Friday, 31 January 2014

Short Story: VE Day

by Verity Summers


VE Day. The war was over. We had returned home, welcomed by cheers. It was the greatest feeling. "Well done!" "Welcome back!" "The war's over!" The same phrases echoed through the crowd; cheering, crying, hugging. Every person faded into a great crowd; every returning soldier stood as one, as they had at war.  I felt as if I was floating, high on a cloud, somewhere else entirely.
Every house was empty that day, everyone was out - in the streets, the parks, the bars. We were all desperate for a strong pint and a good meal, stumbling into the nearest door. "Alright lads?!" The man behind the bar called, "Drinks on the house today, especially for you lot!" He smiled, nodding in the direction of our khaki green uniformed selves, standing against the backdrop of a sea of faces and beams of sunlight spilling through the open door behind us. Cheers radiated throughout the crowd once more at that, and people flooded into the room with the doorway framing the beautiful shades of the washed out blue sky that had made a timely appearance. On the best day anyone had had in years. The day we had all been waiting for, for so long.
I was surrounded by men, reunited with loved ones. There was a young man standing near my right side, arms round the necks of an older man and woman - his parents, perhaps. Tears were in their eyes, relieved at the sight of their son returning home. His head was buried in their two shoulders so irretrievably that I couldn't even glimpse his expression, although I should think it was one of relief, sorrow, joy, and pure juvenility; he looked no more than twenty after all - joined us in the latter stages of our fight presumably. There was another man - older this time, though - kneeling down by the bar, numerous arms around his torso also. His children. They couldn't have been more than about three, five and six years of age, as their mother stood proudly, tears in her eyes, behind them, waiting to hold her husband in her arms again - something she thought she might never have been able to do again the last time she saw him, his back turned as he walked away years previously.
This was one of the times when the same thought struck me again, having had the realisation a hundred times previously: we were lucky to be alive, to have returned home. Not everyone made it back. There were people all over the country - our country - that weren't holding their loved ones as so many were around me. They were clutching at jumpers, pictures, anything that had been left behind of the deceased. Those that were now gone but who would never be forgotten.
We would remember them.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Superbowl Preview

by Henry Cunnison


Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
(wiki commons)
This Sunday, in New Jersey’s Met Life stadium, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will clash in the “greatest show of turf.” Denver Broncos, led by perhaps the greatest player of all time, Peyton Manning, have had a record-breaking season and are therefore the favourites. But since the arrival of quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks have had two fantastic seasons and their league-best defence has the speed and skill to halt the Broncos juggernaut. For these reasons, the game should be very close, but I would suggest the Seahawks have the edge.

The Broncos do seem formidable. In Manning, they have the best quarterback in the league, who has far more experience than his opposite number. His 2013 season has been one of the best ever, including 55 passing touchdowns, an all-time record, and a second Superbowl victory could be the cherry on the cake of a great career for the 37 year old.
Denver has no shortage of talent around Manning on offense. The wide receiver trio of Dekker, Welker and Demaryius Thomas are guaranteed to create miss-matches with the defence. This was evident in the AFC championship game. They are complemented by tight-end Julian Thomas, whose breakout season has marked him out as a crucial weapon against the Seahawks.  Furthermore their offensive line ensures Manning always has time to make a throw and rarely gets hit. These elements combined help explain why the Broncos' offense has easily ranked as the best in the NFL. But the Seahawks have the best defence in the league. They have speed and physicality. They have the ability to cover and shutdown the Denver wide receivers, and their cornerback Richard Sherman is the self-proclaimed best in the league. They can cause fumbles and interceptions.

Nor will the Seahawks offense be easy to stop.

All Walks Beyond the Catwalk

by Phoebe Warren


(source: Independent)

Media engulfs our everyday lives. Every hour of every day we are being swamped with advertising of an idealistic lifestyle. All the while, our subconscious swallows this information whole, adapting our way of understanding ourselves and the world to fit that of unachievable possibility. 

I’m talking about self-esteem and image in relation to the normalisation of sexual exploitation. This is a place the media has created where gender stereotyping and a casual-rape culture mixes readily with fashion and music on a regular basis. Yet “as it’s so immaculately styled, it slips under the radar” according to Caryn Franklin. After all, haven’t we learnt to accept that women being portrayed to be sexually victimised is a positive thing as in the likes of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke? Moreover, isn’t it a good thing Miley shows young girls the latest trend to look as if you are  starved to the point of ghostly death in her Spring 2014 ad campaign for Marc Jacobs? So not only is the media saying it is a good thing for women to be sexually abused, they have graduated to the message they should be starved, raped, then left for dead. 

Despite Miley being the obvious choice for this negative representation of women, there are plenty of others to blame for the ever increasing negative influences in the likes of female role models. For example, until recently, I was very much a fan and regular shopper at American Apparel. It promotes sweatshop-free (admittedly over-priced) alternative clothing. So, at first glance a positive label. However, upon typing the company’s name into Google Images, we see a very different side of the story. Each result that hits you provides an on-slaught of shocking, borderline-pornographic images of women being sexually objectified, barely presenting any of the company’s clothing (if any at all). Every model is pin-sized, lacking in thighs with a measurable gap between her legs- clearly suffering from starvation. Just to add to the scene, in a lot of cases, apparently the model needs to be propped up by a bulky man by her side to stop her from collapsing. As a woman, do you honestly want to buy into this label which represents this near porn/rape culture with only size 0 models? 

Review: The Fault in our Stars

by Dodo Charles


I can safely assume that it is without much surprise that, with the release of the trailer for The Fault in our Stars by John Green, someone would write about it. It is, after all, considered one of the greatest teenage books of 2013.  

I can also safely say, that right now at this moment, thousands of girls (and guys) are currently crying and ‘feeling the emotions’. I am, indeed, one of the above. And, no, I have no shame. I am a fangirl (although, personally, I hate that term).  

In his novel, John Green successfully captures the reader, albeit with an unconventional protagonist, Hazel Grace Lancaster, and interweaves her cancer story amongst those of others also suffering from other varieties of the disease. The novel appeals to so many, because, unlike in most cancer-related books, the main character is not soppy or dull or without a distinct character. She does not cry often, and, overall, she seems in acceptance with the disease that is coursing through her body. The trailer alone is enough to show that this is going to be conveyed in the film.  

There are not many words that I can use that do justice to this novel, although the trailer itself speaks so highly, as John Green himself worked closely with the production of the film. 

There is not much more I have to say, so I present to you the trailer: 
 

 

Feel the emotions.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Yummiest Chocolate Fudge Recipe!

by Grace Gawn


This recipe is very quick and easy, and makes amazingly tasty fudge! Warning: highly unhealthy and very addictive.
 
 

Ingredients:

·         75g butter

·         400g chocolate (dark, white, or milk – your choice!)

·         A can of condensed milk

     1.    Chuck it all in a pan and melt it over the hob, stirring the whole time.
2.    Pour in to a tray lined with baking paper.

3.    Leave to set in the fridge.

4.    Cut in to whatever shapes take your fancy.

5.    ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

 
 

Pete Seeger, singer and songwriter: May 3, 1919 - January 27, 2014

"Pete Seeger spent his life in the most honorable way possible -- he tried to teach America about itself. First, he helped teach it about itself through all the music it had forgotten, a darker and infinitely more fascinating place than the America that was selling itself Brylcreem on the TV, an America of murder ballads, and of the pain wrought in music of all its lost promises, and of the hope that the music itself could redeem those lost promises.

 . . . Music is the way America always has talked to itself, even on those occasions on which it was whispering because what it was saying was dangerous to say out loud. Music is the way to say things in this country you might otherwise wish not to be overheard. That was the language Pete Seeger spoke, year after year, demonstration after demonstration, cause after cause, war after war, for most of his 94 years, and that was the language he spoke in 2008, when he shared a stage with Bruce Springsteen and insisted -- with Springsteen's full and enthusiastic approval -- that every verse of "This Land Is Your Land" be sung (see video below) . . . He loved the country and its people and the idea of it that outlasted so many attempts to hijack it for other purposes. Pete Seeger was a great American because he dared to be thought otherwise. Read the rest of this tribute by writer Charlie Pierce here.

 



"Pete Seeger was one of the key figures of 20th-century music. Not a household name, perhaps, certainly not an iconic superstar charismatically straddling modern pop culture, but a dedicated musician, musicologist and activist whose influence is subtly woven through our times. We all know his songs, whether we realise it or not. And more importantly, we have all been shaped by his attitude to music. It is no exaggeration to say that Seeger helped establish our contemporary conception of folk and blues as music of sophistication and substance, perceptions that, in turn, helped shape the birth of rock and roll and the explosion of serious poetic lyricism that brought adult themes and high artistic aspirations to pop culture.  . . . As Seeger himself once said, “All songwriters are links in a chain.” Today one of those crucial links may have been lost, but the chain remains as strong as ever. " Read the rest of this article by Neil McCormick here.




"“Rulers should be careful about what songs are allowed to be sung.” Pete Seeger . . . liked that quote from Plato. His tunes constantly poked the eyes of America’s rulers. The civil-rights movement marched to his version of “We Shall Overcome”. (He) encouraged audiences to join in. Folk songs were for the people, he maintained; the emphasis on the solo frontman was a commercial invention. In Allan Winkler’s book about Mr Seeger’s music, “To Everything There is a Season”, Tom Paxton recalls: “Pete made “the song the star and the singer merely the presenter.”  Read the rest of this article from The Economist here.



The Best One-Hit Wonders Around

by Fergus Houghton-Connell


My article comes as a response to Tim Bustin discussing great albums earlier this month. I, on the other hand, would like to mention those bands that made it big for a week, perhaps even a month, before we forgot about them, and were sent to the history books. These bands had a Number One in the charts and that was it, I mean really it. So, let the memories of these cracking one-hit wonders be jogged.  
 
Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest

 
I bet half of you didn’t even know who wrote this song. I admit the good version of this song was covered by Toploader in 1999 and it did only reach number 7, but if you played this song to almost anyone I reckon they would recognise it. Dancing in the Moonlight’ was almost famously played in the comedy Four Lions making it the only song most people remember of Toploader/King Harvest.

The Bad Touch – Bloodhound Gang


You might not recognise the song name, but if I say it’s the one where they discuss performing certain events that occur on the Discovery Channel, then you’ll probably know what I’m talking about. Bloodhound Gang had a few other good songs, but this one made No. 1 in seven countries.

 Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus

 
In 2001 this song made No. 2 in the UK charts and was included in the soundtrack for the film Loser. Classic turn of the century American Rock, it epitomises the teenage High-school underage drinking era. It’s a good one for road trips.

Monster – The Automatic


Many will remember, “What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster? Is it a monster?” It reached No. 4 in the charts and, although the Automatic had some other good songs, this is the only one that most people remember. The band released two more albums after their most famous Not accepted anywhere debut album, but, like most other bands here, they have been forgotten. 

Portsmouth Point: Why You Should Become an Editor

by Hugh Summers


As Portsmouth Point's blog approaches its second birthday, PGS pupils reflect on their experiences as a blog editor.


Monday, 27 January 2014

Photography: Just A Blur

by Adam Boxall


Should We Stop Eating Sugar?

by Alexander Quarrie-Jones



Sugar, contrary to popular belief, is not just a strangely addictive song by The Archies, but an ingredient in almost all of our daily consumed foods. Last week, it seemed that the scientific community rather spectacularly concluded that sugar is actually very detrimental to us. Specifically, they identified High-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, as the main additive in sugar that is threatening the health of the population. Although, on review it is very difficult to distinguish between HFCS and natural sugars because they are very chemically similar and are absorbed by the body in a near-identical manner, there has been a rise of HFCS in foods that coincides with massive increases in obesity and diabetes in America. So the question that one might ask is; “Should we stop eating sugar?”

It is believed that sugar was first grown for market in China around 800 BC where a rigorous and laborious process of extracting the sugar would eventually allow for a very wealthy yield. Up until the industrial revolution and the wave of global exploration, sugar was an extremely expensive product that only the wealthiest could own; in 1319, it is recorded that Venetian traders sold 50 tons of sugar to England for £3,000, which is equivalent to £11,000,000 today.
Sugar became notorious during the 18th and 19th century because it was the most desirable product in the world but also produced by the slave colonies in the Caribbean and South America. Unfortunately for the slaves, sugar production became a booming industry because it was provided by massive labour forces with no choice as to conditions or hours. Yet, the moral implication of sugar production was overlooked by the populations of countries like France and Great Britain because of its sheer capacity for a sweet taste, something that was sorely lacking in everyone’s palate until this point.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Photography Club: Kaleidoscope

by Mia Austin


Another Poem For Sunday: Deadline

by Kelvin Shiu
 

My mind whirls around in a never-ending cycle,

It flickers through dictionaries of words that I could use,

Yet incapable of making a decision,

My fingers drowsily prod the jungle of instruments scattered on my desk,

Sprinting through an overwhelming land of paper and pens,

Hypnotic ghosts haunt me and travel through my body,

As my eyes slowly linger back into their caves,

The clock inevitably ticks to the beat of my heart,

Which is getting slower and slower...

The muscles in my face begin to droop heavily down to my desk,

As I desperately try to ooze words out of my quivering brain.

I am isolated in the dark,

In a battle between me and my mind,

A challenge between light and dark,

The raging fire slowly sizzling away.

Confusion fizzes like static in my head

And waves of desperation plough through my veins,

Enveloping into a black hole.

‘Why didn’t I do this earlier?’ I murmur to myself in the shadows,

Just before the heavy, hollow, metallic structure of my head

Is grasped onto by the magnetic field that rips me down like a claw,

Pulling my head towards it like strongest of magnets,

Releasing me from the jail of shame.

This is the result,

This is the smoke that is the product of the dying flame,

The product of whatever flick of inspiration I could kindle,

This is my attempt to be the champion over time,

To beat my body,

My mind,

The deadline...

 

 

Photography Club: A Burst of Light

by Caitlin Betteridge



Poem for Sunday: Man and Nature

by Verity Summers


The sea, so deep, so wide, so blue,
Endless, drowning , danger rules,
The wind blows, a body falls,
Light, then fate,  finally death calls. 

The waves, so steep, so white, so new,
White horses on the heights do duel,
Fighting, pulling,  clawing away,
Toward death, from the light of day.

The sky, so bright; white clouds, so few
Welcome paradise, and losing view,
When born, we are at once dying,
Embrace death, fulfilled but crying.

Hills, they tumble, up and then down,
Paths, they wander, round and  around,
Grasses, they grow on every ground,
Peace in the countryside can be found.

Adventurers, they  ponder where
on earth was what they all called 'there',
Progressing life as they so cared
Corrupting nature as they so dared.


Man and nature in life they meet,
Not always do they kindly greet.
But when they both are wholly beat,
No longer will one the other cheat.

2014: Year of the Guitar? – Part One

by Pete Rapp

 

A friend of mine recently published an article on Portsmouth Point about five albums he was excited for in early 2014 (link here). This got me thinking about which new music I was looking forward to myself – with music being such a broad subject, where everyone has different tastes and preferences, I thought I would give my own thoughts on albums coming this year.

Those who know me will be aware that I devote a lot of my time to my guitar playing, and, as such, a lot of my favourite music is from rock and indie “guitar bands”. Whereas 2013 was dominated by dance, dubstep and electronica (barring the return of Arctic Monkeys), I think that this year will be a great one for guitar music, so here are my picks as to who you should look out for.

Part One – Bands Returning With New Albums:

1.      Young The Giant

Last album: ‘Young The Giant’, 2010

California indie rockers Young The Giant took a fairly long time to gain mainstream success after the release of their self-titled debut; catchy, energetic stadium-anthem ‘My Body’ was iTunes’ Free Single Of The Week, and they gained a lot of buzz before their song ‘Cough Syrup’ was performed on Glee, when they started to gain real recognition for their work. Full of off-kilter energy, their first album was a breath of fresh air, with insightful lyrics accompanying fun dual-guitar melodies and frontman Sameer Gadhia’s fantastically emotive voice – it quickly became one of my favourite albums of that year. Returning at the end of 2013 with pumped-up rock track ‘It’s About Time’, the band seem to have moved onto a more polished sound, with more layered tracks and added electronic elements via the organ and keyboard. Singles ‘Crystallised’ and ‘Mind Over Matter’ showcased this more mature style, while retaining the energy that gained them so many fans originally. I would highly recommend their new album ‘Mind Over Matter’ – after such a long break, it’s great to see these guys back.

My favourite track: ‘My Body’

 

Best new track: ‘Mind Over Matter’ 

 

New album: ‘Mind Over Matter’, released 21st January

 
2.      We Are Scientists

Last album: ‘Barbara’, 2010

One of my favourite bands, this – I saw them live in summer 2013, and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. We Are Scientists, another band hailing from California, have been around for a while. Formed in 2000, they have released 3 albums, as well as a live acoustic mini-album. Their debut, ‘With Love And Squalor’, had an out-and-out indie band sound and was packed with upbeat rock tracks, including hits ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ and ‘The Great Escape’, before drummer Michael Tapper left, while frontman Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain remained. They subsequently unveiled ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’, which pursued a more indie-pop style while still having plenty of energetic headbang tracks in there (check out ‘Let’s See It’), and contained the band’s biggest hit to date in ‘After Hours’. The 2010 album ‘Barbara’ spawned songs like ‘Rules Don’t Stop’ and ‘Jack and Ginger’ which were catchy as all hell while having a more electronic twist on them, while tracks like ‘Nice Guys’ and ‘I Don’t Bite’ recalled the indie rock of early WAS. In summer 2013, standalone single ‘Something About You’ was released, before the ‘Business Casual’ EP in the winter revealed tracks from the new album such as ‘Dumb Luck’ and ‘Return The Favour’. Murray and Cain’s new songs are, first and foremost, downright catchy, and they seem to have successfully blended the old fuzzy indie rock of their debut album with polished production and witty lyrics to achieve music that will stick in your head and make you dance and/or rock out. Their new album, ‘TV En Français’ will have more of the same, and you do not want to miss it. Check out new single ‘Make It Easy’ if you still aren’t convinced.


My favourite track: ‘Let’s See It’:



 
Best new track: ‘Make It Easy’: 

 

New album: ‘TV En Français’, released 3rd March

 

3.      The Crookes

Last album: ‘Hold Fast’, 2012

And now, the Brits! Sheffield’s The Crookes were formed in 2008, and have been described as ‘the most hardworking band in Britain’. This is unsurprising when you see their discography: they’ve only been together six years, and have two albums and an acoustic mini-album under their belt, not to mention an insane amount of touring. A proper indie rock band (another one, I know, but they are seriously good), these boys combine catchy riffs with upbeat rhythms and chant-able lyrics to create danceable rock tunes that will never fail to put a smile on your face. Signing to famous London independent label Fierce Panda – once home to Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie – the self-confessed ‘NEWPOP’ band released ‘Dreams of Another Day’ in 2010. The acoustic album was lovely to listen to, with songs like ‘Backstreet Lovers’ and ‘Yes, Yes, We Are Magicians’ proving that a song can be both relax you and make you want to dance all at the same time. It served as a lovely introduction to the band, with the acoustic songs feeling more personal, showcasing guitarist Daniel Hopewell’s fantastic lyrics, and winning the band a dedicated fanbase early on. They then released their full-length debut ‘Chasing After Ghosts’ which was jam-packed full of danceable songs like ‘Godless Girl’, ‘Chorus of Fools’ and ‘Bloodshot Days’, alongside emotional and heartfelt tracks like ‘The Crookes Laundry Murder (1922)’ and ‘Youth’. The band is clearly versatile, able to write songs that will first bring a smile to your face and then make you feel sad and reflective, while the melodies will never leave your brain. The album served as the soundtrack to my summer of 2011, and will provides me with a smile whenever I listen to it! ‘Hold Fast’ came out in 2012, and showed an older, wiser Crookes: with retro lo-fi production giving the album a nice romantic air, songs like ‘Afterglow’ and ‘Maybe in the Dark’ gave us stupidly energetic and fun tracks that will make you jump up and get down. The album sounded more mature and aggressive, and the boys showed they had a fierce desire to make a mark on the music industry, while there was still the honest, heartfelt band of old in there on raw closing track ‘The I Love You Bridge’. After releasing standalone single ‘Bear’s Blood/Dance In Colour’ in summer last year, the band announced their new album ‘Soapbox’ along with single ‘Play Dumb’. Both singles continued the lo-fi production of ‘Hold Fast’ while ushering in a heavier sound which retained the catchiness of the band’s early work – just the title ‘Soapbox’ makes it clear that this band has something to say to the world. They are standing on their soapbox and shouting at you to like them, and I say you should.

Favourite track: ‘Afterglow’: 

 

Best new track: ‘Play Dumb’: 



New album: ‘Soapbox’, released 14th April. 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Photography Club: Lost

by Matthew Crichton




Relocation- a Reflection on our Turbulent Society

by Holly Govey
 

For many, the Christmas holidays symbolised a time of relaxation and recuperation, a chance to get away from their busy and frenetic lifestyles and spend time appreciating the tranquillity that comes with the winter months. However, for my family, the majority of December was wrought with petty arguments, minor conflicts and irrelevant disputes as we endured the significantly earth-shattering event that is moving house.
Albeit exciting and exhilarating, the act of leaving one’s past can be upsetting, because, as we shed the protective skin of our familiar surroundings, we also to an extent abandon our memories and a part of our identities. In my case, the departure from my childhood home was particularly moving due to both the physical knowledge of every aspect and defect in the building, but also the emotional connection- through the collection of memories associated with specific rooms and events.
Moving day itself was fuelled mainly by adrenaline, anticipation and tea, as we attempted to force sixteen years of accumulated possessions into 42 cardboard boxes, a feat that can only be accredited to the persistent presence of motivational brownies. Once packed up, time allowed for only a brief tour around our now empty shell of a house, before we began the long (roughly three minute) journey to our new home- the height chart etched on the kitchen wall the only stain we left for the subsequent owners to remove.
Retrospectively analysing our departure, I realise now that the reason I do not miss the old house lies not with its faults (the third, seventh and thirteenth steps on the stairs creaked, the downstairs bathroom lock was broken and the utility room sink tap dripped) but in its insignificance. Despite my earlier recollection of my emotional attachment, in the end a house is only what it is defined as: a building providing space for accommodation. So without our material possessions and our presence, it could no longer be called our home- therefore the entrance into our new house seemed like a natural progression of maturity rather than a shift in time and place.
In our contemporary society, moving is said to be the third most stressful event in life, following death and divorce. However, despite this, the average person born in the UK will move house a total of eight times during their life, but peculiarly will not end up too far from where they started. Research confirms this idea- showing that on average people will travel 32 miles during each move, and eventually will live in a house that is 63 miles away from their birthplace. Also, it seems that people stay true to their local area, as just one in five people end up living 200 miles or more away from where their first house was located. In this way the cyclical nature of our society is highlighted, as people rarely stray outside of their comfort zone, preferring instead to hold on to the residue of their domestic history. Therefore the question is raised: why do people bother moving in the first place?
To attempt to elucidate the motivation behind the tiring and traditional ritual of repetitively moving house I have composed a short list of the top 9 reasons why people move:

Friday, 24 January 2014

Sixth Form Centre Taking Shape

by Tony Hicks


This last week there has been preparation of the concrete ground floor, concrete screeding to the first and second floor and block work started on top of the old Biology block and the second floor. The new Sixth Form Centre is starting to take shape.




What Won’t Happen In The Remainder of the Season? Part 1

by Harry Dry
 


Karren Brady

January
Man Utd’s season continues to unravel as they go 3-0 down inside half an hour against a resurgent Cardiff, with the Stretford End almost empty before half-time and silent long before even then. Cardiff win 3-1 following a late consolation from Van Persie, but Vincent Tan calls an emergency meeting with senior figures in the club hierarchy (all, by now, members of his immediate family) in light of the second half performance and they agree unanimously that Solskjaer’s position has become untenable. Vincent Tan later installs himself as the new manager.

United’s own problems  spread to off the field as the Glazers sell their majority shareholding, leaving the club riddled with debt but desperate to qualify for the Champions League and salvage some dignity from Moyes’s ignominious debut season. Ryan Giggs comes to the rescue on transfer deadline day by melting down his 13 Premier League medals and offering the resulting metal plus Tom Cleverley to Newcastle in exchange for Hatem Ben Arfa. United fans rejoice as the deal goes through with four minutes to spare and the Geordies, although initially incensed, soon acquiesce when Mike Ashley watches Cleverley play and sacks the hapless Joe Kinnear for his role in signing him.
February
After West Ham’s losing run stretches to nine games, Karren Brady regretfully fires Big Sam and sets up a televised competition during the international break to decide his successor. Joe Kinnear is an early favourite but some questionable claims on his CV are ruthlessly scrutinised during the interview stage and Malky Mackay is eventually hired as manager. A disgruntled Kinnear leaves in a taxi and tells the camera ‘It was the wrong decision. I ain’t exaggerated anything for centuries.’

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Photography Club: Seeing Stars

by Adam Boxall


Racial Inequality in the Fashion Industry

by Rhiannon Lasrado
 


 
I’ve recently discovered TED talks – is that bad? I feel a bit behind – and with this came my second discovery: Cameron Russell’s talk entitled “Looks aren't Everything. Believe me, I'm a Model". For those who don’t know, Cameron Russell is an American fashion model, walking the runways for everyone from Louis Vuitton to Victoria’s Secret. In fact, she’s on the February cover of Elle UK. Also, did I mention that she has a degree in economics and political science from Columbia University? Thus, her talk was extremely intriguing, within which she remarks how her success is down to “winning the genetic lottery” and advises young women to stay away from that career path. However, the thing she said that struck me the most was this: “In 2007, a very inspired NYU PHD student counted all the models on the runway, every single one that was hired, and out of the 677 models that were hired, only 27 were non-white”.

This is not an isolated incident. 40 Afro-Brazilian models went topless last year out of protest for their lack of representation on the catwalk, despite Brazil having the world’s second largest black population. The numbers don’t add up. If 50% of the population is black, why are only 4% of the fashion models of colour? For example, Malaika Firth is the first black model to appear in a Prada campaign since Naomi Campbell in 1994. That’s twenty years of campaigns only featuring white women. Even when black models do in fact appear in campaigns or on catwalks, they are only usually one shade of black (similarly to how white models tend to be one shade of blonde and tanned). In 2008, Carole White, co-founder of Premier Model Management, spoke out about racism in the industry by describing how hard it is to find work for her black models in comparison to her white models. Interestingly enough, the catwalks of the 80s and 90s were reportedly filled with black women, so why the regression? Ms White put it down to “less diversity among black women” and “the designers’ lack of confidence”, neither of which I’m inclined to agree to after seeing the likes of Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn in recent years.

Sunrise over PGS

by Tony Hicks


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Photography Club: Crescent (Motion)

by Matthew Crichton


2% CPI...Is This Good News?

by Alicia Juniper

 
 Inflation plays an important part in the economy. If inflation is high and prices are rising, then the purchasing power of money decreases. You need more money to buy goods and services than you did before, therefore a low inflation rate is one sign of a good economy and meets an important macroeconomic objective set by the Government. So with the Bank Of England's latest calculation of the inflation rate being just 2.0%, falling from 2.1% last month, does this small amount of inflation really affect us at home?
 
In the short run, maybe not so much, however in the long run, although the figure of 2% may not seem alarming, a small increase in the inflation rate will slowly but surely erode the value of people's savings and reduce your households standard of living. The cause of the minor drop in the inflation rate is the decrease in the price of fruit, this of course is good news to those who eat a lot of fruit. However, the price of using energy is slowly but surely increasing. This price increase would affect many more than the fall in prices of fruit as the majority of the UK's population tend to use a lot of energy in their day to day lives. This includes heating, lighting, driving and cooking, often regarded as necessities as opposed to luxuries.

The good news is, from this month's readings, inflation is falling and is reasonably stable, hitting the Government's target of 2% inflation. If the inflation continues to decrease, it holds both positives and negatives: the positive outcome being that price levels of goods and services often consumed by the public will not see any sharp rises in the near future. However, if inflation is too low then there will be little demand for products, resulting in the economy grinding to a halt, unable to grow. On the other hand, if inflation rises and wages remain low, the standard of living in the UK is also likely to take a hit. In the case of inflation rates rising, consumption in many categories will most certainly decline. Families will be forced to cut out luxuries like holidays and recreational goods in order to be able to afford essentials like utility bills and council tax.

Monday, 20 January 2014

A Smaller Splash

by Mark Richardson


From a garage door in Southsea

Work from the Other Side

by Tim MacBain OP


I always wanted to keep writing for Portsmouth Point once I’d left; I noticed that there didn’t seem to be many Old Portmuthians posting on the blog, but there were enough to give precedent to me submitting the odd article! However, the subjects that I used to post on, mainly sport, are being covered so exceptionally by the current contributors that it would seem like I was trying to detract from them. Therefore, I began to think about what would be appropriate and, crucially, interesting to post on the blog. The second I think I may have fallen down on, but I began to think about my current position at university (York, if anyone’s interested), and an idea started to coalesce in my mind. Why not put my essays on the blog? They aren’t fantastic pieces of scholarship – far from it – but it might give any pupil interested in going on to university to study history an idea of what a history essay is like, or for those thinking of an essay based subject what the essay itself is like. Therefore, here starts an infrequent series of essays; if allowed, I will submit a few here and there over my degree, so as I (hopefully) improve it can be of interest or use to those who want to write essays at university.

As I’ve already said, these are not fantastic, shining examples of scholarship. Alongside the essays I will put the feedback I have received from my tutors, so as the weaknesses of the essays can be made completely obvious. DISCLAIMER: GCSE, IB and AS/2 Level students, DO NOT write any essays like this unless told to by a teacher (which is highly unlikely). ESPECIALLY the first essay. I will become the most despised man amongst the history department if you do. Thanks.

This first essay was written as a procedural (non-assessed) essay for the module Cultural Encounters in Asia, 1400-1700. An unfamiliar topic for me, and thus I struggled a bit to get going, as you can see. The title was “What effect did European commerce have on Asian trade networks?” My tutor’s feedback is at the end. Please excuse the referencing and bibliography; if I don’t do them then bad things happen; plagiarism is taken very seriously at York.

When the likes of Vasco da Gama, Marco Polo and John Mandeville ventured east and hitherto undocumented and unexplored by Western Europeans, they opened up a trade system rich in diversity and depth, which could stimulate and facilitate new commercial ventures whilst exposing European markets to new and exotic goods. It is within the implications of this statement that the argument of this essay lies; conversely, Asia networks of trade were an already fully functioning and diverse system into which the European traders were entering. They were not needed to reciprocate the stimulation and facilitation these networks provided them with. Their impact was limited, predominantly to shifting the focal points of trade within the Indian Ocean; Prakash’s idea of “the Asian loci[1] of trade can be applied at a more localised level, with the fall and rise of ports such as Malacca and Aceh (respectively)[2] examples of this. However, it is also evident that different Europeans had different effects on the Asian trade networks; the more heavy-handed top-down approach of the Portuguese had a greater effect than the Dutch and English who joined the system to a much greater extent (although it should be noted that the official EIC (English) line did not involve itself in intra-Asian trade; the private English merchants were the more prevalent participators.[3] For the VOC (Dutch), it was company policy.[4])

To fully assess exactly what the effect European commerce did have, one must first understand what the networks within Asia actually were. It would be beyond the scope of this essay to describe them all in great detail, but a general overview is necessary. As stated above, the system of Asian networks was rich in both diversity and depth. There was a wide range of materials and products traded from the unaltered raw materials such as cultivated cotton[5] to the refined products such as Chinese silk garments and Indian cotton textiles,[6] and the process merchants went about in the gaining of these goods were enormously complex, as Bouchon demonstrates; “For example, junks [Asian trading ships] from Malacca brought bars of copper to Pasei in the north of Sumatra to be exchanged for pepper, which was in turn traded at Martaban for rice for Malacca.”[7] This quotation originates from a discussion on the “secondary circuits”[8] of trade caused by the demand for rice within the Indian Ocean; such complexity with a subsection of the trade for a foodstuff is a demonstration of just how diverse the Asian trade networks were.

The aforementioned depth of these trade networks is best conveyed through the merchants themselves. Although Bouchon contends that they were “dominated … by Indian Muslims”,[9] Pearson does propose a somewhat broader idea of the religions of those who participated in the trading networks, with varieties of Muslims, Hindus, Confucians from China, and other, more minor, religions, such as those indigenous to the islands of South East Asia.[10] In addition, these merchants were highly able; the Europeans felt “at no particular advantage”[11] when they traded with them.

Overall, then, it is evident that the system of Asian trade networks was independent and fully functioning. The impact of European commerce, therefore, was never going to be particularly extensive. However, the introduction of a new group to any economic system will always cause some sort of change; this area shall now be explored.