VP Update – Incubation Centre: Project Launch

By Omkar Singh – Dear Students, This year after discussions with the Students’ Union VP Omkar Singh, ARU has launched a project to consider the further enhancement…

By Omkar Singh

Back at the start of this academic year, Omkar Singh shared an article with The Ruskin Journal detailing his ambition to provide an Incubation Centre for students at ARU. The aim of this centre was to provide a space for students to congregate and work together on their ideas. Today, he is here to share an update with us about where the project is now. This update comes in the form of a letter by two of the university’s Vice Chancellors as well as an SU Chief Executive.

Dear Students,

This year after discussions with the Students’ Union VP Omkar Singh, ARU has launched a project to consider the further enhancement of enterprise and entrepreneurship support and experiences for our students. This project is sponsored by Prof. Yvonne Barnett, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) whilst the steering group is chaired by Prof Gary Packham, Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law.

The steering group has agreed to undertake a feasibility study to understand the demand for and sector best practice associated with Enterprise Innovation Centres. These centres include, as part of their offer, business start-up space for students.

As part of the feasibility study, this year’s ‘Big Pitch’ competition is being used as a pilot to measure the demand for and likely engagement with an enterprise centre offering incubation space for students at ARU. In addition, the Faculty of Business and Law has also funded 5 MBA internships for students to support this project.  These 5 interns will be working alongside the SU and the VP Business and Law

Both the University and Students’ Union are extremely excited by this programme of work and are fully committed to providing an enterprising future for all our students.


Prof. Yvonne Barnett,

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation)

Prof Gary Packham,

Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law

John Valerkou,

Chief Executive, Students’ Union

Images: Provided by Omkar Singh. Main image by Tyler Franta on Unsplash.


Tottenham Hotspur: Road To A Trophy?

By Lorenzo Barba – It has been 13 years since Tottenham (also known as Spurs) have last won a trophy. 13 years of disappointment, semi final upsets and supporters not wanting…

By Lorenzo Barba

It has been 13 years since Tottenham (also known as Spurs) have last won a trophy. 13 years of disappointment, semi final upsets and supporters not wanting to go into work out of the fear of being socially outcast by their coworkers. However, this might be about to change. Spurs have recently made it into the Carabao Cup Final. It is here where they will play against Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on April 25th, 2021. 

Opening Round: A Win Without Playing?

Admittedly, their cup campaign started out with a helping of luck as Tottenham’s first opponent of five, Leyton Orient, pulled out of the game due to COVID related reasons. This meant that Tottenham were awarded a win automatically, and were therefore able to advance into the next tournament round immediately. This also meant that the team were far more rested for the next round against their arch rivals, Chelsea. While Tottenham had a very lucky break with this result, a win is a win as the saying goes.

Round Of 16: London Rivals Crumble Against Spurs

We move onto the next round! Chelsea were always going to be difficult opponents to face. They are notorious for dumping Spurs out of tournaments by beating them, admittedly, in a rather humiliating fashion. And with Chelsea scoring the opening goal in this tie, it was beginning to look like much of the same. However, this game was going to be very different indeed as a late equaliser from Argentinian player, Erik Lamela, saw Spurs level the tie and take it to penalty shootouts. It was at this stage of the competition, where Tottenham proved themselves as serious competitors, proceeding into the quarter finals.

Quarter Final: Tottenham Cruise Past Championship Opponents

On the surface Tottenham’s next opponents, championship side Stoke City, seemed like easy pickings. But if there’s one thing Tottenham will have learned from their loss against League 2 team Colchester United, it was that nobody can be underestimated in this tournament. Nerve wracking penalty shootouts were not a requirement in this tie as things went according to plan. Shots from Gareth Bale, Ben Davies and Harry Kane saw Spurs cruise past their opponents 3-1, leapfrogging them into the semi finals.

Semi Final: Easy Pickings To Advance To The Final

Onto the semi finals. Spurs were to face championship side Brentford FC. Spurs had somewhat lucked out in this cup run, facing just 1 Premier League team and receiving an automatic win in the opening round. Nonetheless, the team still had a job to do in this semi final tie and they were determined to do it to reach the final. A comfortable win with goals from Moussa Sissoko, Heung-Min Son and a goal taken away from Brentford due to Video Assistant referee (VAR) had Spurs leading 2-0 with just 20 minutes left to play. To add to Tottenham’s dominating performance Joshua Da Silva, midfielder for Brentford, received a straight red card for a serious foul (1:36). This made their job to see out their 2-0 lead all the more easy as Spurs cruised to the final with style. Tottenham, at this point, are now only one game away from winning the Carabao cup.

Heung-Min Son celebrates after scoring against Brentford
Final: First Trophy In 13 Years Or Much Of The Same?

The opponents for the tie are fellow Premier League side and current holders of the trophy, Manchester City. On paper, much like the game against Chelsea, Tottenham appear to be the underdogs in this competition. While Spurs have struggled to win silverware since winning their last trophy in 2008, Man City have done well to win a variety of trophies, including the domestic treble in 2018 consisting of the Carabao cup, FA Cup, and the Premier League. Just last season they took home the Carabao cup, defending their title as well as the Community Shield at the beginning of the season.

While this won’t be an easy task, the circumstances of a cup final on neutral territory (Wembley Stadium) means that anything could happen and Tottenham should not be underestimated in this tie.

Images: Ferdinand Stöhr on Unsplash and Getty Image piece via The Independent

ARU Students Working with the Deceased during COVID-19

By Pat Lok – Death is a natural process and everyone will experience it one day. However not everyone has experience working for the deceased and/or family members of the…

By Pat Lok

Disclaimer: this article talks about death and discusses how the deceased are taken care of after sadly not surviving COVID-19. If this is something that you may find triggering, please click away.

This article was approved by The Student’s Union because the work undergone by these three ARU Medical Students is incredible and their stories deserve to be told. Support services, both internal as well as external to our university, can be found at the end of the article.

Death is a natural process and everyone will experience it one day. However not everyone has experience working for the deceased and/or family members of the deceased. A group of ARU medical students have worked closely with the deceased and the dying during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that they have a dignified death. 

A volunteer at a hospital mortuary, an employee at a gravestone memorial service and a carer at a care home share their experience in working with the deceased and the families of the deceased.

Volunteering at the mortuary

An ARU medical student, who would like to stay anonymous, volunteered at a mortuary at a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our medical school put out a call for volunteers to work in a mortuary as the short-staffed mortuary was overwhelmed with work. My role entailed checking the details of the deceased when they arrived into the mortuary and when being collected by funeral homes, sanitising the bodies and storing them appropriately.

It was very busy during the height of the pandemic as there were a lot of patients coming into the mortuary from the hospital and the community. I enjoyed being a useful pair of hands when there were very limited staff in the mortuary during a very busy time. 

From working in the mortuary, I learned the importance of checking at least 3 points of identification of the deceased and strategies to ensure that the job did not get too difficult emotionally. 

It was interesting to see the work done by the mortuary technicians and the things doctors in the hospital could do to make their job easier (for example, making sure that there are 2 hospital name bands on a patient as often these were missing as well as not wrapping several strips of tape around the deceased patients legs or head as this is unnecessary and disrespectful). I will put these things into practice whilst I am training to be a doctor. 

Having work experience in a mortuary is quite rare for a medical student and it has been a really valuable experience volunteering there. I have learned a lot.”

Working at a company that provides a gravestone memorial service

Amir is a medical student who was working at a company that provides a gravestone memorial service, predominantly for BAME groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I help a business that takes orders from cemeteries to design and produce gravestones, predominantly for the BAME community. We would take their information such as name, date of death, islamic day of death according to the lunar calendar, and age of death. We would then also take private requests such as if they want special symbols or the stone to be made in a particular colour or shape.

COVID has completely altered our workload; normally in a year we get roughly 1000 orders from this cemetery, but between the end of Feb to April we received 560 orders, half of the annual order in just a few months. We had to work efficiently so the work was split between my dad and I – I would deal with the administrative side of things and my dad would liaise with the cemetery stone supplier.

You take your health for granted until something happens to you. One case particularly stuck in my mind; we had a client who lost 3 family members in the past year, two during COVID times, and it’s sad to know that something unfortunate happened to the same person 3 times in such a short space of time. It really puts life into perspective. 

I have never attended a Muslim funeral though I do visit cemeteries with my dad quite often. I did so even as a child, just checking out the work that we put into making the cemetery stones and to be reassured that the person could rest in peace.

I think that this experience will help me as a medical student and later on as a doctor. I am now used to talking with people who are grieving and this experience also emphasised the importance of being empathetic when there are situations in which you can’t overly help at all.  

I would personally say that the government should take responsibility in the way that they dealt with the pandemic. A lot of these people weren’t particularly old – there were a significant number of middle-aged people – and a lot of the deaths could have been prevented. Lockdown happened during the beginning of March but it should have been started sooner.”

Working at a care home

Pat, a medical student and the author of this article, who worked at a care home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner into the delivery of our medical education as our medical placements are suspended and the end of year exams are becoming online exams. As a medical student I felt quite helpless in the sense that I wasn’t qualified to help people during this time, and moving back home meant that I couldn’t help out at the hospitals where I had placements.

In the end I found a job where I work as a bank carer at a care home near my house.

It’s quite scary to see the virus taking its effects in real time; every sick elderly resident follows a similar pattern: they first stop eating, they have repeated bouts of diarrhoea and episodes of confusion which is followed by a deteriorating condition and, eventually, death. Shortly after the local outbreak, all carers had to don PPE when carrying out personal care and we had to keep maintaining social distancing whenever we could. However, it’s impossible to do that as a carer. Most residents at the care home have a certain degree of immobility which require carers to assist them to carry out activity of daily living (i.e. washing and eating). The fact that we are wearing PPE when we carry out personal care is a scary experience for the elderly, especially for people living with dementia.

Weekly GP visits to the care home are replaced by a FaceTime call, where the nurse would hold the phone showing different pressure sores, rashes and other medical complaints of residents that need attending.

Reflecting on this experience, I have deep admiration for carers across the country and I believe that they deserve better pay and working conditions. In addition, isolating elderly residents in their rooms to limit the probability of virus transmission, in my opinion, may not be the best method of intervention as prolonged loneliness is also detrimental to one’s health. The pandemic has highlighted the devastating consequences of a chronically neglected social care system; rapid changes need to be made in order to prevent history from repeating itself.

Death should not be a taboo to talk about; if you’re interested in exploring the topics around death, there are groups across the country called Death Cafe where people in the community come together to have tea and hold discussions about death.”

If you have lost someone close to you during the pandemic, NHS Support Services are available to offer some assistance. This link leads to a variety of information regarding what to do in the circumstance of a COVID death as well as a bereavement hotline.

The Wellbeing Team is also available for ARU students if you need someone to talk to during these difficult times. At current they are offering appointments via telephone or Zoom. To arrange an appointment please get in touch with them at: wellbeing@aru.ac.uk

The Samaritans has a free emailing service if you would like to talk to somebody as well. You can choose to remain anonymous if you so wish. Contact information for the service can be found here.

Nightline are additionally still open, offering services via email. Further information about the support that they offer can be found here.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You matter and are deeply loved. Please all take care of yourselves.

Image: Ciéra Cree (Mill Road Cemetery)

Taking a COVID-19 Home Test

By Ciéra Cree – A little while ago I was randomly selected to take part in a COVID-19 testing research study being conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, an…

By Ciéra Cree

A little while ago I was randomly selected to take part in a COVID-19 testing research study being conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, an independent research organisation, on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). I was sent a letter detailing this which I woke up to receive one morning, under the assumption that it was about something else. When I opened it and read about the chance to take part in this voluntary pilot research I decided to sign up; having the chance to be COVID tested was not something that I was going to pass down, especially before university is due to start up again.

I thought that I would share a bit about the process with you, not because it’s overly difficult, but more to show people what a test entails in case they are unaware and to hopefully reassure people that it isn’t complicated to carry out if they are offered the opportunity to do this as well.

You are firstly sent a double-sided letter providing you with details of the study. The front of the page addresses you, informing you that you have been selected and it tells you how to register (if you were to so wish) through the use of a unique eight-digit code. To sign up for the study you can either input this code into the registration website or you can contact their free-phone number. The other side of the page contains a broken down list of details about various other aspects of the test including who is carrying out the study, how your data was gathered in order for this initial contact to have been made, what doing the test will involve and whether you will receive the results of your test.

If you agree to do it, you will then receive confirmation emails and/or a confirmation text, as well as a home test kit between a period of time which you will be notified about. The test kit that I received is one which will only let me know if I have the virus currently, not if I have ever had it previously. The tests which detail both of these information’s are not yet widely available but there is hope for this in the future.

The test kit itself contains six elements: a self-assembly box, an instructions booklet, a biohazard bag with a security seal, a security seal for the main box, a sealed pack containing a swab and a plastic vial, and a sheet of labels (two serial number labels to be affixed to the biohazard bag and the vial). There is also another letter inside of the box which thanks you for your participation and shares with you further information about the test.

Before taking the test participants need to go online and book a special courier. They will arrive on the day that you choose, placing a box at your doorstep for you to put your completed test in (which is all packed away inside of the provided self-assembly box). This will then be brought to a laboratory for testing and you can expect a result to come back within a week. Participants are asked, if possible, to complete the test within a week of receiving the kit in the mail.

The test itself asks for a simple swab of the nose and throat. The swab is a long stick with a marked breaking point on it which you snap after administering the test. You then place the shortened swab inside of the vial which is then securely stored inside of the biohazard bag. It is recommended to you to do this test on the morning that your courier is due to arrive in order to have the test as fresh as possible but if this really isn’t an option you can do it the night before. Couriers can arrive any time between 8am-6pm and although they may contact you with a more specific time slot that unfortunately isn’t always the case.

Regardless of when the test is taken, you are asked to place it in a refrigerator afterwards as the bacteria needs to be kept cool at all times. I recommend packaging your sample away inside of the self-assembly box first and then putting this inside of a sandwich bag before sitting it in the refrigerator for hygiene purposes.

Once your test has been completed there is an online survey available for taking which asks questions about your health and about your experience with the test. The information booklet deems this survey as ‘very important’ so that the researchers involved in the study ‘can assess the symptoms associated with positive tests.’

And that’s what the COVID-19 home test entails! There is, of course, some points of general assistance detailed within the information booklet provided such as not to touch the soft end of the swab with your hands or anything, and there is also a video available online which walks participants through how to take the test but aside from this, I have told you the main points.

I received this test by sheer chance but if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID and would like to request one for yourself you can do so by visiting this page of the NHS website.

Please take care everyone, and stay safe!

On Friday 28th August 2020, Ciéra received an email to say that she had tested negative.

Images: Ciéra Cree and Prasesh Shiwakoti on Unsplash

Project Restart: The Return of the Premier League

By Ryan Senior – Football is not just a sport, it can be both a passion and an outlet where fans can forget all about their worries and cheer on their favourite team for ninety…

By Ryan Senior

Football is not just a sport, it can be both a passion and an outlet where fans can forget all about their worries and cheer on their favourite team for ninety long minutes. So, when the final whistle went at the King Power Stadium on the 9th March between Leicester City and Aston Villa, who would’ve thought that this would be the last kick off a ball on a football pitch for months.

The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted all areas of life, including the beautiful game itself. On March 13th, the English footballing pyramid seasons were halted due to an agreement between the FA, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, and FA Women’s Championship. Furthermore, on the 3rd April, the FA decided the leagues would be postponed indefinitely. 10 weeks later, the government and the FA have been working together to create a procedure, around the current Covid-19 guidelines, on how to run football training sessions in small groups leading to an eventual return to full squad training sessions.

With the first stage precautions put in place, Premiership clubs started to return to training on May 19th. The procedures for this included twice-a-week Covid-19 tests on the players and Club staff, with the first round of testing proceeded on May 17-18th. The players who returned to training were restricted to training in groups of 5 with no contact training capped at 75 minutes per session. And the second stage of precautions was introduced due to a unanimous vote between clubs on May 27th. The introduction of contact training included tackling and aerial duels while still minimizing unnecessary close contact between players

The premier league announced the league will return on the weekend of June 17-18th, with matches being played behind closed doors. The premier league returns with a mouth-watering tie with Arsenal travelling to the Etihad Stadium to face current EPL champions Manchester City, while Aston Villa play host to Dash Wilders Sheffield United. Whereas all of the remaining 92 Premier League fixtures will be broadcasted across 4 broadcasting networks including BT Sport, Sky Sports, BBC, and Amazon UK, with 29 of them broadcast on free-to-air TV.

But what can we expect from the returning games?

The Premier League isn’t the first league to return; there has already been football being played in Germany (Bundesliga) and in South Korea (K-League). Within these respective leagues, there have been different approaches to try to give a sense of normality by clubs. Football teams across Germany have been playing fan noises in the stadium and Borussia Monchengladbach has gone as far as to allow fans to pay to have a cardboard cut-out of themselves placed in the stands.

On the pitch, the quality of football has been good with hardly any players showing a lack of match fitness. Home advantage has been non-existent in the first 37 games of the Bundesliga season, as the away side has won 51% (19 Wins) of their matches compared to the home sides 19% (7 Wins) wins, with the rest of the games being draws 30% (11 Draws). Though the effects of playing behind closed doors have had a greater impact on the home teams and the fans watching at home.

With the upcoming fixtures for the Premier League season, there’s still been criticism from players, staff, and Football clubs regarding the eventual return of the game. Players such as Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and Watford’s Troy Deeney have raised their concerns about returning to the pitch due to the health risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the impact of those risks on their families. Even so, both said players have returned to training this past week. There has been discussion about the possibility of scrapping relegation for this season due to up to 10 clubs have expressed their concerns around this issue.

There will be more on this story as it develops, especially as we get closer to this year’s Premier League season.

Image: Thomas Serer on Unsplash

Zoom: A Lens Into People’s Lives

By Pat Lok – The COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent global lockdown, has forced us to shift our usual social interactions into a different realm…

By Pat Lok

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent global lockdown, has forced us to shift our usual social interactions into a different realm; over the past few months, online communication has become the new normal. From social media to e-mail, there are a number of different platforms to choose from, though one such platform that has seen its user base balloon in recent months is Zoom.

Zoom appears to have become a synonym to the word ‘meeting’ during this lockdown. Zoom is a free online meeting tool – now ubiquitous – that facilitates the public health strategy of social distancing while also allowing people to work from home. It is a remote meeting application that enables people to collaborate and share screens from across the world, and it has become one of the most popular supplements to in-person social interaction since nearly 20% of the world’s population is now on lockdown.

Zoom’s Market Price – November 2019 to April 2020

Zoom has been utilized to facilitate different facets of social interaction – both formal and informal. Personally, I’ve used Zoom for a meeting with research colleagues from different countries, took part in a jury trial as a research project participant, and attended a virtual pub quiz.

It’s weird how this shift in social interaction has somehow allowed me to know my peers and lecturers a bit better. Zoom lectures now have occasional background noise of family chatter and occasional interruptions from pets and children. One of my friend’s lecturers embraced the advantage of lecturing from home and gave a tutorial while nursing his child on his lap.

Zoom Etiquette

Now that my usual commute has shrunk to a trip from my bed to my desk, my work attire has also been restyled into a formal top and pyjama bottom combination. Though this did lead to an embarrassing episode where I wanted to get up and fetch a book and I accidentally flashed my Simpsons pyjama bottoms to the group call. But after attending a few more Zoom meetings since then, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who has embarrassed myself on camera like this at least once.

The inability to exercise the mute button in Zoom has become the new social faux pas. Toilet flushing, swearing and Apps notification sounds just to name a few. The New Yorker has collated a light-hearted list of tips for teachers who are using Zoom to deliver classes This can also be adopted by people who are working from home to minimise the probability of you embarrassing yourself live on Zoom. These tips include adjusting your laptop to get a better camera angle and shutting your door to prevent any unwanted screen-bombing.

Zoom’s Many Uses

Meetings are only the tip of the iceberg for this versatile application; Zoom is being used for a wide range of different things: “Zoomers” have been running the European Union, hosting virtual graduation ceremonies and events, and, tragically, even executing breakups. Although successful social distancing is perceived by some as a testament to the strength of a relationship, for others, the distance apart has proved not to be so simple.

Unnecessary outings have been discouraged in order to minimise the spread of infection. This is particularly important for potentially infectious people who, if caught going into public spaces without a valid reason, can potentially face a fine. Though we are all encouraged to stay inside, and away from large groups of people, as much as we can. As a result of this, MEP meetings in Brussels have also succumbed to Zoom; “monologues have replaced dialogues”. These meetings are for discussing plans needed to contain the virus, with the adoption of remote voting by MEPs and by getting interpreters to translate meetings into the 24 official languages of the EU in real-time. It does pose a question of whether productive and meaningful conclusions can result from these virtual meetings, however, for now, it’s the best that we can do considering the current circumstance.

While there is no sign of the lockdown being lifted anytime soon, local and international institutions are investigating the possibility of delivering their events online instead. For medical students, graduations have been brought-forward and delivered on Zoom so that they can work as interim junior doctors to assist the NHS workforce amidst the pandemic.

Although the convenience of Zoom is undeniable, it does have its drawbacks. The German government recently issued a restriction upon the use of Zoom on its citizens due to its inadequate encryption. Several other countries, as well as numerous corporations, have out-right banned the use of Zoom too because of its seemingly inadequate security.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the convenience of online meetings with Zoom, I’ve also missed the human touch of face-to-face and in-person social interaction – unbuffered, unfiltered and present. Hopefully, we can return to that life before too long.

Images: Pat Lok & Javier Molina on Unsplash

COVID-19 Pandemic – the Response, the Innovations & the Advice

By Pat Lok – Social distancing, a phrase that people have come to loath, is a public health strategy that helps to limit the spread of infection and protect the vulnerable…

By Pat Lok

Social distancing, a phrase that people have come to loath, is a public health strategy that helps to limit the spread of infection and protect the vulnerable. But as we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks, it’s been difficult for some members of the public at large to incorporate such a draconian measure into their lives. Crowds have been seen gathering in local parks, especially over the past few weeks as a result of the mild weather, leading to Royal Parks recent decision to close some of its parks in parts of London. Additionally, the Prime Minister has recently announced that all non-essential business must close for the duration of the lockdown, and that police have been given new powers in an attempt to clamp down on large gatherings and unnecessary trips.

Health & Wellbeing

Among those who have observed the rules, some creative individuals have come up with innovative ways of embracing the social distancing strategy while still living their lives and carrying on with most of their normal day-to-day routines.

For example, physical fitness can be difficult to maintain when the parks and gyms are closed. But fear not, for some people have reportedly managed to run an entire marathon from within the confines of their inner-city apartments. Others have taken to virtual fitness sessions allowing those in isolation to tune-in from the comfort of their own homes.

As for individuals like you and me however, there are still lots of free resources online that’ll help us keep active and maintain a healthy body whilst still self-isolating. YouTube can be a good platform for finding online tutorials for exercises that we can do from the comfort of our own homes. For example, should you want to lift some weights, but you lack the dumbbells, you could use a couple of 10kg packets of pasta as a suitable substitute. The point is to be creative.

Shopping & Logistics

Photos of empty supermarket shelves have been trending on social media for the past few weeks, creating a somewhat tense atmosphere which led to a degree of scaremongering both online and in the press. This formed a positive feedback loop that encouraged others to do the same.

As a result, you might have seen that the stockpiling of products such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer has been rife. Pleas from their customers led most supermarkets to impose a series of countermeasures in an effort to protect the vulnerable and priorities those most in-need (and those most deserving). Some of these measures include:

Later on, the government introduced a shielding strategy where vulnerable individuals were instructed to stay at home for at least twelve weeks at a time, due to their increased likelihood of serious complications should they contract the virus. As a result, many good-willed neighbours, friends, and individuals have volunteered to assist these shielded people by doing their weekly shopping for them.

Additionally, medical students across the country have formed the National Health Supporters group, a student-led initiative that offers babysitting and grocery shopping services to frontline NHS staff when they have to work long hours or an emergency shift. There’s an app that volunteers can sign-up to and see who is the closest NHS staff member to you that needs help. If you are DBS-cleared, you can go on their website to sign-up to your local group and volunteer your time.

Sanitation & Hygiene

Regular, thorough handwashing has been an integral part of the message to help fight this virus. It is recommended that people wash their hands for at least twenty seconds. Though an IT-savvy teenager has created a website where you can combine the first twenty seconds of a song with the official WHO handwashing poster, to create a personalized poster showing users what handwashing technique they should be practising in-time with the song they’ve selected. I’ve attached my poster below; I do not feel guilty about my choice of song, though.

An aptly titled song for handwashing?

Education & Entertainment

Many online educational platforms have made some of their online resources available for free, incentivizing people to stay at home and use their free time constructively. I’ve picked out some of my favourite resources, which include:

As for entertainment, we have the ever-present Netflix and YouTube – though the recently-released browser extension called Netflix Party makes watching the former with friends that much more intimate. Though if all you’re in need of is a quick laugh, I’d encourage you to seek out some of the freshest memes on Twitter or Reddit that have certainly put a smile on my face in recent times.

The Global Response

With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing worldwide, some countries have encountered shortages of vital equipment such as ventilators and masks. In response, a group of Italian product designers have used their skills in design and 3D printing to make templates that enable people to manufacture their own 3D-printed marks.

South Korea, which was an early epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, embraced the concept of drive-through tests, providing convenient access to testing stations which would text the results of their test a few hours later.

Healthcare professionals are adapting to the increasing demand of patients. Some GP practices are even changing how they operate; dividing doctors into ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ teams, downstairs and upstairs respectively. The ‘hot team’ would treat suspected COVID-19 cases, whereas the ‘cold team’ would treat other illnesses. And should a hot team member fall ill themselves, a cold team member would replace them.

Final Thoughts

There have been many innovative countermeasures that have been put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. As a medical student, I look forward to seeing what other innovations will come of this latest health crisis – however unfortunate the impact has been. We are still in the early days of social distancing, as the government have recently announced that there will be at least twelve more weeks of the measure (as of the 19th of March) before life starts to return to normal. In the meantime, however, we should fulfil our civic duty and stay at home.

Stay Home. Save Lives.

 Images: Pat Lok & Lucas Vasques on Unsplash

What Is It Like to Be a HCP Student Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic?

By Pat Lok – As the World Health Organization (WHO) declares COVID-19 as a pandemic, many organizations, whether public or private…

By Pat Lok

As the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, many organizations, whether public or private, have begun carrying out their emergency measures as-per the WHO guidelines – closing non-essential businesses, limiting social interaction, and encouraging frequent, thorough hand-washing to minimize the risk of infection.

However, a certain sub-section of the student populous, the ‘healthcare professional’ students (HCP), are stuck in the grey area. The university trains a large cohort of healthcare professionals; these include paramedics, midwives, nurses, operating department practitioners (ODPs), physician associates (PAs) as well as doctors. But as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the East of England, where most HCP students go to work on placement, it’s difficult to say whether such placements should be called off or not.

A live dashboard recording confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. Source: Public Health England

Clinical placements are integral to a HCP student’s learning; it’s where we get to implement our theoretical learning and clinical skills – we get to practice in real life. Bedside manner and clerking patients are experiences that you have to accumulate over-time; it’s not a skill that you can master within the length of a degree.

Due to their crowded timetables, it may be unrealistic for the university to rearrange placements at such short notice since the placement coordinator has to consider the availability of senior clinicians to supervise students and other corresponding logistics.

What Do Some HCP Students Think?

Mae Hollebon, a first-year midwifery student from Chelmsford, talks about her experience of going on a placement amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Personally I’m not overly worried about going on placement with the increase in cases although I know some people are! I’m just washing my hands thoroughly and often – which we do anyway! The ward I’m working on has had a couple of changes- if women have any symptoms they have to be checked over by a doctor before being readmitted to the ward! Otherwise, we haven’t been affected much on the postnatal ward. Things are changing very quickly; a lot of staff are off as they consider themselves as high risk. Mothers are not allowed visitors anymore and their partners can only stay limited hours.”

I also spoke with a second-year paramedic student who will go on placement in both London and Essex.

“We’re younger than the population who tends to be affected by COVID-19 which is majority [of] elderly people. However, the nature of our placement is that we get rotated around when we go on placements. For example, I will be spending a period of time in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), followed by A&E, followed by the maternity ward. I’m just thinking that if I were to be infected, it will be sometime before the symptoms emerge as a study recently reported that it takes an estimated 5.1 days for patients to be symptomatic. By then I will have rotated to another ward and could be infecting other people.”

In a document sent to paramedic students through the university, The London Ambulance Service (LAS) tries to address some of our paramedic students’ worries over COVID-19.

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A screenshot of a LAS document that was sent to paramedic students via the University.

Pat Lok, author and second-year medical student, who has recently finished her GP placement, talks about her experience of going on clinical placement in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic.

“It could be quite scary to see the number of COVID-19 cases going up every day but we’re taking the corresponding preventative measures, such as washing hands after seeing each patient. Some of my peers had PPE (personal protective equipment) training, a lecture on COVID-19 and the results of the ongoing screen programme that is being carried out when they were on their GP placement.

We were informed by our School of Medicine recently that our 3-week block placement will carry on as usual in 2 weeks; a few of my peers will be having their placement at hospitals with infected individuals. I’m not particularly frightened as this is what we are trained for, to look after the sick and come up with a solution to combat this contagious virus.”

How Are Our Counterparts Reacting to COVID-19?

Medical professionals regularly hold conferences and meet-ups to disseminate research and exchange ideas. It’s an established and efficient way to be kept up-to-date about the details that matter to our profession. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many medical conferences have been cancelled or postponed for an undetermined period of time.

Some universities are cancelling their OSCE examinations (objective structured clinical examination) for their final year medical students. OSCE is an important performance indicator of healthcare professional student as it assesses your communication skills, clinical reasoning, as well as your clinical knowledge.

What Happens Now?

COVID-19 is not an incurable disease. The WHO reported that people with mild illness will recover in about 2 weeks, while those with more severe presentations may take 3-6 weeks. The mortality rate of COVID-19 is a bit less than 1%, as estimated by Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England. We can adopt protective measures, recommended by the WHO to protect ourselves from contracting the virus, by washing your hands frequently, maintaining social distance and avoid touching eyes, noses and mouths.

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Advice from the WHO on preventive measures. Source: WHO

As for us HCP students, the COVID-19 pandemic could be seen as an invaluable learning opportunity. The outbreak of infectious viruses isn’t new to the UK; in the past, the UK has tackled outbreaks of SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and Ebola. So when HCP students go on their clinical placements, we should be supportive and understanding of NHS staff who are working on the front line amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, and try to absorb some of their talent and experience as we work.

Update: At the point of publication, all medical placements have been cancelled for all ARU medical students and second-year paramedic students until further notice.

Images: Pat Lok & Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

The Last Train to Redemption – The Good Place & BoJack Horseman

By Sabine Buhain – As January came to a close, so did a pair of popular, long-running television shows — namely NBC’s The Good Place and Netflix’s BoJack Horseman.

By Sabine Buhain

As January came to a close, so did a pair of popular, long-running television shows — namely NBC’s The Good Place and Netflix’s BoJack Horseman.

There was a stark contrast between the two endings of both series: where The Good Place discussed moral accountability in a lighthearted comedy, BoJack Horseman pulled no punches in its hard-hitting criticism of modern society’s lack thereof. While Schur delivers an existential story in middle-brow dramedy packaging, Bob-Waksberg finds his comic relief in topical jokes, black comedy, and the occasional tongue-twister.

However, in spite of their contrasts, both of these contemporary shows attempted to answer one important question: Can anyone be redeemed? In a world where ‘cancel culture’ is on the rise, it’s a question we find ourselves asking outside of fiction as well. I’m here to discuss the differences, similarities, and ultimately, the importance of what Schur and Bob-Waksberg have to say on this topical debate.

The following will contain major spoilers for the finales of The Good Place and BoJack Horseman, as well as content warnings for mentions of fictional addiction, sexual predation, and suicide.


The Idealism of The Good Place

Putting an end to four seasons and four years of runtime, The Good Place finally allows its quartet cast (“Team Cockroach”) a proper win. Having presented the flaws of the afterlife— particularly that it was too harsh a punishment to send many morally decent people to ‘The Bad Place’ for not being ethically excellent enough, while those lucky enough to have been raised decently may enjoy ‘The Good Place’—the team take it upon themselves to design a new system by which to judge Earth’s dearly departed.

Throughout the show, we see the main cast improve drastically in the afterlife, regardless of who they were when they were alive. Jason Mendoza, an impulsive criminal, becomes a surprisingly wise advisor to his friends in times of difficult decisions. Tahani Al-Jamil, an attention-seeking socialite, uses her event planning talents to bring people joy and contribute to the greater good. Chidi Anagonye, once wracked with indecision, learns to accept his mistakes and have conviction in his choices. Eleanor Shellstrop, arguably the most narcissistic and selfish of them all, starts making sacrifices for not only her friends but for humanity at large.

From their collective experience, Team Cockroach learned the valuable lesson that anyone can become a better person so long as they make the decision to start. Regardless of where they came from, what they had suffered, and who they were before, they grew greatly as time went on. Thus, they found the fatal flaw of the ‘Bad Place – Good Place’ system was that it was too final – it did not give people a chance to redeem themselves.

It was here they decided to abolish The Bad Place entirely. Instead, people who died would be put through a series of tests that assessed their morality, and afterwards, they were subjected to lessons that would teach them how to become better people, based on their results. The more virtuous a person was on Earth, the easier their trials would be. Passing these assessments would allow them entry into The Good Place. Some people would progress through their tests with flying colours, being given swift access to eternal paradise; others could potentially never pass, instead of being subjected to a post-lifetime of moral dilemmas and incessant tutoring.

It is in The Good Place that we see a positive outlook on the prospects of redemption, but not an ingenious one. With this system, Schur carefully treads the tightrope between idealistic naivete and harsh condemnation. It drives home the point that those who make a genuine effort to improve will eventually become ‘better’. We see characters who were neglectful parents, law-breaking sleazebags, and slanderous journalists in their time become remorseful and morally upright people once they reach The Good Place, making amends with those they wronged on Earth.

However, while everyone is given the opportunity to become better people, not everyone does. These people aren’t subjected to the fire and brimstone torture characteristic of The Bad Place, but rather a healthy amount of pressure to learn. They can choose to be stubborn and never address their flaws, remaining in ethical training forever, or they can open their mind and confront their issues, allowing them to advance through the tests. They are never treated as subhuman but rather given the eternal, nagging opportunity to change.

The Good Place can be read as a utopic commentary on the criminal justice system, particularly the debate between rehabilitation and retribution. It argues that by constantly denying a person’s own ability to improve, as well as a free life where they can spend time with loved ones, a guilty person creates their own form of torture—and we need not push them further than that.

To those who want to seek redemption, Schur sends a positive message: anyone can deserve The Good Place – they just have to work for it.


The Realism of BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman has put out six seasons worth of difficult characters with difficult questions. The series follows the ups and downs of one BoJack Horseman, a Hollywood actor turned alcoholic, and his turbulent relationships. Throughout each season, we have seen many opportunities for BoJack to change as he attempts to cut himself free from the toxic influences in his life like show business, substance abuse, and even trauma from his abusive family. However, these opportunities are normally clipped at the wings by BoJack himself before they can truly take off, and each mistake he makes continues to follow him on his journey of attempted self-improvement.

What BoJack has done throughout the show is what many would regard as abhorrent and irredeemable, such as abandoning his best friend who lost his job due to homophobia, sleeping with two women with whom he had considerable power over due to the extreme age gap between them, and being verbally abusive to those he considered his close friends. His addiction not only affected himself, but also those around him, either tempting them into substance abuse themselves or making them suffer the consequences of his lack of control.

What viewers feel will be a true turning point for the tragic titular character is often turned sour in a slippery slope of missteps within the next few episodes. And while it’s not just BoJack who’s flawed in this story, with his motley crew of similarly screwed up friends, he is clearly the worst of them all.

However, in Season 6 we see a shining ray of hope for BoJack that seems like it’ll stay for good this time: having been hired to teach acting at Wesleyan University, he finds a sense of genuine accomplishment in being able to impart his knowledge unto his students. At this point, he’s even managed to maintain his sobriety and, as a result, he starts acting out of interest rather than for his own ulterior motives. However, at the same time, many of the mistakes which BoJack has yet to receive retribution for are coming to light. In a battle with the press, BoJack loses his job and is condemned by the public for his wrongdoings. Everything we saw BoJack build up over the course of the season, as well as all seasons prior, is taken away from him over the span of a few days: his sobriety, his selflessness, and a significant amount of his positive relationships.

Having lost all hope in his ability to redeem himself from his mistakes, BoJack decides to drink. And in his drunken state, he breaks into his old home (now purchased by a different family), leaves his friend Diane a guilt-tripping voice message begging her to save him, and then attempts suicide unsuccessfully. He recovers in hospital and is shortly after sent to prison. A year later, he is allowed to leave prison for a day to attend the wedding of his ex-lover and close friend Princess Carolyn.

It’s here that he’s found everyone else has changed since he’s been gone. Princess Carolyn has finally managed to balance her work and personal life, having previously been obsessed with the former. Mr Peanutbutter is focusing on improving independently; his previous relationships having been used as distractions from his problems. Diane Nguyen, slowly but surely, has been able to place trust in her partner and grow closer to her new family despite the trauma of her own.

Diane confronts BoJack with the fact that while she truly cares for him as a friend and will never stop doing so, she cannot continue to be close with him due to their relationship being a negative factor in her development as a whole. He is always dragging her down and putting her in a bad place, and he is always relying on her to help him be a better person; she wants to be able to care for her new family. This is her priority.

While BoJack has been in prison for a year, everyone has moved on. For better, in that, the public has largely forgotten about his controversy and is open to seeing him on the big screen again — and for worse, in that, all of his friends have stabilised their lives for the most part, except for him. However, there is a silver lining to Diane’s confrontation: she wishes him the best.

BoJack Horseman has always dealt in greys. This is far from a happy ending, and to the frustration of some, it is largely ambiguous. It is unclear to the audience whether BoJack is going to become a better person immediately after this finale, or if it will even happen at all. Truth be told, this is not an ending; while we will no longer be there to watch BoJack’s journey, his life and that of those around him will still go on.

What BoJack Horseman presents to us is the notion that while every action has its consequences, these consequences are not necessarily the be-all-end-all of one’s life. There will always be a second chance to try. It may take several attempts, and feature some low points, but the journey will never be truly over. Improvement is not a straight incline, nor is it one without loss — but so long as you keep living, every day is a day to start being better than the last.

Can anyone be redeemed?

The Good Place and BoJack Horseman don’t shy away from answering one of life’s most difficult questions. Funnily enough, where they are juxtaposed makes them complementary; while The Good Place follows a success story in redemption, showcasing four selfish people becoming some of the most selfless in existence, BoJack Horseman tells the tale of one person who, unlike his peers, hasn’t been able to move past his mistakes.

I believe that both are best watched in tandem, as they teach the same lesson with two distinct outlooks. Where The Good Place instils a bright and bubbly hope, BoJack Horseman places a good-intentioned warning.

In the end, their message is the same: anyone can be redeemed, but only those who try in earnest will.

Images: Colleen Hayes/NBC and Netflix

The Ruskin Journal ft. Creative Writing Society Open Mic Night

By Ciéra Cree & Joshua Dowding – On Friday 21st February, both The Ruskin Journal and the Creative Writing Society co-hosted an open mic event as part of LGBTQ+ History Month…

By Ciéra Cree & Joshua Dowding

On Friday 21st February, both The Ruskin Journal and the Creative Writing Society co-hosted an open mic event as part of LGBTQ+ History Month. For those of you that couldn’t attend, the event took place between 7 o’clock and 10 o’clock in The Academy hall on Cambridge campus.

The theme for this year’s LGBTQ+ History Month was ‘poetry, prose and playwrights’ – something that both of our societies know something about and saw as an opportunity to work together to bring an event to life.

“The open mic was open to all, it felt really inclusive to the diverse students that were able to showcase their talent in a safe space with safe people.”

Gabs Bennington, The Ruskin Journal & Attendee

Creating a space where people could share their passions, and feel accepted for who they are, was very important to us. The Students’ Union had decorated The Academy with various flags and accoutrements baring the symbols of the movement we sought to represent. And all throughout the planning stages of the event, something about this night felt special to us.

Each table a copy of The Ruskin Journal’s latest annual, as well as an assortment of snacks, and a variety of sexual health packs put together by Amanda Campbell, AHSS Vice President, as part of her ‘Best Night Out’ campaign. We’re told at least a few of them went!

“It’s a safe space, a small nook in Cambridge which attracted vibrant diverse people and reminded them that they have a place in the world.”

Shania Perera, Performer

At 7 o’clock, people started to fill the room. While some mingled, others took their seats. It was exciting to watch the event slowly come to life as more and more people turned up at the doors, poking their heads in first before their bodies joined them shortly after. And before too long, The Academy was nearly full – incredible, we thought. If only we’d started on time!

It took until around quarter to 8 before the flow of people began to ease and the audience took their seats. But eventually, Merika and Ciera took to the stage to kick off the night in earnest with a short speech that went like this:

Thank you for coming along to our event, since planning for this started, we’ve all been very excited to see it unfold. We’re proud to be showing a unity not only between our two societies tonight but also one between us here together, supporting and accepting each other.

We hope that you leave this room feeling happy, comfortable and most importantly like you belong. No one should be made to feel that they aren’t accepted or allowed to be who they are.

We, first before anything, would like to thank you for taking the time to be here in support of your fellow friends and students. Our university holds such a beautiful diversity of cultures, ideas and beliefs, some of which we’re here to celebrate right now.

The night saw a total of 19 performances take place ranging from beautiful spoken word to poetry, from music to rap, and even some acapella performances to boot. Pieces like Shania Perera’s ‘A Distracted Physicist’, to Freddy’s infamous bars that got everyone joining in, to a glorious rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ by Ronnie to cap off the evening in style.

For the record, we have included a complete list of the night’s performances below:

  1. Merika – 19:49 PM – Poem
  2. Pavlov & Antony – 19:53 PM – Music (‘Heart-Shaped Box’ – Nirvana)
  3. Pavlov & Antony – 19:58 PM – Music (‘Come As You Are’ – Nirvana)
  4. Bee – 20:06 PM – Poem (featured at Desperate Fleas)
  5. Ciera – 20:17 PM – Poem
  6. Ciera – 20:18 PM – Poem
  7. Gabs – 20:25 PM – Poem
  8. Shania – 20:29 PM – Poem
  9. Georgie & Greg – 20:38 PM – Music (‘Vienna’ – Billy Joel)
  10. Georgie & Greg – 20:42 PM – Music (‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher’)
  11. Greg (Solo) – 20:45 PM – Music (‘Bleeding Sky’ – upcoming album)
  12. Daryl – 20:55 PM – Poem (‘Gaps’)
  13. Daryl – 21:01 PM – Poem
  14. Daryl – 21:11 PM – Poem
  15. Freddy – 21:14 PM – Music (“hell yeah!”)
  16. Pavlov & Antony – 21:22 PM – Music (‘Creep’ – Radiohead)
  17. Shania – 21:33 PM – Poem
  18. (we’re sorry, we didn’t catch your name!) – 21:45 PM – Poem
  19. Ronnie – 21:54 PM – Music (‘Hallelujah’ – Jeff Buckley)

After all was said and done, Merika Tencati took to the stage once again to thank everyone for making the event a night to remember. Sentiment was expressed, events were plugged, and the night drew neatly to a close – and what an incredible night it was.

“It was a great collaboration between Creative Writing, Ruskin Journal and the Students Union. I had a lot of fun and was happy to see so many students and staff supporting the LGBTQ+ community.”

Merika Tencati, Creative Writing Society & Co-Host

We would like to thank everyone who came to this, our inaugural open mic event, and thank you to the people who helped us make it all possible. We’ll see you at the next one!

Media Exhibitions in London – Trip Report

By Ciéra Cree – On Wednesday 4th of December, first-year students taking the Media Studies course were invited on their first university field trip – a day that played out to be both exciting and memorable for many reasons…

By Ciéra Cree

On Wednesday 4th of December, first-year students taking the Media Studies course were invited on their first university field trip – a day that played out to be both exciting and memorable for many reasons.

During class when the trip was announced, we were told where to collect our train tickets and what the trip would entail. The plan was to visit two exhibitions in London – one by Nam June Paik held at the Tate Modern, and the other being a ‘multimedia show’ taking place at the Store in Temple. We agreed to meet-up by the train station’s Christmas Tree before setting off on our journey.

The fact that it was the festive season made this little adventure all the more enticing to me – who wouldn’t want to see the pretty lights adorning London streets? I was excited to see the exhibitions too! ‘Media’ covers such a wide spectrum of topics, so it’s difficult to gauge what to expect from an exhibition about a subject so broad. Because of this, I was very interested to see what was yet to unfold.

At 10:15 AM, our train started up and we were on our way to London. Our journey there was relatively quiet and the train itself wasn’t too busy, at least not around where I was sitting. There was a low hum of chatter, some people reading, others on their laptops working, and the occasional person addictively looking down at their phone. Coming from a small village without public transport meant I hadn’t actually been on that many trains before. This was something rather amusing to think about while looking out of the window. I don’t mind trains, not particularly, but the ones that go really fast can be a bit…disconcerting.

Our first stop was Kings Cross to meet with Neil, Deputy Head for Film and Media, so he could join us on the final leg of the ride. After that, we all boarded another train bound for central London. The journey from Cambridge wasn’t excessively long – it’s a doable trip that’s definitely worth taking for students who want to go exploring in the city.

Nam June Paik Exhibition

At 12:30 PM, we arrived in London and made our way over to the Tate together to have a look around. It was exciting to see the doorway into the exhibition without knowing what was next. We could see a bit through the entrance while we waited, but there was so much more to follow.

The walls of the exhibition space were both a pale cream and white partnered with wooden flooring. It really helped to enhance the space of the room – the minimalistic choice ensured that the pieces remained a viewer’s undistracted focus throughout their stay.

Something I quickly noticed and appreciated, was the range of exhibits on show – evident due to Media’s broad nature. There were metaphorical pieces, symbolic pieces and literal pieces. Pieces that worked on their own and others that worked collectively. Pieces which were physically there in front of us and others that were both digital and interactive. Some rooms had screens with the lights out, while others were standing out in the open. There was something here to cater to everyone’s tastes.

One of the more popular exhibits in the Nam June Paik exhibition was the silhouette screen which projected coloured images of the subject in front of it onto the adjacent wall. It was fun to move around, experiment with the projection, layer colours on top of one another, and to see how the projections changed depending on the proximity of the screen to the subject.

In the same room, there were some other thought-provoking exhibits: the first of which being two life-sized humanoid figures made out of old radios and TVs. Visually they were appealing regardless of further inferences, they were well-produced and very innovative, but it’s always interesting to delve into the thoughts of what something could symbolise beyond the surface. Could they be representative of how television or the media, in general, infiltrate people’s minds and become an inescapable part of them? Could they be a way of showing how people’s thoughts and lives, similarly to that of a TV or radio show, are something that others can “tune into” at their leisure? Or perhaps it may be a metaphorical way of showing how we broadcast certain aspects of ourselves – only the aspects that we want others to see.

When I looked closer at the expressions of the two characters, on the female figure I noticed some marks that looked like tears under their eye, and that the mouth is notably sadder than that of it’s smug, male looking counterpart. Perhaps this signifies something deeper about gender disparity within the media industry?

A few paces away from the figures was a rather peculiar table. On the table was an egg sat under a lamp and by this egg were two projections of the egg. What could this be saying to us about life? How could this be applied to Media? My initial interpretation of it was that it could be displaying the simplicity of life in its beginning. The world is stagnant when nothing has occurred. We aren’t aware of others or our surroundings, and for all that we know, we could be alone. That feeling, in relation to the projected eggs, is illusionary.

As for my thoughts on this in regards to Media, the lamp was the key to deciphering my meaning. Media so often puts people under the spotlight, presenting them to us as being “real” and “perfect” (what Richard Dyer would deem as “stars”). We idolise them and put them under our own spotlights, causing ourselves to feel faded and unable to shine as bright, like the projections, in comparison. We forget that these people aren’t real, they themselves may forget that the persona they show isn’t who they are, so the projected illusionary eggs around them could also be interpreted as versions of their former selves, to whom they have grown detached.

My favourite piece from Nam June Paik, however, had to be the Television Garden which, as the title suggests, was a garden filled with TVs. The television screens were synchronised, sat in a dark room, showing the same images simultaneously in a loop among the leaves. It was one of the first things I approached when walking into the exhibition as it immediately intrigued me and appealed to my love of metaphors.

‘The Nam June Paik exhibition was an interesting walk through another person’s view on TV, audio and Media. His artwork maybe didn’t make sense at times, but it was more about our interpretation of his thoughts, work and presentation. My favourite was the TV garden.’ – Elizabete Sipko

What could a garden filled with televisions mean? Well, it can mean a number of things, whatever your heart desires in fact. Off the bat it serves as a great juxtaposition between nature and technology – it could be showing how the natural world today has become less appealing to people, and how instead of being surrounded by greenery that people would rather be immersed in a TV show. Or perhaps it could be illustrating how media sources demand our attention regardless of where we are, making it difficult to disconnect and be present in the real world. Or maybe there’s a more ecological message being pushed, and it’s a cry out for the environment. Some food for thought – does the garden have to mean a literal garden, or could it be representative of something else?

Nam June Paik, as I’ve mentioned, was presented to us in a minimal style. Artefacts were well spaced out under their natural lighting for us to see or from within their darkroom. The second exhibition we attended however carried an entirely different, more modernised vibe.

‘I thought the trip was really fun and I liked that we were shown different exhibitions. I was able to learn about different artists that I’ll definitely look more into. The Nam June Paik exhibition especially made me think about the ways you can mix different mediums as an artist, and I think this is something that could inspire my work in the future.’ – Sara Roberto

Store in Temple Exhibition

After a lunch break on the South Bank, we made our way to the multimedia show at the Store in Temple. This exhibition was divided by corridors and curtains which not only helped to build up a sort of anticipation for each exhibit, but to also give our minds a moment to clear before heading on to see what was next.

Each room seemed to have a predominant colour theme that starkly contrasted with the ones immediately before it. There were lots of coloured lights and screens flickering through montages of images. My favourite place inside this exhibition was in a room where the walls were made up entirely of mirrors and screens playing videos. These videos varied: some were just patterns whereas others had narrators speaking profound messages. One of these profound messages was spoken while a man was shown on a beach looking out to the sea, which, to me, really stood out among the rest of the exhibition.

The multimedia show was a colourful and fun experience, but to me, it wasn’t as impactful or thought-provoking as Nam June Paik. The artwork was appealing and trendy, which I appreciated, but as someone who likes to think, the first exhibition was preferred. However, I would still definitely go back to this exhibition again given the chance – it was visually spectacular.

‘I really enjoyed the trip and thought that the artwork was really interesting and unique. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting! I liked the second exhibition especially as it seemed the most experimental and abstract.’ – Lorenzo Barba

Marian Goodwin Gallery

To our surprise, we ended up going to a third exhibition – Nan Goldin at the Marian Goodwin Gallery – which was free and not too far away. This third one seemed to be very ‘people focused’ and often over-sexualising, though I feel it was trying to communicate something about femininity or the concept of beauty itself. Wall displays showed photos of people in drag attire, people attending pageants, and others that were entirely naked. There were also some rooms showing videos, one of which I remember was rather vivacious, and another where a woman was shown celebrating her birthday and reflecting on her younger years. The link between age and beauty can be made here, as well as the fact that women are often sexualised within the media.

Among all this upstairs was a room made up of pastel landscape paintings which I thought were beautiful despite seeming out of place. The room was so calm and spacious, and the paintings held an enormity of depth to them. They were by far my favourite part of the exhibition.

As we made our way out of the building, down Oxford Street and back to the packed train station where we struggled back on board our train, I sat and thought about the day gone by. It had been lovely, not just as an experience, but as an opportunity to spend time with people from the course without being in a classroom environment.

‘The trip to London was not only great fun but also a great insight into different types of art that is shown within multiple galleries. Also, who could forget about the guy on the tannoy in the underground during rush hour – that man deserves his own sold-out show.’ – Johnny Knoll

Overall it was fun, interesting, and a day that I am grateful for.

Match Report: Team ARU versus Loughborough – Ultimate Frisbee

By Joshua Dowding – On Wednesday the 20th of November, the university’s Ultimate Frisbee Team played an away match against Loughborough University. The 3rds game kicked-off at around 3:30 PM, with Team ARU on the defence and Loughborough seizing the opportunity…

By Joshua Dowding

On Wednesday the 20th of November, the university’s Ultimate Frisbee Team played an away match against Loughborough University. The 3rds game kicked-off at around 3:30 PM with Team ARU on the defence and Loughborough playing aggressively from the get-go.

For the first half, Charlie A., Tom R. and Xico remained in the cup to stop any quick throws coming their way – the majority of which they managed to shut down with ease. Though a few high throws slipped through their defence, these were caught by the combined force of Nick, Tom M. and Richard playing at the back.

With this formation, Team ARU managed to turn over the disc multiple times resulting in a few quick points early on. But Loughborough was quick to retaliate, keeping the scores even until both teams tied at four points each.

It was at this point that Team ARU decided to go on the offence. Their long runs quickly out-manoeuvred Loughborough’s defences, breaching the end zone and running short for quick passes across the field. And by the end of the first half, the points began to slide in Team ARU’s favour. Securing a lead of 8 – 4 by half-time.

The second half began with Team ARU sticking to their offensive strategy. An early fast point extended their lead to 9 – 4, though Loughborough wasn’t about to give in.

As the game continued, Team ARU put up a strong defence against Loughborough’s advances. The lead extended further to 10 – 4 with another fast point scored for Anglia, and over the course of the rest of the game Team ARU capitalized on an increasingly weary Loughborough by taking their score to the hard-cap of 15. Loughborough managed to score one more point before the end of the match, though the result was a triumphant 15 – 6 for Team ARU.

The team came away from the match feeling elated at their victory. It must have been a huge morale boost for Team ARU to win by such a wide margin, and we can only hope that their good fortunes carry on throughout the rest of the season.

For more information about the Ultimate Frisbee Team, check out their website.

Frisbee team photo
Team ARU Ultimate Frisbee Team – winners!

Source: Charlie Alfandary – Team ARU, Ultimate Frisbee Team

Calling All Students: Make Your Voice Heard!

By Joshua Dowding – As I’m sure you know by now, another general election is upon us. Though it seems like an eternity since we last went to the polls, on December 12th the country will be asked once again to decide it’s future…

By Joshua Dowding

As I’m sure you know by now, another general election is upon us. Though it seems like an eternity since we last went to the polls, on December 12th the country will be asked once again to decide it’s future. Some pundits have already branded it as the ‘Brexit Election’, but I feel it’s important to consider some of the wider issues facing the country now, and in the near future. There’s a whole lot more going on in the world right now: climate change, the ongoing refugee crisis, and the rise of the political fringes just to name a few. Of course you should consider Brexit, of course some of these issues bleed into the Brexit debate, but try not to make this election all about one issue. Cast your vote based on a whole range of issues that are important to you, and don’t follow the pack. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard.

What’s at stake?

Every constituency in the country is up for grabs in the upcoming general election. There are 650 constituencies in the United Kingdom, each representing between 56,000 and 72,000 constituency members (depending on where you live), and a single seat in the House of Commons.

How does an election work?

The name of the game is to get a majority, and for any one party to gain a majority, 326 members of that party must first be elected to the House of Commons. Each party tries to field a candidate for each constituency, though sometimes a party may not field a candidate for a particular constituency due to a pact they’ve made with another party, or because they just don’t have enough candidates.

With the first-past-the-post voting system we have in the United Kingdom, the candidate with the most votes wins the constituency, and thus a seat in parliament. However, that candidate may only secure 39% of the total votes cast with the other candidates securing the remaining 61% of votes. What counts is that each of those remaining candidates did not secure more votes than the victor despite amassing more votes than they did in total. For better or worse, the current system favours the person with the 39% mandate, over the people with the 61% lead. To combat this system, you might want to research into ‘tactical voting’. I’ll leave that up to you.

At a national level, the party with the most elected members, or MPs, wins the election. However, since the name of the game is to get a majority, the party with the most elected MPs may still lose out on a commanding position in parliament by failing to gain that majority. This is referred to as a ‘hung parliament’ where no one party has a majority in the House of Commons. At this point, the party with the most elected MPs must try to form a government by either partnering with another party or by forming a ‘minority government’. The former may (I stress ‘may’) prove beneficial if the winning party can find another with similar political views, whereas the latter would mean that the government might find it difficult to pass their legislation due to a lack of a majority in the House.

In advance of the election, each party will release its manifesto outlining what they intend to do should they win the majority – at least in theory. And while it’s easy to dismiss them, they do provide some insight into the party’s priorities and leanings. So they might be worth a skim at least.

It’s important to remember that voters do not elect the Prime Minister themselves. The person that’ll become the PM is either the current leader of the party that wins, or the leaders of the parties that enter into a coalition, or they’re elected by the parties themselves (sometimes after-the-fact).

How do I know if I’m eligible to vote?

It’s not enough to be 18 and over to vote in UK general elections. Voters will also need to be a registered British citizen with a residential address somewhere in the United Kingdom, or – for those living abroad – must have previously registered to vote within the past 15 years. Qualifying citizens of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland (especially if they were born in Northern Ireland), Cyprus, or Malta, may also be eligible to vote as well. However, EU citizens living in the UK on a permit will not be allowed to vote in the upcoming election at all. Again, make of that what you will.

Prospective voters aged between 16 and 17 may also register to vote, though they will not be able to participate in this upcoming election unless parliament decides to extend the franchise to those people. EU citizens are in a similar situation here.

How do I get involved?

You can vote in one of three ways: in-person, by post, or by proxy. Regardless of which you choose, you will first need to register to vote.

  • To register to vote, follow this link. The deadline is midnight on Tuesday, November 26th. It takes a few minutes at most, but don’t leave it until the last minute! It will take some time for your name to be added to the electoral register once you’ve registered.
  • To apply to vote by post, follow this link. The deadline date is the same as registration, but the time is slightly earlier at 5 PM. Voters in Northern Ireland can also apply to vote by post, though you’ll need to provide a reason as to why you cannot vote in person in your case.
  • To apply to vote by proxy, follow this link. The deadline for applications is the same as voting by post.

If you intend to vote by post, or by proxy, you will need to make a separate application in addition to your electoral registration. These applications must be made in-time – any applications received after the deadline will be rejected even if it was the fault of the postal service that it wasn’t received in time.

How does ‘in-person’ voting work?

Voting takes place at designated polling stations. Before the election, voters will receive a polling card telling you which station you are registered to vote at. These stations open at 7 AM on the day (December 12th), and remain open until 10 PM. After that, the station will close to the public.

When you arrive at a polling station, the ballot officer will ask you for your name and address so that they can find you on the electoral register. Be sure to have some form of identification on you just in case you’re asked for it. Then you will be given a ballot paper and shown to a polling booth. You are expected to put a cross in the box next to the name of the candidate you wish to vote for. Putting a tick, a circle, or anything else in that box will spoil your vote. Once you’ve finished, fold the ballot paper in half, exit the polling booth and drop the paper into the ballot box. That’s it, you’re done.

The results are declared through the night as each constituency office counts its votes. The count might spill into the following morning depending on how quickly each constituency declares it’s results, and whether there are any recounts.

How does voting by post or proxy work?

If you intend to vote by post, providing that you’ve registered to do so, you will receive your ballot paper in the mail close to the date of the general election. You must fill in the ballot paper as you would at a polling station, and return it in the envelope provided. If you think your postal vote won’t make it in time, you can take the sealed letter to your local polling station instead.

Voting by proxy means that you’d like someone else to vote on your behalf in your absence. Your proxy would vote as normal, though they would receive two ballot papers instead of one. Your proxy of choice must be trustworthy and registered to vote themselves.

Should I get involved?

Yes, absolutely. Every vote counts, literally. It’s a numbers game after all. One vote could make all the difference – that could be your vote. After all, voting is anonymous, so as long as you don’t tell anyone, no one will find out which way you voted. Nobody needs to know.

Lastly, there’s been a lot of talk about the ‘two-party system’ as of late. According to the BBC, every election since 1922 has been won by either the Labour party or the Conservative party. But in the years since the infamous 2016 EU referendum, a number of alternative parties have sprung up in an attempt to disrupt this system. Together with some of the smaller established parties, a credible force could be brewing here to take on the two-party system for the first time in nearly a century. Could be worth a look? I’ll leave it to you.

Last Word

For more information on how to vote – especially if you’re voting from abroad – follow this link to the official government website. Register to vote; make your voice heard!


‘General election 2019: A really simple guide’ (BBC – 1/11/19)
‘General election 2019: How political parties choose election candidates’ (BBC – 10/11/19)
‘Register to vote’ (gov.uk)
‘How to vote’ (gov.uk)
‘Minority government’ (parliament.uk)

Image: Steve Houghton-Burnett on Unsplash

Local Vagabond Max Bianco Impresses Cambridge by Nearly Selling Out His Art Exhibition

By Josh Robins – Max Bianco looks and sounds like a man born rather in the wrong decade. He seems about 50 years late to the party but always appears to be making the best of what he must assume to be god’s little typo with some humour…

By Josh Robins


Max Bianco looks and sounds like a man born rather in the wrong decade. He seems about 50 years late to the party but always appears to be making the best of what he must assume to be god’s little typo with some humour.  The Hartlepool born singer- songwriter, with his huge hair and 70’s New York fashion sense is one of those rare people who can wear sunglasses indoors without looking like they are trying too hard.

The choruses to his tunes are sung in the pubs, clubs and afterparties of the Cambridge music scene, whether he is present or not. Apparently not content with this, Max decided to paint an exhibition’s worth of impressionist and abstract art, for a month-long exhibition in the Six Bells. Late last year, I came to chat to him in his natural habitat, the corner of this ‘musicians pub’ over a pint of Guinness, to find out why he’d made the change from recording artist to, well, regular artist.

_ _ _

ROBINS: So obviously you’re known musically for the very successful Jar Family and the increasingly successful Max Bianco and the Bluehearts, but it is little known that you’re an actual artist, artist. With an almost sold out art display, is this your first step or have you done this kind of thing before?

BIANCO: Nahh this is the first first FIRST man. See, how it all started, I was busking around Europe recently, and my mate took me to see a Vincent Van Gogh display in Amsterdam. There was this display of his tree’s in bloom, from winter to spring, from when he was in France. This one picture struck me man. I was staring at it for ages, and the fireworks were going off in my head. It was magic man. I found out 10 minutes before I saw this that he’d shot himself. It added to how hard it struck me.

ROBINS: So, from leaving the gallery that you decided- right, from now on, I need to do that, I am an artist.

BIANCO: (laughs) Course not, I had some busking to do. Nah I was always into art; it was the only thing I ever scored at in school. I remember my old art teacher, Sharon, she’d give the class the brief for the day, then after that I’d basically just hang out with her, she showed me the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, and got me into all the music I’m into now. And I would just doodle something that had nothing to do with class.

ROBINS: So, your musical education came from your art teacher?


BIANCO: Yeah, like the rest of the class are doing 3D sculptures and we’re just talking about how wasted Lou Reed used to get. I was never included in the class and I loved it because it grew me as a person. Her classes were a one-to-one tutoring on growing up, in the right way, finding what you really care about and just going with it. Her classes were the only classes I ever put a hundred percent into, when I did do the work (which wasn’t a lot). Seeing the Van Gogh reminded me of her and made me want to go back to that time, when art was really important to me.

ROBINS: How long would you say you’ve been painting for? Or how long since you started again since your days with your art teacher?

BIANCO: Well I left the country around May and got back in September. Now soon after seeing the Van Gough exhibition, I asked the owner of the Six Bells if I could have the art exhibition. Then I got back and was reminded I’d booked the exhibition for December.

ROBINS: So, when you booked the exhibition, you hadn’t actually made any artwork?

BIANCO: ‘laughs’ That’s pretty much it, yeah, was bit of a shock to come back to. Being reminded that everything was booked and I had two months and no work. Ronnie, a mate of mine who drinks here, gave me the kick up the arse I needed to get it all in on time, he was showing poems, loads of artists I’ve never heard of to get me going, he took me to a few galleries… Then he bought me this set of oil pastels and said- ‘crack on with them man’. And most of the pieces ended up being with them.

ROBINS: How did you find the creative process, was is at easy as writing songs?

BIANCO: Well it’s like when you first start writing, you have all these different idea’s to start that all branch off in different directions, and before you have time to finish that idea you get another idea that you’ll have to start or you’ll lose it, it’s just a mess. You get into this weird mind-set where everything’s on fire all of a sudden, you don’t know what you’re doing yourself. I remember being sat around my place with like, 15 pieces strewn around the floor, I’d be flitting around the room, doing a bit on this one in charcoal and a bit on that one in oil, it was madness to be honest.

ROBINS: Do you find it easy to finish work? As typically songwriters have trouble with that.

BIANCO: Not really man, when it comes to songs, I’ve always been good at concluding stuff, cos I always knew what I wanted to say when I started it. But, as you know, the trick with writing songs is to separate the ones that aren’t really working from the ones that are hard but really worth the effort and the ones you’ve just got to bin. I’m not as experienced in this medium so I found it a little harder to make that distinction.


The Film Corner: April Filmmaker of the Month

By Piotr Wysmyk – Scorsese is considered one of the most greatest directors. Taxi Driver (1976) was the first movie which developed the unique Scorsese style of filmmaking/storytelling. From that point, his career really started…

By Piotr Wysmyk

Martin Scorsese


Born in 1942, American director and producer.

Scorsese is considered one of the most greatest directors. Taxi Driver (1976) was the first movie which developed the unique Scorsese style of filmmaking/storytelling. From that point, his career really started. His first success was later followed by the other, also highly popular films such as: Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995), Gangs of New York (2002) and The Departed (2006). All these productions are considered classics of gangster/mafia genre and, undoubtedly, have established Martin Scorsese as the master of this specific genre. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is Martin Scorsese’s most recent box office success. The Irishman (its release is already set for the second half of 2019) is probably going to be the director’s great comeback to the gangster/mafia movie genre.

 Are The Wolf of Wall Street and Goodfellas Similar to Each Other?


Undoubtedly, The Wolf of Wall Street and Goodfellas are Martin Scorsese’s most recognisable films. At first glance, they might be considered to be different from each other. On the other hand, there is a possibility that the more detailed analysis will reveal some similarities. In my review I am going to analyse both movies to find out if there is any commonality in them.

Goodfellas presents the fact-based story of three gangsters: Tommy (Joe Pesci), Henry (Ray Liotta) and James (Robert De Niro). The story begins from Tommy’s and Henry’s childhood days and their introduction (provided by James) to the world of organised crime. The film is later followed by the images of their adult lives which are marked by the brutal struggle to climb up in the mafia’s hierarchy. However, at the end of the day, there is always a high price to pay for such a life…the main plot is interlinked with side threads which concern the main character’s private lives which are full of the often appearing images of decadence, emptiness and exaggerated extravagance.


The Wolf of Wall Street is the fact-based story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) – the rich Wall Street Broker who is the owner of the Brokerage House called Stratton Oakmont. The film sweeps through the all stages of Jordan Belfort’s career – from the first days on Wall Street, through his days of prosperity (as the owner of the Brokerage House), to the breaking point and the final conclusion marked by downfall of his empire. The Wolf of Wall Street centres on the overall account of the main protagonist’s private life which is full of falsity, self-destruction and wrongdoing.

At first glance, both analyses’ reveal some similarities between Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street. Both films are fact-based productions and, due to that fact, they somehow belong to the genre of biography/fictionalised documentary. The plot seems to concern totally different topics. However, there are themes which appear in both films (e.g. self-destruction, wrongdoing, paying a high price, emptiness). From the technical point of view, both films contain of the no-dialogue/no-monologue scenes where voice-overs take the lead. Such scenes seem to be a part of Martin Scorsese’s signature strategy of filmmaking/storytelling.


 -Martin Scorsese’s biography, available online at: https://www.biography.com/people/martin-scorsese-9476727



 Casino, 1995. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA/France: Universal Pictures.

Gangs of New York, 2002. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA/Italy: Miramax Films.

Goodfellas, 1990. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA: Warner Bros.

Taxi Driver, 1976. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA: Columbia Pictures.

The Departed, 2006. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA/Hongkong: Warner Bros.

The Irishman, 2019. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA (not released yet).

The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013. Directed by Martin Scorsese. USA: Paramount Pictures.