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S T R AT H C LY D E

October/November 2019

Our Lecturers Await Latest on Potential Strike Action pg. 4

SCOTLAND'S KURDS FIGHT BACK pg. 10

FLAT 0/1’S SAD DEMISE pg. 12

FIVE SPOOKY SEASON READS pg. 16

CHAOTIC JOKER IS OPPOSITE OF MARVEL pg. 18


We’re in the Swing of Things Now...

S T R AT H C LY D E

Steven Mair

Nicola Rose

editor@strathclydetelegraph.com

subeditor@strathclydetelegraph.com

Archie Grant

Danielle Riddell

film@strathclydetelegraph.com

arts@strathclydetelegraph.com

Editor-in-Chief

Film Editor

Monika Metodieva Features Editor

features@strathclydetelegraph.com

Subeditor

Arts Editor

Dóri Hauk

Layout Designer

layout@strathclydetelegraph.com

Unless you’re one of our most loyal and dedicated readers, there’s a good chance that the ancient Pagan festival of All Hallow’s Eve has been and gone by the time you pick up this second edition of the Strathclyde Telegraph. As such, we’ve went for a slightly different approach for our Fall/Autumn/Spooky Season edition. We’ve got some good Halloween content, sure, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. We’re almost certain there will be something for everyone in these 20 pages. We start with two massive pieces of news: lecturers could be going on strike, again. The last strike took place in early 2018 - which I can’t believe technically counts as ‘last year’, it seems a lifetime ago - and on this occassion a strike could even include folks such as admin staff and Nourish caterers. Whether it happens or not, check out our interview with on of Strathy’s own lecturers that lifts the lid on the everworsening conditions for our hard-working teaching staff. We also speak to Strath Union president Matt Crilly on an increase in funding for halls, another big win for the SU under his tenure. He also opens up on his year-and-a-bit in the job in our Features Section. Also in Features we’ve delved into the recent climate strikes, we get a real-life witch’s take on modern feminism, and an extremely poignant account on what it’s like growing up Kurdish with the tragic events occuring in Kurdistan over the last few weeks. In Music we explore FIFA tunes, the closing of Flat 0/1 and Lucky Seven, and political music. Our Film Section sees us review Joker, continued coverage of the Scottish Queer International Film Festival and present a selection of horror movies to watch over Halloween. Similarly, in Arts we have the five books that will have you leaving the lamp on after you put down the pages, and a beautiful creative writing piece from Subeditor Nicola Rose about dealing with change as the leaves turn brown. Yep, there’s a lot we’ve packed into these 20 pages. Perhaps you’d like to get involved in our next one? The Strathclyde Telegraph team meet most Monday evenings after classes finish at 5pm. We also have a Facebook group for our contributors which holds over 300 members. Join and you’ll be able to take story pitches from the editors, as well as being kept bang up to date on all of our meetings and socials all year. Search Facebook for ‘Strathclyde Telegraph Contributors’ if you’d like to get involved in student media. Happy Halloween! Steven, Editor-in-Chief Contact Us: Strathclyde Telegraph USSA, 90 John Street Glasgow, G1 1JH

Rob McLaren News Editor

news@strathclydetelegraph.com

Ryan Harley Music Editor

music@strathclydetelegraph.com

If you have a complaint against Strathclyde Telegraph, please contact the Editor-in-Chief. If you feel you have failed to receive a satisfactory response, you can take the matter up with the VP Community, Kayla-Megan Burns at: strathunion.vpcommunity@strath.ac.uk *All photographs are used with the owner’s consent, or are used courtesy of fair use policies. Produced by DC Thomson Special thanks to the Alumni Fund for helping fund this edition. Follow us on Twitter @StrathTelegraph Follow us on Instagram @strathclydetelegraph Find us on Facebook Strathclyde Telegraph

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NEWS Strathclyde Lecturers Await Strike Action Results By Ross Grahame

A strike ballot involving lecturers and other staff at Strathclyde University may be approved by union members this week. The University and College Union (UCU) is demanding action from Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) in four key areas: inequality in pay, exploitation of members on casual contracts, increasing workload and real-term salary discrepancies. The ballot, which closes on October 30, could lead to weeks of disruption across campus to students – which could not only involve problems with teaching schedules but also involves catering services and administrative staff. UCU is balloting over 52,000 members in 69 UK universities for strike action. In early 2018 UCU members went on strike at 64 universities, including Strathclyde, over conflict regarding pension income which fell by as much as £10,000 annually for union members. UCU along with four other unions, including Unite, submitted demands to UCEA on 19 March 2019. The UCU’s initial requests, including a 3% pay rise, a £10 an hour minimum wage and a 35-hour work week were all rejected by UCEA. Strathclyde politics lecturer and UCU committee member Neil McGarvey said: “It’s a broad-based dispute that has been instigated by the union. And it’s not just lecturers with the UCU – people working in support services, catering and administration, they’re all entering into a ballot with their unions as well. “The strike roughly 18 months ago it was just the UCU and lecturers that were disputing with the universities. Potentially, there will be far more colleagues taking industrial action than before. “The Conservative Government’s legislation requires a 50% turnout to instigate industrial action. The last time we held a ballot we did not achieve that figure.” UCU General Secretary Jo Grady has called on the UCEA to “stop spinning and start talking” and to “commit to serious negotiations”. Grady is supportive of a strike if members pass the industrial action ballot. A UCEA spokesperson stated: “It is disappointing that we have the unions saying that they wish to ballot their members for what would be damaging industrial action.” The union argues that employers are

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underpaying staff from under-represented backgrounds. Figures cited by the UCU claim disabled lecturers are paid 8.7% less, black academic staff 12-13% less and female lecturers by 15.1% less. During negations both the UCU and UCEA agreed to a national agreement on closing the gender pay gap and addressing intersectional issues however this was not enough for UCU to prevent this industrial action ballot. UCU has also told employers that staff on casual contracts have struggled to pay household bills, stressing the need for more long term and stable contracts for staff. Union figures also claim more than 100,000 teaching staff on casual contracts report that they are only paid for 55% of the work they do. UCEA Chief Executive, Helen Fairfoul, said in January this year: “[UCEA] have undertaken in-depth reviews of their use of flexible contracts seeking to provide a balance between employee and employer needs." Findings from the UCEA’s own figures show pay levels for staff fallen by roughly 17% in real terms since 2009. Union figures are slightly higher, showing average pay falling by 20% in the last decade. Lecturers being too overworked to teach effectively

is another key issue in the negotiations between the UCU and UCEA. McGarvey said: “Workload is an ongoing issue that is part of the dispute. Many students do not realise that lecturers, as well as doing their won teaching, are responsible for research and publication. “The process of research, writing and publication takes up a significant component of a lecturers time. “We are also under increasing pressure to engage with the media, to undertake activities in wider society. “As well as all of that there is administration and different committees that increase the workload further. “Most surveys of academics find that the majority are working well beyond a normal working week. We’re talking 50 to 60 hours a week, easily. “We were offered a better pension increase if the union was willing to not engage in industrial action for two years. That offer is indicative of some degree of flexibility – the message is a lack of affordability on the employers’ side but it looked like they were finding money from the magic money tree if they got that promise.” Spokespeople from the University of Strathclyde did not respond to requests for comment in time for print.


NEWS Students Given Halls Boost as University Pledges Funding By Steven Mair

The University of Strathclyde has pledged extra investment in student halls for the coming year following a successful Strath Union campaign. Plans for spending on the accommodation owned by the university initially saw a decrease in investment to around £700,000 for the year. However the student union fought back on the proposals and has secured funding for more projects and upgrades in the ageing halls buildings. Strath Union president Matt Crilly said: “We made the argument, quite convincingly, that £700,000 wasn’t enough. And the university have actually took that on board and accepted that. “Essentially they’ve said that they will fund additional projects. So I’m planning on working with the head of accommodation and other colleagues at the uni to bring forward other projects. “What we’ve got now is a commitment that we’re going to bring forward other projects and in the next couple of weeks they’re being worked on. “The university recognises that they need to invest more in the halls which is good. “The amount of funding could vary between a couple of hundred thousand at a minimum, perhaps up to £2million at the

higher end, it remains to be seen for now and the exact number will be revealed at a later date. “However much it is, it’s a significant win for me, the halls reps, the student union and students in general.” Students staying in the university-owned buildings – particularly those in Birkbeck Court - have been struck with a litany of issues during their stay. Over the last year there have been cases of bug infestations, reported sightings of rats, damp and black mould. In one instance, wastewater had bubbled up the shower drain and flooded the bathroom. The extra investment, Crilly hopes, is that the extra investment will stop issues like those from cropping up. He said: “The wider thing is that for the last couple of years we have been raising issues with the accommodation. “The university is now doing a review of the halls and they are generating a new strategic plan. “Come January, they will hopefully invest millions of pounds into upgrading the halls – and that success will be off the back of the work done this year and last year by the student union.” While new investment is to be welcomed, the student union are wary of new or upgraded accommodation leading to higher rents that price out students. As rents offered by university-owned halls soar, students are increasingly turning to modern private accommodation instead. A number of private accommodation

buildings aimed at Strathclyde students have opened up in the past year such as Havannah House, operated by Prestige Student Living, and George Street Apartments, owned by Hello Student. A study by the Royal Bank of Scotland Student Living Index in 2017 categorised Glasgow as the most expensive city in the UK to study at university, ahead of London in second place. In June, the Strathclyde Telegraph reported that despite rent freezes three years in a row, Strathclyde’s halls were more expensive than those belonging to Glasgow University and Glasgow Caledonian University. And Crilly called for caution that new funding for the halls buildings would not lead to students being priced out. He added: “We don’t want the uni to build accommodation that’s going to be £1000 per month in rent. “We don’t want anything build with excessive luxury that justifies charging obscene amounts of money and prices out working class students from staying in halls, or going to university in general. “We need an uplift in the accommodation but we don’t want students being charged obscene prices. Some student halls in Edinburgh are £1000 in rent and that’s ridiculous. “The quality of the accommodation has been declining year on year and if there is not improvement then we could look at pressing for rent cuts and not just demanding more rent freezes. “We don’t want students being priced out of our own accommodation regardless.”

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NEWS

Liam McCabe President NUS Scotland

It’s an absolute pleasure to introduce our new guest column in the Strathclyde Telegraph on all things NUS Scotland. For the purposes of introductions, I’m Liam McCabe, the president of the National Union of Students Scotland – NUS Scotland – and we are your national union. We exist to promote, defend and extend the rights of students, representing 500,000 students across Scotland - about 10% of the entire Scottish population. This update – and the ones to come – are another way we’re reaching out to our members directly. Every year NUS Scotland campaigns and wins change for our members, improving the lives of students the length and breadth of Scotland. However, we spend so much time fighting for change that we barely pause to celebrate what we have achieved! To make sure that we don’t keep moving on to the next challenge without letting students know about what has been won in your name, here’s a very quick recap on what we have won in the past year alone. Through our Budget for Better campaign and lobbying the Scottish Government, we secured over £21 million a year of extra investment in the student support system. This money is going into the pockets of students in Scotland who need it most, for example, care experienced students now receive a bursary – with no loan – that is tied to the Real Living Wage. The government have stated that it is now their aim to realise a similar package for all students and we’ll continue to push them to achieve that goal. Similarly, because of our campaigning on mental health, the Scottish Government announced last year an additional £20 million of funding for 80 new mental health counsellors to operate in Scotland’s colleges and universities. This move followed our shock FOI findings that mental health waiting times on campus were sky rocketing across Scotland. Students are always balancing the demands of their studies with their need to keep a roof over their head, food on their plate and a shirt on their back. All of these pressures combined are creating a mental health crisis on campus that we have ever seen before. We’re

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continuing to work closely with the Scottish government to monitor how this investment is rolled out, ensuring that it is being distributed equitably and that services meet the diverse needs of our student body. However, our activity isn’t all Government facing. Indeed, we have worked with your students’ association locally to end graduation charges for all students. Thanks to our ‘Free to Graduate’ campaign, which has seen 50% of NUS Scotland members scrap fees at their institutions, NUS Scotland and Strathclyde Students Union have saved students at Strathclyde University over £264,000 in graduation charges since their abolition. This is a monumental achievement and indicates that our national movement is present on your campus, fighting and winning for you. It is that same national movement – the length and breadth of Scotland – that is tackling issues that matter to students head on and changing things for the better. We were proud to campaign on the climate emergency, leading the national response to our students’ call for climate change. We have worked with our trade union partners – the STUC, Unite the Union, EIS FELA, UCU and much more – to ensure students are no longer preyed upon by exploitative

employers, and going underpaid in precarious, insecure work. Finally, we refused to stand by while the UK Government recklessly dragged this country to the brink of a no-deal Brexit. That would jeopardise the opportunities and future prospects of students in Scotland. We cannot and will not accept any deal that hurts students. Whether that is by removing Erasmus+, ending freedom of movement, losing out on Horizon 2020 research funding or otherwise, we stand ready to mobilise students to register to vote and encourage them to do so in the event of any future votes. None of this would have been possible without the help of our membership – students and students associations alike. The issues that matter to you are the issues that matter to me. So get in touch, find me on all the usual social media platforms, or email me directly on Liam.McCabe@nus-scotland.org.uk!

We are Scotland’s national voice for students.


FEATURES

The Real Monsters of Halloween By Fionnuala Boyle

When we were small, we were all afraid of vampires, zombies and the monsters under our beds. As we get older and observe the world around us – the Amazon burning, our planet abused and our biodiversity under threat – could it be that the real monsters are actually us? The 20th of September marked a day of mass climate action as the Climate Strike reached Glasgow. Workers, university students and school pupils were encouraged to strike in protest against the use of fossil fuels and to send one message to politicians: do more. Glaswegians took their place alongside an international community of demonstrators who believe that not enough is being done to combat climate change. The global scale of the strike sparked reports that it was set to be the largest climate protest in history. Digital Journalism student, Dr Jennifer Jones, 34, is a member of SheBoom, an all-women drumming band which led the climate strike on its route from Kelvingrove Park to George Square. “I prefer the youth strike when it’s youth-led,” Jones explained, “I think the fact that it’s young people making the decisions here is really vital. Those in policy and power have to listen now because it’s harder to ignore a young person’s voice. “There were kids next to me when I was drumming and it was the first time they had taken time off school to participate in a protest,” she said. “This is their time.” Kayla-Megan Burns, 20, Vice President of Community at Strathclyde Students Union, was delighted by how receptive Strathclyde Union was to the event. “The union is fully behind climate change action,” she explained. “When I suggested it to the union CEO, he said, “Great, how can we make this bigger? How can we get the most out of this and get our students most engaged? It was brilliant.” There are concerns that the university is not making enough progress in its response to the climate crisis. Despite the university’s various climate initiatives – the installation

of solar panels on the Technology and Innovation Centre and the improvement of green spaces on campus – they are still investing at least £3.8 million in fossil fuels. Burns added: “Three out of five of the university’s core values is to be to be bold, to be innovative and to be ambitious, yet we’ve seen nothing bold, nothing innovative and nothing ambitious towards the environment.” Dylan Chester, 27, President of Extinction Rebellion Strathclyde, agrees that the university is making great efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change. However he feels that institutions and big companies must take more responsibility for their carbon footprint and use their powers effectively when it comes to determining ambitious climate change laws. “The ones holding the laws are significantly older billionaires who are going to be the least affected by climate change,” Chester explained. “They’re going to be able to get themselves to higher ground, so to speak, but it’s the working and lower class that are going to be affected first. “This is already happening in a lot of poorer countries; people are dying of famine, people are dying of drought, lack of access to clean water and their crops are failing.” In October Extinction Rebellion occupied government and public spaces in London in a protest that lasted an entire fortnight at five times the size of demonstrations six months ago. Chester added: “Essentially we’re going to mirror what happened in April with the International Rebellion when we shut down a number of sites around London. “We, as XR Scotland, held Parliament Square. It was very exciting, with civil disobedience done in a very peaceful way. “It is an inconvenience for some people trying to get about their daily work and commute. “We do apologise for that, but there is something bigger going on here and that needs to be addressed. People will ask, why

are you doing this? I think a lot of people will have their own individual, beautiful answers for that, but it all comes back to life at the end of the day – the pursuit of a happy life.” So this Halloween, what is scarier? Ourselves? The platinum blonde-haired leaders of the Western world? The possibility of mass extinction? Perhaps all of the above. But amidst impeachments and prorogations, there is hope that those in power are finally being held to account for their complacency and that countries will now set more ambitious targets in support of a greener future. As we rapidly approach a new decade, let’s hope that it is the tide that is turning, rather than the oceans that are rising.

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FEATURES

the feminism of

witches By Caitlin Hutchison

It’s witching hour for feminism…and women are working their magic on misogyny

“’Tis now the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion feminism to this world.” (Hamlet, Shakespeare) These days, all sorts of people are dabbling in the occult and uncovering a newfound strength thanks to the symbolism of witchcraft. From the warty hags of fairy tales to the misunderstood women of the Renaissance, feminists around the globe are taking cues from witchery to conjure up their own agency. Glasgow-born Cara Hamilton - a woman who has been involved in historical witchcraft for over 25 years - believes witches and feminists share a lot in common, as they both embody powerful and liberated femininity and consistently find themselves in conflict with the patriarchy. “The term “witch” evokes the image of strong independent women with power that the patriarchy and male society cannot understand” says Hamilton. Every year as Halloween approaches, witches once again dominate our consciousness, albeit predominantly from the fancy-dress aisle, the small screen or the cinema. However, come November 1st, witches won’t be giving up the limelight. The witch, a character who was so misunderstood, feared and tortured during the Renaissance, is now making a comeback – not only in pop culture, but the political sphere too - and she’s causing quite a hubble-bubble. Glasgow, a city like many others, has a sordid past of witchcraft and witch trials. Between the years 1661 and 1727, the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft identifies a total number of 3,837 people who were accused of witchcraft in Scotland, among which 84% were women. Those convicted were tortured until they confessed, strangled at the stake and

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burned – just to make extra sure that their bodies would not be possessed by the devil posthumously. The practice of executing witches largely died out around the mid-18th century, luckily for many of you witches out there. But when women all around the world are castigated, denigrated and alienated from male society every single day, a witch-hunting of sorts continues to exist. The eerie tale of the witch trials is one of misogyny, marginalisation and persecution, which makes the witch one of the first emblematic victims of genderbased violence. Now, as a growing number of women are embracing witchcraft to signify their own strength and rejection of gender-based discrimination, the witch has cemented her place as an enduring, mysterious, feminist icon. And although the modern-day witch may be more likely to cast votes than spells, and uses socio-political language rather than incantations, the message remains unchanged. Feminists are demanding liberation from the oppressive shackles they find themselves bound by, and they’re not afraid to make a scene in order to do so. Hamilton explains: “Women can have their own magical power and have that recognised…it’s an image that has a special place in our imaginations all around the world.” And Hamilton understands why people can relate so intensely to witches from the Renaissance. “People are finding out a lot more about historic witchcraft…who these witches were! They were not found in the middle of a clearing dancing away with the devil.” Instead, it’s a story about fear and persecution – which perfectly lends itself to feminism and resonates with people at a time when women’s rights seem to hang in the balance. Hamilton adds: “It was authority wanting to burn someone at the stake for whatever reason they could find. “People are learning all about these wrongs that were committed in history, and they tend to assume the mantle by calling themselves witches as well. They see themselves as kindred spirits.” In the face of a political and social landscape laden with misogyny and bigotry, contemporary feminists are cloaking up to cast spells of resistance and carry out mass hexings against patriarchy. At the 2019 Women’s March in Washington some of the eye-catching signs

read “Hex the Patriarchy” and the striking:

“We are the daughters of the witches you didn’t burn, and we are pissed off.” In this regard it’s not necessarily about mixing potions, perfecting your cackle or dancing around a cauldron (although all of these things are certainly encouraged). However, what witchcraft can offer is the unfaltering opportunity to conjure strength in the feminism of witches. After all, witches were daring, liberated, and stuck two fingers up to the patriarchy, making them the ideal feminist symbol of choice. Were most of the women who were tragically murdered during the Scottish witch trials actually guilty of worshipping the devil? Seems unlikely. Were men threatened and trembling in in the face of powerful, knowledgeable and nonconformist women? Unquestionably. So whether you were a witch in Renaissance Europe or a feminist today, these identities both demand selfsovereignty and celebrate personal agency. By reclaiming the ‘witch’ identity, people who often feel overlooked by those in power can celebrate their liberty and rebel against inequality and prejudice. I will be attending my very own coven meeting on the 31st of October, but I’ll continue to wear my proverbial pointy hat long after the pumpkins have been consigned to the compost. You can see Cara Hamilton perform ‘The Witches of Pollok’ at Pollok House, Glasgow on the 31st of October 2019.


FEATURES

MATT CRILLY By Ellen Leslie

It’s guaranteed that most Strathclyde students know who Matt Crilly is. As the Student Union President, Matt is a friendly face on campus and works tirelessly to tackle the issues affecting students. But what do we really know about his journey to the top? Matt’s time at Strathclyde began in 2012, when he started his undergraduate degree in History. Like many students, he found student life very daunting. “When I came to uni I was certainly pretty shy,” he says. “I found it quite an overwhelming experience and it took me a few years to break out of my shell here.” Matt was involved in many political societies on campus, and later served as a Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Rep. As part of this role, Matt took on the zero marks policy, a faculty-wide policy where late assignments automatically received a mark of zero. “I found that ridiculous, so I started a wee campaign with a group of other students to get rid of that policy to basically have a policy where you get deducted a certain percentage each day based on how late it is,” he says. “We successfully managed to overturn it, and we got a university-wide policy to replace it.” Later, Matt worked in the union as a campaigns intern. He adds: “I would be the person behind the scenes doing some of the ground work for the presidents and the vice presidents to deliver on their campaigns. “I could see how the union worked and how the university worked and over a couple of years I could see how to make changes.” His work within the union gave him a passion for making changes, and so he decided to run for President. Since his election in 2018 he has accomplished much, from securing £125,000 of hardship and participation funding to bringing Buckfast to the union. He also fought against the new student union plans, and successfully negotiated a new debating chamber, media hub, additional meeting rooms and an extra floor for the office staff. “I basically didn’t think it was big enough and wanted to challenge the plans as much as I could to increase the

space,” he says. He reckons he was able to expand the union by about a third. “I probably do have to go with graduation fees,” Matt says, when asked about his proudest achievement. “It basically created a domino effect across Scotland and it’s really great to have done that, to be leading the way.” Following a successful campaign led by Matt, graduation fees at Strathclyde were abolished in February 2019. The campaign arose following a conversation with a student who could not afford to attend graduation and Matt realised that many were in the same boat. A Freedom of Information Request submitted by the National Union of Students revealed some Scottish students were paying up to £225 to participate in their graduation ceremonies, and it was clear to him that this had to change. “Graduations, people work hard for it. You shouldn’t have to be worrying about whether or not you can afford it. He jokes: “It’s maybe overshadowed by the Buckfast now, I don’t know!” Despite his achievements, Matt remains very laid back and approachable. It’s easy to see why he won the 2019 election by 72%. This year, he wants to have more fun with his role, which suits his joking personality. “I’d like to say I’m funny,” he says. “But

then…I didn’t win the award for funniest person in my school yearbook, I won second funniest, so obviously not!” Matt’s final year as president is set to be extremely busy. His main priorities are tackling Circuit Laundry, the laundry system used in student halls across Glasgow, and public transport. By doing so, he hopes to make changes that will benefit both commuting and stay-oncampus students. In order to squeeze everything in, Matt often works 16 hour days. He spends his evenings interacting with students and reading long documents to prepare for university committees, while his days are crammed with meetings. In his rare spare time, Matt enjoys tracing his family history. “When I’ve been doing this job, I’ve kind of missed my history a little bit,” he admits. “I traced a family line back all the way to Robert the Bruce, who I think is my 24th time great grandfather.” “Still not over the fact that he betrayed William Wallace in Braveheart!”. Finally, Matt has some advice for students. “Students should get involved in things like the Telegraph. “It’s an amazing, amazing thing we have here at the uni and I think it’s class,” he says, smiling.

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FEATURES

Resistance From Abroad:

Scotland’s Kurds By Steven Mair

“Deal with your friends as if they will become your enemies tomorrow, and deal with your enemies as if they will become your friends tomorrow.” That’s apparently an old Kurdish proverb. Yet it remains as meaningful as ever. For those unaware, Kurdistan is a de facto country that straddles the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. When US president Donald Trump removed troops from the north of Syria – effectively destroying the buffer between Turkey and the democratic Kurdish area of Rojava, he went from a friend of the Kurds to their enemy. Kurdish troops that fought alongside antiIslamic State (ISIS) coalition forces suddenly became labelled as terrorists by the US. Turkey, led by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, immediately launched an invasion that has claimed many lives despite a dubious ceasefire and displaced Kurds fleeing Rojava to other areas. The impact has hurt the Kurdish community not just in the Middle East but also the diaspora that left to escape regimes intent on destroying their people. Just 844 people living in Scotland wrote “Kurdish” as their ethnicity in the 2011 Census. Yet it’s not hard to find one – in the depressingly regular times of crisis in their homeland, they are vocal. For Kurds no longer living in Kurdistan, there is a sense of duty. “I’m not religious, but I kind of am,” says Kali Jaff, a Kurdish student at the University of the West of Scotland. Jaff aspired to be an archaeologist or a filmmaker growing up but now believes it is her duty to get a degree in human rights law to advocate for her country. “My religion is my country. And my mum has always raised me with honour

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and duty. Whether it makes me happy or not, it’s duty. “When I left Kurdistan I could have become ‘Scottish-Kurdish’ and just lived an easy, detached life. The other option is to dedicate your life to being an unarmed Peshmerga and helping your country. “I came to Scotland when I was four years old. We lost 22 members of our family when Saddam Hussein committed the genocide so I can’t detach from it.” The Anfal genocide in the 1980s is one of many crimes against humanity of which the Kurds have been the victim. ‘Peshmerga’ – meaning ‘those who stand before death’ – is term for the volunteer Kurdish military groups who fight for an

independent Kurdish state. Groups such as the all-female YPJ forces that battled ISIS come under this term. And Jaff isn’t alone in taking up her country’s cause, without guns, thousands of miles from home. One of the main leaders of the Kurdish community in Scotland, Roza Salih is a prominent human rights campaigner and the co-founder of Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan. As a sabbatical officer during her time studying at Strathclyde, she set up refugee scholarships for students who otherwise would have been unable to study. “Our identity has always been taken away from us,” she explains. “If we want anything


- our parliament, our language, our country – we have to stand up and fight for it because nothing is given to us. “I have family members that were executed for fighting to have a parliament. “Our language has been banned for many years. There are 40 million Kurds – and we don’t have a country. “If you’ve ever travelled to Rojava you get inspired by the people, the democracy, the secularism. And this is in the Middle East! We need to be supporting Rojava. “Then compare that to Erdogan who says that two women are equal to one man, he doesn’t believe in women’s rights, LGBT rights or the rights of ethnic minorities. No country should have a leader like that.” At Strathclyde the Kurdish Society is running under the stewardship of president Amari Kadura – who is not from Kurdistan, but is half-Palestinian, half-Bulgarian. She fights for Kurdistan like it were her own homeland alongside her Kurdish partner Omar Salih (no relation to Roza). Omar adds: “I’m not really an activist in the way other people are, I do things in the background rather than campaigning and doing petitions. “What I try to do is convince politicians

directly that something needs to be done.” I suggest that he’s a lobbyist, but it feels like too dirty, too sleazy a word for such a personal cause. “That would be accurate in some senses.” Kadura interjects: “He’s related to the current Iraqi president! “I try to bring him to protests and he’s sometimes a bit reluctant but he’s been going for a few years now. “I’m more used to activism myself, being Palestinian I’ve always been an advocate for human rights in the Middle East.” Omar continues: “I’ve spoken to a few Strathy’s here who are from Kurdistan. “The whole rhetoric we are told is that ‘you’re not a Kurdish citizen, you’re a Turkish citizen, and anyone that disagrees is a terrorist’. “In apartheid South Africa it was the same – Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for terrorism. Is that terrorism? “You either become a lackey to have an easy life or you fight. But what happens if you’re in a system that won’t let you?” While news anchors and politicos treat the crisis like some twisted game of Risk, the Kurdish diaspora are feeling a familiar, unique sense of pain. It’s these people’s pain we should be

listening to. Roza sighs: “I feel very sad and powerless. I know that another world is possible because I am in it just now. “When I see things like this happening in my own homeland it upsets me so much. Why do I have these rights when other Kurdish people don’t have these rights. “You want to help them so much but you can’t. We try to do as much as we can feel so powerless.” Omar adds: “It’s heart-breaking, and Kurds all over the world are in pain. It’s such a helpless feeling, like someone is pointing a gun to your family’s head. “All because of the American troops leaving. It just happened overnight.” Jaff says: “My mother told me that when the Americans first arrived to help the Kurds in Iraq, the Kurdish people threw roses in front of their vehicles. “Now they throw rocks.” Once again I’m drawn back to the proverb.

Deal with your friends as if they will become your enemies tomorrow.

For the Kurdish people in Kurdistan and abroad, those ‘friends’ have done just that.

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MUSIC

The Shock Demise of Flat 0/1 By Emily Rowell

The closure of three nightclubs on Glasgow’s Bath Street has left a hole in its nightlife scene. Due to licensing issues, the city saw the closure of some of its most popular clubs; Kushion, Flat 0/1 and Lucky Seven, on the 13th of September. The decision was enforced just as students were returning to the city for Freshers’ Week and many were left sorely disappointed by the news. Flat 0/1 was revered for being a safe space along with its unapologetically eclectic dance music - uniquely decorated in the style of a flat. Nightly free entry and famous swinging bathtub chairs drew in hordes of students on a Friday night - most of which had only good things to say about the venue. Calum Robson, aged 20, described the loss as “the most reliable night in town gone”. Kyle Anderson, 19, recognised the club for having a “unique atmosphere, cheap drinks and good tunes”. Flat 0/1 was adjoined in a horseshoe shape to Lucky Seven – an intimate, dim-lit bar where you could go for a more relaxed evening and often enjoy live jazz and cheap cocktails. Whilst frequenting Lucky 7, you may have felt inclined to peek your head around the door into Flat 0/1 - where anything from thumping techno to reggae music could be heard into the wee hours. The safety of the clubgoers in Flat 0/1 and Lucky Seven was always paramount to the staff, and signage around the venues promoted a good time without harassment or disturbance of any kind. I’m sure I speak for many others when I say I always felt safe on a night out at Flat 0/1 and Lucky Seven. Kushion- the host of popular club nights ‘Juicy Tuesdays’ and ‘Milk Fridays’ allegedly has served as the catalyst that led to the closure of all three venues. There were several reported incidents of drunken violence and sexual assault. Unlike Flat 0/1 and Lucky 7, it seems that Kushion did not promote the same levels of safety for club goers, and wasn’t insisting on respect between its customers to the same extent as its neighbours. When police went to look

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at CCTV after one particular incident in 2018, they discovered that there was a lack of cameras across the whole club, damaging their reputation further. Eventually, after over a year of serious incidents being reported at the club, the authorities were forced to suspend the license of all three clubs. Not only is it a sad time for the clubgoers who frequented these clubs, but of course, the DJs and staff members that found their livelihoods there. DJ Findlay Stephen, who had his first club gig in Flat 0/1, said: “It was one of the only clubs in Glasgow which was consistently free and will be sorely missed by the student population and many others in Glasgow. “The atmosphere, when full, is hard to rival and there’s something about all the windows steaming up as the temperature rises that only makes the place rowdier”. For Stephen and many other DJs finding their feet, Flat 0/1 acted as a great gateway into Glasgow’s thriving underground scene. Lucky Seven and Flat 0/1 especially, will always hold a place in my heart. It was there in first year of university that I had many a sweaty dance with soon-to-be lifelong friends and went on a first date with my boyfriend. I was introduced to an exciting variety of new genres of music that I would have never even considered listening to before - and the enthusiasm of the DJs that played there meant you were always on your feet throughout their whole set, no matter who was playing. The owners of the three venues have proposed to reopen with a new 12am license - with the intention of eventually regaining their original 3am licence. This news has been warmly received by those desperate not to lose such well-loved nightclubs. The atmosphere in these venues was unparalleled in Glasgow, and their loss is a serious threat to the nightlife in the city as a whole. Along with its legions of dedicated attendees, I hope to see their return in the near future so that Glasgow can uphold its reputation of hosting roaring, unforgettable nights out.


MUSIC

Is political music disappearing? By Alex Donaldson

Political music may well have been around for ever. As long as there has been song, people have used it to express emotion. Even before protest music had entered the popular zeitgeist it had long been used as a method of expressing discontent. There are, for example, recorded instances of people singing socialist protest songs during the Finnish civil war in the 1918. However within popular western culture protest music really came into the fore in the 1960s. Since the time of the U.S. Civil War, protest music has been a part of America’s identity but in the 1960s with the onset of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, it was propelled into the spotlight. At the forefront of this movement were artists like Joan Baez who put social justice causes such as the fight for racial equality and peace at the centre of their artistic message. One of the most enduring images of the 1960s was Baez performing at the 1963 March on Washington. Alongside her was another artist who would be pivotal in the history of protest music, Bob Dylan. Baez was influential in pushing Dylan into the popular music spotlight. She would record versions of his songs and often invite him to perform with her in concert. Over the years Dylan would prove to be a symbol of protest across the world. Dylan started off using sparse folk music as the backdrop for what was effectively poetry, waxing lyrical on a wide range of topics – none more so than contemporary politics. On ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’, amongst other albums he embraced news and public discontent at the political situation as a muse for his songs. It’s the outright political expression that drew fans to artists like Baez and Dylan in an era where the onset of the British Invasion made it all too easy to ignore such messages and delve into escapism. On ‘Masters of War’, Dylan scathingly critiques warmongers and showcases his brazen anti-war stance. The blunt lyrics opposing and abhorring war in all its forms is about as blunt a political statement as Dylan made in his entire career. Throughout the 20th century Dylan’s position within the popular consciousness as a proprietor of political music was omnipresent. Alongside a myriad of other artists contributing to a wave of political sentiment in popular music so, where has it gone? In the modern era, the perception is that overtly political music is harder to come by. There seem to be fewer artists nowadays in the vein of Bob Dylan, who put political poetry ahead of everything else on their albums and even fewer who garner success from doing so. Of course, there are exceptions. Recent overtly political efforts such as IDLES’ ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’ or Joey Bada$$’ ‘All Amerikkkan Bada$$’ both put lyrics to the forefront when speaking out against the modern political climate. Despite this, they are both outliers in the modern music landscape. Joy as an Act of Resistance reached the top 10 on the UK charts but All Amerikkkan Bada$$ didn’t even break the top 20. Both achieved great critical acclaim but don’t seem to be indicative of greater cultural taste. It seems that nowadays for every overtly political act there are innumerable vapid, chart topping acts which contribute nothing in the way of politics. So, does this mean political music is disappearing from the popular consciousness? Not necessarily. More often nowadays artists are putting their own personal circumstances forward as a means of channelling political circumstances through the lens of their own experiences, as opposed to traditional protest songs. Dave’s Psychodrama takes the form of a therapy session where Dave raps about a myriad of topics surrounding his life and what he has observed, from racial inequality on ‘Black’, abusive relationships on ‘Leslie’ and mental illness on ‘Psycho’. In contrast to the work of Baez and Dylan, Psychodrama is less of an outright protest against a single situation, but rather a series of protests against the personal situations he has had to deal with. It is more personal an approach to modern social issues, relating them to personal stories. The approach he takes on Psychodrama to relate issues to the listeners through his own personal stories is one more and more artists nowadays use. Albums like Psychodrama are still political, but are now also intimately personal in ways that political music wasn’t before – telling the story of how politics affects individuals. It’s albums like Psychodrama reaching number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, that show that political music hasn’t left the public eye, it has just taken a different form.

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MUSIC

Examining the Phenomenon of the ‘FIFA Tune’ By Jack Lowe

One thing unites FIFA players, no matter if they are an Ultimate Team buff, a Pro Clubs superstar or a Career Mode-only type - everyone has their favourite FIFA song. With the recent release of FIFA 20, a whole raft of songs have the chance to enter the pantheon of world renowned ‘FIFA tunes.’ Although it may seem strange that a video game about football has the chance to propel songs into the culture, for those playing the games regularly it’s no surprise. Cameron Law, a 21-year-old Strathclyde student and a dedicated player since FIFA 06 says: ‘These songs get so big because of the association. If you’re hearing all these songs while winning a career mode or just having fun on the game, they are going to stick with you.’ With roughly 45 million players, these songs have a captive audience that is an artist’s dream. It’s clear that a lot of thought goes into the soundtrack selections, and in a game which involves so much time in menus, picking teams or opening packs (and adjusting sliders for unsportsmanlike Career Mode cheats) the songs burrow themselves into the brains of millions of players. FIFA soundtracks criss-cross the globe and draw from wildly different genres, giving the games an eclectic feel. Artists in recent years have come from all over. Elliphant from Sweden, Chinza Dopeness from Japan and Los Rakas from Panama take pride of place alongside more established artists like Vampire Weekend and Bloc Party. Not only does the soundtrack feature artists from across the globe, but it also incorporates a variety of different languages. In the 2018 edition, Irish artist Outsider had a song, 'Míol Mór Mara,' which included verses in the Irish language. Songs like these are alien to the radio-listening British public who would struggle to hear anything not sung in English - so for FIFA to include songs like just goes to shows their commitment to a soundtrack that embraces all music. Speaking to GQ magazine in 2015, Steve Schnur, president of EA Music Group said: "We started in 2002, 2003 putting artists we believed in and thought were worth that real estate into the games, early on with bands like Kings of Leon—the exposure happened instantly, and more importantly it was global." He emphasised the link to traditional footballing nations, continuing: "We’ve always paid a lot of attention to what was coming, musically speaking, out of Brazil and Argentina. No matter what their audience is, these countries have always meant so much to the sport." A global sport, a global video game, and a global soundtrack. They make it seem so easy.

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The Reviews

Now comes the most important judgement of them all – of all of the songs within this rich tapestry of musical history, which comes up the king of the lot. Of course, there are hundreds to sift through and fierce debate to be had. To save time, I, Jack Lowe, have reached into the zeitgeist and asked some fellow soundtrackheads for their picks to provide a snapshot review. Note that my judgement is final and not to be argued with. Note also that there is a strong FIFA 12/13 bias - again not to be argued with.

9/10

‘Call It What You Want’ // Foster the People

8/10

‘No Problem’ // Chase and Status - FIFA 12

9/10

‘Machu Pichu’ // The Strokes – FIFA 12

An unqualified anthem, peak FIFA tune. All-time great.

Buttery smooth.

Great song in and out of FIFA by one of the biggest bands of the 21st century.

9/10

‘Soy Yo’ // Bomba Estéreo – FIFA 16

6/10

‘Two Door Cinema Club’ // Sleep Alone – FIFA 13

9/10

‘On Top of the World’ // Imagine Dragons – FIFA 13:

10/10

Best tune in FIFA to whistle. Minus points for featuring in an irritating Samsung advert. (Why do so many make their way into adverts?)

Good, not great.

The band with maybe the most hate in the world. Irrelevant. Leave your hatred at the door. We don’t care if they are too mainstream for your cultured palette. A massive feelgood FIFA song.

‘Colours (Captain Cutz remix)’ // Grouplove – FIFA 12 The pinnacle. It doesn’t get better than this folks. This is Federer at Wimbledon, Luis Suarez against Norwich, Michu in the 2012/2013 Premier League season. Greatness.


ARTS

warmth... By Nicola Rose nostalgia noun A feeling of pleasure and also slight sadness when you think about things that happened in the past. That first morning of October was clear and bright and looked deceivingly like a summer’s day, so Olive left the house in a skirt that sat above the knees and a pair of 40 dernier tights and immediately found herself wishing she’d brought a coat. The cold came out of nowhere; that bank holiday weekend, that one where everyone had a barbecue in the backyard and compared sunburns on Tuesday morning felt like just a few weeks ago. Now, autumn had rolled around again, like it did every year - just this was the first in two years that Olive was alone. Every day she walked the same route to the cafe; past the towering grey cathedral, its tourists hovering like bees, through the pathway enclosed by trees that sheltered the sky. Their leaves seemed to have changed overnight; now burning orange and yellow, the ones rejected glued to the wet path. She walked down the hill and along an array of shops and students rushing to get to class. Everyone she passed she created a life for – usually the same one for each of them. Graduating with a first, a loving partner, proud parents, a warm, nicely decorated flat. She passed a parked car still trying to defrost and wrapped her arms around herself to try and keep in the heat that was escaping, dancing up through the air in front of her with every breath. She let one arm hang loosely by her side, longing for a hand to hold. If she thought hard enough about it, she could feel her fingers intertwined with his inside his jacket pocket.

The cold that autumn brought reminded her of his warmth. Last year, before she left, she’d arrive home from the café - feet throbbing, the smell of stale coffee and milk still lingering on her hands - to him lounging on the couch under a blanket watching TV. Olive would peel back one of the soft corners and crawl in beside him, skin blindly touching skin, to absorb him entirely; his warmth, his muskiness. He’d complain of her cold limbs, his back spasming when she touched him, but he’d let her do it anyway. For hours, stuck in their own world underneath that blanket, it didn’t matter that the heating in the house had been broken for months and he hadn’t fixed it despite her asking every week. It didn’t matter that his twisted sense of humour made her feel uneasy sometimes, or that she couldn’t imagine herself having his child. Outside, the trees were skeletons of the summer and the world was dying again, but for the time being they were fine. Olive used to love autumn, this idea of the world letting go of what it no longer needed, making way for a new bloom. A time for change, like hitting a giant reset button on the earth. But now she hated the way the cold air made her nose sting when she breathed. She hated mornings like today - cold enough to wear a coat just to be sweating by the time she got to work. Life was beginning to hibernate and die; everything around her was empty, bare, ugly. Her body ached for his, and the hard pillow of his chest, just to feel anything but cold.


1.

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

The tale of a medical-degree dropout’s decision to play God and its consequences is a classic of both the horror and sci-fi genres, and is an ideal read at this time of year. The writing is exceptional – Shelley creates an incredible sense of tension as Frankenstein is pursued by his creation, one that I think hasn’t been properly conveyed by any film or TV adaptation of the novel. Definitely one to read if you haven’t yet.

2.

The Girl on the Train,

Paula Hawkins A 2015 release, Hawkins’ fifth novel (but first to be released under her own name instead of a pseudonym) is a brilliant psychological thriller. It’s narrated from the viewpoints of three different women – Rachel, Anna, and Megan - who find themselves connected in strange, potentially dangerous ways. The constant point-of-view switching makes the novel seem confusing to begin with, but it is successful in building suspense. When the viewpoints come together it makes the payoff that much more shocking and rewarding. If you enjoy a mystery or a drama, along the same lines as Gone Girl, then this is the perfect read for you.

4.

The Tell-Tale Heart,

Edgar Allan Poe This is a short story rather than a book, but seeing as how we’re coming up to Halloween, I thought I’d mention it. It’s perfect for getting into the spooky mood. The story follows an unidentified narrator driven mad by guilt over a murder they committed, but trying to maintain that they’re still sane to the reader. Short, but chillingly creepy and not easily forgotten.

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Five Spooky Season Reads By Madeleine Brown If you’re already sick of the awful weather, the shorter days that have returned to haunt us, and desperately seeking something to distract you from the almost-due assignments piling up on MyPlace – I have a solution. Pop the kettle on, get comfy on the sofa, and grab one of the chilling books from the list of recommendations I’m about to give you.

Coraline, Neil Gaiman

Many people of a certain age say the film version of Coraline was the first thing that ever truly terrified them. I disagree – but only because I read the book first. Despite being a novella aimed at children, Coraline is a dark and eerie tale, which does so without being explicitly scary (a true testament to Gaiman’s writing skill!). The book follows Coraline, a young girl disillusioned with her current life, who finds a portal to another world where everything seems perfect at first, but then becomes very sinister. If you’re looking for something to creep you out, this is the book for you.

5.

Salem’s Lot, Stephen King

The second of 51 novels written by the ‘master of horror’, ‘Salem’s Lot is a modern take on a classic staple of the genre: vampires. Written and set in the early 1980s, it’s about a small Maine town that becomes entwined with the supernatural. When two European businessmen (vampires) move in, the small group of residents must try and put a stop to the bloodsuckers. ‘Salem’s Lot is a brilliant, terrifying, creative novel that tends to be overlooked in favour of King’s more widelyknown works (Carrie, IT, The Shining), and a novel definitely worth reading.

3.


FILM SQUIFF Shorts By Emma Malcolmson

SQIFF is now well and truly on its way to becoming one of Glasgow’s prominent inclusivity-celebratory festivals. The film festival is now on its fifth year running and each year brings creative people from all different walks of life together in a space that’s celebratory, fun and above all – inclusive. All of SQUIFF’s screenings are captioned and subtitled; they managed to offer audio detection for four of their screenings. They keep a quiet space with soft lighting and bean bags for those who need it, offer a sliding-scale ticket scheme - ranging from free to £8, and even offer an audience travel fund to those who need it most. We were lucky enough to be invited along to SQIFF Opening Night Shorts in the Centre for Contemporary Arts on 2nd October and throughout, the continuous theme of community and inclusivity couldn’t be stressed enough. Director of SQIFF, Helen Wright introduced the night and told the audience about all of the services that SQIFF can offer them, should they need it. SQIFF helps to voice queer issues from all around the world and is all in English to help with the accessibility to the deaf and blind. The night showcased six short films, all featuring queer individuals from entirely different walks of life. Whether or not everyone in attendance were exclusively part of the queer community, they left with an understanding of the challenges that they face in situations others may take for granted. Although each and every person in the documentaries were strangers to me; their stories and their outlooks on life were so profusely positive and remarkable that I felt a great sense of pride for them upon leaving. As each film went on, it was obvious that every member of the audience was entirely engrossed and moved by the films. Whilst each short was truly impactful in its own way, the one that resonated in particular was ‘We Are Here’, directed by Ellie Hodgetts. The film follows members of the Manchester House of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as they take their stand against the ignorance and discrimination those within the queer community face. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a worldwide organisation of queer nuns whose aim is to encourage global joy and eradicate the stigmatic guilt that many

of those in the queer community are oppressed to feel. The short follows one of the most prominent members of the Manchester House, Sister Bang Bang and her fellow nuns as they continue the fight for tolerance, and whilst the film depicts how the inclusion of the queer community has gotten better in recent years, it still depicts those that are still uneducated and promoting their propaganda, both personal and religious at huge events such as Manchester Pride. In the film, Sister Bang Bang herself says, “There is still a fight to be fought,” and this is wholly what SQIFF both represents and allows. The film festival has the utmost dedication to inclusivity, and it should be seen everywhere – not just at these celebratory events. It is clear to see that SQIFF is just getting started and is well and truly fighting a fight that is a very far way from being won.

Top FIVE Halloween Films By Shreyas Raghuram

If you're like me, then you don't fancy a party on Halloween night. You'd rather cosy up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch a film. In the true spirit of Halloween, here's a list of timeless classics that's perfect for a spooky night.

'Us' is the perfect contemporary horror film, solely because of its startling realism and ingenious plot line. It follows the story of a family and how they try to escape their murderous doppelgangers in their own house. Some would even call it horror for the age where people aren't scared of the conventionally scary stuff anymore. Stanley Kubrick’s 'The Shining' is an ageold classic that you must watch even if you're not a fan of horror. An axe-wielding maniac, a haunted hotel and the slow descent into mania make this movie seem familiar yet new at the same time. To be honest, there's no better time to watch this film than Halloween. If you're a fan of serial killer movies, 'Hush' may just be the best film on Netflix for you. It follows a deaf writer in a secluded cabin in the woods as she tries to evade a serial killer with a crossbow. This movie is the kind that makes you feel as if you're not alone in the room and some scenes will make traditional jump scares look shoddy and badly shot. The Blair Witch Project shot in documentary style is undoubtedly the best horror film of its class. It follows three people making a documentary about a serial killer, until they get lost in the woods while trying to find the witch. The footage ends on a cliff-hanger, leaving viewers in their own paranoia at climax of the film. It's truly the scariest film on this list in my opinion and the catalyst for the ‘found-footage’ genre. Finally, for those who can't stomach horror, but you don't want to miss out this Halloween, Zombieland might just be the funniest horror movie ever. It's romantic, it's spoofy, Emma Stone is in it, and - as an added bonus, there's Zombies! It's even getting a sequel this year so what better time to binge-watch it than on Halloween?

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FILM

Chaotic ‘Joker’ Makes a Mockery of the Marvel Hype By Lamorna Brown Going into ‘Joker’, I was intrigued but sceptical.

I had decided to look at reviews beforehand and it made for a confusing read. There are wildly polarised views on it, with audiences appearing to love it, critics less so. There were even the bizarre news reports that police forces were deploying extra bobbies to cinemagoers in the case of ‘copycat’ attacks on cinemagoers. Regardless, I left feeling surprised and relieved. I had enjoyed it and felt it provided a much-needed new take on the DC superhero world. An antidote to all the Marvel films of late. It is ultimately, a character study, of a man's decent into madness and subsequently his transformation. Set in a dilapidated Gotham, we meet Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix. In the opening scene, he sits facing a mirror, with clown make-up on, frowning and then forcing an unnaturally large smile,

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as a black tear slides down his cheek. He is unsure whether his life is a comedy or a tragedy. Working as a clown, he is subjected to abuse and mistreatment from the people around him. He aspires to be a stand-up comedian, to "spread joy", but this endeavour is hindered by his Tourette’s-like condition, which causes him to laugh uncontrollably. Phoenix's performance is at once, compelling and mesmerising, perfectly capturing the loneliness and desperation of a man who wants to be recognised. For much of the film, we watch Arthur become embittered by the terrible events that befall him. Then the tables begin to turn when he takes control, albeit through becoming violent. This culminates in his transformation into the Joker. Worth mentioning are Arthur’s dance scenes which appear throughout the film. His movements are somewhat aggressive as a clown. After a violent outburst, his movements are the opposite; elegant and flowing. This is the real Arthur, not guilty or scared by his outburst but in control and revelling in the power he holds. Phillips does

does a wonderful job creating an unsettling film, building to a crescendo of chaos and madness. This is partly achieved by painting Gotham as oppressive and grimy, towering over Arthur. There are very few shots that are uncrowded, with buildings or people. Throughout Philips pays homage to 70s films such as Taxi Driver, King of Comedy and The Network, among others. It deals with some of the same social issues; of isolation, detachment from reality and its consequences. With, I think, the takeaway message being: “You get what you deserve”. Arthur is a product of Gotham, which is portrayed as a brutal city, devoid of any care for its sick or needy and with a gigantic void between its rich and poor. I understand that for diehard DC fans, aspects of the film may have been disappointing, but I went in with no expectations, which is perhaps part of the reason I enjoyed it so much. I still think that it’s worth a watch, whether you’re a fan or not. I found it thought provoking and gripping. So, I hope there are more DC films like this to come.


SPORT

Japanese Rugby Blossoms - What’s Next? By AJ Sutherland

Scotland/Japan clash in Rugby World Cup draws in record views, so how will the Brave Blossoms build?

Japan’s success at the 2019 Rugby World Cup has captured the hearts of rugby fans across the globe. The Sakura (literally ‘Cherry Blossoms’, though more recently translated as Brave Blossoms) achieved a status fitting as the strongest rugby union power in Asia: A spot in the quarter finals. Japan’s opening match against Russia drew a respectable audience of 26 million. Following this, 29.5 million saw the “sensation in Shizuoka” against Ireland, and the struggle against Samoa drew in just shy of 48 million. The clash with Scotland drew in an enormous 53.7% audience share via NTV (representative of a 54.8 million-strong audience). Smashing record after record of Rugby match viewership, once a fringe contender, Japan’s viewership now inhabits the top four largest domestic audiences ever received for a rugby match. Only just over 4 million tuned in to watch Scotland play on STV and ITV - a decent figure, of course, but utterly smashed by the Land of the Rising Sun. The Japanese Bushido was fully present in wake of the deadly typhoon just hours earlier. As if great waves pounding against the Scottish side, water rushed through a porous defence. Such unrelenting pace does not normally come alone — oft accompanied by a klutzy knock-on; a cloddish charge into the side of a ruck or maul. No such demons were present today. The play was fast and accurate. Yet Scotland returned fire. Finn Russell’s cross-kick proved an excellent tool to ease the pressure, and Magnus Bradbury’s follow up allowed him to score. The reprieve proved short-lived, however — the waves of Japan returned to crash upon the defence, and despite Jamie Ritchie’s single-handed shoring up of the defences, it would require a superhuman effort to be everywhere at once. After a valiant 10 minutes on the back foot, Scotland came undone by Fukuoka’s deft footwork and Matsushima’s sheer pace — leading to the

first try, and first conversion by Yu Tamura, for the Japanese side. Matsushima’s pace returned in the second quarter. Generating speed from seemingly nowhere, he burst through the arms of Grant Gilchrist and Blade Thomson. He didn’t carry it all the way though. To Nagare. To Tamura. To Shota Horie. To James Moore. Bewildered eyes on pitch, and at home, followed the ball as it leapt from hands to hands. This was rugby in its purest form; physical, skilful, and a hell of a good watch. A third try followed. Come the second half, and a fourth try followed — both largely due to Fukuoka’s playmaking. Scotland now trailed by 21 points, 28-7. From seemingly nowhere, Scotland edged closer to the Japanese try-line. It wasn’t pretty, but Willem Nel dug-in hard, and with gritted teeth drove the ball over. Laidlaw’s conversion closed the distance to just 14 points. There was a frantic, giddy environment. Six

men came off. Six men now came on. Scotland’s second wind wasn’t in the form of the tight, accurate, pacy play of Japan — it was physical, gritty, as if fifteen men were playing by instinct and instinct alone. A wordless pass between Jonny Gray and Scott Cummings put the ball into motion, and an offload to a barrelling Zander Fagerson put the game to 28-21. Water turned to steel in the final minutes. What had been a liquid offence solidified against the Scottish onslaught. The ball seemed heavier with every pass — laden with every missed opportunity, every passing minute. The final turnover brought a deafening applause, and a heavy silence in Scottish homes. Japan’s tournament ended after a defeat to South Africa but the Blossoms captured the hearts and minds of rugby-lovers - here’s hoping they can build on that.

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Profile for Strathclyde Telegraph

October/November 2019  

October/November 2019  

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