THE UNITED STATES Looking Back at the Trump Presidency
CURRENT AFFAIRS Mohammad Bin Salman: a Modern Autocrat
Unconfined? Reflections on Our Post-School Existence
Is Football Becoming Too Commercial?
Abingdon School’s Leading Newspaper
Enough is Enough! Rory Bishop and Johan Nerlov interview the newly formed Abingdon School Equalities Committee.
There is very little of 2020 that can be looked back on with fondness. Only three days into the new decade, talks of World War III were already swirling around after a US drone strike on the city of Baghdad killed Iranian major-general Qasim Soleimani. Only weeks later, the United States Senate began heated deliberations on whether or not to convict President Donald Trump, in the wake of his impeachment in the House of Representatives in late 2019. In the following months, the world was steadily engulfed by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, ordering the nation’s first national lockdown in March. In all of this, however, one story stood out for its sheer tragedy and inhumanity: on May 25th 2020, George Floyd was murdered after a policeman, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee against his neck for 7 minutes and 46 seconds. This incident, more than other episodes of deadly police brutality against the African American community, has become a rallying cry for those committed to fighting racial injustice. Black Lives Matter protests started taking place all around the world - from London to New York, from Paris to Tokyo. In an instant, societies, especially those in the West, were once again forced to grapple with their past and present injustices. And, despite our Elysian seclusion, the protests, and the accompanying discussions on racism and inequality, also reached us here in Abingdon. Many of you will remember the open letter addressed
to Mr Windsor, published in the immediate aftermath of the George Floyd atrocity. Signed by dozens of students, parents, alumni and staff, it called on the Headmaster to make sweeping changes at Abingdon School, particularly when it came to ‘diversifying the student body’ and ensuring that the School took up its ‘burden to educate’ our community about the dangers of exclusion and microaggressions. This letter, as well as the anti-racism statement signed by the Headmaster and the Chairman of Governors in June of last year, prompted the formation of a new Equalities Committee at the end of last term. Now fully formed and raring to go, its members seem determined to make a real difference at Abingdon and don’t intend to waste any time in doing so. “We are what we say on the tin” says Mike MacLennan, a member of the Upper Sixth and the newly appointed chair of the committee. For him, the overriding goal must be “opening up a discussion about diversity and equality” and, in so doing, promote “an environment for change”. But, what are the major problems we need to discuss and address? For Ianto Brewer, a boarder currently in the Lower Sixth “there is an inability to express yourself fully as a minority” at Abingdon. Karum Sangha in the Upper Sixth added that he believes people “don’t feel comfortable” being themselves or celebrating their cultural heritage. Race, however, is not the only issue this new group wants to tackle. Indeed, Mike is adamant that the committee must look at “issues beyond just race, such
as gender, sexuality and class”, though, he admits, some issues are at present “more prevalent than others”. For many members, the Headmaster’s decision in October to launch the new committee came as a welcome surprise. Miss Lee, head of Abingdon’s EFL department, who grew up in apartheid South Africa, is pleased that “Abingdon has opened its eyes and is willing to discuss [these] issues”. For Señora Fraile, a teacher in the MFL department, seeing the frustration of some of her tutees at the lack of initial action by the School “broke my heart”. “It would have been wrong not to do anything” she said and, while optimistic about the work ahead, she fears that the need to make changes and to raise awareness “is not being taken seriously enough” by much of the student body. When it comes to students and their reaction to the death of George Floyd, Karum was less than impressed. During the lockdown last summer “people on social media were saying and doing things they knew they couldn’t get away with” had it been a regular term. Indeed, Karum, Mike and others found themselves having to “regulate people in the school … because they weren’t being held accountable”. “Similarly, the school wasn’t being held accountable” remarks Karum. He admits that this “is a more critical view on it” but believes “it’s a fair one”. The committee, which at present numbers around thirty, already has some ideas about the changes it would
Continued on page 3
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News Letter from the Editor
I wrote the first edition of this issue’s editor’s letter on the first day of December. Writing this draft only a month later, the world seems to be increasingly spinning out of control at such a rate that it only takes a day or two before everything feels outdated again. I decided in my original letter that I would make no mention of the coronavirus, but even that feels a bit odd now given all the circumstances. Combine that whole situation with some Trump, exam cancellation and Zoom, and it is quite a chaotic concoction. A question I’m often asked about this publication is what a martlet actually is. You’re not going to find it in any ornithology books because it is in fact a fictional bird that has no feet and is therefore cursed to never be able to land. The reason the paper is named after it is because they are a part of the school crest, but it feels more prescient now than ever. Everything and everyone feels a bit restless at the moment and in a way (clichéd as it may seem) it feels a bit like we are all martlets searching for somewhere to root ourselves. Let us hope we find our footing sooner rather than later... We are back to digital publishing at present, but given recent vaccine news I am hopeful we can get print editions in your hands as soon as possible. I hope that is a cause for optimism for some of you! In the meantime though, I would like to think the quality is all the same (perhaps better?) and that this issue is no exception. We start locally, as Johan and I explore the new Equalities Committee, and its implications on Abingdon. Sticking with school, Oliver Smeaton and Conor Rogan look at how the coronavirus has impacted the school sports department and Felix Kind presents us with a retrospective of the fifth form play Pink Mist - the first fully online play in school history. On an international level, Nicholas Chan looks back at the Trump presidency’s not-so-shining moments, and Aarav Tanguturi answers all you want to know about Rasputin, with the perfect headline of simply ‘Women, Wine and Winning.’ Jack Tilley and David Hrushovski look at the very nature of the print media we publish here, as the former looks into the importance of newspapers, whilst the latter considers just how much power the press truly has. Whilst the new year seems to be off to a rocky start, I have hope that we are soon approaching the end of this dark tunnel. I would like to thank the editorial team and Miss Williamson for all the help getting this issue out in these troublesome times, and to all the staff writers who have contributed to this edition. Rory Bishop
Nicholas Chan & Rory Kind News Editors This issue’s News section is predominantly based on the UK and our friends across the pond. In a time where once again the coronavirus dominates the news, we have tried to filter in other interesting topics for readers to sink their teeth into. In this issue, Nicholas Chan digs into Trump’s one-term presidency and the tainted image it has printed on the land of the free, whilst Freddy Chelsom delivers a contextualised overview of rising Scottish tensions. Lachlan Jones gives an interesting perspective on how Covid has drastically altered the travel industry and aviation, whilst Johan Nerlov once again returns to his old stomping ground of Europe, and investigates into European and American relations. Rory Bishop and Johan Nerlov take a look at the School’s recently founded Equalities Committee, while Jack Tilley examines the rising wave of populism in the western world.
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SCHOOL Enough is Enough!
THE UNITED STATES Looking Back at the Trump Presidency
DOMESTIC Scottish Independence: Should They Stay, or Should They Glasgow?
EUROPE Building Bridges, Not Walls
THE UNITED STATES The Pursuit of Populism
ECONOMICS Crash Landing: the Collapsing Aviation Industry’s Fate
CURRENT AFFAIRS Mohammad Bin Salman: a Modern Autocrat
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News Continued from front page... like to see going forward. While Señora Fraile believes “the curriculum does have to change in a lot of subjects” she, and others, caution that there isn’t much the School can do by itself on that front, especially when it comes to GCSEs and A-Levels. That being said, Miss Lee sees some examples at Abingdon which show that there are things that can be done. “I think the English department should be given credit” for their reevaluation of the curriculum, she says. Despite being bound by the structures of the
George Floyd has become a rallying cry for those committed to fighting racial injustice The protests became a crucial call for change going forward. exam boards “they are aware [that] there is room for improvement in how they teach texts”. It is also important for people to realise, the committee believes, that change doesn’t always have to be radical. “It is not as though they will throw Shakespeare out, but perhaps they want to teach previously unexplored aspects” which could shed light on issues of race, gender or sexuality. The History department too, with its emphasis on Black History Month, is proof that a major reworking of the curriculum, however welcome by some, is not a prerequisite for making a difference. For both Miss Lee and Señora Fraile agreed that there should also be an emphasis on self-learning. “Both staff and students … [we] need to open our minds and educate ourselves” - sitting idle is not an option, they say. The members of the new Equalities Committee, however, want to keep their feet firmly on the ground. They recognise that problems as complex, and taboo, as racism cannot simply be dealt with by introducing some grand
bership of the committee itself needs to diversify further. Ianto was surprised by the fact that originally “quite a few members of the boarding party didn’t think much would get done in the committee”. Miss Lee believes the contrary and emphasised that she would like to “hear more voices from the boarding community” and, more broadly, “make an appeal for membership” so that more members, especially lower down in the School feel they can contribute to the committee and its work. It is important to remember, though, that Abingdon is not separate from the rest of Britain. Efforts to change the School, however important and worthwhile, will never be truly effective if British society as a whole doesn’t also take those steps. For Señora Fraile, one of the main challenges is that “in the UK … the issues that need to be discussed are not discussed at the worry of offending [someone else]”. She commented on the contrast between the more blunt approach of Spain compared to the stiff upper lip of Britain when addressing these cultural taboos. Miss Lee similarly noted how in South Africa, perhaps as a result of the turbulent history of recent decades, “we are much
more able to have conversations about race and racism”. And yet, “it is so important…not to lose sight of the small wins in favour of the big picture”. At the end of day, “any steps in the right direction… are good ones”. Listening to the members of the new Equalities Committee it is hard not to sense the optimism in the room. While they are all understanding of the limitations a small school group faces in pushing forward large-scale change, they nevertheless appreciate that they can, and hopefully will, make a real difference. As Karum notes, “with Abingdon’s influence on other schools” in our local community, it will be possible to positively affect “thousands of kids” and ensure that slowly, but surely, we can all become more aware of the difficulties minorities face on a daily basis. Change and progress might be a gradual process, but that doesn’t seem to faze the Equalities Committee in the slightest. For more information on the Abingdon School Equalities Committee, or if you're interested in joining, contact Mike MacLennan via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listening to the members of the new Equalities Committee, it is hard not to sense the optimism in the room
initiative. “There is no point in throwing money at something we don’t understand” replies Karum when asked about the possibility of the committee receiving funding at some point in the near future. Instead, the committee would first like to get a discussion going at Abingdon School and also wants to hear back from students about their experiences. On top of that, many were adamant that the mem-
Locally, the statue of colonial oppressor Cecil Rhodes has been a lengthy cause of conflict.
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News THE UNITED STATES
Looking Back at the Trump Presidency Nicholas Chan takes a look at the four years of the Trump presidency.
n November 2020, Joe Biden was officially elected the 46th president of the United States, ending the fiery and the politically charged era of Donald J Trump. This is an America that is reeling from a mishandling of the pandemic, as well rising political tensions and racial tensions. The arrival of president elect Biden to the White House is by no means the arrival of a biblical saviour, but it is a definitive first step towards restoring the United States. Trump’s presidency has not been a positive one for the United States, from his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic to his catastrophic foreign relations policies, some would argue that he has done irreparable damage to the United States both internally but also in regards to its global image. Trump’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic may be the largest issue that Biden’s administration will have to deal with. Ever since the first reports of Covid-19 human transmissions came from Wuhan, Trump was quick to spread misinformation about the virus, and refused to take steps to allow the United States to prevent its spread. He called it a “hoax by the Democrats’’, promoted the idea of injecting literal bleach into the body as a treatment for the virus, compared it to the common flu (which director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci rebuked), clashed with his government’s
own scientists, repeatedly labelled it as “the Chinese virus” and played down the necessity of wearing a mask. In terms of policy, Trump delayed a shutdown of the country and repeatedly claimed while the infection was raging that the minimal steps the country had taken was enough. He also allowed federal “stay at home” guidelines to expire, thus allowing individual states to choose whether or not they would lockdown even when it was desperately needed which also triggered a second wave of infections. He also limited travel from China, even though the vast majority of cases in the epicentre of the pandemic in
ing policy makers confused as to what to do. He pressured federal health agencies to approve unproven treatments and to speed up approval of the vaccine. During the height of the pandemic he pushed for an end to the restrictions prioritising the American economy over the American people. Domestic policy separate from the Covid-19 pandemic has not been much better, as a disbeliever of climate change, he was responsible for slashing the budget for renewable energy research and cut down many Obama policies aimed at reducing climate change, he also withdrew
Trump’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic may be the largest issue that Biden’s administration has to deal with America (New York) were brought in from Europe. He constantly revised his stance on numerous policies leav-
Donald Trump was seen by many to be a controversial figure in politics.
the United States from the Paris agreement which aims to mitigate climate change throughout countries,this alien-
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down temporarily, as a result 380,000 government workers were furloughed and cost the US economy 3 billion dollars, 420,000 government workers worked without pay. He instigated a travel ban on Muslim majority countries citing security concerns, characterising these countries as ones with “a history of terrorism”, which may have fuelled
The arrival of President-Elect Biden to the White House is by no means the arrival of a biblical saviour
Joe Biden’s election victory gave many a major sigh of relief. ated relations between other countries since the withdrawal of the United States as a major superpower set an extremely bad example, as well as damaging his own country’s environment. He was also responsible for the separation of 5,400 children from their migrant parents at the US-Mexico border as well as the criminal prosecution of all immigrants who entered the country “illegally”, a far cry from a country that’s core message has always been land of the free and the land of opportunity, who’s multurculaism had always been a point of pride and strength. His demand for 5.6 billion dollars in order to build his infamous Mexico wall, resulted in the entire federal government shutting
and legitimised Xenophobia. It has also been argued that Trump’s conduct and policies have fundamentally eroded many of the norms and regulations of American democracy. His rhetoric against journalists has created a society where people are willing to question basic facts and truths; the use of disinformation like Trump has deployed is a common technique among Fascist dictators like Mussolini. His rhetoric particularly in regards to people of colour and nationality as well as his refusal to decry far right groups in general has driven and led to the rise of far right extremism in the United States. His decision to refuse to concede may seem trivial and fruitless in the era of Donald Trump, but the recent domestic terrorist attack on the US Capitol is evidence that his followers are willing to buy into whatever delusions he presents particularly when he urges them to “fight like hell” and to “take back our country” and to assault the Capitol. It demonstrates that these delusions are convincing enough to some that they are willing to resort to terrorsim to overthrow the results of a fair and democratic process. These delusions coupled with a society that refuses to acknowledge the truth they do not like, could lead to serious political and social ram-
ifications for the future of the United States. One might have hoped that Trump’s foreign policy would be marginally better considering his background as a businessman. One would be wrong. He has been able to worsen relations with practically every major country, pulled out of the Iran deal and praised authoritarian governments. These actions reflect negatively on the so-called Land of the Free, his statements and conduct have led to a negative view of the United States as a global leader which will affect their role on the world stage. In the week before Biden’s inauguration, the Trump administration elected to make three moves that would establish a host of problems for the Biden administration. The Secretary of State announced these three new moves by the Trump administration: naming Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, deseginatating Yemeni Houthi rebels as foreighn terrorists and lifting restrictions on contact between American officials and Taiwanese representatives. Although the move to allow for greater communication and cooperation between the United States and Taiwan could be applauded as a move to stand against China, it also has a whole host of issues attached to it. Firstly it would hand leverage over to Beijing on negotiations and discussions between the United States and China since Beijing could point to that act as an act of disrespect . Any negotiations between the two countries would be sunk before it had begun due to this sticking point. It would effectively derail any future cooperation between the two remaining superpowers in the world today on issues ranging from the economy to the environment and global terrorism. Even if Biden were to reverse the policy, it would be seen by politicians domestically as an act of capitulation, costing him major political capital since support for Taiwan and anti-Chinese sentiment is a very bipartisan issue. Doing so would also allow China to claim that the United States recognises Taiwan as a province of China, thus endangering Taiwan-US relations. The Biden administration has been left with a whole host of problems no ordinary politician would be happy to receive. In his first few days in office Biden signed 15 executive orders, from removing the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries to rejoining the Paris climate accords. Biden’s term in office may largely be dominated by his attempts to rehabilitate America’s image as a global leader, as well as to bridge the deep political divide between the citizens of the United States. It would take a very exceptional president to find his or her way out of the mire and to solutions that satisfy everyone.
Trump’s twitter account was permanently suspended on 8th January 2021, due to the ‘risk of further incitement of violence.’
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Scottish Independence: Should They Stay, or Should They Glasgow? Freddy Chelsom examines the case for an independent Scotland.
cotland and England have been bound by a union since 1603 - when James VI of Scotland became James I of England. Despite this long history, the Scottish people have been campaigning for independence for over a century, a battle that continues to this day. Scottish independence really is a tale of referenda, what they mean to the people who vote in them, and how lasting their impacts ought to be. Arguably, the campaign for Scottish independence in modern history began in the 1920s, when the Labour Party committed to home rule in Scotland (the right for a government to be run by its own citizens), but over the years it slipped down the list of priorities in the manifesto. Possibly as a result of this, the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) was founded in 1934, but only generated significant electoral support in the 1960s. Devolution became a serious proposal in the late 1970s, when the Labour Government, under James Callaghan, was put under pressure by the SNP. A referendum for a devolved Scottish Parliament in 1979 narrowly came in favour of devolution. However, no action was taken due to the requirement that the ‘Yes’ vote must exceed 40% of
the electorate. This result quieted the debate around Scottish devolution, and no further referenda were proposed until 1997, when Labour returned to power in a landslide victory. This time, a referendum for Scottish devolution expressed a clear majority in favour, over 74%. Evident-
Interestingly, over the years, the Labour Party has been much more open to the idea of greater autonomy in Scotland than the Conservatives. This is possibly due to the fact that historically, the Labour Party has had a much stronger Scottish base than the Conservatives.
When the fateful day came, independence had been rejected by a margin of over 10% ly, in the intervening decades, support for greater autonomy had massively grown amongst the Scottish people, a trend that continued into the future. This referendum brought about The Scotland Act 1998, which established a new Scottish Parliament, first elected on 6 May 1999.
Scottish Independence is an issue close to many peoples’ hearts.
Scottish independence received fresh support in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, when the SNP became the minority government, having put a commitment to a 2010 referendum in their manifesto. With this electoral success in hand, the SNP administration launched a ‘National Conversation’ as a consultation exercise and later came up with a draft bill setting out possibilities for further independence including fiscal reform, full devolution, and full independence. The bill was dropped in September 2010, when the SNP failed to secure opposition support in the Scottish Parliament. Dissatisfied with this conclusion, just the next year, the SNP campaigned again for Scottish Independence in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election. This time, however, the SNP gained an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, meaning that they could go ahead with their plans. In January 2012, the UK Government, led by David Cameron, offered to legislate to give Scotland the power to hold a referendum, provided it be “fair, legal and decisive”. Negotiations between the two Governments continued until October, when the Edinburgh Agreement was reached - an agreement as to how and when the referendum would be held. On 21 March 2013, the Scottish Government announced that it would hold the referendum on 18 September 2014. When the fateful day came, and the ballots were counted, independence had been rejected by a margin of over 10%. The SNP leader Alex Salmond said that he accepted “the verdict of the people” before promptly resigning. Prior to the referendum, Mr Salmond claimed that it would be a “once in a generation event”, and after the defeat, it looked like Scottish independence would take a backseat for the foreseeable future. Such pledges were not to last. Just two years later, the UK voted to leave the European Union, an outcome that shook Whitehall to its core. A string of resignations compounded the feeling of confusion after the result, with hundreds of thousands lining the streets demanding clarity from their leaders. Unsurprisingly, the Brexit vote
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caused significant turmoil in Scotland too. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain (62%), and many Scots felt that their wishes as a nation were not being carried out. In their 2016 manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections, the SNP campaigned that the fact that Scotland was being ‘taken out of the EU against our will’ was sufficient to justify a second independence referendum. Interestingly, this was not an argument they extended to other Remain voting parts of the UK, such as London, or indeed, Oxford West and Abingdon. In this election, the SNP came away with 61 seats, 6 fewer than they previously had, losing their overall majority to become minority
The Scottish Government is more than capable of operating independently of Westminster leaders once again. This, possibly, suggests that the mandate for independence was not as strong as the SNP made it out to be. Undeterred by the loss of seats however, in March 2017, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, requested a second referendum be held for independence. The then Prime Minister Theresa May rejected the request, saying that “now is not the time”. In the 2019 General Election, the SNP, once again, campaigned for a second referendum. They managed to secure 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats. This is a deceptively large margin, as they only received 45% of the actual vote. A
In 2017, Alex Salmond lost his seat in the UK Parliament to the Conservatives. sign, perhaps, of the flaws of a first past the post parliamentary system. Nevertheless, Nicola Sturgeon claimed that there was now a “renewed, refreshed, and strengthened mandate” for another vote. Sturgeon formally requested a second referendum on 19 December 2019, but Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, refused arguing that the 2014 vote was “a once in a generation opportunity”, echoing the words of Alex Salmond just 5 years earlier. The question facing not only Scotland, but all democracies across the world, is whether a referendum is binding, and whether it can continue to be a mandate for action long after it has taken place. Doubtless, the people of Scotland, in 2014, wanted to remain in the union. But should their decision bind the future of the Scottish people today, and into the coming decades? A strong mandate in a general election cannot suffice, because Scotland requires the permission of the UK Government to hold a referendum, and it will not get this permission whilst the government is able to cite the 2014 referendum
The Scottish Parliament Building was opened in October 2004.
as the final word. Is it right that we should not allow people to determine their own autonomy, and are the Scottish people being oppressed? The troubling reality is that given the opportunity of a referendum, many regions across the world would opt to cessate from their countries. In almost every moderately large country in the world there are multiple campaigns for independence from various regions and population groups. If given the opportunity to vote on their own autonomy, would the world’s countries begin to splinter into smaller and smaller nation states. Fear of this situation is maybe what drives centralised governments, like the UK, to cling on to independence referendum results that go in their favour. The views of the populace are also prone to dramatic change. This is why we have regular elections. If we had a referendum every year, the results would no doubt be different every time. But once Scotland has left the Union, it would be incredibly difficult to rejoin, even if the majority of the population wanted to. By making referenda few and far between, we encourage people to consider their vote. Knowing that their ballot will have an impact for generations to come may affect the way that people vote. This is what the people of Scotland knew in 2014, and the decision they made was never meant to be a snapshot. It was presented by politicians on all sides as a ‘once in a generation’ event. Therefore, it could be considered wrong to have another referendum so soon; as it could be said to betray the trust of every voter that voted in that referendum, whatever their political persuasion. Proponents of a second referendum, however, would argue that Brexit constituted a change so sudden and monumental that it would equate to the decades of change that would normally justify another referendum. The coronavirus has highlighted the benefits of devolved administration and proven that the Scottish Government is more than capable of operating independently of Westminster. This, perhaps, is a compelling case for many Scottish people. On the other hand, the pandemic has also highlighted Scotland’s dependency on the wider UK for economic support. Without the cushioning of the UK economy and Treasury, it is unclear how ravaged Scotland’s economy may have become. Independence is, quite rightly, an issue close to many people’s hearts. But it seems, for at least the near future, that any substantial progress is unlikely, due to the fact that the powers in Westminster are both unwilling to allow further moves towards independence, and backed by a mandate from the 2014 referendum.
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Building Bridges, Not Walls Johan Nerlov asks whether or not the transatlantic relationship has a future.
ritain’s ‘special relationship’ with the United States of America is often touted as the crowning achievement of our diplomacy and, to an even greater extent, as the cornerstone of our national security. It is difficult to find one politician who did not evoke its mythical and awe-inspiring aura during the Brexit campaign in 2016, be they Brexiteers or Remainers. The funny thing about it though, is that everyone on the European continent is also proud of their especially close relationship with the United States. The ever-pragmatic Germans focus on the huge trade flows between their two economies. The French are particularly proud of their
What becomes clear from this rather confusing patchwork is that Europe and the United States are inextricably linked to each other as a result of their common history, kindred cultures and shared values. The transatlantic alliance which binds the two together, as embodied most effortlessly in NATO, is crucial to the political and economic stability of the current liberal world order, one where democracy, free trade and liberty are prized above all else. Perhaps it was President Barack Obama who encapsulated it best when he poignantly noted at a summit in Warsaw how “the security of the United States and Europe are indivisible”. There is no getting away from this reality. And yet, Obama’s successor in the Oval Office did much over
The United States was actively trying to undermine European security and stability efforts to help the Americans in the Revolutionary War, while Italians celebrate the cultural influence of the over fifteen million Italian-Americans almost all of whom draw their roots to the brave émigrés of the early 20th century.
the past four years to put asunder this relationship, to the extent that some on both shores of the Atlantic ocean have been left wondering if it is even possible to bring it back. It wasn’t long after Donald Trump was inaugurated on
January 20th 2017 that the attacks on the European Union began. Although historically there had always been a level of distrust towards the European project in the United States, especially amongst Republicans, the Union had made a great deal of progress in building its reputation as a reliable partner and deserving spokesperson for the European continent. For Trump, however, the European Union was nothing more than a “brutal trading partner” and “competitor” who should be forced to become wholly subservient to American national interests. This combative language alone did not really bother European leaders and diplomats as such - it was ‘The Donald’ after all. What many had not expected, though, was a shift away from occasional scathing remarks to actions which actively harmed European interests. May 8th 2018 probably doesn’t mean much to most of us. To government officials in Europe’s major capitals, however, it was the day their worst nightmare came to life. In Washington D.C. the White House notified its intentions to withdraw from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, colloquially known as the ‘Iran Deal’. Negotiated by the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and the European Union on the one hand and Iran on the other, it aimed to help integrate the Islamic Republic back into the international community in return for a gradual dismantling of its military nuclear capabilities. For Europe, who had to live with the reality of having Iran at its doorstep, the agreement was proof that it could stand up for itself in the increasingly fraught world of great power competition. The Trump Administration’s
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determination to see the agreement relegated to the pages of history was taken as clear evidence that the United States was actively trying to undermine European security and stability - all of a sudden the transatlantic relationship became a slogan more than anything else. The following months showed little improvement. In keeping with promises made on the campaign trail, in late 2019 the United States formally began the twelve month process to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, which was completed days after the 2020 Presidential election. Throughout this period, Trump had also become increasingly vocal in his distrust and displeasure
This disunity we are seeing is fundamentally down to one thing - an erosion of trust at NATO which, as noted above, serves as the poster child for the “indivisible” bonds between the United States and its allies across the Atlantic. At several summits with his NATO analogues Trump lambasted them for failing to pay the agreed upon two percent of GDP on defence. In all fairness to the President, this issue has been brought up by the United States, who bears by far the greatest financial burden in the alliance, for years. What was different, however, was the aggression that Trump brought to the table. Not only did he relish the opportunity to embarrass his allies in front of the cameras, he also openly questioned the applicability of Article five, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all when it came to nations who did not allocate the full two percent of annual GDP to military expenditure. Needless to say, the more this went on the larger the gulf between America and its allies grew. This brings us to the present moment. As several re-
President Emmanuel Macron has long argued in favour of greater European ‘strategic autonomy’. cent articles in major foreign policy publications note, the transatlantic bond as it stands now is in major need of life-support. This fundamental pillar of Western security and prosperity is closer now than it ever has been to crumbling down, a prospect none of us should relish, let alone find acceptable. While President Joe Biden has made clear his determination to reconnect with allies, not least in appointing Europhile Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, several challenges remain. For one the rupture brought about by President Trump has led many on the Continent, most notably French President Emmanual Macron, to seriously contemplate the need to distance Europe from the United States and in so doing push forward Europe’s ‘strategic autonomy’. He is not alone in thinking this. For example, in early January, despite objection from the Biden camp, the European Union charged ahead with
The cost of the new NATO headquarters in Brussels was a cause of great tension between Trump and allies.
agreeing an investment treaty with China, putting back efforts to create a united front against the People’s Republic before they even began. This disunity we are seeing is fundamentally down to one thing - an erosion of trust. Europeans, even us in Britain, now have a tingling suspicion that the United States is not as committed as it once was to ensuring our protection, or indeed allowing our particular interests to be heard. Across the pond, some doubt Europe as a whole is truly committed to holding up its own end of the bargain when it comes to military expenditure or being tough on China. If the future is to bring these two sides back together once more, for our own good and that of the whole international community, we need to build back that trust. The United States and Europe have already been through too much in our recent past.
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News THE UNITED STATES
The Pursuit of Populism Jack Tilley investigates the rise of populism and its impacts in America.
eptember 29th 2008, the sky over New York is cloudy, the temperature just starting to edge into a winter chill; and the world economy is about to take the biggest hit it has seen since World War Two. When the Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest investing company in the US at the time and a central investor in the subprime mortgage market crashed into bankruptcy, a system of policy and finance, which had seemed victorious only twenty years before suddenly realised just how far from perfect it was. History was in fact in full swing, and the market crash was to see it take another massive turn. What started in the markets spread outwards. To save the finance industry, governments invested heavily, loans were given and protectionist policies were implemented. The subprime mortgages had caught up with the banks at last, and yet they refused to collapse. It seemed that if poorer people and nations failed, it was their fault, but if the West fell, something had to be done. The hypocrisy cut deep ridges in societies around the globe. Austerity appeared as an idea, and global productivity slowed to a faltering, juddering halt. Neo-Liberalism had failed, and out of its ashes a new right wing would bloom in the form of populism. This, of course, raises the question, what is a populist? The name itself is a problem as it doesn’t evoke the same emotions as a much more accurate phrase which has fallen out of fashion, dictator in waiting. To see its roots one can look as far back as the fall of the Roman Republic in 27BC. Caesar, loved by his soldiers, and seen as a saviour by many, laid the groundworks for his nephew and adopted son Augustus to declare himself emperor for life. The cronyism, nepotism and general corruption that followed led to the eventual fall of the empire and it seems a similar threat might be heading for western liberal democracies.
A commonly used phrase to describe these voters who support characters like Donald Trump is the ‘left behind.’ Those people so ignored by politics and current governments, that many in America say they know quite literally no one who voted for him. The same is true of those ‘left behind voters’ who claim to know very few Democrats. This had led to an interesting phenomenon, where individuals are more likely to be concerned about
King-esque ideals of colour blindness in favour of a hypersensitivity to race and gender issues, forces groups to the extremes, and allows populists like Trump to find power in uniting these groups. The levels of partisanship this creates, where neither side can argue in good faith, results in the sorts of outcomes America witnessed at the storming of the Capitol, and shows how dangerous these sentiments can be if they are left unchecked.
What our democracies need is some form of healing process, not just on a political level, but also a personal one their children marrying a member of a different party than a different faith according to a 2018 poll. These individuals often feel marginalised by the current political zeitgeist, forcing them out of more moderate positions into hardline right wing ideals. Arguably, this is the fault of the modern left. When leaders in the Democratic establishment talk about race and gender, it shows a political pivot away from the supposed class warfare that the left used to fight for. This has gone so laughably far, that even Biden, arguably a moderate on such issues, once declared “If you vote for Trump, you aren’t black.” This kind of generalisation of groups across societies, and turning away from Luther
In the wake of the Capitol riots, all eyes are on Biden to address the impacts Trump has had on populism.
However, the tides appear to be turning, and a slew of institutional, so called caretaker leaders have been elected across the western world in the last few years to counterbalance these effects. These moderates can play a crucial role in re-unifying countries so split that it is difficult to associate the groups as even being in the same nation. Now, what our democracies need is to continue some form of healing process, not just on a political level, but also a personal one. Outreach groups that cross party lines are essential, and just as crucial is remaking friendships with those whose ideas differ so radically from our own.
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Crash Landing: the Collapsing Aviation Industry’s Fate Lachlan Jones investigates how many more aeroplanes must die from Covid-19?
here have been better times to be a student pilot. BALPA, the largest pilot’s union, recently issued the rather depressing news that student pilots should ‘consider delaying their flight training’ - in other words, stay well away from airlines’ career offices. This understatement is perhaps unsurprising; Covid-19 has wrecked havoc on transport industries worldwide, and airlines are being hit with unprecedented falls in demand and loss of revenue. The aviation industry is a huge employer; from cabin crew and pilots, ground staff and airport employees, to those involved in aircraft manufacturing. Much of 2020 has been extraordinary bleak for so many associated with the aviation industry. British Airways, the largest airline by number of employees in the United Kingdom, announced in April a 12,000 workforce redundancy figure, with the majority of remaining staff still relying on the Government’s furlough scheme. This figure does not just include those working onboard aircraft - 400 of those made redundant were at the flag carrier’s maintenance facilities in South Wales, with vocal opposition from unions. BA’s parent company, the International Airlines Group, which also includes airlines such as Spanish carrier Iberia and Ireland’s Aer Lingus, have seen their share price plummet by nearly 50% since March, with a record £5.1 billion loss in the first nine months of 2020. These losses are not confined to airlines however; Rolls Royce and Airbus, the pillars of the UK’s remaining aviation manufacturing industry, both announced their own job losses at plants in Derby, Glasgow and North Wales amongst other areas. Despite increased passenger numbers in the summer after first UK lockdown’s easing, the capacity of many European airlines is severely reduced. Airlines have been trying to cut costs in other areas to stem the tide of revenue loss. Large, expensive to maintain aeroplanes are
being retired at rapid rates: BA made the critical decision retire the entirety of their 32 strong Boeing 747 fleet, while Air France has retired all nine of its Airbus A380s. Qantas, KLM and Lufthansa have all made similar decisions with retiring elderly and expensive aircraft earlier than expected. The former even had a special 747-400 retirement flight departing from and arriving in Sydney with the seats filled by aviation enthusiasts and employees desperate to experience the ‘Queen of the Skies’ for the
British Airways is selling First Class crockery and bedding final time. For many aircraft though, an unceremonious departure to storage facilities pending scrappage is the future. What is perhaps more unexpected is the variety of ways in which airlines are attempting to raise revenue. Selling branded goods and merchandise has caught on globally; Qantas have been offering, amongst other items, Business Class pyjamas, drinks trollies and pre-mixed drinks. British Airways is selling First Class crockery and bedding, and, despite issues with delivery and purchasing for some customers, many items sold out on their website
The British Airways 747 is one of the many casualties of rapid decline in air travel.
within hours. Thai Airways have been even more creative. A new pop-up restaurant serving the airline’s signature dishes has been opened in Bangkok, complete with airline style seating straight from grounded aircraft on the tarmac. While innovative, these measures cannot solve the catastrophic financial concerns of airlines struggling to stay financially secure in the current climate. The only foreseeable route to economic recovery is increasing international passenger numbers and profitable business class heavy routes, such as London Heathrow and JFK, New York. Shortening or the removal of compulsory quarantine periods will be a major step in the return to profitability, as will the ever expanding roll out of vaccination programmes internationally. There are already signs of positive recovery in this regard - Australia and New Zealand recently announced a quarantine-free travel ‘bubble’ between the two countries, which airlines in their respective countries will be able to capitalise on. Other positive news came recently in British Airways’ announcement of a new base in Southampton serving 11 domestic and international routes - perhaps to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of regional carrier FlyeBe earlier this year. Despite this, important questions regarding travelling habits remain. Will business travel for example, the most profitable sector for airlines when considering profit margins, ever return to pre pandemic levels? Has the business class lie-flat seat and face to face meeting been replaced with a laptop and saving £2,000 cash? If airlines expect historic demand in a post-Covid-19 world, going back to the basics must be a highest priority. Excellent service, benefits for loyal customers and competitive pricing must be on the agenda if airlines want to have any hope of recovering lost revenue. If not, large scale air travel, and its employees will face a more radically different future than the industry has ever known.
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News CURRENT AFFAIRS
Mohammad Bin Salman: a Modern Autocrat Johnnie Willis-Bund examines the rule of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
ohammad Bin Salman has been, in the past few years, one of the most intriguing and influential people in global politics. Since his ascent to the position of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia people have wanted to understand the man behind Saudi rule, as he essentially has absolute power of what is one of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world (despite not being the King). Despite his position, people are still unclear as to whether he is a progressive reformer or a ruthless autocrat. To understand the rule of Salman you must first understand the context of Saudi Arabia, specifically the mix of dictatorial rule and religious fundamentalism. Saudi Arabia is a young country, and, while it has always, throughout its short history, been an absolute monarchy, it hasn’t always been one of the world’s most extreme theocracies. This all changed with the OPEC crisis of 1973 to 1974. This not only gave Saudi Arabia far more power on the world stage, as their abundant supply of oil had the US at their mercy, but also facilitated the rise of Wahhabism (the slightly odd form of fundamentalist Islam that is followed by the government and people of Saudi Arabia). So the Saudi Arabia is now not just an autocracy ruled with an iron fist, but also one of the most extreme countries in the world in terms of its cultural and religious customs. To see Salman as a reformer you would have to first look at his domestic policy. It is plain to see that wom-
Suppression of opposition is just part and parcel of the Salman ruling style en have more freedom than they did prior to his “reign”. These include the ability to drive and attend certain public events such as football matches. These may seem like very incremental changes but they are important steps nevertheless in a country where beheadings and crucifixions are still official state punishments. As well as this, he has expressed his intention to diversify the Saudi Arabian economy, particularly with regards to the “Saudi Vision 2030” project to reduce the dependence on oil in the Saudi economy and energy consumption. This would make it seem as though Salman is a great reformer. However this is simply not the case. Remaining on the topic of domestic policy, Salman has been accused of using death squads to kill and imprison political opponents, most notably the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Arabian Embassy in Turkey. This bru-
tal attack has raised the ire of many powerful countries in the UN. However, this has led to very limited action from the key players internationally, particularly in the USA. As well as this, the same kind of occurrences have been tak-
People are still unclear as to whether he is a progressive reformer or a ruthless autocrat ing place, internally, throughout the era of Salman. Suppression of opposition is just part and parcel of the Salman ruling style. He even placed his own cousin, uncle and mother under house arrest for fear of treason. His domestic policy, however, makes him look like a pacifist hippie in comparison to his foreign policy. The chief among his many offences stems from Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemeni civil war. While this began in 2014 as an internal affair between armed Shia Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government. However, Saudi Arabia, fearing that the Shiate power of Iran would gain more power in the Middle Eastern, joined the Sid did the Yemeni government. Since 2015 the Saudi led coalition, often using weapons manufactured in the UK, have killed more people with aerial drone strikes than in any other conflict on earth in that time. Furthermore, the blockade that Saudi Arabia has proceeded to impose on their border has created mass starvation. Because Yemen gets over 90% of its water and medicine as well as around 85% of its food from across the Saudi border, the blockade has left over 80% of the country food insecure with 24 million people
Since his ascent to the position of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, people have wanted to understand the man behind Saudi rule. in desperate need of food. The UN has labelled this mass starvation as the greatest humanitarian crisis on the planet and it could go on to become one of the largest famines in human history. And calling the shots behind all of it is Salman. It is important that we understand the role figures such as Salman play in the world as they show how dictators and dictatorships are not relics of the 20th century but that they still have a large impact on the way that the world is run. People like Salman as well as Xi Jingping, Vladimir Putin, Anwar Al-Assad and countless others are complete throwback strongman dictators with just enough of a flavour of reform in their policies to appear presentable to their people or to the outside world. They also happen to be some of the most, if not the most powerful people on earth and play a key role in world politics. Hopefully we can keep learning more about them as time goes on.
The blockade has left over 80% of the country's food insecure with 24 million people in desperate need of food.
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Features 14 15 16 18 19 20 22 23 24
FILM Looking Back at Federico Fellini
HISTORY Women, Wine and Winning: the Life of Grigori Rasputin
Felix Kind & Nikita Matthews Features Editors
MUSIC Fugacious Fate or Fickle Fortune?
EDUCATION Unconfined? Reflections on Our Post-School Existence
LITERATURE Brave New World: an Omen for Our Times.
HISTORY Was Switzerland Really Neutral in WW2?
MUSIC The Violin: a History of its Magic and its Makers
SCHOOL So You Missed Pink Mist...
TECHNOLOGY The Feasibility of Autonomous Transport
Congratulations, you’ve found the most bohemian section of the newspaper. You’ll find no current or useful information here (Proofreader Rory here, to contractually state this is untrue). In this edition of The Martlet, the Features section offers a plethora of articles dealing with all manner of curious quirks. Thinking of sounding impressive at the dinner table? With Rory Bishop’s article on Fellini, delve into the Italian filmmaker’s eclectic cinematic style, bonus points for 8 1/2. Felix Kind, Rory Kind and Freddy Chelsom give us an insider’s look into the brilliant performance of Pink Mist by members of the 5th year. Perhaps music is what really tickles your tonsils? Then look no further than Felix Kind’s chronicling of the origins of jazz, covering the social, cultural and artistic melting pot of New Orleans. The features section in general has seen a surge of articles chronicling histories ranging from Rasputin to Violins. Read this section to discover more about things you may think you know, but in fact do not.
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Looking Back at Federico Fellini Rory Bishop reflects on the Fellini classic 8 1/2.
ven if you are not familiar with the work of Fellini, you have almost certainly seen his iconography in some capacity. Whether it is Uma Therman and John Travolta’s diner dance scene in Pulp Fiction, the dream sequences of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, or even R.E.M.’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ music video, references to Fellini can be found everywhere. More specifically, it is one particular film that they all seem to hark back to: the cryptically titled 8 ½. The film’s noteworthiness also seems to be ever growing. Whilst it was moderately well recognised upon release in 1963, winning Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design, its long term impacts have, in many ways, been even more notable. But what is it that makes filmmakers continually return to Fellini’s film? Good films are not necessarily assured a long term legacy or impact, so what is it that gives 8 ½ that quality? The answers to these questions can be found in how the film is both simple and complicated all at once. To be able to judge it, however, you must first take a crucial step backwards and look at Fellini himself. It is fair to say that even for the most avid cinephiles, the 100th anniversary of Federico Fellini’s birth was far from the top of anyone’s priorities in what was quite a chaotic 2020. Born in the northern Italian town of Rimini, Fellini was always a man with many personal conflicts. On one hand, there was his father, a traveling salesman selling roadside foodstuffs. On the other was his mother, born into a nobility that she subsequently betrayed by marrying beneath her status, a topic that would go on to be a source of much of his introspection. During the Second World War he found a moderately successful job as a screenwriter, writing 11 films in the 1940s prior to his first directorial debut. Variety Lights
Even in his later years Fellini continued to have a crucial infleunce on Italian film.
is seemingly quite a simple film about a young girl in a troupe of travelling actors, but it is actually the first sign of Fellini’s penchant for self reflection. Based on the travels of his father and his own interactions with the very actors for whom he had written scripts, the film was met with minimal fanfare at the time, although it was successful enough to get Fellini off the ground in what would soon be a prosperous career as a director. It also started him on this avenue of autobiography that he would ultimately perfect in 8 ½. Fast forward thirteen years and you get to 8 ½ itself. Whilst Fellini had achieved quite some acclaim by this
to chew on.’ It is true that critics have been divided over the film, with Pauline Kael notably referring to it as a ‘confectionary dream of Hollywood heroines’ and ‘wish fulfilment’. But its legacy, whether love or hate it, has been certainly secured. If anything, such controversy has merely kept interest in the film alive, as not only do its successes become this metaphorical cud, but so do its debatable failings. While Fellini would sadly pass away in 1993, he had won eight Academy Awards by this time. Earlier in the very same year he had even been given a career achievement award by the Oscars. Many have tried to
Whilst by no means the first, 8 1/2 was pioneering when it came to films about films. time with films like La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, and La Dolce Vita, 8 ½ would quickly become a critical darling and the film that many would go on to argue was his magnum opus. It tells the story of Guido Anselmi, a struggling director who retreats into his thoughts when faced with romantic entanglements, his childhood, and the missing film he is days away from needing to start shooting. In many ways this plot is its first success. Whilst it is undoubtedly layered, the story is a simple one of a man navigating a troubled world and having to face universal problems of love, work, and deadlines which serve as the heart of the narrative. The film’s layers begin to unravel throughout the piece as Fellini walks the fine line of being both perplexing and minimal. The film also walks the line between fantasy escapism and more stark realism. The opening of the film has both a scene involving Guido flying and him having his work lambasted by a critic. Meanwhile the excessively ambiguous ending sees Guido both shoot himself and then dance with a circus ring. It is this very contradiction and ambiguity that gives the film its charm. The success of 8 ½ is also undoubtedly a product of the fact it is autobiographical. It is no coincidence that Marcello Mastroianni’s Guido is a filmmaker just like Fellini, and the metatheatrical plot of the film focusing on writer’s block merely heightens this. Even the title is a reference to the number of films Fellini had directed at this point in his career. Whilst some have criticised the film as obtuse, it is Fellini’s ability to couple these ideas: illusion versus reality and fantasy versus realism, that makes the film memorable. It could very easily fall into the trap of being needlessly convoluted and contrived, but Fellini’s ability to give the film a sense of charm with elements of both poignancy and humour have assured it a legacy that it might otherwise not have had. Fellini is known as the maestro of Italian cinema for a reason. Martin Scorsesse claims he watches the film every year and Fellini’s biographer Hollis Alpert has credited the film’s success to it being ‘an intellectual cud
emulate Fellini to various success. As with any film of its stature, it has also become subject to much parody in films like 8 ½ Women, Stardust Memories, and Fellini’s Donut. Whilst by no means the first, it was pioneering when it came to psychoanalytical films, subtly autobiographical films, and films about films. This is not to mention all the iconic imagery that has become synonymous with Fellini. His legacy for both films and filmmakers is beyond doubt and 8 ½ is undoubtedly worth a watch if you haven’t seen it before.
Mastroianni stars as Guido, who shares many similarities to Fellini.
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Women, Wine and Winning: the Life of Grigori Rasputin Aarav Tanguturi explores early 20th century Russia and the influence of Rasputin.
ho really was Grigori Yefimovic Rasputin? Well we know he was nothing short of a promiscuous anomaly, mystic healer, political saboteur and renegade monk, known for his terrible personal hygiene, hypnotic pair of intensely blue eyes and mangled beard. He lived in loose dirty clothing, his dark hair permanently greasy and a shaggy beard always uncut. Not exactly the image of a Russian aristocrat. Consequently, it remains a mystery to this day how an everyday peasant, like Rasputin, managed to gain such substantial influence within the royal family despite the fact that he was loathed by many Russians and seen as a religious charlatan. Who was this man whose name was on the lips of all shadows and heard on every corner, creating hysteria on the street and panic among officials and secret services? The Russians created the tragedy, and then enjoyed it, and gave it a name: Rasputin. Born on the 9th January 1869 to peasant parentage and named in honour of St Gregory of Nyssa, described as a withdrawn, introverted boy, he was nothing out of the ordinary. He also shared something in common with his father: a profound love of vodka. He relished pilgrimages to nearby monasteries, in particular the Znamensky place of worship near Tobolsk. In the summer of 1886, he vowed to go alone on a pilgrimage and by chance met another young pilgrim Praskovaya Fedorovna Dubrovina, whom he fell in love with. Ironically, she accepted his rebellious nature and strongly believed that he could be transformed into a Christian conservative. The two married on February 2, 1887: a fairly modest beginning for the historical icon. At this point we can only hope that Rasputin had finally settled down and would start a family, the life of crime and mischief coming to an end. However it had not. Strikingly for us, his neighbors claimed he was cheating on his wife, stealing the bread from the house
to exchange it for a drink; any crime in the village, no matter how small, involved the notorious Rasputin. His fate only became worse when his neighbour, Kartavtsev, confessed that he once caught him stealing boars. In
Any crime in the village, no matter how small, involved the notorious Rasputin. order to defend himself Rasputin struck him in the face with a plank leaving a permanent mark. Considering the fact that he was now seen as a threat to the community, the people decided for a period that Rasputin be sent into exile, but he decided against it and instead went on a pilgrimage to St Nicholas monastery in Verkhoturye. Remarkably, it is said that this pilgrimage was Rasputin’s ‘way to God’, often claiming that he had an inner voice urging him to follow the pattern of a Christian’s life and to serve the lord - describing himself as “Christ in miniature”. When Rasputin returned home, he was a changed man, having given up alcohol and turning vegetarian, he was now a religious fanatic. He believed he was a prophet, his duty being to spread his captivating stories enchanting all who listen, “you kiss me, you kiss God”. With a newfound mantra, he voyaged to Athos with
Many have described Rasputin as a puppeteer in wartime Russia. He is considered a man of mystery.
The nature of Rasputin and Tsarina Alexandra’s relationship is largely unknown. a desire to become a monk but his attempt was futile. He became a wanderer and these wanderings eventually led him to the court of Tsar Nicholas II. Here, Rasputin reportedly healed their only son Alexei’s chronic hemophilia which seemed unachievable, leading him to gain passionate support from the Tsarina and influence in the courts. As World War I was upon Russia, Rasputin predicted that calamity would befall the country. Nicholas II took command of the war effort in 1915, leaving Alexandra in charge of domestic affairs. This was controversial: the German-born queen was already the target of scurrilous rumours about her disloyalty to Russia. Some accused Alexandra of selling Petrograd’s food supplies to the Germans through intermediaries; others claimed she kept a radio transmitter under her bed to communicate with the German Kaiser. In combination with negative attributes of this newfound title was her relationship with Rasputin which only grew stronger, especially with the Tsar out of the way. Even government officials tried to warn her of Rasputin’s undue influence, but she continued to defend him, giving out the impression that Rasputin was her closest advisor. The implications of this friendship would have catastrophic consequences for the Romanov dynasty. During his regular bar crawls, he openly boasted about having sex with the Tsarina and claiming that the throne and the Russian government were in his hands- not a desirable propaganda campaign for the Tsar. By 1916 Rasputin appeared to many as a malevolent puppeteer, pulling the strings of the Tsarina, manipulating government ministers and meddling in policy.
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Fugacious Fate or Fickle Fortune? Felix Kind asks why jazz musicians lives are so stereotypically short.
t seems that history scripted that jazz musicians in the early 1900’s were to be characterised by a short and unhappy life. A deeper understanding of the cultural background, social scene and simple routine of a jazz musician’s life are fundamental to answering the question: why have their lives been so historically short? I think it would be valid to say America in the twentieth century was not a fair place. Scarred from the slave trade, confused by enlightenment and corrupted by racism, the deep south was not a hospitable place for young black musicians trying to merge together different genres of music to form ‘jazz’ on the streets of America. An autocracy of poverty was assumed, dominating the lives of the black community that suffered from the inherent racism that underpinned society. In retrospect, jazz was only created because of the European cosmopolitanism present in New Orleans that allowed the practice of music making among the black youth to create such an art form. It was a hostile environment nonetheless. The Robert Charles riots in 1900 saw a three day protest, where whites killed over 30 blacks in a flare up of racial tension. This is just one example of prolific discrimination that saw housing segregation become ubiqutious by 1910. The blacks,
living in the inner city, were encircled by white wealth on the outskirts - a fitting image of society at the time. The centre had a lack of access to running water, electricity and basic amenities. So what did this poverty, residen-
permission and license to play what they wanted. And so, jazz was formed, but from its flowering youth, the soil on which it was placed had set it up to wilt. Playing in strip clubs, living in the poorest regions and attracting
America in the twentieth century was not a fair place tial segregation and racism mean for musicians? It meant they had nowhere to play, and if they wanted to become truly devoted to their craft, they would have to play where law was irrelevant. But it also meant the quality of life was awful. The hallowed ground for the nurturing of jazz was strip clubs. Whilst illegal and sleazy, they provided a comfort that no other place could offer a new musician - the
Lee Morgan, picured here playing in a bar, died at the age of 33.
misfits to join bands did not bode well for the future. Especially in a time of innate racism that meant decent, legitimate income was unfeasible if unskilled and preoccupied with music making. Therefore, the founding fathers of jazz were clamped by poverty and a low standard of life. This was more than enough of a reason for a lower life expectancy by itself, let alone in combination with the jazz
New orleans french quarter was known for its jazz scene.
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scene’s cultural tendencies. Playing in strip clubs attracted criminals and illegal activity to the jazz scene. The bars in ‘Storyville’- the notorious prostitution district in New Orleans contained not only jazz musicians, but drugs, gangsters and pimps. Intoxication, promiscuity and poverty ran rampant throughout, and the musicians themselves jumped on the train with the party-goers. But crucially, instead of the occasional visit to the club, the musicians were there every evening and so the habits developed became more and more chronic compared to the party goers around them. The occasional pill became a habit and developed into addiction sheerly because of the environment where they worked. Encouraged by the bohemians that watched the performance, substance abuse became the counterpart of jazz. Billie Holiday (an influential pop and jazz singer), died of heart and liver disease aged 40. The extent of her addiction extended from age 11 to her death, having been banned from clubs selling alcohol 12 years before her death due to a narcotics conviction and being chained to her bed before her eventual death. Unfortunately this was a common occurrence among jazz musicians. John Coltrane died of liver disease aged 40 from a life of alcohol abuse - another man who was a pioneer that determined the course of jazz in history whose life was cut short. The touring lifestyle, the night gigs and the crowds attracted by jazz in Storyville combined to produce a potent
Substance abuse became the counterpart of jazz
cocktail of mental health problems and hospital visits. It was a hard life; moving from place to place, especially after Storyville was shut down by police, and the crowds migrated to river boats up and down the Mississippi that left the musicians to fend for themselves in the desert of the racist south. Many found themselves homeless, unable to find work in other cities whilst the best (such as Louis Armstrong) moved to New York and recording studios for widespread distribution. In some cases, the conditions set up by the jazz lifestyle lent themselves to bad luck and the drugs, drinking followed them wherever they went. Lee Morgan, a leading jazz trumpeter was shot in his car after a gig aged 33 - a clear example that the situations jazz musicians put themselves in meant they were prone to danger. The substance of jazz performance was also a catalyst for the deterioration of their lives. Early jazz followed a fairly liberal structure, changing if and when the players wanted; improvisation was rudimentary. Pieces were essentially built upon the idiosyncrasies of the performer and nuances that a musician wanted to explore within each piece and therefore it was solely based on the individual performance of thinking on your feet. Self-doubt after a poor performance, knowing that it was purely to do with your natural ability is crippling for a musician who relies on their natural musicianship. If the practice had not been satisfactory, then the mind of the musician tumbles down the spiral of self doubt - a gateway to depression and mental health issues, all simply be-
Charlie Parker (nicknamed ‘The Bird’) had cymbals thrown at him at one point in his career. cause of the nature of what they played. In combination with substance abuse, work that influenced one’s mental health and surrounded by drugs was a recipe for painful lives.
Jazz was the starter of its own demise
The mental weight was heaviest for those who were not in the limelight. George Hunt, a trombonist who played as a backing man for Count Basie committed sui-
cide age 40, after years of depression and isolation. Not much is known about his life, but I think it’s fair to say that the fact he committed suicide shows a fairly miserable existence. The famous case of Joe Jones throwing a cymbal at Charlie Parker (as previously mentioned, nicknamed ‘The Bird’) in an effort to make him work harder is a comical but sobering indication of the amount that music meant to the musicians. It’s almost an analogy for jazz musicians and their lives - on the surface, an often light hearted performance in a bar, but underneath, a deeper implication for the mental stability and confidence of the musician themself, riddled with self-doubt. Jazz itself could be viewed as the cause of its own demise. The footprints of self doubt cast by an individual’s performance in combination with the solo improvisation that was rudimentary for an effective show meant it was not only mentally draining, but also self corrupting. Nothing was ever perfect as it followed no rules, unlike with its classical contemporaries where you play what you see. But the thing underpinning the fickle lives of musicians in the period was the discriminatory and abrasive social scene that wore down arguably the most creative minds of a generation.
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Unconfined? Reflections on Our Post-School Existence David Hrushovski considers how school prepares us for life without it.
n November 2018, I wrote an article discussing how we were being rushed into picking subjects to drop for GCSE. Today, two years later, I am again faced with making a choice about my subjects; this time, for A-Levels. The already narrow span of subjects that I study is about to diminish once again, but I see nothing wrong with it at all. For most of us, the path has been long paved: GCSEs, A-Levels, university, job. From the first time someone raised their hand in a maths lesson and asked “how will this actually help us in life?” the question has been consistently etched in our minds. It stopped being about learning, but about what we’d do with what we learned. From then on, a topic became a test score, and school projects became bullet points on a CV. We, as people, became a list of achievements. We'll end up living in the shadow of an employer, decisionmaker, or director, looming over us through every step, judging every unemployable move in school and out of it. When interviewed, over two in every three employers that carry out background checks said that they have denied someone a position over their social media presence. In our ever-interconnected world, the footprints one leaves behind them never disappear. That’s just the way the world works - but is there even anything wrong with it? Although it can seem daunting and unfair to have an all-time high percentage of your personality on online display, the experience in itself isn’t a new one. Employers have always needed to make a qualitative evaluation of character, so who can blame them for making full use of the resources available to them? The problem only presents itself when the line separating personal from private gets blurred. When interviewed, employers have stated that they have denied people a position over unprofessional behaviour, even outside of a workplace environment. How can a person be blamed for acting unprofessional whilst not performing their profession? In a fiery zeitgeist fuelled by the desire to conceal anything that isn’t completely politically-correct, there is a massive distinction between what a person is willing to post and what a person is willing to own up to. Again, the
70% of employers check a candidate’s social media before hiring.
2020 was the first time A-Levels were cancelled since their introduction in 1951. counterargument can be presented - if you don’t want it to be seen, don’t post it. But if people can’t post what they like without fearing judgement, when can they be
same way that they would be monitored in a traditional modern workplace. The fact that we are taught about developing key employment skills before we’re legally
Should we really be thinking about CVs and employment at the age of fifteen? themselves? The pressure to live an unblemished life creates a society in which people exist not for themselves, but for a decision-maker they are yet to even meet. To find out some of the motivations behind A-Level choices, I conducted an interview with some of the people in my year. The major reason for picking an A-Level, I found out, was due to enjoying it at GCSE, but every person I interviewed had either one or two subjects they picked for the sole purpose of impressing in job interviews. In a way, this is reasonable: if the world really works this way - at least the world we live in - who can blame people for choosing subjects that “look good”? I certainly couldn’t, as my thinking was influenced in the same way. But should we really be thinking about CVs and employment at the age of fifteen? The truth is, we have been conditioned to think like this ever since we started attending school. Our appearance, behaviour, and freedom of expression are all monitored here in the
allowed to watch a 15-rated movie clearly represents this exact set of priorities. The school in itself cannot be blamed. In reality, it’s inappropriate to point any blame at all, as it would be completely misdirected. The school that I happen to go to is like any other in the fact that one of its main jobs is to prepare me for life, and for life I’ll need a job. I’ll need to pick the right A-Levels, make the right choices, and change certain aspects of myself depending on whom I’m trying to impress. When doing my interviews, I asked the question “do you feel that you can live two separate lives; a professional one and a personal one?” The answer was overwhelming - 100% said “yes”. In a way, we all live infinite lives already, as each person we meet forms a uniquely different impression of who we are. The world we live in is designed for conformity, and a person who gets too caught up in challenging it all is just a person who ends up missing out.
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Brave New World: an Omen for Our Times Freddy Chelsom reviews Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
ublished in 1932, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, has become one of the most recognisable works of 20th Century Fiction. Despite being written almost 90 years ago, the book still remains relevant to our lives today. This alone is testament to Huxley’s masterful grasp of the Science Fiction genre, creating an engaging story that is both wildly remote and strikingly pertinent to the world we live in. Brave New World paints a strange picture of our own future. A future where science and the State control the masses through eugenics and technology, negating the
A society built on distrust, deception, and repression of freedom seems destined to falter need for a nuclear family, cultural interest, or self-identity. In a world where “everyone belongs to everyone” and happiness is delivered in a serum, relationships and feelings lack meaning or value to those involved. Genetic engineering and a strict caste system decide what you will do in your life, and ensure you will never desire to do anything more or less, let alone question the totalitarian state that governs you. A society built on distrust, deception, and repression of freedom seems destined to falter.
However, the most disturbing part of Huxley’s narrative is that, for the people involved, his supposed dystopia is indistinguishable from a utopia. They are unaware of living any other way, and are even disgusted and appalled when faced with the ‘savages’ clinging on to the vestiges of our society today. Cleverly, their horror mirrors the reader’s horror at their own situation, highlighting the hypocrisy of placing our society and values above those presented in the book. In this way, Huxley fundamentally challenges our perceptions of morality, ethics, and our lives as a whole, leaving us perplexed and provoking introspection in the reader. The beauty of Brave New World is that it inspires different thoughts in every person that has the pleasure of reading it, each experiencing a different version of the story, cultivated by Huxley, but in the end formed from their own experiences and beliefs. At the same time that the book made me scared for a world without art, family, God, and propriety, it made me question why I value them. I saw many parts of our own society today reflected in aspects of the dystopian world of the book, demonstrating Huxley’s insight into the core of human nature, which runs as a common thread through our society today, society ninety years ago, and the imagined society of our collective future. It is perhaps this that is so chilling to the reading, for although the setting of the book seems at first remote and unfamiliar, on closer inspection the society is in fact much nearer to ours than we would like to believe. With the rapid advancement of genetics, computing, and technology we are quickly accelerating towards a world not too dissimilar to the one presented in Brave New World. The book encourages us to stop and consider whether we are happy with the direction mankind is heading. Attestation to the validity of Huxley’s vision is the fact that we have continued on the path that he foresaw 90 years ago, and are now far closer to the world which he dared to envisage. I believe that the book will only continue to become more relevant in the coming years and decades. The book, I found, sends the message that happiness is not the only thing to be sought. Our lives, perhaps, have
The hyper-technological world of the book reflects society’s current tragectory.
meaning beyond ecstasy - a message that applies to my experience of the book. Reading Brave New World did not, for me, provide merely enjoyment, it made a far greater and lasting impact: it made me think, which I myself find to be more rewarding and meaningful that the base and puerile happiness which Aldous Huxley presents as the
An engaging story that is both wildly remote and strikingly pertinent to the world we live in new normal in the not so distant future. Perhaps, however, the charm of this book is that it can be interpreted in many different ways, and can have very different impacts on the people that read it. Whilst raising many serious questions about life, the book is also exciting and a thrill to read. I would strongly recommend Brave New World to any Abingdon student looking to challenge their predispositions, stretch their intellectual boundaries, or have a fun and exciting literary experience. The language and themes can at times be challenging, but I would encourage the reader to persevere in what is sure to be a rewarding endeavour.
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Was Switzerland Really Neutral in WW2? Boco To explores how Swiss banks and authorities helped the Nazis.
henever we think of Switzerland and the Second World War, we conjure up a semantic field of ‘haven’ and ‘neutrality’ perhaps. Or ‘espionage’ even, as the country was used for intelligence and communication by both sides of the war in WW2 and later involved in the Cold War. But following the war, the country’s controversial dealings with Nazi Germany were revealed; the funding for the genocide of the Holocaust was laundered through Switzerland, in the form of Nazi gold stolen from prisoners, a bold statement of Swiss interests in the war. It comes at no surprise that these concessions to the Nazis helped to maintain Swiss wartime independence by appeasing to deter from invasion. Towards the end of the war, a compelling clue that Germany was profiteering from its victims surfaced - wedding rings. A crate of wedding rings, initially looted from prisoners of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany by the Nazis, was uncovered by American soldiers in May 1945. As the Soviets advanced on Germany signalling the imminent ending of war, the prisoners of the camps near the Polish front were evacuated by the Nazis - transported by train or forced to undertake the horrendous “death march” virtually starving in cold conditions, forced hundreds of miles into the heart of Germany. Even this could not disguise the incessant trace of genocide from the Allies. Private assets of prisoners and camp buildings with their gas chambers remained to tell the horrific tale. By the late 1990s the sinister tale of how Switzerland profited from Nazi gold had been exposed by post-war international outcry over the past decades. On December
Paul Grueniger, a Swiss police officer who illegally permitted the entry of 3600 Jewish refugees from Austria.
Wedding rings belonging to Holocaust prisoners, stolen by the Nazis. 14, 1996, the Swiss National Bank publicly announced for the first time that it had gained 20 million Swiss francs from dealings in gold bullion with Germany during the war. It claimed that Germany plundered gold from its occupied countries and transferred it to the Swiss National Bank to finance the German war effort, some of which was stolen Jewish capital. The gold primarily came from two sources: monetary gold, the bullion held by the central banks of occupied countries, and non-monetary gold: personal assets such as jewellery, watches or coins stolen from individuals, notoriously including gold dental fillings taken from the corpses of Holocaust victims. In essence, Switzerland was a repository for Nazi plunder. Although the New York Times reported that the Swiss National Bank acknowledged the profits it derived from trading with Germany, their spokesperson JeanPierre Roth denied at a press conference in Zurich that gold stolen from victims of concentration camps knowingly passed through the bank during the war. He also asserted that “our investigations have shown that we no longer hold any ingots bearing German stamps,” repudiating that the bank still retained gold marked by the Reichsbank. However, financial experts argued that the possibility that gold from the Reichsbank could have been melted down to cover their origin could not be eliminated. A contemporaneous report from the Economist in July 1998 stated that even countries who didn’t support the Axis Powers began to make reimbursements to Holocaust victims, possibly out of goodwill. In an example of this, Britain allowed 25,000 people, mainly Jews, to reclaim deposits in British banks that were detained from them during the war as nationals of enemy countries. Additionally, Norway is the first former Nazi-occupied country to issue compensation, a morally significant act; in 2012, according to the BBC the Norwegian prime minister apologised for the deportation of over 700 Jews to Nazi camps during the war at Norwegian hands. Together with the government’s approval of a fund of $56.8 million to Holo-
caust survivors and their families, this marks Norwegian acceptance of liability for collusion with Nazi Germany. But what about Switzerland? Swiss banks for years possessed displaced assets, providing a pronounced administrative problem for survivors of the Holocaust. After the war, Swiss banks, in which Jews also deposited money before the war, were stringent in following their banking laws, granted no leeway for the
Swiss banks readily accepted capital from Jews in central and eastern Europe exceptional circumstances of genocide. Subsequently, survivors of the Holocaust or the heirs of those who were killed were faced with a wall of bureaucratic trouble trying to reclaim their assets, as often they could not provide customary documentation such as death certificates. So what did Switzerland do to resolve their debt to the survivors of the war? When the war ended, by means of the Washington Agreement of 1946, Switzerland managed to keep most of its wartime profits, only satisfying the Allied objective with a compromised payment of 250 million francs to the Allied governments for rebuild-
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ing the post-war economy. But what did the Allies really want? A letter from Mr. Randolph Paul, Special Assistant to President Truman, sent a letter just after the war outlining the aim of “eliminating German assets in Switzerland which might be used in waging a future war”. Later that
The sum the Allies received in reparation was only 12% of the looted gold year in November, a bilateral certification agreement between Switzerland and the United States negotiated the release of nearly 4.5 billion francs to Switzerland previously frozen in America. The sum the Allies received in reparation was only 12% of the looted gold - Switzerland got the bargain. As a result of the international pressure put on Switzerland for its wartime earnings, in May 1996 the Swiss Bankers’ Association signed an agreement with the World Jewish Congress and World Jewish Restitution Organisation establishing the “Independent Committee of Eminent Persons” to facilitate the conduct of a thorough and transparent audit investigation seeking to identify and recover dormant accounts. Similar committees were established with the US to
investigate plundered Jewish assets which ended up in Switzerland. The increasing outcry had also pushed Swiss authorities to relax some of their bank secrecy laws to allow such investigations into the country’s capitalisation of the Holocaust. Its exploitation of Nazi Germany sadly extends beyond just the financial realm, at the cost of many innocent lives, as the country denied Jewish refugees persecuted in their home countries. Historically, Swiss banks were a favourable repository for unstable countries seeking to protect their assets as the country was renowned for the financial protection offered by its bank secrecy laws. With the rise of Nazism before the Second World War, Swiss banks readily accepted capital from Jews in central and eastern Europe, but the country blocked entry to Jews seeking refuge, leaving many to be killed in German death camps. This denial of asylum was at the hands of the Swiss Chief of Police, Heinrich Rothmund, who suggested Switzerland should request Germany to infamously mark a “J” onto the passports of German Jews, so that they were easily differentiated from German non-Jews wanting to be admitted into Switzerland. In 1995, the Federal President of Switzerland, Kaspar Villiger, made the first official acknowledgement of Swiss complicity in aiding the genocide: “We bear a considerable burden of guilt for the treatment of Jews by our country”. Paul Grueniger, a Swiss border police commander who assisted in the smuggling of Austrian Jewish refugees to Switzerland, was charged with fraud and dismissed in March 1939 from the police for his actions and deprived of his right to receive retirement pensions. Although he was honoured as one of the Righteous Among Nations in 1971 a year before his death by the Jewish Holocaust memorial foundation Yad Vashem, only in 1995 did the Swiss authorities clear him of his conviction posthumously. Swiss infringement of ‘neutrality’ did not end with the ending of war in 1945, continuing as a question of heated debate. Even in recent years the country was somewhat involved in multinational spying operations, according to a BBC report in February 2020. Encoding devices sup-
The Swiss National Bank was responsible for wartime money-laundering operations.
plied by the Swiss firm, Crypto AG, were secretly rigged by US and German intelligence agencies during the Cold War to spy on countries such as Iran, India and Pakistan. Once again, we see that Switzerland entered into mutually profitable connections with the CIA and the West German BND, intervening in foreign politics and putting its perceived ‘neutrality’ into scrutiny. History is redefining Swiss ‘neutrality’, often synonymous with its position in the Second World War, as something more complex. Switzerland was culpable for the lives of many Jewish refugees under Hitler’s antisemitic regime, and its political and financial dealings with Nazi
Germany plundered gold from its occupied countries and transferred it to the Swiss National Bank Germany only worsened its reputation. Even today financial and ethical battles still rage with regards to this sensitive issue. It’s taken just over half a century for the nation to make amends by restituting victims of the Holocaust and shining light on those who risked themselves for the greater good of humanity, leaving us to question whether or not Switzerland really was as unbiased and ‘neutral’ as it is conceived to be.
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The Violin: a History of its Magic and its Makers Rory Kind explores the origins of the modern violin.
ith a lockdown in full swing and heavy exam uncertainty on everyone’s shoulders, I thought the History Of Violins would be a more light-hearted topic. Let us be transported back to northern Italy in the 16th century, a place freshly transformed by the High Renaissance in the hallowed midsts of the likes of Michelangelo and Raphael. At this time, history starts to see the emergence of the violin creeping into the back alleys of Italian towns, facilitated by small-scale craftsmen, a new epoch of instrumental
The violin has been a quintessential constant in music making music and the readily available Lombardy spruce and maple trees. Since rising from the cobbled streets of Cremona and Brescia, the violin has been a quintessential constant in music making up to the modern day. Stringed instruments by no means suddenly appeared and it must be said that the evolution of the modern-day violin harkens back to the first known stringed instrument
Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in modern-day Cremona.
which can be found in Ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) in the region of 2500 BC. However the focus will be on what we know of the violin in its modern form, with four strings, a body and a bow. It is widely considered Andrea Amati (1505-77) was the inventor of the modern violin. Details about the figurehead of Casa Amati are scarce but it’s known he set up a family workshop that was inherited by his two sons (Antonio and Girolomo) in Cremona, Lombardy, Italy. He also was the producer of 38 decorated instruments for Charles IX of France, a symbol of his rising popularity in the 16th century and the integration of the violin into high courts. However the legacy Amati left behind is far more important than the details of his life. He satisfied people’s 16th century yearning for individualistic, virtuoso music that has stood the test of time to be so fundamental in all modern day music. Amati’s precedent resulted in a flourishing network of luthier (someone who crafts string instruments) ‘Casas’, with roots spanning their way towards Venice that were nurtured by makers such as Montagnana. This period conceived by Amati is known as the ‘golden years’ of violin making and was perhaps epitomised by a name known to almost all music lovers and non-music lovers alike: Antonio Stradivari. He too originates from Cremona but was born one hundred years after A.Amati whose talent had put Cremona on the world map and marked the streets with a new melody. Stradivari (born ~1645) was part of the Cremonese school and actually studied under Nicola Amati. Over the course of his 92 year life, Stradivari produced an estimated 1,116 instruments but only around 500 of these remain today. His builds were typically more masculine than the Amati builds and created a much stronger and richer tone that has remained admired ever since. These instruments have been given names over time (such as The Dolphin) and players who get the privilege to play such instruments are chosen, rather than a player choosing a violin. In many, ways in concert, it is the player facilitating the instrument’s potential rather than the violin showing the player’s skill. The principle is a partnership, to get a virtuoso accessing the finest instrument to make the purest sound possible. This is often why it is viewed by some that it is a great shame instruments such as the ‘Messiah’ violin are placed in cabinets in museums. A violins duty is to entertain and be played and many feel they greatly lose value, not materially, but in essence. To move along the timeline, the School of Cremona consisted of the Stadavari, Amati, San Matteo and San Faustino parishes. In 1682 the ‘Grand Amati’ design was published and this acted as a blueprint for violins for the next 300 years and beyond. These luthiers truly dominate the history and construction of the violin and the school itself nurtured hundreds of master violin makers such as Pietro Guaneri. Whilst each luthier’s instruments had their own unique style and idiosyncrasies, they all stem from the same source. The birth of orchestral playing in the 17th century saw the violins be used to an even greater extent that they had been before and this was accelerated through orchestral composers like Vivaldi. J.S Bach is also regarded as particularly influential. He revolutionised, to an extent, how the violin was played and unlocked its true musical po-
tential in the Baroque period, with his chamber music and concertos being a staple for any string player. In 1786 Francois Tourte standardized and changed the previous baroque bow to the modern bow we see today and the
The modern and musical status of the violin is unequivocally High chin rest ws only introduced in 1820. The modern status of the violin is unequivocally high. Ranked as the 6th most common instrument taken up by children by ABRSM, and it’s influence heard in countless modern day songs the violin has ingrained itself into our music in the west. It is important to note that this brief history only really focused on the material history of the violin and the European luthiers behind the instruments rather than the history of worldwide playing styles and techniques. From the halls of Renaissance Italy and the 16th Century workshops of Lombardy, to the electro beat studios of the 21st century, the violin truly has stood the test of time.
A Stradavri violin, the 'Ole Bull', named after the Norweigan virtuoso.
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So You Missed Pink Mist... Felix Kind, Rory Kind, and Freddy Chelsom look back at recent fifth year play, Pink Mist, and interview the director.
recent performance of Pink Mist, a play about three young men’s experience and aftershocks of war, was performed by the fifth year at the end of term, recorded and edited, then broadcasted to the wider community for viewing on YouTube. We talked to members of the cast and the director about the process of making a Covid-19 friendly production and how they thought the performance went. Mr McDonnell, recounting his countless experiences as a stalwart of the Bristol rave scene, gave an insightful view into the challenges we faced in recreating the legendary scenes of Bristol on a Friday night and the emotions and physcology of three young men returning from war. The production lent itself towards physical theatre- a problem considering social distancing- and therefore the play (originally a radio drama but designed for the stage with physical theatre in mind- according to Mr McDonnell) had to deviate from the original idea of how it would end up - in front of a live audience without social distancing - obviously, this did not happen. Despite this, Mr McDonnell states that he wanted to maintain the stylised integrity of the production whilst also taking into account the filming measures that had to be put in place. Viewing the rehearsals from the front row, Mr McDonnell believed that the greatest challenge for the transition from a live audience to close up camera shots was the fact that the smallest, most minute movement were being picked up and thus had a huge impact on the actor’s ability to maintain the dramatic tension of the production. This meant that the actors had to re-
main focused and in character for the entirety of the performance, something that does not come naturally for a group of 16 year olds. Whilst there was a degree of restriction, the use of cameras provided some opportunity. The tech team in collaboration with Mr McDonnell used the cameras to show characters in a different light (quite literally) throughout the performance, and it essentially made for a more tangible experience for those at home, viewing the
wise have been unable to attend, had the opportunity to see the play, and many of our friends enjoyed being able to watch from home. Post-production editing also allowed us to create a more immersive and succinct performance, with audiovisual effects, from Mr Lloyd and the Tech Crew, really bringing the whole play to life. In the end, we managed to create a powerful performance that, despite being filmed beforehand, had the same tension and character of a live
The production lent itself towards physical theatre a problem considering social distancing
production from different angles and viewpoints rather than the two dimensional experience of a performance in a theatre. Due to pandemic restrictions, the play was live streamed online. Although, at first, this seemed less exciting than having an audience, and indeed, we all would have preferred to perform live, the different format forced us to learn new acting techniques, and enabled us to reach a wider audience. Many people, who might other-
Stylised and physical theatre characterised the perfromance from start to finish.
performance. Crucial to this was the commitment from everyone involved, and we can all be proud of the work we put in, to make this play a success. As an actor, Pink Mist was a notably demanding piece but was extremely valuable in its results for us as actors. As previously mentioned, the complete composure of an entire cast of teenagers was essential to its success and this meant prolonged tableaux-style (still image) physicalities, of which kneeling in the final scene proved particularly difficult. For anyone who saw the play, you might recall all actors had their own particular moments in the production with prolonged monologues and duologues. This really developed the actors' pacing of lines to make sure understanding was there but to also provide excitement without rushing ahead. Throughout the play, hardly any props were used and the cast was dressed in black cargo pants with black boots and a black shirt, which meant the story telling purely relied on the vocal delivery and committed physical theatre from the ensemble at the time. It’s worth noting that every actor was on stage for almost the entire play whether that be as ensemble or main characters in each section, and attention at all times was paramount to the performance due to the large number of physical transitions or movements used to enhance the performance stylistically. With any drama, if the ensemble doesn’t deliver in unison with each other the dramatic effect and tension of the scene can be lost in an instant. A major challenge with acting with no audience was that the stimulus for full commitment wasn’t there. The anticipation and nerves from a live audience and the buzz during a production are really noticeable in an actor’s performance and fuel your delivery, but without that, you have to squeeze that extra bit of commitment from yourself. When the third year dropped into a filmed rehearsal the tempo really picked up, and made everyone notice how as actors, you feed off the audience to provide your top performance. To expose us to this and to really make us focus on the intricacies of performance was invaluable and undeniably developed us as actors On behalf of everyone in the performance, we would like to say a huge thank you to the Tech Crew and Mr McDonnell, without whom we would not have had a show.
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The Feasability of Autonomous Transport Miles Gilroy and Harvey Allen discuss the pros and cons of autonomous transport.
ecently a project was launched in Oxford as part of a government-backed scheme to introduce autonomous vehicles across the UK, Project Endeavour. This is the first of potentially many trials coming to the UK. They are examining the potential limits of autonomous cars with current standards of technology and the results will have great influence on the government’s future plans. Currently, the trials are experimenting with Level Four autonomy- Level Zero being no automation and Level Five without any human intervention whatsoever. However, the cars being tested in Oxford are able to fully drive themselves but require a driver to be present should an incident occur. We will mainly be discussing whether full Level Five automation is actually feasible, and whether we will one day potentially see these vehicles on our roads or alternatively, will these ideas be simply impossible to master, whether the problems occur in the potential risks, ethics or general inability to write programs sufficient for the task. It is paramount to understand how these cars will be beneficial to society as a whole. Companies and organisations are striving to manufacture these cars and program codes in order to make them widespread conveniences, but also to promote road safety. There will be a predicted 90% reduction in traffic-based road accidents according to the United States Department of Transportation due to the removal of human error when it comes to driving. In 2017 there were a reported 37,133 deaths in the United States, meaning that these cars may prevent an astounding 30,000 lives. Moreover, there will be a 60% drop in harmful emissions from the cars due to the more efficient driving method, such as slower acceleration, meaning less emissions. A report carried out by Ohio university mentions
that there will be an extreme decrease in emissions. In addition to this, an overlooked benefit would be no stopand-go waves, which eliminates the unsynchronised movement of vehicles, resulting in an overall shorter journey time. However, as with anything, there are disadvantages and drawbacks. Firstly, due to this being a new concept, there are worries around the safety and reliability of these autonomous vehicles. Obviously, any new piece of technology is going to have issues that weren’t originally noticed by the devel-
There are many worries around the safety and reliability of these autonomous vehicles opers or were later created by the usage of the products. This is especially dangerous for subjects like driverless cars as any problem or glitch, no matter how small, can be fatal to both the passengers and anyone on the road around the car. Additionally, in some cases it doesn’t even take a glitch or software issue to cause problems. For example, during a rainstorm or if visibility is low due to fog, the sensors may not work properly simply because they are ob-
structed. Without the intervention of a human, this could cause serious issues. Furthermore, technological devices always pose risks surrounding hacking. New forms of cyber-crime can arise from the creation of autonomous vehicles, in which a perpetrator gains control of someone’s car or prevents it from performing certain functions which can ultimately lead to the car crashing or being delivered to the wrong place. This poses safety and security concerns that cannot be overlooked. Finally, as technology becomes smarter and its presence in our lives increases, there is always the ever strengthening worry that we will, in the future, be replaced by robots and A.I. or, very far into the future, they will be strong and smart enough to revolt against us. However silly that may sound, we always have to keep it in the back of our minds. If we grant A.I. complete free will and conscience, there is a possibility that it will turn against us and revolt, just as humans have done to each other in the past. More generally, many ethical problems are also a product of the creation of A.I.. If we ever get to the point where we give artificial intelligence full free will and conscience, issues such as the treatment and use of these beings will inevitably cause a stir in society. This could be very counterproductive as companies will ultimately be forced to release their workers if they decide they don’t want to work anymore. However this can be easily avoided by creating only basic A.I. that cannot completely think for itself. Driverless cars, despite their flaws, are an incredibly development for the modern world, as they aid in man’s everlasting attempt to make anything and everything as easy and efficient as possible. This is, of course, granted that we take care of how we move forward with this concept and weight up the opportunities and costs of artificial intelligence.
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Sport As always this introduction must begin with the obligatory Covid-19 update. Fans were back, at least until the third lockdown kicked in. That was certainly a positive for many clubs and organizations, as they were able to sustain themselves and make sure it was still safe. Safety is certainly possible when you consider that 2,000 fans were spread out into 50,000 plus seater stadiums. Although Liverpool, in my humble opinion, may not even have enough fans to fill their stadium. Either way it was absolutely fantastic to switch on the TV and see fans sitting apart from one another but still together showing support for their teams. The Martlet’s sports coverage as per usual explores a wide range of topics. There is a focus on the coronavirus and the effect it is having on sport, particularly in schools, which Conor Rogan and Oliver Smeaton discuss, whilst both Chares Geday and Nathaniel Jackson provide The Martlet with their insight into the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula One. Charles discusses the implications of a new addition to the hectic Formula One calendar, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, while Nathaniel discusses whether the sport has become too boring, particularly when domination by certain individuals occurs. On the topic of engagement in sport, my own article analyses the proposed European Super league which I conclude could be a kick in the teeth for football itself. There is certainly nothing dull with the return of many sports to their normal selves in some capacity and hopefully with increasing vaccination rollout, the sporting world can live on and hope for a full recovery.
MOTORSPORT Has Formula 1 Become Tedious?
SCHOOL SPORTS Putting the PE in PandEmic
FOOTBALL Is Football Becoming Too Commercial?
MOTORSPORT The Good and the Wheel-y Bad
Ben Lisemore Sport Editor
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Has Formula 1 Become Tedious? Nathaniel Jackson questions whether the sport of racing has become tedious and why a decline in excitement occured.
aving recently seen Lewis Hamilton win the Turkish Grand Prix and declare himself a seven time world champion, it begs the question: is Formula 1 becoming tedious? Now, if one were a Lewis Hamilton fan, the reply to this question would be simple. They would ask how can watching the greatest of all time be boring? or, how can you get tired of watching such a brilliant driver? Well, simply put, the sport is no longer exciting. Fans would usually find the sport synonymous with dramatic crashes and audacious overtaking. Although these still occur and do inject some excitement into the races and make them safer, such occurrences are rarer than usual and the races aren’t as gripping. Many watchers nowadays tune in to spectate the start, typically the most thrilling part of the race as this is where the most action happens, and then leave for the majority of the race to only return and see Hamilton win and spray the champagne. In fact, out of the 16 races that Hamilton drove in this season, the champion won 11 of them despite being absent for the penultimate race in Sakhir due to contracting Covid-19. Therefore, it is evident through his ability to win both races and titles that Hamilton’s dominance is undeniable. However, one wonders whether this is sole-
Well, simply put, the sport is no longer exciting ly due to Hamilton’s skill as a driver or if the edge he has ahead of the rest of the field is due to the magnificent car which he drives Well, there is no doubt that the Mercedes car is the cream of the crop. It is a technological piece of genius that around 1,300 people dedicated hours upon hours refining and perfecting. Its ability to enhance a driver’s skill was evident throughout the Formula 1 season. For example, George Russell, who usually races for Williams, was the man tasked with the job of replacing Hamilton during his week of absence. Russell picked up three points from the race having finished ninth, the only points that he would accumulate all season. Additionally, the Mercedes team finished on the top of the Constructors’ championship with 573 points, 254 ahead of the Red Bull Racing Honda on 319 in second position. The most notable result, however, was that of Ferrari’s. Traditionally Formula 1’s most famous team, home to legends of the sport such as Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda, Ferrari were found down in sixth position with only 131 points. These statistics tell us two key things. Firstly, we can see that the Mercedes car is an integral part of Hamilton’s dominance. Although it does require a driver of immense skill to reap the benefits of this car, we wonder whether Hamilton would be as successful at another top team such as Red Bull or Ferrari. Sadly, there is doubt that we will ever find this out as
Hamilton is considered one of the greatest ever. Hamilton pledges that he hopes to be part of Mercedes forever as he has now closed the door on moving to Ferrari due to timing despite it being his dream. Secondly, we can see the fact that the other teams are struggling to hold a candle to the Silver Arrows despite drivers like Max Verstappen driving the wheels off his Red Bull at each race this year. There is a lack of competition in the sport at the moment and this leads to the races becoming predictable and boring. The sport is struggling for casual fans and in a time in which revenue is so important, this is highly problematic. So what can the sport do to increase excitement and in turn viewership? Well the sad reality is not much. Hamilton doesn’t seem to be slowing down as he enters his 15th season as a Formula 1 driver in 2021 and the Mercedes car is set to be as quick as ever. Therefore, the task of lessening Hamilton’s dominance falls to the other teams and drivers. During the offseason, Carlos Sainz Jr. replaced Sebastian Vettel in one of the Ferrari cars. This is a promising move as any fan could see that in the 2020 season Vettel was certainly not the driver he once was. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc’s partnership will offer a breath of fresh air to a Ferrari team which has become rather stagnant, in the hope of reviving its championship winning ways. Furthermore, there is no doubt that all teams including Ferrari, have been painstakingly working on their cars, seeing Hamilton and Mercedes as the people to beat.
I think it would be unfair to criticize Hamilton for making the sport of Formula 1 tedious. He and his car are dominant because they are the best but that isn’t because of luck. Through his great diligence and determination he has been able to reach the top of his game. The
Through his great diligence and determination he has been able to reach the top of his game other teams have to take the blame for not making the sport competitive enough. Each team should be working tirelessly in order to properly challenge Mercedes and Hamilton. If so, we should be in for an exhilarating season ahead despite it sadly being delayed.
The Mercedes car is second to none and has 1,000 horsepower.
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Sport SCHOOL SPORTS
Putting the PE in PandEmic Oliver Smeaton and Conor Rogan look into the impact of the coronavirus on sports at Abingdon School.
ovid-19 has prevented many major events from going ahead for example the Olympic games and the Wimbledon tennis tournament but sport has also been affected in the grass roots and in schools around the globe from primary schools to sixth form to national teams. This experience has caused sports departments in schools to adapt and learn to keep themselves going throughout these difficult times. It is not just the sports these departments have had to change. For example they have had to change the way they organise the logistics as to where people change. Some good things have come out of this experience, with many valuable lessons being learnt being one of them. Sports departments have had to adapt in many ways as the heavy restrictions on grass roots sports by the government have forced these departments to bring in strict measures to adhere to these guidelines. There are many examples of ways these departments have had to change. Some examples of ways they have had to adapt are the sports centers changing facilities have been made Covid safe. Some examples here include adapting the Sports Centre's changing facilities to make them Covid secure. There is now a one way system running through it and the changing rooms have been adapted to ensure there is a 2m changing space between each pupil. The Abingdon Sports Department has been dramatically affected during Covid-19. “As with all departments
in the School, over in PE we have been heavily affected and have needed to adapt our way of working” the department told The Martlet. 'A number of the sports we would usually be playing during this term haven’t been able to run and if they have gone ahead they’ve been adapted.' The fitness suite has been shut meaning all HRE and Strength & Conditioning sessions have taken place in the new outside area. Probably the biggest change within the Department is not being able to play fixtures against other Schools. The Sports Department has had to massively adapt under the new circumstances. The equipment we use is cleaned after every lesson and during sessions pupils are asked to sanitise their hands after 20 minutes. The lessons & sports we teach have changed and continue to change depending on the sports National Governing Bodies stance. For example, the current rugby guidance does not allow us to play full sized matches or participate in contact sessions for longer than 15 minutes, therefore the structure and content of sessions is a lot different to normal years. In order to stick with the year group bubbles the timings of some of our Other Half sessions have been adapted. The Sports Department and the school has learnt that sometimes a shorter session is actually better suited to a particular group. It ensures that things are organised and the transitions between activities and lessons are a lot quicker, which can lead to students getting more out of it. Also, the use of technology including Zoom can
It is needless to say that the Sports Department has had to quickly adapt to the ever-changing restrictions.
be a huge benefit when arranging meetings and allowing students to participate when not present at school. There is also plenty of evidence that taking part in physical activity can have a profound effect on students’ mental well being and can also improve their mood. It has also been proven that it can decrease the chance of anxiety and depression drastically and lead to an overall more balanced lifestyle which helps students deal with the challenging situation Covid puts them in mentally. Overall a large majority of sports throughout the country have been affected by Covid, such as rugby having to obey their the roadmap preventing really key aspects of rugby from taking place, for example tackling as it is close contact has been clearly prevented by the government. It has been affecting schools with many having to resort to Zoom. This situation although coming with many negatives, have allowed companies, schools and organisations to learn many things from this experience for example, ways to keep students active and participating in sports while not in school and have also opened many doors, giving many scientists the chance to delve deeper into how children being more active can affect the chances of depression and anxiety. So, when taking a step back, although Covid has caused many issues and discomforts for billions of people around the globe it wasn’t all bad. As it has caused some industries to boom and has given the chances for many people to learn very useful lessons.
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Is Football Becoming Too Commercial? Ben Lisemore questions whether the European Super League would be negative for football.
ootball is a game rich in history and money and although modernisation is important, there is the risk of losing the core values of what makes everyone fall in love with the sport. Everyone can remember their first game, or first time they kicked a ball. For me it was watching Oxford United play at home to Wrexham in the fifth tier of English football back in 2009. Now that may not sound like the most glamorous game of football, but I would disagree. Two teams launching everything at each other and Oxford scoring a last minute winner, has so much more meaning to it than some of the current superstars and their lackadaisical approach to playing. This might appear a ridiculous argument on the surface, but football is arguably not a business, it is a passion, born out of love for the game not money. The proposed European Super League would be a step in the wrong direction for this passion, creating an arguably better standard of football week in week out but diminishing the feeling and atmosphere that was created at the Kassam Stadium on a cold April afternoon in 2009. I have to admit that in terms of talent and technique if this Super league were to go ahead it would certainly be even better than the Premier League or any of the other major European Leagues, with the best playing the best every week. Seeing the ‘big six’ in this country going up against the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich on a weekly basis is like a big Champions League clash every weekend. But is this the real reason Fifa want to have the biggest European competition in the World, usurping the Champions League, currently run by UEFA, European football’s governing body? It may have something to do with the proposed £4.6 billion the bank JP Morgan
Football clubs nowadays are run a lot more like businesses
will be providing; it certainly is not on the same level of sponsorship as the Papa John’s trophy, the League one and League two competition in England, though is it? Ok maybe it is. One could argue that Football clubs nowadays are run a lot more like businesses due to many owners not caring truly for the club they own, but rather more intrigued about how it will bring them money and
A memorable Champions League final in 2012 - games like this could soon lose their speciality.
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Does Fifa president Gianni Infantino only want this League for the money? allow them to expand their businesses. This means many of the biggest clubs are voting in favour of this league as their owners are enticed by the big money that comes with such an extraordinary concept, and are not thinking about whether their fans would be in favour of this. Firstly, for the fans it would be a lot harder to watch all of the games in the flesh due to the fact that there would be huge
stroy professional football at a level below this colossal European stage. The Premier League title race would be between the likes of Everton and Leicester, if the big six were to leave. Now normally this sounds very exciting as everyone loves an underdog story, such as Leicester’s shock win of the Premier League back in 2016. But if this was to happen every season it would become very bor-
The effect on the lower leagues would be disastrous
costs and time constraints in travelling across Europe to watch a regular league game. It is hardly true that a Liverpool or Manchester United fan would find it easier to travel from their homes to watch a game being played in Italy, than travelling with many other fans on a bus across the country. However, the widespread nature of the League would help in developing the numbers of overseas fans that support a team as, for example, you would be able to find just as many Manchester United fans in Manchester as you would in the likes of Spain. Therefore, allowing for teams to be just as heavily supported as normal. However, it must be questioned whether the atmosphere would be the same as when, during a big Premier League clash between two big teams, there is a lot more passion from fans and players alike all going into the game? The introduction of this league would effectively de-
ing as arguably fewer good payers, who would be trying to get out of the supposed top league in the country and into the one that would be above it, would be competing for the most coveted prize in England which is arguably the hardest league to win in the world. A European League may create a more even playing field but that means there would be no unexpected, shock results. Underdog stories are so special with the likes of Leicester being the most notable but also Sheffield United and their implausible top half finish last year, when many predicted them to go down. While a league that had teams with all had the same world class talent in, might sound like the most entertaining event possible, it would take out so much of the drama of the meteoric rises of some teams up the League because it would never be a shock as to who would win the League. The effect on the lower leagues would be
disastrous also due to the sponsorships and money that would be involved in the Super League and the potential dismissal of any sort of focus on these lower Leagues. No one would watch a game on a rough, uneven pitch between two mediocre teams when they could watch the best teams in the world do battle. This would also remove the traditional old fashioned element of the English game certainly, where fans go down and support their local team, as too many would be watching the games happening on the other side of the world. This would have negative future effects as proceeding generations would not understand the passion behind following a local team and going through the ups and downs. But also the clubs would be gravely affected as they would not get as high attendances and in turn not raise as much money. Furthermore, the creation of this league would ruin the locality and culture of football being played in this country and in many other countries, with the occasional European game in the Champions or Europa League, which there is no need for the casting aside of. This is quite clear through the current system, where teams are rewarded for being one of the best in their country. Through having a fantastic season they can make their way into the major European competitions. Year after year there is already a clear chance to see who the best team in Europe is, as first they succeed domestically and then internationally. If the teams were placed into the Super League based on how much financial backing they have and not on merit, then there would be no reward for being the best in your country as you remain in your league and can do no more. For example, after Leicester remarkably won the league they were rewarded for their achievement by getting a chance to prove themselves on a global stage. Nevertheless if they were to do something similar today, the only reward would be money in the pocket and not an opportunity to make even more by playing in the Champions League. The current system works fine and creates a system where fans, once their full return takes place, can enjoy the game they pay to watch. There is always something to play for in every game when teams play in their own country, whether that be relegation six pointer or pushing to play in Europe, but if this system was eroded away it would create another system where teams could just accept that they are having a bad season and not worry about any consequences but instead just build towards the next one. This may produce a more boring game as there are no long lasting effects of finishing near the bottom of the league, particularly for their owners who do not mind where their teams finish as long as the money continues to flow. The European Super League would create a faultless league with robotic-like effects as players are able to perform on the biggest stage on a consistent basis. This might sound appealing with the best against the best every week but as you look deeper you see the cracks in the system. It is no secret that football clubs are dependent on money, but this league is arguably so focused on it that it would be, “the last nail in the coffin” as the Chief Executive of the Football Supporters’ Association, Kevin Miles said. The games would be boring, the passion for watching and playing dissolved and many teams that are not involved in the league would follow a similar route to that spirit. I mean the ‘Channel Tunnel derby’ between Tottenham and PSG may not be that appetising as a league game, but once it is a game on a Tuesday night after both teams have earnt their positions in the Champions league it’s very appealing indeed. The proposed League would be a major blow for the likes of aforementioned Oxford and Wrexham, although Wrexham are currently undergoing a takeover from Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds, so it might not be too bad in that regard, again proving that these days the key to recognition in the football world is money. Even so, the League may diminish the support local fans are able to give, and they would only want to watch the best playing the best, in what sounds a mundane spectacle.
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The Good and the Wheel-y Bad Charles Geday asks whether F1’s new race in Saudi Arabia is a good idea.
Lewis Hamilton has been vocal on several different issues this year.
n the 5th November of this year, F1 announced a new race in Saudi Arabia. The race will be held in Jeddah, and will take place at night the third night race of the season along with Abu Dhab and Singapore. This new addition comes hand-in-hand with the new-for-2020 F1 title sponsor, Saudi Aramco, which is a state-owned oil company. Numerous key figures, both those involved in F1 and those not, have spoken out against this new race over concerns with the country’s reported human rights violations. The chair of Amnesty (a charity devoted to investigating human rights accusations) has suggested that Saudi Arabia is involved in internationally condemned activities such as mass executions, illegal detentions and torture. In fact, only recently did the administration pass a law allowing women to apply for a driving licence, which is somewhat ironic in the context of this new race. However, people should take heart in the fact that a country, which has previously seemed as closed-off and oppressive as the Soviet Union, is trying to reform and welcome tourists from all over the world to their country. Some drivers have suggested that F1 can use their new partnership, effectively with the Saudi state administration itself, to affect meaningful change. In terms of the viability of this, the Saudi administration has been increasingly keen over the past couple of years to place itself on the world’s stage, hosting multiple internationally acclaimed sporting events including the FEI equestrian championship, boxing and golf. F1 itself has issued a statement, saying “We take our responsibilities very seriously and have made our position on human rights and other issues clear to all our partners and host countries who commit to respect human rights in the way their events are hosted and delivered.” Not to jump to any conclusions, but if one were to read between the lines on that statement, F1 is insistent that there will be no issues surrounding the race itself, but they are acknowledging the fact that there are issues in the larger country itself. Thus, this could suggest that F1 is not exactly keen to host a race in Saudi Arabia and fears both commercial and human fallout, but are bonded to a monetary deal they made with the Saudi state through an intermediary in the form of Saudi Aramco, the oil company.
Saudi Arabia has already been hosting international sporting events.
Newly-crowned seven time Drivers’ World Champion Lewis Hamilton has said that “There’s a lot of organisations in the world that turn a blind eye to a lot of stuff that’s happening and they’ll use the excuse that it’s ‘political’. Human rights is not a political thing. Human rights should be equal for everyone and we’re going to all these countries where that is an issue.” This in itself reads as a warning to F1 not to overlook the reported human rights violations in the country,
F1 is not exactly keen to host a race in Saudi Arabia
which is just one of the many issues that Hamilton has used his immense influence over the sport to call for change on in this year alone. I think Hamilton is right, that F1 has a duty to its shareholders, but I think it owes an even greater duty to humanity to protect the basic rights of humankind and to speak out against abuse of the system and of power. Meanwhile, Saudi Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Fiasal has addressed the outcry, saying,“I don’t blame them, when you don’t know a country, and when you have a certain image of a country. I remember myself when my parents used to tell me we’re going to go to the US, especially to New York, I was frightened. I would think that I’m going to walk in the street and somebody will come and shoot me, because I’d never been there. I know why they’re not excited about it, because of a lot of issues with the human rights, and because they’ve never been to Saudi. That’s why, now for us opening up, and hopefully with people coming in Saudi Arabia, seeing the country, and then going back and reporting what they saw, this will maybe make people change their mind.” This shows that Saudi Arabians, at least from the outside, are looking to change and are aware of their criticisms. In conclusion, the new race in Saudi Arabia is a twofaced coin. On the one hand, it signifies that the previously authoritarian state is willing and able to reform, but it could equally be a cover for all the frankly horrific and abominable atrocities being committed by a member state of the UN, which signed an international, legally-binding document to abolish the unfair and unequal treatment of citizens, even if they themselves are not law-abiding. This new landmark deal could be the end of the struggle or an escalation to conflict but it remains to be seen what the racing itself will be like.
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Maggie’s Muddles Maggie is back to answer readers’ queries, with help from Rory Bishop and Sam Penrose. Dear Maggie, Greetings exalted one! I am misery, I am sadness, I am locked in my house of madness. Every day, I live in eternal torment, because I can’t wear my Lower School Half Colours Tie. It is the greatest gift that has ever been bequeathed upon me, having taken it ceremoniously from the hands of the mighty high council. Even worse still, my second year exams have been cancelled. My career is in the bin, my life is doomed, and my suffering is constant. I had great plans for my now ruined future. Now since my second year exams have been cancelled, I will no longer be able to follow my dreams and attend the University of Bedfordshire. I worry that I am going off of the rails. Recently I even drank a half shot of pure black coffee. I had been caffeine teetotal for five years, but Gavin Williamson pushed me over the edge. My greatest sadness, however, is neither the tie nor the exams, but the cancellation of the Second Year Trip to the Roman Baths in Bath. I had packed my bag ready for the March trip, but now, alas, my dreams have crumbled just like the erosion of the very baths themselves. I can now
Dear struggling Second Year, You poor soul. Every time I receive a letter from a member of the Lower School, I cry deeply. Not because I feel bad, but because I struggle to read their handwriting. Their use of cursive is frankly abhorrent. But you my sweet pup, are an exception. As for your issues, I think they can be easily resolved. I have always struggled with ties myself, as the material is far too chewy for my liking. I sympathise with you, as in many ways Lower School Ties are the peak of many a child’s school life, and, rest assured, you will be able to wear it all the way through to University through lack of other neckwear. If you really want to dress to impress, I would recommend wearing it to your wedding. Or even more importantly, your Lower School ‘Be the Best’ yearly awards presentation. If need be, I am always quite the fan of the t-shirt and tie combination, so don't be afraid to express yourself. As a strong supporter of the Conservative Party, I find your criticism of my dear friend Gavin ‘The Other’ Williamson quite rude. His sterling leadership has led this country to great success. To be honest, I find your tone disturbing because let us be honest, Gavin Williamson could beat any of us in a fight. He has been trained in parkour by our mutual friend Matt Hancock, whose ability to talk to women will leave you incapacitated. As for the exams, do not fear, Maggie is here. Look at me. I have a BSc in Anthropology, Media and Performance, and a 3rd place trophy in Crufts, and now I have reached the great heights of being an agony aunt for the highly esteemed Martlet enterprise. As for the trip cancellation, I am in fact greatly relieved. I have harboured a vendetta against the Roman Baths of Bath for many years, ever since they banned dogs. To be quite honest, I think the Bath and North East Somerset Council are discriminatory and deserve none of the Classic department’s budget. This is especially the case because
truly relate to Caecilius, as I too am ‘est in horto’ when I take my biweekly Bignell mandated exercise. It’s minus one outside and my water bottle has turned to ice. My Oddballs™ beanie has been the only saving grace in these troublesome times, keeping the very top part of my head extremely toasty. My other half sport is equally cataclysmic, as my shower is far too small for Zoom canoe polo, and my canoe polo handbook is getting extremely wet. In doing so, my phone has been water damaged and I hope the school’s legal department is ready for the thunder I am about to bring down upon them. I warn you, I am an esteemed patron of the Abingdon School Debating Society, and I am not afraid to use hand gestures and make direct eye contact. This whole virus issue is truly a kafuffle, ain’t it Mags? It is not poggers*. From a Second Year *For the members of the faculty, poggers is a word used to express excitement. Feel free to use the term in your next staff meeting, or when marking an especially good test.
Abingdon School is quite strapped for cash at the moment, given all the settlements from legal battles involving technological property damage. How about you make a more low budget trip? Go to a Co-op and buy some olives. I’m sure that’ll make you feel Italian. I hope these answer your questions, Margaret ‘The Iron Dog’ Southwell-Sander
2020 will be remembered as a rather rotten year. Luckily, we have now escaped it, which gives us a chance to reflect on some of the brighter and more positive moments we might have missed along the way. How many do you remember? Quiz by David Hrushovski
1. In January, three friends, all born in the same town of Maine, collectively celebrated their 100th birthday. They also all had the same name; what was it? 2. On the 29th of February, which country became the first to make public transport free for all? 3. In March, a thrift store painting valued at $10-50 turned out to be a $1200 painting by which surrealist artist? 4. Captain Tom Moore celebrated his 100th birthday on April 30th by raising over 30 million pounds for the NHS. How many sponsored laps did he walk around his garden to achieve this? 5. In May, some normality was restored to the world. Which national football league became the first major sports league to resume its competitive season?
in that area. Outside which famous building were the words painted? 7. In a coronavirus briefing in July, how many attempts did it take UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to pronounce the words “contact tracing”? 8. On August 25, Africa was declared free of wild polio. What was the last virus that was wiped out from the continent, 40 years beforehand? 9. In September, an ancient cave bear was discovered thawing in the ice of Siberia. How old was the bear? 10. On which celestial body was water found by NASA in October? 11. How many Americans voted for rapper Kanye West as their president during the US election?
6. In June 2020, the words Black Lives Matter were
12. In December, which country became the first in
painted in 11-metre tall letters on a street in Washington
the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine?
DC, resulting in the founding of Black Lives Matter plaza
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Boco To Johnnie Willis-Bund Harvey Allen Miles Gilroy Ben Lisemore Nathaniel Jackson Oliver Smeaton Conor Rogan Charles Geday Sam Penrose
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1. Dorothy 2. Luxembourg 3. Salvador Dali 4. 100 5. The German football league (Bundesliga) 6. The White House 7. Nine tries - his exact words were: “scaled-up testing at a local level, combined with
contract tast- contact tastingt- testing, tracing, forgive me, contra- contra- contract tracing, contact tracing, uh, from NHS Test and Trace” 8. Smallpox 9. At least 22,000 years old. 10. The Moon 11. 60,000. 12. The United Kingdom