Monday, 25 September 2017

Review: Wings (at the Young Vic)

by Daniel Hill

Wings was written originally as a radio play by Arthur Kopit - it is about a stroke victim who is nursed backed to health with the memory of her hobby of wing-walking. 

Emily Stilson was played by Juliet Stevenson (who has recently impressed as Gertrude in Hamlet as well as playing both Elizabeth and Mary in Mary Stuart). She succeeded in giving us an even better performance as Mrs Stilson.

The play is set in America and gives us an insight into what a stroke victim feels like as she is going through her therapy. This journey that we are given makes an audience member realise the true struggles that victims go through daily and this is added to by some breathtaking acting and interesting use of lighting, sound and set. The initial lack of understanding that we have of Emily gives us little knowledge of her past but, as the play progresses alongside her health, we begin to feel a human connection and sympathy is supplied by the audience. The memoirs that are portrayed through our main actress go deep into her flying past during monologues which bring tears to the audience’s eyes.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Photography: PGS at Twilight

by Tony Hicks







Are We As Democratic As We Truly Believe?

by Alex Gibson

You may be surprised by this statement – it’s the 21st century! Of course we are a democratic state; we are free to vote for who we please. However, I would make the argument that this is not really the case.



As I have just mentioned, we have free and fair elections in the UK – there are currently eight parties representing the British people in Westminster. This means that a wide range of viewpoints and opinions of the electorate are conveyed in parliament. However, I disagree with this.

Firstly, Britain adopts the First Past the Post system whereby all a candidate must do to win a constituency in a general election is gain more votes than any of their competitors – they do not need to win by a majority. Therefore, (and this was the case in the Portsmouth South constituency in the election earlier this year) a large percentage of the electorate did not want the candidate who eventually won to do so (Stephen Morgan only had a percentage of 41%). The effect of such a procedure means that the majority of certain constituencies in Britain are inaccurately represented.
Moreover, as much as we have the illusion of voting for whoever we please, the party we vote for may not necessarily have any real power and thus, to ensure your vote is not considered ‘wasted’, you are better off for voting for one of the major parties. Again, one may feel pressured into voting for a party that only partially resembles their views instead of choosing the candidates you would prefer but, because of their lack of influence, wealth and chance of winning, you feel obliged not to vote for them. This clearly is undemocratic as it deters the electorate for voting for who they so wish.

Perhaps through no fault of our own, the low turnout in the UK is a clear indicator of an ineffective democracy – how can our views be represented if not all our views are expressed? The turnout has been steadily increased since the disastrous 2001 election where only 59% of the electorate voted.  Significantly, the turnout has been highest in recent years when it comes to both the Scottish and EU referendums – 84.6% and 72.2% respectively. This is a clear message from the eligible voters that they feel more engaged and interested in the world of politics when they truly believe that their vote will count and the outcome is not already foregone: during both of these referendum campaigns, the vote was always going to be close, perhaps unlike in general elections where the electorate choose not to vote due the concept of ‘safe seats’ as, if they vote for one candidate, it is incredibly unlikely they will win due to the strong-rooted backing of another party. During the 2015 general election, the BBC reported that 225 constituencies had not changed party representation since before 1950, also saying that over 25 million people lived in ‘safe seats.’ This once again discourages the electorate from voting and shows an undemocratic system as their views are not conveyed.

How Important was Dunkirk in Shaping the Second World War?

by Oliver Wright



Dunkirk: The History

On 10th May 1940, the Luftwaffe (Nazi Air Force) and Wehrmacht (Unified Nazi Armed Forces) launched an offensive against France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In response to this, British and French forces on the Belgium border quickly reacted in the effort to break the German momentum and keep the invaders from reaching any French industrial strongholds. However, another German effort came further south, through the Ardennes, where Hitler’s forces swept aside shallow French units. After this it became apparent that hundreds of thousands of British and French troops had been entrapped by the superior tactics and strength of the German military.

By the 19th May, the British Commander, Viscount Gort, was considering the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (the BEF) by sea to be the best option, and consequently planned the withdrawal of troops to Dunkirk beach, which was the closest location with good port facilities and enough space for large groups of soldiers to assemble. The Allied pocket around Dunkirk steadily shrunk until the 24th May, with a failed attempt to breakthrough the German lines being the only major attempt to escape the coastline of Northern France and Belgium. However, this German advance ceased for 3 days, for reasons still debated today by historians today. This gave the surrounded Allied forces time to recuperate, plan and begin the evacuation. Churchill ordered Operation Dynamo (the codename of the evacuation) to start at 19:00 on the 26th May, by which time 28,000 men had already been rescued.

Initial plans were to use destroyers and transport ships to evacuate the troops, but these only expected to have time to save 30,000 soldiers. However, before long the harbour at Dunkirk became blocked by ships sunk by the constant Luftwaffe attacks, this meaning troops had to be taken off the beaches, a nearly impossible task given the shallow water preventing large ships from reaching the shore. Small ships were needed to ferry the troops from the beaches to the larger ships, thus a vast number of commercial ships were requisitioned to help, some with naval crews, and some with civilian. It wasn’t long before the British command realised this was a sluggish and time-consuming method, re-routing the evacuation to two long concrete breakwaters; the East Mole and West Mole. Almost 200,000 troops embarked upon ships from the East Mole in the following week, contributing hugely to the overall evacuation. In total, 338,226 Allied troops were rescued from the beaches at Dunkirk by the hastily assembled fleet comprised of around 800 boats.

The Propaganda

It was dubbed a ‘miracle’ by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in its aftermath, and the British press predominantly followed the line that Dunkirk was a ‘disaster turned into triumph’. The incredibly positive publicity the evacuation received was so widespread that Churchill even had to remind the country that "Wars are not won by evacuations." Newspapers ran headlines such as ‘Tired, Dirty, Hungry they came back - unbeatable’ and ‘Dunkirk defence defies 300,000’, allowing the inference that Britain had won some sort of victory over Germany. This firstly demonstrates the huge impact Dunkirk had on the British public, as the battle wasn’t seen as the crushing loss that it effectively was (with Britain being pushed out of mainland Europe, potentially being forced to fight the remainder of the war from a home front), meaning the British public were still in support of the war, determined to fight another day rather than accepting defeat that seemed all too inevitable at the time. The Dunkirk spirit had taken hold of Britain, and the government encouraged it to flourish, preventing any material being published that might damage morale. The snowstorm of positive propaganda that the aftermath of Dunkirk received I would argue was vital in the war continuing, and in turn, the final outcome of the war. This is because with more realistic and honest propaganda circulating, highlighting how the Allies were pushed out of mainland Europe so easily, the public would have ceased to back the war and forced the government to look for potential peace negotiations. The spirit of Dunkirk would have not existed if the crushing nature of the defeat wasn’t publicised in a way that gave the public hope, as it would have left Britain no motivation to ‘never surrender’ (as stated in Churchill’s famous ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech). The importance of Dunkirk is epitomised by the phrase ‘Dunkirk was a military defeat but a propaganda victory’, as although the Allies lost valuable ground, they managed to maintain their war effort long enough to see the war through until help came in the form of the Americans and Russians.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Bat Walk

by Jackie Tyldesley


On Friday, 15th September, some Wildlife Club members and staff went on a Bat Walk led by Nik Knight (former Head of Biology) up at Hilsea Sports ground. We were also lucky that Lynne, another member of the Hampshire bat group, brought with her two rescue bats, called Brenda and Penelope, which she is looking after as they both have damaged wings.



Has the Boris Bubble Burst?

by Mark Docherty


Boris Johnson has seldom been far from the headlines since he was elected as Mayor of London in 2012, but the past months have been ridiculous, even by his standards. At last, it seems, public opinion has well and truly soured on the Foreign Secretary and he is danger of being cut adrift by the government. Recent comments made in an article in The Telegraph seem to have been the final straw for many within the Conservative Party and it now seems that he has forsaken any chance of leading the party in future.

In the end, Johnson’s downfall looks as if it will be caused by the very same thing which drew voters to him at the beginning of his political career. He became popular as he reminded people of an uncle who had had a little too much to drink at a wedding: always unkempt, the occasional borderline-racist comment, but always good value entertainment. In the fairly redundant office of Mayor of London this was not too harmful, even if there was the occasional gaffe - the odd dangle from a zip wire was some light hearted fun rather than a national embarrassment. 

However, as Johnson has risen up the pecking order within both the Conservative Party and the government, his persona has become more problematic. Now that he is Britain’s ambassador to the world it is less appropriate to have him playing his own game and deviating from the official government agenda, yet he has been unable to curb his tendencies to cause mischief. Just last year he was given a slap on the wrist by Theresa May for accusing Saudi Arabia, one of the UK’s biggest trading partners, of ‘playing proxy wars’.

In a strange way there are similarities between Johnson and Donald Trump, and I am not talking about hairstyles. With Johnson being Eton educated he is hardly an anti-establishment figure, but he is also a world apart from the average tight-lipped diplomat who we are used to seeing in and around the Houses of Parliament. Nobody can deny that Johnson is prepared to speak his mind and, while it has resulted in several amusing interviews, it is questionable how much good it does from a political standpoint. The same goes with Trump: he commences to take to the battleground of his Twitter account and says whatever comes into his head. While this is viewed by some as refreshing to see politicians being so open with the public, others wonder whether their respective powers might warrant more self control, especially when thinking about foreign policy.

Photography: Waverley arrives in Portsmouth

by Tony Hicks

These images of the Waverley arriving in Portsmouth Harbour were taken on Saturday morning.





Monday, 18 September 2017

Why the Tabloids' Presentation of Women is So Harmful

by Ellie Williams-Brown



A few weeks ago, Premier League footballer Wayne Rooney was caught driving while three times over the alcohol limit. To make matters worse, when he was arrested in the early hours, he was driving the car of a woman who was not his wife. It emerged that he had claimed they had decided to “romp”. Infidelity in marriages is not new, and neither is sexism in tabloids, but there is a specific kind that becomes increasingly apparent since the Rooneys became the centre of the media.

Since the incident occurred, the media have been placing pressure upon pressure on the Everton player’s heavily pregnant wife Coleen to stay with him. Social media users have reminded her that “millions of men” have done this and urgently pressed her to help her husband be “better”: it’s her duty.

Headlines of Wayne’s “week of turmoil [taking] a turn for the worse when his wife was spotted out and about without her wedding ring” seem a little ironic. Shouldn’t it be Coleen’s week of turmoil? It was her who had the father of her unborn child nearly cheat on her and “humiliate” her so that she feels, according to media reports, that “the whole world is laughing at her”.

It’s ironic how lightheartedly Rooney’s indiscretions against his pregnant wife are treated, especially by The Sun, which created a ‘hall of shame’ where women who had cheated on their partners could be called out and publicly humiliated.

What’s even worse than this casual brushing away of Rooney’s cheating is how the blame is shifted onto Coleen. Why hadn’t she taken fewer holidays? If she had been at home with the kids, not off with them in Majorca, this never would have happened! Why hadn’t she placed stricter rules on him or offered stronger ultimatums after previous transgressions? Doesn’t she know that Wayne is a “manchild” whose every need and want must be met by her, as he is so reliant and incompetent? Despite how outlandish many of these questions sound, a lot of them have been asked with a serious expectancy that Coleen should answer them.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Experiencing a Hurricane: A Personal Story

by Millie Braund



Last week, Hurricane Irma, a category 4 storm, raged across the Caribbean and the east coast state of Florida, U.S.A. The event was covered by news stations all over the world, and led me to think back to a similar storm named Hurricane Charley in 2004. Although only four years old, I vaguely remember experiencing the hurricane, but ultimately remember being told an abundance of stories when growing up, by my parents and older siblings, due to the fact that we were caught in the very middle of it. During August of 2004, my family visited our holiday home in Florida for what was thought to be a relaxing break. This is a story they shared with me.

When news of the storm heading our way first came, we were staying in a hotel for a few days on the beautiful, sun-kissed coast of Longboat Key, which lies on the west-side, commonly known as the ‘Gulf-side’ of Florida as it sits on warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Charley was predicted to hit landfall near Tampa, which is just north of where we were staying. As the storm came closer, the state authorities used television, radio and SMS broadcasts to order the evacuation of all people along the west coast affected by this prediction; This included us and about 1.9 million other citizens. At this point, we set off on a relatively long journey back to our holiday home near Orlando, dealing with the inevitable queues of traffic created by the evacuation; what would normally be a two and a half hour journey took us about eight hours.

When we finally settled back at our home, we tracked the storm on television. When it eventually made landfall in the early hours of the morning, it actually hit much further south than predicted. Shocking Floridians with its sudden change of course, the hurricane hit shore at a coastal town called Punta Gorda. The damage was devastating, due to the strong winds and the storm surge, which is where the sea level gets ‘kicked’ up due to the offshore wind. With the area being quite low lying and flat, the local impact was catastrophic. Sadly, several people lost their lives in Punta Gorda, amongst them some elderly people from a retirement community near the coast. The irony of our story is that, having been evacuated from Longboat Key, which did not feel the full force of the storm, the hurricane changed path, tracking diagonally across Florida, and right over where we had evacuated to in Orlando. So, we had to prepare the house for the oncoming storm - a direct hit; we brought all the pool furniture in and put sofas and beds up against the windows.

Photography: Lanner Falcons

by Tony Hicks






The Rise and Fall (And Rise) Of Portsmouth Football Club

by Sudeep Ghosh



Portsmouth Football Club, affectionately referred to as “Pompey” by its supporters, has seen a difficult road these past few years. It is surprising to think that the 2008 FA Cup champions had sunk to the fourth division of the English football system in under five years, in perhaps the greatest decline in English football history.

During their time in top-flight football, Portsmouth FC had gained a reputation for their passionate supporters. Although the ‘Fratton Park’ seats just over a mere 18000, significantly smaller than other top-flight clubs, the sheer noise alone would put larger stadiums to shame. The iconic stadium has played host to some of the greatest players in the football history, including Sir Bobby Charlton, Ronaldinho, George Best and Cristiano Ronaldo. Fratton Park was also used for the 1948 Summer Olympics.

Their high profile rivalry with fellow south coast side, Southampton was always exciting to see. Although Portsmouth FC dominated the rivalry for many years, Southampton FC currently find themselves the better side (unfortunately). However, “The Saints” find themselves in a trophy drought - spanning over 40 years since they last won the FA Cup - in 1976. Incredibly, when Portsmouth finished last in the Premier League in 2010, they immediately found themselves FA Cup final again. Although, they were not able to achieve the feat again, the FA Cup success continued for the crumbling side.

The darkest days for Portsmouth FC arrived in 2012, when they were in danger of liquidation. In an incredible feat of passion and loyalty, ‘The Portsmouth Supporters Trust’ was formed and thousands of fans invested to save their beloved club. They were successful in raising over £2 million, and became legal owners of the club, ultimately becoming the largest fan-owned football club in England in the process. The inspiring story was well received around the country, and many large clubs voiced their respect for the fans’ dedication to their club.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Photography: Storm on the Island

by Steve Page



Storm photo - taken while looking across to Isle of Wight from Southsea Hover Terminal on Thursday night




Thursday, 14 September 2017

Helena Normanton: First Woman to Practice at the Bar.

by Elizabeth Howe

In November 1922, Helena Normanton became the second woman in the United Kingdom to be admitted to The Bar. Although the first woman called was Ivy Williams, Helena Normanton went on to become the first woman to actually practise.

Helena Normanton’s early life is fairly unknown. She was born in London in 1882 and was accepted on a scholarship to York Place Science School in Brighton in 1896, having moved there after the death of her father when she was three. In 1900 she was a pupil teacher within the school, but was forced to leave when her mother also died and she was needed to help look after her younger sister and live with her aunt. In 1903 she began studying at the Edge Hill Teachers' Training College in Liverpool, where there is currently a Halls of Residence named in her honour. Legal historians have no real idea why she made such a radical change of location, yet another mystery of Normanton’s early life.

It is during this time that Normanton seemed to develop her passion for women’s rights, a passion that would be evident throughout her extensive legal career. She joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) under Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst. However, in a short space of time she began to feel that the WSPU was a flawed organisation in which the leaders made decisions without consulting the members, and a small number of wealthy women seemed to hold sway over the majority. In 1907 she and seventy other members of the WSPU split off in order to create the Women’s Freedom League (WFL). The WFL did not differ too far from the WSPU in its tactics as it became a militant organisation and over one hundred of its members were sent to prison for demonstrations or refusal to pay taxes. Only in the matter of destruction of commercial and private property and violence did the WFL criticise the WSPU as it was strongly opposed to these methods. As well as this, unlike the WSPU and the suffragists, Normanton and the WFL remained staunchly pacifist and refused to support the war from 1914-18.

Time Lapse: Art and Medicine

by Imogen Ashby




Tuesday, 12 September 2017

HMS Queen Elizabeth Arrives in Portsmouth

by Tony Hicks





Why Anne of Cleves was the Cleverest of Henry VIII's Wives?

by Eleanor Barber



Hans Holbein's portrait of
Anne of Cleeves
Although Anne of Cleves is often described as the ugly one of Henry's wives, she was undoubtedly the cleverest of them all, outliving Henry and surviving his son Edward’s reign and much of his daughter Mary’s reign. 

Before Anne’s marriage to Henry there is no mention of her lack of beauty and Thomas Cromwell had assured Henry that “Every man praiseth the beauty of the same lady as well for the face as for the whole body”. Before Henry became consumed with dislike for her looks, Anne was seen as a pretty young woman able to to be married to a high standing noble or a king.

Henry was not interested in his marriage to Anne from the start and was simply marrying her for the political alliance with the dukedom of Cleves, due to England dwindling allies at that point in Henry’s reign. This was also why Henry could not divorce her straight away, so as not to break the tentative alliance England had with Cleves.

Henry being so disgusted by her he did not consummate the marriage, later telling his doctor that he did not believe that she was a virgin. While Henry complained about his new wife, Anne was acting the part of a dutiful wife doting on her new husband. However, in contrast to Henry’s claims, Anne had little idea of a consummation was about as she told an attendant that she thought that she may be pregnant saying  “When he [Henry] comes to bed he kisses me, and taketh me by the hand, and biddeth me, Goodnight, sweetheart: and in the morning kisses me, and biddeth me, Farewell, darling. Is this not enough?”. This statement showed to the court and Henry himself, that Anne was a virgin due to knowing so little.

By spring 1540, Henry had set his eyes on a next wife, Catherine Howard, one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting. In June 1540, Anne was ordered to leave the court by the council. Upon hearing that her marriage was being questioned, Anne fainted, fearing the fate of Catherine of Aragon or, worse Anne Boleyn (i.e execution). After their marriage was deemed illegal, Anne wrote a letter to Henry offering herself as his “most humble servant”. By the end of their marriage Anne had only been queen for 6 months.

Elizabeth I
At the end of their marriage, due to Anne’s compliance during the divorce , Anne was awarded Richmond Palace among other homes, and was declared the kings “sister”. She was above all subjects, apart from Henry himself, his children and any future wives he would have. He allowed her to live almost as a queen but without the ageing Henry, who was many years her senior and becoming increasingly unwell. She was given many new jewels and furnishings for her many new homes and benefited from the income that her homes and land provided.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Short Story: Hostage

by Lottie Allen


 Peace is a beautiful concept - appealing in every way. But once reality obscures your path, normality is lost in an ocean of grey.

The intruder remained unseen, unknown and unheard - nothing more than a shadow. Moving with easy grace, taking calculated steps; the epitome of perfection. The importance of this job was a heavy burden to carry, and knowing that one wrong step could expose him was his greatest fear.

His presence was an omen - a bad one.

When a soft voice called out, he was startled and stumbled clumsily. A moment of weakness. The noise seemed to ring in his ears. He almost didn’t notice a flashlight wavering and shining in his direction as he threw himself aside, chastising his rash behaviour and pitching up against the wall. Minutes passed and the flashlight edged back, warily.

Undiscovered, he composed himself and paused to adjust his hood. Each clouded breath was just visible in front of him, trembling imperceptibly. He wondered faintly, if he’d imagined the voice. A stillness had settled in the air and his skin tingled, unnaturally. Listening, he strained his ears for the familiar sound of soft footsteps.

Silence.

Dread effectively paralysing his body. Abruptly motionless. Unease and insecurity drowned him, his breathing was ragged and loud. His knuckles clenched white and he pressed himself closer to the wall, forcing himself to go on. 

Time was of the essence; he could not afford distraction.

Photography: Brooding Skies Over PGS

by Tony Hicks





Friday, 8 September 2017

Lord of the Lies: a survivor’s guide to living in a world of Fake News and Alternative Facts

by Thomas Neal

The following article is a transcript of a Middle School assembly given by Mr. Neal in the DRT on Monday 12 June 2017.




British politics was dominated last year by the EU Referendum; in America, it was the Presidential election. Both campaigns caused spikes in the usage of the phrase post-truth. But what is post-truth? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:

when facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.
So, we’re not talking here about lying (OED: ‘an intentionally false statement’), nor are we talking about searching for the truth through studying, debating, and conducting experiments. No; instead we are talking about living in a world in which facts no longer matter—a world in which the truth simply doesn’t matter.

But I believe facts do matter. I believe there is such a thing as truth, which means I believe some things are true and some things are false; some things are right, and some things are wrong. And I believe that if we lose our sense of truth, then we lose what it means to be human; we lose our sense of reality, our sense of perspective.
  *         *         * 
Published in 1949, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is a fantasy, social science fiction novel. In it, the U.K. is renamed ‘Airstrip One,’ a province of ‘Oceania,’ in a futuristic world in which the all-powerful government (‘The Party’) engages in perpetual warfare, surveillance of its citizens (‘Big Brother’), and manipulation of the public. In Oceania, truth doesn’t matter anymore: truth is regarded as politically incorrect. The only thing that matters is whatever the ruling party says matters, and whatever the party says is ‘true’.

In place of the truth, the Party requires all citizens to believe the obviously false dogma that 2 + 2 = 5. Now, I hope you all know that 2 + 2 in fact equals 4. But in Oceania, that doesn’t matter. The Party says 2 + 2 = 5, and that is what its citizens must believe.

Clearly, this is nonsense, although it is by no means a new idea. Way back in 1562, the German theologian Johann Wigand said:

No-one can lawfully doubt that two and two make four, because that type of knowledge is part of our nature.
The great eighteenth-century scholar Samuel Johnson—some of you might have heard of Johnson’s famous dictionary—said in 1779:

You may have reason why two and two should make five; but they will still make four.
But, scarily, we are seeing this kind of attitude creep into our everyday lives: in our politics, in our religion, in our morals. George Orwell was right. We are now living in a world in which facts count for nothing. What matters today is opinion, feeling, emotion.

  *         *         * 

But just how, exactly, is post-truth manifested in today’s world?

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Books for the Summer – A Retrospective

by Chris Williamson


Having neglected reading (particularly fiction) for most of the 14 years since my GCSE in English Literature I decided summer 2017 was the time to start again. For once my holidays were a little more sedate (although I couldn’t be kept away from the mountains for long) and gave me the chance to fulfil a target to read 10 books over the summer. I didn’t quite make it, but I did enjoy:

East West Street by Philippe Sands
An enthralling tale of the people of the town of Lvov, Lemburg or Lwów depending on the era in question, and how the city links to both the author’s family as well as those who fought for the introduction of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity into legal lexicon. I was fascinated by the history involved in the German occupation of Poland and in particular Hans Frank – ‘The Butcher of Poland’. The war in the East was never mentioned in my sparse history lessons on the subject, save obligatory mentions of Auschwitz and Treblinka, and a visit to Krakow in the summer complemented the book perfectly. It is a fantastic memoir that shows the importance of knowing your history.

No Picnic on Mount Kenya – by Felice Benuzzi
First published in the late 1940s this is a tale of freedom. From his prisoner of war camp Benuzzi sees Mount Kenya and dreams of escape. Not of total escape for he fully intends to return to the camp following a dramatic expedition up an unclimbed route on one of Africa’s toughest and highest mountains guided mostly by a picture from a cigarette packet and drawings made from the window of his cell with the most meagre of supplies available in a POW camp. An escapist tale to warm the heart of any explorer.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I’ll be honest, a slightly odd choice, but the range of English-language literature in the Martinus bookshop in Bratislava was limited. Plus it only cost €1.50. That said, I love a good heroine in any novel, but this didn’t quite do it for me. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but the main character Hester Prynne disappointed me at every turn, in my head she was the opposite of my favourite literary heroine Tess of the d’Urbervilles – sadly my literary criticism isn’t good enough to explain why that is the case.

The Small Boat of Great Sorrows by Dan Fesperman
My favourite book of the summer. Exchanged in a Krakow Airbnb for The Scarlet Letter this tale of espionage and detective work focuses on Croatia. The Balkan War is the first overseas conflict I remember (I am just too young to remember the First Gulf War) and I was hooked by the tales of the underground movement, the intrigue, the dodgy international collaborations. The surprise, though, was that it was actually linked strongly to war crimes in the Second World War in Croatia – said by some to be so brutal that even the Nazis felt it distasteful. The war in Croatia was something I knew even less about than in Poland. This book is truly fantastic.

Worth Dying For? The Power and Politics of Flags by Tim Marshall
A book about flags and geopolitics?! This was written for me! Sadly I didn’t enjoy it as much as Marshall’s previous book on maps and geopolitics. I guess I now know where my map/flag allegiance truly lies!

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carré
I loved this book too, a classic I was ashamed to say I’d never read before. A Cold War spy thriller with double agents, love stories and intrigue throughout. Yet I longed for a happy ending – maybe I’d read too many war books by this point.

City of Thieves by David Bennioff
I obviously hadn’t learnt my lesson though. This novel, set in the Siege of Leningrad in World War II, follows the story of Lev and Kolya who aim to steal 12 eggs for the General in return for their lives. If this sounds odd, fighting for the partisan resistance, a Jewish boy playing chess with an Einsatzgruppen leader and eating the binding of books might persuade you to read this. For once, there was hope in the ending and I very much enjoyed it.

The Valley of Unknowing by Philip Sington
Another Cold War era book based in East Germany. As communism is dying, the untrusted artists and writers are watched by spies like hawks. The famed author Bruno Krug falls for a music student but has to provide a minor deception to gain her heart. Given the difficulty of maintaining lies in such a situation Bruno eventually plans an escape to the West to be with his lover Theresa forever. However, he is betrayed, but by whom? Highlighting the uncertainty, the lack of trust and never knowing who your friends are this book genuinely upset me and caused me to shed a tear or two. Whether it was the characteristics in Bruno that I see in myself, the similarity to The Lives of Others (incidentally, the best film I have ever seen that also had me choking back sobs) or the needless splitting of friends and lovers due to the regime of communism, it really affected me, sat on my own, on a beach in Guernsey trying not to weep. No book has done that since I was told to read Watership Down aged 9… I’m still getting over that.

Review: Fiddler on the Roof

by Daniel Hill


The summer musical is always a highlight of Chichester’s summer season and this year it was Daniel Evan’s first summer musical at Chichester. The classic tale chosen was Fiddler on the Roof

Unlike previous musicals at Chichester this is not known for a joyous storyline but for tremendous music. The show’s book is written by Joseph Stein with Music by Jerry Block and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. The cast was led by Omid Djalili and Tracy-Ann Oberman who both gave superb performances and they were supported by a strong ensemble who raised the standard of the performance. This tale of reality is set in 1905 and explores a Jewish community as they struggle to live in a cruel Russia. Daniel Evans’ direction is brilliant and he continues Chichester’s reputation of producing brilliant theatre.

Omid Djalili presents Tevye in a unique style and gives the audience a spellbinding performance. He adds his own comical aspects to the role which makes it his own and leaves the audience wanting more. Djalili’s strong performance arguably steals the show. Tracy-Ann Oberman’s role of Golde opposite Djalili is much smaller but she still manages to create a stand out performance. The onstage pairing between Djalili and Oberman constructs the basis of the outstanding show. The ensemble is made up of some very strong actors who act as a foundation. 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Enjoy the summer . . .

We wish our readers plenty of opportunities to explore new places, new experiences and new ideas over the summer holiday. 

Of course, we invite you not only to journey through the pages of the 'Exploration' issue of Portsmouth Point magazine (published today), but to navigate the hundreds of fascinating articles on the Portsmouth Point blog written by pupils, staff and OPs over the course of this year.  

Bon voyage! 

Cover image from the 'Exploration' issue of Portsmouth Point magazine: by Oliver Stone

The Editors
Portsmouth Point

Poem: Observing a Return

by Fenella Johnson


I heard them first just after eight ;
their horns screaming in jubilant ecstasy,
which rose to the pitch of the swarming incessant flies
that we batted away with our hands,
then the sound of engines emerged, unscathed by,and clawed free from,the wind,
sound that felled the peace of the eveningand
as they gathered even closer,
I saw the men abroad,work soiled and sloth bellied.
Above the clouds roved the sky,
and below the little unfurled masters of waves,
nightcrawlers,
summer spun and unspeakably lovely,
iridescent as gladiolus
beloved and scattered by the ocean.
Not even the squelch of rain halted their stately approach,
as they moved not in that intoxicating pace of mid-summer,
but steadily
the boats shaking themselves free of the breeze
and splendidly,stupendously gliding into the bay.

Why It Is So Important to Learn German

by Naeve Molho

German is often regarded as a harsh sounding, difficult and isolated language, however most people’s perceptions could be hardly further from the truth. This article will discuss some key reasons as to why German learning is so important, from an economic, cultural, linguistic and academic stance.

The Economy
Economically Germany is not only the largest Economy in Europe, but the fourth largest in the world.  Therefore anyone aspiring for a career in business or finance would find German a very useful and important tool in aiding their career. The Economy is so strong that despite the recent and rising  migration crisis, Germanys economy has remained stable.

The Global Business opportunities
Germany is well known for its innovative and successful  global business’s, therefore knowledge in the language would particularly help a future career with the potential to be working in the headquarters of any of the German brands including : BMW, Adidas, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Puma. It is important to highlight Germanys contribution towards the international market as they are not often recognised for their global contributions.

The Fashion Industry
Germany’s fashion industry is one of the most prominent in the world with their concentration on the new young designers. Berlin Fashion week holds a huge variety of talents, which is not surprising with the amount of popular German designers and fashion figures such as , Karl Lagerfeld, Hugo Boss, Heidi Klum and Wolfgang Doop.

A widely spoken language
 Not only is German one of the official languages of the European Union, but the most widely spoken language in Europe.  Learning German offers a chance to connect and network globally with over 100 million people who are able to speak it!

German Culture
Whether your passion is for art or history Germany offers a huge variety of cultural heritage sites. An understanding of the language could give you a chance to learn about these in far more depth and detail.  Whether it’s visiting checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag or even Oktoberfest your language knowledge can lead you anywhere.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Time Lapse of Painting

by Imogen Ashby




Leonardo Prize Year 7 Winner: Coast

by Thomas Woodward


The sun lay untouched,
Tranquil and laid-back.
Gently lapping to and fro,
It was as flat as a millpond.

She inhaled deeply,
A pebble rolled onto the sand,
Etched with scratches and scars.
She exhaled strongly,
The pebble parted the water like Moses.


She inhaled deeply.

Life to the Full

by Tom Fairman

The excitement of the holidays has begun in earnest and teachers are just as excited if not more so than the students. The thought of lazy mornings with no alarm, no bells signalling the next lesson, not moving to someone else’s timetable, but being free to choose your own path, to do what you want to do is almost a reality. What is not to be excited about? The juxtaposition between term time and the holidays is never so apparent as at the time when they meet; possibly the light being brightest when it follows the dark.
There is a wonderful child like feeling in this excitement. The joy can feel as if it is bubbling under the surface, ready to burst and bring life back into your life. That is not to say that there are no joys in teaching, but the holidays are when you feel most alive, when you can recover and have life to the full. The long hours, emotional investment and physical exertion are only possible with the time to relax and replenish so you can give your all to the children in your classes. The work without the holidays leads to burnout and the holidays without the work leads to purposelessness. A full life requires them to be in tandem; the disciples were sent out with a mission, not just to rely on the goodwill, but to earn their keep.
 When life is in tandem, things are complete, they are at their fullest, there is nothing missing. However there is a common restlessness, a feeling of something missing that seems to not be satisfied by any logical arguments or by obtaining more stuff. This feeling is not dependent on whether the sun is shining in your life or if the storm clouds are gathering. If this is all there is to life, if what we have in front of us is the extent of our purpose, if our worth, satisfaction and ability to deal with the bad stuff is just based on what we have, then it is a very incomplete world we live in. 
When people you love die prematurely, when you have great success, but others suffer, it is natural to search for meaning. Rational, psychological arguments are offered, but sometimes fall short. People will always want and need more than an explanation of how our brains work or the way atoms interact however interesting and true these things are. There seems to be something in our human condition that yearns for something beyond this world. This world is not enough and as humans we are not complete with just what is in front of us.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Leonardo Prize Year 8 Winner: Omaha Beach

by Gio Avondo

The soft summer sand of the beach
Warmed the boy's feet.
It rippled in even waves
As he chased his brother.

An overwhelming bang,
Caused him to stop,
And the once-bright coast,
Became a cloudy, foreboding landscape.

Landing crafts unloaded groups of frightened men,
Gunfire could be heard all the way down the beach,
Which led to hundreds falling,
Lifeless.

Blood soaked the sand,
Screams filled the air,
And wherever the boy went,
At bodies he would stare.

Then he blinked.

The men became children,
Playing in the sea.
And the towering tank was replaced
By an ice cream van.
The dog's bark was mistaken for the gunfire,
Sounded seconds before.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Leonardo Prize Year 10 Winner: Coast

by Isla Sligo-Young


Mirages twist me back and forth,
Coastlines l have been waiting for days roll over my mind.
The boat rolls and rocks,
The dinghy screams out for help just like mum did when the waves took her.
Dad holds me down, scared that if he lets go this trip will be more hell than hope.
The smuggler says we are almost there but I don’t trust him anymore,
All I trust is that the endless waves always come back for me,
All I trust is that the new land can never make up for this crossing,
All I trust is that the waves bring nothing but death and destruction.
l blink away the cliffs in front of me,
Take them from my mind and crush them beneath the waves,
They stay as solid as the old mountains at home.
Hysteria rises on our carrier, people push like a current to see what’s before us
I get swept under the feet as the tide rises.
Boat shifts and groans beneath its effort,
The splintering makes my stomach swirl like the water around us.
They hear it too.
We all hear it now.
I curl up, praying for the white horses to carry me to the shore,
They trust me now, they let me braid their fragile manes beneath my fingertips
I’m begging them to let me sit astride, to float like a wave to safety.
But they haven’t replied yet
Already they are grabbing at my ankles,
Clutching at my waist,
Clenching at my throat.
Sand spins around me,
Sea, sky and sand toss me back and forth
Back and forth,
Back and forth
Sand slams me down
Sea recedes
Sky takes over
I’m lying
I’m breathing
But I’m not living.
This isn’t living.


Monday, 10 July 2017

"The Nasty Party" - How the DUP is Toxifying the Tories

by Katie Sharp


Recently, the views of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have come to the media’s attention after the party agreed to prop up a Conservative minority government. Many people have criticised Theresa May’s decision to enter an informal coalition with a party that has views many would describe as backwards and antiquated. This is particularly significant, considering the fact that Conservatives have been trying to rid themselves of these labels for years. As May said herself at the 2002 Conservative party conference: There's a lot we need to do in this party of ours. Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us: the nasty party."

This quote makes it seem very odd that May would contradict herself later on (it’s not like we’ve seen her do something like this before with the snap general election, of course). Using the DUP as a way to cling on to power proves that all the Conservatives currently care about is keeping hold of power, something they may certainly pay for in the next General Election if this minority government turns sour.

Unsure of the views of the DUP? Here are the views of some of the current DUP MPs.


Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim, former Minister of the Environment for the DUP- denies the existence of climate change (“I still think man-made climate change is a con”), described breastfeeding in the House of Commons as “voyeuristic” and the women who want to as “exhibitionists”.



David Simpson, MP for Upper Bann- creationist, voted against the Same Sex Couples Bill in 2013 and spoke against the Bill, as seen in this video: