How safe is Edinburgh? Jen Bowden looks at what is being done to combat crime in the capital
Student FEATURES PAGES 14-15
Crop tops? Really? Just as the noughties enter their final year, the nineties come back into fashion. Lifestyle investigates. LIFESTYE PAGES 24-25
SINCE 1887 - THE UK’S OLDEST STUDENT NEWSPAPER
Week 2 20.01.2009
Rectorial race is on as Galloway launches his campaign • University political societies rally behind Iain Macwhirter • Foulkes pushes for Pleasance Theatre refurbishment Neil Pooran THE CONTEST for the position of University of Edinburgh Rector heated up this week in the wake of outspoken MP George Galloway announcing his decision to run, while the other candidates’ campaigns gathered pace. The MP for Bethnal Green and Bow said he would be specifically running against Labour MSP George Foulkes, who he has challenged to debate in ‘every lecture hall, canteen and coffee bar in the university.’ Galloway is known for his vehemently left wing and anti-war views, as well as his bombastic style. He stated that his election would ‘bring excitement’ to the University, but also attempted to dispel fears he would fail to take up the duties associated with the role, which involves chairing the University’s court, saying: “I will not be a token candidate… I will be here regularly.” Speaking in Old College last Saturday, he expressed fears that universities were being ‘downgraded into commercial organisations’, saying: “we are beginning to lose sight of the value of education.” Galloway also stated that the exclusive image of Edinburgh University was in some ways detrimental to attracting students from poorer backgrounds into higher education. The three candidates are due to release manifestos in the coming weeks, with voting to take place on February 11-12. Galloway says he hopes to be ‘up to speed’ on issues around the university as the campaign progresses. Prominent journalist Iain
News p. 4
Educational Ethics Scottish Government faces backlash over interference in syllabus
Macwhirter’s campaign received a major boost after several of the university’s political societies joined forces to back him. Edinburgh University’s Liberal Democrats, Greens, Conservatives and Scottish Nationalists issued a joint statement saying: “Following the close of nominations it is apparent that Iain MacWhirter is the only credible candidate for Rector.” “He is the one candidate standing in this election willing to set aside petty party politics and deliver for both students and staff. He has spoken out passionately, time and time again, on issues that really matter to students such as ID cards, top up fees and student funding.” “He will ensure that our university and students get a better deal and that our voice is heard.” “Only by challenging all politicians to deliver for students can we secure the funding higher education needs and deserves, particularly during this period of financial uncertainty.” “With Iain as Rector we can all be confident that our future is in safe hands. We might not always agree with Iain on the issues or indeed each other for that matter but what we can agree on is that Iain is the best man for the job” George Foulkes’ campaign told Student that they would be ready to face Galloway’s ‘bluff and bluster’, as he threw his support behind a bid to refurbish the Pleasance theatre. The little-used theatre has a substantial seating capacity but fails to draw in crowds due to its outdated equipment and furnishings. The refurbishment costs will be at least £150, 000, and Foulkes will attempt to raise the money through the Scottish Arts Council. firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment p. 8
Brown’s Boys Dan Hope examines Gordon Brown’s political dream team.
Film p. 16
Off the Top Rope Aronofsky’s The Wrestler turns out to be the surprise hit of the season
On the job hunt
• Crisis looms for final-year students as one in six graduate vacancies are slashed Rachel Hunt 2009 is set to be a difficult year for graduates, after a survey of 100 leading graduate employers revealed that top companies are set to slash their graduate intake by 17 percent. The report by market research company High Fliers Research has confirmed the fears of many final year students facing a job market shrunk by the effects of the current economic turmoil. Companies ranked in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, including Morgan Stanley, Marks and Spencer and British Airways detailed their plans to cut back recruitment targets for the next twelve months. In most cases, this was a continuation of a policy they had followed in 2008. In all, 7,000 of the 40,000 placements previously on offer for 2008/2009 have been subsequently withdrawn. London is the worst affected, reporting 47 percent fewer entry-level jobs in investment banking. The downturn has also severely
hit retail, accountancy and the engineering and industrial sectors. The survey suggests that most of the employers were still actively recruiting at between 15 and 20 universities across the UK. However, in a recent investiga-
“This is shaping up to be one of the worst years of last two decades to be graduating from university” Martin Birchall, Managing Director, High Fliers Research tion by The Guardian, Malcolm Grant, head of the Russell Group of 20 leading universities, claimed many companies had cut back recruitment at all but five universities - Oxford, Cambridge and three London institutions, The report ranks the University of Edinburgh as the twelfth mosttargeted university by graduate recruiters, down from eighth the
previous year, in a table topped by Manchester, London and Warwick. These results have justified the general feeling of pessimism among final years nationwide, reported in an additional survey conducted in December of last year. Only 13 percent of the 1,000 students questioned believed that they would obtain their desired job, with half concerned over cancellations of offers and three quarters fearing the threat of redundancy in their first year of work. Nevertheless, the results are not all bad news. Some employment areas are still recruiting heavily. Top of the list is the public sector, with an increase of 51 percent in their graduate intake in the last two years, followed by the armed forces with a 17 percent rise. Of the graduate vacancies available this year, 20.1 percent are in accountancy, by far the largest segment, followed by 13.5 percent in the public sector and 11.4 percent in the armed forces. For the lucky few that land their dream job, the average starting salary is set to be £27,000, a £1,500 in-
crease on their 2008 counterparts. Aldi, a discount chain currently riding high on increased demand for low cost food, continues to lure graduates. A trainee area manager can expect a £40,000 salary and Audi A4 company car. The company receieves around 1,000 applications for every graduate place. Overall however the view for many graduates remains grim. The managing director of Hign Fliers Research, Martin Birchall, believes that the majority of students have a “slim” chance of landing a graduate level job. Commenting on the report’s findings, he said: “Not only have vacancies been reduced substantially for those finishing university in 2009, but it is now clear that many of lastyear’s entry-level jobs did not materialise either - leaving many graduates from the ‘Class of 2008’ out of work too.” “There is understandable panic on campuses that this is shaping up to be one of the worst years of the last two decades to be graduating from university.” email@example.com
of students are confident of getting their desired job
1,000 number of
applications for a graduate job at Aldi
£27k average starting graduate salary
Cost of city transport set to rise • Leading bus companies aiming to protect staff salaries and compensate for fuel prices
YOU WAIT FOREVER FOR A FARE INCREASE AND THEN...: Lothian Buses have brought in the second price rise since last April.
Harriet Kay Public transport in Edinburgh has become more expensive following decisions this week by two major Edinburgh bus companies to revise their fares, raising the price of a single journey to £1.20. Lothian Buses, the main company providing services within the city, has reacted to rising fuel prices and pressure to protect their staff’s livelihoods by increasing their fares for the second time in under ten months. The increases, which came into effect on Sunday, will also see the
price of a monthly student pass rise to £35. In a statement on the company’s website, Managing Director Ian Craig stated that: “The operation of bus services is labour-intensive and the cost of staff salaries is our largest single cost.” He added that the company aims to keep labour costs “stable and predictable well into 2010”, and that the price rise could help to ensure stability during the current economic turmoil. Lothian Buses have also cited the rising price of energy as a contribut-
ing factor in the latest revision of their fares. The company buys over 20 million litres of diesel each year. Unlike airlines, bus companies cannot levy a fuel surcharge on their tickets and so have to absorb the costs of the violently fluctuating oil markets. The basic fare was last raised in April 2008, when the price rose to £1.10, having previously stood at £1 since March 2000. Since Sunday a single adult ticket costs £1.20 and an all-day DayRider pass costs £3.00. The company’s Ridacard season pass, which is especially popular among students, will now
cost students £35 per month or £456 annually. Furthermore, the Airlink, the popular airport shuttle service vital for Edinburgh’s tourism industry, has not escaped the fare rises and now costs £6 for a return ticket. FirstGroup, which provides services linking Edinburgh to towns and villages in the Borders, has also put up fares on its South East and Central Scotland services to match their competitor with £1.20 single tickets. Paul Thomas, Managing Director of First Scotland East, commented that: “With the cost of running a car outstripping the rate of inflation by
34 per cent over the last decade, I have complete confidence that, taking these fare changes into account, First continues to offer extremely competitive fares and value for money services.” “Decisions to revise fares are not taken lightly and I am confident that we have done all we can to keep fare increases to a minimum while continuing to provide a quality bus service in Edinburgh and the Lothians.”
More cash for part-time students Jordan Campbell Many part-time students could soon be entitled to extra funding, it emerged after the Scottish Government announced a program of new financial benefits, which for the first time is extended to postgraduates. Funding that is currently limited to those on full postgraduate courses will now be available to part-time students on a pilot basis scheme, with an estimated 150 students to benefit during 2009-10. Part-time undergraduate students will also benefit from an expansion of the ILA500 scheme that was introduced last September, which offers grants of up to £500.
It is proposed that these funds will now be made available across a much wider spectrum of courses. The scheme is part of an attempt to help soften the impact of the current economic downturn for those in higher education. Funding will be given to those involved in subjects that are part of the Scottish Government’s economic priority sectors, which include energy, financial and business services, creative industries and education. In unveiling the plans, Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education, stated, “The Scottish Government recognises the financial pressures faced by learners during the current economic climate.”
She went on to add that the new measures would “benefit part-time
of Edinburgh University’s postgraduates study part-time students at all levels.” The current recession is predicted to hit part-time postgraduate studies as businesses are expected
to cut back on further training and education for employees. However there has been a noted upsurge in people enrolling in part-time postgraduate studies, financed personally in order to enhance their chances in an increasingly bleak employment market. The total proportion of students within the University of Edinburgh’s student population that are parttime is around 15 percent, with 37 percent of all postgraduates at the University studying on a part-time basis. Robert Lawrie, head of the University’s Scholarships & Student Finance Department told Student, “Any additional options of funding, especially during these difficult fi-
nancial times is very welcome.” He also added that “We look forward to learning more about the pilot scheme, which I very much hope will include Edinburgh University.” It is expected that the full details of the pilot plans will be announced over the coming weeks. The proposals will only be applicable to Scottish students in Scotland. Bill Rammell, UK Higher Education Minister, said in October 2008 that he would consider part-time students in a review of education funding due to be carried out early this year.
4 News Government backing for Fulbright scheme The Scottish Government has given £180,000 to the US-UK Fulbright scheme, which provides scholarships to enable postgraduate students and academics to study in Britain and America with the aim of fostering cultural understanding. Penny Egan, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission, said: “We are so pleased, in our 60th anniversary year, to be working moreclosely with the Scottish Government to strengthen the opportunitiesfor academic exchange with the USA.” Famous alumni of the Fulbright programme have included the author of “Catch 22”, Joseph Heller, the poet Sylvia Plath, and action movie star Dolph Lundgren, who quit after two weeks to concentrate on acting. JE
Uni anger at Government meddling • Claims that the Scottish Government is ‘telling universities what to teach’
Fatal shooting in Edinburgh A murder inquiry has been launched after a 26-year-old man was found with serious gunshot injuries in Hazelwood Grove in the Inch area of the city. The man was found at approximately 6am on Saturday and succumbed to his injuries on Saturday night. The dead man is described as being 5ft 9ins tall and stocky with dark hair. On the night of the shooting, he was wearing a grey hooded Nike top with the words ‘Just Do It’ in pink lettering on the front, black Nike tracksuit trousers, and white Nike trainers. Anyone with any information is urged to contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131 311 3131.An incident room has been set up in Leith. JE
Grant awarded to improve ‘town and gown’ relations The City of Edinburgh council has donated a £5, 000 grant to Students Association External Convener Thomas Graham to fund research into relations between Edinburgh students and the city’s permanent residents. An independent company will look into what perceptions local residents have of students in the city, as well as students’ roles in their local neighbours, as part of a drive to build good relations between ‘town and gown’ communities. EUSA intends to publish a ‘Community Guide’ for students by the end of the academic year which will contain advice on how students can maintain good relationships with their neighbours. NP
Flickr: freefotouk THE CORRIDORS OF POWER: Holyrood and lecture theatres alike have been rocked by claims of government interference in course content
James Ellingworth Allegations that the Scottish Government is pressuring leading universities, including Edinburgh, to change the content of their courses have provoked widespread anger among leading figures in Scottish higher education. A letter to the chairman of the Scottish Funding Council from Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop seems to advocate tailoring course content to the state of the Scottish economy. In the letter, Hyslop writes: “I expect the council to work with the sectors to ensure that...provision is capable of meeting both the short-
term skills needs of the economy and changing demands in the context of a future economic recovery.” Hyslop added that: “Our key ambitions will be to better develop entrepreneurial capacity and graduate employability, to work actively with employers to ensure skills learned during courses at college or university can be utilised to best effect in the workplace.” While no current university principals have spoken publicly about the plans as yet, there is understood to be widespread anger among leading figures in Scottish higher education anxious about the implications for academic freedom. Tony Axon, speaking on behalf
of lecturers’ union UCU Scotland, said: “We would be very concerned if the funding council started dictating provision, particularly based on economic goals.” “Tailoring courses to suit the needs of the economy is dangerous because it is so a fickle. Six months ago, training people to work in financial services would have seemed like a good idea.” University of Edinburgh rectorial candidate and journalist Iain Mcwhirter told Student: “The Government can’t dictate what’s taught in universities. This amounts to an attack on academic freedom.” The relationship between the Scottish Government and universi-
ties has remained tense since November 2007, when a high-profile dispute followed universities being granted an increase of £30m in budget funding, instead of the £168m they had asked for. Speaking on Monday, Hyslop defended her proposal, saying that, as recepients of public funding universities should be “working together [with government] for the common good.” She added: “Taxpayers would not expect us to provide a blank cheque to universities without universities contributing to the national goals of the country.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Debt is barrier to medical study Hannah Carr
Commenting on the proposals, Prime Minister Gordon Brown
The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that increasing levels of student debt could scupper government attempts to make the medical profession accessible to people of different social backgrounds. The BMA’s comments were in response to the government’s recently published ‘New Opportunities White Paper’, which outlines plans to boost career prospects and social mobility. The paper suggests methods for supporting child development, schools, those year olds in the transition period between education and work, those who are economically active and families.
“Talented individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds will be discouraged or simply unable to pursue a career in medicine.” Louise McMenemy, British Medical Association said: “During this global economic downturn we must continue to invest in people so they have a fair
chance to achieve their potential.” The government will also create the Panel on Fair Access to Professions, whose aim is to make sure that social background does not impact on one’s chance of entering their chosen career. However, medical student leaders have said that the government must aim to decrease rising levels of student debt in order to increase social mobility. According to Louise McMenemy, who is on the BMA’s Medical Students’ Committee (MSC), “The spectre of debt hangs over the government’s entire social mobility agenda. “At present medical graduates leave university with £21,000 worth of debt on average, a figure
that could rise as high as £37,0001 in the next few years now that variable top up fees have been introduced.” McMenemy added that, “in view of this worrying situation the BMA remains concerned that talented individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds will either be discouraged or simply unable to pursue a career in medicine because of the spiralling debt burden. A 2004 study by the Board of Medical Education, found that of those applying to dental and medical school in 2003, only 41% were not from professional or managerial backgrounds. email@example.com
Hundreds unite for campus Gaza protests • Thursday event among best-attended Edinburgh campus demos in recent years • News of last weekend’s ceasefire agreements will be welcomed by university’s anti-war groups
Julia Sanches A candle-lit vigil for the casualties of the recent Gaza clashes takes place at St John’s Church, Princes Street, hours after the protest, pictured right.
Anna MacSwan UNIVERSITY OF Edinburgh students gathered in force last Thursday to protest against the violence in Gaza. Over 200 students, led by the Edinburgh University Palestine Solidarity Society (EUPSS), took the opportunity to express their contempt towards the recent ground invasion of Gaza. The protest began at 1:30pm in Bristo Square, before taking a tour around the George Square campus. The event was followed up with representatives from EUPSS, People and Planet and the university’s Stop the War Coalition presenting an open letter, signed by students, to
the Scottish Parliament. Demonstrators displayed anti-war signs and chanted “End the siege in Gaza. Ceasefire now!” as they called for an end to the bloodshed with an immediate withdrawal of Israeli military from Gaza. Ceasefires have since been declared by both Israel and Hamas and, as Student went to press, reports were emerging of Israeli troops gradually pulling out of the conflict zone. Shabana Basheer, president of EUPSS and one of the main organisers of the events, was amazed with the amount of student support. She said, “I think there were a lot of people who wouldn’t normally be moved to protest, but the level of feeling against the war in Gaza is so high that they wanted to make their
voices heard.” Although the protest remained peaceful, some of those attending told Student that they felt the police presence to be excessive, with around 20 police officers attending the protest equipped with video cameras and batons. Many students said they felt ‘intimidated’ by the police. Humphrey Wood, a representative from People and Planet, said “police intervention prevented the protest from marching through Edinburgh and appearing in front of the Scottish Government. In this light the police presence was extremely negative and lessened the impact of the protest on the general public and the Scottish parliament itself.” Edinburgh’s Women in Black
group also staged a female-only silent protest in the square on Wednesday afternoon. Women in Black is an international women’s group that is opposed to war and violence. It originated in 1988 when Israeli and Palestinian women held a vigil together in Jerusalem in an attempt to end the Israeli occupation of Gaza. Hilary Cornish, organiser of the silent protest, said: “The repeated call for peace is very powerful. Women in Black are trying to prevent the build up of a militaristic, hyper-masculine society”. Commenting on the unusual method of protest, she added, “Silent protests allow people to come to their own conclusions and can be very moving.” Before news broke of last weekend’s ceasefire, EUPSS had declared
plans to continue with their action by holding both the Women in Black vigil and student protest every Wednesday and Thursday until such an agreement had been reached. Basheer stated that “we need to keep asking the Scottish Parliament to put more pressure on Westminster to do everything in its power to ensure an immediate ceasefire is put in place.” For Barack Obama’s inauguration EUPSS, along with other human rights groups in Scotland, will also be performing a candlelight vigil that will commence at Bristo Square, finishing with a protest outside the US Consulate.
Universities ‘neglect teaching for research’ • Rectors of ‘ancient’ universities claim focus on research damages the quality of teaching James Ellingworth and Les McNulty The rectors of several of Scotland’s anicent universities have claimed that the focus on research at leading universities is leading to a decline in teaching standards. Mark Ballard, Rector of the University of Edinburgh, questioned the value of the Research Assessment Exercise as a method of assessing universities. He said: “If you set people a hurdle, they will spend all their time focusing on what they need to do to jump over that hurdle, rather
than proper research or proper teaching. “Universities should be actually supporting good research, which informs lectures and articles, as an end in itself rather than looking at it as magic money or ‘points’.” Scottish universities performed strongly in the last Research Assessment Exercise, with Edinburgh performing particularly well across a wide range of subject areas. Craig Murray of Dundee University added that research had led to teaching being relegated to the level of a “secondary concern” at Scottish universities.
He said: “Of course, research is fundamentally important but the primary role of universities is to turn out well-educated graduates.” Talking about how academics are commonly assessed on the basis of their research contributions, as opposed to their performance in teaching, Murray added: “They could be the best teacher in the world and it really does them no good. “There is undoubtedly a perception that teaching of students is a secondary consideration and there is a real danger universities neglect teaching students in a bid to source
money.” Charles Kennedy, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and now Rector of the University of Glasgow, also expressed reservations about a bias towards research in Scottish universities. Kennedy said: “The research function of universities is critical, but teaching is equally critical and we want proper provision being made for both. “There is an underlying worry that the whole thrust of Holyrood policy is more research-orientated than focused on teaching,” He added that some subject
areas that were inherently less research-focused, such as the humanities, could be being punished under the current model. EUSA recently launched and awards scheme to highlight goodquality teaching, in which students can nominate their preferred members of staff on the organisation’s website. The awards are open until March, and have so far received over 600 nominations, mostly for academics in the College of Humanities and Social Science. firstname.lastname@example.org
Extravagant memorial for legendary mutt Florence Enock As the crowd fell silent and Pipe Major Robert Anderson played a lament composed especially for the occasion, a Skye terrier called Blue helped to lay a wreath on Greyfriars Bobby’s memorial stone. Last Wednesday marked the 137th anniversary of the death of Greyfriars Bobby, the Edinburgh Skye terrier who became famous for his incredible loyalty and devotion to his master, John Gray. According to local legend, when Gray died in 1858, a bereaved Bobby kept constant guard over his master’s grave for 14 years, leaving only for meals, until his own death in 1872. A short ceremony was held on Wednesday by the One o’clock Gun Association in Greyfriars Kirkyard in order to remember Bobby and what he meant to those who knew him. The association’s chairman Stu-
art Wilson said, “Greyfriars Bobby himself put a smile on people’s faces during a very, very dark period of Edinburgh’s history”. The successful ceremony will become an annual event to commemorate the historic hound’s tale of unwavering love and dedication. The inscription on Bobby’s headstone reads, “Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.” Despite the popularity of the tale, several sources in the city (including certain official tours of the graveyard in which the terrier’s memorial stone is laid) relate a slightly less sentimental explanation for Bobby’s loyalty. Many cynics have pointed out that one of the buildings backing onto the land once housed a butcher’s shop, which is rumoured to have thrown scraps and offal to local strays. Julia Sanches
U of E at heart of ‘Green Revolution’ Josh King £1.1 BILLION of funding for research into renewable energy has been released by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), and the University of Edinburgh is one of four universities that will benefit. Scottish institutes are to play a prominent role in this new initiative, with the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde, and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney all to receive substantial funding. The proposal was made by the ETI on January 13, and the funding will be spread across four projects aimed at providing the public with affordable, low carbon power. The first four projects announced by the ETI - Projects Now, Helm Wind, Deepwater Turbine and ReDAPT will receive funding totalling approximately £20 million. Welcoming the news of the Scottish involvement in the projects, First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This is fantastic news for the world class research and development in our universities. The Universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh, and the European Marine Energy Centre will be at the heart of building cutting edge, sustainable technologies for a clean energy future.” The government has set a target of 80 percent reduction in carbon emis-
sions by 2050, and to that end is aiming for 15 percent of the UK’s power to come from renewable sources by 2020. Of the four projects announced, three will focus on developing new technology for offshore wind turbines - specifically improving reliability and improving maintenance access. The fourth project, in which Edinburgh University will play a crucial role, will seek to develop tidal turbine technology to a commercial level. Project ReDAPT is a UK-based consortium led by Rolls-Royce for which, along with the likes of EDF Energy and E.ON, the University of Edinburgh will help to install and test a 1 mega-watt tidal turbine at the EMEC in Orkney. Science and Innovation Minister Lord Drayson said: “The Government has put record investment into science, including our funding of the ETI. Their work is crucial to achieving a green revolution in Britain and we’ll be supporting those growth industries and next-generation technologies where we have a clear global impact.” The ETI represents a unique example of cooperation between global corporations and the UK government - a model that many believe is the most viable option for long term and commercially viable eco-friendly development. email@example.com
University reaches for the stars Anna MacSwan Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are to participate in a project aiming to curb global warming by means of satellites measuring carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. Known as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) and the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT), the instruments are to be launched by NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency over the course of the next two months. The repeated global coverage enabled by OCO and GOSAT will for the first time provide regional accounts of carbon emissions and absorption, including for remote regions such as the Amazon basin and African forests, which have long been of key interest and accounted for large gaps in scientific understanding of the carbon cycle. Such data could potentially be of immense importance in tackling climate change, not least in that identification of environmental conditions which encourage the absorption of carbon dioxide, such as forests or oceans, also known as carbon sinks, could help to reduce emissions by preservation or recreation of such conditions naturally or artificially. Speaking to Student, Paul Palmer, Lecturer in Remote Sensing & Modelling at the School of GeoSciences, said: “Certainly for the land
A lecturer from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity was recently named as one of 12 young academics to win an award recognising the most promising young theology academics worldwide. Dr Paul Nimmo, an Edinburgh native who became a lecturer at the university in June, will receive the $10,000 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise in recognition of his research on Swiss theologian Karl Barth. On top of the prize money, The John Templton Foundation will also give Dr Nimmo a further $10,000 to enable him to give lectures in institutions across the world. The award, first presented in 2005, will be presented to Dr. Nimmo in Germany in May. LB
‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello...
OUT OF THIS WORLD: University of Edinburgh researchers will be using satellites to measure carbon dioxide levels based sinks, we do not know where they all are and how they will respond to changes in climate. “To put it into context, we cannot account for an annual sink of carbon equivalent to six times the weight of the human population.” “Because the overlying atmospheric concentration of carbon
dioxide is so large and uniform, it is a genuine engineering feat to be able to measure carbon dioxide from space to a precision necessary to observe the small changes due to surface sources and sinks.” Given that the new data produced by these satellites will also help to identify regions responsi-
ble for the highest levels of carbon emission and to quantify the outputs of individual countries, it is hoped that in the longer term the project will enable development of a better accounting system for international carbon trading. firstname.lastname@example.org
Anger over NUS reforms James Ellingworth
Proposed reforms to the way the National Union of Students (NUS) is run have caused controversy, with prominent black public figures arguing that the measures will reduce black students’ representation. Supporters of the new constitution say it are aimed at making the NUS more efficient, as well as improving representation for postgraduate and part-time students. The reforms will be put the vote again at an extraordinary conference to be held on Tuesday, after having failed to pass at the 2008 annual meeting. Black students’ representatives have been among the most prominent opponents of the reforms, arguing that minority groups’ concerns would be sidelined by the new system. Representatives for female and disabled students have pledged to support the reforms.
Award-winning academic in seventh heaven
Black students’ representatives have drafted in figures including Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, and the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, to campaign for the suspension of any vote on the reforms until an exhaustive equality assessment is complete. Zepeniah said: “It saddens and disappoints me to see that, instead of encouraging representation, they are sidelining the black students officer.” NUS President Wes Streeting has hit back at critics, describing the call for an equality report as “a cyncial political ploy” to block necessary changes. The reforms have also been criticised as undemocratic, with claims that the proposed system of forming policy in locally elected ‘zones’ distances ordinary students from the process. email@example.com
It has emerged that £170,000 has been spent in attempts to prosecute a stripper for impersonating a police officer. Stuart Kennedy, who took up the job to pay off his university fees, has repeatedly been arrested for his act, in which he performs under the name Sergeant Eros. The latest case against him collapsed this week after prosecutors reassessed the evidence, and there is growing anger at mounting police and court costs. Sergeant Eros has on occasion had his fake police uniform confiscated by Grampian Police for being ‘highly realistic’, and has also been investigated for possession of an offensive weapon - an imitation baton. JE
Mystery of Edinburgh boy who has never eaten a meal
Charles Lee JUMPING FOR JOY: Simon Burrow of the Edinburgh Footlights musical theatre group promotes their new show “The Pajama Game”, which aims to boost awareness of sexually transmitted infections.
A seven-year-old Edinburgh boy has never eaten a meal in his life, leaving doctors baffled. Tyler Mills has been fed through a tube since birth, and has never eaten more than a few mouthfuls of food. Doctors have been unable to find anything physically wrong with Tyler, and have agreed his condition is purely psychological. His mum Arlene told reporters: “As a baby he used to scream and scream but it wasn’t because he wanted his bottle - it was because he didn’t. “I always thought he would just snap out of it and eat, but he never has. “There’s no problem with the swallowing mechanism, it’s all in his head.” JE
In with the old
As Gordon Brown surrounds himself with familiar faces Dan Hope examines what the return of political heavyweights may mean for the next general election.
ast your minds back to the distant summer of 2008; a floundering Gordon Brown was struggling to maintain the leadership of a tired and divided Labour party, opinion polls indicated an unassailable Tory lead, many commentators predicted a swift and painful fall from grace, there was even talk of the ‘death of New Labour’. Now, however, it is inconceivable that anybody but Brown should lead Labour into the next election, and what’s more, there is still a chance that he could bring about an unprecedented fourth term of Labour government as the gap between the parties diminishes. It is tempting to attribute this tentative career recovery solely to the current financial situation and the public perception that Brown is probably well equipped to see us through a recession. However, something has happened within the party too that serves to strengthen the leadership and Brown’s job security; namely, the recent recruitment of distinctly Blairite politicians to high profile
positions within the government. Former number 10 spin doctor turned novelist Alistair Campbell has returned to the fold in an informal, but influential advisory position, Peter Mandelson is back as business secretary, although his influence undoubtedly stretches beyond the remit of his department and most recently, Alan Milburn, previously a thorn in the PM’s side, has accepted a significant role heading up the commission on social mobility. By making these appointments, Brown has gone some way to preventing the schism that might have occurred had he continued to surround himself exclusively with political friends and allies. There is no more talk of a leadership challenge, no more inter-party briefings and counter briefings; the Labour party, for the moment, looks to be presenting a united front which it is essential to maintain from now until the next general election, whether it be later this year or next spring. Electoral success is far more attainable if members of the party seeking it appear to be on
the same wavelength, an impression which last year, Labour was unable to achieve. It would be cynical to suggest, however, that Brown’s hand of reconciliation is offered only in the hope that it might save him from destruction by his own party. It could be that we are finally seeing the ‘government of all the talents’ that was promised when Brown initially took the reins as Prime Minister. After all, few can argue that Mandelson lacks the experience to fulfil his current post or even that Alistair Campbell, like him or loathe him, isn’t a very useful operator to have behind the scenes. It could simply be that Brown is assembling his strongest team with which to beat David Cameron’s Conservative party. If so, what will the Tory response be? Is the pressure now on to assemble an equally potent team and perhaps reinstate some of the party’s big hitters? There has been recent speculation that veterans Ken Clarke and David Davis might make returns to the shadow cabinet, although there remains strong objection to
Clarke within the party due to his sympathetic stance on Europe and Davis is considered somewhat of a maverick after temporarily resigning his seat in objection to the government’s 90 day terrorist detention proposals which many in his party supported. Perhaps, though, by dismissing two such experienced, driven and generally well-liked politicians, Cameron’s Tories are liable to fall into the trap that Brown has now demonstrated he is at pains to avoid. Perhaps Cameron should take note of how the Labour party has strengthened since their leader decided to eschew tribal tendencies and open the door to former foes and critics. Cameron’s youthful, privately educated clique may begin to look a little underwhelming in the face of the new, all inclusive governing party; after all, there is no doubting who came out worse when shadow chancellor George Osborne got entangled with Mandelson following their summer exploits in Corfu. If, as Milburn’s appointment would suggest, Brown is willing to
let go of the (recent) past and look to rebuild the New Labour project with the aid of all the talent he has at his disposal, Cameron may have to look at what options he has to provide a similar balance and, importantly, a similar level of experience within his own party. If Brown’s new political partnerships prove fruitful, we may see a closer election fight than was forecast just a few months ago. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cooking the books James Ellingworth
National Death Sentence As a cholera consumes Zimbabwe Juliet Evans searches for hope in an increasingly desperate region
frica’s worst epidemic of cholera on record is happening now in Zimbabwe, to which President Mugabe is turning a blind eye. The official death toll rests at 2,000 with almost 40,000 infected patients, though there are wide claims this is an underestimation, masking an even grimmer reality. This figure becomes even more tragic when you realise that under normal conditions cholera is a preventable disease, yet in Zimbabwe the lack of any recognisable health service and clean water supplies is allowing many unnecessary deaths. Cholera is one of the most rapidly fatal illnesses known to man and is contracted by ingesting water or food contaminated with sewage containing the vibrio cholerae bacteria. The collapsed infrastructure in Zimbabwe due to prolonged economic and political crises means that effective sewage or water systems are virtually non-existent leaving civilians to find drinking water from dirty wells and rivers. The disease manifests as extreme diarrhea and vomiting, with the patient losing vast amounts of body fluid and thus becoming dangerously dehydrated. If oral rehydration therapy is not provided a patient may die within a few days. The desperate shortage
of drugs and equipment mean that many hospitals are closing and patients are flocking to neighbouring South Africa to receive lifesaving treatment at the border. As a result the disease is spreading to South Africa where 1,419 cases and 13 deaths have already been recorded. Mugabe’s government which came to power in 1980 has long been criticised for apathy and neglect to its people –the Nobel Peace Prize winning campaign organisation; Physicians for Human Rights directly hold Mugabe responsible for the scale of the disaster (something he claims is ‘a pack of lies’) and have conducted an investigatory report backed by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. They reported that the government has deliberately played down the extent of the outbreak with Mugabe even claiming an obvious lie that there ‘is no cholera’ in December 2008, in order to remove the possible threat of being overthrown by the Western countries of the UN - one of his greatest insecurities. He accuses these nations of using the cholera epidemic as an excuse to overthrow him. Mugabe does nothing to help repair the chaotic infrastructure while he carefully
imports in his own bottled drinking water, leading the PHR to accuse him and his regime of ‘crimes against humanity’. The report also highlighted how warnings given to Zimbabwe in 2006 of a potential cholera outbreak due to failing water purification systems were ignored. Physicians for Human Rights now strongly calls for the UN to step in. At the annual conference of Zanu in December 2008 Mugabe appeared defiant in the face of his country’s problems; it seemed he was unaware of the extent of the catastrophe surrounding him. In response to continual calls for his resignation he stated ‘Zimbabwe is mine’ and that ’only God’ could make him resign from power. He also issued a warning to any African countries thinking of intervening saying ‘I don’t know of any African country that is brave enough to do that’. Indeed Zimbabwe is acknowledged to be on the brink of collapse – democracy ceased years ago, with proof of this in the staying on of power by Mugabe after he was voted out in elections in March 2008. The world has done little, bar issuing warnings such as that issued by the G8 summit in July 2008 that it does “not accept the legitimacy of a government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people”. And
when Gordon Brown intervened, Mugabe famously dismissed him as ’a little tiny dot on this planet’. Brown has since expressed how important it is that Britain sends humanitarian aid to the cholera victims, yet no apparent plan of action to remove Mugabe from government has been proposed. With the deathly cholera raging on day by day the only hope of a real long-term solution seems to be for Mugabe to accept that he must act now to save his nation, by restoring the water purifying systems to establish a clean water supply and by improving the general infrastructure. But this would implicate loss of face to Mugabe himself who stands adamant that there is no cholera crisis. If pressure to do this from outsiders including the UN, continues to be scorned and ignored, then there may be no option but to send in peacekeeping troops - a plan supported by South Africa’s Archbishop Tutu. Ultimately the day Mugabe and his corrupt regime is removed from power will be the first real day of hope for the country of Zimbabwe. Sadly, this day seems far off.
he white working class has been under the media spotlight quite a bit recently, focussing on their supposed alienation from society in the face of immigration. Enough Daily Mail hysteria has even led to some government ministers ominously and disturbingly starting to refer to the ‘indigenous population of this country’. Little surprise then, that when some ‘government research’ appeared, claiming to show this alienation, it was picked up across the media spectrum. Except one small detail was missed – the study was utter rubbish. Turns out this ‘research’ was the product of interviews with a total 43 people living on certain housing estates in carefully chosen parts of the country, making any results utterly worthless. It’s hardly surprising that the government got the sound bite research they needed after spending enough time finding people to tell them what they wanted to hear. Presenting the thoughts of a hand-picked selection of residents of Runcorn, Thetford and Widnes as valid research borders on fraud. It is precisely this sort of manipulation of information that feeds cynical and dismissive attitudes as happens when each party seems to have its own set of crime statistics. It isn’t hard to find more examples of this twisting of data. Some recent proposals on social mobility were backed up by the fact that 90% of senior army officers were privately educated. Fine, except that most senior officers are fairly elderly men, so the data is really a comment on the education system of anything up to 50 years ago. In Edinburgh, the council have been advertising that complaints about youth behaviour fell by 40% last year. The problem is that this figure was simply reached by comparing April’s numbers with those for August, when the police are out in force to cover the festival. All too often, the press response is unquestioning, which allows this sort of nonsense to spread. Dodgy statistics and flawed research are passed on as fact, straight from the press release, when it would be more suitable to ridicule any minister either stupid enough to believe such information is valid, or cynical enough to pass it on as true despite knowing how misleading it is. When some claims are so badly disguised that they fall apart under the slightest scrutiny, there really is no excuse to allow public figures to get away with cooking the books. firstname.lastname@example.org
Reward our Teachers Adam Ramsay
n the last issue of Student an anonymous letter from ‘our tutors’ was printed. This letter criticised EUSA and I on two issues, so I am going to take these complaints in turn. First, it complained about a quote I gave to Student about plagiarism. There are two points here. The first is that the quote as printed was heavily edited. What I said to Student originally was that students shouldn’t plagiarise and that those who do and are caught ought to have sanctions taken against them. This part of the quote was not included in the article. The second thing I said was that a large part of the increase in plagiarism comes from students from other countries. There is a specific and substantial problem that academic culture in South East Asia is different. Students are supposed to write essays by copying large chunks of what academics have said before them, and there is no expectation that this will be referenced - it is assumed the marker will know who the excerpt is from. I explained that the university needs to invest in resolving this problem more. The second criticism was that I complained that our lecturers and tutors aren’t putting enough work into teaching. It is somewhat frustrating to be accused of this when we have been doing the exact opposite. We have never said degrees should be easy. We have never said our teachers are out to get us. The Vice President of Academic Affairs, Guy Bromley, Teaching and Learning Convener Robert Jenkin and I have all been very clear with the university in where we believe the problem lies. Academics are rewarded and recognised for the effort they put into research, but not for quality of teaching. Time and again, at university committees and in the pages of the press we have argued that our teachers need more reward and recognition when they put the effort into good teaching. We have established the Students’ Association Teaching awards to show that students value good teaching. We have argued with the university to do the same. We have met with countless people to discuss how greater recognition of good teaching could be delivered. The University of Edinburgh does need to focus more on quality teaching. Guy, Robert and I have worked hard this year to push the university in that direction. I am delighted people have noticed our work. But please don’t think that we believe for a second that the problem is that our tutors are lazy or malicious. This is a systemic problem across the university. We have been very clear that they must get the problem sorted, and I genuinely believe that they are beginning, just beginning, to listen.
Adam Ramsay is President of Edinburgh University Students Association email@example.com
Trick or Treat? Stuart Richie remains sceptical of the alternative therapies on offer at EUSA’s Well-being Fair
e’ve all heard the one about the suicidal homeopath who took an underdose. But what about the one in which a homeopath is invited to a prestigious university to peddle his bizarre and illogical remedies? Oh wait - this isn’t a joke. Yes, you read that correctly. You are, as you read this, in the middle of EUSA’s ‘Wellbeing Week’, which includes a two-day ‘Wellbeing Fair’ with, to quote Naomi Hunter (the EUSA Vice President of Societies and Activities) ‘lots of freebies, advice, makeovers, hair consultations, reflexology, homeopathy, massage, good food and smoothies.’ Did you spot the odd ones out? They were homeopathy and reflexology which, unlike the others on the list, claim to be true-blue alternative therapies instead of just nice ways to relax and increase your ‘inner feeling of warm fuzziness’ quotient. Homeopathy (a purveyor of which, incidentally, has a permanent office in Potterrow – a cause for concern in itself) is claimed by its proponents to have the power to treat – and sometimes cure - a huge
variety of ailments, from eczema to anxiety to dementia. There’s even such a thing as a homeopathic first aid kit. Patients are given solutions of various ingredients which have been diluted a huge number of times, ostensibly to increase their power. That is, the fewer molecules of the substance that there are in the solution, the more effective it is said to be. If you can feel your brain dribbling out of your ears at this point, I know how you feel. There is quite simply no mechanism known to science which could account for this, and there are a huge number of wholly unsurprising studies from respected sources such as The Lancet which show homeopathy has no effect on patients beyond a placebo. Perhaps a clue as to the true nature of homeopathy comes from one of its most regularly-used remedies, Oscillococcinum, which is an ultra-diluted solution of the liver of a particular kind of duck. Remind me, what noise do ducks make? Also appearing at the Fair is reflexology, a very relaxing-sounding procedure in which the soles of the patient’s feet are pressed in various places and in various ways by the
practitioner. So far, it’s just a foot massage. But here’s where reflexologists pour in a couple of gallons of credulity-stretching drivel. You see, the idea is that there’s a map on your foot of all your body areas. The reflexologist, by manipulating the parts of this map, can redirect the flow of Chi energy to the various regions, healing whatever ails them. Unfortunately, since any correspondence between precise areas of the feet and the body’s internal organs is utterly unknown to medicine, reflexology turns out to be about as effective as rubbing your finger along a map of Princes Street in order to help build the tram line. Oh, and by the way, Chi exists in the same way the Tooth Fairy does. Contrast the above with this: the University of Edinburgh has just spent around £41.2m on the new Informatics Forum, a building dedicated to science and research. Perfect proof, as if there were any doubt, that the University holds such ideals in high regard. I see a profound contradiction between such highminded Enlightenment principles and the shoddy, made-up world of alternative medicine. Do we really
want our Students’ Association, who work on our behalf and represent us to the rest of society, to promote the latter? A qualification, in case this all sounded too derisive - I have the utmost respect for any attempt that (the ordinarily excellent) EUSA makes to improve the wellbeing of students. The Wellbeing Fair is nothing if not well-meaning. But giving support to pseudoscience in this way gives it a patina of respectability which it simply does not deserve. You can be certain that the homeopaths and reflexologists at the Fair won’t just be talking about wellbeing. A wager: if they’re not promoting their therapies to the high heavens, making a huge variety of unsubstantiated claims about cures and remedies for illness, I’ll personally massage the feet of every Fair attendee – though I can’t be held responsible for any damage to your internal organs that results. Stuart Ritchie is President of the University of Edinburgh Humanist Society firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Since 1887 - The UK’ s oldest student newspaper
Hyslop’s recession plans shouldn’t intrude on universities
Last week saw the Scottish Government announce new attempts to help Scottish students see through the economic downturn, after the UK government in London pondered how to boost graduates’ chances of employment earlier in the month. A pilot scheme which grants part-time students extra funding is certainly welcome, but less so is the suggestion that universities should tailor their curriculum to what the government thinks will benefit the economy. Leaving aside
consideration that academics may better understand the recession than politicians, it must not be used as an excuse to exercise undue political intrusion into universities. Student understands the university’s Economics department is particularly concerned about the proposals, which were outlined by Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop in a letter to the funding council. There are good intentions behind Hyslop’s sentiments; after all it is reasonable to expect universities to put taxpayers’ money to good use,
and to provide a relevant education to students. Yet the economy has proved so turbulent in recent months that altering teaching to suit it runs the risk of being dangerously short-sighted. Given that one of the primary concessions granted from the Scottish Government’s tight funding deal to universities last year was a supposed increase in academic freedom, it is particularly galling that they should now turn around and demand a say in how lecturers operate.
In order to dispell some of the myths and misconseptions about writing for Student, here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the paper which will hopefully steer you in the right direction Q: Do I have to write something every week? A: No, you can write for us once, or whenever you have spare time. Q: The newspaper seems shrouded in mystery, is there some kind of initiation rite? A: Yes, you must jump through 7 hoops of fire naked while writing a 300 word statement on why you want to join. Em, no, there isn’t. Q: But some of the articles are poor quality.
A: Don’t sweat it, we’re more than willing to help you produce something top-notch. Q: Will I get told what I should write? A: No, we actually prefer people to come to us with their own ideas (think about what would be interesting for Edinburgh’s thousands of students to read). There are some exceptions with news and reviews sections, and occasionally the features and comment sections, where you’ll be given a story to write up.
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A: Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, acknowledged that student newspapers are now the principal places in which future journalists cut their teeth and learn valuable experience. And if you don’t want to go into journalism; employers are placing increasing emphasis on the value of extracurricular work experience at university and working at a student newspaper will look good on your CV, regardless of what you want to do after graduation. Q: How do I start? A: Come to the meeting at the Pleasance’s Pentland Room, every Tuesday at 1.15pm. You can also email editors@studentnewspaper. org, and we have socials at half 8 every Tuesday in Cache. Except not today. We’re off to Native State to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony.
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Your Letters A bad Read
taught from birth, just as he is doing now: “Nazis bad! Thinking bad! Questioning bad!” Perhaps Sam should review something a little more in his league next time, such as Role Models.
If the point of a university education is to better equip us how to think rather than what to think, then I am afraid that Sam Ross, writer of last week’s film review for The Reader, Mitchell Tedesco appears to have missed the point 3rd Year MA History entirely. Ross awards the film two stars (two less than the cerebral The following letter was written in masterpiece of post-modern, intelli- response to a letter in last week’s gent cinema that is Role Models) for Student from ‘our tutors’ the sole reason that he believes that Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet) was Dear Tutors, transformed into a central figure of pity in the film. There’s one thing you are right It seems that Ross, rather than about – it’s not fair to blame overattempting to watch and under- worked and underpaid tutors for stand the film’s messages regarding the lack of time they have to prosocietal hypocrisy, morality, and vide proper feedback and prepare justice just wanted an opportunity for tutorials and teaching. The fact to Nazi-bash. Ooh, that’s REALLY is that we need systemic changes in difficult to do! the way the university rewards good Hanna was not transformed into teaching and changes in the way a figure of sympathy or pity. It is universities are funded so that good explicitly stated that the money she teaching is encouraged. Students gives to the daughter of a concen- appreciate that you often don’t tration camp victim would not go have the time to give reasonable to a Jewish organization for Holo- feedback, but that doesn’t make it caust victims as this might be con- acceptable that we don’t receive it. sidered a form of absolution. As However, much of the rest of Bruno Ganz’s character illusrated, what you say is simply untrue. It societies do not operate by moral- just is not the case that in “most ity. They operate by laws. cases” we receive adequate feedIt also pointed out that were back. My experience is that I’ve Hanna’s crimes not detailed in a had less than five pieces of assessed book written by a victim, she would work returned with feedback that is not have been brought to court. Mr more than just a mark. It’s not just Ganz quotes the statistic that out me either: only 31% of students feel of over 8,000 guards at Auschwitz, they receive prompt feedback, only only 13 were convicted of murder 33% feel that they receive helpful (out of 19 total convictions). The feedback, and only 34% feel they question of German war guilt is a receive detailed feedback. Do you tricky one. For all we know, the think that’s acceptable? I don’t. Iraq War might be held in the same We should have a more construcregard by future generations as the tive discussion about these issues Holocaust is by us. How guilty are – we aren’t out to get the tutors, we we for letting our government do just want decent teaching. If we do what it has done? How much re- work together we can get the unisistance is enough to absolve us of versity to fund teaching properly guilt? What kind of punishment is and we can get the government to necessary for those who go along fund the university properly. After with these plans? all, as you say, you want us to sucAs Hanna asks the judge at her ceed and, with your help, we can. trial, ‘what would you have done?’ My conviction is that Sam Ross Yours Sincerely, would repeat what he has been Thomas Graham.
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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.
Old Profession, New Problems Abroad Perspective on Romance? What to do when the object of your affection declares they’re destined for pastures new in the name of education? Mhairi Blair and Auntie Dorinda* advise encouragement, enthusiasm and a little self-restraint
Dear Dorinda... 25th June 2009
Dear Dorinda, I just wanted some more advice, even though you ig19th January 2009
I don’t know whether I’m being irrational here. My boyfriend has set his heart on a studying abroad next year. I’ve told him if he wants to go I’d let him, but we’d probably need portable webcams so that I wouldn’t miss him too much and I could see the new sights he’s seeing. I’ve also stipulated GPS tracking could be a good idea, so that if he went on a night out I could check if he arrived home safely. I was also considering starting an airline credit card, just so that I could fly out to him every weekend. Do you think I’m going a little overboard? I understand the GPS and the webcam are fairly sensible ideas, but I’m worried that getting myself into airline debt could be a little daft. Please help me. P.S Timeshares on old Russian spy satellites are fifty percent off so do you think I should invest in one just in case?
Discarding this slightly neurotic (head)case, a year abroad could put a strain on the most stable of relationships. ERASMUS couples face a multitude of decisions - if one person goes, should the other? Is it better to have a joint venture or should they go to separate countries? It can be a difficult experience imagining a person close to you having the time of their life in some far-flung land, exploring new cultures and meeting a multitude of new friends. The bonuses of a year abroad are undoubtedly obvious but surely there will be a niggling seed of doubt growing larger and larger when you realise someone special could be sharing this experience with you.
nored my last letter. Maybe it was lost in the post. I’ve decided I’m going abroad too, but to a different country. Why should I stay when I can have my own experiences, my own stories to tell? I’ve taken precautions though such as samples of my boyfriend’s hair and toenails; they’re secure in my travelling safe. My problem this time is my boyfriend thinks I’m being odd, all because we had a tiff when he said he wasn’t taking my toenails abroad with him. It’s almost like he doesn’t love me. P.S Saw do-it-at-home DNA cloning kits, this could solve all my problems but I don’t know what I’d do with the spare at the end of the year. Probably best just to put it down.
No doubt there will be more romantic ERASMUS couples who decide they just can’t bear the separation; however, this again has its drawbacks. At the tender age of twenty, you’re certain your relationship will span the aeons, and indeed many university couples do blossom into lifelong partnerships. There is, on the other hand, the chance that one could be throwing away a veritable once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a girl/boyfriend you may one day curse. A tie binding you to the fair city of Edinburgh may at some point be an emotional reminder of a year of experience that never was.
16th October 2009
Although I’ve still not heard from you, I’m sure you’re so invested in my star-crossed saga I’ll keep you informed anyway. That’s me settled in my new home for the year. It’s been a memorable journey so far and I’ve met so many new faces, but my new flatmates don’t like
hanging out in my room because of my wallpaper. They say a million tiny faces of my boyfriend is creepy, and when I dole out the 3D glasses for them to have the full experience some say they feel like the room is swimming. I’ve told my boyfriend about the wallpaper. We had a fight because his is plain. He says he doesn’t see the problem with an old-fashioned Polaroid.
Couple S U M S A R E The
19/01/09: Happiness reigns.
P.S Heard of anywhere that would imprint faces onto doormats? I just think it would be a nice sight for him to come home to.
ERASMUS couples do not face the same heart-wrenching separation as, say, Liv Tyler in Armageddon; however, a year apart could cause severe tugs on the heartstrings. The world-renowned Roman poet Sextus Propertius certainly had thoughts on the matter : ‘Always toward absent lovers love’s tide stronger flows.’ This poetic precursor to ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ could provide solace for persons brooding about what a year abroad could spell for their relationship. However, ( and as Google was not quite so accommodating regarding proverbs for forgetting people) in the words of this prophetic writer,: ‘The more the footsteps betwixt you and your love, the more lost in the caverns of your mind they doth become’. Sextus, eat your heart out. A year abroad could either be the nail in the coffin for a struggling relationship or a stepping stone to a future together. Yet again, this insightful writer falls back on a complex phrase passed down through the ages - ‘the future is unwritten, nought can be foreseen that is not sketched in the heavens above, and the only way to divine these mysteries with certainty is to wait.’ In other words, only time will tell.
24/03/09: If you love someone, Dorinda says: set them free and don’t humiliate yourself.
17/10/09: Photos of far-off friends are touching. If used in moderation.
30/11/09: Remember - your loved one did ERASMUS to get away from YOU. So don’t spoil their fun.
11th December 2009
I think my boyfriend’s changed his address and not told me.
*Student would like to make it clear Auntie Dorinda is not a real Agony Aunt, and has no qualifications in that particular field
11/12/09: Returned love moved on. So should you.
How Safe Is Your House? Jen Bowden discusses how Edinburgh’s communities are beginning to come together to confront anti-social behaviour
Increased use of CCTV cameras has coincided with a rise in convictions in anti-social behaviour cases
DINBURGH DOESN’T seem to be the most dangerous of cities, but as a student or a newcomer to any city one of the most important questions you’ll ask yourself is, how safe is it to live in? Every city has crime, and though most students will not experience serious crime in their time here, anti-social behaviour has become a prominent issue over the last few years. Community safety will continue to be a big issue in 2009, with Scottish crime rates looking set to drop for another year as more and more members of the public take a more active role in addressing crime, a tactic which has successfully reduced anti-social behaviour in recent years. However, the public are just one contributing factor to the reduction in crime. Others include landlords, the council, and of course the police, all of whom have a hand in keeping us safe. So does Edinburgh live up to its reputation as one of the safest cities in the UK? According to the Scottish Government, crime has decreased in Scotland between 20062007 and 2007-2008: all very well, but when looked at closer the figures reveal how much the people around us have to do with our safety. Housebreaking makes up 44 percent of reported crimes, while fire raising and vandalism make up to 31 per cent of the total. Sexual and non-sexual crimes of violence comprise barely 5 percent. Without dismissing the seriousness of these crimes, it is clear that most crimes affect whole communities rather than individuals. As the statistics show, housebreaking and vandalism are becoming major crimes simply due to the amount they are experienced. In 2006, 65 percent of Scottish people thought that the crime rate has remained the same or decreased over the previous two years, this figure was only 55 percent in 2003, suggesting that the people of Scotland feel they are becoming increasingly safer in their homes. If communities are most at risk then it’s not surprising that collective action is seen by many as a solution to shared problems such as vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Enter a new way of combatting anti-social crime in the form of increasing numbers of Neighbourhood Watch teams, which are becoming a voice for communities across Scotland. Edinburgh alone has 600 Neighbourhood Watch groups covering 33,000 households. Members of Neighbourhood Watch could be anyone, anywhere in the community, such as people who talk to vulnerable members of society to ensure their safety. Most important is the fact that they are just ordinary people who give up their time to ensure that the neighbourhood is safe for others. National Development Officer, Lisa Toon, from the Association
of Scottish Neighbourhood Watch hinted that the future is a bright one for Neighbourhood Watch groups: “There are many agencies and organisations involved in Community Safety and Neighbourhood Watch knows that working collaboratively can be far more effective for the communities involved. Neighbourhood Watch has always had strong ties to the Police, but it is important for us to establish relationships with groups such as Local Authorities, Fire & Rescue, Trading Standards and Community Councils to name a few. We’re also holding an award ceremony in April to celebrate the hard work and commitment of Neighbourhood Watch members and their partners.” As public safety becomes more of an issue, more people are being inspired to join teams such as these in the hope that they can make their neighbourhoods safer. Students are among those least likely to get involved, mainly due to the transient nature of student life (and perhaps our renowned sense of apathy); however, students make up a large part of Edinburgh communities, so joining a group like this would further strengthen the effectiveness of the Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Aside from overseeing these community-based schemes, what is Edinburgh City Council doing to tackle anti-social behaviour in the city? Community Protection Manager Jim Hunter said that; “as far as the council is concerned, anti-social behaviour is already a diminishing problem. I feel that this has a lot to do with the introduction of the 2004 Antisocial Behaviour Act”. The Council are keen to emphasise their practical efforts in tackling local problems, the local authority and the police are already working together to focus on low level crime and problem areas. One hundred police officers have been directly funded by the council in an attempt to ensure that the action against anti-social behaviour is visible and effective. There are separate Neighbourhood Action Units for each section of the city. These are co-located with the Council’s Community Safety Officers to ensure that those involved are communicating and working together effectively. Also, as reported previously in Student, the number of CCTV cameras around the city has increased. Mr. Hunter said that “these cameras have meant an increase in the number of crimes detected in the city”. Despite some believing that these cameras are more intrusive than effective, the increase in CCTV cameras has undeniably coincided with an increase in convictions. How does all this affect students living in Edinburgh? Some, it seems, are not so lucky
25/11/08 15 Crime in Edinburgh • Niddrie is the worst area for fire-raising, car-crime and vandalism, while South Leith has most rapes reported. The Royal Mile and the Cowgate have the most drug offences and the New Town has the highest incidence of violent crime and burglary.
• The Dutch Government sought advice from Scottish police last year, seeking to emulate their success in combatting antisocial behaviour in Edinburgh.
• There are over 600 Neighbourhood Watch groups active in Edinburgh.
• Edinburgh City Council received over 10,000 complaints of anti-social behaviour every year - Scottish Crime Survey 2008
ever, the Council receives over 10,000 complaints a year regarding anti-social behaviour, though they admit that only a small percentage of these involve students, in defiance of the myth that students have a detrimental effect on established communities: most complaints regarding noise and anti-social behaviour are made about non-students. Mr. Hunter also made assurances that students ‘are treated like any other person, their complaints will be dealt with regardless of their status as students, which is the way it should be.’ A small warning to those who like to party at top volume though: the Council Noise Team currently pride themselves on a 42 minute response time, 24 hours a day to any complaint of noise (although our case-study opposite casts doubt on this claim). Trust is vital if communities are to feel secure: trust in the council and the police; but important also is trust in the companies responsible for providing accommodation in Edinburgh. Most letting agencies boast of their zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour, and emphasise community values. Student contacted Dunedin Canmore Housing Association, based in Edinburgh, wondering how they deal with their own complaints of antisocial behaviour. Tenancy Services Director Graeme Russell initially said that the company ‘do not tolerate anti-social behaviour under any circumstances’ from their tenants, but impressed the seriousness of acting within the law when dealing with complaints against tenants. Mr. Russell stated that ‘we would need evidence that anti-social behaviour exists before being able to deal with the problem fully.’ However, he went on to comment that the problem is the ‘unrealistic expectations’ placed upon landlords by the general public. He commented that “anti-social behaviour is one of the most difficult things to deal with as a landlord. It is an issue which the police, the council and housing associations must work together to rectify, and of course this all needs involvement from the community. These days the public have unrealistic expectations regarding anti-social behaviour; it is an issue which takes up a lot of staff and time and all complaints need evidence.” As students, we have a responsibility to become a part of the community in which we live. Edinburgh is, after all, our city too, and the safer it is to live in the better, making reporting incidents everyone’s responsibility. The Council urge anyone with a complaint to contact them on 0131 200 2000 or to visit the council website at www.edinburgh.gov.uk where complaints can be placed online.
Robert (not his real name) lives alone in a SouthWest Edinburgh flat and has for the last two years seen serious problems in his neighbourhood go unsolved. As a result he has learned first-hand the effects this can have on The personal effects of the last two years have been numerous. I often feel angry, agitated and, if I am being honest, on the edge of depression. I have often been in tears with the frustration. My home situation has definitely had a detrimental effect on my university performance. My home is not safe. I have lived here for 7 years; the last 2 of which have been a living nightmare. My windows are in need of repair, and I am still the only tenant in the area awaiting a comprehensive property upgrade. I have been involved in this matter since last April. Since then, I
“The dealer responded in an agitated manner that he had given his mate some bad gear” have had a visit from one maintenance man who affixed a smoke alarm to my hall ceiling. On various occasions over 3 years the Council Noise Team have stood in my flat while having their eardrums assaulted by hard-core techno style “music”, telling me “there is nothing we can do!” This noise has on many occasions moved fittings and fixtures in my property. I have had 4 cars in this previous year alone, all of which have been subject to vandalism, on one occasion the damage amounted to £2500. The area is littered with discarded furniture and other house contents strewn about the streets. Nobody seems to bother. I wouldn’t say the area is excessively bad for serious crime as such, but it has become a haven for anti-social behavioural habits and petty crime. Around 2 and a half years ago the same company under whom I am currently a tenant renovated a nearby tenement. One of the flats houses a man in his mid-20s who is an alleged drug dealer. This person still goes about
his business even after his criminal and anti-social behaviour was reported to the relevant agencies. I often see young teenagers approaching the dealer’s home address and appearing in the street 15 minutes later seemingly high. The incidents I have witnessed defy belief; I have seen a battered sofa being used in our communal garden by junkies shooting up. I complained to the association about the sofa on the grounds that it was being used for drug use. They gave assurances that the offending article would be removed within a day but it was only after a month that the sofa was removed and the trail of used syringes were safely disposed of by me and other locals. These incidents became more upsetting as time passed. At one point,
“My landlords sent one of their housing officers who stood clipboard in hand for five minutes and left” on returning from holiday, I entered my common stair to be confronted by a group of 12 or so youngsters sitting at my front door doing drugs. I asked politely for them to remove themselves and they did so - all but one who became verbally abusive. The problem is ongoing. Around two months ago, I heard a commotion in the garden area late one Tuesday night. It was the dealer attempting to break into a first-floor flat. When challenged he responded, in a highly agitated manner, that he had given his mate, whose flat it was, some “bad gear”. He was visibly shaken, as he explained the situation. The following morning his mate’s corpse was removed in a big black bag. I believe the situation is still under investigation, but the implications are obvious. I have informed all the relevant agencies, including the company responsible for my flat, the police and the Council Anti-Social Behaviour team, all of whom publicly state they do not tolerate this type of behaviour. Their attempts have been futile, not because the rate of crime is so high, but because they don’t seem to have the time to fully investigate. In the previous summer, my landlords sent one of their housing officers who stood clipboard in hand in the back for 5 minutes and left. No changes were made. I should be able to feel safe in my own home, yet I still feel a very strong sense of foreboding every time I approach, like I’m just awaiting the next incident.
Interview The best film about wrestling since Nacho Libre
Tom MacDonald grapples with Mickey Rourke’s well-oiled performance THE WRESTLER DIRECTED BY
Student Film sits down with former professional wrestler Pancho “El Zapato” Sanchez Back in 1983, Pancho “El Zapato” Sanchez was at the top of his game, literally the Les Dennis of Mexican Professional Wrestling, or Lucha Libre. Days after becoming the World Champion, his life literally fell to pieces, culminating in the loss of his arm from steroid-related leprosy and the explosion of his groin. His wife Lupe left him for his manager, taking all of his money, spandex, and dignity in a widely publicised divorce trial, leaving Sanchez an abandoned, dispossessed, shell of a man. When Hasbro decided to discontinue the El Zapato line of lunchboxes, shoes, and office supplies, his income came to a virtual stop, excepting the royalties from his Christmas rap album “El Zapato Navidad con Marky Mark Wahlberg”, which continues to sell well in Japan and Korea. For the past twentysix years, Sanchez has been off and on drugs including, but not limited to: crack, smack, crank, crunk juice, purples, reds, clarky cat, whizzes, and Calpol. We spoke to him in Mexico City, whilst searching for the World’s best taco. Thanks for cycling out to speak with us, Mr. Sanchez. How’s it going? Not so good, man. Not so good. What’s wrong? Well, for starters, my proposal for a reality TV show “I’m El Zapato, Get Me Out of Here!” was rejected by all major and minor networks, whilst my autobiography Life Against the Ropes: The Pancho Sanchez Story, ghostwritten by Salman Rushdie, was also rejected by a number of publishing houses. I still owe Salman four million bucks. Where did it all go wrong? When I started wrestling. Thanks for answering our questions. Much love.
SCRIPTED AND directed by a filmmaker whose last film was both a critical and commercial bomb, almost universally dismissed as selfindulgent, poorly conceived and without substance; starring an aging, part-time actor with a reputation tarnished decades previously, who is perhaps more notable for notorious off-screen violence, drug abuse and jail time than any of his performances; a lengthy script offering sparse dialogue and generally unsympathetic characters; a story anchored by the inevitable decline - emotionally, physically and professionally - of a washed-up wrestler failing to realise his basic human needs…The Wrestler should not be the film it is. Director and writer Darren Aronofsky’s first two films, Pi and Requiem for a Dream, enjoyed unprecedented acclaim upon release, the latter receiving a rapturous thirteen minute standing ovation following its premiere at the 2000 Cannes film festival. However, The Fountain, Aronofsky’s 2006 follow-up, and his first foray into Hollywood filmmaking, was a failure in almost every respect, with critics regretfully admitting that the director’s initial promise was apparently little more than luck. It seems strange then that, given the chance to redeem himself, Aronofsky chose to make a film like The Wrestler. Chronicling the emo-
SEX DRIVE DIRECTED BY
SEX DRIVE is another in a long line of teen-comedies in the vein of American Pie: crude, crass and a whole lot of fun. Be prepared to titter as we follow amiable nerd Ian (Josh Zuckerman) on his quest to find the deliciously named ‘Ms. Tasty’, a mysterious online babe that Ian is desperate to know. Playing on the ‘McLovin’ riff, Zuckerman plays his dork to perfection, at once clearly a lonely boy with a wealth of feelings to share, while simultaneously a sex-obsessed loser. The chief success of this film lies in its ability to selectively pluck the choicest clichés from the comedy genre and instil them with a freshness that surprises and delights in equal measure. A good example of this is perhaps the opening sequence, where we are introduced to Ian and the aformentioned Ms. Tasty in an online conversation which brings new meaning to the word ‘sad’. Here we are shown the desperation of this teenager, a boy who is clearly a stereotype for a whole subculture of sensitive idiots who are quite comfortable to discuss their sexual preferences to a complete stranger online whilst being unable
Mickey Rourke channels Pancho “El Zapato” Sanchez, in a riveting performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson. tionally empty life of a professional wrestler approaching a frustratingly inevitable retirement despite it being the only life he really knows, it’s difficult to conceive The Wrestler being anything other than an awkward pairing of panto with pathos. Wrestling, after all, is a self-acknowledged non-sport, grounded entirely in pseudo-comedy battles between ridiculously named pretend pugilists. Why make a film centred on a sport that by its very nature cannot be won? to acknowledge a girl that they like in the same room. Regardless however the scene is well-handled enough to cause little if any offence to the parties concerned, a reflection of how warm the humour is. The result of this unusual but effective scene is the creation of some truly side-splitting gags later on. Clark Duke, the other leading man, is also worthy of mention. Seemingly the heir to Seth Rogen’s currently occupied throne, Duke plays his sex-obsessed and self-assured obese dork assuredly, while once again bringing warmth to the performance. This is also true of the rest of the supporting cast, they all fill their respective roles with charm and humour that the film would suffer greatly without. Despite the great number of gross-out moments (a cheap act) and the inevitably of the final coupling, Sex Drive does what it does very well; infuses an unattractive premise with hilarious, albeit conventional, gags and much in the way of welltimed humour. With a witty script, delightful banter between Zuckerman and Duke and a few moments that will surely go down in the pantheon of pop culture history (Giant Donut costume anyone?), Sex Drive is worth the time of anyone with a funnybone and a functioning set of lungs. Sean Cameron
Ultimately, because The Wrestler is not a sports film, at least not in the conventional sense. The ‘one last fight’ story arc typical of so many boxing films is present, as is a quest for redemption not unfamiliar to fans of the genre and the wrestling itself enjoys lengthy screen time, yet the focus is always on life outside the ring. The film’s power lies in the exploration of its characters, not in any sporting achievements. Mickey Rourke is exhumed, reborn, resurrected, investing himself
fully in Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, the film’s eponymous barely-walking tragedy. Rourke’s absolute command of the role - reserved, painfully raw and faultless - has rightly earned him universal acclaim and a re-evaluation of his entire career. There have been showier ‘comebacks’ but it’s the eschewing of indulgent and manipulative exaggeration that marks the restrained performance, and indeed the film as a whole, as one of the year’s very best.
The Spirit directed by
Slumdog Millionaire directed by
aaadd Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire is a film which shouldn’t be taken entirely seriously, despite being set in a near hell. It takes a while to get used to this, especially as the first few minutes contain some violence which wouldn’t be out of place in any of the director’s grislier films. The hero of the piece, Jamal Malik, played more than competently by Dev Patel of ‘Skins’, is a Mumbai slum-dweller who finds himself waiting to face the final question on India’s Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, only to be subjected to torture by the suspicious police, who don’t believe an uneducated ‘slumdog’ like him could have progressed so far in the quiz without cheating. The story develops in a series of flashbacks, with Jamal explaining to his interrogators the reasons behind his knowledge of each piece of trivia in sequence, and in doing so telling the story of his life–one marked thus far by poverty, fear and neglect. His knowledge is based upon life-chang-
ing events ensconced permanently in his consciousness: he knows that the God Rama carries a bow-and-arrow because, moments after seeing his mother murdered by anti-Muslim fanatics, he saw a child dressed as the deity; he knows who wrote of a certain song because the exact same song was that which Jamal was forced to sing when begging on behalf of a child-thief. The flashbacks also reveal Jamal’s separation from his childhood love Latika, and, forming the crux of Slumdog’s narrative, his attempts in the intervening years to find her again, mainly involving lots of picturesque adventures accompanied by the songs of MIA. Elements of the plot do suffer a little after a moment’s scrutiny: after scandalously electrocuting a quiz-show contestant, why would the cops suddenly turn into decent chaps and give him a fair hearing, as they do? The duplicity of the creepy Indian Chris Tarrant equivalent, who feeds Jamal a wrong answer, is never fully explained either. The entire story also cheekily relies on the fiction that a show like Millionaire would be broadcast live. But these plot-holes matter no
more than Patel’s wandering accent (which seems to spend as much time in the Midlands as Mumbai). Such an improbable rags-to-riches story plainly assumes a kindly suspension of disbelief on the part of its audience: the plot, with its Dickensian baddies and narrow escapes, is suspenseful enough, and Boyle’s vision of India pretty enough, to keep us hooked. Instead, what holds the film back is its sentimentality, which can often seem jarring next to the graphic depictions of slum-life. These scenes suggest a seriousness–an engagement with India’s social problems– which the film doesn’t fully provide. You can spend long periods thinking Danny Boyle has made the Indian version of City of God, only to come across an exchange like this, at the moment when the hero has finally tracked down his childhood sweetheart, now in the clutches of a murderous pimp– “Come away with me!” “And live on what?” “Love!” –when suddenly you find yourself right in the middle of Love Actually. Ed Ballard
Defiance directed by
aaaad Of the many World War Two stories that have been turned into films, Defiance is among the most underappreciated and yet perhaps the most interesting. The story concerns the Jewish Bielski family, whose need to hide from Nazi oppression during the war drove them to live for years in the forests of Belarus. The hundreds of people who travelled to join these brothers and those rescued from the slums of Belarusian cities are at the centre of the film, their struggle to survive the war a tale of true poignancy. Eldest of the Belarusian brothers is our resident James Bond Daniel Craig, donning a beard, a leather jacket and a pseudo-Eastern European accent for the part. Though the part allows Craig to step out of his
THE SPIRIT, the latest comic book adaptation to hit the big screen, is directed by Frank Miller, considered one of the medium’s gods. Rodriguez’s adaptation of Miller’s own Sin City was a huge success and, whilst similar in tone and utilising the same striking graphics and colour blocks employed on that film, The Spirit fails to capture the imagination and excitement of Will Eisner’s graphic novels. On a purely aesthetic level, the film succeeds masterfully, the palette stylish and stark and complemented by sophisticated direction from Miller. A bevy of Hollywood beauties, most of whom fall for the title hero, also helps. Eva Mendes’ smouldering but fatal Sand Saref and Scarlett Johansson’s sarcastic side-kick among them, all come with ‘interesting’ costumes to boot. There can be no denying that this film is visually spectacular. Once you get your head round those visuals, however, the film is somewhat lacking. Lacking sensible dialogue, any character development, a feasible plot…One minute we have the Spirit battling his nemesis on a mud flat, the next we are trying to follow the half-baked attempt at a plot that is the quest for the blood of Heracles. All for little, or no, purpose. On the other hand, this film does
usual testosterone-weaved tuxedo and tackle a more challenging role, he still manages to find himself lots of guns with which to kill innumerable German baddies, albeit with a little less flair than audiences may be used to. The best performance in Defiance, however, comes from Jamie Bell (of Billy Elliot fame) who, as Craig’s youngest brother, outshines so many of the older and more experienced cast. And it was nice to see him in a film without dancing or stalking anything. Sadly, and inevitably, Defiance cannot evade the tropes of nearly all American films tackling foreign issues, featuring a cast unable to muster anything approaching a Russian accent and a few historical inaccuracies that should have been spotted in pre-production. The technique of sporadically having the dialogue slip into Russian to remind you where you are and then ‘seamlessly’ back into the dodgy accents also seems confused
have everything a comic book geek could ever want. There is a Samurai scene, there are Nazi dentists, there are clones, there is gratuitous and often hilarious violence, and there are gorgeous babes. Heck, even Samuel L. Jackson is thrown into the mix. Will Eisner and Frank Miller knew their demographic well when they came up with this heady cocktail of a film. Samuel L. Jackson plays The Octopus, the evil nemesis of the Spirit. His character is, by some way, the best thing about this film and everything a comic book villain should be: insane, evil, and out for world domination using the most difficult methods possible. The Octopus and his assistant, Silken Floss (Scarlett Johansson), tease and tempt the Spirit into their lair where, dressed as Nazis and under a giant Swastika, they subject him to ridiculous monologues about free-range eggs, genetics and dissolving kittens. All the issues with plot and dialogue become unimportant once Samuel L. is on the screen. And that is how this film must be viewed. If you want to enjoy this, you cannot concern yourself with anything important. Even the cast seem to be having a ball, delivering their lines in hilariously sarcastic tones and running around in ludicrous costumes whilst fighting or seducing one another. The only aspect of this catatonic film that is worth any critical acclaim is the artistic direction. But please, don’t let that worry you. Enjoy the ride, and you will not be disappointed. Claire Cameron
and clumsy. In her first major film role, Australian actress Mia Wasikowska shines, despite her character spending a fair portion of the film simply sobbing loudly. Wasikowska shows great promise in the role and it will certainly be interesting to see her tackle the title character in Tim Burton’s upcoming take on Alice in Wonderland. An equally fine performance from Alexa Davalos and an even-handed script combine to show that the women of Defiance held just as strong a place in the incredible story as the men, the actresses easily holding their own amongst a predominantly male cast. Defiance is a history buff’s dream, a mostly accurate tale of an astonishing group of people driven only by a need to survive. With a great setting in the forests of Belarus and a fine cast, the film is surprisingly accessible (though it may be about half an hour too long) and well worth a journey to the cinema. Lance “AV” Jordan
Album of the Week
Bon Iver Provides A Very Good Winter Bon Iver
Blood Bank EP
PAINT IT BLACK: Antony isn’t big on colour.
Antony & The Johnsons The Crying Light
The choice of Antony And The Johnsons I Am A Bird Now was one of the Mercury Music Prize’s more admirable decisions in recent years, and brought Antony Hegarty and his unique talent some much-deserved attention beyond his avantgarde theatrical roots. The Crying Light marks a move away, for the most part, from I Am A Bird’s focus on gender identity and femininity, exploring instead Hegarty’s relationship with nature and the world around him. It all sounds rather pretentious, and it is, but in
the hands of Antony that seems to sit just right with the pop sensibility he always employs, and of course, that voice. ‘Kiss My Name’ floats by on a breeze of string flourishes and piano, ‘Aeon’ sees Antony singing over a guitar riff, which is unexpected, and the result is of the highest quality, enough to suggest that Antony’s voice is suited to far more than just mournful ballads, as was also proved on his cameo with Hercules and Love Affair last year. Hegarty has produced another record of fine songwriting and haunting atmospherics, just what you’d expect from such a special artist. Andrew Chadwick
Titus Andronicus The Crying Light
Titus Andronicus’s Patrick Stickles has a frail whiny voice just like that of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst. However, unlike Oberst (and a lot of contemporary US indie bands) Stickles isn’t given to self-pity. This album is indeed an “airing of grievances”, but there’s no feeling that he cherishes his suffering: Stickles screams his grievances furiously, like some-
one with anger to burn. He uses a breathless second before the furious chorus of “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” to yell “fuck everything, fuck me!”: a sentiment which sums up the tone of this album. Titus Andronicus are not devoid of musical subtlety: as well as the overblown, Springsteeny choruses, many tracks are rich with shoegazy washes of distortion, or complemented by accordions and intricate guitar parts. But at heart they’re a punk band, with the classic punk ethic: four chords and the truth. This is an exhilarating album, joyfully riding a wave of vitriol. Ed Ballard
Gig Listings Date 20-01 21-01 22-01 23-01 24-01 25-01 26-01 27-01 28-01 31-01 04-02
Band/Event Francoiz Breut Architects Midas Fall + White Heath Jungledub Karima Francis Ed Rush/Randall/Hazard Duke Special HOBO vs //FAST// Boys Like Girls Bloc Party Of Montreal Sharleen Spiteri Amadou & Mariam NME Awards Tour The Cribs
Venue Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow Studio 24, Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh Bongo Club, Edinburgh King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow Potterow, Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh Bongo Club, Edinburgh Garage, Glasgow 02 Academy, Glasgow 02 Academy, Glasgow Oran Mor, Glasgow Picture House, Edinburgh 02 Academy, Glasgow ABC, Glasgow
Following the break-ups of both a relationship and his long time band, Justin Vernon retreated to his father’s secluded cabin, surrounded by 80 desolate, frosty acres of Northwestern Wisconsin, for three months in the winter of 2006. He emerged gloriously whiskered and with nine purgative songs which went on to become Bon Iver’s widely acclaimed debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, a record recently placed top of The Observer’s 50 albums of 2008. Catapulted from obscurity to indie stardom over a period of six months Vernon certainly has much to live up to with Bon Iver’s new EP Blood Bank, released January 19th. The eponymous song ‘Blood Bank’ is a driving, romantic stand-out, structured around the metronomic plodding of a bass drum, offset by Vernon’s haunting falsetto. The modest strum and lazy guitar slides of ‘Beach Baby’ serves as a pretty but brief little bridge to the unrelenting piano pounding of ‘Babys’. The track’s extended introduction of repetitive eighth notes conveys a sense of anticipation and restlessness with the end result an uncharacteristically optimistic tune. ‘Woods’ is an a capella harmony of controversially autotuned vocals. However, after listening to ‘Woods’
M. Ward Hold Time
CAT POWER: Justin Vernon introduces his new bandmate a few times, any scepticism over the bold decision to distort Vernon’s signature voice melts away as the profundity of the song becomes apparent. In Blood Bank Vernon has succeeded in introducing some ex-
the vocal affectation. Lucinda Williams is employed well on the Northern Sky-sounding ‘Oh Lonesome Me’ and Buddy Holly’s ‘Rave On’ morphs into a harmony-laden idyll. More religious touches emerge on ‘Epistemology’ – “Sometimes I wonder what in G-D’s name I did to deserve you” – which comes off as Richard Hawley in tenor voice, and on ‘Blake’s View’, where “death is just a door/ a threshold that hurts”, beyond which a confidant will meet her love again, counselled by Ward’s warm shoulder. Ward does up-tempo as well as he does ballads: She & Him outtake ‘Never Had Nobody Like You’ is Dylan from the Magic Roundabout doing Iggy Pop, sparkling with handclaps and fuzz guitar; ‘To Save Me’ is a melange of synth-pop ideas and Spectorrific, go-go girl percussion; ‘Stars of Leo’ recalls Rufus Wainwright in his pop guise, with its refrain “I get so high I need a bring-me-down.” You certainly need no uppers or downers to enjoy this record and counter the blustery January chill.
Still bursting with musical invention following his collaboration with actress Zooey Deschanel as the ‘him’ of She & Him, Matt Ward juggles genres and ideas to create a marvellous record full of surprises and unexpected denouements, perfect for any fan of eclectic pop music with a smidgen of erudition. Soft lo-fi guitar work on ‘One Hundred Million Years’ comes off as Elliot Smith performing gospel (“Oh my soul!” he coos), creating the impression of love longer even than the life of “the burning ball of fire up in the sky” in just over in two minutes; Ward’s girl is “beyond comprehension” as time is equally incredulously held on the title track, to a backing of bubbling strings and crotchety piano. Double-tracked vocals, both here and on ‘ShangriJonny Brick La’, create wondrous counterpoints which enhance Ward’s prudent Next week: we review Bruce Springsteen’s musicality and voice, which also hotly-anticipated new album featuring emerge on ‘Jailbird’, Devendra Banhart-type psych-folk without the E Street Band. His 24th. Sheesh.
perimental new techniques, whilst preserving the atmospheric power that made For Emma such a great debut. As such, this is a near-perfect stop-gap, pointing perhaps towards a full-band sound on album two. Alan Roberts
Upcoming Releases 26-01: Architects - Hollow Crown Ben Kweller – Changing Horses Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand John Frusciante - The Empyrean 02-02: Andrew Bird - Noble Beast Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You The View - Which Bitch 09:02 Missy Elliott - Block Party Mos Def - The Ecstatic 16-02: Beirut - March of the Zapotec/Holland Morrissey - Years of Refusal 23-02 50 Cent - Before I Self Destruct Black Lips – 200 Million Thousand Empire of the Sun - Walking On A Dream The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die 02-03 U2 - No Line On The Horizon Eminem - Relapse Starsailor - All The Plans
We’re kicking off 2009 with a series of interviews and features on Edinburgh’s local bands. This week, we talk to Fox Gang.
S Club Potterow
aaaDD eleven years ago, most of us students were between 7 and 12. And I know that many of us were out buying singles from Woolies (sniff) as well as bunking off lessons and having a cheeky fag behind the bike shed at lunchtime. Nothing much has changed really, has it? I admit, your honour, to buying a Honeyz single, ‘Finally Found’, that year (other buys included East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’ and ‘The Hamster Song’). I also bought S Club 7’s debut single, ‘Bring It All Back’,
helping them to immediate chart success, and their first of four UK number ones. Fast-forward selecta. Last night, at the age of 23, I had a little bit of my childhood brought back to me at the ‘row. It was absolutely fucking surreal. My disappointment at Rachel Stevens’ lack of an appearance was made up - to a certain extent anyway - by Paul’s fantastically bad dancing. Tina was not doing her dance, Jon wasn’t looking for romance, but Paul was getting down on the floor, I tell thee. He clearly loved every minute, re-living the giddy days of pop stardom with a bit of a beer belly and without having to perform perfectly-timed and choreographed dance moves. He leapt like a salmon and spun his arms like a windmill; only
the classic knee-slide was missing (but I suppose that was Jon’s move... and the git didn’t turn up). The ‘row was, unsurprisingly, crammed like a can of sardines, and loving all the hits; some performed in a medley, others given the full showing. ‘Reach’, ‘Don’t Stop Movin’ and, of course, ‘S Club Party’ were the three big favourites of the night, though Jo, Bradley and Paul also packed in the ballads and fully grown arms swayed in response. Jo did at one stage think that she was performing in front of a bunch of primary school kids, however, apologising after enthusiastically shouting “Scotland is the bollocks!” Sadly no-one shouted “We’re all grown up now!” in response. Jonny Stockford
Franz Ferdinand Picture House
aaaaD It has long been Franz Ferdinand’s manifesto to make ‘rock music that girls can dance to’ but if the Picture House crowd is any indicator, it seems that after 7 years they have succeeded in making ‘rock music for grown men to stand about awkwardly to’. Despite this being their first Edinburgh show in 3 years, the sold-out auditorium was strangely subdued; perhaps their playing such a small venue for a mainstream band, the crowd felt
Video of the Week Beirut - La Llorona ‘La Larona’ will feature on March of the Zapotec, one of two EPs Zach Condon is releasing in February. The video was shot by animator Jon Cook and features a large band, a donkey and a dog all wandering through a Mexican town with cobbled streets, surrounded by hills and a graveyard.
duty-bound to give a small reaction. The band appeared similarly affected by the January blues, oddly taking a break half-way through the set, and dropping their biggest hit, Take Me Out, early, as though to get it out the way. Indeed, the aim of the evening’s proceedings was to showcase their new album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand and, whilst hearing new material at a concert can often be on a par with homework to the unemployed indie poser, it was the new songs that were met with the biggest enthusiasm. The response to new single ‘Ulysses’ suggested a whole-hearted agreement with singer Alex Kapranos’s post-creditcrunch battle-cry advocating a de-
scent into hedonism of “I’m bored/ So bored/ C’mon let’s get high”. The neat unassuming grey suits, the strained politeness of the crowd banter, the band between songs have all the demeanour of the quiet guy at the office you secretly think is a serial killer. But once the razorsharp guitar licks kick in the band are in their element, with Kapranos striking crucifixion poses and Nick McCarthy wielding his guitar like a machine gun. We are reminded of how Franz Ferdinand have sustained that elusive balance between commercial success and cool, their ability to write and play a bloody good rock-pop song. Catherine Sylvain
Hello, Fox Gang. Fancy describing yourselves to us? Joe: Yes. Ryan and I met while we were both living in Krakow, Poland. I had only my acoustic guitar and clothes, and he was living there with his Polish girlfriend and running a London-based art career from afar. He was also into writing music, and I caught his first gig. It was acoustic and very bare, backed by a couple of guys who played root notes and simple chords, but his voice was very distinct and he had excellent lyrics full of dark humour. Very British. I knew I could help him out. We knew a lot of other musicians up for it and ended up a 6 piece with a new rhythm section, piano and trumpet.I borrowed an electric. We are/were a mixed group of people who brought all kinds of guns to the fight. Being outside of your own country is the perfect place to reflect and write about it. Now in Glasgow we’ve stripped down to a four-piece, but we’re a tighter unit. What bands/musicians have influenced you? Joe: I’ve always been influenced by country music. The guitarist for Tom Waits’s band is pretty sweet, if we’re talking guitarists. Waits as a writer and performer. I like NWA. They were real storytellers of the early 90’s wild west, and Dr. Dre was/is an amazing producer. I love Dylan, and his whole story really inspired me to do whatever the hell I wanted in my life. Early Springsteen took that Americana level: he rivals Little Richard as the most intense performer ever. I listened to The Beatles in the crib. Ryan and my other British bandmates and friends let me in on some Britpop and Early Manchester stuff. I thank them for that. Now Ryan for a less obvious list... Ryan: Lkj, Pogodno, John Cooper Clark, Talking Heads, The Birthday Party. My elder bro grew up through that magical, edgy time in
British music from 78 through the 80s. He’d go to Fingers, Pogues and Motorhead gigs among others. He had great taste in music and I stole all his records. What do you think of the current music scene in Edinburgh? How does it compare to Glasgow, Manchester and London? Joe: Ironically, when we lived in Poland bands there were emulating English or American bands of the last 10-60 years. We came to Edinburgh and now it seems hip as hell to play music from Eastern Europe! Oomp Pah Pah fiddle fiddle, accordian! Glasgow seems to be a bit more ballsy, but we’ve only just arrived here. It’s unhealthy like Krakow. We cough more and have more headaches, but it’s sweet. Tell us about your favourite album(s) of 2008. Ryan: Tough question, you couldn’t answer that one with a trip to HMV. Plenty made me angry. Joe: I had a busy year. I moved three times, almost got deported, got married and drove accross the USA. I can’t remember listening to one album back to front that definitely came out in 2008. I’ll tell you in ten years. What do you hope for in 2009 both for the band and for music in general? Joe: We want a lot of people to hear us, and go mental for it. We’re talking about doing an album for a new label based in Leith. Also to keep releasing stuff on tentracks. co.uk Ryan: Jules Holland (‘Later’) seemed to average one decent act per show at best, I hope his standards don’t slip further. Fox Gang play The Tron on January 24th with White Heath, last week’s featured band. Listen to them at www.myspace.com/foxgang
Turner in January The Vaughan Bequest Royal Scottish Academy Building Until 31 Jan
sunshine behind the haze provide an escape from the grey skies around us”
Venice from the Laguna, 1840 J.M.W. Turner Henry Vaughan’s collection of William Turner’s watercolours is displayed annually in the Royal Scottish Academy building. As Vaughan’s request was to ensure the preservation of these delicate paintings by not letting them absorb too much daylight, the public is only given the chance to see the interesting compi-
A Lighter Touch Selected Watercolours Royal Scottish Academy Building Until 31 Jan
aaadd This collection was put together to show the evolution of Scottish watercolour from the eighteenth to twentieth century. It is surprisingly varied and diverse, demonstrating the versatility of the medium. There’s an eclectic range of portraiture, cityscapes and architectural painting as well as the kind of thing you’re more likely to expect from watercolour, like rolling green
Sleeping Beauty Festival Theatre 7 - 10 Jan
lation of Turner’s works every dimlit January. Although contemporary technology could now keep the watercolours from fading, Vaughan’s stipulation has remained a well-honoured tradition. Turner is known for brilliantly capturing the light in the mist, thunderstorm and even moonbeams
in nocturnal images. As an active painter during the Romantic period, Turner was fascinated with the sublime, the simultaneous feeling of awe and horror, the terrific beauty of nature. He spent time developing and mastering depiction of mountains, storms and waterfalls, scraping the applied watercolours to create pure
white illuminating lines. The collection spans through Turner’s career, from the early years when he was part of the Monro’s Evening Academy and painted topographic copies of wash drawings owned by Dr Thomas Monro, to the 1830-40s when Turner travelled in Italy and Switzerland. Represented by a darker, brown-shaded palette, his watercolours of Switzerland tend to conflict with the general ideas of Swiss greenery and blue lakes. Maybe a slightly more chronologically accurate arrangement of the works would be useful as they seem arranged in a largely aesthetic order. Although the RSA may intend this to vary the traditional exhibition which has been running annually for more than a century, the arrangement seems unable able to properly grasp his development as an artist. In the darkest month of the year, Turner’s images of sunshine behind the haze provide an escape from the grey skies around us. Furthermore, when looking at these watercolours, one can also ponder Turner’s heady prominence over one of the most prestigious awards in contemporary art world. For anyone who is interested in seeing more of his works, an international exhibition of Turner’s watercolours of Italy is held from the end of March.
landscapes and delicate flowers. The exhibition emphasises watercolour as a very old medium which has historically been paid far less respect than it deserves, partly due to the prevalence of oils. It was once under-regarded by artists, seen as suitable only for amateur ‘ladies’ painting’ or preliminary plans for oil. In the last three hundred years, however, the medium has received more attention, with pioneering artists exploring its particular strengths. The selection on display shows early examples of watercolour as a complement to pencil or ink drawings, contrasted with more ‘painterly’ pieces which exploit the medium’s extraordinary delicacy. Particular highlights include an angry John Bellamy self portrait in fiery reds and blues, depicting the artist in all his bearded fury and a
beautiful paint shot of old Paris in greys and muted greens, by William Wilson. I had hoped to see more paintings of Scotland, especially because the ‘wet-on-wet’ technique captured the dreary beauty of the Scottish countryside so well, though it was refreshing to see other places represented, giving the collection more of an international feel. It is an interesting little exhibition with an impressive range but it conveys a sense of contrast more than ‘evolution’, which would be much better captured if the paintings were displayed chronologically or ordered by the region they came from. That said it’s still well worth a look and is a good place for inspiration if you use the medium yourself. View of the Royal High School and Burns Monument, Lisa Parr Edinburgh, by Thomas Hamilton RSA and David Roberts RA, HRSA.
Sleeping Beauty is a classic tale to tackle, and this production by Scottish Ballet mingles tradition with modernity as Ashley Page’s choreography adds an innovative dimension to Tchaikovsky’s famous score. Although some of Petipa’s original steps feature, Page’s vision dominates. This story has been spun
for generations, yet a fresh sophistication transforms it. The first pivotal scene, Aurora’s christening, introduces a colourful band of characters. Clad in white, the aristocracy move with a grandeur that emanates royalty. Six fairies and their partners merge the real and magical. While dancing, female grace and male masculinity delineate the differences between the sexes. There is a plot twist – the Lilac fairy and the evil fairy Carabosse, are twins, and their costumes clash tellingly. Carabosse has two bald daughters, forming an evil trio with outlandish movements. Compellingly, one climbs onto the pram to cast their spell. Aurora’s 16th becomes a comedy of the grotesque as the evil trio masquerade as gardeners. Elaborate scenery and colourful costumes combine, with gold lights twinkling in the paper sky. As the guests
dance to the music, it is reminiscent of magic and dreams. We are frozen in momentary optimism and welcomed into a tale which continues to captivate. Aurora enters, her sparkling white dress emblematic of the fresh purity she represents. The sequence with her suitors seems to last too long, the music almost shrill as if signifying she is not altogether comfortable. Aurora performs an understated solo, reminding us the pivotal character is one whose qualities are delicate and quiet. Disruption occurs as the gardeners wheel on a huge phallic cactus. Panic and chaos reign, and only the Lilac Fairy can restore tranquillity, waving everyone into slumber. For once, the appearance of four other fairytale heroines – Belle, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella – is explained. Later the prince will present them to Aurora’s four disgruntled
suitors. The matchmaking could seem contrived, yet it gives a certain finesse. The Bluebird prompts the prince towards Aurora; their duet exemplifying old-fashioned male companionship. The first time Aurora and the prince dance alone is breathtaking. The romantic sequence, coupled with the sparse surroundings, highlights the delicate beauty of their union. They are boundless, and the fluidity of her movements poignant – she leans back to throw off her former self and embraces a new one. A scene of celebration aptly ends the ballet. The structure is seamlessly logical, yet creates an alluring darker side. With this performance, Scottish Ballet proved that some stories are in fact timeless. Christine Johnston
New year, new you? Jen Bowden delves into this January’s best offering of books to help you through 2009
ew Year, new you, new diet, stop smoking; a billion resolutions which you tell yourself will be the beginning of your new amazing life. It’s that time of year again when the chocolates are finally polished off and the leftovers of your mother’s immense Christmas dinner stop appearing on your plate in their various guises New Year. Whatever your resolution there’s bound to be a book to help you through it, and we’ve got the ones that might be just the thing to keep you on track. Hurry, while the sales are still on, and you might just nab yourself a bargain! First up is How to Dress by the all-knowing fashion guru Gok Wan. Wan has of course, been around for a while, so it’s no surprise that his latest offering retails at a pricey £18.99. But catch him in the sales and prices start to drop. Split into sections for each body shape How to Dress is a comprehensive style-guide for the modern woman. If your new year’s resolution is to get slimmer then why not try simply finding clothes to suit your shape, especially for those of you who can’t, or won’t, find time for exercise. The all -amazing Gok even offers advice on how to update clothes you already have, perfect for cash strapped students and crafty individuals. How to Dress is the best way of maximising your body’s potential while minimising pain. Something that not everyone might consider is Carol Klein’s Grow Your Own Veg, a great book if you feel yourself nurturing a desire to be green. With the effects of the credit crunch looming, growing your own might seem a cheaper alternative to the not-so-economical supermarket prices. Of course, for students the problem is getting a garden, or even finding the time, to do this. Nevertheless with five star reviews from
the majority of buyers on Amazon. com, Grow Your Own Veg seems a worthwhile investment for all budding gardeners. It offers information on how to choose your soil carefully, where to sow the seeds and offers advice on forty different types of vegetables. You’ll never go hungry again! One of the latest editions to the dieting world is Bruce Byron’s Fat Bloke Slims, a book which seems well informed on the medical side of things whilst combining motivating statistics with a good old fashioned success story. Celebrity endorsement helps; Bruce is a well known figure on British television dramas. A bit less of an instruction manual and more of a good example, this book is definitely aimed at men, possibly even older men, but the same feel-good moral remains. Who knows, maybe it’ll push you to change your lifestyle before it’s too late. Last, but by no means least, is the book for those wanting a complete body and soul overhaul. Written by Richard Bandler, Get the Life You Want is an all encompassing life change programme from the man who taught Paul McKenna. According to Amazon.com “Bandler shows you how to move beyond the limitations that are holding you back, to discover what you want more of in your life and then to make it happen.” Enough said really, but beware, make sure the exercises don’t trump your Uni work, or you won’t have much of a life to improve. So, whatever your resolution, the above examples show that there’s something there to help everyone, and who knows, this year you might just keep your resolutions.
Fame The Playhouse 9 - 17 Jan
It was Andy Warhol who in 1968 predicted that “In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes”. Fast-forward to 1980, and such a pursuit seems to have been heartily adopted by the protagonists of Fame: The Musical, who prance, dance, argue and snog their way through the New York High School for the Performing Arts in search of not only 15 minutes, but a lifetime of notoriety. Its latest incarnation as a stage show is intended to convey all the energy and pace of this great melting pot of talent, however it only does so to limited success. The show follows the transformation of the class of ‘84, from their first appearance as nervous auditionees into fully fledged ar-
tistes in a flurry of legwarmers, hairspray and sexual tensions. However, despite the excellently high turnover of 80s paraphernalia, the production often suffers from a plot that seems at best fragmented if not chaotic, giving the performance a rather slap-dash feel that did not draw the audience in but instead marched them hurriedly along a series of disjointed scenarios. The audience looks on as our medley of characters must face the prickly challenges of illiteracy/ drugs/pressurising parents, as well as tackling not one, but three love stories. It is a highly ambitious feat to try to maintain any coherence with such a large amount of narrative threads, and the central flaw in Fame is that it fails to do so. The
characters have no depth because there is not enough time for any development of their face-value personalities, and a weak script is laughably predictable. The set emulating a typical brick façade of the school generally served its purpose well, but was not particularly inspired and appeared to be simply functional rather than intended to add interest or excitement. That said, the vocal performances are breathtakingly good, particularly ‘Think of Meryl Streep’ and ‘Mabel’s Prayer’, both belted out to perfection. Holly James is particularly outstanding as feisty señorita Carmen Diaz, commanding the audience’s attention in every scene. Each large dance number enjoys a generous dollop of pizzazz and
palpable enthusiasm radiates from a young cast, with the end result that Fame, certainly, is not a lost cause. I’m not sure whether to admit that I was one of those dancing like a lunatic during the encore, but, then again, it is a well-known fact that those who seek fame are sometimes required to sacrifice a certain degree of self respect.
22 Tech Byte-size I KNOW what you’re thinking. “I love reading Tech every week, but it doesn’t provide me with tidbits of technological goodness for party conversation”. Fear not dear reader, we’re here to help with a roundup of this week’s news.
THE 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place last week. Highlights include 3D televisions that will no doubt terrify your grandparents and allow George Lucas to roll out yet another re-release of Star Wars.
The Fresh Prince of Persia
In West Asia born and raised, Alan Williamson never fails in the games that he plays
PRINCE OF PERSIA UBISOFT
X360, PS3, PC £19.99 - £49.99
WINDOWS 7 is now available for download as an unfinished ‘beta’ version. Our sources suggest it’s a promising successor to Windows Vista. Of course by ‘promising’, we mean ‘it doesn’t accost you every five minutes with nonsensical security warnings and grind your computer to a sputtering halt every time you use it’. Pre-order it today!
THE CURRENT vogue among game developers is to resurrect old franchises with a shiny lick of high-definition paint. Some succeed like Tomb Raider or Fallout, while the less said about Turok the better. Now it’s the turn of 20-year-old stalwart Prince of Persia, although the politically sensitive name has survived intact. Rather than continuing the story of the arguably stale Sands of Time trilogy, Ubisoft have gone back to the drawing board. Gone are the emo Prince and his collection of My Chemical Romance records, replaced with a more cocky and carefree adventurer. The contrast is jarring for fans of the series, while newcomers might be equally insulted by his
crass Americanization, but somehow his terrible jokes grow on you. The heart of the game is a carefully constructed ballet of platforms, plinths and hazards. Each area of the game’s open world has been ‘corrupted’ with black slime that eats through careless princes faster than a starving tiger. Luckily the Prince has some incredible acrobatics at his disposal, swinging off poles and scaling walls with the greatest of ease. Equally impressive is the presentation with its bold art design and peerless animation. Elika, a princess with convenient magic abilities, accompanies the Prince. Her powers can be used to save the Prince from plummeting to a painful death, boost his jumps and attack enemies. However, these aren’t nearly as interesting as the interaction between her and the Prince. Their relationship brings to mind that of Yorda and Ico in the PS2 classic Ico. They cooperate to
navigate the environment, filling the downtime with some witty and often sexually charged banter. It’s worrying then, that all of the brilliant writing and most of the plot exposition is entirely optional. Players must actively interact with Elika to talk about her back-story. I suspect many will not bother, since it breaks the flow of the action, which is not the level of attention the story deserves. Simply allowing the main characters to chat while you play seems an obvious suggestion. Your task is to head to the centre of each stage and use Elika’s power to heal the land. As you progress Elika attains new powers, allowing the Prince to run up walls and leap over long distances. The levels are well designed and feel rewarding, if light on challenge at times. The surprisingly relaxing platforming is juxtaposed with some combat sequences, which are pretty dull indeed. While fights against
generic soldiers of death are shortlived, encounters with the four boss characters are much more drawnout. This would be acceptable if only you didn’t have to fight each boss on five separate occasions, using the same strategy each time. Other aspects of the game seem included for bragging purposes, rather than because they fundamentally improve the experience. Once an area has been cleansed of corruption it becomes populated with collectable ‘light seeds’ which, you guessed it, must be collected arbitrarily to progress further. Although the Prince is free to tackle stages in any order, a tighter and more linear adventure would have been more enjoyable. Prince of Persia marks a successful new era for the franchise, even if there’s plenty of room for improvement in the inevitable sequel. Often thrilling, if never spectacular, it’s definitely more Fresh Prince than Emperor’s New Clothes.
Neil Pooran takes a leap of Faith, over and over and over again MIRROR’S EDGE EA
X360, PS3, PC £24.99 - £49.99 APPLE CEO Steve Jobs has taken a leave of absence until June due to undisclosed health problems, causing company investors to panic. We at Tech wish Steve a speedy recovery, even though he is yet to send us those free iPhones we requested last year.
www.freerice.com EVERY CORRECT answer in this vocabulary game donates ten grains of rice through the UN World Food Program to help end world hunger and your boredom. Splendiferous!
AAADD WHAT DO you do when the futuristic, pristine metropolis you inhabit is ruled over by an authoritarian, all-seeing government? Civil disobedience? Move to another city? No, the answer is to start running. For no reason whatsoever. A fairly barren plot has heroine Faith, a ‘runner’, vaulting her way across the city’s rooftops to escape the law while battling to rescue her sister from the clutches of the apparently evil city authorities. Again, no reason is given for doing so. Played through the eyes of the runner, you vault across the bleached city entirely in a first-person perspective. The intention is that you flow through the city in a series of swift parkour moves rather than break stride by ‘stopping and popping’ the armed guards in pursuit. The emphasis is on graceful evasion rather than combat, which is probably why firing guns feels like tossing pennies onto a
baking tray in more ways than one. With the focus on jumping, wallrunning and scaling through the indoor and outdoor cityscape, pulling off these acrobatic tricks with the right timing becomes an irritating experience when attempting the same sequence for the umpteenth time. However, the payoff from nailing a difficult line can be sublime. There is nothing quite as exhilarating as diving off of a 50-storey rooftop into a building opposite, before disarming a guard with a mid-air kick to the groin, all the while dodging bullets from a helicopter’s chaingun. Moments such as these, along with the highly-stylised design of the nameless city creates an unsettling atmosphere, and ensure Mirror’s Edge feels like more than just a platform game with a few gimmicks attached. Developers DICE have answered their challenge of first-person platforming admirably and have certainly breached new ground. However many of the faults of the game stem from these adventurous design decisions. A frustratingly large amount of your time will be spent plummeting to your death and respawning after you constantly miss a crucial jump
or fail to spot the right path to take. Your first run through the game is a brief one, but since you’re intended to sprint through the levels at breakneck pace this is perhaps unsurprising. However Mirror’s Edge is now considerably cheaper following the post-Christmas clearouts, a welcome move. The inclusion of time trials and downloadable challenge arenas
on the horizon will provide more variety to those of a clock-watching persuasion. While it’s impressive that the intensity of parkour has been successfully translated into a video game, you can’t help but feel that Mirror’s Edge is just the first, prototypical part of a franchise that needs to evolve a little further.
End of an ERa
The gory days are over. Susan Robinson says RIP to ER. ‘Life After Death’ is the unconsciously apt title of the first episode of ER’s 15th and final series. The show’s writers have fought hard to resuscitate the show, testing new characters, devising increasingly more tragic and astonishing deaths for old ones and writing ever more fantastical ways for people to be maimed. However, only so many injections of adrenalin can be effective. ER was once groundbreaking TV: lightening-paced live shows, realistic medical procedures, high profile cameos, unnervingly beautiful doctors and nurses, not to mention outright carnage. With a death count often reaching double figures before the opening credits, ER made Casualty and Holby City look as though they were set before the Hippocratic Oath was invented. In the 8th series it became the Abby Lockhart Show as she slept her way around most of County General’s male population. This episode is no different, the waiting room is packed and everyone is desperately seeking Dr Lockhart, only she’s been in an ambulance explosion. Shame. As has Dr Pratt who is so badass that he manages to walk out the wreckage despite a bone sticking out his leg and coughing up blood. In its golden age, the tragedies of
Fern Brady Fern Brady
TOO MANY DOCTORS: ‘Do you find me clinically attractive?’ Asks Dr. Abby Lockhart. ER were undercut with the blackest of gallows humour: a sink falls through the ceiling onto a patient they’ve all but given up on, giving his heart the kick-start it needs. There are glimmers of this in the new series: unable to find an intubation tube, Dr Morris improvises, thrusting an IV cannula into the neck of a dying Pratt. A beat later, a bewildered porter arrives with the correct equipment. Unfortunately the heroics used
to be performed by taller, betterlooking, kinder doctors. Not the titian-haired Morris. However, the arrival of appealing new interns in Episode Two, who become entangled in a ricin scare (prompting cute Daria to ask in her best bedside manner: ‘so how did you become a bio-terrorist?’) promises a return to form. Cameos are to follow from Noah Wylie (went to Africa), Anthony Edwards (brain tumour)and Paul McCrane (squashed by a heli-
copter) ensuring that the series will not simply flat-line. I was ready to hate the new series but like an expectant mother stranded in a snowstorm, ER never fails to deliver. Watching a mute Pratt, one minute delegating his own treatment; the next, a pulsing lump in his neck, tears streaming down his face and blood pouring out his mouth...I realise that it is still one of the most visceral programmes on TV.
Enough to make you Burrell Fern Brady wonders what really happened.
WHAT A STEAL: For only £30 you too can own this limited edition Paul Burrell. (pictured, left). Teddybear not included.
Watching a Jaques Peretti programme (Paul Burrell: What Really Happened) is always taking a gamble with your valuable viewing time, principally because he seems to have attended the Dawn Porter School of Investigative Journalism. “You mean, Jacques Peretti sucked wall-to-wall cock to fill the gaping void where talent should be?” you cry. No, no, not that, I was referring to Dawn Porter-style research methods. Peretti has been touted as ‘Channel 4’s answer to Louis Theroux’ but it’s difficult to discern any connection between the two, other than that they both have heads and facial features. Where Theroux uses a tried-and-tested method of faking naivete to lure subjects into a position of trust, Peretti simply is naïve, creating programmes that are essentially a clumsy rehashing of Wikipedia pages and tabloid stories that are already widely available to anyone with a functioning broadband connection. There’s a strong degree of ambiguity in the series’ title. The ‘what really happened’ part announces itself authoritatively, offering an insight into the dark underbelly of a story that we, the ignorant viewer, can’t possibly see. Instead,
the show’s title is more consistent with Peretti driving around aimlessly and repeating “What really happened…what REALLY happened?”, while never actually managing to answer his own burning hypotheses. Placing Peretti’s complete incompetence aside, watching anything featuring Paul Burrell is invariably brilliant train-wreck TV. Public revulsion of him appears to stem from the fact that he is the concentrated incarnation of every middle-Englander that displays a disarmingly servile admiration for the Royal family. You know the type: they’re the same people that buy commemorative Diana plates that sing Elton John tunes at the touch of a button. And they’re responsible for every Christmas number 1 that Cliff Richard’s ever had. Unfortunately, it still all comes back to whether the programme sheds any new light on the question of “Why is Paul Burrell completely mental?” With a line of enquiry as inane as “who would play Paul in the film of his life?” it’s unlikely that we’ll ever find out, though the viewing of this programme did serve as a valuable reminder of Burrell’s weirdness.
‘It’s like a prison that you just, move around in!’ sobs Billy Robbins who, at 60 stone, has the dubious accolade of being the fattest teenager in the world. Your body may be a prison Fatboy, but it’s arguably a tasty prison of your own making, one in which the bars are made of sausage rolls, with walls of delicious puff pastry. Bodyshock’s Half Ton Son is markedly different from the series’ previous efforts: Half Ton Man, Half Ton Mum and Half Ton Dad. Oh, wait...no, it’s not at all different as once the fatties pass the 30 stone mark, categories such as age, race and gender are all rendered invalid as distinguishing markers of identification
The equivalent of eating 26.66667 Scotch eggs, all day, every day. Let’s deconstruct the title of ‘Bodyshock’ here: where, precisely, is the ‘shock’ factor in the programme? We’re told that Billy’s mum (who isn’t getting asked to do Paris Fashion Week anytime soon) has been feeding him up to 8000 calories a day. This is the equivalent of eating 26.66667 Scotch eggs, all day, every day. Shocking, would be if Billy’s massive caloric intake was utilised to create a new kind of super-efficient magical fuel that would solve the world’s energy crisis. Not shocking: taking up eating as a full-time occupation makes you porky. One of the crueller ironies I’ve noticed in documentaries on the morbidly obese is that they’re often obliged to spend a significant chunk of their screen time buck naked (it would seem clothing manufacturers have only so many Xs they can add to an L). Admittedly, there is a certain freedom made available to fatties as lumbering around in the buff does not bring the usual host of worries it would with the majority of the population. For instance, the thought of ‘don’t want to be naked on telly, might ruin future sexual opportunities’ probably flew out the window for Billy Robbins, right after he realised finding his willy from under a vast apron of fat is much akin to a game of hide-and-seek, a game he loses all too often.
Bring it all back (to the 90s) With S Club back in town, Maddie Walder decides to relive that infamous decade My, what cosmic beauties
Pop Diva Lolly gets her tummy out Lolly, 90s pop diva
o you remember your pre pubescent years? You hit 13, hear a knock on the door, and bam, hello acne, angst and that first feeling of rebellion. More to the point, do you remember the sweet, sweet decade which nurtured your growth? Ah, yes, I talk of the 90s. The days of the school disco, Doc Martins, Steps, the wee crocodile clips parting your oh so crimped hair, the birth of Harry Potter... So, what with S Club (three) returning stiffly to the scene, hot on the heels of other 90s bonanzas, (Gladiators, Take That and those 5 ladies who just wanna zig - a – zig – aaa), Lifestyle has decided to get all nostalgic and take a little look back at the past. Nay, more than this, we aim to celebrate (and contemplate the potential revival of) the other quirks of that funky decade. After all, there’s word on the block of a Bewitch reunion. What with those Irish stunners set for a comeback and the rumours of the ‘new crop top’ circulating rapidly through certain student publications, what better reason to take a trip down memory lane? It’s time to walk the dog (as in the yo-yo move). Imagine then, if you will, some of the less accessible fads rearing their ugly heads from the stagnant waters of ‘bad trends are us’ swamp. Guys, do you even dare to contemplate the return of the greasy curtains? Take a fine comb, find your centre parting
Shag bands, baby
and smooth out those locks into two sleek, face framing strands, to create a jaw dropping look rivalling the gay one from Boyzone. Guaranteed to get the girls hot under their school shirt collars. Throw a denim jacket into the mix, maybe even a bandana, and you’re onto a winner. The ladies didn’t get away so easy either. In fact, it was not so long ago that one particularly ghastly 90s trend smashed into the present in a big way....leggings my friends, leggings, instilling fear of sausage legs and camel toes into women the world over. We all swore we would never touch such heinous items, yet, given a few months, the little buggers were stretched over the female leg far and wide, afflicting all with that elusive ‘where the heck are your trousers?’ syndrome. But not only this. The crop top, deserving of a whole article of its own, is apparently happily back, poised to destroy any rogue grain of self confidence left in our post-festivity-binge-bodies. This is one look that only works on the catwalk, girls, I promise you. As for the dangerous dilemma of dating, primary school style, if your tip top dress sense didn’t already clinch the deal, you could always fall back on the fail safe ‘shag bands’. Those little plastic bracelets, available in a variety of delightful neon colors, supposedly exerted a large dose of destiny upon your love life. If a member of the opposite sex cheekily snapped
your ‘shag band’, you were in for an afternoon of passion behind the P.E blocks. One wonders if we ever truly comprehended the meaning of these tacky gimmicks at the tender ages of early teendom, but, fair enough, they provided a no fuss route to the tonsils of the girl/boy of your dreams. Lest we forget, music. The soundtrack of our youth, punctuated with the ecstatic cries of the playing of Pokemon, the trading of pogs and the braiding of itsy bisty little plaits into the hair of long suffering victims, was an eclectic mix of dangerously cheesy, inappropriately worded (‘I wanna have sex on the beach’) keyboard mash ups. And, fortunately for us, some of the most infamous acts are back on the scene yet again! The world-rocking Titanic theme, courtesy of Celine Dion, is also well worth a mention, whilst ‘Saturday Night’, ‘The Macarena’ and ‘Ooh, Ah, Just a Little Bit’ still get the Student team up and dancing in the office. I’m personally holding out for an East 17 (ugliest pop stars of all time, inspiration for current chavs everywhere) greatest hits concert. Obviously, I’ll be skating there in a tie dye top and bunches, topped off with multicoloured, glow in the dark braces on my dentals. One final word – don’t forget to feed your Tamagotchi. That’s How For Now, kids.
The original Gladiators giving the Conga a new twist
Ben from A1 working the curtains
The Revival of Crop Top Chic Kimberlee McLaughlan derides the return of a truly horrifying 90’s throw back
rop tops. The words bring back a flood of truly cringe worthy memories that are best left dead and buried, especially if - being young girl in the 90s you danced around to ‘Wannabe’ in Mum’s stilettos whilst scantily
Men... don’t bother
clad in an itsy bitsy... oh no, there it goes, the final blow... crop top. This heinous fashion affront should have been locked in a time capsule with The Spice Girls and their misguided notions of girl power, so that historians could open it in a thousand years time and comment on this archaic and torturous practise that we deemed to be ‘fashion’. In the instance of such an event, cries of disbelief would quickly circulate: ‘Crikey, its bloody freezing in Britain, why were these primitive folk torturing themselves like that?’ And rather sensibly, as with other catastrophic events in history, the human race would vow never to allow the event to repeat itself. But just when we thought this crime against decency was well and truly behind us, the crop top has repeated its vicious fashion cycle and forced itself upon us, yet again. This worrying trend started creeping into the mainstream back in the summer of 2008, when celebrities were spotted sporting the said offender on multiple occasions in a short period of time, the most notable criminals being Daisy Lowe and Pixie Geldof (see picture). Ever since, the crop top has increased its ominous
presence in various areas of the fashion industry, and various highbrow sources have tipped it to be a major 2009 catwalk and street trend. In spite of the fact that ‘fads’ and what is in Vogue have never been a big cause for concern to me, I do believe that this issue deserves due attention, partially because of the previously mentioned factors, but mostly down to the endlessly shameful issue of vanity. A crop top in the name of fashion is simply not flattering, unless you are a child. Or Barbie. Washboard stomachs for either sex are definitely not achievable goals on a student diet of chips and beans. At least previous trends that had the potential to be less than slimming – for example skinny jeans – were saved by the tuck it all in high-waist variety. For the crop top, clever tummy hiding is just not workable. Unfortunately, it’s all out there, all of the time. So who can we place the blame on for this unfortunate crop top renaissance? Exposure of the abdomen and flaunting of the midriff has been an integral part of many non-western cultures for centuries, and we thus cannot blame these societies for
appreciating an attractive practise steeped in tradition. Similarly, chain mail cropped tops were used to protect medieval soldiers from lances, dragons and the like. On a different note, the contemporary western world embraced belly tops in the 80’s as a practicality for athletes and in particular for American footballers. Shortly after, the crop top’s progression into the realm of making loud and pointless statements was secured; as it was used primarily to elicit interest between the sexes, flesh for flesh’s sake. By the mid 90’s, the golden age of the crop top was in full swing. Indeed, such was crop top mania that young girls often ‘bunched’ their average length tops upwards to expose more flesh, as has been nicely demonstrated by Britney Spear’s earlier videos. In light of history, it would seem that, actually, we can’t really blame any single entity for the unwarranted return of a 90’s affair. In fact, the revival of the crop top may be symptomatic of human curiosity, in which case, hopefully this fascination will quickly dwindle. But remember people (men included), that when the time comes, it’s ok to say NO to a crop top!
Pixie Geldoff pulls it off... Damn her
Quiz Time Down 1. Weapons for toxophilites (4) 2. A light-sensitive pigment in the retina, also known as visual purple (9) 3. A strong rich cheese, often with blue veins, originally made in Leicestershire (7) 4. Opera by Ruggiero Leoncavallo first performed in 1892 (9) 5. Roman coin worth a quarter of a denarius (8) 6. Territory in the western Himalayas divided between India and Pakistan (7) 8. Display stand with open shelves (7) 9. Department of France with Agen as its capital (3-2-7) 10. Husband of Helen of Troy (8) 15. The unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought (12) 19. Any herbivorous marsupial of the family Macropodidae (8) 21. Leading lady in films of the 30s and 40s, once a singer with Rudy Vallee’s band (5,4) 22. A dish of boneless cooked white poultry or fish served cold in jelly (9) 23. An athletic contest in skiing and shooting (8) 25. Fringed shawl worn by some Jewish men, especially at prayer (7) 26. English actor, producer and director given a life peerage in 1970 (7) 28. Small pegs or plugs for stopping the vents of casks (7) 31. A title of respect used in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and other countries of Asia (4)
Across 1. Russian world chess champion who lost the title to Bobby Fischer in 1972 (5,7) 7. Fir or pine wood (4) 11. US state containing the national monument Shoshone Cavern (7) 12. 1992 comedy film with Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith (6,3) 13. French philosopher and writer whose works epitomize the Age of Enlightenment (8) 14. Actress whose name was used for an inflatable life jacket (3,4) 16. Highly poisonous metallic element, with the chemical symbol As (7) 17. City of northwest Colombia that was once the richest port on the Spanish Main (9) 18. The religious and classical literary language of India (8) 20. Musical direction to go back to the point indicated by the sign (3,5) 24. Italian film director whose films include La Notte and Zabriskie Point (9)
27. Hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood (7) 29. 18th century Italian physiologist who pioneered the therapeutic use of electricity (7) 30. Film for which Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin and Jane Campion won Oscars in 1993 (3,5) 32. A scientific name or algebraic expression of three terms (9) 33. French playwright whose works, such as Antigone, juxtapose harsh reality and fantasy (7) 34. Mining and industrial region of western Germany (4) 35. Novel by Mary Shelley, published in 1818 (12)
A load A matter of national pride of Kaka? Benjamin Miller takes in an ice hockey match in Canada and leaves suitably impressed Ed Senior
Lthough The festivities are over, the shopping for presents is still in full flow in the football market. One need only have looked at the back pages last week to see figures of £100m being banded about for Brazilian superstar and AC Milan midfielder Kaka. The question of whether or not he will leave is on every football fan’s lips. Will he really sacrifice success in football to become the most expensive player in the history of the sport, getting paid a jaw-dropping £500,000 per week? AC Milan have reportedly allowed Manchester City, yes that is correct, Manchester City, to have talks with the 26-year-old midfielder but as of yet, no agreement has been reached. It is however hard to decide if it’s worth it. Lets be honest, it’s not as if Kaka needs the money; he already earns £9m a season, after tax! He is also currently playing for undoubtedly the most renowned team in Italy and one of the most prestigious in the world. Furthermore, if he really wanted to play in the Premiership, which most players do aspire to, surely one of the bigger clubs would be more suitable? I mean Man City, with all due respect, are nobodies, unknowns and current relegation prospects. It would be like Cristiano Ronaldo moving to Spain to play for Real Betis. Mark Hughes’ side currently lie 15th in the table, 19 points off a Champions League place. Aston Villa, who occupy the 4th spot, have dropped only 22 points all season. However, Spurs who are in the relegation zone, are within two points of City. So will a player like Kaka even help them stay in the Premiership? Not all players settle quickly in this rough and fast-paced league. If Kaka did eventually arrive, surely more players would be attracted to Eastlands as well and this would mean that Man City would have a virtually unrecognisable team by February and the new recruits would probably be new to the Premiership. As we have seen with Spurs, money doesn’t always buy success. So who will the deal actually benefit? The only benefactor in my opinion is AC Milan who will rake in enough money to buy two or three world class players to replace him. With Ronaldinho already in the side the money will certainly help soften the blow of his departure.
ce Hockey is of paramount importance to Canadians. It’s a chance for them to express their national identity and succeed against their southern neighbours. You only have to look at the names of Canadian National Hockey League (NHL) teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadians to understand what I mean. As an exchange student in Vancouver, my local NHL team is of course the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks are by no means the finest team in Canada, never mind the NHL, but they are very popular here in British Columbia and this is reflected in their ticket prices which start at about £35 for a poor seat. Vancouver’s second team, the Giants, charge considerably less. Therefore, when my family came to visit me over Christmas and Hogmanay it was the Giants we saw playing host to the Prince George Cougars in the Pacific Coliseum. It certainly wasn’t a bad decision. My father had booked the tickets online early so we arrived to find out that we had excellent seats in the second row just next to the subs bench. Rules were recently changed requiring the wall surrounding the rink to be slightly flexible to prevent serious injury during player collisions. This meant that we knew all about it when a player was bounced into the wall less than a metre in front of us. This was particularly disquieting for one member of our party who had succumbed to jetlag and fallen asleep. Having not traveled recently I was in a position to enjoy an excellent game of hockey. The Giants eventually earned a deserved 4-3 victory, but only after coming from
behind in the last few minutes. The visitors – from the British Columbian interior – put up a good fight and deserve plaudits for making the league-leaders so uncomfortable. The early minutes of the game set the tone for the rest of the match. While Vancouver enjoyed lots of possession in the offensive zone, they couldn’t make any of their shots count. The Cougars on the other hand were quick to counterattack and converted two of their chances in the first 11 minutes, even though they had only taken a third of the shots of the home team. The Giants got one back a few minutes later to leave the score at 2-1 after the first period. It’s during the break that you realise how much better sports fans are generally treated in North America than in the UK. There is
a whole industry of mid-game entertainment supported by frequent advertisements. Of course, you are allowed to buy beer at the overpriced bar in the stadium. However it’s a lot less acceptable to succumb to the effects of the alcohol even slightly and swear loudly when the players get into a fight which is something I found out personally when at a previous game. Hockey is a family sport, and almost everyone seems to like or at least tolerate it. Although your average Vancouver housewife might not go to every game I’d imagine they’ll be able to tell you that Roberto Luongo is the best goaltender in the NHL. It’s an inclusive sport, and this was shown clearly by the miniature game played by girls under 12 during the first break. The second period didn’t live
up to the drama of the first, the most impressive moment being the crowd’s Mexican wave managing to circle four times. The play was largely scrappy and the Giants’ equaliser came from nowhere, a long shot into the top corner. The game continued to be dominated by desperate unshapely play and the Cougars managed to take advantage of a particularly frantic stramash to put themselves 3-2 up just as the buzzer went for the end of the period. The last period was scrappy again, with the Giants pressing hard and the Cougars looking dangerous on the break. The Cougars goalie was having the night of his life, until with less than three minutes left when the Giants equalised. This was followed by one of those characteristic moments in ice hockey: the fight. It took seconds for the two players, just feet away from us, to lose their gloves. It was fast, but also heartfelt – the Giants player looked as if his mother had been insulted and I guess she could have been. It was exciting, but this time I managed to control myself and just jumped up and down a little bit in childish excitement. The Giants didn’t waste time putting the icing on the cake after that with Vancouver winger Craig Cunningham getting his second of the night. It was a breathtaking end to what was a fairly exciting game. Having been in Canada for four and a half months now I think I understand why Canadians find most other sports dull. Hockey is fast, physical and arouses real passion (especially as I found out recently when Canada beat the United States). Ultimately, when you choose to go to the hockey you’re almost guaranteed entertainment.
Redman aiming to bow out on a high Martin Domin talks to Edinburgh’s midfield maestro and captain Jamie Redman about the semester ahead
fter two highly successful seasons, the University of Edinburgh’s men’s football side have established themselves as one of the leading clubs within the university and also across Scotland. This season has been rather more sedate so far with many of last season’s squad moving on or suffering from injury. Club captain Jamie Redman is hopeful however that the side has turned the corner and that they go into the New Year with renewed hope. He said “After a slow start to the season, due to the new squad taking time to gel, the last couple of months were successful ones as we were unbeaten in over ten games. We currently sit sixth in the East of Scotland Premier Division with games in hand on most of the teams above us so we feel we’re heading back to where we should be.” Redman explained that the side were set a series of targets for the season back in August and is hopeful that they can still match them. He continued: “At the start of the season we aimed to win the Queen’s Park Shield and/or an East of Scotland cup competition, to qualify for the third round of the
Scottish Cup and to finish in the top four of the Premier League. “We currently sit second in the Scottish Universities Championship, with Stirling having already clinched the title. We were beaten 4-2 away from home against them in frustrating circumstances, having beaten them 3-0 at home in September. This unfortunately adds to a series of near misses for myself and some of my older team-mates in this competition!” “However, we’re still in with an excellent chance of qualifying for last 16 of the British Universities Championship which can throw up a fantastic tie with a big English University. Plus if you’re lucky, this may include a memorable bus journey home as recent trips to Leeds and Birmingham have shown!” One of the major talking points over the last two seasons was the side’s Scottish Cup runs which created a huge buzz around the university. This season however, Edinburgh were dumped out by East of Scotland First Division side Civil Service Strollers which Redman admits came as a major blow to the club.
He said: “We were really disappointed at our early Scottish Cup exit to Civil Service Strollers as we under-performed massively on the day, letting a great opportunity slip away. That was probably the lowest point of my career and it probably hurt more for those players who’d been part of our success in the Scottish Cup in the last two seasons, which notably raised the profile of the club. The matches in recent seasons against Keith, Cowdenbeath, Deveronvale and Cove Rangers were special occasions and to not progress further than we did was a major let-down. “Nevertheless, to win the SFA South Regional Cup in March would go a long way to making up for it! We are all desperate to deliver a trophy this season and this is the most prestigious competition we play in which we can realistically hope to win. With Spartans as the opposition and with the game being played at a top Scottish Premier League or Football League stadium, it becomes even more exciting! Personally, to lift the trophy as captain in my final season would be the best way to bow out and the squad are very determined to do
just that. “As for the league, we’ve recently started picking up the points our performances have deserved and we’re surging up the league table which is still very tight. We feel anything less than fourth place would represent failure however, especially with the talent in our squad.” Last season’s second place finish was certainly a remarkable achievement but despite having come agonisingly close to the title, Redman and his team mates were able to look back with pride. He said: “We managed to get it out of our system over the summer break and now we realise how well we did to be a realistic title contender right to the final weekend of the season. No previous university side has ever come so close or won as many points in the Premier Division so we certainly raised expectation levels surrounding our club.” Having seen former team mates Andrew Cook and Scott Bennett establish themselves at Raith Rovers and Stenhousemuir respectively, Redman is quick to shower them with praise. He added: ”We’re very proud of both of them. It shows
the rest of us what can be achieved within the environment of our club when you work hard at your game as the gap between our level and the second and third divisions of the Scottish Football League (SFL) HHter Terry is not as great as some think. We continually slag them for being ‘big-time charlies’ but only because we’re jealous! There are a few players in the current team who are capable of playing at a higher level and guys like Andrew and Scott and those before them give us that extra belief.” Redman himself harbours hopes of making the step up after he finishes his degree this year. He has so far resisted the urge to leave the club and hopes to combine his football with a somewhat different career choice. He admitted: “I hope to make the step-up to the SFL when I graduate in the summer. I’ve had some interest over the past year but I’m keen to remain with Edinburgh University until my degree is over and then hopefully I’ll have some options to further my career. I’m also currently applying for graduate jobs as a chemical engineer so hopefully something will fit together!”
Pietersen’s forced smile Michael Klimes dissects the role played by Kevin Pietersen in the recent English cricketing fiasco
oth surpise and unpredictability follow Kevin Piertersen. Whenever one thinks he has deciphered Pietersen, the man suddenly makes a turn no one anticipated. He plays the role of maverick very well. Still, there is something in his latest feud with the former England coach Peter Moores that raises many questions about Pietersen’s judgement. Cricket fans probably like to forget Pietersen’s personality and focus on his considerable talent which has produced much excellent work. However, one’s personality affects the exploitation of one’s talent and ultimately the standing of one’s career. Mike Tyson and Paul Gascoigne are two examples of sportsmen who could not find any stability. Of course Pietersen does not share the flaws of Tyson or Gascoigne but the surprise with which he expressed the blowback when his true opinions of Moore became public is concerning. How these opinions became public is debatable but what is not is the controversy they have generated. It is true that elements in the British press hunt enthusiastically for controversy and Pietersen
has articulated his sadness with how events have unravelled: “What hurts me was the character assassination that has been totally unfounded. And that is the reason why I want to get my story across so that people can understand that I have done absolutely nothing wrong.” What is perplexing is how Pietersen did not suspect that the British media would question his integrity, Moores’ and the whole English cricket team. Andrew Strauss has been parachuted into be a safe pair of hands and provides a degree of stability. Key players in the team like Strauss and Flintoff have expressed their support for Pietersen and he is determined to rebound by playing as brilliantly as he has done before, “I feel it is right for me to go back and just play - to do something that I totally, totally love and which is scoring runs and more runs for England. I am committed 100% behind the skipper and winning games of cricket. I will get up every day and I’ll smile and do whatever I can to win games of cricket for England.” Come what may, Pietersen will follow a path that is decisively his own.
IN HAPPIER TIMES: Pietersen’s short lived captaincy was brought to an abrupt end at the beginning of the month