THE V O L . V I I I
The Independent Student Newspaper of Royal Holloway, University of London
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W W W . T H E F O U N D E R . C O . U K
Royal Holloway is second most expensive place to study in UK Image credit: university.which.co.uk
Royal Holloway plays host to Downton Abbey full story on page 3 BY FLORENTYNA DALLOZ
ollowing the 2012 tuition fee hike there was an immediate decrease in the number of UCAS applications. The rate of applicants fell by 7.7% in the first year and, despite a slight increase of 2.5% in 2013, there has been a steady decline in university admissions since 2011.There is, it has emerged, a new financial drain on prospective students in the form of ever increasing costs of student rental accommodation. Studies currently show that those renting in the Egham area are paying the second highest rate of rent in the United Kingdom, a statistic set to become perhaps more bleak as the housing market slowly begins to recover. Recent assessment conducted by Accommodation
for Students (AFS) has revealed hat there has been a drastic increase in the rental rates in university towns over the last few years. Based on 125,000 properties in 92 different locations nationwide, an AFS survey revealed that the rent per bedroom in a university town has risen by 3.1% on average since 2012. The new national average for student’s rent is £79.42 per week as opposed to £77.04 in 2012. Whilst such a small change seems insignificant, the figures forecasted over the year suggest students are set to pay £123.76 more than those who had the same accommodation the previous year. The average rate of rent for a bedroom in Egham stands at £115 per week while homes often lack the facilities that
might justify such high costs. Unsurprisingly London generally was named as the most expensive rental location. In the capital students are forced to pay almost twice the national average at £129 per bedroom per week. The AFS study also highlighted a clear north-south divide concerning rental costs. In northern towns such as Stockton and Wolverhampton students are charged on average £49 and £52 per week. In southern towns such as Luton, however, the cost of student rent has increased of 20% in a year. Chatham, home of the University of Kent, has also seen a significant increase of 19%. Studies suggest that it would cost a student 6% less than the national average to rent in a northern city. Rates re less likely to rise in the north
and inclusive packages are often more widely available to cover bill payments. In the south however the inclusion of bills is less often an option. Studies found that if bill payment was offered in the rent agreement it cost on average £8.08 more per week for rent, compared to £5.51 in the north. Significantly, increasing rates may cause prospective students to re-asses their decision to continue into higher education. A steadily inclining rate of 3.1% for the cost of student rental accommodation in the south may well contribute to falling rates of applicants in coming years. Simon Thompson, the director of the AFS, commented on the situation following the publication of their findings: “The student accommodation market remains robust and we
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are still seeing large-scale devel opments in student accommodation up and down the country”. “Demand for places at well-renowned academies and institutions is clearly having an impact on student rents, but with reports that some universities are offering incentives as a way to fill spaces and entice the brightest students, it will be interesting to see what effect this has on future accommodation demand and subsequently rents, in such locations.” Although Student Finance England does indeed offer a higher maintenance loan to those studying in London, including students at Royal Holloway, it remains to be seen whether that will be enough to lure potential students to our University in the future.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
FOUNDER Editorial Editor@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Letter from the editor
Rich Cunningham kicks off another year of The Founder
about their section.
n Freshers’ weeks long since lost to our patchy memories the front You may have also noticed from the page of The Founder has been dedicated front page that this is Royal Holloway’s to the task of welcoming newcomers to ‘independent student newspaper’. Not a the University, biasedly congratulating difficult feat as the only dedicated newsthem on their excellent choice of in- paper on campus, granted. Neverthestitution and giving new readers some- less, this means that we are completely thing of a description of what our inde- separate from the Student’s Union, that penent paper is all about. great pot of marmite on campus where This year I have steered the front all the drinking happens. Independpage away from this tired formality. I ence means that we are able to publish want people to learn about The Founder what we like (within reason) and conand our brand of journalism by our com- sequently are able to do a better job mitment to campus news, by the quality of scrutinising those individals that of our content and excellent reportage. work for you here at Royal Holloway. This, in my view, can only be achieved by I am sure that by now you will starting the year as we mean to continue. have been welcomed on at least a hun dred occasions and so I shall refrain Similarly in this issue I have de- from adding another fairly absent senticided against the idea introducing our ment to the list. Instead, I will say that Editors. This rather more painful ritual we look forward to hearing from you of past Freshers’ editions required each soon with your article pitches and careEditor to awkwardly introduce them- fully constructed contributions. In the selves in a way not too dissimilar to the meantime enjoy yourself and take it all relentless icebreaking activities you will in. No doubt we’ll see you at the bar. no doubt encounter in your seminars here at Holloway. Instead, I would like you to know the Editors as I do, not as twenty-five neatly summarised lines P.S If you would like to advertise with but as great writers and excellent char- The Founder please do get in touch. acters. Read and enjoy their work and, We are always looking for advertising if you really must to get to know them, opportunities with local businesses. then head for Crossland’s during the day Help us, by letting The Founder help and the VK bar in the evening. You will you. find them there in the coming weeks no doubt telling anybody who will listen all
So you fancy yourself as a journalist? We would love to chat to any budding journalists who would like to know a little more about what we do. If you have a pitch for a piece, a column you’d like to write or an opinion on anything campusbased get in touch with the editor. Alumni of our newspaper have found employment with the likes of CNN, Reuters, ITV, Esquire, the BBC and Vogue, to name but a few. Why not get in touch?
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THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
News@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Downton heads to Holloway BY HOLLIE GOODALL NEWS EDITOR Royal Holloway played host to the cast of Downton Abbey this summer when it was used as a set for the fourth series of the popular ITV period drama. It is believed that the footage will be used in the forthcoming Christmas special of the new season. The filming took place on 16th August in the iconic Founder’s build-
ing. Two lucky onlookers captured a photo of the cast and crewmembers huddled under parasols in front of the Founder’s clock tower, and another of filming taking place beneath the Thomas and Jane Holloway statue in the south quad. It is even rumoured that the cast borrowed costumes from the university’s drama department. RHUL graduate, Sam Luffman, shared the report via twitter but the drama department has refused to confirm or deny rumours.The film-
ing concluded one hundred and forty days of shooting for the fourth season. Jon East, the BAFTA award-winning director of the finale, expressed his excitement about wrapping-up filming at Royal Holloway. “Early start for last day shooting Downton Abbey 4. We finish as we started, with a huge set piece, dozens of extras, vast set, crane etc,” East wrote on twitter early on the morning of the16th August. Whilst any indication of the plot line of the latest season has been kept
carefully under wraps, viewers can certainly expect an emotional roller coaster as Mary Crawley and Tom Branson attempt to deal with their grief, follow ing the shocking events of season three, which Downton fans will be all too familiar with. Hollowegians however, will be pleased and proud to spot the familiar sights of the Founder’s building during the Christmas special. The new season is set to premier on ITV 1 on Sunday 22nd September.
Growing concern over new student flats BY HOLLIE GOODALL NEWS EDITOR Three years on from the initial plans, permission has finally been granted to build new student flats on Egham Hill. Some 216 new apartments will be built to meet the growing demand. However, despite the borough’s recent approval of the plans, local councillors still have reservations. On top of the 100 new bedrooms in the Pad, a modern complex of studios and en-suite rooms, Danehurst Developments Ltd plans to build an additional university accommodation block next door, which will involve demolishing numbers 57,
59 and 61, on Egham Hill. Objectors fear that the new development will prove over-bearing and appear taller as a result of its sloping site. This is not the first time objections have been made. ‘Phase one’ of the project, the development at 61-71 Egham Hill, was originally refused by Runnymede Borough Council’s planning committee in September 2010 along with an appeal in February 2011, both due to over-development concerns. Councillors said they felt pressured into accepting a revised submission in September 2011, in which The Pad’s original 100-room blueprint was scaled down to 91 rooms, after planning inspectors said
an amended design ‘could resolve the objections’. At the Runnymede planning meeting on July 10th Cllr Howard Butterfield commented that they ‘had to accept it’. Permission was granted with a vote of nine to four. However, Cllr Elain Gill has expressed her ongoing reservations; “I have grave concerns about this,” she told the meeting. “Because of what happened with phase one, we know that if we do not accept this, we are going to end up with egg on our faces”. Phase two, meanwhile, proposes an additional 100 bedrooms across three multi-storey buildings next to The Pad, the first of which is four storeys high, the other three storeys and the
last will be two storeys. The Pad itself has already welcomed its first tenants this month. Besides its convenient loca tion just 2 minutes walk from campus, its attractive features include large comfortable beds, free broadband and wireless and a 32” flat screen television in the shared kitchens. The high rent, however, is sure to have put many off, as a considerable number of apartments remain unoccupied contrary to original hope for their demand.Although the time has now passed to stop the new plans from progressing, it remains to be seen how local residents and students alike will receive the forthcoming developments.
Survey reveals happy Hollowegians BY FLORENTYNA DALLOZ Royal Holloway has been awarded 89% for overall student satisfaction on the 2013 National Student Survey (NSS). This impressively high percentage puts Royal Holloway into 21st place in the national tables for student satisfaction and shows the university to be 4% above the national average for Higher Education Institutions. This is the fifth consecutive year in which the university’s overall score has increased, as the result is 1% higher than last years. The most significant improvements were recorded in the Mathematics and Computer Science Departments, which
saw increases of 8% and 9% in overall satisfaction when compared with 2012 results. The Department of Physics and the Department of Earth Sciences were awarded the highest overall satisfaction marks with 100% and 99%, which were described by Professor Paul Layzell as “stunning”. Four of the six evaluated categories received higher scores than the previous year. These included Teaching, Academic Support, Learning Resources and Personal Development. Whilst Assessment and Feedback scored equally well as last year and Organisation and Management received one mark less. The feedback
from the National Student Survey has said to have been taken on board by the university and, amongst other changes, further study spaces in the library have been created, IT facilities have been improved and graduate employability schemes have been extended. The aim of NSS is to provide all final year undergraduates at UK higher education institutions with the opportunity to comment on their time at their institutions, what they enjoyed most and how they think it could be improved. Principal Professor Paul Layzell commended staff for their hard work and commitment: “I am delighted that our
students have expressed such high satis faction with their Royal Holloway experience again this year. Our success in the NSS is testament to our commitment to high quality research-led teaching and determination to provide an outstanding student experience. We will be undertaking further analysis of scores to further improve our performance and ensure every student gets the most out of their university education.” Do you have a story you think we might be interested in? Get in touch with the newsdesk and see your story published. News@thefounder.co.uk
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Royal Holloway nominated for two Times Higher Education Awards Royal Holloway has been shortlisted in two categories in the Times Higher Awards 2013. Professor Dave Cohen from the Department of Computer Science was shortlisted for the ‘Most Innovative Teacher of the Year’ while Royal Holloway was nominated for the ‘Most Improved Student Experience.’ “It is a real honour to be nominated,” said Professor Cohen who introduced SCRUM-based agile program development into Software Engineering courses. He restructured the teaching of
core material using a problem-based approach. Feedback has been excellent as graduates are able to immediately apply their professional skills and practical knowledge of state-of-the-art tooling. Professor Cohen was also the first in the UK to design and deliver a course on programming Lego robots to support first year teaching of Java programming. “Working in groups, students develop key professional skills and discover that programming is a necessary and fun activity,” he said.
Royal Holloway’s nomination for the ‘Most Improved Student Experience’ award follows a number of key developments. Student study spaces in the library were extended, IT facilities and teaching room quality improved, the SU refurbished and graduate employability schemes extended. These improvements have led to success in the National Student Survey over the last five years, culminating in an impressive 89% for overall student satisfaction this year. This puts Royal Holloway in the top 25
universities in the UK and above the national average. “We are committed to ensuring every student gets the most out of their university education,” said Professor Paul Layzell, Principal of Royal Holloway. “This year we will continue to implement new initiatives such as developing the Royal Holloway Passport to build employability skills, finalising plans for a new library and innovation in the way we teach and assess.” The final winners will be announced in November.
Into Africa: Students travel to rural villages, teaching and inspiring children Five mathematics students embarked on an adventure last month, journeying into rural Africa to educate underprivileged children. Puminder Nota, Henry Young, Jyoti Kachhwaha, Sarah Mills and Charlotte Hicks left on 21 July and joined forces with 140 other volunteers from across the country to provide teaching in 25 rural and urban townships in Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa. “Education is a tool which
can help free the developing world from poverty,” said Charlotte, a third year Economics and Mathematics student at Royal Holloway. “It will be hugely rewarding to help improve the quality of education for young Africans and raise their aspirations.” Founded by the University of Warwick, the project this year is set to help more than 30,000 young Africans. Over 120,000 pupils and 800 teachers have benefitted from
the Warwick in Africa programme since its early beginnings in 2006. It has produced a dramatic effect on test results and attendance, with an increasing number of students now securing places at top African universities. Henry, a second year Mathematics and Psychology student said: “I am considering becoming a teacher when I graduate, so I was delighted to be accepted on to this scheme. This
project provides me with a fantastic opportunity to share my passion for Maths, while helping children in Africa achieve a better a life.” The five Royal Holloway students were required to demonstrate humanity, compassion and determination in order to be selected and competed against hundreds of rivals through a rigorous selection process.
Supporting you at Royal Holloway BY HELEN GROENENDAAL The start of a new academic year is a good time to remind you that Support & Advisory Services are here for all students to offer welfare support, do all we can to enhance your student experience and help make sure you get the most out of your time here. Within Support & Advisory, there is the Chaplaincy & Faith Support team led by Cate, Community Liaison and Sup-
port managed by me, the Educational Support Office headed up by Alex, International Support fronted by Denise, Student Counselling led by Pat and Dee and the Student Finance and Funding team headed up by Tina. We also work closely with the whole team in the Health Centre. Throughout the year we can assist you with financial problems, homesickness or loneliness, when you’re feeling run down or un well, visa applications and advice, addi-
tional support needed to complete your studies and so much more. No issue is ever too great or small and it’s always best to seek advice at an early stage – we do rely on you to ask for assistance when you need it. If you want to find out more about our services, call into one of our offices on Founder’s West 1st floor (or in the International Building, room 246), pick up our booklet
(www.rhul.ac.uk/ecampus/documents/ pdf/support/sasbooklet.pdf )or email us at SupportAndAdvisory@rhul. ac.uk. Here’s what one student had to say about us last year: “I have used the Support & Advisory Services during my time at Royal Holloway, and they have always been helpful. They were there when I needed them and always maintained an efficient service. Don’t be afraid to pop in if you have a problem - it’ll be worth your while.”
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Comment@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Age of Consent: Time to Grow-up Comment editor Toby Fuller talks underage sex BY TOBY FULLER COMMENT EDITOR
t has become increasingly apparent over recent months that the British press has become rather more prurient than usual in its concern for public morality, particularly in relation to our innocent youths indulging in a bit of the old mutton splitting. Of course, if one believed in what the Daily Mail would have us think, our teens would be playing conkers in between expeditions of blackberry picking and games of rugger up on the green. In reality, our young chaps spend the midnight hour boffing away in the lap-top glow whilst our little ladies are finding Nemo in front of their recently purchased One Direction posters.
One must consider the debate rationally. To what extent is a hormone charged, hairsprouting teenager really a ‘child’?
Let us be frank. Our teens are not innocent, nor are we sexualizing them at a premature age. What our society does appear to be doing is repressing the growing and developing sexuality of our young people with puritanical fervour. Instead of nurturing the sexuality of our youths, we vilify them for their experimentation, reducing our teenage girls to a gaggle of lascivious whores and our boys to porn obsessed rapists. One must consider the debate rationally. To what extent is a hormone charged, hair-sprouting teenager really a ‘child’? How is it possible that by turning from fifteen to sixteen years old in a matter of hours one develops the psychological maturity to make considered decisions regarding sexual activity? Why is it that an adult in their twenties could only be interested in a fifteen year old sexu
Below: Barbara Hewson, the barrister who has argued that the age of constent shoud be reduced to 13
formerly a police Chief-Constable, suggested that men under the age of thirty who had engaged sexually with underage teenagers should not necessarily be prosecuted as paedophiles.
The great taboo of childhood sexuality has counter-intuitively suppressed the discussion of the very transgression it seeks to prevent.
ally and without emotional attachment? These questions expose the very notion of the ‘age of consent’ as something superficial and arbitrary, something written on the back of a House of Commons beer matt by some decrepit, under-sexed, emotionally repressed relic of a politician who most certainly does not know better. One must concede that our society requires a legislative structure to ensure the protection of our young. Yet despite the reassurances of the that gaggle of online mothers who spend more time contemplating the horrors of pornography than the rest of us spend watching the stuff, the current system is in fact actively pursuing and punishing individuals in the most neurotic and unjust of fashions. Within the past month two teachers have been placed on the Sex Offenders Register for the crime of sexual activity with their students. The students in question were sixteen and seventeen years old respectively. Beyond the obvious systemic abuses of justice in this case, it
was the bastion of free press and democracy that is the British media who delivered the Coup de grace. As these young educators were criminally punished for their romantic entanglements, the papers began to deliver the great moral arbitrator of ‘public opinion’. As these ‘paedophiles’ and ‘abusers’ faced the full might of our just society, the debate surrounding the age of consent continued to be suppressed by the established media. In recent months, leading human rights barrister Barbara Hewson caused public outcry when she called for a reduction of the age of consent to thirteen years of age. She rightly identified that the recent ‘persecution of old men’ since the Savile scandal has subsequently resulted in the fanatic pursuing of men who had committed what would usually be legally regarded as ‘low-level misdemeanours’. Yet the media remained on the side of the angels. In previous years commentators and senior figures such Terry Grange,
In 2007 Chief Superintendent Clive Murray called for the age of consent to be reduced to thirteen in order to help distinguish between the abuse of young people and sexual activity driven by ‘youthful, natural instinct’. Nor would we be the first country to make such changes: in the Czech Republic and France the age of consent is fifteen, Austria and Germany fourteen, and until this year the Spanish age of thirteen. The German system also extends further protections by requiring persons over the age of twenty-one to ensure – and if required, prove – that they do not take advantage of or groom partners under the age of sixteen. Alas, such logic and reason have never been compatible with the mindless chattering of public opinion and God help the man who dares to speak contrary to it. The great taboo of childhood sexuality has counter-intuitively suppressed the discussion of the very transgression it seeks to prevent. All the while we maintain the status quo our judiciary shall continue with their ethically dubious prosecutions; all the while we maintain our Victorian public moralising, our young shall continue to seek subvert it. And long may they do so.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
FOUNDER Comment Comment@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
The Debate: To Burka or Not to Burka BY DOMINIC PINI DEPUTY COMMENT EDITOR The burka is a singularly divisive item of clothing. Its champions claim that it promotes modesty in a prurient world; its critics say that it is yet another form of oppression perpetrated by Islam. In a world where fifty five per cent of emotive communication derives from facial expression, it is understandable why there have been such vehement anti-burka protests in Europe over the past decade. In 2010, France made European history by banning the burka and the Spanish region of Catalonia followed suit but recently has been forced to revoke that law.
to be identified outside court by a female police officer that then swore an oath attesting that the burka wearer was the correct lady, prompted the ruling. This decision has attracted the ire of numerous human rights organisations.
The burka ‘is out dated in a country that claims to be a paragon of liberality
In my reading on this subject, I found many articles saying that it is nudging towards fascism for a state to tell its citizens what to wear. While I agree in principle, it seems that an item of Mass movements of population have clothing, which has been so strongly led to segregated areas of cities like linked to pre-emancipation thought, London and Leicester which have is simply out dated in a country that turned into pseudo-ghettos where claims to be a paragon of liberality, some do not wish to integrate within Britain. The issue conflates a number British society. This segregation leads to intolerance. There are two inde- of complex subjects: the inextricable pendent all-girls’ schools where the historical links between the burka and burka is considered a mandatory part female oppression, and the ancient of the uniform. That is to say that western value that trust can only by eleven and twelve year olds are being forged with someone who isn’t hiding forced by both parents and school to his face. What of those who say that hide their faces. How anyone can ar- gue that these girls are being brought ‘it’s the woman’s choice whether or not she wears a veil?’ Let us then up exposed equally to all cultures? Recently, a British judge’s consider the twelve and thirteen year court ruling made a potentially revo- olds upon whom the burka is thrust, lutionary precedent: that, in order to what of them? Is it not the state’s obgive evidence in court, the witness’ ligation to manumit these children? I face must visible so that the jury can am sure that many of these women accurately assess, through facial ex- don’t feel oppressed; they have been pression, whether they believe his or imbued with the idea that it’s natuher story. In his ruling, Judge Peter ral and normal for children to wear Murphy made mention of the past these clothes, from a young age. I befew centuries of trials where, in order lieve that in the West, there has been for justice to be carried out effective- a long association between identity ly, it is the jury’s decision to decipher and clothing. To shroud these women whether a defendant or witness is ly- in the same ink-black clothes withing. A burka wearer, who refused to out allowing individuality to show show her face in court, instead having through strips them of their identities.
Segregation leads to intolerance
There are a number of factors to consider here: firstly, the Muslim population in this country has increased steadily since the 1980s. However, there has been an exponential rise in the number of people wearing burkas which coincides with the more radical feminism movements of the same time where female fashion started to change dramatically. Secondly, when one looks back to Atatürk, Turkey’s founder, the outlawing of the garment in 1934 resulted in soaring female literacy rates and has led to Turkey’s role as one of the most forward thinking Islamic countries. Ninety seven per cent of Turkey’s population is Muslim, and it has one of the highest literacy rates out of all Muslim dominated countries despite banning the burka outright in 1997. According to the United Nations’ Arab Development Report, ‘half of Arab women cannot read’. Surely, if women are to be liberated in this country truly, we must not sanction measures taken by men to keep the women in Islam subservient.
Consider the twelve and thirteen year olds upon whom the burka is thrust Many think that those who want to get rid of the burka are using the ban to capitulate their own xenophobia yet perhaps this is a much more simple issue that that. In a liberal society, can we knowingly permit the shrouding of our women? I would propose a ban on burkas, but with the proviso that those members of the public who take the law into their own hands either by forcing women to wear the veil or by verbally or physically harassing a woman
into removing hers would be heavily castigated by the state. In essence, I think that the woman’s right to self determine regarding clothing is sacrosanct. However, at present, we are not starting from a fair playing field. I leave you with this: the word for traditional Muslim female dress is hijab. This word translates as screen or curtain, and is used in the Qur’an to mean barrier. My question is this: are these barriers designed to keep the Western influence out of Islam, or to cage the woman in a fabric prison?
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Comment@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
The Debate: The Manifestaion of Dogma BY STAN ELDRIDGE SPORT EDITOR Burkas make me uncomfortable. The full Islamic dress worn by some Muslim women obscures everything on the female body except the eyes.Couples playing public tongue tennis also make me uncomfortable, as do facial tattoos. Am I fully aware this trio present irrational fears I have neglected tackling? Of course I’m aware; in fact I count my discomfort as a weakness in myself. I’m ashamed to admit it. All three aforementioned social norms in an open and accepting society make me squeamish, yes, but I will vehemently defend anyone’s right to do them. I have the right to be uncomfortable, no one can stop me, but how dare I impose my minor personal scruples on someone else?
Of course, the discussion here is about the burka’s place in the UK. To group it with public displays of affection and body ink doesn’t quite fit; the burka comes with a vast array of religious, social and historical tensions. We are talking about the burka at present because of comments by Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne calling for a debate on the religious dress and its role in the British society. If this were simply a debate and an effort for middle England to engage and understand the intricacies of Islam, it would be welcome.
Integration...[is] consistently...met with the usual British wariness of the foreign and unfamiliar.
However, the proposed law submitted by Browne actually involves restricting parents or male partners imposing the veil onto Muslim women under the age of 18. As an atheist who disagrees with imposing any religious practice on a child unless they show interest, I still don’t think this is viable. Other religions engage exactly the same thing; enforcing religious practice onto children. We can’t pick and choose whom to restrict purely because we understand some better than others. Islam in the UK is still vying for its place in a country of multiculturalism but also a country of bitter class and historical divides. To assume Islam’s integration in the UK would occur in a heartbeat is hopeful at best. Integration of racial or religious groups in the UK has never been a smooth process. Consistently these influxes are met with the usual British wariness of the foreign and unfamiliar. The leading argument against the burka is one of practicality, that full veils are incompatible with British values; values of liberty. Indeed, the argument
that highlights the bureaucratic minefield of the burka has been dealt a lethal blow by the swift, improvised action of Blackfriars Crown Court. Judge Peter Murphy stated open justice overrode the religious right of the accused to not show her face before men in the court. But after the accused refused to lift her veil, Claire Bristwistle of the defence counsel suggested a female police officer identify the lady in isolation, resolving the ‘problem’ entirely and taking all of twenty minutes. So how about, just as we have done with the aforementioned social differences, we embrace and welcome a voluntarily worn burka as part of who we are. To claim Islam as part of British multiculturalism whilst prohibiting certain parts of it merely smacks of double standards. The notion of an exclusively financial relationship between the UK and the Middle East is ludicrous. The UK cannot sell jet fighters to Islamic regimes with questionable human rights records whilst playing pick and mix with elements of Middle Eastern religion and culture. The cost of bureaucracy in integrating burkas is dwarfed by the millions of pounds we pocket from Islamic tourism, trade and immigration.
The UK cannot sell jet fighters to Islamic regimes with questionable human rights records whilst playing pick and mix with elements of Middle Eastern religion and culture.
If the discussion here is challenging pockets of Islam posing a threat to British culture, the burka must be completely separate from this hidden Islamic world by mere existence of this discussion. Islamic integration with British society requires the state to open a hand of acceptance whilst bringing Islamic law and
certain clerics to task for their fascistic dogma - the same dogmatic action we’d be writing into our code of law. The state should expose the press ganging of women into burkas rather than punishing a small minority of Muslim women who voluntarily choose to wear it. After all, the French burka ban in 2010 only affected 2000 out of a 5 million strong Muslim population. The fascistic sharia courts are discriminating against women, three Islamic schools are dogmatically imposing the veil on Muslim girls, but there hasn’t been a spate of burka bank robberies nor a burka terror attack. A code of law should prevent harm coming to people, not ban a voluntary religious worship purely because we’re unadjusted to it. We aren’t this narrow minded. Let’s stand up for the side of right. We can’t sing to the world about modern British openness and freedom of religious worship with a black spot on our record. In addition, banning the burka would further isolate British Islam, worsening the situation that many people see the burka as a physical embodiment of. How can we eradicate Islamic dogma of the veil by introducing a law of the exact same principle? If Islam is forcing the veil on Muslim women, who are we to force the veil off of Muslim women? This proposed ban is positively medieval, one that would probably exacerbate the concerning rise of racism and the EDL. John Stuart Mill, one of our finest thinkers cracked this particular conundrum just over a century ago: ‘The principle itself of dogmatic religion, dogmatic morality, dogmatic philosophy, is what requires to be rooted out; not any particular manifestation of that principle.’ Whilst I appreciate a dialogue on a contentious issue, the sickness I feel about a religious ban being enshrined into law far outstrips any personal queasiness. We need to do the braver thing. British society should square down its own collective irrational fear of Islam. The same exertion of energy we are channelling into this debate should be diverted into understanding Islam and why Muslim women voluntarily choose to wear the veil.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
FOUNDER Comment Comment@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
An Englishman Abroad BY ANDREW WATSON
home about the state of modern Britain, but when you compare it with the rest of To a confused and embarrassing seg- the world, by god Rhodes was right! ment of our self-flagellating society My route was long but relatively straight Cecil Rhodes was a crazed megaloma- forward: fly to Moscow, take the Transniac. For me, and the sharper inhabitants Siberian/Trans-Mongolian train to Beiof this green and pleasant land, he was jing, from there take the train through a man who pointed out what many of China stopping in Shanghai, Hong our fellow citizens have forgotten; that Kong, Canton, Nanning and onto Vietto be born English is the greatest gift nam; Hanoi to Saigon via Hoi An. God, or whatever strange alternative you Moscow, or Mockba to the can come up with, can bestow on a hu- Ruskies, is a sprawling dump. To provide man being. At this point, however, I will a metaphor to give credit to its impresstate that I consider myself British first sive centre; the Kremlin is the juicy red and English second (but certainly not a cherry on a stale and mouldy cake (note bloody European). the use of red there). Red square is not Until this summer I also considered my- as impressive as it could be. To anyone self, as Harry Mount puts it, a member of who has visited they would have noticed the ‘Britain’s-going-to-the-dogs school.’ a square box in the middle. Designed by In many respects I still find myself in Alexey Shchusev, Lenin’s Tomb allegthis camp, however, a month spent trail- edly took him just a few days to design ing across Russia, Mongolia, China and and anyone with an aesthetic eye can see Vietnam on the train provides me with why, it is a hideous creation. Perhaps a a global or at least Eurasian, context to vile looking building perhaps suits a man challenge my pessimistic views. who proposed such a vile philosophy. My point of contention is this: The people are another thing. we can complain till the cows come I had been warned that I should expect to hear one word more than any other in Russia: nyet or NO and it was the answer to most things. Do you know where the post office is? Nyet. Please may I sit here? Nyet. Are you a happy and cheerful person who approaches every day with optimism? You guessed it. It wasn’t all bad, at the station I was offered a coffee by a strange couple called Yuri and Irena, they were friendly and after chatting for a while, mostly using our hands, I learnt they were from somewhere in the very east of Russia.
The six day train ride from Moscow to Beijing was a real adventure. Nearly 8000km long it is one of the longest rail journeys in the world and one can only gaze out of the windows at the sheer size of these countries. ‘The world is a small place’ is a most annoying phrase. Yes it is when you gormlessly fly around it in a jet aircraft at 600mph suffering deep vein thrombosis or whatever it is, but when you are rolling along on a train the world is still a very big place indeed. Russia is mostly a field potted with a few decent sized cities along the rail route. When you are in your fourth day of train travel and you pass yet another subsistence farming hamlet and another car by the track with a man standing outside smoking as two people fornicate inside it, you cannot help but think of dear old Blighty with its island isolation, gentle rolling countryside, relatively tidy cities, and its working institutions. In a country so large, one wonders how the law manages to be enforced. In fact, out in the back the police are just as likely to rob you as they are to help you. In South Africa they may tie you to the back of a car and drag you down the street presumably flaying you alive. Ah, the British Police, what a bunch of savages they are, hey! It was in Mongolia that I was robbed. Waiting for the train to depart from Ulan Bataar, I was purchasing postcards from a beggarman using cigarettes as a currency. Unbeknown to me, two men had stormed into my compartment, one tricked my sister into thinking that
they wanted a bed sheet thus distracting her, whilst the other sneakily poked his grubby little fingers into my wallet stealing $100US and two debit cards. We discovered that the contents had been purloined only after the buggers had fled the scene. Reporting the crime was pointless. The Chinese guards looked concerned but what could they do? There was no policeman nearby to help and even if there had been you can bet your bottom dollar that Sherlock Holmes would not have turned up. No, the bastards got away with it and that was that. Perhaps there would have been little more success back home but at least it could have been reported, some official action taken. Alas! We were a long way from home. Still, being robbed was an experience. Rather like a third former who hasn’t been through the gauntlet has not begun his schooling proper, the traveller has not travelled until he has been robbed.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Comment@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
In his letters from the Far-East, Andrew Watson contemplates:‘To be born English is to win the first prize in the lottery of life.’ Welcome to China, population: god knows. I loved it here but for a man who values manners and queuing quietly, China can provide a headache. On arriving I read a truly ghastly article about a boy who had had his eyes gouged out in a horrific attack allegedly carried out, surprisingly, by a woman. Reading on I became aware of a black market for human organs that was growing fast in China. Perhaps I am being unfair comparing the very worst in a country with the very best in mine but it must be said that there are some fundamentals that make the likes of China and Russia utterly undesirable. One example is the bizarre form of idol worship is the Chinese adoration of Chairman Mao; a man who, through careless implementation of policies such as the Great Leap Forward/Cultural Revolution, managed to kill off some 50 million of his own people. Another example was the amusing unveiling of a painting in St. Petersburg’s Museum of Power – yes, that is its real name – depicting Putin and Medvedev in women’s underwear, supposedly in response to new Russian antigay laws. Joking aside the state’s response was one of outrage, the artist Konstantin Altunin is now seeking asylum in France where he wishes ‘to paint what he wants and not be arrested for it.’ Whilst I was in Shanghai the farcical court hearing of Bo Xilai showed us all once again how twisted and pernicious the Chinese state really is. There is no independent judiciary here. Although it was from a tourist’s perspective, China does feel safe for the man in the street. When wandering around there is not a choking police presence and people seem happy with their lot. One could be mistaken for thinking that it doesn’t feel dissimilar to a Western European country, in the cities at least, and if you toe the line you will probably be quite happy. It is what happens when your veer off the path that is truly shocking. In the June edition of The Spectator, Douglas Murray wrote a thought provoking piece on Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident. The most striking part was the description of the numerous women who face forced abortions at nine months for breaking
the one child policy. The brutal reality is that the mother is made to choose between having the child killed using a needle to the skull or having it forced out then drowned. The big question is how long can the Chinese endure such a harsh system? The simple answer is no one really knows but most agree that a government that rules by terror and force never lasts forever. Guangcheng made the link between the Communist Party’s downfall and the rise in social media and the wider Internet. Although it would take more than Facebook, banned of course, the gradual eroding of the government’s ability to monitor the movements of its citizens could have a dramatic effect on the state’s future. One need only look at the role of the internet in the Arab Spring to see how influential the flow of ideas can be once on an accessible platform. Yes, China is easily on track to becoming the biggest economy in the world and yes, it may come to dominate the 21st century economically and geo-politically but would I want to live there? God no, and nowhere else for that matter. Vietnam, however, is a lovely place and I will go back one day. Although not an authoritarian state it is not somewhere I could see myself settling down. The beaches of Hoi An, the kind and welcoming attitude the locals have toward to the travellers and ‘gap yahs’ are second to none, yet it takes more than that to make me value a place more than Britain. Not much really works here like you would want it to. For a couple of weeks the lousy infrastructure, the absence of any kind of road rules, makes for an interesting getaway but after a while it would wear thin. Wandering around Saigon as the National Week’s festivals take place in early September, one can’t help but notice the red flags bearing the hammer and sickle fluttering from every lamp post in and around the city. The attachment to a proven economic failure would be enough to put most people off. To you it must sound like I had a terrible time, picking up on the bad things from my trip. On the contrary, it was one of the most exciting and enjoyable experiences of my life thus far. The beauty of travel, from
a British perspective at least, is that it makes you realise just how lucky you are. In that sense it is actually necessary in order to live a better and more informed life. As St. Augustine noted; ‘the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.’ So when you scour through the endless doom and gloom of your chosen tabloid – The Founder obviously – or listen to the moaning conspiracies of the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation, understand that Britain is actually as good as it gets. And before you cite Sweden as being better, remember she has
major problems with rioting and immigration too. Blighty certainly isn’t perfect. Despite being governed by a weak and unprincipled elite too concerned with London to care about the majority of the British people, things can change for our country. I only hope that the change comes sooner rather than later. Regardless, I am already planning next summer’s trip to Africa. Things work well there I hear!
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
FOUNDER Features Features@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
‘Postcards from the Edges’: Giving a voice to those silenced by society BY ROSE WALKER FEATURES EDITOR
“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.” These poignant words were spoken by Helen Keller, an American author, political activist and lecturer, who was also the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. This quote was used in one of the artworks I viewed on September 11th when I attended an exhibition put on by United Response, a national charity that supports people with learning disabilities, mental health needs, and physical disabilities, to take control of their lives. The exhibition, ‘Postcards from the Edges’, is the end result of 8 months of creative campaigning, commissioned by the charity to coincide with its 40th anniversary and the anniversary of the Paralympics. United Response’s aim was simple; ‘Through artwork, poetry, stories, collages or messages, we want people with, or affected by, disabilities to express what is important to them – all in the blank space of a postcard. If the Paralympics showed off disabled people’s sporting achievements, we hope this series of exhibitions will showcase their creative abilities.’ The charity received hundreds of submissions, all of which are displayed on their website, whilst a selection were chosen to feature in the exhibition that has shown in London, and will also be held in Gateshead, Bristol, and Liverpool. The London exhibition was held at the Bankside Gallery, a small space that served to heighten the intimacy of the subject matter. All of the works portrayed personal aspects of disabled people’s lives, whether created by a mother who depicted her fears for her autistic son, or a disabled young adult protesting against the bedroom tax. At the end of the evening, one man whose son’s work had been included told me stoutly, “We’ve come all the way from Wales. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” He was the very definition of proud, and rightfully so. One of the night’s opening speakers was Sue Kent, whose postcard ‘High-heeled and Gloveless’ confronts the idea that disability demands stagnated sexuality. Her postcard consists of a bright image of teetering red heels and poetry that mocks the opinion that just because she looks a certain way, means she should dress a certain way. Due to Thalidomide, Sue’s arms are 8 inches long and she has seven fingers. She says “I love clothes but so often I can’t wear [what’s] in the shops. Over the years, I’ve turned to shoes as an expression of my sense of fashion.” I asked her if there had been a defining moment that had encouraged her not to be shunted into
the status quo, and she laughed. “My Mum always told me I was only allowed sensible shoes. As soon as I was 16 I wanted to buy high heels.” I admired the bright purple pair she was wearing, confessing that my own
flats had been hurriedly bought from Primark that afternoon, and she eyed them with open disgust; “Get them off ! Get some heels!” Sue’s poem explains how difficult travelling by public transport can be for her, and she elaborated on this. “I often work in London and travel to work by tube. As I grow older and the escalators go faster, I find my worsening eyesight is affecting my ability to balance. People don’t notice my arms from behind and will knock me in their rush and so the height of my shoes is reducing when on public transport.” “The impending sensible shoe wearing causes
me immense stress and sadness, a vain and vacuous ad mission. When I am stressed I write poems.”Earlier in the evening United Response’s CEO Su Sayer spoke about how the Paralympics were one of the inspirations behind ‘Postcards from the Edges’. “It was just fantastic seeing disabled people being celebrated in the media, seeing these athletes becoming household names. But it also reminded us that there are thousands of disabled people in this country who can’t be great sporting heroes, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t achieved remarkable things.” I asked Sue if she felt that during the Paralympics she had noticed a shift in public attitudes to her disability. “Yes, I did; there was a lot more awareness and I found people became more thoughtful. I was offered a seat on the tube a lot more!” However, when I asked whether she felt this had continued, she paused. “No, I don’t think so. The Paralympic media coverage had so much money behind it due to advertising, and that obviously all stopped. So it wasn’t being positively promoted anymore. But I do think it’s filtered down to individual levels, and it has encouraged me to put myself out there and express myself.” Sue had written poetry before for many years, but mostly for her local paper and only occasionally writing about disability. When she first found out about ‘Postcards from the Edges’, she says she was inspired by its open agenda, and the opportunity it gave to people to express what they felt. She spent time reading some of the submissions that were already up on the website; “I learnt such a lot about mental illness, because obviously I’m more physically disabled. I thought what a good educational tool it was for me, and so I thought I’d show what practical problems we have. I was learning and I wanted to teach.” Learning is exactly what the project is about; learning what disabled people and those closest to them want you to hear. When asked what she hoped the postcards would achieve, Sue remarked, “You see so often in research [into disability] people asking all the questions they want to ask you, them interpreting your answers. I hope all these postcards will act as a good resource base that gives disabled people a voice without others interpreting us, to show what we’re actually thinking. I hope people will use it to understand those with disabilities, and the problems that they face.” All of the postcards can be viewed at: http://www.postcardsfromtheedges.org.uk/
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Feautres@thefounder.co.uk / @rhulfounder
Why violence against women should be a men’s issue BY ALEX PEGLER Two women are killed every week in the UK by former or current male partners. Despite countless Government initiatives, police overhauls, and high-profile abuse cases, this figure has remained constant since the turn of the millennium. The reason for this is clear. Too often mainstream discourse on domestic abuse is dominated by the notion that violence against females is a ‘women’s issue’. A civilised society should have a problem with this.
What reason did Saatchi offer for the breakdown of the relationship? His wife’s failure to explain that he ‘abhors violence of any kind against women’. Naturally. During the summer, The Sunday People newspaper printed images of advertising executive Charles Saatchi assaulting his celebrity chef spouse Nigella Lawson in a Mayfair restaurant. Commentators from all corners made great play of demanding that Lawson leave her abusive husband. Very few actually paid any attention at all to the individual entirely culpable for creating the media storm. Saatchi was effectively offered impunity from any real sanction and was handed a token punishment in the form of a police caution. Seven weeks after the incident, the couple were granted a decree nisi - ending a decade-long marriage. What reason did Saatchi offer for the breakdown of the relationship? His wife’s failure to explain that he ‘abhors violence of any kind against women’. Naturally.
The campaign’s message, if heeded, could have a transformative effect on societal attitudes towards gender violenc
As this case demonstrates, when gender violence shocks the collective conscience of the nation, society readily offers a critique of the woman’s decision to stay in, or leave, an abusive relationship, rather than focus on the man’s abusive behaviour. This, coupled with a criminal
justice system that is has an abjectly lenient approach to domestic abusers, ensures that violence against women is rife and will remain prevalent for years to come. Activists from the White Ribbon Campaign aim to challenge such a depressing state of affairs. The movement, formed by Canadian men in protest against the killing of 14 women in a technical school in Montreal, has become one of the largest male anti-violence programs in the world. Now prevalent in more than 80 countries, the campaign is relatively unique in that it involves men standing up against gender violence committed by fellow men. After decades of media coverage perpetuating
the myth that male abusive behaviour is an issue for feminist groups or abused women themselves to tackle, the campaign’s message, if heeded, could have a transformative effect on societal attitudes towards gender violence. Crucially, such a group promotes a culture in which men are encouraged to stand up to abuse perpetrated by their peers. If we can create a situation where blokes feel a duty to stand up and be counted against abuse committed by their friends, teammates and colleagues, then gender violence will be confined to the annals of history.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Arts@thefounder.co.uk / @TheFounderArts
‘Just let me liberate you’? Robin Thicke’s blurred line
BY HARRY HIGHTON DEPUTY ARTS EDITOR Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) announced on 12th September that they have banned Robin Thicke’s controversial chart-topper ‘Blurred Lines’ from playing in any of the educational buildings of the university. A DJ at a silent disco on Sunday 8th September was asked to fade the song out before it had finished, despite students having the option to switch to a different channel on their headphones. EUSA cited their ‘End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus’ campaign as the reason for the ban which pledges to ‘campaign against myths and stereotypes around sexual violence’.
The original ‘unrated’ version features the women wearing only nude thongs and was temporarily removed by YouTube for its nude content Thicke’s song has caused uproar amongst feminist communities due to the inclusion of lyrics such as: ‘he don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that’, and: ‘I’ll give something big enough to tear your ass in two’. The song’s video, which was produced by Vevo, features Thicke and
his co-collaborators,T.I. and Pharell Williams, dancing with models Emily Rata jkowski, Jessi M’Bengue, and Elle Evans. The original ‘unrated’ version features the women wearing only nude thongs and was temporarily removed by YouTube for its nude content. It is now only available to YouTube account holders who are over 18 years old and has nearly 20 million views. The video is also available on Vevo’s website and has over 41 million views. The ‘censored’ YouTube version shows women scantily clad but ‘covered up’ with no alteration to the original lyrics and has over 171 million views. The song and its video have received large amounts of criticism from rape charities and feminist organisations. Katie Russell, a spokeswoman for Rape Crisis, a charity that raises awareness and understanding of sexual violence, said that: “The lyrics of ‘Blurred Lines’ seem to glamorise violence against women and to reinforce rape myths, which we strive to dispel.” She continued, “both the lyrics and the video seem to objectify and degrade women, using misogynistic language and imagery that many people would find not only distasteful or offensive but also really quite old fashioned. More disturbingly, certain lyrics are explicitly sexually violent and appear to reinforce victim-blaming rape myths, for example about women giving ‘mixed signals’ through their dress or behaviour, saying ‘no’ when they really mean ‘yes’ and so on.” In an interview in May
with GQ’s Stelios Phili, Thicke defened the lyrics and the video, citing Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up’ as his inspiration. He stated that “We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because [T.I., Williams, and I] are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the perfect
her husband permission to shoot the video with the topless models, according to The Huffington Post. The video’s director, Diane Martel, explained her motivation for the video in an interview with Grantland, stating: “I wanted to deal with the misogynist, funny lyrics in a way where the girls were going to overpower the men... It forces the men to feel playful and not at all like predators. I directed the girls guys to make fun of this.” to look into the camera, this is very intentional and they do it most of the time; they are in the power position. I don’t think the video is sexist. The lyrics are ridiculous, the guys are silly as fuck. That said, I respect women who are watching out for negative images in pop culture and who find the nudity offensive, but I find [the video] meta and playful.” It is possible,though,that other universities may disagree with Martel and follow in EUSA’s footsteps. When asked by The Founder whether or not she felt that Royal Holloway’s Students’ Union should implement a ban of offensive material of this nature, the president of Royal Holloway Feminism Society, Thicke continued, “I’ve always respected Rose Walker, stated: “Whilst I cannot, women ... we just wanted to turn it over and make no attempt to speak on behalf on its head and make people go, ‘women of the whole society, my personal opinand their bodies are beautiful.’Men are al- ion is as follows: I would rather people ways gonna want to follow them around.” put effort into campaigning and raisIn response to the YouTube ban, Thicke’s ing awareness of why sexism within the wife, actress Paula Patton, tweeted in music industry is such a problem, rather March “nudity is Beautiful!!! Violence is than trying to ban just one song. Where ugly. ROBIN #THICKE ‘BLURRED is the line drawn? That’s the only truly LINES’ is the SHIT!!! It’s art...” and gave blurred line.”
In response to the YouTube ban, Thicke’s wife, actress Paula Patton, tweeted in March “nudity is Beautiful!!! Violence is ugly. ROBIN #THICKE ‘BLURRED LINES’ is the SHIT!!! It’s art...”
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Arts@thefounder.co.uk / @TheFounderArts
Where: Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2 Book: Enda Walsh Music and Lyrics: Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová Tickets : From £19.50
BY ARCHIE MACLEOD
Once is the musical adaptation of the film of the same name, released in 2006, and is now running concurrently on both Broadway and the West End. The book is written by acclaimed Irish playwright Enda Walsh, and tells the story of a down on his luck singer-songwriter, known only as Guy, and his relationship with Girl, a young Czech woman living in Dublin. Set over the period of five days, the audience is taken on a journey of love, joy, and heartbreak. The first act opens with Guy’s (Declan Bennett) plaintive cry to his ex-girlfriend, who has recently departed for New York. Bennett’s voice perfectly conveys his character’s emotions, something which continues throughout the show. As the rest of the cast disperse onto
chairs around the edge of the set to serve as the orchestra, we meet Girl (Zrinka Cvitešic), who, having heard Guy play, is immediately drawn to the young musician. Cvitešic believably portrays a conflicted character, part playful and fun, part troubled, the latter explored as the play progresses. She brings Guy out of his shell and encourages him to share his music with others around him, including his father (Michael O’Conner). Later we learn more of both characters’ circumstances, meeting Girl’s extended family and finding out more about Guy’s ex-girlfriend. Particular praise must be afforded to Valda Aviks as Baruska, Girl’s mother. Her lively performance sets the tone for the remainder of Girl’s family, who bring much of the comic relief in the show. Girl also mentions something which almost becomes a catchphrase with her
and other characters, “Of course I’m serious. I’m Czech!” However this is a phrase which gains added poignancy towards the end of the show, as the relationship between Guy and Girl becomes more developed. Bob Crowley’s set works brilliantly: as soon as you step into the theatre you are absorbed into the show’s world. The cast, a hugely talented ensemble of actor-musicians, are on stage – a Dublin pub – playing folk songs. The beautifully simple set consists of a bar and wall covered with mirrors, allowing you to see every facet of the production regardless of your position in the auditorium. Every facial expression and action jumps out at you and emphasises the depth in all the characters. The story of Guy and Girl takes place in many locations and the set proves itself to be impressively adaptable. Crowley’s design comes into its own in the second act, making use of
both costume and set to place Guy and Girl on a hill looking down on Dublin, a scene which brings the audience to the emotional climax of the show. The cast is expert and excellent, and Hansard and Irglová’s music is simple yet beautiful. They take the audience on a journey through the relatively short time Guy and Girl spend together, their developing emotions towards one another, and the deeply moving manner in which this ends. Martin Lowe’s orchestrations and musical direction bring wonderful depth to each number, beautifully matching the vocal performances of the cast. Overall, Once is a definite must-see. The touching story, incredible cast, and beautiful musical numbers all come together to form a wonderful evening at the theatre. Tickets from £19.50, a limited number of £67.50 tickets available on the day for
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THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Arts@thefounder.co.uk / @TheFounderArts
The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas
Where: Royal Court Theatre SW1 Book: Dennis Kelly Directed by: Vicky Featherstone Tickets : From £12 BY SCOTT WILSON ARTS EDITOR Gorge Mastromas is bad: the eponymous anti-hero of Dennis Kelly’s new morality play discards his ethics for the rewards of the lifestyle of the corruptible chameleon, climbing his way to the top of the business tree, exchanging loyalties as currency and telling lies for profit. Or so we are told. The first of several weaknesses in Kelly’s script is that we get frustratingly close to seeing Gorge be bad, but are then interrupted by a playful and eventually irritating modern rewrite of the Greek chorus. The opening half an hour consists of this chorus narrating the early chapters of Gorge’s life, holding the stage as they resurrect the moral overtones of Sophocles, with a jaunty modern nihilism. Although this is entertaining, it simply takes too long, and too much has been said about Gorge before we have seen him in the flesh. This puts Game of Thrones actor Tom Brooke (Gorge) in an awkward position of ownership - this chorus intervenes with his character for the rest of the play, and the entity of ‘Gorge’ seems to be more the property of the ensemble than the man playing him.
As this long scene grinds towards what could be an interesting climax, the Chorus bursts in again and asks: “Are you sick yet? Disgusted yet?”
However, probably the most crippling factor of the script is the simple lack of commitment to Gorge’s actual corruption. We are told, rather than shown, how corrupt Gorge is. The first stop on his corruption express is the betrayal of his kindly manager after hearing words of sage and
brutal wisdom from a Mephistophelean businesswoman, A (Pippa Haywood). Al-
on one hand, there is the attempt to revel in the duplicity of performance as done
sal themes later. Later, an office retracts to reveal an imposing brick wall, and later that office is decked out as an illustrious hotel suite. Featherstone has brought the best out of an ambitious but thin script, and the cast is solid. Reassuringly, the script finally allows Brooke to take control of Gorge in the closing, as he spouts a diatribe against the world as an old man in a lonely room.
The moral resolution to this moral play is that being bad is certainly bad, and nihilism is great fun. though this is a promising start, Gorge’s next act of duplicity is completely unbe lievable. In a hotel bathroom scene, which swings between the slapstick and the seri ous, Gorge pretends to be the victim of childhood sexual abuse in order to seduce his similarly abused counterpart, Louisa (Kate O’Flynn). Although this scene is carried admirably well by Brooke and O’Flynn, the writing indulges in far too much pendulous swinging between extremes to provide any real moment of absolute humour or sincere sorrow. As this long scene grinds towards what could be an interesting climax, the Chorus bursts in again and asks: “Are you sick yet? Disgusted yet?” The problem with Gorge Mastro mas is that a villain has to be resourceful to be truly compelling. A villain’s intuition is what makes the villain, and Gorge has none. He is spoonfed ‘three golden rules’ that constitute the entire master-plan of his villainous rise through life, and he repeats them at opportune moments like a parrot to make sure the audience still understands his motive. Kelly has clearly struggled to articulate the brilliant cruelty of Gorge on stage:
by Iago, on the other, a poor attempt at Patricia Highsmith’s Mr. Ripley. Kelly wants Gorge to be both, and fails twice; he curtails his own scenes of reveal and dishonesty - that could have been Machiavellian had they been understated and smoother - with convoluted overstatement.
It feels like Kelly put all the ‘bad’ things a man can do into a scripted kaleidoscope of ‘look at how bad Gorge is’ that quickly feels old. However, Gorge Mastromas saves itself when it can. That this has three stars is due to the typical clout the Royal Court gives to a performance and Vicky Featherstone’s direction. The stage is simple, but the opening set of chairs and a star map that lights with new constellations as Gorge meets new people, is a very private and sensitive touch that ties in with univer
This play should be very good and ruthlessly, soul-crushingly dark. There’s a murder, there’s betrayal, and one great big lie, but it feels like Kelly put all the ‘bad’ things a man can do into a scripted kaleidoscope of ‘look at how bad Gorge is’ that quickly feels old. Kelly’s great outrage against duplicity takes such a singular form his play becomes uninteresting before it has even gained momentum, and before Gorge can be the Gorge we’ve been hearing about, he’s already doomed by the audience’s unfortunate detachment. The refusal to enjoy or flirt with a climax perseveres to the very end, and the moral resolution to this moral play is that being bad is certainly bad, and nihilism is great fun. However, this is a huge success for the Royal Court. With Vicky Featherstone at the helm as Artistic Director, future plays have immense promise. That Featherstone was able to transform The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas into a play with quite some verve is a considerable feat. The mind behind Black Watch will certainly astound when a script that hits harder is presented to the Royal Court. Putting on a show of your own? Let us know about it: Arts@thefounder.co.uk
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
FOUNDER Arts Music@thefounder.co.uk / @TheFounderArts
Music: News, Reviews and Opinion
Who won the summer? BY MATT LA FACI
The world was exposed to the first real blockbuster hip-hop album on June 18 when Kanye West, sans a high profile promotion drive, released his sixth studio album Yeezus. Controversy surrounding the title, its lack of conventional album artwork, as well as the mythologizing quotes by collaborators, including Daft Punk, added to the buzz around the album’s release. A month later Jay Z released his own album, striking up a lucrative partnership with Samsung to release his twelfth album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, for free to one million Galaxy smart phone users. Comparable to their respective marketing ploys, it is easy to paint a picture of the albums as polar opposites. In Yeezus, West has eschewed his penchant for R’n’B inflected maximalist production, hinted on tracks like ‘Bound 2’, for a more dissonant minimalist aesthetic, making the album sound like the rapper’s 2008 LP 808s and Heartbreak on a scary amount of acid. The production of Magna Carta on the other hand is very much in the mould of the last few Jay Z albums, the New York rapper choosing to work with long time collaborators Timbaland, Pharrell and Swizz Beats. As a result, the songs on Magna Carta are evidently trying to reach the imperial heights of banger status. Lyrically it is the same story. Whilst Jay Z continues to celebrate the merits of materialism in ‘Tom Ford’, and the role of religion in ‘Heaven’, Kanye is more abrasive in his themes, exploring the relationship between capitalism and the African American place in society in ‘New Slaves’ and affirming ‘I AM GOD’ in the song of the same name. So which album truly ruled the summer? It is a tough call. For instant gratification, Magna Carta is the obvious candidate. However for an album that, for the sake of immediate enjoyment, will resonate in the months to come Yeezus certainly feels stronger. Considering the relative merits of each it is time to come up with a winner. Easy:
Where the Heaven Are We
Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s ‘Control’. In their fifth studio album, ‘AM’ the Arctic Monkeys have successfully tapped into a bubbling fountain of black-gold. It spews sexed-up Sabbath cool from every vein. Lyrically it’s as deft as any Arctic Monkeys album. But ‘AM’ is clearly a world away from the rolling riot vans and Topshop princesses of their early material, but then the L.A life style of lead singer Alex Turner is too. Sentimentalists must remember this, the mardy Monkeys might still have to deal with the sticky floors of dodgy pubs in their knackered converse but Turner and his cohorts alighted the bus long ago. Think sunglasses in doors, biker boots and black leather jackets on some strip in the sunshine states. AM is a doff to the mega-star new life the Northern boys are enjoying. It is an exercise in self confidence, evident from the nomenclature of the album itself, full of lovely swoon-rock gloop that fills any room with heavy bass notes, thumping drums and cool melodies. Absent are the twanging guitar sections of ‘Mardy Bum’ or the sinister sounding reverb of ‘Crying Lightning’. AM, in its burgeoning originality seems more valuable than the sum parts that make up the Arctic Monkey’s back catalogue. It is a good album to say the very least, packed out with bryclcream-slick tunes any self-respecting bloke should be playing before heading out the door.Tracks like ‘Do I Wanna Know’, ‘Arabella’, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ are in the calibre of songs that set you up for the day, or night ahead. They give you that warm buzz of excitement for an evening pregnant with possibility, rousing up the spirit before a big one. ‘AM’ even has tracks for the end of the night too, ‘Number 1 Party Anthem’ for instance is a lovely slow-dance, anthemic and brooding for that final deliverance to the couch or bed.
I’ve always had great respect for bands who are intensely influenced by other musicians and use this to create music that is entirely their own, unique. Swim Deep are a prime example of this. With strong similarities to the melodies of The Cure and The Smiths, their first album ‘Where The Heaven Are We’ successfully achieves to conquer the quartet’s own sound. Amongst top tracks, ‘The Sea’ is perfectly melodramatic and light to draw out the last few weeks of summer. A high point of the record is how its musical content fits together as a body of work. Tracks such as ‘King City’, ‘Francisco’ and ‘Honey’ are mainly appreciated for their musical simplicity, making it a good lighthearted indie album. In its Cure-esque style and slightly alternative tunes this one is brilliant for relaxing on a quiet afternoon or evening with a cheeky glass of wine!
BY RICH CUNNINGHAM
BY NATASHA BARRETT
Where the Heaven Are We is out now. However, one slight issue I have with the final track, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ is that it feels a little forced. By this number you feel the album has run out of steam. Lyrically it is the weakest track that is as cringe-inducing as Alex Turner’s pretend American accent. From the get-go it is wrapped up in cliché and less than useful chat-up lines. It’s opening line ‘I wanna be your vacuum cleaner / Breathing in your dust’ was described as ‘beautiful’ by the NME. I have a feeling that if you were to utter those words to a sweetheart she might mistake your affection for a household appliances fetish. Not one to try in the SU. Despite the final song’s rather deflated feel ‘AM’ is a success. I suggest skipping back to the beginning before that final wince-worthy track arrives and reliving the utter joy that is ‘Arabella’. Easily the best inclusion on the album and about the best thing I’ve heard all year.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Disclaimer: The Founder does not, never will, nor ever has, condoned the actions of Monty or his lifestyle choices. Any scenarios that result in detrimental effect in which Monty is cited as the cause of or a bad influence towards, are not the responsibility of The Founder board. This includes amongst other things disciplinary action, possible expulsion, and post-coital tristesse.
The Adventures of: Montague ‘Fresh’ DeLarge - Part the 8th -
‘Monty’s Freshers’ five things at holloway you’re not supposed to do’ and how to do them Holloway! Oh, the very word is elevator music to Heaven, or the lounge music in Satan’s boudoir, depending on whether you’re nice or naughty. For those who know me - I’ve missed you, I really have, and for those who don’t - I feel jealous that you soon will. All you need to know is that I’m the nuclear cum in the heart of the sun, the cocaine on the Queen’s nose, the man who started the London Riots after he staggered out of a bar in Tottenham, Montague fucking Fresh, a second year, a big fish, probably, and I will be leaving my ejaculate across many of your Fresh faces in the first week. If you have any sense, you’ll bottle it and make an investment, but I’d prefer it if you swallowed. The cunts at The Founder seem to have an impulse to print whatever I write, and I use this mistake as a platform to spread my loquacious love to you, my dears. I relate my adventures, my failures, and above all a characteristically DeLarge approach to life. Well, Freshers, I suppose you’re all being told how to do things by people who know how to do them. Are you enjoying the great sieve of student support? You’re better than that, aren’t you! Bugger what they say - do this instead: The SU Fire Alarm is Rather Sensitive I ’ll be the first to say, I love the SU. I love our nights, I love Absolute Filth because it reminds me of my christening when I was six, and I love the themes. Yes, I will dress up like a James Bond villain on James Bond night, and I will humour the people who come in black tie dressed like Bond, because there’s nothing cuter than someone in a dinner jacket thinking they know how to wear one. I also have great respect for the SU dance-floor: things happen on that plain which defy the Hell parts of Paradise Lost. However, there comes a point when the SU carnage is not enough. This is where the fire alarm comes in. I know many people who have set this off and never been caught. Frankly, although security are trying to tighten up over this, the worst that has been done is an angry message on RHUL confessions, which shows exactly how comprehensive
their method is. Find it, be deft, and the SU is your oyster. The alarm unleashes a web of chaos upon the SU that is hard to articulate unless you frequently have nightmares about Mount Vesuvius or wet dreams that feature God. Last year, there were several invasions of the International Building because whoever locked up was tired and missed a door, and the horde of rampaging students broke through the corral of security and took the party there. I can’t really list the doors the fire alarm opens; just set it off and enjoy your trip through Wonderland. Give my regards to Alice. There is a Back Entrance into Medicine This simple opportunity relies on speed and familiarity. Rather than go to Medicine via the road, go through Founder’s forest. From Founder’s building, constantly veer to the right and you will soon you find yourself going through a small underpass displaying uninspiring graffiti, and you are at the foot of Club Med below the fence bordering the smoking area. Like most lust murders, you must pick your opportunity carefully and rely on technique. Security can be very aware of fence-climbers and will be very vigilant when a popular night, such as a Fresher’s night, is taking place. They may even have someone watching the fence, and they can be really mean when you topple over, because sometimes they think they’re actually real bouncers. However, it isn’t impossible. If you slip over the fence in a few seconds, your fellow students will not divulge your presence to the Overlords congratulations, you have free entry. Founder’s Kitchen Opens Early and Late: We all ate Founder’s food and gave birth to Jane Holloway’s afterbirth eight hours later. It’s the combination of burger, pretend vegetables and your own greed that does it, but the bum gravy that flows from your holy cavity is reminiscent of the end of Apocalypse Now, and there’s one man sat in a dark corner murmuring ‘the horror’ over and over. No one deserves this, and there’s obviously revenge to be cashed
for all the red that you found amongst the brown on your arse editorial, and I have that cheque. Go to Founder’s West after nine pm, when Security are dealing with flagrant drunks like myself, and find the rather unsettling lift on the ground floor that appears to be lined floor, walls and ceiling, with carpet. Go up one floor, up the flight of stairs and you have a pretty good chance of entering the back room of Founder’s kitchens. Ahead of you will be a cabinet where they store the catering outfits, (good for SU themes) and to your left, the kitchens themselves. The sheer amount of semen you can leave there is mind-boggling, and as Founder’s East and West always spiral into an inevitable turf war anyway, you can win points against both sides by throwing your essential oils into their pre-lecture granola. Talk Reason at an SU General Meeting There’s nothing like a student bureaucrat to remind you synthetic life might be better than what we have now, and that sometimes it is okay to have feelings for a blow-up doll. But Monty knows there’s nothing worse than a sour Susan, and I really suppose you have to enjoy a night in Polyphemus’ cave yourself before you truly know the horrors. The bar can help you and it doesn’t stop serving, and like the NHS you can go there any time if you want to feel better. Remember: if they didn’t have those general meetings, they wouldn’t have anything. Like the blind worms that live near volcanic vents on the ocean floor, they’re a strange and simple kind of creature. If you don’t have integrity, at least you can cling to a sense of purpose. Founder’s Roof I suppose this is the big one. Some of you will be very aware that you have rooms that open to Founder’s roof. Some of you will wish you brought a set of Alan keys to get rid of the suicide blocks that prevent you from making this journey. Some others won’t have a fucking clue. Let me make this absolutely clear to you: if you are caught doing this, you will be expelled.
You can dispute it as much as you like with an SU rep, but they have you, your balls, and your money in a great big Paul Layzell shaped vice. Now let’s get there and do it: go to Founder’s West. I don’t like West, I’m an East chap myself, but West is definitely more prone to invasion and subversion because security live in an office in East where they can hear everything, and there’s something about West that just inspires people to not lock doors, not roam around at night, and generally give the good wanderer like you a good berth. Get the lift to fifth floor. No stairs, that’s too risky. Always pretend to be drunk. If you tumble out of the lift and bump into an MA student, or the rare security unit, ask them where room E269 is and look distressed. On West on the fifth floor is a sequence of skylights. If you reach up, you can open them, but to climb through you’ll have to surmount an overhang and the best way I’ve found to do this is to brace your legs against each wall and just fucking go for it. Those of you who have done this before are probably laughing and claiming to your friends that Monty is a silly fucker, isn’t he, who doesn’t know much at all. Yes, there are many other methods up, and easier ones. But as always, I’m your being your student rep who actually really cares - there’s a reason why this one is the best. If you’re both up for it, take your other half with you. On the West side, first skylight, there is a chimney. Once you’re on the roof, you can slide down and around the chimney (don’t go fast, lest you fall off to your deaths) and there is a long flat surface where both of you can fuck whilst protected by the architecture of the building. You are invisible. I advise going on a moonless night, to avoid being framed against the light if you get carried away. Try and make it a quickie, and remember: no matter how incriminating the evidence, if security doesn’t catch you on Founder’s roof, you were never on Founder’s roof. I love you all - don’t get caught you beautiful bastards.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Ashley Stephenson gets The Founder’s brand new section underway with a fresh take on the classic game:
SHAG BY ASHELEY STEPHENSON
Leather Trousers Leather trousers are the Lindsay Lohan of trousers, the Gianna Michaels, the Dita Von Teese, the Helen Mirren. Helen Mirren is someone that every male (and many a woman) has thought about spending the night with. Science tells us that Helen Mirren is one of the sex symbols of our generation and of the same ilk as Nigella Lawson. Lindsay Lohan begs the question, “What will she do to me?” as does Dita Von Teese, a burlesque angel or devil (depending on your take on shoulders). Frankly I’d let Gianna Michaels (one of Pornhub’s finest) tie me up and do me with a strap-on. That said, would anyone from our generation ever express a desire to spend their life with any of these women? I can’t imagine so.
MARRY you to Ross Geller circa 1999. Either way, no one is going to marry a pair of leather trousers or keep them as a staple in their weekly wardrobe; marriage and leather don’t mix. Witnesses to testify this are the aforementioned Ross Geller, a man with a shoe-in on marriage but a disastrous take on leather and, conversely, Kanye West, a man with a passion for leather and a notorious abhorrence for commitment. If you are to venture into the business of a one night stand with a pair of leather trousers (which I fully recommend) avoid doing it on the beach at all costs; sand and sweat will interfuse in places you wouldn’t want them to.
Levi’s Jeans Ideally, the woman I one day marry will be attractive when I marry her, considered a MILF when we are parents and a GILF when we are grandparents. Looks aren’t everything, of course, when considering marriage; I’m simply trying to make a metaphor for a pair of trousers (which lack a certain amount of emotional capacity).
Avoid [wearing leather trousers] on the beach at all costs; sand and sweat will interfuse Dip into a pair of chiin places you wouldn’t nos, motorboat some want them to. cords, and make sure Leather trousers are something that can be worn for a, quite literal, steamy ex- you go down on some perience, yet only on occasion - similar tartan trews to a night of pleasurable delirium with Lindsay Lohan. Wearing leather trousers could potentially culminate in three hours of painful ecstasy (or whatever you would imagine sex with Gianna Michaels might resemble) in which case you may choose to re-visit them from time to time. Just as likely, though, is the possibility of the whole experience resulting in a sweat-drenched flaccid shame. I refer
Some believe that there is only one pair of trousers for them, and that fate will lead them to it. Said people are known as idiots. Many knock-up the first pair of trousers they go out with at thirteen and consequently end up ruining their lives. These people tend to wear tracksuits and are known as Chavs. Some wear whatever trousers their father and grandfather
wore before them, believing they offer stability (we all know they are only with them for their family’s money). This variety of person tends to wear chinos – well, until their chinos divorce them and take all their money leaving them in a pair of lounge pants. Chumps. Love finds people in more ways than I care about, but my take on love is thus: I believe that one should slut it up with a variety of trousers before settling down. Dip into a pair of chinos, motorboat some cords, and make sure you go down on some tartan trews. After a few pregnancy scares and once you’ve got that excitable stage out of your system, it’s time to find yourself a loving spouse. I would recommend a pair of well-fitted Levi’s jeans. Sticking with my ideals, Levi’s look sensational when first bought , they are a reliable MILF, and in terms of being a gorgeous GILF I refer you to our friends in East London - dare I mention the word ‘vintage’.
¾ length shorts. There are three types of women to avoid. The first is the woman that you avoid because she repels you. For me, any of the cast of Jersey/Geordie/any other type of shore would fall comfortably into that category. The second is the type that you have visited in your youth and now terribly regret and hope to God none of your friends find out about (although they inevitably will, to which you make spurious claims about holes and goals whilst churning inside with self-loathing). Finally, there are women that one avoids due to their excessive amounts of emotion.
As far as I am concerned, 3/4 length shorts are the devil’s work
AVOID 3/4 length shorts fall under the second aforementioned category and I shall explain why. We have all, I hope, known someone in our romantic lives that haven’t lived up to our expectations. Perhaps your first crush, to whom you gave a homemade Valentine’s card, aged six, as she ridiculed you with rejection in front of the entire class (perhaps she had simply peaked early and gone on to deform in her teens - take that Lizzy Fitzgerald!). Perhaps later in life you dated someone who you perceived to be kind and generous, as we morons do, only for them to copulate with two women and a man (none of whom include you) whilst your back is turned. Or perhaps you were married to Rolf Harris, in which case none of us saw that coming. Crucially, you want to avoid these situations from happening again. The exact same goes for 3/4 length shorts. As far as I am concerned, 3/4 length shorts are the devil’s work. We have all donned a pair at some point assuming that it was a safe bet (much like I thought giving Lizzy Fitzgerald a Valentine’s card was). With age, most of us realise quite how abominable they are, and avoid them at all costs (Lizzy Fitzgerald. I’m not bitter, honest). Some of us haven’t been so lucky. They still wear Crocs for goodness sake. The sheer purpose of 3/4 length shorts escapes me. They do not entertain the idea of warmth in the winter while causing nothing but sweat-induced discomfort in the summer (no breeze to any form of gonad) and I’d rather not get into the sound that they produce when one walks in them. My advice: if you dare to think that wearing 3/4 length shorts is a good idea then remember that Mrs. Giggs thought the same thing when she married Ryan.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Toby Fuller on ‘the dreaded Foodie’ BY TOBY FULLER COMMENT EDITOR As I set pen to paper, sheltered from the Cornish drizzle with a ready supply of Doom and freshly caught crab, it has become all too clear that this – sitting in the local ale-house with cheer in our hearts and beer in our bellies – is the true appreciation of food. And I warn you, dear gastronauts, that under no circumstances will my column ever divert from this vein; it will not be tainted by the pretence and pseudo-journalistic waffle of the dreaded ‘foodie’. We all know the type, don’t we: the bête noir of dinner party company,
the self proclaimed homme du monde who persistently drones on about how best to fillet a Tsukiji-bought Bluefin Tuna and the merits of some new Kensington-bought olive oil that has been hand pressed by an order of Tuscan nuns. Given the opportunity, these are the kind of chaps who will – with lip-curling judgement – ridicule your choice of dish at a restaurant despite them never having spent a day fishing or shooting in their lives. These are the people who will invariable choose sous vide over a flaming grill and some truffle-infused-arse-dribble over a pot of freshly caught cockles. If, my dear gastronauts, you find yourself confronted with such food-
ies, etiquette affords you the right to desist from the inane conversation, inform said foodie of their pomposity and crack on with the overwhelmingly important task of finding yourself another drink. With the intent of avoiding the dreaded foodie at all costs, this column shall instead devote itself to food in all its natural and unaffected glory, with reverence to the humble sprat rather than deference to the latest plate of rubbish concocted by another one of those uncultured pretentious prats. Here, we raise our glasses to proper food, ranging from the sweaty bazaars of North Africa to the salty fish markets of the Scottish
coast; but never, my fellow gastronauts, shall we be lured into the over-priced, over-cooked, over-civilized world of the foodie – Cheers!
The Hollowegian Guide for the Bon Viveur BY TOBY FULLER COMMENT EDITOR Here at The Founder one could usually expect to find my column accompanied by a recipe. However, student loans have landed in the coffers and the livers and heads of our dear Freshers leaves them too fragile to be exposed to the heat of the kitchen. So fear not! Sit back, have a slurp of whatever tipple you find close to hand and be reassured by my guide to the hostelries, restaurants, and alehouses of Egham, at which you can enjoy a gastronomic respite as you muddle through Freshers’! The Beehive (Pub): My favourite pub in the world... seriously, it’s my second home. In my opinion, The Beehive is the only ‘proper’ pub within walking distance of the university, providing the perfect ales to accompany genuine grub. Whether you are in need of the spectacular ‘Hangover Burger’, or require Bele’s Schnitzel before a long night of revelry, this is a pub that you absolutely must, must come to. The Beehive kitchen also offers some delightful salads and light-
er dishes which are simply perfect under the midday sun in the beer-garden with a ready supply of white wine. Oh, and if there is a Beer Festival on, go to it! Sopranos (Italian Restaurant): A lot of people rate this place – I do not. I have visited Sopranos on several occasions now, none of them being terribly successful. First you will be sat down on what appears to be a garden chair before being subjected to the wailing of a small child at the next table, then to endure an exceedingly mediocre meal whilst the waiters persistently bump into you. The pasta was soggy; the tortellini bland, the steak and the seafood was so overcooked that they had adopted the consistency of rubber...The one redeeming factor of this place is that the pizzas are rather tasty. Just don’t order anything else from the menu. Bar 163 (Restaurant) This is place is a little pricey; the kind of place you only take a guest when you are certain there will be an invitation back to theirs after. That having been said, the food here is, frankly, pretty damn good. The chicken liver pâté was utterly spec-
tacular and their fish dishes are fantastic. The steaks are cooked perfectly and accompanied by an equally perfect selection of wines to guzzle your way through as you devour it. Unfortunately they have named my favourite desert the ‘Crème brûlée’, which I got very confused about because the Cambridge Burnt Custard Tart was invented by the English, not the French... The Bailiwick (Gastro-pub? Yes, a pretentious pub.) I jest. This pub actually serves some pretty impressive food; the calves’ liver and battered cod are particularly good. Nestled on the fringes of Virginia Water and Windsor Great Park serving hearty country dishes, this is the place one wants to go when the nights are getting a little chillier. This all comes at a price of course, and a price it certainly is – particularly when the portion sizes resemble 1950s rationing. But still a fantastic pub and well worth a visit. Caspari’s A reasonably priced restaurant offering some exceptionally good food. This is a place where I would suggest you spend a little extra to enjoy the specials and wash it down with expertly
concocted cocktails – deep-fried brie, calves’ liver and the sticky toffee pudding washed down by the mojitos is my current line up of choice. Having said that, one can easily spend a more frugal evening at Caspari’s and still indulge in some top nosh without having to apply for the Principle’s Loan. Windsor Farm Shop Not strictly somewhere to go for prepared food, although there is a cafe, I’m going to allow the exception. Windsor Farm Shop is a treasure trove of treats, bulging at the seams with fresh crusty breads, partridges, grouse, pâtés, haunches of venison, cheeses...the list of produce goes on, produce, I should add, that is all sourced from the Royal Estate in Windsor. Cheers to Her Majesty! This, my fellow gastronauts, is only a smattering of culinary possibilities open to Hollowegians. And whilst I hope this offers some rudimentary guidance, particularly to the our Freshers, I only hope more that you venture beyond to Windsor and London for further delights of the bon viveur
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
On the Grapevine with Josh Charles-Cheung BY JOSH CHARLES-CHEUNG It is the hour to be drunken! to escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish! - Charles Baudelaire Greetings once again giddy followers, and a great welcome to the new followers as they join this fraternity of lucidity, as we delve deep into the mysteries and the wonders and blunders of wine. Butcher it, devour it, let it send you into the realms of oblivion and bacchanalia, but also, try to remember something about it! For when you do, and when you next indulge, and its sweet caress and its gloopy dexterities woo your taste buds, the poetry that unfolds before you is ecstasy, sweet, intoxicating and empowering. . . AND YOU BECOME FUCKING BETTER AT EVERYTHING.
Sometimes. Right, let’s crack on, enough of the flowery hyperbole, I shall be with you every paper. Look for me, wait for me, drink with me and let’s thunder on together. So - the wine I’ve decided to have a gander at today is quite frankly a sexy little whore. Valpolicella. Not only does the word roll of the tongue and induce a kind of semi orgasm, it’s a cracker, will be on nearly every conceivable wine menu from Prezzo to the Ritz, and is not too much of a kick in the wallet - and a fantastic and sexy wine. Red, of course, Valpolicella is a young working professional. We don’t want to fuck her when she gets old, imagine the kind of young media type, driven, ambitious, well dressed and disgustingly naughty. This is the type of wine we’re dealing with. So we wanna make the hit at around the 2010-12 sort of mark. I’d be interested on your opinions on older Valpoli’s, but this is a personal prefer-
ence of mine! By all means write in and for fucks sake don’t believe everything I say, try it yourself ! Anyway - on drinking and thinking, we can immediately see some of its flaws, but then we spend the rest of the time discovering its virtues. From Northern Italy, we are presented with intimate nutmeg aromas with plum and blackberry occupying the plinth of the palate. The palate is kind of like a mini stick of dynamite, surprisingly explosive. I suppose this runs in keeping with the ‘Young Professional’ vibe this bitch gives off. Quite a nice surprise, accompanied with tiny pings of spice and vigour. But quite happily, after we’ve had a swirl and had a whiff of the nose, there seems to be a wonderfully fleeting aroma and display of eucalyptus, which introduces a nice counterbalancing floral element to the wine, which is otherwise dominated by the heavier red fruits and
heavier shit. I’d say most Valpolicella’s strike a very tangible and sexy medium body to it. Varying on the bottle, spice and liquorice tones can also be detected, though by no means an overwhelming element of the wine. So, she’s a beaut, standing at around £14-15 a bottle in most Englefield restaurants and around £5-6 in a local shop, it’s a really cracking wine. Interestingly, last year I reviewed Amarone Della Valpolicella, which is Valpolicella’s older Milf of a mum. A lot older, a lot more alcoholic, she is a cougar and one of the most sublime things you could ever possibly taste. Some Valpolicella will go on to mature into something like an Amarone, but it’s best to keep them separate and enjoy them as it is. BUT! Go for the daughter first! Young, busty, desperate to impress and ready for action, not many of us would say no!
The Secret Diary of a Life Model A Healthy Dose of Life Modelling
When I tell people that I work as a life model, I am always surprised at how shocking they find it. “You’re incredibly brave!” is the standard response. To me this is telling of people’s relationships with their own bodies. Why are we all so uncomfortable in our own skin that just taking one’s clothes off becomes a great act of bravery? Having spent an afternoon mooching around a collection of both impressionist and ‘Bloomsbury Group’ paintings at the Courtauld gallery, my friend righteously declared to me that “for every hour spent watching porn or reading fashion magazines, people should have to spend an hour looking at nudes in art.” We live in a culture where we are so exposed to airbrushed fashion models, surgically enhanced breasts, fake tans and laser hair removal, that the natural human form seems unacceptable or even abnormal. A study of the naked body in art is the perfect antidote to this culture that poisons our brains with self-loathing
and insecurity. Life drawing classes demand that the artist closely observes and accepts the body in front of them. As a model I find this experience affirming. Before offering my body to the artist’s scrutiny, I had to go through a process of saying, “Ok, this is my body. It’s flawed and that’s fine.” The real human form has featured so heavily in art because it is full of life; it belongs to a person and it conveys something of their physical and emotional lives. Their scars, features and postures all tell their story
and, crucially, every body is different. When I’m not modelling, I waitress at an events agency in London. This summer I have noticed the amount of nightmarishly botoxed women parading around at art auctions, charity dinners and A-list parties. It’s horrifying: they all look the same. Like cheap imitations of human beings, their features overly protrude from their faces, stretched and warped as if under a perpetual magnifying glass. Is this the future of the human race? Are we doomed to eventually all evolve into doll-like
clones, vaguely resembling something of flesh and blood yet grossly plastic and manufactured? This botox-joke is fast becoming reality. This was made particularly clear after I spent a day temping the reception of a Harley Street plastic surgery practice, and yes; I was casually offered free botox at the end of the day!* In this sci-fi horror world, I am on a mission to nurture appreciation for flawed human beauty. I want this column to give an insight into the current world of artists and models. I will (quite literally) expose my first plunders as a working model and grapple with attitudes surrounding nudity and its objectification and exploitation of women in art. *I didn’t accept.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
FOUNDER Lifestyle SWEET CHARITY
‘Savin’ my money and I’m hella happy that’s a bargain, bitch. I’ma take your grandpa’s style, I’ma take your grandpa’s style, No for real - ask your grandpa - can I have his hand-me-downs?’
BY ROSE WALKER FEATURES EDITOR Macklemore, I hear you, and I wholeheartedly agree. Whether or not you’ll be sticking to this mantra as you rake in the money, who knows. One thing’s for certain - no student has his budget. We’re a strange breed, and whilst there are those lucky enough to have parents funding their first forays into the adult world, nearly all university students will learn exactly how much it costs to live your life to the standards you’ve been used to. This shock is likely to be the result of having squandered the first half of your student loan within your first half-term; a combination of alcohol, fancy-dress, alcohol, meals from anywhere on Campus, alcohol, and maybe a few text-books all add up and hit your accounts hard.
situated. As you’re hopefully all aware, Egham is in Surrey (a wealthy area). The average house price is £407,991, and these wealthy people certainly aren’t averse to donating their cast-offs. True pros scour charity shops in the flushest London boroughs because they’re naturally gold-mines for designer goods.
You’re spending less money than you usually would AND it’s going to charity. Perfect.
What’s actually more fun, though, is managing to find something unique.
On your first venture into Egham towncentre, you may have been bemused by its surplus of charity shops (the Superdrug and Boots are only shoved in to try and trick you into believing you are in London, after all). I’m going to attempt to persuade you that this is, in fact, a good thing. Do you bemoan the fact that you’re not nearer the capital and the bright lights of Oxford Circus? Don’t. A friend of mine went to Westminster University this year, and her campus was just a couple of streets away from that retail pitfall. She would practically always buy something during lunch, and has consequently ended up with a wardrobe full of pieces she would never have bought if they
hadn’t been ‘just there’. Save London for a treat; Christmas shopping, for example, is manic but fun. What’s actually more fun, though, is managing to find something unique. I know Topshop has some nice stuff but we all know it’s over-priced, and the likelihood of seeing someone else in exactly the same thing at an SU night is pretty high. Spend a little more time, and a lot less money rooting around in your local ‘thrift store’ (that’s American for our charity/second hand shops) and find something incredible. You can forget the ‘It’s gross!’ argument - I’ve volunteered in charity shops, and they have to throw a lot of donations away because they’re
deemed not fit to be sold. Everything’s steamed before it’s put out, and all it needs is to be chucked in with the rest of your laundry when you’re home.
True pros scour charity shops in the flushest London boroughs because they’re naturally gold-mines for designer goods.
Now, the content of charity shops does vary depending on where the shop i
But let’s keep it simple; an activity for when you decide you simply need a new outfit, but you don’t have that much money left. Head down that hill and spend an afternoon creating an outfit only from charity shops, for £10-20. You’re spending less money than you usually would AND it’s going to charity. Perfect. Just so you know I’m not trying to fob you off, I’ll leave you with a list of my favourite ‘thrifted’ items bought over the past few years, where they came from and how much they were. 5) Laura Ashley pale blue linen shirt with mother of pearl buttons, Egham Oxfam, £4.99 4) 1970s lace jacket, Essex car boot sale, 50p 3) Zara grey cashmere evening coat, Egham British Heart Foundation, £16 2) 1970s leopard print cardigan, car boot sale, 70p 1) Harrods vintage camel-hair floor length coat with fur collar, Essex YMCA Charity Shop,
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Sports@thefounder.co.uk / @TheFounderSport
Twelve Wins From Wembley
The Glory of the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round BY OWEN COLLINS
On the weekend of the 17th August something started. As most football fans will tell you, it was the new Premier League season, in all its multichannel, multinational, multimillionaired glory. It dwarfs every other league on the planet. Fans, pundits, and slightly crooked current players (looking at you, Andros Townsend), were busy hedging bets on whether the BestLeagueInTheWorld™ would be a three-horse race or just the usual two-horse race. Fascinating stuff. But contrary to what every paper (except this one) will have you believe, that wasn’t the only competition to begin that weekend. A mere 96 days after Wigan shocked the world by beating Manchester City at Wembley the 2013-14 FA Cup began. But this wasn’t your First Round where the comparable giants of League Two hack each other to footballing death for a sniff of Premiership opposition. No, this was something greater. This was football in its purest sense, the one hundred percent-proof ethanol of the sporting world: the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round. That’s right, extra preliminary. For those of you unfamiliar, let me
explain. Like the tackiest of nightclubs, the strength and drawback of the FA Cup lies in its openness. All four divisions of the Football League combined comprise 92 clubs. The FA Cup this season will feature 767 clubs, spread across two countries or even three, depending on your geopolitical opinion on Guernsey. Naturally, this throws up a problem when you’ve already pencilled the showpiece final in for May. So quietly, discreetly, in the corners of England that BT Sport don’t know exist, the FA Cup heaves itself out of bed. It curses another short summer and pulling on its ribbons, prepares for another year at the office. All of this occurs when the majority of fans are only just renewing their season tickets. So why is this ‘football at its purest’, as I claimed earlier? Because no matter the size of the club, or the tiny hamlet they represent, a club could do the unthinkable.
Providing they can cruise through the Extra round, storm the Preliminary Round, then doggedly win all four Qualifying Rounds to the First Round proper. From there they must slay giants through rounds Three, Four and Five to arrive at a Quarter final which is in touching distance of a Semi final at Wembley. Simple enough. And if they can get that far, the real hard work begins: The Final, victory and European competition. The continental maestros of Inter Milan could be coming to Bishop Auckland. Nothing is, technically speaking, impossible. The FA Cup may have been diluted by money, big teams sending out their reserves and half a dozen qualifying rounds. But the essence, the raison d’etre of the Cup, remains: that any team, however big or small, can be showered in glory. Of course it’s weighted in favour of the big boys, but doesn’t that only increase the appeal? If it was fair, the underdogs wouldn’t be so charming, the giant killings so shocking. You can almost hear the part time Cheesemonger-Manager of West
Allotment Celtic in a portacabin changing room, air thick with the smell of Lynx Africa. The floor is wet and littered with those holey clumps of muddy grass you flick off your boots. Cheesemonger looks around his hopeful team, an assembly of policemen, scaffolders, traffic wardens and supermarket supervisors, and begins his team talk. Dvorak’s 9th (that’s the Hovis music to non-classical fans) swells in the background. “This is it boys. This is our year. We’re just twelve wins from Wembley.” Even the most hardened pessimist couldn’t actually argue with this last statement. As I said, it’s pure football. They don’t broadcast the draw for the Extra Preliminary Round live on ITV, but to do so would be magnificent. Dave Beasant and Ian Rush would pluck the balls from a velvet bag whilst reciting names that represent unrefined football poetry: Armthorpe Welfare, Thurnby Nirvana, Atherton Collieries, Coventry Sphinx, AFC Wulfrunians, Flackwell Heath, Lincoln Moorlands Railway, Borrowash Victoria. The list is quite possibly endless. These teams will never even make the First Round, but whisper it, because when they play, the whole town is imbued with that iconic Up-for-the-Cup atmosphere that we are told is dying. Shop windows, car wing mirrors, the young and the old, for one weekend a year, are decked in the team colours. Just twelve wins from Wembley, lads. This could be your year. Except for West Allotment Celtic, they went down 4-0 to Billingham Synthonia.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Sports@thefounder.co.uk / @TheFounderSport
The Balls are turned to Gun Stones Stan Eldridge begins his tenure with an often overlooked virtue of British sport BY STAN ELDRIDGE SPORTS EDITOR This time last year Mo Farah was tousling the hair of adoring children and Boris Johnson seemed to exude the Red White and Blue from every harrumphed syllable. It was the post-London Olympics high. Team GB exceeded expectations, notching up twenty nine gold medals and sixty five in total. We were merry and proud. Why, our lads and lasses had done so very well, and stood so very straight in their medals and everyday attire. Naturally we began wheeling them out in Supermarket adverts and panel shows. Chris Hoy, it turned out, loved cereal, and Tom Daly dutifully collected all of his nectar points. It was uncomfortable when Olympians began to be showcased like prize winning cattle back in 2012. They awkwardly stuttered through guest appearances and commercials. Somehow Olympian prowess was embarrassingly dwarfed by Jimmy Carr’s stupid little laugh. How could British titans of Sport, still gleaming in their triumph, no longer command our hope and attention? Watching British Olympians in their yearlong victory lap smacked of boredom and monotony. We heard a dozen times repeated their rise to fame and training regimes, but there was little to discern one monochrome medal winner from the next. There was something distinctly foreign about the Olympic Legacy campaign, something that went completely against that very British sensibility of the gritty underdog. Fast forward to 2013 and our Sporting achievements have soared into the stratosphere. Andy Murray won Wimbledon and The British and Irish Lions tore into Australia’s unbeaten home record. England’s cricketers trounced the Aussies amid much controversy and Chris Froome stormed the Tour De France. The Olympic legacy has worked wonders. And it was our littleknown athletes who taught the big boys how it should be done. The impacts of cultural events, like London 2012, always have a
gargantuan impact on Sport. However it is difficult to predict exactly how the world of Sport will react. So while British athletes have spent their yearlong celebration cutting ribbons it is interesting to note that our success in 2013 has been ignobly besmirched by some truly loutish behaviour. Urinating Monty Panesar must have set the bar because his England colleagues duly took his lead by christening The Oval Cricket ground in their own golden shower. Such behaviour has been derided and dispelled as unbecoming British sport. Harumph, harrumph, harrumph. But London is in the past, however much we tenaciously cling to Kenneth Branagh’s mutton chops. The landscape of British Sport has hit a teenage rebellion. Our Olympic victory is being tarnished by 2013’s ugly, upstart winners. Andy Murray swears on centre court while George North arrogantly derides Australia’s Will Genia in open play. Joe Root and Tim Bresnan were snapped puffing a crafty cigarette during the Ashes (there’s a joke in there somewhere). The squeaky clean image of our Olympic legacy is slipping.
But I struggle to remember British Sporting successes without a certain degree of controversy. In 2011 Darren Clarke, the chain smoking, chain drinking golfer, won the first Open title for a British golfer since 1999. Clarke, forty two and baggy around the belly, danced off to his after party and pitched up next morning to the World’s media with a stinking hangover. Clarke was modest and gracious yet undeniably shameless as, burping down remnants of Guinness, he admitted his after-party only wound up thirty minutes before. There was a stunted fanfare following Clarke’s victory. The approach of many news reports struggled to acknowledge Clarke’s back story without embracing his rambunctious nature. Clarke was an underdog both in athleticism and our perceived idea of a champion. Another Northern Irish golfer, the dashing Rory McIlroy, is the chosen poster boy. British sport fans crave success. British sport is probably the most comprehensively supported in the world. However we seem loathed to embrace our champions if they are not PR ready, pious, and unimpeachable. But that is completely against the
British way of doing things. Our heroes always have been a tad rough around the edges. Old Bill Shakespeare realised this little quirk in our consciousness yonks ago. Henry V our King, having fought through two plays as a whiny little upstart, turns out to be the unconventional hero of Agincourt. Henry slam dunks some snooty French ambassadors with a cheeky acknowledgment of English sensibility laced with intent: “We never valued this poor seat of England and living hence did give ourselves to barbarous license”. And remember, Henry V is the heir of Falstaff, the imbibing, jolly commoner who we all know and love. A character so eccentric he could only belong to this Morris dancing, kilt wearing isle. So as cricketers smoke and urinate, tennis players curse and roar, or rugby players flounce and chide, we should remember their devotion. This is not to say violent or arrogant behaviour should be condoned, rather that our athletes should be free to reflect their national consciousness. After all, Brazil’s football team play in a vivacious style reflective of a Rio street party. The majority of British athletes then, by virtue of being British will always have that romantic, gregarious lone island spirit where we do sometimes, as Shakespeare’s self mock claims, “give ourselves to barbarous license”. It’s who we are. I wonder how our Olympians would have reacted if not part of an enormous state and corporate sponsored event in 2012. With athletes under scrutiny to provide politicians like Boris Johnson with success sound bites, I find it so very refreshing that after our superb Olympic summer British athletes are carrying that same fine form into 2013. But they are doing so in a way which reminds us that our sporting heroes are not PR puppets. They are a mismatched band of unbridled brothers and sisters, each with a roar in their heart, and a mischievous wink in their eye.
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Sports@thefounder.co.uk / @TheFounderSport
Football’s back and it’s looking better than ever
BY NATHAN RUSSELL
Whether it was the constant stream of misinformation concerning Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid or the niggling reminders that Arsenal still hadn’t spent any money, the transfer window was incredibly monotonous at times. But worry not, it’s all over. Breathe easy. We can anticipate what looks to be one of the most intriguing and engaging Premier League seasons of recent years. Last year’s top three have all had fun with Manager Musical Chairs: Sir Alex Ferguson has had all of his Fergie Time, The Special One is back and restless Man City have brought in Manuel Pellegrini. But that’s not all, Tottenham have sold Gareth Bale for a world record fee of £85.3m and spent £110m. Liverpool kept Luis
Suarez while strengthening their squad and Arsenal have brought in Mesut Özil, who had more key passes last season than any other player in Europe. The storm has passed and the achingly long tick tock of the transfer window now seems worth it. Last season’s champions are now third favourites to reclaim their crown in what has the potential to be an incredibly close title race. Chelsea and Manchester City have strengthened their squads with some fantastic signings and Manchester United, after much haggling, secured the signature of Marouane Fellaini. United are always in with a fighting chance, even if new manager David Moyes does need time to settle in. The £630m spent by Premier League clubs this summer
is a 29 per cent increase on what had been spent previously and has been partly used to attract some fantastic talents such as Christian Eriksen, Stevan Jovetic, and Mesut Özil. The fight for the European places looks as intriguing as the race for the title. Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, and Everton will all be challenging last season’s top three for one of those prestigious Champions League spots. They have all spent fair sums of money in the transfer window which adds more excitement and uncertainty. Massive transfer fees, wages, and summer spending are again accompanied by the regular controversy between Football and Money. The real issue is football cost for supporters and hopefully, in the
future, ticket prices will decrease for the weekly entertainment. But some fantastic entertainment it should provide. Premier League clubs have been riding the managerial merry-go-round whilst dishing out money in a frantic attempt to strengthen. But one factor that seems to make an unhappy player’s feet even colder is the fact that the World Cup follows the season. Everything is combining to make most football fans quiver with excitement like it’s Christmas Eve. The competition in England’s top flight, arguably the best league in the world, looks fiercer and more palpable than ever. There are months and months of it to look forward to, and a World Cup at its conclusion. So no complaints then.
Sport. This means that if you are interested or vehemently passionate about Sport societies we will be there to report as many kicks, tries, points, and laughs as we can. If you belong to a Sports club please do get in touch. We’d love to be your friend and write about your brave exploits out on the pitch. If you’re new, don’t worry, you can figure out exactly which clubs to join as we regularly update information and events from each and every Sports Club on campus. A list of Sport Societies with information
on how to reach them can be found on the Royal Holloway SU website. I thoroughly recommend taking a look. Meanwhile, over here at The Founder Sport, we will be updating you on our marvellous little Twitter Feed. There are live match updates, breaking Sports News and information about events on campus. Also watch out for our RHUL PreSeason previews where each Sport society will be showcased in a bitesized plug.
And if you are journalistically inclined, why don’t you pen something for us between your hectic studying and studious drinking? Or should that be the other way around? Either way, send in your articles and get your Sport opinion heard by everyone, not just the Pub locals.
A personal message from Stan for the year ahead BY STAN ELDRIDGE SPORTS EDITOR A personal message from Stan for the year ahead Hello. I won’t be offended if you don’t say ‘hello’ back. You are probably in Crosslands or something and it would be weird if you started talking to the paper. So don’t worry about it. It’s fine. But if you’re new to Royal Holloway, a battle-hardened veteran or somewhere in the middle, I want to talk to you about Campus Sport. This year the guys and gals over here at The Founder Sport will be focusing heavily on Campus
For all your Founder sporting needs. Now Sport Fans ASSEMBLE! ~ Check out the website: www.su.rhul.ac.uk/sports ~ You can follow us on Twitter: @TheFounderSport ~ Submit articles and tell us what you’re up to: Sports@thefounder.co.uk
THE FOUNDER September 25 2013
Sports@thefounder.co.uk / @TheFounderSport
Iranian triathlete scores major victory for Social Mobility BY KRISTIAN WIGHWICK At 7.15am on Sunday 15th September Shirin Gerami made her mark in history. She is the first woman to represent Iran at an International Triathlon Competition. Adorned in the green, white and red of Iran, Gerami joined 8,500 athletes drawn from 83 countries. The London-hosted event involved completing a formidable 1,500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. Gerami’s role in this event is of particular note because she did it all in full Islamic dress. Gerami has received full support from Iran’s newly appointed president, Hassan Rouhani, who tweeted her: “Shirin Gerami, 1st female triathlete to have participated in world championship wearing Iran’s colours #GenderEquality”. This represents a remarkable and inspiring step forward for Iranian sport. Previously Iran’s Sport Ministry had denied women the right to compete in triathlons or swim abroad. But Iran’s decision, triggered by Gerami’s intent, indicates a great leap forward for Muslim women everywhere. Rouhani supported his initial tweet with another: “#forward #hope #equality #progress #pride”, succinctly summarising the triumph for both Iran and gender equality. Gerami now lives in the UK but was born in Iran. The 24 year old sought to represent her country of birth and respect the expectations of Islamic custom with regards to dress. It hasn’t all been plain-sailing for Gerami. Four nerve-wracking months saw her negotiate with Iran’s Sport
Ministry before convincing them of her determination to not only represent Iran, but to do so respecting Islamic requirements. “I wanted to share triathlon and all the empowerment it has given me with others” Gerami said, adding that she wanted to “encourage others to experience and benefit from something that is dear to me.” The ITU fully supported Gerami’s intentions and provided her with a tent in order to change clothes during the race. Gerami’s participation demonstrates that the dialogue between culture and sport is a key proponent of social progression. On a single day, Shirin Gerami made history for women everywhere and pulled off a major coup of unification; messages of support flooded into Gerami’s twitter feed and for a while she was even trending. Gerami finished 76th out of 86 competitors and when taking into account her change of clothes, her position is quite respectable. But perhaps Gerami’s victory is more than one of simple minutes and seconds. Her goal was something far greater, “I wanted to show that what people dismiss as impossible is actually possible, and this universal rule applies to all countries, to all people.” The winner of the London Triathlon might have finished in record time, but Gerami’s race has been far more gruelling in its longevity. She has been racing for this cultural and social victory all her life. The rest of the world should take note, Shirin Gerami is setting an example we should all follow.
Published on Sep 23, 2013