Thanks for coming and trying out our brand new web app! Available across many platforms (phones, tablets, computers, and even TV screens!), our web app is a new way to see all of the latest news, opinion, sports and more from across campus.
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Last week Redbrick sat down with Ian Barker, Director of Estates, and Chris Twine, Director of Student Services, two of the management figures leading the University’s £175million campus redevelopments.
The main proposals will see a brand new library, Sports Centre and an interior redevelopment of Block C of the Aston Webb Building completed by 2016.
Barker explained that the redevelopments are designed to assist the strategic framework the University has in place, part of which involves attracting the highest quality students to the campus.
[pullquote size="20px" align="left" bold="1" italic="0" colour="#600" width="30%"]Of the total £175m, the Main Library will cost £57m, the Sports Centre £55m and the Aston Webb Student Hub 12.5m[/pullquote]Additionally ‘a really significant part of the University buildings were built in the 60’s and 70’s that wasn’t the construction industries finest hour and it was also a very long time ago.’
He further added that plans for redeveloping parts of campus have been in the works for over six years. The task groups for the redevelopment did include consulting a student representative from the Guild in addition to members of the administration at Birmingham as well as the community and the city council.
The Main Library
One of the key features of the future University of Birmingham campus will be the remodeled and completely brand new Main Library, which will be situated atop the current running track beside the old library.
Architecture plans for new library show that it is set to be a modern design, made up of glass, aluminum and brick. It will provide students with 16,000 square meters of floor space.
Addressing concerns from the student body about having a period of time without a library while construction is carried out, Chris Twine, Director of Student Services assured Redbrick that this would not be the case: ‘there is no question of closing down the main library for a period of time waiting for the new library’.
‘That’s one of the good things about having the new library on a separate site: that we can build that completely dependant and still have the main library open as usual’ Twine added.
Once the new library is completed, the old library will be knocked down to make way for a landscaped green space at the heart of campus.
Because the new library will take the place of the running track, the University will, for a period of time, be without one before the new one can be built where the Munrow Sports Centre currently stands.
The Sports Centre
The University of Birmingham’s new Sports Centre is set to stand on the spot currently occupied by the Gun Barrels, which was acquired by the University several years ago. The pub itself closed down earlier this week to make room for the new Sports Centre.
The new centre will include a 50-metre pool, a 15-court sports hall and a climbing wall, updating the current facilities. Turner noted that the Sports Centre, like the main library, has never had such a comprehensive refurbishment.
The current Munrow Sports Centre will be demolished and will then be home to the new running track in the near future.
Aston Webb Block C
The Aston Webb Block C, coined the ‘Student Hub’, is another area of campus set to undergo redevelopment. The idea of creating a Hub at the University dates back to 2005 and has, according to Chris Twine, involved a great deal of student consultation in bringing together the proposals.
He explained that ‘The Aston Webb building isn’t really used a great deal by students at the moment despite being at the centre of campus.’
‘It is an iconic building and we want to make sure our iconic buildings are accessed and used as much as possible by students.’
To achieve this, there is set to be significant remodeling to the interior of the Aston Webb Building to create a hub for students to access important services offered by the university. ‘We avoid calling it a ‘one-stop shop’ but it is bringing together services that work closely together and have a similar look, feel and interaction.’
The services being brought into this Student Hub include Student Funding, the International Student Advisory Service (ISAS) and a main enquiry service. Additionally the redesigned block will also provide another 250-seat lecture theatre to bring students into the main building at the heart of campus.
Gisbert Kapp Car Park
A new multi storey car park behind Gisbert Kapp is planned to replace the South Car park near the Gun Barrels, the site on which the new Sports Centre will be built at a cost of £5.5m.
A new replacement running track will built where the Munrow centre currently stands.
Last Wednesday, the University of Birmingham launched the Institute of Advanced Studies, created to bring together leading academics, industrialists and philosophers to discuss the biggest issues facing society. They will also be joined by business experts, NGOs and policy makers.
A statement from the new Institute's website reads 'The Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) aims to promote interdisciplinary research by combining expertise from across the breadth of the University to address major cross-cutting themes that are important, relevant and timely.'
It goes on to say 'Such research is important because many of our major human societal concerns require interdisciplinary inputs, and the major funding agencies are increasingly putting forward thematic areas which require such inputs to be successful.'
@ias_uob Director, Professor Malcolm Press, welcomes guests at the Institute's launch. birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/20… twitter.com/unibirmingham/…
— Birmingham Uni (@unibirmingham) April 10, 2013
The new Institute has been compared to the Lunar Society of Birmingham, which began as an informal gathering of thinkers in the late 1700s and gathered much prominence, a modern variant still existing today.
Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Malcolm Press, who is the Director of the new Institute said 'What is distinctive and exciting about our Institute of Advanced Studies is the breadth. We are not just centred around social sciences and humanities, but bring together science, engineering and medicine as well, covering the full range of activities at the University. By bringing this broad range of experts together to research a particular theme, the University has the potential to transform traditional approaches to addressing major global issues.'
The two themes planned to be addressed by the Institute first are ‘Saving Humans’ and ‘Regeneration Economics'.
The Guild of Students' President, David Franklin has faced criticisms by both the Women's Association, who have released a statement of No Confidence in him, and the Vice-President (Democracy & Resources), Leander Jones, over his chairing of the Guild Elections Committee.
The statement of No Confidence released by the Women’s Association was released regarding a decision made by the committee sanctioning candidates in this year's Officer Elections for publicising sexist remarks made by another candidate on the basis that they were negative campaigning.
The statement, released on their website reads:
'The Women’s Association is outraged that the President, David Franklin, actively made the choice to disregard the zero tolerance policy when acting as Chair of Elections Committee, and to punish the actions of well-meaning individuals calling out sexism, and in so doing to condone sexism and the sexual harassment of a fellow officer. We are further disgusted at the attitudes he then showcased at Guild Council on the 21st March, where he repeatedly lent primacy to his own politically-motivated interpretations of procedures that privileged a sexist candidate, over the welfare of the Guild membership and opposition to sexism by the Guild of Students.'
Whereas the decision was made by the entire Elections committee, the statement goes on to highlight what they see as Franklin’s personal culpability in the decision in failing to make known the liberation issue in question, describing his actions as a 'decision to prioritise his own interpretation of election guidelines above zero tolerance to sexism'.
David Franklin has released a statement in response, denying his culpability in the issue, saying,
'I had absolutely no idea who the complaint related to, during the meeting of the elections committee. In this instance, I did not feel it necessary to access any more information. Some may view this as a flaw, as it may have meant decision making wasn’t as informed as it could be. However, I felt that I wanted to preserve my own integrity and objectivity as much as possible and knew that the returning officer was always available for independent appeal.'
He has however also admitted regret at the substantive decision that was reached by Elections Committee, saying:
'I also regret the decision of elections committee on calling out sexism. We were victims of our own procedures. And I hope that we can work with relevant associations to prevent a similar thing from occurring in future.'
This decision of Elections Committee to issue sanctions, which included a 24hr campaigning ban for the candidates involved was also discussed during the last Guild Council on the 21st of March, during which a censure was passed by a 66% majority against Franklin for his role in the decision, which was described in the submission as leading to 'the victim of the harassment has been punished, not the harasser'. However, Franklin insisted that he acted according to procedures but further pledged to put out an invitation to Liberation Groups to work with him to reform the Elections procedures.
See Redbrick's full coverage of the last Guild Council here.
The President has moreover been criticised for having taken on the role of Elections Committee chair, which is usually in the mandate of the Vice President (Democracy & Resources). In a post on his Guild Officer blog entitled 'Incompetence and Deceit', Leander Jones has said that:
'I did not resign from Elections Committee and the reason why I didn’t chair it was because David Franklin repeatedly stopped me from doing so, knowingly in violation of the Guild’s Bye-Laws. By claiming the contrary he is being dishonest.'
He further added that,
'Finally, DF has gone against procedure again and announced a disciplinary investigation into me to Guild Council – a public forum streamed over the internet – when I have yet to be issued any formal notification of this myself.'
Both have agreed that Jones stepped aside from his role on Elections Committee for the duration of the investigation that was held in the wake of the first General Meeting, which was adjourned after Facebook comments were made public that suggested alleged mishandling of proxy votes. However, whether this amounted to a formal resignation and the procedures for his returning are in dispute.
Franklin has responded to the allegations, stating:
'Leander was not, is not and shall not be excluded from the elections committee. The discrepancy is over whether or not he should be considered to have resigned as chair. I accept the mistake of not getting that resignation in writing. I am further happy to take this dispute to any democratic structure with authority to decide upon it and accept its decision. I do not have the authority to remove VP’s from committees on my own. Nor to “allow” him back. This is why I deliberately sought to work with Leander in this situation.
I also fail to see why I would do this, unilaterally. As someone whose focus all year has been on integrity, consensus building and empowerment, there is no advantage to me, to undermine my colleagues on a professional or personal level. There is also no advantage to me, to lie. Nor could I ever hope, when holding a public position, that a lie would remain undiscovered.'
This issue was also submitted to the Guild Council on the 21st March as a censure against the President, but was not passed. In a Facebook post, Franklin asked 'I was censured for following procedure, and a censure was attempted for not following procedure. Incompetence and deceit?' Both Jones and Franklin have received support and criticism, with numerous students calling for Elections Regulations to be rewritten to address both issues of sexism and Elections Committee positions.
Leaders launch Press Regulation Proposals
The two Coalition leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, have launched differing sets of proposals over press regulation in the UK. The two royal charters are particularly divided on the question of whether there should be a legal backing to the proposals contained in the royal charter as proposed by Lord Justice Leveson last November. The two separate charters have been published after the Prime Minister walked out of cross-party talks on the issue of press regulation, a decision which angered many victims of the phone-hacking scandal. The vote is to be put to MPs on Monday to decide between the two different systems of regulation, however the owners of three of the biggest newspapers, the Sun, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail, have threatened to boycott the government and crate their own regulator if a system of statutory underpinning is chosen.
Somalian Supreme Court overturns journalist's imprisonment
The Somalian Supreme Court has overturned the sentence of journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, who was imprisoned for interviewing a woman who claimed to have been the victim of gang rape by security forces. He told reporters on leaving court that 'I'm very happy that I got my freedom back, I thank those who worked in this process that helped my release including my lawyers.'
The charges against him have been dropped by the Court two months into the original twelve month imprisonment he was sentenced to after being convicted, alongside his interviewee, of offending state institutions. At the time, the case attracted much international criticism from human rights groups, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon saying he was 'deeply disappointed' at the outcome of the trial. The woman's case was also overturned on appeal in early March.
Pope Francis voted 266th Pope
On Wednesday, the second day of voting at the Sistine Chapel, Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pope on Wednesday. Despite being ruled out early on by many because of his age, he has become the first Latin American and Jesuit to take up the position in its history. However, his orthodox views on same-sex marriage and contraception have disappointed many who were hoping for a more liberal figurehead of the Church.
The Pope, who took up the name Francis, has since faced accusations of failing to confront the previous military rule in Argentina over the killings and kidnappings of thousands in the 'Dirty War'. These include the kidnapping of two fellow Jesuit priests, for which he was questioned as a witness three years ago. These allegations have been officially denied by the Vatican, with one spokesman insisting that 'There has never been a credible, concrete accusation against him.'
British Father and Son found dead in the French Alps
A British father and son have been found dead in the French Alps, thought to have fallen during a hike near the Bossons glacier at Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The route, whilst a popular route for hiking in the summer, is made dangerous by the snow and ice of winter. It is thought that the father died shortly after having contacted emergency services the day before to report that his son had fallen out of his sight. After the line was suddenly cut, the authorities attempts to find them were limited by the lack of information on their location. A rescue team then found the two of them the next day on Sunday morning, after a photograph they had sent to the family was used to narrow down their specific location in the Alps. However, the authorities have refused to confirm the circumstances around the deaths and have launched an enquiry into the incident.
Red Nose Day celebrations raise £75m
Friday's Red Nose Day, held in the 25th year of Comic Relief, raised over £75m with many celebrities and comedians involved in the evening's programme, including singer Jessie J, who raised £500,000 by shaving off her head. As well as Sainsburys and TK Maxx, who each raised over £10m and £3m respectively through the sale of Red Nose Day merchandise, the government also pledged to donate £16m to the total.
Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis said 'Once again the extraordinary generosity of the British public has put Comic Relief in a position to be able to serve thousands upon thousands of people with very hard lives in Africa and the UK. It's almost impossible to thank enough all those who took part in the event, all the members of the public who fundraised and all those who gave so generously on the night.'
EU bans testing on animal testing in cosmetics
The EU has given effect to a complete ban to the sale of any cosmetics that involved being tested on animals during their development. Whilst all 27 of the EU Member States already impose a ban on testing on animals for cosmetics products, the European Commission is now banning the sale of any goods that have been tested on animals, regardless of where in the world the testing has happened. While cosmetics firms have argued that the ban could affect Europe's position in the global market, animal rights activists who have been campaigning on the issue for years have applauded the decision and are pushing for similar advances in other countries around the world. The Commission has said it has been working closely with the cosmetics industry to find alternatives to the method of animal testing, spending 238m euros on such research.
£5bn boost proposed for Birmingham's economy
A £5bn plan has been recommended to help boost Birmingham's 'under performing' economy by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Revealed during an event at the Hyatt Hotel in Birmingham on Sunday, the proposals suggest more spending powers to be devolved to regions and if agreed to, would form a template for other LEPs around the country to use. A spokesperson from the LEP told the BBC 'This area has underperformed for the last 15 to 20 years. One of the LEPs had to take the lead on this and we're quite fortunate we got that lead.'
It is expected to receive a response from Chancellor George Osbourne ahead of the budget announcement on Wednesday. The funding idea was recommended by former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine in his report 'No Stone Unturned', which was unveiled in Birmingham last year.
Inquest launched into stabbed teenager's death
An inquest into the death of teenager Christina Edkins, who was stabbed on the No 9 bus last along Hagley Road while on her way to school in Halesowen, was both opened and adjourned last Thursday. During the inquiry, Birmingham coroner Aidan Cotter, was told that a man was soon to be charged. Later that day, Phillip Simelane, from Walsall, appeared in Court to confirm his name after being charged with the murder of the teenager. Simelane, who was arrested later on the day of the stabbing and then later sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He will face a hearing on the 31st May will decide if he is fit to stand trial and until then, he will undergo a psychiatric assessment at the clinic where he is residing. A trial is expected to take place in mid-July if he is found fit to stand trial.
Feature boxes are a great way to structure articles, especially longer features or collaborative articles with more than one author.
They're also incredibly easy to use as there's a code generator which can be found here.
1. To get started, first you'll want to upload the image you want to use for the background of the feature box to the Redbrick server. To do this, log in as usual at www.redbrick.me/wp-admin
Once logged in, you need to click the link titled 'Media' in the left navigation column. Once the new page has loaded, you'll want to click the new link titled 'Add Media', which is located under the 'Media' button in the left navigation column.
From here, click 'Select Files' and choose your image. Once it has uploaded you'll see a box pop in underneath with your uploaded file. Click the edit button.
From here you'll go to the 'Edit Media' page where you can get the URL of the image you just uploaded.
On the right there's a box titled 'File URL', copy and paste the link in this box and you'll use this as the link for the generator option titled 'URL of image'.
Note: Try not to just use the URL of an image from Google images as they often get removed and your background will disappear, so it's worth the little extra effort to upload it to the Redbrick server!
2. Go to http://redbrick.me/featboxes.
3. Fill in the various options for the feature box. Have a play around with the different settings, and to preview your feature box you can click 'Generate Code', which generates a preview of what the feature box will look like, as well as the code you'll need to use it in a post.
4. Once you're happy with how your feature box looks, copy the code from the final text area on the generator. Paste this into your article and hit publish!
[featbox position="bottom" solid="1" title="Feature Box Preview" image="http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2569/4205756099_2ba36ff35f_b.jpg" colour="white"]Your feature box should look a little bit like this, depending on the settings you chose.
For this box, the text was set to align to the bottom.[/featbox]
The annual report of People & Planet has recently ranked the environmental and ethical performance of the UK Universities. The institutions were awarded degree-style classifications based on their environmental management.
The UK’s largest independent student campaigning network gave the University of Birmingham 29 points out of 70. The score represents a slight fall from the previous year placing the university in the bottom-tier of the lower second class awards.
The greenest university was named Manchester Metropolitan University closely followed by the University of Plymouth. The table shows that many universities have tried to make an effort to improve their results year after year. However, the leading universities Oxford and Cambridge were far away from the top, the first failing the environmental award and the latter coming in the third class.
The student network has been credited with ‘putting climate change on the desk of every Vice-Chancellor in the UK’ and encouraging institutions to make more environment-friendly decisions.
According to the report, the biggest areas of improvement for the University of Birmingham are ethical investments and sustainable education and learning. The university was criticised for not having a publicly available ethical investment policy and a commitment to integrate sustainability into the curriculum in the Corporate or Strategic Plan.
On the other hand, the student and staff engagement in sustainability issues achieved a total score of ¾. The University has decreased its carbon dioxide emissions since 2005 by more than 24%.
The carbon emissions have been reduced by the building of the steam bridge opposite the entrance to the University railway station. The accomplishment of the bridge was nominated the university’s green achievement of the year. The curves in the 60-metre stainless steel bridge represent the flow of steam through the pipe. The bridge is aimed to reduce the carbon emissions by an estimated 1400 tonnes a year and it is a key component to refurbish and extend the heat and power network of the University of Birmingham.
Life&Style Editor Marianne Lampon gives us an insight into the new, talented photographer Oli Kearon with an exclusive interview.
You've recently been to New York - what was you favourite part/experience being out there? What made you want to travel there?
For me New York is the place I work best; Manhattan is so condensed there is an atmosphere like nowhere else I've been and it's especially good for young people just because of the fast pace. I always get so inspired when I'm out there.
Where would your ideal location be to do a shoot?
Oh now that's so tricky to say! I've shot in some very beautiful locations in London and New York but I'd love to be able to travel to Asia and shoot there, such beautiful landscapes.
What would you say is your biggest achievement so far? I'd say being in London for such a short period and shooting for big print publications. It's a great feeling to be able to walk into a newsagents and see your work on the shelf.
Own up - how many different cameras do you own?
Only two! I've got my trusty Nikon digital camera for my professional work but also an old film camera for general silliness!
Is there anyone you'd love to be able to collaborate with in the future? Whether it be other photographers, models, designers etc.?
Well i've been lucky enough to collaborate with some very talented young designers and models already but if I would really love to work with supermodel Natasha Poly...nobody else like her!
Where do you aspire to be in 5 years time?
I'd love to be shooting for global publications, but we will wait and see.
And finally, what would be your best advice for aspiring fashion photographers?
It takes time, hard work, persistence, patience and a good sense of what people want just before they know they want it (then you're getting somewhere).
Looking back over the trials and tribulations of exam term, Redbrick's Music writers would like to thank the brave singers and songwriters without whom their sanity would not remain intact.
[featbox position="top" solid="0" solid="" image="http://www.redbrick.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/SS.jpg" colour="white"] The song I like to rely on for revision is the very first Scissor Sisters single called 'Electrobix'. Why? Because it features a monotonous pop beat and a distinctive, yet unobtrusive vocal delivery by Jake Sears that are motivating and will make you sing along unconsciously without actually distracting you by encouraging you to jump up and dance around instead of doing your work. Apart from that, it is simply a highly interesting and unique track with very clever lyrics. So when the song begins with the question 'are you a Scissor Sisters?', what will be your answer? Mine will always be: Yes! At least for the next five minutes - or fifty minutes, since I'll probably have 'Electrobix' on repeat. Christoph Büscher.
[featbox position="top" solid="0" solid="" image="http://www.redbrick.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/KODALINE-.jpg" colour="white"]With fragile vocals, melodic piano, and the soothing strum of an acoustic guitar, ‘High Hopes’ has been my favourite revision track by a mile. Chilled enough that it’s not a distraction, but equally motivational - especially three-quarters of the way through the song where it gets more upbeat, more passionate, even more emotional - it’s a beautifully anthemic track, and I owe a lot to Kodaline for keeping me sane this exam period. Beth Coveney [/featbox]
[featbox position="top" solid="0" solid="" image="http://www.redbrick.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/BONOBO-.jpg" colour="white"]Bonobo’s latest album ‘The North Borders’ has been my most listened to during revision, but if I had to pick one track it’d be 'Know You'. One of the quicker paced tracks, it’s stilled chilled enough so that you don’t get distracted from learning, but has a motivating momentum behind it to keep you going. The use of vocals is also perfect. It’s a subtle but really well-crafted track, and the same goes for the rest of the album. Go Bonobo! Marianne Lampon [/featbox]
[featbox position="top" solid="0" solid="" image="http://www.morethings.com/music/jazz_vocals/dinah-washington-moment-ago-170.jpg" colour="white"]Sometimes it can all get a bit much. You’ve highlighted every word of your notes, you’ve had lunch at 11.20am, and you’re waiting for something new to come up on your Facebook newsfeed. Anything. Cue 'Don't Go To Strangers' by Dinah Washington, the self-proclaimed ‘Queen of Blues’ who lived from 1924-1963, and made the world a much more soulful place. Let the swelling strings of the intro add a bit of glamour to your despair, and Dinah’s achingly perfect vocals will do the rest. I guarantee this wonderful, graceful song will transform your desk into the dimly lit booth of a New York jazz bar, and you’ll hardly even notice your friend’s status update of ‘NO MORE EXAMS!’ or something equally insensitive. Lily Blacksell [/featbox]
[featbox position="top" solid="0" solid="" image="http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mavd84oMZ61r8n1u8_1348515509_cover.jpg" colour="white"]Revision. We all deal with it in different ways. Eaten the whole pack of Aldi biscuits? Fine. Had that extra glass of Drinks2Go wine? It’s okay! But there is another way to cope: your favourite revision track! Love Is All I Got is a revision remedy, gently soothing minds that grate with boredom. Feed Me’s trademark grinding bassline is lighter than normal, complementing Crystal Fighters’ Hispanic drawl. The vocals are melodic and uplifting, (‘it’s nearly over’) and the bassline is driving and motivating (‘you can do it’). With a little more than four lines this track doesn’t need much thought, so sit back, relax and enjoy! Laura Hand [/featbox]
[featbox position="top" solid="0" solid="" image="http://www.redbrick.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/BONOBO.jpg" colour="white"]I can never listen to songs dominated by lyrics when I’m revising as they distract me too much! So my revision playlist is mainly made up of trip-hop, ambient, and post-rock. Everything from Atlas Sound to Zero 7, Sneaker Pimps to Massive Attack, and Sabres of Paradise to Mogwai crops up there, but if one artist gets me through revision, it’s Bonobo! “Change Down” is the perfect mix of upbeat and ambient, chilled out enough not to distract me, but lively enough to keep me going even when revising the IMF has my eyelids drooping! Jake Pembroke [/featbox]
[featbox position="top" solid="0" solid="" image="http://sarahsellers.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/washed-out.jpg?w=880" colour="white"]I feel I owe the blissed-out, ephemeral, unbelievably chilled tracks of Washed Out for my sanity over revision. It was the compelling ‘Feel It All Around’, however, that I had playing on repeat throughout those long days in the library. The stand-out track from his 2009 EP Life of Leisure, ‘Feel It All Around’ has what can only be described as a calming, deeply intense, beauty within the warm, rhythmic synths and melodic sample. This is the ideal track to listen to whilst revising: its haunting but cool sound can make even the worst cramming session slightly more bearable. Sophie Tollet [/featbox]
They've been refered to as the next big girl band coming from the UK and they've already had two top five hits with 'Love Me' and 'Black Heart'. Now, more than a year after the release of their first single, Stooshe are finally releasing their debut studio album London With The Lights On, which has already been positively described as 'eavesdropping on a conversation between funny, trash-talking women who happen to sing like a trio of Beyoncés' by The Guardian and is preceeded by the group's fourth single 'Slip'.
Just like their previous efforts, the track is a fun popsong with Motown influences and a designated radio hit. Lyrically, Stooshe address people who are in a long-term relationship and begin to take things for granted, instead of trying to win their partner's heart over and over again. Courtney Rumbold, Alexandra Buggs and Karis Anderson rely on their powerful voices, a catchy melody and an entertaining music video with retro settings and choreographies to distract from the quite boring verses, managing to create a single that might not be as strong as their biggest hit 'Black Heart', but that is certainly on the same level as 'Love Me'.
'Slip' will definitely put a smile on your face and make you want to listen to Stooshe's critically acclaimed album. And sooner or later you will find that – unconsiously, unintentionally – you have started to sing along.
From the makers of the Ice Age series, Blue Sky’s new film Epic is something new for its child audience. For starters, the animation is more realistic and, in certain scenes, is on the par with Pixar. The narrative is cleverer too, as we follow MK (Amanda Seyfried), who is going through the stages of grief after losing her Mum. She goes to live with her dad (Jason Sudeikis) who has spent his life researching and attempting to discover the Leaf Men and the microscopic civilisation that protect the forest.
The embarrassingly recent ‘cottoning on’ of the Spanish media to José Mourinho’s use of psychology in interviews has given birth to the bitter perception of a man who is deliberately disingenuous in the public eye. It is sadly a perception that is steadily flowing into Britain as well. The fact that Mourinho uses his personality as a part of his methodology in coaching a side cannot be doubted; that he uses it expertly is just as much of a fact. At all times, he is acutely aware of how his behaviour and comments affect the psyche of his squad and when at his most intense, you can sense how every word is being chosen to bring about certain actions.
[pullquote size="30px" align="right" bold="0" italic="1" colour="#3F9380" width="33%"]"At all times, he is acutely aware of how his behaviour and comments affect the psyche of his squad, you can sense how every word is being chosen to bring about certain actions"[/pullquote]
Those in Madrid who became disillusioned with his sombre persona of a hated Portuguese coach in Spain, probably now think that they see Mourinho for what he is; a man behind a newly designed mask. A mask behind which he vacuously narrates platitudes about ‘happiness’ and ‘stability’ in hope of scoring cheap humility points with reporters and fans. But in my opinion there is nothing insincere about Mourinho’s public comments or conduct. He doesn’t wear a mask. My perception is that he becomes what he feels his side needs him to be; he builds his persona to best serve the players under his command.
So what is he becoming this time around? So far, it seems that he has not managed to progress his character any further than a man who is delighted in his new job. As of now, even the harshest critics of the legitimacy of his disposition would have a hard time imagining there is much pretending going on here.
Roman Abramovich is not the most easy-going owner in football, but on a scale of obtrusiveness he is not in the same league as Florentino Perez at Madrid (with his legendary propensity to meddle wherever possible). Michael Emenalo’s involvement in Chelsea’s recruitment and with the academy might not provide Mourinho with the total autonomy over football matters he’d prefer, but the Nigerian’s recent rebuffed offer to step down from his position shows he isn’t as keen as Jorge Valdano was to constantly be in the way. Whilst we know there are some egos at Chelsea, with proud club legends mixed in with precocious young talent in the core of the side. It is Mourinho’s job to build his side around the importance of the “meritocracy” that Madrid’s captain Iker Cassilas was foolish enough to disregard as a policy for lesser men than himself.
Obviously Mourinho will know this is not the easiest dressing room to manage, although the probability of a Chelsea player saying to him “you wouldn’t know; you never played the game”, as Sergio Ramos infamously did, must surely lie pretty close to zero. Reasons for Mourinho being “the happy one” at this moment in time aren’t particularly difficult to think of; very few coaches’ jobs have recently become so much more straightforward.
Press Conference Review
British football journalism might be a tad sensationalistic at times. Quotes can be excessively ramped up whilst the drama of the all that goes with the English game is often bigger the game itself. The melodramatic nature of the profession however, is not to say anything about the professionals themselves. For the most part, British football writers are clever enough to have worked out Mourinho’s methods. His Spanish critics would have us believe that British journalists are gullible and ignorant in their enjoyment of Mourinho, as they eagerly await his next anecdote. This is to grossly misunderstand why Mourinho is appreciated so much in this country. Whilst his arrogance probably does resonate more with British humour than anywhere else, the prospect of a fifty year old man calling himself special and making fun of Arsène Wenger is not enough on its own to attract an audience of over 250 journalists to a press conference. We are owed more credit than that.
Having said that, the conference probably did not live up to its hype – a lot of the questions lending themselves to some pretty banal responses. The only typically snarky answer came in response to a question about Andres Iniesta’s accusations that Mourinho had ruined Spanish football. Mourinho gave the predictable yet perfect response by describing his pride in having ruined Spanish football for Iniesta personally, by destroying Barcelona’s dominance.
The papers yesterday morning were all praising Mourinho’s “performance” as a more humble coach, with many asking how long he can keep it up for. The question, although exacerbating the dramatic aspect of Mourinho’s methods, is a potent one given we know that the psychology of his style is a constant. How he will go about creating stability at Chelsea remains to be seen but you can be sure he will continue to fight for his own and confront anybody who threatens Chelsea’s interests. That unforgiving, impassioned and relentless desire to win is still an immutable part of his personality. And that should be a constant source of security and optimism for Chelsea fans, however he decides to behave.
By Aqib Khan
The phrase 'doublethink' originated in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, meaning: 'simultaneously accepting as correct, two mutually contradictory beliefs. It is related to, but distinct from, hypocrisy.'
The regional overthrow of a collection of autocrats, not seen on such a scale since the revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989, have political reverberations that are themselves rooted in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1923. However, due to the intended brevity of this article, an explanatory history of the Middle East bracketed by these events would be unrealistic. Instead, the aim of this article is to shed light on the opposing forces in one specific revolution presently stuck in a quagmire: the attempted revolution in Bahrain. According to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, over 1,800 people have been tortured with thousands more exiled and arrested. Their crime centres on calling for an end to the Sunni monarchy that rules the majority Shi’ite nation with an iron fist. What has hampered attempts to overthrow Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the ruling autocrat, is the geopolitical tightrope that is being walked in western capitals: to simultaneously appear to promote democracy whilst at the same time (where possible) disrupt the efforts of the protestors - to quite literally 'doublethink'.
In a House of Commons report, Oxford Professor Dr Eugene Rogan was asked to pinpoint the reasons for the Arab Spring, to which he remarked:
'The social and political causes of the Arab Spring included resentment of authoritarian rulers that had denied freedom of expression and limited opportunities for participation in civil and political life.'
Such an uncontroversial statement merits no further comment. He further advises, as is the conclusion of the report, that Britain 'need not to be seen to be bolstering autocracy against demands for change.'
His comments were in light of the report’s overarching dilemma:
'Between February and April 2011 almost 100 protestors are thought to have died in the clashes. Bahrain’s treatment of the protestors was a particular dilemma for the UK, which counts Bahrain as an important ally in the region.'
Amnesty International, too, had to condemn what it saw as 'the UK’s focus on arms sales to the MENA (Middle Eastern Nation) region both now and in recent years which is completely at odds with its stated aim of upholding human rights.'
[pullquote size="20px" align="left" bold="0" italic="0" colour="#5C0096" width="50%"]Britain has a need to simultaneously support its ally the ruling monarchy [...] whilst not being made to look hypocritical in the name of pesky human rights issues.[/pullquote]Britain has a need to simultaneously support its ally the ruling monarchy, in line with its history of arms sales to the MENA region, whilst not being made to look hypocritical in the name of pesky human rights issues.
This need to prevent a democratic government in Bahrain, pivotal to Middle East hegemony, is to ensure in the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 'that the largest reserves of the world's oil supply do not fall into Iranian or pro-Iranian hands.' Iran of course is the world’s only Shi’ite majority country, an obvious ally of the people of Bahrain, and has been rising on Washington’s list of enemies since the revolution of 1979 that removed the Shah. Netanyahu also defended Saudi Arabia’s insertion of over 1,000 soldiers into Bahrain that helped crush the initial uprising. Simultaneous to the insertion was the Bahraini autocracy launching a propaganda Blitzkrieg, a massive PR stunt that according to Bahrain Watch spent over $32 million on Western media outlets, including CNN, throughout the most intense period of revolt to keep coverage of the kingdom positive. It led to an investigation by The Guardian under Glenn Greenwald and drew the following conclusions: 'As negative news stories of its brutal repression grew in the wake of the Arab Spring, the regime undertook a massive, very well-funded PR campaign to improve its image. Central to that campaign was CNN International.'
CNN is by far the most watched news outlet in the Middle East and Bahrain’s sway was such that CNN began to pull documentaries of the uprisings, already paid for, shot edited and ready to show, completely off air for no apparent reason, leaving journalist Amber Lyon (who was in charge of filming) perplexed and frustrated, later labelling it 'propaganda'. As with any media outlet, the mainstream news can be used as a tool to subvert logical pathways and literally rewrite the present. As the British Ministry of Information’s own papers state, their aim at the turn of the 20th century was 'to control the thought of the entire world' by launching enough propaganda to draw the United States into World War One. The power to regulate information is as important in shaping history today as it was to regulate the seas of the early modern world in the days of Columbus.
As the information war rages, another type of military manoeuvring is under way. What forebodes an even more ominous future for the Bahrainis is a speech delivered by Mitt Romney in Virginia and centring on foreign policy. In the speech, Romney mentions 'freedom' five times: freedom for the Iranians, Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and world at large. This messianic vision is too humble however, and not geographically consistent enough to include freedom for those people living under the gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain: 'I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region,' he said. 'And I will deepen our critical cooperation with our partners in the Gulf.'
This 'mainstream' position of course is not a Republican monopoly. Human Rights activist Jen Marlow estimates that the Pentagon under the current administration has sold in excess of £32million worth of weapons and equipment including '44 armoured Humvees' to the Bahrain monarchy, with The Guardian putting the figure for Britain at a modest contribution of around £1million, including 'gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for military training aircraft'. So much for the condemnation aimed at Russia for going out of its way to arm Assad.
A comprehensive breakdown of human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is an augean task not possible here. But as a broad barometer, Amnesty International has made its aim to 'puncture the wall of secrecy around the gross and widespread human rights violations being committed in Saudi Arabia.'
The effects of arming such states are not localised to the region and are widely acknowledged by the intelligence community. A House of Commons report acknowledges on page 7 of a 500 page document: 'the very image of western countries and in particular the United Kingdom has been damaged by decades of arms sales to repressive governments.'
It is for reasons such as this, the Pentagon concluded in 2003 in a report demanded by Donald Rumsfeld that:
[pullquote size="20px" align="right" bold="0" italic="0" colour="#5C0096" width="50%"]'Ever increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf States.'[/pullquote]'American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States...Muslims do not 'hate our freedoms', but rather, they hate our policies...ever increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf States.'
Dr Rogan in the follow up questions tries to reinforce the point previously made to the House of Commons:
'The complex weapons systems we have sold to countries across the region—the Europeans and the United States alike—have primarily been used against their own people; with only very few exceptions have they been used in defence of their country against outside aggression.'
In conclusion, regardless of ten years of media circulation, the Pentagon concluded in 2003 that the main reason for animosity towards the West in the Muslim world, is not based on the hatred of liberty, it is the hate that hate produced. The hatred for viable democracies in the Middle East lest they side with 'the enemy', has caused for our support of secular dictatorships to maintain order in a fluid region.
This Cold War mentality has begun to show its frailty in wake of libertarian movements and sheds light on the hypocrisy - most notably in Bahrain - in the region, and must undergo replacement. But this too must regress on an even greater change.
The recent debate between President Obama and Governor Romney did not go unnoticed by mainstream media outlets, with some paying particular scrutiny on the dresses worn by the candidates’ spouses. What did slip through this net of forensic journalism surrounding the debate was the arrest of Green Party Presidential nominee Jill Stein, (banned from appearing in the presidential debates) who was arrested for attempting to enter the debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as a viable third party candidate.
'The American system is designed to eliminate political opposition, like some of the dictatorships we criticize that have rigged political systems. In many ways the American system is also rigged, but in ways that are not so straightforward. For the most part you need a lot of money, millions of dollars, to buy your way on to the ballot.'
[pullquote size="20px" align="right" bold="0" italic="0" colour="#5C0096" width="50%"]What is required is the abolishment of the Electoral College.[/pullquote]What is required is the abolishment of the Electoral College, to pave the way away from two party politics that adopt the same broad opinions, and the insertion of fresh ideas into a system in the early stages of what some analysts are calling 'Soviet Syndrome.'
All the views in this article are my own. I ask people to disagree, agree, to go away and think and research into what they have just read, because in the words of Fredrick Nietzsche: 'the surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently'.
I would finally like to thank the leaders of the United States and Europe, namely Britain who were able to do the amazing balancing act on a moral tightrope, and claim to want to bring democracy to the region whilst simultaneously doing everything in their power to prevent it from happening, believing in both cases simultaneously and genuinely believing both are compatible with another - to quite literally DOUBLETHINK.
Redbrick News will be live blogging from the last Guild Council of this academic year.
Lennie Small - Joe Belham
George Milton - Joe Hinds
Curley's Wife - Elizabeth Reynolds
Candy - Ricky Carey
Curley - Jacob Lovick
Slim - Jack J Fairley
Carlson - Jack Robertson
Whit - Jen Symes
'Crooks' - Dan Burke
The Boss - David Williams
Ranch Hands/Musicians - Nick Charlesworth, Joe Novelli, Sam Cleeve
Director - Christa Harris
Producer - Frazer Riley
Music - Jack Blume
Movement and Physicality Coach - Georgie Brehaut
Stage Managers - Elisabeth Payne and Joanne Dawes
Set during the Great Depression, Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men will never be considered as anything other than serious. The novella is a staple part of contemporary literature: it is studied in schools, and anyone who professes to love literature should read it at least once. Turning a much-loved text into another art form is always a risk, so what is most surprising about the stage version of Of Mice and Men is that Steinbeck also wrote it. Steinbeck’s script is almost a literal translation of the novella, so it requires great direction and production, as well as a stellar cast, to really capture the text’s finest moments and characters and make it a successful play.
Director Christa Harris and Producer Frazer Riley certainly rose to the challenge with their version of the play; it was touching, emotional and haunting, leaving many of the audience members in tears during and after the scenes, thanks to a wonderful cast.
[pullquote size="30px" align="right" bold="0" italic="0" colour="#98281B" width="37%"]'Joe Belham was outstanding as Lennie, and quite frankly stole the show.'[/pullquote]
Joe Belham was outstanding as Lennie, and quite frankly stole the show. His movements, voice and overall characterisation were evidently carefully considered. Belham gave a beautiful performance, making Lennie endearing and loveable, so much so that the final scenes, in which the audience realises that the American Dream is truly unattainable, were heart-breaking. The scenes between Belham and Hinds were wonderful; the two conveyed the powerful bond between the men, particularly during the horrifying fight scene.
The rest of the cast also deserve praise for excellent performances. Jack J Fairley was able to make the somewhat minor role of Slim memorable with a subtle yet authoritative performance, while Elizabeth Reynolds’s made her character more sympathetic (which certainly is a feat, as Steinbeck himself admitted that Curley's wife is simply functional) and provided some haunting vocals. The scene between Belham and Reynolds was executed perfectly; the drama escalated subtly and steadily, making the scene much more effective.
[pullquote size="30px" align="left" bold="0" italic="0" colour="#98281B" width="37%"]'Jack J Fairley was able to make the somewhat minor role of Slim memorable with a subtle yet authoritative performance.'[/pullquote]
Attention should also be brought to the fantastic work of Stage Managers Elisabeth Payne and Joanne Dawes. The set was truly beautiful, constructed from intricate flats and hay bales. The production also incorporated a screen onto which silhouettes were cast, creating an atmospheric and intimate staging. This was added to by the constant playing of ranch sounds, which subtly immersed the audience into the world of the play.
Music was also provided throughout the production by Jack Blume, Nick Charlesworth, Joe Novelli and Sam Cleeve. The bluegrass band created a sense of authenticity and contributed greatly to the ambiance. (A note to prospective audience members: the band plays in the Deb Hall for the entirety of the interval; they are definitely worth sticking around for.)
Unfortunately, the spell cast by all these elements was broken on occasion due to the setup of the venue. Much of the action of the play takes place on the floor, or with the characters sitting down. For those who are seated further back, vital movements and facial expressions were often missed, meaning that the intimacy that was strived for was absent. However, more often than not, the actors’ voices alone were able to carry the scene, meaning that not all emotional impact was lost.
This being said, overall, the production was evidently carefully considered, and ultimately was a triumph. This final semester has been host to some wonderful drama from the university, some incredibly talented actors and some very dedicated crew members. Of Mice and Men was the perfect conclusion to all this hard work.
There are still two more performances of the production. To reserve tickets, visit the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/events/229548223836718/
Any attempt to try and take meaningful conclusions from a Lions side which barely stepped out of second gear borders on the impossible. Whilst the second half commitment of the Combined Country XV should be commended, the amateurish nature of much of their defensive efforts provided little more than a light training session for the Lions’ elite professionals.
The Queensland Reds delivered exactly what a warm-up match should be last Saturday; a chance for test match hopefuls to showcase their abilities and qualities under pressure. This morning however offered as fewer opportunities for those involved, as it offered a spectacle for its audience.
The twenty-three men involved today could only be judged on individual errors. Any successful attacks were always going to be more attributed to opposition frailties rather than brilliance from an individual or collective.
[pullquote size="30px" align="left" bold="0" italic="1" colour="#3F9380" width="33%"]"There's hopefully a little more to come, but the more games you play together, the more opportunity you have to gel and the more you enjoy one another's company."
For Warren Gatland and Graham Roundtree, one rather sizeable concern would be that of the line-out. Whilst the Lions’ scrum is almost certain to dominate, the cracks surrounding the other key area of the set piece are all too visible as of this moment. Whilst the work of Richie Grey and Iain Evans around the park was impressive, their lack of command and control at set piece time has done little to enhance either man’s chances of featuring on the 22nd June. What today did tell Gatland was the influential nature of an experienced line out leader, and in either Paul O’Connell or Geoff Parling, he is blessed with two of the best in world rugby.
Arguably another conclusion which can be drawn is that Connor Murray has solidified his position as the third best scrum half on tour. Despite being in the Mike Phillips mould which Gatland craves so desperately, there were often periods of attacking play which lacked direction around the breakdown and against such timid opposition, this was disappointing.
However if there was one positive to extract from a fairly stale affair, it is the performance of Stuart Hogg. In his first start at outside-half since his school days, Hogg showed the skill set required to command and direct a backline. Of course the question will remain as to whether he is able to control a game, especially one of test match intensity, but Hogg has certainly laid down a marker to be the reserve fly half come the test series, especially considering Owen Farrell’s rather inauspicious start.
This was not a game that will shape the tour, the Lions’ management will have breathed a huge sigh of relief as twenty-three bodies managed to walk off the turf at Newcastle unhurt. The squad is now left with just two more opportunities, against the Waratahs on Saturday and the Brumbies of Canberra on Tuesday, to stake a final claim for a test place. This morning would have had no such impact.
Jaisalmer will probably be the last destination on your tour of Rajasthan, situated at the far west of the region, and you'll certainly need to get used to the Indian heat before you go there; don't forget your sun cream! A breath-taking, Aladdin-style fort town in the middle of the desert, Jaisalmer hosts a huge, golden fort and is prime place to go in the region for a camel safari. Make sure to spend at least on night sleeping under the desert stars - an unforgettable experience that will leave you feeling like Princess Jasmine.
Although technically not in Rajasthan itself, but just outside the region, it would be a crime not to visit Agra and the Taj Mahal - one of the world's most famous and most beautiful buildings - whilst you're in the vicinity. The Taj Mahal and its story as famous as they are for a reason, and you won't regret paying the slightly pricey entrance fee to see it with your own eyes. But it doesn't all end with the Taj; Agra also boasts a 'Baby Taj', and a huge red fort with a great view over the river to the Taj Mahal.
Also known as 'the Blue City', this town, as seen from Jodhpur's looming fort, is a sea of higgledy-piggledy blue buildings. The fort is the town's main attraction, and really is magnificent. A fairly new feature of Jodhpur is a zip wire course which runs across the fort grounds. flying past the fort at thirty feet is quite something, but make sure to avoid doing the course in the middle of the day as there is no shade between the wires, and the desert sun is hot. You can't beat sitting in one of Jodhpur's many roof top restaurants in the evening with the lit up fort high above you; well, certainly not sat in your dingy Selly Oak bedroom on your laptop, if that's what you had planned for your summer.
Pushkar probably has the fewest sights to see of these five destinations, but it is arguably the most peaceful and chilled out of them all. Famous for the beautiful holy lake at its centre, Pushkar attracts pilgrims from afar who go to bathe in the holy water. The town's narrow streets are lined with juice bars and shops crammed with beautiful wall hangings; it's the perfect spot t have a few slightly more relaxed days. However, don't go to Pushkar for a meat and beer filled few days, since both meat and alcohol are banned from this little holy town.
Udaipur is a bit more up-market than some of Rajasthan's other top destinations. It is the holiday destination of the wealthiest Indians, and those with top dollar might be able to afford to stay in the beautiful, apparently floating palace hotel in the middle of the town's lake. And if you didn't recognise the name as where James Bond 'Octopussy' was filmed, then you will when you get there; the streets are lined with signs declaring, 'Octopussy: showing here, every night!' You're likely to leave Udaipur raving that it's definitely where you're going to go back in ten years to get married.
Written by: Laura Foster
Laura Foster explores the wonders of Machu Picchu and asks whether the trek is really worth it!
In the last decade, Peru has become the destination and must-see country for many travellers, with visits usually dedicated to seeing one thing – Machu Picchu. Situated some 2000 meters above sea level amongst Peru’s highest peaks, this Inca site is perhaps the most famous and overly photographed landmark that Peru has to offer. [pullquote size="30px" align="right" bold="1" italic="1" colour="#47B41D" width="50%"]"is it really worth an expensive, uncomfortable, long haul flight to see the real thing?"[/pullquote]As soon as you step onto South American territory, pictures of Machu Picchu are brutally thrust upon you in every way possible – on postcards, at airports, and on every traveller’s Facebook page. There really is no escaping that famous shot. But is it really worth an expensive, uncomfortable, long haul flight to see the real thing?
Yes, it is. And the best way to see it? At sunrise… after an even more expensive, intense, high-altitude, four-day trek – more commonly known as the Inca Trail. If you are thinking of doing this famous trek, then to ensure you have the best experience possible you need to plan ahead – two words which seasoned travellers and laidback hippies hate hearing.
After lunch and a well-deserved break, the physical torture continued, and we had to climb up another seemingly infinite staircase for over an hour – this time in the rain. 2 hours and a few tantrums later, we finally arrived at our campsite, ate an amazing dinner, and fell asleep before 8pm.
Day 3 is by far the most enjoyable. Feeling invincible after the day before and far more confident in my zip-off walking trousers, the 15km we covered was mostly flat and downhill.We ran into llamas, explored misty Inca ruins and took far too many cheesy photographs of each other looking out into the distance. The campsite is a lot busier on the last evening, as this is where every tour sleeps before the final trek to Machu Picchu the next morning. When the day finally arrived, we woke up at 4am and walked for an hour or so before reaching the Sun Gate – the spot where you get that famous view of Machu Picchu as it’s hit by the morning sun. When we got there, it was unfortunately covered in cloud.
Whilst the cloud hindered our ability to see Machu Picchu, it definitely added to the atmosphere, and by the time we had made the 45 minute descent towards the city, the sun was shining. [pullquote size="30px" align="right" bold="1" italic="1" colour="#47B41D" width="50%"]"four days promise a lot of fun, beautiful views, and a truly rewarding experience"[/pullquote]Walking around Machu Picchu itself is unbelievable - and our tour guide Reuben proved he was worth every penny, as he steered us away from the crowds and gave us one of the most memorable and interesting tours yet. Whilst I’m sure it is just as easy to appreciate the magnificence of Machu Picchu after a 30 minute bus ride, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing it after walking a challenging 42 km through the Andes. For anyone willing to put themselves through a little physical pressure, the four days promise a lot of fun, beautiful views, and a truly rewarding experience.
William - James Dolton
Lily - Katherine Grayson
Bennett - Danny Hetherington
Chadwick - Matt Saull
Cissy - Lauren Dickenson
Nicholas - Jonty Crowley
Tanya - Lucy Sweeney
Dr Harvey - Kirsten Peters Roebuck
Co-directors - Alice Hodgson and Ricky Carey
Producer - Ciara Cohen-Ennis
Stage Manager - Florence Schechter
Costume and Makeup - Rachel Fulham
Simon Stephens’s Punk Rock is easy to relate to. If you’ve ever been to school, you’ll have met a group of characters not unlike the ones in the play: there’s the bully, the weird one, the bullied, the girls who are shallow and hollowly self-deprecating. That’s not to say the play is boring; this is a familiar world that we are thrown into, which means that the audience can relate to each and every character on some level – even if it is just to shudder at the recollection of being at school.
Punk Rock has another level, though. It is concerned with the fragility of mental health: it is no coincidence that the characters are placed in the high-pressure environment of Sixth Form during their mock A Level exams.
At times, the play relies too heavily on stereotypes. Bully Bennett is a little two-dimensional: the audience is given the impression that he is angry because of his concealed sexuality. His bullying methods are not intelligent or sly, either: he is blatantly violent and abusive, rather than manipulative. Moreover, this is where the play’s true weakness is shown: the remaining characters take a long time to challenge Bennett. It is unbelievable that a group of seventeen to eighteen year olds would fail to say anything to him. Were the characters fourteen years old, their fear of him would be more understandable, but here it seems too unrealistic (as does Cissy’s love for her boyfriend. Bennett’s lack of Machiavellian skill highlights a flaw in the relationship: there seems to be no reason for Cissy to be with Bennett).
'While the group dynamic is well-established in the first half of the play, and a sense of impending drama is created, the second half feels rushed.'
The play also suffers from issues of pacing. While the group dynamic is well-established in the first half of the play, and a sense of impending drama is created, the second half feels rushed, with William’s mental decline occurring over a matter of a few days, culminating in a school shooting that seems to happen a little too soon. While Stephens’s exploration of mental health is commendable, it often becomes too expositional; the final scene between William and a psychiatrist, in which the ghost of Nicholas appears, seems superfluous, and really discredits the rest of the script, which is (for the most part) sharp and witty.
All this being said, the cast and crew of this production deserve whole-hearted praise. Co-directors Alice Hodgson and Ricky Carey worked with a talented cast to produce a play that the audience could feel involved in: the audience laughed, sighed at William’s failure to pursue Lily and were audibly shocked at some of the insults thrown by the characters.
James Dolton made an excellent William. Despite his mental health being fragile, he was endearing and likeable, even towards the end of the play. William’s outbursts could quite easily become melodramatic, but Dolton handled them with a professionalism that made them feel raw and realistic; his portrayal was evidently the result of having studied the character very well.
'What is most interesting about Punk Rock is the inarguable presence of postmodern nihilism.'
Katherine Grayson was well cast as Lily. Her facial expressions and movements were perfect for the character: she was alluring and interesting (as the new girl often is), and yet was able to move into the character’s more serious side with ease.
Matt Saull was an interesting choice for class outsider Chadwick. Saull could have easily looked out of place being bullied by Danny Hetherington’s Bennett, but he embodied his character’s nervousness and fear, and conveyed his character’s anger with conviction.
What is most interesting about Punk Rock is the inarguable presence of postmodern nihilism. Both William and Chadwick discuss a loss of faith in community (whether it be religious or local), and Lily admits that she hates everyone. It was in these moments that the cast really shone; while their handling of the common room banter was entertaining, their talent was displayed by their ability to communicate the greater issues convincingly. The play has something very We Need to Talk About Kevin about it, and yet really does not achieve the emotional impact of the novel. However, the cast and crew of this production created a play that was entertaining, interesting and thought-provoking, and therefore deserve nothing but praise.
For all those who have been struggling through life without a weekly fix of Sugar-coated sarcasm, Nick Hewer’s eyebrows and bitchy boardroom spats, fear no longer. The Apprentice has returned to our screens and we are once again graced with an assorted collection of ridiculously overconfident individuals. There’s Luissa, a fairly unpleasant lass who has appointed herself the resident ‘Jessica Rabbit’ of the group, as well as my personal fave Jason, whose vocabulary range knows no bounds. For those not so business-minded, a treat comes in the form of Miles, the thirty-something year old with a remarkably perky bum who single-handedly defines the term ‘silver fox’. Tasks so far have included creating both a flavoured beer and an innovative piece of flat-pack furniture, with the girl’s interpretation of ‘original’ leaving the nation in shock as they produced...a wooden box. There have been several noteworthy moments in which the candidates exhibit their extensive intellectual capacity, with Natalie identifying a cow first as a horse, then as a dog and Zeeshaan claiming confidently how well he’s worked all day with ‘Liam’, who in fact turned out to be called Neil. Sick one Zeesh. Below, in the true style of our time, the experts have compiled a list entitled: Things Apprentice Candidates Don’t Say.
1) ‘Neil, I love that layer of hair you’re sporting on your neck’
2) ‘It’s so boring to watch team Evolve win every week’
3) ‘I’m don’t know why we didn’t have more success when we tried to sell Chinese good luck cats in a shop full of Chinese good luck cats’
4) ‘This one time, in the Bridge Cafe, I saw another human being’
5) ‘When I look at you, Alex, I see no resemblance to Dracula’
6) ‘Please, Lord Sugar, remind us again how you were born in Hackney and made a living from nothing’
7) ‘Thanks for your contribution Uzma’
8) ‘Good idea, Kurt, why has the concept of sitting on a chair filled with recycled materials not been done before’
9) ‘Classic Emperor Bonaparte throwing temper tantrums in the back of people carriers. Zee, you really are so alike’
10) ‘I very rarely give 110%’
Birmingham graduate Tim Stillwell caused great excitement on campus when his name was released as part of the final sixteen candidates to be storming the boardroom for this year’s series of the apprentice. Having spent time in Mexico in 2011 as a part of his degree Stillwell launched the famous Burrito Van on campus in 2012. Winning Lord Sugars 250,000 investment would have been the next step to increase his business on a national level. However things didn’t go as planned however whilst Tim may be out he is certainly not down.
As one of the youngest candidates on this year’s show Tim said that being selected was not something he envisaged happening when he graduated a few years ago he said that “Once I found out I had been selected for the show it was too good and opportunity to refuse. No-one is giving money to small businesses at the moment and as a young graduate I had nothing to lose”.
In episode one Tim came under fire from Lord Sugar for not speaking up as he accused Tim of being “one of those guys who keeps quiet”. His response was to speak up, despite having won the task, something he regretted “big time”. When asked about his experiences in the board room and why he thought he was accused of being too quiet, Tim said that “In the board room there is so much lying- people will do anything to stay in. That was not what I wanted, I didn’t want to be fake or be part of the back stabbing which is probably why I left so early.”
Week one saw the traditional split between the boys and the girls and this year the boys were dominated by some big characters. When talking about his experience of being a part of the boys, Tim said that he automatically got on well with and looked up to fellow contestant Miles. He said that “Miles is at a different stage of life to me, whilst I am still launching Burrito Kitchen, Miles has already made his first million; being exposed to people like that is great for me.”
Week two saw a completely unexpected turn as Lord Sugar moved Tim from the boys and appointed him as Project manager of the girls. Tim admitted that the first thing that went through his head was “Right this is either a chance to shine or to fail miserably” He said “It was a team of very strong characters, I didn’t know they’re names or what they did, it felt like the first task all over again.”
Unfortunately for Tim, being PM for the girls didn’t prove to be his time to shine with Lord Sugar accusing his team of not being able to “organise a piss-up in a brewery” leaving him the second candidate to leave the board room for good. [pullquote size="30px" align="right" bold="1" italic="0" colour="#000000" width="50%"]“They build up the suspense and keep you waiting before you meet Lord Sugar for the first time.”[/pullquote]
When asked about his encounter with Lord Sugar, Tim said “They build up the suspense and keep you waiting before you meet Lord Sugar for the first time.” He described the pressure that each candidate is put under to impress him in the board room: “You don’t ever see him off camera, and he doesn’t speak to you when the cameras aren’t rolling.”
However, despite not becoming Lord Sugar’s next business partner, Tim is not discouraged as he pushes forwards with his Mexican food business, The Burrito Kitchen. With the successful Burrito Van on campus, Tim is now launching another unit in Westfield at the end of June. From there he is looking to launch units in the Bullring and Solihull, taking on big competitors such as MacDonald’s and KFC. But it’s not all good news, as the Burrito Van on campus is under threat as the university is asking Tim to leave by the end of the academic year. So it’s down to the students of Birmingham to save the Burrito Van, please sign the petition to save the Burrito Van! (www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/university-of-birmingham-save-the-burrito-van-on-campus-from-closure)
Also check out Tim and what he is up to at: www.burritokitchen.com or www.timstillwell.com
Watch your fired it is a cracker #teamtim thanks for all the support. Sorry guys— Tim Stillwell (@stillwelltim) May 8, 2013
With the sun finally making an appearance its time to bring out the barbecue's, have some good food and enjoy the company of friends. But deciding on what to make for a barbecue can be a challenge, especially when there are lots of people to feed. So I thought you might appreciate a tried and tested recipe, that if followed can make a delicious dish that is easy and fast to make and is most importantly very tasty.
I don't think you can have a proper barbecue without a burger, and if you are going to do burgers then why not go the full hog, and make all of the trimmings too! For me Aussie burgers are best, topping a traditional beef burger with cheese, bacon, pineapple, beetroot, tomato and lettuce! But you can always just add a slice of cheese and ketchup if that is what floats your boat.
So give this recipe a go. See how it turns out, and I am sure you won't be disappointed.
I would suggest serving the burgers with some chilled beers, or some home-made lemonade. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the sun! It is very unlikely to be here for long.
Last week, Redbrick caught up with Matthew Rolfe and Christopher Bates, Birmingham alumni who have set up Selly Joke, the new fancy dress and parties supplies shop in Selly Oak.
What inspired you to set up Selly Joke?
‘My business partner Matt came to me late last year and asked me if I wanted to come in on it. Really what the dream was about was to help students and to achieve something that nobody’s done before. We’re right next door to the Drinks To Go man, everybody loves him, what he does and provides the students and we aim to provide the same style of service but with fancy dress.’
How is the shop funded?
‘The shop is funded through a variety of sources, obviously a little bit of money came in from me and Matt ourselves. The vast majority of the money came from the start up loan scheme, which was launched when the coalition government came in, which was £112 million pot of loan money that is given to companies to distribute to young people. We went through a company called Rockstar Youth, who have also helped a number of other projects in the area such as Tim the Burrito Man and former Sabbatical Officer Matt Lamb and his new business. They give you the money as a loan and it is unsecure personal, it’s not against the business and it’s all wonderful.’
What does Selly Joke stock?
‘What we’re stocking is all based about value, obviously students don’t have £30 or £40 to spend on a fancy dress costume and they want to spend £10, £15, £20 if that. We’ve got some costumes that are priced at £15 or £20, a lot of accessories like wigs and hats and badges and sets around £3, £4, £5. We also do loads of party supplies like shot glasses, pint glasses, beer pong, party poppers and playing cards, which are by far our best sellers so far. Everybody seems to want a pack of playing cards.’
Any other comments?
‘This has all been possible because of a scheme at the university called Be Seen which works with a number of Birmingham universities to allow people to realise their dreams in business. It’s worked for us, it’s worked for a number of other local companies like My Onesie, Purple Frog, Glide as all of them came through the scheme.’
On Tuesday, 4th June, the Guild of Students held a General Meeting, where every student who was a member of the Guild was invited to debate the special resolutions that were being proposed.
Although the turnout on the night was only 40 students, the quoracy required for the General Meeting to be valid (0.5%, equal to 140 students) was met, with other students voting through proxies, bringing the overall turnout for the Meeting up to 300 students.
Of the six Resolutions that were discussed at the meeting, only Special Resolution 6 was passed by a majority of 80.6%. This resolution only focused on stylistic changes to the Memorandum and Articles of the Guild and did not result in any substantial changes. The other resolutions did not meet the necessary threshold (75%) required by Company Law.
The General Meeting was the culmination of campaigning by the group, Reclaim the Guild, which had petitioned for changes to the way that the Trustee Board operates within the Guild and called for increased student control.
Although the meeting was originally planned to be held in January, it had to be delayed after allegations arose of mishandling of proxy vote forms. An investigation into the proxy vote system subsequently concluded that the system had been 'unsafe' and was revised. The next General Meeting, which was supposed to be held in February, was also cancelled when it arose that not all Members of the Guild had been notified, as required by Company Law.
David Franklin spoke to Redbrick about the meeting, saying 'One of the things about democracy, is that it gives students the opportunity to have a meaningful say in the governance of the Guild. Those who voted elected to reject the five substantive motions. The meeting was quorate, but it unfortunately engaged only a minority of students on campus and I’m sure that keen analysts will be able to provide reasons for this. Whilst I’m disappointed on the outcome of some of the resolutions, it is pleasing to have finally been able to hold the meeting and the Guild will be able to move forwards next year, with a stable structure to build upon.'
A petition has been launched by University of Birmingham students that aims to ‘Save the Burrito Van’, which is to eclose at the end of the Semester, after a University decision that the contract will not be renewed.
The Burrito Van was originally set up by Birmingham graduate Tim Stillwell in order to test out the market before launching in central Birmingham. The concept revolved around healthy, fast food, focusing on original Mexican recipes and fresh ‘never frozen’ meat.
A statement coupled the petition, which at the time of printing has reached *871* signatures, reads ‘Students love the Burrito Van and it is one of many options for food on campus. It is doing well and its owner Tim Stillwell shows students what they can achieve after leaving Birmingham. We want the Burrito Van to not only stay on campus but to become permanent.’
A facebook page of the same name promoting the petition has received a number of comments from students, including one which read ‘I just don't get y is the uni so opposed to such a fine eating establishment???’
Another commentator referenced The Burrito Van’s founder, Tim Stilwell’s experience on the BBC show, The Apprentice, saying ‘Save our "Mexican Food Entrepreneur!
Stilwell spoke to Redbrick about the petition, saying ‘We are so happy and flattered about the petition. It really goes to show that students want us to stay and there is no real reason for our contract not being extended.’ He also spoke of his plans to launch The Burrito Van in Westfield Shopping Centre.
A spokesperson for the University commented that ‘The Burrito Van on the University of Birmingham campus is operated by a former student who set up the enterprise, with support from the University, whilst an undergraduate at the University’s Business School. The University has already extended the lease twice but would now like to use the location on campus to provide a similar opportunity to other enterprising students.
‘We are glad to have provided a stepping stone for Tim Stillwell and wish him every success in taking the Burrito Van concept forward to shopping centre locations across the West Midlands.’