Thursday, 29 October 2015

3x Formula One World Champion: Is Lewis Hamilton Now a ‘Great’ of the Sport?

by Old PortmuthianTim Bustin

10 wins. 11 poles. Records set and smashed. And 2015 champion with still 3 races left to go.

Though his championship winning race in Austin last weekend may have been a chaotic one, filled with crashes, reversals of fortune, last lap drama, and even a full blown hurricane, since the off the 2015 drivers crown has looked to be firmly Lewis’. Defending constructor’s Mercedes this year gave Hamilton a car seemingly more superb than last year’s record breaking machine, and although the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel has been hot on his heels at many points throughout the season, no team, and indeed no driver – Lewis’ Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, is an unassailable 80 points behind, despite having the same equipment – has looked to match the might of when Lewis goes ‘Hammertime’.

2008, 2014, and now 2015. Only 10 drivers in history have won three or more world titles, and only 4 drivers have won more. Championships aren’t everything (just ask poor Fernando Alonso, possibly the world’s greatest driver right now, currently in the 9th slowest car), but to win thrice requires more than just good fortune. Ayrton Senna, Hamilton’s hero since boyhood and often considered the best driver ever, was also a triple champ – and strangely, Hamilton has equalled this feat in nearly exactly the same number of races (as well as for race wins). Speaking of race wins, Hamilton sits 3rd on the all-time list as of last race, with 43 – he’s also 3rd on the all-time pole positions rankings, all making him now the most successful British F1 driver in history.

So, 8 years after exploding into the F1 scene, in what was a record breaking rookie year, is it finally time to consider Lewis as one of the ‘greats’ of the sport? Not just great, like Jenson Button or James Hunt, but one of the greats – a Senna, or a Michael Schumacher, or a Niki Lauda? Sir Jackie Stewart, Britain’s only other triple champion, certainly thinks so – because Lewis is finally gaining maturity from his experience. Remember that a few years ago, in a McLaren unable to compete against what was a mighty Vettel/Red Bull combo, Lewis would be often withdrawn or almost convey a childish unfairness in interviews after losing – once even tweeting secret team data just to prove a point. But over the years, more and more you hear nothing but gratefulness to his team in success, and graciousness in defeat, with his manta being ‘We Win and Lose Together’ (though, like any good driver, you also hear the determination to improve and the drive to succeed). Yes his, perhaps questionable, fashion ideas are often misinterpreted for arrogance or foolishness (honestly, we’ll never understand why he tried going blonde), but Lewis is one of the few drivers that exists outside F1, with his outside life providing a balance and stress release for him. Certainly, a man who can attend high-profile events and celebrities gigs during weekdays, and then go and win the majority of races at weekends, is one in complete control of his life (Lewis’ profile also does wonders for promotion, proving driver’s do in fact, contrary to popular belief, have personalities).

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

'The Metamorphosis' – an Evolution Lasting a Century

by Katherine Lemieux


100 years ago this month, Die Verwandlung, or rather The Metamorphosis, written by the German-speaking Czech author Franz Kafka, was published and today it is regarded as one of the most seminal works of fiction to come from the 20th century. It is a peculiar and thought-provoking short story revolving around Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman with the responsibility of providing for his entire family, who wakes up one morning to find he has been transformed into a cockroach/dung beetle/giant insect - there have been many arguments debating the exact translation from the German phrase ungeheures Ungeziefer meaning monstrous vermin. The novella tells of Gregor’s attempts to adapt to his transformation and the impact it has on his aging parents and younger sister Grete.

Franz Kafka is one of the best known writers of absurdist fiction, with the term "Kafkaesque" being derived from his ability to create senseless complexity and surreal distortion.  The opening line of The Metamorphosis highlights Kafka’s skill at dealing with the absurd and the widely irrational, presenting Gregor’s transformation as a random occurrence, yet not questionable or especially surprising: “One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin.”[1] This statement of such a totally life-changing event, written with a complete lack of emotion, is a common feature of the book, where the focus of the story is not on the sheer impossibility and absurdity of Gregor’s supernatural transformation but on the more mundane and ordinary, such as how the family is now going to cope financially because Gregor himself can no longer work.

The book forces us to question our purpose in life and more crucially ask ourselves why we exist. It is impossible to define an exact purpose for life and for each individual the answers to its definition will be varied and most likely unanswerable. However, is it right that some existences, such as Gregor’s in his vermin state, should be regarded as less valuable than others? The answer is, of course, not that simple. Should one argue that Gregor is now without purpose as he is no longer earning an income for his family and is of little use to society? Or does Gregor create his own purpose, by setting himself tasks such as climbing along the ceiling or listening to his family talking next-door?

The Metamorphosis also deals with the impact of change and its effect on others, for Gregor’s physical change is mirrored by his family’s rather more emotional transformations. His parents and sister move from viewing him with love and gratitude to absolute disgust. Is it fair to judge somebody solely for their physical appearance, after all Gregor is still able to process human thought and hold opinions? Gregor becomes a burden on his family who are forced to seek work and alter their way of living. Rightly so maybe, they are forced to become independent and self-sufficient, instead of relying on Gregor as the sole-breadwinner.
Gregor’s metamorphosis can be viewed as a lesson, forcing his family to develop as individual characters and ultimately taking responsibility for their own lives. The book highlights the impact others can have on our own lives and vice-versa. It makes us consider how society works and changes in the face of the unpredictability of life.

The Crucible @ Royal Exchange Theatre

by Hope Hopkinson

"Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" (John Proctor, The Crucible)

On one Friday evening at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, each member of the 600-strong audience witnessing Caroline Steinbeis' reworking of Arthur Miller's 1953 classic, hung to these poignant words, amidst an array of theatrics that contributed to the three-hour epic.

In its literal sense a tale inspired by the accusations involved in the Salem witch trials of 1960, Miller originally crafted The Crucible in such a way that his contemporaries could see it serve as an allegory of McCarthyism, more obliquely referencing the blacklisting by the U.S. government of accused communists. Whilst there was nothing to explicitly suggest this link in the framework of the play itself, they were so clear that even apologists for McCarthyism could see them. Right-wing critic Robert Warshaw questioned after seeing The Crucible's premiere production, "How can Mr. Miller be held responsible for what comes into my head while I watch his play?" This suggests that Warshaw and his familiars looked to find Miller guilty of igniting seditious ideals within them, however due to the lack of substantial literary reference he could not be held accountable. Aptly, just three years after the publication of the play, Miller had ingeniously escaped conviction of contempt of Congress for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended. This parallel was coincidentally conveyed in the Royal Exchange Theatre itself, a renovation of a  former marketplace for the trading of cotton and textiles in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries with a classical style of architecture; however the actual stage and seating itself in an incredibly modern looking 'module' in the centre. It in this way suitably referenced both Miller's contemporary and historical conceptual interpretations.



Although both referenced interpretations are still of some interest in today's culture, it could not go unnoticed as to how similar ideals resonated in the forefront of current affairs closer to home. The way in which authoritative figures in the play are quick to dismiss and convict those who dare to stray from widespread puritanical views has been seen in admittedly a much lesser form upon the rise of Jeremy Corbyn into Labour Leadership. His ideals so 'un-New Labour', disagreeing members of the party have displayed an unseemly hysteria, many members of importance resigning due to indifference. This has recently been seen in Lord Anthony Grabiner relinquishing his position due to having "nothing in common" with Corbyn's socialist policies. However, in the defence of Mr Corbyn, this retraction could feasibly seen as an endorsement due to Grabiner's association with Rupert Murdoch's News International and Goldman Sachs. More poignantly however, Miller's themes displayed in The Crucible have a closer parallel with the increasingly incorrect stereotyping of those of Muslim faith. For example, British-born Muslims too often find themselves labelled as terrorists by association as an out-of-proportion stretch derived from extremist groups abiding to the belief. Worryingly so, mainstream political discourse has connoted the term immigrant with such negative associations, despite the fact that our very society is defined by immigration; the influence of Romans and Saxons to name but two.



It could be interpreted that director Steinbeis paid reference to these modern issues of marginalisation through costume choice; half the cast clothed in garments contemporary to the Salem Witch Hunts and the other in outfits that wouldn't seem out of place in today's society. Whilst a distracting directorial choice at times (Reverend John Hale's entrance misinterpreted as a late audience member!), coming away from the production it begs audience members to dwell upon just how similar situations are very much held in the public eye.

Photography: Winter Robin

by Tony Hicks

This little robin was following me around the Quad today, whilst I was sweeping. He almost landed on my hand. Friendly little chap, he just sits there watching you.






Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais

by PGS parent, Helen Wilson



Loading the van at PGS (image: Joe McAuley)
I wish to say how enormously grateful I am to those who donated items for the recent refugee appeal in both the Junior and Senior schools. The sight in the Cathedral and in the red tents in the quad was overwhelming; your thoughtfulness and generosity was clear to see. With help from Abigail Lockyer, Pip Foster and some accommodating Sixth Formers, I was able to fill a van with around 400 food parcels and drove to Calais last week with two other parents, Kyrie Wallis & Clive Lee-Jones.

Like most people, I had been moved by recent events across the Middle East & Europe and decided to do something practical to help. It was my first visit to a refugee camp and so I was trepidatious but emboldened. I had been in contact with two charities established specifically for the camps in Calais & Dunkirk, and worked with them to ensure that the supplies taken were the most appropriate for that time. The needs are changing rapidly due to new arrivals, weather and other anticipated donations.

As planned, Kyrie, Clive & I arrived at a warehouse organised by volunteers, full of bags & boxes of mainly clothing donations, and were given superb guidance for our food distribution, after which we headed into ‘The Jungle’. We were stunned not only by the size of the camp but by the environment (the exposure to the elements, the mud & the rubbish) and the sheer number of unsuitable tents (95% of shelter is still tents rather than pallet & tarpaulin structures).

We swiftly parked in the centre of camp and immediately a line formed behind the van and we began the distribution of your food parcels. (After a few minutes we were unable to see the end of the queue and it never really reduced in size, despite passing over 400 people a bag or box of food.) I handed the parcels to each person and on each occasion I was met with warmth, politeness, friendliness, gratitude and sometimes humour. I did find it difficult at times as we had inconsistencies in size of package. We held back some of the larger boxes and gave them to pregnant women, those who were disabled/injured and children. In fact, one of the most uplifting moments was when we gave a group of three young children (probably 7 or 8 years old) two large plastic boxes, which they were unable to carry; the next man in line (who received a much smaller box) helped them so the youngest girl took an item out of her box and gave it to him. My heart melted.
Once we had an empty van and apologised to the rest of those in line that we were ‘finished’, we helped out at a shoe distribution. As well as being helpful, it enabled me to spend a little time talking to the people in the queue; the group of Syrian Physics graduates, the young Sudanese men who hoped to complete their degrees in the UK, the young men stood in mis-matched flip-flops, tracksuit bottoms & a t-shirt while I shivered in boots & a coat and the older men, with wedding rings, possibly fathers who seemed less hopeful. 

Throughout the day in camp and the 5-6 hours we spent helping to unpack & sort in the warehouse, I didn’t feel the surge of sadness that I had expected. The three of us worked extremely hard, but I felt inadequate compared to the backbone of volunteers giving up 2, 4, 6, 12 weeks of their time, of the larger number of 18-25 year olds volunteering as part of their gap year (a large proportion of whom live in the camp as they cannot afford a youth hostel or other accommodation) and the local French & British residents offering huge amounts of their time.

The Pelagian Heresy

by Ethan Creamer


Pelagius
Within theology, the free will versus determinism debate has raged for centuries at least since the time of the Early Church Fathers. The heart of the debate is the question regarding the extent of the human will to be able to act morally in order to achieve salvation. The British theologian Pelagius (354–420 AD) taught that the doctrine of original sin was false and that ability to lead a sinless life is real and apparent for all, whilst St Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) stressed the need for Infant Baptism and the necessity of divine grace in salvation as a result of original sin which was a result of the fall of man. Pelagius had primarily been disturbed by the attitudes of those in Rome, who would commit sin in the knowledge of doing wrong, but using the excuse of the natural human tendency to sin and then professing faith in Christ to be forgiven, only to sin again. Whilst St Augustine is commonly thought to be a soft determinist in so much as he formulated the doctrine of original sin, stating that the fall of Man has a real and apparent impact upon all humans, and that Adam’s death was a result of sin which is now a common tendency of all humans, requiring free will to follow scripture and grace to ensure salvation, this would be a simplistic and naïve assumption, and I’d suggest misguided. 

At first glance, Augustine’s view contends with a libertarian perspective of complete free will without the addition of an ongoing pre-determined mind-set of proclivity to sin, this is by no means fair to St Augustine nor to the millions adherents to this particular theological belief regarding sin. We can demonstrate that any theist, of the Abrahamic faiths, could not suggest that which Pelagius does. There is an analogy to be drawn, which does demonstrate that Augustine is perhaps not the soft determinist as completely opposed to the ideas of Pelagius, and whilst he was in fact correct as far as his theological ideas on the doctrine of original sin are sound, that he and Pelagius are not distinctly indifferent as you may think upon close inspection, yet Pelagius is the one at grave fault. Pelagius does overlook the actual message of Augustine, and that the ‘Pelagian Heresy’ is in fact aptly named from a theological point of view.

Say, for example, a person was born with the complete lack of use of the legs – such it is their condition they will not walk on their legs even if they willed it so – it would be unreasonable to suggest that they could possibly, even if they really wished to, walk on their legs. Much in the same way is will in itself, if the capability to reach sinless, moral perfection is as Pelagius suggests the case, then we have the ability to be as sinless as God himself, which is clearly a rejection of the fundamental principles regarding the nature of God. This free will Pelagius suggest is limitless. To quote Pelagius: "Now we have implanted in us by God a capacity for either part. It resembles, as I may say, a fruitful and fecund root which yields and produces diversely according to the will of man, and which is capable, at the planter's own choice, of either shedding a beautiful bloom of virtues, or of bristling with the thorny thickets of vices." (Book 1 of Defence of the Freedom of the Will).

The anti-Pelagian Augustine
If a being is defined by its function and nature then at no point can anything regarding them be put into question. If we define the ‘perfect legs’ as being those – putting aside ascetics - legs which will function as they must each time they are willed to be used, than those which cannot manage this are not perfect. Whilst we may say there are many perfect legs by this definition, God is incomparable (such is the difficulty of inference per analogiam). God is no different except that the nature of God is that he is not mimicked, and if we were, in terms of morality to be on equal terms, the very nature and function of God is put into question. Therefore, any entire following of God’s commandants by a mortal being as a result of conscientious and rational free will, which theory suggests will result in salvation, could not possibly be theologically justified, as Pelagius suggests it could. It is a rational argument – provided you are a theist – that we could not possibly be wholly free moral agents such as Pelagius suggests if there is to be a cosmological transcendental order of beings by the nature of the metaphysical existence, such as is suggested by (a) the existence of a heavenly host with an immutable God Supreme and (b) the existence and importance of the immortal human soul, two tenets many theists would accept. That is professing faith in a higher power ipso facto means that you must accept your own imperfection in all areas, including ability to be free to choose, though this does not mean we are not rational, but rather we are flawed but can overcome such flaws using the available innate moral law accessible with human reason so that God can, through his love and sacrifice, redeem us. Thus we conclude that, since ipso facto we cannot match God, that free will which allows us to become like God in regards to morality is an error, leading us back to the ideas of Augustine – that we require divine grace.

The nature or circumstances of our entry to the world in no way suggests that we are even partly determined to act in any certain way – we may very well be inclined to sin, but we can ask for divine grace, accepting through faith the existence and nature of God, the existence of the trinity, we can overcome original sin with the sacrament of Baptism, and receive grace when we accept Christ & live according to that which is in harmony with ius naturale. Human reason and will, guided by faith, is sufficient in obtaining the highest knowledge. Augustine presents the argument that all humans suffer from a unique condition, whereby the nature of being born into the mortal coil is that we are not and can be neither equal nor superior to that which exists in the metaphysical. The physical form we inhabit, as Plato would argue, is an imitation of that from which we originally derive – the Agathon (form of the good) – in the case of Christian theology God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. If we are created ‘imagio dei’ it is utterly non sequitur to verge on saying, as Pelagius does, we can ourselves overcome imperfection, as mirroring is not the same as being in the image of.  ‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’ Genesis 1:27 (NIV). Indeed, image does not, and could not, and must not, in any respect equal that which it imitates and to border on such a suggestion is a gross miscalculation. Perhaps Pelagius is in a state of his own form of Eikasia?

Friday, 16 October 2015

Conan Doyle v. Cumberbatch: A Comparison (Part Two)

The second part of Michaela Clancy's comparison of the original Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch's interpretation. 


The original
representation of
Professor James Moriarty
Secondly, Sherlock’s emotions are a key attribute to both the books and the series, as they offer an insight into his own secretive mind, which reminds the audience that he is still human. One aspect that Holmes displays in both is his ability to disguise his true emotions and himself, as he uses this to collect information without giving himself away. One which features in both is when Sherlock proposes to the receptionist of Augustus Magnussen in order to gain access into his property; this shows that, although Sherlock seems to be uncaring, he does have emotions which he chooses not to use. However, further on in the series Sherlock becomes more caring towards John and when he thinks that he is going to die he manage to speak kind and moving words that everyone thinks are beneath him. Also, in the book ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,’ when one of his clients, John Openshaw dies, he becomes deeply upset and blames himself as he feels like he has failed because he was too late to realise the danger his client was in, which shows that Holmes has compassion. Also, there is innocence to Holmes’s behaviour and the outside world; this is shown in small childlike displays. In ‘The Speckled Band’, he is recovering from exhaustion and when he is trying to solve the case he makes a pile of cushions on the floor and sits amongst them. This is a childish gesture and reveals he is in need of comfort so that his brain operates at its prime. At first in the series he appears to be insensitive and incapable of emotional acts but in series three his brother, Mycroft, calls him a child in a number of conversations. The most significant case is in ‘His Last Vow,’ when Sherlock is depicted as a child throughout the episode. This could reflect how Sherlock truly feels internally and that he has created a shell to disguise this. When he is shot, he comforts himself with the memories of his old dog Redbeard, and his friends, these are his true feelings towards the people he knows and loves. Although Sherlock pretends not to like Mycroft, he only says it in a half-hearted manner; he actually relies on Mycroft to look after and to care for him. One of the most significant emotional journeys for Sherlock, especially in the series, is when Irene Adler is introduced. In the series Sherlock calls her ‘The Woman’, this is a sign of respect, as he admires her cunning abilities; he also develops feelings for her which he soon denies. However, in the books Irene Adler does not play such an important role, although she does outwit him on one occasion Holmes never displays strong feeling towards her, but there is a lady named Miss Hunter, who Watson thinks would have been a good match for Holmes, as he admired her bravery and treated her with more care than his other female clients. The other noticeable point from the books is that Holmes is often kind to women and sometimes even the convicted; this could be that he understands the need for crime, or the need for an active mind. In the books he works for justice but does not always abide by the law, as he allows some of the criminals head starts in their escapes, as he feels sorry for them. However, he does not appreciate it when people lie to him and he will relish in presenting the evidence that condemns them to their maximum sentence.

Why Tony Soprano is One of the Truly Great Television Characters

by Evie Howarth



The show explores the difficulties he faces as Tony Soprano tries to balance his role as a father and husband while also trying to meet the demands and requirements of his leading criminal organization.  In the pilot episode of this series, we are given our first introduction to Tony Soprano and the director makes this a very unique experience by using many different techniques such as camera angles, dialogue, lighting and sound. 
The first time the director presents us to Tony Soprano is when he is seated outside his therapists (Dr Melfi) office.  Interestingly he is shown as very resistant to the idea of therapy.  This idea of resistance to getting help is reinforced by the frequent silence that occurs between Dr Melfi and Tony – Tony clearly not wanting to open up about his feelings.  This silence could also suggest that Tony’s feelings and thoughts are beyond words.  Tony’s body language whilst he is sat down in the office shows his un-interest and resentment towards what he is having to endure.  He is sat with one leg resting on the other, so that his right ankle rested on his left knee (his left foot remained on the ground).  His body language reflects that of uninterest and boredom also emphasising his resistance to therapy – something which he believes will not help him.  It is interesting as to why the director chose to open the pilot episode with such an apparently uneventful and awkward scene, however it provides the audience with their ability to create their own reaction to Tony Sopranos’ demeanour. 
In the next scene the impression that we get of Tony is that he can act in a very infantile nature and be quite juvenile.  His infantile nature could give a sense of regression.  Regression is a defence mechanisms identified by Sigmund Freud. According to Freud there are times when people are faced with situations that cause someone so much anxiety that they can't deal with it and they protect themselves by retreating to an earlier stage of development.  This is shown by the way that Tony reacts to a family of ducks appearing in his pool.  Tony self-abandoningly wades into the pool whilst still in his dressing gown and begins feed and talk to the ducks.  This behaviour that Tony is exhibiting is very childlike and it could be argued that Tony is showing more interest (possible due to Tony’s lack of communication) in the family of ducks than his own family.  The ducks represent a sense of peace and the fact that Tony takes it one step further and physically gets in the pool with the ducks almost portrays a desperation to lead a similarly peaceful life to the ducks.  For Tony the ducks represent something with freedom and liberation; something which Tony craves and desires but cannot reach or achieve.  The question that would then be asked is What does Tony want freedom from and where does he want freedom to? The ducks have a huge significance in this episode and on Tony himself, as when the ducks later fly away and don’t return, Tony has a panic attack as he feels like his “family” has left him.  The significance of his reaction to the ducks leaving could be related to a fear that his real family might leave him one day - in one of Tony’s therapy sessions with Dr Melfi, he admits that since the ducks have left he has been depressed.
We learn through one of Tony’s sessions with Dr Melfi, that he dreamt a water bird stole his penis, which suggests that he has a fear of losing his masculinity.  Although Tony at first suggests the dream relates to his having seen the film The Birds on TV, Dr Melfi asks Tony what kind of bird it was that stole his penis, and he says it is a "seagull or somethin'.”  Melfi responds by telling Tony that a seagull is a form of waterfowl, which suggests Tony is substituting the seagull for a duck; linking back to the family of ducks who flew off from his pool and caused his first panic attack.  This could be explained as the male characters might tie their masculinity and virility (represented by phallic symbols both literal (in the case of this dream) and metaphorical) with their superiority in their families; in Tony’s case, his mobster family and his family at home.  Tony connects his loss of masculinity with the disappearance of the family of ducks which again suggests his own fears about the loss of his own family, life and even his identity.  We assume that Tony’s fear lies with his biological family however it could also express his fears regarding happenings in his mafia family.  Tony’s dream about the loss of his penis reflects the Freudian theory of castration anxiety, which is the idea of feeling or being insignificant; there is a need to keep one's self from being dominated (whether it be socially or in a relationship).  It also refers to the fear of being degraded, dominated or being made insignificant; this is usually an irrational fear where the person will go to extreme lengths to save their pride from being damaged - this is something which is clearly evident in Tony Soprano’s personality.  This reinforces his multi – layered personality and hints at the vulnerability of his character.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

How Have Politics and Economics Clashed During the Greek Debt Crisis?

by Lauren Robson-Skeete




Finding a resolution to the Greek debt crisis has not been straightforward. There have been several Greek governments in place. Instead of the government of the day agreeing terms directly with its creditors, it decided to consult the Greek people first, through a series of referendums. The Greek electorate strongly rejected the conditions for the bailout imposed. In particular those terms involving austerity and yet seemingly wanted to remain a part of the Eurozone. The memory of the past dictatorships in Greece and the role of Germany during the second world war have been brought to the surface. The lenders, the International monetary fund, the European union and the European central bank have jostled amongst themselves to obtain the most favourable terms. The need to find an economic solution has clashed with this political background. 

Problems in Greece can be traced back to a culmination of triggers; the global recession of 2008, corruption in government, and an entrenched generous social welfare system. This was further exacerbated by Greece's relaxed economic policy, for example not robustly tackling tax evasion and overspending elsewhere. Previously, before the recession, the economy in Greece was strong enough to become a member of the Eurozone. After adopting the euro in 2001, Greece's GDP per capita nearly tripled in the ensuing 7 years. A confident Greece was then encouraged to take out loans for a wide variety of projects including the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Despite this period of large investment and over borrowing it was discovered that the deficit in Greece was alarmingly underreported. The economic crash in 2008 catapulted Greece’s economy into the forefront and exposed corruption further. Subsequently, this led to concern from the lenders about Greece's capability to repay the money it owes.  

The Prime Minister (George Papandreou) requested a formal bailout in 2010 with a sum of $143 billion to be paid back over 3 years to the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also referred to as the ‘troika’. The terms imposed for the bailout meant austerity measures were introduced and Greece's economic situation came under the spotlight. Following this, riots ensued and this anger would remain throughout the crisis. In reaction to this, the public turned to more extreme parties on the left and right. The increased numbers of votes gained by the right wing party ‘Golden Dawn’ can be see as an example of this. In 2009 they received 0.3% of the vote, whilst in 2015 this soared to 6.3%. This correlation seems to emerge throughout history in times of economic turmoil, no longer do the Greek public want a conservative approach to government. Instead, they desire those who express audacious ideas and assert radical solutions. 

During the economic crisis there was a considerable amount of reshuffling in the government as the crisis progressed and worsened. Before Tsipras, there were four Prime Ministers between 2009 and 2015: George Papandreou, Lucas Papademos, Panagiotis Pikrammenos, and Antonis Samaras. In January 2015, the Syriza party was elected and later formed a coalition with the Independent Greeks. The coalition under the leadership of Alexis Tsipras with their manifesto to end austerity is what the Greeks wanted. The newly elected parliament represented a party progressive enough to try to fight on the public’s behalf. In the eyes of the Greek public this was unlike any of the other prime ministers who agreed to the previous austerity measures. The bailout programme expired in February 2015 and without an extension to this Greece was in a vulnerable position. However, Tsipras’ support was proven in the referendum in July 2015 concerning the Eurozone’s terms for Greece. The Greeks rallied in Tsipras’ favour with 61% voting no and rejecting the lenders’ terms. This referendum result challenged the rest of the Eurozone. In turn, this increased the instability of the situation as Greece had defaulted on a loan payment that was due on the 30th June 2015 and political upheaval followed. The lenders had no part in the referendum and thus holding it was completely naïve as in reality it had no impact on the lenders proposals. This is an example of the politics unsuccessfully attempting to influence the economic outcome.

The ramifications of the referendum resulted in the closure of banks with limited bank withdrawals of €60 a day leading Greece to the cusp of anarchy with pensioners being particularly affected. Despite their best efforts to refute the terms, Tsipras finally accepted an even worse deal to the dismay of his people because the lenders held firm on their demands for austerity measures to be introduced. The current measures stipulate; increasing VAT from 13% to 23% in hotels and restaurants and eliminating the 30% VAT discount enjoyed by most Greek islands. A reduction in defence spending by €100 million in 2015 and €200 million by 2016. Greece is also required to phase out the special supplement for poorer pensioners and raise the retirement age to 67 by 2022. A further requirement was to achieve a primary budget surplus of 3.5% GDP by 2018. Finally, increasing corporation tax from 26% to 28% and increasing luxury tax from 10% to 13%. On top of these measures Greece still needs to pay back its mounting loans as the total debt amounts to €323bn. This splits to 10% going to the IMF, 6% to the ECB, and 60% to the Eurozone (currently owes around €56bn to Germany, €42bn to France, €37bn to Italy, and €25bn to Spain) and the remaining to other countries. The Greek government also owes private investors in the country around €39bn, and another €120bn to institutions including Greek banks.  The extensive amount owed to a diverse group of countries and institutions, each with their own political agendas, makes the route to finding an acceptable solution for all particularly difficult. 

Although there is a necessity to construct an economic solution, Greece seems to have focused on the political implications. The current crisis has left Greece in political turmoil. Democracy in Greece was reintroduced in 1974 after many years of dictatorship. As a result, this newfound political consciousness has shaped Greece and could offer an explanation for present attitudes of dissatisfaction towards austerity. Alexis Tsipras gained an overwhelming amount of support as he attempted to realise his aims to end austerity. Thus, democracy became a tool that was used by the Greeks as they tried to get better terms for the loans. The Greek government with the support of the electorate seemed to believe that democracy and ‘power of the people’ represented suitable political means to buy time and would also be enough to rebuke the proposed terms. The result of the referendum in July 2015 declared that 61% of voters said ‘no’ to more austerity measures and an eruption of temporary celebration emerged in Greece at this result. However, in this case it was a pyrrhic victory and the Greeks had to accept an even worse deal irrespective of the referendum. It is hard to disagree with the view that the third rescue package highlights the limitations of democracy as the Greek people had previously denounced a much less onerous programme of economic reforms. Thus, this referendum was futile and if anything it heightened tensions between Greece and its lenders.

The tribulations of Greece suggest that quite frankly it has no other option than to accept this lifeline. Moreover, the consistent implementation of holding referendums seems all too late as ultimately the situation is out of Greece's hands. In this instance, the political ideal of democracy has had to take a back seat and can no longer be used to influence the outcome because it is up to the international powers to try and find a way through the political turmoil Greece has created. Primarily this is due to the fact that they are the ones capable of rescuing Greece and will only do so provided they can be confident it will work. However, whenever Greece disrupts this with democratic means it pushes Greece further into being seen as a liability. With the benefit of hindsight it is all to easy to argue that perhaps Tsipras exploited his democratic influential guise to try and coax a better deal from the hands of troika without being accused of repeating former Greek prime ministers mistakes, as he wanted to make sure he had the Greek electorate with him. Although Alexis Tsipras was unable to end austerity, for the Greeks he certainly gave every effort in trying and they appreciated this immensely. Additionally, the Greek public seem to prefer to be lead by Alexis Tsipras rather than any other leader during these measures as they know he fully sympathises with their plight. 

There is an imbalance between the usefulness of democracy and economics, and in this instance economics is superior. Perhaps turning towards democracy as a political tool reflects the heart of the crisis and economics is the mind that should be followed.  

Review: 'La Grande Bellezza'

by Cicely Podmore


'The Great Beauty' is perhaps the most aptly named cinematic piece that has ever been produced. For over 2 hours, scene after scene of exquisite cinematography plays, capturing interest from the initial unnerving spectacle. Superficially, the film is in the style of realism; it does not gloss over any aspects of the protagonist's life, and yet at the same time, it is wildly fantastical - a daydream of extravagance and absurdity without ugliness or lack of style.

The film's focus is on the past and present life of Italian socialite, Jep Gambardella. Although his youth is behind him, his social network (himself at the forefront) possess the wealth to continue living in an eternal teenage dream in their magnificent city of Rome. Extravagant and mesmerising parties stretch late into the night. However, Gamberdella merely attends these events, maintaining a rather fixed, melancholy appearance; a consequence of his past (seemingly much regretted.)

The aliveness of the film is palpable and yet it is less so the characters that seem alive than the city itself. The people contrastingly seem stuck in a rut. The wandering, impulsive Gambardella strolls through Rome, mainly at night, purposeless and sorrowful and yet the self-proclaimed 'King of the high life.' There is no structured plot as such and this is reflected in the rambling nature of Gamberdella's life. He is disinterested, frustrated, living on the memories of his mysterious young love and the acclaim of an early novel. Indeed, his friends are also shown to live isolated, vacant lives when dawn comes and the dancing has ceased.

The common philosophy that money will be eternally inferior to love is the essence of the film, with 'The Great Beauty' implicitly referring to love (rather than visual beauty.) This is inferred when Gamberdella's close friend migrates from the city, stating that 'Rome has disappointed' him and that he was unable to find 'The Great Beauty.' Nonetheless, he has inhabited Rome for years amongst the most beautiful people in the most beautiful clothes, living in the most beautiful city. This is where we realise that this 'beauty' is tenderness and affection. The film almost acts as a warning against involvement in the wild world of elitism. It seems to say that 'privileged' lives will only ever be wonderful to the jealous observer whilst the aristocrats themselves will be deeply discontent. In this way, the character of Stefania is a metaphor for the high life. She boasts of her successes but is harshly disillusioned by the evermore cynical Gambardella as to the underlying problems in her life, stemming from a lack of emotional attachment. This is true of every character in the film.

I anticipate that visiting Rome after watching this film would be to experience a crushingly bitter disappointment because without any hint of the mythical, the film is enthrallingly magical, not least because of the city that it portrays. To visit Rome would amount to watching a production of your favourite book, only to find that the characters are not at all akin to those visualised in your mind and that the events are not as spectacular as previously thought. Rome simply cannot live up to its portrayal; Paolo Sorrentino has created a glossy facade of Rome - not a speck of dirt is seen, not an average individual (in fact, the utmost effort has been made to individualise each character so that the cast is a circus of curiosities.) Perhaps this was purposeful if only to highlight the separation between the life of the socialites and the reality of the unrepresented normal citizens of the city.

The film ends with characteristically understated style and once the sheer elegance of the film has worn off, you are left with the poignant themes of loss, sacrifice and regret.

(As if this film were not brilliant enough, it is also conveniently available on Netflix.)



Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Redefining Education

by Alfie Perry-Ward


It is an induced myth that the purpose of education is to conjure up free thinking individuals capable of challenging power and having the confidence to question what they have been told to be truth. In fact, Historically, institutional education has been manipulated to serve the interests of those who rely on political and cultural conservatism in order to retain and consolidate their power.

It is easy to draw countless examples of educational manipulation from periods of history where totalitarian regimes arise. Among these, the Stalinist and Nazi regimes seem to be the most appropriate examples. However, it would be wrong to omit the current the European education systems of this crime that is so prevalent if we make the effort to no longer conceal the relationship between education and power.
Education systems, more importantly higher education systems, in mainland Europe, America and the United Kingdom were designed, developed and implemented by those who simultaneously designed, developed and implemented the political, cultural and economic reality of western civilisation. In other words, the higher educational systems of western society have the purpose of sustaining structural normality regardless of whether or not the structural normality is grossly unequal. For example, if we care to investigate the British political elite we will notice that not only do they stem from the same class, background and financial positions, but also the same schools, and universities; notably Oxbridge. Of the 55 prime ministers to date, 41 attended Oxbridge, 14 of which went to the same college, Christ Church. Surely, anyone with a belief in the principles of democracy can see that those who supposedly represent the interests of the whole country are in fact representatives of only a minuscule portion of the population.

In fact, the majority of higher educational systems dedicate huge efforts to finding more effective and efficient ways of exploiting those whom the systems of America and Europe so desperately rely on and for these people to remain exploited. This continually enforces the systems that are in place to eliminate the possibility of political or cultural change as the interests of the powerful are projected on to the powerless. Thus, there is an undoubtedly a visible correlation between the manipulation of education and the preserving of the power systems put in place to serve the elite.


Therefore, when we come to define the purpose of education, it would be insanity to think that this corruptive misuse of educational structures is the only legitimate way of utilising knowledge.  To think of another, we must first understand that education is a human pursuit, not an endeavour specific to one group, culture, race, religion or gender. The notion that education is unique to white westerners in elite academic universities is one manifested in pseudo-scientific lies. If we study the history of education globally then we would understand that Ancient Aztec groups constructed a mandatory education system for children of all classes in order to sustain intellectualism among young people. We would also recognise the Hindu and Buddhist systems of Ancient India that offered free education in advance mathematics and yielded the decimal system that we so trivially use today (it's worth noting that even though this system is around 2500 years old it included the teachings of female scholars). 

Monday, 12 October 2015

The Dangers of Second Hand Smoke:


by Charlotte Randall





           
As of the 1st of October 2015, it has become illegal for someone to smoke in a car with a passenger that is under the age of 18. The new law, which applies to Wales and England, states that the driver and smoker could be fined each £50. This new law is designed to protect children and young adults from the dangers of secondhand smoke and applies to:

            -Private vehicles that are enclosed wholly or partially by a roof.

            -Vehicles that have the sunroof open and air conditioning on.

            -Anyone sitting in the open doorway of a vehicle

        The new law has been hailed as a major advancement in the war against second hand smoke, particularly concerning children. However, others have questioned if this is enough.


Dangers of Second Hand Smoke:

Second hand smoke is the smoke inhaled off burning tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and shisha pipes) by someone other than the smoker and is also known as passive smoking. There is a myth is that second hand smoke has no effect on the recipient. However this is not the case. Second had smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, of which roughly 250 can cause serious damage to the body, and can last in the air for over two and half hours after burning, despite windows being open. In the USA it is estimated that second hand smoke causes 34000 deaths from heart disease and 7300 from lung cancer each year, and other effects can be strokes, angina and heart failure. However, the effects of children are predicted to be much worse as their respiratory systems are still developing and are easily damaged. According to the NHS, children who breathe in second hand smoke have increased risks of:

            -Cot death

            -Asthma, and can trigger asthma attacks to children who already have asthma

            -Respiratory conditions such as Bronchitis and pneumonia

            -Meningitis

            -Coughs and Colds

            -Ear infections such as Otitis Media, which can lead to hearing loss.

Also, there are psychological issues such as children are more likely to smoke if their parents do.

By preventing adults from smoking in cars with children these risks will be seriously decreased. However, the law doesn’t prevent parents smoking in proximity of children in other places, such as the home.


Other smoking bans:

In July 2007, smoking in the UK became banned in public areas such as bars, restaurants and the workplace in order to protect non-smokers from the effects. More recently, over the summer of 2015, further bans were called for outdoor public spaces such as the beach and in some areas of the country are trying voluntary bans that have been put in place, for example in Bristol, in order to discourage people to smoke in proximity of non-smokers.


Stop smoking completely in public?

Is There a Place for Nick Kyrigos in Tennis?

by Oliver Clark


In the final Grand Slam of the year, Nick Kyrigos decided to go out in dramatic fashion as ever. Facing arguably one of the toughest first round draws possible against the in form Andy Murray, the Australian was his exuberant self, performing the style of tennis that has made him a force to be reckoned with, whoever the opponent. However, the match was not without some moments of controversy, as is the story with any Kyrigos match. Alongside the commonplace outrageous between-the-leg shots, shouting, swearing and racquet throwing, the Aussie thought it would be a good idea to take a nap between changeovers!

This brought an end to a very high profile season for the 20 year old. Alongside numerous successes such as reaching the Australian Open quarter-final and breaking into the worlds top 30, there have been a couple of incidents that have brought Kyrigos great scrutiny from the tennis world and general public. The first of these came at Wimbledon, where he faced Richard Gasquet, a man who the at the previous year's tournament, Nick defended 9 match against before prevailing in a 5 set classic. This year, there would be no such classic, as Kyrigos seemed completely uninterested at points in his eventual 4 set defeat. One game in particular came under widespread criticism, where he refused to attempt to return 2 of Gasquet's serves, with the action being described as 'tanking'. In my opinion, although this was a poor show of gamesmanship from Kyrigos, and clearly displeased the Wimbledon crowd, this was by far less controversial than what was to follow at the Davis Cup a matter of weeks later.

 In a match against Stan Wawrinka, Kyrigos was caught on a courtside microphone muttering 'Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend, sorry to tell you that mate', in reference to fellow players Thannasi Kokkinakis and Donna Vekic, the girlfriend of Wawrinka. This ultimate low blow of bringing up an opponents personal life during their job was met by outrage worldwide. Wawrinka, having not heard the remark during the match, was said to have confronted Kyrigos in the locker rooms, Kyrigos having to retire late in the match due to injury despite leading. Wawrinka went on to call the comments 'unacceptable' and pleaded for the ATP, tennis' governing body, to take action. "

Hes young but thats no excuse ... every match, he behaves very badly,Wawrinka told reporters after the match, before tweeting, to [stoop] so low is not only unacceptable but also beyond belief." Although Kyrigos would later apologise to all those involved on Twitter, he was slapped with a series of fines totalling nearly $40,000 and a 28 day suspended sentence that would expire in 6 months. However, although there was fair criticism of the player over his quite simply dirty actions, there were others who were quick to jump to his defence.

Molecular Assassins

by Sophie Parekh


So this is an article about common poisons and their biochemistry. Because that’s what everyone loves reading. No satire, just science. Well, maybe a little bit…

So, there is a distinction between poisons and toxins, according to the internet at any rate. Poison is an all-encompassing term that denotes any substance that could potentially be harmful to humans on a chemical level. For example bleach is poisonous, but a coin is not. It’s a choking hazard, but it’s not poisonous (*ahem* NHS website, you’re wrong *ahem*). But a toxin is specifically a naturally occurring substance that is harmful, like snake venom or belladonna.

I tried to find the most common poisons used to kill people, but unfortunately there is no such list… I wonder why… but the good old NHS has a lovely section of common poisons from which I shall pick out my favourites. And maybe some off-list ones because I’m feeling rebellious.

Click here for the NHS Webpage on poisons:

If you’re really interested in this sort of thing, then I strongly advise you to seek professional help. Just kidding: read Molecules of Murder by John Emsley; it’s got some really interesting case studies and all the biochemistry of the poisons involved. But now, on with the killing things!

  1. Paracetamol (C8H9NO2)

Initially, not looking so deadly, but it causes around 500 deaths per year in the USA. The recommended dose is 10-15mg per kg ever 6-8 hours, so that’s 750 - 1125mg for a 75kg adult every 6-8 hours, so you could have about 3-4g of the stuff a day, which sounds like a lot. However, once you start getting 10g or more into your body, then you start having major problems.

Fairly soon after you take it, paracetamol begins to be metabolised by your liver. This involves it binding to sulfates and glucuronic acid and excreted pretty sharpish. This what happens to about 90% of the paracetamol. 5% is excreted unchanged, but the other 5% has some hydrogens knocked off and becomes this nasty stuff called NAPQI. Initially, it binds with glutathione, which makes is harmless and your body can excrete it with no problems. However, when you start taking more and more paracetamol, NAPQI starts building up as well and soon your liver has used up all the glutathione and supply can’t keep up with demand, which is when the problems start occurring. 


NAPQI likes to bind with useful things like proteins and nucleic acids, which stops them from working and liver can’t cope so it is destroyed, basically. The symptoms include, but are not limited to, jaundice, loss of coordination and trembling (due to low blood sugar). You tend to die a few days later, but it could be up to a week. Thankfully, you can treat NAPQI poisoning with acetylcysteine within about 48 hours of the overdose. What an uplifting start. 

2. Carbon Monoxide (CO)

This one’s probably the most dangerous and is the only inorganic one I think. It is often called the silent killer, (a) because gases can’t speak, and (b) because you become unconscious before you die and so have no clue what’s going on. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas, which binds to the haemoglobin in your red blood cells much more strongly than oxygen does to form carboxyhaemoglobin, so at high concentrations of CO, there isn’t much haemoglobin left unbound to transport oxygen. And if your blood can’t transport oxygen, then all your vital organs become starved of oxygen and shut down because they can’t function without oxygen which causes dizziness, shortness of breath, unconsciousness and eventually death. Usually within 30 minutes. Lovely.




Carbon monoxide is formed from the incomplete combustion of fuels, so it’s produced by things like cars and power stations albeit in very low concentrations. However, the main cause of carbon monoxide poisoning is from faulty gas appliances in people’s houses. The faulty appliance for example a boiler, could burn the gas incompletely and produce carbon monoxide in high enough concentrations to kill you. But, this is very rare and you can get carbon monoxide detectors and alarms just in case.

3. Diamorphine (Heroin) –

Heroin? Really? But it isn’t a poison! Now that’s where you’re wrong. It was the weapon of choice for the infamous serial killer Dr Harold Shipman, who killed 120 people, or thereabouts. It’s a derivative of morphine, just with acetyl groups, which means it can cross the blood-brain barrier more easily and is more soluble in the lipid tissue. Enzymes in the brain remove the acetyl groups, which means heroin can do its job, blocking the µ - opioid receptors which means the brain can’t register any form of pain. However, a side effect of this happening is that by blocking the µ -receptors, it slows respiration. Heroin also interferes with the brains ability to detect how much CO2 is dissolved in the blood and so if your breathing slows down and your brain can’t detect the increased CO2 then you have a problem, because the CO2 builds up and not enough oxygen counteracts this effect, then you die, effectively of oxygen starvation.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Conan Doyle v. Cumberbatch: A Comparison (Part One)

The first part of a series by Michaela Clancycomparing the way in which the character of Sherlock Holmes is portrayed in the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and the BBC Television Series 'Sherlock' starring Benedict Cumberbatch.



Illustration from the original series
In both the BBC series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and the books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock’s personality varies more noticeably as the reader gathers a greater understanding of how Sherlock functions as a person and the perils that he inevitably faces. In the current series, Sherlock is portrayed as a much younger individual than described in the books which could explain some of the behaviour that he displays which is not considered to be commonly used by an older person. Also, whilst the books are based in the 1890’s, the series is set in modern day London which allows for changes to be made, such as the way Sherlock communicates. He prefers to text his friends rather than contacting them by telegram, which is his favourite form of communicating in the books.

One of the most noticeable traits of Sherlock Holmes is his social skills. This is one of the largest differences between how his character is presented in the media, as the actor in the series plays a more un-sociable individual than how Holmes is presented by Conan Doyle. In the books, Watson mentions that Holmes ‘could talk exceedingly well when he chose,’ which is totally different from the series, where he is known to be rude, arrogant and generally obnoxious. In both of the medias Holmes is very cautious when he is introduced to John Watson, as he has never had many friends and friendship is a new concept to him. This is made obvious in the series when they visit the murder scene of ‘The Study in Scarlet’; Holmes becomes tied up with the case and leaves Watson behind; although not intentional it hurts Watson’s feelings. This could be because he doesn’t expect Watson to stay with him as a partner or as a friend. 
The Cumberbatch version


He later shows astonishment when Watson is keen to solve crimes with him and later announces that Sherlock is his best friend. In the books, Holmes is more formal; as he addresses Watson as ‘Doctor’; although this isn’t personal, by using his title it shows respect for him and his profession. Another favourite of Sherlock’s, in the series, is to shows off with his observatory skills: one of many examples is when he recites Watson’s life by merely studying his mobile phone. However, in the books Sherlock is more discreet and he doesn’t brag about his skills, but he does relish in the astonishment that other people display about him. The most similar thing about both of the Holmes characters is that he never reveals his theories about the case; he will only ever reveal the entire theory when he is certain that all facts are known and correct. Although, this is frustrating for people who are trying to help solve the crime or who don’t know Holmes and his peculiar ways, Watson realises that this is how Sherlock works and in return sometimes Holmes will confirm some of his suspicions in him. However, he does have some difficulty in understanding why people cannot always understand how he arrives at his theories, he often calls it stupidity.

Brasselona

by Jack Ross





On the 17th July 2015, the Junior School Brass Band and PGS Brass donned our iconic, red tour hoodies, and departed on our sixth biannual brass trip.  This time, we had the pleasure of experiencing all the wonders and sunshine that Barcelona has to offer.

We embarked on what was anticipated to be a gruelling 24-hour coach journey (pushing 30 hours), which actually turned out to be quite enjoyable, as it reinforced our sense of team bonding by eliminating all sense of personal space. Although, we did count our blessings as the coach came with the luxury of having a working toilet (admittedly with no extractor fans).  

Arriving on the 18th at around 19:00, rather than the ETA of 14:00, we were about to tuck into a lavish buffet, but were immediately subjected to the questionable Spanish queuing etiquette, but in true British fashion we stoically held the line. Dinner ranged each night from traditional Spanish dishes, such as a paella and chorizo, to chicken and chips, with even shark appearing one evening!  Overall we were delighted with the Spanish cuisine, and I would definitely recommend it to all those who are considering visiting Spain.

We played three concerts at various venues, the first at a beach stand in Roca d’En Maig, where special commendations must be given to the first soloists of the tour to perform, Junior School Band members Kristian Fraser and Harvey Hill, for their excellent rendition of 12th Street Rag.

Our penultimate performance was situated fifteen minutes away from the hotel by foot, and in the packed town square of Placa De Josep Anselm Clave.  This had to be our best concert, as the acoustics were perfect, and there was an abundance of shade combined with a large number of excited onlookers; a recipe for a great show.  This was also my most memorable concert, however, not for any of the reasons above.  Primarily, this was because myself and another pupil missed the roll call, and were left stranded in a very quiet hotel, but after catching up/sprinting to the location, both bands performed outstandingly, and everyone left the concert in high spirits.

Our final concert was at the bandstand in El Poble Espanyol, where the Junior School Band braved the sun, putting the Senior Band to shame, as despite being given enormous sombreros, the midday sun was overbearing.  We (the Seniors) retreated to a sheltered bandstand and continue the performance away from the unrelenting sun.  The highlight of this concert was not the playing, although it was spectacular, but instead it was Mr and Mrs Gladstone shielding the 4th Trumpets from the sun with their gigantic sombreros!  The music and standard of playing from both bands throughout the trip was phenomenal, and I think every player can be proud of their contribution.

Throughout the trip we also had the opportunity to visit several vibrant, and colourful Spanish markets and quaint tourist shops, where as well as the obligatory traditional straw donkeys, castanets and Flamenco fans, everything and anything you could possibly want was for sale. Whether it was original or not was another question, although I am almost certain you can’t buy a genuine Rolex for five euros!