Wednesday, 30 December 2015

No Tears This New Year's

by Sophie Whitehead

A slightly pessimistic guide on how to ensure this New Year's is better than the last. 

New Year's Eve is often the most problematic event on my calendar. Ironic you might think? Well this is not always the case. Normally when an event has a certain amount of hype building up to it, with the forced expectation, much like in some ways Christmas, that there WILL be laughter, there WILL be happiness, there WILL be love….there often isn't as much of it as originally thought. The reason for this? Who knows. But one things certain and that’s that whenever there are forced expectations, generally the act of spontaneity doesn't strive too well. The pressure to have a good time on New Years is often, quite bluntly, just downright overwhelming and in some ways suffocating. Mix with this the idea of trivial matters such as ‘who to kiss at midnight’ and the matter soon escalates to something disproportionally terrifying. The problem with New Years, and the real differentiator between this holiday and Christmas is there tends to be no reward for personal effort - no matter if you’re the host or even the attendee no one congratulates you on the effort you have put into the evening - if anything the more effort you do put into it, the less you get out of it. For example, if you’re the host more often than not, you’re just left at 2am far less intoxicated than the rest with a scarring amount of cleaning up to do tomorrow. The dog is shut in the room upstairs and has been howling all night, and you’re marginally worried whether you let out the cat seven hours earlier and they’re enjoying the festivities with another household somewhere…

However, no matter how you find yourself this New Years; whether that be single, in a relationship or jumping in between, nothing should hold you back on ensuring that this year, the big 2K16, is filled with happiness, love or whatever your personal mantra is (mine happens to be to work hard and play harder but that’s just me.)
I cannot help you with all the specifics, that my friends I leave purely down to you, but I can offer a few words of suggestion that I have accumulated in my mere eighteen years of life. Enjoy:

Tips for anyone:
1)    Cash that favour in with your friend The Taxi Man. You don’t want to find yourself highly intoxicated at five past three in the morning desperately searching for a way to get home. If, like me, you don’t know any taxi people, book at least a month before to ensure you get the most trustable site and the most trustable rate. Trust me.

2)    Don’t drink too much. There’s one thing feeling a little down this New Years but another feeling like a complete fool. Sat in A&E is not the answer to your woes! Here is where another parties going on; mixed with fancy dress, people talking gibberish, hall ways completely overcrowded and jammed full of disheveled but well dressed people. This strangely happens to look remarkably like the party you’ve just left…but remember IT’S NOT. Avoid the severe overhead lighting and the once-polished floors for pity’s sake. For me—?

3)    —Saying that however…make sure you drink enough! (obviously this applies only to those 18+) New Years Day tends to have a far more sombre feel than New Years Eve. The headaches are churning and bouts of shame, guilt or regret over last nights activities may just be creeping there way towards the surface. Make the most of the one night a year where everyone that isn't tee-total will be in the same boat as you and ready to enjoy the festivities. Try and just relax and see where the evening takes you.

4)    New Years at home? PERFECTLY FINE. Little needs to be said except for the fact that whether you are a bit of a jet setter and fancy an evening to chill or even if its part of your daily routine, sometimes nothing can beat the comfort of being chez moi with some good champagne, friends, the log fire burning and witnessing the festivities of London right on your doorstep… Saying this don’t worry if you don’t have a log fire, you don’t need one.

5)    I’d avoid making any resolutions until January 1st, perhaps 2nd, rather than actual New Years Eve. There is nothing more depressing than breaking a resolution that you’ve had for approximately twenty two and half minutes. Instead finish the year with whatever you’ve been doing for the rest of it and prepare for January 1st to be the start of the bigger and better YOU.

6)    …On this note. Please if your resolution for 2015 happened to be to learn to play the oboe, learn to sing opera or bake a quiche… unless you’ve progressed to a point where you can actually mesmerise all your guests; tonight is not the night to demonstrate to all how far you’ve come in accomplishing this almighty goal. Save it for tomorrow.

7)    Finally make sure you bring in the new year the only proper way and engage in the Scottish tradition of ‘First Footing.’ Not only is it great fun to load up a tray with various objects that represent something you’d like to find in the coming year but even today theres something semi-mystical about walking in your front door loaded with goods. Give it a whirl, there’s not a lot to lose but definitely much to gain.

A quick note especially for any singletons:

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Dark Christmas

by Lucy Smith

So, here we are again- a week into the Christmas holidays and most of my Christmas shopping is done (though, predictably, none of it is yet wrapped), I’ve managed to catch up with a few friends, and I’m starting to think about making the journey back up to Derby to spend the break with my family and childhood friends. 

Last year I took you on a tour of ten of my favourite alternative Christmas songs, and in the preamble I summed up my feelings towards the season succinctly enough to not warrant repetition here. There’s something so presumptuous about naming a whole month “the season to be jolly”- as if anyone who thought otherwise was slightly unhinged. Well, anyone who has ever partaken in that most British of Christmas past-times that is the Eastenders Christmas Day special will know that Christmas should more accurately be named “the season to have a full-scale family row as a result of spending far more time in close proximity than usual, fuelled by too many Quality Street and brandies, and ignited by a heated game of Monopoly whilst discussing politics with your rather un-PC uncle.”

In that spirit, this year I have chosen to explore a number of songs that have something of a dark underside to them- maybe songs that take a few listens to get into what they’re really saying, a song with a dark story behind the writer, or just a different take on the festive season. Merry Christmas, and enjoy.

1.   This Christmas by Donny Hathaway
This is a beautiful Christmas song by jazz/ soul musician Donny Hathaway. It’s such an upbeat performance, full of hope and cheer. With this song, Donny sought to cut through the “White Christmas” domination and create a true African-American standard, and the sheer number of prominent artists who have covered it is an absolute testament to that fact: Aretha Franklin, Destiny’s Child, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, Diana Ross, the Temptations and Cee-Lo Green, to name just a few. Behind the pure, unadulterated joy emanating from this song, it’s hard to forget the fate that Mr Hathaway (as prophetically name-checked by Amy Winehouse in her song Rehab) would go on to meet. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia shortly after this song’s release, Hathaway would jump to his death from a New York hotel window in 1979, at the height of his career.

2.   Do You Hear What I Hear? by Gladys Knight and the Pips
This Christmas standard by then-husband and wife duo Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker conjures up an idyllic pastoral scene involving a lamb and a shepherd boy. The song was first recorded in 1962 by the Harry Simone Chorale, but it is the Bing Crosby version-recorded on 22nd November, 1963 (JFK’s assassination) that turned the song into a staple of the season. You’d be forgiven for not picking up on the dark stimulus that prompted the song, were it not for a line towards the end of the song: “Pray for peace, people, everywhere.” Composed during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this is song serves as a plea for peace in a time when the writers’ genuinely feared a nuclear holocaust. There are hundreds of versions of this song; I’ve gone with Gladys Knight’s interpretation from the 1975 Christmas album Bless This House.

3.   We Three Kings by The Reverend Horton Heat
No wonder the words to this one get changed around by school children to involve cigars and scooters. Written by a Pennsylvanian Episcopalian minister in the mid-19th Century from the point of view of the visiting Magi, few carols place emphasis on Christ’s fate- a child born to die- in such a direct manner. Focusing on the gifts brought by the Wise Men of St Matthew’s Gospel, the misery is pretty well summed up in the penultimate verse:
Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
Cheery stuff. Perhaps it’s best I’ve gone with psychobilly outfit Reverend Horton Heat’s instrumental version here!

4.   Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland
Ranked as the third most performed Christmas song, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is taken from the film Meet Me In St. Louis. This 1944 film introduced the 22 year old star Judy Garland to her second husband, Vincente Minelli- a man almost 20 years her senior, whose homosexual tendencies allegedly drove Garland to her first suicide attempt. Judy’s character Esther Smith sings the song in the film to her younger sister, who is distressed at the change and upheaval of the family’s imminent relocation from St. Louis to New York. The song is pretty wistful as it stands, but Garland vetoed the original lyric from Ralph Blane as too depressing:
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past.
 Even so, given the placement of the song in the film and the overall tone of the tune, not to mention the fate of the singer, the title seems, at best, ironic.

5.       River by Joni Mitchell
 Mitchell’s Blue album consistently ranks amongst the greatest albums ever made, with brutally honest reflections spanning from her break-up with James Taylor, to her daughter she gave up for adoption in her early 20s. River has become one of Joni’s most-covered and best-known songs, despite never having been released as a single. Although it is not a Christmas song per se, it is set in the winter run-up to Christmas. The song opens with a minor key piano motif reminiscent of Jingle Bells. She laments the break-up of a relationship, longing to escape her emotional pain in the icy climes of her native Canada, rather than her current warm Californian home.


Feliz Navidad

by Patricia Langtry

Feliz Navidad. I would like to share with Portsmouth Point readers some of the work that our students have carried out this Christmas as part of their Modern Foreign Languages course, since some of it is absolutely extraordinary - in particular the work of two boys and a girl in Year 8. 

Keir spent approximately eleven hours making the fabulous origami penguin (click on "Read more" to see images), which is now on display in room 2018. Jevon spent four hours on the gorgeous papier-mache Father Christmas (see below).

Sofía made a gorgeous three-layered cake with the two colours of the Spanish flag on the layers (see below) - I'm afraid this, however, is no longer on display..... it was delicious!!

Years 7,8 and9 celebrated Christmas in a Spanish fashion, following some of the typical traditions in Spain. The task was research on Spanish Christmas and prepare a little decoration for the class. Some could not restrain their enthusiasm, energy and artistic/cooking skills....

Friday, 11 December 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Portsmouth Point

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our readers.

We hope you enjoy the latest issue of our printed magazine over the holidays. The theme is "Inspiration". Below is the extraordinary image taken by Will Hall, our photography editor, which graces the cover of the "Inspiration" issue, and his explanation of how he achieved this stunning effect.

Why Britain Should Not Be Bombing Syria

by Ellie Williams-Brown and Mugdha Godbole

Syria has been an unstable region since the Arab Spring and this is the first time British military action is being taken against militants in Syria. The House of Commons has voted for airstrikes and so will be dropping bombs on parts they deemed to be controlled by Daesh. They will be doing this as most people do not want to see a repeat of Iraq, but that is also part of the reasons that a few MPs are not voting against airstrikes - as they do not want to be made fools of. There is some fear towards these bombings due to the horrors and atrocities that we have seen in the past few years; this may have coloured some views.

The Syrian bombings have created controversy and some of the best speeches Parliament has seen for a long time, even though choosing a side is almost as complicated as the situation in Syria. But it is quite clear that, despite some controversy, bombing Syria will cause far more harm than good, to Syria and to Britain.

Syria is an unstable region, and by dropping bombs there the country’s already fragile infrastructure will be broken far more than it already has been. The British Government says that it will only be targeting places which fill Daesh’s (also known as ISIS/IS/ISIL) coffers, not people, but having already hit two oilfields, it is not clear how doctors, civilians and workers there suddenly are not classed as people. 

The people who are not hit by the bombs will also have their lives damaged by the bombings; their offices and cities will be hit and so they will try to escape Syria. These bombings are going to create more refugees who will try to seek sanctuary in Europe; and, if they do not leave Syria, they (or their families) may be killed.

If the potential numbers of civilians likely to be killed does not concern the British Government maybe the amount they will spend on it will. For a Tornado plane to go for a six hour sortie will cost £210,000, for a Paveway (a laser-guided bomb) it is £22,000 each and the Brimstone missiles (another type of bomb being dropped) it is £105,000 each. With the recent public spending cuts in Britain that money could go towards funding: 20 paramedics or 20 police officers or 20 teachers or 19 nurses or 18 firefighters or 18 junior doctors. With the cuts here why bomb civilians when that money should be spent on keeping the British public safe?

Bombing Syria is playing into the hands of Daesh. It may even be what Daesh wants. It is apparent they are not quaking in their boots at the very thought of us dropping bombs on Syria. No. Britain dropping bombs on Syria, like the US and France, will just fuel Daesh propaganda, allowing extremism to infiltrate a peaceful religion. It could encourage young Muslims, who are being disassociated from their community because of negative stereotypes that Daesh is causing, to turn against Western values. This is likely to help perpetuate Daesh’s views on how awful the West is and show Daesh as a place of refuge. Whereas in reality they are a terrorist group with ideologies so medieval that al-Qaeda rejected their views as they were too awful even for the terrorist group that masterminded the 9/11 atrocities.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

My Top 10 Christmas Songs

by Helen Jackson

As Christmas is rapidly approaching, I feel that something slightly festive is fitting…

Here are my 10 favourite Christmas songs: 

10) “All I want for Christmas is you” by Mariah Carey


9)   “Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)” by The Darkness


8)    “Last Christmas” by Wham! 


7)    “War is Over” by John Lennon


6)     “Do they know it's Christmas?” (The 1984 version) by Band Aid

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Two Easy Christmas Recipes

by Lauren Robson-Skeete

These festive treats make the perfect gift as stocking fillers, or even as Christmas decorations to hang on your tree!

Chocolate Cranberry Brownies

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 200g butter
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 60g cranberry sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a baking tray or line with baking parchment.
  2. Melt together the dark chocolate and butter over a pan or in the microwave.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, flour and cocoa powder and then stir in the melted chocolate and butter mixture.
  4. Stir in the eggs and add the dried cranberries, then swirl in the cranberry sauce.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Hanging Gingerbread Tree Decoration

  • 175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 85g golden sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg
For the icing:
  • 100g white chocolate
  • Edible silver balls


Ms Hart's Secret Santa Surprise

Ms Hart was very excited to receive her Jane Austen Action Figure in the English dept Secret Santa, yesterday afternoon

See below the break to find out the identity of Secret Santa:

Photography Club: Christmas

by Annabel Darch

Beside Every Great Man is a Great Woman

by Rhiannon Jenkins

“Behind every great man is not a woman, she is beside him, she is with him, not behind him.” - Tariq Ramadan

from Hamilton: The Musical
The recent Broadway musical Hamilton tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, the most printed man on American currency. As well as also appearing on stamps, Alexander Hamilton not only founded The New York Post, he also created the centralized banking system in America, was the first Secretary of the Treasury and is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He fought during the Revolution, made an enemy of every other Founding Father and was killed by “the damn fool”, Aaron Burr. Despite being a largely undocumented historical figure in modern culture, there are hundreds of records and readily available information about Alexander Hamilton. Why are we able to know so much about him?

Elizabeth Schuyler.

Mother of eight, wife of Hamilton and widow for more than fifty years, Eliza Hamilton founded the first private orphanage in New York, helped contribute funds to the building of the Washington Monument and organised Hamilton’ thousands of writings. During her marriage to Hamilton she endured long periods of time away from her husband, the death of her first son in a duel and Hamilton taking a mistress and publicly and explicitly admitting to it. The commitment presented by Eliza to her husband and her complete determination to preserve his work and ensure his legacy remained intact enables Hamilton to be remembered and known nationally, even globally, for his contribution to the founding of the United States, whilst she herself remains unthanked and unremarked upon in the history books.

Another stage production which has helped in bringing to light the actions of a commonly passed- over woman, is Photograph 51 recently opened again with Nicole Kidman playing the X-ray crystallographer, Rosalind Franklin. Despite the extent of her role in the discovery of the structure of DNA being debated, it is not arguable that she did play a vital part in it and yet it is the three men, James Watson, Maurice Wilkins and her student, Raymond Gosling, who were awarded the Nobel Prize for the identification of DNA’s structure whilst Franklin was not credited for it during her lifetime.

The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science (written by Julie Des Jardins) explores other woman unmentioned in textbooks.

However, science isn’t the only field where they are passed over.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Are We Free to Make Moral Decisions?

by Sophie Locke-Cooper

The relationship between human freedom and moral behaviour is a crucial one since it is mostly accepted that our freedom to perform a morally good action or to refrain from a bad one, is a vital part in the way we evaluate an action. If we believe that every act is determined then we cannot blame someone from wrong doing as they were not free to make that choice, however it is easily believable that free will does exist and we are free to make our own choices nonetheless there could be contributing factors that form how we come about these choices.

A hard determinist would simply state that everything is determined by prior cause and that everything requires a sufficient reason to occur as it does. So we are theoretically not free as everything is already set out for us. If we are to have a moral choice then to a hard determinist it merely means that we are under the illusion of freewill and we do not actually obtain. John Locke also backed this up and concluded that we may believe we have free will and have the ability to pick any option, when, in reality our moral choices are determined by many factors beyond our control. In the end we make decisions believing that we have freely done so when the truth is that we have not. Milgram also did a psychological experiment in which supports determinism; two actors would pretend to be a scientist and a volunteer tied to a chair supposedly linked to electronic currents. Volunteers were asked to participate in a memory test experiment. They had to deliver electronic shocks to the person in the chair every time they got the answer wrong, the shocks were fake. 65 percent went up to the highest voltage in which if they were real could have killed the person in the chair. Milgram argues that the experiment demonstrates that ordinary people would do evil things if asked to do so by an authority figure. This lends weight to the determinist argument that our moral freedom is illusory and open to manipulation. However few would question that we are not strongly influenced by out nature and nurture but it may be wrong to state that we have no freedom at all; many would claim that social science have proved disappointing in their predictive ability. If one is to think positively about an illness they can initially help cure it, so our free thought can have effect on our lives. A hard determinist would rely on a perfectly predictable universe, which simply is not true proven with Quantum mechanics which suggests the universe is rather more chaotic than science likes to make out, which gives the possibility that in some occasion we will be free to make a choice.

On the other hand Libertarianism is the belief that we can choose to act despite past events, cultural and environmental conditioning and biological influence. People, who reject that concept of determinism, because it denies the possibility of moral responsibility, believe that humans have self-determination and free-will. So to act freely implies that future is genuinely open to a person and that they can actually choose one way or another despite nature and nurture. However absolute freedom is not a possibility, i.e. we cannot fly and we cannot jump over a car. Instead what is being argued is that we have the freedom where one can genuinely decide and for which one can be held morally accountable. Though Libertarianism often distinguishes between a person’s personality and their moral self. A personality would be shaped by genetics and the environment, which in itself sets limits on the choices we can make. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Photography Club: Patterns

by Mia Glover

Review: Thoroughly Modern Millie

by Ellen Latham

For the past three years I have gone to see the musical, and for the past three years I have been surprised at how good they have been. After the outstanding Kiss Me Kate performance last year, I was hesitant to see this years, worrying it would not live up to my expectations that the previous year had put in place. But of course, I needn't have worried. This years performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie was, and I imagine everyone else who saw it will agree, incredible. Every aspect had been though about and time was spent perfecting every last detail, from the make up, to the lighting.

From the moment the curtain went up, to the moment it went back down at the end, the audience was enthralled in the performance. Despite there being a problem with microphones in the very first song, the lead, Caitlin Hoddle, accompanied by the enthusiastic, energising and overflowing cast opened our hearts to her character and our minds to New York in the 1920’s.
For those who did not get to see the show, it follows the story of a young woman, Millie, who moves to New York in the hope of finding a husband, not from love, but instead as a business deal. The set designers did a fantastic job in conveying the era and showing the audience New York during the 1920’s, whether it was the extravagant home of  Muzzy Van Hossmere, or a secret door to get into a speakeasy, the set added to the show. One especially memorable moment was Rob Merriam, playing the leading male role of Jimmy, as he edges his way along a ledge to the balcony outside Millie’s office. The set was simple, a rectangular platform with a large window frame attached at its back, however it's effect was incredible, as the whole audience understood what Rob’s character was doing, and where the scene was set.

The portrayal of lead roles, Millie and and Jimmy was commendable. Rob Merriam and Caitlin Hoddle conveyed their characters to perfection the whole way through the show, endearing us to them and their story. Their portrayal was only broken up by the even more commendable dancing and singing numbers, which were so advanced and impressive, the audience forgot that this was only a school production. An especially memorable performance for me was Forget about the boys, performed by lead Caitlin Hoddle and her characters band of tap dancing, headstrong co-workers, straight after the interval. Here, the cast broke out their tap shoes and typewriters to deliver a scene that left me with a song stuck in my head and an urge to start tap lessons, the latter I later decided was a bad idea; if only we could break out into musical numbers in real life.

Photography Club: Small

by Mia Glover

Will Pink Ball Test Cricket be a success?

by Oliver Wright

27th November 2015- A date that could possibly change the course of cricketing history. Australia faced New Zealand at Adelaide, in the 3rd and final match of a series Australia were winning 1-0. Aside from providing a fitting platform to pay tribute to the one-year anniversary of the death of the Australian Batsman Phillip Hughes, it marked the first day of the inaugural day/night test match. The game was to be played out from 14:00 until 21:00 with a pink ball, designed to be visible in both natural and floodlit conditions, with the first ever ‘dinner break’ being held from 18:20 to 19:00.
The Arguments
Although the concept has been trialled domestically on multiple occasions, most notably with the traditional season opening fixture between the county champions and the MCC being held under lights in Dubai since 2010, the topic has still proven to be divisive, with many of crickets’ high-profile names highlighting their opinions on the matter. Legends of the game such as Shane Warne (ex-Australian bowler), Steve Waugh (former Australian Captain), and Sir Garfield Sobers (ex-West Indian all rounder) have all shown their support for the idea, with Test Match Specials’ Geoffrey Boycott, even saying he believed change has to be instigated to prevent the longer form of the game from ‘dying’. Unfortunately, Boycott’s comment is relevant, as Test Cricket crowds outside England are falling at a dramatic rate. Earlier in November the top six Test Match sides were playing each other at the same time (England v Pakistan, Australia v New Zealand, and South Africa v India), and all the matches were poorly attended, with the first day of the England vs Pakistan match in Abu Dhabi only being watched by 54 fans.
Many fans are struggling to make it to games, as they tend to take place across the working week, limiting the number of days that people can sacrifice to watch. As a result, the seemingly obvious and necessary decision has been made to increase the numbers attending, as what could be better after a hard day of work or school, than an evening spent watching some of the world’s greatest, battling it out in the pinnacle of cricket’s formats.
There are some who disagree with the change however, with the main concern of the critics being that the pink ball may behave in unusual ways, leading to an uneven contest between bat and ball, damaging the foundations of the reputation of a game that has remained almost unaffected in its traditionalist state for over one hundred years. The red ball has been used for such an extensive period of time to great effect, making the risk of using the pink ball foolish as if a team were to get bowled out for 50, or if a player was to hurt themselves because of the change, all of the cynics would be up in arms against the new format, and would most likely have more weight and support in their arguments.
Former England Batsman Kevin Pietersen has made his point of view clear by saying ‘Wickets change at night. Who wants to see a new ball at certain grounds around the world at 8 o'clock at night under lights. Are you mad?’ And as an avid supporter of Test Cricket, I can understand this, because whether you agree with the novelty of Pink ball cricket or not, it will change the way the game is played, and new tactics will have to be produced to reap the full benefit of both the pitches and ball.

The Match
Overall, the 3rd Test Match between Australia and New Zealand proved to be a fairly low-scoring affair, with Australia just edging their neighbours out by 3 wickets in a close yet comfortable encounter. With New Zealand scoring 202 and 208 respectively in their first and second innings, and Australia amassing 224, the Baggy Greens were left to score 187 on the third day, and although facing a tough battle against Trent Boult (5-60) and the wobbling ball, Shaun Marsh hit a match-winning 49 as his side limped to the target 7 wickets down.

Photography Club: Flight

by Sammie Materna

Frank Sinatra: Voice of the Century (Part 3)

by Emma Bell

No second acts in American lives, my foot.

Sinatra in From Here to Eternity
In 1951, Sinatra read the publishing success of the year – a novel about the bombing of an American Airbase at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, and in particular, the lives of three soldiers on that base before and after the attack.  From Here to Eternity was that novel and when he read it, Sinatra knew he had to play the supporting character of Private Angelo Maggio: “I knew that if the picture was ever made I was the only actor to play Private Maggio, the funny and sour Italo-American. I knew Maggio. I went to school with him. I was ­beaten up with him. I might have been Maggio.”

He called Harry ‘King’ Cohn (Head of Columbia Pictures) endlessly. He lobbied and pressed for the role, and Harry Cohn, (who had a signed picture of Mussolini on his desk at the studio and was known throughout Hollywood as an outright bastard) smiled and smirked and made Sinatra wait.  "Cohn looked at me," Sinatra said, "funny like, and said 'Look Frank, that's an actor's part, a stage actor's part. You're nothing but a hoofer.'"

According to Sinatra, Cohn changed his mind about giving Sinatra the part, after Frank agreed to take the role for $1,000 a week, a substantial drop from his usual price of $150,000 a film, even though nobody in Hollywood was willing to pay him a fraction of that price. The other version of what happened was depicted in the film The Godfather when a decapitated $600,000 horse head ends up in the bed of a Hollywood producer named Jack Woltz, who refuses to hire Italian singer Johnny Fontaine, a Mafia don's godson, for a film that will put him back on top again:

The most probable story is that Ava Gardner who by now was the top movie actress of the day, used her clout to persuade Cohn to allow Frank to screen test for the role – and once Fred Zimmerman saw the test, he knew he had his Maggio:

Newspapers praised Sinatra’s unique qualities that he brought to the role: Sinatra is "simply superb, comical, pitiful, childishly brave, pathetically defiant" said the Los Angeles Examiner, commenting that his death scene is "one of the best ever photographed.”

Sinatra won the 1953 Best Supporting Actor Academy Award:

This was the greatest resurrection since Lazarus: Sinatra was back and he was jubilant. It was the beginning of a beautiful decade for Sinatra. The only blot on the landscape was his divorce from Gardner in 1953, after barely two years of marriage. Legend has it that Ava preferred him when he was down on his luck.

His films became very interesting: he was extremely good as a would-be presidential assassin in Suddenly (1954). He outshone Marlon Brando’s Sky Masterson in Guys And Dolls (1955. And, as if to prove his versatility, he portrayed a heroin addict in The Man With The Golden Arm the same year and picked up an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He also made a number of great musicals such as Young at Heart, where he introduced the ‘saloon song’: 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Photography Club: Tree

by Henry Day

PGS Pride: Meeting The Muslim Drag Queen

by Tanya Thekkekkara

Yes, you have read the title correctly. Normally, Muslim and Drag Queen do not follow on from each other, but this is who Asifa Lahore inherently is. In August, Channel 4 released a documentary, Muslim Drag Queen, starring  Asif Quraishi; it mainly looked at Asif’s life and explored the hidden world of the gay Asian scene in Britain. I watched the documentary with awe and inspiration; as someone who understands the pressures that the Asian culture can present, seeing Asif defy society’s norms and stick to his authentic self, whilst remaining a devout Muslim, truly hit a nerve. I had to get in contact with him. 

After a couple of emails, Asif came to PGS on Friday, 4th December and gave an engaging talk about his life experiences to pupils. Before he presented his talk, I was lucky enough to get a chance to have lunch with him and discuss everything from his life to our favourite Bollywood movie (turns out we both love Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge ). Throughout the day, I couldn’t stop smiling. 

Of course, none of this would have even happened without the help and input of the founder of PGS Pride, Mrs Morgan. On behalf of the school, I would like to say thank you to Mrs Morgan, for allowing such a society to exist and for providing pupils with opportunities to make a difference, consequently broadening our horizons and achieving the ultimate goal of a tolerant and accepting society.

Interview with Asifa

How did you first come out to your parents?
I was 23. I realised I was gay as a young child but grew up in a traditional Muslim family and was fully aware of the conflict between my religion and my sexuality. Getting to the process of coming out took a decade. I actually came out to my sister when I was 16 after she read my diary and she was really supportive. I didn't have a word for it until I read the word 'homosexual' in the dictionary but I always knew I was different. Between 16 and 19 I studied at stage school and spent my time around  LGBT people for the first time - but no out-Muslims. I thought I was the only one. I was afraid of going into acting in case it exposed my sexuality to my parents so I dropped my Theatre Studies.I went to uni and studied Media and it's there that I met the man who is now my husband. He is Muslim and from Pakistan and was already out and proud when I met him. I came out to my parents because we wanted to get married. Qasim was already out to his parents (ministers in the Pakistani government) who came round to the idea very quickly. Mine, on the other hand reacted differently.

When I  finally told my parents that I was gay, their first response was to take me to the doctor. When the GP said there was nothing he could prescribe, I  was whisked off to the mosque, to speak to the Imam. I was told to choose between marrying a woman or living a life of religious devotion and celibacy.It was deemed that once I had a relationship with a girl everything would be fine and my heterosexual tendencies would suddenly be switched on. It was a very dark time in my life.I was pressured into an engagement with my first cousin in Pakistan. My studies suffered. My university lecturers noticed and put me in touch with an LGBT support group where I met Gaysians (LGBT Asians) for the first time. Many were in very unhappy fake marriages or marriages of convenience. I realised that I just couldn't go through with the marriage. After six months, during which time I sought out counselling and support from LGBT charities, I  ended the relationship. I just put my foot down and said, ‘no’. I can’t ruin a woman’s life like that. The truth is, if I want to marry, I want to marry a man.” I told my parents who took me back to the Imam. After much debate, he said that I could Qasim and still be a Muslim if I fulfilled the five pillars but that we must keep this secret from the rest of the community. We decided to have a secular rather than Islamic wedding so we wouldn’t have to keep it secret. Our marriage is legally legitimate and can be publicly recognised. 

How did you get into drag?

Auto Review: the Jaguar C-X75

by Lottie Perry-Evans

Jaguar C-X75, as featured in Spectre
Many of you have probably seen the most recent James Bond film. For me the biggest attraction to every Bond film is not the actors or the fight scenes (although these are, of course, a big part of it), but the cars that star alongside the actors and the inevitable car chases.

In the most recent film (Spectre), there were two cars which caught my attention: the Aston Martin DB10 which is one of the most incredible cars I’ve ever seen, in both its design and engineering, and there was also the Jaguar C-X75, which car intrigued me the most because it is a feat of engineering brilliance. I say this because it has the power of a Bugatti Veyron but also has the economy of a Toyota Prius. Now, this may sound impossible but I will explain how Jaguar and Williams Advanced Engineering worked together to create this machine, in this article.

Jaguar unveiled the C-X75 in 2010 as a concept, and in just two years it was made into a fully working prototype. In that incredibly short time span, Jaguar and their development partner Williams Advanced Engineering created an all-wheel drive, plug-in parallel hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with the world's highest specific power engine and Jaguar's first carbon composite monocoque (single shell) chassis. In 2012, it was decided that due to the global economic climate, the C-X75 would not enter full production and so was left as a concept car. The C-X75 represents the pinnacle of Jaguar’s engineering and design expertise.

Now to explain some of the more complicated engineering aspects of the car. The C-X75 has a combined power output in excess of 850 bhp (brake horse power) and 1000 Nm (Newton metres) of torque, thanks to its state-of-the-art, Formula 1-inspired, 1.6-litre dual-boosted (turbocharged and supercharged) four-cylinder power plant which generates 502 bhp at 10,000 rpm. In simpler terms, this means that the car can sprint from 0-100 mph in under six seconds and has a theoretical maximum speed of 220 mph. This hybrid also has a pure-electric range of 40 miles and the official-cycle CO2 of a Prius: 89g/km.

Not only is this car a feat of pure engineering brilliance, but it also looks incredible. Every single line and surface drips elegance and fluency, at least until you get to the back, where there’s a great big diffuser, which is all about purpose not beauty. There’s also a rear wing with multiple positions for downforce and cooling, which at rest sits flush to the body so as not to disrupt the lovely curves of the car’s hips and lower back. However, the wing mirrors stick out from the rest of the car and muck up the design and cause noise, drag and turbulence, none of which you want when paying £750,000 for a hypercar such as this. However, the C-X75 is not made for practicality, in order to squeeze in an engine, two electric motors, a battery, a fuel tank, 14 radiators, inboard bell-crank suspension, a habitable cockpit and keep the shape of the car slinky and aerodynamic, Jaguar had to miss out including a boot. So this car is made purely for enjoyment and technological innovation, not for practicality.

Frank Sinatra: Voice Of the Century (Part 2)

by Emma Bell

Sinatra was riding high.

Thousands of girls swooning at his crooning, hit records, radio shows and film musicals which all showcased his extraordinary talent.

Anchors Aweigh, a charming ‘sailors on shore leave’ tale with Gene Kelly, was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song at the Academy Awards; the song certainly demonstrated Sinatra’s confidence and warm delivery of the genre of the  ‘loser’s song’ : a genre he perfected over the years.

His next film project was particularly interesting:  The House I Live In was awarded a special Golden Globe and Academy Award for ‘Merit of a Film That Speaks Up Against Racism and Anti-Semitism’ in 1946. Sinatra was a lifelong Democrat and campaigner, (partly due to his mother Dolly’s huckstering in Hoboken) and as the son of immigrants, knew the sting of racism and gladly accepted the role of ‘himself’ in the documentary. It was simple but effective, but his politics earned him the wrath of the conservative Hearst press (Hearst newspapers ran articles against socialism, against the Soviet Union and especially against Stalin. Hearst also tried to use his newspapers for overt Nazi propaganda purposes, publishing a series of articles by Goering, Hitler’s right-hand man). Sinatra’s liberalism enraged Hearst.

However, by 1948, Sinatra's appeal was slipping; his beloved publicist and guardian of his reputation, George Evans died suddenly, and the singer was adrift. 

Ava Gardner

In February 1949 Frank met Ava Gardner, and met his match. She was a red-hot actress with an almost supernatural beauty and charisma. A tempestuous relation ensued immediately, followed with prurient glee by the Hearst press who denounced Sinatra’s   adulterous ways.  

The tension in his life affected his work: he performed at the Copa in New York in April 1949 and as he opened his mouth to sing his first number, his throat haemorrhaged and blood filled his mouth. Sinatra, white faced, fled from the stage.

Poem for Sunday: No En Mi Nombre,

by Liliana Nogueira-Pache, in Spanish (with an English translation below the break)

No En Mi Nombre

¡Qué cansancio ser Dios!
¿Qué ha pasado con mi creación?
¿A dónde se ha ido la pasión
 de vivir con amor?
¿No somos todos iguales
en diferente color?
Buda, Cristo,
Yahveh, Mahoma
Dios, Alá 
Krishna y,
pararé de contar.
¡Qué cansancio ser Dios!
¿Cómo puedo querer tanto rencor?
No, no en mi nombre
esta destrucción.
Santiago matamoros,
guerras de religión,
sacrificios sangrientos.
Tanta separación.
Cruzadas, holocaustos
primogénitos muertos
Arunachala, Jerusalém
Santiago de Compostela
Mecca, Lhasa
No, no en mi nombre,
infierno, karma

hades, sheol.

¡Qué cansancio ser Dios!
No, no en mi nombre
tanto servidor
Califas, Papas
Patriarcas, Lamas
Brahmanes, Rabinos.
No, no en mi nombre
tanta ilustración
Torá, Corán
Evangelios, Tripitaka
Apocalipsis y,
pararé de contar.
¡Qué cansancio ser Dios!
me pregunto
si en realidad
tiene alguna finalidad
que vuelva
en Navidad.
O en Pascua.
O en el Ramadán
o durante un Retiro Espiritual.

¡Qué cansancio ser Dios!

Friday, 4 December 2015


by Gemma Webb

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

Feel not ye roused, my fellow Portsmuthians? Feel not ye battle-primed?

W E Henley
The poem was untitled when Henley put it in a book of his own, but when Arthur Quiller-Couch included it the 1900 edition of The Oxford Book of English Verse, he named it 'Invictus': Latin for 'unconquered'. It moved from anthology to anthology and lodged in a multitude of brains, Nelson Mandela's among them. He found it a source of consolation during his years in prison and (so Clint Eastwood’s Invictus (2009) tells us) he drew it out again to spur Matt Damon and the South African rugby teaming to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Madiba isn't the only eminent figure of modern history to have found inspiration through the 140-year-old verses. Quoted by Martin Luther King Jr and Winston Churchill, Henley’s words have resonated with an astounding number of Nobel Prize laureates. They have also left their mark on popular culture: The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper claims he is ‘the captain of his own bladder’ after barricading himself in his room against imaginary intruders. This isn't to say to Invictus hasn't had its ugly moments. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, chose the poem as his final statement before his execution in 2001.