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Friday 7 March 2014 Volume 65


RUSU Elections results announced: What’s Presenting the new Student Officers

Daniel Mitchell

The annual RUSU Elections took place on campus from Monday 24 March to Friday 28 March and after a week of campaigning and voting on campus, the results were announced in 3sixty during the evening of Friday 28 March. The positions that were announced on the night were the student officers, the student trustees, the parttime officers and the undergraduate faculty reps. There were 2,791 individual voters this year and although this is down on the amount of voters from last year, there were more candidates who put themselves forward. The widely anticipated Student Officer positions were left until last and the new RUSU team for 2014/15 is Natalie Harper, Sara Chandran, Chloe Bartlett, Tilly Corless and Charlie Holman. (President, Education Officer, Community and Development Officer, Welfare Officer, Student Engagement Officer) All of the five newly elected Student Officers looked very pleased and were grateful to their campaigning teams and to everyone who voted. When the results were announced, the students were asked to give a mini speech and their first words as student officers are listed below. Charlie Holman commented that he “will work as hard as he possibly

can”, Tilly Corless was very thankful and stated that she will “make all of your dreams come true”, Chloe Bartlett remarked that she couldn’t “have done it without her friends and the other candidates” and Sara Chandran was “grateful for all of the support” she had received. The first words of the RUSU President of 2014/15, Natalie Harper, thanked everyone for voting and said that she “will do the best she can for every student at the University.” The newly elected Students Trustees are Tom Hurrell and Laura Richardson and they will sit on the RUSU Trustee board and become the trustees of a multi-million pound organization, trustees of a charity and representatives for over 17,000 students. In 2014/15 there will be eight parttime officer positions and these are: Disabled Students officer Moon Wynn, Mature Students officer - Una Markham, International Students officer – Yang Liu, LGBT officer - Tommy Snipe, Women’s officer – Ella Hawkins, Environment and Ethics officer – Roison Boggan, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic officer – Ning Ning and Postgraduates Students officer – Chris Wysling. There was also a first for this year’s elections as the Undergraduate Faculty Reps elections took place at the same time as the rest of the elections. The newly

elected Faculty Reps are: Emily Crye and Emma Wise for Arts, Humanities&Social Sciences, Tom Hurrell and Oluwabukola Smart for Henley Business School, Timothy Seeborne and Natasha Travers for Life Science and Cat Maciver and Anup Kocheril Kurian for Science.

These elected students will start in their positions in the next academic year of 2014/15. We would like to congratulate all the students who have been elected and say well done to all those who took part. We wish all elected students good luck for the year ahead.

Inside? Her review


The University of Reading’s Agriculture and Food departments have been awarded the rating of best in the country, according to findings by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2014. Globally, these departments were ranked 11th, joining Reading’s other subjects featured in the world’s top 100, which include English, geography and environmental sciences. Available online, the QS World University Rankings rates the world’s top 200 universities for 30 subjects. By using data on reputation and research citations, the rankings are compiled and released on an annual basis. In the list’s first thirty-four positions, it is the only British univer-

sity to be ranked for this achievement in agriculture and food.

UoR’s Agriculture and Food departments have been voted as best in the country and eleventh globally Despite having below 12,000 people involved in agriculture and food, which the report labels as ‘medium size’, it notes that the University’s research is nevertheless, ‘very high’ – the top achievement rating in this category. The report added that ‘focus’ in these subjects at Reading was ‘comprehensive’ as well, asserting the University as a shining exam-


Gaming TPP

Tilly Corless WELFARE

Natalie Harper PRESIDENT



UoR’s Agriculture and Food departments voted best in UK Abbie Weaving



ple in how to teach, research, and execute agricultural and food studies well. Nationally, the University of Reading is one of just six other UK institutions that have earned a top position in the subject rankings. Indeed, the University joins the likes of Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Edinburgh and the Institute of Education for recognition of its work in agriculture and food. This comes as no surprise, with the University owning numerous farm sites in and around the town, some belonging to the institution since 1903. Such plots offer students invaluable practical experience, distinguishing the University as one of the top in the UK for the subject. These lands do not only produce crops, but also an average of 9,500 litres of milk per cow each


year, thanks to the Aborfield site and its Holstein herd of almost 600 cows.

Nationally, UoR is just one of six UK institutions that have earned a top position As well as this, the University of Reading has achieved acknowledgement in the top 150 too, with finance, languages, law, linguistics and philosophy all making it onto the list for delivering high quality education and research.

Male grooming



2 News

Friday 7 March 2014  Spark*

#YesPimpmySummerBall Reading Daniel Mitchell

The University of Reading have been selected as one of eighteen Universities to win extra funding that will go towards their Summer Ball. Voting opened on Monday 3 March and closes on Monday 7 April. Every University of Reading student needs to tweet with the hashtag #YESPimpmySummerBall and follow it with the word Reading.

Tweet with the approproate hashtag and follow it with the word Reading Club MTV have teamed up with Lucozade Energy to run a competition in which one University will win over £50,000 worth of funding to put towards their summer ball. Within the first twelve hours, the competition had received well over 90,000 tweets and the University of Reading held a good lead for a few hours on Monday evening. There are eighteen Universities going for the prize in total and they include the University of Kent, the University of Warwick, the University of Essex, Bournemouth University and several others. According to the article on MTV’s website, Club MTV and Lucozade Energy will be adding “big talent, special guests, loads of production,

special effects and loads more…” to the winner of competition’s Summer Ball.

Club MTV and Lucozade Energy will also be giving away iPad Minis and Lucozade Energy goodie bags throughout the competition Club MTV and Lucozade Energy will also be giving away iPad Minis and Lucozade Energy goodie bags throughout the competition. Currently, as of Thursday 6 March, Reading are third in the leaderboard with just over 100,000 tweets and the University of Kent are second on 268,000+ tweets with the University of Bournemouth way out in front on 296,000+ tweets. The leaderboard is available for all students to view at http://www. For more information, students can visit http://www.mtv. The rules are simple, the University with the most tweets will win and both tweets and retweets count. So, what are you waiting for? Lets get tweeting for a great Summer Ball.

Update on UoR Malaysia Campus Emily King

The University of Reading Malaysia campus is set to be ready for March next year with its hand-over in July. The Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, has stated that the University of Reading Malaysia (UoRM) campus is the University’s second overseas campus, after the South Africa campus. Sir David also added that “UoRM will allow the University of Reading to bring its rich culture and heritage in quality education to Malaysia.”

The University of Reading Malaysia campus is on track for its current opening date He also commented “I am pleased to say we are on track and construction is going well. The ‘wow’ factor is certainly there and one now gets a real sense of the size and scale of the building which puts many of our UK campus projects into perspective. I am now even more certain than ever that we are going to have a signature building that will be immensely attractive to staff and students alike.” Sir David continued to say “This will not be a separate institution. This will be fifth campus of our

UCEA and UCU enter talks over pay David Tilbury

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association and the University and College Union have agreed to begin talks to avoid further strikes over academics’ pay.

UCEA and UCU have agreed to begin talks to avoid further strikes over academics’ pay The agreement comes after the recent breakdown of relations between the two sides, with Ucea refusing to restart pay negotiations and advising Universities to impose its 1 per cent final offer without agreement from the University and College Union. A statement made on the 21st February 2014 reads “Ucea and UCU have agreed to investigate with the other parties to New JNCHES the prospect of arranging exploratory talks, involving all New JNCHES unions, prior to the first scheduled negotiating meeting of the 2014-15 pay negotiations. The purpose of the exploratory talks would be to seek an early positive dialogue on the key issues in the lead up to the 2014-15 pay round.” The agreement has likely been made in light of the UCU’s an-

nouncement that it will stop marking examination scripts from 28th April onwards until a more agreeable offer is made, as well as the walking out of six members of the UCU since October last year. The UCU stated that it would also refuse to take part in any exam preparation discussions or board meetings or communicate any marks to students, a decision which would likely hamper any job applications being made by recent graduates. It would also cause problems for many University departments, with University administration not knowing whether students have passed or failed their exams and therefore whether or not they are able to progress into the next year of their studies. However, UCU members are likely to incur significant financial loss from the boycott, with many Universities likely to impose 100 per cent pay deductions for partial performance while exam scripts remain unmarked. The statement of support for the lecturer strikes, offered by the National Union of Students, further increased the tension between the two parties; the NUS said that it submitted the motion in response to the “belligerence demonstrated by university management and UCEA in the dispute so far”, as well as

emphasising their focus on student support and satisfaction. UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, made it clear that “It is in everyone’s interests that this dispute is resolved and we will approach any talks positively”, which will be good news for students who are concerned about the way in which the strikes may affect their futures at university. A marking boycott is the ultimate sanction, but an avoidable one if the employers would negotiate with us over pay” “No member I have spoken to wishes to see this dispute escalate, but in the continued absence of meaningful negotiations from the employers, we are left with no alternative” Hunt continued “I fail to see how any university can claim to have students’ best interests at heart if it is not pushing for talks with the union to resolve this dispute. Even now the timetable we have set provides a generous window of opportunity for the employers to address our just demands, which we, and students, hope they take,” A spokesman for the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, which negotiates pay on behalf of higher education institutions, said support for the strikes had “dwindled” in recent weeks, with the “overwhelming majority of staff” not taking part.

University and we want to expand the Reading experience into Asia.”

UoRM will be offering a range of courses at undergraduate and postrgraduate level including: Finance, Accounts and Marketing, Psychology, Pharmacy and more The University of Reading Malaysia will be offering a range of courses including: Finance, Accounts and Marketing, Psychology, Pharmacy and many more. This range of courses will be offered at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. However, these courses vary in start date and some will not begin until January 2016. The University of Reading has collaborated with a number of Malaysian Universities whilst building the Malaysian campus. UoRM co-hosted the 2014 Reading Collaboration Colloqium on sustainable construction this month. This is a collaboration between the UoRM, the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, and the Universiti Sains Malaysia, and is supported by commercial and governmental organisations. The University has

also collaborated with the Universiti Malaysia to focus on agriculture, the Universiti Putra Malaysia focusing on academic areas and including crop science, and the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia focusing on neuroscience and multilingualism. Talking about these collaborations the Vice-Chancellor said: “We are creating very strong links with universities and industry in Malaysia and across the Far East - with our first research symposium on climate change, our second starting on construction and our jointconference on neuroscience and multilingualism.” The University of Reading is already delivering Executive Education programmes to international companies in Malaysia, including the Bank of China, Thomson Reuters, HSBC, Standard Chartered, UBS and RBI International through the Henley Business School.

“I am pleased to say that we are on track and construction is going well.” As well as this, the University’s School of Law is already established through an undergraduate twinning program run jointly since 2004 with Taylor’s University.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week Sophie Greenslade

Eating disorders are the biggest killer of all mental health problems and last week was a chance to raise awareness of this. Eating Disorders Awareness Week took place from Monday 24 February to Sunday 2nd March and the week was an opportunity to challenge stereotypes and raise awareness of eating disorders.

Eating disorders are the biggest killer of all mental health problems At the University of Reading, in conjunction with the charity Student Minds, students ran a stall in the RUSU building. Students were encouraged to get involved with activities that focused on raising awareness of eating disorders. Students were also informed with facts about eating disorders, which were aimed to make students aware of the severity and frequency of mental health problems, in particular eating disorders among students. Students also used this event to advertise the support sessions that they run here on campus. Over the course of the day lots of students got involved and were surprised to learn facts such as, 25% of students surveyed waited more

than six months for an appointment with a specialist service. Student Minds attempts to solve this by running support sessions every fortnight. Student Minds is a national charity encouraging peer involvement in student mental health and they run support sessions every fortnight for those diagnosed, undiagnosed or just worried about their relationship with food. This is a group session where students are given the chance to talk and listen to each other regarding eating disorder based issues. A group of trained students run the sessions by providing support and supervision to encourage discussion among peers in the group.

Student Minds at UoR Reading run fortnightly sessions in Palmer G01 The Student Minds charity at the University of Reading run fortnightly sessions in Palmer G01. The next session will be on Thursday 20 March between 6.30pm and 7.30pm and the sessions will continue to run in the summer term. For more information, students can email uk or can tweet them at @StudentMindsUoR.

Spark* Friday 7 March 2014

News 3

Fresh Student Living accommodation will open in Reading Editor’s Picks Daniel Mitchell

Fresh Student Living, a privatelyprovided student accommodation, is opening brand new student accommodation in Reading town centre, located on Friar Street. It is brand new for September 2014 and they currently have 13 University and College locations across the UK. Central Studios Reading offers students a stylish en suite studio each having a small double bed, lots of storage and a smart kitchen area. Wi-Fi is also available throughout the building. This accommodation is self-catered and includes facilities such as social spaces, recycling, bike storage and laundry. Denise Stewart, Fresh Student Living’s Head of Sales and Marketing said “At Central Studios Reading our strapline is ‘The Place To Be’. We believe the location is perfect for students with Central Studios being the only private accommodation provider with a great town centre location. The bus links to Uni are great too with the bus stop literally on the doorstep pro-

viding buses to campus every 7 minutes.”

The pricing that they offer is between £210 and £259 per week The pricing of the accommodation may be enough to deter some students though and it seems as if the company is aiming at the top end of the student market. The pricing begins at £210 per week and the most expensive accommodation that they offer is priced at £259. This works out at between £10,700 and £13,200 per 51 week residency. The pricing does include contents insurance and is inclusive of all bills. In comparison to the University, the least expensive accommodation that they offer for a 51 week residency is £5000 and the most expensive accommodation for a 51 week residency is £155 per week which is just under £8,000 for the entire year. The cheapest accommodation offered by the University does contain shared bathroom and kitchen

The end of letting boards Katrina Hordern

This month, the local council plans to take action against estate agents, which is particularly relevant to those living in private housing in some areas of Reading. The problem at hand is that lettings boards are left outside houses for long periods of time. Attention has been brought to the council by local residents who claim that these advertisements are visually unappealing and ruining the setting of some of Reading’s residential areas.

The local council plans to take action against estate agents and the use of letting boards Since the area surrounding the campus of the University of Reading is the home of many students, lettings agents targeting students for the next year are flooding streets with signs, often for unreasonably long periods. Since the role of advertising is governed by The Town and Country Planning Regulations of 2007 this means that estate agents can be prosecuted if they leave signs displayed for longer than the regulation for the control of advertisements states. With the council having already written to local estate agents about the problem twice, once in 2009, and again in 2011 Reading Borough Council is now threatening to take legal action. They are considering

a number of options which may include the removal of illegal signs. They may also begin enforcing the law by prosecuting offending estate agents, and potentially some areas of Reading may not be granted the right to display signs at all. The regulations indicate a number of specifications that the agents should meet when displaying a sign. This includes the size an advertisement may be (0.5 sq.m for a residential property); the maximum projection from a building being 1m; and the rule that only one sign may be put up per property, along with a number of other restrictions. Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, Tony Page, has said that “Residents in parts of Reading are quite rightly angry about estate agents who believe they are above the law and think they can flout existing regulations...As such there are now a number of options we as a Council are considering and that includes forcibly removing the offending signs and banning them from designated areas.” Before action is taken, estate agents have been invited to a meeting to discuss the action that is planned to go ahead. The ongoing issue in Reading seems to be the large numbers of signs across the residential areas, designed to attract students. Since the Council is now threatening action, estate and lettings agents may now try alternative methods in order to advertise their properties to prospective student tenants.

areas in comparison to Central Reading Studios. The most expensive accommodation at the University also contains a shared kitchen area but has an en-suite bathroom area. A representative from the University’s accommodation team commented “Fresh Student Living are in no way connected to the University so we are unable to comment as to if they are a viable accommodation option for students. All the accommodation at the University is run by UPP who works in partnership with the University.” Fresh Student Living responded to the matter of pricing by stating “Studios with the University are advertised on the website at £199 p/w. Central Studios offers a high quality of finish for students. The prices are in line with other private accommodation providers offering this size and type of accommodation. We find this is very appealing for students looking for the balance between having their own facilities and space whilst the indoor and outdoor social spaces provide the opportunity to socialise with friends. The larger units are

also suitable for couples wishing to share.” Denise Stewart added “We currently have an offer available until the end of March in conjunction with Reading University Student Union offering students a free SimplyUni bus pass for their first term when they book with us.”

“Currently we have an offer available until the end of March with RUSU offering students a free SimplyUni bus pass for their first term when they book” Any students wishing to find out more information can visit: and there will also be a stand with a photobooh within the Student Union of Tuesday 11 March. Students are also welcome to drop in to the show flat on Greyfriars Road weekdays from 1pm-6pm.

Reading places in top ten cities Georgie Saunders

Reading has been rated among the top 10 European business cities for investment in the Financial Times’ bi-annual report. Reading was ranked 10th in the FDI (foreign direct investment) 2014 Awards; it was named the 4th best overall in the UK and Ireland and was placed behind London, Berlin and Barcelona.

Reading has been rated among the top ten European business cities for investment in the Financial Times’ biannual report. Foreign direct investment is a direct investment into production or a business in a target country by an individual or company of another country. Foreign direct investment works by either an individual or a company buying a company in the target country or by expanding operations of an existing business in that country. As well as a strategy for foreign investment, the FDI Awards considered measures such as economic potential, the local labour market, infrastructure and business friendliness, for which Reading was rated 2nd best Small European City and fell into the top 10 in various other business categories including 3rd in Overall Small European Cities, 6th in Small European Cities for Economic Potential and 7th in

the Small European Cities for FDI Strategy. Sue Brackley, Economic Development Manager at Reading UK CIC, the economic development company for Reading, said “The FDI Awards demonstrate the international significance of Reading not only as one of the strongest economies in the UK, but as a leading European city for business investment...It is Reading’s overall offer to business rather than financial incentives which is at the heart of its attractiveness to foreign investors. Reading boasts a well balanced economy with outstanding strengths in the knowledge of the economy, a highly skilled workforce, easy access to key transport hubs, top performing schools and a high quality of life. Businesses based here enjoy the benefits of being in the UK’s top performing knowledge economy outside of the City of London without the London overheads.”

“The FDI Awards demonstrate the... significance of Reading not only as one of the strongest economies in the UK”

UoR website 283


The best and worst performing higher education institution websites in the UK have been ranked. According to the quarterly Sitemorse ranking, the University of Reading’s website ranks 283rd. This is down from 204th in the last review and 147th at the same time a year ago. Sitemorse is the suite of choice for Web Governance, Compliance Monitoring and Risk Mitigation and their ranking is based on more than 238 million checks assessing everything from websites’ functionality and response time to their coding quality. Warwickshire College, Bishop Grosseteste University and Scotland’s Rural College currently boast the three best sites in the country whilst the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland sat at the bottom of the pile. Lawrence Shaw, Sitemorse’s chief executive said “The importance of a strong website when attracting students cannot be underestimated… There is a huge range of universities, and with the fees they are now charging, young people will expect their sites to work well.”

Third cash point After lots of campaigning for a second cash point on campus, the University of Reading have announced that there will now be a third. A branch of Santander opened on the Whiteknights Campus on Monday 3 March and is situated next to Campus Central. The Santander branch is open to staff, students and members of the public and services include cash and cheque withdrawals, cash and cheque deposits, faster payment and telegraphic transfers, account servicing, account opening and a fully operational cash machine. Although the bank is only open 10am-6pm Monday to Friday, the cash point at the Santander branch will be open 24/7.

Summer Ball info Reading University Student’s Union have announced that the 2014 Summer Ball will be taking place on Saturday 14 June. On Thursday 20 March, early bird tickets will be available from the 3sixty box office at a reduced price of £30.00 between 11am and 6.30pm. Information about ticket prices, what’s on and a date where the acts

The results were published in the February issue of fDi magazine.

are announced will be available at a later date.


Living Wage campaign begins Chris Foye

Following the decision by Reading Borough Council to move to pay the living wage to staff and contractors, a campaign has been launched to call for the University of Reading to do the same. Some students and staff, the Reading University Labour Society and Matt Rodda, the prospective Labour parliamentary candidate for Reading East, are all supporting the campaign, which they hope will ease the serious financial pressure faced by 378 staff and students working in catering, cleaning and other roles at the university who are currently paid below the living wage.

A campaign has been launched to call for UoR to pay the living wage to all employees Campaigners point out that this is despite the 33 highest paid staff at the University earning more than £4 million between them in 2013. Based on 2011/12 figures, to pay minimum wage staff the living wage would cost £365,000 per year - less than the £515,000 per year the University spent on recruitment agency fees that year. Campaigners also believe that the University, which is one of the top Universities in the country, has a responsibility to act as a good em-

ployer and pay the living wage, particularly in town like Reading, which is one of the 10 most expensive places to rent in the UK. The students employed by the University tend to be undergraduates who face the greatest challenges in paying the new £9,000 tuition fees or post graduates struggling with the increased cost of living. Campaign co-ordinator and University of Reading student, Chris Foye, said “By reducing absenteeism and turnover, improving productivity, and incentivising work, the living wage is good for employers, employees and society as a whole. A World Class University like Reading should pay staff enough to live a basic life, not as little as they can get away with.” Matt Rodda, prospective Labour parliamentary candidate for Reading East, said “Hundreds of staff and students are squeezed by the high cost of living. Reading is a very good and very successful University and all its staff deserve a fair deal. I hope that the University will act as a responsible employer and set to work to pay its staff the living wage.” The campaign is non-party political and would welcome the backing of all those who agree with its principles. The petition can be found at: www. where there is more information on the case for the University of Reading to pay the Living Wage.

Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*

UoR goes bananas for Fairtrade Daniel Mitchell

The University of Reading has announced that it is now stocking only Fairtrade bananas. The announcement comes as a part of Fairtrade Fortnight, which has seen many events taking part around campus. Events on campus have included a pancake evening at the Chaplaincy Centre, a display of Fairtrade sportswear in the foyer of the Sportspark and several stalls being set up in and around the Palmer building. The Fairtrade bananas will be available in RUSU’s supermarket, Campus Central and in the café’s and canteens that the University own across the three campuses. In the last ten years, the UK Supermarket sector has almost halved the price of loose bananas, even though the cost of producing them has doubled. The typical price that is now paid for a banana is around 11p and around 1.2 billion Fairtrade bananas are now sold as Fairtrade in the UK each year.

UoR will now stock only Fairtrade bananas The University does already stock a wide variety of Fairtrade products and these include orange and apple juices, tea and coffee, chocolate, cakes and wine. In a press release dated 25 February, the University commented “By com-

mitting to extending the range of Fairtrade products on campus, the University is part of a wider move in the UK to make a difference to global trade.”

Fairtrade bananas will be available in Campus Central and in the University’s café’s and canteens across the three campuses The University has also pledged itself to five Fairtrade commitments and these are: Fairtrade foods are made available for sale in all campus shops wherever possible, Fairtrade foods (for example tea and coffee) are made available wherever possible through hospitality catering to all Schools and Directorates for use in meetings, the University and the Students’ Union will promote the sale of Fairtrade products, a Fairtrade Steering Group will meet once a term and this policy statement will be communicated throughout the University, and efforts to support Fairtrade will be strongly encouraged. Andrew Tooley, Chair of the University’s Fairtrade Steering Group, said “I’m really proud that the University has achieved this. We’re the first University in the country to have done so. I hope this will send a signal to consumers and the gov-

ernment that change can and must happen.” Mark Kelleher, President of Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU), added “I am proud to say that Reading University Students’ Union is an organisation committed to ethically sourcing the goods we sell in our commercial outlets. I would like to praise all of the hard work put in by the students in the Fairtrade Society and their campaigning work has not gone unnoticed.”

“We’re the first University in the country to have done so. I hope this will send a signal to consumers and the government that change can and must happen.” This year marks the 10th anniversary of Reading’s status as a Fairtrade Town and is the fifth year of the University’s Fairtrade status. For more information and a list of events going on around Reading, visit fairtrade-fortnight-2014/

EMBA Scholarship competition launched Reading Internship Scheme Rebecca Scotter

The 30% Club, The Financial Times and Henley Business School are delighted to announce they will be working in collaboration again this year. The three will be running an EMBA scholarship competition specifically designed to offer practical support for the development of first-rate female talent. To launch the 2014 scholarship, the three organisations have produced a research report on the ‘key challenges to creating gender balance in organisations.’ The report consists of insights from scholarship essays submitted in 2013 combined with research conducted by Business Development Manager and Executive Coach at Henley Business, Carolie Followell. Key challenges highlighted include organisational culture, work and life balance especially in relation to children and/or ageing family commitments, limited appropriate networking as well as mentoring and scholarship opportunities. Recommendations include schools encouraging more girls to study STEM subjects and removing stereotypical bias within organisational culture. It also suggests targeted mentoring and coaching to help women increase self-confidence. The scholarship aims to remove the

stigma of male dominated world of business. Professor Ginny Gibson, Deputy Dean at Henley Business School said “Helping women to develop their leadership potential has been at the heart of Henley programmes for many years and our women alumni comment on how the MBA has not only developed their skills but also their confidence.”

The Scholarship will award one female manager a fullyfunded place worth £35,750 on Henley Business School’s world renowned programme The Women in Leadership Scholarship will award one female manager a fully-funded place worth £35,750 on Henley Business School’s world renowned  EMBA programme  for the October 2014 intake. Executive MBA programmes allow participants to continue in employment whilst studying. Applicants to the scholarship competition will need to address the question “To what degree do we need intervention in order to

increase gender diversity in an organisation and what single action do you consider would make the most difference to the career progression of women?” Peter Whitehead, Editor of Financial Times Executive Appointments said “We are delighted to be associated with this project and the resulting report, which thoughtfully captures the many and varied ideas expressed by the scholarship competition entrants. As someone who has stated in print his desire to see 60% of board membership consisting of women - partly on the grounds that the chaps haven’t exactly made a brilliant job of it lately - I need little convincing of the value an improved gender balance in business leadership would bring.” In research done for international women’s day 2014, The World Economic Forum produced an annual Gender Gap Index ranking countries by the extent to which women and men have equal opportunity, England was highlighted at 18th out of 136. The deadline for the scholarship essays is midnight Sunday 13 July. Look out for further announcements in the Financial Times in May.

Daniel Mitchell

The Reading Internship Scheme is managed by the Careers, Placement and Experience Centre (CPEC) and offers undergraduate students, postgraduate students and recent graduates the opportunity to undertake an internship. There are two schemes that have been organised and these offer students the chance to undertake a project based summer internship lasting 4-12 weeks within the University itself or with a local or regional Small Medium Enterprise. All interns will be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. The scheme offers the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the work place over the summer vacation as well as developing employability skills. A posting sourced from the staff portal section of the University’s website states that CPEC are inviting “a diverse range of internships and welcome applications from all departments and a huge variety of external organisations, covering a broad selection of sectors and industries.” Last year Clare McCullagh, Academic Staff Development Manager in the Centre for Quality Support and Development, took on a student intern and she said: “Having ap-

proached the internship with some uncertainty, we enjoyed the experience of working with a student and feel we have benefitted greatly.” More information about this experience can be found at getting-it-right-through-the-reading-internship-scheme/

The internship will last 4-12 weeks within the University itself or with a local or regional Small Medium Enterprise Each placement will vary depending on the nature of the position and its duration and all the available internships will be advertised online. Any student interested in applying for internships on the scheme should visit: careers/RIS/current.asp. Students can also visit the Careers, Placement and Experience Centre, located within the Carrington Building on campus or can contact them at

Spark* Friday 7 March 2014

Reading Prison wall “must come down” Abbie Weaving

Local councilors are calling for Reading’s prison wall to be demolished, in a bid to encourage buyers to purchase the plot when it goes on sale next summer. One councillor declared that, “the prison wall must come down”, although Jo Lovelock, leader of the council, admitted that the process of it would “all take a very long time to bottom out.” The University of Reading’s Archaeology department, however, are keen to supply the council with the resources needed to carry out crucial pre-development work on the site.

The UoR’s Archaeology department are keen to supply the council with the resources needed to carry out crucial predevelopment work on the site As well as the prison wall being a constraint to the property, the site is thought to be harbouring a myriad of archaeological treasures. These additional issues will not only restrict future developers, but also hinder the current process of trying to remove the prison wall, since any work within it will

require permission from the Secretary of State and the highest of planning protection. Indeed, Reading Abbey was originally located on this site, and the ground is home to Civil War earthworks. It has even been speculated whether the grave of Henry I lies beneath the prison. Apart from being an archaeologist’s utopia, the prison site is renowned for once being home to Oscar Wilde and consequently the inspiration for one of his literary works. Furthermore, the building itself is Grade II-listed and demonstrates the work of Victorian architects George Gilbert Scott and William Bonyham Moffatt. Despite these constraints on the site’s flexibility for development and the demolition of the prison wall, Councillor Richard Willis was adamant that “the wall round the prison has to go” and that its removal “would open up the site”. Councillor Tony Page revealed that he had been asked “why would anybody want to buy this site given these constraints?”. However, his response was that, “It’s a fair question and one I have asked myself. I am hopeful somebody will be up to the challenge”. The committee accepted the draft development framework, which sets out the limitations of the property for future owners but thus far, no official plans for the destruction of the prison wall have been made.

Virtual model of Rome project wins award Georgie Saunders

Matthew Nicholls, Associate Classics Professor at the University of Reading has created a virtual model of Rome, the ancient capital city of Italy and is the winner of the Guardian University Awards 2014 Ideas Bank. The model enables students to engage with digital modelling within a humanities degree whilst exploring each and every street of the ancient city from various angles using this unique digital tool. The project was completed with input from both undergraduate and postgraduate students here at the University and it now forms a central part of the core teaching modules within the Classics department.

Dr Matthew Nicholls has created a virtual model of Rome and is the winner of the Guardian University Awards 2014 Ideas Bank Furthermore, Dr Nicholls now teaches a separate module on the digital modelling of ancient Roman Silchester. Throughout the devel-

Student gets top score for Bloomberg Aptitude Test Sema Zaghloul

University of Reading student, Jaime Hernani, aced the Bloomberg Aptitude Test (BAT), scoring in the 99th percentile and making the hall of fame among the top five BAT performers in the whole of Europe, Middle East and Africa this winter.  The BAT is a global, standardized exam designed to help you gain insights to your strengths and weaknesses as relative to a career in business or finance.

Jaime Hernani, aced the Bloomberg Aptitude Test scoring in the 99th percentile and making the hall of fame among the top five BAT performers in the whole of Europe The results are anonymously entered into a talent search database where more than 20,000 employers can access the results and offer internships or entry-level positions to test-takers. Michael London, CEO of Bloomberg Institute, who administers the BAT, said the test allows firms to broaden their recruitment pools and reach talented students

they might otherwise overlook. London said “Students today are looking for ways to further market themselves...Employers are finding value using the data to help them find great people. If you think about it, it’s a very logical way to be able to improve the way students market themselves and the way that employers find talent.” Everyone looking for internships or gradate schemes can take the test and upload a CV and this will open the door to various opportunities. Rather than have them apply to numerous positions and take the companies own aptitude test. The BAT has revolutionised the application and recruitment process. Over 140,000 students have taken the BAT in over 1,500 universities around the world and in the past few months over 30,000 students have been contacted by employers to discuss job opportunities. Employers using the Talent Search are seeking a wide range of skill sets and experience for a variety of roles, including roles in Consultancy, Accounting, Insurance, Compliance, Research  and  Development, Investment Banking, Sales, HR, Trading, Marketing, Analytics and Global Data. All questions on the BAT evaluate aptitude rather than knowledge. This means you do not have to have a background in finance in order to do well on the test.   The test is anonymous which means employ-

News 5

ers cannot find your test results by searching for your name. The test consists of 100 Multiple Choice Questions  that place you into  frequently encountered workplace scenarios and ask you to make decisions as if you were on the The BAT, which usually costs $69 in USA and other countries, is currently free of charge in the UK. The test is open to students from all degree backgrounds and years of study. Students are tested in 10 narrow categories, among them verbal reasoning, analytical reasoning and math skills, that allow companies to match candidates with positions best suited to their strengths. Employers search for talent by searching the relevant category scores not the overall score. Sema Zaghloul and Plamen Hristov, the BAT ambassadors in Reading, are responsible for promoting the BAT at Reading, trying to encourage students of all business disciplines, not just finance, to take the test. Having taken the test themselves last year, they know that the rewards can be high, with between 50 to 10,000 connections taking place between potential employers and students each month. Students interested in completing the test should visit Tp2TlK.

opment stages workshops, videos and blogs were provided to keep students and colleagues updated.

“I wanted to find a way of showing that to students and visitors to Rome in a visually engaging, convincing way.” Matthew Nicholls said “The work sprang from my interest in the way the built environments of Rome, and Roman cities around the empire, expressed the values and priorities of their inhabitants. I wanted to find a way of showing that to students and visitors to Rome in a visually engaging, convincing way.” Dr Nicholls’ digital model of Rome is under contract for development as a book as well as a package of digital resources for school and University teaching. The Modelling Silchester module now being taught is seen as a distinctive part of the classics curriculum at Reading and its potential has been recognised by a teaching grant worth £20,000. This will allow the purchase of computer hardware and software, travel to events and time for project planning and creation.

The digital model has also been featured on the BBC and Discovery channels and Dr Nicholls hopes to aim it at an international audience for teaching and learning purposes. The road-testing of the ancient Rome model took place in the British School at Rome’s annual undergraduate summer schools and this has been complemented by collaboration with international colleagues such as the Duke University’s Visualising Venice project.

Dr Nicholls hopes to aim it at an international audience for teaching and learning purposes Talks, museums and societies nationwide have displayed Dr Nicholls’ work and plans include the use of the model to illustrate talks on cruise ship tours around the ancient sites of the Mediterranean. Dr Nicholls has joined the board of a cruise ship company, resulting in some lucky Reading graduates gaining placements. This puts emphasis on the fact that many University priorities have been met, including embedded technology use, student-led curriculum design and enquiry-based learning.

NUS back ‘Change 100’ Daniel Mitchell

The National Union of Students are supporting the Change 100 scheme set up by Leonard Cheshire Disability, the UK’s leading charity supporting disabled people. Change 100 is a paid summer internship scheme that has been designed to support the career development of University students with a disability or disabilities. The scheme was launched in 2013 at the government’s first ever Disability Confident conference to bring together the UK’s top employers with talented disabled students.

Change 100 is a paid summer internship scheme that has been designed to support the career development of University students with a disability or disabilities In a press release dated 26 February, the NUS said that they “are supporting the programme as part of our campaign to remove the stigma from all disabilities, challenge perceptions and encourage all members of our society to take

a positive attitude towards understanding the nature of disability and overcoming prejudices.” According to the Change 100 website, the aim of the Change 100 scheme is to “broaden the public’s understanding of what disability is, as well as highlight the fact that many disabled students are talented, ambitious, and would thrive in the business sector.” Young people are often anxious about disclosing a disability to an employer and Change100 aims to remove that barrier. There are available placements across the UK and successful applicants will get mentoring and guidance throughout their placement. Placements will last for three months, starting from June, and in their first year of offering the scheme there will be at least 10 opportunities available London and Edinburgh within a variety of companies. For anyone interested in finding out more information about the scheme, visit the Change 100 website at what-we-do/change100#.UxdsD-d_ sVk. Students who wish to apply for the scheme can start their application at www.leonardcheshire. org/what-we-do/change100/applychange100-internship#.Uxdsa-d_ sVk. The deadline for applications is Monday 17 March 2014.


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*

PhD students launch Twitter account Abbie Weaving

In a bid to share with the world mutual love for humanity subjects, two PhD students at the University of Reading have launched the ‘rotation-curation’ Twitter account, @ wethehumanities. The term ‘rotation-curation’ means that each week the twitter account will be taken over by a new tweeter or ‘curator’ within a certain field in to prompt discussion from different humanities. Created by Jessica Sage and Kristina West, the account follows the likes of @realscientists, a science platform designed to provoke discussion, as well as sharing scientific wonders through pictures, videos and frequent updates in the field. @realscientists has been a huge success with science-lovers across the globe, and @wethehumanities hopes to imitate its achievements.

@wethehumanities will range from topics such as English Literature to Philosophy Accompanied by a blog for further discussion,, @wethehumanities is aimed at a variety of people – from dedicated bookworms, to those who are simply curious about what the field can offer. With such a huge scope of subjects to work with, @wethehuman-

ities will no doubt make the most of this by ranging from topics from English Literature to Philosophy and more. The PhD students recently noted on the blog that, “This interdisciplinarity is part of why I like having the umbrella term ‘humanities’ – it suggests I don’t have to stick with one thing, it gives me a sort of permission to extend my thinking to other areas.”

The aim is ‘‘to reiterate the place of the humanities” Co-creator, Jessica Sage, said: “Our aim is to engage with people from around the world, exposing them to research, experience and ideas they perhaps didn’t know existed, and to reiterate the place of the humanities in our cultures. Already we’ve got poets, teachers, researchers, museums and even a few scientists and business people following the account, and our aim is to grow to attract more people from outside the discipline.” Kristina West added “We encourage anyone working within the humanities who might be interested in curating the account to get in touch. We aim to create a vibrant, international community to raise awareness of the diversity, relevance and challenges that encompass what is called the humanities.”

Vice-Chancellor’s China Scholarships scheme Daniel Mitchell

Sir David Bell, the University of Reading’s Vice-Chancellor, has announced a new scholarship scheme that allows students to study in China. The scheme was organised by Sir David after a trip to China in November 2013 where he visited some of the Universities key partners. The Vice-Chancellor’s China Scholarship Scheme will provide each student with a maximum of £3,000. This will cover flights, accommodation and visas, all to be organised by the University, and a daily allowance of £25 for food and drink.Six students will be provided with full funding for a place at one of two summer schools in Beijing, China during the summer of 2014.

The Scholarship will provide six students with a maximum of £3,000, which will cover flights, accommodation and visas and a daily allowance of £25 for food and drink Both Peking University and Renmin University of China are participating in the scheme and these are

Spark* weather forecast

Sabrina Lee

Looking at the next several days, the chance of showers can’t be ruled out, however the weather is expected to be largely dry.

The weather is expected to be dry but the chance of showers can’t be ruled out Cloud cover is expected and looks to be dense during some periods, although sunny intervals should help to brighten up our weekends.

Temperatures have increased, with maximum temperatures in double figures and the wind speeds range from light to moderate. Even though the season has changed, I still recommend wrapping up warm as temperatures will still feel chilly! Some of you may be aware that the Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) were observed in parts of the UK on February 27th, spanning as far South as Essex. Friday 7 March will be rather overcast but we will see sunny spells develop over the weekend and into the beginning of next week. Saturday 8 March is fore-

casted to be the warmest day with a maximum temperature of 14.

The Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) were observed in parts of the UK on February 27th, spanning as far South as Essex. As we get into Sunday 9 March and Monday 10 March, this type of weather will continue and the weather should get warmer as the weeek continues.

two very prestigious Chinese Universities located within the capital.

Peking University and Renmin University are participating in the scheme. These are two very prestigious Chinese Universities located within Beijing The six students who are selected will have the chance to take modules such as Chinese culture, Chinese language, the politics of China, the Economy of China and Chinese literature. Both summer schools will last for approximately twentyeight days. The Vice-Chancellor’s China Scholarship Scheme will not act as a contribution towards a degree but will act as valuable experience and a great opportunity to explore a new culture. Applicants must be available from Tuesday 1 July until Tuesday 5 August in order to participate in the scheme and they must be returning to the University of Reading for a minimum of twelve months of further study following completion of the scheme. Successful applicants will be required to complete a daily photo blog for the University to showcase experiences during the Scholarship programme and will be asked to act

as Scholarship programme ambassadors. Over the next few years, hopefully there will be the possibility of extending scholarships in programmes similar to this one. Any student who wishes to apply should visit: internal/student/vcc-china-scholarship/vcc-china-scholarship.aspx.

The Vice-Chancellor is encouraging students from any discipline across the University to apply if interested As well as an application form, students also have to provide a statement of why they think they should be considered for the summer programme, in no more than 200 words. After the submissions have been judged, successful applicants will be asked to attend a brief interview and give a short five minute presentation on the topic: “How will you maximize your experience on the China Summer School?” The deadline for applications is Friday 7 March and the ViceChancellor is encouraging students from any discipline across the University to apply if interested.

Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring

Spring skies in Northern Ireland. Image copyright to Martina Gardiner Weather Watcher

By meteorological definition, Spring is here, although by astronomical definition Spring will be around the 20th March. Spring means longer days, flowers begin to blossom and the sun is stronger (fingers crossed for lots of sunshine). Now looking back to some facts and figures, Winter left a legacy of very wet, windy and stormy, yet mild weather and set many records. The snow enthusiasts among us were eagerly awaiting to be blanketed by snow. If we had been in the mountains of Scotland we would have been satisfied, however

temperatures in Reading were not cold enough as we were mainly influenced by air from the Atlantic, rather than air from Polar regions. One




based at the University of Reading said; ‘With 374.6 mm of rain falling this winter, it has been the wettest winter in the University’s rainfall record’. Also found in the report, is that this February had almost three times the rainfall of a normal February, which is usually around 40.9mm.

Spark* Friday 7 March 2014


Careers CV development opportunities at Reading Is your CV looking more sparse than you would like? You could make your CV more substantial with the assistance of the Careers Centre using your spare time between now and the easter break. The Careers Centre is open between 9am-5pm every week day (with a 4.30pm close on Friday). We have fifteen minute appointments every day between 11.30am2pm, as well as longer slots that we can book for you in advance. But if you’ve only got a small gap between lectures, you might fancy just popping in to pick up some ‘takeaway’ advice. Below is a short list of some of our general publications that are great for a few tips and hints on the go:


A fantastic way to bulk up your CV, get experience and try something new, we have a few different leaflets from different organisations, including Lattitude Global Volunteering. We’ve also got more information on our wonderful RED Award, which includes a component of volunteering – so pop by to find out more. Don’t forget that volunteering doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment; lots of organisations would welcome your help for less than a day. Don’t forget to drop into the RUSU Student Activities department to see if volunteering groups are looking for support also.

Employer information:

Because they know what brilliant students we have here at Reading, employers often send us lots of information about themselves and the career opportunities they offer. This means we have a wide resource pool of different companies and opportunities on offer. Currently in our careers foyer you can find out more about opportunities with EY, BHS, the British Army and HSBC.

Blog hand-outs:

Our blog (http://blogs.reading. is increasingly developing a wealth of information on careers advice, opportunities and exciting events, and in the Ca-

reers Centre you can come along and pick up some of our yellow advice hand-outs, covering topics from how to write a successful CV to preparing for an assessment centre. Don’t forget that one-onone advice is also available; if you have a forthcoming interview the Careers Centre can help construct a practice session for it, giving you feedback on how to improve your performance.

TargetJob GET Directory:

How to get Hired: TargetJobs offer a lot of information on a variety of different sector specific careers, but they’ve also made the GET Directory, a good resource for any finalists looking to survey

their options. With advice on how to get hired, the job search, application tips and a comprehensive list of companies to research, it’s the perfect little book to get you started.

RED Award:

Don’t forget to check out the RED Award while you can. It’s an easy way to make you stand out from other graduates and there’s plenty of time left to complete it before the end of the academic year. Drop by and see what we’ve got – there might even be a free pen or revision notepad to pick up.

Careers Centre opportunities: March 7 - 21 Because the end of term will soon be upon us, there are fewer forthcoming events at the Careers Centre than usual. However, opportunities to learn more about work and research opportunities are still available, be sure to use what’s available to you.

Especially noteworthy is the Reading Internship Scheme, an information session for which is due on Thursday 13. RIS can offer students the opportunity to get a paid project-based internship with a local company or charity. There are also RIS internal opportunties, within the University itself, available this summer.

Always be sure to book ahead; although some events may have room to spare you cannot rely on this and people who haven’t booked ahead can be asked to leave.

Most information below is sourced from the ‘My Jobs Online’ portal, accessed through careers. You can book your place through this portal, if you find that you won’t be able to make it to the event the Careers Centre asks that you register your cancellation online so they can gauge attendance in advance.

Tuesday 11 March – Work Placements at PwC

Wednesday 12 March –RED Award Sign-off

Here at PwC we understand the importance of getting great industry insights during your studies, so come along to our Work Placements skills session at the University of Reading to find out more about the exciting placement opportunities we have to offer.

If you’ve fulfilled the requirements for the RED Award, you’ll have to attend one of these sign-off sessions before you can complete the award. This is the last such opportunity of term, so don’t delay.

Carrington 101, 1pm-1.50pm

Wednesday 12 March – CV Workshop Carrington 101, 1pm-1.50pm

Bring your CV and get feedback from professional advisors and your peers.

URS Building 2n10, 2pm-2.50pm

Thursday 13 March – Reading Internship Scheme Information Session Carrington 101, 1pm-1.50pm

This session will inform you about the internships that may be available to you. It may help to research RIS in advance so you can plan your application better.

Thursday 20 March – Career Development for Masters Students in Science and Life Sciences Palmer 107, 1pm-1.50pm This career workshop is aimed to help MsC students consider career directions and job hunting plans.

So that’s it for this semester. Be sure to keep an eye on what’s posted over the Easter holiday period so you can hit the ground running upon the start of summer term.

My experiences with career development calum mcintyre rogers

- Spark* Editor

This is my final year at Reading and during my degree programme I’ve used the careers centre events to plan my route to professional fortune and glory. Since this is also the final issue of Spark* in which I am the Editor, I thought it would be worthwhile for me to jot down some advice on how to make the most of your time at Reading in planning your own career.

Make notes and file them you can’t A4’d not to I’ve found it very helpful to make notes during careers workshops and seminars as I would any lecture. As well as summarising the information given by the speaker,

if you note down ideas that occur to you during the talk then you can follow them up in your spare time. Having a ringbinder ‘careers’ file at home in which you can file your ideas will provide you with a good resource when researching careers opportunities and writing your application forms, much better than just leafing through

Look outside the Careers Centre for insight The University’s Careers, Placement and Experience Centre is a great resource for researching your prospects but you needn’t stop there. For example, if you’re especially interested in a career

in business procurement, why not contact the University Procurement Department and ask to talk with a member of staff there? Another good resource are professional associations and chartered institutes. These groups often put on events for non-members and members both, many of them in Reading. As well as benefitting from the main event, attendants will be happy to talk to you individually about advice and even work experience opportunities. These angles can give you insight into how the roles work and industry-specific information on how to get the edge on your competition. Proactivity will always impress employers and the information you gain may prove invaluable.

Be open minded

If you’re like me and came to University with only a vague idea of what you want to do with your life, don’t be tempted to assume your career needs to be strictly relevant to your degree programme. I study BA Classical Studies and many careers events specific to Classics could give the impression that one would be best off pursuing a career in a museum or in education. Although many graduates in my discipline have had fruitful careers in these sectors, you may be surprised at how suitable for other types of work you may be. Perhaps your education has made you an excellent project manager,

or developed your information condensation and research skills. These competencies are in demand in a wide range of industries including engineering and construction. You shouldn’t be frightened of ‘non-humanities’ careers on the basis of your degree programme. In fact, two graduate recruiters I’ve met at major UK organisations (private and public) had both graduated in Classics or Ancient History. Graduate employers look for potential in their applicants rather than expecting them to turn up with all the necessary professional skills so don’t shy away from industries that might not seem ‘relevant’ to your education. You may be better suited than you think.


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*

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Spark* Friday 7 March 2014



Out with the old, in with the new... standing what affects people. However I believe the most important skill for this role is the interpersonal skills that I’ve acquired that will enable good communication across the organisation and with the university.

Lily Brown & James Clayton

This week we spoke to the new RUSU president elect, Natalie Harper about her experiences during elections week and her plans for the future of RUSU. Hi I am Natalie Harper a 3rd Year Politics & International Relations Student.

You have been campaigning for the past week, what was the highlight of this week for you?

You have been named as the new president for RUSU, what are your initial reactions?

I experienced a range of feelings; a combination of complete disbelief and the thought of significant responsibility involved in leading such a large organisation, but also feelings of satisfaction that all the hard work paid off in the end and excitement at the real opportunities presented by this new role.

I was in a state of complete disbelief What do you think made your campaign stand out from the other candidates running for president?

It’s difficult to say, only having experienced the campaign from my side of the story, but probably because I focused on specific campaign issues rather than generalising, such as the ‘rate your Land Lord website’ which offers something material for people to envisage. Also I spent a lot of time talking to people and getting an idea of the kind of issues which

affected them, this seemed to be reflected my campaign, I believe. How confident were you that you would win the election?

Not confident at all, it was a very close election and could have completely switched around at any point. Do you think the skills you have learnt so far during you degree will stand you in good stead for the role?

Definitely, I do a degree in politics so it’s very relevant to the role, in that I believe I have a good understanding of the issues which affect students currently and ways in which organisations can seek to achieve ways to address these issues. Also I do my degree because I have passion for the topic and I hope that this can be reflected through my work at the SU . If so, which particular skills?

Decision making and leadership skills, combined with the analytical skills necessary for under-

Most probably just talking to people and receiving positive reactions regarding my policies and hearing about their personal experiences. It only hit me half way through the week that I was actually enjoying it. What was the hardest part of this week?

Its strange feeling like all of a sudden everyone’s watching or scrutinising you, if you’re having a bad day or something doesn’t go as well as you wanted, it’s easy to take it personally. Also results night was tough because up until that point everything had felt like a game and then all of a sudden it was real and could lead to a job. You’d spent your entire week watching people pour themselves into their campaigns; it was difficult to watch it come to an end where only 5 people won. What is the first issue you will focus on when you take up the role next academic year?

Most probably improving representation and democracy within RUSU as I believe it’s of vital importance to a progressive RUSU.

Also I’ll focus on land lord accountability, creating the ‘rate your landlord website’ ready for the period of the year when students are looking for new tenancy agreements. What do you hope to bring to the role?

Something fresh and new, voter turnout was lower this year than previously, I really want to get people involved and understand why RUSU is relevant to them. Also I want to work on creating a more positive relationship with the university.

I really want to get students more involved in RUSU What do you think of the way that RUSU is currently run?

It’s difficult to comment without first working for them myself and understanding the day to day difficulties. However RUSU has been voted one of the best Students Unions in the country, so I appreciate the standard of work that goes into making it such a high quality organisation. Yet from speaking to students I feel that not a lot of students understand the worth of having an SU and only see its commercial interests, for example they enjoy union nightlife but don’t understand that the SU is more than simply a club or a base for societies.

And your our other winners...

What qualities do you think you will bring to the role?

Energy, enthusiasm and determination and commitment together with a sense of fun and a respect for other people’s ideas and contribution. Do you have a message for the students you will represent next year?

I want you to feel that you have a president who is approachable and willing to listen to your views and interests. Also I want you to feel that you have students union which represent your interests and will stand up for you.

I want to be approachable as I willing to listen to all students. Any other comments?

I would like to thank everyone who supported me and in particular my campaign team who were simply fantastic at all times. I would also like to say how much I recognise that being RUSU President presents a massive opportunity to make a difference to an important organisation and that I believe that the policies in my manifesto will help me to achieve this.

Your new Student Trustee’s are: Tom Hurrell and Laura Richardson. Your Part Time Officer winners are: Women’s officer- Ella Hawkins LGBT- Thomas Snipe Mature officer- Una Markham, Postgraduate officer- Chris Wysling International officer- Yang Liu, Environment and Eithics officerRoisin Boggan BAME officer- Ning Ning Disabled officer- Moon Wynn.

Education- Sara Chandran

Welfare- Tilly Corless

Community and Development- Chloe Bartlett

Student EngagementCharlie Holman

Congratulations to all of the students officers 2014-15.


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*

Arts&BOOKS Book review: Richard II: On the stage The Storyteller emily davidson smith

The StorytellerJodi Picoult The Storyteller is renowned author Jodi Picoult’s latest novel that introduces you to Sage Singer, a baker and a loner, with a terrible scar on her face from an accident that she struggles to cope with everyday of her life. Over time a friendship blossoms between her and an elderly man, Josef Weber. In a surprising twist (without giving away too much) Josef asks Sage to kill him, as he cannot live with his horrifying past as a Nazi. As his story of Auschwitz unfolds, it is also entwined with Sage’s grandmother, Minka, who herself survived the horrors of The Holocaust. It is impossible to go into detail without giving the plot twists away but in the beginning I wasn’t immediately taken with the personality of Sage but, as the book progressed she became a much more likeable character and your feeling towards her grow. Your heart and head will battle continu-

ously over how to feel for Josef, should he be liked or hated? This is for you to decide when you read ‘The Storyteller’. But the real gem of the book is Minka, Sage’s grandmother, whose accounts of Nazi Germany are incredible and moving, as a character she’s a real favourite throughout the whole book.

Although emotionally tough to read, you will be immersed long after you put it down incredible! The plot will keep you captivated, told in the author’s usual style from a number of viewpoints and swapping between the past & present. There are numerous twists and turns with an ending that does it justice. It is an incredibly well woven story, albeit not being an easy subject to read; especially told from first hand accounts. Jodi Picoult’s writing will keep you immersed in the story long after you put it down.

David Tennant is the doctor no more

RSC at the Barbican Olivia Jeffery

“Am I not King?” Well I may not be but David Tennant certainly was in this stellar adaptation of Shakespeare’s history, Richard II. Betrayal. Check. Beheading. Check. Murder. Check. Madness. Check. All were present and correct during Gregory Duran’s three hour masterpiece. This was a display of Shakespeare at his finest; stripped back and laid bare.

Tennant’s effete performance proves he has shaken off the role of ‘The Doctor’ The minimalist set, with side wings made of transparent bead curtains gave the stage a tranquil atmosphere. At the beginning, this was further enhanced, by the choral singers on the upper galleries and the mourning Duchess of Gloucester lying centre stage, sobbing over her husband’s cof-

fin. Jane Lapotaire’s Duchess of Gloucester was perfectly frail and unbalanced by grief. This bare stage contrasted to previous RSC Shakespeare productions (As You Like It 2012 muddied floor springs to mind) emphasised the actors’ fantastic performances. Shakespeare at his finest From up in the ‘heavens’, (or the gallery to you and I) it was not only David Tennant’s cheekbones that stood out. His effete performance as Richard II highlighted both his selfish power and his decline towards madness. Unlike other Shakespearian plays, which contain the character of the fool, Richard II is missing this iconic role, so much so that Richard II, himself almost becomes the fool in this performance. His use of language and tone of voice only emphasises his imprudent behaviour providing light relief in such a heavy history. The performances by the rest of the cast, in particular Michael Pennington, who played John of Gaunt, were mesmerising. These performances highlighted the choice of dialogue over movement

or spectacle. The spectacle came in their convincing role portrayals. Although an impeccable example of British acting talent, David Tennant’s Richard II, I felt still lacked any full exploration of madness when compared to Ben Whishaw’s version in the BBC 2012 series, The Hollow Crown. However David Tennant’s crowning performance proved he has long shaken off the robes of the Doctor.

Image by ‘Rach’

A ‘Les Mis’tifying Experience!

A stage review of our favourite musical turned movie sensation Lindsay Coles

After watching Tom Hooper’s enthralling adaptation of ‘Les Misérables’ in 2012, my desire for going to experience Cameron Mackintosh’s legendary production of Boubil and Schönberg’s ‘Les Misérables’ on London’s West End had been kindled. Having recently got the chance to see ‘Les Misérables’ at the Queen’s Theatre in London, I must admit that for those who also adored Tom Hooper’s adaptation, you really must also experience this spectacle on the stage! For those who do not know of ‘Les Misérables’, a short synopsis of Victor Hugo’s outstanding novel is needed. Set in 19th-century France, a prisoner, Jean Valjean, is freed after serving nineteen years in prison for stealing bread. He makes a deal with God to be a good man and after building a respectable reputation, Valjean promises the dying Fantine that he will care for her daughter, Cosette, after

her death. Together, Cosette and Valjean run from the ruthless police official, Javert, who is trying to hunt down Valjean. Many years later, Cosette falls in love with a law student, Marius, who is involved in civil uprising. After the uprising, Valjean saves Marius so that Cosette and him can be together. However, Cosette does not see the redeemed Valjean for a long while, until he is on his deathbed. ‘Les Misérables’ is the longest running West End musical in history which started in 1985. Since the start of the stage adaptation, ‘Les Misérables’ has incredibly been shown in 42 countries and to over 65 million people (that’s unbelievably more than the UK population). The musical itself is an emotional rollercoaster. From Thénardier and Madame Thénardier contributing refreshing comedic elements, to Cosette and Marius’ beautiful, blossoming romance

and to the tragic deaths of Gavroche, Eponine and Valjean, ‘Les Misérables’ has something for everyone. Also, amazing theatrical effects, such as gun shots and smoke, are used to bring the audience into the uprising. ‘Les Misérables’ is, admittedly, complex, and concentration is needed. However, the reward for this is memories, emotions and morals that will stay with you forever.

The spectacular, wellknown and stunning songs will stay with you forever The musical’s songs are spectacular and well-known. For instance, the stunning ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, the beauteous ‘On My Own’, the hilarious ‘Master of the House’ and the moving ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’ are songs which will be forever be prominent in society.

With the reputation of these songs being so high, the cast is committed to delivering them to their best. And believe me, they deliver. With the cast recently changing in 2013, ‘Les Misérables’ has a refreshing set of new talent which will ensure the musical remains strong. Carrie Fletcher’s (the sister of ‘McFly’’s Tom Fletcher) portrayal of Eponine was a stand-out performance. Eponine’s song, ‘On My Own’, is a dramatic depiction of unrequited love and Fletcher successfully moved most of the audience to tears by sounding as if she meant every word. As she played the young Eponine in 2001, you could tell she was incredibly comfortable within the role. However, the best performance, for me, was Daniel Koek’s portrayal of Valjean. The stage presence of Koek was magnificent; Koek’s voice was flawless and his acting was sublimely passionate. The musical ended with the audience not failing to endow the

production with a well-deserved standing ovation. ‘Les Misérables’ is one of those musicals which will not budge from the West End any time soon and I fully recommend it, as it is one of the most moving and thought-provoking musicals you will ever see!

Image by ‘Andreas Praefcke’

Spark* Friday 7 March 2014


Reading students’ mini-sagas: Part 2 Continung from last issue are some of the Department of English Language and Lingusitics students’ mini-sagas. A mini-saga is a complete story in 50 words, plus title.

brilliant surprise, Alice thought happily. The adventures of Amelia and her giant friend by Florence Hayes

Scaredy Cat by Emily King At Christmas, I stayed in my student house on my own, for the night, for the first time. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought that someone was outside my window. I nearly cried. And the paranoia set in. No sleep for me that night. Taking a leap of faith by Laura Rooney She squinted at the contraption, her hands shook in the darkness. She fumbled around, unsure where to start. The instructions were simple, she had watched others do it before. Taking a leap of faith, one hard push. Nervously, she flicked the switch. It worked! The lamp sprung back to life. The hunting cat by Caroline Tout I slunk out of the house and dived into the hedge. One step and abruptly there was rustling from ahead. I halted and readied myself, positioned to kill. Suddenly I saw a shadow and I narrowed my eyes. In one swift motion I had pounced and acquired my first mouse.

She looked up and found herself staring straight at him once again. He gazed down, looming from above and smiled broadly. She should have been scared but instead she found herself wondering what was in store. She knew he would keep her safe no matter where their adventure took them. The Stranger by Lucy Snow Emma was frantically shivering as she wrapped the bed covers round her body like a bandage. She knew someone was out there. But who? Her peircing blue eyes were fixated on the wooden barrier that separated her and it. EEEK! The door was nudged open by three long green fingers.... The Halkidiki fire by Chloe Chalmers One evening on holiday in Greece a huge forest fire broke out. My family and I were sitting in a bar at the time and heard screams telling everybody to run to the beach. We anxiously waited on the beach for several hours until the fire was safely put out.

The Day I Was Saved by Alice Capper

The emotional intelligence of a cat by Kimberley Brennan

My eyes locked with his across the room. My heart skipped a beat. He was the one, I knew it. He looked up at his dad and pointed at me. His dad smiled down. Finally, I thought, I can get out of this depressing dogs’ pound and into a loving family home.

The cat, tail curling around her body without a care in the world. Life passes by at such a pace that nothing stirs her purr. Eyes open, and three days pass. Loneliness settled on the stagnant water. A knock at the door and they’re home. Her tail wraps back around.

Alice’s surprise by Avnita Shergill

Morning Routine by Emily Hodges

Alice awoke to the sight of her parents waving 3 plane tickets to Paris. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!” they shouted with excitement. She had just one hour to pack her belongings before embarking on a magical adventure of Disney princesses, rides and castles. What a

An alarm goes off. Awakening from a deep sleep, Emily knows straight away that she does not want to move from her warm bed and take off her cosy pyjamas. Especially to go to a nine o’clock lecture. “You’ll be fine in five minutes”, she thinks, and gets herself up.

The Big Catch by Katie Kennett As the sun rose over the forest, Elijah the brown bear awoke. He padded towards the gushing mountain stream which was teeming with salmon. Elijah paused to remember his father’s teachings. Jumping into the water, he spotted his target and lurched forwards trapping it in his jaws. Triumphantly, he surfaced. Motherhood by Harriet Wong “Mum!” It was another one of those days. Claire was constantly pestered by her children. They all wanted to be the centre of attention. She had hoped that one day they would be independent. Not long her children grew up. Claire now realised what she missed. She began to cry. Billy’s Journey Home by Francine Bult His head hung solemnly as he stared at the floor, grasping onto the overhead rails of the tube dressed in his school uniform. A piece of golden paper glistened in the quivering tube lights. Unravelling it, the paper reflected a shimmering glow in his eyes; Willy Wonka’s last golden ticket. A Doctor’s Smile by Cristina Manfredi I found her in the waiting room. I tried to say her name but the words danced before my eyes like smoke. When the Doctor arrived, with a terrible sympathy on his lips, I couldn’t comprehend what it meant. My wife stood and whilst reaching for the door walked straight through me. The origins of the atypical student by Kathryn Lane She was settled, snuggled deep in the sofa. The phone rang unexpectedly; he was drunk again. He shamed them with an unending quantity of vomit and tears. He was seventeen. She was fourteen, but felt older now. She no longer wanted to be just like her big brother.

Get arty and organised! Laura Armstrong

Obviously on a student budget we can’t spend a huge amount of money on stationary. But, with revision season on its way, its about time we got ourselves organised and everything sorted into folders. So this is a great SIMPLE way to get creative, save some money, and have some pretty cool stationary. 1. Firstly, buy the folders, any extra value range is fine, it doesn’t matter what it looks like! (Or

if you have an old one hanging around but its a hideous colour then use that!) 2. Then buy reasonably priced gift wrap, choose a pattern and colour that suits you. (1 roll will cover multiple folders!) 3. Then, quite literally, wrap the folder! Open the folder completely and cut one piece of gift wrap that will be enough to cover it and overlap the edges.

4. Secure the edges inside, where nobody can see them, with either glue or selotape. 5. If you wanted to secure the folder long-term then you can always cover with sticky-back plastic, but if it’s just going to sit on the shelf at home and look pretty then there’s no need! 6. Voila, you have unique folders tailored to match any colour scheme...and of course, you’ve managed to put off revision a little longer!

Is it Spring already? Nina Hammann (from Germany) Rays of sun and birds singing woke her up. Smiling, she got up and went for a walk. She took a deep breath of the blooming smell and witnessed many amorous couples exchanging promising looks. How she longed for something like that... Snoring woke her up. She heard the rain – definitely not spring! But she saw her Mister Right lie next to her. The Stone of Luck by Maha Salem Othman A little boy was worried about his spelling test. One day on his way home he met a strange man who bought him a lucky stone, he worked hard for the test and hoped that the lucky stone would bring him luck in his test . on the test day, he went to school with a lot of confidence. After He had done the spelling test perfectly, he checked his pocket the stone was not there and there was a hole in his pocket. The experience of travelling alone by Afnan Bahaziq One week ago, I experiencd travelling alone for the first time in my life. In the beginning, I was terrified to fly alone without my father. But when I knew that my friend was on the same flight, I was very excited! In fact, it was the best flying experience ever! Washing machine by Norah Almutairi While I was washing my clothes, I noticed that the washing machine did not get rid of its water. Suddenly, smoke started coming out from the washing machine. I turned it off quickly. Thank God I did not just leave the room after I turned it on earlier A wonderful trip by Aliya Zoldabayeva Last summer I visited Wales. Four wonderful days were spent in Cardiff, Bristol and Caerphilly. We visited Cardiff Castle, Caerphilly Castle and Coch Castle. The most surprising and exciting issue in this trip were not sightsee-

ing, but people. I discovered for myself kind, friendly, helpful and generous people of Wales! Vanessa’s mini-saga Xicha Zhang (Visiting Scholar from China) Once a city was so seriously polluted that its people had to suffer from severe smog. The thick smog even blocked sunlight. To escape from the suffocating environment, one man decided to give up everything he had in city and left for a beautiful village with fresh air. But he died soon. The diagnosis given by doctor is oxygen poisoning. The Greedy Man by Eman Saleh Alawi Akeel (from Saudi Arabia) A man noticed a chap was eating apple seeds! He asked why? “They make people clever”, he replied. “Try five seeds for five pounds”. The man agreed, but when finished, he got angry as he realised he could’ve bought fifteen apples instead!! The chap said: “See! You started being smart”. Three monks by Xianyu Kong A monk used to live in a temple on a high mountain. He shouldered water from the foot of the mountain happily every day. One day, another monk came. They carried water together unwillingly. Then a third one came. They sat and complained to the Buddha every day, thirsty. Honeymoon cartoon by Amani Ateeq A. Alotaibi Sudenly, she started screaming ‘’mouse, mouse’’. The husband picked up the phone to ask Room service for help. He forgot what “mouse” is in English. They had the following conversation: Room service: Room service, how can I help? Husband: Do you know Tom and Jerry? Room service: yes! Husband: Help me, Jerry is here.



Friday 7 March 2014



Lindsay takes a look at this year’s BRIT Awards

BRIT Awards 2014 lindsay coles

On the 19th of February, iconic celebrities and outstanding musical talent such as Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Arctic Monkeys and One Direction attended London’s O2 Arena for the annual ‘rock-andpop’ bash, the BRIT Awards. With 2013 being a great year for music, the world was waiting with baited breath to see who would win a coveted award, and it turned out to be a night full of surprises. Sheffield four-piece The Arctic Monkeys have won seven BRIT Awards previously. However, this turned out to be their most successful BRIT awards yet, as they won ‘Best British Group’ and ‘British Album of the Year’ (for their fifth release, AM). This meant the band became the first ever to claim a ‘BRITS-double’ for an amazing third time! Their wins led to lead singer, Alex Turner, confidently claiming a victory for rock-and-roll: ‘”That rock-androll, it seems like it’s fading away sometimes, but it will never die”’. The ‘British Male Solo Artist’ award witnessed David Bowie successfully reclaiming his title from thirty years ago. Bowie beat young talents Tom Odell, John Newman and Jake Bugg, for his comeback album The Next Day to win the award. The band that got screamed at for every appearance, One Direction, equalled the Arctic Monkeys by leaving the BRIT Awards with two trophies. One Direction won ‘Global Success’ and ‘Best British Video’ for their pop song ‘Best

Song Ever’. The latter award was cast by Twitter votes in the evening and with 17.8 million Twitter followers, One Direction’s win looked set in stone. Harry Styles nearly missed the acceptance speech for the former award, however, and ran on the stage late charmingly stating he had been off ‘”having a wee”’. After winning the ‘Critics’ Choice Award’ in 2010 and missing out on ‘British Female Solo Artist’ in 2011, Ellie Goulding, who looked stunning in a Vivienne Westwood pink dress at the awards, finally won ‘British Female Solo Artist’. Despite not having released an album in the past year, it was her first UK number one song ‘Burn’ which pushed her back into the spotlight. Her heartfelt comment in her acceptance speech proved it was well deserved: ‘”Thank you so much, this means so much to me, I can’t even tell you”’.

The Arctic Monkeys claimed a victory for rock-and-roll ‘International Male Solo Artist’ was taken by Bruno Mars. He fought off some tough competition from Justin Timberlake, Drake and Eminem to win the award which he had already won in 2012. Mars deserved the award as he had a brilliant year in 2013 when performing at the Superbowl and topping the US charts with soul and pop ballad, ‘When I Was Your Man’, which was also a UK number 2.

Amazingly, singer-songwriter Lorde is only seventeen, but she had no trouble taking the counterpart to Mars’ award, ‘International Female Solo Artist’. Her countercultural, pop track, ‘Royals’, dismisses hypermaterialism and went to number 1 in the UK chart. Daft Punk, the French duo who kept hiding under those iconic robot helmets, won the ‘International Group’ award. Daft Punk’s disco and funk song (the one we all know), ‘Get Lucky’, helped them win the award which has achieved a series of successes. It won The Guardian’s best song of 2013, became the first million-seller released in 2013 and achieved the status of most streamed song in Spotify’s history!

Harry Styles blamed ‘having a wee’ on why he nearly missed his award Rudimental managed to pick up ‘British Single’ for their song ‘Waiting All Night’, whilst Bastille wereawarded the title of ‘British Breakthrough Act’ for their 2013 rock album, Bad Blood. Incredibly, last year, the band was so unknown that they were only given one seat at the BRIT’s. Recently, lead singer, Dan Smith rightly stated: ‘”There’s something to be said about how they wouldn’t pay for us to all go last year, and this year we’re nominated four times”’. Sam Smith won the award which recognises artists who critics

believe are tipped for the top in the coming months, the ‘Critics’ Choice Award’. Indeed, they weren’t wrong. Cambridge singer, Smith, has just landed himself a Number 1 with his pop song, ‘Money On My Mind’, making him the first ‘Critics’ Choice Award’ winner to debut at the top spot! Lastly, Foals producers, Flood and Alan Moulder achieved the ‘Best Producer Award’. The duo produced Foals’ amazing 2013

indie album, Holy Fire, which peaked at number 2 in the UK charts. The BRIT Awards of 2014 did not fail to produce excitement, shocks and thrills. The question is, who’s in the running for a BRIT next year? Well, James Corden forcing Kylie Minogue to admit she’s got a new album and tour on the way definitely left viewers with a few subtle hints.

ALBUM REVIEW Milos reviews Beck’s triumphant return

Beck Morning Phase capital records

milos rojko

Beck Hansen is no name for long introduction. Throughout the years, the postmodern veteran

almost single-handedly has been the torchbearer for the alt. Folk genre being able to fuse almost any kind of music with it. His last proper release, Modern Guilt, was inspired by 1960s blues music. But more importantly, it happened more than 6 years ago. Having to sign to Capital Records, Beck boiled down two albums worth of material to released his first record since 2008. Described by Beck, as the spiritual follow up to Sea Change, it returns to the emotional heaviness and soft acoustic melodies of the 2002’s album. Morning Phase starts off with the subtle orchestral piece ‘Cycle’. Directly, it leads to Beck’s elegant ode, ‘Morning’,capturing the melancholy of waking to brand new day and hope it brings. The gently strummed acoustic guitar

is supplemented by Beck’s dense psychedelic falsetto. The waves of occasional samples bring another layer of intriguing texture. While the production is minimalistic in its quantity of musical elements used, however, it is maximal in its richness and consistency. The surrealism of Beck’s words add another dimension to the psych-folk arrangements, ‘Woke up this morning, found a love light in the storm/ Looked up this morning, saw the roses full of thorns/Guns are falling, they don’t have nowhere to go/ Oceans of diamonds always shine, smooth out below’. The following songs remain in the same thoughtprovoking realm, including the cheeky ‘Say Goodbye’ or the beautifully gloomy ‘Blue Moon’. Unfortunately, the ideal mood and the pace is interrupted by

‘Wave’, which can be regarded as the dividing track. The following tracks unnecessarily drop the complex arrangement for more straight up fork country oriented melodies, riffs. They disturb the continuity and more crucially they don’t compliment the progressive nature of the previous tracks. They end up bare, only having very limited emotional impact as is ‘Don’t Let It Go’ or ‘Turn Away’. Finally, Beck saves best for the last with ‘Waking Light’. After disruption of the previous set of songs, he returns back to the previous musical territory, presenting one of his most ambitious musical pieces to date. ‘Waking Light’ has every fine element from the previous twelve tracks, having unorthodox but absorbing song structure, sincere and honest lyrics and gran-

diose orchestral climax making it the ultimate choice for the ending song.

Morning Phase returns to the emotional heaviness of 2002’s Sea Change Morning Phase is much needed switch of pace from ‘Modern Guilt’, slowing things down and being more serious. Morning Phase uses something as painful as heartbreak to translate it into art that is charmingly melancholic, also being fine successor to the classic material of Sea Change.


Spark* Friday 7 March 2014


TV Review: Mrs Brown’s Boys - Love it or hate it?

community and closeness that makes you, as the viewer, feel very involved and immersed in the show, whether it be the fictitious side or with the actors.

Jack Marshall

Mrs Brown’s Boys is the BBC’s very own Marmite. Never before has a programme had so many people divided. But the show is now well into its third series and, despite being slated by critics, has won no less than three television awards for comedy including a BAFTA. So it can’t be that bad really!

His often improvised, unscripted one-liners regularly have the rest of the cast in hysterics

The family ambience that this show simulates is very natural and fluid The show follows the day-today life of Mrs Brown (Brendan O’Donnell) and her family as they drop in and out of her home, bringing with them a wealth of typical family issues that are explored and highlighted in a fun, comic and entertaining way. Family values are at the core of this show, despite its ventures into over-the-top comedy, which I think makes it so relatable and popular on the BBC.

Agnes Brown is played by Irish comedian Brendan O’Donnell, whilst the rest of the cast comprises close friends and family members, and I think this really shows. The family ambience that this show simulates is very natural and fluid; the performances not at all unconvincing or awkward. This includes when mistakes (such as messing

up lines or addressing characters by the wrong name) are edited into the episodes – because the show is recorded live – which breaks the fourth wall and therefore the viewer’s perception of the show as a piece of fiction. Therefore as a viewer’s we do not only interact with the characters but also the actors that play them.

Whilst this might be confusing and disorientating for some, it adds a fresh angle to comedy TV that is both naturally funny and entertaining. Brendan O’Donnell is hilarious both in and out of character. His often improvised, unscripted one-liners regularly have the rest of the cast in hysterics and there is a real sense of

However the occasional overuse of slapstick comedy lowers the tone somewhat – Mrs Brown riding a bucking-bronco-style Christmas tree was initially hilarious but was stretched too far to the point of mild discomfort. Therefore engaging the audience by editing production and recording errors into episodes is a refreshing form of comedy that reprieves the abuse of slapstick. Overall, I can see why this show is so popular on the BBC both in the UK and Ireland, yet I can also see why some people might dislike it. But in this case, it’s safe to say that I like Marmite.

TV Review: The After: Chris Carter returns to TV Written & Directed by: Chris Carter Starring: Louise Monot, Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard Airing: Pilot episode on Amazon Jack Marshall

In one word: wow. Simply, wow. This pilot episode had all the makings of a stunning television series. Think Survivor (Terry Nations, though more along the lines of the 2000’s remake) meets The X Files. Every single element that made up this episode was incredible.

It’s been a long time since a television show has so thoroughly gripped, thrilled and scared me The characters were appropriately fleshed out and developed – not too much, so there’s enough to keep you engaged, but enough so that we care for their welfare. The group forms a typical mismatch bunch of survivors thrown to-

gether (and this is where it’s really like Survivors); you have the one everyone likes, the one everyone hates, the morally corrupt, the morally straight, the vulnerable, the weak and the mysterious. This dynamic is a winning formula in any situation like this and The After does little to develop or build upon use of such a grouping in the past. But it works, and that’s all that matters. The 'lead' character Gigi Generau (Louise Monot) is our pathway into this story and we connect with her on a personal level immediately. Her French is endearing and generates an air of vulnerability and helplessness that makes us

care for her, but she soon shows us this is not the case. On more than one occasion Carter risks having her fall into the typical, sexist "female needs male help" stereotype, but he expertly avoids this by having her fend for herself and even when she seems incapable of doing so she finds a way! The premise is unknown. Something occurs which throws the entire city of L.A. into chaos (possibly the world). Helicopters crash into each other, there’s no power, no communication, anarchy on the streets and stampedes of confused people. The directing of this pilot by Chris Carter (The X Files, Millennium) is incredibly immersive

and sucks you into the action and storyline effortlessly.

no spoiler if I say that you don’t find out either.

The culmination of the episode is pure and simple sci-fi, the likes of which Carter is renowned for

This pilot episode had

The genre is incredibly mixed. You start off with an action-claustrophobic-thriller and this is maintained through much of the episode, whilst elements of sci-fi are dropped in throughout, with the mysterious connections between the group of eight survivors. The culmination of the episode is pure and simple sci-fi, the likes of which Carter is renowned for: terrifying, enigmatic and incredibly gripping. It seems a little far-fetched, but that’s only because the episode doesn’t really feature many solid sci-fi elements until this very last moment. Therefore it could have perhaps benefitted from having more science fiction elements running consistently throughout - perhaps a little insight into what on Earth is going on! The whole mystery in this episode is what is causing the world to go bad. We don’t know, and it’s

all the makings of a stunning television series This is an Amazon Studios production and in order to get a series aired, it needs votes. You can watch it for free on and I thoroughly recommend that you do. It’s been a long time since a television show has so thoroughly gripped, thrilled and scared me and left me craving for more.

OSCARS ‘14 NEWS IN BRIEF: Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively.


Friday 7 March 2014  Spark*


Only Lovers Left Alive: A cult movie in the making Directed by: Jim Jarmusch Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt Running Time: 123mins Genre: Drama/Horror/ Romance

References to art works are abound. While this was always going to be the case for the man who cast Johnny Depp as “William Blake” here they are less “illusions to” and more full on realities. Whether this will intrigue or infuriate depends on your own tolerance on namedrops to Jack White and pages of Endgame appearing onscreen, and while this can admittedly be grating it always seems deliberate, less a cultural elitism and more an extension on the film’s intentions (likely to be found among repeat viewings).

Matthew Crowe

Jim Jarmush’s films exude cool. No doubt he would have me explain myself, but by the end of Only Lovers Left one feels like they have been allowed to be free to their own thoughts and devices in a theatre, unlike filmmakers whose films feel as though they hold your hand to guide you through the plot.

Only Lovers Left Alive is likely a cult film in the making, with moody performances from thespian actors Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton star as Adam and Eve. It is not clear whether they are THAT Adam and Eve, but it is clear they

have lived for centuries and it has somewhat taken its toll on their relationship with the outside world. Never showing the sunlight once, the movie drifts as the characters do from the belly of Detroit to the corridors of Tangier, and both Hiddleston and Tilda sell their brooding Romanticism without being – for lack of better phrasing - wooden. Vampires tend to be based around sex and addiction. This has

been true before Bram Stoker and indeed shots of drinking blood in Only Lovers are treated as though they are heroin episodes from Trainspotting, with a plot point towards the end that evokes elements of that “scene”. But here the use of vampires highlights the characters “I’m-getting-tooold-for-this-s**t” hipsterdom in a similar manner to how Let the Right One In used them to highlight innocence and youth.

both Hiddleston and Tilda sell their brooding Romanticism without being...wooden.

ner that reflects the characters themselves, being both separate from and tangential to each other whenever the mood takes them.

Vampires tend to be based around sex and addiction Only Lovers Left Alive is likely a cult film in the making, with moody performances from thespian actors, a wonderful multicultural soundtrack and an aesthetic that is Jim Jarmusch’s most visually poetic film since Dead Man. There, I did not mention Twilight once. Can I have my cookie?


When a movie starts with the night sky dissolving into a spinning record (the kind of great imagery one can expect from Jarmusch), you know to pay attention to the music. And indeed, as with all of Jarmusch’s work, the soundtrack is sublime, reflecting elements of Tangier and Detroit in a man-

Her: a new kind of dystopian terror that will grip you! Directed by: Spike Jonze Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde Running Time: 126mins Genre: Drama/Romance/ Sci-Fi

With no specific date or time period given, the audience is unable to situate this movie to another period and as such is forced to experience it in the present.

This movie is modern day dystopia at its finest

Niki Igbaroola

There is something utterly terrifying about the new type of dystopia introduced in this movie.

Should you have read any Orwellian dystopias, you would imagine that this movie is filled with dull colours and morose looking

characters. You would be wrong! Part of the beauty in the execution of this movie is the dominant presence of bright colours and its being set predominantly in the day time. The effortless nature of the acting seduces the audience for a great portion of the movie into believing this world to be a normal one. The feelings of unease that creep in as the plot unravels simply add to the experience that is Spike Jones’ Her.

not alone in his unconventional pairing adding to this warped idea of normality.

It is the illusion of humanity, presented by Samantha, that Theodore Twobly falls in love with

This was a thoroughly intriguing and interesting movie to watch The movie focuses on Theodore (Phoenix), so damaged by human love he begins a full-fledged relationship with his computing device: Samantha (Johansson). Unlike the present day ‘Siri’ as designed by Apple, Samantha is a computing programme whose thought process expands daily leading to an almost human-like ability to feel and it is this illusion

of humanity presented by Samantha that Theodore Twobly falls in love with. Whilst this may seem a difficult love story to execute given that Samantha can never be manifested in the physical, Jonze uses Twomby’s relations with other physical characters to shape and drive his plot. Twomby makes no move to hide the identity of his ‘girlfriend’ leading him to realise that he is

A great deal of my fascination with this movie was in the possible endings. How could such a love story end and as a viewer, what could possibly be an appropriate emotional response to the outcome? Despite being somewhat overly lengthy, this was a thoroughly intriguing and interesting movie to watch. The journey between Samantha and Theodore conducted mostly through simple conversation is one that for 2 hours you happily surrender yourself to. In a few word, this movie is modern day dystopia at its finest!


OSCARS ‘14 NEWS IN BRIEF: 12 Years a Slave has won the award for best picture whilst Gravity took home 7 Oscars including Best Director and Soundtrack

Spark* Friday 7 March 2014


The Monuments Men: Could have been better Directed By: George Clooney Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray Running Time: 118mins Genre: War

time is focussed on the individuals, for they are introduced in a comedic montage and then paired off before we really get to know them, which means that those that die get particularly short shrift and those scenes lack the punch they should have. Alexandre Desplat’s score emulates classic war movies while also injecting pathos into scenes such as the discovery of a barrel of gold fillings and the cast are all able to carry off the comedy and the serious moments, even if the film is more effective at the former than the latter.

Jonathan Edney

With a cast of major stars and script and direction from the team behind Good Night and Good Luck (2005) and The Ides of March (2011), you would think it impossible for this film to fail. While I wouldn’t say it fails, it certainly could have been better, not least because the true story of the Monuments Men, a group of older soldiers and art enthusiasts that entered WWII to find, protect and return priceless works of art from across Europe, is worthy of recognition.

While I wouldn’t say this film fails, it certainly could have been better Part of the problem is that the film is all too aware of this fact

and feels the need to shove it in the audience’s faces. Clooney’s character, Lieutenant Stokes, constantly reminds the group (and the audience) why these pieces of art matter and whether their sacrifice is worth it. Despite the best intentions of the film, anyone who isn’t an art enthusiast may not agree and the film starts off from that point of view, as Stokes tells the group “Remember, your lives are more important

than a work of art” before contradicting that sentiment half an hour later.

The actors have a fairly natural chemistry The film is more successful with its humorous aspects, which have been criticised by other reviewers as detracting from the seriousness

of the story but when were war movies not allowed to be funny? Having grown up with the TV sitcom M*A*S*H, a black comedy set during the Korean War, I am used to jokes being made during a war as a means of escape so when he Monuments Men are attempting to make light of the fact that one of them is standing on a landmine, it works. The actors have a fairly natural chemistry, although not enough

Alexandre Desplat’s score emulates classic war movies while also injecting pathos into scenes Although The Monuments Men is admirable in shedding light on this noble pursuit, it sadly does not have the makings of the classic that it could have been.



Friday 7 March 2014  Spark*


Endless Love: Trips to the cinema are rarely so bad Directed by: Shana Feste Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde Running time: 103 mins Genre: Romance

on American daytime TV that you’d make fun of your friends for watching. Unfortunately things don’t get better from here, as two uninspired characters are introduced. Shy, bookish but attractive Jade has a chance encounter with troubled, angry but attractive David and the sparks fly instantly. Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before.

Thomas Flew

Valentine’s Day may have come and gone but its ghost continues to haunt cinemas nationwide in the spectral form of Endless Love, a hollow husk of a movie created in Frankenstein-manner from the decaying corpses of other equally unsuccessful soppy romances.

None of the crucial relationships that make up the heart of the film were in any way believable Starring little-known British actors Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde, both of whom put on their best American accents for their

Endless Love is the kind of film that you can tell is going to be terrible instantly. roles, this a film lacking in not just original ideas and a good screenplay, but also in the sort of star appeal that tends to bring in the punters. Endless Love is the kind of film that you can tell is going to be terrible instantly. Writer/director Shana Feste includes a helpful sort of eject button to help remove any unsuspecting victims from the cinema before it’s too late, opening with the kind of voiceover found

the rest of the cast alike were truly terrible or whether they were simply let down by the lines they were given. Either way, it’s undeniable that none of the crucial relationships that make up the heart of the film were in any way believable, and it is this that most made Endless Love feel like a total waste of time. If you were considering going to see Endless Love in the cinema, please think again. Even if this is the kind of film that you tend to enjoy it will be a disappointment,

an experience more appropriate to watching in bed when it inevitably shows up on Netflix in 6 months’ time. There are very few cinematic experiences which are as totally joyless as this, an insult to the intelligence of an audience which will hopefully die out as quickly as the film itself will.


It’s not necessarily a problem that a film consists almost entirely of clichés, but there has to at least be a certain level of quality to them. Not only does the screenplay contain embarrassingly poor dialogue, but the audience can’t help but stay one step ahead of the film, each plot point being highlighted well in advance with patronising persistence. It’s hard to tell whether the performances from the leads and


Spark* Friday 7 March 2014


TV Feature: “The Day of the Three Doctors”

Christopher Burrows discusses the 50th Celebrations of Doctor Who in light of a previous anniversary, The Three Doctors, which celebrated ten years of Doctor Who back in 1963. questioning of Omega’s actual existence once his mask is removed to reveal nothing is there and then his world, which has been created by his own will, exploding and falling into the black hole. All four episodes are gripping and just as entertaining as any of the new episodes with some heart racing cliff hangers. With a little help from some CGI magic this story could easily fit into the new run of the series.

Christopher Burrows

Recently Doctor Who celebrated its fiftieth Anniversary with a spectacular, one-off cinematic special written by the head writer, Steven Moffat, The Day of the Doctor. However this was not the first time that Doctor Who celebrated an anniversary with a special. On its tenth anniversary Doctor Who celebrated with a four part episode, The Three Doctors, which saw the first three incarnations of the Doctor: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, reprise their roles as the famous Doctor for a series opener, much like David Tennant’s (the tenth Doctor) reprisal in The Day of the Doctor.

The Three Doctors shows Doctor Who’s writing at its best and it is clearly a much loved episode among Whovians The Three Doctors is set in the UNIT (the Unit Nations Intelligence Taskforce) headquarters which is investigating a case of strange lightning in the local area. It turns out this is anti-matter which is transporting people and objects into a black hole, which is where the renegade Time Lord Omega is held after being made prisoner by his own people. The Doctors have to stop Omega gaining power again and having his revenge on the Time Lords for putting him in the situation he is in. The episode successfully brings the Doctors together in an enter-

this tenth anniversary episode was heavily referred to when Moffat L-R: Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt playing the Eleventh, Tenth and “War Doctor” incarnations respectively. taining and light hearted manner. Hartnell makes a very brief appearance in this episode on-screen due to his ill health at the time, but Troughton and Pertwee act brilliantly off one another, bickering between over who is the Doctor and who has the best ideas, which often proves to be very funny. It is clear that when Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor and Tennant’s Doctor argue in The Day of the Doctor, that this comical element has been influenced by the way in which Pertwee and Troughton act off one another. The Doctor’s companion’s Jo Grant, the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton are excellent in their backup roles helping the Doctor to fight Omega and his evil jelly aliens (there is no other way to describe their appearance unfortunately as clearly the BBC’s budget was extremely small).

Like The Day of the Doctor, the Doctors in this episode like to compare one another. When the First Doctor appears he refers to the Second and Third as “the dandy” and “the clown”. This humorous quote has been used several times again in the series: in the 1983 twentieth anniversary special, The Five Doctors and again in The Day of the Doctor when the War Doctor (played by John Hurt) refers to the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor in this way.

Troughton and Pertwee act brilliantly off one another Likewise, upon seeing the Third Doctor’s TARDIS, the Second Doctor makes the connection that he has redecorated and he does not like it, much like the Tenth

Doctor’s comment when he enters the Eleventh Doctor’s for the first time. It is clear that this tenth anniversary episode was heavily referred to when Moffat was writing his own fiftieth anniversary episode, making several subtle references to the episode as part of his celebration. The Three Doctors ends in spectacular style resulting in the

was writing his special. It shows Doctor Who’s writing at its best and it is clearly a much loved episode among Whovians as the most recent anniversary special is littered with subtle reference to its first anniversary special. It is available on DVD on Amazon on its own and as a special edition version in a boxset entitled Revisitation 3.

This fortnight at the RFT... Student Tickets: £5.50 The Reading Film Theatre was established 40 years ago as an independant cinema with a policy to show the best films from around the world. Below is a listing of showings for the upcoming fortnight...

Tuesday 11th March (7.45 PM) The Invisible Woman (12A) Thursday 13th March (7.45 PM) 12 Years a Slave (15) Tuesday 18th March (7.30 PM) Filth (18)

Prices: Members £5.50 Non-members £7.50 Annual Membership £10.00

L-R: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee as the First, Second and Third Doctors respectively. www.Readingfilmtheatre.

OSCARS ‘14 NEWS IN BRIEF: Her by Spike Jonze won Best Original Screenplay whilst 12 Years a Slave by John Ridley won Best Adapted Screenplay...


Friday 7 March 2014  Spark*


Feature Article: Hype

Jonathan Edney explores whether or not the hype surrounding cinematic releases and television shows is truly worth it and what it means for our expectations - do they always meet reality and how does it cause disappointment? Jonathan Edney

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch a film considerably before it was due to be released? There would be no reviews to give you an idea of how good it is and possibly no trailers that you may have seen. I had this experience in February 2013 when I saw a preview of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom and other than the fact it starred Idris Elba and Naomie Harris and it was an adaptation of Mandela’s autobiography, I knew nothing about it. Naturally, I thought the subject matter should be stirring but that didn’t guarantee the film would be good. Fortunately, it was and my opinion didn’t drastically change when it was officially released in January this year. In fact, I was surprised at the lukewarm reviews and lack of Oscar love for Idris Elba’s towering performance. This has led me to reflect on the effect that hype can have on your enjoyment of a film. Hype is a difficult thing to master in the twentyfirst century, as there seems to be so much of it now for all things related to entertainment. Too

‘Les Mis’ was one of the most hyped about films of 2012.

Fiction, it was hard to approach them without pre-conceptions of how brilliant they were supposed to be because of its status as a ‘classic’ in the eyes of the majority. It is then frustrating when you don’t agree, as was the case with Pulp Fiction, but then sometimes you do, as I did with the acclaim for Schindler’s List, which just goes to show that you connect with some films more than others.

It is especially hard to avoid hype and reviews surrounding older films such as Pulp Fiction (1994). much exposure to a particular film before it is released can be a bad thing but the build-up to something is undeniably exciting. When you reach the end of it, if it didn’t meet your expectations, you can feel disappointed and that may not be because it was bad but because of having too much anticipation.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch a film long before it was due to be released? Hype can be particularly difficult when you are invested in something. When it was time for Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I remember, as someone who sees Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy as cinematic gold dust, feeling a bit sick on release day, thinking ‘What if those bad reviews are right?’. It’s a difficult balance when you are trying to ground your expectations while also looking up every last detail about a film before you’ve seen it. When you sit in the cinema for a film like this, you are almost challenging the film to impress you and make the expectation worth it and this can often mean that you don’t enjoy it as much as you could, as you can’t entirely relax. Similarly, I was apprehensive about Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the musical Les Miserables, which was again very close to my heart. If I had seen an early preview, I’m not sure how I would have reacted

to the long takes and raw singing style as well as the edits to certain songs. When I saw the film, I had already heard some of the actors’ versions of the iconic songs so I was prepared for how different they sounded to the stage/concert versions so some of the knee-jerk negative reactions that I might have had were already gone. When I saw The Hobbit and Les Mis for a second time, I enjoyed them a lot more, as I could relax, having made an initial judgement and had time to think about the way things were done in a more positive way. More recent examples are Gravity, which did meet my expectations while being mildly less than what people made it out to be, and 12 Years A Slave, which was a good film but also underwhelming for me, given the hype of it being the new ‘best film ever made’ by some critics. If I had seen an early preview of these films, then I would have gone in with minimal expectations compared to their hyped releases and possibly enjoyed them even more. Doctor Who is another example of something that can be overhyped: thanks to trailers and magazines, you feel like you know all about an episode before you watch it and you can build it up too much. I’ve often wondered how my enjoyment of the series would be different if I sneaked ahead five years via TARDIS and watched all of the available new episodes without all the anticipation and spoilers. There is also the problem of when you are about to watch revered older films. When I recently watched ‘classic’ films like Pulp

It’s quite exciting to only have your opinion to go on rather than let hype from other people influence your preconceptions Before watching The Green Mile, I had read a mix of 3, 4 and 5 star reviews so I wasn’t sure how good it was going to be and I ended up awarding it 10/10. It feels wonderful when that happens but it is a rare occurrence, particularly as the last 10/10 I gave was for Kenneth Branagh’s 4-hour Hamlet, which I watched in June 2012! I think back to childhood, when I would sit in front of the next Harry Potter or Disney film and just enjoy it with a fair amount of anticipation, not dwelling on its inferiority or superiority to other films.

The hype surrounding Gravity (2013) was immense. Over a thousand films and a film degree later, perhaps I am too critical and expect certain films to transform my existence when in reality, they are just entertainment: escapism to enliven a dull day of lectures/work/nothing. With the Internet publishing any available detail about a film beforehand, it has become harder to go in without some pre-conception of how good it is or what exactly will happen. The best thing to do is to have grounded expectations for a film or TV programme then you are less likely to be disappointed and if you can catch an early preview, try it: it’s quite exciting to only have your opinion to go on rather than let hype from other people influence your preconceptions of a film.

Initial reviews of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey made some people anxious for its global, public release.

OSCARS ‘14 NEWS IN BRIEF: Jennifer Lawrence gracefully recreated her Oscars fall of last year, whilst Ellen Degeneres took a record-breaking selfie!

Spark* Friday 7 March 2014


GAMING Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure Reviewing a Gameboy Advance classic! Gabrielle Linnett

Back in 2002 Crash Bandicoot made his GBA debut in Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure and the console wasn’t the only thing to get smaller. This time round evil Dr Cortex and Uka Uka want to take over the world and use a shrinking machine to reduce the world to the size of a grapefruit, while Crash and everyone are still on it. The machine is said to be powered by crystals, so it is Crash’s duty to work through the levels and collect crystals for a counter machine to be built.

There are four stages of the game, each with 5 levels and a boss encounter. If players are looking for a quick playthrough, Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure could be their answer. Levels are simple to work through and if your sole goal is to find the crystals and get out, it won’t take long. However the game does encourage a more relaxed experience as players earn gems for smashing every crate in each level, including those in the bonus levels of the game.

Some levels can be more easily finished once you get new abilities, such as the double-jump, after each boss round. To complete the game fully players also need to beat the Time Trial challenge for each area and collect the Ankh icons. Once this is complete players will face the absolute final boss and see the end sequence to officially finish the game.

Crash Bandicoot is thoroughly enjoyable, yet simple The levels themselves vary thematically, with the game offering jungle, underwater, sky and ice locations. Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure also offers different playing styles throughout the game. Players mostly work with the classic side-scrolling format, but the sky levels offer third-person shooting opportunities and the underwater levels require Crash to manoeuvre around fatal-to-touch enemies.

Each world also contains chase sequences, whereby Crash gets chased by the enemy. In these, Crash runs facing the player with his pursuer behind and has to avoida plethora of TNT boxes and penguins amongst other things, whilst still smashing into crates, to outrun the enemy. This style is trickier when players need Crash to jump and can’t quite predict where he’ll land due to the optics. But the chase sections round off the level variety to the game and are definitely enjoyable, if not tense, to play through. This instalment of the Crash Bandicoot series offers four gamesave slots, but without prompts to save or indeed autosave, it can be easy to neglect them and lose hours of gameplay time. However what the game lacks in reminders to save the game, it makes up for with numerous checkpoint crates throughout the levels. Players will never have to start a level from scratch if they have made any real progress in it because the checkpoints are so frequent.

All the staples of the Crash Bandicoot series are crammed into your GBA

As a 12 year old GBA game, the graphics and effects aren’t going to amaze today’s players. But the simplicity is a plus, there are only 8 in-game control buttons (the D pad, A, B and the two shoulder buttons) and despite its age Crash makes his way through colourful and vibrant worlds. The controls also react in good time, so taking this trip down memory lane won’t

feel like driving through a traffic jam with loading times and lagged responses.

Spin, smash and slide your way through Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure for a fast burst of nostalgia or a gentle re-acquaintance with the Crash series!

Feature: Twitch plays Pokémon (Red) It’s Pokémon, Jim, but not as we know it! Gary Birch

Despite having come out over a decade ago, the original Pokémon games have a cult status in popular culture. Which starting Pokémon you opt for, the iconic themes for each town, building and route and how comfy and easy it is to wear shorts are ingrained into the memories of those who spent hun-

dreds of hours catching ‘em all on the original Game Boy handhelds.

It’s little surprise, then, that ‘Twitch Plays Pokémon’ averages a constant live audience of at least 30,000 and over 30 million unique visitors have checked it out. TPP is a simple concept; the controls for Pokémon Red are linked to the chat box of a Twitch stream (up, down, start, a/b and so on). Viewers post their com-

mands in the chat box, which are fed into the live-streamed game, which at the time of writing has been going for over two weeks.

‘Twitch Plays Pokémon’ averages a constant live audience of at least 30,000 One might expect an effort like TPP to be one of slow progress – and you’d be right, especially in cave sections. Even the most basic fights can last up to five minutes as the anarchic feed spams in commands with little apparent sense. TPP is an anarchic effort and yet, if the anarchists are to be believed, chaos produces order of its own accord.

16 days, 7 hours, 50 minutes and 90 seconds from Pallet Town to Champion

Red (the character) may have had frustratingly terrible Pokémon technique – such as releasing the starting Pokémon, but somehow excellent progress was made.

Enter the Elite Four; Zapdos aka AA-j facing against Lance’s Dragonair

All 8 gym badges were collected with the efforts of Bird Jesus (Pidgeot), Lord Helix (Helix), The Fonz (Nidoking) among other brave soldiers. The early game was a relative breeze but the stiff challenges of Victory Road - a long-dreaded hurdle due to its rolling boulder obstacles and mazelike layout and the subsequent Elite Four, proved highly problem-

atic. With just under 16 days and 8 hours, however, victory was Red’s.

After a brief attempt and wholly unsuccessful attempt at hosting Pokémon pinball, next on the agenda is Pokémon Crystal – to tune in and get involved head to


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*



Buy One Pizza, Get One



Available on medium and large pizzas Collection or delivery Please hand coupon to driver or member of staff. Student ID may be required. 1 Valid at Domino’s Pizza Reading only. At regular menu price. Pizza from menu or create your own up to 4 topping. Free pizza must be equal or lesser value than the first. Available on medium and large pizzas only. Not valid with any other offer. See website for full T&C’s. Offer expires 31/05/14

/Dominos Pizza Reading


95 Wokingham Road, Reading RG6 1LH Opening Hours: 11am - 5am, 7 days a week. S014717-1 330x285mm-Student-Late night Advert-Reading Earley.indd 1

Call Call Call inPopininTap the appthe Pop Pop Tap Tap theapp app OPENOPEN

0118 9351777 15/07/2013 21:08


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*

Will Blend become the new Facebook ? Gareth Nicholas

Recently, Facebook boasted a user base of over 1.1 billion with an ever increasing percentage of over 50s signing up to the social network. Many students can testify just how much of a worry this is. Receiving an awkward friend request from your gran is something no student should have to encounter.

Blend was a brainchild of the rise of silver surfers working out how to use Facebook Well, fear no more. A new smart phone app offers an online environment which is exclusive to university students! Appropriately developed and founded by three ex-college students, Blend allows its users to share their on-campus mischief without panicking that mummy might see such outrageous shenanigans. CEO Akash Nigam, 21 suggests that the app is reminiscent of the initial, exclusive days of Facebook, a feature that Blend will maintain; once a student graduates, they are no longer allowed to be active on the social network. Clearly, Blend means business and should be respected with such a talented team. Blend’s Interface designer, Evan Rosenbaum was just 14 when he impressively founded iGiki and released the world’s first 3rd party iPhone web application before the iPhone was even released! So, how will this app work you ask. Well, firstly you must have enrolled with one of the

universities which support the app which then allows you to create an account after linking your Facebook profile.

Exclusivity is a major hallmark of Blend: there are specific criteria to fulfil before you’re even allowed a profile After setting up a Blend profile, users will be encouraged to post photos or ‘blends’ which pertain to a particular theme which changes daily. Your Facebook friends who also decide to become a ‘blender’ will automatically be added to your network and will be able to show their appreciation of your posts through ‘snaps,’ similar to ‘liking something on Facebook. The aim of the game is to receive as many ‘snaps’ as possible for your blends as these convert into a score which will then convert into winning merchandise and freebies from selected brands. The network is in talks with over 50 brands which are all catered to the student dynamic. So, the more you post, the more snaps you get and the more freebies you get. Its a win-win situation for users and companies! How does Blend measure up compared to beloved image sharing apps such as Instagram and Snapchat? As of yet, Blend does not support hash-tagging as on Instagram but the daily theme feature makes tagging posts relatively futile anyway! Plus I imagine that the death of the hashtag would bring huge

amounts of joy to the internet community anyway.Also, there is no sign of Blend offering edgy filters to satisfy the needs of the Instagram users.

There are some functionality issues at the moment, but Blend presents an interesting concept However, this may not be a problem. Blend is not trying to be pretentious or artsy, it purely intends on promoting fun, an ethic that has been lost by other contending social networks that

have possibly become victims of their own success. Blend currently supports around 3,500 universities, with one of them being our home turf, Reading! Blend is just one of the many social networks that has tried to take Facebook’s crown in the 10 years that it’s been around - will it be the one to kill the Goliathlike figure that Facebook has become? The statistics aren’t heavily in Blend’s favour, with many fledgling social networks falling by the wayside in their quest to topple Zuckerberg but that’s no reason why it couldnt’t still be a success, especially with the focus on freebies and involvement of companies.

The app hopes to increase its user base up to 500,000 university students by the end of the year, with the ambition of cementing its place in each and every students’ university experience.

Will you become one of the rising wave of Blenders? An interesting ambition which seems to be realistic for such a cool app, best of luck and happy Blending! Let us know what you think comment on the story at www.!

Discounts , freebies and snaps - oh my! Will Blend be a success? Image from

SARS Coronavirus: Tricks and traits Rachel Maynard

In 2003 the merciless SARS coronavirus resulted in an epidemic that spread through dozens of countries, causing death in almost 10% of those infected.

SARS quickly spread to epidemic proportions, killing a significant proportion of the infected Initially it was thought that transmission to humans had

occurred through palm civets being sold in Chinese markets. Further research however, dismissed these furry omnivores from the lime light when their wild relatives were found not to carry the virus. A recent year-long project undertaken in the Chinese city of Kunming, finally traced the origin of SARS back to a colony of horseshoe bats. This was revealed when a closely related strain of the virus was isolated from these animals. The disease caused by this virus; severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), is an extreme form of pneumonia. It is characterised by profound

inflammation of the lungs and a build-up of fluid in the air sacs within them.

SARS hallmarks are respiratory problems This results in progressively worsening breathing difficulties and an inability to maintain the oxygen level required by the organs in your body to function. The virus is also very easily spread from person to person through infected droplets that spray into the air by coughing, sneezing or even just talking. Once inside the body, the virus can then sneak out and bind to

cells using a protein located on its surface. This protein precisely fits into a receptor on the surface of cells making up our lungs and airways. Binding allows invasion of the deadly virus particle into the cells, and initiation of its destructive lifecycle. The genetic material within the virus is then released into the jellylike matrix inside of its target cell. Here, the machinery belonging to the cell is taken over by the virus, and used to create copies of its own genetic material. This holds all of the information needed to make new virus particles, which then escape from the cell, bursting it

as they do so. Not only do the SARS virus particles leave behind this trail of cell destruction, their presence also alerts white blood cells of the immune system. These cells come rushing towards the site of infection, where they attack any foreign particles that they find. Now you might think…surely that’s exactly what you need to shake off that nasty infection? You would be wrong. SARS coronavirus stimulates such a strong immune response, that the vast amount of white blood cells flooding into the tissues actually causes the most devastating damage of all.



Friday 7 March 2014


Tinder: The next logical step when dating and tech mix? Jessica Headdon

The Guardian has deemed it the “shallowest dating app ever”; The BBC debates that it may “solve a problem for humanity”, but what is it about the newest dating craze that’s taken over our student attention-spans so quickly?

Outsourcing dating online: shallow or just efficient? Launched in September 2012, Tinder is the supposed [straight] lovechild of the infamous Grindr. You all know the concept, but for those unfamiliar, I’ll summariseyou don’t like, you swipe left. You like, you swipe right. They like? You meet for hours of endless, guilt-free, casual… conversation. The concept of which is being highly criticised by our loyal and eternally truthful media. It’s the twenty-first century, no one’s complaining of the previously thought ‘fake’ relationships that technology creates anymore… no, the problem here isn’t that we’re all finding love online, the problem is the dismissive approach to how we’re going about it. Alright, alright, I hear you- you want your future partner to fundamentally be physically attractive to you. I get it. But from one profile picture? A profile picture that within three seconds of assessing you sweep to the left, only to realise that the next is all tits and duckface too? Trust me: before you know it, you’ve spent 40 minutes of your 9am experiencing a

variation of “No. No. No. God no. No. No. Oh… hi!” Recently, a close friend of mine recalled the night he took a girl home, to the grim realisation the morning afterwards that she was someone he’d previously judged on Tinder. Judged, as you’ll have already assumed, negatively. I questioned him as to how severe his beer goggles were on said night; “not even that bad” he sighed. He had realised, as did I, that a person cannot, and should not, be completely weighed up by one photo.

It must be understood that you can’t weigh up an entire person on the basis of one photo Perfect for casual hook-ups though? That may be so. A nice face will go far. Tinder presents you with the ability to engage in digital lust-fuelled one night stands from the comfort of your own iPhone. Hey, you don’t even need to leave your Breaking Bad reruns and cold Dominos to successfully hook that hot girl you noticed in 3sixty last Saturday. Genius! For students, it’s nothing but a nice deal, but the BBC has used this new digital phenomenon to back up its criticisms of Britains new ‘hook-up culture’. It has been described as “ridiculously creepy”, and a “casual sex app that makes us more vain”. There might be more truth in the latter than we’re all realising, but isn’t it just the next big thing? From internet relationships we’re now seeing internet hook-ups; surely it was

Shallow? Offensive? Or is it just the natural step forward from online dating ? Photo from just a matter of time. Tinder’s co-founder Sean Rad (Rad?! I know! …RAD!) links the founding of the app to the problems that he and his 27year old colleagues face every day. ‘Just how do I meet that meaningless girl who I’ll never call back?’ It worked! But, what’s this? He called her back and they now have marriage plans? N’awwh. “Every day we get hundreds and thousands of emails telling us [about] friendships made on Tinder or engagements, or long-term relationships being created” Rad recalls. Maybe the app isn’t so shallow

and degrading after all.

People criticise Tinder for beng shallow: are we really that much better when regular online dating? So there it is. It’s just… exactly like dating. From your iPhone. Sometimes you get what you were after, and sometimes you find… well, more. All Tinder is, is a new way to meet them. I’ll leave you with a direct quote from the BBC report: “I don’t

have tinder because I think it’s just a group of desperate people, trying to find other desperate people, who want a desperate meeting, because they haven’t found anyone, because they’re that desperate.” I didn’t quite get that… do you think Tinder’s desperate? No. Neither do I. Oh, and my Tinder-loving single male? He recently found a woman for whom he was so serious that he deleted Tinder. Ironically, he had met her through it… Good luck, iPhone-yielding twentysomethings - you’ll bloody well need it.

Anything that you’d like to see done differently? Not enough focus on a topic you’re interested in? Let us know! Get onto the Spark* website, Facebook group or comment on one of the stories on!


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*


Love is the drug: Perhaps not with new treatment options Elspeth Houlding

Break ups, we’ve all had them. They can be beneficial, leading to personal growth, self-discovery and a new lease of life. But sometimes, love’s downright dangerous - think domestic abuse, teacher-pupil relationships and paedophilia. Love plays a key role in the survival of our species, boiling down to a series of chemical messengers called hormones, inside the human brain, creating sexual, romantic and long term love.

Whilst essential to the survival of our species, love can also present some pressing dangers Developments in psychopharamacology and modern neuroscience have revealed a vast number of possible ‘treatments’ for love, lust and addiction, simply put: ‘anti-love biotechnology’. Firstly- lust. Defined as a ‘craving for sexual gratification’, it promotes relations with a range of partners. Lust is associated with levels of human hormones called oestrogen and testosterone, and is already readily treatable by a series of anti-depressants, androgen blockers, alcohol and tobacco. In fact, some painkillers actually reduce your sex drive, decreasing your testosterone and reducing problematic sexual thoughts or activities. Studies have demonstrated that, upon the administration of triptorelin, which reduces

testosterone levels, there was a reduction in paedophilic sexual fantasies and urges amongst men. Now the second love ingredientattraction. This one’s slightly harder to tackle, and allows you to pick your perfect partner. Little is known about what makes someone attractive, and this within itself is highly variable. Anti-attraction drugs could reduce the obsessive thoughts of an early-romance, or even ignite the initial spark of attraction, leading to something more serious. Scientists believe that the brain activity associated with romance, also correlates to that of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), with patients who claim to have recently fallen in love, having the same levels of the ‘happy hormone’, seretonin, as OCD patients.

Love is often referred to as a drug, now real drugs are involved - images sourced from

There are correlations between the brain activity of those who have fallen in love and those who are being treated for OCD So could you use antidepressants to lead to ‘emotional blunting’ of attractive feelings? Finally, attachment enhances the urge for long-term bonding. A study of voles has showed the number of partners they have depends on the expression of chemical messengers; oxytocin and vasopressin, in the brain. Scientists injected the female vole with oxytocin and the male vole with vasopressin and

the two voles were extremely attracted to each other. In this case, oxytocin inhibitors could be used to decrease feelings of attachments. Anti-love biotechnology, like any new technology could be used for good, or evil, raising a vast amount of ethical questions. There are a lot of circumstances in which this would be beneficial, decreasing ‘harmful’ forms of love; domestic abuse, paedophilia, love for a cult leader etc. However, this has the potential to be disastrous. If certain groups in society were to get their hands on this pharmacological ideology, it could lead to worldwide uproar. Believe it or not, some

members of the ultra-Orthodox Jew community prescribe anti-depressants in order to kill teenagers’ libido.

Ethical issues are everywhere with psychopharmacology and this is no exception It can be wonderful to be in love, and falling out of it can feel horrendous. There is in the future however, the potential to fall out of love just through swallowing a pill. Should we really be playing Cupid? Is it really our place to being playing with people’s

emotions - not in a manipulative way- but in a chemcial way? Whilst there are issues with this form of technology, given enough ethical guidelines and regulation - it could help a wide variety of people with illnesses that cause them a great deal of guilt and pain by inhibiting urges that they didn’t want in the first place. Would you take one of these pills - getting over a breakup in minutes instead of months or mitigating the obsessive mindwracking that comes with a new romance? Or do you feel that this is a step too far for science and that this should not be happening? Let us know at www.!

The Sci-tech section at Spark* is always on the look out for new writers! Whether you do a science, technology or engineering based course, or just love the subject, we don’t mind! Just write a 500-700 word article on a topic of your choice and you could see it in the next issue of Spark*! Check out for more details.


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*

FASHION McDonalds for Moschino BRITs review

Mariya Kaufman

They say you have to eat as little as possible to stay classy. It’s all about diets and healthy food and sport today. All famous it-girls, actresses, fashionista’s look stunning wearing short dresses and skirts showing their skinny legs. But don’t they dream about a nice burger or a bag of chips from McDonalds?

Moschino, ruled by Jeremy Scott, presented a unique, amazing new Spring-Summer 2014 collection. Now, McDonalds can be even closer to us. This new collection is full of red dresses, bags, belts, sweaters with prints taken from the packaging of oven chips, cheesy crisps and the world’s most famous fast food joint. It consists of two main colours: red and yellow, which surprisingly suits every lady. The dresses are short, but not bodycon, which allows legs to look longer. Plus, the choice of two colours for the collection can be combined with any other colour of shoes, bag or belt. Or, if you are a McDonalds and Moschino fan you can put both bag and a dress on, like Anna Dello Russo did during Milan fashion week. She completed her total Moschino look, with an amazing new iPhone cover, which looks like a portion of McDonalds chips and which was out of stock 2 days after being available online. So, if you are lucky to find one, don’t hesitate and get it, as all fashionistas and bloggers did. The front row of Moschino show at Milan Fashion week included Katy Perry, Cleo Wade, Mia Moretti, Rita Ora and Leigh Lezark. It totally took everyone

back to the 90’s: long, high waisted skirts, short tops, high-waisted jeans, short haired models, big, long, bright earrings and McDon-

alds drink in hand. Jeremy’s idea of giving McDonalds a new meaning worked very well. Everybody left amazed by the obsession with pop culture, food, and a whole new level of fashoion: a Budweiser dress, SpongeBob SquarePants prints, and some re-imagined golden arches. We are loving it.

London Fashion Week Eleanor Khoury

Friday 14th February 2014, the start of one of London’s hottest fashion events: AW14 London Fashion Week. Models, designers and fashionistas alike braved the torrential rain and stormy winds and lined the streets of London to embrace the wonderful and whacky trends for AW14.

First stop, Supermarket Sweep, complete with trolleys and moving conveyor belts. We’re used to seeing them on our shopping lists but Anya Hindmarch took grocery goods to a whole new level as she dazzled the runway with household names. From Frosties to Ariel and Bourbon bags the collection of

bizarre handbags by the British designer is deemed to be full of “fun accessories”. If only every supermarket shop were like this. Scattered with stars there was no doubt that the Burberry Prorsum show attracted a host of high-profile front row-ers: Anna Wintour, Poppy D, Bradley Cooper… Superstar Cara walked with friends Jourdan and Edie in an unusual collection of loose fitting dresses and big, comfy, sheepskin coats accessorised with handcrafted bags. Based on the ‘Bloomsbury Group’, Creative Officer, Christopher Bailey, wanted to create a romantic mood that was all handcrafted; all the bags, shoes, coats were painted by hand in their studios, and that’s how they’ll be in the stores. Picture Anna Wintour, Sir Philip Green, Kate Moss and you’re now front row at the Topshop Unique show. The high-street brand focused on its “rebellious streak” mixing grungy grey outfits with cobalt blue oversized coats, patchwork faux fur and quilted bombers. One of the slightly more affordable trends, just maybe?

Charlotte Coster

The Brits is obviously one of the biggest events of the year in any artist/music enthusiast’s calendar but it is also glues every fashion follower to the TV for the night. And this year, their outfits seem to be bigger and better than ever before! Black sequins seemed to be a recurring theme, worn both by Lily Allen and Lorde. Lily looked elegant as always but was much more conservative than usual with a highnecked full length dress and a simple ponytail. Lorde embraced a fully gothic ensemble teaming her sequinned floor length dress and black lipstick. Kate Moss was all sequinned up as well in a cheekily short red number that included a belt to show off her slim figure. Ella Eyre, too showed how gorgeous her figure is during her performance wearing a daring black wet-look leather catsuit that was beautifully fitted and hid nothing. I was really impressed with Ellie Goulding’s fashion choices this year, which I was surprised about as I normally am a little sceptical of some of her decisions. She started off the night in a pink and white ball gown and then gradually wore less clothes as the evening

Beyonce looked stunning as always in an unusual but flattering turquoise floor length number. Again, this was sequinned and figure hugging which seemed to be the main theme of the event. Despite sequins being common, everyone managed to have their own unique angle on it and all looked fantastic!

Japanese style Reya Raj

All in all LFW brought a lot to the table for AW14. Seasonal colour palettes were thrown out of the window with bold blues, reds and oranges reigning the runway alongside pastels, while grey, khaki and burgundy kept their share of the show. Teddy fur and leather, lace and feathers created a melange of textures while oversized, quilted, prints and patchwork made their appearance and the 90s were back in full swing.

progressed. And by the end of her performance at the end of the evening, she was back in her high wasited shorts that she favours!

Imagine cherry blossoms, hidden behind a veil of fog, partially discernable, unattainable. This is the mystique of the Japanese culture, which has been a source of confusion to scholars and artists. As reiterated by London Fashion Week, and its predecessors New York and Paris, sublime elegance attributable to Japan’s distinctive aesthetic is an omnipresent runway force. Rad Hourani cinched already tiny waists by means of leather; martial arts inspired obis, while, J. JS Lee’s chic use of subtle texture created refreshing pieces, which only become more captivating upon examination. Use of Japanese visual codes is not novel; yet, a perpetual motif in an industry that thrives on metamorphosis is paradoxical, how can established, historical principles perpetually flourish? The answer lies in contradiction, conformity so conformist it refreshes itself on each appearance. The doctrines of Japanese aestheticism but can be summarised

as per the fundamental Wabi-sabi principle where beautiful are things “imperfect, impermanent, incomplete,” expounding Japan’s diversity, acceptance of all things and poetic reverence of the cherry blossom. Another of the principles, Shibui, builds on the foundation, expressing that the equilibrium between simple and complex is elemental to longevity, as per the quiet splendour of the tea ceremony and geisha. Japanese social graces absorb what is at first unique and procedurally regurgitate it until integration. Thus, rarities correspond to the visual principles, which are broad enough to be all embracing but dissociated enough to exercise discipline. Graphic elements are balanced to stimulate the beholder, to comfort them with familiarity but lead them to new insightful heights in the belief that something new has been created. Herein lies the enigma of subtle change so clever; that what, on the runway, sweeps us off our feet, is justified by confident novelty.

Spark* Friday 7 March 2014



Sexy vs Sloppy: Male grooming do’s and don’ts Viren Mistry

Thanks to famous men all over the world (George Clooney, I’m talking about you) the days where men have to be clean shaven are long gone. But this has given rise to a hoard of men ‘rocking’ messy chin straps, Wolverine side burns and slightly paedophilic moustaches. In a bid to rid faces of unsatisfactory grooming, here are some simple do’s and don’ts! Moustaches DO – Keep your ‘stache in check. Make sure you keep it clean and defined. It’s upper lip hair, so don’t let it stray below! DON’T – Try and grow one if you can’t; having a bit of fluff above your lip is hardly sexy. Also be

wary that moustaches are hard to pull off without looking like a sleazy sex offender – you’ve been warned!

Stubble DO – Experiment with length, start longer and keep trimming until you find a style that suits you best. Remember there’s a fine line between the rugged look and the lazy look! DON’T – Let it grow wild and unruly, it’ll become harder to maintain.

wash itself, use shampoo regularly. Also be wary of crumbs and tan lines (holiday beards are dangerous things).

DON’T – Get caught unprepared - be ready for t-shirt removing moments, especially with summer around the corner. Head and Neck DO – Keep your neck tidy regularly and control your sideburns! DON’T – Rush the process and think a military buzz cut is a solution.

Beard DO – Experiment with different lengths and styles, you can even ask a barber for their opinion on what best suits your face shape. Just make sure you have the right grooming tools – nail scissors are limited in their usefulness. DON’T – Think your beard will

Body DO – Just keep it all in check guys; remove what you don’t want and groom what you do!

K-Middy makeup! Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance Claire Whitfield

Lindsay Coles

This step-by-step guide will show you how to achieve a beautiful Catherine Middleton inspired make-up look. First, take your foundation (I swear by Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Foundation) and dab it evenly onto the skin, then work it in circular motions around the face, ensuring that you get around the nostrils and under the eyes. Next, by using a concealer, go over any redness and rub it in. Apply bronzer by using light, sweeping motions, to the cheekbone, underneath the jawbone, the temples, down the sides of your nose and the top of your head to achieve a subtle contour; then apply all over. To achieve Catherine’s rosy, pink cheeks, take your blusher (this should be in a darker pink and I recommend Rimmel’s ‘3-in-1 Powder Blush Trio’ in ‘Spring Flower’) and brush and apply it to the apples of your cheeks and then blend it up to the temples. It should sit above the area you have just contoured. As Catherine Middleton has quite

dark eyebrows, an angled liner brush and an eyebrow definer should be used; I recommend Benefit’s ‘Brow Zing’. Catherine Middleton usually opts for natural browns on the eyes. I recommend MAC’s ‘Quarry’ eye shadow for this. By taking a small, fluffy brush, apply the eye shadow into the eye’s contour and lid and blend so there are no rough edges. Take a dark colour eye pencil (I swear by L’Oreal Paris’ range) and draw along the upper and lower lash lines. A cotton bud can be used to smudge this to create a soft and smoky eye. Use a black liquid liner to the bottom and top of the lashes and ensure this does not go into the waterline. Catherine does not wing her liner so try not to but make sure that the inner corner meets the out. Then, apply black mascara to the top and bottom lashes for an eye fluttering effect! Lastly, use a pink, natural colour lipstick; I like MAC’s beautiful ‘Politely Pink’ lipstick. So there you have it; a look fit for royalty!

As a general rule, I am not kind to my hair. I straighten it, curl it, dye it (usually a slightly varied tone of the same brown), and on the odd occasion I have been known to cut it myself. One of the luxuries I do allow my hair is Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance Leave in Conditioner. A perfect accessory for repairing dry hair after being battered by the winter we’ve had, it fits nicely in my handbag and it’s the best for sorting out dry hair in between washes, as long as you don’t get too spray happy around the roots to avoid greasiness. It’s great for all hair types; a couple of sprays on the ends of already naturally shiny hair will leave it incredibly silky and irresistible to run your hands through it.

At around £5 a bottle, it doesn’t even break the bank. One bottle tends to last me about 6 months, so see it as more of an investment if a fiver seems a bit much for a bottle of conditioner! One thing that I would say about this product is the consistency. It’s very watery, and if you forget to shake it before application it tends to be a little difficult to spray. Make sure that if you do use it, use it before styling as it is more of a liquid than most hair products so it will mess up any lovely curls/poker straight hair that isn’t strictly natural! Not only does it smell amazing, but it leaves my naturally frizzy hair sleek and smooth, and I’ve found that it works best when hair is wet – it makes combing out knots so much easier. If you blow dry your

hair, a few spray of this on just washed hair will make it look and smell gorgeous.

L’Oreal True Match Foundation Elle Turner

Recently one of my favourite beauty bloggers tipped L’Oreal True Match foundation as a top dupe for blogger favourite foundation Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk. Now I’ve never dabbled in any Armani but I have to say, from a drugstore foundation fanatics P.O.V, this one’s got my vote... Before True Match, the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation was my top clinch, I would swear by the stuff and must have repurchased about a billion bottles (note: slight exaggeration). I’ve tried loads of foundations before (and since) but none could match the lightweight, medium, radiant coverage

of Healthy Mix. After hearing rave reviews of Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk I was tempted to break my high street habit and try the high end foundation. But I was stopped in my tracks when the L’Oreal True Match foundation which slips in just under the £10 mark at £9.99 was pointed out. What can I say? It’s creamy, lightweight and buildable, it gives the radiance of Healthy Mix and then a little something extra. It feels really luxurious and glides over blemishes without clumping. Its slightly more matte than Healthy Mix but I add a bit of “glow” with my M.A.C Soft and Gentle. The only slight problem is finding a suitable shade. There are

22 shades to choose from which is pretty much unheard of for drugstore foundations and they have little testers to check out the shade on your hand/face but I still spent a good 20 mins umming and ahhing over different shades and I still feel that the shade I chose (N3 Creamy Beige) is slightly too warm for me, but I kind of like it since I blend it down my neck and am left with a slightly sunkissed complexion. I still love my old faithful Healthy Mix but I think that L’Oreal’s offering may have just managed to bump Bourjois down the foundation pecking order. So for a highstreet foundation with high end status check this out!


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*

travel Home: Travel Society’s trip to Oxford Hannah Banks

Oxford, one of the intellectual hubs of Britain. A beautifully crafted town with an abundance of English history, culture and knowledge. It seeps, oozes, radiates excellence and refined wit. I think the town captures everything British and remarkable about human nature. Only a stones throw away from Reading, it is one town I really recommend, if you have not already, visiting. If this opening has not persuaded you to pop on a train one weekend or Wednesday afternoon then hopefully my account of the Travel Society’s day trip there last week will.

The Bodleian library served as the Hogwart’s infirmary for four of the films It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon and myself, along with the

rest of the committee, eagerly awaited the arrival of budding travelers to spend the day in Oxford. It was a free trip for members which promised a tour of the town visiting many of its iconic sights, going to the Pitts Rivers museum, seeing a few of the Harry Potter film locations and having a wander through the many markets on offer! It did not fail to deliver. Upon arrival we split into groups and followed our own interests with friends and like-minded others. Our group did not consult a map, we wandered the streets without direction and looked around with awe and the opportunity to explore and discover. The scattered university building are so enchanting to walk past, it really feels like another world (The wizarding one…?). You can really feel and see the huge draw for students. It just gives off this vibe of cleanliness, order, civility, intellect and sophistication – and don’t even get me started on how everyone

was cycling around the town casually, just so French! Next on our list was to have a gander at the old shops and markets, and then Bodleian library and the famous Blackwell’s bookshop. As many of you Harry Potter fans may be well aware, the Bodleian library served as Hogwarts infirmary for four of the films (you know, where Prof. Mcgonnagal taught student to dance in The Goblet of Fire). After walking around these we made our way to the Pitts Rivers museum. I had no prior conceptions of what I would find here and I was to be pleasantly surprised and disturbed at what lay through its large wooden doors… There is speculation that this museum was the inspiration for J.K.Rowling and her creation of Diagon Alley, and its not hard to see why. Its a maze of old artifacts from a variety of different countries and cultures. My favourites were looking at all the constructed or actual bones of various animals and dinosaurs. It felt like

I’d entered the National History museum in London, but far more compact, with less people and less cabinets and displays to walk past.

And don’t even get me started on how everyone was cycling around the town, just so French! My next favourite part was in the second room on the second floor. Here I was treated to an extensive and hugely informative talk by one of guards on the artifacts of how different cultures saw beauty. For our culture there was a display of fake lashes, silicon implants and self tan. This was sat next to the fractured feet, long necks, fractured skulls formulated to be more oval and long among many others. All of which show how different cultures modify the body to conform to different standards of beauty.

Our next visit was to Christ Church where the set design for the Hogwarts Great Hall was inspired from. We didn’t get the chance to see the hall for ourselves, but it was still impressive nevertheless and the courtyard inside looked very similar to the Hogwarts grounds in the first movie (Philosopher’s Stone) where they all receive their first flying lesson. After this we walked round the town a little further before regrouping and catching the train home. But there is plenty more which Oxford has to offer and this really is just a snapshot of the things you can do and see. I really do recommend you catch a train and explore this place, its one not to be missed and for £10.55 on a return, with a 16 – 25 railcard, its a no brainer and great day out!

If you would like to get involved and go on one of the Travel Society’s trips then join our Facebook group!

Search Reading Travel Society 2013/ 2014!

And away: A walking tour of Budapest

Photographs taken by Gabrielle Linnett during her trip Gabrielle Linnett

As I set out from Vienna, I felt somewhat apprehensive about my stay in Hungary’s capital. I knew little about the city and even less about the unique language there. The Cold War had interested me at school and now I was going to a country behind the infamous iron curtain. My suspicion was correct that it would be different to other cities I have visited, but in no way was I left disappointed. A fantastic start to my stay in Budapest was a free walking tour of the city. We were lucky to stumble across this when wandering around the city ourselves.

People do pay the tour guide, but it is an amount of their choosing at the end. Budapest is divided by the Danube River, on one side there is Buda and Pest is on the other. Our tour started by walking along the river, where we came across various statues and looked across at Liberty Hill and the Parliament. Much of the architecture in Budapest maintains its original style and we came across buildings with beautifully and colourfully tiled roofs. There was a marzipan museum (which nearly caused us to leave the tour!), but we were sure there was more to see. The tour eventually led us to Budapest’s largest indoor market,

called the Central Market Hall. Amongst other things, the market sellers were particularly keen to sell their Hungarian specialties to tourists, particularly Rubik cubes and paprika which you will often see throughout the city. Evening entertainment took a classical turn during our stay in Budapest, with a trip to the theatre. Tickets for the ballet were affordable, probably due to the exchange rate between British pounds and Hungarian forint at £1=375HUF. Sat up in a private box, I hoped that the other seats would remain vacant – and they did! It was a wonderful evening, I would really recommend it.

History, entertainment, culture.. there’s so much to do in Budapest! A cultural insight into the former Eastern-bloc country came from the ‘House of Terror’ museum. It’s a large building, yet it felt even bigger once inside. Each room gave in-depth coverage of the Hungarian history, with an accompanying sheet of information. Hungary is a country which is overlooked in school history books, but its past is dramatic and at

times tragic. Unfortunately there is a ‘but’. The overly helpful sheets seemed to get longer as we walked through each room of the museum and we eventually found ourselves collecting the information sheets to read later. Needless to say the sheets are sat amongst my other souvenirs, waiting to be read. If the city’s history is something that appeals to you, a visit to the Memento Park is a must. It is a collection of statues from Hungary’s communist period, including pieces based on Lenin and Marx. It is advisable to wear a coat as Memento Park is an open-air museum. The park’s designer, Fvárosi Közgylés, said “This park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship” which serves as food for thought as you walk amongst statues of historically infamous characters. The last item on our itinerary was the Széchenyi Bath. Set on hot springs, these baths are naturally heated. The pools of varying temperatures were great fun for us to sample. No one rested in the cold pool, but we were silly enough to dip in- that’s what holidays are for! Eventually we settled for an outdoor pool, which was not too cold considering the weather. Before we departed the city there was

time to stroll around the Danube’s Margitsziget or ‘Margret Island’; as said by English speakers. Many people rented bikes or carriages to roam through the vast green spaces. Whilst walking around we came across a small food vendor that sold Langos, one of Hungary’s specialities. The deep-fried snack tastes particularly authentic when painted with a garlic sauce. Warning- you’ll need plenty of napkins at hand to clean after this greasy snack! Budapest is an old city. Its dated appearance gives an air of charm as you watch the trams crossing over bridges from Buda to Pest. There is much to learn in Hungary’s capital but you can also just relax in thermal springs or experience highbrow culture at a portion of the normal price. I would definitely recommend visiting Budapest!


Friday 7 March 2014




Calum Rogers

Daniel Mitchell


Jack Marshall



Patrick Scott

Laura Armstrong

Ioulia Zoukova


Chrissie Levick

Elle Turner


Sarah Harvey-Kelly


Matt Twells


Lily Brown


Aaron Hall

Tom Newbold

James Clayton

Abi Gammon




Will Trickey

Hannah Banks


ALSO Charlotte Coster

(Film & TV online editor)

Matthew Sapsed

(Fun and Games Puzzle Designer)

Samantha Yates

Sabina Rouse

Emma Reeves

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 7 March 2014

fun&games Crossword (cryptic)


Calum Mcintyre Rogers - Spark* Editor

All puzzles designed by Matthew Sapsed


























Quick crossword



Across 1 Arabic member’s appeal’s hollow (6) 5 Key grudge about last of medic’s bun (8) 9 A graduate’s male tag off compound (10) 10 Small bowler did business (4) 11 Vocal in setter’s heart (6) 12 Stop Oxford boy’s cleat moving (8) 13 Cricketer embraces Turkey’s standard (8) 15 Erotic company in Surrey suburbs (6) 16 Staffordshire town drink (6) 18 Jam on piano about saint’s cold tools? (8) 20 Game rustic eats haggis at first (8) 22 Consent in day before date’s aroused (6) 24 Very good success of dish (4) 25 Play with awful short joker? (10) 26 Narrate about man’s behind (8) 27 Dodge’s last to present car (6)




1 Garret - launch (4)

1 Native American sport (8)

3 Searching examination (4,4)

2 Sound (5)

9 Bishop’s staff (7)

4 Excellent person (slang) (6)

10 Shaggy-haired ox (5)

5 Obligation (5)

11 Misleading precept (3,5,4)

6 Greek character (7)

13 Talk offensively (cricket) (6)

7 Defeat (informal) (4)

15 Uncertain (6)

8 Concealment (6)

18 Large (symphony) orchestra (12)

12 Essential person (8)

22 Middle Ages serf (5)

14 Rank in a hierarchy (7)

23 Become happier (5,2)

16 Large US military vehicle (6)

24 Contemplation (5,3)

17 Slogan (3,3)

25 Green-blue colour (4)

19 African tree in Greek mythology (5) 20 Irritable (5)



Quick crossword: Across: 1 Part-time, 6 Fuse, 8 Coupon, 9 Ironic, 10 Fizz, 11 Road rage, 12 Eurosceptic, 16 Germinal, 19 Lour, 20 Cleave, 21 Rebuff, 22 Stet, 23 Eye candy.

Down: 2 Agonise, 3 Topaz, 4 Innards, 5 Evita, 6 Foot rot, 7 Swing, 13 Rampart, 14 Enlarge, 15 Chuffed, 17 Eclat, 18 Niece, 19 Libya.







11 12 13





Previous crossword solutions Down: 2 Curling, 3 Bobsleigh, 4 Assortment, 5 Dimples, 6 Luge, 7 Culpa, 8 Skating, 13 Wind change, 16 Irascible, 18 Ice rink, 19 Lacunas, 21 Arecibo, 23 Totem, 25 Clay.

Down 2 More warped by round lover of play (5) 3 Disease over field enraged at first by sailor’s tool (7) 4 One could have skills with partner (9) 5 Note Liberal affair in demand (7) 6 Minute, say, in Queen’s vessels (5) 7 Gush about weird decals left out (7) 8 One falling short of ma? (6,3) 14 Gentle treatment in hard sex (5,4) 15 Drink that could be fatal? (9) 17 Plod’s disturbing pirates (7) 18 Just insult on tax (3-4) 19 Dean’s in favour of very old way (7) 21 Sacrificial site to change broadcast (5) 23 Editor one caught for law (5)


21 Fancy (4)

Cryptic: Across: 1 Scabbard, 6 Locust, 9 Erebus, 10 Magellan, 11 Title role, 12 Cadiz, 14 Ugli, 15 Misgivings, 17 Mishandled, 20 Away, 22 Petty, 24 Ice hockey, 26 Biathlon, 27 Nubbin, 28 Skimpy, 29 Skeleton.

Thank you to Matthew Sapsed for his work throughout the past years at Spark*. I am sure the Fun and Games section will continue under the new editorial team.

Since this is the last issue of term, the solutions to this weeks crosswords can be found at the bottom of page 30. If you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself.




21 22





Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*

History made in Sochi at The Oracle and the Prophet 2014 Winter Olympics

ollie turner

The debate about footballers’ wages has raged violently since Sol Campbell earnt the first six-figure salary per week when he signed for Arsenal in 2001. Although the well-paid contracts are undoubtedly out of touch with the rest of society, there is one strong reason for why their inflated value is actually a good thing for the country: taxation. In the midst of the media frenzy surrounding Wayne Rooney’s new £300,000 per week contract for Manchester United, one fact delivered by BBC Sport went undeservedly noticed. As a member of the country’s highest taxation wage bracket, Rooney can expect to lose £140,000 a week to the taxman and via national insurance payments. Although this may leave the England international with a lucrative sum of £160,000 a week to burn, it would take an individual on the average wage in the UK over 27 years to be taxed the same amount. This high taxation means that from the Barclay’s Premier League’s five highest earners alone (Luis Suarez, Robin Van Persie, Sergio Aguero,

Yaya Touré and Wayne Rooney), each on over £200,000 a week, the UK government can expect to receive payments totaling roughly £550,000 per week, and a staggering £28.6 million a year. Of course, this figure is only exceptionally high for the extreme earners in English football. However, according to the Professional Footballer’s Association, the average Premier League salary is around £27,000 a week, meaning the average player is taxed over £650,000 per year. Each of the 20 teams in the Premier League are required to have a minimum of 27 players registered to the club, meaning the division employs a minimum of 540 paid players. Multiply that figure by the average level of taxation and it becomes evident that from the Premier Division alone, the UK government receives a minimum of £351 million pounds a year via taxation of top-division footballers. The argument against the colossal wages of footballers is a fair one, with the average nurse in the UK earning just £30,000 a year, little over 2% of the average Premier League footballer’s weekly income.

From this aspect, the wages of footballers seem inexcusable. However, it is an unfortunate truth that the Chairmen funding the wage bills of footballing stars have a far greater level of finance available per head than that of the UK government, and therefore the likelihood of the wages of footballers and nurses decreasing or increasing respectively is rather slim. Arguably, the huge Premier League contracts are having an exponential impact on the wages of those working in the public sector as foreign investments into English football clubs from men such as Roman Abramovich of Chelsea and Vincent Tan of Cardiff, surge millions of pounds into the UK tax system, helping to fund the governments work in areas such as health, and the fire and policing services. Therefore, it seems that the average member of the public can take solace over the extravagant wages earnt by those kicking a ball for a living, when observing the government’s usage of the hundreds of millions of pounds earnt from the ever-increasing players’ contracts to improve public wages and general UK infrastructure.

Anthony and Ben give their predictions for the big upcoming fixtures in football and rugby: The 29th weekend of the Premier League (Saturday 8th March) brings with it a number of fixtures that could prove vital for champions elect and relegation candidates alike. The early kick-off sees West Brom take on Manchester United at the Hawthorns. West Brom have had a below par season thus far, marred by controversy surrounding Nicolas Anelka. Manchester United have similarly been short of the mark in many of their games. However, I expect the class of Man Utd to carry them through. Prediction: West Brom 0-2 Manchester United.. The Cardiff v Fulham game is the match many relegation enthusiasts have been waiting for all season. Both clubs have had shocking fortunes this season. Cardiff saw Malky Mackay arbitrarily sacked by owner, Vincent Tan, while Fulham have also cycled through various managers, ending up with old hand Felix Magath. I’m not always a fan of individual influences, but I do believe Magath’s experience should be enough to send Fulham through with the win after a hard-fought game. Prediction: Cardiff 2-3 Fulham. Tottenham have astounded me this season. Their goal difference at the time of writing (+4) is 20 goals lower than the lowest in the top four (Arsenal +24), yet somehow they sit in 5th position. They always seem to manage to keep pace with the top teams, despite a run of relatively unconvincing results. While I believe Man City will win the Premier League this season, I think Chelsea are a fantastic team, making this an incredibly difficult contest to call. I hate calling a draw, but this game has draw, albeit entertaining draw, written all over it. Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham. The capricious nature of how teams perform in the six nations this year has caused it to be the most exciting edition of the tournament for a long while. Four teams have won two and lost one in their opening three fixtures, and one feels that this penultimate weekend of fixtures will settle a few questions regarding who stands where in the international pecking order. Ireland had a spanner thrown in the works of their campaign at Twickenham, and will be keen to show everyone just how good they can be against Italy this weekend. The desire to bounce back, and the experience and power of the Irish pack will see them through to a comfortable victory. Prediction: Ireland to win by 15-20 points. Scotland, after achieving their first win of the championship, face a French side being as predictably unpredictable as ever. However, France do have more quality in their squad and will get enough on the scoreboard from their desire to spread the ball out wide. Prediction: France to win by 10-15 points. England are in the ascendency after defeating Ireland. However, Wales also had a good showing in Cardiff against the French. This most fierce and famous of fixtures will be very tight, with both teams bearing talented players in their arsenal. It will largely be a question of just how well England’s youthful contingent perform, but I reckon that the home crowd will carry them through. Prediction: England to win by 3-5 points.

Puzzle solutions (see p29) Cryptic

Down: 1 Siamese twins, 2 Admonish, 3 Beastly, 4 Gripe, 5 Bull, 7 Donkey’s years, 12 Footnote, 13 Wetland, 16 Milne, 18 Tuck.

Comment: Footballer’s wages are a good thing

anthony gargan and ben beach

Across: 6 Middle ground, 8 Umbo, 9 Supplant, 10 Ossicle, 11 After, 14 Itchy, 15 Heroism, 17 Mistrial, 19 Need, 20 Second nature.

competitions. The men’s team beat Great Britain with an impressive score of 9-3 after eight ends. The women, after nine ends, beat Sweden 6-3. In alpine skiing, American, Mikaela Schiffrin, became the youngest ever slalom champion ever at 18-years-old. Also, in the women’s downhill skiing race, Slovenia’s Dominique Gisin and Switzerland’s Tina Maze both became golden girls which meant history was made as it was the first time ever that two athletes shared gold at a Winter Olympics. Team GB had their most successful games since 1924 by winning four medals (one gold, one silver and two bronzes) at Sochi. Lizzy Yarnold claimed GB’s second successive win in the women’s skeleton and Jenny Jones’ bronze in the women’s slope style meant Team GB achieved its first ever medal on snow. So now Sochi has finished; the question is, who will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea and will Russia be able to hold onto their overall medal-count victory?

Down: 1 Paterson, 2 Kiev, 3 Florescent, 6 Splash down, 7 Wacky, 10 Severn, 14 Tea clipper, 16 Ray flowers, 18 Thames, 20 Disaster, 22 Floods, 23 Smith, 25/5 Duck boat, 26 Rube.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was filled with icebreaking victories and cooling defeats. This article will reflect on the stand-out successes that took place at Sochi 2014. The host nation, Russia, was victorious on the overall medals table by winning a well-earned total of 33 medals which included 13 golds. Russia presented a magnificent improvement from Vancouver 2010 when they won 15 medals overall which encompassed 3 golds. The United States came second with 28 medals which meant their overall medal count decreased from 37 in Vancouver. Norway achieved third place with 26 medals which meant they improved from Vancouver where they won 23. History was made when Adelina Sotnikova won Russia’s first ever women’s Olympic figure skating gold with an impressive overall score of 224.59. It was heartbreak for defending Olympic champion, Kim Yuna, who was hoping to win her third successive gold but she missed out on the top spot, coming second with 219.11. A respectable total of 23 of the 36 speed skating medals that were up

for grabs were won by the Dutch and in the 10000m men’s race, they claimed all three medals. The gold medallist, Jorrit Bergsma, set an Olympic record with a time of 12:44.45 which beat the previous one by an outstanding 14 seconds. In the biathlon, three gold medals were won by Belarussian Darya Domracheva in the women’s 15k individuals, the 10k pursuit and the 12.5k mass start which made her the first women to ever win three gold’s in this event at a Winter Olympics. In the men’s, the aweinspiring 40-year-old Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, claimed his thirteenth medal by winning gold’s in the biathlon relay and the 10k sprint making him the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time. Canada remarkably claimed victory in both the men’s and women’s ice hockey competitions. Impressively, the men’s win meant Canada became the first team to win backto-back gold medals in Olympic men’s ice-hockey in 20 years by beating Sweden in their final 3-0. Canada’s women’s victory meant they took their fourth back-to-back gold by winning against the United States 3-2. Canada also reigned in the curling by winning both women’s and men’s

Across: 8 Axiology, 9 Hoopla, 11/4 Environment Agency, 12 Ark, 13 Satisfy, 15 Earthy, 17 Nearest, 19 Nayword, 21 Elytra, 22 Filings, 24 Mop, 25 Diet of Worms, 27 Trench, 28 Adorable.

lindsay coles


Spark* Friday 7 March 2014


Reading Knights EY help Nicole Stone achieve dream of playing cheerleaders in Quidditch World Cup celebrate success Melanie khuddro

rachel pitman

On the 3rd February EY (previously Ernst & Young), launched their Better Button campaign on Reading campus. This campaign gave students the chance to make something of their choice ‘better’. There were many winners on campus with prizes ranging from high-street vouchers to electronic pianos. However, one of the most deserving prizes I felt, as Student Brand Manager for EY, was Nicole Stone’s sponsorship to get her to the USA Quidditch World Cup. Quidditch is an intense, full contact sport that was officially set up in 2005. There are now roughly thirty teams across the UK; however only Nicole and one other has been selected to play in the Quidditch World Cup, an amazing achievement. Nicole found out about the offfilm sport whilst setting up Reading University Harry Potter Society. She was then invited to try out for the UK Quidditch team, where she was accepted. Nicole is also now on the National and International committee for the Quidditch Association.

Nicole playing in her latest tournament As a snitch Nicole’s main task is to last as long as possible without being caught – as soon as she is caught the game is over. This requires speed, agility and strength to be able to fight off the seekers. Nicknamed ‘little snitch’, Nicole says her main aim is to ‘prove to the American teams that UK snitches are just as good, if not better’. She

has had to fund her trip to the USA herself which she did by setting up a fundraising page. With EY’s help, Nicole has now raised the full amount and will be playing in the Quidditch World Cup this April. A very deserving EY Better Button winner. We’ll be routing for you Nicole!

Intramural 11-a-side reaching closing stages luke fry

With major fixture disruption this term due to the adverse weather conditions, several surprising results have been witnessed in the Campus Sport 11-a-side competition, leaving the race for the knockout stages wide open. At least one more round of league fixtures are set to be played this coming weekend (8th/9th March) before a decision is made on who will be put through to the knockout stages. Wessex Freshers are clinging onto top spot in Group A, after an inconsistent second half of the season which has seen them lose to both Mackinder and Benyon. Bulmershe sit just a point behind Wessex and will hope to overtake them when and if the two sides meet in the coming weeks. Badger’s impressive unbeaten run was brought abruptly to an end by lowly Windsor Hall, who put six past a deplet-

ed squad. They will now need other results to go their way if they are to make the knockout stages. Four teams are battling it out for the two qualifying spots in Group B, with the Geography Society leading the way. Construction, the Greek-Cypriots and Wessex Old Boys are all still in contention and will be hoping the weather allows for the remaining fixtures to be played. A crunch match between Construction Society and Wessex Old Boys this Sunday will perhaps be the deciding fixture in terms of Group B qualifiers. Time is running out for Wantage Old Boys to collect the first points of the campaign having played eleven and lost eleven, whilst C.S.K.A Chem Soc. and Benyon Athletic also sit out of contention in League B. With three confirmed qualifying positions to play for, the top five sides in Group C have it all to play for.

Wantage Hall have opened up a six point gap between themselves and Olympique Kendrick in second place, withstanding a monumental collapse they will make the knockout stages. The Cricket Club are the inform team in Group C having won their last three games. They now have a realistic chance of qualifying for the next stage, something which seemed impossible at the end of last term. R.U.M.P.S. and St. George’s are also in with a chance. The second half of the season has been a frustrating one for many sides, but as the weather improves so do the ambitions of those teams still in contention for the knockout stages. As it stands the quarter-finals are set to take place on Wednesday 12th March, with the semi-finals on Saturday and Sunday 15th/16th March, and the final on Wednesday 19th March.

Reading Knights Cheerleaders have been celebrating their success in bringing home an incredible three trophies from their two-daylong competition last week. Knights faced off with other University squads across the nation in front of thousands at Future Cheer’s Saturday Night Fever which took place at the University of Bath on the 22nd and 23rd of February. After enthusing spectators with their routines in 3sixty on the Wednesday the 19th, the cheerleaders kept up their impressive streak by proving themselves worthy opponents against the other, most-established teams over the weekend. Being the first time Reading has ever taken part in this competition, Knights made an unforgettable entrance as their Coed Level 3 squad, Onyx Knights, came less than five points behind first place. Knights’ also competed in the All Girl Level 2 division, with their squad Scarlet Knights, and in the Small Pom division of Cheer Dance, with Ruby Knights. Both squads came in the top end of their division bringing home a trophy each. Collectively, the two squads beat over 12 different Universities. Oxford Brookes and Reading Knights cheerleaders went headto-head in a separate competition for Varsity. The two teams performed in what proved to be a nailbiting competition, both with very impressive routines. Despite being unsuccessful, Knights kept their spirits up and ended the weekend on a high. Cheer coaches Sophie Piller, Dee Islam and Bradley Parker were

thrilled with the performance of their squads. The coaches said after the competition: “For our first time competing at Future Cheer’s Saturday Night Fever we are over the moon with our results. Both the divisions that we competed in were extremely tough, with there being just 1/12th of a point between some teams.” The following weekend the gameday squad, Silver Knights, cheered for Rugby and mixed Hockey at Varsity as well as the Reading Half Marathon. Along with their fundraising schemes, fancy dress practices and socials, this season has proved hectic and rewarding for the entire society. President, Georgia Coleman, said: “Cheer is definitely the most challenging but most rewarding thing I have done at Uni.” The competitive routines combine dance, stunting, tumbling and jumping. Knights practice every week on Wednesdays between 4-6pm in 3Sixty and encourage any students who think they have what it takes to come and take part. The celebrations over their successful weekend were, however, brief. Knights’ other Coed Level 3 squad, Platinum Knights, have already started their training for the next competition. Everyone on the squads has been working extremely hard on their skills, and are looking forward to working on even harder routines for Nationals in March and Internationals in July. Knights will next be competing at the Nationals in Nottingham on the weekend of the 29th of March.

The cheerleaders competing in their latest competition Photography: Sarah Udin


Friday 7 March 2014 Spark*

SPORT Reading defeated in 2014 Varsity Brookes run out 15-13 winners at home of Knights tom newbold

Reading Knights could not reverse last year’s result as they lost Varsity 2014 to Oxford Brookes. The final score of 15-13 was however an improvement on last year’s 16-9 beating, and was settled in the most dramatic of fashions with a penalty shoot-out in the final match of the day. With Brookes leading 14-13, a win for Reading’s Hockey 1s would’ve ensured a tie, but in a sudden death penalty shoot-out Brookes managed to secure their victory. Before the main day itself (Saturday 1st March), six fixtures had already taken place, enabling Brookes to take a 4-2 lead into the crucial day of action. Reading lost their Athletics, Cheerleading and American Football matches, but were then brought right back into contention with wins for the Netball 1s and 2s, 35-22 and 36-25 respectively. Unfortunately the Knight’s Road Cycling team couldn’t bring things level as they lost the team pursuit by 4 seconds on Wednesday 26th February. The main day of competition begun early at 10am where Reading’s Men’s Lacrosse team (pictured) took to the field, and they won comfortably 16-2 to give Knights a positive start to the day. Josh Cave, RUSU student engagement officer, was one of those on the scoresheet. Reading then quickly went on to overturn the overall score, and held a lead throughout most of the day. In the late afternoon Reading were up 12-8, only to eventually be pegged back in heartbreaking fashion by Brookes.

EY help Quidditch starlet Knights cheerleaders celebrate success Campus sport 11-a-side latest History made at Olympics UoR Men’s Lacrosse team who got Reading Knights off to a good start at Varsity 2014 There were Reading wins in Tennis, Golf, Clay Pidgeon shooting, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Squash, Rugby League and Polo, but defeats in Climbing, Women’s Football, Women’s Lacrosse, Basketball and Fencing. In Women’s Badminton Reading won 5-2, but a 4-4 draw in the Men’s match meant Reading could not pick up a 100% victory rate from the Badminton squad. The Women’s Rugby Union match was cancelled, whilst no Men’s Rugby Union match was scheduled

due to the poor condition of the SportsPark pitches and the necessity of keeping the Knight’s team fresh for important BUCs matches still to come. There was also no Men’s Football match because the Oxford Brookes team are currently undergoing a ban. This left it down to Reading’s Hockey teams to pick up the remaining points, with matches being played consecutively from 12pm-8pm on the SportsPark astro pitch. The Men’s 2nds won 3-1 before the

Women’s 2nds and Mixed Hockey team both lost, 2-7 and 1-2 respectively. The Women’s 1sts also suffered a defeat to Brookes, leaving it up to the Men’s 1sts to try and win, and therefore ensure a Varsity draw for Reading Knights in the very last match of the day. Unfortunately, in a tense finale, the Knights went down in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Reading had been beaten marginally 15-13 overall, and Varsity 2014 belonged to Oxford Brookes, as Reading’s rivals retained their crown.

Rugby Union 1s win huge BUCs match tom newbold

Reading’s Rugby Union 1st team won a hugely important clash with Exeter University 2nds on Wednesday 5th March in their bid to stay in the Premier South B division. The fixture was the first ‘Big One’ of 2014 for the Rugby team, and therefore Reading Knights Cheerleaders and representatives from London Irish RFC were there to support the team. With Exeter sitting several places above Reading, a win would go a long way in helping to achieve safety for the Knights. In a division of eight teams, two get relegated, and Reading were sitting just above the


relegation zone in sixth before this fixture. Exeter meanwhile were sitting comfortably in third place. Earlier in the season Exeter had inflicted two consecutive defeats on Reading, one from their 2nds in the league, 23-13, and one from their thirds in the cup, 21-13. This home fixture therefore offered the perfect opportunity to inflict revenge on the South-West university, whilst also helping to secure safety. An impressive 19-5 win for the Knights won them the points, and impressing in particular was a de-

fensive display which allowed Exeter to only manage one try. Reading have now played 13 of their scheduled 14 matches, with an away match to high-flying Bath on the agenda for Wednesday 19th March. A match between fellow members of the relegation zone, Hartpury and Cardiff, should ensure after this victory, Reading face little fear of relegation, regardless of the result in two weeks time against Bath. Meanwhile Reading 3rds continue to sit atop of the South Eastern 4A division with a 100% record, whilst Reading 4ths are in sixth place in the South Eastern 5A division, hav-

ing suffered a 29-17 loss to Buckingham New 2nds on Wednesday. The Reading Men’s 2nds remain low down in their South Eastern 2A division. As the season is reaching its end, Reading’s teams look in a good position. The win against Exeter means the 1st team are now all but safe from relegation, whilst the 3rds continue to impress in their division, and the 4ths also look safe. It will be a nervy end to the season for Reading’s 2nds as they look to avoid relegation, but they remain in a strong position to do so. It could yet be a very good season for Reading Uni’s Rugby Union teams.

Why footballer’s wages are a good thing Sporting predictions

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Spark* - Vol 65 - Issue 4  

RUSU Elections Results Announced.