Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Photography: Shadows

by Imogen Ashby

Another View: Crazy for You

by Merlin Cross

With each year that passes I find it hard to believe that the school’s annual musical held at the Kings Theatre can surpass the production held last year. However year in and year out I am proved completely wrong. This year’s addition to the plethora of musical successes was no exception. “Crazy for You” proved to be an amusing and entertaining experience and was once again filled with great singing, acting and comedy.

This particular musical was once more a great success with the packed crowds that chuckled at every joke we received and as by tradition every song ended with thunderous applause from the theatre goers. It was brilliant from the very first moment and will surely be one to remember.

For those who were unlucky enough to be unable to see this amazing performance, “Crazy for You” details the revival of an old and decrepit theatre in Deadrock, Nevada and focuses heavily on the pursuit of love. All the actors were wonderful in their roles and high praise goes to both Bradley Jackson and Emma Watkins, who starred in the main roles of Bobby Child and Polly Baker respectively.

Other actors who gave stellar performances include Emma Dorricott and Albert Wassenberg who portrayed the Fodors  as well as Barney Carter (Lank), Abby Moss (Mother) and Ben Cranny-Whitehead (Bela Zangler) who all provided brilliant vocals. There were also stand-out turns from Laura Verrecchia (Irene), Floss Willcocks (Tess) and Oliver Saunders (Everett). The support from an assortment of cowboys, cowgirls and chorus girls was fantastic.

I cannot stress how enjoyable this play was. It began with a wonderful cameo by Mr. Priory and the black and white film that followed it paying tribute to the golden age of Hollywood slapstick , setting the play as a last ditch attempt to save the Kings (which was met by its fair share of confused and quizzical murmurs within the audience). And it continued with the dazzling songs and majestic backing from the skilful orchestra who accompanied songs both from the original musical “Girl Crazy” as well as songs taken from other sources such as “Things are Looking Up” or “Nice Work If You Can Get It” which both originate from the classic 1930’s movie “A Damsel in Distress”. And it ended victoriously as the Deadrock Theatre was revealed to be a huge success and (as one would assume in all Broadway musicals) true love prevails – with, of course a rousing final song from the cast who were met with tumultuous applause from the audience.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Reasons Why Feminism Needs to Address Child Abuse

by Layla Link

Imagine living with a bully all the time, but being too scared to leave. Imagine being afraid to go to sleep at night and afraid to wake up in the morning. Imagine being denied food, warmth or sleep. Imagine being punched, slapped, hit, bitten, pinched and kicked.

In 2012, Child Protective Services estimated that 686,000 children were victims of maltreatment in the United States — or 9.2 per 1,000 and over 80% of the perpetrators of these crimes were the childrens parents. In addition, 45% of the total number of perpetrators were men. And 54% were women. 


I was, too. True, men are historically more likely to commit violent crimes. Yet, in the majority of child abuse cases, the victims suffer from neglect, which women are more likely to commit. These numbersnot to mention the psychological damage - indicate that the concept of females as perpetrators of child abuse is not something that the feminist movement can continue to ignore or downplay.

Calling attention to violence within relationships, setting up womens shelters, and creating education programs geared toward understanding the cycle of abuse are all key things that feminism can be proud of. But theres one area of abuse that doesnt get enough recognition in the movement: child abuseespecially committed by women.

Women should not be seen as ‘Natural Caretakers’. It is naturally difficult for us to fathom the idea that The Mother — the ultimate role for a woman to have in society — could even conceive of harming her child. Yet we must acknowledge that it does happen. In fact, because society says women should take care of children, that can put them more in a position to have more opportunity to be abusive and neglectful. So not only must we acknowledge it, we must confront the issue head-on and work to put an end to it.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Photography Club: Light Painting

by Sofia Findlay-Pacheo and Jazzy Holden (with Ms Smith)

We have been doing some light painting this evening in Photography Club. 

Review: Crazy for You

by Caleb Barron

Last weekend the King’s Theatre hosted the Portsmouth Grammar School’s annual musical. This year the musical was ‘Crazy for You’, written and scored by George and Ira Gershwin, two of the best songwriters of the 1920s, which follows Bobby Childs (Bradley Jackson), a young man in New York whose ambition is to dance on stage. However Bobby is torn between two women: Irene (Laura Verrecchia), his fiancĂ©e who wants him to succeed in anything other than dancing, and his mother (Abby Moss), who wants him to work for her bank, neither of which want him to dance. His mother forces him to go to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose a rundown theatre there but on arrival Bobby falls in love with Polly(Emma Watkins), the theatre and the town. What ensues is absolute madness as Bobby tries to win over Polly and save the theatre by dressing up as Zangler (Ben Cranny-Whitehead), a famous theatre producer, and putting on a show. Whilst Irene arrives in Deadrock to get Bobby back, forming several love triangles including with Lank (Barney Carter), who owns the hotel of the town and wants to develop the theatre as part of his hotel but also wants to marry Polly. If it sounds like a lot of confusion, that’s because it is. There are constant twists and turns with a dozen side plots that are all inevitably resolved at the end of the show.

PGS really made their mark on the piece with the use of Mr Priory’s excellently executed cameo role. The show opened with Mr Priory coming on stage and explaining that the King’s Theatre would be closed down, sparking the ‘pupils’ to put on a show to save the theatre, this show being ‘Crazy for You’. This believable performance had people questioning until his reconciling phone call at the end confirming that the pupils had saved the theatre. This added an amusing and unique element to the show, though quite cheesy.

The music was of course fantastic. The band played with character conducted enthusiastically, for the last time, by Mr Gladstone. This gave the cast the opportunity to sing with great ability and emotion. The musical numbers were easily the best part of the show with incredible choreography and persistent energy throughout. However there are two numbers that drew my attention particularly.

Firstly ‘Slap that Bass’ was performed with such rhythmic awareness and vigour. Jonathan Yang played the bass throughout, and in another number played the violin live, adding to the authenticity of the production. The lighting was used very effectively to complement the use of rope in the choreography. It felt musical, energetic and exciting, which is exactly how it should've felt.

‘I Got Rhythm’, I'll admit, was the number I was most looking forward to. It lived up. First of all just making it to the end of the flip filled, jump jammed, eight and a half minute number was enough to make me applaud. Not only this but continuous effort and a comfortable feel for individual characters kept the momentum and energy alive.

Stories of the Taiping Rebellion

by Alfie Perry-Ward

If you wanted to enter the Civil service in 19th century China then you would have had to take the ‘civil service examinations’ which were a series of gruelling papers that assessed your knowledge of the classical Confucian texts. Passing these examinations would secure you a comfortable and prestigious job working for the government of the Qing Dynasty, the ruling dynastic order of China from 1644-1912. If you failed these examinations on the other hand, then you would have to go home and admit to your family that you dishonoured the ancestors by not studding hard enough. The extraordinary pressure put on individuals by their family drove several candidates to the periphery of insanity and this was the fate of several young people who brought shame to their familial ties (a not so dissimilar situation to the current Chinese education system, notorious for being one of the toughest in the world).

Hong Xiuquan
One victim of the Civil service examinations was Hong Xiuquan, a young candidate from the Hakka tribe born in the province of Guangdong in Southern China. By his fifth retake of the examinations in 1836, he was mentally exhausted and had a traumatic breakdown. This mental collapse caused him to fall ill for many weeks, during which he had several delusions and visions. A strange character appeared to him in the deep depths of his dreams, whispering nonsensical instructions, often in long parables and poems. After the intense period of recovery, life continued as normal until, some years later in 1843, he rediscovered some Christian texts that he was given by a missionary from London almost a decade before. After rampant study of this religious literature, he began to make sense of his vivid delusions and dreams. He concluded that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and that the man who had been appearing to him was in fact the mighty ruler of heaven.

Hong Xiuquan thus became the Godly manifestation on Earth, sent by his brother to conquer and destroy the Qing dynasty, who were a false representation of God’s will. Hong saw it as his duty to lead a divinely approved revolution that would sweep away old institutions of the autocratic Chinese state and bring about a Christian nirvana, otherwise named Taiping Heavenly Kingdom or Taiping Kingdom of Heaven. Hong became the leader of the Taipings, a group that would start the biggest civil conflict in Chinese history. The Taiping Civil War (1850-1864) eventually resulted in the death of 20-30 million individuals (at the most conservative estimate- others go right up to 100 million). Although the Taipings eventually lost the war as a result of Western intervention on the side of the Qing, their story altered the course of modern Chinese history. One should be careful not to glorify their regime because there are many horrific stories of rape, pillage, slavery, incarceration and disfigurement. However, the legacy of the Taiping war has such strength that its history and contribution to history at large cannot be ignored. We have already explored the story of Hong Xiuquan, but below are just a further two stories of one known individual and one unknown individual. Their stories seek to capture the essence of the Taiping Civil war from the perspective of two very ordinary people caught up in this horrific event.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Happy Families: Reflections on Christmas (2)

by Tom Fairman

One criticism that is often heard at this time of year in churches is that we have lost the true meaning of Christmas. It is bandied around in reference to the consumerist nature of the season, although this can be true for any holiday in this present day and age. Then there is the Christmas card issue; not many snowmen around in Bethlehem. However, one aspect that everyone seems to agree on is that family is hugely important when celebrating at this time of year.

The scene that is set before us at Christmas is one of a family together, happily sharing gifts and enjoying a shared meal. There are laughs aplenty; elderly relatives falling asleep as the darkness draws in. Everyone appreciating the company of their loved ones and sharing in a moment that only occurs once a year. It even extends to the Nativity scene. Mary and Joseph huddled over the manager with the shepherds, wise men and even the animals fully participating in the magical moment, silently adoring the new baby.

I am blessed to have two brothers and two sisters, all of whom are younger than me, and now I have four children of my own and can safely say that this is not the full story! As a child, the magic of Christmas morning leads to a lot of tiredness come the afternoon. Parents can usually tell when that time is approaching, but the inevitability cannot be stopped due to the preparations for dinner overrunning. There will be some stonking arguments as the forced attendance begins to take its toll on the older members of the family as you begin to realise why you only see your great uncle once a year. Maybe it is just my family, but let’s assume it’s not!

Jesus’ family must have been very similar. Right back at the start, Mary told Joseph she was pregnant with the Son of God. The Gospel does not record the exact conversation but you can kind of imagine how that must have gone. He then tries to call off the wedding, but changes his mind because of an angel in a dream. Their hearts must have been deeply wounded and their trust in each other shaken. Also their families, in the tradition of the time, would have disowned both of them; having a child outside wedlock could get the women stoned, so no grandparents babysitting service.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Photography Club: Come to the Edge

by Lilah Atkins, Evie Beard, Maddie Hantrais and James Ware

by James Ware

by Lilah Atkins
by Evie Beard

How the Media helped Donald Trump

by Katie Sharp

Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump
Donald Trump’s surprising victory on 8th November will have been a shock to almost everyone outside of the USA. It seemed like he was destined to lose- he was a far less qualified candidate than his rival from the Democrats, and a man who told his followers at a campaign rally: “I know words, I have the best words.”

The idea of Trump being the President-elect would have been completely laughable back in 2015, and to some extent the weight of the current reality still hasn’t sunk in for some people, myself included. The same situation was seen earlier this year in Britain with Brexit, where a large number of people (including most mainstream media outlets, the polls and a number of Brexit supporters) didn’t expect the result to leave the EU.

However, Trump’s victory may not have been so surprising to those who have been to the USA in the months leading up to the election (and didn’t have the optimistic view of “Americans won’t actually vote for Trump to be the president!”) and had been exposed to the American media. Hillary Clinton was almost vilified by some right-wing media outlets, including Breitbart (which one of Trump’s new senior advisors, Steve Bannon, co-founded), and most mainstream media described Clinton and Trump as both as bad as each other.

Clinton’s email scandal was consistently mentioned during her political campaign, which is likely to have significantly reduced her popularity, whereas no particular issue from Trump was used against him in the same manner. While Clinton was mainly criticised for the use of a private email server while in the White House and her husband’s Lewinsky scandal, Donald Trump was criticised for such a wide range of issues that there wasn’t one in particular that used as a smear campaign against him (though some that the media could have included the times when he said he would date Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter, when he said he could shoot someone and wouldn’t lose voters, and when he mocked a disabled reporter).

Photography Club: Enjoying the Sun/Splat

by Maddie Hantrais

Enjoying the Sun

Friday, 25 November 2016

How We Became Human

by Edith Critchley

Cartoon presenting Charles Darwin as an ape (1871)

Long gone is the belief that humans were chosen by God to be the stewards of the earth, and that we began our time on this planet fully formed and with minds capable of speech and abstract thought. This was disproved by the likes of Charles Darwin and Jean Baptiste Lamarck in the nineteenth century, establishing the theory of evolution. But when at the exact point did we stop becoming apes and start becoming humans?

This depends on the definition of "human", which in itself is a whole other topic. Is it our anatomy, our bone structure and ability to run, climb, swim, and hunt? Or something less tangible, like our ability to process and communicate ideas, emotions and events that have not yet occurred? 

The way humans have managed to fully populate and control the earth, is down to a quality that we have not seen in any other species. We are able to work independently and socially, meaning we can communicate and build big social connections,in large groups but are independent enough to think by ourselves. Unlike bees for example who can't function without a whole hive supporting them, or snow leopards who only gather to mate and find others a threat. This serves as a huge advantage in times of low food supply.

"If you could interview a chimpanzee about the differences between humans and apes . . . , I think it might say, “You humans are very odd; when you get food, instead of eating it promptly like
any sensible ape, you haul it off and share it with others.”
– “Glynn Isaac (1937-1985). 

Reconstruction of Homo Habilis
This quality has meant rapid growth and sustainability. Alice Roberts, a palaeopathologist and professor at the University of Birmingham, recently traveled around Africa for her television show, 'The Human Journey’, where she investigates the early origins of mankind. She claims that we can try to estimate the time at which we began to gain abstract thought. We can do this by looking at the size of early skulls, and therefore the size of our ancestors' brains, I don't mean early Homo Sapiens, nor do I mean Neanderthals, as we do not directly relate to them (even though in-breeding would have occurred). I'm referring to species such as Homo Habilis, which existed around 1.5 and 2 million years ago, and Homo Floresiensis from around 100,000 - 60,000 years ago, who began making tools. The early species of human that began the making of stone tools have considerably smaller skulls than the modern Homo Sapiens, but they must have had the ability to have a need for something, and come up with a way to fix it. This in itself is pretty amazing. Abstract thought is the greatest asset of mankind; without it we would not have an idea of morals, thinking about things that don't exist, finding ways to fix problems and advanced communication of things that have not yet happened.

Photography: On the Beach

by Tony Hicks

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Redefining City Living: Susan Fitzgerald's 'Live/Work/Play

by Zita Edwards

Live/Work/ Play is one of the most recent projects from architect Susan Fitzgerald. This project cannot be simply defined as a residential plot or workplace, but simply a private space. The focus of the project is on the design of the layout and how individual spaces interact. Housing is generally quite inflexible in terms of structurally altering rooms when our circumstances or preferences change, creating problems which then mean people have no choice but to move house. Fitzgerald’s concept separates yet combines work space and her home. With separate entrances to each section of the house, she can fully focus on her business without having to travel far from home.

Her work may be criticized however since she may be bringing the workplace too close to home. Some may find it unprofessional to perhaps hold meetings at what is technically your own house, or psychologically she may not be as motivated to work if she knows it is so easy to go see her family at home. Whilst economically efficient to travel less and use less office space in business hotspots, it may be an inconvenience to her business.

This project has been featured on Architizer’s website and, whilst did not win any awards at their recent event, is my personal favourite work by far under residential and multi unit housing. Whilst looking through the A+Awards Shortlist there are so many original ideas from temporary pavilions, to interiors, concert halls and industrial buildings from all over the world, each pivotal in future design. 

The residential section of her house also slightly cantilevers over the entrance, giving the family as much privacy as they need, and by connecting sections with a bridge and clearly separating areas with separate functions, she has created a more stimulating environment, key to living on such a small plot in the city. Halifax, Canada is generally known for its long Victorian plots and she has harnessed every inch of space in creating a long structure with rooftop gardens. 

For her family and her children it will redefine city living as they are not trapped in a small cramped room; their home is flooded with light, plants and long corridors and wide open spaces.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Photography: Rainbow over PGS

by Tony Hicks

How Cadbury Stole Christmas: The Toblerone Scandal

by Michaela Clancy

The Toblerone is the epitome of Christmas gifts and celebrations. The familiar triangle-shaped chocolate is no stranger in the household and represents all things cliched to do with Christmas. The reason it has become so popular is not just for its delicious flavour and promise of a sweet fix but also its reliability. 

However, this year those funny little triangles have become fewer and the vortex between them longer. Could this generation-long relationship be breaking up or will we just soldier on through the hard times of receiving less for our money?

On the 8th November, this tragic news swept the country, resulting in articles on the new Toblerone being read more times than any other news (including the presidential elections!). This proves how dear Toblerone is to many people's hearts and explains why we are now questioning: "Will Christmas ever be the same?"

The previously 400g bar has now been reduced to 360g, robbing us of the precious confectionery and rendering us shocked at what Cadbury believes is acceptable. The Toblerone may now have been set along the one way path to confectionery heaven - much like the creme egg.

Photography Club: Wise Old Tree

by Evie Beard

Monday, 21 November 2016

Cricket: How Credible Are The Latest Ball Tampering Charges?

by Oliver Wright

The South African stand-in captain Faf du Plessis has been charged with ball tampering during their 2nd Test victory against Australia at Hobart. The International Cricket Council (the ICC) have stated Du Plessis was in breach of Article 2.2.9 of the ICC Code of Conduct, in relation to ‘changing the condition of the ball’ using an artificial substance. Their statement said: ‘The alleged incident happened on Tuesday morning when TV footage appeared to show du Plessis applying saliva and residue from a mint or sweet, an artificial substance, to the ball in an attempt to change its condition’. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is seeking legal advice to contest against them. Consequently there will be a hearing in front of match referee Andy Pycroft, but a date for the hearing has not yet been set. If found guilty, du Plessis’ level 2 breach of the Code of Conduct could carry a fine of 50-100% of his match fee, and a one Test Match ban.

Due to the severity of the punishment, you could be forgiven for thinking that du Plessis’ actions were obviously and horrifically in breach of this law, however, the video evidence is ridiculous. All that can be seen is du Plessis licking his finger to shine the ball, whilst eating a sweet. It is almost laughable. So much so that Hashim Amla has stated in a press conference, with the rest of the Proteas squad standing behind him, that the team believed the allegations to be a ‘joke’. He continued in saying ‘It's not April, but the allegation against Faf was a really ridiculous thing. As a team, we're standing strong, we've done nothing wrong, I chew bubblegum while I'm on the field - you want me to brush my teeth after lunch? We're standing out on the field for two hours... there was no malicious intent whatsoever. I've had sweets in my mouth, bubblegum in my mouth, butong, nuts. I'm not sure what the big deal is. To a lot of people, it's sounding more like sour sweets.’

Injured South African paceman Dale Steyn gave his thoughts on twitter ‘Beaten with the bat. Beaten with the ball. Beaten in the field. Mentally stronger. Here's an idea, Let's blame it on a lollipop, #soft’. Steyn did later try to clarify his comment with another post. ‘Just so we clear, I'm not blaming the aussies, but I won't let a fantastic series win be tarnished by some lollipop fabrication. 3-0 mission.’ This demonstrated the annoyance and disbelief the decision caused in the South African camp, which would have otherwise been buzzing from their securing of the Test Series against Australia. Many more esteemed cricketers such as ex-Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden and ex-South African Captain Graeme Smith believed that these allegations were merely an ICC attempt to take the attention away from a sublime South African performance and a dismal Australian batting display.

You would be wrong in thinking that it was the Australian team who made the original claim of ball tampering, it was in fact ICC chief executive David Richardson who did. This, whilst also causing the Australian team to be unfairly accused of making excuses for their poor performance, did highlight the lack of clarity surrounding the laws on ball tampering. This is important as at the moment there is no way of determining what is classed as ‘changing the condition’ of the ball using an ‘artificial substance’. This is an obvious grey area as the onfield umpires did not take note of it. Admittedly, there are examples of ball tampering that are more clearly wrong, for example, Faf du Plessis using his trouser zip on the ball against Pakistan in 2013, or Shahid Afridi biting the ball against Australia in 2010, however, surely as Hashim Amla suggested, eating a sweet whilst playing has no ‘malicious intent’, it’s merely a way to pass the time in the field.

There are also arguments that du Plessis was wrong in his actions. Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly stated to ESPNcricinfo ‘In the past there were people having chewing gum or sweets in the mouth and they kept putting the saliva (on the ball) because the ball ‘shines’ that way. Also what it does is the sugar which sticks on the ball makes it heavier and therefore you can swing with the old ball. So from that point of view it was pretty apparent. I’m sure he has done that before but done it in a much ‘polite’ way so that it isn’t apparent on TV. But I think they have pulled him for the right reason’. Furthermore, du Plessis has previously been found guilty of ball tampering against Pakistan in 2013, for scuffing the ball on his trouser zip. This, whilst being a more obvious method of manipulating the ball, does demonstrate that he has breached the rule before, and is capable of cheating in this way.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Buckingham Palace Renovation: Who's To Blame?

by Francesca Dellafera

During last week, it has been reported that Buckingham Palace is due for some "serious" refurbishments - costing the taxpayer £369,000,000 according to the Treasury. 

Can he fix it within budget?
However, one could enquire: how did it end up in such a state with the building appearing to be at risk from electrics, plumbing and heating which had barely been updated since the 1950s? If the palace had remained in a good state, with the services being regularly updated, surely it would cost less than the enormous sum by which we will be indebted. Is it really fair for us all to have to pay for this, when it is the Palace's fault that these repairs were not addressed sooner and less expensively?

It might also be argued that, when the work commences in April next year, the Queen will continue to live there with the ongoing  repairs. Can we conclude, therefore, that what is alleged to be "serious" be less extensive than has been reported; if so: where is all the money going to?

Photography Club: Southsea Sunset

by Tony Hicks

Review: An Inspector Calls

by Alex Gibson

On Saturday the 19th, a group of Year 11 pupils visited the Playhouse Theatre, London, to watch Stephen Daldry's production of An Inspector Calls.  Some of us are studying J.B Priestley's famous play for our English GCSE so I thought this would be a great opportunity to look at a somewhat different interpretation. 

Straight away, the Inspector shone a harsh light on any of our presumptions and turned them on their head. Almost immediately, I could hear murmurs of 'What's going on' or 'Who are they?' This was almost always in reference to the interesting use of silent characters used during the production, usually to show the contrast between the richest and poorest in society, which was a common topic throughout. Most notably, the play began with a young child running on stage with a torch, almost saying: ‘We will shine a light on everyone and everything here in order to see the truth.’

The production is known for conveying Priestley’s views on class, community and social responsibility. I believe this was clearly portrayed through the use of sound and tension. For example, certain iconic lines from the play, such as, ‘It’s better to ask for the earth than to take it’ or ‘If there’s nothing else, we’ll have to share our guilt’, were promptly followed by a long pause or a sound effect to highlight a significant moment. For me, Priestley’s message that we all have to take responsibility for others and that it is not ‘every man for himself’ was a clear one and something I’m certain the audience would take away with them.

Despite this, my favourite part of the show, by far, was the fantastic use of staging. The play began with the Birlings’ house being elevated and enclosed, so the audience could only catch glimpses of the family. However, as the Inspector ‘arrived’ and started to unpick the family’s secrets, the house opened to reveal a wider stage. This was, of course, to show the idea that the family were not going to be allowed isolation and enclosure, and that their house, as well as the truth, would be revealed. In addition to this, each character had to walk down from the house to the stage floor when answering the Inspector’s questions, to show that their high status and class was irrelevant and they would have to come down to the same level as every other man and woman in society. I thought this was a subtle yet mightily effective touch. 

Photography Club: The Science of It

by Lilah Atkins

Why You Should Read Stephen King

by Charlotte Phillips

These turbulent political times - Trump, Brexit, the new Toblerone - evoke conflicting opinions in me: about 60% of the time, I want to talk about it constantly and engage in discussion, debate and deliberation. For the other 30% of the time, I want to crawl into bed and forget about all of it, and just escape to somewhere else. 

And what better way to do this than a good book? So, if you'll excuse the tenuous link, I am taking this chance to encourage you to pick up a book by one of my all-time favourite authors: Stephen King.
As a lifelong hater of scary films, I always dismissed King as simply a writer of gore, appealing to those readers who just seek a fearful thrill; I assumed I would dislike his horror books as much as the film counterparts. However, I couldn't have been more wrong- not just about whether or not I would enjoy his writing, but about the supposedly narrow focus of his work. After reading Carrie at the age of 14, I was magnetised by King’s ability to encompass a multitude of genres, and my opinion of him as purely a horror author vanished.  Immediately after finishing Carrie, I vowed to read every King book there was- somewhat naively, in retrospect, as he seems to write new books faster than I can read them. Anyhow, I hunted through charity shop bookshelves and came out with piles of King literature. Here are a few of my favourites and personal recommendations.
Carrie (1974)
Arguably King’s most successful novel, Carrie has been wildly popular, clearly shown by the 3 feature film adaptations made since its publication. As one of King’s shorter books, Carrie is more accessible than many King books, and perhaps more appealing to a younger audience, given that the protagonist is a high school girl. The titular character, Carrie has telekinetic powers and uses them to wreak havoc in her town. However, the memorable scene for many people - that of a girl covered in blood on a school stage - is not representative of the entire novel. The violence is effectively used - but almost pales into insignificance alongside bouts of psychological torment from a religiously deranged mother, schoolgirl crushes on the oh-so-cliched high school dreamboat, and intense scenes of Carrie fighting with her own mind. King’s first-ever novel succeeds in becoming essentially timeless, terrifying in places yet oddly relatable in others. Don't expect a happy ending.
Insomnia (1994)
At roughly 1000 pages, Insomnia is a fairly epic read, but utterly worth it. King follows the story of widower Ralph Roberts, who, as the title suggests, increasingly finds it more and more difficult to stay asleep at night. Gradually, we are introduced into a fantasy world of creepy clowns, gremlins and brightly coloured ‘life forces’ that hang by strings to people’s necks, invisible to everyone but Ralph. Although this may sound like a children’s story, the fantasy and supernatural elements are integrated beautifully into a novel grounded in real-life issues: small-town politics, feminism, abortion, leadership, and love. Insomnia could be placed in almost any genre section in a bookshop; the length of the book allows King to explore themes such as true love with depth and tact, all whilst maintaining the ever-present spontaneous fear in his writing for which he is so famed. I personally could hardly put this book down - the plot twists and turns were sufficient to keep you reading, but not so frequent as to be unconvincing. Insomnia is a truly stunning work of literature; I believe it is one of King’s most underrated books.

'I thought the incarnation was a type of flower!?': Reflections on Christmas (1)

by Tom Fairman

My kids were given an advent calendar by their Nan during half term and my 5 year old began a countdown to when he could start opening it. A countdown for a countdown for Christmas! In the same way Mary, Jesus’ mother, would have been counting down. It can be strange to consider the Christmas story must have begun nine months earlier; the calendars would have to be a lot bigger for a start!

It began with a moment which is called the incarnation and for me is one of the most incredible, joyful mysteries that Christianity offers to the world. When a women finds out she is pregnant it must be an overwhelming experience. To discover you have a new life growing inside you changes everything. In Mary’s case, it changed history. It was the moment God chose to come into the world which, when you consider all the ways he could have chosen, is almost the most bizarre one. To become man, He decided to be born like a man, to be vulnerable as an unborn child, to put his own life in the hands of a human. He did not impose himself on Mary; she had a choice, so even before the moment itself He had given the choice to someone else. He placed himself fully into our hands at the start of His plan to save the world, which, as plans go,would not be a start I would have chosen. He risked it all at that moment, but why?

He had to because Jesus wanted to become fully human and to be fully God. (The theology behind this comes from the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, but you can look that up in your own time!) This is an extraordinary claim, particularly mathematically: 100% God and 100% man. However, this is the mystery of the incarnation and one that is exclusively Christian. This was not God masquerading as a man, or a demi-god born of man and God. It is not a man earning his way to divinity by his good deeds. It is God humbling himself to share in our humanity, as the Nicene Creed puts it, and it is incredible for a whole host of reasons.

For me, what happened when Jesus chose to do this is that he has made being human a pretty good thing; in Church-speak, he has sanctified humanity. By becoming human, he has said it is OK to be human, it is good to be alive. In fact, when He first looked upon humanity He said it was very good! The incarnation means that this is no empty statement because He knows what it is to be human. He knows what it feels like on the days when everything is going well - the crowds are loving the miracles, his friends seem to get his jokes. On the flipside, he also knows what it feels like on those bad days - alone, abandoned, harassed.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Why You Should Stay Away from Red Rooms

by Poppy Goad

There are many features in the works of literature that seep through from the hardcover of one book to another: a forbidden love; a fatal death; a twist of fate, and as I’ve found, red rooms.
A wonderfully paradoxical colour, red is traditionally associated with passion and love, and then also pain, bloodshed and death. It is no wonder then that most writers jump to use it to personify something as mundane as a simple ‘room’ and characterise it with an adjective such as ‘red’ to induce an idea of a place of love and passion or pain and death. Some may say that the writer’s choice of colour scheme may be merely personal preference and the choice to make a room ‘red’ would be simply a choice of aesthetics , however I beg to differ, although there is an extent to which inference cannot explain, use of colour creates a connection with what the characters are feeling within the text. Also it acts as visual aid to the reader in conjuring an image for the scene at hand.

Red, as inferred as a colour of love and passion can be most famously linked back to the infamous ‘red room’ in Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks wherein the two protagonists Stephen and Isabelle conduct an affair. The ‘red room’ being in the house of Isabelle’s husband, where Stephen is staying, the room is shrouded with an air of sin. Through this an analogy to hell is made, the fiery red walls similar to the crude cavern of the underworld and the audience can understand the intense and almost fearful atmosphere that is created through the simple use of the adjective ‘red’. However Stephen and Isabelle’s ‘red room’ was not just a place of sin and marital betrayal. The two shared, perhaps a fundamentally doomed, but passionate love and although throughout the book the characters drift apart, separated by war and personal strife, the memory of the ‘red room’ remains, a place entirely their own that is held in a place of limbo, in-between heaven and hell, sanity and insanity.
Sebastian Faulks is not the only author who favours the use of a red room in their novel. 

Probably the most well-known ‘red room’ resides in the text of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. A different story altogether Jane Eyre follows the life of its eponymous heroine throughout which she finds herself in the house of her cruel morally twisted aunt, the school of the abusive and hypocritical Mr Brocklehurst, the home of her love Mr Rochester in Thornfield manor, on the street, and of course a ‘red room’. Put in it as a punishment by her aunt, to young Jane the room held the ghost of her Uncle Reed. Creating a paradox in comparison to Faulks red room of passion and love, Bronte plays with red as a fearful colour, an implication of death. The room also is a symbol of Jane’s confinement under her tyrant aunt’s rule. This can again create an analogy of hell, being a place both for the dead and the living. The red room is the one thing that Jane can not endear, and after believing to see the ghost of her dead uncle within the four red walls she has such an episode that it is advised to move her away. In the end the red room is a symbol of both her confinement and her release, as in the end it is the thing that sets her free. However the red room can be further inferred to suggest it is a symbol of a ‘womb’, the analogy can be found through the fact of it being a tight red enclosed space, although it goes further than a visual analogy. The fact that Jane’s aunt is forcing her back into the ‘womb’ creates the conception that she is being re conceived. Usually it is symbolic in literature that a character enclosed in a tight space could be seen as reborn after emerging, however this is conception in reverse as through Jane’s banishment and confinement to the room it can imply that her aunt is trying to push her out of existence and into a state where she did not exist in the flesh before her, whether that was intended on being hell or a womb we can only infer.

Photography Club: Granular

by James Ware

Theresa May is Stuck in the Past

by Georgia McKirgan

In her speech at the Conservative Party Conference in October, Theresa May said:

"If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

There are many things said by politicians that I disagree with but Theresa May's comment really annoyed me. Her comment looked like an attempt to tap into the prevailing anti-elite atmosphere and appeal to Brexit voters by disparaging people that don't fit into a neat ethno-nationalist box. To complete the picture, I was born in Hong Kong, have New Zealand and Scottish parents, have been educated in England and spend about a third of each year in North America. My objection is less about her disparagement of people with mixed backgrounds than her assertion that such people lack an understanding of the concept of citizenship. I would describe myself as a "citizen of the world" and I challenge the assumption that this means I have no cultural identity. As the world has become more internationalised with more and more people living in countries other than where they were born or having parents with mixed ethnic backgrounds, this is going to become a bigger issue.

Even if her answer is wrong, the question Theresa May raises is an interesting one. Can societies adapt to, and embrace a significant number of people that come from a different ethnic/cultural background and retain a sense of national identity? For a long time the USA was the best example of how this can be done. Wave after wave of immigrants came in to the country and they were eventually able to create an identity that was a fusion between America and where they came from...Irish-American, Polish-American, Asian-American, African-American, Scottish-American, Italian-American etc. Despite this plethora of cultural identities, they would fervently embrace this patchwork quilt-identity called America. Sadly, it looks like the victory of Trump is a violent 'white-lash" against this phenomenally successful multi-racial experiment.

If America is struggling to come to terms with the consequences of being a multi-ethnic, multi-racial country, where else can we look for examples?

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Social Media is Narrowing (Not Expanding) Our Understanding

by Ellie Williams-Brown

Most Americans - and non-Americans - found Trump's victory a surprise from hell. They viewed it as shocking - a result no-one had expected. In a similar way to the Brexit vote, so many people were outraged not only by the outcome but how they felt so unprepared for it, believing only a vocal minority supported Trump. This view can be seen as a certain form of ignorance which happens once you surround yourself with people who only have the same view. Whilst previously this only seemed to occur due to social class, now social media seems to have furthered this divide. 

Social media' rise and fall is in how we choose who to interact with. Choosing who we an see and talk to is - obviously - not entirely negative; it can help prevent bullying and stop unwanted social interactions. However, when you begin to use social media for politics and to understand the views of others, problems begin to arise. I believe this is because - unless you are actively searching for a wide range of political views - you will end up surrounding yourself with views not too dissimilar to your own. Whilst good for nurturing views and for resting in the knowledge that your views are entirely right, when big political elections or decisions arise it can leave people unprepared for what the outcome will be. 

The people we choose to surround ourselves with are also connected to our social classes, which influences the political views you will end up being surrounded by. For example, if someone worked in the EU and had made most of their connections through that job, before the EU referendum Brexit happening would have seemed a far-off nightmare which could never occur. But, someone of a different social class would have had a completely different perception, viewing Britain staying in the EU as a far-off fantasy.

Photography Club: Still Green

by James Rixon

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Wrestling with Trump: My Top 5 WWE Matches

by Oliver Clark

I first encountered Donald Trump not this past year in his political outings, not outside one of his many New York buildings on a family holiday last year, and not even on the US version of the Apprentice. I encountered him when watching the DVD for Wrestlemania 23, where he competed against the owner of WWE, Vince McMahon in a so called 'Battle of the Billionaires'. 

Donald's representative Bobby Lashley defeated Umaga, thanks to a little help from Stone Cold Steve Austin, and as a result, Trump shaved McMahon's head in front of an audience of 80,103 people. If you had told a 10 year old me that this man would soon be the President of the most powerful country in the world, I'd have been pretty damn ecstatic. Trump had just shaved the head of the crazy evil owner in the middle of a wrestling ring! What more could you want from a President?! 

Now although my views on Mr Trump have changed slightly in the ensuing years, as my political knowledge increased from just the heels and faces of wrestling stories, this is as much as I will reference the man in this article. I feel that the new President of the United States will result in a huge influx of Portsmouth Point articles over the coming months; therefore, in this article, I shall focus on something a little different. 


Now I'm sure we are all familiar with the copious yet never old myriad of John Cena memes on social media, but how many people really watch wrestling these days? I can honestly say that wrestling once was, and is becoming once again, a keen interest of mine. Outside of the plethora of terrible stories, poor booking decisions, awful matches and Donald Trump Barbershop Quartets, there have been some bouts that bring me, a dedicated sports fan, far more enjoyment than most football, basketball, rugby and tennis matches. So here it is, for anyone who has never seen wrestling before, or wants to spend an hour looking back at some fond childhood memories of the WWE, 

I have compiled a list of my 5 favourite matches in wrestling (unfortunately Trump's outing doesn't make the cut).

5. The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin (Wrestlemania 17)

This match, had I been born a decade earlier, may well have topped my list. The 2 biggest names in the so called Attitude Era, an edgier product that began in the mid 90s and arguably ended after this night in 2001, both in their absolute prime, battling it out in the 2nd of their 3 Mania encounters. This match had it all, with both men putting everything they had into getting the title. A number of false finishes, stolen signature moves and a conclusion that shocked the landscape of the wrestling world, this is undoubtably one to watch for any fans wanting to look back at the golden days of the WWE.

4. Triple H vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit (Wrestlemania 20)

This one is hard to put in to the list. Not due to the quality on show, but due to the tragic events of the Chris Benoit double murder of his wife and son and suicide that occurred only 3 years later. Despite the aftermath, this has to be looked upon as one of the greatest matches in wrestling history. The underdog Benoit, fighting against the powerful and dominant champion Triple H, and the defiant challenger that was the Heartbreak Kid Michaels. The match had everything: strong competitors, a great storyline, a couple of broken announce tables, and a finish that at the time was heart warming, but now always leaves a pinch of salt with this fan. It is still undoubtably worth a watch for the in ring quality on display.

Photography Club: Hit the Hard Deck

by Alex Davidson

Is The Birth Order Theory True?

by Eleanor Barber

The birth order theory is the theory that your characteristics can be somewhat controlled by the order you were born in or the fact that you were an only child. The birth order is based on how much attention or privileges the average child gets. However some factors may cause the birth order theory to change.

The oldest child often has characteristics like being ambitious, responsible, diligent, cautious, controlling and have natural leadership skills. This often true because the oldest child has the most rules and often takes on the role of being a role model and looking after their younger siblings. However many parents set higher expectations  of the oldest child, which could either result in the child becoming very ambitious or feeling like they can do it at all and veering off in the opposite direction.

The middle child often has characteristics like being a social butterfly, a peace-keeper, sometimes rebellious and being  obsessed with fairness.  This often true as the middle child does not have the rights of the oldest child nor the privileges and lack of rules of the youngest child. However if the oldest child does not "take their role" then some middle child will rise up to it and take the characteristics of a first born. The gender of the first and second child can change the characteristics as well because if the first child is a boy and the second a girl, the second is the first born girl so could take some of the qualities of the first born boy. If there is more than one middle child then the middle children are likely to be completely different as they would not like to be in the shadow, as a result if there are three middle children the oldest middle child and the youngest middle child are more likely to be similar.  

The youngest child often has characteristics like being manipulative, uncomplicated, outgoing, self centred and an attention seeker. This is usually because many youngest children have little rules, unlike the oldest child. This may leave them to feeling like they have lots of freedom and being more spontaneous, unlike older children who often don't like change. Parents often have more resources and more knowledge about what will and will not harm the child, like not taking their child to A&E for every cough or fever.  However youngest children may resent not being taken seriously and becoming responsible like the oldest sibling or social like the middle sibling.  

Monday, 14 November 2016

Donald Versus Hillary: An Evaluation

Holly White wrote this assessment of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the eve of the US presidential election. 

We are all aware of the slightly humorous yet incredibly terrifying future our neighbour across the pond is about to face. It has been no secret that 2016 has been a year of somewhat harrowing events and amongst the sobering images and bombardment of violent outbreaks across the world, we have been building up to this moment. The moment our very powerful, yet blinded, ally votes on who should be one of the most powerful people in the world: somebody who could help stop or repeat the ugly happenings of 2016 in the next years to come.

But who are these two people who could make or break the already shaky relationships each country has with the other.

DONALD TRUMP: a name we are all far too familiar with for various reasons. Founder, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Trump Organization (1975-present). He has (reputedly) a net worth of $3.7 billion. He has no history of political involvement. 

What gives this man a name met with disgust world wide, when behind him stand thousands, in his own country, who will happily wear the Trump name across their chest? Maybe it's the radical, sexist, racist and unpredictable remarks and beliefs he makes and has been accused of. Or maybe it's the figurative ice cold slap to the government that America was unaware it needed. Drowning in the lies and fake remorse for the country painted across the faces of male and females who stand for their own twisted kind of retribution to the state. This is a man who reputedly has a net worth of $3.7 billion - a company an empire has risen from, the respect in his profession to create such a business that dominates others, a wife, children, enough to sleep peacefully at night knowing he can support himself and his family through their sickness and their health. And yet with everything he has, the presidential title is what he wants. A controversial statement maybe but not so far from the truth as we may think. A man who speaks honestly, openly and with no fear is somebody who could lead the United States of America to the freedom it does not realise is so far away. This man has everything, but with it he has nothing to lose because the justice and running of his country runs strong enough to leave no fear.

HILLARY CLINTONAmerican lawyer and politician who served as a U.S. senator (2001–09); US Secretary of State (2009–13) in the administration of President Barack Obama; served as First Lady (1993–2001) during the administration of her husband, Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States; she is currently the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2016.

The Land of Liberty: Guns, Prejudice and Hatred

by Isabella Ingram

The signing of the US constitution
“Where liberty dwells, there is my country,” is a quotation credited to founding father Benjamin Franklin, and serves as a perfect summation of America’s most integral value. From the growth of animosity amongst British colonies to the signing of the constitution in 1787, Americans moulded an identity that is founded upon the principle of liberty. Still today it is the rallying cry of a whole range of different ideological positions, from anti-racist activists to those defending their right to arms.

No symbol is more frequently alluded to amongst these campaigners than the American constitution. In his work ‘The Audacity of Hope’, President Barack Obama emphatically declared: “Conservative or liberal, we are all constitutionalists.” It is a unifying power, fusing together people of all ideologies and ethnicities in the collective, American promotion of freedom. To criticise it would be to commit an act of political suicide. And yet, this emblem of union and liberty had to be adjusted to abolish slavery. It had to be modified to allow women the vote. Its second amendment, the right to bear arms, has allowed for America’s annual gun violence fatalities to vastly exceed that of any other first world nation.

Of course, it would be wrong to argue that the constitution was not relatively revolutionary for its time. Although democratic principles can be traced back to the era of ancient Greece, the American constitution embodied Enlightenment notions regarding popular sovereignty that were still alarmingly scarce in the eighteenth century world. However, to still herald it today is ridiculous – in fact, it is the persistence of its reign as the foundation of American politics that has facilitated the continuance of racism, misogyny and gun violence, as these are not refuted in its initial form. Even Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, believed that any nation’s constitution should expire after a period of nineteen years: “If it be enforced any longer, it is an act of force and not of right.”