Monday, 16 January 2017

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

by Julian Davis

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time garden was a brilliant play, deploying an imaginative use of set, lighting and sound to successfully portray a boy’s battle with Asperger's and the strenuous effect it had on his family and the people around him, depicting an unequipped father trying to care for a mentally handicapped son.  Joseph Ayre's superb performance as Christopher, a boy with intense Asperger's, simply makes the show and is crucial to its success.

The play starts by immediately hitting the audience with an impressive wave of sound, before unveiling a dazzling light show, displaying powerful imagery of a dog dying. The impending tussle with the policeman immediately introduces the audience to Christopher’s problems; his groaning and assault of the police officer shows the depth of the problem facing his family; the father's then haggard appearance accentuates this.                        

Speaking of the father, Nicholas Tenant's performance was another strong point to this excellent play and his chemistry with Christopher, specifically their first argument, left the audience riveted. As well as the drama and the conflict, the space scene, where the audience is given a view into Christopher's mind is a beautiful moment which is symbolic and representative of the entire production, using lights and set to show the galaxy as Christopher sees it, drawing the audience and the world into Christopher's mind and showing the potential wonder that he is capable of, revealing that there is more to him. 

The Cost of Christmas

by Isabelle Sambles

Now the Christmas season is officially over, it gives us a chance to look back on the festive holiday. Personally, my holiday was one where I felt I was busy doing nothing; I certainly saw a lot of people, but my time with them was spent doing nothing but talking and eating. Certainly a lot of Christmas involves digging deep into our pockets to find the money to spend of Christmas gifts and presents for loved ones.

Although this time of year tends to be fun and joyful, there are a lot of negatives at Christmas time; the average person gains 2kg in weight, and 35 million bottles of wine and 250 pints of beer are consumed in Britain alone during the December month; a 40% increase compared to the rest of the year. Moreover, through our poor dieting and over drinking, the hospitals are put under a lot more strain and so the NHS bill rises, meaning that government must either increase their total spending or, direct more of the budget into the healthcare services, which means that other areas that benefit from government spending lose out.

Also, there is a big impact on the environment at Christmas due to litter and recycling. In 2014, the figures showed that $2.4 billion is wasted on uneaten food and unwanted gifts, which accumulates to an increase of 30% more rubbish produced. On top of this, the amount of wrapping paper that is used and thrown out, if laid from end to end, would stretch from Earth to the moon. This has a massive impact on our environment, and, with landfill sites filling up fast and climate change becoming more prominent in our newspapers, surely we could reduce climate change dramatically by cancelling Christmas?

Photography: Leaves

by Claudia Bishop

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Why You Should Listen to Your Grandparents' Stories

by Jasmine Nash

I remember vividly visiting my Grandma (or, as we would call her, ‘Nanny’) most days after school and, as I sat in front of her TV in the small snug living room, she would pull up her Ottoman pouffe and place a tray on top with a plate presenting beans on toast: two pieces white bread and heaps of baked beans with a generous knob of butter on top. I would sit for a few hours watching general, rubbish television, with her pet bird and chihuahua Beau, and scoff the meal, dropping half of it down my school jumper. 

Nanny kept a box of toys upstairs that she would bring down and it was as if I’d seen a magic show. I would get so excited over a gloomy yellow piece of plastic that had big chunks of orange and brown inside it:  it was plastic sick. We would hide it around the living and dining room and wait for the other to find it; she would even bring it over to my house on Christmas just to hide it. My Mum hid it in my bed once. I miss that peculiar ‘toy’.

It was the 16th of February 2011 and I cannot begin to describe the feelings I felt when my mother told me that my grandma had passed away in the hospital bed after fighting oesophageal cancer.

I wish I visited her more often when I had the chance. A few weeks before she passed, my mum asked me if I wanted to go with her to see her and being the naive 11 year old I was, I thought that there were much more important things in life to do. There were not. There definitely were not. Multiple times a week I listen to friends complaining about how they have to see and spend time with their grandparents. I would do anything to go back and spend as much time as possible with my grandma. I don’t believe in God but I truly hope there is a heaven and she’s happily reunited with her dog, Beau, and I really believe and have faith that she is looking down on me and is proud of the hopeful mess I am becoming as she watches me grow into an adult.

Photography: New Year in Old Portsmouth

by Tony Hicks

Wise Men in a Post-Truth Society

by Tom Fairman

My Dad has a saying or his children have a saying for him: Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. As the Magi or Wise Men from the East come at the Epiphany to herald the end of Christmas time, self-proclaimed wise men have come and affected elections this year to herald the end of a “truth society” and taken this saying for themselves. If the Magi were in a post-truth world, would they have had much luck in finding Jesus and lifting the veil for the nations to see the truth?
So much has been said about the definition of post-truth that a short reminder from Wikipedia, no irony intended, should suffice. They define post-truth as a culture which appeals more to emotions than to facts, one built upon the aftermath of a bruising EU referendum and US election. Voters were often left scrambling in the dark for the facts that were hidden from them, relying more on the stories they were told than statistics they could compare. How could anyone be expected to find the truth when their searches were deliberately hindered by both sides during the election process?
The Magi searched in a similar fashion: they followed a star to Bethlehem. The star is often visualised as a sat-nav that the Magi had programmed to find the new-born King of the Jews, a notion which says more about our current disposition to rely on instant, internet searches to remove doubt rather than an ability to search through logical trials and errors. However the star provided an anchor, a foundation upon which to build. We all possess a foundation of beliefs that belong to us, sub-consciously held unless challenged, beliefs that guide us through life to an ultimate goal; such things as being comfortable financially, living for today or treating everyone equally. For the Magi, the belief that the star heralded the arrival of a new King, a changing of the world order, drove them to travel great distances to arrive at Jerusalem. The underlying truth for them was to believe a king would be born that was worthy of their gifts and worship; a true king whom the could pay true homage to.
Logically, the Magi went to ask for help on their search from some experts, some guardians of the truth; the current king and his chief priests. Surely they would have seen the signs as well and would have found the new born king already? It is an assumption that is full of logic and although they did not know at first, it did not take long for the chief priests to find the answer. Our own relationship with experts is fraught in our post-truth world and understandably so as we have lost an appreciation for true wisdom. Wisdom was a trait that was earned, the highest measure of respect and usually was attributed to elders in a society and yet the people we turn to for advice are the ones offered to us at the top of some search results or who are popular at the time in our Facebook news feed. Maybe our issue is not with expert advice but with who we call experts in the first place.
The Magi are then left to their own instincts to try and find Jesus and turn back to the star; they rely again upon their own truths to guide them. Eventually they find Him and pay Him homage, the one who calls himself the Way, the Truth and the Life. Their journey has been to find truth itself and is an interesting parallel with Pilate’s discussion with Jesus regarding truth in John’s Gospel. The truth they find leads them to worship, draws an emotional response from them. It is a long journey to finally get to Jesus, but their humble reaction is a true, emotional response. Herod’s response is full of emotion as well when the Magi do not return to him; a genocide ordered out of anger and fear. Truth will always elicit an emotional response from us when we encounter it as, by its nature, it either challenges or supports our existing beliefs, our foundations.
We are hard wired to fit new facts into our existing understanding of the world, to try to make sense of all we see. In this sense, we have always been in a post-truth society, relying on stories and emotions to protect and discover truth. We are constantly trying to establish a narrative for the world, a coherent story and will colour facts and observations to fit the narrative we have chosen. It is one reason why truths were shared in stories, passed on through generations, because people remember stories. Even if the stories weren’t true, we could understand the message through the emotions within it. For example our emotions are used to help us remember the truths our parents want us to know when trying to keep us safe as we grow up.
However truth can elicit different emotions in different people. The truth that is Jesus caused a different response in King Herod to the Magi; it caused them to write different versions of the truth for themselves. Did it cause different truths to exist? No, only their interpretations and their experiences differed. The search to find the truth will continue even in our post-truth it is a search that began in a post-truth society; the real mystery is who has the wisdom to help us on our journey.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - from Portsmouth Point

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our readers from the editors of Portsmouth Point

'White Branches: Winter in South Parks, Oxford' by Oliver Stone

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Christmas Poem: Grandma's Christmas Cottage

by Lucy Albuery

The world was white, engulfed by snow,
And in a cosy cottage a fire was a-glow.
It spat and it roared in its fiery rage,
As Grandma, in armchair looked down at her page:
A page full of stories new and old,
That she read to the children, shivering cold.
The room it was silent as she told her tales,
Of very evil fairies in make-believe jails.
The words came alive in the crisp winter air
And the children they loved it: they sat, they stare.
As their hearts began to grow with giddy glee
Then grandma said “Come here look with me!”
They looked out the window and up at the sky
And saw the festive light of Santa fly by.
The room came a-buzz with childhood joy,
The small house came alive with excitement from girl and boy
“I hope you’ve been good,” Grandma then said,
But the faces of the children drooped then instead.
They thought they should go and do a good deed
For they weren’t sure if they’d been good, indeed.
“Oh no!” said Grandma, “There’s no need to fear!”
“For there’s room on the nice list for everyone here!”
So when the world is white, engulfed by snow,
And Santa has his toys row upon row,
Be sure you're nice and have a good soul,

For these room on the nice list - and you won’t get any coal. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Photography: Winter Sunset

by Tony Hicks

Christmas Poem: Rudolph’s Plot to take over The World

by Oliver Durrant

There once was a reindeer called Rudolph.
He was what everybody talked of.
But one day at the front of the sleigh,
He said his ambitions during the fray…

He said:
“I will squish you all into the Earth,
With my nose as it has gained such girth.”
All the reindeer looked at him in shock.
They knew he could squish them “Pow!” and “Pok!”

Donner and Blitzen froze in horror.
Prancer and Dancer looked quite sombre.
They looked at Rudolph as he were a child,
Young, foolish, ignorant and wild.

Suddenly, his nose increased in size,
Then went “Pop!” and lit up the skies.
When they could see his nose was gone,
Rudolph realised there was nowhere to run.

The reindeer went and pinned him down,
And said “Where is your shining nose now?”.
They made him their slave for ever more,
And Rudolph thought “This is such a bore.”