Student Lifestyle gets spooky: 22 >>
SCOTTISH STUDENT NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2007
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Week 6 28.10.2008
Facebook Race Wars Racist groups openly inciting racial and religious hatred on the popular social-networking site The far-right BNP actively recruiting on Facebook, with a 5000% increase in group members in a year Liz Rawlings RACIST GROUPS are operating openly on Facebook to recruit members, threaten individuals and incite religious and racial hatred, Student can reveal. An investigation conducted by Student found groups on the popular social networking site supporting the British National Party (BNP) and promoting Islamophobia as well as one group pushing extremist Islamic views. All three groups include members from UK universities. There are over 100 pro-BNP groups on the site, with the largest of these, ‘Vote BNP’ boasting over 9,000 members. Another group, entitled ‘BNP is not racist (kick out muslims that r racists)’ calls for ‘muslim haters’ to ‘stand and fight’ and heralds the return of ‘White Power.’ Last year the Media Guardian reported that the five main BNP groups on Facebook counted 377 members, although individuals often join multiple groups. Student can reveal that this number has risen to over 20 000 in the space of just 12 months. Other racist groups on Facebook include the highly controversial ‘Fuck Islam’ forum which states that ‘we are here to help Muslims leave their abusive and false religion’ and calls for the religion to be ‘smashed into pieces.’ The ‘Fuck Islam’ group has 1261 members, including students from the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow and Leicester. It was shut-down earlier this year, but re-opened on 8 August with a statement maintaining that ‘we’re here to stay.’
While there are numerous anti-Islam groups operating on Facebook, ‘The Ultimate Muslim Warriors’ is a radical pro-Islamic group which aims to advance the religion across the world. The group is just shy of 6000 members and while it is not openly racist, it includes a thread on the discussion board with members and administrators supporting terrorist attacks on the West and the stoning of adulterous women. There are also posts praising the collapse of the American banking system with members proclaiming a recession will signal the beginning of Islamic rule and Shariah law in the West. Facebook is used by 85% of UK university students and is the leading social networking site in the
“Facebook are fostering violent views and giving voice to dangerous ideas” ,Freya Hylton, Student country, overtaking MySpace in April of this year. On average, 132.1 million unique visitors use the site per month, making it a prime target for racist organisations wishing to perpetuate their ideas. Facebook’s terms and conditions state that user groups can be removed for sharing anything seen as “harmful, threatening, hateful or radically or ethnically objectionable.” Continued on page 4...
Week 6 28.10.08
Protestors demand ‘people’s bailout’ Mairi Gordon
NO-TEST: Protestors were outnumbered by police, journalists and local dogs
Admissions on the rise for science and maths degrees Lyle Brennan AFTER A nationwide push to increase the number of students taking mathematics and science subjects at university, the government’s efforts appear to be paying off. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has distributed funds totalling £350million as part of a drive to boost interest in what have been called ‘vulnerable’ subjects, aiming reverse a trend of ailing popularity. As well as science and mathematics, technology, engineering and modern languages were also targeted, since these are subjects deemed by the government to be ‘strategically important’.
increase in College of Science & Engineering intake since 2006 Although the changes coincide with a recent and continuing overall increase in university admissions, the increase in STEM (science, technology, engineering and
mathematics) subjects is believed to be significant regardless. Predictions released by HEFCE state that next year will see 7,000 students entering mathematics degree programmes, as compared to 5,300 in 2005. While Universities Secretary John Denham called the development ‘encouraging’, HEFCE Chief Executive, David Eastwood said: “There is much more work to be done, but the future of these subjects looks much healthier than it did when our programme began three years ago.” At the University of Edinburgh, intake figures have experienced a similar growth in recent years. In the 2006/2007 academic year, 1283 undergraduates from the UK and EU enrolled in subjects within the College of Science and Engineering; for the current academic year, the figure rose to 1546 – an increase of just under five per cent. According to HEFCE figures, however, arts and humanities subjects continue to dominate university applications. Law emerged as the most popular subject, followed by design, psychology and management.
PROTESTORS GATHERED outside the Halifax Bank of Scotland headquarters last Friday to voice their concerns over the £250 billion bank bailout. They urged the government to bail out people not banks. Of the £250 billion sum, up to £50 billion will come from taxpayers while the Bank of England liquidity scheme will front the remaining £200 billion. It is hoped that the bailout will ensure the future of some of Britain’s most vital financial institutions and encourage banks to start lending money to each other and to consumers. However many people remain dubious of how the bank bail out will benefit them. Protest organiser and Aberdeen University graduate John Black remains unsatisfied with the provisions made for ordinary people. He said, “Nationalised banks like Northern Rock are still reposing homes. More money should be spent on making sure people don’t go homeless. The same amount could build two million council homes.”
AGM call for action Juliet Evans WITH THE EUSA Annual General Meeting approaching, student campaigners are fighting to bring important issues to the vote. A debate organised by ‘Education Not for Sale’ was held at the Potterrow Chaplaincy last Thursday, with the aim of rallying support for the forthcoming motion on free education. Organiser Katherine McMahon told Student, ‘we had some really constructive debate, which led us to create a final version of the motion that everyone is happy with’. Meanwhile, campaigner Oliver Mundell plans to urge EUSA to join the NO2ID anti-ID card campaign. Mundell told Student, “What I’m most disappointed about is that a so-called Labour government is picking on the poor and vulnerable... International students already pay too much here and the government wants to make it more difficult and more expensive for a pointless piece of plastic.” In order to pass a motion there must be a minimum of 300 people present at the AGM, and both McMahon and Mundell expressed concerns that this will not be achieved. “It is vital that we organise ourselves,” said Mundell, “If we act now it might be possible to save next year’s international students from having to shell out this needless expense.” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
During the protest organisers invited people to place their complaints in a ‘demand box’ which would be delivered to Alistair Darling. Protester Stephanie Spoto, a 3rd year postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh, criticized the government’s proposal to use public money to rescue private banks, saying “It won’t help the people who need help the most.
“It seems like we have socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor” Stephanie Spoto, Student
It seems like we have socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.” When asked what she would like the government to do she answered provide more affordable housing, and help to students. While the protest only had a small turnout of around 20, organisers remained hopeful that it
would draw attention to important issues and encourage people to view the bailout more critically. Similar demonstrations have taken place throughout the UK, including a demonstration outside the Royal Exchange in London. Financial firm Financial Services Net has also launched an online petitionwhich urges Westminster to use taxpayers’ money to pay individual mortgage debt rather than channel the money directly into banks. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, has rejected calls that he should use his position as the chief shareholder in RBS and HBoS to prohibit job losses and force banks to lend at more affordable rates. He has also received criticism from some economists for his plan to kick-start the economy with public spending. Despite the lack of consensus, the bank bailout looks set to continue with £37 billion already being spent to stabilise Britain’s ailing economy.
Week 6 28.10.08
Lofty ambitions for Edinburgh homes
COSYING UP: New council proposals to install insulation in every Edinburgh home could cut fuel bills and carbon footprints for thousands. BBC figures say loft insulation alone can cut heating bills by up to 20 per cent.
Neil Pooran THE CITY of Edinburgh Council has voted to move towards free insulation for every home in Edinburgh. The ambitious plans could see every flat in the city receive heatsaving insulation as part of a drive towards energy-efficiency. Since energy companies are obliged by law to contribute to ‘green’ programmes, the city council hopes most of the funding will be private. The move comes following pressure from Green councillor Maggie Chapman and lobbying from the Student’s Association. Chapman
was inspired by the actions of a local authority in England, which managed to insulate every home in its area through private funding. Chapman said: “Energy companies are obliged to invest in carbon saving measures. By pooling money from different companies, Kirklees council in Yorkshire have managed to insulate every house in their area. “I’m glad the council has voted to work out how Edinburgh can do the same.” Chapman was EUSA postgraduate convener and was a University geography lecturer when she was elected last year.
EUSA President Adam Ramsay said: “I realised I wasn’t going to manage to persuade the council to just insulate student flats, so I decided to push for the lot. “According to the energy saving trust, this exciting idea will save students an average of £200 per flat per year. It will also help us stay warm, and cut carbon emissions” Since the council has only voted to enter the planning stage of the insulation scheme, it remains to be seen when plans will be implemented. Contact email@example.com
‘Report card’ degrees trialed Sarah Morrison THE PRACTICALITY of the traditional 200-year-old degree classifications has been called into question as universities across the UK trial an alternative method of assessment. The Higher Education Achievement Report, which could eventually replace firsts, 2:1s, 2:2s and thirds, will list a graduate’s marks in every module of their degree and will pay special attention to the extra-curricular activities in which a student is involved. The University of St. Andrews, Newcastle University and the University of Manchester are among the 18 British universities that are testing the new ‘achievement reports’ in four main subjects areas - English, Biology, Accounting and Creative Arts. If the report cards are proven to be successful when they are evaluated in February, summer graduates would receive them alongside their traditional degree classification. The implementation of the trial comes as university officials and student leaders argue that a single mark is not sufficient in recognising a graduate’s achievements and that more detailed information is needed.
Aaron Porter, Vice President for the National Union of Students (NUS), said: “It is clear that the current degree classification system is no longer fit for purpose; students deserve a more detailed acknowledgement of their overall achievement from their time in higher education.” With two-thirds of all students receiving a first or a 2:1, employers said they need more information to distinguish between the 320,000 students who graduate with bachelor’s degrees from UK universities each year. “Universities need to provide more information to students than just a first or 2:1,” said Professor Robert Burgess, who is leading the discussions on the report cards and is vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester. “Just as we innovate in terms of the curriculum, so we can innovate in terms of assessment.” Burgess added that while it is very unlikely that the current degree classification system would be removed in the next few years, he hoped students will eventually receive a report card at the end of every year of their degree, not just on graduation. While the University of Edinburgh is not taking part in the report card
trial, some students have expressed support for the alternative approach to the classification system. “I think this is an absolutely fabulous idea and I am glad that something like this is being looked at,” said Shay Bishnoi, a fourth year Edinburgh mathematics student and an NUS delegate. “Lots of students do extra-curricular stuff that is not recognised, while others just do their studies. It can be difficult to tell the difference between these students and this could be a good way to distinguish between them.” While the University of Edinburgh declined to make a comment on the future of the current degree classification, Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said the report cards could signal an end to a system he saw as out-dated. “Employers are very interested in the full experience students have of university. Running a university society, for example, does help a student develop important skills for the workplace,” he said. “We need to be patient with the existing classifications, but I am optimistic that in the future we will have a better system in place.” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Degrees - the latest defence against Alzheimer’s Catherine McGloin RECENT RESEARCH has provided proof that having a university degree or a demanding job can help to stave off the onset of memory loss that precedes Alzheimer’s. Investigations, carried out in San Raffaele University and Scientific Institution in Milan, showed that those who were well educated or had challenging jobs suffered from more extensive brain damage due to Alzheimer’s. Yet, the damaged areas created a “buffer” against the effects of memory loss.
“People with higher education have fewer symptoms of dementia” Alzheimer’s Society Researchers in Milan observed 242 people with Alzheimer’s, 72 with mild cognitive impairment and 144 participants who suffered no abnormal memory loss. Over a fourteen month period they extensively tested the memory and cognitive skills of all those involved, using MRI scans to measure how far the disease had affected their brains. During their investigation a further 21 participants went on to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. According to the study’s author, Valentina Garibotto, these “buffer” zones “compensate for the damage” and allow their brains to continue functioning fully. It was proposed that educated
minds such as those of university graduates are stronger because they are constantly stimulated, and are therefore advantaged in fighting off Alzheimer’s. However, researchers also suggested that it was not all down to education. They recognised that some people were able to resist the effects of Alzheimer’s because genetic factors enabled them to be naturally more successful in their chosen careers. The scientists who carried out the study admitted that it is unclear as to which explanation accounts for their findings. Other information published recently has claimed that fatty acids, found typically in foods that would be otherwise deemed healthy, such as vegetables and nuts, could in fact harm brain cells, leaving you at an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Whilst many studies have suggested that mental stimulation can ward off Alzheimer’s, last week’s report was one of the first to look direclty at the physical damage that the disease inflicts on the brain. A spokesperson from the Alzheimer’s Society said that this research was “urgently needed” and agreed with the findings: “This research is exciting as it is the first study to use MRI scanning extensively to show that in early Alzheimer’s, people with higher education have fewer symptoms of dementia than others with the same level of damage to the brain.” It is hoped that this new information can help sufferers cope with the devastating degenerative disease. Contact email@example.com
Week 6 28.10.08
Racial incitement hits Facebook Continued from front page However, critics suggest that the social networking site has been slow to block groups inciting racial hatred. Unite Against Fascism (UAF) joint general secretary, Denis Fernando questioned Facebook’s commitment to keeping racist comments and groups off their site telling Student: “Why have Facebook not acted on this clear contravention of its terms and conditions? It should not allow anyone to breach the most fundamental terms of a site – causing offence and inciting ethnic attacks.” Despite numerous countergroups such as ‘Ban the BNP from Facebook or we all walk,’ and ‘Delete Fuck Islam,’ which have been in operation for over a year, Facebook has yet to remove racist comments and propaganda from its site. Nick Armstrong, a partner at law firm Charles Russell said: “The danger with these sites is that they are so big that a complaint might not be acted on fast enough.” In 2006, the Government passed the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. Under this bill, it is an offence to threaten people because of their religion, or to stir up hatred against a person because of their faith. The bill also specifically mentions that “threatening words will be classified as criminal.” Based on this criteria, comments such as “Islam is a disgusting disease of the mind and it needs to be stopped, down with Islam” on the ‘Fuck Islam’ group, and “burn the fucking bastards...I live in Walthamstow where the three of the London bombers were from so I probably got more hate than anyone. Any muslims want some, come and find me, I’d love to fuck you up” on the
‘BNP is not racist’ group, can be viewed as contravening the law and inciting racial hatred. Not only are these racist groups present on Facebook, but Student can reveal that the BNP are actively recruiting party members using the social networking site. There are links to the BNP Youth on their groups, while BNP activists send round personal messages asking young people to join. Indeed, an activist known as Alex E urged stu-
dents to join the party on the ‘BNP is not racist’ group, writing on the ‘wall,’ ‘message me with your location and your county. Together we hope to end mass immigration and deal with the anti-white racists.” Edinburgh University student Freya Hylton, who was invited to join the ‘Vote BNP’ group told Student: “ It is disgusting that these groups are active on Facebook, so many students love the site but until they ban racist groups, they are in-
directly fostering violent views and openly giving voice to dangerous ideas. Something needs to be done to free Facebook from factions who incite backward and despicable racist views.” The BNP maintain that they are not a racist party and have gained a voice through the legitimate democratic system – a suggestion critics have questioned considering the ‘Vote BNP’ group’s statement that there must be ‘no anti-BNP
propaganda on the wall. Any such posting will be deleted or marked as irrelevant.” The administrators of the ‘Fuck Islam,’ and ‘The Ultimate Muslim Warriors’ groups were contacted but refused to comment on Student’s racism claims. Facebook was contacted with reference to the groups but did not respond.
UCU mutiny over Israel boycott SRC blasts ‘rip-off’ Patrick Andelic Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have threatened legal action against the organisation after it called upon its members to reconsider the ethical implications of establishing links with Israeli institutions. At its recent annual conference in May the lecturers’ union passed a resolution which encouraged the members of the union to ‘consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating.’ It is alleged that in passing this motion the UCU has exceeded its legal powers, which the union denies. A UCU spokesperson told Student: “It is regrettable that some members of the union have apparently chosen to raise a grievance through the courts, rather than though the
union’s own democratic processes. “UCU has full respect for the court of law and will therefore not be commenting directly on the case or any documents that may have found their way to the press.” The UCU asserts that it is entirely lawful for any English university which has been contemplating setting up links with an Israeli institution to take into consideration the political and moral debate surrounding Israel’s actions towards people in Palestine. The litigants, who have chosen to remain anonymous but are all UCU members, are demanding the retraction of the resolution and that the UCU’s trustees be compelled to personally reimburse any union funds spent on passing the conference resolution. However the union denies spending anything, except on one article in the UCU’s magazine about the resolution. It has also said that, until the validity of the resolution has been de-
termined in court, no further money will be spent. The resolution has also come under sustained criticism from some outside the union. In a House of Lords debate on the matter Baroness Deech, the former independent adjudicator for higher education, called on universities to derecognise the union. The controversial proposal to institute an academic boycott of Israel has been inflaming tempers within the UCU for some time. In 2007 the UCU conference passed a resolution calling for a general academic boycott of Israeli institutions. This resolution was later quashed after the union took legal advice that the boycott would run serious risk of breaching discrimination legislation. The policy is UK wide, and so UCU Scotland has no separate position on this issue. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Neil Pooran THE UNIVERSITY’S commercial wing, Edinburgh First, has been accused of ‘ripping students off’ in a recent meeting of student representatives. The Student Representative Council (SRC) has said it will campaign to boycott Edinburgh First outlets if the organisation, which is ran by the University’s Accommodation Services, does not lower prices and focus its service on students. Edinburgh First runs outlets such as the Moray House Chapters restaurant and the new café which is due to open in the Main Library on George Square. An SRC motion passed on October 21 said that Edinburgh First outlets were being aimed at the ‘top end of the market’ rather than at students, and were therefore removing themselves from VAT exemption. Representatives went
so far as to call this approach ‘an abomination’. According to the SRC, sample prices for the new Main Library Café include £1.60 for a cup of herbal tea - a sum that they say exceeds prices charged by ‘almost all other retailers on the high street’. On-campus catering is allowed to be exempt from VAT under HM Revenues and Customs regulations, but only when customers are primarily students. If negotiations are unsuccessful, the Student’s Association will encourage students to dine in alternative outlets where VAT is not charged, thereby damaging Edinburgh First’s profits. EUSA Vice President Academic Affairs Guy Bromley said that the Main Library Café was trying to attract customers from the general public - a situation he described as ‘farcical’. Contact email@example.com
Week 6 28.10.08
Students get a taste of US politics Lyle Brennan IN WHAT could be the deciding factor in the upcoming US presidential election, Edinburgh University’s student unions will this week be launching a selection of candidatethemed dishes. While the Obama Burger will face off against the McCain Burger in the Teviot Library Bar, each candidate will be represented by his own pizza at King’s Building House. During the finale of EUSA’s ‘Stars & Stripes Week’, the most popular meal will be unveiled moments before the election result itself in the early hours of Wednesday November 5, when Teviot will be open all night. Union chefs appear to have taken inspiration from the candidates’ biographies. A pineapple topping on the Obama chicken burger represents the Democrat candidate’s Hawaiian upbringing, and a Chicagostyle sauce on the pizza recalls his academic career in Illinois. McCain’s Southern flavour and rugged persona, meanwhile, are reflected in lashings of BBQ sauce, chillies and Monterey Jack cheese. George Thomas, EUSA Vice President Services, said: “EUSA is committed to increasing involvement and raising
Student’s suggestions for future politicallythemed dishes -Gordon Brown Sweet ‘n’ Dour Chicken: Please note, due to an irregular consistency, diners may be caught off guard by an unexpected Crunch.
-Sarah Palin Baked Alaska:
There’s more than just a bun in the oven for the Palin family. May contain traces of bear arms.
-George Osborne Caviar Surprise:
Exact details of ingredients are hazy. A delicacy whose true cost could prove to be far greater than original estimates of £50,000.
-Alex Salmond’s traditional recipe haggis: Gillian Lim
awareness of our students in the election whether on a local, national or international scale. I can’t wait to tuck into my Obama burger.” Other election night events
in Edinburgh include Edinburgh University Politics Society’s Election Night Party, to be held at Native State on the night of November 4. There are over 32, 000 American
students in the UK, over 1,000 of which attend Edinburgh University.
A fiery and sometimes hardto-stomach meal, this dish is free for Scottish students. Can only be enjoyed with lashings of North Sea oil.
‘Hypocrisy’ row as SNP pursues drink plans Lyle Brennan THE SNP’S controversial alcohol policies have been called into question yet again, after the cabinet attempting to implement the plans was accused of what critics have branded ‘a stunning hypocrisy’. With eight out of nine members of the SNP cabinet accepting significant quantities of alcohol as official gifts, campaigners against the recently renewed alcohol restriction proposals have expressed their disapproval. As a result of a recent Freedom of Information request it was revealed that since the SNP took office in May last year, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon received champagne, Finance Secretary John Swinney was given three bottles of whisky and a bottle of vodka and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead accepted wine, whisky and 24 cans of beer. While a number of other ministers also accepted similar gifts, the Coalition Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland (CARDAS) has claimed that First Minister Alex Salmond “made away with eight bottles of whisky to be used for entertaining guests at ‘official functions’”. CARDAS Coordinator Tom French commented: “On the one hand the Scottish Government is saying responsible 18 to 21 year old adults should be banned from buying
alcohol in shops, and that drinks deals should no longer be made available to the public, but on the other hand high-ranking members of the Government - including the health secretary - appear to be stocking up on free vodka, whisky, wine and beer whenever they can get their hands on it.” Despite having previously expressed their apparent disagreement with the proposed policies, the SNP’s youth wing has taken exception to CARDAS’s accusations of hypocrisy. Angus MacLeod, Convenor of the Federation of Student Nationalists, told Student: “CARDAS are continuing to undermine Scotland’s students’, and indeed our own, opposition to this consultation proposal by their absurd behaviour.
If any of the Cabinet members were under-21 or were using this alcohol irresponsibly, Tom French might have a point. “But for Tom French, and CARDAS, to accuse anyone of hypocrisy is laughable. This is a proalcohol body which accepts funding from groups with vested interests in the alcohol trade - the very height of hypocrisy if you wish to be seen as objective in public life.” According to government regulations, official gifts are not to be received if their value exceeds £140 or if they are seen to conflict with the minister in question’s upcoming policies. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Jordan Campbell DESPITE STAUNCH rejection by Parliament, students and retailers, the Scottish National Party are still intent on increasing the legal age of buying alcohol from 18 to 21. Though the bill was rejected in Parliament on October 2 amid widespread protests from Scottish students, last weekend’s SNP conference in Perth saw delegates voting in support of a motion to continue pursuing the plan.
“The public have told the Scottish Government to think again” Tom French, CARDAS
First Minister Alex Salmond at the opening of the Informatics Forum earlier this year
The motion was voted through despite fervent opposition from the youth wing of the party. Alison Thewliss from Young Scots for Independence said, “These matters could be sorted through current law rather than demonising a bunch of people at a certain age.” She also said that the majority of young people are responsible drinkers. Since coming to power the SNP has made ridding Scotland of its ‘alcohol culture’ a high priority,
with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill calling for a generational change in attitudes towards alcohol. The SNP estimates the cost of alcohol to the Scottish economy to be £2.25 billion a year, eating into the budget of the NHS and contributing to heightened levels of violent crime and anti-social behaviour. The party has been keen to stress that localised trail runs of the age increase led to a significant fall in violent behaviour. Having lost the original vote in the Scottish Parliament 47-72, with every single opposition MSP voting against it, the SNP will have to put forward another bill, possibly later this year. The opposition parties have been firm in their stance, pointing out that an increase would simply criminalise a new section of society. The Coalition Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland (CARDAS), who led the protests and presented a petition to Parliament on the day of the original vote is confident that the SNP will not make any progress. CARDAS coordinator Tom French told Student, “The opposition to this policy has been overwhelming from the word go. The Scottish Parliament rejected it, the police vocally oppose it, the professionals have poured scorn on it, and the public have told the Scottish Government - in no uncertain terms - to think again.” Contact email@example.com
Week 6 28.10.08
It’s a hard-knock life (for students) As increasing numbers of students are working to keep themselves in university, Student catches up with the part time workers who keep the economy ticking over as the recession bites Sara D’Arcy THE LOOMING recession and soaring living costs are hitting University of Edinburgh students hard. Students are resorting to increasing the number of hours they work, on top of studying for a full time degree, in order to make ends meet. A report by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) discovered that more than half of UK students now work during term time in order to meet basic living requirements. Those who study in Scotland are most likely to work, with 67% of Scottish students holding a part-time job during term time. A lack of government help is making university life increasingly difficult. The situation looks set to worsen, with recent developments suggesting a possible fall in the availability of government-funded student support. It was reported last weekend that the government has over-estimated the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills budget by £100 million. Analysts have concluded that
the hasty implementation of the new department last year led to an excessive budget of £17billion being allocated, allowing Gordon Brown’s cabinet to promise two thirds of students that they would receive a grant of some sort. The government is currently deliberating over rectifying the miscalculation by limiting of the number of student grants they originally promised to make available. If the cut happens, students may need to seek alternative sources of income during the economic downturn. Students in Scotland are already working an average of 20 hours a week, according to a financial survey conducted by the Halifax bank. This figure is five hours more than the recommended maximum number of hours a student should work per week. Research by Unicorn Jobs, a student-focused careers agency, showed that students should work no more than 15 hours per week in addition to full time study, as working long hours have been proven to have a negative effect upon university education. A recent study conducted by the
Average number of hours a week Scottish students work
Of students feel their part-time job hurts their studies
Of students had to skip lectures to go to work
National Union of Students (NUS) showed that 59 per cent of students surveyed felt that part-time work had an adverse effect on their studies, and 38 per cent admitted that they had missed lectures in order to attend work. The rising cost of living and the uncertain circumstances around government aid may force students to put even more of their time into part-time work, which could have a seriously detrimental effect upon student performances nationwide. James Gribben, a fourth year politics student at the University of Edinburgh who is juggling a fulltime degree with a part-time job told Student: “Student loans do not cover flat rent and then I have bills on top of that. I would like to work more hours from the point of view that I would like more money because I am supporting myself through university. But I don’t have the time to give from university work.” Student life is becoming increasingly strenuous as students are not only having to cope with moving away from home, but also have to manage a demanding work life
balance that consists of academic work, paid work, society work and, if possible, a social life. Potential graduate employers are beginning to value society involvement and volunteer work, over regular parttime student jobs such as bar and shop work. Indeed, with the potential introduction of report cards as well as traditional degree classifications, more emphasis will be placed on a student’s extra-curricular activities. This may count against students who are forced to work at university because they don’t have the time to contribute to all aspects of campus life. However, Niamh Ó Maoláin, second year Law student at the University of Edinburgh, believes that part-time work is an aspect of university life that helps to prepare you for the world of work after graduation. She stated that “part-time jobs can actually be really beneficial. You get used to a routine and learn how to get on in an office environment. Plus the money helps.” Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 6 28.10.08
Along hell’s frozen pass to the Arctic William Nicolson recounts the trials and trenchfoot of cycling to the Arctic with three friends and their battle with the elements, exhaustion and the Scandinavian countryside to reach one of the remotest places on earth in just one day
HINGS BEGAN to get a little uncomfortable in the 18th hour.We had not seen any form of inhabited civilisation since entering Sweden 180km ago, and a couple of us were beginning to lose concentration, almost falling asleep at the wheel. Our food supply was dwindling to the extent that Tom, ever the hungry one (understandably given his increasingly skeletal frame), had resorted to looking for food in rubbish bins outside a closed petrol station. We sat in the midnight gloom in an abandoned campsite, being nibbled by a swarm of midges while we attempted to refuel our exhausted bodies, willing the next six hours to disappear. What on earth, you may ask (and what we repeatedly asked ourselves), were we doing? Who would wilfully inflict themselves with such torture? We were tired, cold, damp, and deprived of all human contact but ourselves. And the worst thing was, the end of this seemingly perpetual day’s ride only marked the half way point of our journey; we were still 1500km away from a warm hostel bunk in Stockholm. The answer is not so much inspirational as indicative of four students with too much time and energy to burn. During one of our perhaps more deranged moments of Edinburgh life, we conjured up one of the most physically arduous challenges that we could imagine setting ourselves; a non-stop, 24 hour ride. And where better to do a 24 hour ride than in the midnight sun of Arctic Scandinavia? So then, just as an afterthought, why not cycle there from Edinburgh and back? I’m sure it made perfect sense at the time. The challenge was set. On the 2 June, I, along with three other Edinburgh students; Tom Cabot, Ben French and Rollo Gwyn-Jones, left our familiar surroundings of Edinburgh. After a send off from The Scotsman and Waverley Care at Dynamic Earth, we began our journey south on the roads which we had been accustomed to training on for several weeks, only this time, at the point where we would usually turn back to go home for our tea, we carried straight on down the road to Newcastle. The more people that queried in amazement what our ‘Arctic Challenge’ (the mission stated on our custom made rain jackets)
was all about the more the scale of our task dawned on us. When most people think of the Arctic they picture polar bears and icebergs floating in freezing waters, not cyclists in matching lycra. The trip began to feel like a journey into the unknown. After a 27 hour ferry across the North Sea to Bergen, we headed north up the extraordinarily beautiful coast of Norway, rippled with extreme glacial valleys and fjords; just imagine the Highlands of Scotland, but on steroids. We had to make quick progress in difficult terrain (an average of 130km a day) to keep to our planned schedule, but nonetheless our efforts made a depressingly small imprint on what became to be known as the ‘evil’ map; a 12 hour slog in the burning sunshine on windy roads registered only as one inch closer
My hands became too frozen to use the breaks to our target. Approaching Trollstgestein (yes the valley where trolls – those little toys with fluorescent hair – come from), about half way up the Norwegian coast, we were welcomed by six foot of snow as we reached the top of a 30km climb in a wind chill of minus 10°C. As the gradient steepened and the heart began to burn, we looked around us. This is where people die we thought to ourselves; any mechanical failure or injuries would at this point have meant a night camping in the snow and the four of us huddling in a two-man tent for warmth. The descent was one of the most painful experiences I have ever endured on a bike. Going down a near vertical rock face, resembling something out of a Tolkein novel, or Col de Mordor, as it affectionately became known, winding ferociously from side to side, it was so cold that we were unsure whether to slow down to stop the air passing through our sodden jackets so quickly or to speed up to get to shelter faster. Luckily the decision was made for me when my hands became too frozen to use the breaks. After 11 days we had covered over
1400km and were within touching distance of the Arctic Circle. A sense of achievement was about to overcome us before we reminded ourselves that this could only mean one thing; the 24 hour ride was nigh. As if what we were already in the middle of was not a hard enough. We left Mo I Rana, a small town 80km south of the Arctic Circle at 7.30am on the 17 July, armed with 9000 calories of food each in our trailers in a light drizzle. After some early mechanical problems, and a continuous gentle climb through the rain, we had crossed the Circle by lunch time amid the harsh landscape of northern Norway. We paused to get the Arctic Circle stamp in our passports, and to chat to some incredulous French tourists (‘C’est ne pas possible! Les cyclistes ici?!’). From there we continued north before taking the turning that would take us south into Sweden. Having crossed the mountain pass which marked the border, we then descended into the Lapland, a world of dense woodland, beautifully clear lakes, and long, straight, flat roads. As we reached the half way point, we came across the magnificent sight of a herd of reindeer running down the road, which we chased for a kilometre. Much to our disappointment, no red noses or sleighs were seen amongst them. By this point our legs were apparently working independently of our brains, churning away the gears as our distance unknowingly accumulated. As midnight approached, the sun disappeared from view over the distant hills and a dense mist descended on the marshy land, but within half an hour it was peeping back over them once again; quite a spectacle. So we reached the dreaded hour. After 20 hours of pedalling we came to a grinding halt on an eerily silent road beside a beautifully calm, crystal clear lake. We knew that the next town was 20km away, which would bring our to-
tal up to 285km. The problem we faced was that the town after that was a further 85km, which would be another 5 hours cycling at our slowing pace. That would have meant stopping at about 9 the next morning. It was this calculation that made us realise that to stop would be the best idea – a realistic possibility otherwise would be wild camping tens of kilometres from civilisation in temperatures around freezing point, without food or water to replenish the huge number of calories we had burnt since 7.30 the previous morning. Although we stopped short of our 400km target, we felt exceptionally proud of our achievement. We had been faced with a number of adversities, namely bike problems, the weather and gradient, and the sheer sparseness of northern Scandinavia. After 285km, we stopped at 3.30 in the morning in Argeplog, in disorientating, yet brilliant, morning sunshine. We passed out in our half erected tents. While the journey north to the Arctic Circle was physically tough, the trip south to Stockholm challenged our mental resolve more than anything else. Psychologically, the trip south had always seemed relatively down hill as we sweated up the mountainous Norwegian coast. But the endless flat, straight roads going through hundreds of miles of deserted woodland if anything left us feeling more exhausted at the end of each day. The monotony of the landscape began to wear away at us, and we resorted to singing and telling jokes to overcome it (which adopted a monotony of their own). The 500km gruelling slog down the busy main road that ran along the Baltic east coast did not make matters easier, with huge lorries almost brushing our shoulders at times as we negotiated a foot wide section of gritty asphalt. We discovered on numerous occasions that the alternative routes south marked on the map would turn
to gravel tracks without warning. All this contributed to moments of sheer insanity on the roadside, when we all suddenly start squealing Tom’s name for minutes on end (to any passer by this must have been quite a harrowing sight). Nonetheless, whatever Sweden tried to throw at us, whether it was continuous rain, bike breakdowns, or exceptionally bland food, we maintained high(ish) spirits and pressed on. We could tell that our bodies were not terribly happy with the treatment they were receiving once they apparently fastened themselves to any object that could accommodate a body, and when we were beginning to confuse our arm warmers
We came across a herd of reindeer which we chased for a kilometre for our leg warmers. Stockholm eventually came. All four of us crashed out on our beds, fully clothed, the moment we checked into our hostel. That bunk that we had yearned for in the 18th hour of that tortuous day was finally ours. Perhaps this was our bodies’ way of saying, ‘don’t even think about getting on that bloody bicycle ever again.’ Of course we won’t listen to it. The trip was a remarkable experience for all of us, one that we will probably never get the chance to repeat. In 28 days we had cycled over 3000km, 23 days of which were in the cold Scandinavian rain. During that time, we had wilfully transformed our bodies into a three function machine; eat, sleep, bicycle. And would I if I had the chance? Trench foot, no civilisation for tens of kilometres at a time, and bland sandwiches in gloomy bus shelters? Absolutely not. Give me the Dordogne any day.
Week 6 28.10.08
It’s definitely more than just a cold Resident sicknote Michael Johnson gets out of bed to pick the tissues up off of his bedroom floor, defend a man’s right to moan, and put Fresher’s flu back in the ears, eyes and throats of students
ith the memory of Freshers’ Week now dancing its way through dreams of nothing to do except getting ‘pissed’, we find ourselves huddling into our hoodies and snuggling our scarves, preparing for the first semester slog. The pub has been replaced by the ‘new and improved’ library. The joys of student life. I’m told we’ll miss these days when they’ve gone, but this is what we signed up for, isn’t it? Well, what I did not sign up for was the bout of illness that always seems to circulate at this time of year. A virus spread with such youthful malevolence – ‘Freshers’ Flu’. An affectionate name, yet to blame the freshers does seem a little unfair and unfounded. The grotty feeling that we have to suffer at the beginning of a new academic year is actually irrelevant.
What really pisses me off is when everybody can be heard moaning about it. “Oh, I would come but I just feel so shit at the minute…I can’t get out of bed…Will you make me a hot chocolate…?” These phrases sound familiar? And, ladies, I’m not just talking about the guys out there…no! I can almost see the letters ‘m…a…n…-…f…l…u’ forming on your lips. Ah yes, the flu! The type of which is so different to the normal, bottom of the range flu. This is surely a case of a stereotyped response that flies around and gives even the most hideously disease-ridden bloke, who can’t even move because he’s so bloody ill, a diagnosis that leaves him pondering what the hell ‘woman-flu’ must be like! And that’s not the end of it. I was chatting to a female friend of mine recently and it was clear from her nasal gruntings that she wasn’t
feeling the best. Fine, I thought. I asked her what she had been up to, to which she blubbered, “not very much. I feel dreadful. I’ve been so ill that I haven’t been able to anything. I’ve just stayed in bed…tried to flush it out of the system.” (Aren’t you meant to go sleep with a Yak to flush it out of the system…?)
Man-Flu There I was, diagnosed on North Bridge like some sort of walk-in hobo
Clearly, she had been extremely unwell. She asked how I was. Having listened to her whine, I thought I’d try and get on an even ground with her. “Actually I’ve been fairly ill with a cold too”, I replied. “Ah”, she instantly exclaimed, “man-flu!” No further comment. Just a knowing nod, as if someone had asked her what the first letter of the alphabet was. There I was, diagnosed on North Bridge like some sort of walk-in hobo. Now, if either of us was suffering from ‘man-flu’, this conversation would indicate that it was, in fact, her; grousing her podgy contaminated face off! I’m not disputing she was ill. Yet, not even the government could complain about our drinking problems (thank you Potterow) as much as Miss Authority was whingeing about her flu! “No”, I thought. But what
could I do to defend myself? Did she expect me to be wandering around topless; a Neanderthal against the bracing Edinburgh breeze and immune to illness? Despite my rising indignation, I couldn’t very well punch her. So I left her. I trust she managed to make it home without collapsing onto the Waverley Station roof. A recent poll by Nuts magazine suggests that November is the month that ‘man-flu’ is at its most contagious. So, my advice to you guys out there is this: when you hear the first utterances of the phrases, “gosh, is it November already? It doesn’t seem five minutes since…Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?” (Of course I bloody haven’t woman!) Run for your lives. Be close to noone. And certainly keep your mouths shut and snotty tissues out of sight! Girls; happy diagnosing.
Grease me up Vlady James Ellingworth and Zhanna Titova shed light on Russia’s corrupt education system
f you thought the University was ripping you off, would you go to the police? One student at Tyumen State Agricultural Institute in Russia did, and made national news. The reason? He’d bribed his lecturer, but the pass mark he’d expected in return hadn’t materialised. The above story was only newsworthy because of the student’s idiocy in reporting the matter to the police, not because of the corruption involved. Sadly, that’s all too common in many, if not most, of the country’s universities. As the row over tuition fees looks set to ignite once again, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and look at the privileged position our money buys us, and how our degrees, comparatively at least, offer one thing more prized than any other in global education – they can be trusted. We’ve all received those junk emails that promise a ‘college degree’ online with no work involved. And we all know that they’re scams and that any certificate they might send you would be worthless. But with a simple search for ‘buy a degree’ on Yandex – the Russianspeaking world’s answer to Google – you can find what is effectively a shopping list for corrupt degrees,
detailing the bribes required to get in, get extra tuition, and pass exams. Places at the most prestigious institutions, such as the elite Moscow State International Relations Institute, start at about $30,000 worth of ‘favours’. $10,000 buys you a place at Moscow State Law Academy, although medics must feel left out – their course requires just $2,000. One principal at a top Russian university was recently arrested for selling law degrees, despite the fact that her university doesn’t teach the subject. Lera, a friend, describes her university experience: “A lot of my classmates from school paid $56,000 to get into university. And
they keep paying to get good marks. But they just don’t want to study or to go to the university everyday; they just go at the end of the semester...and pay a teacher or a dean to get good results.” Russia is a country that I feel passionately about, and it’s hard talking to friends worried that the degree they are working for will be worthless because of bribery. Russia, like a lot of countries with corruption problems, has a lot of potential and aims to compete with the EU, India and China. But corruption in Russia is destroying the value of Russian degrees, effecting those who pay just as much as those who deserve their grades. Talented students who
can afford to study abroad choose to do so, but the vast majority of ordinary Russians are left with no way to get a plausible qualification – there are now only two Russian universities in the world top 400, hardly an indication of future prosperity. The situation has got so bad that a lot of companies in Russia (and in other countries where the problem is just as bad - such as Ukraine) often list universities they will not accept students from when they advertise for graduate trainees. Their degrees are simply so doubtful as to be worthless. Having a good degree that you worked hard for is valuable. But if everyone who has one had to work
“University bribes in Russia reached $520 (US) in 2007”
hard for theirs too, it’s priceless. As soon as even one person is able to buy their way to a degree, every student’s degree is cast into doubt. The British system’s greatest asset is respectability – degrees that cannot be bought but and students that deserve their end product. For this reason, news of the various recent controversies over international students in Britain and the increased fees they bring is so worrying. Allegations of universities bending the rules for students paying several times the fees of a British student, true or not, puts the reputation of everyone’s degrees under just a little bit more suspicion. While I’m not suggesting that a few dodgy favours for high-rolling foreign students – as some reports have alleged – will put the British system into the state Russian education is in, but any hint that UK universities are motivated more by the money a student brings than the potential for learning can only be damaging. Given the risks involved at a time when British universities are trying to challenge on the world stage, corruption is something we simply can’t afford.
Week 6 28.10.08
Time for a change?
Lee Bunce argues that in light of the credit crunch, the time is right for a change in policy direction
“It is the left, not the right, which best understands the relationship between markets and the state”
nly a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change,” observed the late Milton Friedman in his influential 1962 manifesto Capitalism and Freedom. “That, I believe is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” In the current economic climate, with our financial institutions collapsing around us, Friedman’s words are more relevant than ever. As the most influential economist of the second half of the twentieth century and the intellectual father of ‘Reaganomics’ and ‘Thatcherism’, Friedman’s ideas have shaped our world more than those of any other thinker. But now these very same ideals have catapulted us towards the edge of a financial abyss. Looking back at the history books, we shouldn’t be surprised. Take America. In the decades between the Second World War and 1976 (around the time Friedman’s ideas began to come to the fore), America experienced growth and prosperity previously unseen, with median real income almost doubling. The period since 1976 however saw far less robust gains in living standards, hampered largely by increased economic inequality. Whereas previously economic gains
had been spread evenly throughout the population, free-market principles in America saw income soar in a small minority at the top, with gains for the typical family just a fraction of the national average, trends that have continued right through to the present day. While free-market policies have not been the only factor, they have certainly made a major contribution. Free-market ideas have also been largely responsible for the current ‘credit crunch’. Integral to the freemarket doctrine was minimal input of the state in the market place. As Friedman’s disciples have taken up positions of power in successive American administrations, in particular that of George W. Bush, deregulation has prevailed, with the result that when bankers began trading in dubious sub-prime mortgages with increasing focus on short-term profit at the expense of long-term risk, there was little legislation available to prevent it. Again, though deregulation has not been the only factor, it has been highly significant. If these two factors are anything to go by, current policies are not working. By Friedman’s own maxim, it’s time for a change. Thankfully there are alternatives. While for 30 years free-market fundamentalism has dominated politics at both national and international
levels (just look at the IMF, World Bank and the WTO), working economists the world over have been developing some very interesting ideas. Joseph Stiglitz in particular has been important. The recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics for his work showing free markets are in general inefficient when asymmetries in information are accounted for, Stiglitz has perhaps been the most vocal of the new school of economists in his calls for change. His most important claim, and perhaps his most surprising, is that it is the left, not the right, which best understands the relationship between markets and the state. As his own work has shown, and the current crisis has proved, unfettered markets do not work well. While Friedman held that good government is small government, Stiglitz highlights a number of ways in which the state can influence growth. Governments can provide infrastructure, promote new technologies, and even act as an entrepreneur. The American government developed the internet in this way, spawning whole new industries and countless new jobs. Growth, he continues, must not be seen only as a matter of increasing GDP, it must also be sustainable. As an economist who recognises the significance of impending climate
chaos, Stiglitz sees investment in new technologies as not just imperative, but as a fantastic opportunity, backing calls for a ‘green new deal’. By investing in low carbon economies, governments could create millions of new jobs and new business. This could save our economy; perhaps even our planet. Furthermore, argues Stiglitz, growth must be inclusive, an area where our current policies have failed so emphatically. A nation’s growth should benefit all of its citizens; trickle-down economics, the idea that a rising tide raises all boats, simply does not work. The crucial point is that growth and equality are not mutually exclusive, and often go hand-in-hand. A nation’s most valuable asset is its population, so an equal society that allows that population to fulfil its potential, often through universal access to education, will be more likely to prosper. Indeed, more often than not, the most successful economies are those that are most equal. And there is another way in which inclusiveness and equality can help prmoote growth. Risk-taking is crucial to a successful modern economy, but individuals are more likely to take risks if there is an adequate safety net. Social justice is crucial. Of course choosing the right poli-
cies means choosing the right people to implement them, which is where things really start to get interesting. In America, the choice should be a simple one. While John McCain has been a prominent supporter of the catastrophic Bush administration, Barack Obama’s campaign team have already held talks with Stiglitz himself. Thankfully, it looks like Obama will take it. Perversely, it’s the UK we should be worried about. With a general election slowly creeping up on us, the choices are a little more stark. Do we stick with Gordon Brown? Though his policies have been some way from those proposed above, he has perhaps just saved the world’s financial system through his leadership on the bailout of our banks (that’s if Paul Krugman’s already famous op-ed for the New York Times is to believed). Or do we go for David Cameron and George Osborne, who in 2006 called for deregulation of the mortgage market to allow subprime mortgages to come to Britain? (Osborne meanwhile has labelled calls for regulation a ‘desperate lurch to the left’). Ironically, in light of the crisis surrounding us, and the dearth of options to choose from, continuity might be key. email@example.com
Week 6 28.10.08
Comment The cost of University: Joe Coward and Alistair Shand debate tuition fees
Fair when fully funded... Joe Coward explains that a graduate tax is the way forward
had mixed feelings upon hearing that a group called Education Not For Sale (ENS) is calling on EUSA to organise a national demonstration against top-up fees and for student grants. I admire the campaigners’ commitment to extending educational opportunity to all. But by wasting their energies demonstrating against tuition fees, the members of ENS are ignoring opportunities to truly extend educational opportunity to all. The UK is a world leader in higher education, and our institutions make an enormous contribution to the economy and society. According to the THES, of the top 100 universities in the world, 17 are from the UK. However, if the UK wishes to guard this position then significantly greater investment in higher education is required. The United States, which dominates the world rankings, invests 2.9 per cent of GDP in higher education compared to just 1.1 per cent in the UK. To demonstrate the stark comparison; Harvard’s annual endowment fund is greater than the total public funding for all universities in England in any one year. So if the UK wishes to retain its status as a world leader
in Higher Education, we will have to invest more money. ENS’ campaign to extend support for students at university through a universal grants scheme is admirable. It is undeniable that some students struggle financially whilst studying. The current funding system in inadequate, forcing many students to work long hours in part-time jobs, leaving them unable to spend sufficient time studying, getting involved in clubs and societies, or undertaking voluntary work experience, making it harder to develop the leadership and organisational skills sought by graduate recruiters. I agree with ENS that all students should campaign for the introduction of comprehensive, universal student grants. But students will have to contribute to some of this increased investment. University education is fundamentally different from primary and secondary education: access is determined by past achievement, and hence is not a universal benefit to which everyone is entitled. Whilst society benefits from having a highly educated population, it is the students themselves benefit from going to university. On average, female graduate lifetime earnings are
£157,982 higher than for someone who goes out to work having achieved two A-levels. The corresponding figure for males is £141,539. I believe it is unjust for the taxes of hard-working cleaners, caterers and carers to be spent on educating potential high earners. ENS laments the underfunding of higher education, whilst failing to acknowledge that the Labour Government’s motivation for introducing fees was to reverse the trend of deplorable neglect under Conservative administrations. Labour has continued to support higher education, spending more than £7bn a year, an increase of 23% in real terms since 1997. Moreover, Labour has recently introduced grants for all students with a parental income below £60,000. Therefore, whilst the current funding system is not ideal, it should be remembered that the government continues to provide the vast majority of funding for higher education and offers support to poorer students. ENS are also right to be concerned that opportunity of a university education continues to be determined by parental wealth. However, the principal cause of low participation of poorer students is not student
poverty, but poverty of aspiration and achievement. The key to improving student access is ensuring that students from deprived backgrounds are in a position to achieve the high Alevel grades required by universities. Rather than subsidising the education of future high-earners, I believe education funding should be supporting organisations such as Teach First, who transform talented graduates into exceptional teachers in areas of social and economic deprivation, and the Sutton Trust, who support projects that provide educational opportunities for young people from non-privileged backgrounds. If we are to move towards a system of funding for higher education that is both high-yielding and equitable then the government should replace fees with a graduate tax, whereby graduates would pay an additional 1 or 2 per cent rate of tax than non-graduates. This would eradicate fears of debt that deter some students from applying to university. Moreover, as the tax would be paid as a proportion of income, students who receive the greatest financial benefit from their degree would contribute the most, making the system
socially just. Moreover as repayment is spread over lifetime earnings, graduates would contribute significantly higher amounts than under the current system of deferred fees whilst never having to pay high annual amounts. Furthermore, as the contribution is a percentage, female graduates, who are more likely to spend time out of the labour market, and mature students, who spend less of their working lives as graduates, are not disadvantaged. In an ideal world higher education would be free for all at the point of delivery, but due to increased student numbers this is no longer realistic or fair. EUSA must not adopt the dogmatic cries of ENS that any form of student contribution is inherently unfair, but should work with organisations such as the National Union of Students to lobby the Westminster Government and the Scottish Executive to increase student support so that all students receive a maintenance grant. If our universities are to remain world class whilst accessible to all, we must adopt a Graduate tax. firstname.lastname@example.org
...Fortune favours the Rich Alistair Shand calls for justice, equality and widening participation in higher education
eclaring your opinion on any important matter can be a dangerous thing, especially when it involves an issue as touchy as tuition fees. This is in light of comments by Chris Patten, the Chancellor of Oxford University, who recently claimed that Oxford University must, ‘raise its tuition fees to compete with its American counterparts’. Speaking at an educator’s conference Patten stated it was “intolerable” that the government prevented Oxford and other universities from charging students more than £3,000 per year of schooling. However, asserting that raising tuition fees is required is frightfully small-minded. Granted, American institutions charge students significantly more per year and subsequently have more capital to splash out on improving research facilities and teaching. Nevertheless, should British universities follow the lead of our transatlantic neighbours then much of the work to widen the intake of students from different backgrounds and promote fairness in universities will be negated. UK universities, particularly Oxford and Cambridge, will fall back into a time when higher educa-
tion was a two-tier, elitist system. A vocal figure in the debate over raising tuition fees is MP John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills. Speaking to the The Guardian, he stated that widening participation in universities is “the most powerful tool for social justice in the modern world.” This comment sparked a war of words between Chancellor Patten and Cabinet Secretary Denham whose respective views on the future of higher education are becoming increasingly polarized. Patten’s headstrong assertion that tuition fees should be raised is one that will rightly face vehement opposition from various groups. The claim that in order to improve a university one has to charge people more leaves a strong Conservative taste in the mouth, and as a student, that is very hard to swallow, for several reasons. For students already at university money is a finite resource. Something that is needed to live on and, more often than not, the thing that ensures they will be riddled with debt after university. In addition, the massive cost of accommodation coupled with tuition fees (less so for Scottish stu-
dents) convinces many talented and capable students to perhaps decide against university and enter the job market instead, often at a level below their capabilities. The National Union of Students in Scotland estimated the average cost of being a student was £13,135, and this figure increased by £2,000 in England. Thus it seems senseless to suggest that to improve universities in Britain and help them compete with those in America the tuition fees have to be “hiked up.” This will only exacerbate financial woes for students already at university and will undoubtedly repel prospective undergraduates who have the intellect and talent to thrive at this level but whose less fortunate background and educational history prevents them. Additionally, what makes university a life-changing experience and a chance to broaden your horizons is the cosmopolitan environment and differences in backgrounds between students. This exciting opportunity would be obliterated with tuition fees being increased once more as applicants from lower class backgrounds or state schools would be constrained financially from the top universities.
The 10th Annual Higher Education Statistics dataset recently revealed that the proportion of students from state schools and low participation areas is rising in the UK. This highlights how policies put in place to make universities open to all are finally starting to pay dividends. Great Britain’s universities are breaking new ground and making progress in trying to widen participation, where one is not restricted by their social class, financial situation or state school education. However, should Chris Patten persuade the government to raise tuition fees again then these giant steps forward will come to an abrupt halt and the UK will retreat to a higher education system where students gain entry due to an ability to pay rather than learn. This in turn would affect the “quality of the University,” that Patten alludes to, as pools of talented students will remain untapped and unable to attend university, a bustling, academic environment in which they could flourish. Although the calibre of teaching, learning facilities and research in a university is hugely important in ensuring the top universities maintain
their prestige on a national and international stage, we must remember that students are the other key component of the institution. Without competent and academic students a university would cease to exist, and it is essential to ensure that deserving students, whatever their background or situation, receive the opportunity to attend the ‘elite’ universities. Therefore, hoisting tuition fees simply is not the answer. Such action would exclude so many talented young academics that deserve their place at a top institution and this to me would start a spiral of decay in the higher education system. Encouraging leaps towards widening participation would be obliterated and more and more institutions would be accepting undergraduate students because of their ability to pay rather than academic merit. The fear is that over time a two-tier higher education system materialises where worldclass institutions do not boast all world-class students and the prestige of these elite universities will begin to decline. email@example.com
Week 6 28.10.08
Nuclear Incapabilities Emily Freeman
effective. A recent survey showed that 29% of women believe that the gender pay gap will never be eliminated, highlighting that something more needs to be done in the U.K.; the European country with the widest gender pay gap. It has been suggested that pay secrecy allows pay discrimination to thrive within the workplace, but such an invasion of privacy and exposure of corruption will not make sexism within the workplace disappear. We need to take a more radical approach to sex discrimination and attempt to change the cultural attitudes towards women in education and the workplace. We need to ensure that women’s work is not disparaged, that women are not continued to be seen as secondary citizens, and that women are not stereotyped as being the main child carer. Women are essential to the workforce and need to be treated with the same respect that is shown to their male counterparts. In times of economic crisis such as these we need to encourage the development of the workforce to ensure that the economy continues to progress. The work force can only progress if we change cultural attitudes and eliminate exploitation so that both men and women are paid equally for the hours that they work.
t’s now 40 years since the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was founded, a treaty meant to end the nuclear arms race and commit countries to a path of eventual disarmament. In the last week, however, the UK government has reaffirmed its intention to press ahead with a new generation of Trident nuclear missiles, despite the economic crisis. What makes this situation so unique is that a solid majority of the Scottish people and the Parliament are opposed to the nukes being situated here in Scotland, the weapons’ current resting place. Nuclear weapons have already been responsible for many thousands of deaths worldwide, and we now have enough nuclear fire-power on earth to wipe out the entire population many times over. I find it difficult to understand how anyone can know this and not be terrified. The “mutually assured destruction” principle which states that no-one will use their weapons for fear of retaliation, characterised so farcically in the film Dr Strangelove, is no guarantee. Whenever things get a bit tense on an international level, the nuclear threat is implied. Governments are developing ‘smaller’ or ‘usable’ mini-nukes, yet these are still more powerful than those famously dropped in WWII. Keeping these weapons in our country is like keeping explosives in our cellars. For all our claims to be a democratic country, Scottish residents are in strange situation. Our devolved system means that defence issues are reserved to Westminster. Even though the Scottish Parliament wants to rid Scotland of this danger, it has few means to do so. But the democratic deficit goes even farther than that. The Thatcher Government purchased the current weapons system in 1980 from the US without parliamentary debate. Since then the system has been updated, but the UK still relies on the US for maintenance and control of the guidance systems. Do you think they would ever be used against a US ally? If UK foreign policy ever displeased the US, do you think they would still cooperate? Missiles leased from US and only targeted with help from US are not independent. In a democracy, other countries shouldn’t have more sway over a government’s actions than its own people. I’d like you to think about your rights in this country. While nuclear weapons remain in Scotland, our freedom to live in a democratic society is being fundamentally undermined.
Zeenath Ul Islam
Smashing the Glass Ceiling A bleak outlook for female graduates: Sarah D’Arcy examines gender discrimination in the 21st century workplace
ver thirty years after the Sex Discrimination Act was administered in the U.K. women still face sexual disparagement within the workplace. Shocking statistics have recently revealed that the gender pay gap has continued to widen, and that women in Scotland now earn 32% less than their male counterparts. Women make up half of the workforce, with around 13.6 million women employed in the U.K. Yet women’s work continues to be undervalued, with women treated as second-rate employees within society. During their lifetime women are cheated out of approximately £330,000. It is both irrational and detrimental to discriminate against half of the skilled workforce. Though men and women are supposed to be equal citizens within society, men are much more likely to receive larger wages for working the same number of hours as a woman, as well as being much more employable when it comes to the top occupational positions in our society, as statistics clearly indicate. Women currently represent only 11% of the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 directorship positions and female MPs make up only 19.3% of U.K. parliament, according to the Sex and Power report published this year. This gender imbalance at the top is ensuring that women continue
to be exploited by their employers and forced to endure unacceptable gender discriminate wages. Even recent graduates have not fared much better. Three years after university graduation women still earn 15% less than male graduates, with 40% of men earning above £25,000 three years after their graduation, compared to only 26% of women. In education, women pay equal tuition fees and receive the same education as men, yet once women graduate and enter into the workplace they are discriminated against purely based upon their gender. This pay inequality is making it increasingly difficult for women to pay off their tuition fees and various student loans. The gender pay gap that is still prevalent throughout society is not encouraging women to invest in their future and continues to make education economically unattainable for women. Female graduates are not the only women within society who are feeling the burden of being a part of the female sex. Mothers are being further penalised by sexism within the job industry. Unequal paternity and maternity laws mean that women are encouraged to be the main carer. This disruption in women’s careers, plus the added pressure of profit driven bosses, cutting down pregnancy and maternity leave, means that women’s careers suffer. They are often forced to go
part-time for unreasonable pay and in some cases leave their jobs to go into less skilled and lower paid part time jobs. With childcare expenses soaring and women’s pay considerably less than men’s pay; women are forced to accept of low wages during motherhood
A recent survey showed that 29% of women believe that the gender pay gap will never be eliminated, highlighting that something more needs to be done in the UK; the European country with the widest gender pay gap. when women need financial support the most. The Equal Pay Act that first came into force in 1970 was a government attempt to eliminate gender pay discrimination, but the fact that the pay gap is still an issue shows it has not been entirely
Week 6 28.10.08
Kebabs, world peace and belly-dancing, Zeenath Ul Islam meets the multi-awardwinning comedian Omid Djalili
Ready for the fat boy? You’ve seen him in ‘The Mummy’, ‘The Gladiator’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean III’ and his cameo in Casualty with the line, ‘I’m sorry Doctor wrong place - I thought this was the home office, Croydon.’ The self proclaimed Les Dennis of the Middle East, Omid Djalili, undercuts political observations with Godzilla impressions and belly dancing. Both mentally and physically agile, his body glides and sways effortlessly when exposed to the rhythm of the eighties disco beat. Mentally his talent lends him an enigmatic presence both on stage and in the wings, when being mobbed by his fans. His intellectual dexterity allows him to flow between all manner of social comment with equal fluidity, “playing with language like a master swordsman in an early 1940s Errol Flynn movie, at once cutting and other times displaying the beauty and grace of a Russian ballerina, alternatively being described as a ‘butterball’ may not be referring to the mental but physical-basically that I’m a fat lard.” Despite having successfully played the fame game to reach celebrity status with an increasing list of “ethnic bit-parts” in Hollywood films and his own BBC series, The Omid Djalili Show he maintains his trademark selfdeprecating air, “I am wary of anyone who takes themselves too seriously.” “Edinburgh is really a jewel in Britain’s crown - I love it.” As a comedic heavyweight and something of a fringe veteran, his return to Edinburgh in the summer saw him as one of the headline acts of the festival. “As you evolve as a comedian it is very important to flex your comedic muscles. Edinburgh has been a creative home for me and many performers, essentially learning our craft by immersing yourself in all the festival has to offer: good shows, bad shows, amazing shows, absolutely ridiculous ‘who ever told him he could do this in the first
place?!’ shows, street theatre, jugglers, loud mouths and egos the size of Alaska.” Omid’s big personality thaws even the toughest of fringe audiences, “they’ve seen it all and to get any laughs at all in Edinburgh is always an achievement. Now that I’m an official If.com Spirit of the Fringe Award winner I’m definitely coming back, if only to have that fact displayed on my posters.” 1997 was Omid’s least favourite year at the fringe when his manager Nigel spouted the infamous phrase, “there is no business like no business”. He remembers flyering on the Royal Mile and “begging Somali exchange students to come to my show... who probably would come if they spoke any English and even understood why I was holding their collars pleading with them in a fat needy way.” Having recently toured on the global comedy circuit he has accumulated an assortment of surreal experiences, “the worst gig was probably West Germany. They didn’t get me at all. They laughed at the wrong things, and kept saying to me to leave the German references out, but I was talking about a character called the Indian Bingo caller which
was completely different! It was very weird really.” Djalili embodies a truly modern Bristish spirit, which is juxtaposed with his Iranian cultural heritage,“I know that people associate the Middle East with oil, phlegm and halitosis.Actually we’re running out of oil.” He continues wryly, “I seem to have become an ambassador for multiculturalism. I don’t just speak for Iranians I have come to be an ambassador but for the Greeks, Turks, Indians and Arabs; they’re all great I love them, they only differ in the levels of tax evasion.” Playing with race and stereotype he is as a man with a message of humour and humanity, “I love to speak for the Turks, because they are the most marginalized in Britain. For a hundred years they had the Ottoman Empire that ruled all of Europe an Asia and now we associate Turks with t h e k e -
bab shop. They’re actually very intelligent people, they just sound funny when they talk.” Humour is a subjective and “every show is a different story”. To have reached so many people across so many countries and time zones has bewildered even Omid himself. “I have a genuine interest in people and different cultures, I think that has helped me to connect with a more multicultural, multi-class, multi-aged audience.” “In Iran we have the joke and song concept. Tell a dodgy ethnic joke then sing a golden oldie, we find that it’s a more rounded evening’s entertainment.” Continuing in this trend in the voice of his heavy accented Iranian alter ego, “What is this knock knock joke concept? We had a version of this when we used to live in tents it wasn’t called knock knock it was called flumph flupmh.” “Flumph flupmh. Who’s there? Tent maintenance! Well, it’s about bloody time...” His performance is entertaining but evidently proves cathartic for his political frustrations. “It’s funny how material can develop. I remember an anecdote I had last year about how embarrassing it is that Bush didn’t find any weapons of mass destruction. It has developed into a piece of performance poetry.” He looks down, his expression serious and that of one about to spout reams of classical poetry.Taking a deep breath, he bellows, “George…
Bush… is a TWAT!” The reverberations of this statement prove that his lung capacity is more than satisfactory. Ever the philosopher Djalili explains that, “all religion and philosophies and spiritually come from the East and we want to share it with the West. When we don’t feel appreciated we get into a terrible mental spiral.” “We think why? Because we want to share this spirituality with our brothers and sisters in the West. But why should we share this spirituality? Because in the West they need it. But why do they need it? Because they are unhappy. But why are they unhappy? Because they drink alcohol, take drugs and don’t care. But why do they drink alcohol and take drugs? Because they’re empty. But why are they empty? Because they don’t believe in God. But why don’t they believe in God? Because they don’t need Him. But why don’t they need Him? Because they’re actually quite happy. But why are they so happy? Because they drink alcohol, take drugs and don’t care about anything.” Currently working on his second BBC series of The Omid Djalili Show, he states, “The last five weeks have been fun and gruelling in equal measures but it’s all in the can.” A new series brings with it new characters like, “Marty the American Sound of Music Tour Bus Guide as he does his thing in Salzburg, and ‘Javinder Sinjin Singh the Indian Panto critic.” “I know what you’re thinking... Dance fat boy dance!” It is apt that his Edinburgh show concluded in a surreal, half-chase and halfdance sequence to the soundtrack of Pirates of the Caribbean III. Leaving Omid Djalili the embodiment of a postmodern Benny Hill.
Week 6 28.10.08
Scottish Student Newspaper of the Year 2007
For the attention -Harry Cole and Ed Kozak Chairman and Vice Chairman, of John McCain Edinburgh University Conservatives. and Sarah Palin Dodgy maths
Since 1887 - The UK’ s oldest student newspaper
Bigotry Not Politics The news that there are openly racist groups on Facebook inciting religious and racial hatred is despicable, particularly when viewing racist slurs such as ‘we need to stand up against those niggers and jews. No jew world order’ on a group entitled ‘The Neo Nazi Movement.’ However, while these comments and views are abhorrent they also raise important questions about the nature of free speech. Should we ban extremist views and leave radical political parties and extremist religious factions to perpetuate their message underground? Or should we let them speak, and leave democracy to do its job – destroying their arguments and showing racism up for what it is – narrow-minded bigotry and cowardice? While conduct-
ing an investigation into racist groups on Facebook Student came across some horrifying groups and comments which were sickening to the stomach. However, that’s partly the point – they made us nauseous with disgust, and in so doing, exposed the BNP, and the other racist groups as shameful and vile organisations. This debate was highlighted last year with the Oxford University debating society inviting BNP leader Nick Griffin and Holocaust denier David Irving to speak at the Oxford Union. While there were many objections, the talks went ahead leaving Luke Tryl, the President of the debating society to comment that “David Irving came across looking pathetic. He looked weak. The flaws in his argu-
ments were exposed and I’m pleased that that happened.” While it is right to condemn racism and discrimination we must do so with debate, because that’s the only way to defeat it. Complete censoring of racist views only sends the movement underground, giving parties like the BNP ‘victim’ status and fuel to use against mainstream government who they claim are ‘silencing their voices.’ Facebook should not have racist material on its site, because as a respected organisation in the public realm it must be shown to have a degree of intolerance to intolerance. However, with regards to exposing just how prejudiced and narrow-minded racists are, Facebook needn’t worry – the BNP and co are doing a fine job themselves.
Students On Report In light of the dramatic transformations higher education in Britain has witnessed in just the last 10 years, never mind the last 200, it is difficult to see how our traditional system of classifying degrees can possibly still be relevant in our 21st century society. While New Labour’s ‘education, education, education’ target of having 50% of school leaver’s enter higher education hasn’t quite materialised, the massive increase in university students we have witnessed has made the current system unfit for purpose. With two-thirds of the 320,000 students graduating each year receiving a
1st or a 2:1, employers face a daunting task when selecting candidates for employment. As with universities selecting the most able students, employers must be able to choose the best candidates available to them, a process obstructed by our current method of assessment. With the graduate job market more competitive than it has ever been, students too must be given greater opportunity to sell themselves to employers. While The Higher Education Achievement Report is still in its infancy, the concept is far more suitable in today’s competitive graduate
climate. Indeed, an ���������������������� influential report - published last year - claimed existing honours degrees (awarded to more than 300,000 graduates every year) were ‘far too blunt a tool’ to mark student ability. It seems that this statement bears huge weight for graduates and employers alike today. The system is screaming out to be modified. With near-universal support for the report card idea from employers, students and universities alike, and with 18 UK universities already set to trail the new system, such modification seems an inevitability, and a welcome one.
Dear John and Sarah, It with great pleasure that the Edinburgh University Conservatives would like to officially endorse your ticket for the President and Vice President of the United States of America. Though the nearest American city is over 3,000 miles away we can assure you that we at Edinburgh University have been following closely the developments of this most interesting presidential race. It saddens us to see the amount of popular support your opponent receives, both in America and abroad, as we experience daily the infringements and wrongdoings of a strong, leftist state. We can only hope that the American people look to their history and realize that only a President McCain is capable of ensuring the protection of those liberties and values that, born here and matured in your great country, are the pillars of Western liberalism. On behalf of the Edinburgh University Conservative and Unionist Association we would like to wish you and your campaign all the best in these final weeks. Your friends,
I was surprised to read the headline in Student’s edition of 21st October “Blue Peter Bicentenary”. I had not appreciated that the British public had been treated to the televisual delights of sticky back plastic, washing up liquid bottles, and the other Blue Peter staples we all know and love, for the past two hundred years. Perhaps a ‘quinquagenary’ might be the word you were looking for? -Dr Martin Hogg, School of Law
Spreading some good news I want to give Alan Williamson some good news - his worthy suggestion of mains-sourced water coolers around campus is already being slowly but surely enacted around the University, following acceptance of a EUSA Library Committee paper in June. They’re popping up around the university at a fair pace now. I’d suggest a visit to the fifth floor of the Main Library for the most premium variety of water-cooler, and should Alan drink too much, he can avail himself of the sparkling new loos too! -Guy Bromley
Student supports... Edinburgh Insulation BREAKING NEWS AS STUDENT GOES TO PRESS: it is extremely cold. As winter draws in, travelling to classes has turned from a pleasant walk into a gruelling battle against the elements. Scenes of students afraid to step outside for fear of rain, wind and frostbite are becoming commonplace. On the home front, it is not unheard of for flatmates to huddle together in the one room of the flat they can afford to heat. Students in spacious New Town flats are more likely to be forced into this kind of
behaviour. It is therefore welcome news that Edinburgh’s city council is considering providing every home in Edinburgh with free insulation, designed to keep the heat in and the cold out. Properly insulated buildings retain heat to a far greater extent than the older, draughtier developments often found around Edinburgh. Better insulation means less money being spent on heating bills in the winter. Students’ Association President Adam Ramsay reckons it could save each flat up to £200 per year. The plan makes environmental sense as well as finan-
Editors Jenny Baldwin/Liz Rawlings Comment Lee Bunce/Zeenath Ul Islam/Mairi Gordon Copy editors Lottie Fyfe Culture Hannah Ramsey/Rupert Faircliff/Emma Murray Design Jamie Manson Features Jonathan Holmes/Rosie Nolan/David Wagner Film Tom MacDonald/Sam Karasik Illustrations Jamie Manson/Zeeneth Ul Islam/ Harriet Brisley
cial sense. Less energy going towards heating would substantially reduce the city’s carbon footprint. Though the scheme sounds farfetched and costly, the fact that Kirklees local council in Yorkshire has managed to insulate every house in their area proves it is an achievable goal. There will inevitably be cynics in the City Chambers, but students should keep pressure on the council to ensure Councillor Maggie Chapman’s idea moves beyond the planning stages.
Interview Hannah Carr/Anna Dudina Lifestyle Kimberlee Mclaughlan/Maddie Walder Music Andrew Chadwick/Thomas Kerr News Editors Neil Pooran/Lyle Brennan - Senior News Writers James Ellingworth/Sarah Morrison/Patrick Andelic Photography Julia Sanches/Katy Kennedy/ Sophie Johnson President John Herrman Secretary Maddie Walder Sport Martin Domin/Misa Klimes Tech Alan Williamson/Jamie Manson/Craig Wilson
Tontine Jonny Stockford/Julia Sanches Treasurer Madeline Rijnja TV Rory Reynolds/Susan Robertson Website Bruno Panara/Jack Schofield Advertising Tony Foster (Contact @ 0131 650 9189) Student Newspaper 60 Pleasance Edinburgh EH8 9TJ
Telephone: 0131 650 2363 Email: editors@studentnewspaper. org
Student welcomes letters for publication. The editors reserve the right to edit letters for clarity. Anonymous letters will not be printed but names will be witheld on request. The letters printed are the opinions of individuals outwith Student and do not represent the views of the editors or the paper as a whole. Published by and copyright © Student Newspaper Society,
Week 6 28.10.08
Saw V: Straight Turkey Jive
Stephen Mitchell saw it, and now he rips it to shreads Saw V directed by
aDDDD Before even considering the latest gore fest to hit our cinema screens this Halloween, it must be said that from the outset there appears to be something inherently wrong with the Saw series in itself. For a group of films marketed so heavily on their subversive shock value (the advertising poster for Saw V has been banned from public exhibition, the side of a bus tells me), it seems more than a little strange that the series has fallen into a formulaic routine in which yearly carbon copy films have been released, always with the promise (or threat) of more graphic, malicious torture scenes to make up for an overused premise that by the end of the first installment had clearly run its course. I can safely report that there is little new here: Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is dead but his antics live on through his protégé, defected FBI investigator Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Pendulum blades, hand crushers and nail bombs replace the previous instalments’ hypodermic needles, barbed wire and ‘reverse bear traps’. The thoroughly uncreepy puppet (named
Billy, supposedly) still has his place informing the victims of their ‘ironic’ punishments. Indeed, if you removed the constant flashbacks to key points from earlier in the series, and the torture set pieces themselves, I doubt there is more than half an hour of plot in the entire film, and most of this involves Hoffman and his FBI pursuer Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) looking through case files and conversing in voices so deep and gravelly that they suggest a chronic lozenge shortage in ‘the Bureau’.
Intriguingly, there appears to have been no effort at all in linking the back story to the sadistic events that comprise the film’s bewildering appeal: whilst loose ends from previous films are tied up a group of five seemingly random individuals are terrorised in clichéd dingy death rooms, but with no obvious bearing on the wider narrative events unfolding via the usual investigative and flashback sequences. The sum effect is the sense that the viewer is watching two films simultaneously, one being
a particularly grisly detective movie, the other a high budget version of an underground ‘snuff film’. As you can probably guess, neither is remotely watchable. Inevitably, this amounts to an embarrassing, tedious experience that is far from innovative, startling or entertaining. What is shocking however, is the way in which the filmmakers attempt to persuade the viewer to sympathise with the sadistic vigilantism being practiced on these characters; whilst Saw V continues the series’ trend of
trotting out the usual mix of voyeurs, drug addicts and criminals as Jigsaw’s victims, it seems ludicrous that the moral high ground belongs to a serial killer, however imaginative or conceptual his motivations. This in itself is far more disturbing than the horrendous imagery or puerile games that have become the stock-in-trade of the series. Nevertheless, as it appears that these ludicrous forays into philosophical moralising are merely a means of stringing together the torture setpieces it seems the writers can be forgiven this rather nasty oversight; equally, the woefully failed attempts to link the horrifically violent scenes into a believable, wider story appear to make pornographic comparisons (‘gore-no’) increasingly apt. On the face of this it appears all that is left is to directly warn any potential viewers against wasting their money on this misguided franchise; as it is clearly now a cynical connectthe-dots commercial exercise, one can hope that if we ignore Saw it may just go away. Sadly, however, with its regular place in the Halloween release schedules, and with Saw VI slated to open in 2009, it appears that this is not the last we will be seeing of Jigsaw, his malicious games, or his ridiculous puppet.
Gorenography and You Lack of imagination or sick minds? Katy Kennedy asks why we’re so into blood and gore
As the fifth installment of the Saw series hits the big screens just in time for Halloween, we have to wonder how the Splatter film came so far. James Wan’s horror series has achieved success with four films despite a fairly repetitive story line, instead relying on an ability to disgust the audience with violence yet attract them with sex. But the series doesn’t stand alone in the new sub genre that critics have labeled ‘torture porn’. Films like Hostel and Wolf Creek manage to top the box office with stomach-turning stories combining sex and violence. So how did this happen to the horror film? When did the power of suggestion and a fear of the unknown stop being important? Horror films are most terrifying when we don’t know what we are
scared of, when there’s more tension than action. That’s why Jeepers Creepers only stops being good when you see the massive fish/bird creature, or why the original version of The Haunting is scary and The Woman in Black is among the most terrifying films ever made. So why did the horror film turn away from tension and towards violence? In 1960, Paramount almost refused to accept Hitchcock’s proposal to make his masterpiece of subtle tension Psycho, describing it as repulsive (what would they say to James Wan?). But Psycho was made, and is said to be the main influence on Splatter films. If this is true, we have to wonder what got lost in translation. In 1971, Kubrick brought ‘ultra violence’ to the cinema in A Clockwork Orange. The film was criticized
for conveying violence in a whimsical way, but this helps us to deal with the film´s violence. Seeing a rape scene sped up and set to the William Tell Overture is easier to watch than seeing it done so realistically in films like Baise Moi. So we can’t really call this the beginning of the ultra violence and Splatter film craze either. The 1978 film Halloween is an obvious beginning of the Splatter film genre. It has it all; sex, teenagers, blood, and seemingly endless sequels. In the 90s Scream, the horror film about horror films, satirised the genre. But it was taken too seriously by some and seemed to restart a trend for teen horror films full of beautiful people and empty of dramatic tension. See I Know What You Did Last Summer for details.
The popularity of the 90s teen horrors probably sparked a new thirst for cinematic violence. Used correctly it can add to a film. Tarrantino uses violence in such an extreme way that it becomes comic, but torture porn directors don’t seem want the same effect. Hostel director Eli Roth once said in an interview that women are just “pieces of meat” in Hostel Part II. Not only is he making a graphically violent film, but is openly misogynistic. It’s great that we’re hailing these people as geniuses and making them rich. There has always been controversy surrounding violence in films, but has the latest generation of horror directors taken things too far? They don’t appear to be making any political or social comment, there tends to be little plot and there’s no evi-
dence of clever cinematic techniques to distract us from the violence. The films are a bloodthirsty equivalent to pornography in which the audience can ‘enjoy’ the violence without having to think about anything else. The horror film is not what it used to be. Its shocks us, but doesn’t scare us. We’d all hate to be one of Jigsaw´s victims, but that´s obvious. Being disgusted by the sight of blood just isn’t the same as being made tense by the inaction in classic films like Psycho. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that my script for ‘Not much happens but it’s tense’ would sell next to Roth’s latest, ‘There’s loads of blood in it’. Maybe it’s a lack of imagination in the modern audience, or maybe we’re just sicker as a society. Either way, is anyone going to make a good horror film soon?
Week 6 28.10.08
High School Musical 3: Senior Year Directed by Kenny Ortega
aaddd High School Musical 3: Senior Year broke UK records for advance ticket sales and will likely continue to dominate the box office, but unless you are already a member of the HSM fan club, I wouldn’t bother forking out your £4.60. This feature film continues the HSM franchise that began on the Disney channel with a modest TV movie and became an overnight sensation with tweens everywhere. Now in their final year of high school, the HSM kids must navigate the difficulties of leaving home for university, and what better way of working through your problems than putting on one last play? As a bonus, talent scouts from Juilliard will be in the audience to offer one student a place at the prestigious performing arts school. Troy (Zac Efron) is a star bas-
ketball player destined to play ‘hoops’ for a local university, but he also harbours a secret desire to pursue musical theatre and must choose between the two. Poor Troy also has to deal with his girlfriend Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) leaving for Stanford University, over 1000 miles away. The rest of the plot, if you can call it that, revolves around the students vying to outdo each other in an attempt to impress the Juilliard scouts. The star of the show is undoubt-
edly Efron, a talented leaper and prancer who is prettier than the entire female cast combined. He plays Troy as earnest to the point of nausea, but it’s oddly realistic. The rest of the cast is too robotic and too shiny to make much of an impact. It must be said that the energy level is phenomenal, possibly bordering on creepy, and you wonder if there is a Disney drone waiting in the wings to stab each little star with a B-12 shot every time they bounce off stage. Mad props, though, for having an actual English actress play The English Girl (Jemma McKenzie-Brown). Choreographically, the film is very good indeed; to be expected from choreographer/director Kenny Ortega (of Dirty Dancing fame). What isn’t to be expected from Ortega, who directed several episodes of the witty if cheesy Gilmore Girls, is such a vapid exercise in commercialism. I hear that Ortega is helming a remake of Footloose set for 2010 with Efron in the Kevin Bacon role. Sacrilege! As for High School Musical…I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. Blair Hamren
Incendiary Directed by Sharon Maguire
aaadd Incendiary tackles the story of an unnamed woman (Michelle Williams), mother to an adorable four year-old and wife of a distant bomb disposal expert (Nicholas Gleaves). Initiating an adulterous relationship with journalist Jasper Black (Ewan McGregor), they find themselves making love when it is reported that Wembley stadium, where William’s son and husband are watching a football game, has been hit by a terrorist attack. The film follows Williams as she struggles to cope in the aftermath, tracking down one of the terrorists’ family, and developing a relationship with her husband’s former boss. The film is based on a novel of the same name by Chris Cleave published only a few days before the 7/7 London Bombings. Director Sharon Maguire (surprisingly also the director of Bridget Jones) seems to have tackled issues that are simply too big for her. Her
efforts at providing a misty, mournful atmosphere are spot-on, but the film takes on an overly sentimental feel at times and the characters are handled clumsily and seem inauthentic. It’s the little things that niggle; McGregor’s journalist could not afford an Aston Martin, for instance. Williams lives on a council estate, being far too clean-cut and clearly not living off a diet of fish fingers and chips; wearing old trainers and ripped baggy trousers does not make one a ‘pikey’. Luckily, the actors’ performances save it from being a contrived mess. Williams does a fantastic job as the mourning mother in a state of waning sanity. McGregor at first seems stereotypical as a journalist, but his attitude is believable. Although it feels sincere throughout, the film runs the risk of being interpreted as insensitive, merely touching on incidents such as the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes before rushing off to another subplot. That being said, this is a heartfelt attempt to look at the political and emotional aspects of a terrorist attack, but gets lost in explaining both. Shan Bertelli
Ghost Town Directed by David Koepp
The Rocker Directed by Peter Cattaneo
aaddd At this juncture, anyone who isn’t a moron has given up hope that an original thought will come out of Hollywood, California. Despite this fact, we sometimes are lured in to the cinema by a favourite actor or hilarious trailer, and feign disappointment when the film turns out to be recycled mush. The Rocker, like all too many films, has a promising start, following the escapades of a quintessential 80s hair band that is a crude mixture of Duran Duran, Europe and Guns’n’Roses. Unfortunately, this kitsch parade doesn’t last for long as the story fast forwards to contemporary America, a giant cliché of family values and emo college rock. Rainn Wilson (The Office US) stars as Robert ‘Fish’ Fishman, the drummer of the aforementioned band who was brutally abandoned by his bandmates as they pursued greater success in the music biz. Now he’s a middle-aged loser who lost his job, girlfriend and home all in the same day, forced to move in with his sister’s family. In a totally unexpected coinci-
dence, Fish’s nephew Matt and some broody teenagers happen to be in a band called ADD who happen to be looking for a drummer! Amazingly, the band finds success, and Fish has the chance for greatness once again! However, not before overcoming some obstacles, blah, blah, blah… As Fish, Wilson is reminiscent of a more sensitive Jack Black. Wilson seems to have taken many of Black’s mannerisms, plus his sloppy attire from Orange County, working well within the film, but compared to Black he comes off like a third-rate impersonator. Tired slapstick humour and the insipid formula of “sad beginning – initial success – the major fallout – big reconciliation and the downfall of the baddies” fail to bring any merit to the film. The hackneyed critique of the music industry, based on video directors’ with convoluted concepts and predictably sleazy managers, makes a good point or two but on the whole is as superficial as the rest of the film. Cringe-worthy Beatles’ references and the absence of 80s rock star cameos put the icing on this entirely forgettable cake. The Rocker definitely falls into the hangover DVD category, unless you have 102 minutes with literally nothing else to do. Helen Harjak
Ghost Town is a patchwork affair. At points it displays all too brief moments of ingenuity (courtesy of Mr Gervais, in a rare show of his supposed comedic talent: I’m a Marmite man), where in others it flounders courtesy of the script, provided by David Koepp, the wunderkind responsible for this summer’s Indiana Jones howler. Ghost Town chronicles the life of a misanthropist dentist (Gervais in the role of Bertram Pincus) who finds his extraordinarily antisocial self in hospital, undergoing what should be a simple medical procedure. Unfortunately, upon his stirring, he finds that-due to the incompetence of an anaesthetisthe actually died for seven minutes during the operation. Upon this reawakening, Pincus develops a psychic connection with the dead. Seeing as he is amongst the few living persons able to see them, hordes of the lifeless crowd him and try to make use of him as a vessel, a conduit who can carry out their unfinished business amongst the living. Naturally Pincus is overwhelmed and less than happy by the situation he finds himself in, and hilarity ensues. Now, this reviewer has never been the greatest of Mr Gervais proponents, but this time he really has defied my set prejudices and delivered what is a both a funny and convincing performance as Pincus. Tea Leoni also delivers an endearing performance as the love interest of Gervais; her performance suggesting there must have been a great chemistry between the two on-set. Their interactions are frequently the source of the film’s laughs, and also manage a sweetness often missing from similarly
plotted pieces. Also worth a mention is Greg Kinnear, playing the late husband of Leoni, providing a steady fallback as a self-assured, self-made man forced to come to terms with what was a hedonistic and womanising lifestyle and now leaves him struggling through an empty afterlife. The film poses a number of questions, often clumsily handled. For instance, what do we live for? If we live for ourselves, then what and who do we truly love? Such deep philosophical questions are not dealt with lightly by the film’s otherwise comedic script and so some scenes can seem more than a little pretentious and heavy handed. A major reason for this is that the characters involved aren’t really fleshed out enough-in what sometimes seems an uncertainly scripted effort-to deal with the convoluted emotional drama that takes place, despite the best efforts of the respective actors. However when Gervais is left to his strengths: his trademark awkward/politically incorrect comments, he shines. These moments are by the film’s greatest assets and without Gervais the film would be on a far weaker footing. It is Gervais who makes this film, and indeed will be the reason that many
people see this film no doubt. So Ghost Town is a potpourri of occasional brilliant flashes and disappointing clichés, sometimes inspiring and at other times underwhelming. On the whole however the film is easily accessible and comes recommended, especially to those who have a deep-seated Gervais-o-phobia. The film can serve as a good springboard as why this man is a comedic phenomenon. Sean Cameron
Next Week... James Bond! Exploding head! Sex! Exploding head! Guns! Exploding head!
Week 6 28.10.08
ALBUMS DEPARTMENT OF Eagles are categorised as Alternative. I’m not sure what this vague classification actually means but I’m inclined to agree after hearing In Ear Park. Yet there will be no stock mention of angsty/clashing/scuzzy guitars in this review. This album is an altogether gentler beast. Opening track, ‘In Ear Park’ with its gentle layered strings, deep groan of double bass and pattering timpani harks more to Classical Greece than ‘classic rock’ or to any other band or genre that precedes it. Perhaps imagining a serene, togaed figure strumming a lyre is a rather personal interpretation but the Department’s speciality does seem to lie in evoking a different sense of time and place within just a few bars of each track.
‘Teenagers’ has me all at sea, after a cascade of processed, tinkling piano, the lurch and sway of sighing strings, warped, washed out guitar and distant percussion drown out Rossen’s rather mournful tones. Whereas ‘Therapy Car Noise’ is a portrait of the vast emptiness and anonymity of a city train station late at night. Screeching brakes and chatter play a role as important to the fabric of the song as dense piano and echoing strings However some tracks do not have this impact, in ‘Classical Records’ the orchestra takes time to warm up, so the stomping drums, shattered glass percussion and theatrical piano seem like buried treasure. It is also the first track where I’m struck by the lyrics: ‘Do you listen to your classical records anymore? Or do you make them sleep in their sleeves where they weep?’ Daniel Rossen’s father passed away 2007 and the songs do have a memory-like quality to them which goes some way to explain the album’s rather elegiac to ne. Susan Robinson
tain it? Or is this a step towards the band being burnt out in another 18 months? Hopefully not. Heaven knows what Team Camp are like behind the wheel, because the speed at which they brought out We Are Beautiful is paralleled with the pace of the album. Going back to the roots of Los Camp!’s music, songs like ‘The End of the Asterisk’ are reminiscent of lively EP tracks; it’s clear that the band are still having fun, which is what we all love to hear. Look out for the cracking lyrics of ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ - who hasn’t over indulged on alcohol and crisps, and thrown up by a sporting arena? The group have got the balance right on this record – in throwing the essence of their early efforts together with plenty of new material and turning the blender on to high, the resulting creation is rather scrumptious.
Although the album has its abundance of fun, one wonders whether the album’s inspiration came from this, or if there is something a little more deep going on. With songs like ‘Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #1’ and ‘Miserabilia’ perhaps the group have been influenced by more melancholy goings-on behind their ever so upbeat appearance. Yet in a way this makes the album work, in the masquerading of heartbreaking lyrics with rhythms to tap your feet to. The only downside to the album is the feeling that the band are lacking in places to go with their music, what with the similarities to previous work. However, when they’re offering this selection of songs to keep us going, one can hardly complain of a lack of direction. Jenny Johnson
a solo performer. Unfortunately this is shown by a lack of personal style and a number of very forgettable drawn out tunes. Although a potential power and vocal range is present in tracks such as ‘Where can I hide?’ And ‘Stay a while’, it is in most places drowned in over production and repetitive wo-aoh choruses. In addition to the uncalled for soul style wailing, offence is caused on this record by a schmaltzy and also unappealingly self effacing attitude. Although the listener is left in no doubt that shena would be a very compliant girlfriend, the urge to give her a good shake overwhelms any feelings of admiration. The only track to buck this emotional trend is the annoyingly named ‘Why u wanna man like that?’; it is also, of course, the highlight of the album and shows what she could do in
more capable hands. Other memorable songs include ‘It’s a mystery’, and the attempted epic that is I’ll never love this way again; both of which I feel like I’ve heard more than twice before under different titles. One Man Woman starts on a decidedly dated note, and although it varies stylistically the old fashioned theme is continued throughout. There is no doubt that twenty or even ten years ago, it could have been a chart success, and one is left wondering why Shena made the decision to go solo at this point in time. The most that can be said for this album is that it makes for a very frustrating listen, although Shena is at the moment a bland and unremarkable artist, it is painfully evident that she could do so much more. Phoebe Benjamin
DEPARTMENT OF EAGLES IN EAR PARK
Department of Eagles: “Here mate, where the fuck have our doors, walls, floor, ceiling and 32” plasma gone?”
AAAAD AT L A N TA , GEORGIA. The headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company, the birthplace of Matrin Luther King, a population of 519,145 and the home of Deerhunter, the best band you’ve never heard. The name, by the way, has nothing to do with the film. Microcastle is the five-piece’s third album and shows them to be innovative, clever and catchy. Although the band proclaims its sound to be “ambient punk” (i.e. normal songs with atmospheric sounds in the background), they thankfully do not indulge in lengthy and pretentious demonstrations of how well the guitarist can wank his fretboard. Bradford Cox, the frontman, said he wanted “things to be a lot shorter, I [didn’t] want there to be as much long-wind-
edness to it”. Microcastle’s most ambient moment occurs right at the start with opener ‘Cover Me Slowly’ – Deerhunter yielded to the temptation. There’s nothing bad about it; there’s nothing good about it. The chilled ‘Agoraphobia’ is when the album truly begins. To draw a necessary comparison, it’s what would happen if Lou Reed penned a track and handed it to The Strokes to perform – basically, it’s cool as fuck. ‘Little Kids’ follows its cigarettesand-sunglasses lead. The highlights of the record are the more upbeat songs – that’s when Deerhunter are at their best, fusing and mixing all kinds sonics. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs-esque ‘Never Stops’ is a haunting tune, in which Cox sings “I had dreams that frightened me awake / I happened to escape but my escape would never come”. ‘Nothing Ever Happened’, Microcastle’s longest track, is similarly brilliant with its driving bass. You should all download this album – legally, that is, obviously – and play it at an irritatingly loud volume. Alexander Sutherland
WE ARE BEAUTIFUL WE ARE DOOMED
AAADD T H I R T Y THREE weeks is not a long time. Yet that’s just how long it’s taken Los Campesinos! to bring out their second album - not bad going when your name translates as “the peasants”. However, there is apprehension surrounding this creation, even with the seven claiming that it’s not a collection of reject tracks from the first album. This is NEW STUFF. Which frightens me a little – does this mean that Los Camp! have simply got so much going on right now that there is no time to con-
ONE MAN WOMAN
AADDD IF YOU attended primary school at any point during the 1990s, listening to the beginning of Shena’s One Man Woman will probably provide horrible memories. If you were lucky enough to escape said childhood era and would like some clarification, think dance routines. Luckily, Shena’s solo debut does not continue in such a vein. The remaining songs, however, do little to re-gain any lost credibility. Originally a dance vocalist, Shena has worked with various soul outfits, but not until now as
Week 6 28.10.08
is this not news? ELBOW
SUNDAY 19 OCTOBER
ELBOW ARE a lovely band. There, I said it. A 19-year-old male student just called a band lovely. On the back of their well-deserved Mercury Music Prize win for album The Seldom Seen Kid, Elbow are in the form of their lives and they are clearly enjoying playing to live audiences. Leadsinger Guy Garvey took the time to welcome the support, Jesca Hoop, on to the stage for example. If that wasn’t enough to endear you to the bearded front man they sang a duet later on in her set. Listeners to Guy’s BBC 6music show will know that he and the band care a great deal about music and this was more than apparent during the evening’s entertainment. Good banter with the crowd, appreciation for our attendance and even the odd joke told in the style of Richard Hawley made the atmosphere just that little bit more enjoyable and relaxing. Sure, the set list was heavily focused on material from this year’s album and (sadly) there was nothing from 2003’s Cast Of Thousands but that didn’t detract from a great performance that featured their wide-ranging song styles. One minute it was bluesy rocker ‘Grounds For Divorce’ and the next it was the tender fan-favourite ‘Great Expectations’. Amongst the relatively short
set there were some absolute gems. ‘Newborn’ from 2001 debut album Asleep In The Back was delivered with more passion on Sunday night than most throwaway bands will utilise in their entire careers. “Press your lips to my eyes, taste my tears on your tongue. Pull the blinds, play our song. Nothing’s changed, nothing could be wrong,” sang Garvey in a hypnotically empowering swirl that left the crowd near enough speechless. The main set was punctuated with the likes of ‘Station Approach’, ‘The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver’ and the song about Elbow themselves ‘Weather To Fly’ but after singing ‘Sailing’ by Rod Stewart to get the band back out, we were treated to an encore featuring a bit of nostalgia for Elbow fans. The simple, delicately beautiful ‘Scattered Black And Whites’ backed by Craig Potter’s masterful piano work closed the set. It was yet another impassioned performance that left Guy looking like he was going to cry with joy: “And he talks of people ten years gone like I’ve known them all my life.” If you are lucky enough to see Elbow live and listen to their music, which you really should, it will indeed feel like you’ve known them all your life and, as clichéd as it sounds, they just might remind you of those people ten years gone. Lovely. Thomas Edmunds
SATURDAY 11 OCTOBER
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PEPPY, IS dangerous. I’m not even kidding. In a momentary lapse of reason, I decided to spend my midweek break at the Liquid Room last Wednesday. What was on offer drew a surprisingly large number of high school students who flocked to the Liquid Room to listen to the Danish group Alphabeat, who were supported by Das Pop. Kicking off the evening was a curiously named band called Pandering and the Gold-diggers, whose performance can only be described as highly, er, ‘spirited’; drawing attention with their upbeat, ‘This Is A Disco Bloodbath’. Soon to dominate the stage for
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TUESDAY 21 OCTOBER
MOGWAI ARE a notoriously fussy bunch, and I was unsure what to expect of my first live experience of the legendary Scots. The band, noted for their ear splittingly loud gigs have amusingly refused to play my home town of Aberdeen since punters spoke during the quiet bits on a long ago tour. It therefore came as a relief that the band was in good humour, there being a relaxed atmosphere between band and audience throughout. Mogwai’s music itself is anything but relaxing, the vast majority of their set being made up of songs
the next half hour was the ‘threeparts Belgian, one part Kiwi, Das Pop! Their track-list featured their January release ‘Fool for Love,’ and the more recently released and highly popular ‘Underground’ amongst others. The inescapable, catchy beat, dragged me out of my rotten mood and my determination to hate them, (and I even caught myself humming the tunes on the way back). So it wasn’t the usual, ‘Let’s-listen-toFade-to-Black’ sort of night, but it was refreshingly different, and dare I say it, likeable to an extent. Das Pop’s upcoming album release is scheduled for next year, giving them another few months to brand themselves in the hearts, minds and iTunes folders of the nation, which shouldn’t be too hard, given the youthful appeal of the band.
The rest of the evening, saw the young and decidedly younger audiences, chanting, (yes, chanting) “Alpha- Alpha-Alpha gonna beat” or some other variation on that theme. Alphabeat, in response, took the stage, wooing the clapping and mindlessly chanting crowd with some favourites. So I set out prepared to hate the evening only to return to grudgingly place Das Pop alongside Alphabeat in the ‘You Hate to Love Them’ category. As a final word, peppy (annoyingly so, sometimes) as these songs might be, whoever thought pop songs could carry moral messages? “Don’t you, touch my boyfriend…he’s not your boyfriend; he’s mine!” Hear,hear. Karishma Sundara
alive with melancholy tension. Beginning with the moody ‘The Precipice’ the band set the scene for what was to come. It began slowly, layers of sound being piled upon one another before giving way to beautiful, unbelievably loud, distorted but always controlled noise. The band played a relatively unsurprising set made up primarily of songs from latest album The Hawk is Howling. The new songs were well received, ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’ and ‘Scotland’s Shame’ sounding particularly impressive in a live setting. ‘Batcat’ was not so successful, any sense of intricacy and melody being lost to sheer volume. It was the only downside to an otherwise musically impressive and enjoyable evening. Old favourite ‘Hunted
by a Freak’ was met with fervour by the audience; its effect addled vocal bringing an extra element to the otherwise entirely instrumental performance. Towards the end of the set, live favourite ‘Like Herod’ raised the volume to even greater levels, Mogwai pushing the quiet loud quiet formula to its extreme. It was an overwhelming, body shaking experience, of which few bands are capable. Ending with the riff fest that is ‘We’re No Here’, the band and audience leave with a collective smile on their faces, feedback still screeching. Regarded as something of a musical establishment in Scotland, it is a relief to see Mogwai sound so menacing, beautiful and exciting throughout. Oh, and did I mention the volume? Johnathan Hansmann
Week 6 28.10.08
Art at close quarters Lily Le Brun puts the Fruitmarket Gallery’s latest exhibition under the microscope CLOSE UP FRUITMARKET GALLERY UNTIL 11 JANUARY
AAAAD CLOSE UP, the latest exhibition to be put on at the Fruitmarket gallery, is, as the director has put it, ‘unashamedly ideas driven’. The idea that drives this one is that of proximity and defamiliarisation. More simply, this exhibition is about what happens when the camera lens is brought very close to its subject. Its curators, Dawn Ades and Simon Baker, are academics known for their work in the surrealist and contemporary field. Although they have restricted the subject matter to two broad groups, the human body and the natural world, they have selected works from over twenty different avant-garde artists that
date from the late 19th century to today. Predictably, the earliest art works not based around the human body are the least shocking for today’s hardened audience. Nonetheless, they manage to directly challenge what our notion of art is. Displayed in the first room are images and films that would not be out of place in a biology text book or with a David Attenborough voice-over. But placed in the white spaces of a contemporary gallery, these scientific slides, close up photographs of shrimps’ heads and flies’ wings and films of sea creatures become resoundingly beautiful and complete works of art. Indeed, the naturalist and photographer Karl Blossfledt used greatly enlarged pictures of sections of plants to teach art students principles of form and design. Certainly, these elegant pieces gently encourage you to look in a new way.
Mike Kelley - Untitled (Dust), 1994
COCKROACH TRAVERSE THEATRE UNTIL 1 NOVEMBER
Stan Brakhage - Mothlight, 1963
COCKROACH IS one of four plays commissioned for the Traverse Debuts season. Written by Sam Holcroft, formerly of Edinburgh University, it marks her first play as a professional writer. The play is set in a modern day comprehensive school and follows a biology teacher and five of her pupils as their lives disintegrate under the strain of war. They are brought together by a detention class in which she teaches survival of the fittest, proving an ongoing comparison for their struggle to preserve themselves at all costs. The play explores relationships under pressure and the way in which friendships are destroyed and new ones forged. It begins with the most everyday scene of student vandalism and conflict that
results in the detention that unites them all. As the war progresses the play seems to lose all structure; characters tear around the stage, often running on and off with no clear explanation. The frequency of emphatic lines followed by emphatic exits is far too high and some plot threads are simply left hanging. Though this disorder is obviously intended to depict the chaos of war, it mainly depicts the chaos of the play itself, to the exclusion of the audience. Though the lines are consistently well delivered, and the young performers particularly impressive, their use of the stage is variable. At points though, the theatre in the round is very well utilised, with the performers assuming one side of the stage as a window, clamouring up close and gazing unseeingly into the audience as they describe images of the war outside. There is a personalised eeriness to it and some audience members were visibly disconcerted. The real weakness of the play is the bewildering pastiche of sexual,
Mel Bochner - Transparent and Opaque, 1968/1998 However, Close Up has not been put together to be aesthetically pleasurable. I fled, in fact, from some of the work. For lurking upstairs were the films and photography from the most recent artists. Despite their attempts to make their art work a more celestial experience by playing nice tinkly classical music in the background, the horrifically large film of pus/maggots (who knows, who cares) continuously erupting from pale flesh is just revolting. My flight did not bring relief – I was then confronted with a terribly close and lingering projection of a pink part of the male anatomy that is not normally subject to such scrutiny. There are works of this ilk, however, that are strangely alluring. Kate Craig’s short film, for instance, where she made her husband film the surfaces of her body at an extremely close range, is effective in raising questions of intimacy and how close you are able, or wish, to be to another body. If you feel that even with the prefix ‘conceptual’ these piece s do not deserve to be labelled art, the exhibition also contains the work of
those who can be partly blamed for encouraging them. Experimental film and photography by Man Ray (the surrealist artist who perhaps is most famous for the photograph of a woman made to look like a violin) have an impressive presence in the early rooms, where his unidentifiable black and white images are an early example of how extreme close-ups can be used to disorientating effect. Salvador Dali’s film Un chien andalou is also on display here, where the opening sequence of a woman’s eyeball being slit open forms one of the most infamous, effective uses of close-up of all. The strength of the latest offering from the Fruitmarket Gallery is the premise, which remains consistently strong throughout. Defamiliarisation because of scale is an interesting concept, enabling the curators to gather fine work by significant artists and trace the development of the avant-garde in a unique way. You may find yourself looking studiously at enlarged pictures of dust, gagging or investing in protective eyewear, but those reactions, after all, are familiar when we are put in close proximity to modern art.
racial and religious politics. The male characters appear as eager to abuse women as the female characters are to please men and they all expound the disturbing assumption that men cannot control their sexual behaviour. This is at its nastiest when a male pupil rapes a female pupil he finds crying. It is hard to justify the inclusion of such images without appropriate context or subsequent debate, neither of which Cockroach provides. Equally, the racist slurs directed at one pupil are not sufficiently questioned to show a clear stance on the issue. This seems to be an attempt to create an ‘authentic’ comprehensive school atmosphere but it is both inaccurate and offensive. Cockroach tries to cover too much ground for any of it to be properly dealt with. The inclusion of the war is sloppy. It is an old-fash-
ioned war in a modern setting, complete with First World War style getup, the c h a racters even referring to it as ‘this great war’. It bears no resemblance to any of o u r modern wars and jars uncomfortably with the characters contemporary clothes and speech, making it hard to understand what the director was trying to achieve. Given that Sam Holcroft had never written a play before, it is a considerable achievement, with some powerful lines and genuinely touching scenes. It will be interesting to see what she writes in the future. However, Cockroach lacks the subtly and sensitivity to deal with the issues it raises. Lisa Parr
Week 6 28.10.08
Phantoms of the Opera Laura Peebles prepares for Halloween by visiting the Festival Theatre and discovering what goes on after the curtain falls...
T CAN’T SMILE WITHOUT YOU FESTIVAL THEATRE UNTIL 25 OCTOBER
AADDD WHAT DO you get when you cross a one-hit-wonder with two failed reality TV stars? A storyline of incredibly limited depth but nevertheless an excuse for some entertaining musical numbers, that’s what. Can’t Smile Without You, a tribute to the music of Barry Manilow, stars the ‘One and Only’ (sorry I couldn’t resist) Chesney Hawkes whose character, Tony falls in love with a Maria hopeful, while engaged to a Nancy wannabe. Both female leads have appeared in one of the BBC’s musical theatre talent searches, Mandy, (Siobhan Dillon, from How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?) he meets in America while engaged to Lucy (Francesca Jackson, I’d Do Anything). Fortunately for the latter, Tony is involved in an accident resulting in his complete memory loss, so he forgives easily when she admits to an affair with his band-mate and best friend. He has also forgotten the object of his affections, Mandy, but suspiciously gets the feeling that he shouldn’t go to America because he left something behind… (The audience is not in suspense wondering what). The not so major plot twist of him remembering Mandy leads to the predictable ending of the pair ending up together before they take their bows and Chesney sings one of the songs from his new album. The words “disposable entertainment” are used during the production to describe Tony’s band but this is also a fitting description of the performance as a whole. One of the main problems was that the acting wasn’t exactly brimming with emotion. For most people being brain damaged would be highly traumatic but Tony copes a little too well with his loss, proving he is definitely a singer who can incidentally act, a bit. However in comparison to Hawkes’ bland performance, Dillon’s talent shines, especially in the reprise of ‘Can’t Smile Without You’ in which the line “I cant sing without you” is a blatant lie. Her voice is stunningly p o w e rful and making
the best song of the production with runners up being ‘Mandy’ and ‘Could it be Magic’. Her solo takes the edge because she is able to sing, act and be heard over the music, unlike the displays from a couple of other numbers. Catching up with the cast after the show Chesney was obviously impressed by his co-star, boasting in jest of his “rampant (offstage) affair” with Dillon who admitted that “the cast are star-struck every night” working with Chesney. The audience although fairly sparse in numbers, really gets into the spirit of the musical with one elderly go-getter earning herself a kiss on the hand from Hawkes after dancing her way to the front of the theatre. Although others were not quite as enthusiastic there was much under-breath singing as Barry Manilow fans recognised their favourite hits. Certainly for fans of Manilow’s music the performance would be much more worthwhile, as the story line is mediocre at best and just an excuse to string some songs together. However, if this music appeals to you then it may not matter that the timely coincidences, cheesy humour and emotionally stunted characters are not convincing. The first act did not provide a good impression of the musical but it did achieve partial redemption in the second act once the establishment of the plot was out of the way and the music was allowed to take precedence. It is the kind of performance you have to ease into, especially when you consider characters like the somewhat camp Jeff who attempts to steal the stage with his dramatic interludes and hissy fits. At one point this involves him climbing up the stairs on his hands and knees howling that he couldn’t smile without Tony. By the second act the audience seemed resigned to another hour and a bit of average entertainment, so the cheese-factor was appreciated more and it begins to seem like a good way to spend the evening when the band don outfits of sequins and feather plumage for the performance of ‘Copacabana’. Ultimately this is a play for fans of Barry Manilow or Chesney Hawkes. If you are looking for a gripping and passionate love story then Can’t Smile Without You misses the mark. Alanna Petrie
HERE IS something inherently uncanny about an empty theatre. Row upon row of vacant seats, a deep darkness where there should be light, a heavy silence when there should be noise, and the great expanse of the bare stage seem almost unnatural. We can easily understand then why theatres, those places of culture and spectacle, are transformed by the imagination into sites of horror and hauntings. Our Festival Theatre is no exception, with its own history of strange goings-on. The oldest part of the theatre is the auditorium itself, which has been around in some form or another since the early 1800s and it is here where many a bizarre thing has been reported. The most famous story surrounding the theatre is that of ‘The Great Lafayette’. Mr. Lafayette was a magician who came to perform to Edinburgh audiences in 1911. The highest paid performer of his time, Lafayette was known for his
extravagant sets and astonishing illusions. Now The Great Lafayette had a dog, a terrier named Beauty whom he loved above all else, given to him by none other than Harry Houdini. Disaster struck however, just four days after his opening performance: Beauty died. At his request, the dog was stuffed, placed in a glass coffin and buried in Piershill Cemetery. He stipulated that when he too kicked the bucket he was to be buried in the coffin alongside his beloved Beauty. However, this was not all that was to befall the ill-fated Lafayette. On the 9th of May 1911, while performing his finale the ‘Lion’s Bride’, a stage-lamp fell, igniting one of the many draperies on set and very soon the whole stage was ablaze. Every one of the audience escaped unscathed but eleven of the company died, including Lafayette himself. A funeral was held for the great magician and he was buried with his Beauty. However, once the excavation of the theatre began a body was found under the stage which ap-
peared to be that of The Great Lafayette. An illusion from beyond the grave? It couldn’t be! Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Lafayette’s body double died on stage, being mistaken for the real Lafayette. To this day though, mediums have claimed they can hear the roaring of a lion, and the distinctive turbaned figure of Lafayette has even been seen onstage. More recently, the fly-man was given a bit of fright when he looked over into the wings at the other side of the stage to see a figure limping badly. Not knowing anybody with a limp he was understandably spooked. Later, he found out that one of the stage hands working for Lafayette had a false leg, walking with a limp as a result. As well as haunting the stage, the ghosts of the Festival Theatre also seem to have a penchant for chairs or, rather, one in particular. F22 in the upper circle apparently belongs to a Mr. Higgins, who many, many years ago, was very involved with the theatre. Apparently of the opinion that the the-
atre belonged to him, nothing happened without his approval. Mr Higgins also had a favourite seat where of course he always sat. Recently, a group of school children were shown round the theatre and one of the girls took a photo of F22. When she looked at it a little later, there was a blur right across the screen. None of her other photos turned out like that. Spooky. Now, my favourite story involves one of the security men who used to work in the theatre. One night after a performance, when most of the staff had left, the guard was checking the auditorium when somebody put the lights out, plunging the theatre into pitch darkness. Making his way for one of the doors, he heard the creaking and squeaking of seats being pushed down. Running out of the auditorium, he refused to go back in. You see, these seats do not fold down by themselves; they are designed to stay up requiring a hearty push to unfold. The security guard is adamant there was no-one left in the theatre...
LIFESTYLE: Things that go bump in the night Laura Peebles takes a terrifying tour through Edinburgh’s grisly past On these wild, wintry Edinburgh nights (a very wet, very windy night would be best) if you have nothing better to do (which of course you don’t) then you should definitely book yourself onto ‘Adam Lyal’s Witchery Tales Tour’. Yes, it is a walking tour but it doesn’t go far, circling round the top of the Royal Mile. It has a little bit of everything – education, a few scares, some pantomime, and a lot of laughs. Whilst walking through cobbled alleys and winding streets, our guide ‘to the darker side of Old Edinburgh’, Adam Lyal, (Deceased, but raised especially to entertain us folks), treats us to the gruesome but fascinating history of witch hunting and life in medieval Edinburgh.
Tales of evil local witches, innovative forms of torture, graverobbers and poems about the devil accompany our tour through the dark streets. Every so often, Lyal’s evil helper, who takes a number of different guises, jumps out of the darkness to frighten the bejesus out of you. More often than not, it actually does. What truly makes this ghost tour so enjoyable though is the pure hilarity of it. Scurrying through the narrow closes in the dark and in the rain is a whole lot more fun than you would normally be inclined to think. Lyal will send the shivers up your back, make you laugh and then make you scream. The anticipation of what might be
about to happen to you any second is more than a little scary and the costumes of the accomplice are so hideous that you genuinely just don’t want him coming anywhere near you. Watching someone being jumped upon suddenly (if you are with this someone, even better) by either Lyal or his assistant is actually hilarious and disturbing all at the same time. If you are very lucky, a drunken random might also join in the fun, upstaging the assistant in the scare stakes. Priceless. Keeping the most horrific tale for last, the tour finishes in Parliament Square with the shocking tale of the First Earl of Argyle. The Earl, found guilty of treason,
was tortured for three days before finally being executed at the Mercat Cross. Hearing about his torture is enough to make the blood run cold.
So, if you are looking for some good old, not-soclean, Halloween fun then go and take the witchery tour. You’ll have one hell of a time.
Student Recipe of the Week
Here’s one I made earlier...DIY costumes on the cheap Kim McLaughlan and Maddie Walder stitch up a fancy-dress soiree THIS HALLOWEEN, we bring you a medley of ‘make your own costume’ ideas, ranging from the unique and complex, so you can dress to impress, to the pisseasy for those who’d rather spend their precious time and money on alcohol than celebrating some pagan festival. Who you gonna call... SPIDER - difficulty rating - 5/5. Perks: You get eight extra legs. What more d’ya want? What do I need? Large piece of cardboard, multiple bin bags, elastic bands, tissues, 4 pairs of black tights. Instructions: Cut cardboard into a tabard, with hole for head. Cover with bin bags and tape lines across to form insect textured body, as shown in the pic. Stuff tights with tissue/old socks/ your ex’s underwear and secure in 6 sections with elastic bands to make ‘legs’ . Heavily tape/staple/glue legs to the inside of the tabard, so half dangles out each side, as shown. Wearing all black, place your completed insect body and legs over your head. Cut some fangs out of white cardboard and, securing onto an elastic band, wear over your mouth. This is not an attractive costume! SPIDER
Ghoulish Pumpkin Pie CHESHIRE CAT
MEDUSA - difficulty rating - 4/5. Perks: Damn cool. And pretty scary too. What do I need? Stapler, scissors, green card board, pipe cleaners, coloured wool, elastic bands, hairspray Instructions: Cut out snake heads. . Back comb hair with aggressive brush strokes and copious amounts of hairspray. Intertwine wool and pipe cleaners through hair, starting from the roots. When you’ve achieved desired look, staple snake heads on end of matted hair rats. Be warned... don’t look in the mirror.
175g granulated sugar ½ tsp salt 1 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp ground cloves 2 eggs 300g pumpkin purée (tinned or fresh) 350g evaporated milk 1 unbaked 23cm/9in deep-dish pastry case (or line a deep 23cm/ 9in tart tin with shortcrust pastry)
HOUSE ELF - difficulty rating - 3/5. Perks: Hat keeps you warm on the walk home. What do I need? Woolly hat, cardboard, staples, safety pins, odd socks, old sheets OR potato sack OR hessian bag. Instructions: Cut out suitably ridiculous elf ears from cardboard and staple to hat in appropriately floppy manner. Cut arm and head holes into sack, or, if using a sheet, drape over head, cut to a suitable size and pin in haphazard fashion. Adorn yourself with various old, and preferably holey, socks, gloves etc. Stripes are good. Put on the hat and adopt plaintive and pitiable expression. MEDUSA
MUMMY CHESHIRE CAT - difficulty rating - 3/5. Perks: Sexy sexy sexy. Particularly for guys. What do I need? Purple top and tights, thick pink paint pen, black eyeliner, cheapo cat ears and tail, cardboard, white paint, black marker. Instructions: Decorate purple top with hideous pink stripes. if you can find a pink and purple top, all the better. Colour in the centre of the cat ears pink. Cut unfathomably large smile out of cardboard and colour in white.When dry, draw on teeth lines to form the infamous Cheshire Cat grin. Mount upon stick of cardboard. Slip into slinky purple tights, wiggle into the tee-shirt and purrrr. Put card smile up in front of mouth whenever anyone you don’t like tries to talk to you. MUMMY - difficulty rating - 2/5. Perks: Ugly people can cover up their face. What do I need? Toilet roll, sellotape. Instructions: Be liberal with the toilet roll, using wild gesticulating arm movements to wrap roll around your body. Apply sellotape, sticking toilet roll to your body. Undergarments optional. DUMBLEDORE - difficulty rating - 1/5. Perks: It’s piss easy. What do I need? A stupidly long white beard, purchased from any fancy dress store. Instructions: Attach to chin, and you’re ready to do the Dumbledore rock.
1. Preheat oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. 2. Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. 3. Beat the eggs lightly in large bowl. 4. Stir the pumpkin purée and sugar-spice mixture into eggs. 5. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk. 6. Pour into the pastry case. 7. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. 8. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. 9. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. 10. Serve immediately or chill
Week 6 28.10.08
Fern Brady Smack in the face TWO THINGS I hate: the English upper-classes and junkies. As an Edinburgh Uni student living in Leith, I’m subjected to a bit of both every day, often swinging wildly from one end of the social spectrum to the other in the space it takes for the Number 14 bus to drive me from university to home. Still, never did I expect to see the two spectacularly combined as I did in the extravaganza that was Mum, Heroin and Me last Thursday night. Naturally Channel 4 were eager to commission a documentary about posh junkies: it’s so much more palatable than their previous efforts. Anyone who remembers Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s horrific presentation of a live detox - an unsavoury cross between Big Brother and America’s Toughest Prisons - will understand why. Irrespective of Jane Treays’s merits as a documentary maker, this was never going to be the most heart-
Using a vintage Hermes scarf as a tourniquet is hardly destitution rending of subject matters. Because if you had grown up in Niddrie, with a life resembling a montage of the worst of Jeremy Kyle, heroin addiction as a lifestyle choice would be easier to understand. Somehow, telling us that it got so bad your mum had to sell the Conran sofa doesn’t quite have the same ring of tragedy to it. Consequently, I felt it necessary to illustrate my point with a list entitled “Why being a posh junkie is hard (but not that hard)”: 1) You have to tie off the circulation in your arm before injecting (with a vintage Hermes scarf). 2) You cook up your fix in a spoon (a silver one). 3) You were once rattling so bad for a fix that you couldn’t move. Luckily, mum sent Agnieska (the Polish maid) to pay the dealer. 4) You go through the chilling effects of cold turkey. Luckily, you can do this in the East Wing of the house, thus limiting any mess. 5) While detoxing, you have to puke and shit into buckets. Buckets made of gold. 6) Mummy and Daddy raid their ISA account and send you to rehab. In South Africa. Which is fabulous as your friends Freddie and Henrietta are doing their gap year over there.
The Force is strong, Obey Wan LAST WEEK’S TV by Susan Robinson
Miss Naked Beauty BBCThree
Sasha: Beauty Queen at 11 C4
GOK ‘GO girlfriend!’ Wan is, I think, Channel 4’s low budget equivalent to James Bond. He has a licence to touch women in a way that would usually merit a sexual harassment suit quicker than you can say ‘bangers’. ‘How to Look Good Naked’ boosted the pre-watershed nipple count immeasurably and for better, or worse, ‘Miss Naked Beauty’ is no different. He is also possibly the only man to ever stage what is apparently a principled wet t-shirt contest and have hordes of women dripping mascara and praise in the aftermath. The honourable purpose of the show is to find a role model to represent ‘real women’ in the modelling industry. However, to be considered worthy the contestants must exhibit themselves on Blackpool pier (i.e. avoid being charged with indecent exposure) and point out their flaws to a radiant Mylene Klass and a panel of judges. These judges consist of Mica (well, I needed another career) Paris, James Brown from Loaded magazine who realised that what he was really looking for in a woman was a great... attitude. And an editor of Glamour magazine who is prime example of why you shouldn’t let your dog apply your lipstick for you. Even if it does save her time when she’s looking for spotty puppies to make her new coat. After a rigorous round where they ask the women to take off their makeup and an unbelievably good-natured K l a s s convinces a pretty w o m a n that, in fact, she doesn’t look like the elephantman without foundation, the contestants are whittled down from 7000 to just 25 (many melted when exposed to direct sunlight). I know I’ll
certainly be tuning in next week to see whether the ‘big piratey Scottish girl’ or my personal favourite, a woman who is 4ft8 are deemed fit to represent ‘real women’ and for the revelation as to where all the artificial women are kept. Gok Wan’s hair cut wasn’t the only surreal thing on TV this week. The world of American beauty pageants reared its overly-coiffured head again. She has an obsession with sashes. She has a Barbie doll that she loves to dress up and style her hair. She thinks fame is a matter of doing something stupid in a public place and being spotted by Andrew Lloyd-Webber. She’s just realised that Hollywood is in America. No, these are not the musings of the eponymous Sasha but of her mother, Jane. The concerned viewer might think either of two things, is there really a parent in this relationship? And is her daughter’s name a result of the aforementioned sash fixation? Jane’s ruthless pursuit of her High School Musical fantasy through her real life Cindy doll make for truly disconcerting viewing. Ex-promo girl and self confessed ‘hot mummy’ with her own suggestive calendar (that is, suggestive of her deluded self image) wants the best for her daughter. As far as she is considered, bleaching, creosoting and forcing her daughter into a Texan beauty pageant, is the finest opportunity the world has to offer. When confronted by everyone’s favourite mumsy figure, Lorraine Kelly, Jane claims that everything she has enforced on her daughter is reversible. Unfortunately, like peroxide, such brainwashing always leaves a mark and on the rare occasions when Sasha is not staring vacantly into space she claims that Katie Price is her idol and that her dad thinks she is stupid. The most shocking thing is not that she agrees with him but that she doesn’t care. She’s already surmised from the world around her that it doesn’t matter, to her ‘dumb, pretty and blonde’ is the highest compliment anyone can receive.
watch this DEAD SET
MONDAY-FRIDAY, 22:00, E4 IT MAY have taken missing limbs, squirty blood and Davina McCall eating dripping entrails, but people are finally watching Big Brother again - at least they will be this week. And if Dead Set hasn’t got you excited about telly again then your probably one of the undead already. GuardianTV columnist and scriptwriter, Charlie Brooker, forgoes the usual press feeding frenzy in favour of the contestants inside ripping each other limb from limb while still inside the house. Will their 15 minutes be worth a pound of (freshly strewn) flesh? And will viewers ever tune into to watch attention-seeking morons row over porridge oats once they’ve seen the vultures picking over the scraps of future Z-list celebs?
The housemates were unphased by the bleeding eyeball
As the toilet was over-run, Kelly unburdened herself in the diary room
Garnier Nutrisse had a lot of explaining to do
Week 6 28.10.08
Playing with the lights out Alan Williamson reports from behind the sofa BLOODTHIRSTYALIENS. Hordes of leaves the area. By deformed, sub-human monsters. Heads today’s standards bursting like watermelons in a vice. All Clock Tower is slow, of these would be absolutely terrifying clunky and even risin a film, but they also describe 90% ible at times, but the of the games available this Christmas. tension is still palpable. While moviegoers jump out of their In the Playstation era, seats at the sight of a snarling beast, we fear-junkies were getting their hardened gamers simply shoot it in the kicks from two new games that face and then proceed to do the same soon were among the most thing to their family and friends. In fact, recognisable franchises it’s hard to imagine a game I played re- in gaming: Capcom’s cently which didn’t have heads explod- Resident Evil and ing like balloons filled with red custard. Konami’s Silent Games require a different approach Hill.Although ofto fear. Regardless of what you’ve read ten lumped into in the papers, violence in a game is the same genre, clearly nothing like violence in real-life. both titles take a There is a definite line drawn: games drastically different on one side, real-life on the other, film approach to fear: straddling the line and occasionally Resident Evil focuscrossing it in needlessly graphic movies es on gory encounlike Saw. Likewise, scary games don’t ters with flesh-eating translate well to film either: Silent Hill zombies, mutant spiwas a load of rubbish and the less said ders and giant snakes, while Silent Hill relies about the Doom movie, the better. Early attempts at horror in games on tension-building and used pre-rendered cinema and an ee- subtle environmental rie atmosphere to scare the wits out of cues to unsettle the players, with technology as the limiting player before attacking factor- not that there’s nothing scary them with knife-wieldabout a crudely-drawn cardboard box ing children. Regardless monster, of course.Adventure titles like of which is more effecThe 7th Guest and Dark Seed focused tive (the answer is Silent on puzzle solving and plot exposition Hill)) these games were rather than fighting off monsters.This is met with critical acclaim a trend that has mostly continued up to and became huge moneythe present day, with endless Tower of spinners for their parent Hanoi variations popping up to boggle companies. Both have now players. been translated to the cinema This all changed with the release of and are inexplicably popular, Capcom’s Clock Tower for the SNES, presumably only with those the first game in the ‘survival horror’ who never played the games.The genre.You play Resident Evil movas Jennifer, a ies are as scary as a girl trying to sock puppet with a find her lost snarl drawn on it in friends in an Biro, although perold mansion. haps that’s a matter The problem of opinion. is you’re beAlthough Resiing constantly dent Evil and chased by a Silent Hill were scissor-wieldHalf-Life 2: Ravenholm responsible for ing midget, dragging the horror We don’t go to Ravenholm. Do whose sole genre kicking and you know why we don’t go to mission in life screaming into the Ravenholm? It’s infested with is to chop you modern era, it was ravenous zombies, poisonous up like a bunch Tecmo who develhunchbacks monsters that throw of chives. It’s oped what is arguheadcrabs at you and ferocious worse than it ably the scariest skeletons that eat shotgun shells sounds. Clock game franchise for breakfast. That’s why. Tower has ten of all time: Fadifferent endtal Frame, also ings, most involving you being mur- known as Project Zero in the UK. In dered. Rather than trying to fight off the Fatal Frame,, you enter a haunted manScissorman, your only hope is to hide sion (what else?) to find your journalsomewhere you won’t be found until he ist brother. It becomes apparent fairly
quickly that your brother is nowhere to be found, but hundreds of ghosts are and they don’t appreciate the intrusion. Fatal Frame’s stroke of genius is that the only way to dispatch the ghosts is by capturing their souls with an enchanted camera. Using the camera drastically narrows your field of vision, making it easy for the spooks to creep up on you unexpectedly.You only inflict maximum damage when the ghosts are inches away from munching on your face, the eponymous ‘Fatal Frame’ Frame’. The ghosts in Fatal Frame are among the most unpleasant enemies ever devised. Murdered children, psychotic samurai and pagan sacrifices make the ���Broken Neck’ ghost seem a little banal by comparison. It’s not just the ghostly encounters that terrify in Fatal Frame Frame. You’ll come across cassettes with the dying messages of those foolish enough to stray into the house. D e mented screams and manic laughter combined with dramatic camera angles fool you into thinking there’s something lurking around every corner. There normally is something around every corner, of course. Lately, there’s been a shift in the style of horror films churned out of the Hollywood mill. In the 70s and 80s, filmgoers were quite content to be scared
Fatal Frame: Blinded Let’s face it: being stabbed in the eyes is nobody’s idea of a good time. Fatal Frame’s Blinded ghost can’t see you, waiting instead for your footsteps before lunging out of the shadows. To make matters worse, Blinded loves to appear at random intervals. Bring clean underwear.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity Effects
The only thing that could scare a gamer more than being attacked by the denizens of hell is thinking your memory card is corrupted, your disc damaged and your TV is broken. None of these happen during Eternal Darkness, of course: it’s just the game trying to freak you out. out of their wits by zombies, vampires and strangely erudite serial killers. Nowadays, the supernatural isn’t enough: look at films like Wolf Creek, Wrong Turn, Hostel, Saw… those aren’t monsters preying on the innocent, they’re just perverts! Similarly in games, the zombies of Resident Evil have been replaced by the Ganados of Resident Evil 4: they don’t want to feast on the flesh of the living, merely to bludgeon you to death and burn your corpse.The Ganados hunt in packs, communicating in Spanish and co-operating to trap you in a corner.The important thing is these foes are ultimately far more terrifying than anything the undead can throw at you. Where does the future lie for horror in games? EA’s highly anticipated Dead Space arrived in the Student office last Saturday: a bloody combination of Doom 3 and The Thing, it seems to live up to expectations judging by the first few hours. Resident Evil 5 is scheduled to arrive next March, marking a further move away from the series’ slow-paced roots by introducing a new control system and co-operative play. While die-hard fans may sneer at the changes, anyone who didn’t enjoy steering a human tank in the older Resi games will appreciate that it’s for the best. Rather than focusing on games dedicated to horror, elements from scary games are beginning to creep into other genres. Valve’s masterpiece Half-Life 2 is a fusion of intense combat with soldiers and frantic encounters with zombies. Games like Bioshock make use of the macabre while not explicitly setting out to scare the shit out of the player. Regardless of where scary games go in the future, gamers will stay in the same place: behind the sofa, cowering in fear.
Week 6 28.10.08
Match of the Day
Alex Thomas tackles the old FIFA - Pro Evolution Soccer rivalry THE WORLD of football is a partisan affair with inbred allegiances (just ask anyone from Newcastle) and in this sense computer games are no exception. There’s no greater match-up than the FIFA vs. Pro Evolution Soccer derby: gamers have developed deep loyalties to both sides from the days of the SNES and Mega Drive. Parties from both camps have been debating the merits of each, providing an atmosphere “bordering on the frenetic” as a Pro Evo commentator might say, but the 2009 editions have a distinct FIFA at home advantage leaving Pro Evo with everything to prove. The arrival of the latest generation of consoles has opened up a new realm of possibility and produced a level playing field for both sides. To compare the games to different teams: FIFA is the Chelsea of the gaming world, using its financial muscle to make a real bid for the top spot. Just like Scolari’s team, it has picked up a touch of class by drawing attention to the play and not just the big names. Pro Evo seems to be more like Liverpool; highly decorated in its heyday but lacking in more recent times. Even as an ardent Pro Evo supporter the louder, more coherent chants of the FIFA fans have recently cast doubts in my mind. In the interest of fairness I rented out FIFA and, feeling a bit dirty, settled down for a gaming session. The slickness of FIFA is initially overwhelming with graphics that are maybe too good (undoubtedly
a Pro Evo-induced reaction). After some button configurations were swapped around and the move list committed to memory, my warmup was completed and it was time for the match. FIFA 2009 has an incredible 250 game improvements including new tackling mechanics, players wrapping up to keep warm in adverse weather conditions, late kick-offs with floodlights coming on at half time and some naff player controlled celebrations. The best of these additions is undoubtedly the innovative Adidas Live Season where players’ performances in real-life affect their performance in the game. Finally, the introduction of the holy grail of 10 vs. 10 online play (compared to 4 vs. 4 in Pro Evo) will probably resemble an Under 11’s team with everyone chasing after the ball, but it’s the possibilities that will make this a worthy inclusion. With Pro Evo due to arrive two weeks after FIFA and the young upstart getting such a positive reception in the media, Konami must have been feeling the pressure to deliver. Having been blown away by FIFA’s presentation, I was quite pleasantly surprised by Pro Evo 2009. After all, aesthetics were never Pro Evo’s strongest asset, as it has always focused on gameplay. Pro Evo 2009 boasts a more modest range of improvements than FIFA such as a smarter AI system for more intelligent runs, revised ball resistance calculations for more accurate ball flight, backspin routines for improved bounces
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise VIVA PINATA: TIP RARE X360
£39.99 ARE YOU too, scared of scary games? Is the reckless media coverage of horror giving you the willies? Well calm down and don’t worry. Come with me and let me take you to my garden. Viva Piñata: TiP marks the return of RARE’s surprise gardening hit and boy, are they are happy to be back. Seriously, they just can’t wait to show you. From the moment you’re handed the shovel the adoration begins. Plant and grow a carrot - alright! Here’s a carrot badge! Hey, you’ve attracted a visiting piñata; let me take you to him
with a dynamic sweep of the camera. You know, if you satisfy his simple needs, well he might just take up residence here. Huh? What’s that sound? Why that little fanfare of trumpets signals his decision to stay and live in your garden. Congratulations! Here’s a new watering can. One good turn deserves another; and each successive step you make is matched with some sort of reward.The game is just brimming with positive reinforcement for your actions while convincing you that it is not just empty praise. And there’s always something to do. Be it tending to general gardening duties to fulfilling the needs of your piñata pals by creating their ideal home away from home, filling them with joy and candy, until they are maxed out
and ready to be sent away to children’s parties all around the world. The inclusion of a guide who issues challenges helps stave of the feeling that you are aimlessly gardening with no end in sight. Coupled with the easily attainable nature of these challenges, the game quickly fosters a ‘one-more-go’ mentality - something that you should be scared of. I quite depressingly found myself awake at 4am staring glassy eyed at the screen, carefully landscaping my garden - which doesn’t exist - in order to attract more Mousemallows - which don’t exist - as I had spent all my chocolate coins building them a hickorydickory-dock clock tower to sleep in. Still, at least there is not a zombie in sight. Ah shit. - Craig Wilson
and changes to how players can control balls. In terms of attention to detail, Peter Cech has even got his hat on - making it all-the-more believable. Moreover, a new UEFA licensing agreement has allowed the Champions’ League to be a prominent feature, showing Konami aren’t afraid to splash out for those lucrative licenses. Another good addition is the ‘Be a Legend’ mode, where the player takes control of a 17-year-old youth player and tries to become a national hero (similar to FIFA’s ‘Be a Pro’). The most important change comes from the completely overhauled game engine leading to some seriously intense battling in the midfield, a shock to the system for players used to the “box to box” style of previous Pro Evo games. The choice remains: FIFA or Pro Evo? FIFA has good looks, strapping physique and flawless knowledge, while Pro Evo is an aging legend: not quite as attractive, forgets the name of the team and its players but has an unparalleled understanding of the nature of the game. It’s a tough decision, and ultimately a personal one. It’s worth seeing what can be done with plenty of money- see FIFA’s highly polished looks and improved game play- but Pro Evo’s superior physics and playability are its saving grace. Ultimately, it’s simply too close to call. My advice? Stick with what you know and you’ll forget you ever considered changing.
The magic of McClair
Week 6 28.10.08
Jenny Baldwin speaks to a Manchester United and Scotland legend and current Manchester United Youth Academy manager, Brian McClair, about hypothermia, Scottish football and the young talent of today “In my career I’ve been described in a variety of terms, from the most underrated player at Manchester United to Lord of the Pies. My favourite has to be a letter to a fanzine, just packed with protest and truth, which pronounced ‘My armchair is a better player than Brian McClair.’” Despite the self-deprecating nature of his book, ‘Odd Man Out’, Brian McClair enjoys status as a Manchester United and Scotland legend. After important tenures at Celtic and Motherwell, McClair – or ‘Choccy’ as he’s better known in the footballing world – went on to score 24 League goals in his first season at Old Trafford and to win countless trophies in his 11 playing years at the club. Now in charge of Manchester United’s Youth Academy, he is responsible for the development of the next generation of footballing stars. Dressed in a red and white training kit, all seriousness and professionalism, McClair is ready for the challenge. “It’s a difficult job,” he explains. “It’s hard to make pin-point decisions at this level. We just have to make decisions as they come. How can you really decide if a six or seven-year-old boy will play for the Manchester United first team? It’s impossible.” That’s not all Choccy has on his plate. Behind the scenes of English football the question of how young players are being developed is changing. A whole new system of Academy structures has been in place since 1998 and it is not popular. McClair admits that had the current system been in place in the late 1980s, Manchester United may never have seen the likes of Gary and Phil Neville, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes in the first team. “Back then any player was free to travel to any club in England that they chose. The system changed for various different reasons, mainly to do with child-protection. The rule was introduced that youngsters could only travel an hour to training, there and back. Other Academies and other Centres of Excellence, of which there are numerous all round Manchester, can now snap up the talent within their area. And when players sign for a Centre of Excellence, at the youngest level, nobody else is allowed to see them anymore. Scouting what possibly might be the best players in the country is well-nigh impossible these days. The best players might well be dotted all around. “The system was changed for two main reasons: to improve the quality of English players and to improve the quality of English coaching. I’d say the quality of English coaching has definitely improved, I’m not sure the quality of English players has improved. What we’ve got now are much better facilities, and probably more knowledge and more support in coaching and everything else that’s involved in football these days: nutrition, sports science, fitness. What we haven’t got is the same raw product”.
McClair certainly recognises drawbacks in the current Academy procedure. Yet not only does he suggest that the rigid nature of the system stunts the growth and development of talent, he also admits that there is a greater and perhaps more worrying issue to be addressed. “Not so many kids play football anymore – they have too many other things to do. There’s a shrink in the talent pool as a result. How many kids do you see kicking a ball about in Edinburgh these days? How many kids do you see in the street, over the park?” McClair detects a decline in young footballers all over the UK. Yet he sees that the Scottish National side has benefited, paradoxically, from the situation. “In some ways it has worked out,
Not so many kids play football anymore - they have too many other things to do. How many kids do you see kicking a ball about in Edinburgh these days? in recent years, for Scotland. By not having so many players to choose from, the same players are picked all of the time. A sort of mini-club has been created away from the domestic teams. The same players train and play together, a team can be developed and better results can be achieved. That’s been proved by what Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have done recently. “I don’t know why everyone is depressed about Scotland’s form at the moment. We had a great campaign for the European Championships. We’ve only played a few games in the qualifiers and there’s no reason when you look at the group why Scotland can’t finish runners up to the Dutch”. Despite his confidence in the National side, McClair recognises that Scottish football is moving forward at a slower pace than English football. “Scottish clubs don’t have much money,” he explains. “Motherwell qualified for Europe last year because they developed a youth system, they had to. They had to put a lot of store into finding players in Scotland – and Hibs, similar – to be able to achieve. The question they ask is ‘how can we survive?’” “Celtic and Rangers have a similar outlook. They want to be competitive in Europe and they’ll try to be competitive whatever way they can – if they can find talent elsewhere they have to take it”. The question of whether players in the UK lag behind foreign talent is interesting in the current climate. Yet McClair’s answer is simple: “Foreign players practise more over longer periods of time, so by the time they get to
16, they are more comfortable technically on the ball. It’s an easy thing, you can apply it to any other discipline - whether it be playing the piano, or dancing, or developing an education.” Despite the apparent slipping standards of British players, McClair is confident that the talent can be found and brought into the limelight at Old Trafford. “The manager here has always been keen to give Academy players an opportunity. We think that we have a good programme of development; we can get players to the front door of the first team. “We have to consider the demand of the supporters; the ‘Manchester boy’, the ‘local boy’ is of greatest interest to the fans. But they still look at players that come through the Academy. Look at Jonny Evans, he came here when he was 14 from Northern Ireland, and he’s considered a local boy. That’s the sort of thing that supporters want to see. They don’t mind you signing a Berbatov, but they want to see a Darren Fletcher too”. The fans are certainly of great interest to McClair, who has been writ-
ing ‘Choccy’s Diary’ for the official Manchester United magazine for several years. Indeed, despite the current footballing climate - in which it seems making money is paramount to football clubs – McClair maintains that the fans are the most important factor in football. “I was always conscious of the fans. I still am,” he says, “that’s the essence of football for me: People”. McClair intends to maintain his traditional footballing outlook. Yet he recognises that things have changed since he was a boy. Without a Nintendo Wii to occupy himself with, Choccy made-do with the backstreets of Airdrie for his entertainment. “Football was a massive thing to me: the first thing I remember doing was kicking a ball out the back. I wanted to watch Celtic games all the time but my mum wouldn’t let me go on the train into Glasgow, she wasn’t happy with me walking down to Broomfield. “I used to play in the street all the time; on the playground we kicked about a tennis ball – that’s all we had at primary school. The very first game I played, it was winter, there were periods of rain intermingled with hail-
Brian McClair: Youth Academy Manager
Playing days at Manchester United
Playing days at Celtic
stones, and it was freezing. I played at left-back, and every time the ball came to me I just kicked it, forward. I don’t know why I carried on playing after that, I’m sure I nearly got hypothermia! We lost 5-0.” Brian McClair did survive the hailstones, but he never considered himself a typical footballer. In his book, he comments: “Just as United is not a typical club, I was seen as an atypical player, because I began a degree, have left-wing views and read books.” Indeed the title of his book, ‘Odd Man Out’, is fitting. McClair started a maths degree at Glasgow University but, due to the quick development of his football career; found that he could not finish it. It is clear, however, that four League Titles, three FA Cups, 30 Scotland caps, 468 Manchester United appearances and 126 Manchester United goals later, he harbors no regrets: “What I wanted to do was play football. I might’ve been wrong, but I assumed that my body would deteriorate quicker than my brain. All the way through I thought I can always go back, I can always go back. I’ve not gone back yet, but maybe I will one day.” It seems that regrets are impossible, when you’ve had a career like McClair’s. Having played with superstars such as Norman Whiteside, Eric Cantona and Ryan Giggs, and having achieved so much as a player, McClair is overjoyed with how his career has turned out. “It irritates my friends that I have so many memorable career moments to choose from. I used to daydream walking to school, imagining playing football for Celtic, Manchester United and Scotland. My career has outgrown my dreams. I couldn’t have envisaged it.” Having spent time in management and coaching positions, McClair is keen to continue contributing to the football world. With Sir Alex Ferguson set to leave his post at Old Trafford soon, new positions will be available at the club. McClair though, while admitting that he will always daydream, has his sights firmly set on the youth team. “I’ve never stopped daydreaming, but it’s highly unlikely I’ll be the next manager of Manchester United. I am happy to work here, I think it’s great. You can have a long career in youth management. It will have a big impact when Sir Alex leaves, and it will be interesting to see what transpires after. But the youth development side must be kept separate to an extent. Here we just want to produce football players; it’s the only agenda we’ve got. I just want Manchester United to play great football and to win football games.” McClair has a job to do, and judging by his professional approach, and his tendency to see things differently, the future of Manchester United, and British football, is in good hands for now.
Week 6 28.10.08
The winning formula? Michael Klimes considers Lewis Hamilton’s championship chances When a sport becomes monotonous with a dominant force winning anything and everything in banal fashion, people can desire to see a change of the guard. Those tennis fans that once supported Roger Federer to the hilt probably got a little fatigued by his consistent brilliance. After all, isn’t perfection or perfection without confrontation a little nauseating? To illustrate the point, look at it this way, who is the most boring figure in Milton’s epic Paradise Lost? It is of course God who pontificates endlessly about what is right and wrong. By contrast, the passages where Satan is the centre of attention are sadistically enjoyable. He is witty, charming and a charismatic provocateur. There is always something fascinating and mysterious about him. If Lewis Hamilton had won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and the Formula One Championship last year would his tale be so absorbing? Since he did not win, it created greater expectations and, with seven points between him and Felipe Massa, there is still a chance that he will not get rid of the ‘almost champion’ moniker if he makes a fatal error. Massa is on home turf in the final race in Brazil and that can be inspirational or devastating depending upon one’s point of view. When people are in these predicaments, how they rise to the occasion is extremely important. Also, what has transpired before
in the previous races can become irrelevant. Similarly, Hamilton is still a young man carving out his identity. He has not yet exploited his full potential or reached his maturity. He is courageous but reckless, silly yet intelligent, a visionary but short sighted and confident yet arrogant. To succeed in Formula One, the driver needs balanced sensibilities. Hamilton’s style demonstrates that there are unresolved arguments being carried out within him. No one quite knows how he will respond to the pressure and there lies the appeal of the showdown between the two rivals. The opinions on Hamilton and his chances of winning are intriguing. In an interview for BBC Sport, Damon Hill suggested, “Lewis learns through his mistakes. The race before (Japan), he showed an impetuosity, (but) he corrected that and drove an impeccable race (in China). It was something he needed to fix and he showed that he had fixed it. He is very good at fixing the problem if there is one.” Nevertheless, there are others who are more sceptical. John Watson, former runner up in the 1982 F1 World Championship thinks, “It’s all very well to drive like [Ayrton] Senna and [Michael] Schumacher but they were a bit further down the road when they did it. The thing that’s going to beat Lewis is he’s not just got to race Massa, he’s racing the entire field. He needs to stop sending
those signals out [where he has] to have a field of competitors, 18 of whom are against him. He must be a target for everyone to make it as difficult as possible for him, and he’s brought it all on himself.” Watson’s criticism is interesting for the precise reason that it suggests Hamilton is taking off his boots prematurely and trying to put on the bigger ones he cannot walk in yet. But isn’t it this very mentality that makes Hamilton so frustrating and fun to watch? Furthermore, a lot of the criti-
cism Hamilton has received is too stinging. Whatever happens, he has still achieved a lot in this early stage of his career. If Hamilton does win the championship (let us hope that he does), it will be a welcome conclusion to a very successful year for British sport. The Olympics, tennis, Formula One and even football have got better, at least south of the border. One can only wish Hamilton’s victory will mark the beginning of a long haul of trophies, prize money and new fans
for motorsport. However, being the aggressive driver that he is, it will be splendid to see Hamilton retain the ability to be an entertainer and exhilarate people. When Schumacher was at his peak, there was no denying his excellence but the style he exhibited was, at least from my perspective, a little mundane and repetitive. He was gruellingly efficient. May Hamilton evolve but not mellow completely with age as excitement inspires the most slavish fandom.
ONE HAND ON THE TITLE? Lewis Hamilton is one race away from glory
Rugby ladies suffer narrow Kirkcaldy defeat Women’s Rugby University of Edinburgh Kirkcaldy
THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH Ladies suffered a close defeat by Kirkcaldy Ladies in their second fixture of the season with a score of 17-12 Edinburgh kicked off but quickly regained possession after a fumble by Kirkcaldy. After a strong scrum for both sides Edinburgh centre Cat MacDonald chased a kick down the field. The ball was caught by Kirkcaldy’s full back and touched down resulting in a 22 drop out. The home side’s prop Roz Murphy then won the ball in an Edinburgh line out and powered down the pitch to score the first try of the match, giving her side a 5-0 lead in the process.
A great chip and chase from centre Celia Hawthorn was cut short by Kirkcaldy’s fullback and persistent pressure caused Edinburgh to touch down over their try line and a quick penalty by Kirkcaldy equalised the score at 5-5 After kicking off for the second half Kirkcaldy’s strength showed as they pushed over the try line to score their second try. A second break down the wing from Edinburgh prop Roz Murphy and a successful conversion by Maddy Grant took the score to 12-10. After play in the middle of the pitch however, Kirkcaldy’s fly half saw a gap and made a break down the field scoring the final try of the match and an easy conversion took the final score to 17-12 as Kirkcaldy emerged victorious. The ladies next match sees them face a tricky trip to Loughborough.
Table Tennis University of Edinburgh University of St. Andrews
The UNIVERSITY of Edinburgh’s Table Tennis Club began their BUCS season brilliantly with two victories from their two fixtures. The first team beat St Andrews 143 while the second team were also in convincing form as they saw off Stirling University 12-5. Despite the scoreline, St Andrews proved to be a much tougher test than they have in previous years and they can look to more positive results in their next fixtures. Victories by Allan Robic (3-0) and Simon Messenger (3-0) against St. Andrews’ two lower ranked players set the mood for what would be anexcellent start to the season.Edinburgh lost their first match as Rolf
Rothbaecher suffered a 3-1 defeat to St Andrews’ top player Hannes Rohtsalu before four consecutive victories put Edinburgh 6-1 up until Sainath Lakshminarayanan also lost to Rohtsalu to leave the score at 6-2 half way through the match. That proved to be St Andrews’ last victory until the last match of the day where Lakshminarayanan was to lose in four sets to Hew Griffiths. In the doubles, the pairing of Robic who was in particularly good form and Messenger who didn’t did not concede a set all afternoon, convincingly beat St Andrews’ pairing 3-0. It proved to be an excellent start to the season particular considering the top two university players, Craig Howieson and Stewart Armitage, were unavailable. In the second team’s match, Tim
Chen was to be the start of the day by winning all of his fixtures. With the possibility of players being dropped down from the top team HHter Terry to the second team for their next fixture, the club is optimistic to see them qualify for the trophy this year having narrowlymissed out on it last year. The men’s second team face a trip to Aberdeen this week as they take on their first side and will be looking to retain top spot in the league. The women’s first side meanwhile begin their league campaign with a home match against Sheffield. This week also sees the annual Varsity fixtures between Edinburgh and Heriot Watt. Wednesday sees the two universities face off in men’s football, hockey and rugby as well as the introduction of the Boat Club Challenge.
Week 6 28.10.08
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Hockey women edge out Dundee Women’s Hockey Scottish Conference University of Edinburgh Dundee Wanderers
Student’s wry look at the world of sport So, is snooker the most boring sport ever to exist upon this planet? ‘No!’ I hear all three of you cry. Yet after watching nine days of the snooker grand prix I lean towards the ‘yes’ side of the debate. However, despite all of my complaints and grumbles I still sat there, unable to move from my seat, unable to change the channel onto something more exciting. This was however mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to find the TV remote from behind the settee. But give credit where credit is due, I was impressed by the fact that the sport has tried to update its game, trying desperately hard to make it appeal to a younger audience. For instance, an FA cup style system of deciding who plays each other has now been introduced so that tension can be built amongst the players and onlookers alike, as they enter into the unknown situation of who they will play next. I mean what is more nerve-racking then waiting, anticipating, hoping for a match between Ryan Day and Jamie Cope? Previously, as in tennis, the draw was mapped out from the first round to the final which meant that although the players knew who they were likely to face, there was no sense of anticipation. They have also made dart styled nicknames for themselves, so when they enter into the arena after a rousing introduction by the MC the crowd can go wild for the likes of Shaun ‘The Magician’ Murphy, Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan and John ‘The Entertainer’ Parrott. Yet, even by my low standards, making fun of John Parrott is unfounded. It simply shouldn’t be done. He is after all a legend of the game. On the commentary side of things, nothing beats a team of Parrott, Steve Davis and John Virgo. That is why so many of us watch snooker, boring as it may be, these three captivate our hearts into watching their sorry little sport. Lets be honest, there are only so many ways you can describe a ball going into a pocket. So is snooker the most boring sport ever to exist upon this planet? Well, we will always have golf…
Matthew Riley Edinburgh’s Hockey women had to fight to victory on Saturday afternoon against a strong Dundee Wanderers side and awful weather. Having dispatched of Strathclyde University with ease the week before, Edinburgh began the game with a buoyancy and self belief evident to all in attendance. However, the strong, swirling wind and hammering rain made the opening exchanges uncomfortable for both sides, with neither managing to exert any control on affairs. After numerous wayward passes, Edinburgh finally showed their class through a short corner, which was drilled past Dundee’s goalkeeper by Sue Davidson for his first goal of the season. Edinburgh couldn’t build on this precious lead however and were in fact lucky to maintain it as the visitors began to attack with greater purpose. The constant pressure on Edinburgh’s goal however came to nothing and the lack of composure and confidence caused by the weather meant chances were few and far between, and those that opened up were poorly executed. At the break Edinburgh were naturally happier but fully aware that they needed to up the tempo in order to end the game as a prospect. On the 36th minute, it appeared
Edinburgh achieved just that as they struck again to go 2-0 up. This time a lapse of concentration in Dundee’s defence allowed Katie O’Conner to get through on goal and take the ball beyond the sprawling keeper, where she rolled it into the net. With this cushion Edinburgh began to show their class. With less pressure, they began to pass the ball with greater accuracy and menace. Two opportunities to extend their lead were squandered, one due to poor control inside the shooting circle and the other a fine save by
Dundee’s goalkeeper, who reacted brilliantly to push an effort out. At the other end, Dundee’s endeavours achieved nothing apart from a couple of desperate efforts from an increasingly frustrated attack. In the last minute however, Dundee came to life and pulled a goal back. An intricate set play from a short corner earned a brilliant save from Edinburgh’s keeper. However, the ball fell to an alert Dundee attacker who smashed the ball in with an aggression reflecting her team’s frustration. The goal
came in the 69th minute, which was too little too late for the visitors who had no time to force an equaliser. A professional performance from Edinburgh was justly rewarded with the victory – their first of the league season. Having finally achieved this, the team will now be looking to drag themselves out of the lower reaches of the league. Katie O’ Conner, who weighed in with one of the goals, now boasts a tally of five for the season and she will be key for Edinburgh in the season ahead.
SPOT THE BALL: Action from the Edinburgh women’s hockey side
Korfballers continue winning run Korfball Scottish League University of Edinburgh Edinburgh City
Alan Murray The Edinburgh University first team built on a tentative first victory to beat the highly favoured Edinburgh City team in the first match of the year. With little preparation whilst having to field a hastily picked team, Edinburgh started slowly in the first match at the Crags Sport Centre. It was a match they were expected to win comfortably, but it took a significant proportion of the first half to break down the spirited Edinburgh City 2nd team defence. Two further scores were added in quick succession thereafter
which sent the university 3-0 up at halftime. A spirited fight back from their opponents gave the University team reason for worry, but they eventually ran out 5-3 winners after what was an unconvincing performance. Having watched their opposing team annihilate the university’s second team in the interim period, with an entirely more convincing margin of victory, expectations were not high within the university’s 17s side ahead of their second match against Edinburgh City firsts. An early long shot from Leon Kapitas, who was excellent throughout, sailed in without touching the rim and gave them an early advantage and the teams swapped sides with the university 2-0 up. Another Korf led to City calling an early timeout in order to try and
regroup and perhaps it was only at this point that they started taking the new university team seriously. Despite long periods of City possession that followed, the students defended well to give themselves a 4-2 margin at halftime, with everything to play for. City managed to bring the score back to 5-5 and at this point it looked much as if the momentum was swinging in their direction and they were controlling the ball with consummate ease. Nevertheless the university dug in with another Korf from Leon Kapitas and two carbon-copy scores straight from the whistle from new first team member Anna Rawlings left the City defence asking each other what had happened. Every time the university went one up again the lead was quickly clawed back by City and time
was winding down quickly which meant that every shot counted and good defence was imperative, something demonstrated fantastically by EUKC President John Wright in the latter stages of the game. With little time remaining in the game the winning Korf came, almost inevitably, from Leon Kapitas and his side held on for the 9-8 victory, leaving them in a tremendous position early on in the Scottish League. The University second team meanwhile lost two tough opening games at St. Leonard’s against the St. Andrews 1st team (reigning league champions) and the Edinburgh Mavericks. Nevertheless they showed promise and solid ball handling skills against more experienced opposition and can expect to see results improve as the season goes on.