our fortnightly literary supplement, is back with the tale of Polly and the Red Mountains
Student SCOTTISH STUDENT NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2007
Since 1887 - The UK’ s oldest student newspaper
Odds are stacked against Black applicants
A black candidate is half as likely as a white candidate to get into Edinburgh University Out of 3658 entrants last year, only 11 were black Sarah Morrison A WHITE undergraduate student is almost twice as likely to be accepted by the University of Edinburgh than a student from Black-African, BlackCaribbean or other black backgrounds, Student can reveal. According to UCAS figures for 2007/08, a white student applying to the University had a 42 per cent chance of being offered a place, while black students from different backgrounds only had an average 25 per cent chance of securing an offer.
of entrants were black in 2007 This low figure meant that out of the 3658 entrants to the University in 2007, only 11 were black. This made up just 0.3 per cent of all new entrants, a miniscule figure in comparison to the 5.1 per cent UK average for accepted black applicants. Dave Lewin, the black students’ officer for the National Union of Students in Scotland, said that such figures demonstrate why now, more than ever, campaigns must continue for a more effective widening access agenda across Scotland. He said: “Scotland’s population is becoming increasingly diverse,
with figures suggesting that 15 per cent of school pupils are non-white. As a result, we should be seeing an increasing number of young people from black minority and ethnic communities applying to and attending university. “These figures are therefore of real concern, particularly in the case of course offers made…there is no reason why the student body of universities such as Edinburgh should not be representative of the population at large.” University officials said that when offers are made, admissions staff do not have access to information about a student’s ethnic background. Such information is only received from UCAS months after the offers have been decided. “We have to make it clear that we want a diverse student body,” said Niall Bradley, the deputy director of student recruitment and admissions. “But we only have certain information available and make offers based on a student’s ability.” He added that when the numbers were so small, it was hard to determine too much from the statistics. He said that in light of this query, he wanted to encourage these numbers to be bigger. Nachinji Mumba, a third year Civil Engineering student, grew up in Zambia and has lived in Scotland for six years. Continued on page 4
Alan Williamson plays God with Spore
TECH: PAGE 21»
Week 1 23.09.2008
Action promised on abysmal course feedback Neil Pooran
THE UNIVERSITY has responded to the National Student Survey’s findings that University of Edinburgh courses are among the worst in the UK for assessment and feedback. The results came despite the University’s promises to improve feedback last year when earlier polls showed students were generally dissatisfied with the quality and promptness of their feedback. More action has been promised to improve the situation. Despite the poor showing for feedback, Edinburgh scored high in overall student satisfaction, with 91 per cent of students reporting they are satisfied with their courses. Guy Bromley, Students’ Association Vice-President Academic Affairs, said: “Feedback is absolutely crucial to learning. If you don’t tell a student how to improve, how can you expect them to get better? Edinburgh is supposed to be one of the top universities in the world. A substantial number of the University’s departments are the worst in the UK for feedback. This is disgraceful. “Much of this problem stems from the fact that lecturers are rarely promoted for good teaching. The University and government fail to recognise them when they work hard at helping students. Ultimately both the government and the University need to recognise that sharing knowledge is just as important as advancing it.” Sources close to the University report that they are deeply concerned by the survey results, and intend to take drastic action to speed up the process of changing the feedback system. University departments have been told to come up with plans to improve the system and the University hopes to improve issues with the promptness of feedback within a year. Both Vice Principles are taking the rare steps of attending the Students’ Representatives Council meeting on October 25. There are concerns that the survey results will mean Edinburgh will slip down some University league tables, Katy Kennedy as student satisfaction is taken into account when these are compiled. The roll of the dice falls unfavourably for black university applicants Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 1 23.09.08
Question Time for Edinburgh
Students quiz MSPs as panel debate is broadcast on national radio
ANY QUESTIONS?: Politicians put under the spotlight by students
Anne Miller BBC’S QUESTION Time came to the University of Edinburgh last Thursday with a special Freshers’ Week event chaired by radio presenter Lesley Riddoch and recorded for BBC Radio Scotland. The panel consisted of the Conservative MSP Gavin Brown, Labour’s Malcolm Chisholm MSP, academic Susan Deacon, Education Minister Fiona Hyslop and the new Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Tavish Scott. The audience were invited to
give the panel a ‘good grilling’ and questions covered topics as diverse as the current financial chaos, student loans and grants, trams and the proposed restrictions on the sale of alcohol to under-21s. The panellists spoke fluently, although some tension was evident between Fiona Hyslop and Tavish Scott. Malcolm Chisholm’s sympathy with those affected by the tram works in Leith was well received by the audience. Susan Deacon, a former Labour MSP, who left politics in 2007 to take up the post of Professor of
Social Change at Queen Margaret University, spoke of her enjoyment
Students seemed to be staying closer to their party lines than the panellists Lesley Riddoch, BBC Radio Scotland presenter of her new-found freedom and her relief at not having to participate in party politics any longer.
Opinions flew back and forth, though Lesley Riddoch told Student that the students seemed to be staying closer to their respective party lines than the panellists. Fiona Hyslop responded to accusations that her party had hijacked ‘what it is to be Scottish’ by saying that people have different perspectives and this should be treated with a lot more respect. Both the panellists and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves, with Gavin Brown praising the audience for being lively and engaging. Contact email@example.com
University funding crisis looms due to pay rise for lecturers James Ellingworth UNIVERSITIES ACROSS Scotland are preparing to deal with a hole in funding estimated at up to £50m, it has been reported. A deal reached between universities and striking lecturers in 2006 assured the staff of pay rises equal to the rate of inflation. According to Scotland on Sunday, higher-than-expected inflation due to the credit crunch is set to leave Scottish universities dealing with an
extra £10m budget shortfall. Taken together with a reported existing deficit of £30m, many Scottish universities, especially smaller institutions, may be forced to cut jobs and cancel planned building works, it is feared. The 2006 deal, which ended a dispute that threatened some students with being unable to graduate, awarded lecturers a 10.37 per cent pay increase over two years, followed by an increase in 2008 of either 2.5 per cent or the rate of inflation, whichever was greater.
However, due to the recent economic turbulence, the RPI rate of inflation, by which the pay increases are set to be measured, currently stands at 4.8 per cent, significantly higher than universities had budgeted for. The issue will not affect universities in the rest of the UK, since these unexpected costs can be passed on to students in the form of top-up fees, which do not apply in Scotland. A spokesman for SNP Scottish Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop defended the Scottish Government’s
record, saying:“Scotland’s universities have received a 2.9% per cent real terms increase in funding across the spending review period.” “In addition, they have received investment to the tune of £70m since the Spending Review was published - £20m of this money was specifically released to help them meet the final year of the current pay settlement.” The universities concerned have refused to comment on the issue until the new RPI rate is published at the end of the month. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Language exchange events hailed as great success Marco Florence TANDEM, A programme designed by the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) to give students the chance to learn a foreign language in an informal way, last week ran a series of introductory events. Students were given the opportunity to learn a language simply by speaking and socialising, rather than with grammar exercises and exams. TANDEM was started last year by Guy Bromley, now Vice President of Academic Affairs. He set it up in response to what he saw as a frustrating lack of speaking practice in university language classes, deciding to take advantage of a diverse student body. The scheme has the backing of the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and receives support
from the Scottish Government. As part of Freshers’ Week, EUSA ran four talks to tell people how TANDEM works and what benefits it offers. Students can find a TANDEM partner by signing up to the online database through MyEd, allowing them to meet people wishing to learn the language that they speak and vice versa. Partners could also be found at one of two Speed Lingua events held last week in Teviot, so-called because they were originally similar to speed dating. Participants wore two badges, one with their native language and one with the language they wanted to learn. First year student Amy Goodwin Davies said, “TANDEM sounds like an excellent opportunity to meet new people, learn more about different cultures and develop
foreign language skills.” It has proved to be a popular scheme, with around 1,500 people signing up within two weeks of TANDEM starting. 200 people attended each of the four meetings, while both Speed Lingua events attracted around
UCAS entrance figures rise again
300 students. Bromley commented, “It’s been such a success, as it’s a great way to meet people from across the world, especially for international students to meet locals.” Contact email@example.com
WORKING IN TANDEM: 1,500 people signed up within two weeks
THE NUMBER of students entering higher education has risen again this year, according to figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). As of September 12, the total number of applicants to universities and colleges within the UK was 571,567, representing a 9.1 per cent leap compared to the 524,142 recorded at the same point last year. Of these, 397,213 have unconditional or confirmed conditional offers, while 35,407 have found a place through Clearing. Law, Design Studies and Psychology are once again the top three most popular subjects but UCAS has also hailed a renaissance of traditional degrees. Mathematics applications have risen by 7 per cent, engineering subjects by 6 per cent, Chemistry by 5 per cent and Physics by 4 per cent. Applications for modern languages are also up, with French and German rising by 4 per cent. Art, Music and Media have all experienced marginal declines. This national increase in applicants was not mirrored at the University of Edinburgh. Niall Bradley, the Deputy Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Student Recruitment and Admissions department, and Dr. Neil McCormick, the Admissions Service Manager, told Student that though the number of applicants had fallen slightly, the numbers of those accepting offers had in fact risen. They attributed this to the fact that students applying through UCAS this year were allowed only five choices rather than six, and were therefore putting more thought into the universities they applied to and accepted. Commenting on subject trends, Dr. McCormick said: “Edinburgh has always done well bucking national trends in terms of modern languages and sciences. Of course, we hope that this is a sign of a renaissance of science subjects more generally.” However, this increase is due in part to the fact that this year the Nursing and Midwifery Admissions Service (NMAS) was incorporated into the main UCAS scheme. When the 13,406 applicants who applied only to courses previously available through the NMAS are disregarded, the total number of applicants can be seen to have risen by 6.4 per cent. Richard Pearce, a fourth year Law student commented: “The fact that more people are going to university can only be a good thing.” He added: “I’m not surprised that Law occupies the top position, because it’s seen as a degree which carries good job prospects, and it’s also very versatile, enabling its graduates to pursue a wide range of careers.” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 1 23.09.08
Students left breathless after gym price hike Sarah Morrison
AS COSTS of student living increase on a national level, the university gym has increased its fees by as much as 27 per cent. Many are now finding that it not only costs to be a student but it costs even more to be a healthy one. The Centre of Sport and Exercise (CSE) has increased its full student membership fee from £75 to £95 in the last year, leaving many of its student members surprised and angry. The gym, which had over 9,000 student members last year, said the increased price reflected increased running costs and a large surge in investment that has improved the overall condition of the building and its services. But students said the huge increase in fees is unfair, unnecessary, and should have been introduced over a longer time period. “I think this is a ridiculous decision and an absurd increase in price,” said Wander Rutgers, a second year student and member of the Student’s Representative Council. “Any increased investment should have been planned and paid for without this huge and sudden fee hike.” He added that while new facilities are always welcomed, most students found the services that the gym already offerred were adequate to meet their needs. However, Jim Aitken, director of the CSE, said over the last 12 months, the gym had experienced increased costs in salaries, fuel, and utility and delivery charges. “Students are our priority and we do everything possible to protect against fee increases,” he said. “[But] the CSE is a category B Unit, which means we must operate commercially.”
While the gym fees have increased by almost 100 per cent over the last three years- a full membership was only £52 in 2005/06- Aitkin said that there have been major refurbishments to the gym in that period. According to Aitken, the £20 fee supplement has paid for many improvements, including the purchase of 100 new stations with TVs, new lockers, a refurbished sports hall floor and a new climbing and bouldering wall facility. “I believe in my heart that University of Edinburgh students receive one of the highest quality, best value gym memberships of any
No one enjoys prices going up but I think it’s worth it for all the improvements being made Joe Gray, Sports Union President UK University”, Aitken said, who added that the CSE was still the most competitively priced gym in Edinburgh. The University Sports Union was consulted regarding the fee increase, and according to President Joe Gray, the students will benefit from the new changes. “No one enjoys prices going up but I think it is worth it for all the improvements being made recently,” he said. “Staff at CSE have also said they will not be increasing the fees any more in the foreseeable future.” Contact email@example.com
CLIMBING PRICES: Increased membership costs will go towards the new climbing wall
‘Lily-livered’ universities reject A* grade James Ellingworth THE ANNUAL debate over the value of A-level results was punctuated this year by a spat between the government and universities over the A* grade, which is to be introduced next year. It has emerged over the last month that several leading universities, including Oxford, Exeter, Bristol and Bath are likely to ignore the new grade, fearing it will unfairly favour pupils from private schools. Exeter and Bath claim the use of the grade will ‘disadvantage state schools’ and ‘have a detrimental effect on widening participation efforts’, according to papers obtained by the Sunday Telegraph. Oxford University stated that it would be ‘highly unlikely’ to include the grade in offers to applicants. A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh told
Student: ‘We are giving this careful consideration and we expect to reach a decision within the next month.’ This year, almost half of all examinations taken at independent schools received an ‘A’ grade, compared to a national average of 25.9 per cent, itself a record proportion. National Union of Students President Wes Streeting commented “NUS is concerned that the introduction of an A* grade for next year’s A-levels could tighten the already firm grip of the top state, grammar and independent schools on university places, as these institutions are likely to have better resources to coach their pupils.” “This could undermine attempts to attract more pupils from lower performing schools in poorer areas.” “We congratulate Oxford University for refusing to recognise the A* until it can be sure that these new ‘elite grades’ will allow
fair treatment in admissions for all A-level students, wherever they are from and wherever they have studied.” Geoff Lucas, secretary of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents many private schools, accused the protesting universities of ‘woolly, lily-livered thinking’. “It shows the extent to which universities are cowed by Government pressure to widen participation,” he added. Further pressure has been placed on the qualification with the news that several exclusive private schools, including Eton and Harrow, have said they intend to replace A-Levels with an alternative qualification in some subjects. The Pre-U was developed by private schools in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, who claim it will be used in some capacity by nearly 50 schools this year, including 15 state schools. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Too many graduates’- CBI Lyle Brennan ONE OF the foremost authorities on UK business has launched a new higher education task force after its leader raised concerns over the employability of university graduates. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) last week teamed up with 19 business and education representatives to address emerging issues in the training of graduate employees. A report released by the task force cites a growing shortage of graduate jobs, a insufficient funding and a widespread lack of vocational skills among new graduates as grounds for a thorough re-evaluation of British higher education. With UCAS reporting everincreasing figures for university admissions, the CBITask Force, which includes members from Microsoft, RBS and King’s College London, warned that the ratio of graduates to skilled jobs is approaching a particularly problematic imbalance. They noted that with just 9 million jobs and 10.1 million graduates,
only 89 per cent are accommodated for, while the resulting surplus are unable to make full use of the degrees they have earned. Despite this competitive environment, Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI, has conveyed a widespread dissatisfaction with the calibre of graduate it is producing. Emphasising the need for workplace skills such as team management and communication, he was quoted as saying, “We think that soft skills are an important part of education, not necessarily for everybody, but most people need to be able to get up in the morning.” Melfort Campbell, CEO of engineering firm Imes Group, said: “I want the HE sector to provide more graduates with degrees which are relevant to our business. Industry needs to be clear on which degree subjects are valuable.” The CBI Task Force is due to issue a report on business-university relations in June 2009. Contact email@example.com
Week 1 23.09.08
Students running risk of losing £6,000 worth of possessions Catherine McGloin
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of s their laptopvsaalued their most possession
AN ALARMINGLY large proportion of students neglect to insure their possessions, a survey published last week has found. Figures released by Endsleigh Insurance Services Limited showed that 41 per cent of students are not protected against the theft or damage of possessions worth an average of £6,000. Students arriving at university come fully equipped with mp3 players, mobile phones and new laptops , making them easy targets for thieves, and Endsleigh warns that many may be left vulnerable by the type of insurance cover they may or may not have. The research, which is based on the responses of 1,000 students across the UK, indicates that many regard laptops as their most prized possession. Of those asked, 35 per cent said that laptops were their
number one item, while 20 per cent chose mobile phones and 14 per cent voted for clothing. It is estimated that students bring to university £476 worth of clothes, as well as CDs and DVDs totalling £219. On average, students underestimated the total value of such items by £3,000. This, as well as a common opinion that the cost of cover is too high and the risk of theft or damage too low, has meant that more than four in ten students decide not to take out policies. However, students are often the prime targets of thieves, and burglaries occur frequently in shared student accommodation. In fact, student housing usually contains more expensive equipment than most family households. The research suggests thieves are likely to return to student accommodation where they are familiar with the layout of the property. The Endlseigh report states that
new students living in shared accommodation such as Edinburgh’s Pollock Halls are the most common victims of theft. Thieves are aware that windows and doors are often left unlocked as people adjust to communal living arrangements, leaving rooms vulnerable to ‘walkin’ thefts not covered under certain insurance policies. This has prompted the NUS to advise students to avoid leaving valuables on display, to take out student-specific policies and to personally check the security of their own accommodation. NUS President Wes Streeting said: “Going to university is an exciting time for students. During the first few days when they are making new friends and getting fully involved in student life it is easy to forget about safety.”
Scientists piping down to York in landmark experiment Samantha Groenestyn A UNIVERSITY of Edinburgh experiment piped in a new age of telecommunications last week by allowing a bagpipe performance in Edinburgh to be remixed in realtime at a recording studio in York. The experiment, conducted as part of the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting, which ran at the University of Edinburgh from September 8 to 11, was deemed a success by those involved. “It worked perfectly… This is just one of the things such an infrastructure can enable” Professor Peter Clarke, Director of the National e-Science Centre at the University of Edinburgh, told Student. The experiment demonstrated the potential uses of the JANET Lightpath service, which links a variety of UK institutions, for fac-
ulties other than the sciences. Professor Clarke, who has been involved in networking technology for many years, said that previously the network had been used to aid such things as physics computational simulations and connecting radio telescopes in the field of astronomy. Piper Alex Urquhart-Taylor’s live performance was transmitted in surround sound and real time along the national JANET Lightpath service to York, 300 miles away, where it was remixed in a professional studio. Urquhart-Taylor, a recently graduate of the University of Edinburgh, told Student that the recording process felt “like a standard recording session, with the exception that the person in charge was issuing commands over a speaker system rather than being in the same room, or visible
though a glass window.” He said the distance did not affect the interaction between himself and the studio engineers at all. According to Professor Clarke, this is the first time a performance has been mixed at a distance, not requiring the performer and the mixer to be in proximity. The JANET Lightpath service allows high-quality audio transmission as the high bandwidth network acts as a direct connection between two points allowing no congestion from other network users. This enables audio data to be transmitted smoothly and without compression, whereas over a standard internet connection the data is split up and sent via different routes and therefore arrives interrupted.
Professor Clarke envisions the technology as enabling long-distance musical collaboration in the areas of performance, composition and teaching. However, only time
will tell whether this Edinburgh experiment will have long-term resonance. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Piper Alex Urquhart-Taylor’s live performance was transmitted in real time to York
The ethnic makeup of students at the University of Edinburgh
Continued from page 1 She said that she did not really consider diversity on campus until she arrived at university in her first year. “I never really tried to find out how many students from ethnic minorities were at Edinburgh, as I was more concerned with the course and quality of teaching,” she said. “It was only when I got here that it hit me that I would be the only person who was black African on my entire course.” According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, in 2006 1.4 per cent of Scottish students in higher education systems were black, a much greater proportion than is represented at the University of Edinburgh. Bradley said that the University’s main problem stemmed from the small numbers of black students who were applying to campus each year.
In 2007, only one per cent of all applicants were black, compared to the UK average where black students made up 5.8 per cent of all applications. “A lot of students stay local and if we don’ t have certain groups represented in the population of Scotland, people from other areas are less likely to travel,” Bradley said. “We haven’t targeted particular ethnic groups in the past but we need to try harder, make positive noises and encourage them to apply.” Mumba said that while a lot of problems of inequality start earlier on in life, universities should make it a priority to encourage more students from less traditional backgrounds to apply. “Students from ethnic minorities aren’t encouraged as much as they
should be at high schools and this can discourage them from applying to university,” she said. “I do think that Edinburgh University should try and do more things to encourage these students, from going round schools to encouraging them to attend open days.” While black students have a lower percentage chance of being offered a place at the University, statistics show that this is not the same case for students from other ethnic minorities. In 2007, students who were recorded as Asian-Chinese actually had the highest percentage chance of being offered a place at the University of Edinburgh, with a 52 percent chance of securing a place. Contact email@example.com
Flickr: Desmond Kwanbe
Black students severely underrepresented on campus
Week 1 23.09.08
Universities face stiff competition from abroad Neil Simpson PROFESSOR RICK Trainor, president of Universities UK (UUK), has welcomed continued government support for higher education, but has stressed the need for increased investment and stronger engagement between universities and employers. Speaking at the UUK annual conference, Professor Trainor praised “the substantial investment this Government has made in higher education in the last few years.” “We believe that the UK’s
universities have shown this was money well spent, with substantial returns for the economy and for our society,” he added. He also acknowledged the ‘tight funding climate’ ahead, but argued that long term investments in higher education would yield dividends. Professor Trainor also drew attention to recent figures from the Organisation for Economic CoOperation and Development which highlights that the United Kingdom’s spending on higher education - at 1.3 per cent of GDP - falls short of ‘most
of our major competitors.’ Australia and New Zealand both invest 1.4 per cent of GDP, while the United States manages to divert 2.9 per cent to higher education. He did however note the UK’s dominant position in attracting international students, pointing out that “our 15 per cent share of the international market for research students is the highest per capita in the world.” He added: “the benefits to the UK are clear to see – not only do these students raise the research output of our universities, they augment our
country’s knowledge base, heighten our capacity for innovation, and enhance our strategic position in the future international economy.” Professor Trainor also laid out six conditions to meet the challenges facing UK universities. Amongst these was a call for increased autonomy from the state as well as for more investment. These points will be drawn on during the Secretary of State’s forthcoming review of Higher Education. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
In the wake of last week’s financial meltdown, fears are growing that Edinburgh could lose it’s reputation as a centre of European commerce. After Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) was forced into a merger with fellow bank Lloyds TSB, it seems likely that many high-paying jobs in Edinburgh will be lost or move south of the border. The Bank of Scotland’s HQ has been based in the current site on the Mound since 1806, but the takeover has led to it being downgraded. Some Edinburgh business owners are concerned that the job loss will have a knock-on effect on the capital’s economy. The bank employs over 17, 00 people in Scotland, and last week’s events prompted First Minister Alex Salmond to claim he would have bailed out the bank with government cash had he the powers to do so. This was derided as ‘economic illiteracy’ by Downing Street insiders, reported in
Scotland on Sunday. Contact email@example.com
MOUNDING FEARS: The Bank of Scotland’s HQ on the Mound will remain operational, but will be ‘downgraded’
Concern at increasing reliance on international students Anne Miller THE NUMBER of international students studying in the UK has doubled in the past decade, according to a report recently published by Universities UK. The report discloses that international students collectively pay around £1.7 billion in fees, making this the largest relative increase in universities’ income over the past decade, and a rise of 58 per cent on 2002/2003. However, there are concerns that receiving such varied amounts in fees
may lead to universities targeting their courses to attract high fee-paying international students. At the University of Edinburgh, students from outside the EU typically pay £10,500 a year for an undergraduate degree. Fees range from £10,650 to £24,540 annually for postgraduate courses.This compares to free undergraduate tuition for Scottish and EU students (£1,775 per year for other UK students), and a typical postgraduate rate of £4,600 for UK and EU students. A spokesman for the Scottish Government told Student that, “We
want all Scots to be outward looking and have an international perspective and overseas students studying in Scotland help to provide an environment that puts the emphasis on the wider globalised society in which we live.” At the University of Edinburgh, the number of Scottish students taking taught postgraduate courses has risen by 11 per cent since 2003/2004 whilst the equivalent increase for international students was 67 per cent. University Secretary Melvyn Cornish told Student that the admission of international students
does not reduce opportunities for Scottish students. Economic benefits are also gained as international students make valuable contributions to the country’s economy. Research conducted by Universities Scotland found that “for every three overseas students, one job is created.” Despite the variation in course fees, the University of Edinburgh maintains that all students benefit from the same opportunities, standard of teaching and experiences. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruckus at the Conservative stand Neil Pooran
The offending poster
Harsh words were exchanged at the Conservative Party’s Societies Fair stand when a Party promotional poster irked some female students. The poster, which featured a young woman looking seductively into the camera under the heading ‘life’s better under a Conservative’, was vandalised by a protestor, who angrily voiced her opinion at the stall’s occupants. University Conservative Chairman Harry Cole laughed off the issue saying: “Well it’s common
knowledge that right-wing girls are more attractive than their lefty counterparts so why not capitalize on that fact... As per usual the hippies have displayed their characteristic and famous lack of humour over this issue.” Third year Politics student Laura Jayne Baker, who wrote ‘Feminism?’ on the poster, responded by saying: “Despite great moves towards equality women still suffer and often feel inadequate if they somehow fail to conform to an unrealistic image of how women should look like to satisfy mainly men’s desires.
“The recent outburst of Conservative Party posters around Pleasance highlights such an image and attitude. I am not a radical feminist but I did feel offended by the posters. “To further learn that those assisting with the Conservatives’ freshers week stall were being encouraged to drink pints to attract more members makes me wonder how much of a masculine message was being employed, especially since only males manned the stall.” Contact email@example.com
Reverend resigns over creationism row Mairi Gordon THE REVEREND Michael Reiss has resigned from his position as the Director of Education for the Royal Society, Britain’s independent academy of science. His resignation follows a statement Reiss made at the British Association Festival of Science addressing how teachers should approach some pupils’ creationist beliefs. Reiss, a biologist and Anglican priest, advises science teachers to accept creationism as a worldview and not dismiss it purely as a misconception, saying, “I do believe in taking seriously and respectfully the concerns of students who do not accept the theory of evolution, while still introducing them to it.” He also says that though creationism or intelligent design lacks scientific basis students should still be allowed to raise doubts surrounding evolution. Reiss was careful to emphasize that creationism should in no way be given equal class time as evolution or presented as a scientific alternative. However his comments sparked controversy among Royal Society fellows and led to his resignation from the prestigious academy. The Royal Society states that while his comments may have been misinterpreted they have nonetheless damaged the Society’s reputation. The Royal Society has faced criticism for its reaction to Reverend Reiss’s comments. Even Richard Dawkins, a fellow of the Society and virulent anti-creationist, has compared their treatment of Reiss to that of a ‘witch-hunt’. Founded in 1660 the Royal Society aims to support scientists, influence policy and encourage public debate of scientific issues. It funds research projects throughout the United Kingdom including several at the University of Edinburgh. Professor of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, David Fergusson joint-lectures a course on the relationship between science and religion throughout history. He sympathizes with the Royal Society’s concern that teaching creationism or intelligent design in science classes could give the impression that these theories have scientific basis. “Judged as science, creationism does not merit exposure or treatment as an alternative hypothesis,” he says. However Professor Fergusson acknowledges the cultural significance of creationism, a belief to which a growing number of students and families subscribe. He says, “what needs to be taught is that religious and scientific understanding are not in competition but are different discourses that offer complementary descriptions of our world.” While Reverend Reiss’ resignation may have appeased concerned members of the Royal Society, the debate over how teachers should best address evolution and creationism is certain to continue. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 1 23.09.08
On Cloud Eight
Students campaign against coal
Eight works to find out what is beneath the well-packaged ELLA HICKSON, a former Student and pretty looking facade of our editor, has won three prestigious generation.” Fringe awards for her first play, Eight. Hickson, who edited Student’s creative writing supplementTontine last year won a Fringe-First award, The Scotsman’s top-accolade for new writing, as well as the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award this August. She also picked up NSDF Edinburgh Emerging Artists award. Her play, which sees the audience vote for four out of a possible eight monologues about British modern life, will now transfer to London, before embarking on an Hickson also stated that she’s all-expenses paid week-long run in looking forward to taking the play New York in January. to New York and maintains that Hickson, who cried when she preparations are going well: found out she had won a Fringe-First, “We are re-arranging things quite told Student that her Festival success a bit as we are using a different was only just beginning to sink in: format which will need a lot of re”It’s actually only really becoming a jigging in terms of spectacle - but reality now” she said. we’re on it” she said. Speaking about her winning play Carol Tambor, founder of the Best Hickson said: “Eight is about our of Edinburgh Award heaped praise generation. We’ve been dismissed on Hickson and her play stating: for a long time as brainless, drug“Ella is fearless in describing guzzling and gimmicky. Now we are characters you’ve never come across all graduating into a recession and it’s before. Surely you’ve never heard going to test our steel - we’re going inner voices speak so eloquently.” to have to prove that there is more than brit-pop nonchalance about us.
“We’re going to have to prove that there is more than brit-pop nonchalence about us” Ella Hickson, writer of Eight
Sara D’Arcy STUDENTS FROM the University of Edinburgh have taken a more direct approach to combating global warming by joining 1,500 protesters at the site of a proposed coal plant in Kingsnorth, Kent. The German company E.ON intends to replace the existing power station with a £1.5 billion coal fuelled plant and build a further six coal plants
across the UK if permission is granted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Critics have argued that the Kingsnorth plant alone would emit between six and eight million tons of carbon per year, making Britain’s target of reducing carbon emissions nigh on impossible and increasing the likelihood that global warming will spiral out of control. However, Climate Camp has been heavily criticised not only by the
authorities, but also by the media for justifying criminal activity with a moral and selfless motive. Amanda Grimm, a University of Edinburgh student and a member of People and Planet, said that Climate Camp was “an amazing experience.” She continued: “Direct action is the best way to achieve social change by capturing media attention and creating public awareness”. Contact email@example.com
Week 1 23.09.08
It’s the Economist, Stupid On the site of an ancient market
place next to the old customs house where he worked, Smith looks towards his hometown of Kirkcaldy. Behind him, and further up the Royal Mile, sits David Hume, a close friend and influence on his writings.
The weight of the past is
highlighted on Smith’s shoulders by the use of drapery, and to his rear sits a plough referring to Smith’s work displacing an agricultural outlook on production.
Smith’s hand rests on a globe and
is partially obscured by his academic gown - an invisible hand.
His neckware is inspired by
Thomas Jefferson’s style and his wig is based on that of George Washington, an acknowledgment of Smith’s support for free trade with the colonies.
Neil Simpson examines Scotland’s laissezfaire attitude to one of its great thinkers.
HY GREYFRIARS Bobby? Where is the appeal in this pitiable little mutt, famous for little else than his unflinching loyalty to his master’s corpse? Despite the fact that the runt accomplished little more than dying of exposure, tourists insist on flocking to the shrine of the confused canine, often overlooking the subtler shades of Scotland’s past for plaid pipers, whisky and ghost tours. A recently erected statue on the Royal Mile of the economist and philosopher, Adam Smith, will doubtless create few ripples beyond a handful of academics and bankers. This curious lack of deference for the father of modern economics is a peculiar facet of Scottish thinking. However, wherever we hail from, we would do well to spend a moment in the presence of one of civilization’s
greatest minds, and consider his monumental impact on the world we live in today. Despite being abducted at the age of three, Smith led, in his own
Smith had a lifelong mistrust of figures and statistics words, an ‘extremely uniform’ life. Born in Kirkcaldy, he attended the University of Glasgow, in a city described at the time by Daniel Defoe as “one of the cleanliest, most beautiful, and best built... in Great Britain.” Throughout his life Smith was a friend of the great thinkers such as Hume, Robertson
and Black, and despite his unionism and Hanoverian leanings, he readily conversed with Tories and Jacobite alike. Yet he must have been an odd companion; Alexander Carlyle noted him “the most absent man in company…moving his lips and talking to himself, and smiling, in the midst of large company.” Smith, in spite of his later career as a customs official on the Royal Mile, was no tight-fisted Scot: returning his student’s fees for having to cut short their session, despite their cries of protest. Intellectually Smith is a greatly misunderstood figure. Despite his status as the father of modern economics, he failed to stay awake in the only lecture on political economy he ever attended, and later complained of suffering from a ‘violent fit of laziness’ while at
Oxford. He also had a life-long mistrust of figures and statistics, and his famous idea of an ‘invisible hand’ guiding the economy only appears three times in his work. It is also held, wrongly, that Smith was an exponent of the sort of laissez-faire economics that led to the slums, deprivation and satanic mills of the Victorian city. He never used ‘laissez-faire’ in his writings, and was aware that (in certain circumstances) when a private individual fails the state should intervene. Even the idea of a division of labour, where a specialisation of skills increases productivity, was not unique to Smith: dating as far back as Plato. What sets Smith apart was his belief that men are essentially created equal, and that the division of labour results in new skills developing, rather than punishing the unskilled worker. Smith died in 1790 and it is worth asking why it has taken this long for him to be recognised. Fundamentally he dissected a subject invisible to many: utterly intangible when compared to a steam engine or winning a battle. However his forward thinking conflicted with his own time: his rational and secular beliefs clashed with many of the more religious, patriotic, and action-orientated Victorian virtues. Thus the explorer, missionary and forerunner to the modern action-hero, David Livingston, was duly honoured, as were various politicians, inventors and monarchs. The novelist Walter Scott triumphed on an epic scale, securing a vast gothic memorial on Princess Street. His appeal lies in the imagination, and appeals to hearts rather than minds. Grim-faced Smith was much more grounded in empirical observation and reason. Writing at a time of great philosophical upheaval, colonial tension and economic uncertainty in Scotland, Smith advanced practical solutions for contemporary problems. As a result, while Scott was hobnobbing with Hanoverians and writing tales of legendary warriors, Smith advocated a form of independence for the American colonies, as well as opposing oppressive taxes which were a hallmark of British trade. All this made Smith a dangerous mind, especially considering his closeness to enfant terrible David Hume. His assertion of being ‘an American in my principles’ also
highlights a radically Whig sentiment which did not endear him to the monarchy. Certainly if given the choice today between a statue of a popular, yet uncontroversial author (say, J.K.Rowling) or a figure of controversy and the subject of much debate (like Richard Dawkins), most councils would be forgiven for choosing the less controversial former over the firebrand latter. Adam Smith has undergone something of a renaissance of late. In the 1970s he gave inspiration to
Smith did say that “half the people standing… at the Cross of Edinburgh [are] mad without knowing it.” groups of free-market supporters, grappling with the problem of spiralling oil prices and recession, which would later make up the Thatcher cabinet. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, lauded the Wealth of Nations as ‘one of the great achievements of intellectual history.’ For any socialists still reading, Smith’s work The Theory of Moral Sentiments has been claimed by the left, with Gordon Brown adding his praise. Certainly Smith’s encouragement of tolerance of ideas over fundamentalism, critical enquiry over dogma and free trade over mercantilism is as relevant today as ever. He will undoubtedly continue to be overlooked by many in favour of Sherlock Holmes, Greyfriars Bobby and Sir Walter Scott, but then Smith did say that “half the people standing…at the Cross of Edinburgh [are] mad without knowing it.” His impact on the modern world has been profound, permeating far beyond his own age. Hopefully, even though few could place his name or face or statue, his ideas will continue to resonate in a world where protectionism, fundamentalist beliefs and nationalist saber-rattling pose a threat to an enlightened heritage. The Adam Smith statue can be found in Parliament Square on the Royal Mile
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Week 1 23.09.08
Wherever You Lay Your Hat Why visit Fabhatrix? Well, off the top of Rosie Nolan’s head...
HE SARTORIALLY minded Student reader may already be acquainted with the charms proffered by Grassmarket boutique Fabhatrix. Having never suited hats of any description, with the shape of head and hair colour which might challenge the finest milliner, I am the breed of shopper who admires hat-wearers from afar, marvelling at their aplomb, casual confidence and effortless ability to glide through doorways in the most extravagant creations without once becoming ensnared by a rogue feather. Therefore, I had only ever visited Fabhatrix in a detached, wistful capacity. Fawns Reid, the owner, designer and creator of the Fabhatrix label,
opened the boutique in 2002, having previously run a successful millinery stall since 1983. Expanding her business to occupy an ornate yet understated Edinburgh ground-floor shop has clearly been a natural transition for the Interior Design graduate, who recalls that her ambition to design headwear was ignited at seventeen years old, by the bonnet-sporting Ingalls family in Little House on The Prairie. The shop itself is remarkable; devoted purely to hats and head ornaments, it’s the class of independent Edinburgh store which is all too rare. Tellingly, when asked about where she finds inspiration for some of her designs, Reid cites the people of the city itself, explaining that she gains much insight into what potential customers might be attracted to, simply by watching and wondering about the clothes and attitudes of passersby. This peopleoriented motivation is evident in the relaxed and friendly shop interior, where the selection of large mirrors and jaunty presentation tacitly invite customers to enjoy the exotic hats on display “All of the Fabhatrix label hats are
created downstairs, so it’s really quite simple for us to make a hat to certain specifications,” Reid says of the
Frivolous? “A lot of people might think it’s extortionate to pay £80 for a top hat... but you’ll never get too fat for your hat!” boutique’s custom-design service. “We get a lot of customers who want hats for special occasions, such as the races, and particularly graduations. Festival time is popular, too. Phil Jupitus comes in regularly, and is always kind enough to tell interviewers that he buys his hats here.” Indeed, the Never Mind The Buzzcocks team captain isn’t the only public figure who favours Fabhatrix. Other unlikely frequenters include Mock The Week host, Dara O’Brien; Chas ‘n’ Dave, Dido and, as Reid smiles, “most of the River City cast
can be seen hanging out around here.” Certainly, this peculiar revelation doesn’t seem to tally with my previous unexciting sightings of the inhabitants of fictional Shieldinch, but maybe there’s a style Renaissance being planned. Somewhat expectedly, the millinery industry’s associations with occasionwear and formality prompts the question of cost; no matter how spectacular the hats or hair ornaments in Fabhatrix, can students really afford to lavish part of their disposable income on a garment many may consider frivolous? “I see hats as an investment,” Reid replies. “A lot of people might think it’s extortionate to pay £80 for a tophat on Halloween, but what they don’t realise is, that same top-hat will still last them until Halloween a decade from now. You’ll never get too fat for your hat.” So true. And with prices beginning at £10 for a tweed cap, or £25 for one of the Fabhatrix label’s more elaborate pieces, hat-wearing need no longer be the reserve of the rich and (slightly) famous. Despite my oddly-shaped head, I become persuaded that it’s an unexplored domain of style I could
really get immersed in, a conviction further cemented by Reid’s expertise in making headwear to suit her customers. So it’s merely a matter of selecting the hat which will start my collection. The Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired saucer bonnets are exquisite but not entirely practical. I have a bad feeling that the vertical cobalt swoop of feathers and felt – though stunning on a faceless white head with razor cheekbones – will be less so on me. The choice is vast, colourful and diverse; a decision could take hours. My gazes alights on an Irn Bru helmet on display beside the window and all notions of suitability are dismissed; that hat belongs to me. And Fabhatrix, with wares which simultaneously exude class, eclecticism, recognition of current trends and motifs idiosyncratic to the culture of the city, truly belongs to Edinburgh.
Fabhatrix can be found at: 13 Cowgatehead, Edinburgh EH1 1JY or online at: www.fabhatrix.com
Photos: Rosie Nolan
Week 1 23.09.08
Actions speak louder than words: Guy Bromley urges us to campaign for better feedback
F YOU believe the Times league tables that the University of Edinburgh is ranked 23rd globally then surely it cannot be the worst university in the UK for feedback and student satisfaction? The results of the National Student Survey show that students at the University of Edinburgh are seriously dissatisfied with the feedback they are getting from their course. We are simply not getting enough feedback and if we do it often comes too late and fails to clarify where we’ve gone right and where we’ve gone wrong. The comments received from the markers can be so similar and yet the marks can be so different. Getting essays back too late and never getting feedback from exams makes improvements for the next piece of work or studying virtually impossible. Thus, Edinburgh’s rock bottom ranking doesn’t come as much of a surprise. How have other universities managed to improve student satisfaction on feedback while Edinburgh ratings have remained so low? Without committing vast additional resources to providing feedback, the turnaround time of essays and exams could be guaranteed, the detail and clarity of comments improved and exam scripts made available for viewing. If other universities can reach this goal why can’t ours? While these very basic actions would result in a marked improvement in the current feedback
system, something much more drastic will have to be done in the longer term. It’s my belief that the root cause of poor feedback is the secondary position that teaching has to research at this university and others like it. Being a top-flight academic brings prestige and glamour; from the international conferences, having your work published in journals and reports, to universities competing with each other to provide the facilities, funding and pay that a world-class academic needs. This is evident in our own top ranking departments. Informatics’ fantastic new building has been provided to ensure the school has a world-leading environment in which to perform its cutting edge research. But no teaching takes place here, because that would have required VAT to be charged to the building. The government is also conspiring against allowing teaching the position it deserves as an equal partner to research. Without recognition, reward and esteem the ceiling on feedback levels is going to keep students dissatisfied. Academics need to be shown that if they work hard to be good teachers in providing their students with a great learning experience, that includes detailed feedback on their work, they will find prestige equal to research. No longer should top academics be rewarded with promotion by doing the least in terms of teaching and non-research based
activities; the ability to disseminate information to a wide audience should be viewed as just as important as advancing it. The University administration is extremely embarrassed by this year’s results and has a strong resolve to ensure schools make the drastic changes necessary to ensure that feedback improves. But in order to capitalise on this resolve, we need to remain vocal in our dissatisfaction. If you think you’re one to constructively voice these concerns then whack your hand up when tutors ask for class reps in the coming weeks. You will have the possibility of really making a difference to feedback quality in your school and also save the awkward silence when class rep ‘elections’ take place. Speaking with the people in charge of running your course is so much better than filling in a course questionnaire given to you in the last two minutes of a lecture anyway; questionnaires can be ignored. Better feedback ultimately means that you can improve your marks and in the long term could be the difference between one degree classification and the other. The challenge lies with all of us to see that improvements aren’t just experienced by the next generation of students, but that immediate action is taken across the University today. Illustration: Zeenath Islam
Question Time It’s all change in Scottish party politics at Holyrood as Neil Simpson and Anne Miller explore
S DARKNESS descends, the festival revellers crawl home to sunnier climes, but the Scottish Parliament is gearing up for its next session. Gloomy financial clouds have obscured brighter times and the winds of political change have led to substantial changes in the party line ups; only the dour Edinburgh climate remains constant. Since the summer break, both Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats have elected new leaders and Green Party co-leader Robin Harper recently announced his plans to step down in November. Stepping up to the helm of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Tavish Scott, MSP for Shetland, has pledged to give his party a more dominant presence. The fair-haired former Transport Minister has followed the Liberal Democrat line on civil liberties by voicing his opposition to proposed plans to restrict the sale of alcohol to under 21s. Filling the post of Labour leader in the Scottish Parliament is Iain Gray, MSP for East Lothian. Scrapping the previous Labour manifesto, he has promised a fresh start for his party with the focus moving towards the 2011 manifesto (an aim which will be greatly aided
by J.K.Rowling’s donation of £1m this week). Coming from a Union background, Mr Gray has attracted a great amount of support from Scottish strands of his party, and has tried to distance himself from Westminster. First Minister’s Question time last Thursday provided a great opportunity to witness Alex Salmond’s oratory skills and see how Iain Gray and Tavish Scott fared as they participated in their first and second FMQs respectively.The sharp arguments, pointed comments and witty asides of parties battling for
quarter of all new current accounts were opened with the bank. However the merger with Lloyds has prompted fears that the company’s 72,000 staff may be at risk. It has been suggested – and refuted by the Lloyds chairman – that as many as 40,000 jobs may be scrapped. The Scottish Parliament presented a united front on the merger of HBOS with Lloyds; the major parties vowing to support those affected by the news, whilst condemning short sellers for exacerbating the bank’s difficulties. Iain
no means inevitable. Others referred to financial ‘buccaneering.’ The First Minister also drew attention to media exaggeration, which he argued, was fuelling much of the panic. Yet, as some analysts have pointed out, there was no pronounced ‘shorting’ prior to HBOS’s collapse. George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, also noted that the practice of short selling was ‘more of a symptom of the problem than the cause.’ This aside, the FSA took the step of banning short selling on Friday 19 September.
shorting verb. Selling a security, for example a share, which you do not currently own, in the expectation that
the price of the security will fall by the time it has been delivered to its new owner. If the security’s value does fall, it can then be bought back at a lower price – thus giving you a profit. If the price rises you lose out. Whether a price of a share rises or falls is often closely connected to the media and market rumours. the public’s attention were lacking as the sudden collapse of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) dominated proceedings. The collapse in HBOS shares has led to a government-backed initiative to merge the Edinburgh based bank with Lloyds TSB. With 22 million customers and 1.2 million shareholders throughout the UK, HBOS is the UK’s largest savings institute. Last year a
Gray’s comment that Scotland is not immune from the financial storms was echoed by Alex Salmond, who pointed out that anyone can be affected. He stressed that HBOS was not a failing bank but had simply been brought down by malicious rumours. Salmond also blamed ‘successive waves of speculators’ and argued that HBOS was a ‘well funded and well founded bank’ and its collapse was by
However after the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the US, as well as the bankruptcy of Lehman Bothers, it is perfectly legitimate for short sellers to speculate on the future of a bank with largest amount of outstanding home loans in UK. Indeed the value of HBOS shares had been in gradual decline since October 2007, when they were at 911p. This then fell to 844p on November the 1st and by
March 3rd 2008 they had again fallen to 558p. June 2nd saw them fall to 360p and flattening out until the final nosedive in September. As a result it would be wrong to argue HBOS was in perfect health, and has been ruthlessly ambushed by a pack of naked shortselling savages. Its decline had rather been a long and painful process reaching back into mid-2007. Nevertheless, as the new faces adjust to their roles at Holyrood, many are keeping their political powder dry for the moment. The speed with which events have unfolded means that no one will be venturing above the parapet until the financial turmoil has subsided. Consequently a political consensus has emerged at Holyrood, in deriding the vulture like activities of short-sellers. Yet a bank of the size of HBOS is not brought low by vultures, and while it may be politically astute to condemn the scavengers, it misses the wider global issues. Declining share prices in HBOS date back to 2007, during the US subprime mortgage debacle, and although they may have delivered a killer blow, short-sellers did not precipitate the storm. firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 1 23.09.08
Race Relations Lee Bunce
they travel down to Florida, or the Mexican coast, for a week of carnage. Once graduated, however, they tend to calm down, at least to the extent that the rowdy reputation remains held by the students. In Britain, on the other hand, the majority of this type of holiday-goer are young professionals, who work hard in the real world, and then play hard during their week of unrestrained release. Britain is far from the only nation known for its alcoholism. However, this trend, spurred on by cheap flights and packaged holidays, is problematic because it involves Britons disgracing themselves on foreign soil. Furthermore, the media, both British and international, are all too keen to report these horror stories and shock statistics. The result comes in the form of hostility from locals (residents of Malia have held an ‘antiBritish’ demonstration), and a sullied representation of the British abroad. This is not to say that we should stop drinking, or going on holiday. And, within reason, combining the two makes sense. But it seems that this attitude of continually excessive partying shows a disregard for other cultures. As a result, thanks to these binge-drinking ambassadors, the view of the young British public, a category encompassing students, is being damaged in the very countries that we choose to spend our holidays in.
HE NEWS that a undergraduate application of a white student is twice as likely to accepted than one from a black student could do considerable damage to our university’s reputation for diversity. But while statistics showing only 11 of the 3658 students admitted to the University of Edinburgh in 2007-just 0.3%-are indeed truly staggering, this time our university looks blameless. Indeed, where admissions tutors have so little information on the ethnic backgrounds of the applicants they assess, where interviews are not commonly practised, and where so few black students are applying to Edinburgh in the first place, it’s difficult to see just how the university could be at fault, at least when it comes to making offers. With nearly 50% of children of black or black-British ethnicity living in poverty in the UK according to government statistics-the average is around 30%-it’s clear that what these statistics reveal is not so much an issue of race, but one of poverty. The shockingly low number of black students in top universities is but one small part of a much more difficult and persistent question that plagues our country’s politicians and educational institutions: how do we get more young adults from less privileged backgrounds into our top universities? And when it comes to answering it, there is often only one answer.The University of Edinburgh already enforces positive discrimination when considering applicants from schools where a relatively small proportion of students progress to university, and where neither of their parents has previously attended university. Perhaps more controversially, the university also discriminates in favour of applicants not only from Scotland, but also parts of northern England. In its 2009 undergraduate prospectus the university pledges that when deciding offers ‘a holistic decision is made with regard to the individual academic achievement, taking into account the context and circumstances in which these were achieved’. And in light of a recent study by the University of Warwick, which suggests that many black students are being subjected to institutional racism in UK schools, with teachers routinely underestimating their ability and thus stifling their potential, it is clear that there is also something about being black that deserves extra consideration from admissions. While Edinburgh may not be to blame for its shortage of black students, there is a lot it can do to correct it. If Edinburgh wants to avoid some very bad PR , it’s high time it updated its admissions policy.
Barmy Brits Abroad Henry Birkbeck examines the consequences of the British holiday trend
N THE past decade, the idea of a holiday has changed for many Europeans. Thanks largely to the success of low-cost airlines and the rise of all-inclusive holiday packages, trips abroad no longer have to be expensive and complicated journeys into unfamiliar cultures. Many Britons have reveled in this, and tourist resorts have been purpose-built by Brits, for Brits. Nowadays, it is very easy to hop on a cheap flight to somewhere in the Mediterranean, and essentially spend a week in a British microcosm with palm trees. We’ve all heard of (or visited) these little sunburnt colonies: Magaluf, Ibiza,Tenerife, Corfu, Malia, Kos. The list goes on. These are places with two main attractions: sun, and booze. Britons flock to these places, and take their drinking habits with them. And why not? They are, after all, on holiday. Well, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has released some statistics that illuminate the downside to this holidaying culture. Between April 2006 and March 2007, 1,591 Britons died while on holiday in Spain, and a further 695 were hospitalized. On a survey of 15 holiday resorts, the total number of arrests had risen by 15.6 per cent since the previous year; the FCO lists the cause as ‘excessive drinking’. This data may now be outdated, but this summer has seen plenty of stories that don’t indicate any
change, for example a flight from Kos to Manchester having to declare Mayday and divert to Frankfurt after drunk British women tried to open the cabin door at 30,000 feet. And in Magaluf, a drunken young British man attempted to jump from a fourth floor hotel balcony into a pool, missed, and narrowly lived to tell the tale. Worse still, the 20-yearold Brit who returned from a night clubbing in Malia and promptly gave birth, despite previously claiming she wasn’t pregnant. The baby was found dead, and the woman has been charged with infanticide.
British tourists are getting a worldwide reputation as mindless, unruly louts” These may be at the more dramatic end of the holiday horror stories, but they only add to the infamous reputation that British tourists are getting worldwide as mindless, unruly louts. Other countries may have their own versions of this style of holiday, and their own embarrassing statistics, but it is Britain that is most publicly shamed. Obviously these sensational, drunken disaster stories are circulated within the British press, but now - sadly - they are receiving international audiences, too. The New York Times ran an
article in August specifically about Brits abroad, placing emphasis on the aforementioned behaviour. The article quotes the mayor of Malia, Konstantinos Lagoudakis, who singles out the British as the worst of all tourist nationalities, and warns that the British government should do something to protect its country’s tarnished name. It seems our international reputation is being tainted, and the finger is repeatedly pointed at the 18-30 age group. But is that a fair accusation? If so, British students , the vast majority of which fit into this age group, would arguably account for a large chunk of these national embarrassments. Undoubtedly, students aplenty head for sunnier shores each summer, with the primary objective of getting completely trolleyed with their mates. However, not all students fall prey to this national habit. STA Travel’s most p o p u l a r destinations are all further afield than said resorts; in their lengthy summer holidays, many British students tend to journey to the US., Central and Eastern Europe, or Southeast Asia. Arguably, when so many students enjoy heavy drinking and partying lifestyles during the term-time, they perhaps seek different pleasures when they travel. What is happening, then, is an odd inversion of what occurs in other cultures. Take America, for example: college kids are renowned for their infamous Spring Breaks, in which
The ﬁrst installment of a gripping horror story...the even more terrifying thought of turning into Jeremy Clarkson...and some of the worst “Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.” lyrics in popular music history.
The Reflection Xenia Huyton He sat at the foot of the single bed, the mattress sagging to the dusty carpet below like the heavy belly of a pregnant woman, staring into the towering, old, chipped mirror in front of him. Cameron. A child of six, with rosy, plump cheeks and tufty ashblonde hair wearing knee-high grey school socks, shorts and a starched shirt, stained like the shirts of all little boys. His innocent baby blue eyes penetrated the smooth, cold surface of the mirror with their intense, steady gaze. Now he narrowed them, as children do when trying to work out whether Santa really is real or whether mummy and daddy are telling tales. He opened his mouth and breathed a nursery rhyme mummy taught him the night before. Before she had her accident. -“Georgie Porgie puddin’ an’ pie, Kissed the girls and made em cry, When the boys came out to play Georgie Porgie ran away.” A normal child. Apart from the fact that the stains on his shirt were not like the ones on the clothes of his classmates which were the result of a rather overly enthusiastic consumption of dinner or breakfast. The red stains on Cameron’s school uniform, which were already drying and becoming an unpleasant brown colour, were mummy’s blood. Dr. Jason Koster sat in his office at Spring Grove psychiatric hospital in Williamsberg Virginia revising the medical files of his “troubled” patients. He never referred to them as loonies, crazies. He thought and spoke of them in terms that were politically correct. He was a deeply religious man, a former priest, small in both size and character. His belief that we were all God’s creatures held sway even at times when the “creatures” whom this building was built to accommodate displayed behaviour that placed them into the ranks of the antichrist. This very FAITH that he possessed in people whom society had given up on a long time ago, made him a much admired psychiatrist both by his colleagues and by the medical world in general. Now as he sat at his uncluttered, polished desk, examining the progress (or lack thereof) of the patients, his soul felt almost torn apart by his desire to help
them. There came the sharp tap on the door and Steve Towers came in. He was a middle aged man, with distinguished features and an easy smile. His decade long friendship with Jason, originally built on Tower’s admiration of him, became a solid, flawless bond, which, in this place of mental torture, confusion and depression only grew stronger. An immortal flame fuelled by the bitter elements around it. -“Hullo my friend, re-reading the horror novels are we?” said Steve smiling at Jason who shook his head sadly, placing the files he had been observing, carefully onto the desk. -I just don’t know what else to do. Mrs Carthright does not seem to be getting any better… -The woman with MPD ? -Yes…I just don’t understand why we are not making progress.- Jason looked bemusedly out of the window, through which the weak November light still shone, as if trying to obtain the answer from the atmosphere. Steve observed his friend. -What I don’t understand is why you are gettin’ so down about this. You know as well as I do that the answer will come eventually. For you that’s the inevitable outcome of any case. How many patients have left these damned walls thanks to you? Not one of the cases you were in charge of has proved to be an unreachable peak. I wouldn’t worry about it buddy. The answer is just around the next corner. Jason smiled weakly and gently placed the file of Mrs Carthright (1 and 2) onto the desk. -Oh I suppose you are right. So what’s the news? Who else was forced to take up residency in Spring Break. -Ah-said Steve, his features twisting into a troubled and pensive expression, one that only visited his face when he was deeply effected by something. -Now to describe this case as “disturbing” would be a gruesome understatement. Jason frowned and took off his glasses, a gesture which signified his attention was now focused on one matter and one matter alone...
To be continued in the next Tontine...
Here’s another horror story: I’m turning into Jeremy Clarkson So it goes like this: I was away for the summer; I mean, away from anywhere I’d call home, on my own. Which was great. I didn’t have to hear those two effing words for the nine hundreth time; you know, the words which would front a breakfast cereal if it had numbers instead of flakes or little hoops inside. Talking of which, how much is a box of cereal these days? I mean, would I get change out of a twenty quid note? I wouldn’t know, I don’t really like cereal. I prefer some toast in the morning. Where was I? Oh yes. I had deliberately exiled myself from a climate in which everyone moans about the weather and having to cut down from three to two pints of milk a week. So basically, it was a really tough decision. I went to Vietnam to teach, and Vietnam turned out to be – pretty much – the inverse of Britain. Let me explain. There are way too may cars in Britain. Cars, to us, are almost like second homes, that’s how much time we spend in them (especially if, like me, you’ve driven on the M25 on a Friday afternoon). Cars do more than take us from one destination to another; they speak about bank balances, personalities and very small cocks. No, I’m not turning into Jeremy Clarkson here, I’m just telling it like it is. Cars aren’t just practical, they’re more than that. They’re important to British culture, you could say. Shit, I am turning into Jeremy Clarkson. You don’t see many cars in Vietnam because they’re taxed off the roads. What you do see are motorbikes. Shitloads of them, swarming in invisible lines, snaking through the tiniest of gaps. There are, perhaps, too many motorbikes in Vietnam. Motorbikes, to the Vietnamese, though, aren’t anything other than slight and speedy machines. They don’t have personalised number plates, and they don’t tell you about the size of their owner’s bank balance. Which brings me on to the subject of Vietnamese and British people, and how they differ. We Brits like to feel unique. We hate it when someone we know – or worse, a stranger - has the same shirt, jumper, or duvet set as us. We freak out. Our nightmare situation is to turn up to work in an office where every single one of our colleagues has the same pin-stripe suit on, the same briefcase, and the same type of apple in the exact same plastic lunch-box. We’d take off our white iPod headphones, and hear the faint sound of... shiiiit! She’s been listening to Wiley, too! Argh! Communism! Etc. As you can tell, this would be harrowing. But it probably happens every day in Vietnam. Yep, Wiley’s massive. The fact is, the Vietnamese are happy dressing in the same way. They’re also happy to have similar haircuts, and similar homes. And I like that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get a perm and that denim jacket I’ve been saving all my pennies for. - Jonny Stockford
The Forgotten Man
Please Sir, Can I Have Anything At All? I want to make love to Cat Power under a piano and call her Chan as a party continues around us somewhere cool in New York and we hide and have to bite our lips.
It was a sad state of affairs. Everything was these days. He was verging on fifty years old and he just couldn’t bring himself to argue with the world any more. It was often said that he could argue with himself in an empty room, but for Anthony all the fun in disputes was proving that he was right. And he was. Always. Sunday morning and he awoke in his room, in that space in his bed next to where his wife used to lie. ‘Before she decided I was aggressive, the bitch.’ Yawning and bemoaning the fact that he was still alive, he grabbed his housecoat from the pile of Godknowswhat on the bedside table and sat himself up in bed. ‘Right, what next?’ Pulling the moth-eaten garment around him and tying it loosely around his waist, Anthony made his way down the staircase where his children used to play. ‘Before they decided I was boring, the bastards.’ Now it must be noted that because it was Sunday there would naturally be no post on his doormat. But he still found reason to curse the Royal Mail who apparently had been losing his post for years now.
I want to be portrayed in a comic book in a big coat in the wind or in someone else’s seminal novel. I want to be impotent or infertile just for an excuse or as an interesting fact to tell people at parties. That’s why I smoke; hoping it will live up to the claims on the packet. I want to buy a Hammond organ and learn how to play Highway Star or The Changeling on it and figure out all the switches and toggles and gears. I want to see a person driven mad and scream and keep screaming, angry and/or confused and/or drunk at the world. I want to be able to induce the perfect hangover without fear of overor underdoing it and ending up sober or terrified.
Into the livingroom and his lips trembled into a small curve. In comparison to a cat, Anthony’s ‘smile’ was Cheshire, but if he chose to show himself to the outside world
I want to hear the sound an orchestra makes running away from a fire in Princes Street Gardens, and record the echoes, dings, and scrapes. I want to see a dog run out of a butcher’s with a string of sausages in its mouth, free and happy, like in the Beano, or actually watch someone actually slip on a banana peel actually, in real life. I want someone to give me the chance to do a bit of advertising work, just so I can tell them to fuck off and stick it up their arse and eat shit and die with a grin on my face.
- Chris Lindores
My Elder Wood Heart When I look back over my life I think of my heart like the trunk of a tree. If you were to cut it open, at the halfway point, you would find fragile wine-red lines, tracing contours, the history of my love. Fractured silhouettes draw stories from the mouths of the dead, of those that I loved but eventually left. Burgundy processions run syrupy from the past, one-month affairs and dalliances with lust. Ruby orbits usher me back, to all those faces grown cinnamon with rust. Then there is you. You, my triumph. The one that I fought for. Bold, crimson and proud you encircle all of me, taking me through from youth to the scarlet hue of my last days spent with you. And your kisses rain down like petals upon my cheeks. - Kathryn Lamble
Week 1 23.09.08
olly had always lovedclimbing hills and trees. Her mum always told her father she was a tomboy, and he wouldn’t disagree when she came back grinning from ear to ear with bits of bracken in her hair, grass stains on her dress and grazes all over her knees. “It’s just more fun to jump and dance in the breeze,” she said, “than be indoors playing with a little doll’s house. That’s not for me, and I don’t think it ever will be. I don’t mind the rain at all, or the wind, or the snow, as long as I’m with animals and plants and life that crawls, or squirms and frets about in the earth, I’m fine. Nothing happens in our home; the dishes don’t squeak without you cleaning them, and the stairs don’t creak without you climbing them. Outdoors everything moves.” One Sunday Polly ran – as she often did, and fast at that - out of the front door of her home, across the stream not far from her neighbour’s place, jumping on the round, wet, polished stones,as she headed out North towards her favourite place, the Red Mountains, so called
anyone else would suppose he had some kind of nervous twitch. Whether or not cats know what a human’s smile means, his family were happy to see him nonetheless. Huxley and Austen and Orwell and William all came rushing towards him, sprinting from their sleeping places on the bookshelves. Anthony was always one to pretend he was an avid reader, especially back in those days when he still taught but knew little of anything in particular at all. Tiny scrutinising eyes spotted his favourite family member, sulking and stretching across the greying sofa; Mr Smith. If the cats had musicals when Anthony was asleep, Mr Smith would be the oldest one, the wisest one, the one that was cunning in his day. Reality was though that he never was. He was brooding and callous and incredibly boring. So much like Anthony that it was obvious that he was the special favourite. The kitchen was most probably the cleanest place in the house. Anthony never cooked much more that a microwave meal, so the pots and pans and plates were never needed to be used. Just the cutlery. ‘And the stupid bitch took all that with her, too.’ Fork, knife and spoon lay in the draw. ‘So where the hell is the tin opener?’ The tin opener was reserved for that cats’ food only; the
The Watcher Sonya Hallett
Polly and the
because when the snow melted off them, a vivid reddish brown rock would appear underneath. When she stood on the Red Mountains, the land opened up like a picnic, the ground seeming to swell around her and fall towards the distant horizon. Among the alpine anemones and aquilegia on the inclines, were bright butterflies, red squirrels and dall sheep. She had spotted caribou roaming in the tundra, eating tough grasses and the leaves of birches as the land had begun to prop up and her pace had eased. It was Jasper, one of several arctic foxes, who she had come to see. She scrambled over a small hillock and saw him drinking from the stream she had followed from nearby her home. Jasper’s fur was whitening again having been a greyishbrown during the summer months. Polly whistled, and Jasper turned his head sharply. There was a pause for a half-second, and then he pushed off the ground with his hind legs and darted towards Polly. Their relationship only made sense to them; neither would speak much, but both always seemed to know where the
other was, and what they were thinking. So with Polly leading the way, and Jasper close behind, the two made their way up to the foot of the mountain. They climbed the gradually steeping rockface until they came to a plateau about eighty-five metres above the base. Here, they took a brief rest, as Polly was somewhat out of breath, and her ankles had begun to ache slightly. Jasper, even if he did fancy himself to be a mountain goat, was also in need of a lie down. It was only after a few minutes that they heard a groaning noise from a round the corner, followed by vibrations and rumblings through the earth beneath. A few seconds later there was a huge explosion of rubble, and Polly and Jasper leapt to a recess in the rockface for cover. They waited here trembling until the noise quietened and the shower of debris ceased. Treading with trepidation, they carefully made their way round the corner of the rockface to the point where the explosion had come from. Polly gasped and took a huge gulp of air
at what she saw: for right before their eyes was a monster, and not just any monster. It was the mountain itself which had awakened in their presence, its towering body still crumbling in pieces as it stretched noisily above. Polly could see its head and arms covered with purple hairs that she recognised as wildflowers and leafy grasses. As she stared up, the monster’s mouth turned in to a slow, lazy grin, its round eyes shining back at hers. He seemed like a very nice monster to Polly, and she grinned back. Jasper, still behind here, was frozen in position, his front-left paw raised and his eyes large and focused on the beast. “He won’t hurt us, Jasper! Look, he’s smiling at you.” Jasper slowly lowered his paw and the two made their way round the monster. “What, do you think he can catch us?” she said, laughing. Later that day, as night fell and Polly was sitting in her livingroom with her parents, she opened her mouth to tell them what she had seen, but quickly closed it and thought better of it. “They would call me crazy,” she thought. - Jonny Stockford
- Bethany Anderson
This Is Our City
Rain, hail or shine he is always there, watching the tourists as they flit from stone to stone. They rarely notice him, or if they do never question his attendance, thinking him the same as themselves. He peers at them from behind that winged edifice that is the last resting place of a great man, born into privilege, who died in poverty. In the summer he stands in the leafy shade of the avenues beside the eerie monuments, watching the sun as it dances on the leaves. Those who notice him never remember him. To them he is as faceless as those weathered statues against which he reclines; a ghost with a heartbeat but no more real because of it. At night he disappears but he is always there the next morning. No one ever sees him leave, but then no one ever sees him enter. He merely seems to blink in and out of existence with the opening and shutting of those huge iron gates. But there are those who know him. The tramp lady who sits on the benches in the spring and throws mouldy bread to the birds. The old man who visits his family there every day and sings to himself as he walks. They know him, although they never speak of him. But they know that, were he to leave, this place would no longer be the same. Someone who caught sight of him once thought he might be an artist. He could be. There is something more bohemian than homeless in his appearance. But no one has ever seen him carry so much as a pencil. Besides, no one really cares and that is the way he likes it. To be left alone with whatever thoughts flit through his mind as he drifts between the grave markers is as much as he has ever wanted. Perhaps one day he will move on, but it is doubtful. “Graveyard needs its ghosts,” says the tramp lady and she is right. In a hundred years from now he will still be there. He may have changed a lot by then, or perhaps not at all. But he will still be there, watching, because that is all he is.
very best for his most beloved and all that. Tesco Value cat food was sitting in small dishes across the floor, but Mr Smith sat on the worktop, licking at his Felix feed while Anthony made his coffee around him. Anthony would sit for the rest of the day on the sofa with his family, watching the news so that he didn’t forget that other people did exist, and so that he could find some reason to moan about people who couldn’t hear him. He would put on The Smiths and realise that although he was alone it didn’t really matter because everyone was anyway. His new family loved him, and he supposed that was enough. It would bore me to write any more of Anthony as there is nothing more to say. Not just a lazy Sunday, as his days were always like this, except that some days he might wash. The son and the heir of nothing in particular, soon would always be now for Anthony. And he would always be aware that the keen creative writing student he once taught had much more of a life than he could ever imagine. Anthony had learned his very own lesson; he really never had anything to write home about.
- Jennifer Bryce
Below his seat A city wakes Snacks and showers Leaves, and makes Its way to progress Buses: Bloodline Guardian Green Men, And coffee divine Below his seat Their minds expand Knowledge and theories Numerous, like sand Ingrained into them; And out they then go Making their way With all they now know Below his seat The city has changed: Grown and risen Though always the same For nothing changes In the Edinburgh air: Its cobbles and closes Will always be there Below his seat A city sleeps Unconsciously knowing That the big man will keep A watchful eye From up there, all alone: For this is our city And this is our home.
- Sarah Ford-Hutchinson
Week 1 23.09.08
The Backside Excruciatingly Bad (Read: Spankingly Brilliant) Lyrics in Music We asked a mangy fox on the street to listen to all of the following songs and comment. Here’s what he had to say.
(Dashboard Confessional, “Screaming Infidelities”)
“open your eyes, I see, your eyes are open” (Erasure, “Always”)
“I know, I know, for sure Ding ding dang ding ding ding don ding don dang” (Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Around The World”)
Mangy Fox: Eye opening.
MF: Wicked. I love Chinese music.
“I ain’t never seen an ass like that The way you move it, you make my pee-pee go ‘Doing-doing-doing’” (Eminem, “Ass Like That)
Read some Byron, Shelly and Keats Recited it over a Hip-Hop beat I’m having trouble saying what I mean With dead poets and drum machines (Natasha Bedingfield, “These Words”)
MF:...“A grasshopper with a spectacle walks over and hands me a cup of lukewarm coffee”? You set ‘em up Beefheart...
MF: I like Nat. Sometimes she helps me dig for scraps of meat in the rubbish bins.
You is fitter than the Spice Girls including the Ging’er Give it a shave, ‘cos me wanna be in yer (Ali G and Shaggy, “Me Julie”)
MF: That’s what I say to the missus everyday.
MF: Voice of a generation, innit. “I wish it was Sunday That’s my fun day My I-don’t-have-to-run day” (The Bangles, “Manic Monday”) MF: Was Paula Radcliffe really in The Bangles? Fuck me. “My panty line shows Got a run in my hose My hair went flat Man, I hate that” (Shania Twain “Honey I’m Home”)
She made me laugh I got her autograph She done it with a doctor on a helicopter She’s sniffin in her tissue Sellin’ the Big Issue (Oasis, “Supersonic”) MF: That’s nothin’. I’ve done it with a badger, in a field.
Touch my bum This is life (The Cheeky Girls, “Touch My Bum”) MF: Gay. “Making love to a vampire with a monkey on my knee” (Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, “Making Love to a Vampire with a Monkey on My Knee”)
MF: This is pretty romantic. Many thanks to the mangy fox, who was last seen having a dump in my neighbour’s back garden. - Jonny Stockford
Snippets of conversations heard in Edinburgh over the past week “You know what? It’s really difficult to own 4 houses and 8 cars these days...” “Hiya!” “Alright?” “Yeah, awesome, thanks! Did you have a good summer?!” “Nah, it was wank.” “Oh.” “I’ve got a wardrobe stocked full of baked beans!” “Don’t you mean a larder?” “Oh, the larder’s full, too!” “What are you going to wear then?” “I was thinking of dressing as the tin man.” Young boy: “I am Jesus! I am Jesus!” Embarassed Mum: “Stop saying that, David!” Young boy, pointing to bearded man: “He is Jesus! He is Jesus!” “I’m bored of saying ‘Oh my God.’” “Okay. Explain, please.” “I’m now saying ‘Oh my actual God!’” “But...why? Are you trying to be unique or something?’” “Well, yeah. But I’m also now a believer. And I wanted to articulate that.” “I can think of better ways.” “Such as...?” “Joining a Christian community.” “Boring.” “Then I thought that if I asked her out she would think that I think that she thinks that I think that she loves me.” “Wait a minute. That’s too much thinking for any sane human being.”
MF: This is more than enough evidence for me to say with absolute certainty that Shania is related to Mark Twain.
“I mean, he’s really cute in that way that makes you want to hit him with a piano.” “How could you possibly hit someone with a piano?” “Grow massive hands?”
“Young, black and famous With money hangin’ Out the anus” (Puff Daddy and Mase, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down”)
“Do you dance to Hip-Hop?” “I’m too white for that.” “I can dance and I’m white.” “But you’re Russian. There are no black people in Russia.”
MF: Have you got a bit of manky chicken I could nibble on? “Your hair, It’s everywhere” Don’t mess with the mangy fox, for he’ll zap you with his laser beams
Week 1 23.09.08
SCOTTISH STUDENT NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2007
Just another statistic
Since 1887 - The UK’ s oldest student newspaper
A Black and White Issue THE NEWS that a white undergraduate is almost twice as likely to be accepted into our university than his or her black counterpart is an appalling statistic, but it’s not a surprising one. Walking around Edinburgh, almost every student must have noticed that both the city and the university are decidedly undiversified. However, while figures such as these scream of inequality – they also raise important questions about universities’ position in tackling wider social injustice. Do higher education institutions have a moral imperative to implement change or should they continue to educate those who have the best academic records; those who on paper are the high achievers? Last week, Alison Richard, the Vice Chancellor of
Cambridge University firmly placed her support behind the second of these two schools of thought. At the Universities’ UK conference she criticised government diversification plans, arguing that it is universities’ sole job to educate and not to act as ‘engines for promoting social justice’. Continuing her speech by stating that ‘neither family poverty, nor misplaced ideas about not fitting in should discourage students from applying to University’, Richard’s views illustrate a dangerous air of complacency. In her battle against Labour’s wider participation plans, she seems to argue that inequality is a myth constructed by the socialist left. After all, cream always rises to the top doesn’t it? This is an irresponsible view which
is disappointing from the leader of such a prestigious university. However, it also exposes an elitism which may backfire against institutions that subscribe to Richard’s view. Universities must be responsible for the ethnic and social backgrounds of their students. Yes, it’s not their fault that there is inequality at the grass-roots level - in schools and society in general - but that doesn’t mean social injustice should automatically transfer into higher education. At some level the established order has to be challenged and Universities - the traditional beacons of forward and enlightened thought - should hold the front line. The student body of Universities should be representative of the population at large. Anything less must be seen as a failure.
Student supports... The Picture House FOR YEARS Edinburgh has suffered a gaping hole in its music scene. Now, thanks to the newly renovated Picture House on Lothian Road, a new era of gigging awaits and music lovers around the city can rejoice. Our prayers have been answered. This city has always lacked a good, medium-sized music venue. For up-and-coming bands, Cabaret Voltaire is a favourite. For slightly bigger acts, Liquid Room serves its purpose. Yet the next step up in Edinburgh is a big one. The Corn Exchange, a dated, ugly and rather soulless venue, holds no less than 3000 people. Glasgow has its Barrowland, Carling Academy and ABC; now we have The Picture House, a 1500 capacity venue that hopes to become the heart of Edinburgh’s music scene. Originally a cinema, the building
at 31 Lothian Road has undergone several transformations. It is this recent £4.5 million revamp, however, that is turning the most heads. The new owners, MAMA Group, have proved their worth on the music scene, owning a large chunk of Britain’s live venues including the Barflys, the Glasgow Academy and several successful London venues. The venue itself is impressive. The stage is vast and cuts out nicely into the floor-space, and the steep, mostly standing-area balcony is a pleasure to behold from the lowerlevel. Not only will music-lovers enjoy watching gigs here, bands will enjoy playing. Indeed, The Picture House has already secured acts such as The Charlatans, Guillemots and Jarvis Cocker for the coming months. The venue’s official opening gig will be
If you would like to join
-Anonymous 2nd Year, English Literature
come down to
the PENTLAND ROOM, PLEASANCE at 1.15pm on
TUESDAYS or email us at email@example.com
Stand up for your fellow students... Stand in the EUSA Elections Nominations open now
I felt, when I was shoved into my private flat on Rankeillor Street, that I was a nobody to this university. Accomodation services were rude and unsympathetic, and without the support of fellow students and friends, university seemed like an empty prospect. Add to that the fact that I only spent five hours a week in class, and was paying over the odds for an unhappy lifestyle, I became increasingly angry with this university. It is not fair to treat a 17 year-old student as another statistic. Especially when, and as Siddhu Warrier pointed out, that 17 year-old is vulnerable and blind to the deliberate, aggressive and especially qualm-free advertising that the university pursues. We are not just customers, we do not just pay for a service, we give something back to help this institution be what it is. Besides, even if we were just buyers, I think 0/10 would be the mark for customer service. And the customer is always right.
Travis on 25 September. Further to having qualities as a venue for musical acts, The Picture House provides a few much needed, student-friendly club nights. ‘Adventures In Stereo’, which opened last Friday despite being dancefloor-less, showed good potential. Additionally ‘Beat Control’, which has lured the famous Evol Djs, could go down well with wandering students on a Saturday night. Perhaps the arrival of this venue will signify an end to Glasgow’s reign over the music front in Scotland. Perhaps Edinburgh will no longer be bypassed by good music acts. There is no doubt about it, the future of this city’s music scene is certainly brighter with The Picture House on its doorstep.
Editors Jenny Baldwin/Liz Rawlings Comment Lee Bunce/Zeenath Ul Islam Culture Heather Collins/Rupert Faircliff/Emma Murray Design Jamie Manson Features Jonathan Holmes/Rosie Nolan/David Wagner Film Tom MacDonald/Sam Karasik Illustrations Jamie Manson/Zeeneth Ul Islam Interview Hannah Carr/Anna Dudina Lifestyle Kimberlee Mclaughlan/Preston Park Music Andrew Chadwick/Thomas Kerr
SIDDHU WARRIER, when claiming that ‘one has to question the ethics of a university that treats its students as customers’ raised a good point in last week’s edition of Student. Our prestigious university, which has increasingly more to answer for, has so often been guilty of this educational error. Whilst we are told at age 17 that university is a new institute on our educational horizon, differing from school and forcing more independent study, it is hardly fair that we should end up in a place where we encounter little to no teaching time, lazy lecturing, and terrible first year accommodation. What’s more, it is hardly fair that we’re paying a fortune for this service. I am in my second year now, and having spent 12 months unhappy in a private flat (the university underestimated how many undergraduates it was expecting – hence hundreds of students without a roof over their heads) and lazily completing a somewhat sporadic and unfulfilling first year of study, I am seriously hoping that second year has more to offer.
Edinburgh University Students’ Association is a Registered Scottish Charity (No.SCO15800)
News Editors Neil Pooran/Lyle Brennan - Senior News Writers James Ellingworth/Sarah Morrison Photography Julia Sanches/Katy Kennedy/ Sophie Johnson President John Herrman Secretary Maddie Walder Sport Martin Domin Tech Alan Williamson/Jamie Manson Tontine Jonny Stockford/Julia Sanches TV Rory Reynolds/Ken Newlands Website Bruno Panara/Jack Schoﬁeld
Advertising Tony Foster (Contact @ 0131 650 9189) Student Newspaper 60 Pleasance Edinburgh EH8 9TJ Telephone: 0131 650 2363 Email: editors@studentnewspaper. org
Student welcomes letters for publication. The editors reserve the right to edit letters for clarity. Anonymous letters will not be printed but names will be witheld on request. The letters printed are the opinions of individuals outwith Student and do not represent the views of the editors or the paper as a whole. Published by and copyright © Student Newspaper Society, 2008 Printed by Cumbrian Printers Distributed by Lothian Couriers, North Berwick Registered as a newspaper at the Post Ofﬁce.
Week 1 23.09.08
Salles lives up to expectations
Susan Robinson is impressed by a tale of unbreakable family bonds and redemption LINHA DE PASSE DIRECTED BY
AAAAD IT IS not often you see a film that makes you consider how cold, clinical and fairly dispassionate a society we have become. When interviewed at Cannes, director Walter Salles pointed out that Brazil is ‘under construction’ and still a very young country. Certainly, Linha de Passe burns with the intensity of a nation that is fighting to find its feet and tell its own story after decades of dictatorship. The film revolves around the troubled and unconventional family of the pregnant Cleuza and her four fatherless sons. From the opening scene where we hear Cleuza panting in the dark, alone and in labour, her anxiety for her children is palpable and, as the film progresses, it becomes difficult not to share her fears as her sons sink into varying shades of criminality. Perhaps it is not surprising that football plays a large role in this film; for Cleuza the sensation of being part of a teeming mass, all rooting for same side is a release from her difficult reality. For her
18 year old son Dario it represents an opportunity, an escape from his otherwise dismal prospects as he desperately tries to impress at the football try-outs. Unfortunately what becomes clear in a city as large, struggling and anonymous as São Paulo, is that so is everyone else. The notion of football as salvation is built into the conscious-
ness of every young boy, the four sons obsessed with the sport, even the design of Reginaldo’s school uniform recalling Adidas. Meanwhile, Dario, a bike courier, seeks solace in sex, alcohol and drive-by muggings. Dinho has turned to religion and little Reggie rides buses for a hobby. Identification with the charac-
An open letter to Guy Ritchie...
Give it up, man. Seriously. We can only watch some East End hard boys trying to retrieve some stolen valuable so many times before the strangely familiar script and punctuating UberCockney swearing gets stale. We all loved Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels because it was fresh, funny, and stylish. Snatch was essentially the same film, but the cast was great and we were still riding the Cool Britannia wave, so happy that a quintessentially British film was being loved that it didn’t matter. We let that one slip. Admittedly, you tried to branch out with Revolver but it seems you were high on peyote, LSD, and crack when you were writing it because it made less sense than investing in Lehman Brothers. That was two hours of our lives we’ll never get back. All I remember was Ray Liotta crying, the dude from OutKast acting really spooky, and being really angry when I left the theatre. Crack is wack, Guy. It’s fine, if not expected, for a director to have certain trademarks. In fact, practically every great director does have some directorial or dialogical flourish that is recognisably theirs. Consider Sergio Leone’s close-up shots of eyes during western shootouts, Tarantino’s ceaseless pop culture references, Michael Mann’s helicopter-filmed shots of city streets; it’s good to remind the viewer who made the film, but nobody said making the exact same film four times in a row counted as a trademark style. Do us all a favour and retire to your country house. With advances in modern medicine, Madonna might have a good 30 years left of being sexually attractive. Lots of love, Student Film.
ters is unavoidable as the camera is trained on the faces of the actors for the majority of the film; the craters on Dario’s face and the wrinkles on Cleuza’s brow becoming oddly familiar. Raw emotionality is the catalyst for every action in this film and each character pursues his/her passion with a fervour that borders on the religious.
ROCKNROLLA DIRECTED BY
AAADD Although Guy Ritchie may be accused of revelling in the success of his previous gangster films and reconstructing the same basis for the story, RocknRolla ought to be taken for what it is: a piece of entertainment. It follows a number of different characters that are seemingly disconnected, but end up crossing each other’s paths as they navigate the London underworld. Two guys (Gerard Butler, Idris Elba) need some money fast after a failed property deal. Lenny Cole, an influential ‘businessman’ (Tom Wilkinson) is making a beneficial deal with Uri, a Russian billionaire (Karel Roden). Uri has to pay Lenny in cash and needs the help of his accountant Stella (Thandie Newton).
Raw emotionality is the catalyst for every action in this film For Dinho this is literal but the unchecked tears of the congregation at his evangelical church, whilst seated on plastic patio furniture, are in stark contrast to the bland tea- andbiscuits piety associated with our more British brand of Christianity. What is even more fascinating is when his Christian charity turns to hatred. Passion is as conducive to violence as it is to love. When Reginaldo sleeps on a bus all night, Cleuza’s relieved response is to start beating him. The brothers quickly turn on each other and there is even racial tension between them, which is perfectly captured in a four-way football game in their backyard. As they boot the ball back and forth they exchange jagged comments about their chequered parentage. Yet, despite these differences, family bonds are the overwhelming force, Cleuza’s love is unconditional and there is a synchrony between the actions of the brothers as the film reaches its conclusion.
Stella, however, has plans of her own and she knows two guys who need the cash badly enough to get mixed up in a bit of armed robbery. A stolen painting and a missing rockstar complete a plot that is quite enjoyable if audiences are not expecting anything realistic. As a fast-paced crime film with dark humour borderlining absurdity RocknRolla looks like a slight echo of Tarantino’s films; there actually seems to be a re-enactment of Uma Thurman and John Travolta’s famous dance from Pulp Fiction. Still, compared to Tarantino’s films, RocknRolla’s humour is more situational at times and its characters are aware of the frequent ridiculousness of their circumstances. The comic side of the film, however, is not a valuable asset to Ritchie. The sporadic amusement entertains viewers, but ultimately has little to do with the plot. Helen Harjak
Week 1 23.09.08
TROPIC THUNDER DIRECTED BY BEN STILLER
AAADD ANY FILM that can plausibly justify the existence of Tom Cruise for at least a few more days has to be doing something right, and Tropic Thunder does just that, with Cruise in a brilliant cameo as a bald-headed, hairy-chested, flabby studio boss with a potty mouth who dances around to filthy R&B when he’s feeling powerful. It’s a show-stopping, hilarious performance, and despite lasting for perhaps a total of ten minutes, it’s the best thing Cruise has ever done. I’m not saying that’s hard, just that it’s a great performance. Tropic Thunder is the story of an exasperated director (Steve Coogan) trying to keep his cast of prima donna actors in check on the set of his Vietnam War epic. Their selfish demands push him over the edge and he decides to actually drop the actors into a real war zone. Ben Stiller plays a Stalloneesque action hero whose star is falling sharply, whilst Robert Downey Jr is the Australian method actor who goes as far as to don blackface for his role. Jack Black is very funny as the dumb comedy star of ‘The Fatties: Fart 2’, who is trying to balance the task of shooting a movie with feeding his ravenous heroin addic-
Robert Downey Jr. wants YOU to read Student Film.
tion. Stiller supposedly had the idea for Tropic Thunder 20 years ago, when playing a minor role in Empire Of The Sun for Steven Spielberg. Now, having built a name for himself as the funny-man of Hollywood, he is able to pull out all the stops and make the film, at points, really seem like the big-budget war movie the characters are supposed to be trying to shoot. The best jokes are all centred on the idea of the pretentious, preening movie actor with delusions of artistry. And there are the obvious, real life parallels to each character, especially Downey Jr’s, who seems like a composite of Russell Crowe and Daniel DayLewis. The laughs are constant and there really isn’t a particular moment that ever falls flat. Tropic Thunder is a hilarious picture genuinely worthy of the comedy talent it stars. Andrew Chadwick
PINEAPPLE EXPRESS DIRECTED BY DAVID GORDON GREEN
DIRECTED BY THE PANG BROTHERS
WHENEVER BIG tools in Hollywood are pitching film ideas to studio executives they always say something like “This is Requiem for a Dream meets Space Jam! Check out my watch, yeah, it’s a Rolex. I’m gonna go do some blow in Rob Lowe’s trailer…” Pineapple Express is one of these movies. Not that writer/producer Seth Rogen is a tool (he’s the reason Judd Apatow is still working); it’s just that Cheech and Chong meets The Fugitive sounds a bit too crazy to work. Rogen plays Dale Denton, a marijuana aficionado who spends his days serving subpoenas and other legal documents using a variety of disguises. James Franco, who for once isn’t acting in a tear jerking romantic drama or a medieval epic, is Denton’s affable drug-dealer Saul, who provides him with a super-marijuana called Pineapple Express.When Dale is supposed to serve a drug kingpin (Gary Cole) with legal papers, he witnesses the drug lord and a corrupt cop (Rosie Perez, who hasn’t gotten any less obnoxious over the past decade) murdering a rival gangster. Shaken, Dale flees the scene, foolishly leaving a burn-out joint of Pineapple Express that is soon traced back to Saul. Unable to trust the police, Dale and Saul go on the lam,
pursued by two of the drug lord’s thugs, Budlofsky and Matheson, hilariously played by Mark Corrigan (Superbad) and The Office’s Craig Robinson. All the while, Dale is supposed to be meeting his girlfriend (the beautiful Amber Heard) and her parents for dinner, an event he finally shows up to stoned, making for one of the film’s funniest scenes. Although Pineapple Express attempts to be an action/buddy comedy/stoner movie all rolled into one, the buddy comedy/stoner movie parts are the ony ones that are truly convincing. The dynamic between Rogen and Franco is amazing, the two come off like a De Niro and Pacino of the stoner flick. The supporting cast is full of great comic actors from film and television, who never fail to impress. Danny Mc Bride (also insanely funny in this week’s Tropic Thunder) is hilarious as Saul’s middleman Red, a gun-
toting former male prostitute. However, the plot comes off like a series of ridiculous situations strung together for the sake of good jokes and little else. Even Rush Hour 2 managed to have a coherent plot and work in the occasional joke, albeit those jokes relied mostly on Jackie Chan’s inability to speak English. Perhaps this assessment sounds a bit harsh for a film about pot, but after Superbad, you want to expect films of the same magnificence from Rogen & Co. Compared to your average Hollywood fare, this is incredibly sharp, but it doesn’t quite accomplish what it set out to do. I suppose that doesn’t detract too much from the brilliant jokes, and if you see this film high as a kite (Student film unfortunately could not provide the reviewer with any Pineapple Express) you’ll probably forget all about it. Sam Karasik
BANGKOK DANGEROUS is so awful that I left the cinema feeling hollow and senseless. In fact, this film had such a detrimental effect on my mental state that it should have a warning from the Surgeon-General. It stars Nicolas Cage, who hasn’t made even a moderately acceptable film since the turn of the millennium, as an assassin sent to Bangkok to execute four contracts. Along the way he falls in love with a deaf pharmacist and bonds with a local boy called Kong. Apparently, these two trite subplots are supposed to aid ‘character development’. Instead, they just end up wasting celluloid that should have been filled with blood-spattering violence, high-octane action and soft-core pornography. After all, that’s what you’re paying to see, isn’t it? This train wreck was directed by the Pang Brothers who, despite being considered acclaimed
Asian auteurs, could not come up with a single memorable sequence or creative shot in the entire film. It is as if a vacuum has sucked out any originality and replaced it with a vapid banality. I know what you’re thinking so please let me make this crystal clear: this is not one of those films that is so bad, it’s actually good (like Zombie Strippers or Commando). Trust me, this film is so bad, it’s actually terrible (like Ghost Rider or Next). It is clichéd, crass, boring, unimaginative, predictable, slow, pointless and stupid. P.S. Under duress from my editor I have been forced to concede that National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets is an acceptable film by Nicholas Cage because Diane Kruger is hot and everybody loves an educational adventure. Sam Ross
Next Week... Nicholas Cage’s Exercise Routine
Week 1 23.09.08
IS NEW MUSICDEAD?
Susan Robinson tackles Bill Drummond’s new book, 17, in which the former KLF man argues recorded music is stagnant and can only be tackled by a radical new approach to making music HOW WOULD you feel if someone told you that all music had run its course? How would you feel as a musician if someone decreed that anything you will ever produce has already been “consumed, traded, downloaded, understood, heard before, sampled, learned, revived and found wanting”? How would you feel as a young person or as the fourteen year-old that you once were, being told by a fifty-three year-old man that the endless world of music, unfolding like a map before you is to be dispensed with and that music making must start again? This man is telling you that ‘Year zero is now’, even though it is just the beginning for you. ‘This man’ is Bill Drummond and ‘Year zero’ is the premise of his latest book, 17. ‘The 17’ is a choir, something that Drummond has envisaged for many years as a panacea for all that ails the music business. The choir can consist of any 17 people, at any time, membership is completely inclusive. However in their performances they may use ‘no libretto, lyrics or words; no time signatures, rhythm or beats; and have no knowledge of melody, counterpoint or harmony.’ The book is a log of Drummond putting this polemic into practice but it is as much diary, or a mission as it is an autobiography. Drummond creates ‘Scores’ for his choir to perform. The first score (see box below) is inspired by the rumblings on the inside of Drummond’s Land Rover, he then enlists 16 other men to stand in a dark garage and hum, using this recording as a stimulus. The highlight of this escapade is the deletion of all recordings involved. Now, forgive me for picking on someone
of a certain disposition but let’s point out a few basic facts. To take the book itself as a starting point, it is large and weighty hardback, it is also bright red, pillar box red, Ferrari-I’m-having-a-mid-life-crisis, red. The book begins and ends in Drummond’s Land Rover. The man loves his car. Inside the book contains a fairly thorough catalogue of the past two or so years of his life, not to mention a detailed dissection of his childhood discovery of music, forming his first band, his life in the music business and thereafter. There is also an appendix giving a year by year account of the major events in his life. He admits “it is all about me”. He’s a prime candidate for the next series of Grumpy Old Men. And I can’t wait to see him on there. Bill Drummond seems to have done pretty much everything the music business has to offer. He doesn’t need a t-shirt, he’d only spit on it as it’s such an unimaginative old cliché and lazy journalism to boot. Drummond is only too happy to shred his actions apart, describe the embarrassments and abject the failures. Sometimes he sounds his age, or rather, he sounds how someone his age should sound, wise and selfdeprecating. He can’t tell his daughter that all music is dead and desiccated, she’s just discovered ‘Paint It Black’ on Singstar and wants to see if she can beat him (and he wonders how many points Mick Jagger would get). At other times he sounds like an overly intent young man, oblivious to the needs of others, hell-bent on achieving his own self-indulgent aims. For example, he goes to several schools in the North East of England so the children can
collaborate on his scores. Most of these children are only interested in ‘Rave, sir’ and have very little attention for humming the note D for seven minutes. One child in particular starts acting up and Drummond attempts to quell him with a severe look, inspiring only a renewed fit of giggles as opposed to a deeper understanding of the apparent crisis in music. Fortunately, Drummond realises his egotism and later reflects, “Was I using them as pawns, each one a mere semi-quaver on my giant stave?” (Another thing you come to expect from Drummond, aside from his self-importance, is talk about his ‘giant stave’.) However, thinking about the idea of The 17 in itself, it is a communal form of music making, there is no elitism and no skill or innate talent is required. Drummond looks back to his childhood, when a piano was a common feature in most homes (after the introduction of central heating - which warped them - many of these pianos were smashed). This as symbolism of people no longer creating music for themselves and relying on mass media for entertainment is difficult to ignore. Drummond’s concern is that in the past fifty years, with the growing control that TV, internet and radio has on the nation’s consciousness, there is an equivalent decline in creativity and drive. It is the proliferation of mass media that has created the pop icon, or the superstar, and Drummond asserts: “The more you put an artist, musician or anybody, however talented, on a pedestal, the more you take away something from yourself.” This idea of not feeling worthy to create his own art was something
Drummond felt keenly as a teenager, he and his peers felt incapable in relation to the hero-worship that surrounded Clapton. Here it seems necessary to mention the punk movement and its rebellion against the establishment. However it also seems necessary to point out that although the DIY ethic was a much needed injection of hope into a disconsolate youth, punk and its bastard progeny was, and still is, highly lucrative. It could also be argued that the internet, the most all encompassing form of mass media, is the ultimate tool for the young musician. It has rendered distribution and exposure down to minimal cost and because interest is mainly word of mouth, you’re not having some tired musician’s latest album rammed down your throat at every prime time adbreak. But Drummond would just see this as: “cluttering up the world with more recorded music that no one will ever get round to listening to.” This sets me thinking, why is there a music industry at all? If artists are able to write, record and distribute music for themselves, where’s the need for that infrastructure? Especially since all music has stagnated anyway. Is it just a ploy, a secret sanctuary for arty people who don’t want real jobs...like Drummond? Now I don’t really believe this as much as Drummond doesn’t really believe that music is an art form trapped in amber. I think people still go into the music business because they have passion and they love what they do (and yes, make money at the same time). Just as I suspect Drummond still holds a candle for recorded music. Another
thing that is so interesting about 17 is that Drummond constantly reminds you of the writing process and his relationship with you, the reader. Throughout the book there are margin notes, which are a conversation between the mysterious Robert, Paul and Rasmus. These characters critique and often confirm what Drummond actually wants you to believe: “I think it’s [The 17] just an interesting idea for a project that has turned into a bigger book because he uses it as a way to wax lyrical on his more general gripes with the music business.” It comes as little surprise that after 18 months of self-imposed music restriction, Drummond falls off the wagon, or rather, he gets out of his beloved Land Rover and buys three service station ‘Best of…’ CDs. The last chapter is a Tam O’Shanter inspired chase through the British countryside to the Scotch Corner Hotel where he will edit the book (pointedly, he says he does this stark bollock-naked). His journey is sound tracked by James Brown, Johnny Cash and the Beach Boys. Exactly the kind of reissued, rehashed music he has been lambasting from the beginning. But to get to the real point, as a reader, do I care? Not a bit. Drummond excels in storytelling, he marshals his ideas about music and exemplifies them through reference to his fascinating and at times outrageous career. As Rasmus points out from the margins, Drummond harnesses his ‘naïve idealism as an engine to create work.’ The man could argue anything, as he says: “if you can’t hold at least half-a-dozen contradictory theories at any one time, you are probably not flesh and blood.”
MAKE YOUR OWN DRUMMOND-STYLE NOISE STEP 1 : Choose a journey.
STEP 6 : Indicate a dominant note in the recording for them to pitch to
STEP 2 : Record the sounds within your car or cab as you drive your journey.
STEP 7 : Ask them to open their mouths and bring forthnoise.
STEP 3 : Find 17 people willing to sing.
STEP 8 : Ask them to listen and respond to the noises being produced by the other singers.
STEP 4 : Gather The 17 together in a darkened room.
STEP 9 : Use your initiative.
STEP 5 : Play them the recording of the journey.
Week 1 23.09.08
is this news? CUT OFF YOUR HANDS TEVIOT
TONIGHT TEVIOT Debating Hall seems awakened from its usual sleepiness for the first time in ages. This is due to punk-pop act ‘Cut Off Your Hands’, and is perhaps aided by excited freshers who bounce back the energy fired into the crowd. The foursome from New Zealand who recently supported Foals on tour are heralded by enigmatic lead vocalist Nick Johnston. Watching him prance and jump around on stage makes you yearn to bounce about with him. The positive physical energy is enhanced by the band’s smiling faces and quickly transfers to the initially tense crowd, who soon begin to move their feet. As a reviewer growing weary of the whole skinny jeans synthpop/ electro-rock craze, I was sweetly reminded that this sort of preconception can stand in the way of a good thing. As I discovered, Cut Off Your Hands is erratic art-pop at its best.
WHEN STEPHEN Gately from Boyzone came out, I swore I would never again risk the devastating anguish of a love with no future. Bon Iver convinced me otherwise. Somewhere during the second minute of ‘Re:Stacks’ emerged my new fantasy; a simple married life with the lead singer in a remote log-cabin being eternally serenaded whilst eating rabbit stew. Bon Iver are three all-American boys that dress like lumberjacks and hail from Wisconsin. Their unique brand of folk inspired neo-soul has won them widespread critical acclaim, and their debut LP, For Emma, Forever Ago, has been described as a ‘minimalist masterpiece’ and lauded as one of 2008’s finest records. Coincidentally the material was written by lead Justin Vernon during a three month spell living in an authentic log-cabin. Already our potential life together sounds promising. I’d describe their performance
as ‘haunting’ if it didn’t make me sound like such a pussy. They played in a converted church with so many middle-aged couples wearing Hessian, holding hands and throwing round words like ‘magical’ and ‘spiritual’ that I felt inspired to implement sneezing as a weapon. Ignoring that, dear Justin sings each syllable with such a genuine sense of experience it makes your stomach ache. The echoing acoustics of the venue and his heartbreaking lyrics pulled me through (what felt like) the apocalypse and I came out the other side feeling melancholy, hopeful and borderline exhausted. Their biggest success, ‘Skinny Love’, is an instant favourite with all listeners, and live it was no different. They managed to get the whole audience singing along for ‘The Wolves’ (…”What might have been lossssst”) and other high points for me included their LP’s title track ‘For Emma’ as well as ‘Re:Stacks’. Spend your pennies on Bon Iver and prepare to go through the most excruciatingly enjoyable torture you’re ever likely to endure. Emily Foister
GLASVEGAS LIQUID ROOM
AAAAD YOU MAY have seen Glasvegas’ name chalked near the University last year and mentally checking it, witnessed some early gigs in smaller Edinburgh venues or successful Later…with Jools Holland performances or bought a seven-inch and played it until it could play no more. You may have been privy, as I was, to the testimony that they are the condensed history of Glaswegian music, or heard them accurately described as the Proclaimers singing over the Jesus and Mary Chain. Fresh from packing the Reading Festival tent so full that there were reportedly hundreds of people overspilling it, and on the eve of their eponymous debut album launch at midnight on Princes Street, the Liquid Room was equally congested as ex-professional footballer James Allen, in Lou Reedian shades, stood motionless to deliver the LP’s opening track ‘Flowers and Football Tops.’ The “Here we fucking go!” chants escalated as Allen sang in heavily-ac-
The pace of the performance is exhausting even for the audience. Fast guitar riffs and shouty vocals combine with almost sixties-style melodies, at the same time they capture the most angular bits of The Cure, Sonic Youth and Foals and merge them together, generating frenzied excitement on and off the stage. The highlight of the evening is ‘Oh Girl’ - a catchy reggae-tinged tune reminiscent of The Police at their most forward-looking. Having rocked-up an impressive history; appearing on Steve Lamacq’s show, playing South-by-Southwest festival, not to mention having all-time-GodBernard Butler produce their new album You and I, the band are being tipped for the top. Despite Butler’s seemingly heavy-hand on his other recent project, the Black Kids’ album, you get the feeling his work with Cut Off Your Hands will strike the perfect balance between the epic and the angular. And their advice to freshers? ‘Go out and get drunk as much as you humanly can.’ As if you needed telling. Juliet Evans
cented Weegian of childhood bullying (‘Go Square Go’), brooding Sectarian violence (‘Ice Cream Van’) and social workers on ‘Geraldine’. The hardcore was word-perfect, even accenting the Western vowels and singing the vocal wah-wahs that recalled Allen’s hero Phil Spector: many tracks combined fuzzy guitar with pounding percussion from the Mo Tuckeresque standup female drummer and Allen’s sweet high-register vocals. Although some songs are in danger of sounding alike musically, the differing lyrical and rhythmic content more than solve the conundrum that Glasvegas are just another rock’n’roll band (and just as good, as Alan McGee maintains, as those middle-class Gallagher brothers). Whether they can top ‘Daddy’s Gone’, Allen’s masterpiece of paternal nostalgia tinged with sadness and melancholia, time will tell, though rumours they may pack it all in after a Christmas EP should be quashed by the public affection held for the powerfully anthemic tunes and naked lyrics. Glasgow has their band; next stop, Las Vegas (or, rather New York, supporting Echo and the Bunnymen). Johnny Brick
SO, DEAR fresher, now that you’ve survived your introductory week in Edinburgh, where shirtand-tied vultures stalk the university campus desperately trying to get you to open a new student account with an interest-free overdraft of 21 million pounds, and promotion staff for terrible bars wantonly scatter vouchers for 2-4-1 Blue WKD around Bristo Square, you may ask, ‘what happens next?’ Well, the formula is very simple. You realise sometime during your second week, that your freshers’ week friends are actually the type of individuals who show a preference for clubs and bars on a place called George Street. Whilst this may seem, to the uninitiated, inconsequential, one must understand that, besides these establishments being more salubrious versions of your local Yates’s back home, shit R&B and commercial house included, this type of attitude towards evening entertainment permeates all other areas of these people’s lives, and makes them most disagreeable company. You will soon find, along with the way they speak as if they have a plum in their throat, that said persons will also be oblivious to the concept of financial difficulty, which all normal people are supposed to go through as students. Their staggering lack of perspective will render them the most obnoxious, arrogant and self-satisfied people you have ever come across, and we haven’t even begun to talk about their music, the subject we’re supposed to deal with on these very pages. George Street people will occasionally stray from their beloved New Town haunts, and this will usually be to attend what is known at Student Music as a ‘crap drum’n’bass night’. These events will be full of the type of George Streeter that has taken a year out, usually to backpack around Thailand and ‘just chill out, man’. They will return, having ‘found themselves’, for which you may read ‘acquired an aspiration to adopt the values of a crusty hippie at Glastonbury in the 90s and the dress sense of a posh cunt gone New Age’, which is, of course, exactly what they are. We implore you, good fresher, to resist the temptation to grit your teeth and go along with the George Street crowd. Heed our advice and know that no good thing will come of queuing for eight hours for a club in which you will pay the same number of pounds for an acrid Alco-pop. Instead, try friendlessness for a while. Read plenty of books, go to see good bands alone, immerse yourself in the many fascinating and interesting pastimes available to you in this fine city that most of the clique-ridden student body never touches, and you’ll be sure to meet like-minded people. One day. Andrew Chadwick
Week 1 23.09.08
Henri Matisse - The Pink Tablecloth, 1924-5
IMPRESSIONISM AND SCOTLAND ROYAL SCOTTISH ACADEMY UNTIL 12 OCTOBER
AAADD THE NATIONAL Galleries of Scotland’s summer blockbuster show, ‘Impressionism and Scotland’, is, unfortunately, a bit of muddle. Purporting to examine “the Scottish response to Impressionism”, it instead appears a jumble of all the pictures in Scotland vaguely related to French art around the turn of the 20th century. The main problem lies in the fact that Impressionism is only really a minor theme of the exhibition, but the curators have warped the word to include such artists as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jean-François Millet, and James Whistler, while Post-Impressionism and Fauvism also feature. There are of course Impressionist paintings; some are genuine masterpieces and undoubted
Degas - The Rehearsal, 1887
crowd-pleasers. Monet, Pissarro and Degas are all there. Many of these works have of course simply been moved across the road from the National Gallery of Scotland to the RSA’s exhibition rooms and unfortunately it does feel as if the Galleries have put in as many works as they could, whether they are relevant or not. Grouped together on their own walls for example, four Monets seem strangely disconnected from the other works. The reason for this is because the continental paintings are only tenuously linked to the Scottish pictures on show. Alfred Sisley’s Molesey Weir, Hampton Court of 1874, a painting of England by a Frenchman, hangs in an exhibition on the influence of Impressionism on Scottish art. Why? The painting was bought by an Edinburgh lawyer. So too with Pissarro’s Charing Cross Bridge, purchased by William Cargill, a Scottish industrialist who had one of the most important collections of Impressionism in Scotland at the end of the 19th century. These are interesting points but do little to elucidate our understanding
of how Scottish artists interpreted the paintings of the Impressionists. Still, there are good parts to the exhibition. The work of the Scottish Colourists was heavily influenced by French art, although more by the Post-Impressionists and the Fauves than the Impressionists. There are a few fascinating pictures by Samuel Peploe, JD Fergusson and Cadell, and there is evidence of their engagement with French culture in that they actually painted in both the north and south of France, near to the Provencal towns so loved by Cezanne and Van Gogh. There are also some fascinating small sketches by Arthur Melville of the Moulin Rouge. So abstract in appearance are they that the dancers are barely decipherable from the overall explosions of colour. This exhibition obviously needed the word Impressionism in its title to pull in the crowds over the summer, no matter what was actually going to be in it. But there are some individual works worth seeing, whatever the exhibition’s name. Rupert Faircliff
MACBETH THE LYCEUM UNTIL 11 OCTOBER
AAAAD HAVING NEVER written a review of a play before, I wasn’t sure what I should be looking out for. I thought perhaps the programme might give me some fresh insight and indeed it did. Liam Brennan, as Macbeth, claimed he would be playing the Scottish king as a ‘human being’. Being a thorough sort of chap, I did some background reading and found Macbeth was supposed to be a human, so they were on to a good start. Better still the girl handing out press tickets told me there would be free drinks for press in the interval. How could the play possibly be bad? Well, it wasn’t. Lucy PitmanWallace and Lucy Osborne had designed a striking set, with a raised circular section surrounded by a balcony and staircase, made to look like a medieval castle. However they are a little too fond of dry ice which seemed to continually puff around the stage. Having said that, the music was effective and atmospheric throughout the show. Liam Brennan is no stranger to the meaty Shakespearian roles, having already played Iago and Bassanio at the Lyceum. Once again he delivers a fine performance, which starts off in rather a subdued way, but as Macbeth’s mental state deteriorates we see the actor’s full range of emotions. The character of Macbeth is perhaps played with more sympathy than is traditional, but there are still the long sprawling speeches, as the actor stares us into the distance typical of any Shakespearean tragedy. Lady Macbeth was played by Allison McKenzie of River City fame - if you can call it that. While the
part of Lady Macbeth was undoubtedly well acted, she didn’t quite have the presence to hold the stage on her own. If presence is what you are after Christopher Brand as MacDuff is definitely your man. As a pretty sizable guy, his booming voice makes others around him seem almost timid. As there are eleven actors filling numerous character roles, so they get the chance to showcase their acting range. For example, as soon as Jimmy Chisholm is finished playing the part of Duncan he is straight back on as the porter. There is a superb version of the knocking scene, which brings some welcome comic relief after Macbeth and his wife are left agonising over their first murder. One thing they didn’t particularly dwell on was the break-up of the Macbeth’s marriage as guilt, anger, and ambition take over their lives. However, you still get a sense that their marriage is initially a strong one, and a little raunchy, but that they gradually drift apart as they both psychologically breakdown. The final sword fights were excellently choreographed and as MacDuff put his final slice into Macbeth, the woman in front of me shrieked. One image which didn’t work very well was the three cackling witches leading the dead off the stage, which just felt tacky. Having read Macbeth in the past, I had always thought it was rather silly, though thankfully short. However, actually seeing it performed makes the world of difference and gives you a new appreciation. It is interesting to see a different interpretation of the play in which Macbeth is not simply a tyrant but a tormented man with a poetic mind. Although, obviously still in to killing children and picking a fight with the entire English army. Macbeth is on at the Royal Lyceum till October the 11th, and it’s well worth checking out. Stephen Thomas
Week 1 23.09.08
Worried about the credit crunch? Probably not, since daddy pays your rent. Unless he works for HBOS or Lloyds TSB that is. So here are Student’s top ten reasonably priced scents for all occasions. Compiled by Rory Reynolds Prices are for 50ml-75ml
Chic & Filthy Party Sensual Privilege Shit Freshers Piece Soiree Provocoteur Price: £27 Best deal: Amazon Notes: Vanilla, bergamot and a lot of musk. Sexy, but as dirty as a Napier student’s crack-den.
Price: £18 Best deal: Superdrug Notes: Bergamot and cinnamon top notes make make you feel all set for a night out. And the subtle hues of chlamydia and musk will bring the chavettes on in droves.
Price: £9.95 Best deal: The Perfume Shop Notes: Citrus, wood and the sweet smell of casual racism. Shh.. is rumoured to stand for shut the fuck up. And believe it or not this is manufactured in India.
Yves Saint Laurent:Elle DKNY: Be Delicious
Price: £26 Best deal:Cheapsmells.com Notes: Fresh apple, grapefruit and a little bitterness. Just like that VK you chuckedup outside Potterow after the school disco.
Price: £37-50 Best deal: Escentual.com Notes: Orange, grapefruit and light woods. Long lasting and modern, but screaming mid-life crisis on older men. Mysteriously makes you drool slightly.
Price: £35-47 Best deal: Harrods/ Mankind.com Notes: Lavender and tonka bean. Refined, sophisticated and perfect for a dinner date. But the boozy rum note may leave you smelling like a bar.
Price: £21 Best deal: eBay Notes: The best aquatic mens’ fragrance available, except Creed Erofla, which is £105. Fresh lime, salty and deep sea notes. Very long lasting.
Jade Goody: Shh..
Hermes: Terre d’Hermes
Price: £34 Best deal: Escentual. com Notes: Lychee jasmin and light woods. Girly, fun and damn sexy. And as durable and as dependable as Bridget Jones’s granny knickers.
Chanel: Coco Mademoiselle
Yves Saint Laurent: Cinema
Price: £40 Best deal: Jenners Notes: Soft woods and sweet vanilla. Classy but pricey. Too much will make you smell like a brothel.
Price: £52 Best deal: Debenhams Notes: Oriental floral jasmin and pathouli. Young yet sophisticated. But possibly not worth the £3million they paid Hermione Norris to market it.
Week 1 23.09.08
Spore: The Next Generation Alan Williamson becomes the latest convert to Sporentology SPORE EA
PC & MAC £26.99 DROP THE words ‘evolution’ or ‘creationism’ into a conversation and, depending on the audience, there’s a good chance that sparks and Bibles may fly. For a game that allegedly showcases evolution in all its glory, it’s ironic that Spore is essentially an intelligent design simulator. Nurturing an organism from a primitive planarian to a galactic wayfaring civilization with the power to blow up worlds sounds like epic stuff, but how does it all pan out? Spore is divided into five discrete stages that fit together in one giant evolutionary timeline. The Cell stage is a 21st Century remake of PacMan: gobbling food while watching out for predators, some of which are so large their eyes don’t even fit on the screen. Munching your way through plants or protists (vegetarianism is at your discretion) you earn ‘DNA points’ which are then used to add elements to your cell, like ramming spikes or flagellae. Eat enough and you’ll earn the ability to add legs to your creature, leaving the perils of the sea for open air and sunshine. Hooray! Or at least, it should be good. The Cell stage is great fun for the whole hour it takes to complete, but once on land the fun quickly dries up like week-old primordial soup. In the Creature stage, interacting with other creatures allows you to progress. You can befriend them with singing and dancing abilities, or chew them up and feed on their carcasses. Sounds great, right? What if I were to tell you that in the previous sentence, I just described the entire Creature phase? Walk up to a creature. Click the mouse a few times. You’ve earned some DNA. Walk up to another creature…that’s it. That’s the whole game. There is little in the way of exploration or depth, which is a wasted opportunity. Luckily, the editing tools in Spore are so wonderful the game’s many flaws pale in comparison. Using the creature creator, your options
are nigh infinite. If you want your creature to be an eyeball on a stick, or a monkey that can still walk upright with its head up its own arse, so be it. Further on in the game new editors allow building, vehicle and spaceship creation. Suddenly my life has a new purpose: to recreate every Thunderbird in Spore’s vehicle editor. The editors are so simple to use that your grandparents could operate them, yet powerful enough for intelligent designers to spend hours tweaking their creations. Spore has been billed as a ‘massively single-player online game’ for the reason that as you play, the game downloads other players’ creations into your game and vice-versa. Better yet, you can maintain a Friends List or subscribe to Sporecasts of thematically similar creatures. This is one of the game’s strongest assets and a feature that will ensure gamers will be playing Spore for years to come. It is also in this feature that Spore offers perhaps the clearest evidence yet that God doesn’t exist: if God was responsible for creating all living things, why did he make them so damn boring? I’ve seen everything from two-headed mountain trolls to inevitable giant penis monsters inhabiting my worlds. The best God could manage was the platypus, although those things are pretty hilarious. Moving from Spore’s Creature to Tribal stage, things don’t improve much: I would say ‘poor-man’s Age of Empires’, but that’s giving it too much credit. It is dull and needlessly repetitive. After befriending nearby tribes, the game moves to a Civilisation stage that is more of the same: whether seeking a military victory or religious, conquering enemy cities is a simple case of shooting something coloured at buildings and repeating ad infinitum until you have conquered the world. Don’t get me wrong; your eight-year old siblings are going to be rapt with Spore’s early stages, but anyone used to playing Civilization IV on Deity is not going to have a good time. Alternatively, if you have no idea what the previous sentence meant, you’re going to love it.
As I fabricated my spaceship and prepared to blast off into the heavens, I had all but given up on Spore as the saviour of PC gaming. After five minutes of zooming around the cosmos it became apparent that all the rubbish stages that came before were a mere tutorial for the Space stage. Here, Spore changes into a genuinely epic game of trading, colonising and war with alien races. It’s one of the most pleasant surprises a game has offered in years. The size of the galaxy you can explore in Spore is so large, words barely do it justice. Leave your home planet and explore the surrounding solar system. Move further out and the solar systems fade into vast arrays of hundreds of stars. Further still, the stars gather into the arms of a huge cosmic spiral that surely no-one could ever fully explore. In a way, that’s what makes it so exciting. When many of these planets and systems are packed with the creations of other players, suddenly Spore delivers on its promise. The variety of missions and rarities to discover is impressive, the sense of scale bordering on frightening. You can buy missiles that cleave planets in two, Death Star style. You can plant spice mines on every planet you reach and stamp your mark on space like an intergalactic Starbucks. It’s absolutely bloody amazing to the extent where I want to take back all the mean things I said about the Tribal stage. It doesn’t change the fact that the Tribal and Civilisation stages are monotonous, but it makes them a little more tolerable. Taken individually the various stages of Spore are largely forgettable, but somehow they manage to coalesce into an impressive package. This is thanks to the greatest suite of editing tools known to man, an incredible last stage and a vibrant online community. While it’s true to say that Spore is lacking in several aspects, as a tool for biological dicking around and a space faring romp it verges on genius. The future of gaming is here: not quite the way you expected it, but essential nevertheless.
Week 1 23.09.08
You gotta be kid-ding me Ken Newlands thinks there is a time and a place for kids’ telly. And it’s not at 4am when you’re off your tits and 20 years old
Ken Newlands Oh God no IT’S A well understood fact that Hollyoaks is the worst thing on telly. The evidence is simply inarguable. But then the question of its inescapable popularity remains. I propose this hypothesis - there are two kinds of people in this world: the twitchy junkies that need their daily fix and those of us that would rather see our own children burn in front of them than watch five minutes of this tripe. The bizarre thing is the solitary difference between the two groups is the depths of their tolerance of this shit. Some people can just throw open their arms and gleefully accept the viscous waves of crap that engulf them, revelling in it as they do like enthusiastic sewage workers. I am not one of those blessed with this temperament. I wish I could like it, honest I do. Student life would be so much easier. In social gatherings when the
SPEND ENOUGH time surfing Youtube at four in the morning and you’ll eventually find yourself watching Thundercats. Maybe it’s the eighties day-glo colours, maybe it’s the comforting notion of black and white good and evil in an increasingly greyscale world, maybe it’s because Lion-O is totally awesome. Either way, there’s something about the cartoons of your youth that draws you back in once you’ve reached adulthood. Reminders of simpler days are often the key to recapturing the optimism and wonder of your younger self. But there lies a danger in re-living the past. Rose-coloured glasses can only be sustained for so long once the shows you loved so much when you were five are seen through nowadult eyes. Take the time to re-watch some of the childhood classics and so many of them have aged so poorly and fall spectacularly short of their nostalgia-laden pedestals that it’s sad in a way. The reality of children’s TV suffers so much off-screen, with Blue Peter presenters spending their free time injecting cocaine into their eyeballs and Art Attack’s Neil Buchanan infamous murder and cannibalisation of an entire Somerset village. Our generation needs the memories of the programmes as they were to stop ourselves from falling completely into cynical misanthropes.
So many people just throw open their arms and accept ACROSS patronising telly shit 1. (TV Advert) ____? Papa? (6) 3. Mental image or phantasm (6) 8. The difference of 18x49 and 25x35 (5) like enthusiastic 10. (Book and Film) I,____ (5) 11. Highest ranking person of a company (3) sewage workers 12. My male friend from Spain (5) inevitable Hollyoaks conversation erupts, I try and make sense of the whoops and gasps that come with the revelations that the scouse slag got with bitchy incestuous crack addict. My sheepish ignorance of events leaves me feeling isolated and confused and I miss out on the social bonding that comes in rejoicing together in gutter-trash TV. Maybe I’m being too harsh. I’ve watched my own fair share of television scum-shite. Every week I went back to Lost, believing its promises of change only to get slapped around yet again like a battered housewife. I accidentally started watching a marathon of the woeful American Princess on E4 once and the next thing I knew I had a floor-length beard and Labour were in power. So we’ve all got our guilty pleasures. Hollyoaks is populist snuff porn drivel that even my low standards cannot fall to. But we’ve all got to get our kicks somewhere. I still can’t tear myself away from The Weakest Link, though this is more because of a series of erotic dreams concerning Anne Robinson and an all-you-can-eat buffet table. Just the sight of a pickled onion on a stick still has an odd effect on me.
13. (Music) Houston (7) 15. Robbie ____, Roy ____, English band with Hopes and Fears (5) 17. Not been drinking enough! (5) 23. They spread across the Indian Ocean in 2004 (7) 26. 2nd most populous country (5) 27. Pretty heavy even when not filled with beer (3) 28. (Christian Hymn) ____ with me (5) 29. (Latin) Gold; Hotel Company (5) 30. The beginning (6) 31. Portugal’s Capital (6)
The worst offender is unfortunately Transformers. There’s maybe no more beloved cartoon for the current student generation than the Robots in Disguise. The toys and cartoons are held in so high a regard that any attempt to interfere with the franchise is lambasted with nerdrage from all sides. The internet backlash to the announcement of 2007’s live-action film was vitriolic even by geek standards. But take the time to rewatch some of the old episodes and the glaring, colossal flaws leap out at you from the moment the theme tune rolls. The animation i s horrificly t w i t c h y, the blatant productpushing is cringeworthy and Optimus Prime seems to change in size each scene as if by magic. It doesn’t stop there. Very few cartoons can escape this trial by hindsight: pick any student in the country and they can be called upon to sing the theme tune to Postman Pat (If memory serves, he had a black and white cat). But examine the concept for a second: he’s a postman. It’s hard to imagine the immense spectacle that so many of us tune in for every day. It’s doubtful
DOWN 1. American stock exchange founded in 1971 (6) 2. N.East of Nottingham, S.East of Doncaster (7) 4. (Country) Indoor skiing, palm island and a sail hotel (5) 5. Roman language (5) 6. Killed for believing in his/her principles (6) 7. Current PM (5) 9. ____ your opinion; lose your ____ (5) 14. Above caps lock (3) 16. (Bank) ____ AMRO (3) 18. Japanese paper modelling (7) 19. Tree species; Old person (5) 20. Shagtag on a Tuesday? – Edinburgh Nightclub (6) 21. _____ Grove; cycle rider (5) 22. Robin’s partner (6) 24. State of total awareness in TV Fiction; Freshwater eel in sushi (5) 25. U.G.L.Y. You aint got no ____ (5)
whether episodes that included titles such as “Pat Takes the Bus” and “Pat Paints the Ceiling” could captivate our interest quite so succintly these days. So what about the current generation of children, and the crop of cartoons that they are growing up with? Will they too look back in twenty years and grimace at their own juvenile impressionability? It’s hard to say for certain. There are a few diamonds in the rough that give hope for the next generation’s keen eye for quality. Dora The Explorer is an international brand with millions of young fans but still manages to be both charming and educational.
But at the same time, there are still definitive examples of the same old nonsense we all watched.
Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Japanese cartoon about magic playing cards, is this generation’s Transformers; wildly popular but so transparently intended to sell toys to children that you curse the makers and their money-grabbing exploitation. In the end, it’s difficult to say whether it’s fair to blame the programme makers. It’s not their fault that children are basically idiots.
Week 1 23.09.08
Samuel seeking successful season Martin Domin discusses the forthcoming campaign with the university’s football manager, Dougie Samuel DOUGIE SAMUEL is desperate to put some silverware in the University’s trophy cabinet after missing out on honours last season. Despite a record points total, the side were pipped at the post for the East of Scotland Premier League title and Samuel admits that he still has mixed feelings about last year’s efforts: “I’ve got a huge sense of pride at the record breaking achievement but it still feels a little bit empty because we didn’t deliver any silverware. I’m extremely proud of what the players achieved, I would go as far to say that that points total won’t be bettered in my lifetime. It won’t stop us trying our very best to do just that but I think it will take some university team to actually win the Premier Division title and get 50 points. Our team can be really proud of that and I think the fact that the players who graduated in the summer moved on to such illustrious clubs is a great
compliment to that group of players.” He added: “I am frustrated because lady luck didn’t shine on us and I think to win anything you need a little luck. I think what specifically went against us was the injuries to key players in the last quarter of the season, in particular to Stephen Maxwell and Jack Beasley which was really frustrating. “Stephen Maxwell and Alistair McKinnon were injured playing for Scottish Universities
I’m extremely proud of what the players achieved. I would go as far to say that that points total won’t be bettered in my lifetime
James Pope LOOKING ON: Samuel watches his side in action
which is a great honour for them but ultimately it maybe cost us in the end. Jack Beasley hasn’t played since March and will be out for another six months. He is our creative talisman so having him out of the team is a big loss for us. “Historically and traditionally the university has had some really good sides over the years but has been a bit of a yo-yo club in East of Scotland football. Arguably our greatest achievement is to have established this club as one of the big guns because this season we’re seen as something of a scalp.” Samuel has managed to keep the nucleus of the side from last season but he admits that the players who are making the step up to the first team will have to shoulder high expectations: “I feel a bit sorry for the young players that have come in to replace those who have moved on. They’ve got to deal with this increased expectation and increased pressure as first and second year students who are still learning the game and still developing as players so it is a little unfair on them. “Having said that, what a great opportunity for them as it is a bigger challenge and a good chance for them to develop at a faster pace.” Despite running Whitehill Welfare so close for the league title last season, Samuel is realistic enough not to be demanding a repeat performance from his side. He added: “We are looking to finish in the top four in the league which would be a fantastic achievement once again. We want to try and win some silverware as well, it is important to put something on the board. If I could pick one thing I’d love to win it would be the Queens Park shield in memory of Doctor Andrew Ross who sadly passed away earlier this year and is a huge loss to the football club.” Two of Samuel’s former charges who departed in the summer have made the move to senior football, with Andrew Cook signing for Raith Rovers and Scott Bennett joining Stenhousemuir. The manager admits that he was proud to see them make the step up: “For a coach it’s a great thrill. We take a huge sense of satisfaction in that. Andrew Cook was quite raw when he joined us and he’s now left us as a much more polished player and a Scottish University internationalist. He’s now playing week in week out for Raith Rovers in the Scottish Second Division. “We’ve had other players do the same; Tommy Lennox has carved out a good career for himself in senior football at Albion Rovers and Berwick Rangers. Nicky Walker had spells at Brechin City and Stirling Albion while Andy Howat was at Cowdenbeath and Berwick .Addition-
ally, Scott Bennett has been signed by Stenhousemuir. “For us to have two players signed by senior clubs was a huge compliment to the club as a whole but also to the coaching staff. The reality is that we have three or four other players that senior clubs would snap up in a minute if those players indicated they were ready for that.” Despite the interest from senior clubs, Samuel feels that the players have far more to gain from remaining part of the University set up: “I think it’s all about the individual but for me the players have a great opportunity here to live the life of a full time footballer but to also study for a degree. By that I mean they have a couple of training sessions with us, they can do their strength and conditioning work at the Pleasance. They play university football on a Wednesday and semi pro football on a Saturday. We’ve got a great environment and training facilities. “We have coaches who are determined to create a great place for the players to enjoy themselves. I’d certainly be an advocate of players playing at university for as long as they can because although that might mean a four year career with us, in footballing terms they’re still leaving here having not reached their full potential. I would actively encourage people to see out their careers with us.” The university side have made an indifferent start to the league season but Samuel is refusing to push the panic button just yet: “I’ve got great faith in the players we have. The reality is that we have very influential players missing or who haven’t been available for training. Michael Hazeldine, arguably the best striker in East of Scotland football, has been at a handful of training sessions and he has been forced to play in matches due to the other players not being available. He’s been doing his pre-season in matches because he wasn’t available over the summer. Peder Beck-Friis only just came back last week and Alistair McKinnon hasn’t been available either. Its a good time for teams to play us but once we get a fully fit squad available I’m confident we can have another good season.” The Scottish Cup has been a successful tournament for Samuel’s men over the last few seasons. They reached the second round two years ago and went one better last season. They begin this season’s campaign on Saturday against Civil Service Strollers at Peffermill. Although their opponents are in the league below, Samuel will not be treating them lightly: “I think a lot of people will make us favourites but I think the First Division is stronger than it has ever been and the Strollers represent a
banana skin for us. We’ve become a scalp in any competition and for a side to beat Edinburgh University in the Scottish Cup at Peffermill would represent something very significant for them and could really ignite their season. “I think we have to be wary of that as it means the world to everybody at our football club to do well in the Scottish Cup. I don’t think our season is defined by it but it does have the impact of raising the profile of the club and increases excitement levels in the club and the university as a whole. We will work extremely hard between now and then to make sure we’re as prepared for this game as we were for those against Keith and Deveronvale in the past.” Having led his side to success over the past few years, you would be forgiven for expecting Samuel
I think a lot of people will make us favourites but the Civil Service Strollers represent something of a banana skin for us to be looking to progress his own career but he insists that he’s more then happy to remain on the touchline at Peffermill: “I do think about advancing my career. As a role model for our players I think it’s good that I have ambitions. I would like to test myself at a higher level one day but I really enjoy this job and being part of this club. I think it’s a special place and club and it has made a footprint in my heart and so I have no plans to leave in the immediate future. “At the end of the day results will dictate how long I am here and I think if we do well then maybe an opportunity will come along for me but if we don’t then maybe the chairman will decide I’ve been here long enough! I’m happy working with this group of players and I’m extremely fortunate to be part of this club.” No matter how successful they are this season, there is no doubt that the current side will be regarded as one of the best in the club’s history. If they can kickstart their season with a victory on Saturday, they will be hoping for another glorious cup run and perhaps a glamour tie in the new year. Although the Scottish Cup is one trophy that won’t be paraded at Peffermill, it would be no surprise to see Samuel and his coaching staff lead their team to glory again this season.
Published on Nov 25, 2009
Alan Williamson plays God with Spore Alan Williamson plays God with Spore our fortnightly literary supplement, is back with the Polly and th...