People Watching in Mustard Yellow

Louise Gundry plays the library game Well, here I sit. With my renewed short loan book, my 80p cup of tea and a sense of nostalgia as I contemplate life next year, when The Bubble, or at least  my bubble, has been unceremoniously popped.Looking back on the primarily cold and blustery three years I’ve spent in this small haven buried deep in the depths of Fife, I realise that, rather  depressingly, my time in the library has become more frequent and, I  suppose inevitably, lengthier. Risking gale force winds, icy snow storms and  puddles deeper than the one The Vicar of Dibley jumped into, I have battled  my way here time and time again, if only not to miss out on my daily dose of  radiation from our (still!) mustard yellow carpets.But there’s something else that has defined my days spent here, holed up on the third floor procrastinating. The stereotypes. Yes, they’re generic and yes, they are in some sense inevitable - given St Andrew’s uniquely definable student body - but, we never seem to tire of articles just like this. Perhaps it’s the smug feeling that creeps over us as readers, as we allot our friends to a category whilst knowing that we ourselves are ‘above the stereotype.’ But, deep down we all know which category we belong to, it’s our spiritual home, our protective niche and our safety blanket, and it’s where we each retreat back to as the Hogwarts Express chugs towards Leuchars.So, it is with the above in mind that I invite you to indulge yourself in some ‘friend allotment.’ Shuffle your peers up and deal then, slowly and carefully, commence the game. And don’t worry, you yourself are, of course, exempt. The Post GradsYou know the ones. The ones who kick you off your nice big post grad desk and the ones who stare angrily if your whisper reaches any decibel above sign-language. Usually they walk in with just a pen because all their stuff is cosily tucked away in your desk. The fact that the desk next to you is empty doesn’t seem to register with The Post Grad, all sense of propriety is eliminated as they stand and watch you cram your pens, paper, books, laptop, phone, sweet wrappers and coffee cups into your bag...couldn’t they just come back in twenty minutes? The Meer Cat-ersEver noticed all the heads that bob up out of the blue lined cubicles as you walk past? Like Meer Cats their occupiers’ heads bob up and down from their holes with tired and startled eyes, desperately hoping for a friend, a distraction, but each time disappointed that that particular heel clip, ugg-boot slop, or loafer scuff isn’t for them.The CatwalkersYup, you have been named. Stop strutting up and down the library isles please, this is not the time to practice for your model casting. Oh and also, you can stop with the Starbucks skimmed-frappa-latte-spiced-flat-cino or whatever, they have perfectly good coffees downstairs.The SocialitesWe all know who you are, you with your mobile phone an inch from your hand as it incessantly vibrates with BBMs, Facebook updates, text messages and phone calls. You with your constant parade of friends, who incidentally should go to the damn model casting and stop practicing here, and you with your coffee dates so frequent that it really seems futile to even pretend to work for those twenty minutes that you’re actually here.The Computer HoggersPlease, please can you check Facebook, watch that YouTube clip, make your Skype call or catch up on the latest episode of Made in Chelsea somewhere else? All I want to do is print this JSTOR article...and check Facebook.The Annoying Noise-MakersWe’ve all sat next to one, the geographers noisily colouring their maps, the sniffers, the coughers, the knee-tappers, the one with a Professor Umbridge-esque ‘ahem,’ and the one who can’t seem to accomplish normal sounds in whisper. It’s more like a shout.The MinimalistsWith one pen and one notebook and maybe a laptop, how is that all they need for the day?The Baggage HandlersThose pour miserable souls who trundle in with their hold-alls and their wheely suitcases stuffed to the brim with books. They are here for the long haul – they’ve probably brought a sleeping bag.The Picnic-ersWe’ve all sat next to one of them. Quite suddenly, without warning, they’ve set up a restaurant in the middle of the library. Today’s specials include stuffed tupperwares, piping hot thermos flasks, crunchy tin foil and succulent cling film. Yum. Louise GundryImage Credit - garethjmsaunders

Jackie Kennedy: the Embodiment of the Victorian Submissive Wife

Emma Varley weighs up the public reaction to the late First Lady’s opinions on her often transgressive husband The recently published interviews of Jackie Kennedy reveal an interesting angle on the late First Lady. Known as the well-educated, well-behaved and well-dressed wife of the Camelot era, Jackie Kennedy’s image has remained largely enigmatic and untarnished since the assassination of her husband. She insisted that these interviews, recorded with historian and Whitehouse aid Arthur Schlesinger, were to be unpublished until many years after her death. Why, we may ask? There was speculation that the interviews were a scandalous and vengeful account of her husband’s wanderings, a catalogue of an imperfect marriage, or indeed, presidency. Despite this speculation, a very different message emerges.Julie Birchill, writing in the Independent, slates the late Mrs Kennedy for her hypocrisy, her weakness, and her old-fashioned approach to marriage. There are, arguably, a few comments in the interviews which could definitely be taken up with horror by the Germaine Greers of our time. The phrases ‘women should never be in politics. We're just not suited to it...", or "a man would be the leader and a woman would be his wife" are not exactly the words we might hope to hear from Michelle Obama. Jackie Kennedy did, however, appear aware that her relationship with her husband was not exactly progressive: she describes her marriage as "rather terribly Victorian". These slightly disheartening comments on her role in the White House should be seen as reflective of her time, her upbringing, and as a misplaced tribute to the husband who died in her arms four months before the interviews.The other criticism that has been slung at Jackie Kennedy during the recent debate about her interviews is her omission of any of the details of JFK’s infidelities. She clearly had no problems with speaking honestly about other people – some of her comments on Winston Churchill, for example, are far from flattering. She borders on bitchy. She dismissed Martin Luther King as a womaniser; but pointedly failed to acknowledge a strikingly similar trait in her husband. She accused Charles de Gualle of being an ‘egomaniac’; but found no fault with the man who habitually strayed from the marital bed, and whose affair with Marilyn Monroe stands out as one of his most famous indiscretions.But why is it that we assume that when faced with a tape recorder or a television camera, full confessions should be compulsory and all souls should be bared? Is it really preferable to have the Cheryl Cole approach to sharing problems? Or should we admire Jackie Kennedy’s reticence and loyalty, and the fact that she is not prepared to make the headlines from digging up old skeletons? Princess Diana’s wide-eyed insights into her husband’s affair stand in stark contrast. There is something much more dignified in Jackie’s silence. And something much more true to the sparkling image of the Kennedy administration that she worked so hard to maintain. So while the interviews might have disappointed us as a juicy story of presidential domestic drama, we shouldn’t dismiss Jackie Kennedy as submissive, but appreciate her as a loyal upholder of the Kennedy legacy. Emma Varley Image Credit - cliff1066

A Not So Model Role

Why holding out for a hero will only lead heartache and disappointment. . . Call me a cynic but I don’t believe in modern role models. Even the point of heros beyond the age of five seems to elude me. Why provide an unrealistic expectation that will serve only to undermine and disappoint people when they slowly come to the understanding that they can’t measure up? Why promote the idea that you can achieve your dreams if only you want it enough, regardless of whether you have talent or ability? Or perhaps they are there to teach you about the wonders of a capitalist world and that the key to any door is money. The greedy clink clink of coins in people’s pockets and the rustle of notes as grasping hands caress the Queen's noble paper imprint, are the sounds which keep the world turning. They are also the sounds which are so often associated with success and achievement. So suddenly it’s not a cape or the ability to fly, but how many rings or houses or children you can accumulate, which are the hallmarks of modern day society’s role models.Not only does that sound hollow to me but the old adage ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ also rings convincingly in my head whenever I hear about the latest people’s hero. Whether they are politicians, athletes or celebrities, I just find it absurd to place anyone on a pedestal when they are bound to fall or jump off eventually. Often people create role models or choose people to worship who are so clearly unworthy of such idolatry that even they can see it. They know that they are far from perfect, just like everyone else, and that whatever ideas people might have about them are in the main, pure fantasy. The point is that people aren’t even devoting themselves to a person, but merely a brand, an image, a figurehead or puppet that is manipulated and directed by some sinister presence in the back pulling and snapping strings in accordance with their hopped up plan for world domination.If you look hard enough you can always see the fairly large cracks in people's veneer, and so if you are desperate to find someone to copy, imitate, live up to or live as, then you run the risk of being perpetually let down. The reasons so many people are fans or followers of these brands or images is because they never actually meet the people who are behind them. Therefore, in their head they can remain in all their perfect, well-preserved and untouched glory. Personally I don’t see the attraction to such a precarious and delusional hobby – give me a liar, a cheat, a murderer or a thief over them any day. At least then you can engage in the slightly less far-fetched notion that you might live up to and possibly even exceed their life achievements. Rhona ScullionImage Credit - Paul McKibben

In Defence Of...Jeremy Kyle

The Jeremy Kyle Show. A Cultural phenomenon? Anne Harris investigates. Right, Jezza K. Before I say my piece, let me clarify two things:1. I’m a fan. So sue me, it goes perfectly with my morning oatmeal and tea, and much like those other oatmeal-and-tea aficionados- the elderly- I don’t have much to do most mornings except complain about my backache and wait for those ‘all-important DNA results.’2. With that in mind, I’m not going to take the angle of ‘Ok, so it’s horrible, but it’s a guilty pleasure!’ The term ‘guilty pleasure’ suggests that shame is an inherent part of the enjoyment. Much like waking up on your couch with a half-empty bottle of Lambrini on the floor, a few Maltesers stuck to your face, and an email from Amazon saying that the complete discography of N-Dubz has shipped, there’s just no reason to try justifying it.What I’m going to do is defend Jeremy Kyle on merit; not as an embarrassing-but-innocuous bit of British telly, but as an actual, possibly positive, cultural phenomenon. Or at least try, anyway.There are plenty of arguments against me. Since the show’s inception in 2005, accusations of exploitation, class insensitivity, and general bad taste have followed The Jeremy Kyle Show like a bad lie-detector result. In 2007 a Manchester district judge condemned its ‘bring ’em on, tell the tale, berate wildly, then wrap it up’ format as “human bear-baiting,” after ruling on an assault committed by a former guest of the show. Martin Samuel of The Times eviscerated Kyle’s guests as "a collection of angry, tearful and broken people” who likely feel “intellectually inferior” to the well-spoken Kyle. Critics can also point to Kyle’s personal failings beneath his self-righteous armour. The man had an admitted gambling addiction, and more damningly, a series of affairs that led to the demise of his first marriage. Beyond that, there almost seems something, well, non-British about the program, a certain crude entertainment in the revelation of deep secrets that seems almost Springer or Maury-esque. Could the nation have developed, God-help-them, American tastes?Let’s knock these arguments down from bottom to top. While The Jeremy Kyle Show does take some format elements from Jerry Springer, there is an element of restraint seen in the British show. For example, at least at press time, Kyle has resisted doing an episode dedicated dwarf alien abductees getting paternity tests. As for his personal issues, Jezza’s too shrewd to smother them. He instead trumpets his problems as personal victories: I beat the gambling/womanising, and so can (and should) you. So all that’s left is the biggie: is The Jeremy Kyle Show exploitative? And what does it say about the British public that we seem to love this exploitation so much?The obvious response is one of free will: having seen the show the guests know what they are getting into, and for whatever reason - a genuine desire to iron out problems, receive counselling, or just earn some notoriety in their local pub - they choose to participate in the browbeating/redemption cycle. In that sense, it really isn’t any worse than a Big Brother or Come Dine With Me type show. After all, making fools of ourselves on as big an arena as possible, and/or mocking those who do it, is one of the nation’s long-cherished pastimes. It’s not the whole answer, though.The guests on Kyle generally fit within the stereotype of the worst examples of modern Britain: the council-house-living, dole-abusing, alcohol-swilling, and now mass-rioting working class. It’s worth asking; are the allegations of class warfare coming from those who would rather forget that such a disaffected working class exists? That despite years of New Labour and coalition policies there are still a significant amount of people out there with minimal education, career prospects, and numbers of teeth? Is Kyle merely looking under the nation’s milestones of progress to expose a teeming mass of inequality and frustration?Or maybe, the ‘they just like to make tits of themselves on TV’ argument really does about cover it.Looking back I’m not sure how good my arguments were in actually defending Jeremy Kyle to be a positive cultural influence. In closing, then, consider this: there are more than enough prospective guests for the show, their problems are real, and they receive counseling afterward. Or at least consider how much longer Lorraine would be on without Jezza K. Anne HarrisImage Credit - lloydi

"The Wrong Female to Violate"

  I have decided to publish this extraordinarily powerful article  unedited, just as it was submitted to me. It needs no introduction save  a note of thanks to the author: On behalf of The Tribe, myself and the  other women who will read this, thank you for being brave enough to  submit this article and thank you for opening our eyes to the realities of  sexual assault. I would encourage our readers, as the author does, to  report all incidents of sexual violence to the Police.

Louise Gundry, Comment Editor

It doesn’t matter what my name is. It doesn’t matter what I am a student of, and my age doesn’t makes a difference because I look far younger than I am. It hardly matters what I was wearing on a Friday night (just jeans and a t-shirt), or even which pub I was at (though the fact that there was a second floor made the situation what it was). The purpose of this article is to reveal the existence of violence against women in every corner of the world; it occurs even in the tiny seaside town of St Andrews.I was trying to avoid drunken teenagers on the Friday of Freshers’ Week. A friend and I went to a pub and were having a good conversation for almost an hour despite the blaring pop music. It doesn’t matter which gender my friend is because he/she left my side to get us a second round of drinks and had no clue that I was assaulted in the meantime.A song came on that I actually knew the words to: Billy Joel’s “Small Town Girl”. I am, admittedly, a small town girl myself but spent the last year living in one of the biggest and most dangerous cities in the world. This doesn’t make a difference except to underscore the unexpectedness of the incident. It seemed like the whole pub was singing the song with me. I stood on the second floor balcony looking down on the drunken teenagers I had obviously not avoided that evening. It does matter quite a bit that they were boys, about fifteen of them.At some point they all noticed me standing there above them and began chanting, “Show your tits!” over and over. I was not about to remove myself just because of my gender, so I shouted down, “You show me your tits!” in hopes that they would understand that I certainly was not interested in showing mine. While gender equality is a cherished ideal of mine, we must recognize that there is a difference between male and female breasts and the showing thereof. A lot of them did indeed lift their shirts up, and I laughed at how ridiculous the whole scenario was.I believe I was laughing still when a man was suddenly pressed up against my back, grinding himself into me. I was not amused at all by that and was about to turn around to tell him to stop when his hands reached around my hips and lifted my shirt up to reveal me to the crowd of chanting boys below. In that moment, I stopped hearing the music and the celebratory “Woo!” of the boys below. All I wanted was to punish this man who had decided for me that my tits indeed be shown.He ran from me, back towards the stairs, and I grabbed his shirt so he would turn and look at me, so I could at least see the perpetrator’s ugly face. My shoe fell off in the tussle at the top of the stairs and I lost hold of him, but he did look over his shoulder at me for a brief moment. I did not follow immediately. Instead I found my shoe and collapsed into the nearest booth. My friend returned oblivious to what had just happened and why I was so upset. I decided to see if I could identify exactly which boy had had the audacity to do such a thing. They all looked the same: collared shirts (some solid colours, some tartan) and buzzed haircuts everywhere. All I knew what that the boy who did it was wearing a black polo.I went downstairs and immediately told one of the security guards that I had just been sexually harassed. He went off to tell his colleague or look for the boy, but suddenly the crowd realized I was the girl from the balcony and surrounded me. I was smacked, groped, tugged at and pushed around amongst them for several minutes, all shouting again that they wanted to see my tits. All I could do was try to push them away and tell them to “show me yours, you f------ a-------!” If I had continued to cry like I wanted to, they would have seen weakness and felt like they had won. Several of them lifted up their shirts and actually forced my head onto their bare chests, demanding raunchy favours. If I had been out in the street like a certain girl was several years ago, I am certain it would have become a gang rape.I don’t remember how I got myself out of that disgusting crowd, but I did. I retrieved my coat, purse, and friend from upstairs and went outside to talk to the security guards. A few minutes later, a fairly large group of boys came out and were very aggressive towards me, which leads me to believe they were part of the group of attackers. They called me “a f------ knob” and a “crazy slut”, and while I did smack one of them on the back of his head after such a comment, I could not say for certain which one had lifted my shirt up or who exactly had groped me on the dance floor. The security guards pushed several of them out of my face, but the group of drunken boys just walked on down the street.The police constable I spoke to that night told me to not let the incident ruin my night, that these things rarely happen but it has been an especially wild Freshers’ Week. The point is not whether it ruined my night (though it did, as it would for any woman), or that sexual assault rarely occurs in St Andrews; and it doesn’t matter how crazy the students have been during this year’s Freshers’ Week. The point is that a man decided he had the right to choose when a woman showed her breasts and to whom.A person’s physical security should never be violated, and the fact that it was the violation of a woman’s physical security is a rude awakening for every female in St Andrews. It could have happened to any girl, perhaps in any pub, on any night of the week, and it is unacceptable. But it happened to me, and they chose the wrong female to violate. The façade of gender equality has been shattered into even tinier pieces for me, and we must realize that the idea of women’s safety is taken largely for granted. Yes this is the UK, yes this is a small town, yes it is safe for the most part. But we must not lie to ourselves in thinking that because we as women have inalienable rights, men will respect them; clearly, they do not sometimes.If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, I urge you to report it to the police as I did so that the men involved can be prosecuted and learn that no matter where they are, no matter how innocent their original intentions were, a woman’s body is no one’s property but her own. We all deserve to live, to study, to relax in peace whether we have tits or not. Article submitted anonymously.Image Credit - European Parliament 

Will They/Won't They: Can Romantic Uncertainty Go On Too Long?

We watch television shows and films and read literature in order to invest ourselves in other people's lives, to participate in various lifestyles and relationships.  These characters' relationships tend to progress like real relationships - meaning, the “will-they-won't-they” interplay can drag out for awhile.  Sometimes that's fun.A bit of teasing and “maybe-they-will” is normal. Sometimes it's really enjoyable to watch or experience two characters grow and change until they naturally mesh better. A good example of this is Eliza Bennett and Mr. Darcy. In my opinion, they had to pull themselves together individually before they could be together as a couple. That's intuitive.  Ron and Hermione likewise had growing up to do. They were young children when they met, and they went through a lot before they were ready to be together. I get that.Mal and Inara from Firefly: I admit to still being a little sad that they never really acted on their attraction. It was appealing to watch their relationship and to hold out hope.But it can go on way too long. Ross and Rachel? Oh my god, I want to punch them whenever they debate whether or not they should be together.  By the end of the show, I really didn't care about either of those characters anymore, nor did I care if they ended up together. Clearly, this “will-they-won't-they” thing can turn into a thing of wild frustration, even mutiny. I mean, if even a fan who gets pathetically invested in fictional couples (yes, I know, that may just be me) only gets metaphorical blue balls until the very end of the show, there's something wrong. If your fans throw your books across the room in despair, you may have dragged things on for too long. If even extremely devoted aficionados have tossed in the remote control in dissatisfaction, something's gotta give.Richard Castle and Kate Beckett, Jim and Pam, Luke and Lorelai, Buffy and Spike – there really is such a thing as too much romantic and sexual tension. Sarah Pinkerton

God Save the Queen: Revival of the Monarchy

On Friday 29th April 2011, every 20-something single girl wanted to be Kate Middleton.  Her fairytale had come true: she was the lowly girl marrying the prince as the whole kingdom looked on and cheered.  This sentiment reverberated particularly loudly in St Andrews: just ten years ago, she was a fresher, just like we all were.  She too had been desperately trying to make friends in hall, repeating the same answers to the standard questions – what’s your name/where are you from/what are you studying – in an attempt to find some people to go to The Lizard with that night and pretend to have a good time.  It just so happened that one person sharing a vacuous fresher’s conversation with her was HRH Prince William of Wales, but their relationship would not dwindle after a couple of nights at the Union.  Back then, little did she know that a million people would line the streets just for a glimpse of her in that, now iconic, Sarah Burton gown.  Nor did she ever imagine that her wedding ceremony would be broadcast live in over 300 countries.It is understandable why the mood was so excitable in St Andrews – everyone could imagine themselves in her shoes (and her dress – many will secretly wish they owned it).  However, the atmosphere all over Britain was one of happiness and joy.  The Independent writes that ‘people forgot you were not supposed to talk to each other on the tube’, but instead engaged in light-hearted chat about the wedding.  Apparently, people even whispered ‘sorry’ as they brushed past each other in the race to get to Buckingham Palace to witness the balcony scene and that highly anticipated kiss.  Has the Royal Wedding made us nicer people?  Perhaps not, but, just for a day, it gave us something to be happy about.  It made us want to be nice, as we were in better moods.Perhaps this has been just what Britain needed right now.  With economic turmoil, natural disasters and frankly frightening stories of war and political unrest adorning the news, a happy story about a young RAF pilot marrying a party-accessories buyer is a welcome relief from so much bad news.  But, more than that, the Royal Wedding’s popularity seems to have taken us back to a more patriotic time, when Britain actually had a national identity.  The street parties were reminiscent of post-war 1940s and 1950s, when people celebrated VE Day and the Coronation.  It may be a far-fetched idea, but perhaps this feeling of unity will prevent petty crime, violence or abuse – people won’t feel the need to be nasty to each other.Personally, I cannot quite believe that I have just uttered this opinion.  Since I was able to understand politics, I have not been a fan of the monarchy; my thinking being that unelected figure-heads should not receive an annual sum of £7 billion of tax-payers’ money.  However, having witnessed such an air of camaraderie and elatedness, I think I now get why people like the Royals.  In particular, I find myself interested in the younger royals – while they are extremely privileged, they went to school and university just like us and seem rather more relatable than the older generation.  They just seem to be genuinely pleasant people.  Perhaps I won’t relinquish my views on their unnecessary income, and I certainly will not turn into one of those crazy fanatics who buy Wills and Kate tea-towels, but I no longer feel they should all be exiled to foreign lands.  They bring a lovely ambience to the country.Perhaps their popularity is due to the fact that, at the end of day, their story is just one of boy-meets-girl with a very happy ending – and, secretly or openly, we all just want to be Princess Kate. Camilla Gifford

Through the Eyes of a Seventeen Year Old

Young stars have always held a certain attraction for the masses. Andy Murray was just nineteen when he first achieved a top-ten ranking from the Association of Tennis Professionals and Theo Walcott was even younger when he was included in the 2006 English World Cup Squad. Britney Spears turned the tender age of eighteen the year she released her debut album ...Baby One More Time but Willow Smith really takes the biscuit having released her single Whip My Hair at the age of ten. Now, it seems the next child-star is upon us. He’s a photographer, he’s seventeen and he’s fast becoming an artistic phenomenon. But is this only because he’s young?Last year Alex Stoddard embarked on a Julie and Julia-esque challenge to shoot and upload one photograph every day for 365 days. Whilst missing his deadline by about thirty photos – the project is only just coming to a close now and he started the project in April last year - each photo in the collection has been uploaded to Flickr by Alex himself along with a few words about the photograph or about how the teenager is feeling.Whilst the compelling shots themselves are provocative, emotive and often disturbing, Stoddard’s notes serve as a stark reminder that there really is a teenage boy behind the lens of this camera. Underneath the extraordinary picture no. 286, entitled Sanctuary, in which Alex has submerged himself in a fish tank in the woods, he writes ‘it was so unbelievably cold. I don’t care for the edit whatsoever. I just don’t know how to work with these colours’. The critics disagree with Stoddard’s criticism, however, describing his photos as ‘surreal,’ ‘voyeuristic’ and ‘hauntingly beautiful’.Whereas most photographers embark on years of studying theory before developing their style, Alex remains untainted by the rules of the art world. Before beginning his project the seventeen year old hadn’t ever used a function other than auto on his camera. The collection visibly progresses through the 332 photographs and Stoddard’s style becomes ever more honed and perfected, and somehow he has managed to produce an enormous range of photographs worthy of the Tate – in my humble opinion.Does the back story to these exceptional photographs make them more compelling? Perhaps Stoddard’s fans convey praise of a rather more patronising nature. Are we just giving Stoddard a gold star for effort? I certainly think this is true of Willow Smith’s questionable ‘talent’ - ten really seems to be too young to be doing anything other than taking direction. But Alex’s photographs seem to show a deeper sense of innate talent. He is both incredibly self-aware and self-critical. He maintains an acute attention to every detail of his composition. As a result the majority of his photographs need no introduction.  Alex’s aim is to be able to financially support himself through his art and, if the last 332 photos are anything to go by, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.http://www.flickr.com/photos/alex-stoddard/ Louise Gundry