Saturday, 16 July 2016

A Legacy of Lies?

by Aladdin Benali (OP). This article was originally published on Westminster Review.

Last Wednesday was David Cameron’s last day as Prime Minister. After 6 years, his premiership came to an end as Theresa May moved into No. 10. Cameron’s time in office has been highly controversial, plagued by accusations of dishonesty and deception. But how justified are these charges?
Throughout Mr Cameron’s career, he has been described as a political chameleon, with Labour’s 2006 local election advertising slogan: “Dave the Chameleon”. His “Call me Dave” attitude attracted criticisms of being an ever-changing populist in his quest for power.
Cameron’s political integrity certainly comes into question when some of his promises are scrutinised. Many promises made in 2010 and 2015 elections have not been delivered on:
 “In five years’ time, we will have balanced the books”.
The deficit is set to be more than £73 billion this year. It has been cut by around 40%.
“We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT
VAT increased from 17.5% to 20% in 2011 under Cameron.
“I want us to be the greenest government ever

Support for solar panels on homes has been cut. Green Deal to help people insulate old homes, green building standards for new homes and support for industrial solar projects has also been scrapped

Source: All statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
Cameron’s ability to deliver was certainly comprised in the Coalition (2010-2015). However, it would be wrong to presume that if a Prime Ministerial promise is blocked by political circumstances, we cannot hold it to account. For example, in April 2015 Cameron assured voters Tax Credits are “not going to fall”. The next Spending Review, however, saw severe cuts to Tax Credit. After political uproar and heavy criticism from the House of Lords, the government scrapped the proposed cuts. In this welfare failure, Cameron still made a promise that he did not intend to deliver.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Have A Great Summer . . .

Having passed two milestones in the last couple of weeks (our 2,000th post and half a millionth page view), Portsmouth Point blog will be taking a break over the summer. A big thank you to all of our editors, contributors and readers. 

See what Portsmouth Grammar School teachers will be reading over the summer holidays: BCH, DTD, LNP, LVB, SL, SP; RJIR; EEB, JEB, JEP, KGT, TMF, ASCC, MJS, MJW and Tom McCarthy; LAMS,PWG and GTP

Please read and enjoy the latest issue of the printed Portsmouth Point magazine (theme:‘Alien’) which has been sent home to pupils and parents in the end-of-term packs. See, below, the brilliant cover images produced by Portsmouth Point Photography Editor Will Hall (and read his explanation of how he achieved his 'alien' effects):

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Enrichment Week: Year 8 at Paulton Park

by Lucy Smith

I have put this video together from the Year 8 Paultons Park trip. 

Kimberly Sanders organised a brilliant trip, where Year 8 pupils got to study business and engineering, and try their hand at programming rides using software and models. I shot and edited this GoPro footage to give a flavour of the day.

Life’s a Competition, Isn't It?

by Lily Cannon

When it comes to phrases, “the early bird catches the worm” is a particular favourite of my younger brother, particularly when he has just seized the largest portion of dessert or piled into the front seat of the car, which between us is widely regarded as the best due to its superior view, close proximity to the radio and seat warmer. For me, therefore, this sentence induces a certain sense of irritation, possibly caused by my association of it with defeat.

However while sizzling in the heat of sports day today, racking my brains for something to write for the blog, I couldn't help but think of this phrase. Despite my strong dislike for it I think that there is a truth in the point made about competition. Too often another phrase is thrown at us by teachers, parents and coaches desperate to inspire some determination in their lacklustre teenagers,  no doubt you will be familiar with “life’s a competition” but aside from its use in cheesy pep talks, I encourage you to consider to what extent do you believe this?

Considering both arguments, on one hand many may dismiss the concept on the grounds that this is purely used to motivate others rather than as a motto to live by and lacks truth. Some may argue that ultimately the competition is with yourself and that achieving a personal best is the most important thing. Building on the theme of quotes I came across this from R. Kelly, “My greatest competition is, well, me.” A personal best is what most people naturally aim for trying to better themselves and improve on past attempts. It is, of course, how we learn, by making mistakes, analysing and using this newly acquired experience so that the next attempt will be more successful.

And yet, we find it almost impossible to not compare ourselves to others. For example, though I may try not to make a judgment based on an individuals appearance, I cannot help but have an opinion on it. Based on this opinion I would then, consciously or not, make a comparison or try to draw parallels between us. We cannot help looking for similarities and differences between ourselves and others in our animalistic desire to fit in. Our tendency for competition could also be described as instinctive and animalistic. Fundamentally competition is the attempt to be better than those around you, the exact definition being “the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others.” In the fight for survival competition is key to primarily winning a mate, territory and prey. However the idea that we must compete with our peers and contemporaries in every aspect of life be it jobs, academia, love and relationships or appearance, is unnerving and therefore many choose to slander it. We believe ourselves too evolved and moralistic to bow to instinct but how much can we control our most basic desires?

Monday, 11 July 2016

What Are PGS Teachers Reading This Summer V

Portsmouth Point asked PGS teachers to reveal what they are looking forward to reading over the summer holidays. Here we feature selections by Ms SmithDr Galliver and Dr Purves.

Ms Smith

As St. Swinthuns’ Day approaches and the weather remains unsettled, my dreams of lazing on Southsea beach with a selection of books looks ever-unlikely. Maybe, instead, a coffee shop will have to provide my summer reading venue, in the absence of blazing sunshine.

First on my list in a book by modern feminist activist Laura Bates, Girl Up! I have to confess that I have actually almost finished this book, but thought it was worth a mention. Girl Up! is intended as a sort of manual or handbook to life as a young female in the 21st Century, offering a mixture of anecdotes, statistics and practical advice to surviving sexist pitfalls online, at work, at school, in the media, and just walking down the street. The title is a take on the language that dominates our culture in presenting masculinity as dominant and femininity as submissive: “grow a pair”, “alpha male” and, of course, “man up.” This would be a great book for those from Year 9 upwards, girls and boys, who care about challenging gender inequality in society and believe that gender stereotyping has the potential to hurt and limit everyone.

My next book on the list is Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig; this is one off the staff summer reading list, and deals with one man’s personal battle with mental health issues. Another book that made the staff summer reading list is Will Storr’s Heretics. My wonderful PRS colleague Jo Morgan dumped a copy of this on my desk just before she went on Sabbatical, with the instruction “Read this! I can’t stop thinking about it and I need someone to talk about it with!” I may have been a little slack in reading it, but I will get around to it over the summer.

This list is very non-fiction heavy, so I might also choose some fiction to read from the list of suggestions by my colleagues here. My final two selections continue in that vein, and are both books that my Year 13 A Level class bought me as parting gifts following our two years together. Bad jokes and puns being a speciality of mine, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein’s Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar… , a philosophical joke book, seemed like an obvious choice to keep me supplied with enough ammunition (I’m hoping) for the remainder of my career. I’m also very excited to get my hands on Paola Tingli’s Women in Italian Renaissance Art, which has a dedicated chapter to the depiction of female Saints. Thanks a lot, Year 13! You clearly know me very well by now! 

Dr Galliver

I’m currently reading Mary Beard’s SPQR for the wholly unoriginal reason that I enjoyed her TV series and I have enjoyed the Robert Harris novels about Cicero.  I thought that I ought to know a little more Roman history.

With regard to novels, I’ve just started The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry.  It was quite well reviewed in The Tablet and it’s set in the late nineteenth century, my favourite period.  When I’ve finished this, I intend reading  Joseph O’Connor’s “Ghostlight” and Elena Ferrante’s “Story of The  Lost Child.”  Again, there’s no great depth of thought behind my choices other than O’Connor being an Irish writer I admire,, Ferrante an Italian, and my two most recent trips have been to Dublin and Naples.

I’ll also be reading Patrick Joyce’s “State of Freedom” and Ciaran O’Neill’s  “ Catholics of Consequence”  to see what they have to say about the part played by public schools in the formation of British elites.

Review of the 2016 Carnegie Medal Winner: One by Sarah Crossan

by Dulcie Langley

One is a powerfully emotive and uniquely original novel, encompassing many different complex themes and emotions such as first love, loss, identity and the question of whether everyone really is born with a soulmate.

The book explores the lives of twins Grace and Tippi. But not just twins – conjoined twins. Bound at the hip, these extraordinary sisters share a bond unlike any other; they are two entirely separate individuals yet at the same time completely in sync with each other. Two people, with different hopes and dreams, but sharing one body.

But sharing this uniquely unbreakable bond is inevitably followed by physical as well as emotional difficulties, suffered not by just the sisters themselves but their surrounding family, from finding the money to pay countless hospital bills from their treatment to braving the disdainful expressions and snide comments they receive for their differences.

When their financial situation worsens, the twins are forced from their protected and secure home-schooled lifestyle to the unforgiving and judgemental world of a public school. Suddenly, there is nowhere to hide from the curious enquiries and blunt remarks from other students.
But this is just the beginning hurdle for the girls. For around the corner lies an unexpected choice – the hardest of their lives. A decision they never imagined they would have to make…

This book was unlike anything I had never read before. I enjoyed the effect of the original layout – the story was written in simple verse, and this really enhanced the delivery of the book. A poem formed each chapter, and as such I often flicked back to chapters of particular poignancy and significance in the story. Some of these poems were also very powerful not just with the One back story yet standing alone too. I had never read a young adult novel that adopted this structure before, but it was extremely effective, especially in such an intensely emotional book as One. Pinpointing and highlighting particular phrases in each line of verse instead of simple long sentences, I believe, made the impact of each word in Sarah Crossan’s thought-provoking descriptions even more important.

What Are PGS Teachers Reading This Summer IV

Portsmouth Point asked PGS teachers to reveal what they are looking forward to reading over the summer holidays. Here we feature selectons by Mrs Casillas-CrossDr Smith, Mrs Worley and Tom McCarthy.

Mrs Casillas-Cross

I am sure I will be reading a lot of Elmer the Elephant this holiday or What the Ladybird Heard which seem to be favourites in our house. Yet hope to get a little time to read our summer read of reasons to stay alive which Stephen fry claims is 'astounding'! I am also intending to read Alexander II and the modernisation of Russia and Robert Service's A History of Modern Russia. Warriors don't Cry about the events at Little Rock High School in Arkansas has also been beside the alarm clock for a while and hopefully will give me a little American history fix once I have finished Empire of Liberty by G Wood.

Dr Smith

Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Discussions around the concept of England and Englishness, and indeed Britain and Britishness, have constituted a powerful undercurrent for much of the political debate over recent months and so I am looking forward to taking the historical long view by absorbing Bede’s 8th century perspective.

Andrew Graham-Dixon’s biography Caravaggio. I shall be interested to find out how the creation of Caravaggio’s brilliant paintings was threaded through his rather lively life, which included killing a man in a fight and consequently spending years ‘on the run’.

Eamon Duffy’s ground breaking work The Stripping of the Altars, a book which is said to have destroyed the traditional narrative of the English Reformation having been welcomed by the masses as a means of euthanasing an already dying and unpopular religion. Duffy shows that in the 100 years or so prior to the beginning of the Reformation, English Catholicism was in rude health, widely and piously practised across the full range of social strata. Much as with Bede, it will be interesting to discover a picture of English culture which bears little in common with that of our present age.

Casting back to even earlier times, I recently acquired a hefty tome containing the complete letters and sermons of Pope St Leo (I) The Great. At over 500 pages long it is not the sort of book you read from cover to cover but each article is quite short so I shall dip into it at random.

As for novels, I’m toying with the idea of re-reading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead and also reading some more Graham Greene.

The Renewal of Expectations of Political Leadership

by Helen Jackson (a presentation made as part of a political discussion with Portsmouth South MP, Flick Drummond, during a PGS visit to the Houses of Parliament on Friday, 8th July). Photographs courtesy of Mr Gallop

PGS pupils and staff, with Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond, Westminster Hall

A wise man once said “times, they are a-changing”, and recent events have shown that something else is changing: the expectations of political leadership. Certain expectations, such as charisma, the ability to debate (both in parliament and on television) and crisis management, have always been prevalent in British politics. However, events such as the EU referendum and the increasing need for a media presence have meant that expectations have also had to adapt.

The Internet heralded the advent of 24 hour access to leaders, and they have been expected to adjust accordingly. Leaders are now expected to be able manage multiple social media accounts, respond to comments made by both their political opponents and members of the public, and keep the country up to date on their activities. Privacy is of little importance. Anything can become a news story overnight due to the Internet. Taking David Cameron as an example, the political leader of the country saw certain events take centre ground online, first when he left his children in a pub, and, of course, piggate.

Pupils and staff outside No. 10

All political leaders must be careful of what photographs are posted online, case in point Ed Milliband and the infamous bacon butty picture, but the EU referendum has brought with it more acute expectations. The need for unity has come to the foreground.
The conservatives need a leader to unite a fragmented parliamentary party in a post-Brexit Britain, and more generally, the country needs a leader to negotiate Britain into a strong positional we leave the EU.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

What Are PGS Teachers Reading This Summer III

Portsmouth Point asked PGS teachers to reveal what they are looking forward to reading over the summer holidays. Here we feature selections by Mr Priory, Ms Thomas, Mrs Bell, Mr Fairman and Mr Burkinshaw. 

Mr Priory

In honesty, I pile up books for the holiday, intending faithfully to read them, only to find myself being attracted to other titles in bookshops or books left behind on a shelf in a holiday home. So who knows what I will actually read this summer?

However, the pile currently includes:

The Night Wanderers by Wojciech Jagielsiki- a novel based on the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, which I am visiting this summer

Letters of Ted Hughes edited by Christopher Reid- Hughes' imagination and story fascinate me and this collection offers a real insight into both 

All Wickets Great and Small by John Fuller- an entertaining study of grassroots cricket in Yorkshire recently published by my brother-in-law, who is cricket-mad and based in Bingley

The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse- a Gothic tale set in nearby Bosham, and rather intriguing as its not often you see taxidermy (something I confess to dabbling in in my teenage years) mentioned in a title!

Ms Thomas

I plan on reading:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Three Days: A Passion by Tom Fairman
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mrs Bell
I shall be completing the Richard Ford 'Bascombe' novels: The Sportswriter and its sequels, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land and Let Me Be Frank with You  - which are fantastically wry and revealing about being a 'grown-up'. 

I shall also be dipping into collections by poets I have been lucky enough to meet during my sabbatical: Caroline Bird, Kei Millar and Ross Donlon and Roselle Angwin, among others.

Learning about Photography

by Francesca Dellafera

Over the course of this term I have recently enjoyed taking photographs, whether for the means of art or just for fun. In art at the moment I am studying consumerism and so am keen to explore different ways to portray this. Here are some of my experiments:

In this photograph I have played around with different features, say the F-stop, which controls the lightness and the darkness of the image.

What Are PGS Teachers Reading This Summer II

Portsmouth Point asked PGS teachers to reveal what they are looking forward to reading or re-reading over the summer holidays.  Here Dr Richmond discusses one particular novel that she returns to again and again. 

During my holiday to Spain this summer, I will not be going to the airport bookshop and buying the latest trashy novel that you see people reading by the pool. In fact, I will not be reading anything new at all. “Strange”, you might exclaim! “Aren’t you meant to be writing about a book you have wanted to read for a while and have not got round to?” you further exclaim. Well, I plan to re-read a book that is my favourite book of all time; one which I have read over 20 times; a book which I don’t leave more than 2 years to pick up once again. Furthermore, I can quote some of the fantastic and devastating dialogue contained in the book with ease. The book makes me feel whole and glad to be alive despite its dark and disturbing themes.

The book is Revolutionary Road which was published in 1961, a debut novel by American author Richard Yates, written when he was 35 years old. It received critical acclaim and in 2005 it was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English language novels from 1923 to the present. The book is set in 1955 and tells the story of a failing marriage at a time when the American Dream was at its most seductive.  Frank is married to April and they live in a Connecticut suburb called Revolutionary Hill Estates. On the surface, the Wheelers seem like the perfect suburban couple. She is beautiful and poised, he is charming and glib, and they live, with their two children, in a bright, clean house on Revolutionary Road. One of their neighbour’s remarks – “They’re sweet. The girl is absolutely ravishing and I think the boy must do something very brilliant in town.”  They feel different to their neighbours regarding the American Dream: Frank is stuck in a job he hates while April humiliates herself in local amateur dramatic productions. Yates puts it beautifully: “I think I meant it more an indictment of American life in the 1950s…because during the Fifties there was a general lust for conformity all over this country, by no means only in the suburbs – a kind of blind, desperate clinging to safety and security at any price.”  Frank arrives at work every morning wondering why he was feeling so unfulfilled and comes home at night to find April making her customary jibes and Frank retorts in a similar fashion. 

The marriage is clearly dead and both find different ways to cope with the mess: Frank has a silly affair with a colleague whom he doesn’t like whilst April dreams that emigrating to Paris will solve matters. But what drives this dark book forward is the imaginary dialogue that Frank directs towards his wife. The book is told particularly from Frank’s point of view but in a way that we don’t sympathise with him. The reader wants to shout at the characters that the only way that can feel happier is to leave each other but one is left knowing that it is all going to end badly. And it does! But the book is not all bleak; it is cruelly comical in places. During one day at work, a place Frank detests but has only ever told his best friend, he is asked to carry out a task befitting to a new promotion. When he tells April that evening, she is simply indifferent to his news. But Frank consoles himself through imagined dialogue to himself - “I think it proves that you’re the kind of person who can excel at anything when you want to, or when you have to” as he imagines April nodding her head and beaming proudly. The reader realises that in fact these imaginary exchanges are not rooted in fantasy but are what April and Frank really want to say to each other if they dared to. In other heart-breaking scene, April sits in tears in the dressing room after another disastrous amateur dramatic production and Frank stands next to her, as if frozen. Then the imagined dialogue starts and the reader smiles as if he is actually speaking to April in this way: “Listen, darling, you were wonderful” as he kisses her gently on the cheek. But instead, we realises he actually says “I guess it wasn’t actually a triumph or anything, was it” as he jauntily sticks a cigarette between his lips. The reader wants to scream at them to say what they really mean but we realise that things have gone too far.

Photography Club: Ice Cream

As we approach the end of the term and a long (and, we hope, hot) summer, Georgina Haslam helps us get into the mood.

H/T Mr Page

Friday, 8 July 2016

What Are PGS Teachers Reading This Summer

Portsmouth Point asked PGS teachers to reveal what they are looking forward to reading over the summer holidays (or what they have enjoyed reading in summers past). Here we feature selections by Ms BurdenMr Lemieux, Mr Page, Mr Doyle, Senora Nogueira-Pache and Ms Hart

Ms Burden

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. The reviews sound promising and I came across Mr Gallop reading it at his desk a while ago -  he recommended it. In the autobiography, the author relates how she returned to her isolated childhood home of Orkney to battle with the alcohol addiction she developed when living in London. More information here.

 Hole in the Heart: Bringing up Beth by Henny Beaumont. This is a graphic autobiography as opposed to a graphic novel, and it details the author’s experience of bringing up a child who has Down’s syndrome and neonatal heart condition. I picked the book up in the bookshop at the Hay Festival of Literature and became sucked in, and I’ve also heard the author speak very eloquently on Radio 4. My brother has Down’s syndrome and I can be a little wary of memoirs in this vein, but Hole in the Heart seems funny and very true to life, so far. More information here.

Charlotte Bronte: A Life by Claire Harman. This is another book that I bought at Hay after hearing a talk by the author. I’m a few pages in and expect it to offer some fresh material on one of my favourite Victorian authors. More information here.

Mr Lemieux

I am looking forward to reading Lyndal Roper’s new biography of Martin Luther, Renegade and Prophet. It is one of the few of the (very many) biographies of Luther not written by a church historian, but rather by a historian who specialises in cultural and social history. Reviews suggest she offers some of her reflections into his character based on psychoanalysis. Sounds slightly dubious but she is Regius Professor of History at Oxford so I’m looking forward to a scholarly read with some unexpected (possibly) insights.

Mr Page

Here is a list of books I have read in previous summers - I am not a prolific reader and each one represents the sum total of my reading for each year!!!

1) One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) - epic tale, masterpiece of magical realism, fantasy and reality.

2) The Old Patagonian Express (Paul Theroux) - travel by train from Boston USA to Patagonia, Argentina and experience the thrills, dangers and intrigue that each country along the way has to throw at the lone traveller. The journey is far more important than the arrival.

3) Homage to Barcelona (Colm Tóibín) - a celebration of one of Europe’s greatest cities – a cosmopolitan hub of vibrant architecture, art, culture and nightlife. It moves from the story of the city’s founding and its huge expansion in the nineteenth century to the lives of Gaudí, Miró, Picasso, Casals and Dalí. It also explores the history of Catalan nationalism, the tragedy of the Civil War, the Franco years and the transition from dictatorship to democracy.

4) As I Walked Out One Summer Morning and A Rose For Winter (Laurie Lee) - Abandoning the Cotswolds village that raised him, the young Laurie Lee walks to London. There he makes a living labouring and playing the violin. But, deciding to travel further a field and knowing only the Spanish phrase for 'Will you please give me a glass of water?', he heads for Spain. With just a blanket to sleep under and his trusty violin, he spends a year crossing Spain, from Vigo in the north to the southern coast. Only the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War puts an end to his extraordinary peregrinations.

Andalusia is a passion - and fifteen years after his last visit Laurie Lee returned. He found a country broken by the Civil War, but the totems of indestructible Spain survive: the Christ in agony, the thrilling flamenco cry-the pride in poverty, the gypsy intensity in vivid whitewashed slums, the cult of the bullfight, the exultation in death, the humour of hopelessness-the paradoxes deep in the fiery bones of Spain. Rich with kaleidoscopic images, A Rose for Winter is as sensual and evocative as the sun-scorched landscape of Andalusia itself.

Mr Doyle

Charles Moore’s excellent authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher (Vol II) has been sitting on my shelf since publication but not yet opened – so that is my main treat. By complete contrast, I have just received Tim Pat Coogan’s biography of Michael Collins, prompted by the recent centenary of the Easter Uprising. Also, I am looking forward to reading Chris Bryant’s book on the History of the UK Parliament. Takes us from the earliest records in the 13th century up to the 1800s.

Brexit: Young People’s Backlash Against Politics Seemingly Rigged in Favour of Older Voters

by Aladdin Benali (OP). This article was originally published on Westminster Review.

Social media was overrun with outrage in the aftermath of the vote to Brexit, as the young attacked the older generation for disregarding their futures in the EU Referendum. “[W]e have a future we don’t want because of the stupid voting by the older generation” said a young Remain supporter, Chelsea Forest on Twitter.

Older voters were much more likely to have voted to leave the EU, the majority of those aged over 45 voted to leave, rising to 60% of those aged 65+.
Source: Lord Ashcroft Polls, 2016 (adapted for Westminster Review)
 However, the polls suggested there were many factors other than age that affected how people voted. According to Lord Ashcroft Polls, party affiliation, socio-economic class, and how well-informed voters felt were also some associated factors. For example, 64% of those from the lowest socioeconomic class (DE), voted leave, compared with only 43% of those from the highest (AB).
Twitter did not give the same excoriating treatment to these working class voters, or others likely to vote leave, like Conservative voters (57% leave), or those who pay ‘little to no attention’ to politics (58% leave).
The young’s backlash specifically against the older generation only reflects a dissatisfaction with a system seemingly rigged in favour of an older population.
Older voters will certainly bear some of the burden of leaving the EU. The Treasury estimates house prices will fall by 10-18%, in the next couple of years, hitting older voters most who are more likely to own property, and as market instability continues, private pension funds may also take a hit.
Source; Lord Ashcroft Polls, 2016 (adapted for Westminster Review)

However, older voters experience a government policy sympathetic to them. Older voters receive a pension ‘Triple Lock’: 1 million property inheritance tax threshold, and pensioner benefit protections, like winter fuel payment and bus pass. Even inflation, set to rise by 3-4%, is unlikely to hit over 65s, whose state pensions are protected by the ‘Triple Lock’. While Cameron did suggest Brexit may put this under threat, this is unlikely given the Conservative support base. Pollster Ipsos Mori estimates voters aged 65+ are the highest turnout group (78%). In 2015, the Conservatives won 47% of 65+ votes, compared with Labour’s 23%.
Source: Ipsos Mori, 2015 (adapted for Westminster Review)

The young will have to bear the majority Brexit’s repercussions, understandably criticising the older generation’s advantage. However, it was not after Brexit where young peoples’ futures were stolen. Instead, the young have been systematically ignored in the last two governments, with politics increasingly shaped by the interests the older population.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Half a Million

Today, Portsmouth Point blog received its 500,000th page view since its launch in February 2012. A big thank you to all of our editors and contributors over the 4 1/2 years that we have been blogging and to our loyal readership. 

This week also saw the publication of our 2,000th article. We look forward to the next two thousand blog posts over the next few years - and to our millionth view . . .

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Review: 'Game of Thrones' Series Six, Episode 10

PGS pupils discuss 'Game of Thrones' Series Six, episode ten, the explosive finale. SPOILER ALERT:

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Mr Richardson's Top 5 Gigs of All Time

by Mark Richardson

Inspired by Mr Gallop's list of gigs, I thought I would trawl back in time and see what emerged. Here are my top 5:

5. Bob Dylan, Blackbushe 1978. It turned out to be one of the biggest concerts I have ever been to, certainly far bigger than the next four on this list. Dylan was headlining a very disparate bunch of acts (as is usually the case at festivals). It has turned to be the only time I have seen him, and it was a very long set at the end of a very long day. He had been preceded by Eric Clapton, who was deeply uninspired and uninspiring, while Joan Armatrading hardly stirred an audience who had been exhausted by an amazing set by Graham Parker and the Rumour, a group I had been avidly following for a couple of years by then, my then-girlfriend being a school friend of one of the band. She had dragged me to a few concerts of theirs and I was quickly hooked by their pub-rock punk-rock vibe. They owned the stage, and everything after was slightly disappointing. 

Until Dylan came on. The everything changed. It was very much like a different event: here was an icon, with an outrageously talented and experienced band, and led by an artist who ceaselessly changed arrangements of his own songs, often onstage (tricky if you are backing him). The songs were a mixture of old and new, but even then it seemed as if we were at some turning-point. His music and the audience that had turned out for him were both different from the audience for the other acts, and when the band launched into 'Forever Young' at the end, you could hear an audience as it sang the chorus seeming to mourn the passing of the years, standing in the gathering darkness with an uncertain future but still able to hold on to a shared past that even by then seemed archaic, lost and mythical, even though it was really only a decade ago. Spine-chilling.

4. Elvis Costello, Leicester De Montfort 1979. Early days for Costello, perhaps. The Stiffs tour of 1977 had introduced him and a slew of other bands all keen to tap into the New Wave phenomenon. The live record had a huge audience, and Elvis Costello and the Attractions first album was riding high. Their new single 'Watching the Detectives' was still fresh, and they were also performing much of their next album, 'This Year's Model'. But the punk vibe was also abroad: it was now officially agreed that the best ways of showing appreciation of a musical event was to "po-go" (ie jump up and down very vigorously), be violent towards anyone nearby and spit in all directions, especially towards the band. Preferably, all at the same time. So getting to the front when the main band came on, once an absolute necessity, was now becoming a very health-threatening part of music. But you could tell that the band weren't enjoying the new rules much either. Costello was very angry. He ripped into songs with increasing venom, energised but also angered by the audience. The band was tight, focused and purposeful, and a future might be beckoning but who knew what? It was all about authenticity and living in the moment. Coming out into the cold January night, deafened by the noise and exhilarated by the spectacle, Leicester seemed both boring and also weirdly comforting.

3. John Martyn, Birmingham 1975. The thing is here that I am convinced this was a gig played at Aston University, but the internet promises me that he played at the Town Hall. Which is fine, but I remember it not being there. Because of what happened at the end, really. John Martyn is someone I have already talked about for Portsmouth Point, and in 1975 he turned up in Birmingham not long after I had started my degree there. I don't think he was following me. He had drummer John Stevens and bassist Danny Thompson, and things weren't going well for any of them, as Martyn explained to us a couple of songs in. Danny's "old lady" (old being 30-ish I suspect) had kicked him out, the drummer was also angry with everything (as drummers seem to be permanently) and a close friend of all of them, lead guitarist with the band Free (Paul Kossof), who was recovering from heroin addiction and had joined the tour at the invitation of Martyn, had had a sudden relapse, from which he subsequently never managed to recover and who died the following year. 

Marching Against the Brexit Madness

by Jo Morgan

Britain is in a state of chaos. Those who led the Brexit campaign have deserted us. Our Prime Minister, who warned us of the danger of Brexit has abandoned us too. As the economy flounders and racism erupts, the sickening reality of Brexit is setting in.

On Saturday I marched with 50,000 others to urge the government to stop this madness.
Those who voted remain have had their worst fears realised. Many who voted leave are now in a state of 'Bregrexit', urging the government to reconsider as the lies on which they based their vote are exposed.

We marched not to undermine democracy but to restore it. The referendum was advisory and not legally binding. It is time for our politicians to forget their differences and to come together to fix this mess they've got us in. 

Who is Aung San Suu Kyi, ‘The Lady of No Fear’?

by Layla Link

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese social democratic stateswoman, politician, diplomat and author who serves as the First State Counsellor and Leader of the National League for Democracy. She was born in Yangon, Burma, in 1945. After years of living and studying abroad at Oxford University,England, she returned home to find widespread slaughter of protesters rallying against the brutal rule of dictator  Ne Win.

Ne Win was a brutal dictator. After leading a government from 1958 to 1960, Ne Win deposed Prime Minister Nu two years later with the help of the army, declaring both martial law, which involves a military government suspending ordinary law, and he claimed that: “Parliamentary democracy was not suitable for Burma.”  Ne Win was also prone to violent rages; throwing an ashtray at one wifes throat, assaulting an underling he believed was flirting with his wife, and personally breaking up a Christmas Eve party held by foreign diplomats and tearing a womans dress as he shoved her to the floor.

Suu Kyi bravely spoke out against him and initiated a nonviolent movement toward achieving democracy and human rights. However, in 1989, the government placed Suu Kyi under house arrest, and she spent 15 of the next 21 years in custody. She was finally released from house arrest in November 2010 and subsequently held a seat in parliament for the National League for Democracy party until 2015. That November, the NLD won a landslide victory, giving them a majority control of parliament and allowing them to select the country's next president. In April 2016 Suu Kyi was named the state counsellor of Burma, a position above the presidency that allows her to direct the country's affairs.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Why You Should Go and Open The Door

by Ellen Latham

The Door by Miroslav Holub

Go and open the door. 

                  Maybe outside there's
                  a tree, or a wood,
                  a garden,
                  or a magic city.

Go and open the door. 

                   Maybe a dog's rummaging
                    Maybe you'll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture 
                     of a picture

Go and open the door.

                      If there's a fog
                      it will be clear. 

Go and open the door.

                      Even if there's only
                      the darkness ticking,
                      even if there's only
                      the hollow wind,
                      even if 
                                                is there,
go and open the door.

At least

there'll be 
a draught.                     

I had never read this poem before Year 10. I first saw it on the door (whether ironically or not) of my English classroom. I read that first stanza and was immediately interested in what the rest of the poem would be. Not only does this poem have a lovely message that it easily conveys, the use of enjambment throughout allows it to flow as if someone was reading it out. 

The escalation in the first stanza was what drew me to this poem. The dramatic and almost mystical transition from a "tree" to a "magic city" not only encompasses wonderful images of nature that give me flashbacks to reading Eragon and the Elf city of Ellesmera, but also sparks the imagination through the transition from an everyday ordinary tree to a magical world of your creation. This first stanza highlights the message of the entire poem of imagination and possibility and the idea that we have no clue what's coming next. 

Why Rogue One Has the Potential to be Better than The Force Awakens

by Alex Gibson

The seventh instalment of the Star Wars film franchise was released in December 2015 and instantly broke box office records: it grossed $1 billion in less time than any other film (12 days), as well as taking a stunning $529 million on the opening weekend alone. 

However, this year sees a new dimension of Star Wars. Rogue One, the first in the new Anthology series, is set to be released towards the end of the year. With several images being recently publicised and rumoured information about the plot circulated, Star Wars fans have been contemplating whether or not this may be better than the new breed of mainstream films.

In this article, I don't intend to focus on the visuals, directing or even acting, but instead on the potential of Rogue One - and the weaknesses of The Force Awakens.

For some fans, The Force Awakens was a revitalisation of the franchise, and was therefore viewed as a brilliant film. For others, it was seen as a weak film, which was not worth the anticipation. I partly agree with this latter view for a variety of reasons.

Let us start with the plot. The Force Awakens opens with stormtroopers attacking an underprepared target in possession of key information. This intelligence is given to a droid by an important character, who is subsequently captured and imprisoned on a star destroyer. Fleeing to a desert planet for safety, the droid is taken in by a Force user unaware of their power for the time being. At some point, the protagonists escape on the Millennium Falcon, accompanied by Han Solo and Chewbacca. One of the climaxes of the story is that these characters have to rescue a captured female, who is on board a planet-like construction, which is perfectly capable of destroying worlds. Following the discovery and release of the captured girl, one of the characters, during the escape, confronts and is ultimately killed by a villain clothed in black and wearing a mask. This character has been associated with the light side of the force but has turned to the dark over time. The last main action involves a small assortment of rebel fighters completing a trench run to in order to destroy this formidable station.

Which film am I referring to: The Force Awakens or A New Hope? Both? Exactly - and that was the main issue of the film. For a universe that was so well created, in my view, the plot was extremely weak as there was a distinct lack of original material. For a film that was so highly anticipated, surely there is a sense of disappointment for all fans?

In addition to this, the characterisation was poor. Daisy Ridley’s Rey seemed to be ‘perfect’ – she could do everything: pilot all ships, speak to a variety of people, use a lightsaber and just accept the fact that she had the Force and instantly understand how to use of it. Of course, some of these traits were needed in order to breathe life into the character, but by having so many, the character was ruined. There are several other weaknesses of the movie, such as Kylo Ren’s childish demeanour, but we would be going round in circles. I would much rather focus on the new film.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Portsmouth Point: 2,000th Blog Article

This is the 2,000th Portsmouth Point blog article*. 

Current editors, 2015-16

Designed by PGS pupil, Dan Rollins, Portsmouth Point blog was first launched on 7th February 2012, with an article on the Greek philosopher, Thales by Julia Alsop. In that first month, we posted a modest total of 7 articles, including some incisive music reviews by George Neame (The Ting TingsBand of Skulls and Emeli Sande). 

Within just a few weeks, the number of editors had grown exponentially; in March, we published 45 articles, on everything from the crisis in SyriaParliament's "cash for access" scandal and the 2012 Budget to a meditation on turning seventeen, a debate over gay marriage, a review of PGS' production of 'The Arsonists' and an investigation of "hacktivism", as well as film reviews and music reviews.

Since then, we have continued to publish articles almost every day, contributed by pupils, staff and even OPs and parents. Four years and five months after our launch, the blog continues to pride itself on providing pupils with a voice - to share opinions, interests and enthusiasms - and on encouraging intellectual and cultural enquiry and independence. 

Just over the past two weeks, the EU referendum, probably the most significant political event to have taken place in the lifetimes of pupils and staff alike, has led to a host of articles, before and after the vote - on both sides of the argument. On the day before the referendum, the blog received nearly 1,000 page views in just one day (a record) - reflecting both the intensity of interest and the quality of the writing by blog contributors. 

Many thanks to all of our editors and contributors over the years, to our loyal readers and to all Friends of Portsmouth Point.

Here are the Top Ten Most Viewed Articles written by pupils over the past four years (in reverse order).

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Somme: 100 Years On

by James Burkinshaw

British soldiers advancing into No Man's Land - July 1, 1916

The Somme offensive began 100 years ago on 1st July at 7.30 am, when 110,000 British soldiers climbed out of their trenches (along a 13-mile front) and began advancing toward the German line.   

For a week prior to the infantry's attack, the British artillery had bombarded the enemy trenches with 1.5 million shells in an attempt to destroy the German front-line positions. However, unknown to the British soldiers (and to their generals) the artillery effort had been a complete failure. The German army had safely withstood the bombardment in their deep, reinforced dugouts (far superior to the leaking, rat-infested trenches of their British counterparts) and quietly re-emerged, when the enemy artillery fell silent, ready to meet the offensive. The British marched with bayonets fixed; the Germans had machine-guns. 

The carnage was appalling - of the 110,000 British soldiers who took part in the July 1st offensive, 20,000 were killed and 40,000 badly wounded. The casualties were the worst in the history of the British army. Survivors later recalled that, days later, the wounded in No Man's Land, were still crying out in agony; many were haunted by the sound for the rest of their lives. 

July 1st 1916 was perhaps the single most brutal, futile day of a brutal, futile war. "The Somme" remains a byword, even a hundred years later, for incompetent and complacent generalship and for the extraordinary courage of the soldiers in the face of incomprehensible horror. 

Class tensions lie at the heart of the Somme narrative. In his classic work, The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell writes: "The planners assumed that these troops - burdened for the assault with 66 pounds of equipment - were too simple and animal to cross the space between the opposing trenches in any way except in full daylight and aligned in rows (or "waves"). It was felt that the troops would become confused by more subtle tactics like rushing from cover to cover or assault firing or following close upon a continuous creeping barrage." 

Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

by Michaela Clancy

There is a bird somewhere in the world that can fly at an average speed of 77.6 mph and can cover a distance of 600-700 miles in a single day, the record been a 55 day flight between Africa and England ( a total distance of 7000 miles). This is an extraordinary bird. To witness the velvet like grey, fading into black upon its tail. The emerald like shimmer reflecting off its neck. To hold ones gaze and stare deeply into its wise eyes that share knowledge of our skies, is a privilege for myself, for this bird has ventured into parts of our world that I shall never experience.   

You may not have guessed what magical bird I am describing yet, but I am sure if you look outside of a window you will most likely spot it. I was describing the common pigeon.

It may seem like an odd way to begin an article. Especially given the common status of the pigeon: a pest, a rodent with wings, these are all names that we have given them. After hearing on the radio that yet another culling of pigeons was to take place in this country I was mortified at the thought of so many lives been ended as a result of our doing. I understand that not many see their lives as valuable and that by ending theirs it will be improving ours and other species lives. But who are we to condemn them to such a fate?  All because they have been too successful in their breeding; I find this hypocrisy hard to digest as I watch the human population figures rise by the second until I close the tab at 7,334,727,295 people. We have grown to such numbers that we dominate the habitats of nearly every species on earth, we are responsible for the extinction of thousands and yet we are still the ones who continue to rise whilst minimising the success of others. Is it fair? In my opinion, no.

The Engineering Feats and Eccentric Opening of the Gotthard Tunnel

by Zita Edwards

About a month ago 17 years of construction and engineering drew to a close with the opening of the Gotthard Tunnel. Although originally sketched in 1947 the Gotthard Tunnel has only recently been completed, with its engineering and design journey spanning over generations. After a total of €11 billion the dual 57km base tunnel has been completed connecting North and South Europe deep beneath the Alps. The economic benefits from the structure will be significant, also the potential to merge languages, cultures and people will greatly benefit mainland Europe.

To celebrate the opening of this grand tunnel Switzerland produced two opening ceremonies at the North port with the President Johann Schneider-Ammann declaring the tunnel officially open. These shows were quite spectacular because of their bizarre nature. Witnessed by heads of state including Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel, the main ceremony directed by Volkar Hesse opened with an army of people dressed as construction workers marching to the beat of a drum before a group of half-naked dancers paraded through.

Although designed to reflect Swiss culture the eccentric performance included scenes of workers climbing and falling off mountainsides, people wearing extra large heads, masks and skulls. Conforming more to Swiss tradition a performer dressed as a mountain goat conducted what seemed to replicate a spiritual ceremony, consistent with Swiss Christmas culture, and local choirs and orchestras were invited to perform. Despite the spectacle achieving its aim of being unforgettable the audience seemed to offer a confused applause and questions arose around its legacy. The large winged creature scene was meant to act as a tribute of remembrance to the nine workers who died in the construction process, however this tribute seemed overly sinister and not so respectable to the late workers.