Saturday, 12 July 2014

Happy Holidays - from Portsmouth Point

'Abandoned Tyre' by Oliver Stone (cover image from the new 'Lost and Found' issue of Portsmouth Point magazine)

The editors of Portsmouth Point magazine and blog wish all of our readers a happy and restful summer holiday. 

See you all again on September 1, 2014.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Review: 'Futurology' by Manic Street Preachers

by Tim Bustin

“The lines are joined by finding one another” – Aleksandr Rodchenko (album sleeve)

Looking set to reach number 2 in the charts, the Manic Street Preachers have returned with Futurology, an album which (unsurprisingly) is filled with their trademark leftist lyrics, complex and powerful music, guest vocalists and also delves into an untested genre. 

Compare the European stomper singles “Walk Me To The Bridge” or “Europa Geht Durch Mich” (Europe Passes Through Me) to their Britpop classic “A Design For Life”,  punk/indie “Motorcycle Emptiness” or rock “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough”, and you will start to understand the contrast that exists between every album the Manics have ever made.

Recorded at the legendary Hansa studios (used for Bowie’s Heroes and U2’s Achtung Baby)”, every track is steeped in European history, modern politics, culture and art, both lyrically and musically – “Misguided Missile” most prominently shows off the krautrock feel that dominates the album, whilst “Europa…”’s relentless pounding enforces the building of “European skies…desires…roads…hopes”. If anyone assumed their most recent album’s (2013’s Rewind The Film, reviewed hereretrospective melodies of acoustic joy and beautiful vocals was the Manics musical norm, they’re in for a bit of a shock when they give Futurology a listen.

And despite the difference, Futurology appears to be their most masterful work in an age. Opening the album is the glorious sounds of the title track, moving onto “Walk Me To The Bridge” – with its stop-start verse-chorus transition, a real power emanates from the majestic chorus; the first play through is almost lyric free, allowing you to soak up the uplifting wonder (a call back to “Show Me The Wonder” on Rewind The Film).

Influences of the band’s sinister masterpiece The Holy Bible (twentieth anniversary this year and my analysis of the lyrics here) can be detected on the dark anthem “Let’s Go To War”. It is both a chilling tune, hardened by its intense drum patterns, and a heavy lyric: “Working class skeletons/lie scattered in museums”. This particular influence is continued in the instrumentals, where a heavy bass riff sets the foundation upon which cool yet intriguing guitar work and the odd synth build a mammoth skyscraper of a track – it rises and falls, appears to calm, then climax. Honestly it is utterly staggering, and to hear Manics' instrumentals (“Dreaming A City (Hugheskova))”, and also “Mayakovsky”) appear on the albums, rather than as B-sides as they mostly used to, is a great pleasure.

The use of guest vocalists, such as German actress Nina Hoss on “Europa…” is occasionally unnecessary, as lead singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield’s voice simply outperforms guest Green Gartside on “Between The Clock And The Bed”, but it still makes an emotional track, of a down beat guitar, intertwined with bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire’s gentle bass notes, set to a drum machine’s subtly industrial beat – “I’m well aware of happiness…but the simple struggle of survival/transforms itself into betrayal”. This is an album of introspective, combative and forward looking (hence Futurology).

Photograph: Double Rainbow at PGS

by Tony Hicks

Beautiful double-rainbow over the DRT - end of Summer Term, 2014:

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Chawton House Trip

by Lara Spirit and Pippa Harris

On Tuesday 8th July Miss Burden and Mr Richardson took eight year 12 pupils to Chawton House Library, Hampshire. Chawton House is the old home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight, who was adopted by the family’s wealthy relatives in 1783 and inherited the property and fortune of the family at their deaths. Jane Austen’s house was provided by Edward less than half a mile from the manor house, where she spent the last years of her life and was said to write many of her novels. In 2003, American entrepreneur Sandy Lerner started the library and since it has become The Centre for the Study of Early English Women’s Writing, 1600-1800. The house now contains over nine thousand books, many of which are very rare, and includes writers such as Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft.

We set off at break and it took us little over an hour to arrive at Chawton where we were given a short break and then lead to the library. We all cleaned our hands in preparation for the invariably fragile books and were taught how to handle the volumes in a way as not to damage them. We all took out some pieces of interest and shortly after it was time for our highly anticipated pub lunch.

After numerous burgers, nachos and chunky chips which exceeded expectations, we returned to the library and continued reading what we had taken out, and after an hour or so set off home. The journey back to Portsmouth proved slightly problematic, with pouring rain and the search for a petrol station growing in urgency following Miss Burden explaining that we had ‘been on zero for a while’; it was nevertheless a surprise when we broke down just turning into the petrol station. We consequently spent the next few minutes pushing the mini bus into position in the rain, although the amusement of the situation allowed this to be done without objection. It should be noted that failing to arrive at a petrol station before this accident was no error of either Miss Burden or Mr Richardson, rather an ambiguous and misleading sat nav.

A Non-Fan and Fan's Guide to the Formula 1 British Grand Prix: Three Days At Silverstone

by Tim Bustin

Part 3: Sunday – the Red Arrows, an F1 poem (bottom of article), and race day

Red Arrows being generally awesome
Sunday fast approached, and we headed straight to our seats upon arrival. We were sat two corners before the pit straight and had great views of a long straight, leading into the two corners and then the start of the pit straight. We saw GP2, GP3 and Porsche racing. Before F1 racing started, the drivers parade lap proved enjoyable, with Hamilton leaving the float very near to us to throw signed hats to the crowd (I suddenly felt as though I had somewhat wasted my dad’s money on the hat I wore). There was a Red Arrows display to enjoy, a marching band, and then before we knew it the formation lap had happened and the lights were flashing for the start of the 2014 British Gran Prix.

Shame it only lasted a lap. In less than two minutes, Hamilton had moved up to fourth (from 6th), Vettel was 5th (down from second), Button was up to second and a Ferrari and Williams collided, causing the race to be postponed for an hour. So yet more waiting. I decided to run to the pit straight to get photos of the cars (I was already tired from running earlier when I had been participant in a pesky queue for ice cream and nearly missed the start) and added to my great collection of blurry or far off photos from the weekend. 

Race day – we could see a lot more than this photo shows 
(also note the two most adorable Hamilton fans bottom left, 
who were very generous with the use of my binoculars)
Eventually, the race restarted - and what a race it was. Hamilton made light work of the two McLarens ahead and was soon hunting Rosberg’s tail. Every time Hamilton, Button or Chilton passed, the entire stand would start applauding (this essentially led to three continuous Mexican clapping waves following each driver around the circuit, with a smaller one for the remaining Williams car (I would give a timid clap to Riccardo, who I personally think is a cheerful and talented bloke)). Hamilton was on the verge of catching when Rosberg made his first pit stop. When Hamilton didn’t pit, it became clear they were on different strategies (the restart had affected tyre strategies). With the crowd behind him, Button fended off Alonso, though Alonso had to take a five-second stop and go penalty, so eventually fought a losing battle with Vettel for 5th. The Williams car (Bottas) was making great progress, but up ahead Hamilton was being caught by Rosberg. Until Rosberg had a failure (no menace implied, but it is kinda his turn). From here, Hamilton had a home run to the end, with a staggering drive from the Williams making second and Button just failing to beat Riccardo to third on the last lap.

The podium after the race - David Coulthard interviewing
We were allowed onto the track to view the podium and interviews, with chants of “Lewis, Lewis!” rippling through the air. Hamilton is now safely back in the fight for the championship, trailing just 4 points behind Rosberg. With elation in my heart, and a piece of tyre rubber from the track in my pocket, we set off home, which turned out to be a stupidly long journey, but gave me chances to annoy my dad with epic retellings of the race highlights and regurgitating totally-not-boring statistics (e.g. Lewis now has more race wins than any other British driver except Nigel Mansell. How interesting!)

So, to all you people who say that Formula 1 is simply cars going around a ginormous circle for two hours, well yes, you have a point. But being there, seeing the race for real, joining in with the thousands of screaming, clapping and chanting (though all mostly with a little dignity) is an experience to at least enjoy once in your lifetime. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

A Non-Fan and Fan's Guide to the Formula 1 British Grand Prix: Three Days At Silverstone

by Tim Bustin

Part Two: Saturday – becoming a commercial slave, F1 qualifying and GP2 and GP3 racing

Saturday emerged at 6:30 in the morning (the git), and with the risk of rain looming in the shape of disturbingly grey clouds above, my dad and I elected to find some good pit straight seats and hog them for the entire day (just as soon as he had got some coffee). I went off when nothing was happening to purchase a programme (for 15 marvellous pounds) and a Hamilton Hat. The latter proved a struggle. There were three for starters: a black flat cap, and then one silver and one black baseball cap. Thankfully, there was a shop assistant who was both bored and rather pretty (what? she was) to help me decide the best way in which to waste £30 on a hat, that will serve a purpose for 2 days before remaining locked for eternity in the dark recesses of one of my wardrobes. The black baseball cap, we agreed, was grand. So I bought it. Hallelujah! Isn’t life splendid?

I felt like such a billboard in this hat
Before too long, F1 qualifying started and I took back to my seat. It is split into three stages, with six of the 22 cars being lost at each of the first two stages, leaving a top ten shootout for the final stage. Rain caused surprises, and the Ferraris and recently strong Williams cars were all knocked out in the first stage. This meant British driver Max Chilton (currently second-last in the world championship) got a great qualifying position (13th, but then a 5-place grid penalty was applied). The last stage also had drama, with Hamilton initially on pole, only to be knocked down to 6th by the end of the session (he was caught out by the rain – his Mercedes team mate, Nico Rosberg, took the pole). I threw down my Hamilton hat in disgust at this result. Then it got actually got sunny for the first time, so I duly put it back on. Result aside, it was incredible to be surrounded by so many fellow Formula 1 lovers, and especially to see so many Lewis Hamilton caps and shirts (my £30 worth of support seemed miniscule in comparison to some who were sporting caps, shirts, wristbands and tattoos – sometimes up to a full £200 worth of support). The spectacle was marred ever so slightly by an annoying woman behind us, in full Red Bull attire, who kept on shouting “Come on Vettel, you’re better than everyone” or “Go Nico!” and finally “Go anybody but Lewis” – it got a laugh the first time, but after six times a little old lady leaned across and said kindly “You’re the only one, dear”.

It should be said here that Hamilton and Rosberg, the two Mercedes drivers, have by far the quickest car this year, and one of them will win the world championship. Before Sunday’s race, Rosberg had 165 points to Hamilton’s 136 (owing to two retirements for Hamilton), and Red Bull’s Daniel Riccardo (who is currently outshining four time world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel) is third with 83 points. Now I like Rosberg, and want him to do well. Just not this well. Preferably, the level of well I would like him to have is “Just-below-Hamilton” well. So I was hoping on Sunday that Hamilton would win and Rosberg’s car would fall apart mid race. That would be nice, I thought.

GP2 cars lining up on the pit straight for their first race
Before the day was out, we got to enjoy our first ever GP2 and GP3 races. These were mostly spent in two ways. Firstly, with my iPod tuned into Radio Silverstone to catch the commentary (and turned up extra loud to compete with the roar of the cars). Secondly, staring at the giant T.V. (showing the race) with my binoculars, because nothing ever happened on the pit straight. Still, it was kind of interesting, I suppose.

Photography: Baby Robin in the Quad

by Tony Hicks

One of the young robins currently flying about the Quad.

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Non-Fan's & Fan's Guide to the Formula 1 British Grand Prix: Three Days At Silverstone

by Tim Bustin

I am not a sports fan. That is to say, I can’t watch more than five minutes of any sport, be it football, tennis, water polo, Quidditch etc, without my thoughts wandering to where my nearest cyanide pill might be. But for some reason this is different for Formula 1 – it is the only sport I am able and willing to follow, and have done for 6-7 years now (ever since Lewis Hamilton arrived on the scene).

The drama and excitement (to a non-fan I recommend the film Rush to explain this perfectly) of watching the world’s most expensive and innovative sport is compelling, as the greatest drivers experience stupefying G forces and battles of concentration and wits, all in the hunt for the ultimate prize. So when my 18th birthday weekend just so happened to coincide with the British Grand Prix, and it just so happened to be the 50th anniversary of it being held at Silverstone, and this year is the first year since 2008 that Hamilton has a chance at winning the world championship, there were far too many coincidences for my parents to not pay the gazillion or so pounds it cost for a couple of tickets for the British Grand Prix.

Part One: Friday – Exploring Silverstone, “free” entertainment and F1 practise

I left on the Friday (with my dad driving, thank goodness), early in the morning, which was good really because the main road to Silverstone was closed and we had to take an irritating half hour detour. When we finally arrived at the “car park” (a great big bloomin’ field!), it was to find that a joyous 25 minute bus ride (note the intense sarcasm) still stood between us and the actual venue itself. So, one joyous 25 minute bus ride later, we finally stepped through the gates, past the board that immortalised all the previous British winners of this Grand Prix and, with the calling rumble of motor engines growing ever louder in our ear drums, we walked towards the track itself.

The pit straight (after being invaded by fans)

As I’ve said, I have watched Formula 1 for a fair number of years now. This was the first time however that I had really seen F1 cars up close and in action – they seemed to glide through the circuit in a flash of reds, silver and blues, and to elegantly drift past each corner with the upmost ease (though I knew their speeds were ridiculous, and the G forces close to unbearable whenever their velocity changed). It was really a sight to behold, and for a few moments I was simultaneously grinning and speechless.

Five minutes later and I was bored. I mean, you’ve seen one car you’ve seen them all really. The thing was, Friday for F1 is dedicated to the practice sessions (Saturday is qualifying, Sunday is race day), which is really just cars going round in a big circle for an hour and a fricking half (there are also 3 practice sessions – because if you weren’t nearly dead bored already). So we decided to do other things. Luckily, there were other things! (insert rejoice here). First on the agenda, my dad had the spectacular idea of walking around the entire circuit of 3.6 miles. The entire circuit. Of 3.6 miles. This was of course an amazing mistake, not least due to the pain of walking (where we were endlessly tormented by the cars zooming past, covering an entire lap before we’d done 300m) but mostly because it all looked exactly the same. Allow me to describe it. On one side as you walk is a grey racetrack, and because you’re on too small a scale you can barely tell the difference in it as you walk past. On the other side is the conquering forces of commercialism, selling everything, from programmes to radios, from McLaren shirts to Hamilton Hats, from “Divine Burgers” to “Lebanese Street Food” (all this and more is worryingly true).  And ahead of you is the wonderful British public, slow and slightly drunk as always, and with the incredible aptitude for always getting in your way, as if the whole thing was just one big queue to them. And this continued for 3.6 miles.


Review: King Lear

by Louisa Dassow

This year's sixth form Shakespeare production was, by all accounts, a great success. The play in question was King Lear, a masterpiece in tragedy and from the offset an imposing challenge for its cast and production team. However, the challenge was easily surmounted by its directors Phoebe Ruttle and Charlie Albuery, resulting in four excellent performances on the 2nd and 3rd July.

In my opinion, the exciting use of promenade theatre is what made this production so special. The opportunity to use the Square Tower, the Hot Walls and the Round Tower was by no means wasted. The audience followed the drama from space to space as the scenes unfolded. This made the piece highly atmospheric and gave the actors a unique way to engage with the audience.


Being outside for parts of the production was very risky. There were a number of factors which could have threatened the piece; the weather, noisy traffic, noisy public, the weather. Nevertheless, it paid off. The sun shone continuously, roaring motorbikes were absent and the worst danger that we faced during a performance was an intense game of bowls that was being played slightly too near to the final scenes. The general public dealt very well with our invasion of the Hot Walls; there were only a few confused glances at the shouting and the costumes, although the manacles attracted slightly more attention.

The part of Lear in King Lear is notoriously difficult, because the character is remarkably complicated. Lear represents the downward spiral of madness, as well as the complexity and vulnerability of old age. It is unquestioned by many professionals that Lear can only be played by truly aged actors. Simon Beale's casting in the recent National Theatre production was deemed controversial because Beale was only fifty-three years old. Fortunately, we had Lewis Mackenzie at the ripe old age of seventeen. He put on an outstanding performance. Watching him act as Lear, it becomes very easy to forget his age as he hobbles after the elusive mouse or explodes with grief over Cordelia's dead body. Lewis transitioned from a strong, loud King into a broken old man over he course of the play, slowly losing control over Lear's madness as the scenes progressed.


His interactions with his daughters were simultaneously heart-wrenching and heart-warming. Goneril and Regan, played by Emma Read and Lottie Kent respectively, were wonderfully cold and unforgiving. This was directly contrasted with Phoebe Ruttle's strong but compassionate Cordelia, another brilliant interpretation of a well-known character. There is one scene that must be mentioned for its slick execution, the eye-gouging scene. It was so smooth that the true horror of the scene was completely immersive. One audience member shrieked as the the first eye was plucked from Gloucester's eye and thrown into the crowd.

Nullius in Verba

by Freya Derby

On Monday, several sixth form pupils visited the Royal Society Summer Exhibition. This annual event showcases ongoing research from British universities. Most of the stalls I visited were biologically based, however, there was a vast range, from dinosaurs to comets. Here is a brief summary of the three which I found most interesting:

1.      Limits of Perception (University College London)

These researchers were looking at developing new and better methods of biomedical imaging. For example, giving a patient a sugary drink whilst in an MRI machine, detecting the site of the glucose and thus cancerous tumours which use a lot of sugar. They are also experimenting with ‘Light Sheet Microscopy’, a technique based on the transparency and fluorescence of jellyfish (a tank of which were at the stall) removing the pigment from tissues so that light can be passed through, and received from them. They also had a myriad of demonstrations. I used an ultrasound machine, found out what a credit card sounds like, and saw music passed through a laser beam.
Muscle fibres of the heart

2.      Immune Bacterial Interactions (Oxford University)

Rates of IBD, a condition described as a sensitivity of the gut, often causing bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation, are increasing globally. There are two types: Crohn's Disease and Ucerative Colitis. Immune cells (white blood cells) are usually separated from the gastrointestinal tract by a thin layer of epithelial cells. Whilst it is normal for some bacterial to occasionally cross this barrier, in individuals affected by IBD there is an immune response that causes discomfort. In a healthy individual, regulatory T cells are produced (T-Reg) which produce IL-10 to supress the immune cells. It is not know why some people do not have these T-Reg cells, or why this number is increasing. This makes the condition difficult to treat. Patients are normally recommended a healthy diet and lifestyle, and occasionally provided with some medication to treat the symptoms.

This is what Oxford University are currently working on. We were shown how to identify IBD from intestinal slides, which we were not good at. This was especially interesting to me and Jenny, as we will shortly be doing some work experience in Melbourne on how pharge influence IBD.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Short Story: Karma

by Fenella Johnson

The woman was thrown of the ship in the early morning, before the sea clouds had risen, before the birds began their melancholy circling, before the day had started breathing. They had dragged her from the hold, the smooth sand sticking slickly to her skinny feet and dirty freckled legs. She had square chin and a wide mouth and spotty shoulders, red pimple streaked skin. They had tied her legs together with thick rope that chaffed and had shorn of her hair so it lay in crumpled heaps upon her crumpled skirts. The heat beat down on her collarbone and back, brick red.
It was bad luck for a woman to be on board, the common sailors had said, grumbling suspiciously to each other, mumbling and plotting. And it had seemed that they were right: for they had sailed for only 3 days and nights and lost two men already. The woman was made to walk to the right side of the ship so she wouldn’t get caught in the fishing nets when they pushed her overboard. She refused their help and waddling to the side, simply fell in. She made a soft sound as she hit the water, an anti-climax as she disappeared without a trace. The men turned away.
She thrashed and screamed under the water, but it filled up her mouth, and she coughed and it filled up more until surely there was no room left in her lungs, that the pressure would burst her chest, and it wasn’t like she’d thought, there was no peace in drowning. She sank deeper, the water lukewarm to touch instead of the freezing cold it had been and odd. It felt like liquid blue treacle and she could see the surface, but not touch it although she tried desperately, her legs in the hold of the rope floundering. Up above a half-transparent fish swam by. It seemed to almost wave one languid fin at her.
She felt the change before it happened, felt her head start to swim, to view the world as blue, here light grey blue like the painted door at home even in its dullness, here darker like a bluebird’s feather, here blue like the waves were a not quite blue, more dirty green. She saw all the blues and then she breathed, sucking the water in through a mouth that felt like thick metal and exhaling watching the bubbles sprint away greedily.
Then the rope unravelled splitting like thread under a knife, as her legs formed somehow together, flesh becoming oily, feet poking at sharp right angles, legs becoming a tail, that curved and ended at her waist. It wasn’t beautiful but vicious, grey sharp tiny teeth forming armour. Her hair had grown and now coiled behind her like seaweed, glistening and memorising and grasping. The little fish above had scuttled away. She started swimming, if you could call it swimming. The water seemed to part for her unbidden and when she spoke, her voice salty and mouth acidly sweet, it seemed to come from somewhere deeper inside her, somewhere foreign in her chest. The words that came seemed to make no sense and every sense, words that tasted of mud and clinging dirt, flowers, of the earth itself and the sea.
She swam for days, following the path of the ship closer and closer to the rocky shores of the coasts, to where she could drown them. She knew the stories, had heard her mother’s mother whisper of the siren folk and their voices, their luring of men to an untimely end and she knew this was how she got her justice, how she avenged herself and she felt the water fill her with something blood red.

Is There A PGS Ghost?

 by Tony Hicks

Winner of the Leonardo Poetry Prize 2014: A Truly Great Grandfather

The winner of the 2014 Leonardo Poetry Prize, awarded on Wednesday, 2nd July, is Sam Kent for his poem, 'A Truly Great Grandfather':

Peace lies in every direction: the compass spins.

A glorious peace, twinned with booming faith.

Stars of David hang in the night sky

After a golden sunset caresses the day to sleep.


The aftermath of the Great War lingers

countries clustered, count their pennies.

Up from the ashes emerges a German seraph,

A beacon of hope. Of goodness. Hitler.


An angel not, but a minion of the Devil,

Wielding the reins of Germany,

Corrupting eyes with his already corrupted. Ind,

Breathing life into his ideas of death


Marching seas of grey fill town squares,

Hung from the strings of the master puppeteer

Like a tumour, spreading across the breaking body of Europe

Her hanging stars ripped from their hooks and burned.


He couldn't stay there, twixt broken bones and minds.

He left for England. All he took was his faith.

Eluding patrolling eyes, and Hitler's thunder rumbling in the sky,

Stern and bow finally adrift for English shores.


Moored in Kent, he take the name for his own.

Not as a mask for his refugee face.

"British men for the British Army". So, British he became

And took to the skies to face the thunder he once fled.




Saturday, 5 July 2014

Sixth Form Centre: The Scaffolding is Off!

by Tony Hicks

Here is the building first thing this morning before the scaffolding came down and, then, as the day progresses, the new Sixth Form is revealed.


The Forgotten Bond

by Charlie Albuery

After fourteen novels, nine short-stories, twenty-two films, one reboot and seven leading actors (yes, you read that right, seven), the James Bond franchise has cemented itself as not only an unmistakably British masterpiece but a mainstay of pop-culture film the world over. In honour of the ‘lost and found’ them of the forthcoming issue of Portsmouth Point magazine  (as well as the fiftieth  anniversary, this year, of the death of Bond’s creator Ian Fleming), I think it is only fair that we show appreciation of a lost piece of the bond franchise: Casino Royale. No, not the good Casino Royal starring Daniel Craig from 2006 or even the book that kicked it all off in 1953, but the off-the-wall parody spin-off of the film franchise from 1967 starring Woody Allen.

At first this may sound promising: spy parodies certainly have mileage in them (as made clear by the surprisingly non-tiresome Austin Powers franchise) and the cast is frankly stellar, including Woody Allen, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress and even Orson Welles. However, I’ll warn you now, don’t be under impression that this film is any good; it’s a hidden gem that’s hidden for a reason. At the time of writing the aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes collates 33 ratings to give Casino Royale a whopping average of 27%, leading to its selected comment: ‘A goofy, dated parody of spy movie clich├ęs, Casino Royale squanders its all-star cast on a meandering, mostly laugh-free script’. For comparison, the three most recent Bond films (Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace and Skyfall) received 95%, 64% and 92% respectively.
The first issues arise with the plot - ‘After the death of M, Sir James Bond is called back out of retirement to stop SMERSH. In order to trick SMERSH and Le Chiffre, Bond thinks up the ultimate plan: that every agent will be named James Bond. One of the Bonds, whose real name is Evelyn Tremble, is sent to take on Le Chiffre in a game of baccarat, but all the Bonds get more than they can handle, especially when the ultimate villain turns out to be Bond’s nephew, Jimmy Bond’ (I should once again point out that this role is played by Woody Allen at the height of his apparent insanity).
So that’s the shark jumped right there, but we haven’t even gotten to the truly ridiculous bit yet: Jimmy's plan.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Luis Suarez – Ruining the Image of Football

by Will Hall

From the Sun

Even people that have no interest in football will have probably heard of Luis Suarez appearing all over the news recently. And most people know why. For the third time in four years Suarez bit another player - this time, Giorgio Chiellini from Italy during a World Cup match. 

Suarez has consequently been given a four month ban from all football related events but is still allowed to train during his ban. His actions have outraged many football fans, some calling him ‘a disgrace to the sport’.

You can see where these people are coming from, considering he’s done the same thing twice before. This sort of act does make people think of footballers as overpaid idiots.

Unfortunately, due to people like Luis Suarez, footballers such as Didier Drogba don’t get the recognition they deserve for making huge charitable contributions. Drogba set up the Didier Drogba Foundation in 2007 to try and prevent as many more deaths from the deadly disease Malaria.
Many people conversely think that four months is an incredibly harsh reaction. The President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, is one of those people. He used strong language to attack Fifa and is very frustrated.
Personally I don’t understand how Suarez didn’t receive a longer ban than four months. Even though four months may seem like a very long time for a ban on a sporting career, I think the offence that Suarez has committed is really unsporting and is deserving of a ban for doing it once. But biting another player and pretending you are the victim for a third time is simply ridiculous.


A Tale of Two Conferences (in One City)

by Jeremy Thomas
In a stunning new discovery last week, over 500 professional astronomers have concluded that Portsmouth IS the centre of the universe! Those of us that live and work here already know this of course, but it has now been confirmed by the delegates to the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting 2014 (NAM), hosted by the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) at the University of Portsmouth.

I was very privileged to be able to attend this four day conference and also to be able to help with several of the associated outreach events for schools and the public. The scientific sessions covered everything from the latest results of the Dark Energy Survey, to Solar Superflares, Archaeo-Astronomy and Planetary Surface Exploration.  A wide range of disciplines was represented, with physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, chemists, archaeologists and geologists as well as straightforward astronomers. Internationally, representatives came from all over Europe, the USA, South America and Asia showing the global interest in co-operating to seek out new knowledge and go where no one has gone before, at least intellectually.

A highlight of the public sessions was the evening Astrobiology lecture, given by Dr.Lewis Dartnell of the University of Leicester, who explained some of the methods and multi-disciplinary techniques needed to search for alien life in the solar system and further afield. Dr.Dartnell was also able to conduct a live video  interview with Major Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to be selected for training by the European Space Agency. Major Peake was in Star City, Russia but took time out to speak to the audience about his training and his forthcoming mission in 2015. Major Peake is actually an alumnus of the University of Portsmouth’s Engineering Department, from where he joined the Army Air Corps.

Major Tim Peake addressing a NAM audience by video link from Star City, Russia

 During NAM week, local school pupils were given unique opportunities to experience the conference at first hand.  Local sixth formers, including several from PGS, attended one of the conference plenary lectures, by Professor Sarah Bridle of the University of Manchester, on the Dark Energy Survey. Professor Bridle then spoke separately to the sixth form group, answering questions about her work in more detail, and addressing issues such as her career path and her dual role as top scientist and mother of two. A certain Portsmouth flavour was added to this session by the Band of the Royal Marines, who provided musical accompaniment through the open windows, from Guildhall Square where Armed Forces Day was being celebrated!
The second school session, for KS3 pupils, took place on the final day of NAM, when PGS Astronomy Club joined other schools to spend a morning investigating distant galaxies, through the online Galaxy Zoo project; building planetary landers with engineers from Portsmouth based Astrium and enjoying  the ICG’s mobile planetarium show, as well as a tour of the ‘Seeing the Universe In All Its Light’ exhibition.
In addition the scientific and public outreach activities that took place, the NAM delegates also displayed other talents not always associated with serious scientists, but showing that they are human beings too, with a wide variety of other interests. The ICG football team was victorious in the NAM football tournament, beating off opposition from seven other astronomical research groups and the silver cup now stands proudly in the ICG tea room until the next NAM. The most amazing event of the week was, though, the Cosmic Comedy Supernova with a mixed cast of professional astronomers and personalities from TV and radio providing a hilarious evening of entertainment at Tiger,Tiger in Gunwharf Quays. This included Dr.Jen Gupta, Outreach Officer at the ICG, alongside Chris Lintott, presenter of BBC Sky at Night and the inimitable John Culshaw, performing wickedly satirical impersonations of Patrick Moore, Tom Baker and Brian Cox in front of a very appreciative audience of non-celebrity scientists. Dr.Karen Masters, Senior Lecturer and researcher at ICG, found a new career opportunity as sound engineer for the evening, seeming very much at home behind the mixing desk.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Diary of an Insomniac

by Sophie Parekh

Ok, so Im not actually an insomniac, but due to an interesting turn of events, (the evidence seems to point to excessive caffeine intake, but Im still waiting for the lab results) I ended up awake all night, which eventually concluded in a rather unimpressive sunrise. And so, as an interesting insight into how caffeine can affect someones sanity, I hereby present my version of the events.
23:13 - Decide to call it a day and get into bed, only to realise that sleep eludes me. Proceed to lie awake for half an hour.

23:43 - Still no sleep, the laptop is called upon in hope that staring at a screen will bring on some form of drowsiness.

23:53 - Have exhausted all possibilities on tumblr, so decide to try my hand at making GIFs,

23:54 - This is harder than it looks.

00:03 - Have made the grand total of two GIFs, both equally terrible.

00:05 - Decide to start a blog.

00:17 - Start an internet quest to work out how to put music on it, only to find that the software isnt supported my Apple. This has got to be discrimination. I call it Macism and there will be a protest march on Saturday outside Bill Gates house.

00:28 - Notice the laptops battery is running dangerously low, so as an act of mercy decide to give it a break.

00:29 - Attempt sleep once more. Still nothing.

00:36 - Things have become desperate, so in an attempt to bore myself to sleep, resort to the reading list. Begin reading Bill Brysons A Short History of Nearly Everything.

01:05 - Have become bored of impossibly small and large numbers. That cuts out nuclear physics as a possible sleep-inducing activity. Unfortunately, not quite bored enough to sleep.

01:32 - Eventually give into the fact that the Sandman buggered of to Greece or something, so venture downstairs.

01:33 - Received the death stare from the cats, so promptly park myself in-between them and begin to scroll through the fascinating world of late-night telly.

01:34 - Find a Mock the Week episode from 2005. I am witnessing an incredible piece of history: Frankie Boyle is not actually being racist or discriminatory in any way.

02:29 - Two episodes of Mock the Week later, and we find American Dad lurking in the nether reaches of the TV guide. His chin is the stuff of nightmares.

03:31 - After coming to the realisation that American Dad is indeed awful (and that he probably has a cancerous growth on his chin, a chin tumor), we turn to the kids' shows. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

03:42 - Still in shock from witnessing an incredibly disturbing piece of television from Milkshake, called The Angels of Jarm. I dont even know how they came up with the name Jarm, but it seems to be a golden caravan in a field on the other side of the rainbow. I think the aim of the programme was to teach kids not to be rude, but my views were strongly opposed by the cats who strongly believe that it was Creationist propaganda to cement the belief in angels.

03:49 - Have learned Incy Wincy Spider and Humpty Dumpty in sign language. The presenters were far too patronising so have decided to write a strongly worded email to the producers.

03:58 -With the majority of my sanity gone, it seems Deal or No Deal is the most interesting thing on TV.
03:04 - Have long wondered how this game is played so this should be worthwhile. Also why Noel Edmonds eyes are so blue
03:26 - Still do not understand this game at all.
03:31 - Seem to have grasped a basic understanding.

03:49 - I have come to the conclusion that Deal or No Deal could be played without boxes, the stupid actor people and Noel Edmonds. Admittedly the latter is not as controversial as the other two.

04:02 - Have discovered a fascinating documentary about the brain and early monkey experiments. Unfortunately, my brain has lost all but three of its brain cells, so it's not really going in

04:14  - Damn these adverts.

04:15 - The only other thing on is the Teletubbies. Hey ho, beggars cant be choosers.

04:17 - I have just witnessed a bearded man called The Stick or perhaps David convince a group of children to shout names of fruit while waving their arms around. Twice. All on the belly of a simian-esque creature with an antenna on its head. And this is a children's show.

04:19 - Phew, back to the psychology documentary. The only sane thing on.

04:24 - Lala is on the floor laughing because the periscope hooter thing said sausages, wausages, nausages, pausages, fausages, sausages, and the voice over guy claims it's a funny joke. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. THERE IS NO PUNCHLINE. ITS NOT EVEN FUNNY. STOP LYING TO CHILDREN.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

PGS In Bloom 2014

by Jacqueline Tyldesley, with photographs by Jason Baker

Yesterday, I went out with Brian Kidd (ex-Head of Portsmouth Council Parks and Gardens) to judge PGS in Bloom. As you will have seen around the school, there were many splendid entries. The theme this year was “My PGS”, i.e. where each group felt it fitted in to our school.
The results were as follows:

1st Prize: Phys Chem

2nd Prize: English

Highly commended: Physics, Learning Support, Economics and Business, Geography, Design Tech

Commended: SMT, Biology, PE

The flowers in the Phys Chem display were picked to match the flame test colours

The English department display focussed on Flowers from Shakespeare

Other Groups
1st Prize: Admin

2nd Prize: Photography

The Admin planters were painted to match school uniform colours and contained objects relating to the roles performed by the team.

The photography display hung from a photographic tripod

Junior School/ Nursery

1st Prize: Junior School

2nd Prize: Nursery

The Junior School planters spelled out PGJS and were designed and planted by the Junior school Gardening Club

The Nursery school had spelled out My PGS using computer cables and had planted up the letters, as well as making a seaside garden

The competition judge, Brian Kidd, is pictured below with some of the contenders:

English Department:

PGS Nursery:

PGS Junior School:

Administration Department:

Civil Rights Act: Fifty Years On

Fifty years ago today, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

"In Mississippi, clergymen arriving from the North were given orientation sessions that included instructions on how to protect themselves after they had been knocked down (protection of the kidneys against assailants' kicks was emphasised). These volunteers were, of course, joining local black civil rights workers who had been risking their lives for years, and, like them, were virtually without protection, with nowhere to turn to for help; many of the beatings took place as policemen or state troopers watched. And looming over the volunteers always was the spectre of jail - and what might happen to them in jail. The sacrifices made in Mississippi would include the lives of three young civil rights workers - James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, a young black man and two young white Jewish men from New York City - who were arrested by a deputy sheriff , released into a Ku Klux Klan ambush and murdered. 

Lyndon Johnson (left) and Martin Luther King (centre),
after the signing of the Civil Rights Act
In Washington DC, students from seventy-five religious seminaries from around the country divided into three-member teams (a Catholic, a Protestant and a Jew) to begin a twenty-four-hour-a-day vigil at the Lincoln Memorial to pray for the bill's passage - a vigil they pledged wouldn't end until it passed. They visited - delegation after delegation - the offices of the senators whose votes were needed for cloture. Senators from the Midwestern states found themselves no longer able to maintain that they weren't against civil rights but only against changing inviolable Senate procedures by cutting off debate through cloture.

And when, as spring was turning into summer, the votes for cloture were still not there, President Johnson took, behind the scenes, a more direct hand. The cloture motion was passed, by a 71-29 vote on June 10, after a filibuster of fifty-seven days that was the longest in Senate history. There ensued another series of floor fights over proposed amendments to the bill before its passage 73 to 27 came on June 19. Thousands of people crowded around the Senate wing of the Capitol, cheering and applauding senators as they came out. On July 2 it passed the House. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law that evening.

It would require another piece of legislation, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to give black Americans the weapon - the vote - that would give them (in Johnson's words" the power "to do the rest for themselves." The 1965 Act would be passed after another titanic struggle, in which, with men and women and children being beaten in Selma, Alabama on their way to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, singing "We Shall Overcome" as they marched into tear gas, billy clubs and bull whips, Lyndon Johnson went before Congress and said "We Shall Overcome", thereby adopting the civil rights rallying cry as his own. When Martin Luther King, watching the speech on television in Selma, heard Johnson say that, he began to cry - the first time his assistants had ever seen him cry.