Sunday, 30 November 2014

O Tannenbaum . . .

by Tony Hicks

Christmas trees - from the Quad to the Sixth Form Centre to Gun Wharf:

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I'm Better Now . . .

by Dodo Charles

Transsexual- a person who emotionally and psychologically feels that they belong to the opposite sex.

Ola Satchell, speaking to
PGS pupils and staff 
On Friday, PGS was graced with the arrival of Ola Satchell, who came to give a talk to PGS Pride on her journey to becoming a woman. The talk was both sickening and hilarious, as Ola, now doing some stand-up comedy, recounted her experiences with the general public and their death threats. A Yr 12 IB philosophy class was also lucky enough to be able to talk to her in a lesson, discussing gender identity, the costs of treatment and the flawed health system, and issues with jobs for trans people.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Ola before the talk she gave, and for such a heavy topic, she managed to capture a humorous tone whilst simultaneously showing the gravity of the subject matter.

Dodo Charles: What age was it that you first realised that you were uncomfortable with your body? How did you feel about it?
Ola Satchell: Three. Its difficult to say what I felt, because when I was three was so long ago: there was no internet, homosexuality was still illegal, JFK was still alive, and England hadn’t won the World Cup. I came from a naval family, and the whole circumstances were so radically different to what they are today, I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t say anything to my parents. I was wondering how to express this, because there were no role models or anything. As far as I knew, and as far as I knew up until the age of 13-15, I had no idea that there was anyone else like me. I just thought there was something seriously wrong with me. I just asked: Why me? This isn’t normal. I just had to learn to live with it.

DC: You mentioned in your personal history that you were bullied quite a lot at school. If you could, would you go back and change anything about your school life or life?
OS: What would I have done? The closest thing I have to any kind of regret I suppose was not doing this sooner. The irony of it all was that before (Charing Cross) I was shy, I was indecisive, and very self-destructive. I would have come out sooner, because, once I’m honest with myself, everything’s easy, no matter how much life itself becomes difficult. Although the first twenty months of my transitioning were difficult, I wouldn’t change it. I just think that I could have been like this sooner, and that is what I regret.

DC: How do you deal with the hatred and abuse that is still thrown at you on a constant basis?
OS: It depends on the circumstances on which it occurs. Things on the Gosport ferry I didn’t do anything about other than make a mental note of it to use in my training. I tend to make light of a lot of things, because people tend to be much more uncertain of how to deal with it, if someone makes a joke about it. So, for example, I don’t know what it is about the frozen veg isle in Sainsburys, but its on more than one occasion that I’ve been accosted there by people wanting to know more about my genitals, or someone coming up to me and asking if I’m a man. You can either be fairly blunt and tell them that it's none of there business, but the trouble is you run the risk of assigning people into even more degrees of unpleasantness. It doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t worry me, and so my concern is that we both come out of this situation without having gotten any further. I feel sorry for them, because one, those shouting abuse have probably given themselves laryngitis and he’s got nothing out of it at all.

DC: How do you think we should deal with people my age and younger, searching on the internet transgender or transsexual, and finding articles that suggest it is a bad thing - you mention Dr. Paul McHugh’s article? Should we be making it so that organisations similar to Stonewall, but for trans people come at the top of the search engine?
OS: Well Stonewall’s quite interesting because traditionally its always been LGB, but now they have a new Chief Executor, and I’m working quite closely with them on training days. The problem is that when you type transsexual into the internet you get 27 million responses in under 0.37 seconds, and you get all sorts of responses, some arguing that I’m a sin. But McHugh’s article was very disingenuous in the fact that he didn’t reveal some facts about himself that he should have done, such as the fact that he is tied up with the Catholic Church. The other problem is that some of the stuff is misleading about trans people committing suicide. Trans people commit suicide because of the way they are treated, not because they are trans. The first thing Charing Cross said to me when I went there was: How are you going to cope with losing your life, losing your family, losing your friends and losing your job? Which kind of makes you think that this doesn’t bode too well. The problem is that the people who wield the power are the people who deny I even exist.

DC: Do you think that society’s attitude towards Trans people is changing, and is becoming more optimistic?

The Curious Case of FIFA Corruption

by Olly Clark

Hans-Joachim Eckert
Today, fresh allegations were made of corruption against football's chief governing body, FIFA. These allegations were brought to light by the Sunday Times newspaper, and incriminate not only the two countries most under the spotlight, Russia and Qatar, who won the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively amidst great controversy, but also England and South Korea are being accused of trading bids so as to gain an advantage in their bids to host. This saga has had numerous twists and turns ever since it began on 2nd December 2010, when Russia and Qatar had their bids accepted.

The Story

The multiple-round, exhaustive ballot system was used to determine the tournament host. Each of the 24 members of the FIFA Executive Committee had one vote. The candidate country that received the fewest votes in each round was eliminated until a single candidate was chosen by majority vote. I'm sure that you would agree that this is a fair, fool-proof system for selecting the countries that are most suitable and deserving for holding such a prestigious event. However, before the rounds of voting could even be completed, two FIFA committee members, Reynald Temarii and Amos Adamu had their voting rights withheld due to allegations of vote-selling. Both received 1 and 3 year bans from the organisation respectively, but this was to be just the beginning.

The Response

On 10th May, 2011, former England 2018 bid chief Lord Treisman told a House of Commons select committee that four FIFA committee members had approached him asking for various things in exchange for votes. Among the accused were FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, who is accused of asking for £2.5 million to be used for projects, and Nicolas Leoz, who allegedly asked to be given a knighthood.

Michael J Garcia
Also on 10 May, 2011, The Sunday Times reported, two committee members, Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma, were given $1.5 million in exchange for their votes in favor of Qatar. FIFA would go on to request to see the evidence of the allegations. On 30 May 2011, FIFA President Sepp Blatter rejected the evidence in a press conference, while Jack Warner, who had been suspended that day for a separate ethics violations, leaked an email from FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke which implied that Qatar had bought the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Valcke would later issue a statement denying he had suggested it was bribery, saying instead that the country had "used its financial muscle to lobby for support".

The whistleblower at the centre of the allegations was later revealed to be Phaedra Almajid, who claimed that she had come up with the claims of corruption in order to exact revenge on the Qatari bid after being removed from her role in the campaign team. FIFA confirmed receiving an email, Almajid accepting all blame for her actions. She would also stress that she had not been put under any pressure by the Qatari bid team or anyone else to make a retraction of her accusations. John Whittingdale, the chairman of the House of Commons select committee for culture, media and sport, stood by the decision to publish the allegations against Qatar and the three executive committee members despite the retraction, but FIFA refused.

The Report

On 17 July, 2012, after the announcement of anti-corruption reforms by Blatter, FIFA appointed former United States attorney Michael J. Garcia as the chairman of the investigative branch of its Ethics Committee, while German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert was appointed as the chairman of the Ethics Committee's adjudication chamber. Garcia, Eckert or their families had no connection to soccer in the previous four years, and were therefore suitable for these roles. In August 2012, Garcia declared his intention to investigate the bidding process and decision to award the right to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup to Russia and Qatar.

Phaedra Almajid
FIFA forbids bid teams to offer incentives to members of its executive committee and their relatives. Garcia subsequently expanded his investigation into the entire bidding process for the 2018 World Cup. His investigation allowed him to demand interviews with football officials, with those refusing subject to disciplinary action. He was expected to name individuals who refused to speak to him in his report.

In September 2014, Garcia delivered his 350-page report to Eckert, who stated that it could not be made public for legal reasons, and that only his judgement would be made public in Spring 2015. Eckert later announced that his overview of the Garcia report with Garcia's main findings, summary, conclusions and recommendations will be published by the middle of November 2014. Eckert has stated that "Many won't like what I am going to tell them" in reference to his judgement on the report.

Nothing's Changed: The Lesson of Ferguson

by Ayesha Gyening

‘Cops give a damn about a negro? Pull the trigger kill a ***** he’s a hero.’ Tupac Shakur from his song Changes in 1998

On the ninth of August, in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown, an unarmed eighteen-year-old teenager, was shot at least six times by police officer Darren Wilson. His body was left in plain view, for four and a half hours, in the sweltering heat while his distraught family, who were not allowed to go near the body, and were held back with tape, could only look on.

There has been much dispute about the events leading up to Michael Brown’s death, with many eyewitness testimonies that support Dorian Johnson’s account of his murder. Both Brown and Johnson were jaywalking when policeman Darren Wilson told them to ‘Get the **** off the pavement.’ They told him they were less than a minute away from their destination and he drove away. A few seconds later, upon seeing that they were still walking in the middle of the road, the policeman reversed, almost hitting them, and grabbed Michael around the neck, pulling him into the car through the window. Michael struggled to get away. Darren Wilson then shot Michael twice before he managed to escape, and tried to run away. After feeling a bullet graze his arm, Michael put his hands up and cried out ‘I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!’ He was then shot four more times. Two bullets hit him in the head, killing him immediately.

Darren Wilson’s testimony, parts of which have been leaked, contradicts most eyewitness accounts, claiming that the teenager charged at him after the initial struggle in the car in an attempt to grab his gun, and never raised his arms in surrender. Photos of his ‘injuries’ have been leaked which look like he cut himself whilst shaving. Surely if he was being attacked and in fear of his life, (even though Michael was unarmed), he would have more to show for it. Although this may be the truth, it leaves one wondering what person in their right mind would try to a grab policeman’s gun and charge at an officer when they had already been shot. Secondly, Michael Brown was unarmed and thus unlikely to have presented a serious threat to the life of the police officer. Moreover, it also conveniently doesn’t mention the second round of shots fired when Michael was running away, four of which hit Michael, nor does Darren Wilson talk about why he aimed for Michael’s head, if it wasn’t with the intention to kill. Surely if he really was being attacked he would shoot Michael in the leg to prevent being attacked any more, instead of the head, when he knew it would kill him immediately.

The response of the police to protests about Michael Brown’s death, which were initially peaceful and are ongoing, show their disregard for the law and the people they are meant to protect. They shot tear gas and stun grenades at innocent and unarmed protesters, even children as young as eight, many of whom were marching with their arms up or carrying posters that read ‘Don’t shoot’. The policemen also used excessive force to control and disperse protesters, firing wooden and rubber bullets at them, which broke the skin, leaving deep bruises up to five inches wide. One hundred and seventy two arrests were made with 132 of these being innocent protesters who were arrested for refusing to disperse. Nineteen reporters were also arrested for documenting what was going on, and others were physically threatened which was against the law. In one particularly disturbing video, you can see a police officer pointing his gun at some journalists and threatening to kill them. This is just a snippet of the disgusting behavior from the Ferguson police, who were equipped with military gear and were walking around pointing their guns at peaceful protesters, something the military are specifically told not to do as it only causes the situation to escalate. However, it has been argued that this is exactly what they wanted so they could label black people as violent and justify Michael’s murder. Amnesty International, which had sent a team to monitor what was going on in Ferguson, called it an abuse of basic human rights. Margaret Huang, their deputy director of campaigns and programs, said she had never seen anything like it. The protests soon spread across America to large cities such as New York, and many striking photos used create a parallel between the Ferguson protests and those led by Martin Luther King of the civil rights movement, leading me to question: what has really changed?

Saturday, 29 November 2014

An Undeniably ‘Wunderbar’ Way to Spend a Friday Night (Oh, and to ‘Brush up your Shakespeare!’)

by Sophie Whitehead

Another Opening, Another Show. PGS does it again. Yet another spectacular performance of yet another spectacular play. With moments of true poignancy from all the cast encircled with roaring laughter from the audience, it has to be said that this year's production of  Kiss Me Kate is to go down in the record books as one of the best performances PGS has put on.

Kiss me Kate is one of the two most famous musical adaptations of Shakespeare, the other being West Side Story. This performance is a complete delight from beginning to end leaving the audience truly So In Love with the play by the end of it.  

Mr McCrohon's witty, lively production boasted terrific performances from all of the cast, musical numbers that you will certainly remember for a long while after the stage curtain drops, show-stopping dancing and costumes so flourishing that they lit up the stage just as much as they must have done when the play was originally performed in Austerity Britain in 1951.

For those that couldnt make it to see this show at the Kings Theatre, Kiss me Kate focuses on a theatre company putting on a musical version of The Taming of The Shrew (a play written by Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592). The ingenious use of ‘metatheatre (the idea of a play within a play) serves not to confuse the audience, but to entice it, with extraordinary musical numbers such as the heartwarming Wunderbar and So in Love’, ballads sung between director/leading man Fredrick C. Graham in the play (played by Lewis Mackenzie) and his ex-wife/leading lady Lilli Vanessi (Emma Read). Emma Reads voice resonated throughout the theatre majestically in her hit I Hate Men’, a hilarious song at the outset, yet with a darker undertone echoing undeniably the nascent feminist movement of the late 1940s. This contrasted with Mackenzies bawdy but also regretful hit Where is the Life that Late I Led? which often had the audience in fits. 

Kiss Me Kate contrasts two high powered, highly-strung, egotistical individuals (played by Mackenzie and Read) in their quest to find harmony together; the battling lead couple in Graham's production mirrors the battling lead couple in Shakespeare's play. Pippa Harris gave an undoubtedly brilliant performance as second-lead actress Lois Lane and Pete Rapp was affecting as her gambling-addict partner Bill Calhoun.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Photography Club: Pebbles

by Sabrina Choi and Phoebe Simons

Whither the Library?...

by Teresa Fisher

 ”It is easy to assume that because libraries have successfully existed for so long that they always will exist” states a recent article entitled Surviving disruptive technologies in the CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) magazine.

The article, written by a librarian, Jacqui Widdowson, goes on to remind us that “from Alexandria to Oxford, libraries are woven into the history of civilisation” and how “libraries have had a place in society for almost as long as human societies have existed”.

It’s true, libraries are a well-recognised ‘brand’… but so were Borders bookshops, Kodak and Blockbuster, who each went bust in 2010, 2012 and 2013 respectively.  What went wrong?  It would seem they all failed to respond sufficiently and positively to such  new technologies as e-books, Amazon and social media. 

These new technologies, together with the trends for fast information at our fingertips, next-day delivery and the ceaseless desire for convenience, also mean that libraries need to look forward and embrace the new technologies, but without losing the positive, enduring book-based associations that have enabled libraries to thrive for so long. Our books in the PGS Libraries – in excess of 25 thousand, whether textbooks, reference books, periodicals, non-fiction or fiction -- remain the mainstay of our schooling, but we are also now fortunate to have all the benefits of digital technology to enhance our Libraries and, thus, our educational experience.

In the case of Borders, Kodak and Blockbuster, it seems they each fell victim to the old adage “evolve or fail.” 

In the PGS Library we are working hard to evolve.  We have enviable facilities, comprising the Memorial Library, the New Library, the Project Room and now the new 6th form library area – a beautiful space for private study.  Pupils can use their own devices for study purposes in all library areas.  We are continually looking at new ways to improve our facilities and welcome feedback or suggestions from staff or pupils.  

PGS Engineers at the House of Lords

by Jeremy Thomas

Yesterday, a group of PGS engineers were invited to an event at the House of Lords, hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Engineering and addressed by Sir Ben Ainslie and his chief yacht designer. The event was also attended by the former chairman of the 2012 Olympics, Sir Keith Mills. 

The Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows 2014- London

by Charlotte Povey

Notorious for taking people's breathe away with innovative, fun and sexy lingerie looks on the catwalk, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show returns annually, along with everyone’s excitement.  This year, the pressure is on for the multi-million company as they hold the show in London for the first time. As it is usually held in New York and aired on prime-time American TV, the show's re-location this year is hoped to be even more lavish.

The hype brews as the 2nd December draws closer upon us. The famous ‘Victoria's Secret Angels’ will no doubt be feeling the nerves, ready to walk down the runway in front of a daunting 9.71 million viewers across America and Britain. Adrianna Lima, who has been modelling for Victoria's Secret for 13 years, spills some top tips on how to get the ‘angel’ body. She explains: ‘I box twice a week. It’s great for the body, wonderful for the mind and it gives you the best shape ever. Plus, it is a challenge, which I love. For the three weeks before the show I really watch what I eat, So for breakfast I’ll have scrambled egg whites with broccoli, spinach and oatmeal; for lunch, grilled fish with steamed vegetables and soy sauce, then some lean meat and more vegetables for dinner.’

Adrianna is especially conscious this year, as she has been given the privilege of wearing the stunning Victoria's Secret fantasy bra, along with Alessandra Ambrosio. Both of the two angels will be wearing garments worth over $2 million each. It seems like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on underwear at first; nevertheless, it is a tradition of the show to include an outstanding fantasy bra in order to celebrate the brand of Victoria Secret to its fullest. In 2000, the most expensive fantasy bra ever was made for Gisele Bündchen, costing an outstanding 15 million dollars. This extortionate price was due to the 1,300 gemstones and 300 carats of Thai rubies. There is yet to be a fantasy bra to compete. This year's Dream Angels fantasy bras aren’t far off, however, and have been designed exclusively for Victoria's Secret by world-renowned jeweler, Mouawad. And do you want to know how long it took to create these works of art? Over 1,380 hours!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

After Rochester: A Debate

In the aftermath of last Thursday's Rochester and Strood by-election, won by UKIP (and former Conservative) candidate Mark Reckless, PGS politicos debate the implications for British politics in general. 

(video courtesy of Caleb Barron)

Monday, 24 November 2014

Photography Club: Light Painting

by Will Hall

Short Story: Thoughts of the End

by Nina Luckmann

- Everybody's having trouble breathing, some people are worse . . . than others. -Anybody's unconscious, everybody's awake? - So far yes, but it's . . . - Listen, listen, everybody's awake? - Yes, so far.


I was very young when my father told me of them. He told me of the people of the far lands who spoke strange languages, ate strange foods, acted in strange ways. He told me they had little respect for important things, that they shunned those who were different. He said that they had attacked innocent people and dragged them into a war they did not want to be part of. He told me they had taken my uncle and sister, and that they could not return to us. He told me that they were monsters. As the years passed, and I grew from a boy to a man, this belief became instilled in me. I do not question my parents; I love them, respect them, as any child would. These people are bad: they hurt us. They hurt our honour. They disrespect our traditions. We, too, are people. We, too, deserve to live our life as we want to live it, but they don't understand. They understand nothing. 


5.26 am
It had been an early start after a sleepless night, but I was used to that. As a child I had often been roused early to see the sunrise, to see the shades of coral and peach streak the sky. My mother loved that very much; she said it reminded her of peace. Together we would sing the world out of its sleep, sing our love to our God and to our family. She told me this was very important, that I must never forget to show my love, that love for \God and for my family was the most valuable thing that I had. I keep that in mind as I look out of the window and see the sun rise over the skyline. I love God; I love my family.

6.02 am
Time is barely passing as I sit and wait, and I feel as though I am back home, impatiently watching the rye grow in the fields when we were children. We played in those fields, hiding between the grain with our sisters and brothers, waiting until someone found us. We screamed and giggled as we chased each other through rows and rows of the rye. The adults did not like us to play there, though we do not know why, and would shout and spank us if we were found. Come autumn, and the adults would cut the playthings down, leaving us with cropped, stubbly ground that we could not play with. We had to wait through the bitter winter and into spring for our playground to return. I miss the fields. They do not have many here, in the city. I wonder how children play here, until I realise I do not care.


- Are they going to be able to get someone up here? There's no one here yet and the floor's completely engulfed. We're on the floor and we can't breathe. And it's very, very, very hot. 


6.46 am

I sit in the waiting room, drumming my nails on my leg. Looking around, I see people hurrying by on either side, throwing me fleeting gazes before pressing on. When I came here, I was surprised at the looks that were thrown at me from strangers, and often quite offended. They would range from glances of presumptuous curiosity at the beard that I did not wish to strip myself of, to hostile fixations across the street, to mothers urging their children on in an attempt to deny them my existences. Are they aware that they stare? Aware of their rudeness?

I am more accustomed to it now. I still feel myself being studied by by-passes, but I think little of it. Instead it helps me understand why I am here. These people are not as kind as they think they are, they are not accepting as they claim to be. Even now, as I sit and wait, I feel the gazes on my back and feel their judgement shadowing me. They do not understand their mistakes. But they will.

Photography Club: Hanging Basket

by Evie McAuley

How to Manage Stress

by Marley Andrews

So I’ve kind of got the feeling that this term has been a stressful one, especially for those in the Sixth Form. From coursework to university applications, homework to Kiss Me Kate rehearsals, nobody really seems to have a spare minute at the moment, and the regular buzz of people working in the Sixth Form library confirms my point further. I myself am definitely feeling the strain, and I wanted to share with you a few easy ways I’ve discovered that help you to de-stress and relax, because nobody likes being stressed and unhappy, especially when it’s nearly Christmas!

1)  Regularly sip Green Tea. I cannot stress enough how good this stuff is for you. It is full of antioxidants which are great for your health, and boosts your metabolic rate. Also, after you’ve brewed your tea, if you add a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of honey to the tea leaves it makes a really great face mask which exfoliates and relaxes your skin.

2)   Eat a small amount of chocolate. Chocolate (especially dark) is scientifically proven to regulate stress hormone levels and reduce nerves.

3)   Read a book. English and History students, especially, have a lot of reading to get through. Make sure to dedicate at least an hour every evening to reading. That way you can relax your mind before bed so that you’ll sleep better, and you’re doing school work at the same time!

4)   Meditation. It is proven that regular meditation can combat stress and anxiety. Find a quiet spot, sit down in silence and concentrate on your breathing for five minutes or so. It is important to be able to escape from the stresses of work every now and again.

5)   Progressive relaxation. This one is genuinely great. Sequentially tense and relax every part of your body, starting from your toes and working upwards. This is a fantastic way of relieving stress and also can help you to get to sleep. 

6)   Stay Organised. I’ve suffered from terrible organisation this term, but in all seriousness, sorting out your folders and tidying your workspace makes you feel so much more on top of things and motivated. Not remembering where you put that one Biology sheet amongst a huge stack of paper is not helpful, and will only lead to more and more stress.

7)   Go for a walk. Walks are a great way of relaxing your mind and forgetting about any stresses you may have.

My Top 5 Things to Do This Winter Season…

by Anna Sykes

I’m sure that, with three weeks left of this school term, many of you will be anticipating some exotic beach holidays or simply staying at home enjoying a Christmas by the fire. However, I know that a lot of you, like me, are waiting to pack your bags and head over to the slopes of the snowy Alps for a week or two of skiing. Anyway, if you are one of these people, I’m here to recommend some of my favourite attractions/places you should be sure not to miss!

1.The Folie Douce
   Val d’isere,Méribel, Val Thorens

On one hand, it holds La Fruitière, a restaurant in the style of a classic Savoyard alpine dairy farm, providing top quality food sourced from local pastures. Make sure to order its iconic dish, oversized spaghetti served in a tall glass vase. However, you have more likely of heard of it due to its infamous outdoor snow bar, providing world-class après-ski. From table-top dancing to champagne and canapes, a better way to describe it may be Ibiza in the snow. However, it also provides a great view of the renowned ‘Le Coupe Du Monde’ race and offers easy access for all you non-skiers via the gondola.

2.Dog Sled Tours

If you want to immerse yourself in the true Canadian spirit, this is not something you want to miss out on. Its offers the opportunity to see the stunning, snow-covered landscape and provides an exhilarating experience as you twist and turn through fairy-tale forests whilst simply having to sit and enjoy. There are various different companies in Whistler which offer this adventure, providing a range of prices - so make sure you ask your hotel or local information centre to find out what best suits you.

3.Cresta Run
  St Moritz

If you’re looking for the thrill of being hurled down a toboggan run at 80 miles-per-hour, St Moritz is the place for you. If the fact that four men have died there and thousands of bones have been broken doesn’t put you off - why not go for it? However, I’m sad to say that this experience is only on offer for men and costs around £200 for five rides. If it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea (trust me, I wouldn’t be signing up for it) it’s always a great event to watch.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Photography Club: Edge

by Ella Garratt

Lunar Mission One – a Voyage of Discovery and an Archive of Humanity

by Tim Bustin

About seven years ago, my Dad comes home from work talking about this new project he’s trying to get started. Officially his title is ‘Oil and Gas Consultant’, which essentially means he works with major oil companies on different global projects, from selling oil refineries to setting up drilling sites across the world. This project was something different altogether – he was talking about drilling in space. More specifically, drilling on the Moon.

Up to today, the deepest we’ve ever drilled into the Moon’s surface comprises only a few metres, and that was done on expeditions by astronauts on the Apollo missions some thirty years ago (as well as one unmanned Russian attempt). That is just the top coating of dust (the regolith) – the tip of the iceberg. The plan here is to drill down to 100 metres. You may have heard the interesting fact that we’ve mapped more of the Moon’s surface than our own oceans, but that’s just the point – we can scratch the barren lunar surface to our heart’s content, but just from Earth that is it. Nobody can really know what we would find if we were to dig deeper, past theories and the next best guess. We don’t know whether the Moon’s core is rock-cold or if a source of heat hides deep below. What could possibly be the reason for the occurrence of Moon quakes? Does this natural satellite share a similar crust structure to the Earth? This is a chance to discover more about the early solar system, and how exactly the Moon was formed from the Earth millions of years ago. Imagine finally answering these incredible questions!

For a few years, my Dad (a former PGS pupil) led the drilling team, helping to build up this project – from laying down its framework to the bringing in of more and more experts to the funding idea eventually proposed by the man currently running Lunar Mission One, David Irons. The idea is a permanent archive of humanity where, for a trivial £65, anyone can have their DNA stored in a ‘Digital Memory Box’ to be buried under the Moon’s surface when drilling begins. The Moon is the most inert object in the solar system, meaning this capsule will remain unharmed, and this library of people will survive potentially billions of years. Unfortunately, we’ll still have to wait another ten before the lander finally arrives at the lunar South Pole to begin its unmanned drilling, but the technological innovations involved, such as the complications of drilling in zero-gee and from 240,000 miles away, and the discoveries we will make are (and will be) truly captivating.
And my dad co-started it. I mean, that’s pretty cool, right? 


by Katie Green

Philippe Pettit, tightrope walking between the Twin Towers, NYC, 1974
(source: NY Times)


It is essential to our every day lives and our well being. But how do we achieve this?

I, personally, am taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award programme  and I am already having trouble handling my carefully-crafted balance of school work, co-curricular commitments and outside life, which is precarious at the best of times! Things always seem to get in the way, from absences out of town, relatives visiting and such tiresomely mundane things as illness.


I suppose that this the way forward. But how do we do this? How do we decide what is more important? Our work, or our family and friends? I myself have found a neat way of avoiding the issue. 

Spread it out. Plan ahead. 

Do work as soon as you receive it and, if you are unable to keep a pre-determined commitment, arrange an alternative in advance. 

Do not leave things to the last minute or hope that they will sort themselves out. They will not. 

So, remember, it is all about balance. 

Photography Club: Sixth Form Centre Window

by Susannah Shlosberg

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Seven Stages of Modern Life

Phoebe Warren has updated Shakespeare's famous 'Seven Ages of Man' speech from 'As You Like It' (see original below) to reflect a twenty-first century perspective:

The modern day man has seven stages in which to live.
The first is comprised of potential:
We arise with taught skin stretched plumply over soft bones,
Flawless by nature and design,
Unscarred by the brutal world-
until the moment we let out that fatal scream.
We add to the noise pollution of life
Reinforced by our next path in search of discovery:
we crawl, we climb, we slide
for ambition. Through failure we learn the reality of the world
Only to be met by the third passage, 
becoming magicians composing a virtual social life
alluding one another with filters,
misting over a warped version of reality
In the haze of this confusion we leave our teenage self, 
And embark on the fourth era, in which
we progress to the promised years of independence
correlating with amounting debts,
lack of funding and cooking skills.
Yet, we graduate, we grow, we are promoted,
until we slow to a steady income:
a steady family, settle down and 
the deception slows down too. Yet is this where 
the potential ends? No longer are we anticipating,
rather passively awaiting stage six, where upon
our reliant children lock us up to freely roam 
Over the retirement home estate, crumbling
along side the walls guarding the grounds
until we slip into stage seven. Now the 
body no longer resembles a machine 
built to carry such a life as your own.
So, we loosely tumble, flaking into the 
Earth of which we came so new. 

(see Shakespeare's original, below)

Friday, 21 November 2014

Animal Attraction

by Frederike Rademacher

We have all seen at least one documentary in our lifetime that involves the act of mating between species. However we have yet to watch a documentary on the sexual attraction and mating of our own species. If there has been such a documentary, I have missed out. I want to talk about our more primitive and yet understated nature when involving sexual attraction. It is widely accepted that we suppress our more primitive instincts when choosing a mate and instead look towards the cultural norm of the society that we live in.

Within the time period between the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries (especially), we have become one of the only know species in which a female openly tries to attract a male. Beforehand, it used to be that men would court us ladies and try to woo us into marriage, which in turn would hopefully result in offspring, and thus we continue our line of DNA.  Although female have always tried to attract males one way or another, it has become more direct in the recent two centuries.

Let us start with what females find attractive in a male, keeping in mind that we have repressed these instincts because of how society is now run and that we no longer live in that primitive, patriarchal state of mind.
Why do most females find men with strong physical attributes, such as a large muscular V-shaped frame, more attractive then those with a slighter frame? Well this is simply because we associate these more muscular frames with the ability to bring food back from the hunt. Those who were stronger and faster were the ones who brought home food, a way for males to prove their worth to females. The more food you brought back, even if you hunted in groups, made you more appealing to females and you were more likely to be accepted as a potential mate. This usually meant that these strong, physically appealing males now had first pick of the litter when choosing a female mate. Naturally, we all judge a book by its cover; females will judge a male by his appearance and his ability to be a potential mate, but this is only the first step and not necessarily the most important one. A female will easily overlook physical attributes if the male is able to tick other important boxes.
Why are most females attracted to highly paid men? Frankly, those who earn a high-paying salary can afford to feed the family. It’s also a way for females to single out those who are the most dominant males - pretty much no work place is going to have someone who is high up in the hierarchy who isn’t confident in what they are doing, but I’ll go into more detail of that in a little bit. You must think of the highly-paid male as having the ability to provide for the family; however, in our society those who have highly-paid jobs may not have started out as a dominant male but evolved to fit the role that the male has been given. This means that females may not always look for a dominant male at first, but instead a male who has the potential to become dominant.
Why are most females attracted to a dominant male? Dominance can sometimes be linked to aggression, which may be a sign that the male is capable of protecting the female whilst pregnant with his offspring. Primitively speaking, this dominant male would be leader of a society of people, the Alpha in this situation if you will. Sad yet somehow true, females are in a way natural social climbers, females want to mate with the Alpha of a group of people and usually this Alpha has a well paid job which will bring in the food. This is also a demonstration of how smart the male is, another attribute that is attractive and females naturally want their offspring to inherit this trait. This will also be why females fight over a male, because they want his attributes to be passed down to their offspring. A lot of these males have characteristics that, in today’s society, we would label as confident, cocky and charismatic (the three C’s, if you will). A study in Germany shows that males who do not sport these characteristics are usually more faithful, more commitment-orientated and reliable – this is a long-term ideal candidate for mating, yet females will often choose instead to mate on a short term with those Alpha males. Even worse, these males often embody the Dark Triad, a personality constellation that encompasses Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism.

Now moving on to the more touchy part of the topic, what is it about females that attract males? I am not a guy so I am going on what I’ve seen/read about or discussed with male friends.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Rosetta Mission

by Reetobrata Chatterjee

This aptly sums up the feat of engineering, physics and maths needed to complete this extraordinary mission. What was previously a figment of science fiction has finally become a reality. The comet in question is called by the rather catchy name “67P Churyumov–Gerasimenko” or just "67P" to its friends. It was first discovered in 1969, by some Soviet astronomers, which may account for the slightly unusual name. It’s usually located between the orbits of Earth and Jupiter, between 800 million to 186 million kilometres from the sun.

When the spacecraft successfully landed on the comet (which is the size of a small village), the comet was travelling at close to 135,000 km/hr (about 84,000 mph for those not metrically inclined). To put this into perspective, if the comet was travelling around the Earth, it would take less than 2 seconds to complete a full orbit of the earth!

Now that I’m done regurgitating facts about some random comet of no particular significance, let’s begin the story of the Rosetta mission.

The beginning of the writing of history

The Rosetta spacecraft’s journey begins in the small town of Darmstadt in West Germany in the year 1993, November to be exact. That’s when the European Space Agency (ESA) commissioned the project, a revolutionary idea at the time and still is now. It had never been attempted before partly because of the erratic and difficult-to-predict orbits of comets, asteroids and other “small” interstellar objects. However, the scientists and astronomers ploughed on regardless, unfazed by the difficulty of the task they had set out to accomplish. I am, of course, dramatizing the events, because I think the ACTUAL beginning of the mission was more formal, methodical and therefore, boring.

The aim of the project was to land a robot-probe on the comet and make various measurements. The initial comet, with the equally catchy name “46P Wirtanen”, was different to the one the probe finally ended up (67P) on because there were some technical difficulties (as one might expect on a project of this scale) which caused the scientists to change targets. The probe was going to provide scientists with feedback about the big questions. Not the philosophical ones discussing the existence of God, the afterlife and so on, but the more achievable and realistic ones about the beginning of our solar system, and maybe even clues about how life started on Earth.

The journey

It would be relatively nice and simple if people (or probes) could hop into a spacecraft and ride towards a comet. Alas, the reality isn’t that simple, since it is incredibly difficult and energy intensive (not to mention physically impossible with the current technology) to achieve this; the scientists had to use lots of clever maths to figure out exactly where the comet was going to be 10 years after the launch of the spacecraft. That’s right - in order to get to the comet many millions of kilometres away from Earth, the journey took TEN years. A simple journey wouldn’t have taken this long, but the trajectory the spacecraft was on involved orbiting both Earth and Mars, in order to alleviate the stress on the engines of Rosetta. In the end, the cumulative distance of the journey was 6.4 BILLION kilometres. It would take LIGHT six hours to travel this distance!

The big day

As you might expect, the scientists who had pioneered this journey were slightly excited that their project was coming to successful fruition, one of the more unorthodox manners of expressing this was demonstrated by Britain’s own Dr Matt Taylor. Even before the spacecraft had landed on the moon, to show his faith, he got a tattoo of the very scene!

The project had received a big influx in media attention (as it should) as it neared completion including prime coverage on the BBC as well as most major newspapers. How successful was the crucial part, the landing?


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Ben Ainslie's Racing Headquarters: Progress

by Tony Hicks

I have been following the construction of the new Ben Ainslie racing headquarters in Old Portsmouth. Here are some photographs showing how it has progressed this autumn and also how it dwarfs the Bridge tavern.

What Was Life in the Trenches Like?

by Will Pearson

Popular memory concerning the life of a Great War soldier is all about mud, rats, lice, machine-guns and being shot at dawn if you disobeyed. 

However, the facts of a typical Tommy's life paint a rather different picture. For example: did you know that a typical infantry soldier was only in the front line trenches for about one quarter of his total time overseas and involved in action for a few days in the whole war?

Although most of us think primarily of the Great War in terms of life and death in the trenches, only a relatively small proportion of the army actually served there. The trenches were the front lines, the most dangerous places. But behind them was a mass of supply lines, training establishments, stores, workshops, headquarters and all the other elements of the contemporary system of war, in which the majority of troops were employed. The trenches were the domain of the infantry, with the supporting arms of the mortars and machine-guns, the engineers and the forward positions of the artillery observers.

The idea of digging into the ground to give some protection from powerful enemy artillery and small arms fire was not a new idea or unique to the Great War. It had been widely practiced in the US Civil War, the Russian-Japanese war and other fairly recent wars. Trench warfare can be said to have begun in September 1914 and ended when the Allies made a breakthrough attack in August 1918. Before and after those dates were wars of movement: in between it was a war of entrenchment. The massive armies of 1914 initially fought a war of movement, and any trenches dug were only for temporary cover. But from the Battle of the Aisne onwards, both sides dug in to take cover and hold their ground. The successive movements to outflank the enemy trenches came to an end by November 1914. By then there was a continuous line of trenches covering some 400 miles from Switzerland to the North Sea.

Photography Club: Wooden Texture

by Sophie Dennis

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

China Trip 2014

by Henry Ling and Kelvin Shiu

Over half term, over 28 Sixth Form pupils and 4 teachers embarked on an outstanding Economics and History trip to China. 

After leaving school at 4:00 am on Sunday morning and arriving in Beijing at 5:00 Monday morning, we all felt very knackered. However, this was a poor start to a brilliant trip because the events that followed were amazing, and the experiences were unforgettable. 

A rundown of the trip: we started off in Beijing, then moved on the Shanghai before ending in a town called PingXiang where the pupils had to stay with a Chinese family and immerse themselves in the Chinese way of life.  

Since returning from China, the authors of this article have spoken to most of the teachers and pupils who went on the trip see what their favourite experiences and moments of the trip were.

Mr Rees thought that the most spectacular place we visited was the boat journey across the Huangpu River in Shanghai, seeing the Bund on one side and the skyscrapers on the other. His favourite moment was the excitement of all of the students and host families on arriving at the PingXiang school, and sitting in a few of the classes where he was answering many of the students' questions. His favourite food from the trip was a spicy crab, consumed in PingXiang. He says he would definitely return to China if the opportunity arose His favourite photo from the trip is above.
Miss Close found that her favourite moment was when all the pupils met their hosts on the first day of arriving in PingXiang and the joy which went across all of the students' faces. Her favourite site was the Bund in Shanghai which had great views of the Chinese skyscrapers on other side. The food which she enjoyed the most was the grilled tofu. She would return to China again and she would like to see more of the Great Wall of China.

Miss Chipman thought the school in PingXiang was the greatest place that we went to in China. The goodbye ceremony, when we had to say goodbye to our Chinese hosts, who were so emotional at this point, was her favourite moment of the trip. Her favourite food on the trip was ice-cream. If she ever returns to China, she wishes to visit some new places.

Miss Rickard found the Great Wall of China the most memorable place we visited. Her favourite moment was when we had just reached the bottom of the TV tower, Miss Chipman losing odds on going all the way back to the top. The food which she enjoyed the most was the sweet and sour pork which was served with most meals. Again, she would take the opportunity of returning to China because she found it such an amazing experience.

On behalf of all the pupils who had the pleasure of going on the trip, we would like to thank all of the teachers for making it happen. We will now move on the some of the experiences of the pupils who went on the trip.

Will Dry thought that Miss Chipman losing the odds game was the best moment of the trip. His favourite site was looking down the glass floor from the TV tower. His favourite food was Honey Soaked Crispy Chicken Legs. He says that his host student was overly emotional but a top lad, and he ended up playing Chinese chess with him in the evenings.

Oliver Miller thought the TV tower was his favourite moment of the trip and the Bund was the most inspiring site. What is the Bund, though? Well it’s the foreign quarter of Shanghai. His favourite food was Bautzu, which is a sweet bun. He said that his host was very emotional and nicknamed “Bob” due to a hard-to-pronounce Chinese name. In the evening, he went out for dinner and did some sight-seeing.

George Gibson found the boat trip in Shanghai quite amazing and he also found the toilets at the PingXiang School unforgettable, as they were literally two lines of trenches. He found the Forbidden City and the TV tower particularly interesting sites. His favourite food was rice, maybe due to the fact he had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He found his host really nice and spent the nights watching films.