Little satire I whipped up.

My name is Trevor MacDonald, and I’m running for Student Union President this year. As a third year drama student, I believe I can best convey the will of the University. My motivation for my acting will be of contentment, and appreciation of the current system. I will not question the Director’s stage guidance.

I helped out at RAG week, and that’s where we all decided to run for Sabbatical positions.

As a RAG team leader, I developed the basic arithmetic needed in order to run a £2m charity, including the knowledge that although 50 pence pieces are bigger, they are in fact worth less than a pound.

I took a stand against the government (boo Clegg!) in London, but condemn the small minority of thousands who did something noticeable and active at Millbank.

I think that ‘occupation’ means what job you have.

I am well suited to the job of wearing brightly coloured t-shirts, and smiling.

Manifesto:

I think politics are boring, although I do have an apparent influence on the UK Alcohol taxation laws, and so could lower the price of beer at a whim, if elected.

I will be exuberant and outgoing in my expression of utter conformity, and will do so with a smile 10x the safe limit of whiteness.

I will instigate a policy of silencing ‘unhappy thoughts’, such as student free speech, and replacing them with ‘fun thoughts’, such as bouncy castles, balloons, and portraits of my close friends …who are also running for election this year, completely independent of me and our campaign team.

If elected, I will do my very best to represent the 1,000 people who voted for me, and assume the other 29,000 are also happy with the way things are.

I will make sure Habita plays nothing but loud RnB, especially Jason Derulo, who is my absolute favourite.

If elected, I will be a keen student of the ideology of the last administration: There’s nothing wrong, so we don’t have to do anything.

Bez Interview, First Draft.

In the age of social networking, a new kind of fear infects the hungover. The art of piecing together the events of last night now bears with it the inevitable Facebook album of your night out, carelessly uploaded by your merciless friends and allies.  Many a student is horrified by the digital reminders of the night before, but for me, the humble journalism student, the horror of the hand-held voice-recorder is also a part of my job.

It’s 11am, a Tuesday morning, and I awaken on a sticky leather  couch in an unfamiliar living room. The sunlight is aggressive, and my head hurts, but before anything else, I reach for my voice recorder.

Flicking through the files, the machine bursts into life, throwing the sounds of a nightclub against the walls of the alien living room, and a thick Manchurian accent stutters its way into the room…

“This will just take a few minutes yeah? A proper quick one?”

That night I was interviewing Mark Berry: dancer, artist and DJ, better known to the world as Bez, the pill-popping talisman of the Happy Mondays.

Sat in a backroom of the Den, we pull up a chair around a disused freezer. Glen Keogh, the Culture editor of the Quad, sits on the other side of Bez, looking half-cut. I wondered if I looked drunk, but then turning to Bez, who was now snorting lines of cocaine off the freezer, I felt I looked stunning by comparison.

Glen kicks right into it, realising there’s no need to dance (Bez, dance…get it?) around the subject:

“What was your best drug experience?” He asks, grinning.

“I’ve had a few really good ones, to be truthful.. I couldn’t really single one out from the other, but some of the most memorable ones were in Brazil and Argentina…”

“Good coke there then?” I’m drunk, and making fun of him, much to the horror of myself sat in that living room 12 hours later. Luckily for me, he laughs, and carries on:

“Just all over the world I’ve had some really good ones, but in Brazil especially. Though to be honest, I have good drug experiences most nights…” Cue an obnoxiously loud, Cumbrian laugh from myself.

“Are you still going strong like?” Glen asks in his typical Geordie accent.

“Well I try not to, but every time I try not to, the opposite happens, you know what I mean? I just can‘t fucking say no”.

“Is that a sign of you slowing down then?”, I ask, consciously avoiding mentioning the prominent bags under his eyes.

“I like to think I have yeah”, he says, with a dismissive smile on his face, and then laughing to himself.

One of the themes me and Glen discussed for the interview (which neither of us stuck to, I might add) was to ask him about the many rumours and rock ’n’ roll myths that surround his cult of personality.

So I ask him about an incident in 1986 at Manchester’s Hacienda club, where after falling off stage and splitting his head open, he then proceeded to drip pure LSD into the wound, and get back onstage…

“I’ve heard that before but it’s what you call one them… err… urban myths! I love these urban myths though, they make you laugh don’t they? …but I’ve heard that one as well”

“Have you heard many other Urban myths about yourself?” asks Glen.

“Well just that one in particular… I’ve heard a lot of people blaming me for shit…”. With that he asks for a different question, and I know he’s avoiding that subject.

Glen is quickest to the draw, and has his list of pre-prepared questions out well before mine:

“In the Manchester scene you were part of, do you ever think things will be as good as back then?” He asks.

“Well, I truly believe, that the fucking youth hold the keys to the future, you know what I mean? … and, err, what’s happening today… when we were young we were the 1 in 10 (He’s referencing unemployment rates from the Thatcher era), now they’re the 1 in 6. They haven’t got a hope in hell of getting a job… The downside is unemployment but the upside is youth culture”.

I tell of an experience I had in Manchester, at a Trade Union rally, and the amount of angry, working class people I talked to whilst there, and ask him if he has an opinion of why that is.

“From the time of Margaret Thatcher, she said she’s going to bring back the class system. So she closes down a lot of grammar schools (which at the time had entrance exams, and were free to go to, meaning smart working class kids could go to grammar school). The Conservative party of today are continuing her ‘good work’ and dictating the education of the working classes… it’s a form of control…know your fucking place, you know?”

“Would you say you support Labour or Conservative then?”, I ask, seemingly forgetting who I’m talking to or why I’m there…

“I don’t really have a political stance… I’d like to be a dictator though…”

“I genuinely want to here what England would be like, under Bez…” Somewhere in the hazy recording, someone mentions the phrase ‘King Bez’, and I cringe, knowing fine well it was me.

“What we need… is a form if socialism, without the dictatorship…” he says, but true to form, quips that he would also legalise every drug known to man.

At this point, a manager comes, Bez is distracting hiding his drugs, and soon leaves in search of the free lager he’s been promised. 

Back in the haze of that Tuesday morning, the voice recorder ticks off, and the room is silent. Glen comes down and explains I am in fact residing in his Living room, and that because I can’t seem to remember the night past the interview, he will write up the feature.

God my head hurts.


"Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"… and I’ll look down and whisper "No." They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father or President Truman. Decent men who believed in a day’s work for a day’s pay. Instead they followed the droppings of lechers and communists and didn’t realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don’t tell me they didn’t have a choice. Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody Hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers… and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say."
_________________________________________
"Stood in firelight, sweltering. Bloodstain on chest like map of violent new continent. Felt cleansed. Felt dark planet turn under my feet and knew what cats know that makes them scream like babies in night. Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there. The cold, suffocating dark goes on forever and we are alone. Live our lives, lacking anything better to do. Devise reason later. Born from oblivion; bear children, hell-bound as ourselves, go into oblivion. There is nothing else. Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach. Does that answer your questions, Doctor?"
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"Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"… and I’ll look down and whisper "No." They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father or President Truman. Decent men who believed in a day’s work for a day’s pay. Instead they followed the droppings of lechers and communists and didn’t realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don’t tell me they didn’t have a choice. Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody Hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers… and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say."

_________________________________________

"Stood in firelight, sweltering. Bloodstain on chest like map of violent new continent. Felt cleansed. Felt dark planet turn under my feet and knew what cats know that makes them scream like babies in night. Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there. The cold, suffocating dark goes on forever and we are alone. Live our lives, lacking anything better to do. Devise reason later. Born from oblivion; bear children, hell-bound as ourselves, go into oblivion. There is nothing else. Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us. Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach. Does that answer your questions, Doctor?"

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"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!" - Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Most of you are probably getting sick of me talking about Moby Dick, but in all fairness, the picture is from Mastodon’s Leviathan.

…which is about Moby Dick.
  • "Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!" 
    Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Most of you are probably getting sick of me talking about Moby Dick, but in all fairness, the picture is from Mastodon’s Leviathan.

…which is about Moby Dick.

To this day I cannot be sure whether it was a psychotic episode, a dream, a hallucination, or just my imagination. It was a very cold, winter’s night, and I couldn’t sleep, as usual. So I decided to go for a walk, and while skipping through the tracks, I happened upon the dark ambience of ‘Danny the Dog’:

Picture myself walking with a steady pace through an affluent suburban neighbourhood. Tonight it has been graced with a thick blanket of dull industrial grey and smoky haze.

My hood is pulled tight around my head to cling on to the last dying embers of heat that remain in my body. As it escapes through the opening, the warmth from my face drags an outpouring of positive emotions behind it, losing them, as well as heat, to the night air.

Before me in the fog was a figure, seemingly drunk, stupefied, or both. The figure twirled, gazing mindlessly upwards at the canopy of celestial lights above him. I could not see how far from me this figure pirouetted and I stopped, gazing, unsure which direction this madman was taking, and I stopped, chilled and scared.

An age seemed to pass: I, staring at this mysterious figure, and he, endlessly twirling and lurching towards the heavens. I turned to my left to see a path had grown up between the rows of houses. This path was flanked either side by huge rows of trees which, illuminated by the fluorescent street lights, looked sharp in contrast to the bewildering fog. Like a highly defined photograph, these trees looked animated in nature; their trunks as if generated by some vastly intelligent software and their leaves as if sketched by pastel onto paper. This path became tempting to me, but it also bore a sinister atmosphere, and I chose the direction of home, further down the road, beyond the figure.

Before me, however, the apparition had disappeared. So I continued on towards warmth and security.

As I travelled, my mind wandered also; and out of the pitiless darkness rose colossal beings: Gods, and monsters, and creatures unreal. I floated amongst them, drifting. Great limbs loomed out of the darkness, blurring and occupying much of my perennial vision. Never once a face or recognisable feature, or at least none I can now recall… All that linger are emotions, the dull memories, of claws, and tentacles, and fear.

It was here my thoughts turned introspective. Images of Cat scans danced to the slow beat of angelic music, and dark recesses of my mind became alive with tonality, and rhythm. Here, those same Gods and monsters loomed forth, and it was revealed to me that these celestial creatures were no more than nightmares from the murky waters of the id. Upon realising this, I succumbed to gazing before the heavens, as if the sparkling roof above me mirrored the twilight of memories that occupied my psyche. 

I began to turn and spin; the fog providing a background for a grand play of the colossal beings that now played across the stars. I imagined death. I imagined being amongst them in the heavens, whether they be up there, or in here.

As I twirled a great wave of empathy flooded me with thoughts of the figure I had seen, also suffering from the same affliction as I. 

Before me in the fog, stood I, and I, before myself.  My hood was now down.  Tears streamed down cracked and aged skin.

 A scream, and yet no sound. 

An angel, now and forever.

Ahhhhh… it’s been a while.
Currently re-discovering my love of mr. Morissey and mr. Marr, when really I should be researching for my essays.

Ahhhhh… it’s been a while.

Currently re-discovering my love of mr. Morissey and mr. Marr, when really I should be researching for my essays.


Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas … with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether. 

-The least factual, but most accurate journalist who ever lived.

Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas … with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether. 

-The least factual, but most accurate journalist who ever lived.

BMTH Album Review


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Wrote this last semester for our very first assignment, bear in mind I wrote this whilst in a very, very pretentious mood.

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By Joe Anderson

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Bring Me the Horizon Album review: There is a Hell, believe me, I’ve seen it. There is a Heaven, let’s keep it a secret.


There’s a well known truism within music, that of ‘the tricky third album’. It has dogged the industry from Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Kaleidoscope, to Kaiser Chiefs’ Off with their Heads, and will continue to do so for aeons to come.

Bring Me the Horizon’s latest offering, Hell…, sees the Sheffield quintet dodge this infamous pitfall and produce one of the most original albums of the year. 

Released on Visible Noise on the 4th October, and already holding the no.13 slot in UK Album Charts, the album sees BMTH reaching for the success of label-mates Lostprophets, and largely following their turn of direction.

Hell…, much like Lostprophets’ latest offering, the Betrayed, touches ground on an altogether more ambitious soundscape.

The obvious difference to BMTH’s previous albums, Count Your Blessings and Suicide Season, is the use of classical orchestration: A hellish choir dominate many of the songs, violins are interspersed between hardcore breakdowns, and the crescendos are sharp and fantastical. 

This may all sound like Metalcore for The Ring Cycle, but needless to say, Wagner would be turning in his grave.

New-comer guitarist Jeff Weinhofen, of Bleeding Through fame, hasvolunteered for synth and programming duties, and appears to have come up trumps when faced with combining the two genres.

For example, BMTH are well-known for tuning their guitars down to C#, as well as using atonal scales and consecutive semitone intervals.

The classical orchestration has been used to fill gaps, never able to flow over the top of the music, as it should in order to consider it a real cross-genre work. Even the appearance of Lights, the Canadian singer-songwriter, is used only to bookend tracks, for fear of her voice infecting their brutal sound.

Singer Oli Sykes’ lyrics, however, have stayed consistent with the BMTH canon. Lines such ‘It started off with a one night stand and lingered to a fling’ are destined for facebook statuses, as are anthemic chants like ‘I am the Ocean, I am the Sea, There is a world inside of me’. 

The redemption of this album, and it is an album of redemption, is the performances of the more traditional musicians.

Matt Nichols returns for drumming duties, and delivers some of the fastest and percussive stick work heard on an album yet.

The guitarists, not suffering from the loss of Curtis Ward in 2009, produce some amazingly incendiary riffs and atonal melodies, as well as the notorious BMTH intervals seen on ‘Suicide Season’.

BMTH has always been a band limited by their musical technique. Syncopated double-kick-drum work and down-tuned guitars can only go so far.

This album shows their willingness to change, but the classical elements feel juxtaposed to the other musical components. 

On top of this, the dabbling with electronica and programming leaves a very ‘auto-tuned’ feel to their discography.

Needless to say, this is not a bad album, it is in fact a rather good album, they have just missed what they themselves set out do in the first place.

It could have been great. 

3/5.

1 note 

Come on England!

Mike Tindall

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Featured in the Guardian, Friday 4th February 2011

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By Robert Kitson

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There will be bigger matches this year than Wales versus England at the Millennium Stadium this evening. Rugby World Cups, for better or worse, remain the acid test of a team’s qualities. For 80 minutes tonight, nevertheless, the future can take care of itself. “If the World Cup was this year or two years away I wouldn’t feel any different,” said Martin Johnson yesterday. “This is a huge game. This is what you grow up watching as a rugby fan.”

As one of the few men to have hoisted the Webb Ellis trophy aloft, Johnson is not given to casual hyperbole. Yet along with everyone else he can sense desperation dripping down the walls of the home dressing room, mixed with the scent of red rose opportunity. It is eight years since England, under Johnson’s captaincy, last crossed the Severn Bridge as favourites to win this evocative 130-year-old fixture. Eradicate the stench of defeat which has hung over them on their last three visits and the implications for both nations, not to mention the 2011 Six Nations Championship, will be profound.

Apart from everything else this evening’s floodlit spectacle will define England under Johnson’s stewardship. November was a contradictory month, from the breathless high of Australia to the bruising low of their South African mugging. Only one member of their starting XV, the new captain Mike Tindall, knows what a Test victory in Cardiff feels like. To win well, away from home at the venue which Johnson rates as the most hostile in Europe, would transform this youthful England squad’s entire psychological outlook.

That is not to say England, even with three Twickenham home games to follow, will be nailed-on champions should victory materialise. The Six Nations is rarely that simple. But listening to Johnson and Tindall in the wood-panelled comfort of Bagshot, shortly before they relocated down the M4, was to be transported back to the Clive Woodward era when the dragon’s den was a frequent English playground.

"There’s certainly a belief that we can play against anyone and be successful," confirmed Johnson, looking as quietly confident as at any stage in his two-and-a-half-year tenure.

He is far from alone. Tindall is convinced the English camp is as buoyant as at any stage in recent seasons. “Everyone’s happy in each other’s company. I know that sounds a little thing but it makes a massive difference. It translates into people fighting that little bit harder for the guy next to you. In pressure situations that makes a difference.” The Gloucester centre, about to win his 67th cap, has been around long enough to recognise a squad on an upward curve.

Warren Gatland will hardly be broken-hearted to hear such sentiments; English hubris can nourish Welshmen as surely as the bread of heaven on the big occasion. Gatland’s players will be visualising a very different scenario, one in which the reshuffled visiting lineout falls apart and Wales’s blitz defence dismantles their opponents’ gameplan brick by brick.

Would Matthew Rees, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton make it into a combined Anglo-Welsh pack? Quite possibly. Why, then, should the home backs not back themselves to exploit the odd gap in England’s midfield as clinically as New Zealand did in the autumn? Will England, without Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft and Lewis Moody be as dynamically robust and athletic as they could be? If not, a first Welsh win in 10 months is far from out of the question.

But strip away the passion, the noise, the weather – Johnson says England will agree to the roof being closed if the forecast wind and rain is bad enough – and the rich historical narrative and England fancy themselves if, as Tindall emphasised, they can withstand the gale-force assault of the opening 20 minutes.

They have a potentially superior scrum and a hardening desire. Every day, every hour, Johnson hammers away at the essence of international rugby: the side who maintain their accuracy and discipline under pressure will almost certainly win. As a kid the first England-Wales game he attended was the acrimonious 1980 match at Twickenham when Paul Ringer was sent off. Times have changed in terms of casual violence and cheap shots but presence of mind under siege retains its currency.

In many ways, therefore, Johnson is as interested in how England perform mentally as physically. He wants to eradicate “the emotional highs and lows” which, in his experience, are the root cause of fluctuating results. As far as humanly possible, he is urging his team to become more like the All Blacks: clinical and ruthless when it comes to kicking sides like Wales when they are down.

"If we have them under pressure, we’ve to make sure we give them no easy outs. We want them to be behind in the last quarter, thinking: ‘This could be another defeat.’ That’s the mental side of the game and it’s very, very important."

It may help in that respect that eight of his team are drawn from Northampton and Leicester, currently the two most successful teams in the Premiership. Winning is a habit, whatever level you play at. Tindall also reckons the Springbok experience was a “speed bump” which has reinforced the need to be adaptable when Plan A misfires. England are still keen to run the ball but not if it catapults them into unnecessary trouble.

Strike the right balance and the depressing Millennium trilogy of three successive Six Nations defeats in Cardiff will be history. A prediction? England by six points. “There is a different mood,” confirmed Johnson. “It comes from consistency and winning some big games. But we all know that if we don’t get the result we want we’ll be on the cusp of something else on Monday.” Having shared in a 17-point win in Cardiff in 2003 – “It was a moral victory for Wales as I recall” – only to end up trailing at half-time in the ensuing World Cup quarter-final between the sides, he knows better than to gaze too far ahead.

Invictus, by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

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In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

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Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

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It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

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This poem means quite a lot to me, and is one of the few that I know off by heart… to be able to recite something which inspires me to be unafraid is pretty useful, in my opinion.

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