Thursday, 29 June 2017

Books for the Summer: The Power by Naomi Alderman

The first of a series of summer reading recommendations. Miranda Worley reviews 'The Power' by Naomi Alderman.

What happens when women have more power than men? I enjoyed this book, and found the first few pages very easy to get into, before I knew it I was 10% into my Kindle version.  I found the structure of the whole book into short chapters, with names of the main characters and with occasional illustrations of archaeological "finds", really easy to follow, this would make a good holiday read, as you can pick it up and read small parts without losing the plot.  My favourite parts were tracing the relationship between the two American TV anchors, as global society changed around them.  A nice contrast of light with dark.

20 Years On: The Continuing Appeal of Harry Potter

by Daniel Hill

Hogwarts - at Harry Potter Studios
As we have recently seen the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book what was it that made JK Rowling so successful and made her become a household name across the world. It wasn’t the easiest journey that she had been on to get her books published; she was turned down by numerous publishing companies. What was it that meant her books suddenly became so popular? Last week a group of Year 10 and 11s went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour near London to see up and close the artefacts from the films which stemmed from her mind.

One thing that I begin to  think about when you hear that she was denied print was the fact that she was a woman. Is this the reason she was turned down? 20 years ago it was a much different world and even the final publishers suggested that it would be a better idea to publish under the name JK Rowling opposed to Joanne Rowling which is what she was born as. This was an idea that the publishers suggested in order to be able to widen the market of these books to a male audience as well and female. It will never been known whether this made any difference to her major success and future spin-offs such as The Cursed Child which is currently the hottest ticket in London and the new films which explore the magical world entitled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Another question that I consider is why does the author still see a need to share more about the popular world she created with us ‘Muggles’? It is the odd, random fact she adds to the website Pottermore that seems to excite fans. JK Rowling still seems immersed in the fictional world that we all long to be a part of. Maybe she wants us to feel a part of the wizarding world, even though we will never get a prized letter from Hogwarts.

The trip engaged everyone involved with the mystical world and what screenwriting involves - with top tips such as how to structure a script, which I am sure that JK Rowling herself will be using as she writes the scripts to the new films exploring the world of wizards and witches. The other part of the trip involved taking a self-guided tour around the studios, where we saw costumes, including Harry and Ron’s first costumes when they took a trip on the Hogwarts express in the first film. Some of the props included a full set of wands from the movies and the Hogwarts Express. We were even able to enter into 4 Privet Drive and see the house that had been on our screens many years before.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Who, or What, Killed the Cat?

by Izzy Sambles

During an interesting discussion on quantum physics in a recent physics A level lesson, reference was made to the Schrödinger’s Cat paradox.  Although I had heard of the experiment, I didn’t really understand what it entailed or what it was trying to prove, although I did know that it was famous enough to inspire a Google Doodle, featuring said cat, in memory of Erwin Schrödinger, and be referenced in such high-brow TV programmes as The Big Bang Theory and Doctor Who.  So what’s so special about Schrödinger’s Cat?

In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger designed a hypothetical experiment where a cat would be placed in a sealed box, which contained a radioactive sample, bottle of poison, a hammer and a Geiger counter. The experiment aimed to disprove the quantum mechanics theory entitled the ‘Copenhagen Interpretation’, which puts forth that the cat will be both alive and dead until the box is opened due to the radioactive material’s ability to decay and not decay at the same time within the sealed environment. This is based on the assumption that a particle can exist in all states at once until it is observed, making up the fundamental principle of the ‘Copenhagen interpretation’ of quantum mechanics.

In further detail, the radioactive substance that is used has a 50/50 chance of decaying and being detected by the Geiger counter. It is down to this concept that nobody can be certain if there will be radioactive decay detected, therefore, you don’t know if the hammer will smash the poison glass or not, so you cannot determine the outcome of the cat until you open the box. Therefore the cat would exist in both a living and a dead state until you open the box.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Photography: Dolphin in Portsmouth Harbour

by Tony Hicks

Review: Ink

by Daniel Hill

The Almeida Theatre in London has yet again continued to wow audiences with their new play Ink. It is based on the true story of the relationship between Rupert Murdoch and Larry Lamb as they converted The Sun newspaper into the best-selling in the country. The play, written by James Graham, explores how The Sun became the number one paper by using immoral ways and means. Bertie Carvel returned to the Almeida to play Murdoch and Richard Coyle made his Almeida debut as Lamb. The play featured direction from Rupert Goold who has been the theatre’s Artistic Director since 2013.

Richard Coyle depicts Larry Lamb’s power crazy turn in a sublime fashion which occasionally shows him to be evil while Carvel powerfully conveys the Australian Business man’s slight loss of power over his paper in an impotent manner. I thought that Coyle demanded the controlled the stage and this became more prominent in the second act when the play began to turn darker.  The two men who were often seen on stage opposite each other created a tight partnership and made the play the success it was making sure comic timing was to perfection and that silences were left at points to add to the eerie atmosphere. The rest of the cast helped to maintain the fast pace throughout and added to the many comical moments from the script.

The script written by James Graham carefully crafted the story delightfully to collaborative with Rupert Goold’s genius direction which has also recently been seen in the televised version of King Charles III. The script was framed by scenes in which Murdoch and Lamb are together as it is stated by Murdoch that they have a story and that “all the best stories are true.” This gives a perspective on why I enjoyed this play so much. It was definitely one of the best plays I have seen at the Almeida and elsewhere in recent times. Possibly even the best. The direction seen on stage from Rupert Goold was perfectly complemented by the script which was delivered with thought and made the audience go away in awe.

The set design and lighting design also effectively added to the foundation which was the script. The set was mainly made up of typical work desks and other things such as piles of paper bounded together which reflected the disorganised nature of the paper as it continued its venture into the new style of papers that we know today. The lighting and sound were both used powerfully to enhance the performances on stage with the play starting in almost darkness as we just heard two voices having a conversation about what makes a story. This darkness made the script more important as we were made to concentrate on it that bit more. The idea of a good story was repeated throughout. This play was certainly a good story!

The play was performed with both emotion, tension and humour. Maybe it is those three things that make a good story. Although there may not be a definitive answer to what a good story contains, this is certainly one of the best. I would like to congratulate the cast and creatives for creating a play which made the majority of audience members utter the words “what a good play” as they left.

Ink is playing at The Almeida Theatre until 5th August. 

Review: The Play that Goes Wrong

by Daniel Hill

The Play That Goes Wrong was created a few years ago by the comedic theatre company called Mischief Theatre. It has now been running on the West End since 2013 and in its current home since 2013. Now you can catch it on the UK tour as well as in Australia. Earlier this year it opened to rave reviews on Broadway. I return to see it again in London and it had me laughing the whole way through once again. The same company has created a spinoff play which was caught on TV last year entitled Peter Pan Goes Wrong and currently has a second show on the West End called Comedy of a Bank Robbery.

The script alone oozes with comical moments and when technical aspects are added to the play it is hard to not laugh. This comical masterpiece brings to audience together in chorus as they all laugh in harmony.

The play itself is a play within a play. We meet the cast and crew of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society prior to the show as they rush around in order to make sure the play is ready to open to a West End audience. As the name suggests mayhem starts from then as things start to go wrong. The play put on is a murder mystery named Murder at Havisham Manor and the script itself includes the odd reference to the murder mystery play Mousetrap which is performed in a theatre down the road from this one. The Play That Goes Wrong contains many aspects of a typical farce which suggest the writers have been inspired by other plays such as Noises Off by author Michael Frayn.

When watching a play which involves many things going wrong the question that jumps out at me almost immediately is almost obviously. What is something actually goes wrong and does this ever happen? It must be inevitable that something goes wrong as this is no different to every other play but in this instance an actor could be put in serious danger if they are standing less than a metre away from where they should. Actors must work extremely hard to make sure everything runs smoothly in every performance. This idea adds to the humorous performances given by the actors and makes them even more astounding.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Harry Potter - 20 Years of Magical Mayhem

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was first published twenty years ago. Here, Eva Burkinshaw (Year 3) explains why she loves the Harry Potter books. 

I love Harry Potter because the way it is written is really amazing. It makes you feel you're right there watching it all happen. The idea of a boy who thought he was just normal like everybody else but turns out to be one of the greatest people in the wizarding world is so exciting.

I love Harry's friendship with Hermione and Ron and the way they are so different to each other. Ron really understands where Harry is coming from and he is so brave. One of my favourite scenes is in The Philosopher's Stone when we see Ron sacrifice himself in the giant game of chess to help Harry and Hermione.

Hermione is my favourite character of all. She is so clever and is addicted to books. If you want to know anything about the wizarding world she is the person to ask and knows where to find out anything. I think she likes being the only girl among the three friends and she sorts Harry and Ron out when they are having arguments (which happens a lot). She is really tolerant with both of them. She is also very brave and always tries to do the right thing. She is just absolutely incredible.

Dumbledore is a kind and wise character. He always knows more than he gives away. For example in Order of the Phoenix he seems to be avoiding Harry but we find out he is actually trying to save Harry. This is like Snape who is so interesting as you can never tell until the last book if he is evil or good. Is he trying to help or hurt Harry? Although she is definitely evil I find Bellatrix Lestrange really fascinating because she is part of a family but is the most independent Death Eater and she loves Voldemort which makes her sad as well as wicked. I also feel sorry for Pansy Parkinson because she is not evil, she just falls in love with Draco Malfoy. I love the relationship between Remus and Tonks because it happens slowly and it is a surprise to everyone including them when they fall in love. Their death is very sad but they die together saving other people.

ICC Women’s World Cup

by Oliver Wright

The 11th Women’s World Cup is returning to England for the third time. This years tournament features eight teams, playing each other in 31 matches over 30 days of competition. A round robin format where each of the eight teams plays one another once is being used, with this being followed by 2 semi-finals and a final.

The first tournament was held in 1973, and was a product of the driving force of former England Captain Rachael Heyhoe Flint, who successfully convinced her friend and fellow Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter Sir Jack Hayward into donating £40,000 towards the event. Heyhoe Flint captained England to victory in the event, and since then England have won twice more (in 1993 and 2009). Being the second most successful team in the tournament’s history, and having won the tournament the previous two times it has been held on home soil, one would say that England seemingly have a good chance at reclaiming their title, and, after winning their warm up games against New Zealand and Sri Lanka convincingly, a strong start was expected and needed against an Indian outfit who needed the World Cup qualifiers to reach the main competition. However, after a weak fielding display that allowed India to impose themselves on the game, England failed to chase down a score 281-3, falling 35 runs short. This shock result acts as a huge setback for the hosts as the match against India was one that they were expected to win, almost to be used as a warm up for the tougher group games against Australia, the West Indies, and New Zealand. This adds a greater amount of importance to the supposedly easier games against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa, as if defeated in just one of them then there will be much more pressure on England to merely reach the semi-finals, something that would be expected from the world number 2s.

Australia, looking to claim an unprecedented seventh triumph, are favourites to retain the title they won in 2013. Although they haven’t begun their bid for world glory yet, their extensive experience of winning big tournaments, coupled with the fact that they have the best batter (Meg Lanning) and spin bowler (Jess Jonassen) in the world, sets them apart from the rest of the field immediately. Furthermore, their efforts in the ICC Women’s Championship showed them to be of the highest calibre as they lost only 3 of their 21 qualifying games. On paper, Australia are the team to beat. However, a long running contract dispute between both the male and female teams and Cricket Australia appears to have the potential to disrupt their mindset, as they may shift their focus away from the task of continuing to impress their dominance upon the game. The Australian Women are set to be placed upon temporary contracts if the situation is not resolved by the 30th June (a week into the tournament), acting as a distraction that could result in an upset.

Dawn over PGS

by Tony Hicks

Questions of Love trilogy - Part Two: When You Love Until it Hurts

by Holly White

 ‘If it doesn't break your heart, it isn't love.’  - Anonymous

To pinpoint love down to words that fit grammatically into a sentence is possibly an insult to the feeling itself. 

Of course we all attempt to do just that because it's a reassuringly pleasant way we can refer back constantly, and feel that needed sense of unity - that how we process that our feelings of attraction aren't completely insane and there's a reason why we want to be around that person and touch them, or just watch them go about their day to day business and see complete perfection in actions that possess no deliberate meaning to create attraction. 

To refer back to to explain why you're drawn to them across the room and spend hours of your time contemplating whether they think about you as much as you think about them. And it's the agonising pain that takes an innocent crush of the purest form to the dark, blood-red, futile side of love when you are put into a situation that removes any whisper of kindness, patience and desire to even look at that person; disapproval of their doings reaches a level of being completely incomprehensible as to why they did what they did.

You remove yourself from their company and sit on your bed looking at everything and nothing, or at a desk failing to do work you know you're suppose to be doing and you run through the series of events that have just unfolded for you to arrive at this emotional destination of disbelief and hurt. The concoction of thought processes that follow are too elaborate to go through and as someone only beginning to live their life I'm sure I'd miss out important factors I am yet to experience first hand. But hurting because of the ones we love is something we all have experience in from a young age, regardless of it being romantic love or family love; hurt is unavoidable - maybe explaining why we can feel it at the sweet, tender age we are.

You swallow hard, restraining the tears, I think - or don't you cry? Because it's easier to pretend the feelings aren't there even when you've lost the want to eat, because those feelings are too busy eating at you already. Right? You don't want to commit to anything other than lying down; you sleep to forget and curse when you wake up to that ceiling you spent the last three hours looking at. But that part of you who has watched so many films and read the books and seen the inspirational YouTube videos knows this isn't the right way to cope. So you peel yourself from the sweaty, damp-from-those-tears-you-refuse-to-believe-you’ve-shed pillows and covers and make your way to the shower.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Medical Ethics: Euthanasia

by Janel Richardson

Euthanasia:physician-assisted dying and physician-assisted suicide

How do you feel physically? How do you feel mentally? How do you feel emotionally? Do you suffer from a terminally ill condition? Do you suffer so much that you just don't want to wake up anymore? Is life worth living?

What do these questions mean? Euthanasia has been a controversial topic around the world deciding whether it is right or wrong to end a person life with their permission. States in the USA (such as Colorado who recently passed it as a law last year) and countries like Belgium and Holland have this law permitted that euthanasia is acceptable. However, both countries differ in there legislations. Belgium, Holland and other countries standardise their law under the condition of: are they suffering and is it irremediable? Is it suffering that cannot be done away with and cannot be controlled? This law has been used on people who have been through bitter divorces, losing their job, going blind and have very severe depression. Medically “healthy” people are successfully receiving help in dying from doctors on the ground that their life has lost its meaning or they have nothing to live for and they just don't want to go on any longer. In the United States, the laws states that two doctors have to pronounce a patient terminally ill before the patient can request lethal medication.

When Every Answer Is Wrong (Part Two)

The second part of an article by Tom Fairman. Read Part One here.

How then does this amazing grace square with the much maligned conservative views of sexuality in our liberalised age? To find understanding of this, it helps to go back to the fundamentals: a Christian viewpoint is that each person is created by God in His image which encompasses a physical and spiritual element that exists in every person, reflected in the mystery of the Trinity where multiple aspects make the whole. Therefore the creation of a person is not reliant upon the stage of development or denigration of the physical elements of a body. From the moment of conception until the moment of death a person exists; a vulnerable, special and beautiful human being with the breath of God in their inmost soul. It is this understanding of self that naturally leads to a strong desire to protect the vulnerable through anti-abortion and anti- euthanasia policies.
This dignity of the human person extends to their relationships as well. As a person is created in the image of God, they are created to exist by love in the way God the Father, Son and Holy spirit exist in the Trinity. We are created to live in life-giving relationships with those around us; starting with a childhood that develops a sense of unconditional love through the devotion and care of our parents, friendships that bring joy, comfort and adventure and for some marriage which through fidelity, exclusivity and humble admiration allows a person to grow, be cherished and to be completed with an unbreakable bond. They should be a completion of who we are, physically and spiritually, where the complementarity of male and female comes into play. This then leads to an understanding of the importance of a father and mother, or husband and wife. These relationships should be up-lifting and life-giving for the person, their families and the greater community, bringing us to a new daily understanding of our special place in God’s heart.
Unhelpfully these understandings then become laws which are drawn as lines in the sand by many people. Humans by their very nature seem to desire rules to define what is right and wrong and feel uncomfortable with grey areas that offer only vagueries and uncertainties. Therefore they take these viewpoints made in general observation and create winners and losers, right and wrong, sinners and saints. This is a view that is promoted by those who seek to divide and create an artificial cultural war on both sides of the argument. It is an incredibly unhelpful way of promoting dialogue and bringing about understanding and tolerance. One way to overcome this is to offer these up as ideals, ideas that point to the truth, remembering God wants us to have life and have it to the full, not to judge, but to serve. The ideals point to the spirit of the law, the understanding of the uniqueness of every individual, mother and unborn child and the idea that true love is more than just physical attraction and the union goes deeper than a certificate or a name.

Leavers' Day - 24th June 2017

by Tony Hicks

Friday, 23 June 2017

Why was King Alfred the Great ‘Great’?

by Libby Young

There have been many laudable monarchs throughout the history of England, but only one English king has ever been dubbed “the Great”. King Alfred the Great, perhaps the most famous of the Anglo-Saxon rulers, has held a prominent place in history due to his many achievements. Not only a great military leader, Alfred also implemented many social reforms that helped lead England on its path to unification and power.

Alfred was born in 849 AD and was fourth in line to the throne of Wessex. At this time, England was divided into three kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex, and these kingdoms fought not only amongst themselves, but against the continual Danish (Viking) raids that had been common ever since 793 AD, when Vikings attacked St Cuthbert’s church in Lindisfarne, Northumbria. The height of the terror came after a ‘Great Army’ of Vikings landed in East Anglia in 865, and began to conquer vast swathes of Anglo-Saxon territory. In April 871, following the deaths of his father and three older brothers, the 22 year old Alfred ascended to the Wessex throne, and he quickly set about removing the Danish threat. By 875, only Wessex remained independent of Viking rule.

It was through his struggles with the Danes that Alfred earned his military renown. In January 871 the Danish army was defeated at the Battle of Ashdown, and although Alfred did not become king until after the battle, it was him rather than his brother who received the most acclaim. Despite the Wessex victory, King Aethlred (Alfred’s older brother) died, and the now crowned Alfred was forced to withdraw to the Somerset marshes. However, Alfred continued to fight against the Danes, using guerrilla warfare until the Battle of Edington in 878, when he once again defeated the Danish invaders. After fighting for 14 days and a forced retreat, the Danes sued for peace, and with the realisation that he would be unable to completely drive the Vikings from the rest of England, Alfred accepted. Under the Treaty of Wedmore, Alfred gained control of West Mercia and Kent, areas previously outside of the borders of Wessex. Although the time that followed was merely a lull in the onslaught of the Viking attacks, it provided a brief period of peace that England had not known for many decades and allowed Alfred to start work on his fortifications.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Art of the Body: The Intersection of Art and Medicine

by Imogen Ashby

These pieces (see images below) have arisen through my exploration of a theme spurring from the idea of an Intersection between Art and Medicine, where the knowledge of two totally different fields combine. I have become fascinated by how the body works and wanted to find a way to incorporate them both in one.

Recently, My brother George, was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and I guess that the need to express my emotions through the art took over. I want the audience of my painting to see my confusion of how to react to this news through the winding and frantic paths of the blood capillaries. I want to show my journey through all of the outcomes I make from expressive pieces when my knowledge was sparse to now when my knowledge and curiosity have grown more than I ever thought they would in detailed pieces.

I never thought that any of this would happen to me, I always just assumed It would happen to everyone else. I want my paintings to show how naive I was to how much more mature I am now; how I feel ready to cope with difficult situations than ever before.

What I want out of this project is a final piece that shows sympathy, understanding, confusion and love all within one. Finally, what I want most of all after having started the journey with George is to finish it and I felt that there wasn't a better way to continue it and bring it all to a close than through a sketch book and exhibition.

Why To Kill a Mocking Bird is One Of the Most Influential American Novels Ever Published

by Lily Godkin

During her life, Harper Lee only wrote two novels. The one for which she is most famous is To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, for which she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature; she also received numerous honorary degrees. To Kill a Mockingbird explores the dynamics of 1930s America and the racism that consumes it. The novel considers the social and racial hierarchy within the community and also looks at the expectations of a woman in the early 20th century. 

The second of her novels was a sequel to To Kill a Mocking Bird, Go Set a Watchman, which was published in 2015, over half a century after Mockingbird. And yet, despite having only ever released two actual novels and some articles, Lee is still considered one of the most successful novelists of twentieth and twenty-first century American literature.

I think that one reason for her success is that she explores a theme central to American experience: race. In 1960, Martin King's movement was beginning to bring civil rights into the national debate. In Mockingbird, Harper Lee portrayed racism in its raw, naked form, exposing people's ignorance and revealing that although not everyone practiced racism, the majority condoned it. 

I believe To Kill a Mockingbird’s success was not only due to its thematic relevance but also to Lee’s portrayal of characters. Each figure is presented as complex and ambiguous. Even the antagonist, Bob Ewell, is portrayed at some point in a sympathetic light. Lee describes the lower class white males in a derogatory manner; by clearly explaining that both women and black people are lower in terms of social hierarchy than such white males she makes us question the unjust nature of American society because their lives are valued by the community as worth less than Ewell. This shows their social inferiority, emphasised by the insignificance of a black man, Tom Robinson's, death from the perspective of society, in prison for a crime Lee encourages us to believe he didn’t commit.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Review: Sweet Bird of Youth.

by Daniel Hill

Chichester Festival Theatre’s previous Artistic Director Johnathan Kent returns to direct the Tennessee Williams play. It certainly wasn’t as amazing as his previous productions but it was a good production to return to.

I found that “Sweet Bird of Youth” was a play of two halves quite literally. This can be viewed in many aspects.  I personally found that the play itself had very little going on in the first act which began to drag. This was especially clear in the first scene set in a bedroom between the two main characters; an actress (Alexandro del Lago played by Marcia Gay Harden) who has arguably run from her previous fame and a young man (Chance played by Brian J Smith) who was using the actress to try to break into fame himself. I understand that it was important to introduce the characters in this first act written by Tennessee Williams although I also believe that this was dawned on for far too long. I found it very hard to find connections with the characters on stage during the first act which I do not believe was down to the acting.

The second act had much more substance. Although mainly set in one setting similar to the first act we saw much more action between the characters that had been introduced. In the second act we the characters who all have their own selfish goals. We are introduced to the person that Chance was once when he was younger and lived in the town of St Cloud that the play is set in. It is made clear that Chance has ended up far from his younger self who he has left behind him.

Monday, 19 June 2017

How Successful Was Tim Farron as Leader of the Lib Dems?

by Mark Docherty

Last week Tim Farron announced his resignation as leader of the Liberal Democrats because he was finding it difficult to balance his life as a practising Christian with his role as party leader.  His resignation came just under two years after he was elected Nick Clegg’s successor and he contested just one election campaign, in which the party made modest gains.  Some would argue that he took important steps in rebuilding the party after their dismal performance in 2015, while others say that he compromised the Lib Dems’ core values as party leader.

Nick Clegg’s party were held to account in 2015 for breaking their promise to vote against rises in tuition fees during their time in coalition between 2010 and 2015, leading to them winning just eight seats. The ensuing leadership election saw Farron elected as leader with the task of restoring them to a position in which they could have a significant influence in Parliament. In this task, it could be argued that Farron succeeded as the party improved its share of the seats from eight to twelve under his stewardship. Although the Lib Dems remain only fourth largest party after the 2017 General Election, Farron has at least given them stability and steadied their fortunes after they fell so far two years ago. On the day of Farron’s resignation, Nick Clegg paid tribute to the stabilising role he had in his two years in charge.  Although the election result did not show as much progress as the party would have hoped, they have taken the first steps along the path to recovery.

However, when one considers the circumstances surrounding the 2017 General Election it becomes hard to see how the Lib Dems increased their total of seats by just four.  The vote was contested between an increasingly unpopular Prime Minister in Theresa May and a leader of the opposition who was unable to control his own MPs in Jeremy Corbyn; circumstances which would normally be seen as ideal for a ‘third party’.  Add the fact that the Lib Dems were the only party to oppose Brexit, meaning they should have been representing 48% of the electorate, and the election starts to look as if it was the perfect opportunity for the Lib Dems to become at least as popular as they were in 2010.

However, a combination of the youth vote siding with Labour rather than the Lib Dems and Farron being at the heart of controversy surrounding alleged homophobic views led to the Lib Dems led to the party gaining just four seats and saw their vote share decrease from 7.9% in 2015 to 7.3%.  The Lib Dem manifesto was clearly targeting young remain voters, with a second referendum on EU membership their main policy, but the young voters tended to side with Jeremy Corbyn’s promise of phasing out tuition fees rather than a possible reversal of Brexit.  For this reason, it is difficult to look at Farron’s electoral performance and see anything but a failure.

Faith and Football Social Enterprise Challenge 2017

by Thomas Locke

Create a business and turn it into a practical way of generating income. That was the task set by Portsmouth-based educational charity, Faith and Football in the 2017 Business and Enterprise Challenge. The idea of the competition is for students across the south in Year 9 to form a group, start a company and practise vital communication, marketing and sales skills in the process. All of the profits made during the competition is paid to the charity and spent on their work overseas.The winning team is given tickets to an all-inclusive trip to Goa, India to see first-hand where the money generated by the charity is going and who is benefiting. The challenge is in its 12th year and I followed The Portsmouth Grammar School’s entry, The Cookie Co to establish what the competition entails and to explore some of the challenges that they faced.

Faith and Football is a Christian charity operating in Portsmouth, Plymouth and Cambridge, their goal is to run a variety of educational programmes across different year groups in an attempt to provide opportunities to young people. One of their flagship programmes is the Social Enterprise and Business Challenge for Year 9 students to set up their own company and run it for four months. At the end of this time, business plans, storyboards and all financial accounts need to be submitted to the charity's Head Office in Portsmouth for review. The aim of the challenge is to try and increase the students employability and providing crucial skills in leadership, coordination and team participation.
There were numerous entries from The Portsmouth Grammar School, however, due to the nature of this style of competition, unfortunately some had to drop out. From the outset, I followed one of the schools entries, The Cookie Co. The business, operated by Arya Gowda, Jevon Hannah, Sarnaz Hussain, George Davis-Marks and Rohin Kachroo, specialises in selling premium, handmade cookies with flavours inspired by oriental foods across the world. The team created an impressive website with an online store, integrating PayPal as a payment method and they also explored the possibilities of social media channels, interacting with customers via Twitter and Instagram.

They had created a very successful brand and unique product in a very busy market. To sell their handmade goods, they organised a variety of sales at the school as well as taking on high street favourites, setting up temporary outlet shops in Cascades and the Meridian Centre in Portsmouth and Southampton respectively. The process was monitored by Paul and Wynelle Cowdery, independent business mentors from the US, it was their job to provide guidance and offer assistance to the five as they completed the competition. Paul and Wynelle have worked as mentors for businesses such as Mondelez International, the umbrella company responsible for household food brands Cadbury, Oreo, Sour Patch and more. PGS pupil, Daniel Hill, also oversaw the group, offering skills that he gained from completing the challenge last year.

When Every Answer Is Wrong (Part One)

by Tom Fairman

When Tim Farron announced his resignation as leader of the Liberal Democrats, he stated the main reason as the conflict between his faith and politics. His inability to provide satisfactory responses to questions regarding his views on homosexuality dogged him throughout the election campaign, overshadowing the policies he was actually campaigning for. On the face of it he seemed to be unable to hold his faith and lead his party at the same time. The severe criticism and vilification of the DUP that has happened since their talks with the Conservative party began cover a number of issues, but one of them is also along the same argument that their faith and the policies that stem from it particularly in regards to abortion and gay marriage are incompatible with power in Westminster.
Therefore is it right to assume that there is some change happening where holding a personal faith and holding a position of authority have become incompatible? It would a bit daft to run an election campaign without offering your interpretation to the problems the country faces and usually these solutions are guided by the principles and opinions you hold. As faith can be defined as a set of opinions that are held about what is right and true in the world, then it would be foolish to argue that this will have no impact on the decisions you make if you are in power or to try to distinguish them from less religious sounding principles. Therefore to question whether a personal faith affects your ability to do a job in government seems to depend upon whether you agree with the faith that is held by those in power.
The natural next step then is to conclude that it is Christian values that appear to be the issue in the UK; Christian values that are often characterised as conservative, outdated, regressive and discriminatory. It saddens me to hear my faith portrayed in these terms. The Christianity that I know is one built upon some simple foundations which can be summed up in three words; God is love. The whole purpose of Jesus’ earthly ministry was to bring us back into a knowledge and understanding that God’s love is for every single person on this earth. It is a completely unconditional, unending love that is borne out of the fact that each person is uniquely created as a child of God, in His image and that love is displayed in the ultimate sacrificial act of Easter. It is an infinite love that bears itself out in wanting the best for us, for us to have life and have it to the full, to be free and to know how special we are. When you are teaching a child, meeting survivors of a disaster or planning a new benefit system, you are serving God himself in that person and if that does not affect the decisions you make, then there lies the real problem. This love is also accompanied by a mercy and grace, given as undeserved forgiveness and if you are looking for scandal in Christianity, you will find it in this amazing grace.

Friday, 16 June 2017

On Being Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet 2016-17

by James Ross

One of the highlights of my time at PGS has been the Combined Cadet Force, this has given me opportunities ranging from parachuting, conducting an exercise with the Royal Marines and meeting HRH the Princess Royal. I started my journey in year 9, inquisitive to try something different; I joined the CCF and have never looked back, I’m sure not many eighteen-year-olds can say they have done what I’ve just mentioned, and that has all been down to this invaluable experience the school offers.

After working my way up the ranks, I was privileged enough to be put forward as a candidate for the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet, and selected, perhaps the rarest and most prestigious appointment a cadet could hope for. The position entails acting as a personal aide to the Lord Lieutenant (the Queen’s personal representative of which there is one in each county) and to assist him in his ceremonial duty. My duties have mainly been in parades, laying wreaths in ceremonies, but more recently, in March, my job was to open Princess Anne’s car door and escort her to an exhibition she opened in the dockyard. I have also recently attended a ceremony opening a memorial to the recipient of the Victoria Cross, and was humbled by the story of extreme courage in the face of death shown by LCpl. James Welch. On behalf of the Lord Lieutenant I laid a wreath to commemorate the bravery shown and took part in a parade with the Rifles regiment.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Another Election - Another Surprise

by Georgia McKirgan

Just like in 2015 and the EU Referendum, the result of last week's General Election took all the 'experts' by surprise. Even on the day of the votes, most people thought Cameron would fail to win a majority in 2015, Remain would win the EU Referendum and the only doubt this time was whether Theresa May would win a majority of 50 or 100. All of these predictions were wrong. There is a good piece to be written about why journalists, politicians and polling companies have proved so useless at doing something they should be good at - predicting electoral outcomes - but that is not what I am trying to do here.

Some of the most common questions in British politics are: Why is participation in General Elections falling? Why do older people vote more than young people and Why is the share of the vote taken by the two major parties falling? I spent a lot of time preparing my answers to these questions, so I'm really glad the exam was last week and not next week as all the conventional wisdom about these issues has been turned upside down.

Let's take Participation first. Disillusionment with political parties and problems with the First Past the Post voting system (safe seats, wasted votes etc) are usually blamed for falling turnouts in elections but recently this had been ticking back up. Turnout in the Scottish Independence and EU Referendums showed that people were very engaged in politics, even if they were less interested in General Elections. This disillusionment with politics was seen to be most acute amongst the young. There is no official data for turnout by age group in the EU referendum but Sky News came up with the following turnout numbers:

18-24: 36%
25-34: 58%
35-44: 72%
45-54: 75%
55-64: 81%
65+: 83%

The fact that the turnout was so low amongst younger voters (who were largely in favour of Remain) was held up as one of the reasons for the Leave vote. So how did young voters turn out for this election?

The graph shows that there was a massive increase in the turnout of 18-24 voters in this election (66.4%) over the 2015 election (44%). The youth turnout was the highest since 1992 and the third highest since 1974. This increase drove the overall turnout up to a very respectable 68.7% compared to 59.4 in 2001 and 85% of seats saw an increase in turnout. This jump in youth turnout may also have affected the overall result. Everyone would have expected left-wing parties to do a bit better with younger voters but the extent of this was surprising:

The 49 point advantage for Labour over the Conservatives amongst young people more than outweighs the 36 point advantage for the Conservatives amongst older voters (65+). In previous elections, the fact that older people voted in greater numbers than young people has been used to explain why most parties' policies tend to favour older over younger voters (pensions triple-lock etc). The view was that parties were merely developing policies that would give them the biggest return amongst likely voters. Something started to change in 2015 but didn't really have a big effect until last week. When Jeremy Corbyn shocked the 'experts' (see the trend here?) by winning the Labour Party Leadership elections in 2015 and 2016 many people commented that a large part of his success was the way his message resonated with young people. During the campaign Corbyn's public meetings were large, energetic and filled with young people. Compare this to the staged, scripted appearances by the "Maybot" where she could barely get beyond the phrase "Strong and Stable" and refused to take part in the Leaders Debate.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Latter Rose

by Tony Hicks

This rose  tree was given to me after PGS in Bloom three years ago by David Doyle. It gets better every year and the roses get better.

Difficult Questions With Simple Answers

by Tom Fairman

The hung parliament that resulted from last week’s election presented many more questions than it did answers. Unlike a referendum when the question is supposedly very simple, an election does not pose any specific question besides who do you want to represent your constituency in the House of Commons. The answer to that question depends upon how you frame the question in your head.
Invariably your MP will vote with their party so they are merely a part of something bigger and yet some MPs have differing records when it comes to free votes or which committees they sit on. Some MPs are brilliant at raising issues and speaking to their constituents; others have the responsibility of being part of the Cabinet. It is this uniqueness and yet solidarity that makes the British first past the post system work.
If proportional representation or a French-style presidential system is used, the voting would be solely for a leader of a party and their vision for the country. This leads to a strange paradox as a common question people answer when they vote is who is best to lead the country rather than which MP do I feel would best represent me. It means when PMs come under pressure as leaders of their parties, previous mandates can become invalid as Theresa May has found out.
Our governmental party system does offer some reflection on our society though. The aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks have shown the true beauty of our country. The stories of people sacrificing their own safety to help others; the kindness of local businesses in helping those in need; the incredible emergency services’ dedication to serving those wounded and hurt; the politicians who do put aside their differences to come together to try and form counter terrorism solutions. These have been summed up as solidarity.
The many varied responses of the different parts of society come together to become one response to the question of how we deal with terrorism. Each response was different and served a different purpose, but together they made a whole response and yet the whole did not replace each individual action. To borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis, each action was like the edge of a cube; each unique in and of itself but part of something different, something of another dimension, reliant on its parts.
This analogy for oneness is used by C.S.Lewis to answer another very different question; what is the Trinity? The Trinity is the mystery that three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all God with no hierarchy or separation, three persons who are God and yet together are one God. This presents a real challenge when running Children’s liturgy on Trinity Sunday. However the key is in the oneness.

10 Things We Now Know About British Politics - After 8th June

by Simon Lemieux

Well that was an interesting election wasn’t it! My prediction was predictably wide of the mark but I can at least claim that I got the number of Lib Dems right, that voters are increasingly volatile and changeable, and that it was worth waiting up for. At least too I didn’t predict a Tory landslide unlike many experts (see the attached set of predictions from the very reputable and non partisan Politics Studies Association) -  Who indeed needs experts….. So what have we learnt other than making predictions leave you exposed, vulnerable and open to challenges: a bit like calling an unnecessary election and losing it! Well there is much that has and will be written about an election which I think will go down in history as one of the more dramatic ones in modern British history. Here’s 10 points to get you started with.

1. Two party politics (in England at any rate) is back albeit possibly temporarily unless or until the Lib Dems set sail again or someone (Farage?) performs CPR and brings back UKIP Lazarus like from the grave. Between them, Tories and Labour notched up just over 82% of the total vote – you have to go back to 1970 to find a higher figure (89% to be more exact). In recent elections it has hovered around two thirds, so this was not a good night for any of the smaller parties except for Sinn Fein and the Conservatives’ new best friends, the DUP. The Greens and UKIP both slumped disastrously seeing their combined vote slump from 5 million in 2015 to 1 million.

2. Tactical voting is on the rise at least anecdotally; in 2015 9% claimed they would vote tactically, in 2017 this rose to 20%, mainly it has to be said in a so-called progressive alliance ie anti Tory. There is much less evidence of UKIPers voting tactically even though there were some local pacts and the absence of UKIP candidates in some seats probably on balance helped the Tories to victory in a few seats. In most strong UKIP areas such as the south West and Lincolnshire though, they probably just bolstered Tory majorities. Those northern Brexit seats in Labour areas such as Hartlepool where UKIP came a strong second stayed Labour.

3. Young people will turn out and vote, and there is some evidence of a youthful Corbyn fanbase, but before we get too carried with blaming the young for voting for what they don’t have to pay for (all the magic money tree etc) or alternatively, being engaged and enthused by a new style of positive politics, some interesting observations from the BBC website:

‘The 10 constituencies with the highest proportions of 18 to 24-year-olds posted increases in the Labour vote of more than 14%. The biggest swing to Labour was in Bristol West where it grew 30% - it has the eighth highest proportion of 18 to 24 year olds in the country - it's the home of Bristol University. Prof John Curtice points out that in England and Wales there was a 2.5% swing to Labour in seats where fewer than 7% of the population is aged 18 to 24. In seats where at least one in 10 people is of that age, there was a swing of 5%. But if you look at all 91 constituencies where the Labour vote increased by more than 14%, the proportion of 18 to 24 year olds is only slightly above average (about 12%, when the average is about 9%).

If you look at the 35 Labour gains, only 15 of them had more 18 to 24 year olds than average.’ So it’s not that clear-cut, but the Conservatives did do especially badly in both university towns (Bristol, Canterbury, Oxford) and in large urban centres above all London which tend to be younger and more ethnically diverse. By contrast their vote held up extremely well in most of their suburban and rural heartlands – double digit majorities in most Hampshire seats outside the two main conurbations for example.

4. Failing to engage or at least go through the charade of engaging with the electorate is a bad move. It is easy and an open goal to accuse Theresa May of being robotic but… (Wheat fields really, not even rye or barley…). Her absence from the leaders’ debate with the glorious gift of hindsight now looks arrogant and completely misjudged, rather than an unnecessary risk or stateswomanlike. Corbyn had all the advantages of the outsider, took a few risks (letting Diane Abbot be interviewed was clearly one of them!) and at least came over as vaguely human and sincere. This was Sanders vs Clinton, only on this side of the pond and they were from different parties (though arguably so were Sanders and Clinton). What we lacked was a credible rightwing populist – where was Farage when you needed him; then we could truly emulate the US…

Monday, 12 June 2017

Why I am Deeply Concerned About the Con/DUP Alliance

by Jo Morgan

In their desire to cling to power over our country, Theresa May and her party have made a deal with the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party). 

Known for their moral conservativism, the DUP pose a genuine threat to the hard won rights of LGBT people and woman. This is truly terrifying.

We have seen real progress on LGBT rights in recent years but whilst gains have been made in terms of marriage equality and adoption rights, there is still some way to go. The life for many LGBT people remains difficult. The Stonewall school report of 2012 showed that nearly one in four young LGBT people have attempted suicide and over half have self-harmed. More recently, Pride in London’s research showed that 74 per cent of LGBT people hide their sexual orientation or gender identity, with 77 per cent feeling uncomfortable in being their true selves in public (against 23 per cent of the general population).

Likewise, women’s rights in the UK are more protected than ever before. Despite this, gender inequality persists in many ways. The British Council has stated that the UK must make this issue a priority since we are falling behind nations like the US and France. In the UK, women hold less than 30% of positions of power and influence. Women experience higher levels of sexual, physical and online abuse. They are paid significantly less (18.1% in 2016) to do the same job. They are objectified and vilified in the media.

The Speech that Theresa May Should Have Made On 9 June - and Why She Needs to Resign!

by Ruth Richmond

I have been a Conservative since I turned 18 years old. My parents were active members of their local Conservative Party. They were highly political and insisted that we talked about politics inside the home. My mother has always been Conservative; she is that old-fashioned kind of Tory who felt that if you worked hard in life then you earned status and money and that was something to be proud of. She believed in low levels of tax simply because she thought people needed to take responsibility for earning their lot and taking care of their families. She disliked a large state and above all dependence on the state; she sees it as a sign of weakness. She welcomes privatisation (not of the NHS though!) and believed it encouraged competition that could only benefit the economy and individuals. My father changed his political views when he reached his 30s. He had been a member of the Labour Party but became disillusioned with it because of, what he saw, as the lack of aspiration for the working classes. With Conservatism, he believed that people could achieve what they wanted through hard work. He grew up on a council estate in Larne, Northern Ireland, went to University, achieved 2 first class degrees, and became a Professor in a University department. His school teachers and friends told him that his status in life would be working in the local steel factory and getting a council house. His parents were so furious that they became Conservative party activists. It’s a story that made a big impression on me as I was growing up.

Like many others, I was pleased when Theresa May replaced David Cameron after he resigned after the unexpected result in the EU referendum in June 2016. I had been impressed with her performance as Home Secretary and I thought she would make a decent PM. Whilst, in retrospect, I was more assured by her authoritative demeanour than her policies (given when we know now regarding her failure to deal with the threat of prospective Jihadis over a 6 year period and the removal of many community police officers), I felt confident that she would provide socially progressive policies that would benefit all parts of society. More crucially, I thought she would provide a more acceptable face, less nasty and elitist, than that of tory Etonians such as Cameron and Johnson, which would appeal to all social classes. Overall, I had high hopes that she would be a success and that, above all, could provide optimism to those that felt left behind in society. I thought she would protect the Union, keep Nicola Sturgeon in check, and be tough on terrorism. I hoped that we could see more of the human side of Theresa May as she appeared robotic (I can see why she has earned the nickname ‘Maybot’) and awkward. But she remained popular with the public given that the opposition was hopeless under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. It was all going rather well. Then she made one mistake after the other which led to her party failing to achieve a majority on 8 June:

1.      She called a snap election despite saying several times that she never would.
2.      She took success for granted given her standing in the polls.
3.      She failed to engage with the wider public, choosing instead to talk with pre-arranged smaller groups whilst Jeremy performed at large rallies.
4.      The Conservative manifesto was dull, pessimistic, and unexciting, in contrast to the Labour Party manifesto which was bold and costed.
5.      She became more robotic as the campaign progressed whilst Jeremy Corbyn blossomed.

I was willing to stick with her, particularly as Brexit negotiations are due to begin in just over a week’s time, until she made that dreadful speech on the steps of No. 10 on the afternoon of 9 June. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Photography: Second Clutch of Goldfinches

by Tony Hicks

This second nest was started during the first week of June. 

The first egg was laid n the 8th June - all laid early in the morning.

If all goes well, the first should hatch about 25th-29th June; it takes about 13 - 15 days.

The young will be in the nest for 14 - 17 days, so they should fly about 14th - 17th  July.

It would also appear they recycle their old nests. Good birds.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Don’t Panic!

by Miranda Worley

Sterling dropped 2% on news of a hung parliament today – but here are some reasons we shouldn’t be all gloomy. 

1. It appears the election was swung by an increased number of young voters, who traditionally don’t bother to vote. This is great news!  The future of our country belongs to the young, we need them to take an active interest in politics and shape it.  Democracy relies on participation not apathy! 

2. Short-term business confidence may be affected by this political uncertainty, but consumer confidence is a much more volatile concept, and likely to be positively swayed by a period of barbecue weather and a win for the British under 20s football team; if Andy Murray can win the French Open this weekend we may even forget that Ben Ainslie has been knocked out of the Americas Cup! 

      3. The FTSE100 index went up this morning.  A lower exchange rate tends to mean higher repatriated profits for our largest multinational companies.  So returns on your investments will still do OK.  Your invested wealth continues to grow!      
      4. Change creates entrepreneurial opportunities.  We are certainly about to have a lot of change in the next few years, so get out there and take advantage of it, find your niche!

Earthquake! Election 2017

by James Burkinshaw

A victory for the Millennials? 
On reflection, it shouldn’t be a shock that last night went so different to expectations - and that pollsters and pundits have got it so wrong. After Brexit, after Trump, it is clear that there is a seismic level of dissatisfaction with establishment politics, with a status quo that seems to leave so many behind. 

What so many (not least in his own party) saw as a disqualifying disadvantage (decades on the backbenches, no Cabinet experience) proved to be Jeremy Corbyn’s trump card: his anti-establishment credentials (not to mention his formidable campaign skills, honed over forty years addressing marches, rallies). A surprisingly high number of former UKIP voters chose Labour this time – it seems that Corbyn’s outsider credentials appealed to those Kippers who wanted to stick two fingers up to politics-as-usual. Thus, Theresa May’s strategy of turning the Conservative party into UKIP-lite has been revealed as deeply mistaken. Yes, many former UKIP supporters voted Tory, but enough of them voted for Corbyn to enable Labour to retain their vital northern seats.  

And it does also seem that this election was the “Revenge of the Millennials”. Hundreds of thousands registered for the first time and it seems that, perhaps still angry at the decision made by their grandparents’ generation last June, a significant percentage (in contrast to previous elections and contrary to expectations of most pundits) showed up to vote. It seems that younger voters were a significant factor in Labour's historic win in Portsmouth South; for Labour to be picking up seats in the South-East is stunning. Canterbury has gone to Labour for the first time in 100 years.

Throughout the UK, younger voters overwhelmingly chose Corbyn over May, reminiscent perhaps of the septuagenarian Bernie Sanders' appeal to younger American voters. Like Sanders, Corbyn came across as authentic and natural, a man clearly comfortable in his own skin and genuine in his beliefs. The Conservative decision to run a presidential-style campaign focused on Theresa May and her “team” has, of course, been revealed as a catastrophic error. Clearly ill at ease meeting voters, restricted to pre-arranged set ups with loyal party members, averse to debates, she cut an awkward and uncomfortable figure. Presented by the Daily Mail as the reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher, she was exposed, on the campaign trail, as more reminiscent of Gordon Brown in his last, haunted months as PM.

And (by common consent) she ran the worst campaign in recent British political history. Calling the snap election, she argued that she needed a huge majority to stop opponents of Brexit acting as "saboteurs" in Parliament. This was transparently dishonest and cynical, particularly with the Labour Party supporting Brexit and voting for article 50. However, with the disastrous launch of the Tories' care home policy, debate moved rapidly from Brexit on to Labour territory: health and the welfare state. There is a definite sense that, after 7 years, voters are tired of Austerity. 

Even more damaging was the impact of the bungled manifesto on May’s leadership image: incompetent, indecisive, weak and (in her refusal to admit the policy had changed) mendacious. She has been exposed as an empty suit. And her approval ratings plummeted accordingly. And Corbyn’s soared. Another revelation of the election was the unanticipated professionalism of the Labour party’s management: an effective manifesto roll-out, popular policy choices, an inventive and effective communications operation. Even on security issues which have traditionally played to Tory strengths, following on from the terrorist atrocities in Manchester and London, former Home Secretary Theresa May was on the defensive during the final days of the campaign about cuts in police budgets. 

Corbyn not only proved to be far shrewder and politically agile than most people expected. He also offered a positive, optimistic message – in contrast to the Conservative re-running the “Project Fear” strategy that failed so demonstrably when used by the Remain forces less than twelve months ago. And May's personalised, vicious attacks on Corbyn (for example, an invitation to invite voters to imagine him naked) made her seem mean-spirited – particularly as Corbyn refused to make personal attacks on her. Certainly, the attempt by the Mail, Sun and other Conservative out-riders to demonise Corbyn failed badly.