Are you comfortably numb?

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I've put up two more albums - we went on a photographic mission today. One is colour, one is black and white. Please have a look - comments welcome!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


It seems I am haemorrhaging readers faster than Coleen McLoughlin's bank account is haemorrhaging credit, so I thought I'd better do something about it and post. However, seeing as I don't have any well-thought-out in-depth comment on an 'issue' to proffer, this is just going to be one of those boring whatshappeninginmylife blogs.

Obviously the reason I haven't posted (apart from my editorials) for a while is that our Politics essays were due in yesterday. Unfortunately I still have one History due in on Friday, but it feels good getting the assessed ones off my mind. They were, on the whole, interesting, especially the one on Hegel. It'll be interesting seeing what marks I got...

This term has been really good although REALLY hard at some points. I feel like I have learnt an awful lot and grown up too (hopefully this isn't just a delusion on my part). I'm now going to go into numbered points, I can't resist! It makes it easier to write, and I hope, read!

1) Redbrick has, on the whole, gone well. Doing it has forced me to learn, through God, how to prioritise things, accept my situation in life even when it's not ideal, and constantly come to God for help. I've seen how important it is to make time for him. He has been so gracious in helping me through all the times I've been on the verge of tears (or just in tears), through the lovely people I have around me.

2) University in general has been great... I love my course, much as I get annoyed that I can't spend that much time on it. My favourite module this term has been my political philosophy one. My eyes have been opened to how rubbish Marx was (in some ways. More to follow) and how clever Hegel was. I've seen how misinterpreted Nietzsche was and I will never hear the statement 'God is dead' with such disdain again (in case you're now worrying about me, I will also post on this soonish!). Living in the house with friends has been really fun, although I haven't had that much time to actually socialise!

3) Finding Bournville church has also been so good. God definitely has a plan and a purpose in everything. I'm really starting to settle in there now, and enjoying getting to know everyone. They've really welcomed me and Aidan in and I can't wait to get involved and be good friends with people! The teaching has been really helpful also.

4) Spiritually, the term has been incredibly significant. Given the shambles that was my life last year, I was pretty nervous about coming back to uni. I feel so grateful to God that at the end of this term I can say that, despite the difficulties and failings of each day, he has kept me through it, and what's more shown me so much more about him than I knew before. I am very conscious of the spiritual battlefield that is uni, but more generally life, however.

It seems we have now got to a point in society where 'people like us' are assumed to have been lobotomised at the point of conversion. To say you believe in the Bible is to be labelled a fundamentalist, a word which people seem to use interchangeably with 'brainless'. It is a constant battle to try and get people to see that Christians are not people who have exchanged their intellect for an irrelevant book, that everyone has a world-view and that I can defend mine from an epistemological position. Although people who meet me would not tell me that I am intellectually bankrupt/debased, I know that without knowing me personally they would put me in that box. This is probably harder to deal with than the moral issues facing Christians today. It is definitely the bigger battle from a spiritual point of view. There is no point showing people you don't have sex and get drunk if they think the reason for this is that you have lost your mind. After a term of feeling very much like I must prove that I did not throw my brain out of the window when I became a Christian, I could do with a break. The level the state of play is now at is pretty amazing. Atheists/agnostics are now assumed to be modern-day prophets of spiritually (or unspiritual) reality, whereas the playing field is distinctly uneven when it comes to Christians. It is a constant uphill struggle - but hey, we have the Holy Spirit on our side, so bring it on.

So in my editorials I have attempted to at least prise open the debate a little. I'm not looking to preach through Redbrick. There is no point to that and I think most readers would take it as an insult. What I do want to do is get people to think outside the boundaries that have been imposed by today's society and question the beliefs that are taken as 'truth', without critical thought (just as I have done, and continue to do, with my religious beliefs). If I can have made one person think outside the box (which I hope I have done), I will be happy.

5) Things with Aidan have just got better and better. Despite the distance we have managed to see each other a lot, and talk on the phone a LOT! I'm not gonna gush on here, but suffice it to say that God has been really blessing us and it's all very exciting. I feel very grateful to Him for giving me someone so amazing.

So all in all, it's been a good term but I'm looking forward to Christmas, especially to seeing Mum and Dad! It's going to be a very busy holiday time but it should be lots of fun. And I'll try and post a bit more too! Watch this space...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Editorial 3 Issue 1295

Apparently I didn't post this when it was written, and only realised today. So here it is. Better late than never? I hope so...

Battered husbands

Domestic violence against women: one of the most sickening and emotive topics to disgrace our society, and now recognised as one of Britain’s worst social problems. This is evidenced by the high-profile media coverage it receives by events such as Comic Relief, often endorsed by celebrities like Davina McCall. The vocabulary of domestic violence has even saturated our language, often in a slightly perverse way. Stella Artois is referred to as ‘wife-beater’; one type of men’s clothing is called a ‘beater’; and the phrase ‘battered wives’ appears almost as frequently as Susan Kennedy’s scarves.

But has the emphasis on women eclipsed an equally important issue: that of domestic violence against men? Abuse perpetrated by women against their male partners is a more common occurrence than most of us would imagine. 1995 statistics showed that although women suffered an estimated 3.29 million incidents of domestic violence in that year alone, men suffered 3.25 million. 2004 Home Office figures show that 23% of 30-34-year-old men in Britain have experienced assault, threats or both.

It is true that women are more likely to suffer recurrent abuse that results in injury. Nevertheless, the great taboo that stifles a discussion on male victims must be broken. Many experts believe that men are less likely to report this crime because it is seen as an embarrassment. Martial arts instructor George Rolph spoke to the BBC about his experiences of domestic violence: “Men dismiss you if you say a woman is beating you up. For a start, they look at you with contempt a lot of the time.”

The exposure of this sinister should lead us to question a wider issue, though. As I’ve discussed before in Redbrick (Feminism: Friend or Foe? in Issue 1292), the “Men are Bastards!” wave of feminism has successfully managed to leave a whole generation of women (mine) with the belief that men deserve no respect because they are inherently abhorrent and superfluous to society. An advert a few years ago reflected this by showing a working woman returning home (by working woman, I mean a woman who has a job, not a prostitute; and of course she had to be working because you’re not a real woman unless you have a career) to pour a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise over her husband/partner/boyfriend/minion. I forget why she was annoyed with him, but the result was fairly messy. (I also forget what the advert was for; perhaps a revamped version of Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, but with less “mystique” and more “shrew”.) Imagine if that advert had been the other way round, and it had been the bloke who’d transformed his girlfriend into Pasta a la Trouser-suit. Well, you couldn’t imagine it, because it would never have happened, unless the CEO of the marketing agency was actually Norman Tebbit. If the sexes were reversed, it would be classed as domestic abuse.

Do women respect men? A large part of me believes that boys really are heartless, hedonistic he-men whose main goal in life is to be able to treat relationships like pic-n-mix shelves. But another part of me has seen a very distasteful side to women as well. Take flirting. Many girls will flirt outrageously with someone they know is interested in them, with absolutely no intention of taking it further than the Chill room in Risa. And yes, it’s fun, but how would we feel if a bloke did it to us? No doubt he would immediately get christened all number of unprintable names and slagged off to Ben & Jerry and Ernest and Julio for months to come.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg; I don’t have enough space to elaborate on this cold reality. But it is out there, and it needs to change. I’m not trying to ignore the fact that men abuse women. What I am doing is calling for us to stop ignoring the fact that women abuse men.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Editorial 8 Issue 1300!

Two essays down, two to go. Counting down the days till Christmas... hope you enjoy this.


A university student has taken the decision to jump on a bandwagon, Redbrick has learnt.

Michael Ovine, a 19-year-old student from Newcastle, jumped on the bandwagon at approximately 4:32 pm on Wednesday afternoon this week. He was not injured in the incident.

University staff first heard of the occurrence when a group of witnesses outside the Guild reported seeing a large bandwagon passing by and claimed that a fellow student had managed to land on it by leaping from a nearby wall.

It is believed the wagon was travelling slowly enough for pedestrians to jump onto it, a tactic often adopted to allow people to join with relative ease. Eyewitness reports described the vehicle as brightly-coloured, with flags, bunting and ribbons festooning its exterior.

Mr Ovine commented, from his position atop the wagon, "It just looked so great. Everyone on it was having a good time, and I knew a lot of them, so I thought, why not? If everyone else is enjoying it, maybe I will too. Now I can look down on all those who haven't yet joined this bandwagon and pity them for not having the awareness that I did."

When questioned further as to his motives for jumping on the bandwagon, the second year Economics student insisted that he had only joined because of heartfelt personal beliefs and definitely not anything else. "I've really thought about this," he revealed, "There are really good reasons for joining this particular bandwagon. Sure, I've joined others in the past, but I'm really passionate about this one. Everyone else should get involved too. This stuff is really important."

It is not yet certain what the 'stuff' in question is. Rumours are spreading that the purpose of the bandwagon could be irrelevant or even pointless. Others believe the propaganda spread by the bandwagon drivers to be at best misleading, at worst a deliberate ploy to emotionally manipulate people in order to achieve their own ends.

One thing, though, is certain. The manoeuvre executed by Mr Ovine this week is not a solitary one. At least two other bandwagons have been spotted on campus since he took this action, a dramatic increase on the last few weeks' bandwagon statistics.

The biggest bandwagon sighted in the last year has been that which was parked on campus during the National Blood Service's visit to the University. Although many have opposed that wagon, it continues to function and carries a faithful group of supporters around the city in its mission to spread hyperbole and false accusation.

Other bandwagons were seen during Mr Galloway MP's visit to campus. Two duelling bandwagons hovered for several hours near Waterstone's at University Centre. This bandwagon came under criticism by many. It appeared to be one of the more common varieties of bandwagon; the "knee-jerk reaction" bandwagon v.1.2.

In order to protect students against unsafe bandwagons, the Society Against Unhinged Bandwagons is mounting a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers involved in jumping on just any old bandwagon. Spokesperson Anne-Marie Pensively today made a statement condemning reckless bandwagon drivers. She said, "It is important that students think through all the issues involved in joining a bandwagon before they take this decision.

A lot of them do not realise that some of these wagons are intent on filtering information in order to get more people to join their cause; this is particularly true of the "we-only-tell-you-one-side-of-the-coin" bandwagon, whose target audience is primarily students."

Historically, bandwagons have always been an important part of student life, and tend to gather in groups at events such as the NUS conference and even occasionally Guild Council.

Redbrick will continue to report all campus bandwagon incidents in a totally unbiased manner in order to keep our readers aware of the situation.