Tuesday, 28 April 2015

General Election 2015: The State of the Race

Year 12 pupils offer in-depth analysis of the General Election, discussing which party has had the best campaign, what role Scotland will play in the election, and which party/parties are most likely to form a government after May 7th. 

Why You Should Vote Liberal Democrat

by Adam Blunden

If you’ve already made your mind up about who you’re going to vote for in this mock election, just make sure you've heard all the candidates, and whether a party of fairness may be better than a party of extremes.

The current Sixth Form was a safe Conservative seat back in 2010. Times have changed, and I believe that any single candidate could make a good enough case to win the most likely swing seat- the Sixth Form.

Be absorbed by the media and you’ll not have a very good opinion of the Liberal Democrats, not least from the almost-militant NUS in its campaigns, calling our MPs liars and hypocrites when we were unable to bring all of our promises to fruition. For that’s where I want to start- since it’s the most obvious, and the vast majority of the Sixth Form will be heading into so-called ‘£40,000 of debt’.

Being the minority in a coalition government, with a party with some views that do not agree with your own, is likely to mean compromises have to be made, including in raising the cap on tuition fees. In government we had to stand by this- at the time it represented the very best deal we were able to achieve for students, in a system where the student loan doesn’t act as a normal item of debt- more like a graduate tax, although some other candidates (and their leaders, judging by a recent interview with a young, local, right-leaning caller on Radio 4’s World at One) would seem to think not. (If you’d like to learn more about the finance, I’d recommend Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert.com)

In reality our focus remains the same, ensuring quality, affordable education from cradle to college, as well our other key priorities in maintaining a fairer society that promotes a stronger economy. If you find yourself torn between opposing views and quite obviously a ‘floating voter’, then consider our policies as well, such as full border checks, helping to improve sustainability and reduce the impacts of climate change, building key infrastructure projects such as HS2, giving free school meals to all primary school pupils, increasing the NHS budget every year in real terms, and guaranteeing to get rid of the budget deficit before 2020.  We are likely to be the party with the best chance of being involved with a coalition government, since Labour’s rejection of the SNP. Our leader, Nick Clegg, remains the only leader to show himself as a genuine person, appearing weekly on LBC’s radio phone-in, and having now made two appearances on satirical news show The Last Leg.

In the last few days before this mock election, consider what you want to see on May 7th.  Granted, many of you may be revising, but do you really want to see another dull Conservative landslide as we did in the Middle School 5 years ago? In a coalition, the Liberal Democrats promise to give a heart to Conservatory Cuts, protecting the poorest in society from Osborne’s axe, as well as making sure Labour’s Lavishness is responsible and not putting the economy at risk. It would be even better if you voted Liberal Democrats outright- we want to use our values to appeal to as many people as possible across the PGS spectrum.

Stalin World and Bunkers: A Trip to Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus

by Dodo Charles 

Outside the Bunker
“Young Idiots, you have two minutes to escape to your freedom” These words were uttered in translated Russian, as we stood in an underground bunker in mouldy jackets, with a large dog barking at us. This was all after we had been made to put a gas mask on in under three seconds, then run around the bunker; got shouted at in Russian and learnt to reply Yes or No back in Russian very quickly (there was also lots of squatting, and for some, squatting and marching at the same time). What I am describing is the authentic Soviet Bunker experience that we did one morning for nearly three hours. At the end of the experience, we had been so indoctrinated that when asked if we wanted our freedom, we said “No.” And that sums up the majority of the trip for me.

However, I can’t write something about the trip without bringing up Stalin World: the home of hundreds of huge sculptures of Communist figures, a giant playground, a bear, an emu and lots of chickens. I don’t really need to say more about that one.

Stalinist play-doh
The other main theme (from a non-history point of view) has to be the dill- Nina’s article in German also references this. In the Baltic States it would appear that dill is not just a garnish, it is not just a food, but it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that would be ever-present throughout all of the food we ate that week- including dill crisps (yum…) Food continued to be of an interesting variety, with highlights of the “parent-child” chicken dish, and beetroot soup at varying temperatures.

I thought that I would write this article about the experience of the trip, but what I realised is that what we were experiencing was so traumatic and harrowing, that a natural human self-defence mechanism kicked in- that of humour to distract ourselves. Anyone who has been around myself, Paul, Nina, Hakan and Harrison will have witnessed this first hand, as we frequently descend into hysterics… It is not that we were insensitive to what was around us, rather that we found humour was the only way to cope with it, which in itself is an interesting look into what it must have been like under Soviet occupation: terrifying.

Why You Should Vote Scottish National Party

Alex McKirgan is representing the Scottish National Party in the PGS Election on May 7th.

In this election, the SNP has made the clearest, most coherent case for ending austerity. Labour
are so afraid of being accused of being financially reckless by the Tory press that the are merely
offering 'Austerity-lite'. The SNP are also the only major party committed to voting against the
renewal of Britain's nuclear deterrent.

Let's take these in turn. Austerity has failed. Not only has it failed as an economic policy, it has
failed by the targets set by George Osbourne, himself. At the last election, Alastair Darling said that
trying to eliminate the deficit completely in 5 years was a self-defeating policy driven more by an
idealogical drive to reduce the size of the state. He proposed that Labour would cut much more
slowly and halve the deficit in the five years of the next parliament. The Tories screamed that this
would make Britain like Greece, the bond markets would panic and dump British debt leading to
crippling rises in interest rates. For the first 3 years of the Parliament, the coalition cut hard and
guess what.....? Aggregate demand collapsed at a time the Eurozone was struggling. Not only did
the economy shrink in real terms, Government revenues fell. So, as fast as government spending
fell, revenues came down, meaning the deficit reduction stalled. In the second half of the
Parliament, the cuts slowed down and guess what happened.....? the economy started to grow.

At the end on this parliament, real wages are still 2.5% below 2010 and the deficit has been halved
rather than eliminated. This is a deficit reduction that, when proposed by Alastair Darling, was
supposed, according to the Tories, to put us on the road to bankruptcy. The clear conclusion that
we should have learned from the 1930s is that trying to clear the deficit when demand is weak, is
self-defeating. There is an even stronger moral argument against this austerity and deficit fetish.
Cutting government spending clearly affects people lower down the economic scale. The decision
to cut spending while cutting the tax rate for higher earners is clearly ideologically driven and
clearly morally reprehensible. There may not be many people at this school who's families rely on
benefit payments, but that doesn't mean we should be unconcerned by the consequences of this
damaging policy. Austerity has needlessly inflicted terrible damage on some parts of our
community and even if this hasn't affected us, we should still be outraged.

The SNP has committed to bring down the deficit while increasing budgets by 0.5% pa. This
spending will go into investments in health, education, housing and infrastructure. The SNP has
been in government in Scotland since 2007 and has shown it can implement progressive policies
and balance the books while maintaining a strong partnership with business, something the Labour
Party has struggled to achieve under Ed Milliband.

The SNP is also the only major party committed to voting against the renewal of Trident. This
nuclear deterrent is no deterrent at all against the type of threats we currently face. Did Britain
having nuclear weapons deter Argentina from invading the the Falklands? No. Did NATO having
nuclear weapons deter Russia from annexing Crimea? No. Did the U.S. having nuclear weapons
deter the 9/11 attackers? No. Were ISIS deterred by Western nations having nuclear weapons?

I believe we should be spending money to defend the country, but let's spend that money on things
that actually defend us. By retaining nuclear weapons we are clinging to a symbol that harks back
to when Britain was a world power. We are not a world power. We are a medium sized European
country and we would be better off if we started behaving like one. Retaining a nuclear capability is
not a costless decision. Replacement of Trident will cost £100 billion. If the biggest challenge we
face is the deficit, then this is a very expensive status symbol that we cannot afford. Just imagine
the good we could do if we spent that money on improving the health and productive capacity of
our country. Are people in Italy, Denmark, Holland and Germany less safe than us? Rubbish. They
have wisely decided to focus their defence efforts on being a productive member of NATO while
investing to grow their economies with the money that we spend building and maintaining
expensive nuclear bunkers in Argyll.

Is Newzoids a Dead Spit?

by Sophie Parekh

Surprisingly, I actually did my research for this one (even if it did involve many hours on the youtubes…) and I have come to a conclusion, which I shall explain in a wee while. But first, the opening statements, m’lord! 

I was very much looking forward to Newzoids before it came out two weeks ago, and I did think, that it would be another Spitting Image. But, to be fair, Spitting Image was fantastic. Youtube now recommends about forty episodes to me every time I log on. I still vouch that ‘You’ll never meet a nice South African’ should have been number one, hands down.  I have been told, many a time, by my parents that Spitting Image was so grotesquely controversial, and I can see why. Comparing old Maggie Thatcher to Hitler isn’t exactly the Teletubbies. Although rude, it was very clever, all those subtle references and snide little offsides I think made it so memorable, because it was what everyone wanted to hear. I.e. that the people running their country were as useful as an underwater toaster. 

But moving swiftly back to Newzoids. People were bound to compare it to Spitting Image, and yes some people were disappointed that it isn’t quite as controversial, but I think they're missing the point. When Spitting Image came into being, there wasn’t really much topical comedy around at the time, so this was one of the only sources of political mick taking. And being what it is, people were shocked, because they hadn’t seen anything like it. But nowadays, we’ve got so much in the way of topical amusement. Twitter, for starters (#milifandom being my personal fave at the mo) and things like Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You etc. have the same aim as Spitting Image did. To destroy the reputation of all politicians and influential figures in the most horrific way possible. Gosh, I’m rambling a bit. Anyway, I think that’s why some people may say that Newzoids isn’t as gruesome; because we’ve become desensitised, effectively. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Professional Advice on a Career in Journalism

Old Portmuthian, Ian Burrell, an editor of the Independent newspaper, spoke to PGS pupils last week about his experiences as a journalist and offered the following advice to those considering a career in journalism:

Ian Burrell
(source: Independent)

·        Journalism is not dying – it is more dynamic and exciting than ever, feeding a constant news cycle across multi-media formats, from instant tweets, blogs and vlogs online to long-form investigations, essays and documentaries in print and video. News media will always exist.

·        Working in the media can be a gateway to worlds that you would never otherwise have access to. You can interview the power players in the sectors that interest you and have a front row seat as history is made in world affairs, domestic politics, sport or other specialist fields.

·        Your working life can be extraordinarily varied and full of surprises.

·        Above all you should be driven by an innate interest in news and in uncovering and relating important facts. You should start to hone this interest now, devouring news articles and building knowledge of national and international politics and current affairs. A love of writing is important to those in print media. A love of story-telling is crucial in all forms of news media.

·        Develop practical skills and gain confidence by being proactive in contributing to school publications and blogs. Create your own blogs or YouTube channels to experiment with writing, filming and technology.

·        For example, creating a blog on a senior local amateur sports team by writing match reports, filming action on an iPhone or handheld camera, recording interviews with players. Creating a Twitter account and linking to the blog content. Such teams enjoy little media coverage and might welcome having their own specialist reporter.

·        Similarly creating a blog on fashion and taking your own pictures, or writing reviews of local theatrical productions and films. Critiquing plays can help you develop a relationship with the PR teams at the theatres, which is a valuable lesson in understanding the workings of the media and could lead to you being granted interviews with actors and directors and being given tickets for press night performances.

·        An understanding of the workings of the media has immense value beyond news organisations and is important to those interested in jobs in marketing, PR and communications, advertising and, indeed, business and politics. Who knows when you might have to deal with a social media storm or defend your company’s record in a television interview?

·        If you wish to pursue a career in the news media then certain degree subjects are obviously relevant, for example English Literature, History and Politics. But language degrees are immensely useful for the future foreign correspondent, as Economics qualifications are invaluable to the business reporter. If your great interest is in modern science or art and you love to tell stories then it is feasible to study those subjects at university and become a specialist journalist in those areas.

Sparkly and Proud

by Sian Latham

Twilight. The book all teenagers fail to mention either due to a fear of ridicule or of starting another round of hatred that seems unfounded and petty. I’ll be the first to put my hands up and admit that, yes, I have read them and, yes, I enjoyed them. The books, so shunned by society, seem no different than any other female targeted teenage romance book that I have had the experience of reading. Yes, the love interest is a sparkly vampire that is less scary than the klutzy human character that centers the focus of the book, yet what other teenage romance novel doesn’t follow a similar pattern? ‘Shiver’, a book by Maggie Stiefvater, features a girl who is in love with a boy that shifts into a werewolf and their love, as a result, is impossible. ‘Vampire Academy’, another such novel, has a female character that falls in love with a fearsome warrior that society says can’t be anything more than a role model to her. ‘Hush Hush’; yet again, another example of a female falling in love with a boy who is not compatible for her. So why, even with so many examples that follow almost the exact same principle, does Twilight suffer the brunt of literary abuse.

Perhaps, we could argue, it is that the other novels did not attempt to stretch beyond their pages into the realm of movies. The acting was not, in any sense of the word, decent and the storyline that held so well in pages of a book, flopped in cinematic presentation. Yet, what makes that so different from other occurrences of the same story? Recently, Divergent is another example of a story that captured the hearts and minds of its reader and yet failed to make half the impact when portrayed on film. Interestingly, perhaps, is that Divergent is also a teen fiction novel: maybe the entire genre should remain on paper. That said, though the film was a poor imitation of the brilliance of the book: the book is still given credit. Again making me question, why Twilight?

Twilight, in all its flaws and imperfections, is not that different from most of the other books it shares a shelf with in bookstores around the country. Perhaps the female heroine is too weak, the males all too needy and lacking of backbone, the alteration to gothic monsters displeasing to those who adore the traditional portrayal. Nonetheless, doesn’t every book suffer under the opinion of one and soar under the opinion of another? That is the sheer beauty of literature: the freedom to hate and adore as we wish. I wonder then, have we lost this ability? Particular books, not just Twilight, seem to have reached a status in our society in which people feel they cannot argue against the opinion that is most vocal. Books like the Discworld series are almost immortalized and praised for their genius, very rarely is a bad word said against them. I myself adore Terry Pratchett's books, the ingenuity is almost unparalleled, yet I didn’t always see them that way, in fact I hated them when I first tried to read them. With my father being a huge fan of the novels, I felt I couldn’t tell him that I really did not like the lunacy of the words and simply stopped reading them quietly. Looking back now, I see no reason why I should have felt unable to express my own view and perhaps it is a similar position people find themselves in with the Twilight books.If you feared ridicule and laughter upon even the slightest hint that you enjoyed reading them, would a young teenager feel able to stand up against the great swathes of hatred and bias that seems to envelope the slightest mention of the books? I would hope so.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Poem for Sunday: Patterns in Nature

 by Phoebe Warren

Knowledge grows upon each fold
Crafting its path through cuts and scolds
Lines ebbing away 
The naked shame
Of the once flawless creations

The blank sheet is scratched and scarred 
Ink trickles down the coloured chard 
A needle indents
The artist commences
To create meaning for the piece 

The creasing of the once taunt skin 
As each fold nestles into the chin 
Buries deeper into 
Its skeleton frame 
Crevices; peaks form this landscape

A human maps the rigid wake 
Left by the rocks stacked by the lake  
Circles and lines 
Match their height 
Paving an explorer's delight 

Alas, see - the nobel tree bark
Its subtle patterns make her mark 
Years of wisdom
Trapped in her trunk:
We yearn for her enlightenment 

And so we find the piece complete 
Space where desolate finds defeat 
Comprehension marks  
Contour, skin and barks
With lines in which the truth secretes 

Made in Dagenham- a Tale of Two Role Models

by Isabelle Welch

Over the past Easter holiday I was dragged to the theatre by my mother to what I was expecting to be a particular dry dramatisation of how a group of female factory workers become empowered to demand equal pay for women in post-war Britain. I was sceptical as to how such a dense topic could be deemed appropriate for a musical, but my Mother claimed it was a stellar production, and thankfully- albeit somewhat annoyingly- she was right.

I was not alone in my scepticism as I later read that numerous critics also had a host of reservations, acutely aware that a plot surrounding ‘ the issue of equal pay’ was vulnerable to earnestness creeping in. But with a director as gifted with the visual flair as Rupert Goold and a writer as wittily inclined as Richard Bean, Made in Dagenham was anything but dry. The pastiche of sixties rock and pop, glam, glam costumes and the edgy industrial set leant more to sustaining what the Guardian referred to as ‘a feel-good factor - larger-than-life meets tongue-in-cheek’, than to anything else.

The fictional heroine, Rita O’Grady, played by former Bond girl Gemma Arterton, with her fine singing voice and beauty, combined to create a commanding presence on stage. Arterton succeeded in highlighting the shameful treatment of women in the form of unequal pay in a wonderfully humorous way. The backdrop to the storyline was the hesitancy of the hilarious, all-singing, all-dancing - and pipe-sucking - Harold Wilson to challenge the unions; the legendary Labour bigwig Barbara Castle reconceived as a lung-busting diva and the brash, jingoistic Mr. Ford jetting in from America to quash the strike – complete with cowboy hat, tank and machine gun.

We Have An Obligation to Change The World

PGS Model United Nations Secretary-General, Ross Watkins, made this keynote speech at yesterday's PGS Model United Nations Conference:

In a world of supposed peace and prosperity there is also untold misery. Capitalism in its current state is not working. Hard work and innovation should pay…but not at the expense of others. Over the last 200 years, in tandem to the growth of capitalism, global inequality has soared. This has been particularly bad since the 1980’s where reckless free market ideologies where given the given the chance to operate.  This can be seen in the states where in 2013, CEOs at major U.S. companies earned an average of 296 times their typical worker's salary, according to research from the Economic Policy Institute. Struggling to afford food at one end……struggling to afford that second private jet at the other. We need to work together to try and find a new system. A system which will allow everybody to prosper and create a world for every living creature.

The human race is not the one in anguish from human greed. The planet, the home of millions of different species of plant animal and of course us, is also suffering. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. However regardless of the position you take on whether it is the fault of humans the climate is warming and it is an issue that need to be dealt with. To quote the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” Are we dealing with the issue? No we seem not to have taken the steps to avoid the impending and inevitable tragedy.  Why? We have global responses to financial crises, outbreaks of disease and anything else that threatens the global economy…………………We do not respond because of greed. Greed of large multinational co-operations lobbying governments to safe guard their large profits at the expense of the environment. They do not act for fear of losing their vast profits. This is issue which can only be solved if we put the planet and the average person first over those who only look out for themselves. 

Recently I have been horrified by two news stories which have drifted towards me on social media. The first was the story about Trophy Hunters and their exploits. The attack on these sick individuals led by Ricky Gervais quickly gathered support and rightly so. The nature of these killings were horrific. Rich people exploiting there wealth to bribe corrupt governments to kill these beautiful creatures. What for? So they could get a thrill …. So they could see these elegant creatures die ? To boast about it on social media ? ….. We know many of the creatures they hunt, especially the larger mammals, have nearly identical emotions to us. Should they be sacred, killed and mutilated all in the name of sport?

The second is that of Katie Hopkins…. a columnist for the Sun Newspaper. Recently she stated, hours before 800 migrants lost their lives, “Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches.” Let us think what she is saying there. She is comparing these human beings who are fleeing torture, war and the Islamic State to pests. She is using the same language as before the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 where hundreds of thousands of innocent people were butchered. Where free speech turns to hate speech. These comments should not be forgiven and when people incite hatred in this way we need a common response. The United Nations has since condemned the Sun Newspaper for issuing the statement and said that UK newspapers should respect International Laws on curbing hate speech. This is how we should respond standing together in the face of animosity towards innocent people.

I hoped I have not scared too many with this pessimistic view about world. I do believe we have achieved great things and that we have the potential to move forwards. Rapid advances in technology have improved life expectancy and also the quality of life for many. We are in the most peaceful time in the whole of human history. All this has been achieved through collaboration. Effectively we need to work together to try and find a new system. A system which will allow everybody to prosper and create a world for every living creature. 
The United Nations has helped us reach the world we are in now. It has allowed countries to collaborate and reach a consensus on world issues. It has helped us move away from world policy being dominated by a few key players. But of course we can do more. We have allowed countries such and the United States to take aggressive actions of foreign policy which have destabilised whole regions. We have failed to act when ethnic minorities have been slaughtered in Africa. Instead on dwelling on this past failures we should make sure they should never happen again.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Chinese fashion industry- their consumers and the millions to be made from them.

by Charlotte Povey

 China has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and it is fair to say there is lots of money to be made in this booming country. Chinese consumers have rapidly changed over the last few years, with the middle class having more disposable income from the levitations in salaries. A well-known fact is that social status in China is very important to consumers; this has meant that recently the fashion industry has benefited greatly from the new investments that Chinese people are willing to make.

The newly found consumers from the flourishing economy have taken a more sophisticated, mature approach when purchasing their garments; for them it’s all about good quality brands that they believe help their image. Most are willing to pay the prices for this.

However it’s not all-good news for the businesses of fashion; consumers have become ever more mistrustful and they examine every item they intend to buy within millimetres; they will not let one fault in quality past them. One thing that is rarely seen from Chinese consumers these days is the purchasing of products on line without seeing the end product first; they are highly put off from paying before receiving. In order to satisfy them, new third party platforms have been set up where money is only transferred into the seller's account once the buyer has specifically verified the purchase after delivery. Chinese consumers have notably become far more wary of where their money ends up. It is vital, in their opinion, that it enters the correct hands, for the correct reasons.

The respect for western brands is rising rapidly in china, especially for the high-end names. Chinese people love the idea of foreign products and the high quality they carry. Additionally the admiration the Chinese have for western-style life has meant that British and Italian products in particular are becoming more of an interest for the Chinese consumers. With brands such as Gucci and Prada being a notorious favorite.
In China, luxury comes with a high price, this means that they are more willing to splash the cash when on vacation as designer clothes in Europe are thought to cost 40% less than they do in China. We can even see that these investments the Chinese are making within Europe include the housing industry, as well as the fashion industry.

For companies marketing to the Chinese consumers it is key to know the history and culture in order to understand how the buyers work.  For example large fashion companies with a prestigious and elegant history are particularly appealing to these consumers. One other aspect Chinese consumers appreciate hugely from high end brands is ability to connect through social media. China is a progressive country and when fashion labels connect with buyers over the Internet it gives them a personal touch they find attractive. Through effective social media it is easy to keep consumers loyalty. Data records have shown that by the end of this year online retail sales will hit $540 billion just within China. This is due to the introduction of e-commerce platforms and third party platforms that have been introduced to most online retail stores. Chinese consumers increasingly expect to find platforms when purchasing online.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Poem: Election Season

by Benedict Lister

Oh happy times, oh glorious spring!
Electioneering is in full swing,
The politicians bleat and bray
As out they trot to have their say!

Look!  A spaniel, nice Nick Clegg,
 Trained when to bark and how to beg.
Freed from the leash, he whines and yaps
‘Take me back in! I don't mind scraps!’

Here’s a Sturgeon from the Clyde,
That failed to make the great divide.
"I'll do a deal and spawn a stash
Of caviar  - with Labour cash!"

And there’s that donkey, Milliband,
Hee-hawing up and down the sand.
‘Free rides for all, sit down! Relax!
I’ll  kick the rich with a mansion tax!’

Now comes a chortling pig from Kent,
Who feeds on beer and discontent,
Who grunts and chunters badinage:
‘Save British bacon! Back Farage!’

'Mr Zoot Suit' by Francesca Strongitharm-Cornell and the HCYO Big Band

HCYO Big Band, featuring Francesca Strongitharm-Cornell,   play 'Mr Zoot Suit'

Eine Woche voller Luftschiffe, Dill und der KGB

by Nina Luckmann

KGB Museum
Als sich die Gelegenheit bot, nach Litauen und Lettland zu fahren, habe ich mir zu Beginn nicht all zu viel dabei gedacht. Anfangs wurden meine Erwartungen sogar getroffen: sobald wir landeten, starrte uns eine kalte, graue Landschaft an, die sich überraschend England ähnlich sah… 

Doch noch nie war die Redewendung das man ‘ein Buch nicht nach seinem Einband beurteilet’ mehr relevant. 

Vilnius as sich - die Hauptstadt Litauens - war eine Stadt mit so wenig Logik hinter des Baustils, dass wir uns nach kurzer Zeit irritiert auffanden. Der Mischmasch aus modernen, altrussischen und kommunistischen Gebäuden, die alle schlecht erhalten sind und daher zerfallen, ist überwältigend und verwirrend. Nichts passt zusammen. Jedoch trotz des allem war es ohne Frage die interessanteste Stadt die ich jäh besucht habe. Dort war die Geschichte noch am Leben: die Vergangenheit war noch so stark zu spüren, uns so offensichtlich noch ein Teil des Alltags, dass es nur als faszinierend beschreiben werden kann. Riga and Kaunas waren nicht gross anders: auch hier war die vermischte Geschichte zu sehen.

Unter anderem fuhren wir während der Woche zu dem alten KGB Hauptquartier in Vilnius. Dort haben, vor so wenig wie fünfundzwanzig Jahren, Geheimagenten Menschen, auf Grunde weniger Hinweise, in den grausamsten Wegen gefoltert (vom Wasserraum, zu Schlaf Entzugs Methoden, zu Schalldichten Räumen). Nicht überraschend schrecklich war das Executionszimmer; die systematische Abschlachtung unschuldiger Menschen war damals relativ üblich. 

Mittags fuhren wir in, was die Menschen dort behaupteten war, ein ‘stereotypisches Westernes Restaurant’. Die oben genannten ‘Luftschiffe’ - Hackfleisch das von einer art Kartoffelteig umgeben war - waren ein wenig schwerfällig, und viele assen zum vierten mal die Woche Hähnchen mit Reis, aber trotzdem war das Restaurant eins der Highlights der Klassenfahrt,  besonders für die, die schon ein mal gewesen waren. 

Happy 200th Birthday, Anthony Trollope

by Laura Burden

Anthony Trollope was one of the most widely read novelists in the Victorian era. His output was voluminous and the majority of his works commercially and critically successful. Today (24th April) marks the bicentenary of his birth and the inevitable “anniversary appraisal”. Is Trollope still regarded as an “eminent Victorian” – or as a celebrity writer whose works lack the substance to endure?

If you ask most people with even a small amount of knowledge of nineteenth century British fiction to name the key novelists of the Victorian period, most will begin with Charles Dickens and then add the Brontë sisters, and perhaps William Makepeace Thackeray and George Eliot.

Trollope was a more prolific writer than all of these great figures. Dickens and Thackeray lectured and wrote articles, sketches, short stories and novellas, but in terms of full-length works, Dickens published fifteen and Thackeray twelve. The longest living of the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, had three novels published in her lifetime and wrote a total of four. George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) wrote seven full-length novels. Anthony Trollope wrote and published forty-seven. Forty-seven!

It is, perhaps, the relentless nature of his output, as well as his popularity (sales at times topped 100,000 – even in today’s world of global marketing and widespread literacy that would be respectable; for the time, it was phenomenal) that has aroused critical suspicion. Art should be above grubby mercenary considerations! The creation of fiction should be a painful process, with the author sacrificing all on the altar of their creation. The ineffable process of writing a novel should be born from inspiration and from hours of frustrated toil in a garret.

In fact, Trollope understood the most basic of lessons for any author – that good writers write. They do not procrastinate. They have a routine. They rely on perspiration as well as inspiration. They manage to balance their burgeoning career as a writer with their day job.

Trollope was a practical man. He paid his servant an extra £5 a year to wake him before 5am every morning with a cup of coffee. He then sat down and wrote from 5am to 8am, often producing about 3,000 words (to put that into perspective, your average Sixth Form essay is about 1,500 words). Of course he would later edit, proof-read and re-write – but the words were there. At 8am he would change and go to work – for years as a Post Office official and then as a politician. He did not support himself and his family solely as a writer of fiction until he was 55.

Trollope’s “day jobs” were deeply interesting in their own right. The most famous piece of trivia about him is that he introduced the post box to Britain. After a wretched beginning in his civil service career for the Post Office, he rose within the ranks to hold great responsibility. He spent much of his Post Office Career in Ireland but returned to England in 1851 and spent two years riding around England and south Wales re-organising the delivery of mail to rural and isolated areas. The detailed depiction of countryside life and the concerns of those living in the shires across the social spectrum in his “Barchester novels” in particular originates from this time.

One of the aspects of his life and work that makes him a deeply interesting author in 2015 is Trollope’s career as a politician and his portrayal of electioneering. In 1868 he stood for parliament in Beverley (Yorkshire) as a Liberal. He never expected to win, and finished last, but in the process, and at great personal and financial cost, he drew national attention to political corruption in this constituency. Trollope’s six “Palliser novels” in particular draw upon his intimate knowledge of a political world that was, believe it or not, more cut-throat and shabby than today’s.
So, if you have never read a Trollope novel, where should you start? Here are a few recommendations:

·         He Knew He Was Right - The “he” of the title, Louis Trevelyan, is, in fact, completely wrong. He is a respectable and wealthy man, whose wife, Emily, adores him and has given birth to a little boy, their first child. But Louis becomes convinced that Emily is having an affair with the dashing Colonel Osborne. Louis is mistaken, and the reader knows it. It is with a feeling similar to watching Shakespeare’s Othello, another work that deals with the distorting mirror of jealousy, that we see him begin to destroy all of the good things in his life on the basis of a false assumption.
·         The Warden – This is not my favourite of the “Barchester novels” but it is the first, and the series of six should be read in chronological order. Trollope invented “Barchester” and “Barsetshire” on the basis of his rural rides working for the Post Office (in turn, the name helped inspire “Borsetshire” on Radio 4’s The Archers). Barchester is a cathedral city and many of the novels in the series focus on the principles and preoccupations of the clergy in this pre-Darwinian world. The Warden can seem a woolly book, lacking a clear villain and with a likeable but ineffectual hero, but it shows in a stark manner how an innocent man’s reputation can be ruined by the popular press in a way that eerily foreshadows the revelations of the Leveson Inquiry.
·         Miss Mackenzie – Miss Mackenzie has been a spinster all her life. She is pleasant and has lived blamelessly but is not particularly beautiful. But when she comes into some money, suddenly three suitors find her attractive enough to want to marry her, and an evangelical Christian circle wishes to embrace her. From a twenty-first century perspective it is a troubling novel. Trollope’s social satire and his focus on the relationship between love and money is reminiscent of Jane Austen’s but, although the wit is similar to Pride and Prejudice, the novel lacks a Mr Darcy.

My own favourite is Framley Parsonage, which is the fourth of the six “Barchester novels” (although it can be read independently from the small series). To me, this novel encapsulates Trollope’s preoccupations: it avoids polarised characters, with each individual being portrayed in a nuanced way; it centres upon the difficulties that clergymen, who are, after all, flawed human beings, face in setting an example to others; it portrays rural life both affectionately and realistically; it centres upon dangerous level of influence those in positions of power wield and upon the constraints of Victorian gender roles.

We are introduced to the “hero”, the Reverend Mark Robarts, Vicar of Framley, at the start of the novel. Typically, he is no hero, but nor is he a villain: “…he was born no heaven’s cherub, neither was he a born fallen devil’s spirit. Such as his training made him, such as he was. He had large capabilities for good – and aptitudes also for evil, quite enough: quite enough to make it needful that he should repel temptation as temptation only can be repelled.” In the opening biography of Mark Robarts, Trollope tells us in a straightforward manner of his birth, education, fortunate associations and rapid promotion on the basis of favouritism by Lady Lufton, who appoints Mark to the living of Framley, gaining him promotion from curate to vicar at a very young age. We have been given the facts, but we infer from the outset that Mark’s life is not his own: he is beholden to Lady Lufton and has been moulded into a career that may not have been his own choice.

And he is tempted. He accepts invitations away from Framley to mix with those inhabiting a higher social sphere – for his education and training has inflated his sense of self-importance. He misses Sunday services at Framley and annoys his patron, Lady Lufton. Then, catastrophe. He signs to guarantee a bill for the local wastrel of an MP, Mr Sowerby, and when Sowerby cannot pay the bill it falls to Mark, on a rural vicar’s income and with two children to support, to do so. Mark is tempted again and again and it is excruciating. Each time, we will him to resist, to go home to Framley and simply do his job diligently, to go and sit with his straightforward, wonderful wife…and, each time, he disappoints us, leading his family further and further towards debt and disgrace. It is a tempest in a teacup, but this is what Trollope does best – exploring the intricacies of ordinary lives.

As the novelist Amanda Craig wrote in her appraisal of Trollope in The Telegraph on 28th February: “Our manners and prejudices may have changed in 200 years, but in essence most of us want similar things to do with love, work, status, family and friends.”  If you have yet to read a Trollope novel, make some time over the summer break to do so. He faithfully renders small details about everyday successes and failings in a depth that makes him relevant in 2015.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

How Internet Ads Inhibit Freedom

by Robert Merriam

It’s pretty hard to go anywhere on the internet without seeing Ads. They pop up before you tube videos, hang about in the corners of most web pages and suggest themselves to us on Facebook. And this isn't surprising, advertising is the lifeblood of the internet it’s the thing that has turned online media from a hobby to a viable career for millions of people. Huffington Post, College Humour, Yahoo, Cracked, Facebook all of these sites rely at least partially on Ad revenue to function. The same goes for the entirety of the You tube community some of whom live solely off ad revenue. In 2013 internet advertising revenues reached $42.6 billion, a score to rival television advertising. It is without a doubt quickest, easiest and most common way to make money from content online but some fairly major problems seem to be emerging.

Starting with YouTube. Their service ‘AdSense’ is what allows you posting videos on their site to put Ads in front of their videos, earning you money. However by agreeing to this you are allowing Google (You Tubes owner) to take 32% of the profit from your videos, which is fair enough; if you’re making money on their site it makes sense that they get a share and if you don’t like it you can publish your content elsewhere... Except you can’t. You tube is the third most visited site on the internet, no other video sharing site comes anything like close to it. If you want to make a living or even a hobby out of online video you pretty much have to do it through You Tube. But if you’re starting out now it’s going to be really difficult, much more so than it was a few years ago. Now that You Tube has its celebrities with millions of guaranteed viewers the site pushes them to the forefront gently diverting visitors to the site toward the biggest people on it, because that is where the money is. The result is that what was a level playing field where anyone could make it is now becoming a hierarchy in which it is very hard to reach to the top, with the few who got there first reaping the benefits and effectively closing the gate on the potential next generation. And if you’re hoping to find success without Ads it’s even more hopeless as you’ll be of no interest to You Tube financially, and can’t hope to be noticed.

But if you do happen to be a successful channel or site with good income from Adverts on your content there is another issue. Say hypothetically that your site is a news sight (a la Huffington Post) and 100% of the Ads on your site are for Coca Cola. If you were to publish a story exposing that Coca Cola is made of cockroaches and dirt Coca Cola would pull the Ads from your site, meaning that you can’t make any money. In this situation your independent, self made business basically belongs to Coca Cola because they control your income and can cut it off at any point.

That is of course a gross over simplification but it is the problem that arises when you rely on advertisers for a profit, your income is made up of small payments from larger companies that can afford internet advertising in essence making you a subsidiary of these huge co-operations. This sullies the idea that the internet is a more free open place than the mainstream media. Can we fully trust anyone that relies on advertising to put their income on the line for a risky joke or a scandalous news story? Or that the opinions they are expressing are theirs or that of a co-operation?

We are not yet at a stage where advertisers have this much control but I do not think it is unrealistic to believe that they could in the near future. The internet evolves at such a rate and at the moment it is heading in a direction I don’t think I like. So is there an alternative? As this article has probably made clear I’m not an expert in this field but I do have a suggestion. What about paying for stuff? It makes sense, it's only until very recently that we've come to expect free content, there are plenty of people I would be happy to pay 0.2 pence per video to watch, especially if it alleviates the possibility that they might be censoring themselves to appease advertisers. Sites like Patreon allow viewers to fund content creators like this and they have become more popular as content creators try to break out of the confines of Ad dependency.

Either way it seems we may be at a crossroads for online media, do we want it free at point of delivery or for our content creators to be free to do what they wish.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Overcoming Injury - Mind over Matter?

This essay by Anna Reynolds was a finalist in this year's Ithaka Prize. 

You may think your body’s failed you, but behind every injury there is psychology. My initial thoughts on this subject were that the only thing that can help recovery in the rehabilitation process is advice from doctors and physiotherapists on exercises and physiological strategies to overcome the injury. However, more recently sports psychologists have identified that the main hurdles when facing an injury are athlete’s psychological responses. Physiotherapists, doctors and nurses can work their magic and do everything possible for an athlete, however if that individual does not have the right mind-set for recovery, then that injury will continue to loom over them.

I intend to discover the role of sports psychologists within elite sport and how they can help athletes’ recover from injury as well as aiding their performance on and off the pitch. Firstly I will consider the main causes of injury through the use of several case studies. These highlight the causes and show that they can have a serious effect on an individual’s sporting career.

Injuries occur for a number of reasons; there are four main causes: physical, environmental, socio-cultural and psychological. Physical causes include fatigue, overuse and muscle imbalance. Environmental causes involve things such as unsafe or broken equipment and slippery surfaces.

Socio-cultural causes are the attitudes and philosophies of teams and cultures that cause injury e.g. the idea that pain tolerance shows strength and resilience and seeking medical attention is a weakness and inferior to fighting through the pain, the notion that injury is a part of sport. Dan Pfaff, the American athletics coach who trained Donovan Bailey, Greg Rutherford and Jonnie Peacock believes that in elite sport there is a mentality for athletes to push their bodies and keep on pushing. Pfaff believes there is a breaking point and often athletes overwork their bodies and end up with an injury, which could have easily been avoided. In our sporting society many of us adopt the “no pain, no gain” attitude, however Pfaff believes that this can do more harm than good.

Finally there are psychological causes; evidence suggests that there are two main categories: stress and personality. Psychological research has suggested that risk of injury is in proportion to levels of stress, so when more stressed, you are much more likely to suffer an injury. This is due to several factors; firstly the stress acts as a distraction so an athlete is less likely to focus on their sport, and risk of injury is enhanced. Secondly, stress narrows an athlete’s attention so they could miss important cues and stimuli. Finally, stress increases an athlete’s muscle tension; this inhibits the coordination of movement, therefore increasing risk of injury.

One example of an elite athlete coping with high levels of stress and the detrimental affect that had on their performance is Sir Steve Redgrave. Having already won two rowing Olympic gold medals previously in his career, in 1992 Redgrave was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Throughout the 1992 season there were only two months when Redgrave was fit and healthy; during this time he completed one of the best races of his life and managed to win his third Olympic gold medal with Matthew Pinsent in Barcelona.

The second hurdle Redgrave had to overcome had a detrimental effect on his mental state. In November 1997 he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Redgrave thought this was the end of his career. He believed there was no way he was going to be able to compete at such a high level with the condition; he thought it was all over. However when he spoke to his specialist they came to the conclusion that the journey was going to be very bumpy, however there was no reason why Redgrave should not aim to go to Sydney and try and win a fifth gold medal. Redgrave was stepping into the unknown; no professional rower had ever juggled a high performance training programme with type 2 diabetes.
Just before Christmas 1997 there were signs of the colitis returning, Redgrave had several tests to discover the severity of the situation, however with the diabetes and the potential return of colitis, everything was getting a bit much for the Olympic champion. Whist waiting for the results of his tests, he missed his first ever training session without telling his coaches and team mates and went for a skiing holiday with his family. This is a classic sign of someone dealing with illness by avoidance; he wanted to escape and leave all his troubles at home and have a nice happy holiday with his family. This coping strategy works in the short term, however is very ineffective in the long term, since you are not dealing with any issues; you are dodging, ducking and diving away from them. During the holiday Redgrave discovered that he had colitis. This added another major obstacle in the path to his main goal – a gold medal at Sydney 2000. However he succeeded in juggling diabetes, colitis and a full time training programme and achieved this goal winning his fifth and final gold medal.

Overall Redgrave dealt with his illness very well. He had a very strong mind, never gave up, kept fighting and eventually all the effort paid off. However, during his training sessions he felt very isolated from his fellow team mates, which did not help the recovery process. He felt different and not part of the team. Here Redgrave showed enormous mental strength; other athletes may have isolated themselves further, however he kept going and tried to be as involved with the team as possible.
Redgrave concluded that the overall cause of his colitis was stress. He seemed very calm before and during races, however subconsciously he was unable to cope with the expectation and pressure. Additionally up until 1992 Redgrave had financial problems, which added to his levels of stress. Finally his diabetes was a very stressful experience and this was the cause of the return of colitis.
This case study shows that stress is a major cause of injury and illness and an athlete may not know they are feeling stressed but deep down their body is failing them due to the added pressure and anxiety.

The second psychological cause of injury is an athlete’s personality. There may be some aspect of their character which inhibits performance and increases recovery time. For example, Kelly Holmes had two major flaws to try an overcome in her career: injury and lack of confidence. Holmes had serious mental health pain and had vast amounts of self-doubt. A lack of confidence was part of Holmes’ character. She had feelings of frustration, separation and as if she was an outsider; this led to Holmes self-harming and feelings of despair. She got trapped in a viscous circle; being injured meant she trained less, which reduced her confidence, and limited confidence meant she’d need to be patient and take training gradually. However eventually she broke out of this circle and was able to gradually build her confidence and her risk of injury diminished.

Having identified the causes of injury, I will now reflect on the psychological effects of injury. Sport plays a crucial and major part in athletes’ lives; it is what they devote all their time to. Therefore if they experience an injury there are bound to be serious psychological consequences.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Anathomy (A.K.A Another Me)

by Pete Rapp

Skin and bones reaches the cliff top;
The wind makes it difficult to stand.
Skin and bones reaches a sheer drop;
The aim is a line, drawn in the sand.

But theres no yelling up here
Only screaming, blinding quiet.
The pounding of the very thoughts
Against the inside of the skull
Is enough to rival any breaking wave.

The piece of you that keeps on running
Like a madman with a gun
And all thats in the chamber is your mind and your fire
Until he gets to an impasse
And shoots himself in the foot.

Skin and bones reaches the cliff top;
Time to take your head from your hands.
Skin and bones reaches a sheer drop;
This is no jump - was there ever a plan?

N.B // the title is pronounced the same as anatomybut instead of a hard t- sound, its a soft th- sound, as in the.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Legacy Of Lady Day: 100 Years On

by Lucy Smith

April 7th marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of unique jazz vocal talent Billie Holiday. Born Elenora Fagan, Holiday redefined what it meant to be a female singer in a way that has remained unparalleled. From her troubled upbringing incorporating sexual abuse and prostitution, to her later struggles with alcohol and heroin addiction, Holiday lived the pain and anguish of her lyrics, and, despite her lack of musical education and limited vocal range (compounded in later years by the cumulative effects of long-term substance misuse), Lady Day’s soulful interpretation of the Great American Songbook has ensured her legacy has continued to influence long after her death.

There is some debate as to where Holiday was born (her own autobiography states Baltimore, but other sources cite Philadelphia), but the brute facts of her early upbringing are unfavourable: she was born into poverty to an unmarried mother aged just 13; her father was virtually absent and offered no support in her early life; her mother worked away for much of her childhood, leaving the young Holiday in the care of a rotation of family members; she was regularly in trouble for truanting school, and by the age of 11 had dropped out completely; and, at the age of just 11, on Christmas Eve her mother caught a neighbour attempting to rape her. By 1928, Holiday’s mother had moved to Harlem, New York, and a year later Billie, by then working as an errand girl in a brothel, followed from Baltimore. Not yet aged 14, Billie found herself working with her mother as a prostitute; after just a few months the pair were arrested and sent to prison, then the workhouse.

Despite this unfortunate leitmotif concerning the world’s oldest profession in Holiday’s formative years, it was, in fact, whilst working in brothels that her earliest and, arguably, greatest, musical influence came: exposure to the records of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith, which Billie would sing along to. Following her release from prison, Holiday set about looking for any work she could get- no mean feat in a country on the cusp of the Great Depression. As legend has it, Holiday auditioned for the role of a dancer at a night club and was turned down, though before she left the pianist, perhaps taking pity on her, enquired if she could sing. After a short audition, she was hired, and soon after took her stage name, borrowing from actress Billie Dove, and her father Clarence Holiday.

After working the nightclub circuit for a couple of years, Billie got her first big break at the age of 18 when jazz producer John Hammond heard her singing. Hammond introduced Billie to emerging clarinettist and bandleader Benny Goodman, and it was with Goodman that she was to have her first recording successes. By 1936 Holiday was recording with tenor saxophonist Lester Young, who first gave her the famous nickname “Lady Day”, and she was signed to Columbia records. During the late 1930s Holiday toured and sang with two of the great bandleaders of the day, Count Basie and Artie Shaw. It was whilst performing with Shaw’s all-white band that Holiday experienced the racism of pre-Civil Rights era America, particularly whilst touring the segregated Southern states. These experiences were undoubtedly a factor when Holiday was introduced to the 1937 poem Strange Fruit by Jewish teacher Lewis Allen. Although the poem had already been set to music at this point, Holiday’s remains the definitive version of this song, and her haunted, pained vocal perfectly captures the gravity of the grim metaphor illustrated by the lyrics: lynched bodies of African-Americans are presented as “a strange and bitter crop” hanging from the poplar trees of the Deep South. Holiday’s record label, Columbia, would not allow her to record a song with such a sensitive subject matter, and so it was recorded and released in 1939 on Commodore Records, becoming a hit in the process and increasing Holiday’s fame and popularity. Hits followed, including signature song God Bless the Child, a song supposedly written by Holiday as a result of an argument with her mother over money.

Although Holiday’s star was in the ascendant, her personal life continued to be chaotic. She was married twice and had numerous affairs throughout her life, with both men and women. Already a heavy user of alcohol and marijuana, Holiday began smoking opium with her abusive first husband, playboy James Monroe. Whilst still married to Monroe (the pair divorced after five years in 1947) Holiday began a relationship with trumpeter James Guy, who introduced her to heroin, an addiction that was to mar the rest of her life, and in 1947 the pair were arrested for narcotic possession. Holiday was sentenced to a year and a day in a federal reformatory in Virginia, and whilst this (albeit very briefly) put an end to her dependency on opiates, her conviction meant that she was no longer permitted to work the night club scene of New York, depriving her of a major income source. In spite of this, she was still permitted to perform at concert halls, and just days after her release she performed to a record sold out crowd at Carnegie Hall.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

5 Features of the Cricket World Cup

by Oliver Wright

1. The Final

As an England fan, I would have quite clearly liked to be sitting here, writing about New Zealand, the maiden finalists, overcoming their now 5 time World Champion neighbours in an epic finale, one befitting the world's two best teams. However, what I was greeted with on the dim Sunday morning, was an unbelievable display of pace bowling, followed by an unfazed run chase, where you would have believed Australia were playing in a friendly, not in front of 93,000 fans on the biggest stage in the world.

Setting the tone for the rest of the innings, Mitchell Starc opened the match, and within 4 balls, had dismissed the New Zealand talisman and captain Brendon McCullum with a sensational yorker for no score, beating his wildly swinging bat with the other two deliveries. After this, New Zealand clung on without really progressing, with wickets falling at almost regular intervals, so inevitably, they were bowled out for 183, with only the ever present Grant Elliot, echoing his match winning semi-final performance this time scoring one less with an impressive 83.

Unfortunately, there was only ever one way this match was going to turn out, and despite losing Finch early, Clarke, Warner and Smith ensured that Australia came out on top, knocking off the runs quickly, in 33.1 overs.

When Aaron Finch edged an early ball onto his pads to be caught and bowled by Trent Boult, it looked as though the Black Caps poor showing with the bat was to be reciprocated by the Australian line-up. However, after a lively 45 from David Warner, the less than sizeable chase seemed to be nearly set in stone. Yet the next subplot of the game could hardly have played out any better, with Michael Clarke hitting a match winning 74, in his final one day international for Australia, fighting off some strong New Zealand seam bowling before cutting and driving his way to a final half-century, before dragging the ball onto his stumps, receiving a standing ovation from the packed MCG. Steven Smith also provided some unsung support, playing his way to a record 5th consecutive world cup 50, eventually pulling Matt Henry for four to score the winning runs.

2. The Associate Countries

Usually, the countries Scotland, Ireland, Afghanistan, or Zimbabwe don’t scream out cricketing class. However, that was not the case from this tournament, as the ‘underdogs’ provided packed stadiums and some of the best entertainment, challenging full members of the ICC for their usually guaranteed quarter final slots. The prime example of this being Ireland, who beat the West Indies, and Zimbabwe, both test playing nations, demonstrating the improvement and expansion of cricket in general. Unfortunately for these teams however, the next world cup in 2019 has had 4 of the 14 teams cut from it, with the ICC claiming it will improve the quality of the future world cups, as the weaker nations will be able to play more fixtures to qualify, improving their standard. Fortunately, the board has also stated that they “must ensure Ireland and Afghanistan get more resources and play more full members on a more regular basis."

Personally, I strongly disagree with this move, as nail-biting fixtures such as the Scotland versus Afghanistan showed the diversity and entertainment the associates can bring to this tournament. The match in question involved two superb innings, and a tense finish ending with Afghanistan winning their first ever world cup match, with scenes similar to the final.

3. The Batting

There is no denying that this World Cup was dominated by the batsmen, as records were being set almost every match. The unmistakable culmination of this was Martin Guptill’s stunning 237 against the West Indies, in front of the man (Chris Gayle) who mere days prior to this broke the record for the highest score with a bludgeoned 215. There were also memorable innings from the now star players being hit everywhere, like AB De Villiers hitting the fastest 150 (162 off 66 balls), or Kumar Sangakkara’s final World Cup yielding him a stunning 4 centuries, proving that even after an international career now spanning 15 years, he can dominate on the world stage.

This increase in the bat dominating the ball, has nonetheless, been greeted with some claims that an increase in bat size has just caused a drop in skill throughout the game, with players repeatedly relying on power over finess. Even if this is the case, there is still innovation and intelligence in the shots being played. For example, the usually six-hitting Glenn Maxwell ducked away from a straight short ball, playing an absolutely stunning cut shot in the process. Or there is AB De Villiers, who whilst on his way to his brisk 162, swept Andre Russell, the West Indian pace bowler from outside off-stump for six, pushing the limits of what is seen as possible in the game.