Wessex Scene Milestones Magazine

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EDIT OR Emily Dennis editor@wessexscene.co.uk DEPUTY EDITO R Sam Pearson deputy-editor@wessexscene.co.uk H EAD O F DESI GN Ren Neoh design@wessexscene.co.uk H EAD O F I MAGERY Sayli Jadhav image@wessexscene.co.uk MARKETING AND EVENTS James Huford, Katie Evans publicity/events@ wessexscene.co.uk SUB-EDITO RS

Sam Pegg

Rachel Manthorpe

Chloe Wade

FE AT URES EDITO R Elizabeth Sorrell features@wessexscene.co.uk OPINI O N EDI TO R Ellie Griffiths opinion@wessexscene.co.uk POLITICS EDITO R Hector Hemingway-McGhee politics@wessexscene.co.uk SCIENCE & TECH EDITOR Jack Davies science@wessexscene.co.uk LIFE S TYL E EDI TO R Daisy Gazzard lifestyle@wessex scene . c o . uk T RAVEL EDI TO R Hannah Griffiths travel@wessexscene.co.uk SPOR TS EDITO R Mitul Mistry sport@wessexscene.co.uk PAUS E EDITO R Alyssa-Caroline Burnette pause@wessexscene.co.uk

measuring milestones A milestone. Originally a literal stone telling travellers how far away they are from their destination. Now, milestones are often thought of as something different. Instead of a helpful guide along a journey, milestones are points that we want to reach for, not just pass. Monumental achievements, life goals, breakthroughs… All things we are told to strive for. We all have different relationships with milestones. Some people react well with goals calling out to them, some people prefer to work at their own pace and only reach milestones by natural progression. For others, milestones are simply turning points – not a particularly impressive moment, but more a time of discovery. For this edition, we asked our writers to reflect on their relationships with milestones. Some writers have taken this as a chance to celebrate successes. Our sports section is full of impressive milestones, whether that’s determination in the face of adversity (p.21) or trying to prove the haters wrong (and yes, we did actually speak to the Jamaican bobsled team) (p.18). We explore milestones in technology with self-driving cars (p.14), bionics (p.12), and reflect on the achievements of women in politics (p.10). However, our writers do raise some questions about milestones. Are they even a good thing (p.8)? Should we compare our achievements to each other’s (p.4)? Should we let other people define our abilities (p.22)? If you need a break after all this reflection, take a look at our Pause section, and enjoy reminiscing on that ‘first date’ milestone that usually does not go too well (p.26). Milestones can be scary. As a society and very often as young people, we think we have to achieve certain things and reach certain points in our life to be considered successful. Most of us are on our way to achieving one already: a degree. No matter where you end up in life and how you judge your successes, Wessex Scene are very proud of you. Keep trying your best and make sure to have fun! Life’s about the journey, not the destination. Your Editor,

EMILY DENNIS Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this magazine belong to each author alone - Wessex Scene is a neutral publication which aims to publish views from across the student body. To respond with an opposing opinion, please contact opinion@ wessexscene.co.uk or join our Opinion Writers’ Group.

NEW S & INVESTIGA TIO N S

news/investigations@wessexscene.co.uk

FRONT COVER IMAGE BY REN NEOH Becky Davies

Daniela Gonzales

Megan Laing

Byron Lewis


FEATURES 04

MILESTONES: BEING DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS

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MOVING AWAY FROM HOME CAN BE A REVOLUTIONARY STATEMENT

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WHY WRITING SELF-HELP BOOKS MADE ME HATE SELF-HELP BOOKS

OPINION PERSONAL MILESTONES: HELP OR HINDRANCE?

POLITICS 09

THE 2020S BEYOND COVID-19: OVERSHADOWED POLITICAL MILESTONES

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HERSTORY MILESTONES: WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN UK POLITICS

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SCIENCE & TECH MAN & MACHINE: NEXT-STEP EVOLUTION OR DYSTOPIA IN WAITING?

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WHY DEVELOPMENT OF SELFDRIVING CARS IS STUCK IN THE SLOW LANE

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LIFESTYLE 16

AN OPEN LOVE LETTER TO MY MILESTONE MEALS

TRAVEL 22

TRAVELLING ALONE AS AN AUTISTIC PERSON IS AN IMPORTANT MILESTONE - AND HERE’S WHY

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MY FIRST HOLIDAY WITHOUT MY PARENTS

W ESSEX SCE NE . CO . UK @ WE S S E XS CE NE

SPORTS DUDLEY TAL STOKES: THE REAL COOL RUNNINGS

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MILESTONES IN WOMEN'S CRICKET, INCLUDING SOME FROM OUR OWN UNIVERSITY!

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PAUSE CRAZY CAT LADY MILESTONES

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DATING MILESTONES: THE BAD DATE EDITION

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F B . C OM / W S C E N E @OF F IC IAL W E S S E X S C E N E


FEATURES

Milestones:

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cross most cultures, I feel like there’s a few constant milestones everyone expects: go to school, get a job, get married (to the opposite sex), have children, buy a house, grow old, retire, die. Live, reproduce, die. All a bit bleak, isn’t it? Like cattle, really. What’s the point in that? I guess it’s the stuff you do in the middle that counts? Life really isn’t a linear progression of events. But as both societies and our own brains construct a form of narrative progression around our lives to make them seem that bit more worthwhile, suddenly we end up having goals and expectations for everyone else to meet, in a certain order, by a certain time. Goals that not everyone can achieve, of course. We need to feel that superiority over others, after all!

being different from others. own terms, and crucially when you want it and are stable enough to do it. Isn’t that fantastic? But I found for myself that all the other milestones start to fall apart quickly too if people question your humanity enough. What’s marriage anyway when you think about it? Why do you need some guy and paperwork to make your love special? Why can I only love one person? Why do I have to be prudish and uptight? Why do I have to fit in in the way that you seem to want me to? There’s a really simple answer I wish more people realised sooner rather than later, something I wish I was told when I was 16: you don’t have to. It’s a best fit, not a perfect fit. And people are (thankfully for once) too self obsessed to hold it against you. Coming to that realisation is a fucking liberating feeling.

Having depressed you all now, I think it’s high time to point out that if you don’t quite fit into any of the narrow boxes the society you live in has to offer, you’ll immediately question what society thinks is best for you. I definitely don’t fit into the straight box. I don’t really fit into the mainstream culture box, or really even the man box to be completely truthful. And by virtue of this, suddenly a lot of society’s big milestones, in relation to you, start to get questioned or ignored by others. So being a queer man has one immediate advantage no one talks about. As a by-product of being portrayed in the media as either sociopathic deviants worthy of truecrime documentaries or sexless eunuchs (the Modern Family school of homosexuality), no one expects you to have kids! I mean it’s a shame the world’s worked out that way, and you can if you really want to - but it’s on your 4

WORDS BY ANONYMOUS IMAGE BY GERD ALTMANN via PIXABAY

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Moving Away From Home can be

A Revolutionary Statement

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remember the day of my final high school exam like yesterday. Imagine me sitting in front of seven teachers, all to judge my academic preparation. It wasn’t the series of questions I had to answer regarding history, maths or physics that threw me off. Not even the classical scrutiny of my plans, but the reply I received when I informed them I planned to move away from my hometown. 'Why do you want to leave? Young women never do that! Girls stay with their families until they move in with their boyfriends. It isn’t something normal.' I quoted my previous experience with living far from home as a reply, but I stood flabbergasted. On one side, I understand my experience is not the norm; on the other, I cannot reconcile with the amount of opposition that women face when making certain decisions. If you believe I’m overthinking this, it was not the first time that traditional standards were pushed on me. Gender stereotypes played a huge role in my life. Starting with my childhood, I got criticism for not being delicate, feminine, or traditional enough. Teachers and peers did not welcome my decision to move to Argentina as an exchange student during my fourth year of high school, as expected. People brought up a general scepticism surrounding my ability as a young woman to live abroad, not because of my life skills, but for being a girl. In the end, instead of moving to another region at the end of high school, I moved to another country altogether. However, every time a challenge comes up, I can’t help myself but reflect on what my teacher told me. Were they right to assume I wouldn’t make it? Although some questions might have been genuine, I also experienced the biases against women who emancipate

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themselves. To some, I moved away because I didn’t fit; others asserted I wanted to be with men without my parents’ scrutiny. No matter my actual reasons – the drive for adventure, the will to grow as a person and the enjoyment of expanding my horizons – stereotypes weighed on me like a boulder slowly crushing me under its weight. My experience is not an isolated case. Although the world’s view has improved regarding women who decide to follow a less traditional pathway, there is still a generalised cynicism towards them. The biases surrounding my decisions could have drowned my will, but the need to take a break from these expectations became stronger. However, I got lucky, as my family supported me. Young women are the most weighed down by stereotypes. I can tell you ways to counteract the biases. First, more representation of young women’s experiences outside the “norm” is fundamental in the media to sway people’s opinion. Second, the creation of programmes to educate teachers in modern issues would improve the quality of student’s lives. Students would be better supported when they manifest the will to work towards specific targets. Lastly, producing a series of resources that young people can access to develop their goals would help with providing the backing that most need to focus on their achievements. Because no one should be kept from or judged for achieving their milestones.

WORDS BY NOEMI CASTELLO IMAGE BY SOPHIE PEACH

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Why Writing Self-Help Books Made Me Hate Self-Help Books absolutely detest self-help books. And I have a very specific reason: I used to write them for a living. That’s not to say that I wrote self-help books in the same way as Stephen Covey, Mark Manson, or Rhonda Byrnes; rather, I was employed to read these books in their entirety and write summaries that captured their essence in a few key bullet points for busy readers. Before we go any further, I should clarify that I am NOT against selfimprovement; I firmly believe that everyone should make an effort to learn, grow, and improve as best they can throughout the course of their lives. But as much as I love personal growth, I take issue with the path that self-help books provide. After reading and summarising an overwhelming 1500+ self-help books— many of which are best-sellers and genre titans— I’ve found that, by and large, self-help books are patronising, ableist agents of toxic positivity. At best, most tout such gems of advice as “just think happy thoughts!” or “if you can dream it, you can do it!” giving the impression that they absorbed all their wisdom from inspirational bumper stickers… and then tried to squeeze a whole book out of a one-line platitude. At worst, books like The Secret assert that those who have cancer brought it on themselves, that victims of natural disasters asked for tsunamis by thinking negative thoughts, and that anyone who is unhappy with their weight should simply “think themselves thin!” By the logic of writers like Rhonda Byrne having a bad day at work is a choice. No matter what you’re dealing with, it’s your own fault for inviting such negative circumstances with your equally negative thoughts. But never fear! You can turn your whole day upside down by simply smiling! According to Gordon, you should also pretend that your life is a bus and you are the driver; the more you smile, the more fuel you add to your bus! It doesn’t matter if you have the world’s suckiest job, or if 6

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everything is going wrong in your day, or if your struggles are due to factors beyond your control. No, it would appear that these details are entirely irrelevant; you can get through anything if you smile all day long and pretend to drive a bus. Now, to an extent, I can understand where authors like Byrne and Gordon are going with their logic; there’s a lot to be said for the power of positive thinking. Undoubtedly, there’s a certain degree to which your own mentality can affect your attitude and your circumstances; if you tell yourself that you’re a loser and everything is going wrong, you’re likely to go through the day in a bad mood that may impact the outcome of the things you do. By contrast, if you make an effort to tell yourself that you can do it and everything will be okay, you may feel more positive overall. But that’s pretty much where the power of positive thinking ends. Doing your best, working hard, and trying to keep your spirits up are wonderful things that everybody should do— but those habits can’t change everything. They can’t change the fact that some people have depression and/or physical disabilities that make many daily activities more challenging. They can’t change the fact that people regularly encounter racism, homophobia, and sexism at work. A smile isn’t going to dismantle those things and pretending to “drive your own energy bus” is not the answer to inequality.

I’m all for personal growth and evolution. But I believe that personal improvement should be approached with a focus that’s uniquely tailored to you as an individual, with a plan that incorporates an awareness of your strengths, challenges, and goals. Without that personalised focus, telling someone with depression to “think happy thoughts” is just toxic positivity. Because, in reality, we don’t all have the same 24 hours in a day; someone with chronic fatigue is just not able to wake up and “fuel their own energy bus” in the hope that positivity will overcome their medical condition. I don’t hate personal growth and I don’t want to disparage anyone’s attempt at becoming the happiest, healthiest version of themselves. But I do think we need to be mindful about the way we approach that growth. And toxic self-help culture is not the way to do it.

WORDS BY ALYSSA-CAROLINE BURNETTE IMAGE BY SAYLI JADHAV

But, funnily enough, most self-help authors decline to comment on that perspective. Instead, they seem to find it easier to operate on the assumption that everyone is white, able-bodied, and neurotypical, that no one encounters anything more challenging than a slight lack of motivation. But, quite frankly, many of the metaphors and analogies touted by these books strike me as so infantilising and overly simplistic that they also insult the intelligence of the whitest, most able, and most neurotypical reader who could ever pick up a book! Thus, I feel that when you add ableism and insulting self-righteousness into a genre that is already devoid of inclusion and sensitivity, many self-help books ultimately feel as tone-deaf as your neighbourhood Karen who tells you to “stop being so anxious” or “just get some fresh air if you’re depressed.” Advice like this fails to consider that it’s not that easy for everyone and that an able-bodied, neurotypical perspective is not always the empowering motivational call to action you think it is. (Molly-Mae, anyone?)

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OPINION

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o milestones visually aid growth and quality of life, or do they alternatively construct a barrier, overwhelming and hindering you from moving forward? These are sentiments I often struggle with, especially when constructing a vision of my life in the future, as well as when attempting to piece together the mental enigma that lives within me. On the one hand, milestones can be a really helpful tool for igniting motivation and a sense of purpose into one's life. Particularly in times of depression, I can find myself examining life, and how I would like it to look and feel moving forward into the future. I set myself goals and targets, in the hopes of reaching the lifestyle I want to create for myself, henceforth setting down a clear and efficient pathway to achieving the overall hope of happiness. However, more often than not, I end up over-fantasising and setting unrealistic targets, which create an immense pressure to be at a certain place in my life at a certain point. I get frustrated when my life takes a different course of action, and my milestones are missed; adapted or just damn-right changed.

ourselves to reach a target milestone by a certain point? Why are women made to feel like they should settle down and start having a family by the age of thirty? Why are those who take longer to reflect on their personal circumstances, seen as inferior to those who may realise their deep-seated trauma at a later point in life? Why are the elderly made to feel like they should isolate themselves and become less active in society? The truth is that society consistently sets unrealistic and fabricated standards upon us all. As such, we feel we should therefore conform to the general mould presented to us, without considering what is right for ourselves as individuals. The pressure to act and look a certain way based on your age, or protectory in life, is unhealthy and exhausting, particularly when society chooses not to see each individual as just that - individual. So, do milestones help or hinder growth? That was the original question. As far as I am concerned, the answer is both yes and no. Milestones help bring a sense of calm towards the chaos of somebody's life, but they also have the potential to erect a sense of disarray and frustration, when life takes you on a different path, forcing you to miss determined targets, for new more spontaneous ones. Life is ultimately personal, and full of many individual choices, that both open and close varying pathways - the choice of how to move forward in life is yours; the key needed, however, is knowing yourself well enough to evaluate and decide which milestones are needed and when.

This is unnecessarily strenuous on the mind, especially when taking into account that no one can really control the future, or have the 'picture perfect' life that is dictated to us in the media, and gauped at from birth in movies and stories, whereby a fairy-tale conclusion is always conveniently reached. But in consuming such media, we need to remember that convenience is not comprehensive. Life, more often than not, will not go the way you want it to. There is no linear pathway, and even if there was, as human beings we would inevitably take swaying steps to walk down a seemingly easy walkway, as we in ourselves do not follow one particular mindset, or one way of doing things. Both human beings, and life, is very individual, and is in constant evolution - so why put so much pressure on

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WORDS BY ELLIE GRIFFITHS IMAGE BY SAYLI JADHAV

MILESTONES


POLITICS

The 2020s Beyond Covid-19:

Overshadowed Political Milestones society and led to a greater awareness of how racism continues to pollute our everyday life with catastrophic consequences. 3. 20 January 2021: Donald Trump’s infamous reign is ended when Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States

WORDS BY IZZIE ADDISON IMAGE BY FRANCESCA D'ACOSTA

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ovid-19 transformed political landscapes across the world when it drastically altered the power governments had to restrict ordinary people’s lives and freedoms. But is Covid-19 destined to overshadow other political milestones? Here’s my pick of just five of the most crucial moments in politics since 2020. 1. 1 February 2020: Britain officially withdraws from the European Union Before Covid hit the UK, Brexit was the biggest event that the public lamented as ‘dragging on’ - anyone else miss when that was our biggest inconvenience? After a string of unsuccessful attempts to reach a Brexit deal with the EU and an election won for Boris Johnson on the basis that he would ‘get Brexit done’, he made good on his promise and Britain finally waved goodbye to the EU. 2. June 2020: Height of the Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd The murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin sparked widespread public demonstrations against racism that expanded across continents. Hailed by the New York Times as perhaps the largest mass movement in US history, the protests had a profound impact on

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In his inauguration speech, Biden placed heavy focus on the divides created in America by polarising political opinions and the pandemic. He pledged that he would help the American people once again find unity - healing divides which proved much more entrenched and dangerous than Biden perhaps originally assessed them to be. The landmark election was billed as a referendum on Trumpism, and crucially marked a victory for the Democrats. 4. 30 August 2021: The US finalises its withdrawal from Afghanistan After a 20-year war, US troops were pulled from Afghanistan in what has arguably been Biden’s most significant political move yet. The US’ deeply controversial exit left Afghanistan at the mercy of Taliban rule, with people who were intended to be rescued left behind. Biden resisted pressure to extend the deadline for the withdrawal but maintained his decision to finish the war at the end of August last year. America’s decision to leave a country it had been defending against the Taliban for so long has been deeply criticised, with some arguing it rendered those 20 years of war redundant. 5. February 2022: Russian Invasion of Ukraine? Unfolding rapidly, the crisis over whether Russia is planning to invade Ukraine has been making headlines most recently. Opinions differ as to whether Russia will actually invade Ukraine, on 15 February Russia claimed to be pulling back some troops from the border while world leaders claimed the threat was still present and severe. The extent to which the situation will prove to be a political milestone is thus still uncertain, but the extent to which it has already rattled the world suggests it may prove to be.

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Herstory Milestones: Milestones

Women's Participation in UK Politics

WORDS BY IZZIE ADDISON IMAGE BY FLOSSY WATERS

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he 2019 General Election saw a recordbreaking 220 women elected to be Members of Parliament. The first woman MP to take her seat, Nancy Astor, was elected one hundred years before this in 1919. So, how did we get from Nancy Astor to Theresa May, with the gender divide in the Commons ever-decreasing? What work is still to be done? Here’s the journey of women in UK politics tracked through some key milestones from the past 100 years.

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1918: The Representation of the People Act and The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act Though many still consider 1918 to be when women got the vote in Britain, enfranchisement was only extended to women aged over 30 who could meet a property requirement, or whose husband could. Passed the same year, the Qualification of Women Act enabled women to stand for election to Parliament provided they were over 21 years old. The first woman to be elected as an MP was Constance Markievicz, for the Sinn Féin party, but she did not take her seat, having refused to take an oath of allegiance to the king.

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1919: Nancy Astor becomes the First Woman MP This American-born politician was also the first woman to pass a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons. A candidate for the Union party (now the Conservative Party), Astor was responsible for prohibiting the sale of alcohol to those under 18. Battling heckling in the Commons and conspicuous sexism, Astor supported any other women MPs regardless of their party and argued for health and social care reform. It was certainly an uphill climb for Astor, who found some other MPs would refuse to talk to her, and was told by Winston Churchill that they hoped to ‘freeze her out’. 1928: The Equal Franchise Act This Act gave all women equal voting rights to men - those aged over 21 years old could now vote, and many did so for the first time in the general election of 1929. 1929: Margaret Bonfield becomes the First Woman to be a Cabinet Minister Bondfield was made Minister of Labour for the Labour government, after previously being the Parliamentary Secretary to this role. Like Astor, Bondfield greatly influenced women’s rights and worked throughout her career to progress towards gender equality and universal suffrage. 1958: First Women in the House of Lords By this point, women had been allowed to stand for election to the House of Commons for forty years, but excluded from the House of Lords. 1958 saw four women elected as life peers alongside ten men. It was not until 1963, however, that women were allowed to become hereditary peers. 1975: Maureen Colquhoun Becomes the First Openly Gay Woman MP The Daily Mail reported that Colquhoun had moved in with a female partner, a headline which the MP took in her stride - she would not apologise for her sexuality or her opinions. Sadly, this had a negative impact on Colquhoun’s public support and she lost her seat at the next general election.

The controversial Margaret Thatcher divided feminists when she became the first woman MP to lead but seemingly sidelined all others during her eleven-year tenure. 1987: Diane Abbott becomes the First Black Woman to be elected as an MP Still a famous political figure serving today, Labour’s Diane Abbott was the first Black woman to be elected as an MP. She has served in the same constituency she was first elected in, Hackney North and Stoke Newington, uninterrupted ever since. 1992: Betty Boothroyd becomes the First Woman Speaker of the House of Commons Still the only woman to serve as Speaker, Boothroyd is an ex-Labour MP who served as Speaker for eight years, being praised by ex-Prime Minister John Major as ‘outstanding’ in the role. 1997: A Record Number of Women MPs are Elected under New Labour Nicknamed ‘Blair’s Babes’ by the media - coined, of course, by the Daily Mail - Tony Blair’s first general election win in 1997 saw the election of 101 women MPs to New Labour it was, back then, the highest number ever elected. 2016: Theresa May becomes the Second Woman Prime Minister Conservative MP Theresa May became Britain’s second woman Prime Minister in 2016 and served until she stepped down in 2019. It is perhaps unsurprising that May has been compared to Margaret Thatcher - Jacob ReesMogg explicitly encouraged May to draw inspiration from Thatcher when she hashed out her Brexit strategy and leadership style. While we have gone a long way from the hostility Nancy Astor faced, women at the top are still lumped together in the same sparsely populated category regardless of their differences, and measured against one another as opposed to other, male Prime Ministers. But if we are to progress with the way we think about women in politics, they need to be judged on an individual basis too - a right we have always given to men.

1979: Margaret Thatcher becomes the First Woman Prime Minister

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SCIENCE AND TECH

Man & Machine:

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here's a certain milestone that feels attached to bionics. In the landscape of evolution, humans seem to be one of the quickest species to evolve, as natural selection's "survival of the fittest" becomes more obsolete as a wider catalogue of genetic traits and differences breed themselves into society. As Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending argued, human evolution is happening around 100 times faster than when it first started, but whether true or not, a new question begs to be answered: is bionics the next step in human evolution? Bionics, cyber-enhancements, cyberpunk aesthetics, etc., all borrow from the idea of the integration of man and machine. It's a sub-genre of literature that feels very much grounded in the technical fiction of the late 1940s and early 1950s, no doubt inspired by the technology boom that happened during the time. From there on, it grew in relevance, becoming a huge section of science-fiction as its roots spread into films like Blade Runner and RoboCop. Yet, man and machine feel less like fiction every day as we begin to question how we can augment the human body with machines and bionics. The pacemaker is already an excellent example of how technology can be used to enhance the human condition, but for the most part humans and technology only tend to become integrated when it serves a purpose like saving one's life. When we begin to move past the stratosphere of life-saving technology, the place for bionics quickly fades for most people. However, if we think about the bionics and techenthusiasts who are currently working in the sector, one name often sticks out: Elon Musk. The tech giant largely behind the success of Tesla is at the forefront of human 12

Next-Step Evolution or Dystopia In Waiting?

bionics, most notably with his brain chip, Neuralink. Neuralink is currently in the animal-testing phase and is in no shape the huge leap in bionics that we are sometimes led to believe. Neuralink won't let you stream music to your brain, open doors by thinking about it, or let you stream thoughts to someone else's Neuralink. As stated on the website, the initial goal of the technology is 'to help people with paralysis to regain independence through the control of computers and mobile devices'. In a way, it serves the same medical functionality that the pacemaker was designed to serve - they're both designed to be medical devices. However, how the Neuralink differs from the pacemaker (apart from one being attached to your brain, and the other to your heart) is its ability to be expanded upon. While Neuralink currently exists as a potential medical device, that doesn't mean it will always be the case. The possibilities for Neuralink, if ever successfully moving onto human trials and working, is practically endless. If the technology ever proves successful, it doesn't only represent a quantum leap in our interaction with technology but it also represents a greater understanding of neurophysics, neurobiology, neurophysiology and even neuropsychology. To integrate arguably our most complicated organ with technology could be seen as an epitome of bionics, and the fact that Neuralink seeks to accomplish that even before any other breakthrough in bionics (apart from inserting tiny microchips into our flesh to unlock doors) is quite astounding. Neuralink is a technology that seems to have endless possibilities, but with those possibilities, comes endless fears.

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There's a reason cyberfiction often comes attached to dystopia: endless possibilities are open to both good and bad interpretations. While Neuralink seeks to help those with paralysis re-establish their independence, could it be reverse engineered or tampered with to maliciously hurt someone? Could Neuralink cause the breakdown of human interaction and communication, as it forces the world even closer to an exclusively technological, dare I say, metaverse? It all sounds like fearmongering speculation, but in technology as new and undetermined as Neuralink, speculation is all we have and know. As history shows us, just because something is invented with good intentions, doesn't mean it's never exploited for the opposite. Yet, there's a feeling of evolution attached to bionics. In a world that becomes increasingly reliant on technology to accomplish the most mundane of tasks for us, biological evolution seems less necessary. As the years pass by, it's less about how humans can evolve to better suit the environment and more about how we can evolve the technology to make the environment better suit ourselves. As Neuralink represents, perhaps one day the evolution of technology and biology won't be separated but instead integrated. Maybe one day, the next step in human evolution will be the newest piece of technology that sits on the market for consumerists to purchase. Whatever happens though, for good or bad, a technological world has an eerie shadow of a dystopian-world lurking in the background.

WORDS BY SAM PEGG IMAGE BY REN NEOH

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SCIENCE AND TECH

Why Development of Self-Driving Cars is Stuck in the Slow Lane WORDS BY BARNEY WHIFFIN IMAGE BY JULIEN TROMEUR via PIXABAY

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.35 million people die every year on the world’s roads. Bit peak. Since the dawn of the automobile, attempts to reduce the number of road deaths have included mandatory driving tests and mandatory safety features in cars. However, a fundamentally different approach is required. In a 2011 survey showcasing a stunning example of illusory superiority, less than 1% of drivers considered themselves to have below average driving ability. Clearly, the problem here is rooted in allowing people to drive at all. And there are more issues than just the death rate. Traffic is annoying and costly, and the main cause is often cars failing to pull away in unison after slowing down/stopping. There is also the financial problem. In the UK, the average used car price is £19,250, while the average salary is only £25,750 (and I’m generously ignoring new cars here). Clearly, a better solution would be to move away from private ownership of cars and head towards a world of cheap, autonomous taxis. There are a few problems holding up the development of self-driving. These include creating the technology which enables it, passing legislation which allows for the tech to be used on the road, and answering moral questions about the decisions these cars can make. There have been a few approaches made to solve the first problem. The most popular of these involves LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), which uses lasers reflecting off the surroundings to generate a 3D map of the area, and to work out if the car is about to collide with something. The main problem with LiDAR is that the most popular sensor, produced by Velodyne, costs around $8,000, making it next to impossible to use in an affordable car. Cheaper sensors 14

are available, but their reduced accuracy results in unsafe driving at highway speeds. Another issue is that LiDAR is inherently unable to read road signs, or road markings. As cars and roads were designed with human vision in mind, a vision-based approach makes more sense. Tesla and other companies are working on self-driving using cameras, coupled with some affordable sensors. This is much cheaper than LiDAR, and allows for cars to learn object recognition, and to read traffic lights and signs etc. The challenge here is rooted in the software for interpreting the information from the sensors, essentially an AI which learns how to drive. This requires deep learning, which in turn requires huge datasets. This is where Tesla has a large advantage over the competition, as they have 3 billion miles of real-world autopilot data (autopilot is simpler than full self-driving, but the data is still highly valuable). Other companies are relying solely on simulation data, which is cheaper and easier to make progress with, but is less likely to ‘surprise’ the AI (a requirement to avoid overfitting and ensure thorough safety). Another approach is to use C-ITS (Co-operative Intelligent Transport Systems). This means focussing not on the car, but on self-driving through communication with the driving environment. For example, construction cones that tell the car where the construction area and temporary lanes are. This would also involve smart traffic lights and communication from car to car. C-ITS is a good idea, as it greatly reduces the dependency of each individual car to learn how to drive, but it suffers in that every road would require installation of smart driving features. This would be an expensive and lengthy process.

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Tesla has the lead on self-driving technology, but its progress has been held up legally. Teslas on autopilot have 1 crash every 4.3 million miles, compared to 1 in every 0.5 million for other cars. However, every time a Tesla on autopilot crashes, it makes the news. This suggests that many people have strong feelings about allowing selfdriving cars on the road, and these feelings are reinforced by the legislation. The general argument being made is that self-driving cars need to prove themselves to be safe before they can be tested on the road and potentially risk human lives. But this is seriously holding up progress (and the same argument is not made for human learners). There are also legal issues with liability, insurance, privacy, cybersecurity & ransomware, all of which will need tackling.

strike. So, there are a multitude of problems, some of which will be overcome with time, and some which require a tremendous effort of engineering. But self-driving cars are coming. They’re just stuck in traffic hehehe.

Another problem is moral decisions. The classic example is a scenario where self-driving cars must choose between killing a pedestrian or a passenger. A 2016 paper on the social dilemma of autonomous vehicles found, rather perplexingly, that people wanted self-driving cars to value pedestrians over passengers, but that they would not buy self-driving cars programmed this way. Another complication is that global surveys of millions of people (answering this and similar questions) suggest that ethics vary from country to country, and so self-driving ethics must adapt accordingly. However, it is worth noting that scenarios such as a choice between murders are incredibly rare, with critics suggesting that it is akin to worrying about how a self-driving car will deal with an asteroid

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LIFESTYLE

An Open Love Letter to my Milestone Meals y food fixations define my life. That’s not (entirely) an exaggeration. While I do, of course, have interests and personality traits beyond food, as an autistic person, I’m prone to hyperfixating on certain foods, tastes, and textures. Some of these fixations vary and have relatively short lifespans; it’s not uncommon for me to love a certain food for a few months only to one day go off it and never want to eat it again. But some meals, I come back to, time and time again. Sometimes it’s purely for the flavour. But more often, it’s because that meal has a special connection to something else that matters to me— something that speaks to what my soul needs at a certain moment in time. That’s why certain meals stand out to me as “milestone meals.” And that’s why I want to share a select few of those meals with you. The Carvery No doubt, the humble roast dinner holds a special place in the heart of many a British reader. But for me, as an American immigrant, their significance is a little different. Unlike you, I didn’t grow up with a traditional roast dinner on Sundays or holidays or any other event. So, when I first discovered roast dinners, it was almost a ceremonial moment of cultural initiation: a way of saying “welcome to an element of British culture.”

Roast dinners quickly became my new hyperfixation and so I became friends with the staff. We added each other on social media. They invited me out for drinks. They remembered details about my life and asked about my day. And so, a roast dinner at my local carvery quickly became a multifaceted milestone meal for me. Gotten through a hard day? Carvery. Accomplished something? Carvery. In a great mood? Carvery. No matter how I’m feeling, I’ve always known that going to the carvery and seeing my friends there would make me feel better. There’s just something about a Yorkshire pudding dripping in gravy, with a friendly chat on the side, that fixes everything. Chicken Tenders From Friday’s People often ask me what I miss about America and I always say, “Deep-fried everything.” (But if my mum is reading this, I totally said, “I miss my mum” first!) It’s beyond cliché, I know, but I really do miss American food. Someone once told me that what I’m missing is really just all the additives and chemicals (and, believe me, I know. I still miss them). So, if I can’t get proper, deep-fried, chemical-filled American food, TGI Friday’s is the next best thing. Like the carvery, Friday’s became my second home almost as soon as I moved to Southampton. Now, 7 months later, I still eat at Friday’s on an almost daily basis, partly because the chicken tenders remind me of home and partly because I’m friends with all the staff. On days when I’m writing towards a deadline that drains

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me, on days when I feel as though life is leeching my very soul from my body, I go to Friday’s. Because I know that, no matter what, no matter who’s working, someone will always say something to bring a smile back to my face. The chicken tenders will always taste perfect. They will always taste like home and the flavour will always warm my heart. Sometimes it’s just the motivation I need to keep going on a hard day. The Stable I can’t write anything about The Stable without first acknowledging that I am not— and never will be— over the untimely demise of my beloved local Southampton Stable. From the moment I walked in there on a date with my ex in November— there truly could not have been a weirder beginning— The Stable felt strangely like home. You know how, sometimes, you meet someone and you just think, “You’re going to become very important to me?” That was how The Stable felt from the very first moment. From that day forward, The Stable became my hub for literally everything. It was my favourite place to gather with friends— a beacon of bottomless brunch and

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joy, the site of many an emergency hang-out, and the unquestionable locale of every “Fancy a pint tonight?” text. I wrote the first half of my dissertation there, cried over heartbreaks, and celebrated every joy at the altar of those rustic wooden picnic tables. Thankfully, the Winchester Stable has arisen as a new hangout and haven, offering the light of a new vibe and a new set of bartenders who have quickly accepted me as the town eccentric. It’s not quite the same but I’m still thankful for the consistency of my favourite cider and pizza and the presence of a new safe space to simply vibe. So, as you can see from this slightly eclectic collection, the flavours that bring joy to my life may be different from someone else’s, but they are intensely meaningful to me. And no matter how our tastes may differ, I wish this same joy for everyone else who has a milestone meal to call their own.

WORDS BY ALYSSA-CAROLINE BURNETTE IMAGE BY ELF-MOONDANCE via PIXABAY

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SPORT

Dudley Tal Stokes:

The Real Cool Runnings

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hances are you may have seen Cool Runnings, the 1993 Disney hit film inspired by the true story of the first athletes representing Jamaica in the 1988 Winter Olympics. If not, have you been living under a rock? In all seriousness, the film becomes undeniably impressive when you understand the reality of the historical 1988 run. I was given the opportunity to interview the founder of Jamaica’s first and now-iconic bobsleigh team: Dudley ‘Tal’ Stokes. Stokes is the embodiment of this magazine’s theme. When one thinks of a milestone, the notion of making history and changing something forever are attributes that certainly can be linked to it. The unthinkable is what makes sport what it is: beautiful. Stokes and his team did

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not just make history, but they paved the way for Jamaican representation and appreciation at the Winter Olympics. Growing up, Stokes never envisioned himself competing in a sport like bobsleigh, though the former Olympian grew up “dreaming of representing Jamaica at something.” Stokes’ Jamaican team only had a short five months to gel and prepare for the 1988 games in Calgary, so maintaining a strong focus on performing at their best possible level was key heading into the tournament. Stokes mentioned that the mentality he tried to instill in his team and himself was to do their “level-best” despite being viewed as the underdog as they did not seem to have enough preparation time to compete in such a dangerous sport.

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Fast forward to the 1988 event, Jamaica powerfully proved themselves in their four-man debut. Stokes, along with his team, won the hearts of the world following their commendable performance. While they did not officially finish due to crashing, Stokes spoke of how people were “unanimous in welcoming the team back as heroes.” The success of the Jamaican cohort in 1988 would, of course, serve as the source of inspiration for the hit Disney sportsdrama Cool Runnings. Stokes’ response to the movie reflected his humble nature, stating that while the film took elements of the 1988 story, he has come to not criticise the movie over the years due to its mass success. He noted that “there are a lot of people to whom the movie brings a smile to their faces, I could not ask for more.” Stokes was not finished in 1988, if anything this was just the introduction to a beautiful story. In the build-up to 1992, Stokes utilised the crash of 1988 as an instrument to push his team to new limits. A lot of it was on my own. Travelling to Europe and being exposed to different tracks, always looking around to get better athletes, sliding as much as we could with our limited project. But also working on our visualisation for training, there was a lot of training back home in Jamaica, visualising our run physically, seeing if I could recreate it as much when practicing. With higher quality sleds at their disposal in 1992, Jamaica finished 24th in the four-man event. With two Winter Olympics two years apart, Jamaica familiarised themselves with their new equipment. As a result of such conditions, Jamaica finished impressively in 14th place in 1994.

tick that off. I was afraid he was one of those people. But 5-10 mins into the conversation, I realised he had a rationale and a plan and he was pursuing this thing for significant reasons, that could also be for representing Jamaica. So, I agreed to help him where I could on his journey. At the recent 2022 Beijing games, Alexander’s story was a breath of fresh air. He finished in 46th place, ahead of 43 other athletes who registered a DNF. Stokes’ influence was crucial in enabling Alexander to compete, the thorough conversations that took place between the two on important topics such as mental approaches proved to be pivotal in developing the necessary conditions for Alexander to achieve what he did. 2022 also marked the first time in 24 years that a four-man team entered the bobsleigh event. While they finished last, the ability to compete at the highest level remains a milestone in itself. Stokes' efforts define milestones. His role in Jamaica’s evolution from 1988 onwards is worthy of total recognition and the fact that he continues to pass on his wisdom to future stars such as Benjamin Alexander highlights his position as a true leader. When asked what was one thing he wanted people to remember him for, this is what Stokes stated: Remember me as a guy who went from comedian to competitor who crashed at the 1988 Winter Olympics after 5 months training and I kept coming back year after year until I became a competitor and took my place among the top-performing bobsleigh athletes.

We added a coach who was a bit eccentric but had very novel ideas, we were open to it. Cool Runnings was then released and suddenly we generated interest and were able to secure some sponsorship, we got $60,000 which we went to the games with. We finished ahead of all the American sleds. It was down to a lot of hard work, guided by an overall plan we tried to stick to. Fast forward to 2022, Stokes took on a mentoring role in Benjamin Alexander’s alpine skiing pursuit. Alexander, a former DJ from Wellingborough, became Jamaica’s first alpine skier at the Winter Olympics. According to Stokes, Alexander pursued him over social media, seeking advice on his journey. I was reluctant because a lot of Olympic athletes just go to the Olympic games because they can and just

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WORDS BY MITUL MISTRY IMAGE BY DAVID ROCK DESIGN via PIXABAY

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Milestones in Women's Cricket, Including Some From Our Own University Watch out for Deano!

elebrating over 250 years of Women’s Cricket The first recorded Women’s cricket match was in 1745, at Gosden Common, Surrey. It was said to be a match between ‘nine married ladies’ and ‘nine single ladies’. The sport has changed a lot since then and we have seen milestones achieved by women. Today we do not differentiate teams through marital status. In July 2021, a remarkable milestone occurred when a tournament for the first time involved both women and men. The Hundred offers equal importance to both genders’ sides.

Charlie Dean is an instance of excellence, a 21-year-old who made her debut for the England women cricket team in September 2021 and since then she has been thriving. Not to mention that she is currently a student at University of Southampton and is part of the Southampton Ladies Cricket Club! When she's not on the Switch dancefloor, you can find her out on the pitch. Originally playing for the Southern Vipers, she became the joint-leading wicket-taker in her national debut. In the 5 match ODI series against New Zealand she took 10 wickets. In the 2nd ODI, Dean led England to victory with taking 4/36 (meaning she got four people out!).

World Cup With the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup scheduled for March and April this year, England fans are hoping to claim the trophy again after its victory in 2017.

So how can we help?

At Lords in July 2017, we saw England win by 9 runs against India. The England Captain, Heather Knight expressed: 'I can't stop smiling. The girls have been outstanding. We've made it hard for ourselves, but we've won some tight games.'

We have seen an increase in 24% of men following women’s sport than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, stated in a Sky Sports article. This exhibits the power the media has and that we all should continue encouraging women’s cricket. Despite this, we still have a long way to go, and we are all responsible for promoting cricket.

Don’t forget to support England in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup by streaming on Sky Sports. Hall of Fame There are many terrific records broken within women's cricket. These consist of Amelia Kerr having the highest individual score (One Day International) of 232, in June 2018. Kerr also happens to be the youngest (17) double century scorer in both men and women’s cricket. Also, Jhulan Ghoswami broke the record of having the most career wickets of 245, with Cathryn Fitzpatrick coming second with 180 wickets. Just to name a few.

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We have made progress in bringing awareness, but we can still do better.

Things such as sharing on social media can help, but the most important thing we can do is implement sports in girls from a young age, this can be in school or outside of the classroom. You can get involved too, here are some clubs you can get involved in whether you’re in school or an adult. All stars : For Children aged 5-8 years old County Clubs : For all ages Volunteering: Make a difference Girls Cricket Club : Find a club near you

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WORDS BY MANUSHI NAIK IMAGE via UOS LADIES CRICKET CLUB Charlie Dean is second from the right.


TRAVEL

Travelling Alone as an Autistic Person is an Important Milestone - And Here’s Why

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he very recent television series As We See It is a crucial and authentic stab at the realities of living with autism. By depicting the lives of 20-something autistic individuals— Violet and Harrison— the show aims to offer a more full and realistic picture of the autistic experience. And, having watched the show as an autistic person, I have to say that I think it ultimately achieved its goal— especially because it depicted aspects of the autistic experience that I can’t quite relate to. For example, one of the show’s protagonists, Violet, is desperate to achieve what she imagines to be “a normal life.” From her perspective, that means a boyfriend, a job, and a very active sex life. Unfortunately, however, Violet struggles with social interaction, and so she often comes across as inappropriate in her attempts to pursue these goals. Likewise, Harrison struggles with paralysing anxiety that prevents him from leaving the house. In his therapy sessions, Harrison works to overcome one overarching obstacle: walking down the block to the coffee shop. As We See It depicts both of these struggles with empathy and sensitivity. It explores the reality of Harrison and Violet’s experiences without invalidating them or implying that they are weird or “less than” by virtue of their struggles. But, as an autistic person who moved from Small Town, USA to England to pursue a PhD halfway across the world, I initially felt as though I couldn’t relate. And, to an extent, that’s true. As We See It makes it clear that, for Harrison and Violet, many everyday aspects of a “normal” life— such as having a job, making friends, or pursuing romantic relationships— are so difficult that they seem almost unattainable. Thus, it’s equally clear

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that activities like an international move and an intense postgraduate program are also out of reach for them. So, as I reflected on these characters in relation to my own experience, I felt an odd mixture of confusion and pride. I initially thought I must be doing really well to have successfully handled such a major — and traditionally “neurotypical”— life event by myself. For a moment, I even wondered if I really am “as autistic” as I think I am— a ridiculous thought, given my diagnosis and the indisputable ways that I know my autism impacts my life. But that’s when I realised that, in a neurotypical world, the autistic experience is very rarely considered outside of its limitations. Many neurotypical people— including medical professionals— assess autism solely through the ways that it prevents autistic people from playing along with neurotypical milestones and socially acceptable standards of behaviour. And when your mental health is assessed in terms of what you can’t do or how your behaviour unsettles others, I think it’s easy to start assessing yourself in the same way. Maybe that’s why you rarely see portrayals of autistic people thriving in a neurotypical world— autistic people succeeding at things like travelling alone, moving internationally, or succeeding in a fast-paced graduate program. Maybe that lack of representation is why I struggle to connect with films that offer autistic representation and why comments on my own success give me imposter syndrome about my own diagnosis. And maybe that’s exactly the problem. Because, in reality, my experience isn’t easy to define. It doesn’t fall neatly into the category of characters like

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Harrison and Violet nor does it mirror a truly neurotypical experience. Moving internationally and living on my own is difficult for me in ways that it wouldn’t be for someone who is not autistic. Because, yes, I can do coursework and pay the rent on time and form a community in a new town— even in a new country. I can do all of those things on my own with confidence. But I also waited to pack until the night before my flight… even though I knew I needed to fit all my worldly possessions into suitcases to prepare for a basically permanent move. I procrastinate because my autism makes me intensely terrified of change— even the changes I want. When faced with major life decisions and substantial changes; my brain short-circuits. I procrastinate because some part of my brain hopes that if I never take action that will make a change real, that disruption to my routine will never occur. I am capable of living alone and I (mostly) do so very well; no one looks at my life choices and assumes that I am incapable or in crisis. But even though I’m not quite in the same boat as Violet or Harrison, my experience is far from “normal.” It’s certainly not without challenges. And that’s why I think this type of representation is important: because people like me are still autistic and we still experience challenges that mean living on your own is an important milestone. It’s important precisely because it’s not guaranteed; it’s not something that you are inherently expected to accomplish when you grow up. Instead, for autistic people like me, living and travelling on your own are significant in ways that differ greatly from the experience of neurotypical people. Being able to do those things doesn’t make me any less autistic but it does make me aware of the fact that these milestones are things I have to work hard to accomplish— and even harder to maintain.

WORDS BY ALYSSA-CAROLINE BURNETTE IMAGE BY SAYLI JADHAV

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My First Holiday Without My Parents

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y first holiday without my parents was to Florence, Italy on an A-Level History trip. Though I had been on a year 6 and year 8 camp, going on a plane to a new, foreign country seemed like a whole different ball game. I am very scared of planes so I was anxious to go. However, I was also really excited at the prospect of going on holiday, with my friends (and the history teachers, of course) to a city I’ve always wanted to go to and do nothing but look at history. (FYI I’m doing a history degree and although I specialise in America not Italy, I think this trip had a pretty big influence on why I’m here studying the past.)

to the top. I eventually got to a little set of stairs with a trapdoor. I made it. I opened the door and my friends let me go first. The sun and fresh air hit me and I felt amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever had such an intense sense of selfbelief, accomplishment and pride.

We were supposed to be doing our coursework on the Italian Renaissance, hence the location, but I had deviated slightly to study the Black Death, which occurred in the same period. Despite efforts to go to medical museums and more, they were all closed, so I had to rely on paintings instead. However, I gained much more than historical knowledge on that trip. As cheesy as it sounds, I gained loads of confidence, real-life experience and got a bit more comfortable with planes. As well as visiting some fascinating places like the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery, the highlight for me was The Duomo. Not just because it was beautiful and interesting, but because my experience there taught me that anything is possible. I was most excited to visit The Duomo and was really looking forward to climbing to the top with my friends, but one thing was stopping me. Fear. I am terrified of both heights and confined spaces, so the thought of climbing up around 500 steps, which were tight and spiral-staircase-like, to stand high above Florence filled me with dread. But I knew I wanted to do it; I had to do it. And all of this was without the safety net of my parents. I got about halfway when I had a panic attack. It was hot outside but even hotter inside the narrow, brick tunnels, and I was scared. When you enter the inner dome, you have to walk around the outside and, though there is a railing, I was terrified of falling, especially since it is almost impossible not to look down. There were about ten points where I said I’d turn around. Sometimes I physically couldn’t, the stairs were one way. I was trapped. Other times, with the help of friends, I was determined to get

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WORDS BY DAISY GAZZARD IMAGE BY FLOSSY WATERS Thinking about my experience in The Duomo reminds me that I really can do anything I put my mind to. I carry this experience with me everywhere, so much so I’m hoping to get the Cathedral tattooed onto my wrist. Whenever I’m feeling doubtful or unconfident, I remember how scared I was, how many times I tried to turn around, but how I kept going and had one of the greatest experiences of my life. Overall, my trip to Florence was one of the best I’ve ever been on. Everything I looked at was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the attractions were fascinating. I learned a lot about history, about independence, about bravery, but most importantly, I learned to believe in myself.

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PAUSE

Crazy Cat Lady Milestones However, it’s important to bear in mind that cats are gateway drugs. If you’re a true cat lady, you can’t have just one. And if you start by rescuing cats, you’ll soon realise that— once you’re bitten by the rescue bug— there’s no way to turn it off. Step Two: Get Another Cat See what I mean about gateway drugs?? Once you adopt a cat, it takes 2.5 seconds to realise that it really wouldn’t be that much harder to have two cats instead of one. And if you ever step foot in an animal shelter, that decision time gets shortened to the speed of light. Of course, once you have two cats, your life and home are no longer yours, but let’s be honest… It's a cat’s world anyway. We’re just lucky to live in it. Step Three: Get Another Cat

WORDS BY ALYSSA-CAROLINE BURNETTE IMAGE BY EMILY RALPH

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e use milestones to measure our accomplishments, to track our progress at each new stage of our lives. Thus, milestones often take on a certain set of traditional expectations: careers, marriages, owning property. But if you aspire to be a crazy cat lady well before your 30th birthday, your milestones may look a little different. Fortunately, this article is here to help you assess your cat lady journey (and probably remind you that you need another cat!) So, let’s take a look at the milestones that characterise a successful crazy cat lady.

If you’re like me, this step may occur because you have a fondness for a particular breed or colour of cat. For example, maybe you’re two cats in but you just really, really want an orange floof. But, let’s be honest, 3 cats really isn’t that much more work than 2 cats… As long as you’re scooping the litter box and looking after them properly (and, crucially, the floofs get along with each other!), there’s really nothing to worry about! Step Four: Let Your Life be Overtaken by Cats Opinions on this topic vary but most sources concur that, once you have 3 cats, you have officially crossed into crazy cat lady territory. So, from that point on, you have nothing to lose! From there, you can simply adopt as many cats as your house will comfortably hold and allow yourself to become submerged in floof.

Step One: Get a cat. First, you get a cat. When considering crazy cat lady milestones, this step is easily the most basic and straightforward. After all, you’ve got to start with at least one initial cat! And rescuing a cat is, hands down, the absolute best way to start. Whether you’re volunteering at a local shelter, adopting a cat from overseas, or rescuing a homeless floof who turns up in your back garden, helping a cat in need is the best way to open your heart to a floofy friend.

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However, if you do so, please be advised that you will now find floof hair in a million unexpected places. No matter how many times you wash your laundry, it will always be covered in fur. No exceptions. You will pull a fresh towel out of the laundry thinking, “I’ve finally sorted it this time!” But no. Not this time and not ever. That towel— and every towel, flannel, and pair of underwear henceforth— will be permanently covered in floof hair. But hey, it’s a small price to pay if you can change the world for a few cats who truly love and need you.

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E

Dating Milestones: The Bad Date Edition

very date brings you one step closer to that lucky someone for you (unless fate destines you to live alone forever...), but for every good date, there are plenty of bad. Now imagine fat-shaming, invalidated careers, plenty of Echo Falls, and a suspicious smell of corn, and you have our unlucky three milestone dates.

Picture this - 16-years-old guy, crippling body perception, never dated a guy before and wanting to explore your sexuality in a world when Tinder wasn't exclusively for over 18-year olds. In comes a guy who lives three hours away but seems really keen to get to know you. At this point, you only ever send half-faced high-angle selfies to hide how you feel about yourself (you wonder if that's catfishing) but you agree to meet up anyways. On the first date, everything seems great, you watch Antman, go for a meal, go shopping in a clothes store and try on funny hats like you're in an early-2000s rom-com. There's really nothing in your head that could go wrong and so you get antsy and invite him back home after clearing it with your parents. You can't believe it, your first date has been a huge success. Then, while snuggling in bed, waiting for the first date to officially end, he snuggles in closer and whispers "I love bigger-guys" as he wraps his arms around your stomach and gently squeezes.

Date #1 Sam Pegg

Imagine this with me if you will: you’re an international student in England for the first time, recently single, and out at your student union bar with your friend for a “postgrad wine and cheese mixer night.” (God only knows why either of you thought this would be a half-way decent idea). You’re both dressed up in cute dresses, heels, and matching rose gold clutches, feeling good about yourselves, and looking forward to the prospect of meeting some dudes who— hopefully— will think you look cute too. But what you get cannot possibly be farther from what you had imagined. In reality, you are approached by two guys who have clearly never seen a real live woman before, much less encountered one in the wild. One starts talking to you— and will not shut up— no matter how many times you politely hint that you have been suddenly inundated by “a flood of important emails from uni.” If anything, this comment only invites him to ask inane questions about your degree… and then quickly invalidate it. After an hour of trying and failing to shut him down, you give up and announce that you need to head home, in direct refutation to his invite to “get down tonight at Orange Rooms.” As you flee to your taxi, he suggests that you “add each other on media content” before you go. You pretend not to hear him, rush home, and attempt to bleach your brain of the memory via Domino’s and Echo Falls.

Date #2 Alyssa-Caroline Burnette

IMAGE BY EMILY RALPH

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When I was 18, I was speaking to a guy from Tinder for a long while. We eventually decided to meet up; I'd drive half an hour to pick him up, then drive half an hour to the train station where we'd catch a train to Birmingham. When he got in my car, I was hit with the overwhelming smell of corn. Not like the cobs, but like ground corn, as in uncooked tortilla chips. Our online spark was very much non-existent and it was almost a silent car ride. Too awkward to leave, we got to the city centre where he presented a £20 Pizza Express voucher that his mom had given him for the date. He then watched me eat every bite. I am not a fan of Pizza Express. When we got back to my car, it dawned on me that he was expecting a lift back home. My awful date was then extended by 20 minutes by school traffic. And to top it off, I got a text from my exboyfriend that night saying that they were childhood best friends. I then deleted the app.

Date #3 Emily Dennis

Fast-forward two years and you're 18 now. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get your dating life off the ground, the world of Grindr suddenly becomes a possibility (oh dear and oh no). Grindr's where you make meaning ful lasting relationships, right? One day you match with an overly eager guy who looks way out of your league, and yet you get talking and even better, he's interested. BOOM. Wants to meet up in Dorchester that day and you say yes. You catch the train and get off, asking if he wants to go get coffee, he checks his watch nervously and says, "we should have time". After getting coffee, spilling it on yourself, and realising there's very little spark, he takes you back to the train station for what you think is the end of the date - but NO. With the boring and unnecessary part of talking to each other out of the way, he sits you down on the bench and starts chatting about trains. What proceeds in 2 hours of train-spotting and the chance to talk about nothing else. When you tell him you should probably be getting home, he just nods, gets up and says "there aren't any more exciting trains today anyways" before turning around and leaving you alone. Sadly, this was not Francis Bourgeois...

Date #4 Sam Pegg

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27


W ESSEX SCENE. CO . UK @ WE S S E XS CE NE

F B . C OM / W S C E N E @OF F IC IAL W E S S E X S C E N E