates without the shadow of the next election looming over them, and it might give the political class pause for thought about how they govern this country. Let’s be candid though. Democracy 2015 has a huge mountain to climb.

The prospect of ousting a majority of politicians from generally safe seats is daunting, and finding a broad legislative agenda that the public agree on is just as difficult. Finding people who have the expertise and the drive to stick to whatever agenda is decided upon, and establishing the logistics of running a parliament free of party shackles is also something that needs to be looked at. However, I’m inclined to hope.

It’d be nice to have a group in Westminster that just want to get on with the job My abandonment of party principles has made me a little cynical, but at the same time I have been imbued with a sense of responsibility to support our democracy. I like the look of this campaign. I like their aims. I’m going to try to spread the word, because, like Mr Whittham Smith said: “Perhaps the near impossible is more frequent now. Barack Obama became President. The Rev Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness became colleagues in Northern Ireland. We acquired a coalition government. Unelected technocrats are now the Prime Ministers of Greece and Italy.” If you’re interested in finding out more about the campaign, visit, and the campaign will be holding an introductory meeting at the University of Westminster on Wednesday 17 October at 6pm.

Want to write for Spark* Political Comment? If you want to write about politics on campus, the NUS, or any other issues that politically affect students then get in touch.


Friday 28 September 2012


interview University of Reading in Malaysia: The sun will never set on Reading, again. How exciting! How does RUIM integrate with the Malaysian FE system: is it an independent...? We need permission to establish the institute from the government under their HE Act. They made clear to us that a university with the standing would not face difficulties, but you do have to go through this complex process. We got permission to establish earlier this summer. That means that you are, to a significant extent, integrated into the Malaysian HE system and students would be able to get some of the available scholarships to study with us.


Interview at Spark* welcomes our readers - loyal and new - this October. As usual, we bring you exciting news: The University of Reading is scheduled to have a campus in Malaysia - an exciting prospect for both Malaysian and Reading students. We met up with the University of Reading’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Tony Downes, earlier this week - to eagerly hear his news on the project. Could you introduce yourself and your role in the project?

My name is Tony Downes and I am the Deputy Vice-Chancellor. I was, some time ago, a Professor of Law. I have held my current role since the year 2000, making sure that the academic sides of the University happen in the way that they are supposed to. Malaysia emerged as our best prospect when, a few years ago, we started looking at the possibility of establishing an overseas campus. Finally, we narrowed our search to the project which we are now involved with. I chair the project board and, as we have to have a company registered under Malaysian law in order to operate in Malaysia, for my sins, I’m Chief Executive of that company. During your decision making process, what made Malaysia the best location for the new campus?

There are several reasons: firstly, Reading has a strong track record in Malaysia already. We’ve had a lot of Malaysian students come to Reading, particularly in disciplines like construction, real estate and law, so we’ve got a strong Malaysian alumni base including some quite senior people in business and government.

We’ve got a strong Malaysian alumni base Secondly, the Malaysian government, itself, is trying to establish Malaysia as a regional education hub, thus it supports inward investment in universities through capital investment. Malaysia is quite well placed, in terms of regional infrastructure, so there are international airports nearby. Thirdly, the Malaysian government is trying to increase participation rates [in FE] which, historically, have been low. They’ve had problems with the quality of their private colleges so, a few years ago, the government changed its policy to encourage well-known, high-quality universities to come into Malaysia - and stay - something which they have been providing financial help to do. As a former British colony it’s a very strong member of the Commonwealth. It’s a bit like England was 30 years ago, so British people feel comfortable operating in Malaysia and are very welcome there. Regionally, it is extremely well located - there are strong markets for quality education around it in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. OK, very quickly, what else was on the shortlist for a future campus? We have a campus for the business school in South Africa - we might consider, at some point, expanding that to other disciplines. We also looked at a campus closer to Kuala Lampur [capital and largest city in Malaysia]. However British Council advised us that Kuala Lampur was getting saturated with universities. At some point I think we will consider China - we’ve had a Chinese delegation this week.

How is the campus financed?

The Malaysian government is encouraging ‘inward movement’ of foreign universities with its ‘sovereign investment fund’ with money from the government. They are backing a large regional development project in the south of the country - a region called Iskandar. In particular, an ‘education zone’ of several schools and what they call an ‘edu-city’, a multi-university campus. They’ve invited several universities to establish there, at things they’re particularly good at. Newcastle’s medical school is there, Southampton will be teaching engineering and Reading will go, too! So you’ve mentioned real estate, construction and law...

That’s right, other aspects include pharmacy and chemistry and we’ll be doing a lot of English language preparation. No agriculture? Malaysian universities are quite strong in agriculture themselves. Areas where they want to strengthen their talent pool interest us. We think that there is scope for us to do some high-end agriculture and food stuff.

Areas where they want to strengthen their talent pool interests us My understanding of Malaysia is that the “ethnic Malay” class have a preferential position in society. How will RUIM deal with this?

Ironically... It’s not something one is necessarily entirely comfortable about, we will probably find it’s the non-ethnic Malays who will want to come to RUIM because one

of the ways in which the ethnic Malays, known as bumiputras, are privileged, is that it’s much easier for them to get places at state universities. The Chinese have largely dominated the commercial aspects of life in Malaysia, so they’re often quite well off. They spend a great proportion of their household income on education. Because it won’t be easy for Chinese and Indian students to get into state universities there is a very strong market for universities amongst minority populations. While one regrets that, in terms of diversity, we’re visitors in Malaysia, we must operate within their system. We will provide opportunities to people who, otherwise, wouldn’t have it. So, in a sense, I think that we are making a good contribution. The PM has been pushing the ‘one Malaysia’ policy, to try to remove some of the preferential treatment for Malays, and that’s got to be encouraged. What relationship do you anticipate there being between ‘Reading proper’ and RUIM? Are you planning exchange programmes? The evidence from other universities is that there’s quite a degree of independence - most of them have gone into it hoping that it won’t be as independent as that. Nottingham have been moderately successful in having a degree of integration. What the Malaysian quality agency are looking for is that the educational standards, that apply in the UK, will be transposed into Malaysia. The best way of doing that is to deliver modules that have gone through the University here.

I would like to see Reading students considering a second year in Iskandar. It would be a fantastic opportunity. If I were 19 now, I’d be wanting to go to the far East, because within 50-100 years the economy is going to be dominated by what’s happening there.

the economy is going to be dominated by what’s happening there Malaysia is a very open society. China is also an increasingly open society, though not so open yet. If I were a student I would want to have access to that. So I very

much hope that UK students will want to travel there. So what’s next, following the completion of the Malaysian campus? Lots of hard work. We have designed a building which will take up to 2,500 students and a business plan which means that within 5 years we’ll have 2,000 students. We have some expansion space, but not a lot.

I mentioned South Africa; that is, in terms of Business School and MBA students, doing extremely well. Then, the potential in China is so great in terms of participation rates and aspiration. In southwest China participation rates in further education are around 33%. The local government wants to get this up to 50%. They’ve got a long way to go, and they have quality problems. There are some good universities in China, but given the size of the country they are not meeting the needs of the students. In some parts of China, students are leaving for Beijing and Shanghai to study and only 20% of them come back. Areas which are trying to grow their economies find that there is net migration of talent, and they want to reverse that trend. They want to retain their young people, and attract others from around China. Because we are highly thought of in terms of our global ranking, we do a lot of very practical subjects which growing economies need, and we’re a dynamic university which is going places - for example, the merger with Henley, the South African campus, the Malaysian campus - we’re not a little England ‘looking inwards’ institute, we have a global perspective.

We’re not a little Emgland ‘looking inwards’ institution I think that is attractive to places like China, who are looking for motivated partners. It’s a long way from being done, as it’s a very big step. We haven’t learned to walk with Malaysia yet, and with China we’d be running, so the timing needs a lot of thought. But the opportunities won’t be there forever, and the opportunity looks very interesting, so the university knows we need to take this seriously.

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012



Student Finance - is it time for change? Rebecca Mole

Student Finance England is absolutely crucial for most students; giving funding to many of us, who without it would not be here. But are they really helping or are they making the run up to term time unnecessarily stressful?

With some constructive advice we could fix this system Like most students I depend on funding from SFE for everything and could not be without it. The dependence I have upon the Government is extraordinary as not only do I rely on them to loan me money for tuition fees, but also my rent and basic living. Yet by the start of this, my final year, I knew I was not alone in one thing; the constant disappointment in the system. Just look at SFE’s Facebook page; a page set up to inform us of crucial dates, information and

occasionally advice from ‘Paul’. Personally, this is a very sensible idea because many of us need reminding about applying for finance before the next academic year and sometimes need a bit of guidance. However, after reading through the comments left by students, I am afraid to say SFE’s efforts are in vain. Students are still complaining of long, expensive phone calls that lead nowhere, being told the same thing over again and that they feel they just are not being helped. Truly this is a sad outcome for such a crucial service.

Student Finance England is absolutely crucial for most students Perhaps it is time SFE asked how the experience could be made better and do something about all the complaints they receive. For instance, let us tackle the price of those phone calls that sometimes

last well over an hour. How about making these numbers free to reduce the damage on our phone bills? Or better still, give students a list of numbers for specific departments to save us being transferred up to 13 times in an hour (my personal best). But it is not all bad, as often students have absolutely no problems with SFE and their applications; brownie points there! But the question is not how many students have problems with SFE; it is how they can improve their service when things do go wrong. How many of us have gotten a little less than nice when on the phone to an advisor? I know I have and I regret it. It is not the advisor’s fault that we are impatient and nervous because contact has been minimal and we are a week away from fresher’s week.

Perhaps it is time SFE asked how the experience could be made better

We need to speak out and help SFE to become something better. How about we suggest ways to improve their service next time we give our criticisms? It takes a large group of students to draw attention to the flaws, but with some constructive advice we could fix a system that needs our help. The Facebook page would obviously be the perfect place to do this; it is convenient, fast and (most importantly) free. It also has the added benefit of being a bit less personal than a phonecall.

There is constant disappointment in the system Even if the only thing we achieve by this time next year is convincing SFE to publish a list of numbers for specific enquiries, for instance ‘application progress’ or ‘bursaries’, we have made a small step in the right directionand it is uphill from there.

Do ‘banter palace’ halls drive away less well-off students? Calum Mcintyre Rogers

I stayed in Wantage for my first year of university – yeah, laugh it up, but it was actually a pretty reasonably priced place to stay, especially given that it was more or less guaranteed that you wouldn’t starve.

Living economically independently is impossible for nearly all students I was fortunate to live alongside people from different economic backgrounds, many of them less minted than you might expect – not everyone on the first day turned up with a pony, a lacrosse trophy and sat down for a game of ring of fire with a Nebuchadnezzar of Veuve Clicquot. With enough grants and such, I think it was even affordable for those without auxiliary cash from the bank of mum and dad. By contrast, the newer halls of residence are priced steeply. Dunsden Crescent is 6.7 grand a year minimum – about 140% that of Wantage (without a sink), and it’s not even catered – and these are

Hall fees 2012-13 (per 40 weeks) This does not include JCR fees Prices reflect cheapest single room rates per hall:

the on-campus halls. Sibly, which used to offer accommodation for 2.9 grand a year is now shut; it is doubtful that the University is planning on replacing it with similarly-priced accommodation closer to Whiteknights. Even with the maximum maintenance grant from the government (at present £3250 per annum) one could not possibly afford to live in the newest Reading student accommodation.

St George’s and Wessex (self catered) £3897.60 Wantage and Windsor (catered) - £4730 Stenton Townhouses (self catered) - £5000

The equality policy of Reading makes no mention of accomodation costs For a less well-off undergraduate who wants to stay in university accommodation, their choices are increasingly small. They can either hope for a place in the two cheapest halls (St George’s, Wessex) for which competition is fierce, especially during accommodation clearing, or they have to pony up the cash for a wildly expensive residence in an on-campus ‘banter palace’. If that is impossible, then the only choice would be to live in private accommodation for one’s first year. A delightful prospect.

St Patrick’s (catered) - £5175.20 Benyon, Greenow and McCombie Houses (self catered) - £5566.40 Stenton, Mackinder, Childs (self catered) - £5726

Hopefully not the future of ‘down it, fresher’

Varying standards in university accommodation is just a fact of life at university now. Students are not so much a uniform economic class; since the introduction of tuition fees and student loans, economic divisions between students have become increasingly pronounced. It’s easy to talk about equal treatment of students at one’s university, but the words

Dunsden Crescent (self catered) £6379.20

ring hollow when one is staying in an ensuite £6,700 a year room and the other’s communal bathroom has green fur on the ceiling. The ‘equality and diversity objectives 2012-2016’ listed on reading. include “attract[ing] and retain[ing] quality students [from] all backgrounds”. This would not be apparent from looking at Reading’s increasingly expensive

accommodation scheme. The jibes about the “University of Rahding” are beginning to lose their comedic value, and I fear that this is only going to get worse unless something is done soon. A start would be an investigation into the different economic backgrounds of students per hall, so we can get a set of established facts to begin work from.


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

Olympic legacy Thomas Newbold

So it came and went; the greatest games. Seven years in the making, a month in the happening, and who knows how long in the lasting. And it is ‘legacy’ that has been the buzz word used throughout this summer to describe the long-term impact of London 2012 on the city and on the country. But what will be the real lasting legacy? The friendly and happy vibe emanating through England’s capital city, partly courtesy of the muchlauded ‘Games-Makers’, was a key component of London 2012. Many asked if this could be the start of a friendlier, happier London? I think not. London knows how to put on a smile when it wants to; the Diamond Jubilee celebrations showed that. But too often it just doesn’t want to. On the tube, stuck in the rush hour at a red signal, on a cold morning morning, people just can’t be bothered to talk to each other. When a chance to celebrate and show-off Britain comes, we know how to do it and we do it in style. But just because we did it during the Olympic Games, don’t expect ‘friendly London’ to become the norm. Friendliness isn’t the legacy of London 2012.

The friendly and happy vibe was a key component of London 2012 What about how the world’s perception of us? Mitt Romney’s gaffe in doubting the games only served to highlight how successful London 2012 was. There is no doubt the world was highly impressed by the show we put on, and also by our superb sporting infrastructure (Sepp Blatter are you listening?). But just because we put on what was quite frankly the greatest sporting event ever, I can’t see the likes of Syria cosying up to us all of a sudden. We might have impressed the world, but better international perceptions aren’t the real lasting legacy of London 2012. Perhaps the significant legacy from this summer will be what Seb Coe and his team aimed for

all along; to ‘inspire a generation’. Sporting club memberships have quadrupled in the aftermath of the games. Stratford is the home to a new permanent Olympic-sized swimming pool, a big boost for swimming when you consider the UK has fewer pools than Paris alone. East London will also house a new Velo-park; a further enhancement to Cycling facilities. Cycling is a sport at which we excel and in which we continue to develop an interest.

The real legacy of London 2012 is in sport itself A thletics has been inspired by the glorious victories of Farah, Ennis and Rutherford, whilst ‘lesser’ sports such as shooting, white-water kayaking and taekwondo have all been given a more prominent feature by GB’s gold medal successes. More significant perhaps than the boost to individual sports however is the recognition of the important role of sport in this country, something these games have highlighted. This summer the country has experienced the emotional roller coaster that only sport can bring, the highs and lows, the tears and the shouts, the pain and the joy. It has united a country, and brought us together. It overrides all other emotions and inspires us all. Let us hope that this is the real legacy from London 2012, that we understand the important role in society sport has in bringing us together, in uniting a nation, and in learning how to celebrate and grieve. So yes, the real legacy of London 2012 is in sport itself. Oh, London knows how to celebrate and be friendly when it wants to, and the world is probably rather impressed with us too, but the interest in sport is higher than ever, and the realisation that sport plays a key role in uniting and inspiring our society is being fully appreciated. So Mr. Cameron, please don’t sell off all these sports fields. Sport is incredibly important to this country, and the realisation of that is what is going to be the real lasting legacy of the London 2012 Games.

Privacy, sense and decency Miriam Rudge

The publication of topless photos of Princess Catherine Windsor by a french tabloid, and the accompanying condemnation of the tabloid by anyone with a sense of due propriety or the right to privacy, became the featured news story of some major news shows this summer… notably Channel 4. But whilst watching the news I couldn’t help but notice some rather concerning trends. In the same news show, the attack on a number of European and U.S. embassies in the Middle East and North Africa were reported on, but were allowed to be largely overshadowed in terms of coverage by the upsetting news regarding the photos taken of the Duchess of Cambridge. It has also been notable that whilst the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge dealt with the photo controversy with a certain degree of calm good sense and wisely filed a suit against the tabloid in question, the embassy

attacks and street riots reported were perceived by the extremists involved as the appropriate response to a seemingly not altogether dissimilar situation. Apparently, the extremists involved believed the creation of a small and relatively low-budget film they find insulting and blasphemous to be sufficient reason to murder an Embassy official, start violent riots and kill a number of innocent individuals, who were actually wholly unconnected with the event and film in question.

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge dealt with the photo controversy with a certain degree of calm good sense Yet, no-one reacted to the disrespectful photos taken of a member of the Royal family without her permission by boycotting the pur-

chase of french bread and berets or attacking french embassies or burning down the eurotunnel! One wonders why extremists seem to believe that any degree of offence could ever make reacting in such a way sensible or allowable, let alone how such behaviour could ever serve to promote the very causes for which they claim to be fighting. Whilst peaceful protests may be reasonable, such grounds as these will never constitute sufficient provocation for acts of violence. It is also wholly unfair to the large percentage of Muslims who do have a sense of decency, fairness and propriety, and do not appreciate such violent groups of individuals giving their religion such a bad name. Furthermore, using such conflicts to dredge up old grudges between the monotheistic ideologies of Islam and Judo-Christianity is beyond ridiculous, . And the strong reaction to the film contradicts the very concepts of respect that these extremists claim to be defending.

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012



Paying JCR fees

Are they a waste of money? Yes No

jamie cherian & christopher hickey

One thing that you probably didn’t consider stretching your wallet for in Freshers’ week was the JCR fees. During Freshers’ week, those living in university halls are expected to pay the £40 ‘JCR fee’. This money is collected, in cash, by the JCR team and is used to book and pay for socials and events to which everyone is invited. In reality this is a system which is unfair and doesn’t work. What you must consider is that your JCR are all 19-20 year old kids, with little or no experience in managing a sizeableamount of money, or events for 400 people plus. When all 400 residents pay their £40 fee this gives the treasurer, and the rest of the JCR, the daunting challenge of managing roughly £16,000. This is what I feel some of the JCR fail to grasp. The JCR are the connection between the nightclubs and the students. In organising events, they’ll most likely get into any club for free. Can you really guarantee that if they do budget a certain amount for alcohol on an organised night that they’ll put the left over money back in the safe? Can you also be sure that if a £20 note goes ‘missing’, it will show up ifexpenditures are added up? No one is ever going to kick up a fuss if it doesn’t quite add up anyway. It’s an open secret that the JCR some of the money to buy drinks and other goodies for Freshers, their friends and in all probability themselves while on nights out. I think some of the JCR do not realise exactly how much work is involved to be an effective team member and I’m sure more than a few will pass the buckwhen the work load is cranked up. As the year went on, a lot of people in my hall were questioning what our money had actually gone on. There was an event organised to Thorpe Park, which we still had to pay £15 for and that was it for the first term. There were other nights organised by the JCR, but you still had to pay for wristbands, which made no sense, as it just ended up being the same as any other night out. What frustrated everyone was the Spring Ball;

there were 150 tickets which were available to over 500 people, obviously the tickets ran out and many people were left disappointed. It was made worse by allowing ‘plus ones’: an offer that was extended to the boyfriends, girlfriends and friends not from the university at the expense of those who had paid their fees and could therefore legitimately expect a ticket. For international students, I saw no evidence of any events with them in mind and the international JCR member seems more of a formality than any kind of a productive role. Also,if you don’t drink or go clubbing, our JCR wouldn’t have offered you much. An email one of my flatmates sent to the hall warden, enquiring about the general feeling of disappointment, came back saying; ‘As you have paid your fees you have a right to know how the funds are used.’ It seems that if the University have no record of what is spent, by what right do they have to make the fees compulsory and take it out of your account at the end of the year, if you refuse to pay it? If you do not pay the £40 at the start of term, you are charged £50. On what basis does this extra charge rest? Surely it would be more sensible to pay the fees into a JCR bank account electronically and make the ins and outs of the money pot available to everyone who pays into it? This way, everyone could see exactly what their money is being spent on. I’m sure if we ever asked the JCR to produce a budget report,they would have been unable to. Don’t get me wrong, I think a JCR is an essential addition to a university hall and I’m sure some JCRs have done a brilliant job. If done right, it brings the hall together for enjoyable events that are a welcome change from another average night out. However, until the JCR is forced to publish their expenditure and be held accountable for their decisions, the feeling of dissatisfactionand slight suspicion will always remain.

Jack marshall

“in reality this is not a fair system”

“We are not looking to exploit money out of freshers”

“Some JCRs do not realise exactly how much work is involved”

As a Fresher last year, I would have agreed with the opposing article.​ As the JCR President for Sherfield Hall this year, I’m nowwriting for this perspective. This is not because I’m biased as a President, but because I now truly believe that the JCR fee is a good thing. Having been in your position, I completely understand that arriving at your Halls and being expected to pay the £40 JCR fee can be a little bewildering; especially as you’re no doubt aware of all the money you already have to pay. However the JCR fee is the most important source of income for any Halls of Residence. All accommodation fees go to UPP – the company which are responsible for managing and maintaining the Halls of Residence, so without the JCR money, the JCR Committee has no funds. The funds primarily go towards the running costs of the JCR facility, which includes the provision of Sky Television (which is extortionately expensive in itself as a public license is very costly), as well as a standard TV license, the student bar, insurance and daily newspapers. But beyond all of the mundane stuff (though don’t underestimate the cost of it!) there is the social aspect of living in Halls which is fundamental; especially valuable to helping first-years settle into their first home-fromhome. Whilst many of you may consider this to involve going clubbing as frequently as possible and getting drunk out of your mind, this is not at all the truth. Whilst clubbing and drinking undoubtedly fall under the category of “social aspects of Halls”, there is plurality there and thus clubbing is not all that there is to be done. Social aspects could include day trips to local cities, days out to theme parks, local trips such as bowling, ice

skating or paintballing and even things such as going to the cinema; all at a reduced rate. Without the JCR fee we wouldn’t be able to put on these events, let alone offer a discounted price. The variety and scope of social activities laid out by a JCR Committee will obviously vary from committee-to-committee.You must remember that we do this voluntarily alongside our undergraduate courses and so there will undoubtedly be times of the year when it is harder for a Committee to spare the time. It is therefore up to the Committee to get together as often as possible in order to arrange events for students in halls. You must remember that we do this voluntarily alongside our undergradate courses and so there will undoubtedly be times of the year when it is harder for a Committee to spare the time. It is therefore up to the Committee to get together as often as possible in order to arrange events for students in halls; whenever and wherever they can within the reasonable limits of the money they have been given. My personal perspective is that the JCR Committee is providing a service. While we are unpaid and our participation is voluntary, we need the JCR fund in order to be able to provide a service to students in Halls. The cost of the JCR fee s set by the JCR Committee before the arrival of Fresher’s, in conjunction with the Halls of Residence Warden. The fee is set in accordance with what service the JCR Committee think that they are capable of providing; not just in Fresher’s Week but throughout the entire year. At the end of the day we’re not looking to exploit money out of Freshers but to give to give them a truly fantastic year.


Friday 28 September 2012  Spark*


Welcome to Spark* Film & TV! Your number one place for the latest film and television reviews and comment articles. This issue we bring you a bumper edition featuring the hottest movies that scorched our screens this summer!

The Dark Knight Rises: boy, you are in for a show tonight, son Director: Christopher Nolan Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway Genre: Action/Drama Running time: 165 mins

the crazed madmen of the first two films. With undeniable intimidation factor, albeit shades of Alan Partridge in his voice, Bane is able to physically impose himself upon every scene. The unsung hero of The Dark Knight Rises is Sir Michael Caine

Steven Howse

Magnificent, perfection, genius, what words can describe the masterpieces of cinema that Nolan has created over the past 14 years. With a standard that equals the likes of Hitchcock, Scorsese and Kubrick, his latest instalment of the Batman franchise had stratospheric expectations. But leaving the Vue with a tear in my eye and smile worthy of the late great Joker, The Dark Knight Rises is quite simply gangbuster. This is no Godfather 3, it is no POTC 3 and it definitely isn’t a car crash like Spiderman 3. No, after a 4 year wait, the return of the cape crusader sits alongside the likes of Return of the King and

perfection, genius

Return of the Jedi as trilogy gods of Hollywood. Set eight years since TDK; with his reputation shattered by the climatic finish of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne must once again come to the aid of the people of Gotham as a brutal terrorist, Bane, plans to destroy the city.

“You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do with all your strength” echoed the Jokers in The Dark Knight. And while Batman brought the brawn in that film, Bane flipped the switch and matched Batman, bicep for bicep, and then some. With the shadow of Ledger over his enormous frame, gone were the days of

Through Alfred, the emotional heartbeat of the film is threaded through. Taking a typically dark character in Bale’s Wayne, Caine is able to break him down emotional in the likes we haven't seen since Woody and Buzz inched closer to the incinerator in Toy Story 3. Having Taken Liam Neeson long enough to return in a cameo, he, Oldman and Freeman slip effortless into their roles while newcomers in Cotillard and Levitt do their characters proud. Hathaway on the other hand is the injection of sex appeal that this franchise lacked previously. With a very tight suite to fill, Hathaway steals

every scene she enters. A pillar of feminine strength, and a body that would leave fan boys with tissue fodder for years, she reinvents the pun ridden pussy cat of yester year. Like the great El Cid Bale rises from the dead of The Dark Knight and put in a performance to carry the film. Famously fully committing his mind body and soul to his roles, he allows Bruce Wayne to connect to the audience emotionally that had previously been stagnated by the unconvincing performance of the somehow ‘loveable...’ Rachel Dawes. Amplifying the scale and special effects, Nolan was able to wield Gotham City and the all star cast like the conductor of a symphony orchestra. Taking his most beloved character, Nolan plucked at our heart strings easing us into giving our blessing to a franchise that will leave you more satisfied than a horny fresher with a draw full of condoms ever could.


Ted: the funniest film of the summer! Directed by: Seth MacFarlane Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis & Seth MacFarlane Running Time: 106 mins Genre: Comedy Nathan Taylor

This film is really f***ing funny. That statement is important for two reasons. First of all, if anyone is uncomfortable with crude language or humour, I’m doing you a favour. This film takes refuge in vulgarity, it crosses the line twice and ends up back on the funny side of things. It’s important you know that going in, so that you don’t end up horrified. Secondly, the film really is f***ing funny. The plot is pretty simple. A lonely young boy is subject to a Christmas Miracle when his teddy bear comes to life, and they resolve to be BFFs. Skip forward twenty years and they’re still BFFs, being room-mates and doing pot together. Bad things proceeds to

happen, the majority of the conflict coming from his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) resenting the fact that John (Mark Wahlberg) spends more time with Ted than with her. It gets a little bit soppy during the romantic moments but they’re infrequent and brief enough that they don’t get in the way.

In fact, they rather serve as a kind of reverse-comic-relief, giving you a breather between jokes and providing momentum to the plot. The cast is rather star-studded. Mark Wahlberg plays a stoner, waste-man in love and, for an action-star gives a very funny performance. Mila Kunis is as sexy as ever, and it’s nice to see more than her voice for once. She tends to take the comedic backseat, but plays a great straight man (woman). Seth MacFarlane is a bloody riot. The man got rich by putting his voice into sapient animals, and this film makes it clear why. The majority of the jokes in this film are made funnier by his comedic genius. Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton & Patrick Stewart all play minor roles, while Sam Jones, Norah Jones and Tom Skerritt all appear as themselves (as well as very famous additional actor who I won’t name). Not a single person fails to maintain the quality of the main cast’s performances. If I had to say something bad about the film, I would harp on about the deus ex machine at the

Ted: a summer smash hit, but was it worth the hype? This reviewer seems to think so. end [the ‘unsolvable’ ending is abrubtly solved], but in comedy like this a downer ending wouldn’t really be appropriate, I guess… To conclude, I really, really, really hope Seth MacFarlane makes another movie. Ted was funny as

hell, and I demand more. Go see this movie, please. I want Seth to make a ton of money out of this so he does another one.


FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - It has been revealed that Tranformers 4 is set to have a brand new cast of robot characters! The film is slated for a 2014 release...

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012


Brave: a very sweet film full of Celtic feist Directed by: Mark Andrews Starring: Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson and Billy Connolly Running time: 100 mins Genre: Animation/Action/ Adventure Zoë Annabel Richardson

Pixar’s latest offering is far more akin to their overseeing Disney branch than their usual outings, but still retains much of Pixar trademark style. The first Pixar film in which there is both a female protagonist, and is set in a history setting, it recreates the beautiful landscape of Anglo-Saxon Scotland and, keeping with the current main Disney studio, presents a strong, rebellious, headstrong female lead for little girls to look up to. It is odd to have a princess film without her singing about her problems, hopes, desires and dreams, but also quite refreshing, as singing would not fit the character of Merida (Kelly Macdonald), and pretty Celtic backing music is a viable substitute. The trailer for Brave gives very little away as to the main plot, so neither shall I in my review. I must admit, it took me by surprise and kudos to Pixar’s marketing

team to keeping said storyline under wraps. There is much akin to Pixar’s 2003 offering, Finding Nemo, with the story’s main focus being the parent/child relationship and that, whilst there may be arguments and rifts within a family, (and people do reckless and stupid things out of anger or “not being understood”), at one’s heart, your family is only looking out for your best interests.

However, whilst at 100 minutes, certain elements of the story seem rushed, with many plot points brought in, only to be acknowledged and concluded briefly, which is a shame, because they tend to be interesting, often inciting old-world tales of lost kingdoms or mysticism, and seem like they could be further fleshed out. Julie Walter’s witch, for example, could have been a far greater charac-

ter yet only has one scene before appearing again briefly and never seen thereafter. Whilst some may say that the film suffers from having no antagonist such as, say, Charles Munz from Up or Mother Gothel from Tangled, it is a tale of overcoming tradition and personal pride which is not personified through some gimmicky character. Nor is there a love interest, interesting

for a princess story, it is more of a tale of learning the different way people around you can love you, even if you may not know it at the time. There is no handsome prince or charming ruffian to sweep the princess off her feet, Merida challenges a tourney for her own hand. However, unlike previous Pixar fares, there is not a wealth of colourful, exciting, humorous characters, rather building on the relationship between Merida and her family, which can seem a shame at time considering how good Pixar is at making memorable supporting characters. Whilst it is cruel to compare this film to the previous ones from the same company, especially as it is made far more towards the Disney side of ‘Disney-Pixar’, comparisons are inevitable. La Luna, the preceding short to the film is equally sweet and heartwarming, reminiscent, surprisingly, of both The Little Prince and Super Mario Galaxy and is a joy to watch. Brave is a sweet film, whilst it falls short of Pixar’s usual charm and humour, it is a beautiful and carries a lovely message about mother/daughter relations that people can relate to, regardless of the means and setting.


The Bourne Legacy: no Bourne, but great nonetheless Directed by: Tony Gilroy Starring: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn Running Time: 135 mins Genre: Action/Spy Thriller Wandy Michelle Badipe

Legacy. Jeremy Renner is given the baton of rogue spy in this new addition to the Bourne series. This

new take on the film approaches the story of Treadstone without Jason Bourne, but instead explores the legacy of highly skilled government operatives through a new character; Aaron Cross. Cross is part of a secret government defense project that builds a form of super soldier by giving them enhancement drugs: green for physical, blue for neural. However when the government operation falls to pieces, Cross

Editor’s take:

finds himself alone, and running from the very people he thought were on his side. Bourne Legacy lives up to its summer blockbuster expectations, with adequate explosions, stimulating genetic science and a stellar cast. The movie is really gripping and doesn’t let go; causing your mind to constantly tick with questions.

the fight scenes and chases will leave your jaws wide open with awe The cinematography of this film doesn’t disappoint with stunning visuals of the snow-capped mountains of Alaska, the bright lights of Korea, the richness of Pakistan and the colour of the Philippines. These different and colourful scenes briefly quench the soul of one prone to wanderlust. In addition the fight scenes and chases that display Cross’ unique skills will leave your jaws wide open with awe. And the ending of the film, picturesque with an old

Filipino fishing boat, leaves the series open for further continuation. Even though Aaron Cross is no Bourne, he still does a pretty good job of kicking butt, and who knows if they make a fifth movie, Cross and Bourne could possibly come together, and target the CIA together. With a new film possible on the horizon, could this be yet another Bourne trilogy in the making?


This film was good, but it wasn’t Bourne. However, the new take on the popular franchise was good and we firmly realise that Jason Bourne was not the only one in the Treadstone programme. The only difference with this new character is that Aaron Cross already knows about the underlying conpiracy; so where Bourne was always confused and conflicted, Cross is not. Therefore it’s harder to empathise with him in some instances. Regardless, this film did exactly what it said on the tin, though it lacked some of the anticipation that the previous films had contained. The film continued its top-class actio sequences from previous films which makes it stand out from other action flicks. Jeremy Renner was superb and very convincing as a super-spy; with his character knowing about the conspiracy he is far more driven and almost darker. Plus, Edward Norton puts in a superb cameo performance. Definitely worth seeing if you’re a fan of the Bourne franchise!

FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - Joss Whedon has revealed that there is “no happy ending in sight” for Avengers 2. We can look forward to this on 1 May 2015.


Friday 28 September 2012  Spark*


The Amazing Spiderman: a great reboot Directed by: Marc Webb Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans Running Time: 136 mins Genre: Action

criticism, it is highly unlikely you will not enjoy this movie. With the majority of ends being tied up in a very satisfying way, the one strand left open is clearly what they are going to explore in the next film, which has been rumoured to be released in about two years time. All I can say is, can 2014 come any sooner?

Charlotte Coster

I have to admit, I have been looking forward to this film for a little while, ever since it was reported that Andrew Garfield had been given the title role. And, having not watched the other ones at all, this was the only thing which attracted me, along with a quite enticing trailer. But I was seriously glad that their advertising had worked on me. This introductory film to the wellknown tales of the super hero, sees Peter Parker (played by Andrew Garfield) as a normal teenager, complete with bullying, the nervousness when asking out Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and the typical angst of a slightly lost boy who never truly knew his parents. All seems pretty ordinary…until, of course, he gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains superhuman strength and abilities.

HHHHH See this article and more at The exact moment that these start to emerge, makes up one of the funniest scenes in the film. At this point, Parker has no idea of his own strength so lacks control of his flailing limbs that automatically take out all the innocent travellers who, unluckily for them, are sitting around him on the subway while he apologises profusely. The effect is hugely entertaining and this is one of many hilarious moments in the film. However, it is not all light hearted fun and these are interspersed evenly between really poignant

moments that will have you sobbing and such intense action that you can barely keep up. All in all, everything you want from a film, really. The one thing which the movie really lacks is a decidedly nasty villain who we can hate. Rhys Ifans is just too nice, so much so, I felt slightly outraged by his punishment at the end. Everyone loves to form a defiant group against the main villain, backing the hero wholeheartedly and you are unable to do this with Ifans. However, despite this very slight

tisements and, yes, even a triplebreasted prostitute serve to create a futuristic atmosphere.

this film makes no attempt to be realistic

Nathan Taylor

Sci-Fi/action films are the eggs & bacon of the film industry. The Sci-Fi release a juicy yolk of exciting sets and crucial exposition and the crispy, sizzling action soaks it all up and produces a delicious cluster of glorious action scenes and beautiful landscape shots that impregnate your mouth. So yes, Total Recall is a great meal of a movie, for a number of reasons. That number is two. The protagonist, Douglas Quaid, is an Australian who works at a Factory in Britain, commuting by way of ‘The Fall’; an elevator from one end of the country to the other. One day, he decides to sign up with Rekall, a service that provides false memories of adventure to its clients. He signs up for a ‘Secret Agent Adventure’ and becomes embroiled in the plot of an action film shortly after. The key mystery to this film is whether or not the events por-

trayed after Quaid’s visit to Rekall are real or fictitious. The technology in this film makes no attempt to be realistic and is to be expected given the premise. Flying cars, robot policemen and quarter-hour commutes across the planet are all commonplace. This is a good thing, however, as it results in flying car chases, free-running robot chase scenes and cost-effective transport of labour force. Behind the more blatant effects are a myriad of small details that make the whole presentation more impressive. Minor things such as neon tattoos, holographic adver-

At the same time, the effects are often deconstructed by the realistic implications of the effects. When Douglas tries to fight a robot in hand-to-hand combat, he gets a beat-down for his troubles. When he finds out the police are tracking him via the phone embedded in his hand, he has to cut the phone out with a piece of glass.

Charlotte Coster

10. A Cinderella Story (2004)

It stars Chad Michael Murray so of course every single teenage girl loves this movie. An unrealistically pretty underdog (Hilary Duff) is the modern Cinderella who eventually gets her Prince.

9. Hairspray (2007)

Sporting an all singing, all dancing, all-star cast, this is a much more realistic underdog story where the main character manages to outwit everyone and, as a bonus, snog Zac Efron.

8. She’s the Man (2006)

As it is adapted from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, this makes the film educational, right? Any excuse to stare at Channing Tatum topless (which he is for the majority of the film).

7. Wild Child (2008)

I know it’s English, but the main character is an American in school so that definitely counts. It displays a gently humorous comparison between English and American teenagers with a satisfying ending.

Total Recall: a great big meal of a movie Directed By: Len Wiseman Starring:Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale Running Time: 118 mins Genre: Sci-Fi/Action

The Top 10 American High School movies

Also serving to demonstrate the effort put into creating this film are the action-scenes, which are beautifully choreographed. Off the top of my head, Total Recall features two simultaneous fight-scenes set within the same elevator, a zero-gravity shootout at the centre of the earth, gore, intrigue, action, explosions, footchases, car-chases, shoot-outs, punch-ups, stunning visuals and Kate Beckinsale. To conclude, Total Recall entertains the hell out of you and looks good in the process.


6. The Amazing Spiderman (2012) Most of this is based outside of school with Peter Parker fighting to save the world. But I absolutely love the high school scenes – his attempts to chat up Gwen Stacey are wonderfully shy and awkward.

5. 17 Again (2009)

Zac Efron features for the second time in this list, as a 30 year old in a teenage body, who returns to high school to have a second go at his life and career.

4. Easy A (2010)

Not only is it absolutely hilarious, but is also an interesting comment on how American teenagers try to fit in and conform to be popular. Plus Emma Stone is gorgeous in it.

3. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

The second adaption of a Shakespeare in the list, this time of The Taming of the Shrew. Since when were American chick flicks so educational?

2.Grease (1978)

It’s a classic. That is all!

1. Mean Girls (2004)

Loved by males and females alike, I can’t put my finger on exactly why everyone adores this so much. Maybe it’s because we can all relate to it so well. But whatever the reason, it is just completely perfect and a worthy winner.

FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - a female-take on The Expendables is set to hit our screens with Gina Carano (2011’s Haywire) as the first confirmed cast member!

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012


Ice Age 4: Continental Drift: still cool ten years later Directed By: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary Running Time: 92 Mins Genre: Animation

(Wanda Sykes), who has inadvertently joined them. The franchise has been able to remain relatively fresh with the introduction of new characters and here there are plenty. Captain Gutt makes for a worthy opponent and a lot of the laughs come from the outbursts from Sid’s grandmother. The banter between the three main characters remains as amusing as it has always been, as has the adventures of Scrat.

Jonathan Edney

Animation giants like Pixar turn out (mostly) high quality films and other studios have begun to match them in recent years. In the background for the past ten years has sat a large woolly mammoth, a sloth, a sabre-toothed tiger and

a squirrel constantly searching for his beloved acorn. The Ice Age films have been a massive box office success and although this fourth instalment never scales the heights of the first Ice Age or Pixar’s best, it remains entertaining throughout. In a brilliant opening sequence, Scrat accidentally causes the land masses to break apart, separating Manny, Sid, and Diego from their friends and family. On their journey on an iceberg across the ocean, they come across sinister sirens and a band of pirates led by Captain Gutt. They also have to contend with Sid’s grandmother

The animation remains spectacular The past three films have seen a lot of development from Manny so it is nice to see Diego get a love interest in the form of Shira, a member of Gutt’s crew. Along the way there are morals about looking cool over real friendship and fatherhood but the main amusement comes from the herd themselves, still surviving together after many ludicrous events. The animation remains spectacular, particularly in the early sequences of the ‘continental drift’ and the humour is gentle enough

for kids but those of us who have now (sort of) grown up. There may be superior animated films out this year (the upcoming Autumn season of animations looks promising and Brave is marginally better) but the Ice Age franchise

continues to remain perfect for light-hearted ninety minute excursions every few years.


At Spark* Film & TV we like to include as many original feature articles as we can muster! Below we have brilliant features from ‘Writer of the Year 2011/12’ Tom Hill and overleaf be sure to check out Charlotte Coster’s actor profile for Hollywood’s hottest actor Zac Efron.

Feature article: make more films like comic books! what if he became a hobo and this leads into Hobo with a Shotgun? Wouldn’t that be a better movie universe than anything Marvel and Disney could produce? Hell, if you’re really thinking out there, what if Brokeback Mountain is in this universe too and everything that happens to Ennis is what causes a breakdown and creation of The Joker?

Tom Hill

Now that Avengers Assemble is all out of our system it got me thinking, why aren’t more films like this? Not the superhero action film genre, we have enough of those, but the idea of having an interlinking film universe.

why aren’t more films like this [comics].... having an interlinking film universe When the second wave of the Marvel universe films are released, it’s guaranteed that characters from each film will have cameos and scenes in each other’s films, why not? Why shouldn’t Bruce Banner be working in Stark Labs in Iron Man 3? So why don’t more films do this?

In some films you can even imagine it’s already happened In some films you can even imagine it’s already happened, it’s just

and should be read by anyone who likes the Batman films.

Why shouldn’t Bruce Banner be working in Stark Labs in Iron Man 3? Hopefully Jack and Ellie leave this in because I was voted ‘Writer of the Year 2011/2012’ and deserve to gush just this once. [We’ll leave it in - just this once!]

it even happens in shows like Casualty and Holby City

never stated that it’s meant to be this way. For example there’s a fan theory that brings up the idea of the start of Inception being the end of Titanic, which was a dream that Cobb had to live through to reach Sato in limbo. In Batman Begins, Liam Neeson’s Ras Al Ghul states that he once lost a great love and struck out against the world, what if Taken is actually this happening? After Rutger Hauer is fired at the end of Batman Begins,

This is what comic books are like all the time and it usually works well (The Night of Owls was fantastic, am I right?), it even happens in shows like Casualty and Holby City, and Quentin Tarantino does it with most of his films, so why not branch out and have The Expendables come up against a SPECTRE cell? The possibilities are truly endless. Film is escapism at its best, why not ramp it up a notch? If you’re really interested in this idea I recommend looking up the Tommy Westfall Universe Hypothesis, it’ll blow your mind.

What do you think? Visit what if everything that happens to Ennis is what causes the creation of The Joker? Finally I’d like to say that everyone should read The Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall and The Black Mirror, after seeing The Dark Knight Rises. They’re simply incredible

www.sparknewspaper to see more articles and have your say


Friday 28 September 2012  Spark*

film&Tv Actor profile: Zac Efron

Charlotte Coster

least. Since then though, it can be fair to say that he has come a long way. In amongst the High School Musicals 1,2 and 3 (2006, 2007, 2008) Zac starred in Hairspray (2007) and this forced me to slightly revise my opinion of him. Finally surrounded by a talented cast, he upped his game marginally in acting quality and showed that, actually, he really can sing! Take a look on YouTube if you don’t believe me where it shows him singing in interviews and live on TV programmes. And I reiterate, he really can sing.

I didn’t think he was overly talented when he played Troy Bolton Whilst I am writing this, I can almost hear your sighs as you turn over the page to reveal Zac: of longing from the females and disdain from the males. But for all our sakes, I will try to keep the drooling to a minimum.

After his popularity zoomed up the scale during High School Musical, it was only a matter of time before this hottie was snapped up for a chick flick. Which came in the form of basketball playing, popular Mike O’Donnell, in 17

his dancing [was] faintly enjoyable I can’t say that, at first, I was ever that big a fan of Zac Efron. Sure he was quite hot (well, I say quite…I meant very. Sorry, I promised not to drool). But I didn’t think he was overly talented when he played Troy Bolton during High School Musical (2006) which was the first notable time that he pranced on to our screens. I found his character annoying, his acting forced, his dancing faintly enjoyable and his singing electronically enhanced mediocrity. All in all, not a good write up, to say the

Again (2009); a predictably similar character to Troy. But then as we entered into the new decade, his role as the title character of Charlie St. Cloud (2010) dispersed the rumours that he had been type cast into playing teenage high school hunks for the whole of his career (well, until he became old).

has definitely grown up a lot. To our relief, there doesn’t seem to be a song or a dance sequence in sight, although he himself (as a self-confessed musical theatre geek), probably laments this. He has always said in interviews that

he wants to return to it, someday. So we will probably see him hitting Broadway pretty soon where we can drool at him in the flesh. Hopefully.

It almost seems as if he is a different person to the youngster he was a mere 6 years ago His mature and believable performance was one which he recreated to a similarly high standard two years later in the eagerly awaited version of Nicholas Sparks’ book The Lucky One (2012). Finally he has been able to show, not just how truly talented he is, but also how versatile he can be as an actor, dealing with themes that are a lot more advanced than his age.

we will probably see him hitting Broadway pretty soon His most recent film, The Lorax (2012) has seen him move in a slightly different direction once more, this time tackling an animated role. These are notoriously more difficult to act well in and we will have to wait for one of our reviewers to let you know how successful he was in this latest development of his skills. It almost seems as if he is a different person to the youngster he was a mere six years ago and he

Would you like to write for us? There are plenty of ways to get in touch with us.

Jack Marshall

Ellie Holland

Facebook - Email - Or come along to our meetings at 1pm every Friday in the Lounge Jack & Ellie FILM NEWS IN BRIEF - Director of Looper (this decade’s Matrix) Rian Johnson has expressed an interest in direction an episode of Doctor Who...just wow!

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012




Spark* takes itself to Richfield Avenue for our city’s essential festival giddiness-induced dancing/moshing/impromptu hand movements. Highlights tend to come from the debut Treats album, with set closer A/B Machines nigh on sending the retiring crowd into a chant of “Got my A machines on the table / Got my B machines in the drawer”, all while the Marshall amps are finally switched from on to off, with technical hitches an incomprehensible thing of the past.

NIKI AND THE DOVE Reading Festival Jamie Milton

No right-minded Reading University student can pass on the opportunity to take a 20 minute hike from the central station down to muddy Richfield Avenue, where hundreds of the world’s biggest bands unite for one alcohol-infused cause. Even £4.30 pints weren’t enough to put us off. Not even a fan with the word ‘KASABIAN’ tattooed across his forehead – seriously, this person exists - prevented us from having a good time. Below is a select pick of the best things Spark* saw at Reading 2012.

SLEIGH BELLS No matter how many Marshall amps you place on top of each other, you’re not going to discount the odd technical hitch. In fact, like the noise, chances of slip-ups are bound to be amplified, and so it’s not without surprise to have Sleigh Bells hampered slightly by dodgy sound from time to time,

and it’s a feeling of unparalleled ear-breaking pleasure when they do pull it off. A flock of bouncers gracing the front of the stage seem unnecessary when the group’s set begins. But by the end, each of the dozen is occupied with one crowd-surfer after the next, as those keeping on their toes get sucked into the fury and the intensity of such a magnificent wall of vicious, sexy noise.  Alexis Krauss reacts to a blown speaker by telling the crowd “we want this to be the fucking best for you!” but when one side of sound suddenly flicks out in a splitsecond, barely anyone in the front gives a damn. By now they’re all too caught up in the frenzy that two guitarists - band member Derek E. Miller and tourmate Jason Boyer - provide with hints of a smile on their faces.  Infinity Guitars shows Sleigh Bells at their face-slapping best, with Krauss’ backlit silhouette circling the stage, guiding the crowd into their own acts of


Following a vicious outpouring of mid-teens post Alt-J, triangle signs surrender and only a handful stick around for what could easily reckon as a potential Reading highlight. Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf regardless appear grateful of those that see sense in witnessing their sparkling Nordic pop, particularly as a handful becomes a steady flow of curious onlookers. The crowd is split between those that sing back every single word - not boastfully, more hushed and modest in appreciation - lost in the gooey glistening goodness of DJ, Ease My Mind and others who stand at more of a distance and take it all in. Niki & The Dove are a real sore thumb in this year’s line-up; not one single act comes close to providing such a magnificent feast of pop. The band’s set flows majestically, with the collision of Magnus Böqvist and Karlöf’s percussion a highlight. If you solely compare the set to the Alt-J en masse love-in that preceded, attention can wane. But it’s enjoyed best with eyes closed and the mind drifting in with the truly unique magic on display.


It’s hard to tell whether Azealia Banks is treating this just like any other performance, or if she’s on the brink of losing it. She definitely doesn’t seem phased when greeted with a Dance tent full to the brim of a crowd of all ages; from ravers with whistles purchased from Magaluf, to the average punter with a pint in their hand, who for better or worse can’t help but get glued into what turns into a chorus of jumping idiots. Wonderful idiots. 212 quite naturally closes. The now-famed Lazy Jay sample gives way to the loudest scream of the festival encountered so far, with every hopeless attempt to rap along to every single word only adding to the fun. It seems those attending know their way around an expletive, and rarely will you hear the ‘C word’ screamed with such volume and gusto.  Banks shrugs it off, pacing the stage with only the backdrop of her head-bopping DJ providing any distraction. As she swings from Van Vogue to Liquorice with nonchalance and ease, you almost deem her a little spoiled. This is the kind of reception every kid dreams of receiving. But then again, she’s merely acting as an assured entertainer. For all we know she could have exited the stage in floods of tears before calling her family back home. You wouldn’t blame her. The sheer scope of her fame was never more plain to see than in this cosy, sweaty Dance tent. It’s now just a case of waiting for this sought after debut album to cement her place in stardom.


The first time I heard Grimes call her music “future-pop”, I thought a little less of her. It all seemed pretentious, a little try-hard. But here you can see she’s speaking complete sense.  Preceding act The Japanese Popstars provide the kind of performance any Dance tent crowd will be more than accustomed to. And by the time it concludes, only a few glowstick and facepaintaddled revellers head for the exit. Whether they’re ready for the transition from party music to future party music, is hard to say.  This isn’t dance music, nor is opener Symphonia IX (my wait is u) anything to get people on their feet. This is more something to admire from a distance or stare at in awe, which a lot of Claire Boucher fanboys/girls seem to be doing throughout the entire set. But with the help of a topless male dancer and some free tshirts, the atmosphere is turned on its head. The strange purring figure (and really, it does look like he’s purring and pretending to be a wild animal, with his hand gestures) acts as a vanguard of strange interpretative dance. Once Oblivion enters its opening, distinguished notes, the atmosphere is suddenly soaked in a party atmosphere. There’s no coming back from it, and by the time Genesis and Phone Sex make an appearance, future pop has made its mark.

Siobhan Maguire has a close look at this year’s Mercury Prize contenders

Siobhan Maguire

The Barclaycard Mercury Music awards are an annual celebration of current musical talent around in the UK. Be it new artists, those who have been around for a while or simply epic live performances and gigs, the awards centre on commending the various mediums of British music. After months of speculation, the anticipated releases of the nominees for the 2012 awards were revealed on September 12. Twelve artists are up for the gong and for many the choices seem less eclectic than previous years. Among those nominated, there are some

surprises, most notably in the form of Plan B and his third album, Ill Manors. The record is a change in direction as a nomination, veering away from the standard ‘indie’ type choices. Plan B has been hugely congratulated on the record which seems to be so relevant in today’s society, delving into prevalent social taboos. Other celebrated nominees include female soloists, Jessie Ware (pictured, left) and Lianne Le Havas. Jessie shot to fame with her debut album, Devotion. She has well and truly earned her position in the industry with an identifiable sound and memorable songs. Lianne, much like Jessie is also more

than deserving of her nomination. A more up and coming artist, she has made her mark, being widely played and heard across the country. There is also an evident ‘folky’ vibe to the 2012 contenders for the Mercury Prize. Artists like Ben Howard, Sam Lee and Michael Kiwanuka have all come to the forefront to win the award and a pattern has evidentially emerged in their sound. Such a genre of music has proved majorly popular within the country over the past year and this is obviously reflected in this year’s awards. However, the nominations do not rid the more indie vibe entirely this year, infact they are caus-

ing a lot of anticipation. Bands including The Maccabees and their album, Given to the Wild, Django Django, with their eponymous debut release and Alt-J with An Awesome Wave are all up for the gong and rightly so. The indie staple sound evidently remains a force to be reckoned with. There has been some surprise at the exclusion of major artists like Florence and The Machine, however it is easy to see that each and every one of the nominees has been chosen for a reason. Infact the music world is dangled in suspense ahead of the ceremony, which will undoubtedly shock and excite as it does so year after year.


LIVE Download Festival Phillip Whittaker

Download festival will undoubtedly go down as the highlight of my year. The day before I arrived, I was still rotting away in Reading completing my final exam, which was on the mind-numbing topic of soil science. Download was the perfect cure for the countless number of hours I had put into revising and passing my first year.

Day 1 The rain had finally let off but the mud had turned stickier than treacle and it took a good hour to get to the main stage. Unfortunately Cancer Bats’ set was postponed till later that day due to the arena not being safe for the crowd in time. However, the Download crew put in a valiant effort and Fear Factory were able to perform (despite every act being forced to play 1 hour later than scheduled). Their set was pretty solid and they definitely got the crowd pumped. Punk group NOFX were up next and they were the first band that I went bonkers for. As soon they played hit Linoleum I dived into a mosh pit and got caught in the frenzy. Billy Talent followed with more high energy punk-rock and they excelled my expectations. Every song they played got the crowd moving and chanting along, in particular Fallen Leaves and latest single Viking Death March. Fur-

Spark*’s resident metal fan has the time of his life at Download Festival thermore, Billy Talent were great sports and allowed Cancer Bats to perform one song in the middle of their set. They earned a lot of respect from the crowd for this kind act. One of my all time favourite bands Machine Head dominated the main stage. The intensity of their songs resulted in a record being broken. During their song, Aesthetics Of Hate, Robb Flynn (lead singer/ guitarist of Machine Head) conjured up 29 circle pits, the most any band has created during a single song. I was able to use a couple of these pits to propel me to the front row for closer Halo. This was quite an impressive feat considering I was originally in the middle of 50000+ people. Machine Head are one of today’s greatest metal bands, if you ever get the chance to go see them live… do it. It would have been cool to see headliners The Prodigy, but I traded them in to see Les Paul wielding legend, Slash. He may no longer be part of Guns ‘N’ Roses, but boy does he put on a show. His flawless guitarwork and Myles Kennedy’s vocals are a match made in heaven. Nothing is cooler than seeing a guy in a tophat shred a guitar fretboard so fiercely that at any point it could spontaneously combust! A perfect finish to day one of Download.

Day 2

Fozzy were a good band to wake up to. Catchy riffs, but not too heavy meant that they were perfect for

a crowd who were mostly hungover. They certainly warmed the crowd up for the up and coming Halestorm. Lzyy Hale certainly has a set of lungs on her and damn can she play guitar! I was now pumped for the rest of day. Unfortunately, I was to be let down by Black Veil Brides. They were terrible, and that is not an unbiased opinion as I was actually looking forward to hearing them. Despite my optimism I found that Black Veil Brides lacked originality, had poor tone (strange considering the equipment they were using) and looked silly. Normal service resumed when Trivium exploded onto the stage. They sure don’t mess around when it comes to making metal. Mosh pits were abundant and every head was banging. I think the song that I enjoyed the most was A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation. I went wild for that one and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was surprised that they didn’t play more well known songs such as Anthem (We Are The Fire) and Becoming The Dragon, but that didn’t make the experience any less enjoyable. The band that I think put on the best show was Tenacious D. Pure brilliance is how I would describe them. Everything about their show was perfect. It had its weird moments ranging from a giant phoenix phallus, to dancing sea monsters to a possessed guitarist. The moment everyone was looking forward to was when they started to play their mega-single Tribute. Everyone in the crowd was sing-

ing along to the lyrics and we all felt unionised, even the Black Veil Brides fans. I would have been satisfied if that had been the end of my night, but I had much more in store. I managed to capture the last five minutes of Kids In Glass Houses and they seemed to be rocking out pretty hard. They were definitely better than Skindred who left me feeling disappointed. At times I felt bored and they just didn’t seem to convey much energy - really wish I’d gone to see Biffy Clyro instead. Now the grand-finale of this day was seeing Metallica. They played the entirety of the Black album but in reverse order, which was a nice twist. It definitely was the most visually appealing show of the day, with Metallica using a fair few sheds worth of fireworks and pyrotechnics.

of which, a haunting rendition of Eskimo Snow by Why? really attracted attention. Eliot James modestly charmed his way through a set of covers and originals, reminiscent of Deep Blue Something. And he even threw in a Busted cover for all us secret fans.

evening, next came the recently formed Weird Lookin’ Lizard. With grizzly, garage band guitars, and an accented vocal from front man Josh Elton, the band created a messy chaos of the best kind that could have given Milburn a run for their money. She’s already released her selfproduced January-March EP, and it was impossible not to be captivated by Eliza Shaddad’s (pictured, right) understated brilliance. Her intuitive understanding of volume only had us moving closer to her with the quietening of every note and her acapella performance of traditional folk song The Month of January epitomised this. Her delicate, folky blend of a gentle yet determined vocal drew me in to her emotional narrative and I’ve never fallen in love so fast. She even treated us to a battle rap. What a girl. The finale of the evening, Shout Timber suited up to give us a taste of Indie class. From the summery, Caribbean twang of Buccaneer to the folky, lyrical honesty of First Love, lead vocalist Alex proved that chivalry ain’t dead.

After an impressive first year, RUSS hosted RUSS Fest

RUSS Fest Thursday 21st June 2012 Katie Langford-Foster South Street Arts Centre Photo: E. Ellwood

Performers: Jake Hughes, Raspberry Lumps, Eliot James, Staphyloccurus, Rob Sowden, Weird Lookin Lizard, Eliza Shaddad and Shout Timber .

Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

After an impressive first year, Reading University Singer Songwriters hosted RUSS Fest, a daylong showcase of both student and external artists. First out was Jake Hughes, delivering a set that included his own songs Outside My Window and Miles Away, the latter of which had an Oasis twang to it. All angsty, teenage vocals and punchy acoustic guitar, Raspberry Lumps performed an impressive set of covers, the subtlest

Duo Staphyloccurus (pictured, left) delivered another tight performance of covers, rinsing the loop pedal to maximum effect and singer Becky’s girlie vocal put a unique spin on Ed Sheeran’s You Need Me, I Don’t Need You. Often playing as a part of his band Solar, Rob Sowden took to the stage solo tonight. The intricate entrance riff of Careful What You Wish For set the rustic, rocker tone of the set and ending on a Bowie cover was a ‘star’ move. Smashing through the so far chilled out ambience of the

Day 3

It was a magical moment when I arrived at the Pepsi Max tent. Shadows fall had just started to plug their instruments in and my pupils began to dilate due to the excitement brewing in my body. To make things even better, I was able to locate my best friend in the tent. We manically moshed away to their opening track The Unknown off their latest and best album to date Fire From The Sky. A circle pit erupted during my favourite song The Light That Blinds, it seemed like everyone in that tent was going crazy. James Cleaver Quintet followed and I really enjoyed them. They

had more of a heavy punk sound but with a demented twist. They were one of many surprises at Download and delivered some great songs; I will certainly look out for them in future My Download experience was slowly drawing to a close, as I only had two bands left to see. The penultimate band I saw was Soundgarden. Chris Cornell (lead singer of Soundgarden) does have a great voice but none of the band’s songs grabbed any real attention from me. The big finale was seeing Black Sabbath. I would have loved to see Rise Against, but as a Brummie it would have felt disloyal not to see the best thing to have come out of Birmingham. The pioneers of heavy metal showed us where it all started off and ripped through the classic Black Sabbath back-catalogue. All of their greatest hits were on offer tonight Paranoid, War Pigs, Iron Man and Children Of The Grave to name but a few. Black Sabbath might be ancient but they still have it. There is something special about them and it will be a sad day in history when they leave us for the great gig in the sky. Download is currently the biggest rock and metal festival going and I shall be attending for many years to come. Nothing beats seeing a ton of your favourite bands within a 3-day period. Considering how many bands are on offer it is great value for money and it has opened up my eyes to quite a few bands who I would have never considered before.


The Vaccines Come of Age Columbia

Siobhan Maguire

If I were to tell the truth, I can’t say that I have ever been a massive fan of The Vaccines before now. In fact listening to their older stuff, and comparing it to the new, I can see why. Come Of Age is the band’s second album and the recent release has rid all of those sceptics of the band and replaced any bad feeling with only positive. The bands second album is an instant burst of vibrancy when likened to the band’s debut album, What Did You Expect? and their sound is invigorated and fresh in comparison.

Billy Talent Dead Silence Warner Bros

Phillip Whittaker

Seeing Billy Talent at Download Festival cemented my position of being a hardcore fan of the band. Hearing that they had a new album on the way was music to my ears. To me this album sounds like it draws on all of their previous experimentations and it manages to blend all of their qualities like a fine scotch whisky. It’s definitely a step in the right direction for them. Benjamin Kowalewicz has fine-tuned his vocals, Ian D’Sa keeps on chugging away with his


We’ve got the verdict on some of the past summer’s most exciting releases.

There is an undeniable difficulty to make a mark in the industry these days, never mind attempting it as a rock or indie band, due to such fierce competition. However, Come Of Age is an album which has made everyone notice The Vaccines for their true potential for greatness. The opening song and single release on the album, No Hope certainly made my ears prick up at first listen. What with its witty lyrics and catchy melody, by the end of the song I already found myself singing along. The rest of the album follows suit. As a listener, I was drawn in by the various intriguing song titles. Weirdo, Aftershave Ocean and Bad Mood have an element of humour, whilst resonating the bands signature Sixties sound. All of the singles on the record present strong guitar riffs and equally as intense vocals and the album as a whole is a rollercoaster of musical individuality. The Vaccines certainly deserve the praise to which Come Of Age has given them. It is an album which stands out from other current releases around. It is unique in every way and depicts a more mature image of the band which has not gone unnoticed.

HHHH catchy chords, Jonathan Gallant strums the hell out his bass and Aaron Solowoniuk conjures up some tasty beats. Comparing it to their previous trilogy, I would say that this album definitely has a darker feel to it. They continue with their politically based themes and retain that edgy post-hardcore sound. Also notable on this album is the prevalence of more piano than on previous releases. The absolute standout on the record is second single Surprise Surprise. To me it sounds like a more sinister version of Red Flag (from Billy Talent II). It’s aggressive in a different way. Red Flag had a more positive style, upbeat form of aggression. Surprise Surprise just sounds vengeful and gritty. Another track I’d like to point out is Dead Silence. It is very anthemlike and hence is the closing track. It’s got that hopeful tinge to it and I love the background chorus of oh’s and woah’s that really give the song some atmosphere. It leaves you craving for more, as it slowly fades away into the distance. Overall the album is incredibly solid, with virtually no flaws. Not one single song on the album is designed just to take up space and

The Truth About Love P!nk RCA

George Reed

Motherhood often changes people. The birth of a baby usually alters a person’s perception to the beauty of life and love, changing their attitude as much as their figure. But clearly having little baby Willow has had no such effect on American singer-songwriter Pink, who returns for her sixth studio album, The Truth About Love. With an album title like this, it’s easy to think that maybe an LP of love ballads would follow. But starting point Are We All We Are smashes that idea completely, with Pink kicking off the album her usual fist pumping anthem style.

sit pretty amongst its superiors. Each holds their own ground and adds further meaning to the album as a whole. This is a politically fuelled weapon of mass destruction and with it, the walls will come crashing down. Personally I think Billy Talent are Canada’s best export (apart from maple syrup, of course).


Bob Dylan Tempest Columbia

Rosie Knight

This continues through to the cheeky first single, Blow Me (One Last Kiss). It’s a fun and flippant break-up song, with enough uses of the ‘S’-word to make any laugh. The pop-rock style is something Pink is very good at, yet it’s not the only one that features on this album. Try could be technically classed as a ballad, with its emotive lyrics and slower tempo, especially after the furore of the first two tracks. But this is a ballad with typical Pink flair, with heavy drum beats and rocking guitars. Yet these get stripped away for Just Give Me A Reason, a true ballad that questions where a relationship is going and if it could last. It features the first of several intriguing collaborations, with Nate Ruess, lead vocalist of Fun, brilliantly singing the male half of the lyrical ‘fight’. And in a Mothers-United movement, Pink is joined by recent music retiree Lily Allen, under her new name Lily Rose Cooper, for True Love. Although Lily’s vocals only last for one verse, it’s a welcome return from the previous Queen of British Pop. Then several tracks later US rapper Eminem brings a dark edge to Here Comes The Weekend. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but it does add another level to this album. One thing Pink doesn’t do is soft and sweet, and her frank opinions

can be clearly seen in Walk Of Shame and Slut Like You, where she shows women can be sexual predators too. It’s explicit, loud and surprisingly fun, especially with Pink’s hilarious inter-verse mutterings and the choral “WooHoo”s.

Fearing that the album may not live up to the reputation of the 11 time Grammy Award winner, (especially considering some of his releases of recent years  – yes, that Christmas album), it is always with baited breath that we await the latest offering from Bob Dylan.  However, Tempest, which is Dylan’s 35th studio album, does not disappoint, but instead secures his prolific musical reputation. Tempest sums up Dylan as a musician; encompassing the wide range of influences, styles and subject matter that is so typical of Dylan’s music. Opening with the jaunty riffs of songs such as Duquense Whistle and Narrow Way, Dylan’s country blues is at once light and animated, but stays raw and growling.  Not consistently blithe, Dylan’s music reaches deep sadness, perhaps all the more resonant as sung by an aging man who, in songs such as Long Wasted Years, tells the listener of his loneliness, dark secrets, failed loves. The music is honest, and personal. And his trademark growling voice is only seasoned by age. The beauty of Tempest is in the diversity of the album. From the sad and ballad-esque, Dylan goes

dark, bitter, even vengeful.  Tracks such as Pay in Blood are macabre, as Dylan laments “I could stone you to death for the wrongs that you done”. But Dylan’s work doesn’t remain centred around himself: in Roll on John he remembers the life of John Lennon in a lyrically moving memoriam, and the 14 minute title track in the Irish folk style so clear in much of Dylan’s work, he story-tells the sinking of the Titanic. Tempest is an album that cannot be bound by genre, scoping across the different styles and influences so prevalent in Dylan’s work.   Admittedly, Tempest lacks some of the catchiness of his most popular hits. But it’s true to form – it’s honest, personal, and varied. Dylan, exactly 50 years since his first studio album, proves that he is still the prolific musician that he was in his heyday. Tempest, the Shakespearean play from which Dylan has drawn the album title, was Shakespeare’s last – and you can’t help but think that if this is Dylan’s way of bowing-out, he’s done it in true style.

It’s explicit, loud and fun Her honest look at modern day love continues in title track Truth About Love, which showcases the nasty, yet truthful truth about relationships. Beam Me Up reveals Pink’s vulnerability, and in doing so, her true vocal talent. If you came to this review convinced that Pink is just a shouting diva, you should turn to this acoustic guitar piece or the piano-led album closer The Great Escape. This is an album of many pleasant and surprising twists and turns. Overall, this album is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, an eclectic mix of rock pop anthems and honest truths. Even upbeat love songs contain darker hidden lyrics that offer a blunt and human look at relationships, with all their highs and (very low) lows. Pink sings about real emotions and in doing so produces tracks that are instantly relatable.



TU 285x330.pdf 1 29/08/2012 11:47:54


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

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Spark* Friday 28 September 2012



Enjoy it...but not too much. A review of 50 Shades of Grey Charlotte Coster

At the beginning of this summer, a new craze that has crudely been named ‘clit lit’ has swept through our nation, seducing almost all women that it has met. And it all began with one little piece of writing that originally started its life as Twilight fanfiction. I don’t think even the author could have predicted just how big 50 Shades of Grey became, outselling even Harry Potter within a few months. I don’t know whether that says more about the book itself or about the females that populate Britain. 50 Shades of Grey tells the story of university student, Ana Steele who by chance meets multimillionaire Christian Grey. Of course, she is immediately dazzled by his amazing looks and he is intrigued by her innocence. So they then have a ‘relationship’ of sorts where he reveals some very particular

sexual tastes and she spends the rest of the book trying to decide whether she loves it or is terrified. What is most confusing about the trilogy is that, despite its huge popularity, the writing itself is actually pretty poor. The descriptions are dull, the conversations are repetitive and the plot is somewhat unrealistic.

The descriptions are dull, the conversations are repetitive and the plot is somewhat unrealistic Furthermore, the formation of the characters is extremely weak. You reach the end of the novel knowing very little more about the characters than you did at the beginning. By the end of the

third one you do know a bit more, particularly about Christian but all that you find out about Ana is that she is intensely annoying and gets angry about little things that don’t actually matter at all. James took far too much effort in trying to make her feisty, so much so that her argumentative nature just seemed a little obtuse.

all that you find out about Ana is that she is intensely annoying Yet still we read it which I can only put down to a fairly enticing plot and even though you can guess the end, you do want to see whether or not the characters manage to settle down nicely. On top of this it is quite educational on how you shouldn’t write a novel and includes every single ‘don’t’

Yesterdays’ Dreams Lucy Snow

You don’t know me. How could you understand? I’m kept in the shadows where he hit me with wounding words. The firing bullets pierced my diseased heart, pouring out pain with every pulse. Broken. Beaten. Bitter. I weep mascara rivers; streams, oceans. Drain him out of me. Forget him. Forget yesterday’s wishes. I have bleak brown pebbles for eyes. I avoid facing your gaze. Or you witnessing my gaunt and cold complexion, marked by miserable memories. Scarred.

Black armour covers this bony carcass, the corpse of a victim, the shell of a woman. Tonight I’ll lay awake, just as I always do. Remembering today’s Nightmares. I reflect out this window, reminisce on my world behind the virgin white veil. Guarding my grief; covering the truth...abused bride. If only I could have escaped that chapel, these chains. I am the ashes of another life. Another woman. Cigarettes. My drug. My dose. Another moment of devilish ecstasy; I savour it... One cinder slowly drops, my dignity.

Yesterday’s abandoned hopes. Opposite, the gormless house glares. Its dark pokey slits attempt to catch a glimpse, I am the mystery. The sinister silhouette. Standing still. I feel it staring, burning into me; it’s as if they know. Do they? Delicately I clasp the clutch bag, containing my saviour, my way out... Today’s delusion. You don’t know me. How could you understand? I couldn’t take it anymore. The heat of the moment. I fired. Bang! My guilt lies in this purse. Forget him...Forget.

Hello potential writer! Yes, I mean you!

If you are interested in writing reviews of:

• Books • Theatre performance • Comedy Gigs • Galleries

or would like to submit a short story or other creative work, then please contact Lucy Snow at:

Over the summer, 50 Shades of Grey has been praised, but also ridiculed. Photo: that is on a teacher’s tip list (take that from a trainee teacher!!). However, if you are willing to ignore this and are desperate for

something relaxing to read that takes no brain power at all, then this is definitely for you. Sit back and enjoy…but not too much.

It’s Saturday, I’m not in love Lora Barton

It was supposed to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, the rarest of musical experiences – Friday night at the Reading Festival headlined by none other than 80s alternative legends, The Cure. Since the age of 14 it had been my greatest ambition to see this iconic musical act live; unfortunately the real thing didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Perhaps The Cure are not the kind of act who should headline a festival, seeing as the majority of their fans are over fifty, and their set may have been better suited to a seated venue.

Perhaps The Cure are not the kind of act who should headline a festival I had anticipated to be overcome with goose bumps and hysterical fits of crying, but when Robert Smith opened with the lesser known Open from the album Wish I got the feeling that I was not the only disappointed fan in that musky, chilly field. I longed for the hypnotising chords of Push to send a shiver through my body and remind me that yes! This was it! This was the actual Cure playing right before my very eyes. I had to wade through six whole tracks before this moment arrived, by

which time my disappointment could not soothed. Half way through the set I was so cold and quite frankly bored that I wanted to stop watching and go elsewhere. This poor set list is what definitely let The Cure down most. Credit has to be given to Robert Smith, who gave a good performance for someone almost old enough to claim his free bus pass. But the band itself lacked the ability to truly draw a crowd in; there was no magic in the performance and the band members simply didn’t exhibit that enigmatic kind of persona that a headlining band at a sell-out festival should possess. The festival itself seemed to lack that kind of friendly peaceand-love spirit you expect to be enveloped in, and generally people were more concerned about taking tabs of ecstasy than soaking up any genuinely unique musical encounter.

the festival itself seemed to lack that kind of friendly spirit you expect Hence today, Saturday, I did not wake up with a renewed passion for The Cure as I had expected. Rather I am left feeling disillusioned about my musical heroes and doubting the overall Reading Festival experience.


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

We’re off to see the wizard…of Oz London Palladium Starring: Sophie Evans and Des O’Connor Charlotte Coster

On 24th August 2012 I made ‘Coster history’, and went to see my first ever West End show! And what a one I managed to pick. Sneaking into one of the last showings of the Wizard of Oz (as it is due to close on the 2 September), I was lucky even to get a ticket. The theatre was absolutely rammed, as the audience all wanted to say farewell to the classic musical and I don’t doubt that it’s going to stay just as packed throughout the remaining eight days. Resurrected by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s somewhat cheesy hand, I was impressed at how true the musical stayed to the original film. Obviously, it had all the main recognizable hits such as Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, Follow the Yellow Brick Road and, of course,

Somewhere Over the Rainbow. These were beautifully performed by Sophie Evans, who played a red haired version of Dorothy to absolute perfection. She was feisty yet totally sweet at the right moments, maintained a realistic Kansas twang and handled Toto with wellpracticed control. She was clearly a dog lover. Most importantly, she was also pitch perfect.

that they became firm favourites with everyone, above all with the children.

I was lucky even to get a ticket Finally, what added to the show in a way I have never seen to the same high standard, were the great use of sound and stage effects, used constantly throughout. These are unequal to anything that a regional theatre can offer and enhanced the whole fantastic experience in such a way that I am sure it is one I will never ever forget.

Evans played a red haired version of Dorothy to absolute perfection I watched her on the BBC talent programme a couple of years ago, that landed her the role (after she was declared runner up) and, although back then she displayed her ability, it still didn’t really prepare me for just how good she was. The two extra years of training meant that she gave a polished performance throughout the whole

Above: the classic cast of the musical Below right: the current production show that I wouldn’t be able to fault, even if I had wanted to. The rest of the cast were of a similarly high standard; particularly Des O’Connor (Wizard); Edward Baker-Duly (Tin Man);

Paul Keating (Scarecrow) and Marianne Benedict (Wicked Witch of the West); with no one putting a foot or a note wrong. Their gently humorous scripts and frequent interactions with the audience meant

Top five books to read as a fresher Liberty Jackson

Starting university is a very big step to make, and can be scary at times! Sometimes it’s nice to escape to a world you can’t control. So I thought I’d recommend a list of books I feel everyone should read during first year. Some of them are not directly related to university exactly, but if you read them, you’ll understand why I included them on the list!

5. Before I Die by Jenny Downham. (Now republished as Now is Good, due to the film coming out recently.) It is absolutely fantastic. I had never heard of a bucket list before reading this book.

It is absolutely fantastic More recently however, it has come to be a common turn of phrase, not least due to Alice Pyne and her blog - http://alicepyne. Alice has coincidentally been invited to the premiere of the film adaptation! It is so real, so moving, so sad and had me in tears by the end! It’s a story about making the most of today. I’m not saying you should try everything she does (!) but the message from the book is clear;

to embrace every opportunity you are given because you don’t know how long you’ve got. And hey, you’re only a fresher once!

4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I read this over the summer, as it’s new out. It is a beautiful book, inspired by a true story. I think everybody should read it. It helped me to understand so much more about living with something that you feel you only have one escape route for. Not your typical boy meets girl story, Lou Clark meets Will Traynor in the most unusual circumstance.

Not your typical boy meets girl story The book tracks their relationship as it grows and reaches its climax. In my first year at uni I met so many people who have inspired me to do so much more with my life than I do at the moment. They are all achieving amazing things, even with the card life has dealt them. Having read this after meeting these people I realised it’s not so easy for everybody. Life takes people on all kinds of journeys and you can never judge a situation until you are in that person’s shoes exactly. If you will, never to judge a book by its cover.

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Most recently a film starring Emma Watson, with a plotline and narrative voice that rang true of classic The Catcher in the Rye, it gripped me from start to finish. A story of love and identity, it’s hard to fully grasp until you read it. It centres around a boy named Charlie who is just trying to get through the teenage years unscathed.

A story of love and identity Often falling by the wayside, his viewpoints are unique and the storyline fresh. The best thing about this book, or at least why I loved it so much is because it includes playlists of songs that perhaps should be played alongside reading it.

2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger. As a fresher, you’re finding your feet in a new world; trying to figure out who you are and what you want out of life. The book follows the story of Holden Caulfield, a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. The novel’s main pull is its observations rather than its plot intrigues (as there

isn’t much of one!) The style is reflective of conversation, as though Holden is speaking to you personally and that you, too, have seen through the pretences of the American Dream, growing up unable to see the point of living in, or contributing to, the society around you.

you, too, have seen through the pretences of the American Dream A contradiction to what we are doing at university perhaps, but should reaffirm our decision as to what we are doing here and why.

1. One Day by David Nicholls. The ultimate university aim isn’t it? To meet your soulmate. Though all may not be rosy for Em and Dex, this book is impossible to put down.

this book is impossible to put down Set over twenty years, focusing on one day each year, it follows their lives after meeting. And that’s more-or-less all I can tell you without spoiling it!

Another top Freshers book Leaving home for the first time and setting off for university, although exciting, can also be a very daunting experience. Add to the mix the real struggle to balance academic work with necessary part-time jobs to fund their studies, and university life can be tough. Being able to find out what university is really like, from those that are there or have recently graduated is a great way for many students to prepare. Lauren Lucien recently completed a Creative Writing with English Literature degree. She started writing her book in the second year of university, frustrated there wasn’t a book that students could relate to. University Life: Making it Work for You, she says, ‘offers students a candid, accessible insight into what life at university is really like and how to get the most out of their time there’. ‘It’s the most up-to-date guide for students that offers authentic advice and strategies on how to cope with everything - from Freshers’ week, living in halls and private housing, cooking, how to keep yourself healthy, how to successfully tackle assignments and manage exams, right down to ways of striking the right balance between work and life’. Written in a genuine, student-friendly style this is an essential guidebook for today’s students.

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012


FASHION Fashion Week highlights: London & New York Sabina rouse

London Fashion Week 2012 saw Spring/Summer 2013 trends breathing a breath of fresh air onto the catwalk, with designers taking a new look on the modern working-woman look. Mulberry especially portrayed this modern femininity well, through a colour palette of sweet pastels – though not overly girly - featuring watercolour colours of just-off candy pink, light aqua and sweet fresh orange, representing the best of British summertime. However, even though the colour palette did bring a strongly defined feminine feel to the collection, this collection was definitely more for the grown-up woman. Strongly coloured camel leather capes draped casually – yet smartly- over the models backs, with a high peter pan collar and three quarter length sleeves gave Mulberry a distinctively unique feel. The embellishment on the outfits was not overpowering, but very minimalist, whilst still standing out. Huge flower buttons gave the collection an element of fun, and an extremely feminine yet modern feel.

Another collection with a distinct summery and fresh look was that of Burberry Prorsum. Like Mulberry, Burberry also featured capes and trenches, yet with a distinctive twist, in foil and metallic shades of raspberry, gold, emerald and yellow. However it wasn’t all glitz and glamour, with models bearing pure white trench dresses with three quarter sleeves – a modern twist on the classic Burberry trench. Dip dye dresses were also extremely popular, with dresses two-tone of red and fuchsia, and grass-green and aqua. Yet it was the end of the show that was the real stunner. An army of models clad intrench coats of rainbow jewel shades hit the runway hard, reminding us to remember that Burberry really is the go to designer for trenches. One of the stars of New York Fashion Week SS12 was undoubtedly Victoria Beckham. Her collection ‘Victoria, Victoria Beckham’, was based on her own needs of what she herself would wear, giving it a somewhat more practical compared to other designers’ SS12 collections. The collection comprised of shift dresses, loosely shaped and more freely structured than one would expect of Mrs

Beckham – tight figure hugging dresses being her trademark. The colour palette was fairly minimal, with reoccurring shades of blue, white, light khaki and black, making the dresses an ideal option for daywear. Whilst the designs were kept to a minimal, they undeniably represented Victoria Beckham’s stylish approach to fashion. The collection took on an almost architectural design, with cut out tops and panels in dresses making a bold statement. As expected, Beckham paired almost all of her designs with sky-scraper heels, adhering to her own classic daytime look. Oscar de la Renta showcased a collection that was the complete antithesis of Mrs Beckham’s. Close attention to detail was paid to each piece, including accessories and jewellery, which played a significant part in contributing to the lavish and opulent atmosphere. Feminine appeal was translated into the collection by the deep plunging v-neck blazers, whilst still retaining a modernity and without crossing the line into the girly. Geometric patterns were seen on key pieces and the collection was also a showcase for the vivid colour palette.

Shopping in Reading cicely Groom and Jenny purves

Located in the heart of Reading town centre, The Oracle is the goto shopping venue for all the shops that students know and love. With buses running direct from campus to just outside the shopping centre, you will never find an excuse not to nip into town for a quick fashion fix. Inside The Oracle you will find all the names you love, including Topshop, Zara and French Connection, as well as classic student favourites such as New Look and H&M for those fashion-savvy girls who know how to shop smart without breaking the bank.

After picking up all your beauty essentials in Boots, The Body Shop or even LUSH, the escalators will lead you straight out onto Broad Street where the brands just keep on coming. Situated along this thriving high street you’ll find River Island, Miss Selfridge and Accessorize, with a Starbucks no more than two minutes away when you’re craving a macchiato and a chance to drop your shopping bags. For those thrifty, vintage-lovers amongst you, Reading boasts Frock & Roll, a superb vintage store located just outside of town. After opening in 2010, this small shop has developed a huge fan-

base, with customers returning again and again to rifle through their wide selection of hand-picked vintage gems. Additionally, if you are one of those lucky girls who can find a Chanel jacket in a small branch of Oxfam, Reading has plenty of charity shops, as well as a TK Maxx, where you’re sure to find a bargain (or six...) When you’ve exhausted all the shops have to offer, head to The Oracle Riverside and grab some dinner or maybe treat yourself to a cocktail. For a Cosmopolitan Carrie Bradshaw would be proud of, pop over to The Mix cocktail bar and clink your glasses to a successful shopping trip.

Autumn 12/13 Syahirah Syed Jaafar

Syahirah Syed Jaafar gives her views on the best Autumn 12/13 trends. This season sees a surge of trends with a more bold effect. Continuing on from the previous season, we continue to see a variance of colours, this time darker yet just as striking, on the top catwalks. Certain looks have been sparkled up with embellishments, although others have been toned down by adding in feminine features. We’re seeing more emphasis on trousers and waist belts that add to the statement effect, as well as other must-have wardrobe items. Plenty of boldness to embrace this Autumn but the outcome is an effortless makeover. Here’s a more detailed analysis of what’s hot this Autumn! Lace details/ light embellishment: A lot of looks this Autumn are bold, yet sophisticated, almost edgy, but not too over the top. To add variance to the look designers look to add embellishment to the clothing, whether lace work or

decorative stones – both of which spice up the dark colours of this season, creating a fancy appeal. Printed trousers: Summer may be over but designers are still mad about prints, especially printed trousers that are all about sass and style. Simply pair them with a white tee and a leather jacket and you’re rocking the town. So hip! Oversized coat: There is something unusually stylish about wearing an oversized coat and this season sees a surge of it. Super comfortable and edgy, it’s a must have wardrobe item. Statement overbelt: Nothing quite adds the cherry on the top to an ordinary look than adding a statement overbelt to it. Works with anything, but mostly cardigans, jackets and coats. Remember, the bigger the better! Peterpan collars: In this season, peterpan collars make an appearance that effortlessly adds style to your look. The elegant curves of the collar are a sophisticated feature, and be it a simple cotton cardigan or a dress, peterpan collars suit all looks.


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

Top fresher fashion tips Freshers Ball Hannah ridyard

The best thing of all about returning to university is the ‘campus catwalk’. With freshers comes fashion. Some good, some bad, some of it very, very ugly. When I began my first year here at Reading, I was far more concerned with what was going to be campus chic than whether I had prepared for my course enough or if I was going to miss home. You may ask, why the big concern? What does it matter what you wear, if you’re just hanging about on campus? My answer to this is that fashion and freshers go hand in hand because they make a statement about who YOU are to the people who want to get to know you and vice versa. Not to mention the way you dress can act as a platform for friendship, inspiration and even healthy competition.

Since I was a fresher here too, only a year ago, I have stored up some essential fashion advice for both fresher’s week and for the rest of the year to help you get through. 1.) Please do not be concerned with what the opposite gender thinks of how you dress. The majority of the girls I spend time with dress for themselves and other girls, not guys. And nine times out of ten, they are far more stylish than those who do. Legs out or boobs out – there will be plenty who choose to do both, don’t be one of them. 2.) Only impulse buy if it’s versatile. Think about how long a trend is going to last, whether it really suits you and whether it’ll travel into next season before you spend precious student pennies on it. You want to make your ward-

robe as big as possible without the expense. 3.) Different accessories can make the same outfit look like a new one, and cheap jewellery doesn’t have to look cheap so invest in some bold accessories to mix up your looks. 4.) Borrow as much as possible! Hopefully you will be as lucky as I was in that I had very generous girl mates with extensive wardrobes. It will come to a point where no matter how big your wardrobe is, you just have nothing to wear, so swapping garments is a great idea for a night out, as long as they are returned safe and sound obviously! 5.) Bulk buy on basics like vest tops and anything else you buy after will work around them. Good luck to all you freshers and keep classy on the campus catwalk.

Autumn essentials Erin Harding

It’s time to say goodbye to short shorts and flip flops and hello to some fabulous autumn musthaves! The Blazer – Blazers were made for autumn, and now they are once again enjoying a fashion high. A common misconception is that they are fitted and stiff, not suitable for every day wear, however, there are plenty of looser and more chilled out options on the high street this autumn. The beauty of the blazer is its versatility – whether worn with a statement T and high-tops or a silk shirt and brogues it will always look at home! Cropped Cigarette Pants – Timeless yet edgy, cigarette trousers will add sophistication to any autumn outfit whist flaunting your fashion credentials. Topshop

sport a printed selection whilst ASOS has some more classic navy, grey and nudes. Tomboy flats such as brogues and loafers will match perfectly with the cigarette trousers, or for a more glamorous look, a pair of elegant heels. And although they don’t always look it, they’re super comfy – added bonus. Oversized silk scarf/snood – printed scarves and snoods effortlessly spice up any outfit, and can add a bit of colour to the dull autumn back drop. Go for the oversized option to make it the centre piece of your outfit whilst adding a twist to the classic snood or scarf. ASOS, River Island and Primark are all great places to grab one. Buying a snood or scarf will transform an outfit with little effort, and perfect if you want to treat yourself without feeling too guilty!

Peplum dress- Topshop £48 Poppy Nowicka

The Fresher’s Ball is the perfect way to end what will have no doubt been one of the best weeks of your life. However, after all the previous fancy dress themed nights out, many Freshers haven’t got a clue what to wear! The theme this year is Casino Royale, although as it is held at the Union, the dress code is more relaxed than a traditional ball, with most people opting for smart going out attire. To ensure you round off Fresher’s week in style and get the most out of finally dressing how you would like to (rather than in your

Requirements: · A strip of wide ribbon (manmade fabric like polyester satin is best because it curls when burned) · Scissors · Needle and thread · A flame Take your ribbon and fold it concertina style until you end up with a square. Next round off the top two corners so the square has a curved top. Unravel your ribbon and it should be a long strip with a bumpy top edge, the same idea as making a paper doll chain. These bumps along the top of your strip

will make your petals. Cut off the first petal horizontally so the end tapers from about 2cm getting wider towards the second petal. Now singe the edges of the petals/bumps. This will seal the edges from fraying and cause the fabric to curl slightly, but be careful it doesn’t catch fire! Tie a knot in one end of your thread and sew a running stitch along the bottom of the strip, this is really easy and just goes in, out, in, out etc. Pull the thread tight so that the strip bunches up then secure the end with a knot. Hold the narrowest part of the tapered end between your thumb

hall colours or as some kind of animal) spend some time choosing an outfit. Consult with your friends about what you are going to wear.

Think glamorous, elegant, casino inspired garments A cocktail dress is a popular choice, or alternatively a combine a skirt and top. Think glamorous, elegant, casino inspired garments; sequins, diamonds and embellishment. If your wardrobe doesn’t produce what you’re wanting to wear, just go shopping in town!

Get involved with Fashion Spark*! Calling all writers, photographers, illustrators and more! If you would like to be involved with the Fashion page of Spark* newspaper and have your work published, sign up at the Freshers’ Fayre, or alternatively, join the

How to make a fabric flower Lily Stokoe

Fail-safe LBD- River Island £32

and finger and wrap the strip around, creating a flower, then secure by stitching it together. You can use these however you fancy, make them into hair accessories, brooches, jewellery; use them to decorate shoes, cardigans; or even things around the house like cushion covers. Try making 3 or 4 strips in different fabrics or colours so when you wrap them into a flower they’ll be colourful and fuller. For more tutorials, socials, ideas and like minded people join the Vintage and DIY fashion society. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, RUSU or Tumblr.

mailing list by emailing fashion. Find us at: FB group- Spark* Fashion & Beauty Section 2012/13 Twitter- @FashSpark Pinterest- FashSpark

Spark* Friday 28th September 2012



BEAUTY Freshers beauty survival guide 2012 Katy Ashford

Reading Freshers is fast approaching and with a week fuelled with high alcohol consumption and sleepless nights, it’s more important than ever to keep your skin looking fresh and hydrated. Here is a short guide filled with make-up bag musts and handy skin tips to beat that week long hangover. 1. Clubs are guaranteed to be jam packed with new and returning students ready to party

Dupe Me Elle Turner

I love Philosophy products, and while they’re on the pricey side, they are usually worth the money. They smell luxurious and last agesss, which is why I was this close to taking the plunge and paying £14 for their Crème Brûlée shampoo, shower gel & bubble bath, until... I stumbled across this fantastic Possibility Dupe in New Look for less than £2! It smells delicious and provides the same three functions as it’s Philosophy rival, even the packaging is almost identical (though the recipe’s differ ever so slightly). Whilst Philosophy scents are more durable, as they stay on the skin for longer, at under a quarter of the price, Possibility can afford to provide a slightly less longlasting equivalent. And whilst the fragrance doesn’t last for hours, it’s certainly very strong when you first use it. I’d describe it as like a collision between Willy Wonka and a spa! So guys, if you like all things sweet and creamy, this is the product for you.

hard! Although the atmosphere will be great, a week of sweaty, smoky nights will take its toll on your skin. After (what should be) a hazy night, open up pores and cleanse your skin by using a warm flannel to steam your face. Next, apply a rich moisturiser like Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturiser 50ml (£1.52) available from Boots to rehydrate. 2. Make sure you keep a small pack of make-up wipes within reach of your bed, try Boots Simply Sensitive Eye Make-Up Re-

moval Pads 30s (£1.74). These will help to avoid any embarrassing moments of new housemates walking in on you looking like a Tim Burton creation. If your antics from the night before still seem a little blurry, use Blink Refreshing Eye Drops, (£2.83) at ASDA to help you see clearer. 3. It’s no secret that after a week of partying you’re destined for the dreaded Freshers Flu. Boost your immune system by taking plenty of vitamin C and Zinc, but to make absolutely sure

try Echinacea (£9.65) available at Holland and Barrett’s to maintain a healthy immune system. 4. During Freshers you will be asked to dress up as anything from super heroes to pirates. So possibly the most important thing you need in your make-up bag is a face painting kit! Visit http://www. what_do_i_need.aspx to stock up on supplies - all at very reasonable student prices. Make-up bag at the ready - bring on the mayhem!

First look: Louise Gray for Topshop Sabina Rouse

Louise Gray is known for her love of vivid colour, exceptional use of texture and unique usage of patterns and shapes in her fashion collections. So what does this mean when all this is translated into the world of beauty and makeup? Answer: a one of a kind make up range of fabulousness and an explosion of colour. As expected, Gray drew on her own distinctive make up taste as inspiration for the twelve piece range, which will undoubtedly encourage girls to follow in her bold beauty footsteps. With white blonde hair, royal blue eyebrows and an ever-changing-colour beauty spot, the collection perfectly mirrors Gray’s vibrant passion for make- up. The range is not for one who shies away from colour, with electric pink, blue and orange

nail varnishes made up completely by glitter and glitter alone, you can guarantee that your hands will enjoy the range as much as your face. Bright pink and neon orange features in the lipsticks, making sure that you will be one to stand out from the crowd. However it’s not only the vibrancy of the products which makes this range so unique. The casing of the collection instantly gives a chic and girly feel to the range. Baby pink with reflective swirls features on the lipstick cases, whilst the blusher and eye palette both come in a pastel green with a funky geometric pattern on the lid. If you’re looking to buy just one item of make-up this season, make sure it’s from Louise Gray’s collection, you won’t be disappointed. Louise Gray for Topshop is available in store now.

All Good Things come to those who wait

Sophie Woollan

We all know that one girl who never gets any spots (I mean never – let the jealousy commence.) Well, I’ve never been that girl, and they are very rare. The amount of factors that can affect your skin is large – are you hydrated enough, doing enough exercise, or is it just hormones? Now obviously hormones can’t really be helped but the skincare routine you use can. Now, I don’t have the worst acne in the world but when I get a breakout, I tend to get my fair share of spots. So a few months ago I decided to completely change my skincare products and see if this made a difference. And it did. After hearing from a friend that it made her skin better, I decided to give the Good Things skincare range a go.

Good Things was created by Alice Hart-Davis, and is specifically formulated for young skin. The main ingredients used in the products are fruits, for example acai berries, blueberry and goji berry. I started with using the ‘anti-blem ish’ range with the Stay Clear Puri-

fying Cleanser (£4.99), Miracle Mattifier Moisturiser (£7.99) and the Five Minute Facial Face Mask (£5.99). Each of these products smells amazing due to the fruit used, and they actually work. So, my routine - morning and night I use the Stay Clear Cleans-

er, which feels light and creamy on the skin and is easily removed with a warm flannel, leaving your skin feeling fresh and soft. After that I apply the Miracle Mattifier Moisturiser which gives just the right amount of hydration so that your skin feels squeaky clean instead of oily. The Five Minute Facial Face Mask is best for using around once a week (how abut a weekend pamper day?) and is applied in a thin layer after cleansing and left for five minutes to really work on that spot prone skin. Then you simply remove it with a clean, hot flannel or just with lukewarm water. Simple! It also helps that it’s affordable (they generally have a deal on – great!) and lasts for a good amount of time – I still haven’t run out of anything yet


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

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Spark* Friday 28 September 2012


HEALTH A Spark* Fresher’s survival guide Sarah Lienard

With most students sleeping less than two hours a night, drinking their own weight in alcohol and eating only crisps, it’s no surprise that the majority succumb to the dreaded fresher’s flu, not to mention a whole host of other health problems that can befall an innocent new student. But it doesn’t have to be inevitable, so here’s some top tips to help make your Fresher’s week go as smoothly as possible.

1. Register at the medical practice as soon as you can This will save a couple of days of hassle while you wait to make an appointment after catching the inevitable (OK, so it is inevitable) fresher’s flu. Besides, no one wants to fill out paperwork when they’re dying of the plague.

2. Try not to spend all your money straight away There will come a time, in about a week or so, when you’ll suddenly realise that you do actually need to eat, drink and generally live

for the rest of the term, so try to limit your spending to necessities (although obviously glow paint and fancy dress stuff count as necessities).

3. Try to eat well Pick up a bag of apples when you’re stocking up on pre-drinks, or if you don’t like apples, buy some satsumas. Or bananas. Or anything that grew on a tree. Fruit and vegetables aren’t very expensive, but will be invaluable to a body that’s been starved of vitamins for a week. You’re much less likely to get sick if you manage to fit in some proper meals, so why not have a read through our basic cooking tips on the next page? If that’s too much to manage, at the very least order a pizza with some kind of vegetables on it.

effectively it’ll be able to kill off whatever it is you’ve picked up.

4. Drink a lot of water Whatever bug it is that you’ve caught, you want to get it out of your system as soon as possible. Drinking pints of water should help flush it out pretty quickly, and

might also ease those moments when you swear you can hear your liver screaming from intoxication.

5. Buy some condoms... ... because not all infections are caught by sneezing! Whether you’re a guy or girl, making the investment now will save yourself

Most of all, enjoy all your new experiences during Fresher’s week! You may end up sleep deprived, malnourished, and bordering on insane, but I can guarantee that you will survive.

When your head, throat and every muscle in your body is aching, you’ll be glad you bought those painkillers. Yes, Lemsip does taste like industrial strength toilet cleaner, but just think how

Food swap

On your bike!

Subway is considered by most to be much healthier than other fast food outlets, but it depends what you pick. The nutritional information given here includes 6” of 9-grain wheat bread, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions, and will vary depending on the choice of additional cheese or sauces.

This year has been an amazing year for British cycling with success in the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympics. The media have talked constantly over the summer about the ‘Bradley Wiggins effect’, and the increase in the number of cyclists on the road really is noticeable. So if you’ve been inspired this summer, the best thing about cycling is it is so easy to get involved in. All you need is a bike - and a helmet for safety, of course. You choose the distance to cycle and when you cycle, there’s no need to wait for gym opening times or booking equipment and facilities. Cycling is a great form of exercise and after the initial expense of buying a bike, it is relatively cheap and easy to keep up. Bikes come in all shapes and sizes, so you’re sure to find one that’s comfortable, and there is something to suit every budget. Whether you want a sleek road bike or a town and city bike for getting to uni you’ll find something to suit - you just have to decide what type of cycling you want to do. There are three predominant type of bike on sale: road bikes are mostly suit-

Turkey Breast 6” 269 calories, 5.1 sugar, 2.2g fat, 0.9g sat fat, 1.4g salt

Although it might seem high in fat, only 1.6g of this is saturated, giving you 11g of good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which will help keep you full for longer.

Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt 6” 503 calories, 5.4 sugar, 19.2g fat, 8g sat fat, 2.5 salt

With 22g of protein, low in salt and high in fibre, this sub ticks all the nutritional boxes. This information includes a hefty serving of salad as well, so you’re on your way to five-a-day!

Tuna 6” 359 calories, 4.8 sugar, 12.6g fat, 1.6 sat fat, 1.6 salt

With a staggering 19.2g fat, of which 8g is saturated, and higher salt levels, this is best saved for an occasional treat instead of an everyday lunch.

6. Talk to someone If you’re feeling homesick, nothing helps less than holding it all in and pretending to have a great time, or worse, sitting in your room feeling rubbish. Y ou’d be surprised how many other freshers will be feeling the same way, so don’t be scared to break the ice. If you need further support, the university’s Counselling and Wellbeing service is completely confidential and free to all students. To book an appointment, visit the Carrington Building, First Floor, Room 106, or email

3. Stock up on painkillers, throat lozenges and Lemsip

Sarah Lienard

the embarrassment later of either having to disappoint your partner, having to knock on your new flatmate’s door to beg for one, or going without and being known as ‘Chlamydia Boy/Girl’ for the rest of the year.

Laura Brierley

able for an urban environment, mountain bikes for off road cycling and hybrids can go between the two. If you’re in any doubt which type of bicycle would be best for you, pop into a shop - the staff should be happy to show you the different options. Buying a bike on a student budget doesn’t need to break the bank. Second hand bikes can be picked up for a little as £30 online and in local bike shops and new bikes often start from around £100 with prices increasing depending on the materials and components used in its manufacture. If you compare the cost of the bike to the price of gym membership, a bike can actually work out a lot cheaper. In addition, you don’t have to go out of your way to use a bike, unlike the gym, which can be the last thing you want to do after loads of lectures. Using your bike for daily journeys such as to and from uni, town and the supermarket can easily tally towards your weekly exercise regime. Campus has a number of spaces to park your bike, most of which are a short distance from academic buildings, making cycling into the university easy and a practical option for transport. The

university security services also sell D-locks for locking your bike up which allow for you to securely park your bike on campus. For those who are feeling more adventurous, there are a number of villages and lots of countryside surrounding Reading including Sonning and Twyford which are worth exploring. I f you are nervous about cycling on roads the Thames Path which runs along the River Thames is completely off road. Dinton Pastures is near the Woodley Airfield and is also a great off-road route. And a top tip for those who suffer with hangovers- the fresh air you get from cycling in the country side is a great cure as well as burning of some of those beer calories! So what are you waiting for? Get on your bike!


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*


Students: let’s get cooking Whether you’re a Fresher in self-catered accommodation, or a second or third year moving into private accommodation for the first time, you don’t have to resign yourself to a year of beans on toast just yet - just follow our basic kitchen tips to get you cooking. Firstly, don’t cut meat on the same board you use to cut vegetables on. Unless you get a kick out of living with the constant fear of salmonella, it’s just not worth the extra minute that you’ll need to wash two chopping boards instead of one. Second, even if you have nothing else, always have pasta in your cupboard. A student without pasta is like a fish out of water – neither will last long. Make it a bit more interesting by mixing up different sauces and vegetables with tuna, salmon, chicken or mince, or beans, lentils and Quorn if you’re vegetarian. Stock up on tins of chopped tomatoes and you can quickly make the easiest pasta sauce in the world - and it’s a lot cheaper than store bought ver-

sions. Simply chop some garlic or onion and gently fry in a pan in a little cooking oil. Next, tip in the chopped tomatoes and mash them a bit with a fork. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down completely and formed a sauce. Season well with salt, pepper, and any herbs that you fancy, and it’s ready to be added to pasta. Simples! Go online to find reliable, easy recipes, even if you’re a complete beginner. BBC’s Good Food is brilliant, as they feature a lot of ‘tried and tested’ recipes, and give full nutritional information for them as well. is also a great site produced by students, so their recipes are organised into easy to find categories, such as ‘Cheap’, ‘Healthy’, ‘Vegetarian’, and ‘For Groups’. Generally a quick search will also produce some good links, so get Googling your favourite meals. Even though the lure of no washing up is fully understandable, and yes, technically Pot Noodles do contain tiny pieces of vegetables, they don’t count towards your 5-aday. If you want a quick and easy

meal that contains actual vegetables and protein, try out the recipe for DIY Pot Noodles below. Always check the timer on the toaster. I can guarantee there will be one person sharing your kitchen who will insist on turning it up to six minutes, even though there is no kind of bread that could ever survive that kind of roasting. It still baffles me why toasters even have the capacity to toast for

Sarah Lienard

To make:

Sarah Lienard

Sarah Lienard

six minutes at a time, but they do, so take a minute to check it’s on a suitable setting before you whack in the bread. Mistakes are not the end of the world in the kitchen. If you accidentally add too much chilli to a dish, there are a few things you can try. If your dish has tomatoes or tomato sauce in it, try adding some more to try to dilute the spice. If it’s a rice dish, adding

Salmon pasta DIY pot noodle This recipe is cheap, filling, healthy and delicious too. It makes enough for two portions, so either share it with a flatmate or pop it in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch.

Ingredients: 160g dried pasta 1 can salmon, red or pink 150g Philadephia cream cheese 200g mushrooms one clove of garlic salt and pepper grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to instructions. Chop the mushrooms and saute them in a little cooking oil, with the garlic, until cooked thorugh. In a bowl, mix together the salmon and Philadelphia, seasoning to taste. Once the pasta is cooked, add the cooked mushrooms and stir through the salmon mixture. Transfer to a glass or ceramic casserole dish and sprinkle over the parmesan cheese. Pop in a preheated oven or under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese crisps up on top.

Getting a bit bored of Pot Noodles? Why not try making your own, healthier and tastier version? Using a variety of different vegetables and flavours can help keep things interesting. In this recipe I’ve used mushrooms and spinach, but anything from red peppers to broccoli would also work well. I’ve also suggested using prawns or chicken, but you could easily subsitute other meats, such as strips of beef, or vegetarian options, like tofu, beans, or other meat alternatives, such as Quorn. Best of all, this recipe takes only five minutes to make from scratch, so it’s not much more effort than a Pot Noodle anyway!

Ingredients: One portion of dried noodles One clove of garlic 250ml vegetable or chicken stock About 100g king prawns or sliced cooked chicken A few button mushrooms, sliced A handful of spinach Soy sauce 1/2 tsp honey Grated fresh ginger and some sliced chilli pepper (optional)

To make:

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a non-stick pan, and saute the garlic and mushrooms until fragrant (3-5 minutes). Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, honey and ginger (if using), then pop in the noodles. Bring to the boil, then simmer for as long as the directions on the packet say

more rice can absorb some of the flavour. Lastly, dairy can counteract heat, so try stirring in some plain yogurt, sour cream, or even a splash of milk. Sounds weird, and it obviously won’t work for every dish, but if you can quickly think up a new name for your dish (maybe with the word ‘creamy’ in there somewhere?) it might still be edible. Don’t cut onions if you’re wearing a lot of makeup, unless you like looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. Alternatively, wear sunglasses in the kitchen, and you’ll come across as a particularly mysterious domestic goddess. Be really careful with sharp things, especially if your eyes are already blurry from chopping onions, or you can’t see because you’re wearing sunglasses. If all else fails, just describe your new and improved dish with all those fancy words used by chefs on TV. Your pie fell apart? It’s ‘rustic’. Stir-fry almost set on fire? It’s ‘flambéed’. Burnt something? It’s ‘caramelized’. You get the idea.

(mine took three minutes), adding the prawns a few minutes before the noodles are done. Season with black pepper - you shouldn’t need any salt as the soy sauce is fairly salty in itself. Stir through the spinach and ladle, piping hot, into bowls, sprinkling with a little fresh chilli if desired.

Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*



Black Mesa: Source for PC

Kroe Barr

Across the planet, the soft sound of video gamers chewing their hats was heard as ‘Black Mesa’ – the Half Life remake/reimaginging that had been in development by a team of 40 volunteer developers for almost exactly eight years, was released for free. A short briefing of what Half Life is about is in order. The plot is a simple one, at first glance, at least. You are theoretical physicist Dr Gordon Freeman, the world’s quietest scientist (he never speaks, ever). You work at the Black Mesa Research Facility, a top-secret partially underground US military research base. During an experiment something goes terribly wrong, and a dimensional rift opens within the compound. A host of alien nasties rush through and start raising hell. Freeman must close the rift and escape the now-overrun research compound. Easy peasy. And for some reason, a mysterious man in

a suit keeps showing up throughout your progress. Odd. Black Mesa is developed using the Source engine, used in Half Life 2 in 2004 (hence BM being referred to as a ‘mod’, a modification). Valve released their own remake of Half Life 1 by the name of ‘Half Life: Source’ in the same year, but really didn’t do justice to its potential and Valve was criticised for the lack of ambition – the textures were the same, it was only really different by the addition of ragdoll physics and some water modelling. Black Mesa was the result of the joining of forces between two independent mod projects which aimed to produce a good re-imagining. The project repeatedly picked up ‘vapourware’ awards from Wired magazine after being in ‘developer hell’ for just under a decade. So, was it worth the wait? In the opinion of this writer, absolutely. It’s a flawed gem but a gem nonetheless. Usually a reviewer will have to weigh up

whether a game is worth purchasing or not, but this isn’t a concern in this case as BM is completely free. All you need is an alreadyinstalled source game on your PC, but if you’ve not got that then you can install the Source SDK 2007 through Steam instead (for free). Partly what makes Black Mesa so good is the way gameplay changes as you progress, unlike in many titles released today, which are more monotonous by contrast. To begin with you’re a poorly armed MIT Grad struggling through claustrophobic office spaces filled with reanimated corpses and a few species of alien. As you advance throughout the thing, the gameplay shifts towards faster-paced combat, in larger environments with more deadly enemies – but you’re armed with a powerful assortment of weapons. For me, although the changes in gameplay were refreshing, the last halfhour of the game was quite dull

compared to the fierce fighting with HECU. Graphically, Black Mesa isn’t isn’t exactly bleeding edge – the Source engine is showing its age, being almost a decade old at the time of writing. Loading times between sections are long, and much more frequent than in HL1. It’s still a good looking game, however, with the character models, textures and animations definitely offering a convincing experience. There is, a major problem in Black Mesa with the AI. The enemy AI is very unsophisticated, allowing them to detect your presence from up to 50 metres away with their backs turned. It’s very frustrating when you know for certain you should have been unseen, but find yourself holed like a Swiss cheese when an enemy spins on a dime and lights you up in a fraction of a second. AI is very difficult to do correctly for professional developers, let alone amateur modders, so the psychic

AI was probably deemed preferable to incompetent AI. Still, it is irritating. Perhaps even more frustratingly, Black Mesa is not a finished game. There is yet another portion to be released, which contains the endgame. The developers are apparently awaiting feedback on the first release, which they’ll use to improve the final version of BM (which I’m informed will include co-operative games and competitive multiplayer). With any luck we won’t be waiting another five years for the full release. I hope I haven’t put you off playing it with my criticism. It’s a fantastic achievement, and a good way of introducing Half Life to new audiences while offering more long-time consumers a refreshing nostalgia trip through their favourite alien invasion. If you’ve not played Half Life 1, I’d not hesitate to recommend playing this game first. If you have, then I urge you to install the thing and enjoy Half Life all over again.


Spark* Friday 28 September 2012

FTL:Faster Than Light The fastest way to die..... Jean Kirk

As the fire spread to the engine room, the last surviving member of the crew, the ironically named Ensign Redshirt, abandoned his desperate struggle to repair the weapon controls. Sensors showed that the enemy ship was preparing another boarding party and vast majority of the blast doors were open to space, venting atmosphere. Spiriting to the control room, and with the ship shaking from laser and missile impacts, Redshirt managed to make to the bridge as the warp engines finally reached full charge and dragged the SS Fortitude into the safety of FTL travel, just as the enemy ship began to bring their teleporter online. Limping out of FLT, the fires finally destroyed the ships engines as Redshirt opened the ships airlocks to space in a desperate attempt to put out the fires before it reached the oxygen generators. And the Fortitude was still in sight of home.

The game is still a sadistic joy to play FTL is a top down, real time spaceship management game with rouge-like elements. To translate that into English: You command the crew of a space ship as you struggle to make your way across the universe, struggling to deliver the last hope of the federation and fighting off rebels, slavers, and other unsavory types. Despite the incredibly over used backstory and the almost laughably brief campaign, there is something almost instantly captivating about FTL. The game has a wonderful, almost comic book-like, art style and (despite the incredibly simplistic combat controls) is full of intense and nerve shatteringly stressful moments as you struggle

to keep your crew alive as they stagger from battle to battle and from crises to crises. But they won’t make it to safety, not the first couple of times anyway. FTL is an almost perfect example of “easy to learn, hard to master”, with the initial, deceptively repetitive, skirmishes rapidly giving way to unforgiving battles that will almost constantly end up with your ship as a rapidly expanding cloud of smoking wreckage. This is a game that is not afraid of challenging the player, even when on the lowest of the two difficult settings. The lack of more a wider range of difficult settings is a sad departure from the insanely punishing gameplay that rouge-likes are famed for, but the game is still a sadistic joy to play and that definatly has not hurt the games replayability. And replay it you shall. With a wide range of ships to unlock, ech with a unique arrangement of starting systems and subsystems that encourage the player to adopt different playstyles. Once you have selected a ship,you are thrown out in the unforgiving void and have to make your own way to safety. And this is where the fun starts. Some the ships systems can be manned by crew members to provide a small boost to it’s performance: Order a crew member into the engine room to reduce the amount of time between FTL jumps, a vital skill if you prefer to run over fighting. Manning weapons, on the other hand, reduces reloading times for the ships weaponds and increases accuracy of each shot. Knowing what consoles to man when in a vital part of the game and rapidly becomes second nature as you learn from your mistakes. You even have to keep an eye on your ngery usage, as power management is also vital part of the game. Upgraded systems require more power to run, which means that occasionally, you

will have to decide between oxygen or more powerful shields. Speaking of upgrades: all systems and subsystems on you ship can be upgraded to increase their purformance, from you defence sheilds to the ships door controls. Choicing which upgrades to buy may initially seem like an easy choice, but your ultra-hi tech sheilds and weapons are completely usuless when a enemy boarding party teleports aboard. The use of augmentations and systems adds even more depth to the customisation, meaning that every wanna-be Kirk or Picard can use a play style of their very own. Even the different species of crew members can alter how you play. Do you hire the Mantis warrior who can’t hold a spanner but who can defeat whole boarding parties on his own? Or how about the Zoltan who can provide power to systems just by touching them? No matter who you decide to hire, don’t get too attached to them or you might hesitate before sending them into the cold vacuum of space. And that hesitation will be your downfall time and time again.

If that didn’t make the game sound challenging enough, upgrades require Scrap, collected from defeated and destroyed foes. But Scrap is also used as the ingame currency, which frequenly leads to moments of indecision. Do you use your limited supply of scrap to upgrade your weapon systems or replace your crew members who couldn’t run fast enough? Stock up on missiles and fuel or repair the damage to your hull? The galactic map that you must cross is randomly generated each time, and is filled with hidden dangers: nebulae that block your scanners, solar flares that can over power your ships shields. This randomness also means that on one play through you might be surrounded with helpful allies, but the next attempt that you could run out of fuel while desperately searching for a store to refill your supplies. The only constant in this ever changing universe is the Rebel fleet that is chasing you. Spend too much time exploring a sector of space and they will catch up, limiting the places you can run to until you are forced to turn and

fight, their supior ships making short work of your defences unless you can hold out long enough to charge up your FTL drive and escape. Each attempt to complete FTL results in a completely different experience, with desperate last stands inside treacherous asteroid belts fight slavers, crew members lost trying to rid space stations of mutant spiders or (if you care very lucky) adrenaline fueled assaults on the rebel mothership. No matter how many times you play FTL you will walk away with different story of heroic sacrifice or unbelievable incompetence by your crew and a almost irrisisable urge for just one more attempt, one more go to beat the game. FTL is the perfect game to play in a pare hour, or gap between lectures, not only because the campaign only lasts for an hour but because no matter how often you play, you never play the same game twice. Which in this age of Call of Duty clones and other cookie cutter titles, is a rare and wonderful thing. FTL costs £6.99 from or Steam

A sight that will become horribly familiar to any player. The sight of failure

Want to Write for the Gaming Section? Then email Alternatively, come visit us at Freshers’ Fayre



Friday 28 September 2012

SCIENCE&TECHNOLOGY Interview with an app maker

We talk to Ross Beale from the UniApp team about their successful flagship smartphone app and Mixer, their latest offering Vinay Chauhan

Mixer is essentially a localised social network, although how local you’d like to socialise is completely scalable The applications we use on our mobile devices is seeing rapid growth. Software creation is making a return to the era of bedroom coders and the young people of today are at the forefront of the revolution. Reading University is playing its part too, with a couple of apps developed by its own students, UniApp and Mixer. I managed to speak with Student Ross Beale, the co-founder of UniApp along with fellow student Steve Smith, and ask him some questions about the creation process of UniApp and Mixer, respectively. Ross and Steve are also developers of Mixer, which was co-founded by a couple ex Reading students Chris Connell, Chris Tingle and also Jules Bastrup. UniApp. It calls to you in a simple caveman way. ‘You need app.’ And simple is the keyword here. The app takes the University’s plethora of services and collects them into one easyto-access place. It’s value is immense. To have this app means it’s possible to cut out the dance around the University’s website to the musical tune of a thousand mouse clicks, or worse, have the awkward fumble around the smart-phone unfriendly website. This is a big thing. Quick access to my timetable whilst I’m on campus will shave off vital minutes as I make the dash to my next lecture. This year I’m in buildings I’m sure I’ve not yet set eyes on, so having instant access to the University’s map anywhere on campus will certainly help me find these uncharted dark corners in a breeze. The map is usefully available offline too. Also of note is the ability to instantly stream the University’s radio station, Junction11, complete with the station’s message box service. This app really is essential to those who have a capable phone and will make life appreciatively simpler at Reading University.

In hindsight the UniApp seems like an obvious thing to have, but what was it that gave you that initial spark to get designing? I’ve always wanted to push something out that would improve my technical skills as well as something to impress any future employers. Steve and I bounced around app and website ideas involving Reading or the University throughout our first year. Originally, we were going to do a detailed interactive map of the University campus until it hit us that there was a more obvious need to collate everything around the University together in mobile form for students! How long did the app take to get to version 1.0.0? And what steps did you take to make sure the app was what students would find useful? We built a really basic version for the iPhone in literally about a week or so - but this was only version 0.0.1. It took about a year to get where we are today (rolling out full native apps on iOS and Android). We mainly built the app for how we would use it - we are students too, after all! It seemed to work quite well. The main thing we did was to make sure giving feedback to us directly was really simple and easy to do - so we placed a way to do that right inside the app. We wanted students to feel that all suggestions were welcome and had a direct impact on what went into the application. That way, we continue to shape a really good idea of what students want to use and what information they want in their pocket. Did you find it hard making the app compatible with different device platforms? Originally, our app was built with a platform called PhoneGap which allows you to distribute on many different platforms in a couple of days (literally!) which is how we got a version on each platform so quickly. Recently, we wanted to make the app even better - faster and take real advantage of the hardware we have - so we did a complete rewrite! Now you can do stuff like download past papers and other documents with little effort - this simply wouldn’t have been capable on the PhoneGap platform we had before. It takes a little longer to produce the app now (the Android version isn’t

out yet) but the end result really does makes up for it. Which app store did you find the easiest to deal with? Google Play (Android) is probably the best for distribution, the open nature means we can deploy new versions of the app really quickly - rather than wait sometimes weeks like we do with iOS. This is especially handy when you want to push out a small update that is dependent on time (which happens a lot around the University!). Mixer is essentially a localised social network, although how local you’d like to socialise is completely scalable. You’re able to close in on people in the close vicinity or zoom out to interact with the entire town or city you’re in. It seems the idea is to combat this modern feeling of being alone in a neighbourhood of people, and it’s certainly a valiant battle. The location based network allows people in the same vicinity to connect. Conversation threads are created based on area and are open but also static. So new additions to the neighbourhood will be able to see the history of the area. Useful if you’re stumbling hungry into an unknown area because you might find that someone has posted about a great restaurant they went to and even more useful if they posted a picture of the front too. The app uses Facebook and it’s data to connect through, so that means real names and genuine locals. There’s no ability to friend through the app though, so stalking the girl next door will have to be taken elsewhere. It’s a clever solution to an odd problem. However modern society got so populous whilst staying so secluded will be always be confusing, but this app is a step in breaking that, allowing us to be that bit more social with those around us. What’s the ethos behind ‘Mixer’? Mixer lets you connect to others that are in the community around you. It allows people to become part of a vibrant community where you can find some great content (because it is usually relevant to your location!). We aim to make Mixer a great way to discover people around you that share your interests.

With ‘Mixer’ did the development experience go smoother, being able to learn from UniApp? Definitely. Steve and I were brought in quite late to the project at Conjure but the skills we learnt from UniApp were definitely applied in the development of Mixer. Saying that, we still learnt a great deal working on Mixer everyday throughout the Summer. How easy was it to use Facebook logins. Will there be a non Facebook reliant future? Mixer is powered by a mobile backend service called Parse ( that links up with Facebook really well (and makes it super easy to connect Facebook users to your app). The data is free and you can actually get a lot if you ask for it. Users have to give explicit permission - and Mixer only fetches a few

details about you and your profile picture. In the future, we want to look into connecting people based on their likes and interests on Facebook. Facebook can really tell us about you and help you connect to people you never knew were around you - this is why using Facebook is so useful to us. We have had some feedback about using other social network logins (or our own) - it’s something we will have to think about as Mixer finds it’s own space as an independent social network. For people worried about security, How do you ensure people’s Facebook login data is safe? As I said, every bit of data we get from your Facebook has to be authorised by you when you register on Mixer - so you know exactly what we are using. Everything is stored extremely


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

Editorial It’s your Science & Technology editor, David Thai here! Well, one of the two of us anyway. Regular readers will have noticed a change: we used to have a column of “other news” on this page. I’ve decided that we shouldn’t limit ourselves so beginning this first issue of 2012/2013, we’ll be using the space for an editorial instead. This issue opens with Vinay’s in-depth interview with Ross Beale, one of the team behind the new social networking app Mixer. It’s a fascinating read. Will Mixer be the next big thing in social networking? Have a read and perhaps have a go, and let us know what you think! Then we join Frances McKean to consider the ethics and implications of transhumanism. It comes with a lovely piece of artwork from Hannah Tierman. While I myself don’t have so much as a tattoo, I find transhumanism a fascinating concept: I for one think the prospect of enhancing our abilities with science and technology is an exciting one. Deputy Editor Calum drew my attention to Lepht Anonym who I looked up immediately. On the Wellcome Trust’s blog about their Superhuman exhibition, they consider the cases of “the artist, the scholar and the zealot” - - where our very own Professor Kevin Warwick is the scholar, the artist is Stelarc and Lepht Anonym is dubbed a zealot. She performs surgery on herself in her kitchen and has placed magnets in her fingertips to allow her to detect magnetic fields. A visionary, or a madwoman? That seems to roughly cover the range of opinion on what she does to herself. I think she’s amazing. Maybe I’m just weird? Well that’s all we have time for this issue. Thanks for reading and see you next issue!

coverage and a huge boost in users!

securely on Parse! We’re completely transparent about what data we get and how we use it - and all the information can be found in the app or on the Mixer website. Uniapp is for a small localised niche group (UoR students), how did you find promoting Mixer for the wider public and getting the visibility you wanted?

Getting products in front of people can be one of the hardest things to do. The way I see it is that we have all worked really hard to get the product out there we’re proud of it and want to show it off! Chris Connell, Mixer’s CEO, has done an amazing job in promoting Mixer - he recently went over to San Francisco to launch the app at Techcrunch Disrupt which got it some great

And the best moment? Definitely the best moment is when you finally push the product out and you can sit back (a little) and just watch people enjoy using it! Where can we find out more? If you have a smart-phone and are a University of Reading student - you should definitely

Mixer is out on the iPhone and is available now in the App Store it is also free! Find out more at Finally, any advice for budding app coders, any do’s and don’ts? Don’t hold back on any ideas you have - even if they are a bit risky. We got some stick for releasing a student-run app for the University but it has opened up so many doors - our internships and many other opportunities you learn so much and best of all, it’s pretty fun!

Transhumanism, the future?

Image Credit: Hannah Tierman

Want to contribute to Spark* Science & Technology? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch: scitech.spark@ or see us at Freshers Fayre!

Worst moment of the process? There are always times when you get frustrated at something going wrong - but that is life as a software developer! It’s always hard work and full of constant problem solving as well as pushing out products of the highest quality because it is such as reflection of you and your work.

try out UniApp - it puts your all the information about the University in your pocket and it’s entirely free! More information is available at http://www.uniapp. org or just search your App Store for “University of Reading”

Frances McKean

Transhumanism can be defined as the use of technology to enhance human capabilities, in the quest of becoming more than human. Such a term encompasses a whole host of activities, ranging from the direct use of technology to enhance human experience, to more recent, indirect technological approaches such as genome sequencing, which is used to inform drug development. Direct approaches include the use of prosthetics and implants, as well as everyday technology such as aircraft travel. In many ways, using technology for biological processes has benefitted our species massively; as a society we are constantly endeavouring to improve the quality and convenience of our

lifestyles. A poll at the Cambridge University in 2009 found that 10% of students take concentrationenhancing drugs. With the advent of brain implants, perhaps the next step is permanent cognitive improvement. Putting aside the moral issues that such an idea heralds, we are also faced with another issue: biology and technology are becoming increasingly interlinked, to the point where the boundary between them is blurring. At what point does man become machine? Understanding where nature ends and technology begins may lie in our current understanding of what sets us apart from robots. Descartes introduced ‘dualism’, the theory that the mind and body are separate entities. Whereas the body works like a machine and is

physical, the mind is abstract and makes us human. Conversely, monism states that our brain constitutes complicated circuits; our mind is merely a result of these intricacies and therefore is also mere material. Taking a monistic viewpoint, current technology may be starting to encroach upon man. Neural circuits can now be altered using nanowires connected to neurones. Dr Edward Boyden, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is heading research involving programmed neurones that react to light, with the potential to alleviate certain neurological disorders. The treatment requires the patient to be implanted with optical fibres, which send impulses to the targeted neurones. These neurones would be genetically modified to respond to the light signals, and would conduct an electrochemical gradient, as is mirrored in normal neurotransmission. In effect, by rerouting certain areas of the brain, neuronal pathways could be switched on and off as required. Disorders such as epilepsy could be controlled by switching off over-excited neural pathways. If the brain is merely made up of biological circuits, as monists believe, replacing these with technological ‘man-made’ equivalents would make man into a machine. Conversely, Moravec (1988); uses an analogy which illustrates dualism. In essence, if a computer device was set up to slowly take over neural circuits exhibited in the brain of a person, the ‘mind’ would be unaltered, as the mind constitutes the patterns exhibited by neurones as well as the wires, not the media they are stored on. Therefore one could argue that the mind, and therefore

the essence of what makes us ‘man’, is maintained as long as the patterns are preserved. However, if patterns are affected by re-routing in methods such as described above, transhumanism may once again succeed. Ultimately, dualists could argue that the mind is untouchable by technology. As technology continues to grow and become further integrated into our lives, predictions collated by h+ magazine hypothesise that by 2050 we will not be able to differentiate between man and machine: we will in effect be ‘superhumans’. Case in point, the surgeon Oskar Aszmann has completed a number of operations on patients with non-functioning limbs. The procedure amputates the limb and replaces it with a bionic equivalent. Such patientscalled ‘elective amputees’believe that such a procedure may transform their lives. Anders Sandberg at Oxford University believes that such technology is just a ‘real arrangement of the natural world around us’, and not something to fear. He argues that distinguishing between man and machine is unnecessary; we are already products of technology, and this will gradually just continue. And maybe such a view is crucial to the transhumanist movement; we must put our faith in humanity using technology for the greater good. ‘Superhuman’, the latest exhibition of The Wellcome Collection in Euston, London, explores human enhancement through the age, and is open to the public until October 16 2012.

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012

travel Proud to be British: a travel trend Laura Airey

During the last few months, the London 2012 Olympic hype certainly gave Britain a patriotic fever which engulfed the nation. Bunting, flags and face paint were never far from the public eye whilst teenagers endorsed Twitter trends of ‘Go GB’ and ‘Proud to be British’. With this new-found love for the Union Jack enhanced by the recent Olympics and also the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, are more people turning to exploring their own nation rather than opting for budget airlines and the promise of cheap foreign booze? Littlehampton, a small yet picturesque seaside resort on the south coast played home to our family on August bank holiday weekend. Blessed with good weather, local trade blossomed with streetlength queues for the fish and chip shop and the train ride along the promenade packed with the young and old all licking classic ’99’ ice creams. In the last few years foreign travel has become easier and more accessible - yet there remains

something charming about the British seaside and its clichés of ice creams in the rain and multicoloured beach huts decorating the sea front. Surely many students at Reading University itself can vouch for this, with popular organisations such as ‘Summer Break UK’ drawing hundreds of young party goers down to Cornwall for a week each year. Alongside the nightlife, these trips provide daytime entertainment at the beach, meaning the seaside is adorned with smiles and laughter. The simplicity of a caravan, a beach and good company would seemingly be enough to justify a good holiday.

The simplicity of a caravan, a beach and good company would seemingly be enough

good time why is it that Europe is still more appealing than our own shores? Is it the weather? Is it the scenery? Or is it just that the feel good factor of ‘getting away from it all’ can only be felt by fleeing Britain? Budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet, alongside popular websites like ‘Expedia’ and ‘Lastminute’ attract even more people with their cheap deals. Foreign travel no longer seems like such a big financial commitment with week long breaks becoming avaliable for as little as £95.

Foreign travel no longer seems like such a big financial commitment

Despite this, ‘Visit Britain’ reported that in August 2012, holidays to the rest of Europe had increased 21% on last year; a new record. If people are just looking for a

This means people no longer seem to even think about home over away. So if things just become cheaper and cheaper abroad, especially in nearby Europe, will the British seaside soon only accommodate weekenders and day-trippers? And will we soon be seeing ‘Summer Break Espagne’

than the weight of the massive backpacks I saw many poor souls carrying on the way. I estimate some must have been carrying at least 18 kg of gas hobs, pans and god knows what else. It must have been absolute murder on the towpath around Loch Lomond, a prolonged scramble over rocks and roots, up and down hills. Being overtaken constantly must have been unpleasant, also. We started the West Highland way in Wandsworth Common at 3am - carrying our kit about 2 miles to Clapham Junction in pitch darkness, so as to catch our 0700 flights. We were landing in Glasgow by 9. After grabbing the train to Milngavie, we got to the start point around 1015. The first day was pretty gruelling, as we elected to do two ‘legs’ in single day, amounting to 20 miles, arriving in Balmaha at around 1930 - this, after being awake since 0250. By the time we got to Balmaha, soaked, exhausted and starved, we could not be arsed to rummage around for the best bargains and ended up paying £30 for a bunkhouse with a cooked breakfast. This is where the expense originates. The WHW can be very cheap IF you book accomodation in advance. If you don’t, it’s a

fortune, as plenty of accomodation places will take the opportunity to do unspeakable things to your bank balance, taking advantage of your knackered and ‘I just want to go to bed’ state of mind. This is especially true in Fort William, the town at the end of the route. All the cheap B&Bs, bunkhouses and hostels are fully booked weeks ahead of one’s stay, and we ended up paying £35 a night (each) in a hotel. Camp when you can, but if it’s chucking it down you really can’t avoid paying up to stay at a place with a drying room. If I could re-plan our trip, I’d have gone straight from Fort William to Glasgow as soon as I arrived at the end of the trail. Fort William is a pretty expensive place to stay, as I’ve mentioned, and it’s nearly completely devoid of things to do. We got to spend some time in Glasgow in the afternoon before the flights home, but not nearly as much as I’d have liked - you can get good three-course meals in George Square for £10 (at a joint called ‘La Vita’), and you can find accomodation for around £15 a night, if not less. The walk itself was pretty great - though the soles of my feet were coming apart by the end of the first day, and my little toes had

for the same price as a bus ride to Newquay? Be it the weather or the cheap and cheerful service of flamboyant latino hotels which is drawing people away, hopefully with this newly ignited love for the UK, the British holiday will not become a thing of the past but will continue on as a legacy of our ‘2012’ generation and those to come. We may be a small nation but we are a beautiful one with plenty to show for ourselves. People just need to step outside their own front doors with the same mentality they have recently found a passion for: ‘proud to be British’. Even if they do need to pack their raincoats and wellies...


Want to be involved with the travel section? There are so many opportunities to be part of the team. Email us at travel. spark@reading. or look at Spark*’s new Facebook page at www. SparkNewspaper

Hiking holiday - is it worth the money? Calum Rogers

In July a friend of mine came up with the bright idea of going hiking in Scotland. None of our four-man group had been hiking in our lives, let alone a 96 milelong route like the West Highland Way, the oldest established long distance footpath in Scotland. To make matters worse, due to time constraints we’d have to complete the thing in six days instead of the recommended eight. On the plus side, we anticipated this being a relatively cheap adventure. The Easyjet return flights from Gatwick North to Glasgow International were £116 (with one item of luggage), and we planned on doing a fair bit of camping, which would trim costs even more. We would leave for Scotland on the morning of September 3, and returning on Sunday 7. I prepped for the trip by borrowing my mum’s tent - a seriously outdated (or as I liked to think of it, ‘retro’) A-frame type jobbie, supported by two big stainless steel poles. My strategy was to bring the minimum: just camping stuff, 2 pairs of socks and a spare t-shirt. My bag still ended up weighing 11 kgs, but better that

inflated to the size of small light bulbs from blisters. Walking was pretty painful for the first half hour of each day, but with a few ibuprofen and compeeds it got much easier. It’s more important to have mental resolve than to be super fit on the route, especially when it gets dark and the rain begins during the ascent of a poorlytracked hill. In short, I don’t regret going at all. But holidays like it give a bet-

ter return if you plan what you’re doing well in advance, and isn’t something you should approach lightly. One thing you must do on the WHW is visit The Drovers Inn, in Inverarnan. The food’s great, and it’s definitely one of the best pubs in the land. It’s also just opposite a reasonably priced campsite with hot showers and so on, making for a good end to a day’s trekking.


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

Society spotlight

In this feature, Spark* investigates one of the many societies at the University of Reading This issue: Reading University Lego Enthusiasts (RULE) Emil Jonasson

Reading University LEGO Enthusiasts (RULE) is the UK’s only university student’s LEGO society. We are a small, friendly bunch who get together every Wednesday afternoon to build with LEGO, relax and have fun. We welcome builders of all ages and abilities we think LEGO is for everyone!

we think LEGO is for everyone The society owns thousands of bricks, and makes them available to the members for the very affordable fee of £5 a year. The society supplies both plenty “standard” LEGO bricks (everything form the iconic 2x4 brick to steering wheels and minifigs) as well as LEGO Technic and LEGO Mindstorms (which includes motors and sensors for building small robots and mechanisms). Anyone can come along and build whatever they like, and if you don’t know what to make we supply printed instructions of various projects both large and small. Some of our more notable

projects include a 3.5 metre tall tower, prolific member Euan Pratten’s amazing LEGO mechs, a pair of walking LEGO Technic legs and a Wi-Fi controlled LEGO Technic car. Furthermore, the official aim of the society is to build a LEGO bridge over Whiteknights Lake - so we always have something to aim for! Naturally, the society has a Facebook page, where we share LEGO news and upload photos of everything the members build. We also make stop-motion animation films, and a YouTube search on “Reading University LEGO Enthusiasts” will let you find our creations. Finally, we make occasional trips to LEGOLand Windsor, sometimes together with RCAS, the Roller-Coaster Appreciation Society.

We supply the bricks, you supply the creativity Current projects include: - A welcome event for international students on Saturday the 29th, 15.00 (Location to be confirmed).

Below right: a LEGO RULE logo. Photo: Oliver Sanders Below left: LEGO technic legs. Photo: Emil Jonasson

- A “Reading Knights” (RUSU Sports Clubs) logo. - Models of the Reading University campuses. - Your suggestion of an amazing project! Never played with LEGO in your childhood? Come along and try it out! We’ll make sure you feel welcome and will help you with your project of choice. Die-hard LEGO fan? Come along and show us your skills!

RULE is the UK’s only university student’s Lego society We supply the bricks, you supply the creativity! Weekly meeting times: Wednesdays, 16.00-21.00 in the Lounge. Youtube: Search for “Reading University LEGO Enthusiasts” Join us on Facebook: groups/readinglegosoc/” \n _blank groups/readinglegosoc/ RUSU Page: “ legosoc/” \n _blankhttp://www.rusu.”

Above: RULE’s mascot _Brickman_. Photo: Oliver Sanders Below: LEGO tower, built during the summer term. Photo: Emil Jonasson

Coming up in the next issue...the Welsh Society. Featured by own very own Nia Thomas.

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012


Letters & Events

A note from the Development and Alumni Relations Office

From the editor

Hi everyone On behalf of the Development and Alumni Relations team, I’d like to say welcome to the autumn term! And if you’re a fresher, welcome to your first year at the University of Reading. 2012 has been an incredible year for the University, and whether you’re new to Reading or have been here a little longer, we hope you feel as proud as we do to be connected with such a great institution. The Times Good University Guide, published in June, placed the University of Reading amongst the top 25 UK universities. Not only is this testament to the amazing teaching, learning and research that takes place at

Welcome to this year’s first issue of Spark*! This year, we would all like to get as many of you involved with the paper as possible. Spark* is written by students, for students and so we want to make it your voice on campus. Whether you want to let everyone know about your Knights team’s sporting success, want to debate the NUS’ latest move or have a gig you want to let people know about then get in touch. We have a new website www. thanks to our web editor David Thai and

Reading, but it also means that the University has risen in all of this year’s league tables to date, having been ranked 25th by The Guardian, 32nd in the Complete University Guide and 12th in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey. Not bad eh? We also played a leading role in the spectacular London 2012 Games, which you can read about in this edition of Spark*. We welcomed Her Majesty The Queen to the Henley Business School for a Diamond Jubilee celebration and, not least, our world-class research has been hitting the headlines time and again, for all the right reasons. All of this exciting news, and more, is featured in the latest edi-

tion of Connected Magazine – the magazine which we circulate to all of our alumni (aka graduates) every September. If you’d like to read a copy, simply drop the Development and Alumni Relations team an email: alumni@reading. or view it online: In the meantime, check out what our graduates are saying on Facebook (search ‘University of Reading Alumni’) and Twitter (@UniRdg_ Alumni) Enjoy Freshers Week! Laura Garman

a great new Facbebook page at Plus, you can get in touch on Twitter @SparkNewspaper. Even if writing’s not your thing, proofreading, photography and design editing are vital to producing the paper. We also have a beautiful new office in the Lounge so feel free to visit if you wat to talk about becoming part of the Spark* team. There’s really no excuse not to get involved! Sophie Elliott Spark* Editor

Development and Alumni Communications Officer

Does Spark* talk to you? If not, talk to us! Email:

P.O. Box 230, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AZ

Plus, if you want to be involved in Spark*, then why not ‘like’ the new Facbook page at Follow us @SparkNewspaper Or look at our new website From writing, to design editing to proofreading, there are so many ways to be involved!

NSPCC and RAG invite you to the Great Big Swim! The end to the summer may be fast approaching, but that doesn’t have to mean putting your lovely swimsuits and trunks away just yet! The NSPCC, with support from Reading University’s Raising and Giving Society, would like to invite you to dive in and help raise essential funds for the NSPCC at our Great Big Swim, to be hosted at Leighton Park School on Sunday November 4. The NSPCC plays a crucial role in our Berkshire community and its vision is to end cruelty to chil-

dren in the UK. We as a community can come together and do something positive to support our vulnerable and abused children and have fun while we’re at it! The goal is for 200 people to swim 200 miles and raise £20,000 to support the work of the NSPCC, all from 7am-7pm on Sunday November 4. Reading University can be a huge part of this-if you are a member of a society, why not offer this as an option for your first social? Or

gather with friends and hold on to the last few strokes of summer (or recapture the memories of a great one!) and swim for a wonderful cause? You can turn up any time between 7am and 7pm and stay as long as you like. Any participant who raises £100 or more will receive an NSPCC t-shirt, and all who enter will get the swim of a lifetime. To register, simply e-mail for your sponsorship information or phone 01908 328 060.

Fancy a bit of Freeze? RELENTLESS FREEZE FESTIVAL 2012 26th & 27th October For all you fresh powder, snow loving festival goers! Relentless Energy Drink Freeze Festival is a fresh, urban & winter festival. Bringing you the worlds top ski and snowboard professionals, with live music across five stages jam-packed into two days! You can also expect alpine style bars, a huge shopping village and gourmet food and drink, all vital for the ‘Ultimate Après Ski Party!’ On the mainstage you’ll see DJ Shadow and A-YO (Mark Ronson vs Zane Lowe) on Friday, with Public Enemy and Grandmaster Flash taking care of Saturday. You can also expect Future Disco and Vagabondz hosted nights in the Apres Ski Bar. For ticket prices without booking fees see @freezeteam / @roxysunny and Twitter @londonfreeze Facebook – Freeze Website –

Vol 61. Issue 1

Editorial Staff


Sophie Elliott

Deputy Editor:

Calum Rogers

News Editor:

Chayya Syal

News Sub-Editor:

Zoe Crook

Comment Editors:

Jess Croppper and Sophie Harrison

Political Comment

Adam Roberts


Interview Editor:

Ellis Wheatley

Film, DVD & TV

Ellie Holland and Jack Marshall


Music Editor:

Jamie Milton

Music Sub-Editor:

Nia Thomas

Science & Tech

David Thai and Vinay Chauhan


Gaming Editor:

Tom Wood

Arts&Books Editor: Lucy Snow Fashion Editors:

Katey Watkins and Poppy Nowicka

Beauty Editor:

Elle Turner

Travel Editor:

Simon Truscott

Health Editor:

Sarah Lienard

Fun&Games Editors: Paroma Guha

Sport Editor:

Cameron Humphries

Head of PR:

Charlie Allenby


Sophie Elliott and Calum Rogers

Art Director:

Piers Rudgard-Redsell

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 Spark* is completely editorially independent. Complaints should be made to the Editor, in the first instance, and thereafter to RUSU. All complaints should be made in writing. All articles, letters etc. must include a name, address, and contact number/e-mail address. These may be withheld from publication at specific request. Spark* or RUSU can take no responsibility for products or services advertised herein. Spark* reserves the right to reject or edit any submissions. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the Editor. The views expressed in Spark* do not necessarily reflect those of the Editor, particularly those expressed in the comments pages, which are often the opinions of the specific authors. Photographs in Spark* are copyright to the photographer concerned.

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012

fun&games Can you spot the difference?


Welcome to the first Fun and Games section of the year! Use the puzzles to get your brain in gear after the summer break.


In the second image, there is: A dog running towards the ocean. An upside down ice cream cone on the sand. A hot air balloon in the sky. Another boat on the right in the water. An extra cloud on the right hand side.

Foxy maze

Double puzzle: Unscramble the clue words. Copy the letters in the numbered cells to other cells with the same number

We are delighted to featue, for the first time, the cartoons of volunteers Jeff Hollett and Lori-Lee Thomas. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.


Solve the phrase from a famous movie

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012


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To book an appointment please call or visit us :

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Whether you plan to join the Military or not

Whether you plan to join the Military or not

Get paid to train, play sports and do the things you love

Get paid to train, playaverage sportsStudent and doSociety the things you love Not your Not your average Student Society


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

Spark* Friday 28 September 2012


Ryder Cup 2012: weekend preview Can Europe defend the trophy on American soil, a trophy they won in the most dramatic fashion two years ago at Celtic Manor.

Jose Maria Olazabel and Davis Love III, captains of Team Europe and Team USA respectively Cameron Humphries

As you read this the oldest of golfing rivalries will be well under way in the 39th playing of the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, Illinois. Team Europe will be looking to retain the title they won in a dramatic finale two years ago at Celtic Manor. With 17 of the world’s top 20 golfers set to be in action a compelling weekend lies ahead.

make up the calendar year for the world’s top golfers. Whereas the majority of tournaments offer a vast incentive to a player’s bank balance, the Ryder Cup offers no cash prize. Indeed, it is far more important than that. Rarely does the sport of golf evoke passion to rival that of the likes of football, rugby and cricket – on Ryder Cup weekend it almost exceeds it.

With 17 of the world’s In Mcllroy and Woods

top 20 golfers set to be

the two teams boast

in action a compelling

the world’s best two golfers The Ryder Cup lies in stark contrast to the many events that

weekend lies ahead Team USA start as slight favourites on home soil and will be desperate to regain the trophy,

Team Europe

Team USA

Nicolas Colsaerts Luke Donald Sergio Garcia Peter Hanson Martin Kaymer Paul Lawrie Graeme McDowell Rory McIlroy Francesco Molinari Ian Poulter Justin Rose Lee Westwood

Keegan Bradley Jason Dufner Jim Furyk Dustin Johnson Zach Johnson Matt Kuchar Phil Mickelson Webb Simpson Brandt Snedeker Steve Stricker Bubba Watson Tiger Woods

Ryder Cup in Recent Years 2010 - Europe 14.5 USA 13.5 2008 - Europe 11.5 USA 16.5 2006 - Europe 18.5 USA 9.5 2004 - Europe 18.5 USA 9.5 2002 - Europe 15.5 USA 12.5

the Americans, yet it cannot be forgotten what a different beast from tournament stroke play the three days of action offer.

looking at the two sides it is hard to pick a winner. In Mcllroy and Woods the two teams boast the world’s best two golfers. Westwood, Donald, Mickleson, Garcia, Watson, McDowell, Stricker, Kaymer. The players involved are of the highest calibre. Europe have 4 different major winners to the USA’s seven which perhaps hints at an advantage to

There will be a tension like no other in the sport of golf

University of Reading Sports

Over the coming weeks we will always try our very best to cover Reading Knights University teams. We are looking forward to reporting on yet another successful year for the University of Reading in the BUCS tables. If any teams know that they have exciting matches lined up, and would like to be featured in Spark*’s sports section, all they have to do is drop us an email at sports.spark@reading.

Quiz Answers 1. John Terry 2. Andrew Flintoff 3. Ferrari 4. Rickie Fowler

Whatever the result, rest assured come Sunday evening as the singles matches bring the weekend to a conclusion there will be a tension like no other in the sport of golf. The Ryder Cup has no equal.

5. Uruguay 6. Javelin 7. Paula Radcliffe 8. Moto GP 9. Boris Becker 10. John Part

The football season so far Cameron Humphries

As the Premier League table begins to take shape new boys Reading will hope to improve their fortunes this weekend when they host Newcastle at the Madejski. Following a difficult start to the season Reading sit bottom in the table and are still looking for three points to kick-start their campaign. The Royals do have a game in hand however and there is plenty of time for Brian McDermott’s side to sort things out.

European Champions Chelsea lead the way with four wins from five followed closely by Manchester United who have responded well to their first match day defeat to Everton with four wins on the bounce. The two clubs have been spearheaded by their two big summer signings. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has added further creative impetus to Chelsea while Robin Van Persies’ eye for goal has remained as deadly as last season.

David Moyes’ Everton side have made an uncharacteristically fast start and sit third. West Brom and Fulham will both be pleased with their starts while Arsenal remain unbeaten following last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City.

European Champions Chelsea lead the way with four wins from five Indeed Champions Manchester City have yet to lose but will want to return to winning ways following successive draws.

Brendan Rogers has had a baptism of fire in the Liverpool hotseat Andre Villas Boas endured a tough half season at Chelsea last time out and started badly at North London rivals Tottenham, however two successive wins have propelled Spurs up the table.

Eden Hazard has impressed for Chelsea since his summer transfer

Robin Van Persie has hit the ground running since his move to Manchester United from Arsenal Brendan Rogers has had a baptism of fire in the Liverpool hotseat and five games in the red side of Merseyside remain winless. It is only fair to point out that so far they have faced away trips to West Brom and Sunderland and home games against both Manchester

clubs and Arsenal. It is hard to imagine a more difficult start. This weekend Chelsea play Arsenal in a match that will give a clear indication about two potential title contenders. How do you think the Premiership will shape up this season? Email


Friday 28 September 2012 Spark*

SPORT 2012 - the glorious summer of Inside...

The football season so far

British sport

A stuuning Olympic opening cermony marked the beginning of a sensational games for Great Britain Cameron Humphries

Ryder Cup 2012 Preview

For British Sport it is hard to remember a summer of such success, the achievements of our successful Olympic and Paralympic athletes brought the country together, Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the Tour de France while Andy Murray became the first British winner of a tennis major in 76 years.

For British Sport it is hard to remember a summer of such success The achievements of both current and former Reading university students should not be overlooked. Reading took home a total of 4 medals from the Olympic Rowing Regatta including two golds with University of Reading PhD student Anna Watkins taking gold in the Women’s Double Sculls and Read-

Spark* Sport Quiz

1. Which English footballer recently retired from international football having won 78 caps? 2. Which former England cricketer recently announced he would be stepping into a boxing ring later this year? 3. Which Formula One Teams Fans are known as the Tifosi? 4. Who was the youngest golfer to compete in the 2010 Ryder Cup? 5. Which country played host to the first football World Cup? 6. What is the final throwing event in the decathlon? 7. Who was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2002?

ing Graduate Alex Gregory taking gold in the Men’s Four.

In truth a list of moments and achievements could fill the back page on its own Another graduate Ric Egington and current Henley Business School student Alex Partrige also took a bronze in the Men’s Eight in one the the most dramatic races of the regatta.

The achievements of Reading university students should not be overlooked There were many moments that stand out over the summer; Bradley Wiggins riding down the Champs Elysees, Super Saturday

8. In which sport has Valentino Rossi achieved multi world champion status? 9. Who is the youngest winner of Wimbledon, first winning the tournament in 1985? 10. Which Snooker player was nicknamed the Whirlwind? Answers on page 39

In his fifth Grand Slam final Andy Murray finally overcame the odds to beat Novak Djokovic in a five set thriller in New York with Ennis, Farah and Rutherford, Johnny Peacock’s dramatic victory in the 100 metres or Andy Murray finally ending his wait for a Grand Slam.

In truth a list of moments andachievements could fill the back page on its own. The summer of 2012 will go down as one never to forget.

Reading University Pool and Snooker Society Chris Porter, President of RUPS

With the onset of the 2012-13 academic year comes an exciting challenge for the Reading University Pool and Snooker society. From a competitive standpoint, that challenge is to match the level of success experienced in the previous campaign, a campaign in which our sole Monday league team and both Wednesday league teams won promotion as champions of their respective divisions – a clean sweep. The exciting part is that, with many of last year’s membership graduating, the society is looking to consolidate its

recent achievements with a fresh crop of students. However, the society certainly does not hang its hat on competitive results. They merely represent the icing on the cake. Friendly, relaxed sessions every Wednesday at Rileys snooker hall are the society’s “bread and butter” and two highly sociable tours – to Liverpool in November and Yarmouth in February – are the ultimate highlights on the calendar. If RUPS interests you, contact them on

Calling all writers

Do you love all things sport and have a flair for writing? Then why not write for the sport section here in Spark*. Email us or come and see us in the marquee at the Freshers Fayre on 3-4 October! Regardless of what sport you are interested in, get in contact with us, Spark* Sport would love to hear from you! Cameron Humphries, Sports Editor

Spark 20120928 - Vol.61, Issue 1