>> Student drinking: Sarah Mor-
rison fights for the right to party
Student Comment Page 9
SCOTTISH STUDENT NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2007
Since 1887 - The UK’ s oldest student newspaper
Foreign students first to get ID cards Cards to bolster new hard-line on immigration Neil Pooran THE GOVERNMENT has unveiled mandatory identity cards for incoming non-EU students as a precursor to introducing them to all students in the UK. From November, certain students applying to study or extend their stay in the UK will have to buy a £30 biometric visa card from the Home Office. The plans have received criticism from opposition parties and civil liberties campaigners. Concerns were also raised as to whether the scheme would deter foreigners from applying to UK universities, taking their much-needed tuition fees elsewhere. The card will come in addition to the Home Office charge for processing student visas, which is between £295 and £500. It will replace some paper documentation and work alongside the government’s tough new points based system for managing migration. Six centres have been set up around the country to collect biometric data from foreign nationals for use in the new identity cards. Liberty director Shami Chakrabati said: “This week the Prime Minister said he doesn’t do PR but clearly the Home Secretary wasn’t listening. The public will yawn at yet another re-launch of this scheme and if the card came with loyalty points, we still wouldn’t buy it. Picking on foreigners first is divisive politics; as costly to our race relations as our purses.” Scottish student leaders called on the Scottish Government to block the scheme. EUSA President Adam Ramsay said: “Forcing international students to have an ID card smacks of xenophobic authoritarianism. This comes at the same time as discussions about forcing the university to inform the home office if an international student fails to go to a tutorial two weeks in a row. “If international students feel that
the UK Government is discriminating against them, that’s because it is. It’s crucial that the Scottish Government stands up to Westminster and doesn’t let ridiculous, dangerous and discriminatory proposals like this damage Scotland’s universities.” University umbrella group Universities UK said they were still in discussions about the scheme, and were willing to see how it worked in practice. They noted there may be some issues with where the centres were located
Picking on foreigners first is divisive politics Shami Chakrabati, Liberty and how the biometric information is collected, but that the ‘jury is still out’. The scheme was defended by Home Secretary Jaqui Smith, who said the government was committed to protecting identity. She said: “ID cards will help protect against identity fraud and illegal working, reduce the use of multiple identities in organised crime and terrorism, crack down on those trying to abuse positions of trust, and make it easier for people to prove they are who they say they are. “ID cards for foreign nationals will replace old-fashioned paper documents, make it easier for employers and sponsors to check entitlement to work and study, and for the UK Border Agency to verify someone’s identity. This will provide identity protection to the many here legally, who contribute to the prosperity of the UK, while helping prevent abuse.” Under a different parliamentaryAct, the Government plans to offer identity cards to young Britons in 2010, with the scheme eventually encompassing the entire population over the next few years.
Jenny Baldwin remembers the life and work of Paul Newman FILM: PAGE 18»
Week 2 30.09.2008
Spectre of HMO quotas looms again Liz Rawlings
STUDENTS ARE likely to face restrictions on where they live in Edinburgh after the government announced UK-wide plans to end the ‘studentification’ of university towns last week. Last Friday, the Department of Communities and Local Government launched a report which will make it easier for councils to limit the number of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) in popular student areas. Such action would curb the number of student flats in areas such as Marchmont, Bruntsfield and Newington with the government introducing a cap on HMO’s in these student-saturated neighbourhoods. The report suggests that having too many students in one area is detrimental to the neighbourhood, causing a negative impact on the sense of community as well as being the root cause of litter and antisocial behaviour issues. The report also raised concerns that highlypopulated student areas turn into ‘ghost towns’ during the holidays – a situation the Housing and Planning Minister Caroline Flint called ‘unacceptable.’ Flint firmly placed her support behind HMO quotas stating, “Today’s report has identified a series of proven steps councils and universities can take to reduce the dramatic effects of ‘studentification’ where Houses of Multiple Occupation cluster too closely together. “I want to consider further how the planning proposals might help councils change term time only towns into properly planned towns that blend the student populations into well mixed neighbourhoods that are alive all year round.” Student leaders have responded angrily to Flint’s comments, with NUS President Wes Streeting stating that he was ‘alarmed’ at students being displaced in the middle of a housing crisis. He added: “we are also worried that bureaucracy will discourage landlords from the HMO market.” HMO quotas were due to be introduced to Edinburgh last year by the Scottish Government, but after a successful ‘Right to Rent’ camKaty Kennedy paign by students the legislation was Julia Sanches dropped in July. Continued on page 2 GIVEN THE CARD: Mandatory biometric ID is finally becoming a reality
Week 2 30.09.08
Finnish students shaken by school shooting
DEVASTATION: A corridor in Kauhajoki vocational college after a gunman killed ten people and himself. Finnish students in Edinburgh expressed their horror at the second school shooting in less than a year.
Patrick Andelic A GUNMAN killed ten in a shooting at a college in Finland last week before turning the gun on himself. The shooting took place at the Kauhajoki Palvelualojen Oppilaitos vocational college at around 11am (8am GMT) on Tuesday, 23 September. The attacker has been identified as Matti Juhani Saari, a 22-year-old trainee chef and former student at the school. When Saari entered and opened fire, there were around 200 people in the college and an exam was about to begin. He killed nine students and a teacher before turning the gun on himself. He later died of his wounds in hospital. Reports indicate that he used a
.22 caliber handgun, for which he received a licence last month. Saari is also reported to have started several fires using petrol bombs, resulting in all but one victim being burnt so badly that they could only be identified through dental records and DNA testing. It has emerged that Saari was detained by police for questioning the day before the shooting, after posting footage of himself firing a gun on YouTube. They took no further action, however, after finding no legal reason to hold him further, and decided not to suspend his gun licence. The shooting is the second to occur in Finland in less than a year. In November 2007 Pekka-Eric Auvinen killed eight students and
two members of staff at the Jokela High School in Tuusula. Police are currently investigating a suspected link between Saari and Auvinen, given the similarities between the attacks. Evgenia Usoskina, 18, a firstyear Physics student who has lived in Finland for the past seven years told Student: “It was pretty shocking, another shooting so soon after the last one. It’s really hard to believe that it happened; it feels so far away.” She added: “Generally I always considered Finland as this really safe country where nothing really happens and where nothing can happen. It’s kind of scary.” “I’ve been talking to some of my friends on MSN and they’re obviously much more shocked. Some people are taking it that it’s
not as safe anymore. One of my friend’s parents are really scared for her now.” It has been noted Finland has the highest rate of gun-ownership in the world after the United States and Yemen, according to the Graduate Institute of International Studies, based in Geneva. This high level of violence has been linked by some to an inability among Finnish men to express emotions. Finnish Chemical Engineering student Oskar Wegelius said: ”The fact is, Finland is a vast country, scarcely populated and it’s submerged in darkness half-year round. Culturally isolated, it has held the world record suicide rate for consecutive years - depression being this society’s spleen. ”That said, there is not much to do
for young Finns not living in cities. The internet has revolutionised contemporary Finland - it opened the country and its youth to the world. In remote areas, such as Tuusula and Kauhajoki, such a tool has given youngsters ideas – sometimes stupid ideas. ”Some blame the lenient gun laws, however, Suomi has not witnessed a surge in gun crime - implying that the root of the problem lies elsewhere. For although it is a step to fire a gun, it is an entirely different leap to fire the gun at another individual. “Hence, why Finnish society and the world alike reflect on human nature and the simple unanswerable question ‘Why?’ instead of playing the blame game.” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Tough times for landlords Bid to aid poorer applicants Flint revives Sara D’Arcy Edinburgh’s rental boom is coming to an end and tenants look set to take back control from letting agents and landlords. The nationwide rental boom, caused by the effects of the credit crunch and the crashing of the property market, saw many tenants coming under financial stress due to a higher demand for rental properties than there were houses available. The housing market crashed earlier this year with house sales descending to a 30 year low and mortgage approvals down by 71%. First time buyers were put under particular strain with their weekly mortgage costs rising by 21% and mortgage companies insisting on large deposits for them to get on the property ladder. Many people were forced to turn to renting as a product of the turbulent property market conditions. This increasing demand for rental properties meant that landlords and letting agencies were able to drive a hard bargain from tenants.According to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) rent on flats increased by 7% between May and August, making the average flat
rent in the U.K. £253 per week. As well as a nationwide rent increase, landlords also began to demand high deposits and produced extortionate contracts for tenants to sign. This rental boom is finally set to come to an end, with the wheel coming full circle. Peter Grant, cofounder of Edinburgh letting agents Grant Management, states that “there are more properties available to rent. Owners are not able to sell so they are turning to letting out”. This increase of prospective rental properties on the market means that there is more competition for landlords and consequently more choice for prospective tenants. Grant continued “the supply has gone up and the demand has gone up”, concluding that the rental market has reached an equilibrium of properties and prospective tenants. He did warn that students should not take a back seat in searching for rental properties, stating that students will get the best deal for their money if they “think ahead and get organised”. Although rental prices might decrease nationwide, prices in Edinburgh are likely to slowly increase in line with inflation. Contact email@example.com
James Ellingworth Nine leading English universities have launched a scheme to ‘pool’ applications from talented pupils who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, with the aim of helping them into university. The group, which includes Warwick, Exeter and Bristol universities, will link their widening participation programmes. The scheme allows one university to recommend talented pupils who have taken taster courses at their institution to the other members of the scheme. Most of the universities involved are also members of the elite Russell Group of research-oriented universities, of which the University of Edinburgh is a part. A spokeswoman for Newcastle University told the BBC that the scheme aims to stop talented pupils from poorer backgrounds “falling through the net.” “We’re only too conscious that there are young people who have the potential for higher education study but have problems in their context.” Universities Secretary John Denham said he was “delighted that some of our most selective
institutions are working together to make progress in widening participation.” The scheme also received support from Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students. However, there was criticism from some quarters. Dr Martin Stephen, head of the private St. Paul’s School in London told the Daily Mail that the scheme ignored the reasons for underachievement. He asked: “After 13 years of compulsory education...why are we having to make excuses and provide a back door for many of our pupils?” He added: “This is a charter for bad schools - they don’t have to worry about putting extra into teaching the most able because they can get them in through the back door.” Due to funding restrictions, the University of Edinburgh will not be eligible to join the scheme. However, a University spokesperson highlighted the Lothian Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS) scheme, under which the University collaborates with other Edinburgh institutions such as Napier University and Queen Margaret’s University. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
HMO quotas continued from page 1 Thomas Graham, the campaign co-ordinator for ‘Right to Rent’ told Student that he was disappointed with the report but vowed to fight the new proposals: “HMO Quotas would be devastating for students in Edinburgh...last year over 6,000 students from across Scotland contacted their MSP to outline their opposition to HMO Quotas. We won the argument last time and we will continue to fight quotas and for our right to rent. He continued: ““Whether it’s using local services, such as Warrender Park Post Office, or volunteering through societies such as Children’s Holiday Ventures, students contribute massively to our communities. £ “That is why I will be working closely with students and community organisations to ensure that we no longer have to deal with the repeated calls for HMO Quotas, which simply will not go away until we solve the problem.” Contact email@example.com
Week 2 30.09.08
Dissatisfaction drags Edinburgh down The University of Edinburgh is suffering due to its poor record on student satisfaction, as the City of Edinburgh Council fares little better in a recent poll James Ellingworth THE UNIVERSITY of Edinburgh slipped in the recently-published Sunday Times University Guide rankings, provoking an angry response from student representatives. The university was rated 15th overall of 120 universities in the UK, a fall of one place compared to the previous year. St. Andrews took the title of Scottish University of the Year, a title Edinburgh has not held since 2005. The university scored particularly poorly in the fields of teaching quality, where it was ranked joint 30th, and on student satisfaction, where the university was ranked joint 104th. EUSAVice-President Guy Bromley described the performance as “unsurprising”, saying that “many students still feel the teaching of undergraduates seems like a distraction to the university.” This follows poor results in other rankings published this year. The university fell five places in the Times Good University Guide, and by one place in the Guardian University Guide. Bromley warned: “It won’t be long before Edinburgh’s reputation catches up with its reality.” “Poor teaching quality and student satisfaction will ultimately feed into employer perception and it may not take long for Edinburgh graduates’ employability to take a tumble too.” EUSA President Adam Ramsay told Student: “Edinburgh is very good at research, but is falling behind in teaching.” “The core of the problem is that academics think they will not be promoted because they are good at teaching. They see promotion as being linked to research output. It is crucial that academics who put effort into teaching are rewarded for this.” He added that greater investment from the Scottish Government was required. A university spokesperson said: “University league table places
City is unsafe and desolate, say Edinburgh residents
#15 Edinburgh’s rank-
ing among UK universities
lingualism, the Graduate Recruitment Bureau offers more reassuring view. Dan Hawes, a representative for the bureau states that while the ability to speak another language has undeniable benefits for graduates it is not essential for every job. He says, “In our experience employers still value general skills the most, such as good communication, organization, and the ability to work in a team.”
JUST 46 per cent of Edinburgh residents feel safe at night, with many finding the city ‘desolate’, according to a MORI poll published this week. The £34,000 council-funded study into residents’ satisfaction with Edinburgh living standards was published in The Scotsman newspaper this week. The survey, which was compiled by leading pollsters Ipsos MORI, polled more than 1000 Edinburgh residents. Councillor Jenny Dawe told The Scotsman that the city can feel ‘desolate’ at night, but that recent developments around Princes Street, and better policing would help to improve the existing situation. A record 95 per cent of people polled consider Edinburgh to be a good place to live. Yet, satisfaction with the Council however was not as positive. Questions over whether taxpayers receive good value for money, congestion, roadworks, litter, fighting antisocial behaviour and inadequate public conveniences meant that council approval has dropped from 56 per cent in 2007 to just 48 per cent. The Liberal Democrat councillor continued: “I am heartened by the fact that, overall, residents rate the city as a great place to live. As always, we will strive to improve in the key areas residents have identified to ensure we provide the best services we can”. Catherine Morris, 20, a second year Philosophy student, told Student that she agrees with the survey. “I try not to drive around Edinburgh too much as parking can be a nightmare and there are constant roadworks and diversions at the moment, but my main concern is safety at night. “I think that better policing in well-known problem areas and schemes like the University of Edinburgh’s to encourage walking home from the library safely together in the dark are really important”. The survey has not been so wellreceived by all residents however, one anonymous commenter on The Scotsman website had some reservations about the funding of these polls, especially in light of the recent financial crisis, “Would you believe it? £34, 000 to tell us that satisfaction levels have gone up by 2% in a year. Whoopeebloody-do…..”.
#104 Edinburgh’s UK
ranking for student satifaction
OLD GREY COLLEGE, AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE: Edinburgh has slipped a place in The Sunday Times guide change constantly and we need to view them in the light of these fluctuations, while also bearing in mind that different tables use different criteria.” “We are, however, very pleased that Edinburgh achieves the highest scores in Scotland for the Guide’s exclusive survey of academics and head teachers, and that the Guide highlights our broad range of degree courses, first class sports facilities and our extensive scholarship and bursary programme.” The rating for student satisfac-
It won’t be long before Edinburgh’s reputation catches up with its reality Guy Bromley, EUSA VPAA tion used in the Sunday Times guide was drawn from the National Student Survey, published last week, in which Edinburgh performed poorly, especially on the
issue of course feedback. The university spokesman continued: “the university takes very seriously the disappointing ratings it received in the assessment and feedback section.” He added that “the University is putting in place a plan of action to ensure that the quality of feedback and assessment to all students is enhanced, both in the short term and sustainably into the future.” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
EU chief urges UK students to learn more languages Mairi Gordon UK STUDENTS risk missing out on top jobs at home and abroad, the EU Commissioner of languages, Leonard Orban has warned. Orban has said that British students will be at a disadvantage in the job market because most of them can only speak English. His statement follows news that some EU meetings have been cancelled due to a lack of English interpreters. The problem extends beyond jobs that explicitly require bilin-
gualism however. Orban stresses that research shows employers generally view multi-lingual students to be more flexible and better able to build relationships with client’s abroad. The number of students opting to study languages in secondary schools and in higher education has decreased. Many critics blame the language slump over a decision to end compulsory language lessons for 14 to 16 year olds in England. However the Chief Executive of Cilit, a body charged with the
promoting foreign languages in Britain, maintains that compulsory courses are counterproductive. In universities and colleges, the number of students starting French degrees has decreased by a third in the last ten years, with an even more marked decline in students starting German degrees. Despite this grim picture UCAS reports an increase in applicants to French and German this year, while Arabic and Mandarin classes have experienced a boom in popularity. Although Orban has stressed the severity of Britain’s lack of bi-
Week 2 30.09.08
Thee Weekly Weekly Th Planet Planet The week’s most pressing news. Compiled by Sarah Palin.
Brace yourself... A 35-year-old German dentist forced his way into a patient’s house, tied her up and forcibly removed her dental bridges. The dentist did not say a word as he performed the unwanted surgery, according to police in the Bavarian town of Neu-Ulm. The victim’s bill had been unpaid since May after her insurance company refused to cover the work. He has been arrested for assaulting the woman and for the theft of the bridges. These were worth £320 originally, but presumably rather less now. The local dental association said they could not condone the man’s actions but ‘understood his frustration.’ Source: Scotsman
Lorry driver flees exploding custand A haulage driver carrying 60,000 tins of Ambrosia custard and rice pudding was forced to run for his life after the cargo began to explode. The unnamed haulier was driving through Chagford, Devon, when motorists signalled that the truck was on fire. Seconds after he fled the cab, the tins of pudding went off like “thousands of gunshots”, according to witness Jill Pendleton. “The first we knew about it was a whiff of smoke and burning sugar and then suddenly it just erupted.” By the time the fire brigade reached the scene, the blaze was out of control, and they were unable to save either the lorry or the 26 tons of dessert. Source: Telegraph
E-ewe proposes ID cards for sheep
A proposal from Brussels to electronically tag every one of Scotland’s 7,131,000 sheep is set to cause chaos on hillsides across the country. 8,000 angry sheep farmers have signed a petition against the plan, and have stated their intent to take their fight to Brussels, with the aim of forcing the EU into a sheepish climbdown. The cost of the tags - £1.25 per animal - is set to put further pressure on an already stretched industry, and the farmers affected are expected to bleat their discontent for some time to come. Source: Scotsman
Lake Flaccid A couple were spotted last Friday skinny-dipping in Holyrood Park’s Dunsapie Loch. Local birdwatcher Sam Tian, 40, managed to capture the couple on camera as they braved the icy water, apparently unfazed by a crowd of onlookers. Tian told the Evening News, “There were quite a lot of people with kids around and no one could believe what they were seeing. They were in the water for about ten minutes.” Source: Edinburgh Evening News
Another drunken Freshers’ Week Lyle Brennan and Neil Pooran A STUDENT survey has found, somewhat unsurprisingly, that many students drink heavily during Freshers’ Week. However, since over a quarter of students bought most of their alcohol from off-licenses, next year’s Fresher’s Week could be distinctly lacking in cheer if the Scottish Government’s plans to restrict the sale of alcohol go ahead. The proposals would see under-21s unable to buy alcohol from supermarkets and off-licenses. Questions were also raised as to whether EUSA has succeeded in catering for all tastes, with one in five freshers saying their first week of university is too alcohol oriented. One first year told Student that under 18s felt distinctly excluded from drink oriented events. EUSA President Adam Ramsay said: “This year EUSA organised a record number of alcohol free events. We also had a safe drinking campaign running through the week, and didn’t run any drinks promotions. “Unfortunately there is peer pressure to drink during Freshers’ Week. It’s crucial that we combat this pressure, and let people make their own decisions. “I’m glad that 80 per cent didn’t think there was too much booze, and that the alcohol free events were very popular. I hope that those who did drink more than they should will cut back a bit for the rest of the year.” Over 73 per cent of students drank more than their recommended daily amount of alcohol each day during Freshers’ Week. Male students proved to be especially heavy drinkers, with 6 per cent of male respondents saying they downed an average of over 12 units of alcohol per night; the equivalent of over four pints of lager. Read more in Comment page 9>> Contact email@example.com
6% of respondents, all
73% of respondents
male, drank more than 12 units of alcohol per night
drank more than the recommended daily amount of alcohol per day
26% of respondents
20% of respondents
said Freshers’ Week was too alcohol-oriented
usually bought alcohol from offlicenses
Freshers’ Week in numbers
Student surveyed 230 students during Week 1 of the academic year
Victory on University Challenge Guy Rughani FOUR BRIGHT students from The University of Edinburgh beat tough opposition from Kings College, Cambridge and progressed to the second round of the BBC quiz show, University Challenge. Following a shaky start for Edinburgh, the match was closely fought with the Cambridge team scoring 180, and the Edinburgh team 190. Adam Burns, Ben Gazur, Michael Blumenthal and Neil Macdonald made up the University’s team and were selected by an exam held in Teviot Debating Hall.
Gazur and Burns are both PhD students, Blumenthal is studying Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and Macdonald studies History, History of Art and Fine Art. Coming from different parts of the University, team captain Adam Burns said: “We decided to attend a weekly pub quiz to get to know each other and get in a bit of practice.” The show’s questions are generally considered amongst the most challenging in the television quiz show genre, with a broad range of subjects from world religions to geology. Hosted by Jeremy Paxman, the
Edinburgh captain added that he was “surprised how easy-going Paxman was on the show.” While over 250 universities and colleges apply to compete, only 28 teams proceed to the televised rounds. The University of Edinburgh has never won the coveted University Challenge trophy, but has made the most appearances on the programme Burns hoped that “people were reasonably happy with what they saw -though it’s always easier watching at home!” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Drinking age campaign reaches Parliament Patrick Andelic TOM FRENCH, the former EUSA Vice-President for Services, presented a petition last Tuesday calling on the Scottish Government to reconsider its proposal to raise the off-sales drinking age to 21. Mr. French, in his capacity as co-ordinator of the Coaliton Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland (CARDAS), was supported by Gurjit Singh, the President of the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland. He was also accompanied by Greig Muir, another campaigner on the issue, who was presenting a petition of his own. After presenting their petitions, the three students were crossexamined by a parliamentary committee of MSPs in a session lasting around an hour, long enough for the convener, Frank McAveety MSP, to remark upon it. Presenting an exhaustive list of statistical data, Mr. French argued that although CARDAS fully
accepts “that alcohol abuse has a devastating effect on Scotland”, they do not believe that the proposal “will be a useful mechanism for tackling alcohol abuse.” He criticised the “creeping agenda of demonising young people” which he said was manifest in the actions of governments across the United Kingdom. He further argued that the Scottish Government was itself unclear about what this measure was intended to remedy. Anti-social behaviour, he said, could be better addressed through “more investment in alternatives” to drinking, while alcoholism was largely a problem associated with the over-21s. Mr. French attacked the under-21 alcohol ban trials across Scotland, such as that in Armadale, saying that “the evidence shows these trials were relatively unsuccessful and had insignificant or unattributable results.” Instead, Mr. French argued for “a package of measures” to address the problem among which
education should feature highly. At the end of the session the convener said that this would form “part of a wider debate that parliament will have to have” over the coming months. It was decided that both petitions should be referred to the Justice Committee, who could then decide whether to act upon them. Speaking to Student after the meeting, Tom French said: “We know that putting forward a petition isn’t going to immediately change the government’s mind.” “However, we hope it adds to highlighting the issue and to highlighting the opposition to the proposals, but it’s only one mechanism.” He added: “We have, for example, sent a copy of our consultation documents to every single MSP, but these petitions put this issue in the public eye.” CARDAS is a coalition of national and local organisations in Scotland, including NUS Scotland and EUSA, which formed in April
2008 in response to the statement by the Scottish Government that it is considering raising the off-sales drinking age as part of a wider strategy on alcohol. Anyone who wishes to learn more about the campaign can do so at www.cardas.org.uk. Contact email@example.com
FRENCHIE GOES TO HOLYROOD: Ex-EUSA sabbatical Tom French at the Scottish Parliament
Week 2 30.09.08
Further strikes over council wages Lyle Brennan EDINBURGH FOUND itself crippled last week by the second council strike in five weeks, after a continuing dispute over employees’ pay failed to reach any conclusion. With local authorities having made no concessions at the time of press, plans for further, more localised industrial action have been put in place. The Scotland-wide strike, staged by Unison, Unite and the GMB on Wednesday 24 September, was the result of unmet demands for wages to be increased in proportion to current high rates of inflation. Council employees were outraged to be told that their salaries would increase by just 2.5 per cent despite UK inflation hitting 4.4 per cent last month. With an estimated 150,000 workers believed to have participated in both last week’s strike and the previous one (held on August 20), local resources such as schools, libraries, ferries and waste collection services were brought to a complete standstill. However, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) has so far stood their ground against the unions, causing a deadlock that has led many to speculate over a return to the ‘winter of discontent’ state of
affairs witnessed during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Last week’s industrial action saw what Unison have quoted as 5,000 striking workers take to the streets of Edinburgh for the All Scotland March and Rally. Setting off from outside the city chambers on the Royal Mile, the procession, led by pipers and flanked by police, made its way to the rally in Princes Street Gardens. Speakers included representatives from all three participating unions, as well as Angela Nicoll, a nursery nurse from West Dunbartonshire. One demonstrator, 37, told Student: “Before the first strike, I’d never have believed we’d need to be here today – I just assumed the authorities would do the reasonable thing and listen to our demands the first time around. “Instead,” she continued, “we’ve been forced to take further action and I’d imagine we’ll keep pushing until we’re treated fairly. As far as I’m concerned, what they’ve offered us so far is just offensive.” Despite denials from CoSLA, union officials remain adamant that the resources required to raise pay are readily available. In a memo circulated around the country’s local authorities, Unison’s David Harrold told workers that, ‘The money is
there. In the last two years Council workers across Scotland have made £200 million in efficiency savings. Many council workers are low paid; in 2005, 60 per cent of staff were paid between £11,211 and £15,828. As the basic costs of everyday living spiral up, it is the lowest paid that get hit the hardest.’ Since negotiations have so far made no progress, unions have now set in motion a proposed fortnight of localised action scattered across the country, starting on October 6. Unison Scotland secretary, Matt Smith, said, “They (CoSLA) told us five weeks ago that they would make an offer in terms of the increases in inflation, but they have refused to put another penny on the table. “Until CoSLA makes a better offer, strike action will continue.” Meanwhile, a separate dispute over pensions and the retirement age meant that Unison is now planning to ballot 800,000 members across mainland Britain to determine whether or not a UK-wide strike should be called early next year. According to a Unison representative from the University of Edinburgh, any future action will have no direct effect on the services offered on campus.
Conservation Do it Yourself! Saturday
Community & Trade Fair
Progress at the University? Wednesday Sustainable Travel Tuesday Waste & Recycling
Energy & Carbon
Green Week is an action-packed programme of events to educate and inspire. Come along to learn more about the issues and the steps the University is taking to tackle sustainability and social responsibilty. Get involved in making change happen!
www.eso.ed.ac.uk/greenweek Supported by
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Printed on recycled paper
GeolSoc, GeogSoc, FilmSoc, Edinburgh Young Greens
Week 2 30.09.08
IDi Amin would be proud party were exalted. Blair declared that “instead of wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on compulsory ID cards as the Tory Right demand, let that money provide thousands more police officers on the beat in our local communities.” Noble sentiments, Tony, but after September 11 and then the London July 7 bombings, ID cards became a buzz policy with its supposed crime and terrorist fighting qualities. The Identity Cards Act was eventually passed, and entered the statute book in March 2006, technically making it law, but not yet put into practise by a government in fear of further unpopularity. The most recent official public poll on ID cards suggests that 50% of the British population is in favour of the introduction of ID cards, with 39% opposed. However, only 22% of Brits were happy for all their information to be held on one database, which the government has responded to by spreading information over the Jamie Manson breadth of three separate databases, which would reduce problems if one database was compromised. However, this still suggests that ID cards are a popular law that shouldn’t need to be introduced to the public through the back-channels. But is it a Labour law? The Labour the less well protected members of party has certainly come a long society, who have been scape-goated way since the clause-4 days, and the as the cause of crime, terrorism and indirect introduction may just be a scary shadows, but are, like so many way of placating left-Labour voters. immigrant work-forces before them, Introducing ID cards to immigrants integral to the future of this country. first is also a way of appeasing the The plan is also not as simple and right-wing members of the public into innocent as a test-run would suggest. thinking that Labour is tough on crime This is a case of the government and terrorism. Supporters of ID cards claim backing up the hearse and letting the public smell the flowers; ID cards are that the benefits will far outweigh in - get used to it. This is the British the erosion of human privacy and government’s equivalent of attacking rights. They claim that it will make France through Belgium, a back identifying terrorists easier, along door entry worthy of Rocco and a with the fight against identity theft Swedish holiday, a Machiavellian and benefit fraud. More accessible adventure to reach the intended benefit entitlement and access to outcome. Introducing it through the public services will also be facilitated. immigrant channel is no doubt the The government, too, claims that after the most painless way to introduce the introduction of identity cards, the ID cards altogether, something the police will save some £650m-£1bn a government has been looking to do year through easier tracking of people which will help in fighting organized since September 11, 2001. To the masses, immigrants will crime. All very righteous causes, but be seen as worthy recipients of these are just projected benefits. Much this Orwellian legislation, and the of Europe already has identity cards, government is party to this fact. The and the benefits are far humbler than ID cards will be given to immigrants, the magical anti-terrorist powers then they will be reported to have projected for the British ID cards. been a success and introduced to In Spain, ID cards have existed the rest of the nation as a necessary for decades, but they have failed to halt years of Basque separatism, measure with proven worth. ID cards were first mentioned in the organised crime and, indeed, the 1997 Conservative election manifesto, devastating Madrid train bombings, but they lost the election, and the known succinctly as 11-M, in which more liberal values of the Labour 191 people were killed. Instead, ID
David Wagner explores ID cards and the erosion of civil liberties in the world’s oldest parliamentary democracy
F I may begin with a quote from the 21st century philosopher, political commentator and Sun reader, ‘Jackthebiscuit’; “if the crims and the illegals don’t like ID cards, it probably means they’re a good idea.” Well, Jackthebiscuit might live in a black and white world, standing at the mouth of Dover fighting off gypsy immigrants and child-rapists with nothing more than logic and a hardback copy of Mein Kampf, but the ID card debate spans further than the impotent inconveniencing of illegal immigrants and criminals. ID cards enter the debates on human rights, personal privacy and fighting terrorism, and, muddied by these topics, has itself become a dirty issue and is now a favourite battle ground for skirmishes between proponents of protectionist governmental control and libertarians. The battle, as old and hackneyed as it has become, has taken another twist; migrant workers and legal immigrants will be issued with ID cards in plans laid out by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith as a test run for the full roll-out, scheduled to come into force over the next 2 years. This practise run involves issuing residing foreign nationals in the UK with an ID card that includes biometric information such as retina scans and fingerprints, as well as personal information. The government
intends to see how easy it is for the cards to be forged, how effective they are in fighting crime and how useful they are in relation to their price tag. Given the government’s current unpopularity, this plan seems like a good idea; Brown and Smith get to see how well the cards go down before they’re used on anyone who has a vote. A bit fickle, but given the current political climate in the UK, it’s better safe than sorry for Labour.
“If crims and illegals don’t like ID cards, it probably means it’s a good idea” So, immigrants have been chosen as the guinea pigs to test ID cards on, whether anyone likes it or not, raising in itself another set of moral and ethical issues that will still essentially divide those in favour of ID cards and those not. Why test the scheme on immigrants? These are not illegal immigrants or scammers or leaches, but foreign students and legal migrant workers, without whom there would be no Polish bakeries, Chinese takeaways or marijuana supply. These are
cards act as auxiliary driving licences or passports – something which stores personal information, but which, importantly, does not carry retina scans or finger prints as Spanish common sense dictates. What’s the point of a card with biometric information on it, when to verify the information, the card carrier would have to have a retina scan and be fingerprinted again to make sure it was their card? Additionally, in Australia and the USA, where citizens have been given personal Tax File numbers and Social Security numbers respectively, there has been a huge rise in identity theft, as people with ID cards are less
A case of the government backing up the hearse and letting the public smell the flowers likely to be questioned regarding their identity, making it easier for criminals to get away with using someone else’s identity information for longer. ID cards also carry several drawbacks as well as some potential risks:The London School of Economics (LSE) has calculated that the implementation of ID cards will cost between £12bn-£18bn, or the more manageable £584m/year in running costs. There are also fears that it is a big step towards a Big Brother state that possesses private information on honest citizens. There are doubts about the public’s willingness to trust the government with their most private information when, in the last year, there have been more than five government scandals involving lost classified data. In fact, only 11% of Brits have confidence in the government to keep their data private. It certainly won’t make identity theft any harder, as all of a person’s information will be contained on one card. There is also the issue that ID cards may unfairly target vulnerable sections of society, making it easier to keep tabs on them without any ethical or plausible warrant to do so, as well as the fear that ID cards are just the first step on a worryingly menacing path for human rights and freedom from state interference in people’s lives. ID cards appear to be finally on the way in, but the identified and potential (and well documented) pitfalls of the plan are more than enough evidence to warrant scraping it. Britain doesn’t need ID cards like those that are used in Europe, because all the information that is needed for reasonably identifying people is already contained on a person’s passport or driving license; databases the government already has. The planned initial introduction of ID cards to legal migrants residing in the UK smacks of a sneaky attempt to introduce the cards to the country, whilst targeting a vulnerable section of society for whom ID card detractors are less likely to speak.
Week 2 30.09.08
Edinburgh joins literati glitterati Jennifer Bowden asks what it means to live in the first UNESCO City of Literature
UGH MACDIARMID once said “Edinburgh is a mad God’s dream”. In doing so, he expressed the eclectic poetic sentiment attached to this thriving historical city. It is a place of learning, culture and international renown: one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but also a centre of literary production and genius. In 2004 Edinburgh was named as the first ever UNESCO World City of Literature. It isn’t hard to work out why, what with Edinburgh’s penchant for literary themed tours and giant gothic monuments to long dead authors, slap-bang in the hub of the city. Now the question is what does it mean? Does the UNESCO award make any difference to the everyday life of the typical Edinburghian? UNESCO’s website states that its aim is to ‘raise awareness of books and literature in everyday Edinburgh life’. Edinburgh is more than worthy of this title, claiming both the oldest Literature department in the country (as my lecturers keep proudly insisting) and a railway station named after one of the most popular Scottish novels in history, Waverley. Edinburgh already has a strong literary tradition. As far as monuments go, the Scott monument is the most imposing feature on Princes Street, and one of the defining aspects of the city. Edinburgh is littered with literary tourist traps: The National Poetry Library, The National Library, the impressive Central Library. There’s even a Writer’s Museum
on the Royal Mile paying homage to Burns, Stevenson and Scott: three of the most prolific historical writers ever produced. Literary tours take you around everywhere from the residences of Scott to the ostensible location of D.I Rebus’s office, and any other place with some remote connection to one of Edinburgh’s many authors. Recently, Edinburgh’s adopted daughter J.K Rowling has made the city more widely famous as a literary mecca. Tourists and residents alike flock to The Elephant House (you just have to look out at the castle to see the inspiration for Hogwarts) or to the Balmoral to see where these million-making fantasies were created. Rowling themed plaques plague the city, marking every spot, every inch where Ms. Rowling may have pondered Harry, Ron and
“Edinburgh is a mad god’s dream” said Hugh MacDiarmid Hermione. So clearly, Edinburgh’s literary sons and daughters are a boon for the tourist industry, and the UNESCO decision can’t have been a hard one. However Edinburgh is not only a place where writers are made; the city itself features in their writing. James Hogg’s Memoirs
and Confessions of a Justified Sinner takes place in Edinburgh, with one of the most dramatic chapters occurring on Arthur’s Seat in the mist, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie has the tyrannical teacher’s charges trotting across the Meadows. Neither has the city only affected Scottish writers, with Washington Irving once saying “I don’t wonder that anyone residing in Edinburgh should write poetically.” Edinburgh’s status as both a city which creates literature and a city which figures in literature history is self-evident. However, what does this mean to the abovementioned ‘everyday Edinburgh life’. Has UNESCO simply noted the obvious, or have they enhanced literary Edinburgh? On first glance the only beneficiaries are the larger, central libraries, which feature talks, activities and creative literary events of the sort you would expect in any large city. Smaller libraries, further out from the centre such as Costorphine and Newington have fewer events listed. This calls into question the ‘everyday’ effect of the UNESCO title. P u t t i n g out a few special editions of books like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, a stunt orchestrated in 2004 when Edinburgh first was awarded the title, does not make Edinburgh any more literary. Although I’m sure there are some who would disagree, it appears that the larger libraries are the only ones who have benefited from this title: being able to boast it to the few passing tourists who dare venture
off the Royal Mile. On the student side of things the title could be beneficial, but it is also misleading. As an A Level student applying to various universities, I was drawn to Edinburgh, not only by its culture and history, but also by the UNESCO title. This might seem a slightly superficial reason, but who can blame me for being impressed: ‘UNESCO City of Literature’ sounds very grand indeed, and it’s certainly thrown
Rowling-themed plaques plague Edinburgh around enough to seem significant. The University of Edinburgh’s English Literature homepage boasts Edinburgh is the first UNESCO World City of Literature, and has the oldest English department, but that doesn’t necessarily make the teaching any better, or any broader. The worry is that the title is misleading to young Edinburgh potentials: a seeming badge of quality and excellence for institutions it’s not necessarily linked to. ‘UNESCO City of Literature’ implies romanticism, imagination, the promise of a better future. One almost expects authors to be stood on every cobbled street corner belching out books and words and poetry. However, now Melbourne has also been named a UNESCO
World City of Literature. While the idea has always been, according to the UNESCO website, to build ‘a worldwide network of cities’, it still lessens the sparkle a little. While Edinburgh was the first, there are more of these cities to come. Not only does it take away some of the pomp, it comes back to the question of what does the title actually mean? The answer, it seems, is very little. The UNESCO title tells us what we knew already: that Edinburgh is a buzzing literary centre with an impressive history and some even more impressive names to stick on railway stations or monuments. It certainly has very little impact on ‘everyday life’. The citizens of Edinburgh don’t get up in the morning and rush to buy the latest special edition of Kidnapped or re-read Waverley at lunchtime. The literary culture in Edinburgh is understated and modest, but modesty is why it’s so impressive. The pride is in the literature of Scott and Burns itself. The monuments and names are just the city’s way of subtly acknowledging their history and literary continuance. The title is a decoration, and a welcome one by all means, but it seems to have had little effect where it really matters: enhancing literature in the everyday life of the city’s people. Edinburgh’s literary growth depends on its history, its people, and most importantly, its books. Oh, and Harry Potter. Of course.
Week 2 30.09.08
With freshers and returners week now a distant non-memory Sarah Morrison gives a sober view of student drinking culture and imminent government policy
“If the government is going to pick a fight with students enjoying a few drinks, the government will lose.” David Willetts MP
K, so let’s get one thing straight. Students, on the whole, like to drink. They will have a pint in the day or at night, during the week as well as weekends, and yes they will also drink during that famous rite of passage known as freshers’ week. I mean, can you honestly remember the last time that you went to a party all alone, in a strange place and perhaps an alien city, facing thousands of new people, without the aid of a little Dutch courage to help you on yuur way? No? Thought not. Yet, according to a group of experts, this seven-day traditional introduction into university life has been transformed from an opportunity for students to get to know each other, familiarise themselves with their surroundings and join societies, to an “alcoholic haze” in which memories are lost, ditches fallen into and drink-related accidents reign. Professor Oliver James, a liver disease specialist and head of the medical faculty at Newcastle University, told the prime minister at a Downing Street seminar
that he was “appalled” by the quantity of drinking that goes on during freshers’ week. For him, it is “a sort of excuse to get exceptionally and paralytically drunk”, and can lead to harmful drinking habits throughout their university career. In fact, Gordon Brown was so impressed by this report that, reportedly, he was to investigate whether the Higher Education Funding Council, which distributes public money to universities and colleges for teaching and research, could use its powers to ban universities from encouraging “excessive” drinking on their campuses. If this came into effect, one could only imagine that student unions would face severe restrictions on what alcohol they could sell, at what price and in what time periods. The seminar was held in February, and so far, no policies have been written. But, while there is an alarming lack of statistics concerning alcohol consumption in freshers’ week or the number of alcohol related accidents that are caused, the
message is clear: the days of hedonistic freshers’ play might very well be numbered. Yet, do these images of beerguzzling freshman endorsing in 2for-1 discount deals at their local unions hold any truth in today’s society? I think not. It seems that student communities have never been more vigilant when alcohol consumption is concerned. Yes, 15% of a UK sample of 3,075 students drank at hazardous drinking levels of 51 or more units per week for men and 36 or more units for women, but research shows that most will not be doing so from their local university-run bars. In reality, the income that student unions make from drink has declined so much that they are now changing bars into coffee and juice venues, with union bars actually being praised by alcohol support groups for their sensible and responsible policies. Gone are the days of free shots at the door, and in are the alcohol advice leaflets that scatter the bar tops and litter the floor. What’s more, if students are going to drink “exceptional”
amounts of alcohol, surely there is no safer place to do it than within one’s unions? After all, how many bars out there will stop serving drunken students when they have had one too many, offer them transport home and stay with them until such transport arrives? I, for one, don’t know any such premises in my local area, but these were the exact sorts of services that my union offered throughout not only my freshers’ week, but also my whole university career. Yes, binge drinking is a problem that affects students, but it is also part of a much wider, national problem that does not originate in student communities. If the government is going to impose regulations on drink, then it should start to monitor it from the very top. It is supermarkets and pubs that target students with their discount cards and deals, not the student unions that look out for the students’ social welfare, when no one else will. After all, students are more known for their thrifty nature than their loyalty, and if the price of alcohol in their student bars in-
creases, they will have no qualms about moving to a place where the price is more appealing. Yes, more drunk students on the streets and outside pubs - that is exactly what the government wants now, isn’t it? Perfect for the “youth culture” that it so publicly adores. So, I say leave students and their unions alone. The government should be focusing on national education programmes that teach young people about the safe consumption of alcohol and stop picking on universities, which are already informed. It is not often that I agree with the Tories, but I think their universities spokesman David Willetts was spot on when he said: “If the government is going to pick a fight with students enjoying a few drinks, the government will lose.” This article was originally published on The Guardian website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2008/ sep/09/freshers.week.binge.drinking
Destination Boris Island
Henry Birkbeck examines plans to scrap Heathrow and create a new airport on the Thames
EATHROW AIRPORT has been a national hot-topic for quite some time. The Times has predicted that controversial plans to add a third runway will recieve government appraoval by Christmas. In order to build the new runway, BAA predicts that upwards of 700 homes would have to be demolished, though the area’s MP, John McDonnell, believes the number would be closer to 4,000. Such future expansion would also involve the eventual addition of a sixth terminal, coupled with the rebuilding of Terminal 2. It’s not hard to see why change of some sort needs to occur: a BAA report shows that both of the current runways operate at over 98% of their capacity, and have done since 2002. Heathrow already struggles enough to function efficiently, and things will only get worse as time goes by. But is expansion the only feasible option? Boris Johnson may have a somewhat tumultuous relationship with our university, and, to put it mildly, a mixed reputation as London’s mayor. But his administration’s proposal to scrap Heathrow altogether and build a new airport in the Thames estuary is a refreshing concept that attempts to sidestep the tangle of ongoing problems Heathrow faces. This proposition has been dubbed ‘Boris Island’, but aside from sounding like the worst conceivable idea for a reality TV series, it does put forward some interesting solutions. Perhaps Heathrow’s biggest issue is overcrowding. Originally designed to handle around 50 million passen-
gers per year, it now has to cope with 67 million. The opening of Terminal 5 earlier this year was supposed to prevent the airport from bursting at the seams, although at first it just created another plethora of complications, ranging from cancellations to baggage handling mix-ups. Things are running more smoothly now, but it’s still early days for the terminal. Beyond this, pollution has become an ever-increasing concern in recent years, both in the form of carbon dioxide emissions and noise disturbance. All aircrafts flying to or from the east have to fly over the capital, and the surrounding areas are
heavily residential. Restrictions aimed at reducing pollution and noise distubance prevent most types of aricraft from operating at night. Further exspansion of Heathrow would, according to Johnson, ‘entrench a planning error of the sixties’. And where Heathrow presents only problems, Boris Island presents solutions. For inspiration, it looks to modern airports such as Hong Kong International. Opened ten years a g o ,
this ariport is built on its own island, outside of the city. Similarly, Boris Island would be constructed on reclaimed landfill, positioned beyond the Isle of Sheppey, and would be roughly equidistant from Central London and the Channel Tunnel, with railway connections to both. Due to the absence of nearby residential areas, there would be fewer - if any - noise restrictions. The airport could be fully functional 24 hours a day, meaning flights could be more frequent and spread out. Perhaps most importantly, the airport would have four runways, and would be built to accommodate further future expansion. Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse is excited about the prospect, claiming
all they need is ‘a bit of courage’. Well, that and somewhere between £10 and £30 billion. It could take as little as six years to build the airport, though this would still miss the Olympic deadline (an issue perhaps overlooked by both sides, as it now to late to make drastic improvements). And yet, somewhere along the line it all starts to sound a bit too good to be true. The problem with this proposal is that it is a good idea, but not much more than that. The idea has been around in one form or another for years. When numbers, distances and timescales are mentioned it seems the idea may become a reality. Unfortunately, the timing is far from ideal. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are all owned by BAA, who have recently poured a lot of time and money into the building of Terminal 5, and remain intent on improving existing airports, instead of creating new ones. Still, it is a shame that Boris Island will probably remain a dream, as London would surely benefit in the long term from this sort of project. Statistics continually remind us that the city is expanding and airport conditions seem to worsen by the day. Johnson himself doubts Heathrow’s third runway will be built, but in the current climate, approval of his alternative looks even less likely. Regrettably, we may have to accept that Heathrow is here to stay, and - given that the potential third runway wouldn’t be completed until 2020 - so are all of its problems.
Peter the Great Maddie Battersby explores the double standards of international relations
USSIANS! VENEZUELANS! And guns! A situation developed this week regarding Russia’s decision to release a fleet of ships including the aptly named nuclear-powered ‘Peter the Great’ off to Venezuela, for neither a holiday nor an interesting gap year destination, but for ‘military training’, sparking an explosive debate as to whether Russia has finally pushed it too far. Numerous reports suggested that such a collaboration posed a serious and imminent threat to the stability of the ‘West’ in the very near future. Of course, Russia’s record is not exactly squeaky clean at the moment, with the recent invasion of Georgia still reveling in politicians’ minds. But is Russia really so ignorant to imagine that the latest Russo-Venezuelan display of unity would go relatively unnoticed? As the global lens zoomed in on Russia in recent months, surely President Vladimir Putin and the new Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev, a
puppeted extension of his predecessor realised that their behaviour is a threat to the international community? And that it was under constant surveillance? Seemingly, they don’t care. But one member of the international community in particular is taking the news quite badly, the United States of America. America has enjoyed a multitude of press coverage regarding its somewhat turbulent relationship with Russia in recent months; speculation mounted over whether or not America would yet again wade on in to the international controversy with her sparkling eyes of fair judgement and iron hands of democracy. America declined. However, the sensation of unease is rather aggravated by America’s reaction to Russia’s advances. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice stated in a recent speech that she hoped that ‘... for the sake of us all, Russia’s leaders make better and right choices’. It was a comment that is neither weak
enough to maintain amiable relations nor strong enough to emphasize any clear message of defiance. But patronizing people doesn’t really work, its just vaguely annoying. With this ambiguous approach to better Russian relations which is neither friendly nor hostile, the tentative relationship between America and Russia, not unlike an embittered married couple who still share the same bed despite their relationship having turned unbearably sour years ago, will no doubt culminate in some sort of explosion, perhaps over something as small as a cup of tea, but an explosion nonetheless. And with both clutching to their nuclear weaponry as the ultimate in defence, it could be quite a large one. As with all disagreements, there is a grey area over which the two countries just cannot see eye to eye; Russia’s ‘sphere of influence’, as Dimitry Medvedev so eloquently put it. Naturally, Russia’s perception of where her ‘sphere of influence lies is infinitely
different to that of the global community. This is particularly evident in the recent spat over Venezuela. America is particularly irked because it saw Venezuela as its own vital alliance. But the one thing that will always push America to start playing dirty is oil. America’s nervous reaction to Russia’s clear-cut military augmentation is no doubt inspired by the growing fear of running out of non-renewable energy resources. That oily goodness, although poisoning the atmosphere and hugely expensive, is the life source of major economies, and doesn’t Russia know it. Well aware that America’s domestic and Canadian supplies are drying up, Russia will export between 10 to 20% of her oil supplies to America within the next decade. This gives Russia the upper hand. Safe in the knowledge that the world’s most probable aggressor is unlikely to launch an attack whilst still determined to do the school-run in a land-rover, Russia is free to do what-
ever she pleases. Steered by President Putin’s sinister confidence, Russia’s recent Venezuelan escapades will go completely unpunished, aiding Russia to grow in power, strength and independence within the global community. Combined with the way in which America continues to rely on Russia’s non-renewable energy resources, Russia is free to manufacture military alliances wherever she pleases. Only time will tell how long the dwindling relationship between Russia and America lasts before one or the other whips out her big shiny nuclear missiles. Surely there is a limit to how much indirect intimidation America will withstand before putting her need for oil aside and standing up for what she believes in? No, I thought not. The fact remains, Russia’s alliance with Venezuela may be just one of many before the impending crisis is dragged to the forefront of global politics. email@example.com
Week 3 30.09.08
Cretacious Creationism James Ellingworth
“1,220,580 million skeletons in Brown’s cupboard”
Illustration: Zeenath Ul Islam
Brown is the new Blair
The recipe for success or doomed to fail: Dan Hope explains what went right at the Labour party conference
ordon Brown’s second conference speech since being nominally elected as Labour Party leader has been hailed as an overwhelming success by a majority of political columnists and commentators, and seemingly, was similarly received by those who listened first hand in the conference hall. Of course, all factions of the party are under obligation to show a united front at conference time. While leadership plots will inevitably continue on the fringes, the speech seemed to hit all the right spots for those whose loyalty has been genuinely tested over the past six months, with a swathe of ministers praising both content and delivery. Backbenchers, such as Tom Levitt MP, who previously called on Brown to formulate a “new vision” in an article for Progress Magazine, seem to have been appeased by Brown’s honesty in his acknowledgement of criticism and the progressive measures he outlined in the speech. Indeed, as far as content is concerned it was a difficult speech to fault. The Prime Minister said many of the things people were hoping he would; admitting, though not quite apologising for, mistakes over the 10p tax debacle and even displaying self awareness in realising that
he is not universally popular, within the party and beyond. Heeding the advice of many in the Parliamentary Labour Party, he eschewed the fiddly and detailed policy talk for which he is often criticised and focused on a smaller set of ‘big’ issues. These included significant investment in children’s services with free nursery places promised to all two year olds and a resounding pledge to eliminate child poverty in Britain by 2020. After what Brown himself termed “The week in which the world was spun on its axis and old certainties turned on their heads” it was hardly surprising that the PM set out measures to regulate banking practices. He called for transparency and responsibility ensured by a degree of government involvement. His statement that “those who supported the dogma of unbridled free markets have been proved wrong” was met with vigorous applause reflecting the wider realisation that market forces cannot always be trusted to provide growth and stability on their own. The sense and direction of these policies and directives is sound, provided it can be budgeted for and implemented effectively. The difficulty lies in convincing the electorate that Brown is the right person to lead the country into an unprec-
edented fourth term of Labour governance. A strong conference speech is a good start but a sizeable proportion, if not the majority, of voters will have neglected to read or listen to the entire speech. Many of these will have done so because they have already written Brown off and are no longer open to persuasion, meaning that, however good a speech the PM had made, it would still be unappreciated by those who need to hear it. Another thing that serves to undermine Gordon Brown is the persistent speculation that he is to be ousted sometime before Christmas. Much of the media coverage of his performance focused on the only real ‘gag’ in the speech when Brown claimed to be all in favour of apprenticeships before conceding “but this is no time for a novice”. It’s a fairly good line, kudos to whoever wrote it, and was clearly a barb principally aimed at David Cameron and/or the shadow chancellor George Osborne. However, by making such a comment, that is readily applicable to David Miliband, the reluctant challenger to the throne, Brown has unwittingly exasperated the issue and focus will remain on the instability of his leadership. It’s a good job Miliband played
it safe with his speech on monday and didn’t appear to be present any immediate threat. If he had done so, Brown’s punch line may have appeared less innocuous and stories of challenges to his leadership would intensify; which is of course what the public wants to read about. Brown’s detractors may be keeping quiet for the time being, as the leader himself said, it would be unforgivable to become introspective in the midst of the current financial crises. I don’t suppose even those within the party who desperately want rid of Brown could argue with that sentiment. The Blairites to the right and Old Labour stalwarts to the left will, however, continue to watch closely the progress, or otherwise, of their commander-in-chief and will pounce if presented with any opportunity. The coming months will be the most significant of Gordon Brown’s premiership so far. If he and Alistair Darling can see Britain through this financially testing time, there may be hope for him yet, but Brown will need to approach it with the same vigour and clarity with which he delivered his speech. In the PM’s case, the old adage that actions speak louder than words may prove highly pertinent. firstname.lastname@example.org
o many in the scientific community, it must feel like waking up in Jurassic Park. Creationism, a beast the boffins thought had been rendered extinct by the meteor strike of Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ is back. And this time, it’s out for rational blood. The thought of living with an American vice-president whose support for evolution is doubtful at best - she refuses to answer questions on the subject - and who supports discussing creationism in science classes, strikes fear into the hearts of many scientists. It should. Sarah Palin will, if the November election goes to the Republican ticket, be just a heartbeat (or given John McCain’s age, perhaps that should be heart attack) away from the presidency. The fact that this scenario is no longer simply a bad anti-American joke signifies just how far the creationist revival has come. From being about as influential and relevant as believers in a flat earth even 30 years ago, the creationist lobby is growing in size and political clout. A few years ago, it took a Supreme Court decision to stop the US state of Georgia teaching ‘intelligent design’ (a nuanced form of creationism) in schools. This week Michael Reiss, the director of education at the Royal Society and an Anglican priest, was forced to resign for suggesting that science teachers should not dismiss pupils’ dogma out of hand as an explanation for existence. Palin herself wants pupils to “debate the issues” arising between creationism and evolution. This insidious creep of dogma into the classroom has become a sensitive issue, around which politicians tread gingerly, British ones included. They should be horrified. This is an issue that calls into question the very foundation of sensible education. Teaching schoolchildren is not a ‘debate’. Science teachers who allow the creationist and evolutionary world views to compete - which is how pupils will see it, if both are presented in the classroom as widely-held views - are not doing their job. Comparison between the two is useful only to illustrate the aims of the scientific method, to differentiate between the fog of personal faith and rational belief based upon freelyavailable evidence. Having a lot of believers does not make a claim true. With luck, and a bit of rationality, the dinosaurs can still be kept out of the classroom. email@example.com
Week 2 30.09.08
Tales of Haunted Souls
Zeenath Islam tracks the nomadic journey of Scottish artist Jane Frere across lands of discord, from a Nazi concentration camp to the refugee camps of Palestine
Each visit I would ponder how mankind could be so utterly abhorrent and brutal to fellow man. Each visit I was almost always alone. To be alone near 200,000 ghosts has touched me for life.” Jane Frere comments that unlike the infamous Auschwitz Camp, which receives half a million visitors each year, far fewer people visit Majdenek, in East Poland. Today it stands as though trapped in a time warp. The mounds of hair, spectacles, ashes and pairs of shoes are piled high and remain a potent reminder of the hundreds of thousands who walked into the death camp but never walked out Frere describes how the piles of shoes set her imagination running: “In my working drawings, for an earlier artwork based on the Bosnian genocide, I envisaged piles of shoes like snowdrifts and clothing suspended from lines as the last visible relics of the victims of ethnic cleansing. I was haunted by the image of what it is to be a refugee wrenched from your home, left with only the belongings you can carry or the very clothes that you are wearing, and denied the settled life that most of us take for granted.” Patriothall Gallery, August 2008, three thousand accusatory Palestinian figures walking forwards have been suspended in animation, forcing the viewer to engage with their story rather then pass them by. Amongst them stands the architect of the piece, the celebrated
Scottish artist Jane Frere. Each wax figure, handmade by a Palestinian, represents a real person who fled their homes in 1948. Jane explains that, “750,000 Palestinians were then forced into permanent exile. There are now 4.5 million Palestinians officially registered as refugees, with a string of UN resolutions restating their right, under international law, to return to their homes.” Walking past the wax models we enter the corridor of voices, recordings of the oral testimonies of the refugees, and pass into a room displaying pictures of the Palestinian refugees with their written testimonies translated into English.
“By immersing myself in the daily rhythms of another’s existence I gained a glimpse of what it must be like to be trapped, suspended in purgatory” “The Israeli flag is a flag I fear,” she states. It was with such a dichotomy of imagery and symbolism that the artist’s journey began: “The people without a land required a land without people, and the creation of the state of Israel, as is now being revealed by new Israeli historians such as Ilan Pappe, required a very deliberate strategy to pursue, which
has only latterly become known as ethnic cleansing.” “In my lifetime, the Israeli flag has become, and still is, a blooddrenched flag.” Frere states. To find the truth behind the myths that Palestine was an empty land, or that the Palestinians left their homes and farms willingly, or that there were Arab radio transmissions telling them
to leave, Frere began researching the history of the region: “I came to know the meaning of the word Al Nakba, the catastrophe, a term which is used by Palestinians to describe their own terrifying forced exodus in 1948, when Israel adopted the ethnic cleansing policy executed to drive Palestinians into exile through threats, rape and massacre.” Frere is
referring to the infamous events of 1948, the most notorious of which is Deir Yassin, where old men, women and children, were murdered. Despite this memory of inhumanity the tribute in the artwork to these people is highlighted by the purity of the wax; changing with the daylight as it streams and fades through the gallery windows creating dancing shadows and echoing patterns of flight across the whitewashed walls. The joyful interplay and organic movement of figures creates a mesmerising effect. As two of the figures intertwine with the moving currents of air Frere remarks whimsically, “look they are dancing.” The quality of the wax is such to render the figures an ethereal beauty; in part heavenly as floating angelic forms and in part ghostly as hollow vestiges of unresolved spirits. These suspended wax spirits are denied a foothold in this world and cannot yet enter the next. The idea was sparked by Tahani Rached’s film Sorida: A Woman of Palestine. In the film the character Umm Ali asks, “Why are they doing that to the poor people?” after she has seen the Palestinians hanging on washing lines in her dream. “Because they are Palestinian,” replied the voice in her head. “They are in a state of suspension, able to touch neither heaven nor earth.” Circling the artwork one cannot ignore the fragility of humanity’s existence, a force with the potential for great beauty but also great tragedy.
Week 2 30.09.08
“I had felt shy to approach this project. Whatever I did had to be epic and grand, otherwise it would be ridiculous.” The pivotal point in the success of the installation was Frere’s experiment with dipping figures in boiling wax: “With each dip the figures took on new qualities and now, no longer in my control, they began to take on their own form.” Frere decided that in order to give the artwork weight and credibility she had to physically travel to Palestine to live and work in the refugee camps. “By immersing myself in the daily rhythms of another’s existence I gained a glimpse of what it must be like to be trapped, suspended in purgatory,” she explains. In fact, Frere suggests that, “it was the Palestinians that gave the figures their spirit”. “No matter how much one thinks one knows about Palestine, nothing can prepare you for the first visit.” Frere elaborates: “in order to fully understand the displacement and Israeli occupation it has to be felt by all five senses.” Seeking Palestinian testimonies from 1948 to display alongside the artwork involved moving from one cramped dwelling to another, Frere explains, “I was soon aware that I was not just gathering records, stories and anecdotes, but capturing tears of raw emotion; often suppressed out of selfpreservation.” “I became a collector of tears. On the stroke of midnight my minder Mohammed would say, ‘Khallas! Enough! We better get you home.’ Or else my slipper might fall off and you will turn into a pumpkin I had joked back. But here fairy tales are dark and lethal. Only the discarded Barbie dolls in Cinderella ball gowns lying in the sewage-riddled gutters might have given my joke an ironic meaning.” Through Frere’s eyes the beleaguered inhabitants of the little town of Bethlehem cannot afford
the luxury of fairy tales. Having been an eyewitness to the current Israeli occupation she explains that: “the Israeli military makes regular incursions in their tanks or Humvees, creeping into darkened crevices like giant steel insects, waiting to take out those who they consider to be a threat to security.” Working closely with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Jane has brought to light an incident in 2007 in which the Israeli army held 700 Palestinian children, including three girls, without charge. The search for Palestinian refugee testimonies to be displayed alongside the wax figures, as an essential part of the installation, involved travelling throughout the region from the south to the northern Bedawi camp, near Tripoli. “The perpetual shadow of the Nakba was really brought home to me through Bassam,” Bassam being one of the young professional Palestinian artists trained by Frere to work on the Nakba project. Frere described
“No matter how much one thinks one knows about Palestine, nothing can prepare you for the first visit... It has to be felt by all five senses.” his story as the one that has most deeply affected her and ultimately the artwork: “Bassam described to me how his mother insisted that whatever else he reclaimed to be sure to bring back a photo of his father. His father and three brothers were all killed in the Shatilla camp when he was three
years old, only his sister and him are left.The aftermath of the bombing was such that his house was like powder; the whole camp was like powder; it has been razed to the ground, and he will never see his father’s face again. He was deeply traumatized by this and throughout the time I spent with him he would always be taking photos; to never allow another face to be stolen from him again.” Frere’s experiences highlighted the fact that the “Palestinians are suffering a perpetual cycle of Nakba’s. The memory of the 1948 exodus had been driven deep into the past of Bassam’s mother and had been replaced by the horror of Shatilla.” Frere continues that “when Bassam had been desperate and out of food and water, he had decided to risk the Israeli snipers and run to the main street to see what we could find. The loaves of bread were lying across the road but in between the dead bodies.” Frere explains, “they were starving, Bassam didn’t care about the dead bodies and the sticky pools of blood. He picked up the whitest bits of bread, some of it was full of blood and took it back to his family.”
The accumulation of experiences such as these are all part of the artist’s journey. Pondering on the endurance of humanity Frere plainly states that, “one can hardly understand how human beings are able to sustain so much pain, loss and yet maintain such compassion, dignity and, most of all, sanity.” The Return of the Soul represents the 1948 Nakba but maintains a universal message for all oppressed peoples. Frere was touched by the striking similarity between the photographs she had taken illegally and against the wishes of the Israeli military, and the UN photographs taken in 1948. “Nahr al Bared was particularly traumatic, we were driving towards it and couldn’t see anything and then suddenly when it came into view it was a deserted horrific mess”. Her photographs show the aftermath of severe bombing leaving only the skeletal outlines of what were once buildings, a ruin of what was already a makeshift refugee camp. The exhibition opened in Jerusalem on the same day that the Jewish community was celebrating the 60th anniversary of the creation
of Israel. “So many people wept as they recalled what happened. It was genuinely shocking. Many people who came to the first showing at the Al Hoash Gallery in East Jerusalem also broke down in tears. For them it represents a gaping wound that has not yet healed.” The Return of the Soul art installation has begun its nomadic journey in earnest. A journey which began in Jerusalem, settled in Edinburgh and then was uprooted to visit Beirut where it is currently housed. Frere travels with the artwork, viewing herself as a guardian for the 3000 souls. Ultimately, Frere plans to exhibit in Israel, which she sees as a symbolic right of return – the only one she has in her power. The opening at the Shams gallery, Beirut will act as a memorial for the well documented massacres of Palestinians at Sabra and Shatilla. “I was humbled by the nobility of many people who, despite being denied dignity and enduring traumatized lives in squalid refugee camps, cling to hope after 60 years that their right of return, guaranteed under international law, will be honored.”
The sound of music
Week 2 30.09.08
Simon Frith, the head judge of the Mercury Prize and professor of music at Edinburgh University, admits to Lyle Brennan that the judges’ decisions often surprise even him
hen it comes to music, everyone’s a critic. Think of that friend, that one obsessive musical zealot who will only remove their headphones to eulogise or condemn your favourite band with a fervour that, applied to a more sensitive subject, would border on bigotry. As passionate as their opinions may be, they’re never going to spark soaring album sales, national acclaim and a £20,000 prize. For Simon Frith, however, opinions are of a little more consequence. Having this month chaired the panel of judges for the Nationwide Mercury Prize (his duty since its inception in 1992), he recently returned to his professorship at Edinburgh University, where he draws on his experiences as a rock critic and influential musicology writer to lecture on the social forces behind music. Since the Mercury shortlist was released in July, the decisions he has overseen have been the subject of endless speculation and
There are a lot of arguments - we don’t pretend that all twelve judges think that whoever wins should have won scrutiny. Despite recent grumblings of dubstep conspiracists, he reveals the criteria for the strictly British/Irish prize to be disarmingly simple: “One, that the album should be good enough to recommend and two, that it should be somehow representative of music in the year in which it was nominated.” Simple on paper, yes, but the whittling down of nominees to an eventual winner takes an astonishing amount of work. With twelve judges and around 240 submitted CDs in the mix this year, a quick and shamefully innumerate bash at the calculator in theory shows Elbow’s victory to be the outcome of around 2,800 opinions. When Frith gets a box of new records, first impressions are what count: “If by the end of the first three tracks I can’t remember anything about them, I think ‘this record hasn’t moved me in any way’, and put them back…it’s got to grab you immediately.” However, with the influence of the other judges and a whole summer to ruminate, Frith says, “your judgments can always be changed by context from other people. There are always at least three records nominated that when I hear them I’d never have believed they’d be on the shortlist and some
of those I really grow to love.” So, future Mercury hopefuls take note – don’t immediately go blowing your load on the first three tunes. With a panel consisting mainly of critics and journalists, every year presents a swamp of egos and opinions to be filtered down to one result. According to Frith, this combination only acts to reinforce the final verdict. “There are a lot of arguments,” he admits, “we don’t pretend that all twelve judges think all the short-listed records are great or that whoever wins should have won; our belief has always been that it’s always better to have a record that people passionately hate or love, rather than one that people don’t care about.” So how then, when concessions and compromises must be made within the panel, can a fair judgment be made? “I don’t think judgments can be fair. I don’t think that would make any sense.” Instead, it is the judges with the keenest ears and the sharpest tongues whose opinions hold the most sway. Frith says of his fellow judges, “They’ve got to persuade a lot of people to agree with them, so their skill isn’t knowing a lot about music; it’s being able to articulate a passionate belief in a record.” As an Oxford PPE graduate with a PhD in Sociology and a wealth of influential writings on popular music culture to his name, it’s understandable that Frith should be able to articulate such a belief. Alongside stints as a rock critic for The Sunday Times and The Observer, his academic career has included, perhaps most controversially, an attempt to define ‘bad music’. “In order to have a concept of good music, you have to have a concept of bad music. It’s not something we can all agree on. I
that makes you ashamed to listen to it.” Surely, though, with an office stacked with vinyl, he indulges in the odd musical guilty pleasure. “I’ve never had guilty pleasures. If you like something, you don’t need to feel guilty about it. I’ve always been a pop fan, even at the height of rock criticism.” A copy of Blunt’s Back to Bedlam may well be lurking in that collection, then. Before this treatise on bad music came Frith’s first book, The Sociology of Rock. Published in 1978, it explored the sociological intricacies of a burgeoning punk movement that, he says, has now well and truly withered. “Thirty years later, people who were punks are now parents and grandparents, so now it’s very difficult to equate rock music with youth music. To-
day, it’s corporate, it makes lots of money.” This begs the question of which contemporary record, artist or movement holds the potential to define this era in the way punk did for the late 70s and early 80s. In the early years of the Mercury Prize, Frith says, “I definitely would have said that (1995 winners) Portishead defined that decade, that they captured something about it, whereas this decade if you take something like the Burial album, which I don’t think is an interesting record, it’s clearly rooted in a very long history of dance music. It doesn’t seem to be strikingly 2008 in a way that it’s not 2001.” Apart from dispelling rumours about the consequences of Burial’s absence at this year’s Mercury cer-
Beth Gibbons, wailing peely-wally Portishead frontlady
Guy Garvey, lightly bearded singer of 2008 Mercury Prize winners Elbow
It’s always better to have a record that people passionately hate or love - rather than one that people don’t care about once gave a lecture on that James Blunt song, ‘You’re Beautiful’, as an example of bad music. But then I read a very moving account of somebody who lost their child in a canoeing accident, and at the funeral that was one of the tracks played because it was her favourite. I think it’s kind of arrogant to say that’s crap music when it’s an emotional part of somebody’s life.” A hugely simplified summary of this ‘bad music’, he says, is “Music
Simon Frith, enigmatic Mercury supremo and Edinburgh Uni prof
‘‘Portishead, 1995 winners, defined the decade’’
emony, it’s an almost disappointing evaluation of the new millennium’s offerings, although he speculates over what 2009 holds: “Who knows, maybe next year we’ll have a record about which we’ll say ‘yep, that’s it, that sums it all up’.” There seems to be no sign of it coming any time soon, since even the apparently unstoppable Glasvegas – a favourite of Frith’s and a likely candidate for next year’s Mercury Prize – he describes as ‘incredibly retrospective’. “You can hear all the sounds from the past, which is one of them reasons I like them, but to say that’s the sound of now or of the future would be slightly odd.” That’s not to say, though, that Frith believes that for music to look backward is a bad thing. “I sometimes argue that the very notion of nostalgia is defined by musical experience - even The Beatles were nostalgic from the beginning. I think it may be something to do with how, when we settle down, we like reminiscing about how we once thought about the future. “My musical interests – and it might sound odd coming from somebody who’s very much a populist – have always been in the avant-garde, in things that sound strange or different. I can be as nostalgic as everybody else but at the end of the day, I’d rather listen to something where I think ‘I’ve never heard anything like this before’.” This musical nostalgia might be understood as a backlash against a music industry that is evolving, if not transforming, through the influence of technology. Frith, however, remains sceptical about the true level of impact this has. “Technology does change things but central music experiences tend to stay the same. We’re being told that, with downloads and everything, it’s the end of the album. But talk to any musician, they want to make an album – that’s what music is. And despite everything, the most valuable section of the industry at the moment is live music.” “I often say to students ‘write down the most important musical experience you’ve ever had’, and 99 per cent will put down either playing or listening live. It’s not just about hearing it, it’s about hearing it in the circumstances, that is, while others are hearing it too. It’s an event, an experience, not just a noise – it’s everything that surrounds it.” With judgments made purely on recordings, though, the growing importance of live music is yet to be demonstrated in the Mercury Prize. It’s an issue that will have to wait for now - Frith’s off to stock up on a rare treat for a Mercury judge: American music.
Week 2 30.09.08
Your Letters Women on top
SCOTTISH STUDENT NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2007
Since 1887 - The UK’ s oldest student newspaper
IDentity Crisis FROM NOVEMBER this year all foreign students from outside the EU will have to carry identity cards holding biometric data including retina scans and fingerprints. This signals the first phase of the government’s fully-fledged ID-card scheme and as a result, has had tongues wagging across campus. However, are we one step closer to achieving a civic dream or are the government just taking liberties? Well, staying clear of any Orwellian metaphors; this legislation is damaging – both to the university and society in general. When announcing the proposal last week, a statement on the UK border agency website stated that: “this will help keep our borders strong and will provide additional protection against illegal immigration and illegal employment.” In short, Identity cards are being issued to
foreign students because they have been labelled as ‘risk’ categories - those people who are most likely to ‘abuse immigration laws’. These are strong sentiments which have more than an undertone of xenophobic bias. Foreign undergraduates at our university already pay over five times the amount in fees that a home-grown student pays and face extra bureaucracy applying for an expensive student visa. Moreover, if new proposals are implemented, lecturers will have to inform the home office if an international student fails to turn up to two or more tutorials. Our foreign students already face a raw deal and ID cards will strip them further of their civil liberties. Furthermore, the technology infrastructure needed to produce the UK’s national identity card scheme is both high-risk and
intrusive and it’s unacceptable for the government to use foreigners as guinea-pigs to test-run UK law. With sensitive data loss hitting the headlines on a regular basis, it’s not inconceivable that thousands of identities could be leaked or stolen. The government is going through a crisis-period and the idea is that ID cards will help steady the ship – acting as a reminder that Labour are firmly in control. However, the new proposals suggest anything but. They are rushed, discriminatory and haphazard and our foreign students deserve better. The IDcard scheme must be handled with extreme care and sensitivity this November, otherwise we risk alienating a substantial proportion of our student body and, perhaps more terrifyingly, sleepwalking into a surveillance society.
We were rather disappointed with the deprecating comments that Harry Cole made towards left-wing women as printed in Student 23/9/08. We do wonder how can one advocate that ‘Life is better under a Conservative’ with the superficial reasons that you gave to support the statement and through your encouragement of sexual exploitation and the objectification of women. To encourage an advertisement that alludes to women being subordinated sexually by men with the tagline that ‘Life is better under a Conservative’, not ‘under the Conservatives’ is extremely shocking. It is not a poster that is promoting a better life for modern women, but as a means to con women into accepting a secondary place to men. Life is not better ‘under a Conservative’ and we much prefer the ‘woman on top’. Mr Cole should try it; he might even like it. With kindest regards, -Women of the World Society
Great crack I was appalled to read Rory Reynolds’ description of a perfume as being
“dirty as a Napier student’s crack den”. Such lazy journalism serves only to reinforce the overwhelming preoccupation with class for which Edinburgh is notorious. - Simon Mundy Editors’ note: Rory Reynolds is now a Napier student.
Vodka for all Congratulations to Jonathan Holmes for saying what so many of us have been thinking, and for throwing the gauntlet right before liberal puritans and uncultured ascetics. He is quite right to point out that not only is alcohol an ingrained part of our culture, but that it has made a huge contribution to ours and Western civilisation in general. Alas, the colonialists of Puritanism, in their quest to impose a mundane ‘one healthy size for all’ mentality upon us, will not even forgive us the dram to tolerate, never mind the bottle to block their Nannery out. If such articles become a regular feature in Student perhaps we should all contribute to a vodka fund for its writers? -Scott George McCombe
Student supports... Adam Ramsay’s Veg HERE AT Student we don’t always see eye to eye with EUSA Presidents. In fact, our history can only be described as a turbulent one at best. However, for us healthy-minded journalist folk – we can’t ignore Adam Ramsay’s new cheap-veg scheme. Basically, on any order from the Damhead Organic Box Scheme students
receive 10% off their bill with free delivery. This means that you and your flatmates can enjoy a box of top-notch organic veg for just £3 a week. Ramsay has said that over a year this could save students up to £350 which is not an amount to be scoffed at. As a result, we’ve forgotten the latenight pizza deliveries and gone all
If you would like to join
Vegilious in the office. So - credit where credit’s due, Ramsay has stuck to his manifesto policies and now we’re reaping the results. It’s nice to see a EUSA President delivering for once – even if it is a box of healthy goodies. Here’s to Adam Ramsay - forget his meat, we’re desperate for his Veg.
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Righteous Kills Two Careers
Week 2 30.09.08
Jutta Sarahimaa is not impressed with De Niro and Pacino’s new collaboration Righteous Kill directed by
aDDDD A copy of the Los Angeles Times caught my attention last April with an excellent article entitled ‘How the Mighty Have Fallen’; film critic Patrick Goldstein’s account of two iconic film actors who both made their big screen breakthroughs during the transition to the new Hollywood cinema in the 1970’s. These two, once amongst the most admired actors in cinema, refused to move forward into mature roles, roles which, as the years progressed and their respective careers did not, became ever more appropriate to them. Instead, while happily ageing colleagues like Jack Nicholson have picked up these characters, the two, literally refusing to act their age, have only become sad parodies of their former selves.
Goldstein’s article concerned Al Pacino and Robert De Niro; Michael and Vito Corleone; Tony Montana and Travis Bickle. Icons of their period, performers once lauded for their passionate characterisation, now make one bad film after another, critically derided yet still insisting on leading roles, stellar salaries and
artistic freedom. According to GQ magazine even Francis Ford Coppola, close friend and collaborator with both on the Godfather trilogy, has accused them of losing passion for great work and ‘doing anything just for the money’. After witnessing Righteous Kill it is all too easy to recognise these as harsh but true
words. Righteous Kill sees police partners Turk (De Niro) and Rooster (Pacino) investigate a series of murders in New York. The last collaboration and the first on-screen meeting of Pacino-De Niro was in Michael Mann’s intense and brilliant crime tale Heat (1995). This is most definitely no Heat. The only plausible explanation for Al and Bob’s participation in Righteous Kill’s unoriginal and hollow plot, embarrasing dialogue and pretentious MTV-camera work is greed and vanity. Supporting cast regulars, Carla Guigano and John Leguizamo, have little of substance to do, as the story evolves around the central friendship of Turk and Rooster. Here audiences may sense a subtle and supposedly accidental homosexual undercurrent, something that only emphasises the dated fashion in which Righteous Kill addresses the sexes and its leading characters. One particular
scene where Turk, Rooster, Perez (Leguizamo) and Riley (Donnie Wahlberg) pump it up in the NYPD gym while discussing possible suspects deserves a special mention. It reminds me of the classic Total Gym TV Shop commercials, only without the light relief of Chuck Norris. It is not age discrimination to admit feeling uneasy and confused when the dynamic duo kicks ass, scores chicks and delivers the old ‘Catholic Sicilian tough guy’ act like nothing has changed in the past 40 years. Sure, blurry slow-motion and rushing handheld shooting, whilst welcome fan-service for some, cannot hide the fact that Pacino and De Niro are approaching their seventies and look like it. These guys have paid their dues and given the film world more than it bargained for. They could go and do anything and everything they ever wanted but they chose this. The final explanation must be plain old senility.
Student Film have a few ideas for the producers of Death Race... Bear Market Summer 2009 It is the near future, the year 2015. Following the disastrous economic collapse of 2009, the world economy finally seems to be getting back on track. However, a band of freedom-hating terrorists are having none of it. On Christmas Eve, the terrorists sneak a genetically enhanced grizzly bear (with bones made of iron and teeth made of diamonds) into the
New York Stock Exchange. When the market reopens, the terrorists come out of hiding and weld the doors shut, leaving the greatest minds in finance at the mercy of a blood-lusting leviathan grizzly, with a taste for blood AND short selling. Enter our hero (Jason Statham), an Oxford-educated stockbroker and former bear wrestler, fresh in town from his London office. He recruits a ragtag band of office workers, and using little but their wits and of-
fice supplies, they must fell the terrorists’ evil plan. All the while, his estranged wife AND boss (Helen Mirren) is trapped on the trading floor without ANY clothes on. Not ANY. Not even THOSE. On top of it all, it’s Bring Your Children to Work Day… This film is Wall Street meets Snakes on a Plane, with a fucking grizzly bear. This summer, Jason Statham has a stock option for Bear Killing Incorporated, and you can bet your sweet ass he’s going to exercise it.
Space Prison Summer 2009 It is the near future, the year 2015. Belgium, the world’s most powerful country, has enslaved the children of the world in their chocolate mines, forcing them to extract delicious dark chocolate from the previously-untapped bowels of the earth. The United Nations Security Council, having come second to Belgium in a game of Twister, are now legally bound to send their countries’ children to
The 27th Amendment Winter 2009 It is the near future, the year 2015. World governments have been unable to stop wave upon wave of terrorist attacks and fear is the new global language, sorry Esperanto. The United States of America has been hardest hit by these attacks, and it seems like no person is able to stop them. No AMERICAN person. Enter our hero (Jason Statham), a former undercover SAS commando, now living in a cave in the
Himalayas. Jaded by years of relentless terrorist killing, it seems no one can convince him to get back in the game, even though he is the ONLY man capable of reversing the climate of terror. No one, except his own son, who treks for three years through the Himalayas (during the five-minute introduction), reminding his father of his Achilles’ heel: love of freedom. Once our hero arrives in Washington, Congress votes unanimously to pass the 27th Amendment, allowing a Cockney to become U.S. President. His first Execu-
tive Order? Kick some ass. With a Cabinet made up of a few diamond East End lads (Ross Kemp, Vinnie Jones), President Statham starts cleaning up the streets the only way he knows how. This President makes Eisenhower look like Neville Chamberlain. This film will spur the most significant advance in foreign policy since the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia. Terrorists, check yourselves before you wreck yourselves. This summer, Jason Statham is Commander in Chief AND Commander in Beef.
Belgium’s slave mines. Also, prisons are now in space. Enter our hero (Jason Statham), an Oxford-educated Nobel Peace Prize Winner wrongfully imprisoned in a prison orbiting Pluto for his outspoken criticism of the Belgian Government. Essentially, he’s the white Nelson Mandela (from the future in space). Inside the prison walls, he meets Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), a prison escape expert and the one man who can get him back to Earth. Together, they will lead the ultimate
prison uprising (in space) and pilot an army of convicts back to Earth, where they will kick some serious Belgian ass. Filmed back-to-back with expected hit Bear Market, the two films sharing the same script and cast, Space Prison will push the limits of the (Shawshank-Redemption-in-space) sci-fi imprisonment genre. This summer, Jason Statham is fighting for freedom, OUR freedom...In ZERO GRAVITY.
Week 2 30.09.08
The Foot Fist Way
Directed by Ed Harris
Directed by Jody Hill
Modern audiences are spoilt. We are used to powerful, fastpaced, and high-drama films that don’t allow our attention to slip not even for a minute. This could possibly explain why the resurgence of the modern Western has been less than noticeable. Westerns typically tend to be slow-moving, laconic films that meander laboriously to their end. Appaloosa is no exception. An adaptation of Robert B Parkers’ novel, the film gradually plays out the story of two freelance gunmen who travel from town to town reinstating the law. Arriving in the eponymous Appaloosa, Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) set about enforcing their own version of the law in an effort to bring order back to the town, terrorised by a cruel rancher (Jeremy Irons). Although their laws and the dispensation of justice are somewhat questionable, they appear to have had a high success rate in the past. That is, of course, until Cole falls in love. Not only does his new lady
Taken Directed by Pierre Morel
adddd Imagine the perfect father figure, the one we’ve all watched during the festive period (admit it or not), showing us what love actually is and handling, with dignity, the grief of both himself and his son. In Taken, Liam Neeson plays this very figure, only he is ex-spy Bryan Mills, and he is on a karatechopping, neck-snapping, kill crazy rampage to rescue his 17 year old daughter from a mob of kidnapping sex-traffickers. The result is a film that is as bizarre, unfeasible and utterly stupid as it sounds. The character of Mills’ daughter is infantilised, the filmmakers attempting to make her abduction more poignant, though really only making the whole affair even more implausible, which is not an easy task. Considering bullet-
love (Renée Zellweger) cause some problems in the relationship between Cole and Hitch; her presence also threatens the success of the tentative, new-found peace in the town. Although it is an original plot, the film is so deliberately unhurried (in true western style) that attention lapses and interest is lost. The shoot-out scenes are not particularly impressive; realistic probably, but just not quite good enough. The excitement of the few tense and uncertain moments is sadly deadened by the instant return to the slow, heavy mood of the rest of the film, their effect totally wasted. The performances of Harris and Mortensen are really the only things that make Appaloosa vaguely worth watching. The relationship they create between the two men is both fascinating and touching. Unfortunately though, Appaloosa is just not the film to inspire a total revival of the genre. Laura Peebles
proof Mills survives two car chases and numerous solo raids on buildings full of trigger-happy Albanian goons with nothing but a scratch to show for his troubles, plausibility is not this film’s greatest concern. The message of the film seems to be that you should never let your white-toothed, pony-riding daughter leave the US because she will be abducted by immigrant pimps and turned into a junkie-sex slave within 96 hours. And naturally, you should never call the actual police because being foreign, they are sure to be evil and corrupt. It is much better to blaze a bloody trail of destruction and worry about the consequences later. This cash-cow is layered with horrendous clichés, dialogue that will make you cringe and a completely pointless plot. Neeson is convincing in a father role, but this makes him a far less plausible action man. Past glory means that we can forgive him for chasing a cushy retirement. Just. Davie Heaton
The trailer for ‘The Foot Fist Way’ (the English translation of ‘Tae Kwon-Do’), an independently made film that wrapped last year with a final budget of just $70,000, proudly proclaims that the comedy was picked up immediately upon completion by genre behemoths Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who now act as producers on the project. Ferrell and McKay have their own films referenced repeatedly between clips; the two are reliable names in the field; dependable, blameworthy for more than one case of paroxysmal guffawing themselves, and here they offer the audience their seal of approval. However, like much of Ferrell and McKay’s own recent output, the film is funny only sporadically, with characters badly in need of rounding and a plot badly in need of exisiting; the result is not quite polished enough to sustain laughter. The film follows self-delusional Tae Kwon-Do instructor Fred Simmons-imagine David Brent in a Dojang- who, after discovering that his wife is cheating on him, attempts to utilise his rather lacking knowledge of the ancient martial art in order to maintain what he believes to be an admirably positive
and controlled outlook on life. Many of the film’s best moments rest upon the central conceit of a self-acclaimed martial arts ‘master’ with neither the meditative contemplation nor physical prowess to even approach success or the admiration of others in his chosen sport. Danny McBride is fine as Simmons, but struggles to ever really make the role his own, grappling with a thin script that too often forgoes character development in favour of rapid slapstick. The film is short, only 82 minutes, and whilst this might suggest a refined and perfectly un-Hollywood script, the short running time is sadly sometimes welcome. The lack of a coherent and focused central storyline means that characters stagnate and become irritating when, if the script had allowed a modicum of progression or de-
velopment, they could have been far more intriguing and have succeeded in eliciting a few laughs from the audience. It’s basics like this that hold ‘The Foot Fist Way’ back; audiences can deal with the lowerquality, grainy footage; with the lack of a soundtrack and a crew of thousands, but some qualities are essential to a comedy, and all too often ‘The Foot Fist Way’ fails to make good on these. It’s difficult not to applaud the obvious enthusiasm of its studiosidestepping makers, and there is much here to enjoy, but the ‘Foot Fist Way’ is ultimately disappointing, providing far too few bellylaughs and ultimately manages only a suggestion of potential.
cash cow for as long as possible. This is a film that sells itself on the promise of action, and in this respect it mostly delivers, though sometimes in an awkward manner. There is violence that borders on the gratuitous at times and rarely a moment when the action dies down. The chase scenes are exhilarating and are quite easily the film’s strongest point. This is of course a doubleedged blade; the relentless action keeps the punters pleased by giving them what they paid for, but story and characterisation are forgone, treated as unnecessary frills. Characters such as “Machine-Gun Joe” (that’s right), and the “14k” are clichéd stereotypes, as is Statham who predictably plays his I’m-gruff-andso-therefore-macho hard man. Characterisation is never thrust to the fore in this film. However, it could easily be argued that to forego character development in favour of the
big oily titans, 200mph tanks equipped with bullets, canons, mines, flamethrowers and every other imaginable fantasy is an upgrade. So ‘Death Race’ is a mixed bag that is mainly geared towards the lads. If you like action, thrills and girls then by all means go and see it. Although it contains none of the excellent dialogue of Tarantino’s similar-and-much-superior Death Proof, it certainly has its own oily charm that glistens seductively, blinding you to all else.
Death Race Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
aaadd This remake of the Sylvester Stallone cult classic is a hit-andmiss affair, combining an alluringly dumb-headed plot and cast with bucket loads of high octane action and a healthy dose of sex appeal. In the near future, prisons have become run by private corporations for profit. Each year, one maximum-security prison puts on the biggest sporting event in the world - Death Race, a modern combination of the chariot race and gladiatorial combat, in which a team of two convicts (one must be a sexy lady) race around a treacherous track in machine-gun-armed sports cars. The race is to the death, naturally, and winning five races in a row gets you your freedom from the brutal corporate prison. Nobody has ever won Death Race. NASCAR driver Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is wrongfully imprisoned for murdering his wife (I wonder why?) and soon finds himself competing in the latest Death Race. Ames finds himself not only winning, but driving the ratings through the roof. Thanks to the machinations of a manipulative, rating-hungry prison warden (Joan Allen) Ames’ odds of winning seem to get mysteriously smaller as the race goes on, the warden striving to keep this new
Next Week... Jason Statham Eats a Terrorist
Week 2 30.09.08
Paul Newman: A Tribute Following the news of Paul Newman’s death last weekend, Jenny Baldwin reflects on the sparkling career of a true Hollywood Great SURELY EVERY film lover can picture it: Paul Newman, alongside Robert Redford, in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The two bandits, perched on a cliff-edge, the sunset fusing red and yellow behind them, deliberate their fate. “I can’t swim!” cries the stubborn but lovable Redford as Sundance. Cue Newman’s hysterical laughter, his twinkling blue eyes, and his cheeky, playful response: “Why you crazy? The fall’ll probably kill ya!” As it turns out in the film, the jump doesn’t kill either of these persistent outlaws. Instead, it represents one more shot at defeating the inevitable. Indeed, the law eventually catches up with the pair just as time, last weekend, finally caught up with Paul Newman. This beloved giant of the silver screen died late last Friday at the age of 83, after struggling for more than a year with cancer. His good friend and previous co-star, Redford, admitted, “there is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life - and this country - is better for his being in it”. Indeed not only America, but the entire world has been robbed of a true star, a personality that has graced our screens for the
Surely no man can eat 50 eggs? Luke could. Paul Newman probably could best part of six decades. There is no doubting that Paul Newman is a legend of cinema. As if his acting abilities aren’t testimony enough, his bright, mint-blue eyes, his superbly chiselled jaw and his handsome, twinkling grin are what make Newman’s performances lovable, beautiful and memorable: pure perfection. Newman’s transition into stardom wasn’t easy, with the likes of Marlon Brando and James Dean providing stiff competition. In 1954, Brando won Best Actor for his performance in On the Waterfront while Dean, who directly competed against Newman for his role in East of Eden, was nominated for an Oscar the following year. When asked if such competition was intimidating, Paul Newman
responded with the modesty that we have come to expect from him: “I felt like an amateur in the company of professionals,” he told Prevue magazine in the late 80s. Newman’s humble style is certainly manifest in his audition for East of Eden, in which he stands next to James Dean for the scrutinising cameras and bashfully giggles in his co-auditionee’s presence. Newman’s first screen roles were, in fact, very much in the Brando mould – neurotic, mirthless, mumbling and bolshy. Like Brando, he played Tennessee Williams’s antiheroes in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958, and Sweet Bird of Youth, 1962, for which he received the first of his Oscar nominations; at one stage he was even labelled the new Brando. Yet this label wouldn’t last for long. Paul Newman wasn’t to be a second to anybody, he was to be himself, completely and utterly. Within a few years, a new and more distinctive character began to emerge – a male whose macho demeanor and tongue-in-cheek bravado concealed sexual fears and social inadequacy. He moved miles away from the feminised sensitivity of Dean and the unruly showmanship of Brando. In The Hustler, 1961, Hud, 1963, and Cool Hand Luke, 1967, Newman displayed a mixture of strength, devilment and vulnerability which appealed to movie-goers. As “Fast” Eddie Felson in Robert Rossen’s The Hustler – a role that he would later revisit in Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money (1986) – Newman is superb as he balances his own playful energy with Eddie’s arrogance. Furthermore, his performance as the sweaty yet elegant Luke in Cool Hand Luke has proven to be an all-time favourite amongst fans and film lovers, the role marking the introduction of Sixties counter-culture tough guys: the rebel prisoner as joker and martyr. The scene in which Luke eats 50 eggs is memorable. Surely no man can eat 50 eggs? Luke could. Paul Newman probably could. In 1969, Newman and Redford united to produce one of the most popular screen Westerns ever made, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Mixing adventure with romance and comedy, this film exploits Newman’s ability to flirt with the camera and to twinkle his blue eyes as if they had never been
twinkled before. He is sexy, lovable and hilarious in this film. He is more than cool, he is super-cool. He is the best friend everyone wishes for. Redford certainly agreed; following the success of Butch Cassidy, the two collaborated once more in The Sting (1974). Winning seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this film is one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed movies of all time. Set in the 1930’s, the intricate comedy caper sees Newman as a veteran con man, an amusing and intelligent character that only his own charm can bring to perfection. Indeed, unfailingly intelligent, whole-souled performances in a shower of critical and popular successes have earned the Cleveland-born actor a secure
place in the big-screen pantheon. Despite being awarded an honorary lifetime award by the Academy in 1989, it is somewhat of a shame that Newman won his first Oscar for his less-than best performance in The Color of Money in 1987 - after being nominated no less than eight times. The Academy’s late effort to truly commemorate Newman’s acting record hardly provided good compensation for fans, if any at all. Yet Newman didn’t care much for grand gestures in the world of celebrity. He was embarrassed by the attention that fame brought upon him: “It’s so hard to convince people, but what everybody sees up there on the screen has absolutely nothing to do with me. They believe that’s me, but it isn’t! It’s somebody else – something a writer concocted
Paul Newman eats eggs in Cool Hand Luke, 1967
Newman as “Fast” Eddie Felson in 1961’s The Hustler
and some director splashed up there and some editor neatened,” he declared in an interview not too long ago. Paul Newman’s modesty stayed with him throughout his career; he always remained a reluctant sex symbol and superstar. Instead, his energy went into a series of charitable initiatives. As he got older, he headed a food company, Newman’s Own, and produced a series of sauces and dressings which were sold under the motto, “Shameless exploitation for the common good”. All of the proceeds from these products funded charity work, mainly aimed at alleviating the suffering of young children with chronic illnesses. Previously talking about his charity work, Newman declared that it allowed one way for ‘being a celebrity to become useful’. Today he is not only remembered as Hud Bannon, or as Butch Cassidy, but also as a great philanthropist and family man. Robert Forrester, vice-chairman of the Newman Foundation, described the actor’s heart and soul as “dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all”. Paul Newman has set the bar high, perhaps too high, for the actors that appear on our screens today. In an interview from the 80s, Newman himself admitted that an aspect of cinema was fading: “The business has changed drastically – the cost of making a picture, the price of failure, the emphasis on blockbusters, the tendency of young movie-goers to see one film five times instead of seeing five different ones, the effect of television on artistic appetite, the shrinking of attention spans, the management of films falling into the hands of accountants and lawyers. Talented writers and actors are burning out faster.” Actors of Newman’s calibre, both on-screen and off, are hard to come by these days. Newman’s style and attitude represent true originality and true individuality. What is more, they embody a rare star-quality that effortlessly shines onto our screens. Emblazoned with modesty, he once said, “my life has been a series of fortunate accidents.” Thank goodness for his life, and thank goodness for those accidents (not that we believe him), because Paul Newman sparkles, and the beauty of cinema is that he always will.
Week 2 30.09.08
Jonathan Liew Fair Game I GAVE up on Saturdays long ago. By which I mean I gave up any hope of being entertained by my television between the end of Newsnight Review on Friday night and the start of Shipwrecked on T4 roughly 36 hours later. Saturdays quickly fell into a simple, TV-free routine: Tesco in the evening, followed by a sharp but enervating session on the Xbox, a microwaveable meal, two hours of pub, and concluded by going home before 11pm and wanking into a small, wooden bowl. Saturday night TV has started to take itself far too seriously. Shows like The X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing deal in the currency of melodrama, taking what is on most levels mundane and moulding it into the compelling through a manipulative mesh of clever camerawork and a Snow Patrol soundtrack. What Saturdays miss is a sense of the ridiculous, a sense of the fun. Step forward Hole in the Wall. In case you haven’t seen Hole in the Wall – and if you haven’t, it’s brilliant, put down your copy of Fear and Loathing and go and watch it on
iPlayer now – it’s presented by Dale Winton, and features two teams of celebrities in Day-Glo wetsuits. Winton – a man who the BBC have to put on Saturday night telly to save him from a life of takeaways and spit roasting – calls: “Bring on the wall!”, whereupon a large foam wall with a strategically-shaped hole in it emerges and proceeds with haste toward the contestants, who have to contort themselves so as to be in alignment with the holes, so that the wall will pass through them, rather than hitting them and knocking them into a large swimming pool. Yes, I’m aware that last sentence was 83 words long and contained four subordinate clauses, and that the spit-roasting reference was a touch superfluous. But while it’s a difficult concept to get your head round, in glorious Technicolor it makes perfect and preposterous sense. Watch as Vanessa Feltz gets a soaking and struggles to climb out of the pool. Marvel as Vic Reeves tries to curl up in a ball whilst internally fuming: “Why wasn’t Families at War as good as this?” Grimace at Darren Gough’s brazen and distasteful competiveness, even in a game that is essentially a studio-based version of It’s a Knockout. Of course, given that the appeal of game is mostly visual, and that most of you won’t have seen it, it’s fairly futile trying to articulate its appeal in a 400-word column. It would be like trying to explain Mark Rothko to Stevie Wonder: (“It’s just, like, a big block of colour, but man, that dude got soul. You hear me? He got soul, brother! Damn!”) So give it a go next Saturday evening.
“The BBC have to put Dale Winton back on Saturday night telly - if just to save him from a life of takeaways and spit-roastings”
Next week - Joseph Stalin on Ugly Betty and lazy journalist Dawn Porter gets gang-banged
“Derek, you have no psychic abilities. You can’t communicate with babies - don’t worry, we’re going to get you the help you need”
Fern Brady Quack-whore HAVE YOU ever seen that film with Russell Crowe? This genius mathematician is asked to carry out topsecret codebreaking work for the US government. There’s a mysterious spy popping up randomly to give him his instructions. He’s played by Ed Harris. The twist is that the whole thing was a creation of Russell Crowe’s delusional mind. As I watched Five’s Extraordinary People: The Million Dollar Mind Reader, the parallels with A Beautiful Mind were startling. Derek Ogilvie, a guy from Paisley who believes he can read the minds of infants, was just an ordinary charlatan psychic. One day, while immersed in ‘Cold Reading for Dummies’ a tiny figure clad in a black trenchcoat shuffled into his office. “I gotta mission for ya, Ogilvie” the figure said in a husky Brooklyn accent. “Wh-who are you?” asked Derek shakily. The figure peered up from under his black panama hat. Chewing on a fat cigar, the baby growled
through clenched teeth “Ya don’t need to know who I am. I represent babies from all over the world. Babies desperate to articulate their innermost thoughts. You’re the only one who can help us, Derek. You must be the spokesperson for babies everywhere!” “I can’t!” cried Derek. “No one would ever believe me! They’d think I was mad, exploitative – maybe even a bit of a paedo.” The baby chuckled softly before exhaling a long wisp of cigar smoke. “They’ve fallen for Derek Acorah, Sally Morgan and Mystic Meg – why wouldn’t they believe you?” And so it was that Derek set off around the world in his quest. Success came quickly yet it was only when challenged by James Randi, a skeptic who fittingly resembled Charles Darwin, that things began to go wrong. “Derek, you have no psychic abilities. You can’t communicate with babies.” Tears streamed down Derek’s face. “You’re wrong! I’ll prove it to you!” Turning to the spy-baby, he cried “Ed, tell him!” The child gurgled nonsensically. The skeptic gently pulled Ogilvie away from the child. “Derek, calm yourself. Your belief is called a delusion. You are a very sick man.” Howling in anguish and disbelief, Derek allowed himself to be enveloped in Randi’s strong arms, his tears becoming gradually quieter. “There, there” said the skeptic, patting his back, “we’re going to give you the help you need.”
Consulting Careers Presentation Thursday 9th October 2008 at 6.30pm The Balmoral, 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ Choose Accenture for a career where the variety of opportunities and challenges allows you to make a difference every day. A place where you can develop your potential and grow professionally, working alongside talented colleagues. The only place where you can learn from our unrivalled experience, while helping our global clients achieve high performance. If this is your idea of a typical working day, then Accenture is the place to be.
Graduate careers in consulting For people with the right intelligence and personal qualities, there's no career quite like consulting. Our clients include many of the world's largest organisations, so you'll have the satisfaction of working on some of the best projects around. In return for taking on a high level of responsibility, you'll get continuous training, both formal and on-the-job, to enable you to do your job well. If you're genuinely interested in business and
technology, with typically a predicted or actual 2.1 in any degree discipline and 320 UCAS points or equivalent, prepare for a future where high performance is all in a day's work. And, you'll be rewarded well, with a salary of £31,000 plus an additional £10,000 bonus. Come along to our presentation and you can talk to us, find out what life's really like here, and discover what we'll expect from you.
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Getting satisfaction from what you do. Just another day at the office for a high performer.
Week 2 30.09.08
ALBUMS NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK THE BLOCK POLYDOR
IMAGINATIVELY NAMED The Block is Boston-based manband New Kids On The Block’s brand new album, and their first joint contribution to the music world since 1994. After an acrimonious split fourteen years ago, the ‘New Kids’ are only able to live up to their name in a very limited sense; on listening to their latest record one is over come with the feeling that this is a band who are trying too hard. Despite an attempt at a tongue-incheek attitude, as suggested by songs such as ‘Big Girl Now’ and ‘Grown Man’, The Block is barely afloat in a sea of boy-band comebacks, and not quite sure of its target audience. Most tracks on the album follow an R&B-lite style, and the un-danceable pace - no doubt an attempt to promote the group’s ‘all grown up’ image – leads the listener to make the mistake of actually noticing the lyrics. Unfortunately these are painfully rhymed, cheesy in many places,
TV ON THE RADIO DEAR SCIENCE 4AD
NOT MANY bands get better with each record, but TV On The Radio do; their third has managed to trump the dense and experimental sophomore Return To Cookie Mountain and the Shortlist Prize-winning debut Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes. Not only that; it has the potential to open them up to a far wider audience. It’s confident, playful and far more accessible than anything they’ve done before. This is their pop album and it’s all the better for its riskiness and transparency. Layers have been stripped away boldly to reveal the peerless voices of Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone that work brilliantly alone or in harmony, and David Sitek’s production is spot on; there is so much clarity
and downright disturbing in others. This is most notable on ‘Dirty Dancing’ (“you’re Baby, I’m Swayze”), and ‘Full Service’, which contains more than one analogy between automobile maintenance and oral sex. Such cheek may have been acceptable when they were sixteen, but as fathers of small children, the New Kids’ musings leave me feeling a little unclean. One of the most surprising things about this record is the amount of celebrity input: a whole host of household names including the Pussycat Dolls and Akon have contributed. Disappointingly, however, there is little to be enjoyed. The stars’ appearances seem more designed for good marketing than good quality and add little excitement; the additions are carefully placed so as to leave the sound smooth but insipid. Although the block contains a few muted highlights including the lighthearted ‘Summertime’ and the almost-catchy ‘Sexify My Love’, into which made up words such as “conversate” are touchingly woven, the whole is flat and unremarkable. New Kids On The Block may have been able to gain support from R&B royalty, but they remain unable to merit any endorsement from me. Phoebe Benjamin
New Kids On the Block: Back for Good?
here from such a wide range of instruments. ‘Halfway Home’ is a perfect opener: propulsive and inventive, it throws you in to the deep end of Dear Science with a knockout chorus that recalls OK Computer-era Radiohead. As great as ‘Halfway Home’ is though, it’s arguably not the best song on offer. ‘Family Tree’ is a shiver-inducing ballad of the highest order, the kind of bare-bones music no one expected TV On The Radio to come up with. ‘DLZ’ rages with a fiery intensity - the angriest song on the album by far - as Tunde Adebimpe snarls “This is beginning to feel like the long-winded blues of the never” against a haunting backdrop, whilst ‘Stork And Owl’ features some of the most quotable, poignant lyrics against pulses of deep, reverberating harmonies, plucked strings and stuttering percussion. TV On The Radio also show themselves to be more adept at switching between funk, soul and blues than any other current band. ‘Crying’ has the slinkiest little riff Prince
never played, the single ‘Golden Age’ has a bassline as addictive as ‘Don’t Stop If Can’t Get Enough’, with synthesizers and - courtesy of the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra horns to beat, whilst ‘Love Dog’ has percussion that clicks and snap into some of the most memorable harmonies on Dear Science. They break into new musical territory with the punchy rap ‘Dancing Choose’ as elsewhere guitars play second-fiddle to the vivid horns of ‘Red Dress,’ the most explicitly political song here (“Fuck your war, ‘cause I’m fat and in love and the bombs are fallin’ on me for sure / But I’m scared to death that I’m living a life not worth dying for”), whilst the passionate optimism of ‘Lover’s Day’ is made carnal in the softly-sung line “I’m gonna take you/I’m gonna shake you/I’m gonna make you cum.” This is not only TV On The Radio’s finest album yet; it’s also an ideal introduction to one of the most talented, triumphant bands around today. Jonny Stockford
THE HAWK IS HOWLING WALL OF SOUND
SUBDUED AND soft tones open The Hawk Is Howling, a journey that doesn’t waver much from the theme of its opening moments, barring a blip or two on the radar across the heart of the album. Being a band always toted as one of the foremost purveyors of its genre, it would prove a very difficult task indeed to avoid various triumphs across their back catalogue dictating attitudes toward any of Mogwai’s subsequent releases. In fact, the opening track itself serves as an effective collective of hallmarks, notorious to both Mogwai and the genre of post-rock in general. A song title far too ridiculous to escape condemnation in any other genre (‘Im Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’), reverb laden keys, no vocals and rising dynamics toward an ethereal climax are all typical of things found under the Mogwai blanket. Sadly however, it’s a blanket that’s been worn out by repeated replication by both lesser bands and Mogwai themselves. Second track and lead single ‘BatCat’ succeeds in being a mixture of serrated guitar squeals set against thundering cymbal crashes, but its anyone’s guess as to why it shouldn’t be glossed over in preference to the shimmer of live favourite ‘Glasgow Mega Snake’. Where this album really be-
gins to lose its appeal is where new experiments succeed in only marring otherwise acceptable arrangements, tried and tested across past efforts. The core of the Album (tracks ‘The Sun Smells Too Loud’ and ‘Kings Meadow’) reveals an increasing reliance on electronics and samples, which on ‘Kings Meadow’ fails miserably to sound anything but haphazard and over the top. ‘The Sun Smells Too Loud’ strays completely from the theme set out by the tracks preceding it. All poppy, angular guitar lines set against bouncing synths, you question its release prior to the album for all purposes other than deception. The lull left post the core of the album is saved, however, by the superb ‘I love You, I’m Going to Blow Up Your School’, which wouldn’t be out of place on either Come on Die Young or Young Team , making you wonder why the rest of the album fails. The remainder of the album chooses to almost reprise its opening tracks by segueing into more dense climaxes through walls of interweaving textural riffery. The Hawk Is Howling succeeds toward the standards set out by other such bands in the post rock genre. Most bands worth their salt are struggling to make albums even half as good. However, where it wins in that stead, it fails to live up to the high benchmark set by the band themselves. Listened to in isolation this album emerges as a solid effort, but alongside the cult worthy Young Team or even more recent Mr Beast this album fails to hit its target. Kapil Seshasayee
Week 2 30.09.08
What, No Glasvegas? DARTZ
THE SAD HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE OF ALNERIQUE XTRA MILE
MATH ROCK seems to be undergoing something of a resurgence at the moment. Genre kingpins Don Caballero have recently reformed, whilst bands such as Battles and Scotland’s own Errors are taking the genre to new and exciting places. Teesside’s Dartz bring a more downbeat and lyrical approach to the genre’s typically unconventional song structures and complex rhythms. Marring the undeniably English flavour of their lyrics and vocal delivery to their US-DIY-scene influenced music, Dartz are an intriguing proposition. Dartz’s follow up to their debut full length This is my Ship is a confusing record. Its title and loosely formed concept (the creation and destruction of the village of Alnerique) bring to mind long, pretentious post rock workouts. Instead, it is a mini album made up of catchy three minute songs. Dartz specialise in a distinctive brand of math rock, with a healthy doze of pop hooks giving them crossover appeal. Wil-
FRIENDLY FIRES FRIENDLY FIRES XL
THE FRIENDLY Fires’ eponymous debut album is a refreshing effort, crammed tight with plenty of easily accessible and groove-driven songs. This quality is owed not only to carefully considered use of synthesisers and guitar effects, but perhaps more to the imagination of the rhythm section of the band, who do their utmost to make the music as easy to dance to as possible. Although their first full album is an accomplished piece, Friendly Fires have a long way to go if they are to ensure that they are not forgotten as merely a product of their time and circumstance, but from the evidence of this album they appear to have
liam Anderson’s impassioned vocals set them apart from other bands ploughing similar territory. Coming across like a lo-fi Foals with a greater lyrical sensibility, Dartz are a more subtle and rewarding proposition than the former band. There is a novelty in hearing vocals that would more commonly be found on an album lamenting a broken heart, addressing such emotionally gripping topics as cement mixing and “old houses and nettles”. Oddly, it somehow works. This is largely due to the dance-ability of much of the record, and the force of the vocal delivery. This is evident on strong opening track ‘The Arrival, Building Alnerique’, its opening chants of “We are marching, our feet are cut….our hands are bruised” followed by the impassioned claim of “We need no architects” setting the scene for the rest of the album. Other highlights include the jerky pop number ‘A New Venture from Mordecai & Sons’ and the subtle, hornled instrumental ‘Embers’. Whilst the lo-fi recording requires repeated listening, it is well worth investing some time in. What at first appears to be an obscure and musically incoherent listen reveals itself to be a catchy, fun and genuinely unusual collection of songs. Let’s hope this original and refreshing band achieves some of the success enjoyed by their contemporaries. Jonathan Hansmann
the vision and techniques necessary to transcend their current genre. The most likely venues where you will hear tunes from this album are student bars and clubs, and there is a high chance that you will be not be able to tell the vocal lines or guitar riffs of Friendly Fires from other bands of their ilk. The main problem with this piece is that it is a generic indie album, despite the subtleties within the album itself which keep it entertaining. For what it is, Friendly Fires’ self -titled album is complete with songs that you will be very happy to dance to on a night out, but there is little chance the next morning that you will be desperately be searching for one of their songs you heard the night before. While this is by no means a judgement on their credibility or ability as songsmiths, it is a comment on the type of music that is saturating the indie scene at the moment. Chris Champion
MEO SUO Í EYRUM VIO SPILUM ENDALAUST
AAAAD BOTH FRESH and delivered with a real sense of urgency, Sigur Ros’ fifth album doesn’t disappoint. Known primarily for their unique and pioneering soundscapes, in previous albums their songs almost invariably begin small and gradually grow as more layers of instruments are added until reaching a soaring climax, then decelerate and return to their original simplicity, completing the circle. But this latest album sets out a new style. Many of the upbeat songs follow a more conventional pop song form, but display enough vivacity to avoid the monotony of so much contemporary popular music. ‘Gobbledigook’, the opener and highlight of the album, is nothing less than spell-binding. Driven by tribal-style percussion and quick, quirky guitar chords, it stirs up the curiosity of any listener. A distant marching band combined with the playful tingle of a high-pitched piano, a pressing melody, and steady drumming invigorates ‘Inní mér syngur vitleysingur’. Mean-
COLD WAR KIDS LOYALTY TO LOYALTY XL
MY ONE association with Cold War Kids is a feeling of falling. The memory of the plummet from the perfect yet precarious viewpoint of the gig is ironically evoked with every listen of ‘Hospital Beds’. Yet, despite my tumble, I was always convinced that the band were something special. Their previous album along with the Up in Rags EP delivered topics such as alcoholism and terminal illness in an accessible yet powerful way. Loyalty to Loyalty is something different, however, and unfortunately it’s not an upward step for the band. It’s still covering cheerless themes (this time in the form of suicide and
while ‘ Vid spilum endalaust’ boasts a captivating, celestial melody using a seemingly Arcade Fire inspired bass, which drives the song’s pulse. Slower, more ambiental songs, such as ‘Festival’ and ‘All Alright’, may disillusion fans because they do not reach the same epic heights as ‘Hoppipola’ (Takk) and ‘Hafsol’ (Saeglapur). But the minimal backing music allows singer Jónsi Birgisson’s falsetto voice to shine through stronger than ever and carry the songs from start to finish without the safety net of multi-layered instrumentation. There is one flaw in the album which cannot pass without mention - its pacing. Three of the first four songs are exhilaratingly upbeat, so we expect the entire album will be just as energised. Instead, the album slows down from ‘Festival’ onwards. Nonetheless, as a whole, the album is still a wonderful creation which must be celebrated. Sigur Ros prove they are consistently capable of taking us on unconventional journeys through the poignancy of their music; through diverse landscapes and emotional peaks and lows. Above all, they re-confirm that they are truly unique - there is simply no other band in the music industry which quite compares. Cross our fingers, they’ll live up to the promise made and for years to come, with a buzz in their ears, play endlessly. Pancho Lewis
domestic violence), but instead of impressing, this album simply fails to reach out and affect. You have to look hard to find the intensity of their previous singles, and it feels as though the actual album has got lost somewhere in amongst the rather dull creation. Where it does peek out is in the two tracks ‘Every Valley Is Not a Lake’ and ‘Something Is Not Right with Me’ - both somewhat redeeming features to the rest of the album. Nathan Willett squawking the gloomy lyrics to the cheery sounding single works to produce a song of ‘Hang Me Up To Dry’ quality, and just on hearing the intro to ‘Every Valley’ you know they’re onto something. It’s a shame that the Kids seem to have lost the enthusiasm that made every song on Robbers and Cowards seem a triumph, but then again, perhaps I’m wrong and they were like this all along. Concussion doesn’t do a lot for the memory. Juliet Evans
is this news? HAVING SPENT most of the summer under heavy guard in eastern Somalia as the hostage of a heavily bearded and frankly terrifying pirate called Abdi - victims of an ill-advised but fantastically priced mid-June pleasure cruise in the Gulf of Aden - the Is This News? team have been understandably keen to throw themselves back into their weekly grind, ruthlessly pursuing all the big stories in this severe outbreak of athlete’s foot we call the music industry. No sooner had we touched down at Edinburgh airport earlier this week than news reached us that Morrissey and Johnny Marr were “collaborating”. “Sensational near toxic Somali knock-off Marlboros. Is that it? An album? Gigs? An album and gigs?” An album of sorts, it transpires, but merely the long-awaited rarities compilation that has been in the pipeline for years. Collaborating, we scoffed, but it got worse. It transpires that collaboration didn’t even extend to being in each others’ company: Morrissey picked the album name, The Sound of the Smiths, and Marr handled the re-mastering. Whoever you are, truculent PR rogue that calls that collaborating, you’re on the list. Here at Is This News? we’re nostalgic sorts, and The Killers’ ‘Mr. Brightside’ still puts a little smile on our embittered faces. But the Vegas band have been steadily eroding our goodwill over the last couple of years with a steady stream of pompous Bon Jovi-lite tunes and Mexican themed ‘taches’. But new single ‘Human’ has finally pushed us over the edge. In it, lead singer Brandon Flowers repeatedly poses that tricky question, “Are we human? Or are we dancers?” Seriously, Brandon, what the fuck? Many around our esteemed university would presume to mock our colleagues across the city at Heriot-Watt. “Polytechnic!”, they cry across the lacrosse pitch. “You’re not a leading research university!”, they scream from the perilous Appleton Tower rooftop. Not us, however. No, as leading egalitarians, the Is This News? press team are always keen to hear what our cousins at HeriotWatt have to say. Last week they revealed a ground-breaking study linking music tastes to personality. The crazy bastards. So, apparently indie fans are lazy and suffer from low self-esteem, while dance fans are outgoing and classical music fans take particular joy in the epic and grandiose. Who would have thought it? What next for the boffins at Heriot-Watt? Will they discover nu-rave fans are all half deaf? Or that Keane fans don’t drive motorbikes? We can’t wait to find out. Thomas Kerr
Week 2 30.09.08
We need to talk about Lionel Schriver Christine Johnstone listens to the best selling author
Scottish Ballet: Autumn Season 2008 Festival Theatre 25 - 27 September
aaddd Radiohead’s Creep is something you might expect to be blasting out of a Liquid Rooms’ speaker, not one providing the accompaniment for Scottish Ballet, but The Edinburgh Festival Theatre got plugged in as it hosted the company’s new Autumn Season last week. Stephen Petronio added Idioteque, The National Anthem, Hunting Bears and Fitter, Happier to his soundtrack before choreographing his Ride The Beast show. Jarring movements are the order of the day as the dance blends “head-butts” and “ass-lifts” with traditional ballet positions to create an unusual, uncomfortable cocktail of strangely appealing dance. Draped in tassels and fringes of contrasting colours and textures, Ride the Beast’s dancers grow feathery wings as their costumes move through the air, while also successfully providing a natural motif to clash with the rigid electronic pulses and often jerky accompaniment. The sequence danced to Creep is arguably the most poignant from Ride the Beast as it effectively spells out the story of a young male trying to catch the attention of his love interest. The lyrics describe an angstfilled adolescent issuing pleas to his ‘angel’, desperate to fit in, “I want to have control/I want a perfect body/I want a perfect soul”. Thom Yorke moans through the speakers, as the lead male slouches self-consciously on the front of the stage while the object of his desire is locked in unison with two other
females, remaining oblivious to his awkward presence and attempts to emulate her. Often however the dancers are out of sync with one another, which despite the distressing message that they were trying to communicate in parts of Ride the Beast, unintentionally creates anguish of the wrong sort for the audience. The second episode of the evening was Trisha Brown’s For MG: The Movie, which explores Brown’s fascination with how actors enter and exit frames in films. As the curtain opened, huge bright beams of light shone through every orifice on the stage and the smoke machine kicked into overdrive; this however is about as exciting as it got. In Brown’s early days critics would often refuse to come to see her productions because they claimed they were not ‘dance’, and from this performance it is hard to disagree. One dancer is employed to run around the stage for most of the piece while another stood still, facing away from the audience. This is only punctuated with what essentially is a man rolling around, and the odd snatch of contact work. For MG: The Movie seemed to be caught up in its own existence and
fails miserably to demonstrate the company’s clear dancing abilities whilst providing little insight into what it is allegedly exploring. Bare feet and nude costumes only add further blandness; I only enjoyed For MG: The Movie when it was over. The final episode in the repertoire is Pennies from Heaven - inspired by the 1930’s music from Dennis Potter’s television series starring Bob Hoskins – and this provides some light relief at the end of a troubled show. The Artistic Director of the company, Ashley Page, choreographed the quintessentially British work, which sees glamorous couples enter a bar and lets an evening unfold around them. The costumes are the real stars of the show with evening gowns and retro sailor suits complimenting the designer Antony McDonalds’ nod to British tradition in the form of trench coats and umbrellas. The umbrella dance is particularly ingenious and the humour Page weaved throughout the entire piece was inspiring. Not quite inspiring enough to make me forget For MG: The Movie though, not quite. Hannah Ramsey
Lionel Shriver is tiny, noticeably so, as she enters the Glasgow Universities’ seminar room, famous for a book I haven’t read. It is neither full nor empty. I have only read her columns, which I don’t remember, and so have no expectations; but find my quickly formed ones dramatically reversed during the reading. She speaks clearly, but haltingly, as if she and the audience are not yet sure of one another. One American, and a body of Scots however, quickly find assurance in one another, and she reflects how we find her current state. She begins with a childhood anecdote - her father suggested she should be a nurse, and this spurned her quicker up the literary path. You have, she tells us, to be persistent and lucky. Nothing we haven’t
protagonist ‘sees herself’, the kind of person she is, and who she becomes. This one choice reveals not what you do, but who you are choosing to be. Although Lionel projects great energy when reading, it is really when she answers questions that she is at her most compelling. She takes the time to simply make sure she answers the question as delicately and as in depth as possible. Revealing her many false starts and pitfalls in her writing career, saved by a little radio time and eventually journalism, we all can feel capable. Change track, cut your loses, and experiment with resources, but there is nothing telling us we can’t too, be lucky. Perhaps the most crucial question comes near the end, when one man sums up
heard surely, the distance between speaker and audience feeling especially wide. She confesses she hates teaching creative writing - it is difficult to teach what can’t necessarily be learned. We have given four pieces of advice, reasonable but not revealing, as she exercises a certain air of superiority. Or maybe it just feels as if we can never reach her heights. At the moment it is almost alienating; she is not divulging anything of herself. Moving away from Kevin she gathers speed; we have a mutual understanding, the effort of direct communication bringing us to level ground. She becomes a person, not a figure. At first her new book does not spark much interest in me - a tale of whether to cheat or not to cheat on a partner with parallel consequences. However, she expresses her own and her novel’s intentions as both poignant and real. The delicate framework makes the content original in our minds. It is worse, she says, to be the betrayer. To be betrayed may leave you hurt, confused, but with the knowledge you have done nothing wrong, you have no guilt to restrain you. The triangle affects how the
the dilemma posed in her forthcoming novel, Integrity of Self. This novel will address illness and death, how does integrity of self come into play? She is interested, she tells us, in how illness affects just that, for what greater test of this is there “apart from, of course, death!” she quips. During the course of the talk I find myself persistently regretting not asking for an interview, but true to form, she turns this too, on its head. Somehow warmly she reveals she’d be glad if “I never had to do an interview again”. She is also “sick of hearing about the book”. It seems warm because it is truthful; having broken the ice she does not need to tiptoe around us. The book of course, is We Need To Talk About Kevin, and I feel glad this is my first impression of her, rather than her acclaimed prose. Not having brought cash enough to buy her book, we scamper, leaving Lionel, her high heels and a converted group of smiles. By listening to her audience, she proves her power as a speaker. We looked to her for answers, and found her remarkably honest.
Week 2 30.09.08
The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection: The Renaissance Queen’s Gallery, Holyrood Palace Until 26 October
aaaad Perhaps Kate Middleton’s first year History of Art course at St Andrews, The Art of Renaissance Italy, was an incentive to befriend Prince William. His mother, as the current exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery reveals, owns an impressive collection from the period. Important works have been taken out of the bedrooms and drawing rooms of private residences in the Gallery’s latest effort to allow for wider access to the Royal Collection. Receiving wide critical acclaim the exhibition boasts 74 paintings and drawings from 16th century Venice, Florence and Rome. Names such as Giovanni Bellini, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Tintoretto and Titian have drawn in the public but it is works by the B list
celebrities which pleasantly surprise. It is Charles I we have to thank for getting the Royals into Renaissance painting. Rubens described him as “the greatest amateur of painting among the princes of the world”, a title William sadly will not inherit after changing his degree from History of Art to Geography (possibly to get away from Kate). In another Royal romance, Charles I, when Prince of Wales, embarked for Spain to woo Philip IV’s sister, the Infanta Maria. He came back without a bride or an alliance but had seen one of the finest collections of Italian paintings in Europe. Resolving to create his own collection, Britain’s first art dealers – mostly advisers and ambassadors to the King – were sent out across Europe. The most substantial acquisition came when he purchased seventy paintings from the Dukes of Mantua collection for £30,000��. Unfortunately ���������������������� for the dealer in question the paintings were sent back to Britain and the King did not pay up, leaving the former to the mercy of the Mantuan bailiffs. Most grievously in 1649 much of the collection was sold. However, with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 Charles II bought back a signifi-
Preview Cherry Blossom Traverse Theatre 24 Sept - 5 Oct
Sunset Song King’s Theatre 30 Sept - 4 Oct
Lorenzo Lotto: Portrait of Andrea Odoni cant number. Among those recovered was the face of the current exhibition the Portrait of a Lady in Green by Bronzino. Her direct and becoming asymmetrical gaze, heritage perhaps of her merchant background, sums up the idiosyncrasy of the range of paintings on exhibit. Complimenting the paintings is a
Bedlam Theatre 19 and 21 September
aaaad Having (shockingly) not been to Bedlam since Freshers’ Week 2005, accepting an invitation from a friend to a Sunday evening performance seemed like a good way to end a hectic first week back. From the first few lines of the play, it was clear that this production was going to far exceed any expectations, perhaps unsurprising considering the awards that it has recently won. Director Ella Hickson’s debut show, based on the results of a survey that asked those entering adulthood what best characterised their generation, succeeds in portraying eight strikingly unusual portraits of a variety of characters. All the indi-
viduals are struggling to fit into the ‘normal’ mould of society in Britain in 2008, one which curiously no longer appears to have any norms against which to define one’s self, and where everything has become acceptable. The continuing theme of apathy (the overwhelming answer given in the survey) can be traced throughout. Originally shown throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as a one hour performance, whereby the audience selected four out of a possible eight monologues, Sunday night’s final Edinburgh showing saw all eight characters take to the stage for two consecutive hours. The snappy soliloquies range from a lovesick teenager that has fallen for an older woman whilst summering in the south of France, to a survivor of the 7/7 bombings whose seemingly perfect life has been inconceivably turned upside down, ensuring that the attention of the audience never
fantastic array of high quality drawings: compositional sketches, life studies, portraits and designs normally kept in boxes in Windsor Castle. Executed in natural red and black chalks using coloured grounds, pen and ink, white heightening and washes of dilute ink the drawings give a real impression of the period’s keen experimentation in draughtsmanship. Michaelangelo’s presentation drawing The Fall of Phaeton is exquisite in its attention to detail. The drawing, with its disturbing images of wild infants, depicts the neo-platonic idea of the carnal nature of childhood. Martin Clayton, Exhibition Co-Curator, described the drawing as being amongst the finest in Western art: “It is Micahelangelo at the absolute height of his power. He was one of the greatest draughtsman and sheets such as these are amongst the finest of his work.” Although some paintings are of questionable quality they have all been beautifully cleaned and some have been painstakingly restored. Xray and infra-red analysis has opened up academic debate and led to new and controversial attributions. The Queen’s Gallery has once again succeeded in creating wider access to the Royal Collections. Free audioguides and a comprehensive e-gallery add to the visitor experience. Catch this in its final month.
Edinburgh Playhouse 1 Oct - 6 Dec
RSNO A Flying Start: Deneve conducts Mahler 5 Festival Theatre 1 Oct
Festival Theatre 6 - 11 Oct
Calendar Girls King’s Theatre 14 -18 Oct
Titian and workshop: The Virgin and Child in a Landscape
wavers. From real laugh-out-loud moments to sincere heart-felt displays, each fifteen-minute performance appeared to strike a chord, with every member of the audience warming to an aspect of each character. Indeed, the ability of the cast to connect with the viewer, despite a distinct lack of props, is testament to the level of talent held by each performer allowing them to hold the stage entirely on their own. As standalone snatches of life in 2008, all eight are outstanding in their own right, and taken together they are truly exceptional. Whilst the degree of control that was given to the Fringe audiences in choosing to hear just four of the eight monologues is remarkably original, having seen all eight one can only imagine feeling short-changed had one been in their shoes. The reaction of the sell-out crowd is proof alone that Eight is most def-
initely befitting of the prestigious awards that have been bestowed upon it, including the NSDF Edinburgh Emerging Artists’ Award as well as the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award. As a result the play is now being taken to both London and New York this coming autumn and winter, all expenses paid. All in all this was the best £3 we
have ever spent on an impromptu visit to the theatre, especially when one considers the price that could easily be charged in either London or New York. However, the chance to follow the cast to either city should certainly not be passed up. Ashleigh Mugridge and Jennifer Younger
Getting to know you...
The Hot Scot
Abee McCallum discusses Scotland’s top tartan export, Chistopher Kane
DESPITE THE current daunting economic state, London FashionWeek strode into the capital this month, with many of the world’s most famous and revered designers defiantly flaunting their new and beautiful collections. One of these, a relative newcomer to the national fashion scene, was Christopher Kane who showed his Spring/Summer 2009 collection. Glaswegian-born Kane graduated from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art where he studied for five years. The designer has won several prestigious awards throughout his short but impressive career, most recently the New Generation Award from the British Fashion Council, previously the Lancome ColourAward in 2005, and the Harrods Design Award for his Graduate MA collection in 2006. It was after a private viewing of his graduate collection that Kane attracted the attention of the editor-in-chief of Vouge herself, Anna Wintour. Impressively, he was consequently introduced to Donatella Versace and invited to work with the Versace label. Since then, Kane has collaborated with many celebrated power-houses in fashion; he provided Topshop with a selection of highstreet designs following the success of his 2006 show and the master of footwear - Manolo Blahnik - designed the shoes showcased at Kane’s second collection in 2007. The designer’s own label ‘Christopher Kane’ which was ‘‘
launched in 2006 cannot be discussed without the mention of his sister Tammy Kane. Another talented designer, Tammy studied at the Scottish College of Textile Design and is an integral part of the own-name Kane label; it could be said she is the ‘great woman behind this great man’. The label was launched to great reviews, however it has not been a completely smooth road to success. The shocking robbery of Kane’s Spring/Summer 2008 show was a devastating blow to the brand, but Kane’s dedication was unquestionable as he and his team managed to recreate the entire collection in a few days. This year, his designs have been safely locked away and Kane’s new Spring/Summer collection does not disappoint. His use of animal print on cashmere in citrus and beige hues combined with bold, circular shapes give a feminine but daring outline. To this there are contradictions of black and grey with panels of sheer veiling and fur linings that provide the classic luxurious look sure to hit the highstreet soon. Kane has been influenced by the strong female figures of his mother and sister, but also of his home country, as he states, ‘I wanted to make clothes that felt Scottish to me.’ With followers such as Kate Moss and Chloe Sevigny, Kane has undeniably made his mark in the fashion world early in his young career, revealing the talent there is to be found north of the Border.
Student: Who are you? The Maths Soc S: What?s your problem? Maths Soc: Everything’s a problem when it comes to maths. S: Sell your society in 5 words.... Maths Soc: Maths Society: People who count... S: What’s the craziest thing your society has ever done? Maths Soc: It’s a toss up between an actual real life ‘Pi Fight’ in the middle of the meadows (complete with squirty cream and paper plates) and a three-legged pub crawl from KB to Potterow! S: Who is your favourite member right now? Maths Soc: All the friendly first years that haven’t been scared off by our freshers’ week antics. S: As a society, how fit are you from 1-10? Maths Soc: 9.999...
London Fashion Week Emma Segal sees whose turning heads in the effervescent capital AS IT celebrates its 25th year anniversary, London fashion Week can be confident that S/S 09 was a massive success. With the continuing buzz in the fashion community around London leading to the return of Temperley (for the first time in six seasons) and Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label (for a second year) there is no denying the overwhelming influence British fashion has had on the industry in recent years. So much so, it seems, that the visionary Gareth Pugh has been invited to show at Paris Fashion Week. From the BFC tent to the new designers, no one was disappointed. The big houses all seemed to display what Lisa Armstrong from the Times called the ‘Tory Look’, in correlation with the political climate, meaning gingham, blues and twists on the twin set and pearls. Luella’s aesthetic vision of indie-cool clothing was elevated to a mature level whilst still being fun, with dusky romantic colours taking precedence over kooky elements such as chunky, layered pearls and clashing (of particular note was the magenta and grey striped pants teamed with a peony floral shirt). Her dresses were some of the finest
electric blue suits and dresses taking the sleekness of nouveau-powerdressing through the hotter months. Conversely, young and fresh designers’ wowed punters, with many eclectic looks that would make APC quake in its boots. Chung and Geldof favourite, PPQ focused on introducing more complex silhouettes and structures to their collection, meaning that the cool girls will be sophisticated with punches of humour (such as turbans or geometric print t-shirts). This too was true of Christopher Kane,
seen at fashion week, intricately pleated, ruffled and panelled. Jaeger London’s palette was similarly subdued, with light chiffon fabrics in beige, silver and pastel colours, continuing the folklore theme from A/W 08 by updating it for the festival season with embroidering and prints. One could foresee Kate Moss or Sienna Miller at Glastonbury wearing the incredible 70’s print maxi dress. The key designer who evoked the Tory Look, however, was Aquascutum, with the
A weekly grilling of your societies to find out who’s well hard and who is just hard work.
who combined elegant fabrics and delicate colours (pinks and, a key colour for next season, pea greens) with his bubble shaped sleeves and signature disc detailing. Erdem clearly took influence from films such as The Duchess, with beautifully soft full length gowns in virginal whites with subtle floral and Victoriana elements. Marios Schwab’s dresses and dusty pink playsuit will no doubt be appearing on a Sevigny or Olsen in the near future. House of Holland and Eley Kishimoto were far more adventurous, with clashing prints and bolder colours (particularly orange). If there is one thing that we shouldn’t have to live without, it’s the latter’s fish gill patterned tights in pink and blue. Finally, new talents were showcased in Fashion Fringe, including the much hyped William Tempest, while winners Eun Jeong’s ‘Go By a Secret Path’, brought a real element of fun that, like Dr Noki’s NHS before them, only the truly young and hip can wear. Juxtaposing these new talents against the established houses only highlighted that, ultimately, London Fashion Week had something for everyone to wear next summer.
S: What’s your society’s dream event? Maths Soc: We made it come true... it was our ‘Pi Fight’ Quote., ‘BEST DAY EVERRR!!’ Look out for our next one. S: Which Society is your BFF? Maths Soc: We’d like it to be geol soc as we love their naked calender. S: Could you take down a grizzly bear? Maths Soc: Probably not. S: Are you on the tinterweb? Maths Soc: edinburghmathsoc. googlepages.com S: Could you beat student in a fight? Maths Soc: Without a doubt!! S: Give us some number talk.. Maths Soc: Interesting mathematical fact: the ratio between the distance from the source to the mouth of a river and the distance by which the crow flies, averages out at Pi. S: Pick a song for your Soc... Maths Soc: Kate Bush - Pi S: Anything else to add? Maths Soc: Come join us on a Monday night from 8:45p.m. at the Blind Poet.
Week 2 30.09.08
Let there be Rock
Jamie Manson bangs his plastic drum to the beat of rock ROCK BAND
X360, PS2, WII £39.99 £129.99 Full Band I had to think for a moment as I left the store, four miles away from the nearest available Xbox. It’s hard to look inconspicuous with a box half your size filled with an entire band of plastic instruments. With a few casual comments about Rock Band, my good friend had handed over £150 of his hard-earned cash and sent me to the nearest Gamestation in search of fake instrumental treasure. I asked myself: If Rock Band can easily command such power over my friend’s wallet, could it possibly be the greatest game to be barely contained in a giant cardboard vessel? I resisted the urge to hook a crown over the microphone stand and proclaim Rock Band ‘Game of Games’ then and there. After all, I could hardly get away with such a thing in the widely read and meticulously scrutinized Tech section of Student: it would cause an outrage! Having played the game thoroughly however, I’m willing to return to my original hypothesis. The only possible explanation for Rock Band’s greatness is that God, after a bit too much milk and honey, accidentally let it fall to Earth from Heaven where it landed in Harmonix Studios after ricocheting off Red Octane’s face. Strapped into our plastic instruments like elves setting up for a gig at Toys ‘R’ Us, my friends and I prepared to become Rock Gods. Even navigating the game menus shows the differences with rival franchise Guitar Hero. Rock Band has grown up, quit drugs, ditched the roadies and resigned from its dead-end job at the coffee shop. Gone are the wine-gum colours and teenage immaturity of Guitar Hero, replaced by a slick and intuitive interface. I don’t mean slick in an overly complex, “look what
we can do!” way: it just works. This extends into playing the game as well; Star Power has now been replaced with the more serious ‘Overdrive’ and the eye-wateringly garish note charts of Guitar Hero have been squared out and made easier to identify, with simple coloured bars replacing the round edges and baffling white dots of its predecessor. The most obvious additions to the formula are, of course, the new instruments. Your band consists of a lead guitar, rhythm guitar or bass, drums and some poor schmuck lumbered with the microphone (although he does get all the sex, or so I’m told). Rock Band does a great job at keeping things understandable for the audience with instruments split across the screen a la Guitar Hero, while wannabe Mick Jaggers have a bar running along the top of the screen to indicate pitch. I should take the opportunity to explain that the drums do not have a crazy representation on the note chart. Rather oddly they use the same layout as the guitars, with the four pads are laid out in colour order and the kick drum sandwiched in as a long orange bar across the chart. Although it appears rather unintuitive, it works well despite the odd design choice. The instruments themselves are the weakest link in an admittedly heavy chain. The drums feel great and pounding out a rhythm is cathartic both to see and hear. While there have been some reported issues with the limp kick pedal, the whole set feels solid and worth the money. The microphone is nothing worth talking about, which is good in a way since there’s nothing wrong with it either. Weighty and aesthetically authentic, it’s just enough to induce the blood flow when you start howling. Surprisingly the guitar is the weakest of the three; while it looks and plays similarly to previous Guitar Hero axes, it feels a bit light and flimsy
in your hands and has a strum bar as effective as a wet piece of macaroni. Fortunately there is backwards compatibility for your old Guitar Hero controller, so you can shred through the most complex of songs without hesitation. The songs featured in Rock Band are fantastic, each a glaring reminder of Harmonix’s prowess in picking the best selection of delicious sonic apples from the orchard of rock. From “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones to “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath and “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, it’s easy to see where the Guitar Hero series went wrong once Harmonix left the scene to create the Rock Band franchise. Although there were songs I didn’t like in the set list, I did appreciate them for their contribution to the experience, allowing everyone from mohawks to faux-hawks to come together in peace and harmony. Playing alone, Rock Band is as fun as expected. However like most party games, enjoyment increases exponentially depending on how many people are playing and whether they are drunk, or really drunk. This is amplified since everyone is playing a different instrument and aspect of the same song in unison. Everyone feels like part of a real band, playing together to stick it to the man and all the squares that have been keeping you down since the day you were born… man. Rock Band screams effort and dedication on every inch of its (rather cumbersome) box. It serves as a timely reminder to us mere mortals that Harmonix will always hit the right notes when making a music game. With a newly-reduced price tag and a content marketplace bursting at the seams with downloadable songs, there’s little reason not to rock out with your groupies, roadies and even friends on Rock Band.
Q&A:HARMONIX John Drake, PR Coordinator Why do you think consumers are ready to accept big plastic instruments when traditionally they’ve shied away from peripherals? Well I think the real thing is that everyone wants to be a rock star, so now you get the chance to jump up on stage with a cheering crowd cheering, but playing these plastic guitars. Playing air guitar doesn’t cut it anymore: to really feel like you’re strumming along, nailing the frets and the drum solos is a really important part of the illusion I really think we’ve hit a worldwide nerve for what people want to do with music. Do music titles like Rock Band signal a shift away from gaming’s niche image? Are they a form of ‘casual gaming’ which doesn’t involve bathroom scales? I think the real thing is that our audience is any music fan. The most hardcore MMO fan might still be a great singer. It’s not just for the casual market or the hardcore market; it’s a title where you can get casual and hardcore gamers playing together. We’re really expanding what it means to be a videogame. Rock band 2 is a massive social sensation: people get their friends round and have Rock Band parties. What are you doing to encourage this atmosphere? There are a few things we’ve done with Rock Band 2 which I think are really exciting. One is we’ve added a ‘No Failure’ mode, so if you have a party and get too drunk, or if you have a pizza party and get too full of pizza, or whatever you happen to be consuming in mass quantities, you’re still going to have a good time playing Rock Band. Another cool thing we’ve added to Rock Band 2 is set lists, where you can play multiple songs in a row without stopping. So if you’re having a small party, a band can play three songs in a row without stopping
and going back through the menu. It seems like a small change, but it really gets the flow of a rock show going rather than the stop-start flow of a multiplayer game. The last thing I’ll say about that is that we’ve got a lot of content coming. We’re the only platform promising to have 500 songs by the end of the year, and we’re going to deliver on that. We’re going to have all sorts: Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt for the pop fans, Megadeth for the metal fans… Does this include Wii? We haven’t announced online stuff for Rock band 2 for the Wii, but we’ve got an announcement coming soon, and I think people are going to be psyched. How do you balance Harmonix’s desire to promote new music with the familiarity with a song that’s required to play it well for the first time? You know, we always say “don’t try to play the level, play the music”, but on some level it’s always going to be a videogame, and that’s a vital part of Rock Band 2. The challenge of learning a song you’ve never heard can actually connect you more deeply to the music, and inspire you to go buy the track for your iPod. Not only does that help drive record sales, it helps create fanboys for things other than gaming. What’s your favourite track in Rock Band 2? Well, I have a song in the game, so it’s that one. So you’re hoping for a sales boost then? I certainly hopes it interests people in my music. You know, we hope every band, whether it’s a big label or not, gets a bump from being in Rock Band. But yeah, it’d be nice to get noticed. Jonathan Holmes
Week 2 30.09.08
All On One Man? Michael Klimes debates the future of British boxing Last year British boxing was experiencing something of an adrenalin rush. Who would have thought that a boxer would receive the British Sports Personality of the Year Award let alone have two fighters as candidates for the prestigious prize? Joe Calzaghe appeared slightly mystified that the public finally voted for him ahead of his rivals, Ricky Hatton and Lewis Hamilton. Throughout the ten years of his title reign, the Welshman had not received nearly enough thankful prose in the press as boxing fans feasted on the memories of Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn and Naseem Hamed. These three entertaining men had been prominent in front and back page sport news in the tabloids during the 1990s. Even though Lennox Lewis retired in 2004, Ricky Hatton seemed to be the one exhilarating audiences and cashing large pay cheques with his aggressive style and northern charm. Calzaghe, ever the exemplary professional and humble athlete only marched to the front of the gallery after he became the undisputed super middleweight champion of the world by producing one of his best
career performances in the defeat of a dangerous adversary Mikkel Kessler in November 2007. That victory solidified his outstanding win over Jeff Lacy in March 2006. Calzaghe’s good fortune allowed his comrades to win attention they would not have rec otherwise. David Haye, Clinton Woods, Enzo Maccarinelli, Amir Khan, Junior Witter, Gavin Rees and perhaps even Ricky Hatton had their profiles raised. Of these names however Witter, Rees, Woods and Maccarinelli are no longer world champions. In March this year, British boxing witnessed a highly touted cruiserweight unification bout between David Haye and Enzo Maccarinelli. The clash was marketed as the most enticing domestic meeting of British boxers since Benn and Eubank clashed in their classic battle of 1990. Haye and Maccarinelli brought contrasting fighting styles and personalities into the ring. Haye was the charismatic Londoner who was and is the apotheosis of being sharp. He is handsome, brash and has modelled for Versace. Conversely, Maccarinelli was the blue collar boy coming into the fight.
KNOCKOUT: Amir Khan feels the full force of Breidis Prescott’s right hand
There was no flash in his persona or style except when he was flashed out by three magnificent right hands from his adversary. Haye has since gone on to bigger and better things. He has announced his ambition to campaign for the world title and become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. He feels the need to follow the standard of the iconic Evander Holyfield, the first ever cruiserweight to become a world heavyweight champion. He has also signed a contract with Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions to ensure he has the right ties to pursue his goal in the United States as it is the place where the bravest boxers must wander. Furthermore, he has established his own promotions company to control his business interests. Overall, he is following the memorable advice from Frank Sinatra, “I did it my way!” Unfortunately, the other boxers are not so fortunate. Perhaps Maccarinelli remains shell shocked as he has not fought since his defeat. It is a shame as he is a considerable fighter who needs to smother the psychological damage which has
been inflicted upon him and make an imminent return. Amir Khan found his own nemesis after he was brutally dumped on the canvas by Breidis Prescott. One of Britain’s athletic darlings has been administered a thumping dose of reality. My headache was bad when I was watching the fight, how must Khan’s have been? What about Frank Warren’s, his promoter, for that matter? Recently, Warren shifted his broadcast allegiance from ITV, where he has produced excellent fight cards for fight fans free of charge, to Sky where fans must now pay money to see them. If Warren is not popular with the fans, it seems he is not loved by his fighters either. Hatton deserted him in 2005 and Calzaghe left him after the fight with Bernard Hopkins earlier this year to chase his dream fight against the legendary but faded Roy Jones Junior in November in Madison Square Garden. That venue is to boxing what Eliot’s The Wasteland is to modernism. One could not exist without the other. Meanwhile Clinton Woods was soundly defeated by Antonio Tarver in April and lost his light-heavy-
weight title. The domino effect continued as Junior Witter was beaten in May by the intelligent Timothy Bradley. It will be a long road back at his advanced age and it will be constrained by the fact that his style is heavily based on speed and elusiveness. He was ominously sluggish when he lost his title and seemed a little too confident that his awkward stance would be a quiz that Bradley would not solve. However, Bradley worked tirelessly on the night to secure his well earned victory. Similarly, the courageous but not world class Rees was extinguished by Andriy Kotelnik. Ricky Hatton, fighting in the light-welterweight division, the same weight class as Rees and Witter took his comeback fight against Juan Lazcano after his loss to the peerless Floyd Mayweather. He was far from scintillating. There was an energy and urgency in his boxing but he demonstrated the same technical flaws which he had shown in his bout against Mayweather. His new trainer is the brilliant but asphyxiating Floyd Mayweather Senior who delights in slandering other trainers and did that to Hatton’s former master, Billy Graham. Calzaghe’s light heavyweight bout with Roy Jones Junior in November is significant for a number of reasons. It is a political statement as both boxers have made the fight happen themselves without any intermediaries. It can be seen as an empowering message that fighters can steer their careers themselves once they are big enough. Also, it can be viewed as the path of least resistance as Calzaghe is taking a fight against a man who is considered a shadow of his former self. Calzaghe has worked extremely hard to build his reputation, which is seen by many as very fragile. If he loses to Jones, his legacy will be tarnished forever and if he wins he will have done what he is supposed to. It is understood that this will be his final fight. On one hand it will be thrilling to see Calzaghe retire undefeated and with his health intact but on the other there are the dilemmas. There is no one in British boxing who has quite the same stature to replace him. Haye, Khan and Maccarinelli are the natural heirs to plug the void but what if Calzaghe stayed around to fight the middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik and the Jamaican Glen Johnson? These to my mind are more meaningful fights than Jones but they are also riskier. It is ironic that British boxing, which was so populated with champions less than a year ago, could become a potential wilderness with a giant’s passing.
Week 2 30.09.08
A little more than tit for tat Ally Martin discusses the ongoing controversy surrounding the Old Firm “A tit for tat wind-up” is what Martin Bain, the Rangers Chief Executive, described the song which has caused so much controversy in Scottish football. The so-called ‘Famine Song’ was sung by sections of the traveling support during Rangers’ 4-2 victory over Celtic. Quite how Bain can describe the song, which states the line “The Famine is over, why don’t you go home”, as “tit for tat” is odd. Was that the same minority of Rangers fans who so joyously regaled us with ditties about their adventures of being “up to their knees in fenian blood” or the fans who smashed a city to pieces because a television went off? There is a minority of the Rangers support who don’t care about whether or not Kirk Broadfoot should be playing right back this weekend. They don’t want to debate the positives and negatives of playing Kris Boyd up front. They are people who would never accept Chris Burke into the side, not because he’s injury prone and a poor crosser of the ball, but because he is a Catholic. The only thing they care about is the fact that every weekend they get an unique opportunity to vent their feelings, feelings which if they were vented on a street would result in arrest. Let’s not dwell on the blue side of Glasgow, although if you be-
lieve the media portrayal, they are viewed as far worse. Over in the east-end they are not without their own problems. Recently the Democratic Unionist Party MP Gregory Campbell expressed in a letter to the Celtic chairman, John Reid, that he had heard sections of the Celtic support singing pro-IRA songs. The sad fact of the matter is that no matter how hard the clubs try, no matter how many initiatives they set-up, they will never be able to completely eradicate this element from their supports. These people will still exist and these people will still in turn spawn and influence new ‘fans’. In reality, the responsibility only lies with the clubs to a certain extent. The sectarian issues seen at the Old Firm games, in particular, are just as apparent in daily life in the schemes of Glasgow. Yet if we were to believe the media we would believe that football was the only place where such acts took place. However, with its estimated worldwide television audience of over 100 million people, any sectarian behaviour is put firmly on show for all to see. The only time many members of the media and government get the opportunity to see sectarian behaviour, is during this match. It makes it ap-
pear as if football is the cause of sectarianism and the only cause at that. In reality, it seems that football becomes a scapegoat. The men from Holyrood and the back-page merchants don’t see the sectarianism taking place in the council estates but they do see it when its beamed across the world. What is most upsetting is that it begins to take away from the raw footballing passion which an Old Firm game exudes. A fix-
ture which is notable as one of the greatest rivalries on earth, and the opposing groups of fans are known as some of the most passionate. The concentration on sectarianism and the sectarian songs will never go away but the problems lie in society rather than with the football clubs. It simply acts as a platform, tainting the image of football and making it the obvious choice for a scapegoat. It is easier for politicians and
FOLLOW FOLLOW: Rangers fans in Manchester for the UEFA Cup final
the media to blame the image of the ‘football hooligan’ than to do something about the inherent problems in Scottish society. So in some ways Martin Bain was right, he obviously was frustrated that his club are always the one picked on and he clearly feels aggrieved that it is football which is the scapegoat, but I think everyone involved knows fine well that it is much more than “tit for tat”.
Week 2 30.09.08
Student Sport Uni dumped out of cup
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Men’s Football Scottish Cup First Round
Student’s wry look at the world of sport ‘Citigroup launch lucrative takeover deal of Elgin.’ Ok, so maybe not. Sorry to mislead any avid Elgin supporters but are headlines like this the future face of football? Will we be comparing our Wee Red Book with Forbes? Will our pies, team scarves and creaky plastic seats be replaced with caviar, cashmere and leather bound recliners? Perhaps I’m getting carried away, but when you look at Manchester City, you really have to wonder what’s going to happen next. The Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) have transformed Man City into what is probably the richest club in the world. The £200million takeover deal hopes to ensure City a place in the top four of the Barclays Premier League. Brighton & Hove Albion may have just proved however that money cannot buy success. They knocked Man City out of the Carling Cup in a second round showdown, beating them 5-3 in the penalty shoot out. I guess £200million isn’t enough to guarantee victory over a team who rank 13th in League One. I apologise to all Man City fans but I‘m actually glad that they encountered a shock defeat under ADUG ownership. Just look at Hamilton Accies. Their succes in the SPL has been phenomenal so far. They’ve reached the quarter finals of the Co-operative Insurance Cup, not by wealth and riches, but by sheer skill, hard work and good management. I’m not a Hamilton fan, but I am, however, an advocate for honest hard work. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly many skilled and hard working players in Man City, I just feel that topof-the-league success should rely on more than mere money. But then ownership is a funny thing, isn’t it? Surely all the riches in the world cannot produce true champions? Tennis star Andy Murray’s primary school footballing success never came from a large cash takeover. It came from cake takeover. Yes, that’s right, CAKE. Fellow Dunblane Primary School pupil, Gavin Baird, was first to scoop up Murray in a playground exchange. This takeover may not have been enough to convince Murray to pursue a career in football but it sure is amusing.
University of Edinburgh Civil Service Strollers
Alistair Shand THE UNIVERSITY of Edinburgh were knocked out of the Scottish Cup at the first hurdle as they lost a tightly-contested encounter at a blustery Peffermill. Civil Service Strollers came back from a first-half deficit to ignite their own potential cup run. The home side began the game brightly with three early corners indicating the attacking intent of the home team from the outset. The midfield duo of Jamie Redman and Gordon Milne looked to spread the play at every opportunity and they were rewarded as reckless challenges were drawn from Strollers defenders to give the Uni the opportunity from set pieces. On the other hand, Civil Service opted to play balls into the channels for their forwards to chase in the early period but their attacks were snuffed out by an astute back line for Edinburgh, marshalled well by Alastair MacKinnon. The opening goal of the contest came on the 15 minute mark and deservedly so for the home team who had made all the early running. A set piece was won on the right flank and Chris Woods fired in a well disguised low cross which was met on the bounce by an onrushing Michael Pick. The latter drilled a clinical right-footed shot into the corner of the net past the Civil Service goalkeeper. The lead was undoubtedly merited by Edinburgh who had taken the game to their opponents and enjoyed the bulk of the possession. Redman was particularly influential in the opening period and it was his energetic burst from a loose ball that saw him cynically scythed down on the edge of the box. However, the resulting free kick was floated high over the bar and failed to trouble the visiting goalkeeper. Forward Michael Hazeldine also showed some nice touches to link the play and invite wingers Woods and Pick to buccaneer forward. Twice the forward engineered space in the box with slick footwork and on one occasion his pass to Woods allowed the winger to strike for goal. The acuteness of the angle however meant that the shot rebounded off the wrong side of the post. It was a case of role-reversal in the second half of this Scottish Cup tie as the away team seemed rejuvenated by the half-time break. Almost straight from the restart Civil Service threatened the Edinburgh goal as a whipped cross found Sam
James Pope James Pope
ON THE ATTACK: Michael Hazeldine goes for goal Gatt unmarked in the box but the forward could only fire tamely into the ground. After a period of scrappy and at times, frenetic football, where both sides were stuggling to create chances, the away side levelled the match. Again it was a flighted cross, from a set piece on the left, and the home side failed to deal with it allowing Gerri Burgess to slide in and direct the ball past the despairing dive of Mark Tait in goal. It was an equaliser that was fully deserved by a Civil Service side who had been the dominant force in the second half. This left both teams with everything to play for and the importance of the game was underlined by several bookings in a tempestuous period halfway through the second period. For Edinburgh it was the industrious Redman who pushed them forward and his purposeful run ended with a powerful shot which looked to be heading goalward but Darren Walker lept to confidently palm the ball away from danger. This was Edinburgh’s first meaningful chance of
the second half and it very nearly resulted in a superb goal from the midfielder. Seemingly buoyed by this solo effort, Edinburgh pushed forward again and nearly took the lead when the durable forward Peder Beck-Friis headed just over the bar following good work down the right flank from Pick. With ten minutes remaining however it was Civil Service Strollers who grabbed the ultimately crucial advantage. Once more it was a set piece that allowed them to find the back of the net. Having had a similar effort disallowed for offside minutes earlier Craig Dickson was not discouraged and the diminutive midfielder rose above the Edinburgh defence to head powerfully into the net and fire the away team into the lead, much to the delight of their dugout. In the closing minutes Edinburgh pushed for an equaliser and a free kick on the left just outside the box looked like the ideal situation to rescue the game. However, the resultant set piece was flighted too high and as the Strollers cleared their lines, the final whistle
sounded. The University’s manager Dougie Samuel was disappointed with the result: “A draw would have been a fair result especially after our first half performance, but we have been punished for not defending set pieces well. Our ball retention was poor in the second half but all credit to the Strollers they got stuck in. “There were a few challenges in the first half that may have merited a sending off for them and this may have helped them in the second half as they made the most of the wind but we had enough chances to put them away in the first half.” Samuel also looked ahead to the coming season: “We are never going to win the Scottish Cup so our season is not defined by it but it’s just terribly disappointing because this club has had a couple of great Scottish Cup runs recently. “In the past we have done exceptionally well so we are a victim of our own success really as we have raised expectations but we will pick ourselves up and do all we can to win a trophy this season.”