Glasgow University Magazine



Shuffle the deck. What once-in-a-lifetime crisis would you like today? You might think we’d be fast running out of options but the twenty-first century seems to be developing an impressively relentless nature. Global pandemic? Old news. Generational cost of living crisis? Standard stuff. Studying in a city with a student housing catastrophe? Been there. The last few years have been quite the ride – that apocalyptic shopping list providing just a taster menu of discontent. A few honourable mentions should also go to to unprecedented rollbacks of reproductive rights in the USA, a UK government that seemed to be admirably intent on pursuing economic armageddon (yes, that’s you, Liz), and, of course, the small matter of the increasingly obvious and frightening climate emergency. But hey, maybe this is just what growing up feels like.

SEEING RED is rejection of passivity. Embrace action in whatever form it comes. Rave all night to one-hundred-and- eighty BPM hardcore. Ink a soon-to-be-forgotten lovers’ name across your chest. Buy a new lipstick – you’ll feel better for it (it says so on page 29). We, as young people, are not merely passive victims in an unfair world but active and expressive agents of our own destiny.

We’re told that getting angry won’t help anything. But, this is us giving it a go regardless.

Lots of love,

Ava + Conal xxx




Isobel Dyson



Soumia Serhani




Kate McMahon



Luisa Hahn



Robert Goodall




Alex Agar




Ellen Ode








Kathleen Lodge



George Browne




Sytske Lub



Amelia Coutts




Kitty Rose



Paul Friedrich



Words: Isobel Dyson (She/Her) Artwork: Joanna Stawnicka (She/Her)

TW: Spiking

The number 251 is written in silver marker on a piece of cardboard sitting in the middle of my little pouch bag that contains way too many, mostly unnecessary cards. My brother recently, in a fit of exasperation after I had taken embarrassingly long to find my ID, sorted out my cards for me. Five useful cards on one side of the piece of cardboard, five hundred very un-useful cards on the other. The, now useful, piece of cardboard entered my little pouch bag on a night out in Wrocław a few months ago when I was working in Poland. My coat had been the 251st coat I suppose.

Six months later that cardboard is still there and, thanks to my brother, helping me easily whip out my bank card as I pay for two beers. I’m at a music festival with my music loving father enjoying the unusually hot summer sun in Nottingham. I weave my way through glittering, wiggling bodies trying to remember where I’d left my dad, beer cooling my hands as I unsuccessfully avoid flying limbs. I spot him fairly close to the front and hand him his beer. ‘Ocean Colour Scene’ are next. My dad assures me they were very popular around the time I was born. Being unable to add anything interesting to this fact I sip my beer and watch as a group of white haired men walk on stage. They’ve bagged a good time slot. The crowd is at a peak level of jolliness and greets the band with much enthusiasm. No introductory chitchat, they launch straight into the first song. Not bad, I think, although I was in a good mood and consequently not very fussy. Unfortunately the band’s good start was very brief. ‘Something’s gone wrong with Steve’s guitar’ the lead singer announces. They get ushered off stage and are replaced by two technicians. But less than ten minutes later the band returned to raucous cheers.

However, the technicians are still kneeling on the stage working miracles on some cables. The guitarist marches over and kicks the technician from behind. That’s right, he kicked the guy bent over, fixing his problem. I turned to my dad in disbelief. He was doing the same to me and said, ‘Did he just kick that guy?’. The crowd hadn’t reacted but we had both seen it. He then stepped forward and lifted his shirt up showing off his chest. If you played this band to me now I would not recognise it. The rest of their set I spent staring daggers at this man. I cannot tell you for sure whether or not the kick actually made contact but to me it doesn’t matter. What he did was so degrading and humiliating and he did it in front of thousands of people to someone who is essential to him being able to play. This was not a poorly executed joke.

I watched him throughout their gig and he continued to act aggressively the whole way through and as I was watching him I began to feel jealous. How can this man have so much anger, act on it so viscerally and inappropriately and still be cheered on by thousands of people?

I, on the other hand, struggle to feel anger. I rationalise, justify and see the other side of things until anger doesn’t have a space in my head.

But some things can’t be rationalised or justified and then what happens? How do I cope with that? Kick someone? Anger is a bad thing, right? Well, that’s what I have always thought. That night out in Wrocław – when I acquired that little piece of cardboard – my drink was spiked. My two friends and I entered what I would classify as a ‘high quality cool’ club. A bit grunge-y, weird looking people, my kind of jam. We handed over our coats and she’d run out of number tags so she just wrote 251 in silver marker on a card for me, which I stuffed into my little pouch bag. I met some people by the toilets, as you do. I said, ‘Come let’s get a drink. You can meet my friends’ and I don’t remember much after that.

I was lucky I had two guardians by my side who sat with me while I floated through space with my head between my knees. They sat with me while some man came outside and tried to convince them to go back in and dance. They sat with me while the uber found another customer because I couldn’t stand. They sat with me while I threw up everything in my stomach and splattered my shoes with sick. They held me, one on each side, when I could finally walk home while I cried uncontrollably. They undressed me and put me into bed where I slept safely but with bizarre dreams. The next morning I felt like someone else had taken over my body for the night and I was filled with rage, like my blood turned to lava. Who thinks they have the right or the power to do that to someone else? I felt like a puppet in someone else’s game.

I keep that piece of cardboard in my little pouch bag because it always makes me angry and reminds me I have a right to be. I know that growing up as a girl has made me censor this emotion. I constantly catch myself trying to smooth over awkward situations, laughing at jokes that aren’t funny, shutting up when I get interrupted. I do it unconsciously even now when I’ve made myself aware of it. I keep that cardboard with me because it gives me the strength of anger to push back and stand my ground. I’m learning to let anger fuel me and live with me rather than be something that I only feel once in a while. I just won’t kick anyone because of it.


Words: Soumia Serhani (She/Her) Artwork: Leotie Whitelaw (She/They)

When I was younger, around the age of 9, I wore a hijab and a jellabiya outside for the first time. I thought the dress was beautiful and I loved the hijab because it had pink gem detailing on the side, and it made me feel strong and connected to a side of me that I never fully got to embrace in my small town in Scotland. I think I went to the cinema. I do not remember the exact details of the day, but I remember the feelings.

I have never been stared at like that in all my life. It was as if I was an animal or an attraction of some kind for uneducated eyes to crucify what they could not understand. I had never felt so exposed, despite being so covered up. 

Upon reflection now, I think I have received less attention for having more of my body on show than I did at the age of 9 for dressing with modesty. I have never felt shame like I did that day. I had to face the accusing eyes of old men as they scowled and scoffed at me simply for what I had chosen to wear – for what had made me happy. I had to walk past tutting women who didn’t like what they saw and wanted to make it known. I remember trying to keep my head up, but I regretted my choice within ten minutes of leaving the house. That’s all it took.

One day of judgement and I never wore one again – not even in my own house. I wonder how different my relationship with my culture would be now if my home country had not shut me down at the first sign of expressive difference. What if they had opened their minds to anything other than the pre-accepted norm? Would I feel more in touch with my own culture and my beliefs? Would I wear a hijab now? I cannot be certain. I am certain, however, that I carry the shame I felt for having the audacity to try to challenge the attitudes that were fixed long before I was born. That because I lived in a White, Christian country, I would try to appear as close to a depiction of a White Christian as possible. That I would not challenge these ideals by wearing something associated with Islam.

I remember feeling guilt because I was out with my family, and I thought this would make them targets for menacing eyes as well. I was so embarrassed. I felt shame and mortification searing through the material of my dress to the point that I wanted to cry and take it off. It was only one day. I had one day to try on a potential new me that may have changed my life.

There are so many people, institutions, and structures that I want to blame. I want to scream about how this country is so backwards that it made me feel ashamed at the age of 9 for wearing a long dress and a headscarf. I want to cry because this shame has stayed with me for my entire life, and even knowing now that these people who shamed me simply did not have the capacity to understand, brings me no relief. It was snatched away from me by people who did not even have to speak their words to announce their hatred – but felt more than comfortable expressing it through their piercing gaze. I repressed this memory. It only came back to me recently when I tried a hijab on again, for the first time in a long time.

Upon remembering, I felt sick to my stomach, like I was experiencing it all over again. I will never shake these feelings – they are so deeply embedded into me.

I am angry and I am hurt at the unfairness and injustice of it all. It’s not a crime to give someone a dirty look, but it is also not a crime to wear a hijab. I want to embrace this anger – I want to feel rage and I want to feel it deeply. I want to feel so angry that it absorbs all the sadness I feel. I want to fight, so that the next young girl that wants to try a hijab on, never has to feel the way I was made to feel.

I am taking my anger and my hurt and I am using it to make a difference. I have the capability within myself to take this pain and turn into something bigger than myself. I am not the first person to feel this, and I certainly won’t be the last. I hope that by sharing my story, I can make someone think twice before passing someone a judgmental look on the street – no matter what they are wearing. We need to believe that our words of anger have power.

Right Place, Right Time: Glasgow’s Hardcore Renaissance

Words: Kate McMahon (She/Her) Artwork: Lewis Aitken (He/Him)

I’m breathless, leant with my back against the wall. Frontlines of my sweat advance towards the stew of condensation lining the club walls, forming a half-warm half-heavy dew. I roll my head, watching a curtain of fists sweep across the floor, beating in unity to the thump, thump, thump of nightcore. Cries of distorted wobs wrestle against a pounding bassline.

It’s a sound that hits you across the face, breaks your nose and carries on punching. All the while, pink strobe lights and images of anime girls project around the room as strangers in animal ears politely compliment each other’s outfits. This is Fast Muzik and it’s the happiest I’ve ever been. It’s difficult to describe the attraction of a hardcore club night to someone who’s never been to one. But with both of Glasgow’s hardest hitters, Fast Muzik (@fast.muzik) and Mutt Klub (@muttklub), consistently selling out, it’s clear that the subculture is capturing something within the city’s zeitgeist. The popularity of Fast Muzik, Mutt Klub and recent hardcore force majeure Bloodsport (@x.bloodsport.x) could be attributed to the gut-punching bass or the stompy interludes of pop nostalgia, but the traction of these nights doesn’t begin nor end with the music.

Inclusivity is woven into the very fabric of Glasgow’s hardcore scene. These respective nights share a manifesto of ensuring a safe space for everybody. Bloodsport labels itself as a night where ‘all are welcome but queer people are more welcome’ and Mutt Klub ask their followers to educate themselves ‘on the dangers posed to LGBTQ+ and POC communities that necessitate a safe space policy’.

The line-ups for such events reflect this ethos of inclusion, with the scene offering opportunities for DJs from several marginalised communities. While Glasgow hosts some of Scotland’s most varied and vibrant parties, representation in dance music is still often overlooked, and even in this subculture-rich city, progress needs to be made. In 2019, 81% of artists booked for UK dance festivals were male, with 18% being female and only 0.5% identifying as trans.

Meanwhile, 77% of artists were white, yet POC performers only comprised 23% of bookings. It’s blindingly obvious that dance music is still sidestepping huge swathes of society. Although line-ups for major dance festivals have become slightly more inclusive since 2019, there is still a lack of inclusion of trans and POC DJs.

It doesn’t take a psychology degree to understand the power of role models – Glasgow’s kids seeing themselves in a hardcore line-up won’t just be a source of personal strength but will shape the city’s dance music scene for years to come. The dance floor has, historically, for LGBTQ+, QTIPOC, and gender-diverse communities, long been an arena for escapism and ecstasy. A life can be lived, drank, and danced within a single night in a sweaty room, separate from the dreary day-to-day slog. With successive governments failing to protect the rights of these communities, exclusionary policies, and a general feeling that the higher-ups just don’t care, these spaces are still as vital in 2022 as they were decades ago. It’s not just about having someplace to go on a Friday night. It’s a time to share stories with a friend you didn’t even know you had. It’s a place to wear that outfit you always wanted to try but never dared and a venue to spark change outside the monoliths of work and education.

Ascending the club’s stairs after the final steel pulse circuits your entire being, you look back on a night that was free from judgement, policing and a smart casual dress code. A night where you are able to say ‘this is ours’. That is true power, and it can’t be taken away.

It may come as a shock that a genre so gutsy, brawny and ballsy is championing Glasgow’s marginalised communities, but hardcore has always been a melting pot for stewing rage. Look no further than its birth in late 80s Europe and growth in the wombs of small towns in post-Thatcherite Britain; the genre’s presence at illegal raves, a remedied antidote to the status quo. The happy hardcore heavyweight Fast Muzik, with its chopped-up, pitched-up, whizzed-up mixes of My Chemical Romance, The Sugababes and Lady Gaga alongside the omnipresent pounding bassline feels like the perfect vantage point for kids who grew up with the internet for a sibling. A floor full of people with their hands in the air screaming along to a Kylie Minogue remix. It’s transcendental, unpretentious, and part of something bigger than the strangers in the room. Despite what the outside world is saying, in that heaving club, I breathe a sigh of relief.

Finally, I’m in the right place at the right time.

Inclusivity and Ignorance at the Burrell Collection 

Words: Luisa Hahn (She/Her) Artwork: Louis Managh (He/Him)

Even if change in Britain’s public gallery and museum sector is still a slow game, the expectations to make restitutions for their colonial pasts and include representations of minority-group histories in their exhibitions are rising. It is therefore not surprising that the Burrell Collection, which reopened this year in Glasgow’s Southside, has been a topic of debate. What is surprising, however, is that whilst this debate surrounds the Burrell Collection’s queer-inclusive labelling of some exhibits, it fails to address how many of the Burrell Collection’s artefacts have entered the collection during the height of the British Empire’s brutal rule.

The collection was amassed by Sir William Burrell, who made his fortune in Glasgow’s shipping industry before and during the First World War. He donated his collection to the city of Glasgow in 1944. Burrell, who is often lauded as one of the world’s great art collectors, purchased works by European Modernists, such as Degas and Manet. However, a sizable chunk of the collection is made up of artefacts from around the world, commonly bought in bulk from London auction houses and dealers. The interest in these artefacts was in their ‘exotic’, ‘ancient’, or ‘oriental’, but not their site-specific origins or the circumstances under which they were acquired.

Burrell was not alone in this practice, and British public and private collections, on the whole, are confronted with the task of dealing with the histories they have inherited. Unfortunately, they aren’t doing so – or only to the extent pressure from public discourses forces them to. For collections, it is not only a moral but also a legal and predominantly financial question, whether to return or pay reparations for looted or dubiously bought objects. Whilst many of these objects are of spiritual or cultural importance in their places of origin, they are ‘treasures’ to their Western ‘owners’ and come with large price tags, which British collections are reluctant to give up. In addition to this reluctance, the restitution of looted artefacts is governed by complex legal structures, which collections such as the Burrell Collection hide behind.

Amid the criticism collections are facing over the neglect of their artefact’s bloody histories, it is reasonable to question the authenticity of the actions taken by these same collections aimed at including minority groups in their displays. An example of such action is displayed by the Burrell Collection’s labels, accompanying 2 sculptures of the Buddhist figure Guanyin, who has historically been depicted as genderfluid or transgender. The labels describe Guanyin as a reflection of the historical existence of trans people, stating ‘trans rights are human rights’. Vocal criticism of these labels came from the anti-trans group For Women Scotland. They accuse the Burrell collection of over-politicising the artefacts and pushing a ‘Western viewpoint onto other cultures’. Glasgow Life, which oversees the Burrell Collection, has pushed back on the criticism and defended the labels of the Guanyin sculptures as based on historical research and consultation with trans and non-binary community groups.

The public defence of the labels, as well as a blog post from spring 2021 on the Burrell Collection’s website detailing their efforts to research and include queer histories while consulting local communities, suggests the collection’s investment in giving voices to queer minorities is genuine. However, the same cannot be said for admitting its colonial past. Take the example of a golden disk currently exhibited at the Burrell Collection. Its accompanying label identifies it as part of gold regalia from the Asante Kingdom located in contemporary Ghana. It describes how British soldiers took the Asante gold as part of a punitive raid against the Asante people after winning a violent conflict that emerged along the Gold Coast in West Africa in 1874. Nowhere in the short description is there reference to this manner of acquiring objects as problematic. The label also omits that the director of the London V&A, which is in possession of the bulk of the Asante ‘treasure’, is currently in negotiations with the Asante King and representatives of the Ghanese government over the future of the objects (the most likely outcome being a long-term loan, as the aforementioned legalities prevent a straightforward return).

If the Burrell Collection took their imperial legacy seriously, they would inform visitors on both the full histories of their objects as well as the current status of returns and reparations. As it stands, they remain quiet. Amidst this silence, even their well-intended inclusion of queer history remains meaningless as they fail to understand and address the intersectional dimensions of repression. This lack of intersectionality is reflected well  by a corner of the  building where the new gender-neutral stalls are adjacent to a plaque reading ‘The Burrell Collection opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 21st October 1983’.  The gender-neutral toilets prove their intentions to include certain minority groups, but the plaque reminds us of close and lasting ties with imperial colonialism.

The Cost of Living Crisis Through The Eyes of Young Creatives

Words: Robert Goodall (He/Him) Artwork: Ben Woodcock: (He/Him)

By now, as a resident of Glasgow, it must be nearly impossible not to have heard about the ever-looming cost of living crisis. The crisis constantly comes to the forefront of our everyday conversation, but often in a relatively superficial way, be it through disengaged politicians or worried family members checking in on gas and electricity meters. Despite this, as young students, it can be difficult to really understand the issue presented to us by the media. Many of us are financially sheltered by loans and SAAS, which will help us weather the storm, and perhaps not feel the impacts as acutely. This will not be the case for all students, however. In such a turbulent time, it is important to look at our community and ask how this impacts us.

Recently, I attended Anam Creative’s (@anamcreative) Hot Glue 02 event, which took place near the end of September. I spoke to the organisers, artists, and attendees to gauge the consensus surrounding the cost of living crisis and how this might affect Glasgow’s creative scene in the coming months. Anam Creative is a local collective providing paid interdisciplinary collaboration for emerging creatives in Glasgow. The founder, Michiel, initially started collaborating remotely with musicians during lockdown. The collective has only grown since then, attracting several like-minded people to the group. A significant and decisive milestone for Anam Creative was securing funding from Creative Scotland, a government agency which provides financial aid to Scotland’s creative industries. It is crucial for agencies like this to exist, particularly in the uncertain times we find ourselves in. The funding has enabled the group to organise events such as Hot Glue 02. 

Both Michiel and Lily – another organiser of this event – stressed that they were slightly apprehensive due to the ticket prices for Hot Glue 02 being higher than that of their previous projects. This decision was made due to the company’s ethos of paying its artists fairly. In spite of this, the event completely sold out. The room was packed. The crowd proved fluid, adapting to the changing performances and providing a welcoming atmosphere to the performers themselves. Three unique musicians took to the stage: Terra Kin (@terra__kin) supplied intimate, soulful guitar and vocals, NooVision led by Noushy @noushy__ performed genre-bending jazz, and Rory Green (@rorygreen_) finished the night with some ambient, danceable electronic music. The sonic experience was enhanced with liquid visuals from Niki Cardoso Zaupa (@_moventia), which morphed as the vibe shifted from one musician to the next.  It was a night brimming with creative energy and gave me a great deal of hope and optimism for the future of Glasgow’s cultural scene.

The fact that this performance was sold out and met with a great deal of support reveals a desire for grassroots creative events like this. For events like Hot Glue 02 to take place, they need our help, and with the cost of living crisis bringing widespread uncertainty, this is even more significant. From speaking to a few of the attendees, it was clear there was a broad mix of people in the crowd, from friends of the performers to regulars of Anam Creative’s events, as well as people entirely outwith the art scene, in search of a good night.                                                     

The success of the evening, regardless of the unprecedented times we are facing, showed that Glasgow’s DIY creative scene is robust and prepared to take on the challenges of the cost of living crisis. Michiel and Lily, who look optimistically at the city’s post-lockdown cultural scene, shed a comforting light on how people are valuing and being more selective with their time.

This, therefore, begs the question: what can we do to keep Glasgow’s cultural scene flourishing? Well, we must first push to support and publicise events such as these which are fortunately still taking place in the city. The least we can do is spread the message, ensuring independent performers and organisers persevere. This city is filled with students; we alone will always find a way to enjoy music and art in some shape or form. I would also suggest that the next time you’re thinking of what to do on a Friday or Saturday night, search about, be curious, and support the smaller emerging creatives. There might be something around the corner which will allow you to help Glasgow’s creative scene.

Red Right Hand: Northern Ireland’s growing rejection of Britain

Words: Alex Agar (She/Her) Artwork: Sophie Aicken (She/Her)

CW: Abortion

The term ‘Red Right Hand’ has many meanings. In literature, it is shown in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, depicted through Lucifer defying God and aiming to seek vengeance. Within Northern Ireland, it is depicted on the Ulster flag that has been entrenched in Protestant/Unionist identity to represent the North’s ties to Britain, and thereby in the 30-year conflict known as the ‘Troubles’. Having been born and raised in Belfast for nearly 19 years, in a community plagued by the legacy of this bloody conflict, I am well accustomed to the repercussions of those 30 years of violence. Whilst this period created a perseverance and strength among its people that I am extremely proud to come from, the scars are clear, in the physical and in the political, and has kept my country in the ‘dark-ages’ ever since. You don’t have to look hard to notice that Northern Ireland has been left behind and ignored by the supposed ‘union’ with England, Scotland and Wales, leaving many feeling betrayed and disillusioned, and much like in Milton’s Paradise Lost, seeking retribution through the defiance of a power that has abandoned them. 

To quote Dublin-born writer Iris Murdoch, “I think being a woman is like being Irish… Everyone says you’re important and nice, but you take second place all the time.” This idea of being a second-class citizen is not new to women from Northern Ireland. Abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland in 2019 by Westminster, following the failure of the Northern Irish government in being restored after two-years of collapse. However, what is seldom known is that – whilst abortion is now legal – there are next to no resources within the country. This means women still must travel to England, Scotland and Wales to receive one, or alternatively use life-threatening contraceptive methods. Whilst we rightfully saw mass uproar within the UK after the overturning of Roe v. Wade in America, what the press and politicians failed to do was acknowledge those in the UK already being let down by Westminster, who failed to publicly condemn or put pressure on Stormont when intervention was needed. 

Whilst dangerous, this ‘laissez faire’ attitude towards Northern Irish affairs is not an uncommon approach for Westminster to take. Brexit most notably has caused renewed tensions within Northern Ireland and its fragile peace, with polls showing 56% of the population voting to remain in the EU. In a country as divided as Northern Ireland, both sides could agree on one thing; this was a careless move that would destroy what the peace that had been achieved by such endless sacrifices. Predictably, the passing of Brexit led to extreme violence in some areas as recently as April 2021 by loyalist unionists who felt under threat by the Northern Ireland Protocol, which economically distances the North from the rest of the UK. Police described this series of events as “the worst Belfast has seen in years”, with over 50 police officers being injured, violence being enacted against Catholic communities, and petrol bombs being thrown with numerous buses being set alight. Whilst this was our reality for just over a week, coverage was sparse within the rest of the UK, fuelled by the continuing indifference of the Westminster government. Brexit, whilst infuriating for many, displayed Westminster’s disregard for their ‘allies’ in Northern Ireland, leaving many to step away from the British government towards a more violent alternative.

All of this culminated in the recent 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election, sending shock waves throughout the country. For the first time since the Northern Ireland Assembly was created in 1998, the biggest Irish nationalist/republican party, Sinn Féin, won by a majority. This victory has been attributed to many things, but most notably a shared rejection of Westminster and a desire within many to leave the union and join in a united Ireland. This was reinforced by the 2021 census, where recent results showed 37.3% identifying as Protestant and 42.3% identifying as Catholic. Furthermore, 31.86% identified as British only whilst 29.13% identified as Irish only. For a country that was created with a Protestant, Unionist majority to ensure loyalty to Britain, these results create serious ramifications within the UK and Westminster. Citizens in 1 of its 3 devolved nations no longer see their place in a Britain still yearning for a return to Empire. This may be a surprise for some, but for many within Northern Ireland, a change of tide has been on the horizon for years. A political vacuum has now been created in which people are looking for solace from a power that has repeatedly let them down. While nationalists have long fought for a united Ireland, it is evident that Westminster’s continued disregard for unionists, through taking for granted their support before Brexit, has made allies into enemies, and allowed for an increase in animosity amongst a group of people which the security of the union depends on.

A Red Flag Rising: what to make of the return of the working class

Words: Ellen Ode Artwork: Louis Managh

People are pissed off. There is no end in sight to the cost of living crisis, and the movement Enough is Enough has gained over 450,000 supporters since its launch in August as a result. The initiative is demanding pay raises, and an end to food poverty and housing for all, while industrial action is currently taking place within a wide range of industries. Contrary to the predictions of politicians and the tabloids, public support of them remains reasonably high, with RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch recently declaring in a rousing speech: ‘The working class is back!’ Anger lies at the centre of it all: people are sick and tired of being poor, and they have channelled this fury into demands for change. A previously slumbering class consciousness seems to have been revitalised.                                                                                                                      

Perhaps what is most striking about the current crisis is the sense that very few are not affected at all. While working class people, and especially working class people from an ethnic minority background, will face the most significant hardship, a large portion of the middle class will also be feeling the squeeze. Perhaps these shared struggles represent a possibility for greater solidarity and unification of the class groups, challenging perceptions that their views and concerns are diametrically opposed.

You would think Labour, supposedly the party of working people, would be keen to capitalise on this recent advancement of solidarity. Yet it seems that the current leadership believes that these new working class social movements are incompatible with an assumption of power. Indeed, Sir Keir Starmer has disciplined MPs seen to be supportive of rail strikes. While it is troubling that the Labour Party seems to have fallen so far away from its roots, perhaps it is simply no longer the case that mainstream politics, in the UK at least, can facilitate radical social justice. And yet the danger of the removal of mainstream politics from any degree of class analysis is the ability of far-right and fascist movements to occupy this space instead. The far-right, too, will try to address the cost of living crisis, but through a narrative of anti-immigrant sentiment, through which progressive politics are seen as the cause of, rather than the solution to, the crisis. But the dehumanising portrayal of immigrants and ethnic minorities as ‘the other’ has never been a convincing explanation for social injustice, because class is still fundamental. Marginalised groups disproportionately having to take on jobs with terrible working conditions and low wages; big corporations refusing to pay their workers properly; governments insisting on tax cuts for the wealthy while welfare budgets are slashed: it all lies within the same realm. A newfound class consciousness could therefore represent an antidote to the threat of fascism. Finding a new narrative and a vision for the future firmly anchored in socialist and social democratic ideology poses an opportunity for real change and more productive politics while changing people’s perception of where their predicament stems from.

Nonetheless, the notion of returning to the roots of socialist ideology and historical fights for the working class can easily give off the idea of the working class as being white, cis-male, middle-aged and heterosexual. Indeed, in the recent Swedish elections, the socialist group, The Left Party, chose to adhere to an election strategy focused on gaining ‘traditional voters’ in industrial towns, overlooking topics such as climate change. They consequently performed much worse than in the previous election. This patronising and dated portrayal of the working class is detrimental to social justice. The working class of today is, and has frankly always been a dynamic group. It consists of an array of voices, all eager to be heard and all with valuable contributions to make. So if the left of mainstream politics is to fully actualise its supposed aims of facilitating social justice for all, it would adopt an intersectional class analysis and respond appropriately to the fury and frustration of those in the UK right now. We can only hope that it elicits what anger always yearns for: change.



Interview by Eliza Hart (She/Her)

Zoe Kravvariti is a multidisciplinary artist, who has recently graduated from Glasgow School of Art. In her work she explores the expression of emotion through movement and the body.


For centuries, women have been denied their anger. Whilst silent women have been glorified, angry women have been degenerated. She has been ‘a monster,’ ‘a hysteric’ and now ‘a bitch’. From the moment women are seen as passive, our anger and rage becomes something negative. It becomes a reason to be judged, a reason to stay silent. The opposition between the good silent woman and the bad, angry ‘non-woman’ has been a main focus for my practice this past year. As someone who has felt silenced by anger, I have turned to my work to look for answers. My aim is to depict the burden and experience of ‘femininity’ and suppressed anger. Looking at the representation of women in art, as well as in literature, philosophy and religion, it becomes clear to me how misunderstood and misrepresented angry women have been in the hands of men. Through making, in the broadest sense, many women, including myself, have found a space to speak on their injustice. They have found a space where they can break their silence and reclaim the power.


I have always wanted my work to discuss emotion. We have developed a tendency to keep our feelings to ourselves, as if they are something to be embarrassed of. By expressing and exposing myself in my work, I have experienced personal catharsis. I want my work to evoke emotion, understand it, and most of all respect it. To respect one’s emotions is to respect their nature.


Working within a restricted environment was limiting. However, on reflection, lockdown was surprisingly beneficial for some areas of my practice. I believe that my performance work, where I explore and incorporate improvisational movement, was affected the most by that limitation. Not having enough space led to my improvs feeling controlled. At the same time, it pushed me and I learned to use my restriction as a prompt rather than an obstacle. Currently my home is my studio. This restriction no longer limits the possibilities of a project.


I don’t think there is one specific influence that I can refer to as ‘the biggest.’ I tend to combine multiple references, both theoretical and visual, to feed my ideas. I value both theoretical and visual influences equally. My key influences on my project last year include the book ‘Rage becomes her’, by Soraya Chemaly. This was the starting point of my project and still is a massive influence for my practice in general. Another big influence that inspired my piece ‘Killing the Angel’ was reading Virginia Woolf’s ‘Killing the angel in the house.’ She writes about killing the ‘perfect’ patriarchal woman that exists within her mind, in every woman’s mind. For several years now, Antonia Economou has been a constant inspiration to my practice. She is a dancer and choreographer (and also very dear friend!) based in Athens. Antonia’s work has been a key reference of mine when it comes to improvisational movement and performance. It was through her work I came to love movement.


Looking back at my experience in a creative institution has left me with mixed feelings, bittersweet I’d say. I strongly believe that the best part of GSA was the people. Being surrounded by so many incredibly talented and unique individuals, I was constantly inspired and its definitely the thing I will miss the most. The fact that for almost two of my university years I wasn’t able to actually use the facilities plays a big part in that bittersweet feeling.


I was intrigued by the word ‘communication.’ Communication can be a poster, an illustration and a photograph, but also a film, a performance piece, a play, a sound piece, a painting and a sculpture. I don’t believe there are any limits as to what communication design is or could be, and I don’t want to have any limits as to where my practice can evolve. I guess that’s why communication design! My practice has always felt multidisciplinary. I tends to rely on a lot of experimentation and work with a combination of media. However, the medium I always seem to go back to, is my body. As I mentioned before, I am interested in communicating different emotions and by using my body as a medium I could translate these emotions into different movement. Through improvisational movement, I aim to create a language that narrates tales that I have struggled to put into words. I use my body to retell the stories that have been told about me, to represent the female body and the burdens of false representation.


I am the most productive and inspired during evening and at night time. However that has led to many all nighters!


To be honest, I think the best thing in Glasgow is that there are so many things happening everywhere! The Rum Shack in Southside became a favourite of mine last year, which I discovered by going to GLITCH41. If you are up for a sick gig and a boogie, I would definitely recommend going!

Branded for Your Pleasure

Words: E.B. Artwork: Katie Stewart (They/Them)

As the first of autumn’s leaves drop and all bare skin is hidden under tartan: we fall

unrelentingly into cuffing season. For the chronically single, the season stretching from October to Valentine’s day is but a reminder of a tragic love life. But the warm layers bring some comfort in hiding a worse reminder of your messy breakup, a symbol of your ex-lover permanently embossed in your flesh. The relationship tattoo: a profound gesture of love in an age in which chivalry is dead, its ghost haunted aired DMs; a parading red flag, or a lusty act of desperation fated to be regretted? 

All the hottest babes don a relationship tattoo, from Bradford to Beverly Hills. Think Zayn Malik’s tattoo of supermodel-turned-baby-momma Gigi Hadid’s eyes on his lower chest, or, a more recent example, Pete Davidson’s ‘My girl is a lawyer’ stamped across his neck. Better yet, ‘Kim’ burnt and scarred into his chest, branding him part of the Kardashian-Jenner empire along with Skims and Kylie Cosmetics, 818 tequila and Mason Dash Disick Instagram Lives. You could even be like Angelina Jolie and have your lover’s birth coordinates postmarked onto your sleeve; matching celebrity couple tattoos which are so ‘goals’ that they find their way into the drivel of a Refinery29 article.

These often cringeworthy couple tattoos aren’t confined to Hollywood. One of my friends in sixth form fell victim to a similar act of passion. One morning, to our horror, she pointed out a small ‘L’ which had appeared on her ankle like a venereal wart. After 9 months of UTIs and pregnancy scares, he had finally actually given her something that wasn’t going to go away on its own.

Sadly, these tattoos last longer than the relationships in a lot of cases. All aforementioned relationships are now dead in the water; with Zayn and Gigi ending after Malik’s spat with the Hadid matriarch Yolanda; Pete and Kim’s seemingly civil parting, and my friend’s split after her boyfriend pissed their AirBnB bed following 3 beers and a bump. Now, do these little emblems on their body leave them feeling mournful or embarrassed of past flames? Yes. Probably.

Once star-crossed lovers slashed their chests in their desire to spend an eternity together, now they simply get their significant other’s name permanently hot-ironed onto their skin. But are Pete Davidson and Juliet Capulet really all that different? So passionately in love they are but victims of desire and dedication, spectacles for a world to call impulsive and irrational. While it may seem a little strange to the less romantically dedicated, and outright laughable when considering that the relationship lasted but months, is this gesture anything more sinister than a little impulsive? As a young gay man, the desire to brand a fresh and inevitably short fling’s name onto myself to show my undying love for some guy who raw-dogged me on his flatmates Dunelm cushions is a desire I know all too well. Maybe impulsivity is often a reason for this, especially in the case of Pete Davidson, as he and Kim had dated only months before he made the flesh-altering decision. Those in the public eye have an image to upkeep, surely some of these tattoos are nothing more than for the sake of publicity. But what about the more long-term couples? These are less likely to be impulsive decisions, but the underlying reasoning is bound to be similar- it is an act of dedication, a symbol that shows they care enough about their partner to alter their bodies.

So, while in some cases a tattoo may be the permanent result of a lust filled and passionate moment, does this really make them any less a symbol of love? And what does it really matter if they break up? There are always cover-ups and lasers. My friend resolved her ‘L’ittle issue by tacking ‘DR’ onto the end, an acronym for Lana Del Rey. Ironically her symbol of undying love for this chain-smoking boy metamorphosed into one which shows her love for a chain-smoking woman. Better yet, just leave the tattoo as a reminder of your dating history, as tragic as it may have been. 

Maybe Zayn Malik’s pecs could one day don a pair of aviators; Pete could add to his hot iron branding to show a newfound love of kimchi, and exclusively date lawyers for the rest of his life. In the dating world, the tattoo doesn’t have to be something that symbolises that you’re here to stay, with easy access to removal solutions. Whether or not you think they’re cringey, concerning, or cute, couple tattoos are here to stay and, for those who cannot afford lasers, quite literally.

The Lipstick Effect: why we’ll buy a new lippy but not turn the heating on

Words: Kathleen Lodge (She/Her) Artwork: Lizzie Eidson (She/Her)

‘The Lipstick Effect’ refers to the economic phenomenon of an increased desire for ‘appearance enhancing’ products in times of economic recession. We’ll buy a new lipstick,

even when we can’t afford it. While given little airtime outside of flippant cosmopolitan articles, a wealth of evidence places it as good an indicator for recession as employment rates or housing markets. Media narratives discussing recession often feel removed from our everyday lives, littered with unfamiliar jargon, while its effects are all too real. In contrast, the lipstick effect is relatable – for me at least. It’s a refreshing lens, one centering makeup wearers, to look at what we spend on when our spending is squeezed, and why. Disarmingly simplistic, this theory asks multifaceted questions about the relationship between women’s appearance, their finances, and the broader capitalist system.

Straddling psychology and economics, the general preface is that ‘women’ (or, perhaps a better phrase, lipstick wearers) enhance their appearance for two reasons: to attract ‘romantic partners’, and to create a ‘favourable impression in the workplace’, and therefore both of these reasons can somewhat be attributed to the goal of financial security. Lipstick epitomises this ‘appearance enhancing’ element because it creates such an obvious change. Therefore, in times of financial insecurity, this urge increases, and as a result so does the sale of lipstick.

The prior is justified by evolutionary theory: ‘in financial need individuals allocate towards reproduction rather than personal growth’. Rebuffing the frankly offensive assumptions on which this theory relies feels too obvious to give voice to. However, if we distance the act of attracting partners from reproduction and financial security, and instead associate it with casual consenting sex or getting a compliment from a friend or stranger, it’s plausible we would want to provoke such attention in tough times.

The latter gives way to a more complex point. Many of us wear make-up as a part of our routine. It is difficult to distinguish to what extent we do this for ourselves or for others. What is clear though, is taking anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before work to ‘get ready’ manifests itself as unpaid work. The academic writing on the lipstick effect comments on the gap between appearance and monetary reward, and unsurprisingly fills it with a man. Much of this writing suggests that enhancing one’s appearance to appeal to male colleagues, traditionally those in positions of authority, results in favourable treatment. While it is perhaps naïve to deny this, there are more direct manifestations of this transaction in action.

I work at a pub, and feel the need to ‘put my face on’ for work. A ‘need’ I could attribute to being told at each of my first three jobs that I’d been hired for my looks, that ‘everyone likes a pretty waitress’. Fancying myself as a journalist – more a Carrie Bradshaw than a Laura Kuenssberg – I embarked on my own experiment. Did I make more tips if I wore lipstick to work? The conclusion: they roughly doubled. While far from scientific, it suggested, at least in a job that involves tips, appearance and finances are inextricably linked. It’s a depressing reality, demonstrating how personal decisions about self-presentation become politicised in a sexist society. It makes lipstick ideological.

As the politicians that caused the current cost of living crisis tell us to buy new kettles to save a tenner a year, we’re navigating increasingly stressful daily decisions about how we spend. The lipstick effect documents an increase in spending on morale boosters, and a dampening on spending in other areas. During the Great Depression, ticket sales for the newest Charlie Chaplin film soared. During World War II, ‘morale’ was so closely linked to lipstick that women were encouraged to wear lippy to ‘remind the soldiers what they were fighting for’. Whilst I am aware that I’ve claimed that lipstick is highly political, the purchase of it can also be as simple as a little morale boost – purchasable self-care. Controversial, I know. Whilst the desire to do so may be as a result of capitalist messaging, if it works, women should not be made to feel guilty. Buying, and applying, a new lipstick is a solitary act, but I find it validating that so many of us do it, all at the same time.

We do buy lippy to feel better – even when we’re skint – but the reasons for this are much more nuanced than to attract beneficial male attention. Where academia focuses on the impact that wearing lipstick has on others, I find it’s more about how it makes the wearer feel. It occurred to me during my ‘experiment’ that wearing lipstick is acknowledging that you are being seen – meeting ‘the male gaze’ head on. If it’s worn for the attention it provokes, you are provoking this attention knowingly. The cost of lipstick seems a small price to pay to feel a little sexier, or perhaps to feel more in control, when the world feels so uncertain. If an extra tenner in tips, or a shag, is a by-product, then who’s complaining?

Punks aesthetic legacy: I know what I want and I know how to get it

Words: George Browne (He/Him) Artwork: Joanna Stawnicka (She/Her)

The central realisation behind the counterculture movements of the 1960’s, according to British filmmaker Adam Curtis, was that ‘ if you can’t change the world, in terms of power structure, what you do is change yourself,’  Curtis’s argument is based primarily on the Hippie movement, but it still captures the modern individualism that was also behind the counter to Counter Culture: Punk. A movement centred on the rejection of the institution but one that offered no genuine solutions (anarchy was mooted) meaning individual

self-expression and thus fashion became integral to it. Fashion was the perfect signifier of this individual rebellion: it made this self-change, this rejection of institution, visible. 

To define Punk – a term that has become diluted through its appropriation – is a difficult task. To provide it with a definitive definition may even be considered a violence to the term – would this institutionalise it and thus cause its personal and individual meaning to be lost? Regardless, Punk manifests itself as a genre, an attitude, an aesthetic and a cultural movement. In each of these modes rebellion is always the focal point – a visceral rejection of the status quo. A rejection as The Sex Pistol’s ‘Anarchy in the UK’ reveals in the lines ‘I don’t know what I want/ But I know how to get it’ – not in favour of any alternative. Punk’s main aim, therefore, was to establish a radical voice: one that showed no concern for the established modes of discourse and was able to convey the anger felt by the young. Punk’s individualism and fury stemmed from the combination of post-war collectivism and the entrenched establishment that was causing Britain’s economic and political systems to fail and its social situation to deteriorate. The idealism of  counterculture had collapsed. Punk was born in an era of ideological failure and poverty – all that was left was the personal. As Sheila Rock, a photographer whose photos have become the iconic images of the iconoclastic movement, says Punk was about: ‘everyone…doing their own thing’. 

But what exactly did doing their own thing consist of? Vivienne Westwood stated that she became bored of the movement’s tendency to merely ‘spit’ and ‘bash their head against institution’. It was Westwood and her partner Malcolm Mclaren (who also managed the Sex Pistols) and their shop originally known as Sex (1974-1976) and later renamed Seditionaries (1976-1980) on Kings Road, in London, that provided the foundation and direction of Punk style. It was here that Westwood enacted the most insightful modes of fashion rebellion within the Punk movement. If Punk music was about rejecting the institution through short, shocking and antagonistic screams of rage, Westwood’s clothing was about attacking the beliefs that accommodated the institution. Her clothing angrily dismantled the idea of taboo, the sexual suppression mostly manifested in time through the treatment of women and gay men: nudity was made public. Images of homosexuality were made explicit. Bondage was deconstructed to be made ‘romantic’. Westwood knew that the liberation of the individual that Punk sought could not occur if the body, in particular the female body, remained a clandestine suppressed entity.

Westwood’s aesthetic choices during the period of Sex and Seditionaries contain a thread of what the current Pre-Loved and Vintage movements are based on: a desire to look to the past and/or the ignored in order to create a better future. Her work can be distinguished from Punk through its wider ambition and intellect: she sought to show how youth rebellion could offer some form of permanent liberation. Yet while her desire for sustainable rebellion arguably remains in her brand’s current emphasis on ‘Culture not Consumption’, her clothing is now inaccessible for many – her trademark necklace has become a symbol of wealth as opposed to emotional and political beliefs. A complete loss of the initial invigorating anger of Punk is acutely evident. The fascist regime absorbed it all and marched on. The safety pin has just become another accessory.

With the current political and economic state of Britain holding strong parallels with that of the era of Punk it is interesting to consider whether there is any ideology that can usefully be retrieved from the movement? The original incarnation of punk was so wonderful – so

creative, visual, innovative and challenging that it is easy to forget that it was once just another youth culture. Like all youth cultures, it has had an undeniable impact, but only on culture: our economic and political systems remain unperturbed. With an impending environmental crisis, we must understand that no fashion aesthetic will save us. One of Punk’s consequences is consumerist individualism – we now know what we want and we know how to get it. Thus we realise that a return to collectivism is necessary – individualism and fashion cannot be part of the movement that is now required. And perhaps this is rejection of the very ethos of the Punk movement itself. We must see red together. 

The Infuriating Cost of Entry to the Boys’ Club 

Words: Sytske Lub (She/Her) Artwork: Ruby O’Hare (She/Her)

It was the third year of my medical degree. I was in an operating theatre retracting the wall of a femoral artery, having convinced the surgeons to let me scrub in. The surgery was going well. I was locked in conversation with the consultant surgeon about the toils of medical school, and I was about to roll the discussion onto one particularly irksome construct: the fabled Boys’ Club. 

Oh the frustration, I cried, to throw so much effort into exams, coursework, and placements, only to watch your success get trampled by some boy. Connections in the field pave a convenient path to the most exclusive of projects and the deepest of networks. The members – exclusively male – are groomed to be the best of the best, and outsiders don’t stand a chance of catching up to them. 

‘I find’, explained the consultant in that trademark clinical confidence, ‘That having a Boys’ Club is actually rather useful.’ He went on to highlight the benefits of sourcing motivated, experienced individuals that had been vetted by his esteemed colleagues. 

Did I just hear that right? Did he realise that he was essentially telling me, to my face, that between someone like me (motivated, high-achieving, but broadly directionless at such an early stage in my career) and someone who had been passed between the top dogs in the Boys’ Club, he’d appoint the latter in a heartbeat? Steam bellowed from my ears like an old stovetop kettle. My fists clenched with rage, I looked up into the surgical lights and screamed in disgust: “Did you not just hear what I said?” Except, of course, I didn’t. 

The Problem

The definition of a Boys’ Club is “a male-dominated organisation, especially in business, that excludes or mistreats women”. Most studies refer quoted here refer only to ‘women’, but it is generally accepted that the culture excludes the majority of female-identifying and non-binary individuals.

The concept is well known across the science and technology industries. In medicine, surgery especially, the encapsulated core of the senior workforce is overwhelmingly male. The percentage of women in consultant roles, though slowly climbing, is only 36% across medicine as a whole. This is despite more women than men entering medical school since 1996-97, with 64% of acceptances awarded to women in 20204. 

In the surgical field, the divide is greater. The biggest disparity is seen in trauma and orthopaedics, neurosurgery, and cardiothoracic surgery, where women comprise less than 10% of top posts. Even when accounting for surgeon availability and expertise, male doctors in surgery are also disproportionately more likely to refer to other males. 

The excuse often given is that women desire a more family-friendly lifestyle, and there simply aren’t enough finishing intensive surgical training as a result. This may be true for some of course, but the reasons for many are far more complicated. 

While beneficial in the ways outlined by that surgeon, the Boys’ Club seems very much to be a closed circle. You may get near enough to sample some of the benefits, you may even outperform members of this exclusive group, but the most senior positions are kept under lock and key. 

Beyond the Operating Theatre

The issues of the Boys’ Club stretch further than just clinical medicine. A 2018 report for the the British Medical Association7 revealed a culture of sexism and discrimination across its staff, and a 2014 review in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine revealed women are consistently underrepresented in most branches of academic medicine8.

The problem can be seen as early as medical school. Around the table of a society dinner last year, the evidence was particularly damning. The organising committee’s gender split weighed heavily against the males, but looking around at every speaker, faculty member, and workshop-leader, there was only one female at the table. And it’s not as if there weren’t any options – they simply weren’t invited.  

The Future

In medicine, the numbers of female-identifying students managing to climb to the top rung of the ladder is slowly increasing. But the exclusive culture of the Boys Club will persist, likely, for some time. 

And yes, I am angry. You walk the same path just as well as everyone else for your entire schooling, and suddenly you find the path has diverged. You commit yourself to the long, uncertain corridor called medical school only to reach a doorway and not be able to walk through it. 

How do you get around this invisible wall? How can we actually break it, seeing as the bricks are laid down from the earliest point of a medical career? The answer is still unclear.

Boys’ Club entry fee: free to immediate family members, a word of approval for associated males, and incalculable for the rest of us.    

Behind Red Zones

Words: Amelia Coutts Artwork: Magdalena Kosut

You do not have to be a scientist to see for yourself how air pollution has increased in industrial cities. In 2015, large smog clouds were visible in London, and the effects of air pollution are responsible for around 7 million premature deaths globally. To make life a little easier, air quality is generally measured using a colour-coded point system, red indicating dangerous levels.  Areas of low air quality are red zones.

Countries with large amounts of red zones include India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, with over half of the top 20 most polluted cities being in India. A boost in industrial growth in South Asia has led to increased air pollution and the popular farming practice of stubble burning, which produces pollutant-filled smoke clouds visible from space, is likely also to blame. Unfortunately, in India, this has disproportionately affected young children as they are more vulnerable to developing health complications and are unable to avoid exposure. 

But this situation hits closer to home, too. In boroughs in London, levels of pollution are also significantly high. In the recent art piece Breathe: 2022,  inspired by the death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah whose asthma attack was made fatal by the high levels of air pollution, scientist and artist Dryden Goodwin brought attention to how BAME groups and lower-income individuals in London are disproportionately affected by polluted air. Unless you find yourself in the lux mansions of upmarket London, it’s likely you’re breathing dirty air. Studies supported by the British Lung Foundation revealed that residents in more deprived London boroughs are up to two times as likely to die from lung diseases than those living in Kensington or Chelsea, some of London’s wealthiest areas.

Similarly, near the Mississippi River in the US state of Louisiana, majority-black communities live alongside a petrochemical corridor, which has grown across former plantations. Toxic waste produced by industrial sites has regularly spewed into the air of neighbouring communities with little repercussion, an effect described as ‘environmental racism’. The area, as a result, has become known as ‘Death Alley’, where rates of cancer amongst residents are high. In these red zones, marginalised residents are largely powerless to prevent the continued disposal of waste.

Comparatively, the much smaller island of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean has actively worked to reduce the damaging legacy of chemical manufacturing sites that have been responsible for one of the highest rates of air pollution associated deaths in the Americas. The country has committed to reducing short-lived climate pollutants and currently has air quality listed as ‘Good’, putting it well out of the red zone. This is a stark comparison to  previous examples, despite having a GDP per capita that is roughly only two-thirds of the UK’s. Such David v Goliath action makes you question why we could not do the same.

Several factors have contributed to the air quality in many of these red zone areas. However, like in the case of Death Alley, Louisiana, those who face the greatest health consequences are the lowest contributors to pollution. Outsourcing of manufacturing and resources by the Global North could be to blame for the exacerbation of pollution, like the rapid growth in demand for fast fashion and its impact on textile mills and clothes manufacturing in India. Similarly, in Trinidad, natural resource export to the US created the demand for industrial sites that resulted in the need for clean-up programmes, although thankfully these were largely successful. Thinking critically about the main  contributors to air pollution and, subsequently, global warming may lead us to break down misconceptions surrounding the role lower-income countries and emerging economies play. Is it fair to criticise Pakistan or India if our own government cannot maintain safe air?

That is not to say red zones will become a norm. In Glasgow alone, like in many other cities across the globe, governments and councils implement strategies to reduce emissions and keep the air clean. Low emission zones, in effect now and within the next few years, electric buses and the encouragement of cycling as a preferred mode of transport show that change is happening. Even education is an important tool in ensuring the future can look greener in person and on air quality charts. Public exhibitions and data available could indicate that education on such topics is becoming more widespread and accessible, ensuring we do not find ourselves making victims of toxic air pollution responsible for actions outside of their control. Hopefully, with this and the efforts made by those in power to make the right decisions, we may find we won’t be seeing red much longer.

Little Red

Words: Kitty Rose (She/Her) Artwork: Katie Stewart (They/Them)

Little Red lives in her little house in her little neighbourhood in a little forest. In summer, there are strawberries to pick and wildflowers that grow, and in spring the birds chuckle every morning with sweet song. Autumn brings the leaves down off their branches, in a flutter of red and ochre, and in the darkness of winter, Little Red’s windows are lit brightly as the snow falls gently outside. Her red coat, gloves and scarf hang by the door on a singular hook, where the letters posted through the letterbox are addressed to her, and her only.  

Little Red lives her little life; she does her daily tasks as the hours go by. She hangs up her washing to let it dry in the wind, and lays out a place for one at the table – the knife, fork and spoon are friendly companions to the china plate that sits atop the tablecloth. Every morning, every afternoon and every evening is the same. There is a perfect symmetry to this solitude – why should she complain? It’s reliable, stable, solid. A fairytale. A postcard. She is safe because she can never be disappointed. No one can let her down or upset her. She only has to look after herself in this house, where dust collects on the mantelpiece, and the sun rises and sets. In her little house, in the little forest, Little Red is safe. But she wishes she had the blur of shape and movement inside the walls, conversation and laughter to fill the rooms, and for cushions and chairs to mould to the shape of a human body other than her own.

Little Red is lonely, and she’s afraid. Because this loneliness is beginning to scare her. It is a small child that she nurses like a mother, curled up in the pit of her stomach, in the concave of her belly. It is a monster that rears its head, wild, yellow eyes aglow and breath hot and rancid. It is a pulsating heartbeat that runs an internal clockwork of cogs and wheels where if it stopped, she would stop too, leaving a broken doll. She aches for danger, for terror, for heartbreak, for all the things she reads about in her storybooks, just to feel something else. Rotting in her own skin, in her shame, in her own house, in a skeletal state of what life could be.

One night, in search of a friend, she puts on her red coat, gloves and scarf, lacing her boots up with her pale hands. A storm blew leaves spotted with a blackened decay in a circle round her small feet, as she rehearses what she would say to someone – something, anything. 

A figure of red and white, alone, in the dark and scary forest that doesn’t feel like home anymore. 

She goes up to trees, to the foliage, looks up at the stars and the moon and asks them to be her friends, but they turn away. She is too ugly for them, too earnest, not interesting enough. Her inadequacy, her averageness to them all, is a brand on her forehead, a stamped red wax seal on her lips. 

A dark figure, brusque and prickling. A gesture. It doesn’t matter who he is, because she feels noticed, she feels seen. 

A big, bad, wolf.

In the belly of the big, bad wolf, Little Red smiles. It’s silly, she knows, but it is nice to feel something different. She has prayed, with hands clasped and knuckles white, to feel something different for so long. At least she was brave, for the first time in her life. For she was always a coward, a little frightened, so desperate to feel loved. And so now she sits,

In the belly of the big, bad, wolf. 

A Scarlet Letter, and Controlled Substances

Words: Paul Friedrich (He/They) Artwork: Magdalena Kosut

I yawn—a

Her poppy-coloured dress clings to her torso as she cycles paast.

‘Mehr schlafen!’- ‘sleep more’,

her lungs wheeze, she cackles and is followed by an air

of forty years of menthol superslims.

I spent the night turning in my bed like some kind of boudoir kebab skewer

because I was on speed (prescribed)

I spent the morning folding laundry, then I watched the dust

settle on my sheets in the Evening (!) sun

What happened?

There was a pitch that needed writing, so I took another pill.

They’re oblong, white—

when I take one in my hand

like a tiny rain-stick something shifts inside,

I wonder, when I swallow them, do those grains stain red?

Absorbing by what marked me before, invisible to some;

but when you listen closely, lift me up and shake me, can you hear them shift?

If I had just tried harder, pulled myself together,

If listening to someone speak was not so exhausting;

If I’d not been so stupid, lazy, worthless—

Would I have published novels,

if I had just stopped scrolling?

The other kids can do it-

sin(x)/x as x approaches 0

She said 

“if you did not talk so much you might know that it’s one.”

There are sixty unread messages but the toaster-crumbs need cleaning.

From the centre of my fishbowl I see – barely:

raised hands, obscuring lips

furtive eyebrows raised, side eye given

‘Too much, too loudly, too strong, too rude?’

The rush folds in my ears and stings my eyes and

pricks my skin and fills my vessels and

scarlet rushes in my lungs as anger, violence, and blood.

But on some days it is passionate, and warm, or hot

when it burns fuel in my chest;

two decades it was here like a stowaway and thief.

But I am this engine which is me, a cyborg.

If I had only not…

who can tell what would be?

Two decades later there are letters I can put to it, excuses for the stains

But the fire cannot read; it burns, gives life, unchanged.

If I had only not…

I could not speak

with hot titanium buried in my flesh.





Soumia Serhani, Isobel Dyson, Kate McMahon, Luisa Hahn, Robert Goodall, Alex Agar, Ellen Ode, E.B., Kathleen Lodge, George Browne, Sytske Lub, Amelia Coutts, Kitty Rose, Paul Friedrich


Leotie Whitelaw, Lewis Aitken, Louis Managh, Ben Woodcock, Sophie Aicken, Katie Smith, Lizzie Eidson, Ruby O’Hare, Katie Stewart


Editors-in-Chief: Ava Ahmann & Conal McGregor

Editorial Director: Esther Weisselberg

Features Editor: Izzie Chowdhury

Culture Editors: Nina Halper & Dylan Richards

Politics Editor: Jeevan Farthing

Style & Beauty Editor: Mia Squire

Science & Tech Editor: Rothery Sullivan

Creative Writing Editor: Violet Maxwell

Copy Editors: Marcus Hyka and Hannah Parkinson

Visuals Director: Rory McMillan

Photographer: Louis Syed-Anderson\

Graphic Designer: Nancy Heley

Communications Designer: Josh Hale

Art + Photography Curator: Eliza Hart

Editorial Artists: Magdalena Kosut, Joanna Stawnicka, Sophie Aicken, Lewis Aitken, Lizzie Eidson, Katie Stewart, Louis Managh

Website Designer: Mary Martin

Digital Media Director: Eve Dickson

Social Media Managers: Leah Sinforiani and Sophie Wollen

Events Manager: Charlotte Macchi Watts

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Front and back cover designed by Eliza Hart


Smaller, Weirder, Louder



The Good Immigrant – Mayuri Gadi


Neighbourhood Watch: Exploring the Roots of Kenmure Street Protest

– Conal McGregor


Time to Come Out: On Temporalities and Queerness – Lucy Danoghue

Sex, No City

Your First Month in Rural Island – Lola O’Brien Dele

A Guide to Radical Crafting

Life in Plastic, It’s Fantastic – Izzy Chowdhury


Finding Solace in SEGA – Cameron Rhodes


A Case for the Universal Appeal of Anime Fashion – Meriel Dhanowa

Creative Writing

Stain in the Sea – Meli Vasiloudes Bayada

Features |The Good Immigrant

Mayuri Gadi (she/her)

When introduced to any mass of information, human beings often make sense of it by simply categorising it into good or bad. We also do this when analysing others and deciding their significance in our lives. This categorical thinking is misused when people who hold themselves superior attempt to organise immigrants into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. This attitude is driven by the undying systematic racism we witness in the UK. A ‘good immigrant’ is deemed as one who ‘gives back’ to the Western economy as it is believed to be their duty for being allowed to immigrate in the first place. This capitalist sentiment perpetuates the belief that if an immigrant is not fulfilling this responsibility, their move is not justified. However, what many fail to recognise is that conforming to this ‘good immigrant’ title can lead to the sacrifice of their cultural identity as they must adapt to Western civilisation to avoid seeming abnormal or unknown, and therefore a potential threat.

This mindset of classifying immigrants has continued for decades, despite recent social advancements. It not only promotes Western dominance, but also a confusion of identity for many immigrants. In Nikesh Sukla’s The Good Immigrant, comedian Nish Kumar talks about his experience of growing up in the UK and constantly being mistaken for almost every ethnicity other than his own. This has a bitter effect on immigrants as it results in a personal struggle between being unable to call the country you are living in home, whilst not being able to identify with your homeland and cultural values. As a second-generation immigrant I have witnessed first-hand how this has impacted my parents struggle to form any true cultural identity. 

The term ‘BAME’ highlights the unfortunate reality of individual cultures not being recognised, as everyone who is not white is jumbled into one. For example, the “A” meaning Asian assumes all Asians fit under one category. I personally find this absurd because there is such a variety of people just within India, so how could one term ever encompass an entire continent? This ignorance makes me wonder why the West is so glorified and able to escape any stereotypes, while the East is bound to many. 

It is a common assumption, especially in India, that when one moves to the West it is a sign of intelligence or accomplishment. Anytime I go back to India, I often hear friends or relatives assume that because I live in England, I am living a higher quality of life. This is true in many ways, such as increased human rights, and I am beyond lucky for the opportunities I face. Many countries in the Global South are dealing with issues such as serious poverty and a lack of women’s rights. However, the social issues faced in the UK should not be ignored simply because they are less pressing. Just this month, my social media feed has been flooded with information regarding the government encouraging laws against protesting, plans to cut universal credit, and refugees searching for this ‘better life’ being sent to animalistic detention centres. Alongside these unacceptable headlines, the incessant neglection of Western terrorism further highlights the power and status the West holds. 

Despite any social progression, we’re still being programmed to have a set view of the countries within the Global South as being irrational and consisting of a chaotic culture. In contrast, the Global North is seen as logical and its countries are considered, according to Jan Heller, ‘products of modern thinking’. This inaccurate understanding of the East-West dichotomy is hugely a result of the UK’s unreliable school system. School history syllabuses tend to concentrate on the Tudors and World Wars, at the expense of more consequential events such as British Colonisation. Furthermore, there is no mention of the long-lasting effects the Empire had on ethnic communities which continue to prohibit their growth. This information taught all over the UK fuels the mindset that immigrants are not fit for living in the West unless they prove themselves by ‘giving back’ in some capacity and therefore attaining the title of being a ‘good immigrant’ as opposed to a ‘bad immigrant’ – one who reflects their culture, but risks being stereotyped as uneducated.

When I look at my parents’ attempts to become ‘good immigrants’, I feel remorse over the cultural sacrifices they have made over the years. Despite living in England for over 20 years, my mum still feels anxious to wear any traditional dress out in places like Sainsbury’s where you would mostly see everyone wearing Western clothes. I always wonder why she feels like this, especially when most people would find it captivating. However, she reminds me that she isn’t sure of the reactions she’ll get (and is too worried to risk it) as wearing her cultural clothes makes her stand out from others, creating a sense of unknowingness. From her 20 plus years since immigrating, she has deduced that people perceive something unknown to them as a potential threat because it does not blend in, categorising it as something ‘bad’. This feeling, that I’m sure many immigrants alike experience, distinctly aligns with the dictionary definition of xenophobia, further revealing how rife prejudice is in the UK.  

As a second-generation immigrant, my understanding of the ‘good immigrant’ is slightly different. In an attempt to be a ‘good immigrant’, whether I even realised it or not, I faced the responsibilities of balancing societal pressures from growing up in a predominantly white area, whilst also striving to stay in touch with my culture and relate to my parents. The idea of ‘giving back’ has continued to confuse me as I am unsure towards which society my responsibility lies.

I’m left to wonder whether my parents and people alike will always need to justify their place in the UK, or whether they can call it home and truly believe it. In his book, Nikesh Sukla writes, ‘For people of colour, race is in everything we do. Because the universal experience is white.’ He reminds me that we will always be racialised, but I wonder whether we will continue to be categorised as immigrants and therefore outsiders, or people who are at home. 

Politics | Neighbourhood Watch: Exploring the Roots of Kenmure Street Protest

By Conal McGregor (he/him)

Image Description: A drawn online graphic in a portrait rectangle. The background is a sage green and in the centre is a detached dark-sage house. There are eight dark-grey hands surrounding the house trying to reach it. The arms of the hands begin at the image’s border.

On the morning of the 13th of May 2021, a van marked with the words ‘Immigration Enforcement’ arrived on Kenmure Street, in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow’s southside. Two men, Lakhvir Singh and Sumet Sehdev, were removed from their homes and detained in the van by Home Office immigration officers. Despite the fact that both men had spent more than ten years living in Scotland, they were due to be deported. However, nine hours after the immigration van arrived on Kenmure Street, it had still not departed. And the two men were freed.

In an inspiring show of community resistance, local residents physically blocked the van from leaving and demanded the release of their neighbours. A call for help was put out across social media and the crowd swelled around the van throughout the day as people from all over the city rushed to oppose the injustice they saw happening on their doorstep. Loudspeakers arrived, a local mosque set up a table handing out juice and tea, a nearby takeaway handed pizza slices to protestors. Despite a heavy police presence, the crowd, well into the hundred by the afternoon, persisted with their very simple demand: they would not move until the two men were released. Shortly before six o’clock that evening, a huge cheer went up as the immigration van doors were opened and both men were released back into the community. The neighbourhood had demanded they were treated with respect by a callous government, and they had won.

One of the first people on the scene that morning had thrown both himself and his bicycle  under the wheels of the van to ensure it stayed put. This man was part of the No Evictions Network (NEN). NEN is a Glasgow based organisation that seeks to support and protect asylum seekers within the city, particularly those in precarious living situations. NEN members were critical in spreading word of the protest on social media that day. NEN’s own Twitter account encouraged people to attend the protest, as well as issuing advice on actions protestors should take if arrested – complete with solicitor’s numbers to call. The NEN continues to train members of threatened communities on how to respond if they are aware of an immigration raid taking place.

While hugely impressive, NEN and the Kenmure Street protest are by no means unprecedented or unique. They form part of a tradition of community organisation within Glasgow that goes back decades. In Darren McGarvey’s recent documentary, Class Wars, he shines a light on the strong anti-poll tax movement that existed throughout this city, and Scotland more broadly. The poll-tax was a measure introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in 1987. The tax was extremely controversial as all adults were charged an equal amount for the services provided by the council – regardless of wealth or income. This obviously had a massively disproportionate effect on the working classes who were forced to pay the same amount as society’s richest members. In Class Wars, the tax is described as “a wealth transfusion, from poor to rich”.

McGarvey meets two veteran activists in the documentary in his native Pollok, only a ten minute drive from Kenmure Street. The activists  describe how shortly after the announcement of the poll-tax, inter-community networks were set up in order to resist its introduction through demonstrations and mass non-payal. Those who refused to pay the tax were threatened with ‘poindings’: sheriff officers would force entry to their property in order to place prices on certain items (often well below their true value) which would later be sold to recoup the debt. The so-called ‘warrant sales’ would be cruelly advertised in local newspapers. The working people of Glasgow were again determined to stand up to this injustice. Anti-poll tax unions, as they became known, created massive phone-trees of people who could respond when sheriff officers were in the area. Households held lists of known sheriff officer car registrations and when spotted would alert as many neighbours as they could. Residents would spring into action, protecting their neighbours by physically placing themselves in doorways and preventing entry of sheriff officers. Those under threat were given ample legal advice to further frustrate the work of those trying to implement the tax.
Politician and activist Tommy Sheridan describes how poindings could be like ‘gala days’ with food handed round and bonfires lit with fuel donated by local coalmen. These actions were incredibly effective, with sheriff officers often left powerless to overcome the force of whole communities gathered on the doorstep of their neighbours.

Despite being separated by a ten minute drive and thirty years worth of passing time, the similarities between the tactics of anti-poll tax unions and those of NEN are clear. Networks of people throughout a community alerting one another to a threat and physically preventing harm being enacted on vulnerable neighbours by oppressive state actors. Scotland has undergone massive changes in the thirty years that separate these events and I for one am glad to live in this more modern, progressive nation. But it’s clear that these tactics are still necessary. Despite all the progress that has been made over the past few decades, communities are still being left to fend for themselves when it comes to opposing clearly unwelcome government forces. Vulnerable groups within our society are still targets for coercion.

And this is a depressing thought, yes. But the work being done by groups in Glasgow today is a platform for all the further progress that still needs to be made. The ‘template’ of mass non-payal of the poll tax that began in Glasgow inspired further protest in working communities in England and Wales. Ultimately, it was public outcry that led  to the downfall of Margaret Thatcher and the scrapping of the poll tax. Just as we too should strive for legislative reforms to our inhumane immigration system, lessons can also be learned about how this struggle can bring us closer together. Reflecting on his own memories of the anti-poll tax struggle, McGarvey recalls that despite the challenges faced, there was an overwhelming ‘sense of possibility, sense of community, sense of connectedness’. This is what we must tap into. By showing how we value others, we too begin to feel valued. By standing up for society’s most vulnerable, we can all begin to feel more at home.

Culture | Time to Come Out: On Temporalities and Queerness

By Lucy Danoghue (she/her)Content warning: Discussions of homophobia, alcohol use

Image Description: A rectangle image with a violet border. In the centre there is a baby pink rectangle with a white-line frame in its inner border. At the top of the baby pink rectangle there is an analog clock melting into a rainbow. There is a hand reaching out for the clock located at the bottom-centre of the image.

My mum is a lesbian. She was also married to a man. That man just so happened to be my dad, and they were married for 25 years. My mum officially came out to me in June of this year, but I knew before then: my dad let it slip when we were drunk in front of the telly 3 months prior. My mum came out to me when she was 49 years old. She has only just been able to start embracing her true sexuality.

The idea of queer temporalities is one that is gaining increasing recognition in the queer community and beyond. How is the expected life path for the LGBTQIA+ community different from those who identify as cis-het? When we think of the traditional life paths people are expected to follow, we think of them as defined by big life events. Typically, this would have meant completing education, entering employment, getting married, buying a house, having children, and then retiring with a pension. However, this structure doesn’t resonate with as many people in the modern day, especially those who identify as queer. Queer people often experience ‘firsts’ later on in life – first kiss, first relationship, first sexual experience. Even if my mum wanted to defy the societal norms and be openly gay growing up, same sex marriage wasn’t legalised in Scotland until 2014, when I was 12. The options just haven’t been there for queer people. So where does that leave individuals who have lived their whole lives hiding who they really are? In a way, it’s quite exciting to be accepted for who you are after such a long time being suppressed. However, I felt a kind of grief for my mum when she came out to me. A grief for a life not lived. I couldn’t help but feel that, if society had accepted her when she was questioning her sexuality as a  21 year old, she would’ve experienced a more authentic self. I can’t imagine how much of a relief it was for my mum to finally be in a relationship with a woman after so many years of hiding her true self.

People in my generation have been coming out earlier in life. A study by Stonewall, a prominent LGBTQIA+ charity, attributed this partially to an increase in queer role models. Nowadays, there is a variety of media targeted towards teens and young adults that include LGBTQIA+ characters, for example, Sex Education. Often, queer people are portrayed as side characters to a plot that doesn’t revolve around their own stories. In contrast, each character in Sex Education has their own plotline that the average viewer can easily relate to. Personally, I’ve felt quite comfortable telling my flatmates I’m bisexual. All 12 of us have piled into a single room and binged season 3 of Sex Education on a tiny laptop, opening discussions about a variety of sexuality-based issues. Despite the abundant queer representation as a whole, the central character is still a straight white male and the show implies most queer people are having sex aged 16 which, unlike a lot of straight teenagers, probably isn’t the case. It’s difficult for many teenagers to be openly queer, so they may find it harder to contact other queer people. Additionally, although my school taught about same sex relationships, the conversation never included the physicalities of queer sex. The only thing I remember from sex ed is putting a condom on a banana. If you’re a cis-het person who has never had sex, the whole thing is confusing enough; however, it’s even harder if you’ve never been taught how to have sex as a queer person. Parts of the show don’t represent the timeline of most queer people’s lives very accurately, and we need to be careful not to let the media portray society as perfectly accepting.

Time, and how we experience it, is arguably a social construct. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that many queer people miss out on the freedom to be themselves from a young age, something that a lot of us take for granted. Queer activist Zanele Muholi encapsulates the struggle queer people experience in creating their own timelines: ‘If I wait for someone else to validate my existence, it will mean that I’m shortchanging myself.’ Because, cliche as it is, life is short. And God knows, we’ve only got one. 

Sex, No City | Your First Month in Rural Ireland

By Lola O’Brien Dele (she/her)

It’s week two of your mid-degree gap year. You’re living in rural Ireland. You’re standing in a bathroom that was built to only accommodate a single occupant, but currently has you and five men crowded into it, and one of said men is stroking your bare legs.

The name of the man with his hand halfway up your skirt is something solid and Irish. He’s about the same height as you, and you usually only sleep with men taller than 6 foot (you’re 5’9 and you wear big platform shoes; you feel that gives you the right to be choosy), but he looks like Alex Karev from Grey’s Anatomy, if Alex Karev was a hippie, and that combination is doing something to your insides.

His fingers are gently tracing circles up the back of your legs, working their way up and up until his knuckle brushes against your arse cheek. It is incredibly tender and incredibly horny.

When he guides you out of the bathroom and pulls you into a closet, you let him. You let him kiss you roughly, with his hands in your hair. And then, suddenly, your nose is bleeding, and everything is red. Your hands, your lips; his hands, his lips. You can taste copper on his tongue. It’s really hot, that copper taste. You should probably unpack that at some point, but now’s not the time.

A girl must have seen his hand on your lower back or something, because later, when you’re alone with her, bonding over your shared 50mg Sertraline and 30mg Propranolol prescriptive cocktail, she informs you that he has a girlfriend. Suddenly it makes sense as to why you were getting off in a closet.

Your first attempt at dating in Kerry was decidedly unsuccessful. But you persevere.

You start obsessing over the sous-chef at the restaurant you work at. At first, you can’t decide whether she’s hot or if she’s just wearing chef’s linens, but then one day, as she hands you the confit tomatoes for table seven, she winks at you, and you black out for a second. Definitely hot.

She seems quite oblivious to your rather obvious attempts at flirting (being mean to somebody is obviously flirting, right?), but you can’t decide whether that’s because 1) she has seen your ridiculously long acrylic nails and has assumed that you’re straight, 2) she has a girlfriend, or 3) she is not queer.

You’re explaining all of this to your therapist over the phone, and when you’re finished, she is silent for a while. The line crackles slightly, before she says, ‘Has it occurred to you that she just might not find you attractive?’. It had not.

You’ve taken another L recently, as well. You had been sleeping with a friend of yours sporadically for about a year and a half. The morning after your last night together you decided that you actually kind of adore him. When you attempt to tell him this, in a way that doesn’t make you seem soft, he texts back,

‘You’re probably feeling a little worried about (?)  leaving Glasgow for a whole year. I’d say you should just enjoy your time away and not think too much about what’s going on here. Year’s a long time for all sorts to change isn’t it’.

This is the most profoundly embarrassing message you have ever received in your life. You respond with a simple ‘Lol’ and now, since you’re not very good at dealing with rejection, you’re going to pretend to yourself and everyone around you that this never happened.

This pretence doesn’t last long – you call several of your best friends to tell them about the extremity of your mortification. They all respond, ‘Well, he’s not exactly wrong is he’.

He’s not wrong, and that’s what makes this so acutely embarrassing. He’s clearly sweet and thoughtful and incredibly perceptive, and though you’d never admit to him being right, he is definitely not wrong.

You weren’t worried exactly, about leaving Glasgow, but you do miss it. You miss your friends; your flat; the little dog you dogsat. You miss it all so much it hurts. Life in Ireland is lovely. It’s serene and beautiful and fun and simple, but you tend to thrive off chaos, and since there is none, you’re creating your own. You’re texting the Friend more often than you did when you lived in the same city, and (Dear God) smiling at his responses. And then there’s the Ex. You’re obsessing over the people you have left behind; the things you regret doing; the things you regret not doing.

But the thing is this: you’re not really leaving anything behind, you’re just…putting it all down for a while. It’ll still be there to pick back up again. In the meantime, sex, no city, awaits.

A Guide to Radical Crafting | Life in Plastic, It’s Fantastic

By Izzy Chowdhury (she/they)

The best way to dismantle capitalism is to DO IT YOURSELF, so here we are. Crafting. And, where better place to start than with, arguably, the  most capitalist of capitalist materials – plastic. For years, we have used crafting to combat capitalism by using our own resources to acquire goods that we need. Instead of relying on big corporations to sell us these items, we can DO-IT-OURSELVES. There is something fantastic about getting closer to your items – an unparalleled intimacy to handcrafting their origin story.

Plastic is everywhere – it’s in the ocean, it’s in your food and it’s in someone’s breast milk. That is bad, so bad. But the best way for us to combat this (other than lobbying the elite into submission) is also by helping those in need with it. On average, plastic bags take about 1,000 years to decompose in landfill. But they never really decompose in a safe way; when they break down, the microplastics become bastardised nutrients for the earth. You’re doing the world a favour for saying eff you to single-use!

But enough about plastic lore – let’s into the nitty gritty.

We’re going to make some crochet mats made out of plastic bags. These can be used for plenty of things, but they’re especially good for those who need a place to lie without getting terribly cold. This project can even be used to make your own bag, with as many different supermarket colours as your heart desires.

This craft is a bit rough on your hands so be careful. Plastic isn’t as pliant as wool meaning that it’ll be a lot tougher to manoeuvre; the upside is that it’s a lot harder to break. So all in all, it’s a pretty good win.


  2. 1 CROCHET HOOK (10MM or above)

PART ONE: acquire yarn

  1. Lay your plastic bag flat, and cut off the handles and the bottom of the bag (but don’t cut the sides!)
  1. Cut the bag into 4-6 strips, so that they become loops of plastic
  1. With these rings, loop them until they become one long plastic yarn thread. To do this, take one of your plastic loops, feed another one in through it, so it’s right under the top of the first one. Together, the plastic loops should form a (very rough and plasticy) T shape. Pull one end of the second loop (the horizontal one) over its other end. Pull tight and you should have a knot!
  1. Repeat steps 1-3, and add them to the last part of the thread until you’re left with one big ball of plastic yarn!

PART TWO: crochet

This part might be a bit difficult for those who don’t know how to crochet already but have no fear – it’s a piece of cake once you’ve got the hang of it.

  1. With your crochet hook, create a slip knot.
  1. Chain about 45 cm, so around 43 chain stitches
  1. Single crochet! Go into the second loop from the hook and go at it! Continue crocheting until the end of the chain, chain one, and turn over and do It again.
  1. Complete step 3 until you reach about 2 metres long

Tie a knot and voila, you’re done! A mat to give to someone who might need it!

The best thing about this craft is that you can use it for so many other things – a doormat, a bathroom mat, a place mat etc. You didn’t spend a pound at all. You’re helping the environment one mat at a time. Go you.

More information on how to do this month’s craft can be seen at this link:

Science & Tech | Finding Solace in SEGA

By Cameron Rhodes (he/him)

From music to video games, many of the things that I experienced in my childhood have become nostalgic for me – to the point that they serve as a comfort for me later in life. The first video game I properly played was Super Mario Galaxy when I was five years old – I originally thought it was a DVD and was excited to watch it, but then my parents took me downstairs and showed me the Wii that they had been hiding until that moment.

That game has stood out to me ever since, and revisiting the soundtrack many times has had a positive effect on me. In particular, the level ‘Space Junk Galaxy’ and its alluring piano soundtrack has helped me avoid sleepless nights, and given me great support in general. In a sea of battle royale games, older games such as the Mario, Pokémon and Lego franchises all still stand the test of time. There is much stigma against these ‘childish’ games, but when these games give comfort to a whole generation of people, what is the point of diminishing that? There is the general opinion that playing video games is childish in itself, but I wholeheartedly believe that this is the wrong impression to have of those who are still playing games as an adult. Primarily during quarantine, I revisited games I had played as a child, and even different versions of these games; when I was younger I played Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon White 2, and thinking about these games rekindled a passion for other classics, like Platinum, which I had never played before and found to be a vastly improved version of Diamond and Pokémon Ultra Moon.  I think my enjoyment of these games from my childhood comes from their familiarity: doing familiar things in unknown circumstances can provide such joy and reassurance.

This joy is echoed by the soundtracks of games. I can sometimes now just sit in the menu of a game and absorb the music; the classic ‘Bith Band Theme’ from Star Wars has more effect on me from the Lego game rather than the actual film franchise. It doesn’t even have to be soundtracks from games that evoke this sense of nostalgia, it can simply be start up noises and basic menu themes, whether that be the PS2 intro theme – which almost blasts you away from your chair – or the host of charming Wii themes, such as the menu and the Mii Channel. These nuggets of sounds can create an incredibly safe and friendly environment, especially during tougher times.

This therapeutic effect is shared across all media: from watching comfort shows to listening to your favourite albums. Comfort is conveyed across all art forms, and video games do not deserve the undermining they receive with respect to other media. Video games also arguably serve the largest community platform as they have become a very accessible means of communication, where players can easily discuss their same passions within the same games. Although it must be conceded that across the spectrum of many multiplayer games there is a lot of toxicity, with the variety of great games out there, there is also a great variety of communities to go along with them.
Quarantine saw a vast amount of players come together to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons, where players could visit one another’s villages and also swap villagers, even becoming a business where players could pay for certain characters. Animal Crossing is one of those games where it holds out a slice of a simple life, consisting of just farming, fishing and more. This provides a soothing atmosphere as it gives meaning to ‘simple’ tasks and there is no need to focus on anything else. I could happily fish in Animal Crossing for hours, as the type of fish is constantly changing. Games that have structure like this can be a very relaxing experience, where one doesn’t have to think too hard whilst playing.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, difficult games from childhood can also be satisfying, even now. I know for a fact that at 10 years of age I was much better at Sonic Heroes than my current self. I’ve revisited that game and actually become frustrated with it, but I still manage to keep a smile on my face when I hear the corny 2000’s hard rock intro by ‘Crush 40’.

Video games are such a genuine form of media when created from the heart, though more often in the hands of indie developers rather than money-hungry corporations. They provide a stable network to meet and talk to new people, as well as offering solace to us in hard times. Great games become golden when looked at through the warm lenses of nostalgia, and the best part about old video games is that they can be as entertaining as any modern game, with the added bonus of reliving great memories, and creating new, happy ones with every playthrough.

Style & Beauty | A Case for the Universal Appeal of Anime Fashion

By Merial Dhanowa (she/her)

Anime is a goldmine for unique character designs that allow artists to showcase their creativity. But often, when a glamorous image of a femme-presenting sci-fi character is released, it is speculated that she exists solely to pander to the male gaze. However, this isn’t always the case, and in fact for many femme-presenting characters, their costumes are not only integral to the values and story of that charcter, but are also a source of empowerment.  

 Anime has a genre for everyone: this includes the shojo (girl) genre, intended for a young female audience. Magical girl is a subgenre of shojo, and explores superhero stories with a feminine twist, the most famous being Sailor Moon. These heroines defend the Earth whilst wearing sparkling dresses, and transform into their superhero personas with the aid of magical accessories that they activate at will. These characters do have agency; this agency, in itself, implies that their femininity can provide them with strength.

Of course, these outfits wouldn’t work in a real battle zone​​ – but that’s the beauty of animation. It removes the air of logic that permeates live action; therefore, the characters can wear whatever they like without it being impractical. If the artist can draw it, anything is possible. In sci-fi and fantasy genres, the stories take place in worlds with magic and technology that could never exist in the real world. Therefore, the audience is already aware that this is not the place for realism. In addition, a lot of these iconic magical girl outfits were designed by female manga artists, such as Naoko Takeuchi, the creator of Sailor Moon. Others include Mia Ikumi, who illustrated Tokyo Mew Mew; the Kamikita twins who design the characters of the Pretty Cure franchise; and CLAMP, an all-female manga group.

Magical girl outfits also serve to make it clear that in many cases, action is not always the focus of the story. Most of an episode or a chapter will spend time exploring the characters’ hopes, dreams, and interpersonal relationships before they go into battle. As a result, they give the opportunity to tell stories from a feminine perspective, and  magical girl storylines are ones where peace-loving protagonists triumph, determined to find alternatives to violence. No matter how terribly some antagonists initially behave towards them, magic girls’  keep their resolve and remain kind, unwilling to give up who they are, spreading the message that kindness should be valued and that one can solve a conflict without excessive violence, as well as highlighting the importance of mental and emotional strength.

Empowering feminine dress is not limited to this genre and there are notable examples of fashion-conscious characters in all genres of anime – especially in sci-fi and fantasy. Hirohiko Araki, creator of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, has drawn inspiration from high fashion when designing his characters, and even collaborated with Gucci in 2013. The latest part of Jojo to be adapted into anime has a female protagonist, Jolyne Kujo, who is one of the main characters used in the Gucci one-shot collaboration. In many cases such as this one, instead of being a vehicle for male objectification, a character’s clothing choices tell us more about them as a person – Jolyne’s style mirrors her headstrong character while her clothing becomes a motif within the one-shot to provide scope for reflection on her late mother. Another instance would be Hunter x Hunter’s Biscuit Krueger. Biscuit is a very strong martial artist who alters her appearance to be feminine because that is the style she chooses. Shinobu Kocho from Demon Slayer, who’s fighting techniques are insect-themed, has a strong butterfly motif throughout her uniform. In this way, a character’s outfit helps them to stand out as an iconic figure in their franchise. As a result many of these characters have amassed large femme-presenting fanbases, who recreate their iconic outfits through cosplay.

While there are anime characters whose costumes do obviously attract the male gaze, these costumes do not always exist solely for viewing pleasure. It’s not always as simple as good representation versus bad representation. Traditionally feminine characters who appeal to male spectators may still have thought-provoking personalities and character arcs which many fans find empowering, and so should perhaps be critiqued with more depth than a purely aesthetic analysis. Their looks are only one aspect of their value: Fairy Tail’s Erza Scarlet is known just as much for her fierce loyalty to her found family and being one of the strongest warriors in the guild as she is for her wardrobe of close-fitting armor.

Anime is a medium that presents an abundance of multifaceted female characters with visual appeal. Their costumes are a defining part of their character and makes them instantly recognizable, helping to cement their iconic status. This making of an icon is an inspiration to fans, proving the power in femininity and that fantasy fashion can appeal to all.

Creative Writing | Stain in the Sea

By Meli Vasiloudes Bayada (she/her)

Image Description: A square image with a figure in purple clothing, embracing large orange slices.

the sound of cicadas in my ears, all day, every day

cicadas that never shut up

the smell of old traditional houses when you open the doors after a while

sea salt in my eyes and the sand in my hair

being able to see both of the mountain ranges at the same time

figs and apricots and grapes picked ripe from my grandmother’s trees

and eating food while sitting in her fields

thunderstorms during a heatwave

the one day of the year when it snows

old cobbled streets and old men and kids sitting on doorsteps

endless songs and stories from my grandpa

fields full of yellow flowers

green fields that dry up and then become green again

when the sun sets into the sea

an orange orb

and the mountains seem purple

and being able to drive around the whole island in a day

on dirt-roads with rusted signs that say LARA

and falling asleep where the waves break

and waking up drenched in sweat

making plans at the last minute and ending up at the beach again

sitting in the sun for hours

counting cats and palm trees

I don’t always love you Cyprus

and sometimes you really piss me off and I want to leave for good

but the other day when I saw you from the plane window while we were landing

I saw you whole rather than divided

a stain in the sea

and it made my heart break

The following text is the original Greek version of the poem.

Μέλη Βασιλούδη Παγιάτα

τους γρύλλους μέστα αφκιά μου μέρα νύχτα πρωί μεσημέρι

γρύλλους που ποττέ εν σκάζουν

την μυρωδκιά άμαν αννοίεις παλιά πλιθαρένα σπίθκια μετά που τζαιρό

την αρμύρα μέστα μάθκια μου τζαι τον άμμον μέστα μαλλιά μου

να θωρώ τζαι τα θκυό βουνά τζαι τη θάλασσα την ίδιαν ώρα

σύκα τζαι καισιά τζαι σταφύλια που τα δέντρα της γιαγιάς

να τρώω χαμαί μέστα χωράφκια

καταιγίδες μέστον καύσωνα

την μίαν ημέρα του χρόνου που σιονίζει

παλιά δρομούθκια τζαι γέρους τζαι μώρα να κάθουνται πόξω που τις πόρτες

ατέλειωτα τραούθκια τζαι ιστορίες του παππου

τζίτρινες λαψάνες ώσπου πάει το μάτι σου

πράσινα που γίνουνται ξερά τζαι μετά ξανά πράσινα

άμαν δύει ο ήλιος στη θάλασσα

μια πορτοκαλιά μάππα

τζαι τα βουνά να φαίνουνται μώβ

να γυρίζω ούλλον το νησί σε μιαν ημέρα

σε χωματόδρομους με αγιωμένες ταπέλλες που γράφουν ΛΑΡΑ

να ποτζοιμούμαι πάστο κύμα

τζαι να ξυπνώ που τα δρώματα

να κάμμω σχέδια τελευταίο λεπτό τζαι να καταλήγω πάλε θάλασσα

να κάθουμαι στον ήλιον με τις ώρες

να μετρώ κάττες τζαι φοινιτζιές

ένσε αγαπώ πάντα

τζαι κάποτε σπάζεις μου τα νέυρα τζαι θέλω να φύω για πάντα

αλλά μιαν μέραν προχτές που σε είδα που το παράθυρο σαν εκάθετουν το αεροπλάνο

είδα σε ολόκληρη

μια τάτσα μέστην θάλασσα

τζαι έσπασεν η καρκιά μου


Co-editors-in-chief | Eilidh Akilade and Tiana Meehan

Editorial Director | Lillian Salvatore

Features Editor | Anest Williams

Culture Editors | Sophia Archontis and James Taylor

Politics Editor | Conal McGregor

Style & Beauty Editor | Lucy McLaughlin

Science & Tech Editor | Kieren Mehta

Creative Writing Editor | Hannah George

Copy Editors | Megan Farrimond and Meg Gray

Running Columnists | Izzie Chowdhury and Lola O’Brien-Dele

Columnists | Rosa Gilder, Jackson Harvey, Cameron Rhodes, and Marta Zarantonello

Visuals Director | Magdalena Stryzczkowska

Graphic Designer (Print) | Giulia Saporito

Graphic Designer (Journal) | Jessica Harle

Art & Photography Curator | Eliza Hart

 Editorial Artists  | Ella Edwards, Eliza Hart, Olivia Juett, Magdalena Julia Kasut, and Seania Strain

Website Manager | Nadim Ouf

Social Media Managers | Violet Maxwell and Mia Squire

Business Director | Jade Harries

Advertising Manager | Roisin Craig

Events Managers | Marta Pryzgodzka and Jess Sullivan

Accessibility and Inclusion Officer | Ross Tanner

Glasgow University Magazine




The Liminality of Our New Experience – Evie Glen

Grow Old With Me – Lillian Salvatore


The Mutability of Modern Music – Sophie Boyd

The Secret Histories of Dark Academia – Lola O’Brien-Dele

Art & Photography

Live Twice – Mary Lydon


Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Meg Russell

Climate Anxiety: the Latest Pandemic – Sorrel Humphrey

Style & Beauty

MILF by Esme Lloyd

The Aesthetics of Heartbreak by Esther Molleson

Sci & Tech

The Phases of Lunar Love – Melissa Tipping

What’s in Season – Andrew Rogers

Creative Writing

A Crowded Place – Naomi Maeve

Everything Will be Fine – Rebecca Kane

Editors’ Note |Flux

Dear Reader,

We came out of this year and a half of yoyo-lockdowns, thinking we were “ready”: we thought we had done enough growing up, enough working on ourselves, enough healing. We thought wrong. Rather, we’ve stumbled out into this uncharted space between certainty and uncertainty. We don’t really know where anything, including ourselves, stands – emotionally, socially, or politically.

FLUX embodies the quarter-life-crisis. It’s an ode to discomfort, transgressions, and fear, but also to the joy that comes with these; there is, afterall, a certain peace to be found in impernance, in mess and chaos. We don’t think we’ve found it yet – but god loves a trier.

In this issue, we look to the collective, through a collective: the collective of our team, our contributors, and, now, our readers. We hope you feel this – to us, it’s palpable.

Laced between these pages we hope you’ll find a well needed reminder that you are not in this alone. Environmental degradation getting to you? Unpack your climate anxiety with us. Mummy issues? Talk MILFS with us. Crying in the club? Us too – second to last page.

If FLUX is a party, then we’re IN THE BATHROOM. This issue’s shoot seeks to centre a sense of intimacy and vulnerability found in our bathrooms. Behind these doors is a refuge from the chaos outside; and so, dear reader, we’ve welcomed you in.

In all honesty, this issue and its production is a bit too ‘meta’: FLUX is about change and discomfort and not really knowing what the fuck you’re doing; as we’ve pulled it together, we’ve dealt with change, we’ve sat in our own discomfort, and – quite frankly – we have not once known what the fuck we’ve been doing. It feels quite nice to admit that, if a little too vulnerable.

We’ll see you again, in the spring, when – hopefully – we have our shit a little bit more together.

With love, Eilidh + Tiarna

Features |The Liminality of Our New Experience

Words by Evie Glen (she/her)

Art by Alistair Quietsch (he/him)

Image descriptions: On a beige background, a woman steps into a grey door, leading to a forest. The door is surrounding by an abstract red shape morphing into a face. At the top of the shape is another door, with an arrow leading to it.

We search for certainties. As creatures of habit, it is in our nature to evade any profound sense of uncertainty. Such would prevent the ability to construct plans, routines, and schedules, to develop new relationships, preserve old ones, or maintain any form of order in our lives. When a global pandemic made this void inescapable, we were thrust simultaneously from our individually constructed customs towards one single, internationally prevailing, regime. However, while in theory this regime – in its destruction of our accustomed routines – may seem far from regimental, in practice the impositions of lockdown provided a sense of certainty that filled some of the aforementioned void. By consequence, as the strict regime of lockdown began to ease, this void swelled. Caught within a strange emulsion of pandemic and pre-pandemic life, we are now occupying a vast liminal space that is perhaps more disconcerting than our time spent in isolation.

In the spring of 2020, with no idea when, how, or if lockdown would end, the world – united in uncertainty – came trembling to a halt. We were confined to a restless stagnation. Such an involuntary idleness, seemingly void of any structure or routine, would understandably quicken the heartbeat, dry the mouth, and seize the muscles of those most willing to contemplate the prospect. This stagnation, however, was a paradox from the beginning. Arbitrary and uncertain by definition, yet imposed by regime, our restless dormancy was perhaps not as unpredictable as the prospect might suggest. For one, the knowledge that we were in the nexus of a pandemic was indisputable. So too was the knowledge that we must see nobody but those within our household, must not travel to work or school, must cancel all social commitments, and simply stay inside, indisputable. This certainty, insomuch that we knew precisely what not to do, cushioned the ambiguity of an otherwise unprecedented time. When these restrictions blurred, however, this ambiguity emerged to prominence, imposing a state of liminality upon our lives.

Within this state of liminality, our uncertainty reaches peak levels. We are balancing upon a tightrope between two certainties: certain risk and certain safety. We lack the fearful adrenaline that would preoccupy our minds in the certain risk of the pandemic, yet our shoulders are not quite unburdened by a feeling of unequivocal safety that can only be achieved by a confirmation of the pandemic’s end. Despite this, we try to live a normal life. Motivated in part by a desperation to return to a pre-covid reality and a feeling that we must make up for lost time while we have the freedom to do so, we try our best to forget cases are rising. While we share the recycled breath of a hundred strangers in a 400 sqft club, we try our best to forget the 18 months spent at a 2 metre distance from everyone. As we taste the stale dregs of festival beer that showers down from a plastic cup thrown by a boy in a garish  green bucket hat, we try our best to forget the death toll still habitually updated on the morning news. We make every futile attempt to talk of the pandemic as an anecdote of times gone by, but it does not stop our ears pricking up every time someone coughs.

With the prospect of 10 days in isolation and incessant rumours of yet another  lockdown, we feebly grasp our recovered freedoms – our hand weakened by an uncertainty around  how long these freedoms will last. Thus, this transitional period is made substantially more difficult by a nonexistence of outcome. When such profound and ambiguous change is not coupled with a certain ending, a feeling of emotional stability is entirely unattainable. This feeling of instability becomes particularly concentrated when the changes inherent within the pandemic are coupled with significant change.

This liminal period has been especially exhausting for new students. Generally, when starting university there is an urgency to do as much and meet as many people as possible, or risk not acclimatising. This year, then, freshers face a vexing conundrum. Should they choose to go out with a different group of people, to a different bar every night, accepting the risk of 10 days in isolation while those single-night friends continue their lives together? Alternatively, they could limit their contact with everyone, in the hopes of preserving their freedom, though in doing so accept the risk of not making any friends at all. Either way, there remains an abject difficulty in any attempts to settle into university life when neither your social circle nor your freedom is certain. This difficulty has contributed to the emergence of a new variant of covid anxiety. Such is not necessarily modelled by a hypochondriacal fear of the virus, but by fears of abandonment and loneliness. These fears are characteristic of an uncertain transitional period.

As we traverse the vast expanse of this liminal space, we understandably question what is next. Following the social upheaval of the pandemic, there is a desire to return to the normality of pre-pandemic times. This concept of normality, however, is warped by the rose coloured glass of nostalgia. Such a desire to return to the past, entirely in search of a sense of familiarity, is futile – not least because that familiarity is nonexistent. We cannot reverse the social metamorphosis of the pandemic. Instead, we have no other option but to endure the uncertainty, in a bid to carve out our individual places within this immense and ever-evolving space.

Features | Grow Old with Me

Words by Lillian Salvatore (she/her)

A few years ago, I attended a weekend-long conference on writing and the publishing industry. I sat in on discussions given by different writers, artists, and publishers around the UK. The closing talk was given by a man at the top of his game, an important figure in Scottish journalism and publishing; he was someone I looked up to and greatly admired. I was excited for his talk, eager to take notes on how I could one day be a part of this industry. But instead, I kept my notebook closed as he insisted throughout his talk that the young people of today would never be able to achieve what he and others his age had all achieved, that we are a ‘lazy’ and ‘entitled’ generation who could never put in the same amount of effort as he had. He helped make his industry what it is today, and he insisted that young people were going to come in and ruin it all. It was a horrible thing to hear, and I left the conference feeling disheartened and angry that someone I had respected and admired could ever hold those opinions about someone, simply because of their age.

Ageism is a form of discrimination that touches us all. It’s not something that just one ‘group’ of people experience, but affects everybody. While we may think, as I thought at that time, that ageism is something predominantly directed toward older people, younger generations experience it often too. In traditional workspaces, for example, we are often told that we need experience to be considered for jobs; but experience is hard to get when no one will employ you without it. Within the UK, the National Minimum Wage is structured hierarchically by age, so that younger people make far less than their fellow employees who do the same work, simply because they may be twice their age. Often, the attitudes toward young people in traditional professional industries run by older people in power can be negative, and young people are seen as far more incompetent than their older fellow employees, who have both time and experience behind them.

The reactions we feel as young people experiencing ageism are also felt by older people. Ageism feeds on fear, that we are one day going to become old, that we have become that old person. But this ‘fear’ is constructed by our society; it is not real, and it is something that we can work to dismantle. Notions of ageism follow us around everywhere in western society, but they are inherently biased toward the younger generations. Western society’s perception of ‘old people’ is often viewed through common stereotypes that we associate with older generations, such as being kind and generous, but also needy and unstable. While there are both positive and negative stereotypes surrounding older people, a recent survey conducted by the non-profit organisation Centre for Ageing Better, found that perceptions about older people were upheld by mostly negative stereotypes.

In popular culture, representations of older people lean into these stereotypes, but rarely supply us with a different view. There is an overwhelmingly persistent aesthetic of youthfulness within film, fashion, and social media which blatantly disregards the experiences of older people, particularly older women. It is no secret that the film industry contributes massively to ageism as narratives about older women are rarely given screen time, instead favouring younger stories and indeed, younger actors. Major magazines and fashion houses still insist on using predominantly young models to model clothes, and the makeup and skin care industry’s ‘anti-ageing’ serum has been translated into skin-smoothing filters on Instagram. Western society has capitalized on stereotypes about older people and fuelled ageism so that the beauty standard has become ‘youth’. Those that do not conform to these standards will rarely see themselves reflected in our popular culture as anything more than ‘outsiders.’ As a result of this, we are persistently told that the experiences of older people are unimportant within our society. Their voices are practically silenced, marginalised and deemed unnecessary within the evolution of popular culture.

We also need to recognise that from a very young age, ageism becomes an internalised problem too. There are societal expectations placed upon us from a very young age, such as the right ‘time’ for having sex, getting a degree, buying a house, and having children. If we haven’t achieved these things by the ‘correct age’, then the older we become without having done so, the lesser we become as a person. We start aging the second we’re born, and from then onwards we are conditioned to think that ageing is bad, that it’s negative. Coupled with the representation of old people in popular culture, becoming ‘old’ is an undesirable quality to possess. A natural fact of our existence as human beings is something we are made to feel shameful of, something we grow to hate.

The man who gave that final talk was a wealthy white man who has benefitted from the help of other wealthy white men throughout his career and his life. I find it easy to be appalled by his ageist attitudes toward young people, but I also find it interesting to see that his ageism toward young people is perhaps built on the fear that people who are not white or straight or male are one day going to work in his industry and by doing so, insight change. Older generations may hold certain views on young people not just because of their age, but because of the change we represent. Western culture has long thrived on patriarchal, heteronormative ideologies, and today, with the advancement of social media and technology, young people are able to spread their opinions more widely, and for many of us, it is a desire to make change within our longstanding patriarchal society. Ageism feeds ageism feeds ageism. It’s difficult to imagine dismantling something which is so intrinsically inherent within all of us. But it is worth taking the time to step back, look up and recognise that while, as young people, we often have it bad, so do older generations. It is something that seems impossible to break down because it is so fundamentally written into the fabric of our society, but recognising that our worth is not intrinsically tied to our age is a good place to begin.

Culture | The Mutability of Modern Music

Words by Sophie Boyd (she/her)

Art by Olivia Juett (she/her)

Image description: Against a black background, an ear is shown. It’s blue, orange, and yellow, and filled with what looks like soundwaves.

“The Cramps, for me, were the dawning of everything, luring me to distant musical shores. The discovery that a vast proportion of their repertoire was actually obscure ‘50s and ‘60s cover versions led me to seek out and savour the delights of the originals…” – Sam Knee, ‘A Scene In Between: Tripping through the Fashions of UK Indie Music 1980-1988’.

Over lockdown, I heavily relied on music as a coping mechanism. Buying vinyls online filled the long, repetitive days. I constantly made playlists for my friends, not simply because I wanted to create something meaningful for them, but because it kept my mind distracted from the stress that life had become. I crammed my head with so many different genres and styles: as a result I didn’t have space to listen to my own anxieties. I would never have found some of those artists without the endless time I now had to troll through vinyl websites and Spotify. I could finally properly examine the nature of the music itself.

From what I can gather, current music is an amalgamation of past styles and sounds repeated for us to experience in the present. Listening to an older album can transport you to another time; whether that’s to listening to a CD as a child, or exploring music from decades before you were born, times you may otherwise fail to have any insight into. Some of our most celebrated modern artists take directly from the past and form connections through time that never existed until that song was created. The perfect example of how artists do this is through sampling. Famously, Destiny’s Child sampled Stevie Nicks’ ‘Edge of Seventeen’ guitar riff in their song ‘Bootylicious’, and their music video even featured a cameo of Nicks playing her guitar. It’s vastly different to Stevie Nicks’ own witchy folk songs, yet the tune lends itself perfectly to the upbeat 90s anthem, constructing a totally different audio atmosphere. Frank Ocean’s ‘White Ferrari’ samples The Beatles’ ‘Here, There and Everywhere’. This seemingly seamless sample manages to effortlessly repurpose a song from the sixties into a queer love song of 2016.

Despite huge progress in technological advancement, there has been a noticeable revival of formerly retired listening formats in the last decade or so. Vinyl has made a mainstream reappearance while some artists have even started selling their music on cassette and CD. Regardless of the ease of listening to music on our phones, many audiophiles prefer to consume their media through a more practically involved system that can at times seem ritualistic. Maybe we stubbornly remain in the past because ‘the times’ are bringing us right back to our childhoods, a comforting kiss on the cheek, a welcome home. Vinyl sales went up massively over lockdown, perhaps due to a nostalgic longing for a simpler time. The relief of being able to transport yourself through time to a different childhood world can give listeners a freedom that they might struggle to reach elsewhere. This pleasure isn’t restricted to the technology itself: the physical rummaging for a material object can feel grounding too. When time is so mutable and unforgiving, the opportunity to recognise your own presence in the world through simple acts, like treasure hunting in a flea market, can bring great consolation.

The music industry appears to stretch into the past and the future simultaneously. New software in audio production has enabled music to be made by AI artists who don’t exist in the material world. Digital musical instruments were showcased by Samson Young at the Talbot Rice Gallery in 2019, and the exhibition shone as a prime example of just how limitless music has become. The show was a collaboration between Young and The University of Edinburgh’s Next Generation Sound Synthesis (NESS) research group, who created a software that can play the sounds of long forgotten or imaginary instruments. Music transcends our very conceptions of time.

We live in an age of experimentation, in which electronica has flourished. Digitally created music can be produced without geographical limits or even a recording studio. Artists like SOPHIE and Arca both refuse to conform to gender binaries; it’s fitting that their music likewise refuses to conform. Electronica ushers in a new freedom of expression rare in other genres. Charli XCX’s How I’m Feeling Now was composed through lockdown and gave us insight into her own experiences of the pandemic and the effect it has had on her music. Without the upheaval of COVID-19, it is unlikely we would have heard these creations at all.

The strain put on musicians through COVID meant that some were more inclined to use the time to delve into new genres. Taylor Swift’s Evermore and Folklore strayed from her usual Americana Country Pop and instead presented haunting indie ballads, gaining her many new fans. Softer and calmer bedroom pop has also thrived at a time when other forms of music making, like live music, could not. Clairo’s new album Sling offered us sad, quiet melodies, seemingly reflective of the time.

Integrating the past and future into modern music constructs relationships and connections through time, allowing us to realise the never-ending possibilities of music and the depth of its abilities to help us cope – and, sometimes, thrive.

Culture | The Secret Histories of Dark Academia

Words byLola O’Brien Dele (she/her)

Art by Ella Edwards (she/her)

CW: Discussions of race

Image description: A person of colour is depicted wearing a dark brown suit, holding a book. Beige background.

Picture this: polished black oxfords. A tweed blazer. Lipstick stains on coffee cups, annotations in old books, wire glasses, and fountain pens. Gothic architecture. Worn leather satchels. Grecian Statues. This is Dark Academia, the online aesthetic, subculture, and visual philosophy born on Tumblr, but popularised during the pandemic on Tiktok and Instagram. COVID-19 left university students in limbo; away from their campuses and their friends, their educations put on an indefinite pause. It’s unsurprising that some students took to recreating the feeling and idea of academia in their bedrooms.

On the surface, Dark Academia is simply a way of romanticising the daily grind of student life. It teaches you to embrace dark and stormy weather, light some scented candles, drink a glass of red wine or a steaming cup of coffee, and enjoy studying.

It makes a ritual of learning. Dark academics prioritise learning disciplines like Classics, Literature, and History; in a culture where the arts and humanities are often dismissed as unemployable and ‘soft’, education is treated as a commodity, and the corporatization of universities is rapid, there is something quite radical about learning purely for the love of learning.

But the deeper you delve into the online world of Dark Academia, the more prescriptive the experience gets. There are thousands of blogs detailing the perfumes you should wear (either delicately floral, or musky and woody), the hobbies you should take up (classical piano, badminton, and archery), even the accent you should try to speak in (“British”, or at the very least, Transatlantic). They teach the aspiring dark academic to learn French, Italian, and Latin; to listen to Mozart and Tchaikovsky; to read Oscar Wilde and Sylvia Plath; to attend universities like Oxbridge, Durham, Edinburgh, or our very own University of Glasgow. It becomes very clear, quite quickly, that the lifestyle they are glorifying is one of old money, wealth, status, and whiteness. This is a subculture nostalgic for an imagined existence on an elite college campus of a bygone era.

One thing it seems to have embraced quite wholeheartedly is segregation. It is a visual philosophy obsessed with both exclusion and homogeneity. As you scroll through the Dark Academia tag on TikTok, Tumblr, or Pinterest, the only faces you should expect to see are white, gender-conforming, and with an air of private school about them. What perhaps began as a love of learning and passion for academia has evolved into the upholding of a culture that perpetuates elitism, classism, and racism. ‘Dead Poets Society’ and ‘Kill your Darlings’ are both films that appear frequently on the Dark Academia tags, and both have entirely white casts. Oscar Wilde and Sylvia Plath are both venerated by the online Dark Academia culture, and the common theme between them seems to be the racism and antisemitism present in their novels and their politics. And while there’s definitely a wider discussion to be had about separating the art from the artist, and whether we can or should consume a creation if we disagree with the politics and morals of the creator, this subculture is entirely lacking even a subtle awareness of that.

This is a world concerned only with how things look or feel. There is no discussion or analysis. No questioning why the majority of books’ determined classics are written almost exclusively by upper class, white, westerners; why the languages and cultures deemed the most beautiful and intellectual and worthy of study are European. Ancient universities are championed as the domain of learning and sharing knowledge, but philosophies of exclusion are the backbone of these institutions; they were never built for People of Colour, or women, or the working classes. According to a diversity report by the University of Glasgow, ‘Women were not allowed to matriculate until 1892 in any Scottish University and were not taught completely co- educationally at Glasgow until the 1930s – segregated in the Library reading room until the 1950s.’ It took 780 years after the University of Oxford’s conception for a Black person to matriculate (Christian Cole, Oxford’s first Black graduate, received his degree in Classics in 1876), and 144 years later, there were still only 106 Black students admitted (a total 3.7% of the university population). 7% of UK children go to private school and yet 42% of offers made by Oxford and Cambridge go to privately educated students. These are the very same universities which benefitted directly from slavery and – other than Glasgow – have not as of yet made any attempt at reparations, but these realities of the elite academic experience are ignored by Dark Academia because it doesn’t fit the narrative. Even the privileges of having the freedom to experience university as an entirely intellectual pursuit, rather than a set of hoops to jump through in order to get a job in a difficult economy, is disregarded. There’s such an opportunity here for ideas on how we can radically evolve the education system, how we open up academia, how we decolonise curricula, and unlearn white supremacy and western-centrism. But instead of that, all we have is an aesthetic devoid of critical consumption or self reflection.

Donna Tarrt’s 1992 novel The Secret History is the bible of Dark Academia. Richard Papen, the novel’s narrator, describes his hamartia, his fatal flaw and the reason behind his eventual downfall as the ‘morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs’; perhaps that should be the lasting message of this novel, and this aesthetic more broadly.

Academia can be beautiful and romantic, but without scholarly, analytical and critical engagement, it can be fatal.

Art & Photography | Live Twice

Art by Mary Lydon (she/her)

Image description [‘Gate to oneself’ 93 x 122 cm Gouache on MDF]: An ornate blue gate layered across a white background filled with black, red, and yellows sketched lines.
Image description: [Location: Under M8 Motorway, Glasgow]: On a pillar under the M8, purple, blue, and yellow are painted on to form the background. A white shaped is filled with writing in black in the centre. To the left, another white shape is filled with symbol. To the right, a white shape shows the outline of a person.
Image description [Location: Under M8 Motorway, Glasgow]: On a pillar under the M8, red and white lines overlap across repeated blue rectangles. It sits in the centre of a black background, with thick white lines reaching out to the corners.
Image description [‘2 meters’ (60 x 80 cm) Gouache, spray paint on canvas]: A blue fence sits at the bottom. On one side, a section of wall sits tall; on the other, to the forefront, the other half of the wall is suspended, fractured. There is an arrow between the two sections of wall. There is an abstract black shape in the top left corner. Red lines overlay the painting.
Image description [‘47th of March!’ (76 x 95 cm) Gouache, spray paint on an abandoned door]: On an old door, the outline of a door has been spraypainted in black. In the bottom right hand corner, it reads, ‘47tH OF MARCH!’

In her recent body of work ‘Live Twice,’ Mary Lydon responds to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the artistic community. A lack of space, restricted resources, financial difficulty and exhibition opportunities has forced creatives to adapt their practices in order to continue making new work. ‘Live Twice’ came into fruition through Mary’s ability to recognise the potential in the limited resources she had access to. Over several months, Mary collected discarded objects found on the streets of Glasgow. Abandoned doors, tyres and planks of wood transformed into textured canvases, that she would then wash, cut to size and prime before painting.

‘Live Twice’ explores the theme of rebirth: a rebirth of materials, a rebirth of the environment around her and a rebirth of the artist. Through her work, Mary reexamines the confines of lockdown through the image of a gate. Whilst a gate may suggest connotations of restriction and hostility, it could also imply passage and opportunity.

Imposed isolation pushed Mary to re-engage with the environment around her, thus creating a more thoughtful and emotional body of work. Mary intended to exhibit ‘Live Twice’ in the remnants of St Peter’s seminary, an abandoned modernist building located in Cardross. Like her materials, she wanted to re-energise a forgotten, discarded structure with human life and creativity. Unfortunately, the exhibition was unable to take place. As an international GSA student, Mary faced difficulty paying the outstanding tuition fees and sadly had to leave Glasgow and return to her home in Kyiv, Ukraine last year. We wanted to share her work in this issue, as we believe ‘Live Twice’ is an extraordinary ode to creative life in Glasgow.

Mary is currently living, creating (and thriving!) in Kyiv. Currently, Mary has been creating set designs for musicians as well as curating exhibitions within Kyiv’s creative community. Mary is also working on ‘I Love Graffiti. Evidence,’ a photographic book documenting her street art in both Glasgow and Kyiv. Almost all of her paintings from ‘Live Twice’ have been sold and found new homes. For more of her work, follow her on Instagram @mary.lydon.

Politics | Out of Sight Out of Mind

Words by Meg Russell (she/her)

Art by Séania Strain (she/her)

CW: Sexual assault, abuse, self-injurious behaviour, suicide, death or dying

Image description: A crowd of people are outside a building, with banners hanging from windows: ‘THESE ARE OUR NEIGHBOURS’, ‘LET THEM GO’. The building has a poster on it which reads, ‘REFUGEES ARE WELCOME HERE’. Just in front of the building is a van, which reads ‘IMMIGRANT ENFORCEMENT’. Officers stand in front of it.

It’s been touted as Australia’s ‘national shame’. Re-introduced in 2012, Australia’s offshore detention policies have seen people seeking asylum transferred to Papua New Guinea (PNG), and the small Pacific state of Nauru. Rhetoric of ‘illegal migrants’ and calls to ‘stop the boats’ has demonised those trying to find a safe home. In 2013, the then Labor government implemented a policy that created a second class of refugee; anyone arriving by sea ‘illegally’ was banned from settlement in Australia. Instead, they were indefinitely detained and kept in a prolonged state of uncertainty and limbo.

Australia’s contentious policies have been upheld by successive governments, blatantly ignoring findings from the UN that they were violating numerous international conventions. At least twelve people have died in the centres as a result of medical neglect, suicide, and murder. Leaked documents, dubbed ‘The Nauru Files’, published by the Guardian in 2015, brought to light the extent of the horrific mistreatment, detailing evidence of sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, assault, child abuse, and the squalid conditions those in detention were subject to.

It seems that the UK’s Home Office isn’t perturbed by the appalling track record of Australia’s immigration policies. Much of Priti Patel’s proposed Nationality and Borders Bill seems to take Australia’s policies as a guide. The UK government’s aims might be to deter people smuggling operations, and reduce the numbers of people attempting to cross the Channel, but evidence for the effectiveness of these methods is sparse. While there is debate over the existence of plans to implement offshore detention centres (and their feasibility), the overarching nature of the bill remains a concern.

As the number of people crossing the channel has risen sharply, increasing anti-immigration rhetoric belies the fact that actual asylum claims have been falling. COVID and Brexit have also made it more difficult to cross the channel by other, historically more common, means. A media discourse which all too often frames immigrants as ‘invading’ could dangerously increase public appetite for the cruel plans the Tories want to implement. The panic over channel crossings also obscures that of the 82.4 million displaced people worldwide, the numbers the UK receives aren’t even a drop in the ocean. The framing of ‘illegal immigrants’ and push-backs in the channel echoes the national sentiment in Australia at the time it launched ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ which made attempts to reach Australia by sea near impossible.

Human rights campaigners and lawyers alike are resounding in their condemnation of the UK plans. A team of  lawyers has  declared that the Nationality and Borders Bill will breach international and domestic laws in at least 10 ways. Even without the implementation of offshore processing, changes to the UK system will see the introduction of new ‘second-class’ refugees, who arrive by ‘irregular’ means, granted ‘temporary protection status’. This means they’ll face restricted rights and regular assessment for removal. Most people seeking asylum in the UK are already  prevented from working, and therefore heavily reliant on state support. The increased precarity of ‘temporary protection status’ arrangements will only compound the anguish of a life in flux while the UK tries to clear a massive processing backlog that has seen some people waiting for initial decisions for more than 5 years.

Australia  insists its offshore processing policies are necessary to prevent a resurgence of boat arrivals, and estimates put their spending around A$12billion since 2013. With governments outsourcing the running of asylum processing centres, there’s a huge financial incentive for private companies to lobby for contracts, and  create a perceived need for these centres. The privatisation of detention centres is deeply embedded in capitalist ideology. In the UK, onshore detention centres such as Yarl’s Wood and Napier Barracks are privately run, and have been marred by their own controversies. Outsourcing these services obfuscates governmental responsibility. Involving private corporations (or other governments) creates a context for plausible deniability. All the while, the realities of those trying to build better, and safer, lives for themselves are buried and obscured, existing in a liminal space of constant uncertainty.

Whether it’s literally placing people who seek asylum out of sight by way of offshore detention, or even behind the fences and walls of onshore detention, the UK’s plans to commit to further divisive strategies in the name of ‘safety’ and preventing ‘illegality’ is catastrophic. Any person that is in the position of applying for the status of refugee is already in a position of limbo and extreme precarity. Placing people in detention centres, or on temporary visas with restricted rights invariably heightens feelings of vulnerability and impermanence. To prevent Australia’s national shame becoming the UK’s too, policies need to be born from a place of humanity; it’s a matter of life and death, not profit and power.

Politics | Climate Anxiety: the Latest Pandemic

Words by Sorrel Humphrey (she/her)

CW: Mental Illness, climate crisis

I’ve just been scrolling through Instagram. Having been bombarded with posts about plastic pollution, zero-waste swaps, #savetheamazon, veganism, and ecofeminism, I’m now feeling a little overwhelmed. Maybe this abundance is partly my doing because I’m a bit of a nerd about climate change, but, regardless, I think this is something many of us can relate to. It’s a feeling of defeat over the state of the climate, a feeling that the problem is too big for us to handle. There’s a name for that feeling: climate anxiety. The American Psychological Association defines it as a ‘chronic fear of environmental doom’; the term was described by Grist magazine as the “biggest pop-culture trend” of 2019.  But the climate crisis is not trendy. There was a 23% increase in deforestation fire activity from 2019 to 2020. It’s enough to make anyone feel like our planet is doomed.

Climate anxiety is definitely something I experience; many heavy conversations with friends have told me  that others  feel the same way I do. Studies have found that over half of those aged 16-25 feel ‘sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty’ about climate change. Clearly this is a big issue.

I believe a significant contributor to climate anxiety is big corporations shifting the responsibility of their environmental impact onto the consumer and away from themselves. There’s an emphasis on the individual – and what the individual has done wrong. Consider  Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy:  the ‘Please Recycle Me’ message finding its way onto every one of their plastic bottles. Each bottle is pleading with you – it’s desperate. This is all pretty ironic, coming from a company that produces 2,981,421 metric tonnes of plastic annually without providing any take-back programmes for their product packaging.

Since 1950 ‘only 9% of used plastic has been adequately recycled’. We clean, sort and separate out our glass jars and tin cans, diligently trying to be eco-friendly and ‘do the right thing’. Yet 81% of it will not even be recycled: the global recycling system is fundamentally broken. Before 2020, the world exported its rubbish under the label of ‘recyclable materials’ to China at a volume of 45 million tons. The west doesn’t  want to see the plastic pollution they create through overconsumption and lack of investment in recycling infrastructure so instead it’s shipped off to lower income countries to deal with. Recycling makes us all feel better: it alleviates some guilt about buying plastic. But, for many, the weight of climate anxiety will not be lifted by rinsing out a few tin cans.

Perhaps we need to think back to primary school – those days where the climate crisis was all about the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. Clearly too much emphasis has been placed on the third R – and it’s just not working. Buy everything zero-waste and  unpackaged-  the problem will be solved. I would love to live a completely waste-free lifestyle and avoid recycling all together but, sadly, it’s not that simple. Zero-waste stores, while on the increase, are for the most part inaccessible to the majority of the population. They generally tend to exist only in big cities and even here, in Glasgow, they are few and far between. Furthermore, the high cost of buying zero-waste groceries means many people simply cannot afford it. This includes myself, a full-time student who has quite deliberately never lived more than ten minutes from a Lidl. So, here we are: stuck. We can’t afford to eliminate plastic packaging and we also can’t ensure that it gets recycled. This is just one of dozens of climate-based issues we face today. It’s easy to think: what can I really do? Sit by and watch while the planet burns? That certainly would be the easier option.

But I, like many others, am passionate about tackling climate change. Some may say annoyingly passionate. I refuse to let climate anxiety crush me into inaction; instead we must be proactive in handling this issue. Individual choices, while important, are not going to solve this issue single handedly, we must demand system change.

Taking climate action can feel isolating. The government’s inaction can leave us  feeling abandoned and betrayed, , rather than supported. However, surrounding yourself with a community of people who are positive about climate action and want to take steps in the right direction can help us feel less alone. The recent #uprootthesystem march on September 24th, saw  climate activists in Glasgow come together and empower each other to demand climate justice. After over a year of lockdowns, where protests were largely banned, the experience left me hopeful  for the future. Climate anxiety sucks; but actively working towards climate justice might just elevate it – at least a little.

Editorial Shoot | In the Bathroom

Designer: Holly Macleod

Photographer: Craig Shewry

Direction: Eilidh Akilade, Lucy McLaughlin, Tiarna Meehan

Models: Alex Benjamin, GS

Whether it’s a sharpie scribbled cubicle or a marble tiled ensuite, bathrooms are privy to our innermost confessions. Within these walls we observe an epitome of changing state: full then empty, dirty then clean, low then high. The bathroom is a place of welcome respite. We’re graced with a brief, yet essential moment: a moment to relieve (ourselves), a moment to reapply (that mascara), a moment to rethink (that drunken text). This editorial shoot captures the beauty of this found liminality, within everyday mundanity.

Image descriptions: Georgina has shoulder-length red hair. She wears a lilac, sheer fitted dress, and long fitted gloves. In a darker shade of lilac, the gloves and dress both have thick snakes on them, although it’s difficult to tell that they are snakes. Alex wears a suit of the same pattern, but in light green and dark green instead. The suit is flowy. Georgina and Alex are shown in different positions in a bathroom: in the bath, leaning against the toilet, sitting on the toilet seat, standing in front of the sink, lying across from each other etc.

Style & Beauty | ‘I <3 MILFs’ & Other Revelations

Words by Esme Lloyd (she/her)

Art by Séania Strain (she/her)

Image description: A blonde woman with short hair, and horns on her head. She’s wearing big silver hoops, a necklace which reads ‘MUM’, and has long red nails. A dark background, with a red love heart to the left.

‘Chick’s a MILF!’ This proclamation, from American Pie, is exclaimed in response to a picture of Steve Stifler’s mother. It was this moment that the word ‘MILF’,  an acronym for ‘mom I’d like to fuck,’ was first recorded in film. Yet even before its cinematic debut in 1999, , the concept of the ‘MILF’ was solidified in our cultural consciousness, with Mrs Robinson fulfilling the role as early as 1967 in Mike Nichol’s The Graduate.  For some contemporary MILFs, we may look to Will’s Mum in The Inbetweeners, Gloria in Modern Family, and, of course, Jean Milburn in Sex Education. In popular culture, the MILF conforms to Western standards of beauty. She is often white, curvy but slim, confident in her femininity, self-assured and unattached. Frankly, she looks like she would do housework in a pencil skirt.

The activation of the male gaze within the MILF trope is usually obvious. Using voyeuristic camera angles and constrictive costume design, directors tend to position the MILF within a narrative told by the male protagonist. Yet beyond the camera, the male fantasy of the MILF has real world implications; projecting these pressures onto real mothers further alienates women from their own bodies at a time where they may already feel unfamiliar. Despite the blatant objectification of women within the trope, there is an undeniable satisfaction that comes with an alternative representation of motherhood. Societally, we have been encouraged to view motherhood as inherently unsexual. The minute a woman has a baby she is undesirable: her biological destiny is fulfilled, and thus sexual agency removed. We have a specific term to describe this lack of sexual appeal unique to mothers – ‘mumsy’. This title characterises an unequivocal frumpiness, paired with a body that looks like it has been through the process of birth. There is no male equivalent, no ‘dadsy’.

Perhaps this is why Amy Poehler’s character in Mean Girls was so eager to pronounce herself ‘a cool Mom’, not a ‘regular Mom’. We don’t romanticise the aging process in women in the same way we do in men. We don’t swoon over their salt-and-pepper hair or trip over ourselves to crown them ‘silver foxes’. This is partly the seduction of the MILF; for all her problematic, objectified, fantasised existence, she is an older woman romanticised in a way that is culturally unusual. She is rewarded for doing the impossible – being a mother and being hot (something apparently oxymoronic). In this way she is a subversive figure, confidently occupying two roles we place opposingly.

It is this subversive quality that has attracted a new generation to the character of the MILF. The hashtag #MILF has over 469.8M views on TikTok, with ‘I <3 MILFS’ profile pictures and usernames plastered across the platform . Many of the videos on #MILF are also tagged with #wlw ( an acronym meaning woman-loving-woman, usually used to identify queerness in women online). The song ‘I Fucked Yr Mom’ by femme queer punk band Sorry Mom also went viral on TikTok, used almost exclusively by women for makeup tutorials, outfit checks, and, of course, queer thirst traps. It now has over two million plays on Spotify. In 2021, the queer community in particular has embraced a subversive use of the term MILF, detaching it from its misogynistic origins and using it to describe a desire separate from the male gaze. Of course, the ‘I <3 MILFS’ tees, mugs and even thongs that are readily available on Etsy will always be a little tongue in cheek, but for young queer people right now, ‘MILF’ represents a different presentation of queer love. It represents an appreciation and desire for older, independent women who are often left out of our sexual cultural dialogue.

The MILF is  a cultural confusion: she resists sliding into the more ‘acceptable’ plain but nurturing mother archetype, but is more complex than the unbridled slut caricature. This woman can’t be defined or explained away into either category. The coexistence of her motherhood and sexual agency is dangerous; it is unknown and unconsidered. This is a threat to patriarchal representations of women: therefore, reducing her into a digestible trope and objectifying her is necessary to protect patriarchal power.

As our depiction of women and mothers on screen broadens, and as younger generations begin to question the cultural landscape they’ve inherited, both the role of the modern MILF and our understanding of it is changing. On my next Sex Education rewatch, I still intend to admire Jean Milburn in all her unashamed sultry glory, but I’ll watch with the added understanding that her identity is far more multifaceted than just a ‘hot mum’.

Style & Beauty | The Aesthetics of Heartbreak

Words by Esther Molleson (she/her)

Art by Olivia Juett (she/her)

Image description: A figure with long hair sits facing a mirror, back facing us. To the left are a line of four red rectangles, each with bits of hair in.

Breakups suck. They can leave you feeling empty, unsure of who you are; and, what’s worse, the one person you would usually confide in is now the very source of your emotional torment. So now you must, once again, face the reality of single life. This is hard to do when everything reminds you of your partner: when you look in the mirror you see the hair they used to touch and the face they used to kiss. It feels like your body doesn’t belong to you anymore: instead to someone who no longer wants it.

Scissors in hand and a sizable glass of pinot in the other: no sensation quite parallels the unadulterated freedom of a post-breakup appearance overhaul. And when it’s finally your turn to enter post-breakup makeover mode: go wild, this is not the time to hold back. Although, from my personal experience, I’ve found it’s best to always consult at least one friend or family member before you go and give yourself that pink mullet. The real fun of the drastic makeover lies in the sweet high of social rebellion – just know that if your trusted advisor says it’s a good idea, then you’re probably playing it a little safe.

More often than not, your breakup isn’t the last time you’ll see your ex – you may have to see them on a regular basis (rendering the makeover that bit more crucial), or perhaps you’ll just bump into them every now and then, at some mutually loved coffee spot. Cutting your hair, getting a new piercing or adding a new tattoo to your collection sends a message that, while your relationship may be over, your life is not. It’s not just about ensuring your ex knows that you’re managing fine without them (although it is satisfying to see that shocked look on their face): it’s about the way your changed appearance reflects back on your subconscious. When you look in the mirror, you aren’t the same person who belonged to them: you belong to yourself now. And this can be a very meaningful step towards getting your confidence back when you’re still internally disorientated.

Empowering as it may be to go for the big chop, you’ll learn to understand that there is a certain stigma attached to the breakup makeover: prepare to be patronised. As a woman, I’ve found that perhaps the most freeing aspect of a relationship ending, other than the money and time you save in singlehood, is the period before you are ready to start again with someone new. If you’re anything like me, you probably internalised the (sometimes less than) subliminal messages in ‘chick flicks’. You ought to have a love interest on your radar at all times  – until you eventually get married and have babies with one of them, of course. But when your heart is still aching from the loss of your last partner, you are granted this sweet, albeit normally short-lived, period of time when you aren’t seeking external validation. In fact, you actively don’t want the complications of a possible new partner while you’re still reeling from the last one. Embrace this time: you are finally free to look, dress, and act however you want, without the concern that it won’t appeal to romantic onlookers. And this, I would propose, is the very reason why, just when you’re feeling your most liberated, suddenly nobody will take you seriously. The patriarchy cannot accept a woman who does not live to appease men; and so, a woman who impulsively cuts a wonky fringe at 2am is labelled ‘unstable’, ‘emotional’, and ‘immature’. 

So do whatever the hell you want. Your mind and body are entitled to this state of flux. As you heal inwardly, why not project outwardly? Navigate this newfound autonomy with the comfort that time heals everything – bad haircuts and all.

Science & Tech | The Phases of Lunar Love

Melissa Tipping (she/her)

Whether you’re an early bird or a late night grinder, the moon is a well-known companion in our daily lives. This celestial body overlaps scientific discoveries with the religious and spiritual world, two often juxtaposed constructs that have managed to find harmony in our great love for the lunar. For such a silent figure in nature, the moon’s influence on us has been phenomenal. For millennia we have looked up to it for advice, guidance, and truth. The moon is the earth’s only permanent satellite, perhaps an explanation for our extreme attachment to something that is, scientifically speaking, a ‘rock’. In a universe with such uncertainty and darkness, do we trust the moon because ‘she’ lights our night skies so peacefully? We’re seemingly unthreatened by a mystical object we know so little about. As she drifts away from us, slowly but surely, surely we’ll find ourselves come rather undone. 

Theoretically and literally, the moon conducts our day to day living in a many matter of ways. Lunar calendars are perhaps the most obvious example of this. These are assembled and constructed around the moon’s phases: new, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full, waning gibbous, last quarter, and waning crescent. This terminology may sound peculiar to those unfamiliar with cosmic lingo, but, simply, these all refer to the visual phases of the moon. Before the Gregorian calendar, this process of time-telling was the most reliable source to determine seasonal changes, time span, and solar events.

The first record of a lunar calendar was discovered by Alexander Marshack in a sequence of archaeological excavations in Germany and France between 1964-1990. These carvings, dating to the Late Upper Paleolithic age of Europe (around 32,000 B.C.), were an extraordinary discovery. They illustrated how much we relied on and trusted this unknown and distant object to direct and govern our early existence, prior to any scientific understanding of its material composition or our connection to it. It’s no surprise that our persistent adoration for the moon is so strong: it runs in the (ancestral) family.

The infatuation continues heading into the era of moon rituals. Within many Indigenous cultures, the moon became a figurehead of ‘womanhood’; its cycles mirror the menstrual cycle, becoming a feminist symbol for the fluidity and divinity of female growth. During this time it was considered that ‘Grandmother Moon’ – the name provided by the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island – would provide enlightenment and rejuvenation for those in their heightened state of fertility. However, now, as our understanding of gender develops, so too does our understanding of the moon itself. We may now appreciate its beauty, detached from enforced gendered states.

But there is, of course, an extent to which the feminine positioning of the moon possessed a certain artfulness. It became especially relevant in the cultural shift in literature. Shakespeare speaks fondly of the moon in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, referring to her physical and aesthetic presence countless times. ‘Moonbeam’, as said by Titania, originates from the play, and has been used since for all manner of alluring poetic imagery. Shifting forwards to the age of romantic poetry and the Sublime, poets such as Keats, Shelley, and Dickinson all dramatically displayed their love for the moon. However, without clinging to gendered personification, Wordsworth’s ‘Strange Fits of Passion I Have Known’ addresses the moon’s power and influence, granting it increasing psychic abilities as we descend down each stanza; our moon was not always hailed as ‘female’, and its strength remains without the label.

In the digital age, our devotion to the moon still stands proud. We’ve expressed our fascination through contemporary trends such as the infamous Brandy Melville moon phases t-shirt, a product of the large Tumblr moon following of 2014. There’s the rapid rise in enthusiasm for astrology on Twitter, particular attention drawn to the intimate ‘moon sign’ of one’s birth chart. Lastly, the recognisable patterns from (largely, ancient indigineous) moon rituals have had an online resurgence on ‘witch-tok’, the witchcraft community on TikTok, where individuals teach and encourage lunar appreciation through acts such as collecting ‘moon water’. This continuous, recurring movement where parts of our past roll back into our present, is much like the moon’s phases themselves.

Although there is little physical contact between myself and the moon, she’s still integrated herself as an incredibly awe-inspiring part of my life. A hidden comfort above: wherever I am, whoever I’m with, if I look up she’s sure to be there. The moon is a piece of home that never leaves, even though I may, and she’s provided this same solace for so many, across our global collective time and history. I guess in retrospect, this is somewhat my love letter to the moon.

Science & Tech | What’s in Season

Words by Andrew Rodgers (he/him)

 Art by Magdalena Julia Kosut (she/her)

Image description: Against a swirled blue and cream background, a blue face looks sad. The face almost looks as if it is melting at the bottom.

‘I’m getting ahead of it this year,’ he says, apprehensively stubborn and altogether kidding himself. He’s picked up a couple lamps, a houseplant (brave), and a 100 push-ups in 30 days exercise routine. ‘This year’s different,’ he says, ‘I’m ready for it.’ We, my friend and I, are sharing preparatory tactics of something we both know is coming, but neither of us have said its name yet.

It’s a dirty word, overcast with shame. Just as depression has the potential to sound hyperbolic, it offers that same feeling of perceived exaggeration. Because, as we all know, everyone gets sad sometimes.

But this isn’t just sad, this is skamdegistunglindi: ‘depression of the short days,’ as Icelanders call it. It’s a phenomenon ubiquitous in Northern European cultural histories. In Sweden they have lappsiuka, literally ‘sickness of the Lapps.’ We anglophones have the wonderfully flippant ‘winter blues’ and thanks to the work of South African psychiatrist Norman E. Rosenthal MD, we have the unified medical term: Seasonal Affective Disorder. And this year I’m ready for it.

The symptoms of SAD fluctuate in tandem with seasonal changes. This is a result of decreased exposure of light, causing: the increase of melatonin (a chemical that makes you feel sleepy) and the decrease of serotonin (a chemical that makes you feel happy). According to the NHS website, the symptoms are as follows: feelings of despair, guilt, and worthlessness, feeling lethargic and sleepy during the day, sleeping longer than normal and finding it hard to get up, and craving carbohydrates and gaining weight. SAD can be described, in short, as depression affected by seasons.

Professor Alfred Lewy’s case study, Manic-depressive with seasonal cycle, was the first case report to study recurring winter depression treated with bright light. Another case report by Rosenthal describes the same patient asa ‘bipolar patient’. One individual’s testimony from the Witness Seminar discussing the recent history of SAD, held by the History of Biomedicine Research Group,described their misdiagnosis of manic depression and Bipolar II, before eventually becoming one of the first diagnosed with SAD in the UK in the 1980s.

Despite an extractable intensity equivalence between the diagnoses of manic depression and bipolar disorder, and Seasonal Affective Disorder, it is still often viewed as something everyone just deals with; a part of human nature, an evolutionary adaptation to cope with the winter months. But therein lies the rub, these days, there’s not much need to adapt for winter. Instead, we push on, like nothing’s changing right up till that special day.

If I think about when SAD sets in for me, Christmas seems to mark it. That atmosphere of busy streets and Christmas markets, fleets of families in shopping mode as lights blink in the puddles by their feet. But I don’t hate Christmas, I’ve actually got quite a soft spot for it. I don’t hate markets either; I’m all up for record fares and car boot sales. But when it comes to those winter crowds, a heavy loneliness sets in. Or maybe it was already there and is simply heightened by the contrast. There’s a stillness to it, like the world is sleeping. Like you’ve woken up in the middle of the night. So, I go to sleep too.

When the air gets that special kind of chill, and every day is damp with mizzle, all I want to do is sleep. Not just stay in bed. Sleep. It is the oddest feeling. It’s not fatigue or exhaustion: it’s as if sleep is all I need.

It’s well documented that most of us stay up later and later each day if we don’t have a resetting cue. So without a consistent sunrise, we have to rely on abstract consistencies to get us out of bed. Most years I have this type of structure to keep myself on track ­– a job, university – but when that’s not there, it’s goodbye sleeping pattern and hello circadian drift.

As I was reading into this topic, one testimonial of someone with SAD stood out. Jennifer Eastwood, the same person who described her misdiagnoses at the Witness Seminar, made a point of the similarities between SAD and animals going into hibernation. ‘Everything stops,’ she said. ‘They don’t have to function in society during the winter and […] that causes the problem.’ The symptoms are there: lethargy, increased appetite, sleeping longer than normal. The only SAD symptoms not on that list are the feelings of despair, guilt, and worthlessness. Maybe the difficulties people with SAD have, paired with an inability to function productively in society over ‘the short days,’ is what causes the feelings of despair and worthlessness. For me, I don’t think that failing to maintain involvement in society is the cause of the negative thoughts, but I do think those feelings of failure perpetuate detrimental self-image and can spiral the problem.

So does the cloud have a silver lining? Or do we just sit and watch the clock till they spring forward? The NHS suggests getting as much sunlight as possible and exercising regularly (we’ve all heard that before). It also suggests antidepressants, such as SSRIs, and talking therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Waiting times for non-urgent talking therapies through the NHS have a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks (in my experience, maximum should be read as minimum), so try to book in early.

SAD is still best treated by bright light, according to the specialists. A 2009 randomized control trial performed at the University of Utah demonstrated that ‘bright visible-spectrum light therapy has proven effective in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder,’ and in a rather ironic twist, a 2020 Harvard publication shows that blue light (which we’ve all been avoiding before bedtime) is twice as effective at suppressing melatonin compared to other wavelengths, therefore combating one major cause of SAD symptoms.

I’ve already invested in my SAD lamp. The second cheapest option from *insert generic shopping website*, and so far, it’s actually helping. We’re still in the preamble of winter, though, so it’s still too soon to tell. If you suffer from SAD remember, when you do get really down, message your friend. What they say may not help, but the blue light from your phone just might.

Creative Writing | A Crowded Place

Words by Naomi Maeve (she/her)

Recently, whilst working through the nightmare-inducing set reading for my Theatre Studies class, I came across a hefty discourse on the concept of “liveness”. In performance, liveness is the inherent feeling that something you see is present, and happening. It‘s almost easier to define liveness by what it’s not- it is the antonym to “deadliness”, to boredom. My attention was piqued when the essay brought up clubbing; how it embodied liveness in its most pure, and physical sense. That feeling of mutual experience, a shared consciousness, the knowledge that everyone around you has a heart thumping to the same proverbial rhythm (probably ‘American Boy’) as you do.

I had two lockdown birthdays, only turning eighteen as we emerged from that primordial swamp of governmental restrictions and came gasping for the air of people, to just exist in the same oxygen space as others. By the time my group of friends were all eighteen, we were a fortnight from Freshers and didn’t want to jeopardise a week of free club entry by catching COVID back home, and so, we played it safe, never experiencing the post-COVID club euphoria. Reaching Glasgow and experiencing the climactic swing of thousands of touch-starved people, all shaking with that fervent energy of the hedonistic, electrified me. It was immediately addictive.

The viscerality of clubbing, drinking, (blacking out), dancing, laughing, (crying), was ensnaring. I remember vividly my hands slipping off some anonymous body’s shoulders, slick with sweat and alcohol, the balls of my feet pounding against linoleum, purple crescent moons swelling on my forearms under a hazy fluorescence. My friend and I swayed into the corridor, perfectly conscious and attuned to the rhythm of every beat, foot and call around us. There was a tangible exchange of intoxicated familiarity between everyone I locked eyes with, like I had seen them in a life before and knew I’d someday see them again. We stopped halfway to the smoking area, and that was when the swell of adrenaline-compounded-alcohol hit me like a freight train and I realised I could barely stand. The unapologetic headiness of the dancefloor had rendered me momentarily sober and as soon as we stopped moving I felt like caramel in the kitchen heat, stretching and floating, completely interior, suddenly separate from everybody else in the room, but not removed. The feeling was religious. 

I wasted away the hours until I could be back in that space. Even when in the depths of lockdown’s sensory deprivation tank, I found I didn’t crave the presence of other bodies near me like I did then. As a fox picks a dead foal down to the bone, conscious it might never eat again, I experienced in those clubbing nights a form of excess of living that would’ve made it seem, to an outsider, like I had three hours left on Earth. 

And then there was the guilt. After a year of tentative elbow taps as our primary form of physical contact, waking up in other’s sweat, tasting other’s stale tobacco in your mouth, knowing that close by there were people still holed up and masked in the 9th floor of a high-rise, completely isolated from the fellowship I was revelling in, wracked me with self-loathing. And yet I couldn’t feel regret! I loved those nights. That mutuality of experience, the camaraderie between strangers; it negated the fear. It was a token of our shared humanity. 

It takes a room of complete strangers to feel so present. All you share are your feet on the same floor, the same kick drum in your ears, the same vision of a sticky green room and it’s sticky green-tinged inhabitants. It’s alien and yet it’s so unequivocally human. And that’s liveness. 

Creative Writing | Everything Will Be Fine

Words by Rebecca Kane (she/her)

(Collaged from my teen diaries)

CW: Mentions of weight/fatphobia

Well I guess a lot has happened

you’ll learn it again and again and again

everything will be fine, everything will be fine, everything will be fine. Stop being so numb.

It scares me but it’s also kind of relaxing

how I’m confused at a lot of things

I know you’re angry but upset but don’t be

hopefully you won’t be afraid next time

8:6 ½ stone and it doesn’t matter

Get down to better.

5) You can have your own opinions and

your own ideas. Stop taking everyone else’s

and hoping they turn out alright.

Good news! I will not be apologetic for my feelings.

4) say no to people

just get so cringy

Things 16 Year Old Me Needs to Learn…

You have a right to be crying

It’s not illegal to be loved

you are currently trying to pick between

thick skin and disappointing people

I have this dream where

I keep thinking about jumping

How mad is that.

everything’s just been building

you still bite your fingernails

but these things happen.

Everything will be fine. 

It will be insignificant soon

Do more things for you

Paint august and struggle

It isn’t the world but it’s a fun time

It’s okay to think

It’s recommended

It’s really not the end of the world

be kind to yourself please

It’s nice to be happy again.

So I’ll leave this here

So you can start writing again a different day.



Evie Glen

Lillian Salvatore

Sophie Boyd

Lola O’Brien-Dele

Meg Russell

Sorrel Humphrey

Esme Lloyd

Esther Molleson

Melissa Tipping

Andrew Rogers

Naomi Maeve

Rebecca Kane


Alistair Quietsch

Olivia Juett

Ella Edwards

Seania Strain

Magdalena Julia Kosut


Designer: Holly Macleod

Photographer: Craig Shewry

Direction: Eilidh Akilade, Tiarna Meehan, Lucy McLaughlin

Models: Alex Benjamin, GS


Co-editors-in-chief | Eilidh Akilade and Tiarna Meehan

Editorial Director | Lillian Salvatore

Features Editor | Anest Williams

Culture Editors | Sophia Archontis and James Taylor

Politics Editor | Conal McGregor

Style & Beauty Editor | Lucy McLaughlin

Science & Tech Editor | Kieren Mehta

Creative Writing Editor | Hannah George

Copy Editors | Megan Farrimond and Meg Gray

Running Columnists | Izzie Chowdhury and Lola O’Brien-Dele

Columnists | Rosa Gilder, Jackson Harvey, Cameron Rhodes, and Marta Zarantonello

Visuals Director | Magdalena Stryzczkowska

Graphic Designer (Print) | Giulia Saporito

Graphic Designer (Journal) | Esther Omez

Assistant Graphic Designer (Journal) | Jessica Harle

Art & Photography Curator | Eliza Hart

 Editorial Artists  | Ella Edwards, Eliza Hart, Olivia Juett, Magdalena Julia Kasut, and Seania Strain

Website Manager | Nadim Ouf

Social Media Managers | Violet Maxwell and Mia Squire

Business Director | Jade Harries

Advertising Manager | Roisin Craig

Events Managers | Marta Pryzgodzka and Jess Sullivan

Accessibility and Inclusion Officer | Ross Tanner

Glasgow University Magazine


Smaller, Weirder, Louder



Do Look Back in Anger: Our Responsibility to Keep Rage Alive – Lucy Fitzgerald


Britian: the Next Big Investment for Corrupt States – Dan Sumsion


The Big Screen Print – Jackson Harvey

Sex, No City

The Irish Communist – Lola Dele

A Guide to Radical Crafting

You Spin Me Right Round Baby – Izzy Chowdhury


Artificial or Intelligent: Art by AI – Megan Farrimond


Dress Me Up – Naomi Maeve

Creative Writing

A Review of With the Boys – Esme Lloyd

1:03PM – Eden Dodd

Features |Do Look Back in Anger: Our Responsibility to Keep Rage Alive

Words by Lucy Fitzgerald (she/they)

Art by Magdalena Julia Kosut (she/her)

Image Description: A grey background with a small horizontal rectangle across the bottom, featuring three figures in grey, wearing office clothes, with one standing up. Overlaid is a black filled rectangle with a white face, mouth wide open in rage, and two red tears. Overlaid is a small white square with a black drawing of the earth.

A spectre is haunting the West – the spectre of faux gentility. Politics has been drained of emotion. In its place lies only nugatory soundbites. Between Starmer’s commitment to accelerating the ranks of wet wipery and neo-liberal brainwashing, performative propriety has permeated from Peers to the press. The current expression of emotion is too bland and needs to be more belligerent. But in the present landscape, anyone who sticks their head above the parapet is shot down. Who is raging against the machine? The space for such feeling has been tactically erased by the establishment. Philosopher Ferdinand de Saussure argued language is supposed to assign meaning to experiences; this meaning has been lost. Lexical gymnastics are routinely performed by establishment figures to guarantee no deviation from the status quo. Journalist and author Nathalie Olah states: ‘[establishment] rules dictated that the word ‘stupid’ was more offensive than the rising levels of homelessness that had prompted its utterance. For decades, we’d heard … ‘civility’ and ‘decency’ used ad nauseam to justify policies whose real-world effects amounted to widespread suffering and harm’. They have reified this practice into a battle shield, a semantic schiltron.

No one should be subjected to unwarranted berating on the street (unless it is in the form of a milkshake), but there must always be freedom to speak truth to power. Injecting some vim into one’s vexation can be effective, and indeed necessary, in politics; for example, Labour MP Tom Watson’s poetic branding of Michael Gove ‘a miserable pipsqueak of a man!’ or the admirable Dennis Skinner’s litany of clever rejoinders. But, both men were deemed in breach of chamber decorum. The latter’s repeated suspension highlights the absurdity of the situation, where facts are blatantly ignored in the name of ‘respectability’. When genuine immoral shit is going down, MPs should have permission to give this sort of polemical punch! (And even in the media, frustratingly, relatively minor, isolated acts of protest are met with hegemonic policing. Think Danny Dyer, with perfect bite, calling David Cameron a ‘twat’ past the watershed and Susannah Reid profusely, insufferably, apologising to viewers for his language. What a sad little life Jane. Grow up!) Clearly, it is not the aim of ‘proper’ parliamentary language to clarify, inform or reveal truth, let alone challenge; rather it is to obfuscate, give anodyne responses and to show off – think Boris Johnson never using an Anglo Saxon word where a Latin one will do! But perhaps it is too much to expect human emotions to be employed in an arena where the most prominent figures struggle to behave like regular people: from Cameron’s alleged record of swine bestiality and moist butterbean Matt Hancock’s fundamental incapacity to observe personal space, to Gove’s unsettling night club dancing. There are no honourable gentlemen in Parliament, only Hollow Men.

There are exceptions to my passion-bypass theory, found mainly in women. Scottish leaders, namely Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson, are successful in conveying, in a palatable fashion, that they are pissed off. Perhaps this form of relatively polished fervour is the best approach? American Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez articulates her concern with effective gesticulations but is criticised for this. It’s deemed too dramatic, ‘too much’. Yet, within the same Wifi hotspot, just outside on the Capitol steps, she can be called ‘a f***ing bitch’ by Republican Ted Yoho? This is a clear example of the double standards at play, and proves the poised composure of the powerful to be a façade.

Today, freedom of speech depends on the orator. Biased fourth estate scrutiny is not forced upon the elite, even when prejudiced hate speech has been thrown in the ring. Accusations of racism are treated with more urgency than the overt acts of discrimination that have actually ocurred. An extremely sinister manifestation of such a warped view on speech occurred recently in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd. Bystander Donald Williams II’s swearing was framed as a somehow inappropriate, unacceptable response to witnessing a cold blooded murder by a law enforcement official. This is not some accidental, inert phenomenon. The establishment, whether British or American, actively works for such imbalance to endure as the controlled variable. Just consider Fiona Bruce’s deplorable two-second address of Boris Johnson’s anti-Black and Islamophobic quotes during the Question Time Special for the 2019 general election. Whilst I understand the position of an effective debate host is to be impartial, she should still be able to condemn evil. With all due respect, Fiona, just stick to helping Jeremy from Surrey sell his antique Nazi memorabilia.

In an ideal world, we should aspire to constant mutiny, using forceful language that challenges the status quo. However, I acknowledge there can be a correlation between incendiary speech and violent behaviour, a fact that can be exploited by a ruthless populist leader like Donald Trump, whose rallying calls to neo-fascist groups and tweets provoking domestic terrorism culminated in the 6 January assault on Capitol Hill. Nonetheless, I still advocate verbal passion, as it can, in practice, have positive outcomes. Political anger can be exercised productively; when Greta Thunberg gave a ‘fuck’ at an early COP26 event, an estimated 100,000 were marching in protest across Glasgow four days later – the largest gathering in the city’s memory. Her outspoken rage focused the minds of craven world leaders… in spite of the vitriolic contempt of Jermey Clarkson and his ilk.

Our society (government, parliament, media, and its quintessentially conservative nature) militates against dissent and constrains language. George Orwell’s words from 1946 ring eerily true to the current Western predicament: ‘Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’For the moment, buzzwords and inaction are legal tender, while emotional spirit is treated as counterfeit. However, we should not stop hammering away at this seemingly andamatine structure, in the hope that one day our labours will see the world end not with a whimper, but a bang.

Politics | Britain: the Next Big Investment for Corrupt States

Words by Dan Sumsion (he/him)

October 2021: roars erupt from St. James Park. Ashley had gone and the club was rich. The richest in the world. A Saudi-led consortium had just bought Newcastle United for £300 million, marking the end of a long and bitter divorce between the club’s fans and Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley, who had owned the club since 2007. The announcement gave hope to fans who had been through it all: a fleeting love-affair with the pint-sinking Ashley in the mid-2000s, apathy then anger at his failure to re-invest profits, and eventual open disdain for his ownership of it. Fans derided Ashley’s ‘Sports Direct’ style management of the club’s assets: pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap. Chronic underinvestment saw Newcastle’s days of League Cup heroics resigned to the history books as the team were relegated from the Premier League in 2009 and again in 2016. Fresh ownership offered change after a decade of ‘lost hope’.

‘Nobody ever lost money underestimating the British public’s appetite to buy shite’, a canny observer once noted when quizzed on the success of Ashley’s super-successful enterprises. It mattered little to the Saudi investors whether the product they were buying was of any quality at all. With the huge cash injection set to hit the club and fans joyously singing ‘Fuck off Man City, we’re richer than you’, Saudi Arabia has achieved what it set out to: invest sovereign wealth in the UK in an effort to better launder the the state’s reputation on the world stage. It would be too simplistic to describe this as the sole driver behind the Saudi acquisition of Newcastle United, but it’s hard to escape a sense that Saudi Arabia’s politicians know that money talks – and are all in on the gamble that foreign direct investment in states like the UK will help avail itself of important scrutiny of human rights abuses. Saudi money comes predominantly from their Public Investment Fund, the state’s spending pot. Its chairman? Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince infamously linked to the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. A natural conflict is clear between the elation of Newcastle fans dancing in keffiyehs (traditional Middle-Eastern attire) bought on Amazon and the realities of the lives of political dissidents, women, and queer people. Reform-minded academics are tortured, women are viewed as second-class citizens, and same-sex intercourse is punishable by death in the oil state. The Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test designed to scrutinise the ethics of club owners evidently doesn’t regard state torture as an indictment on the character of a business proprietor.

It is less complex to Newcastle fans, who rightly argue that the ownership of the club is just one of hundreds of investments by the PFI – including in Twitter, Uber, and Disney. And the Premier League has previous form too: Chelsea’s Roman Abramovitch has close links to Vladimir Putin and Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour is a United Arab Emirates politician who’s country maintains a morally objectionable human rights record. Only last month the UK government refused to reveal communications between themselves and the Premier League as they could ‘harm’ UK-Saudi relations.

Instead of castigating elated fans, critics ought to highlight the way that dodgy money has been allowed to embed itself so deeply in the British economy. No other European country so nakedly exposes its assets to dubious global investors. Britain flaunts its wares on the world stage with little regard to who is watching or what their intentions may be. China now owns a 33% stake in the development of Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. London is a laundering paradise for Russian bankers. Over the past decade, £68 billion of Russian money has been registered in British offshore havens that help obscure its origins. The anonymity granted allows concealed cash to be spent in London without anyone realising you’re a crook. Private schools, luxury property, and now sports teams are the assets through which dodgy states launder money and reputation. The result is an Equally Dodgy Global Britain – long time running, with no sign of giving up – its strategic autonomy and international reputation wholly undermined.

Wasted breath criticising Newcastle fans’ celebrations lets off a government in bed with a Saudi Arabia that thinks it is fitting to stone young boys for the criminal act of falling in love with other boys. The PIF’s technological investments may evoke ideas of modernity and progress but oppressive laws are positively medieval and should be treated as such. The business move marks the beginning and not the end of what will prove to be a complex relationship between the city of coal and their big oil investors. A sharper critique of money’s role in football and corrupt state’s influence in British business should replace the pointless narratives that berate footie fans as the real villains.

Culture | The Big Screen Print

Words by Jackson Harvey (he/him)

Art by Olivia Juett (she/her)

Image Description: Sketchy black lines hone in on a screen, a rectangle in the centre. The white screen features overlapping eye shapes, in red, blue, and green.

It’s all lies. The screens, I mean. They’re not even square. They’re rectangular. What am I even talking about? Yeah. I’m five years old and my class has been entered into a nationwide contest to colour in some of Disney’s Tarzan merch for their upcoming film. Capitalism. 100%. Do I care? 0%. Why? Well, because I won. The whole class got to see the film at the cinema closest to us. The Odeon Quay. It’s all lies because, when I think about it, Tarzan was green, and the elephant was blue, and I barely stayed in the lines. Jackson (fae) Pollo(c)k, seminal abstract artist, amarite? Wrong. The more I reminisce, the more seems to be amiss. Surely, my success was unjustified. Certainly, it seems to have been a ploy on behalf of a vermin run multimedia corporation to get kids hooked on film the second they can write their own names. A company that sells pipedreams to children, wholesale. Now that I think of it, the name Mickey is literally used in colloquial vernacular to denote falseness. My childhood is threaded through with untruths. My very foundations are propped up with golden arches of over-exaggeration. Regardless, when I first saw The Philosopher’s Stone on the big screen, as a wee wean, I knew that magic was real. This is what cinema means to me.

Sensory deprivation. The opposite of watching a film on your phone on a train, on a laptop in the library, or on the telly when in bed. Your existence draws your attention away whether you like it or not. The ticket conductor reminds you of how little money you have. Deadline dread creeps in as you look up from the monitor at the infuriatingly diligent students studying around you. The never-ending feed in your hand allows you to watch a film five times and have no idea what the plot is. You put it down to Christopher Nolan’s narrative recklessness and scroll on. Thus, the cinema endures in the modern age. You can only see the screen in the dark. You can only hear the film: its soundtrack, its dialogue. The cinema encompasses you in a sweet, salty embrace. Against the fatigue from a society that is invested in perpetually vying for your attention, the cinema is the cheapest holiday on offer. It’s an ephemeral, unlaboured, meditation. It’s the lie that keeps on giving.

When I was diagnosed with Aspergers, now ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), I was told by the diagnostician that I was, on the surface, hard to assess. It soon became apparent that my robust masking skills came from my childhood obsession with reading. It was a safe space to learn about people rather than actually having to interact with them. I believe that film, or rather, cinema, is an even more potent workshop to understand the wider world. No matter how nail-bitingly scary, or worse, u n c o m f o r t a b l e, the scene is, you remain an utterly secure, perfectly formed, wallflower, snug under cover of darkness, to comprehend a world you’ve never been confronted with before.

Now, here is a good time to point out that, contrary to popular belief, I, as someone with ASD, plainly understand that what is shown in a cinema is idealised. For people to assume that my thoughts are black-and-white is literally acceding to the idea that almost everyone is prey to the same prejudices. Maybe, we all need to go to the cinema more often and see the world through a variety of different lenses. I am in no way assuming that my aspect is reflective of anyone else’s. We all see the world in different ways, and the cinema, or at least cinema without creatively stifling corporate dilution is the most dynamic showcase of the variety of perspectives that we have to offer. I, personally, am well aware of the minute intricacies of social etiquette. Sometimes, I simply don’t care, and hold greater stock in matters of sincerity, kindness, and perhaps, noisily slurping the last of my ice blast. Not sorry.

I opened this can of worms with the premise that I’d been lied to my whole life. Silver screen tragedy. Fine. Channel 5 midday movie. So, it would be fair to wonder whether or not I disagree with a medium built on fantasy and misdirection, entirely opposing my political leanings, a capital heavy fabrication. And the answer is, simply, no. I’m entirely for it. What could be better than shovelling melted laminate nacho cheese drowned corn crisps into your aperture while witnessing Daniel Craig get rent to tatters to the dolby atmospheric reverberations of a heartrending string-laden treatment of a Louis Armstrong standard. Shit. Spoiler alert. 00-Heaven let live. Life can be such a struggle sometimes, that our cinema, this real-world encapsulation of Huxley’s soma, or the intoxicating nectar of the ancient Indian Vedic god, is a necessary reprieve. And now that I’ve found out that you can get two “Luxe” style recliner seats at the Linwood Showcase for the price of one at Odeon or Cineworld, moviegoing is a holiday for everyone. Another shout is going to an Everyman screening to watch The French Dispatch, from the comfort of someone else’s sofa, to get one’s play-piece and beaujolais beverage brought to one’s side. This is the only way to fully appreciate how symmetrical Wes Anderson really is. A flick, and a bottle, later and you stumble out of the theater, cursing the golden ratio for dishevelling your depth perception. Life imitates art and fails beautifully. Anyhow, 20 odd years after witnessing Daniel Radcliffe wave a stick about, I revisited It’s a Wonderful Life at the GFT over Christmas and cinema magic is really real, irrespective of its squareness. I honestly have no idea what I’m talking about. Spoiler alert. FIN.

Sex, No City | The Irish Communist

Words by Lola Dele (she/her)

Life in rural Kerry has been good to you. Your time here has been mostly chaos free, apart from a drunken encounter with a bartender in a pub bathroom – which may have resulted in a bruised spine, a concussion, a ride in an ambulance, two trips to the Tralee hospital, and some hazy memories of skinny dipping in bioluminescent waters at Ventry beach.

Mostly, you start your days with yoga in the garden and a cup of tea (with a dash of oat milk, and a spoonful of honey). You swim in the sea every day, and your skin is freckled and golden from the sun.

It’s been idyllic, really. Tranquil, even.

Not to mention, you’ve been sleeping with a very sexy Irish communist. You meet him first at a party, and then again at a pub. He’s one of your cousin’s friends from childhood, and he says he remembers meeting you, when you were small and dressed in nothing but jodhpurs and your brother’s Gaelic jerseys. He’s handsome, clever, and arty; he used to play rugby; he has a moustache and a curly mullet. He is so unbelievably your type, it hurts. Are there some red flags there? Probably. But that’s okay, red is your favourite colour of flag.

Some nights, you stay in a house he is renovating. There’s no electricity so you sit, bathed in candlelight, listening to whatever spotify playlists you have downloaded. You share a bottle of some Irish cider you’ve never heard of, and talk about politics and books and your shared love of old school RnB. He tells you about the weekends he spends foraging for shrooms up in the hills.

Mostly though, you stay at his house. The Irish Communist lives about twenty minutes from you, and as you cannot drive – you’re a city girl – you become increasingly reliant on lifts, taxis, and buses. His mum, a poet, is in Paris, and you have the house to yourselves. It’s quiet and light-filled, with stacks of books lining practically every wall. He cooks you dinner, and you eat it on the sofa, sprawled across each other, watching films.

In the mornings, you doze in bed together, sated and warm, until his job at a little health food cafe calls him from your slumber. You prepare breakfast together in quiet companionship, listening to Chet Baker and Billie Holiday. He’s responsible for making a steaming cafetiere of coffee; you fry eggs and mash avocado. While eating, you read and he draws you. Every now and then, you tear your eyes away from your book to watch him watching you.

When he leaves for work, he kisses you softly goodbye, and you wave from the door.

It’s a very domestic situation – surprisingly so for someone generally predisposed to evicting visitors from her bed at 4am. You feel like you’re microdosing a relationship. And you can’t say you’re not enjoying it.

You stay for a few hours after he has left, curled up with your book in a shaft of sunlight streaming in from the window. At about midday you drag yourself from the comfy sofa in the living room. You pull off the jumper he has lent you and leave it folded on the corner of his bed. You do however slip the O’Neills GAA shorts you put on last night, when you couldn’t find your pants in the dark, into your bag. They’re really nice shorts and your old (slightly kleptomaniac) habits die hard. When you finish dressing, you lock up, leaving the key in an old car he’s been talking about fixing up, and begin the trek towards the bus stop. It actually isn’t a bus stop, you just stand on the road and wave at the bus driver when he eventually turns up. But as you can’t quite decipher the little map The Irish Communist had sketched out for you, you find yourself walking in circles. In your attempt to find this ‘stop’,  you end up passing the same two bricklayers about seven times and each time they give you the most quizzical look, as if they’ve never seen a Black girl in platform boots and an afghan coat wandering alone through the countryside.

He’s working the last days before you go so you never really get to say a proper goodbye, but you think it’s probably better that way. He texts you, though, and says to let him know when you’ve landed in London safely.

Despite those original red flags, the month you spend with the Irish Communist is perhaps the healthiest relationship you’ve ever been in. There’s an ease, a simplicity, to your set up. You were both well aware that it came with an expiration date, and so you made each other no false promises, no unrealistic commitments. Who would have thought that dating without pressure or expectation, mind games and tactics, or the minefield that is texting etiquette, you were actually able to… have fun?

 Life in rural Kerry, with the Irish Communist has been good to you, but it was always going to come to an end. You were only microdosing after all.

A Guide to Radical Crafting | You Spin Me Right Round Baby

Words by Izzy Chowdhury (she/they)

Hey gang! Time for another craft, you lucky, lucky ducks.

Right, we have all had a record that we just didn’t like. Or maybe you saw a cool one, bought it on a whim, you play it and it’s actually the worst thing you’ve ever heard in your life. But you respect the artistry – you just love the arts.

Yet, you still find yourself thinking: what am I actually going to do with this?

What I think is the neatest thing about these projects is that you’re taking products that might just go on sitting all dusty in your garage, and instead of that, you’re making these gorgeous projects.You reclaim use out of an otherwise useless item. Art is everywhere, and it oftentimes births from the death of something else.

I have concocted 2 different ways for you, yes you my lovely reader, to use these records – to love them, cherish them, and gosh dang adore them. It’s a double whammy.

Craft one: recorda-bowl

Records are pliable. You wouldn’t know this … unless you popped it in the oven…and made it into a cool little trinket holder.

For this sick trick, you want to have these things

  1. a vinyl record that you don’t mind getting absolutely unusable by the end – I suggest using an ex’s or a really bad one that sounds awful (although please do make sure it’s not valuable either)
  2. an oven
  3. an ovenproof bowl or vessel that you want your record


  1. preheat your oven to 200 degrees
  2. on an oven proof tray, grab your bowl, pop it upside down, and stack your record on top
  3. put that funny tower into your oven
  4. set a timer for 10 minutes and wait (!) – by the end of the 10 minutes, you should have a record that kinda looks like a Dali painting, almost melting
  5. the record will be HOT (understandably so; it was just inside an oven) so very carefully take the record off the bottom of the bowl before flipping the bowl the right way up
  6. put that wobbly circle of a disk into the bowl and use it as a mold. Dig that baby (the melted record) deep into those curves so you can get a decent bowl shape. You wanna do this part quickly because the record will get hard again real fast. Put it back in the oven for a couple more minutes if it has hardened up too fast and mould that baby again! [Pro tip: remember to push on the bottom of your record against the bottom of your bowl so you can have a real smooth bowl bottom]
  7. let that baby set for about one hour (honestly it depends how strong it becomes as it sets, but 1 hour is a good bet)
  8. gently pop her out of the bowl and voila: a bowl is born!

I love to put little cursed trinkets that I find in these record bowls. It’s a perfect gift holder gift (ie. it is both a gift and a thing to put a gift in!) – such fun.

Craft two: look at your-shelf!

We are making a shelf (subtlety is key in this fine old column of mine). We are using our well-known understanding of a record’s malleability to our advantage to make some cute little shelves.

This one needs these things:

  1. parchment paper,
  2. an iron
  3. a 90 degree hard surface (like the edge of a table or a desk)
  4. a record (again, we’re thinking that of an ex or just a really bad one)
  5. screws
  6. drill

The actual process is ridiculously easy!


  1. lay your record on some parchment paper (I’ve seen normal copier paper work too)
  2. put your record on a strong sturdy surface with a 90-degree angle (like the end of a desk)
  3. figure out how deep you want your shelf to be (i.e. however far deep you want it, push it that much off the desk/table edge). You should now have half a record on and off your table
  4. lay another sheet of paper on top of your vinyl
  5. Pop your iron on the lowest setting, and apply heat all over the top of the vinyl, making it melt and become more pliable!

Image Description: Right angle of the table is under the pliable record (shown as a thick black line). A dotted red line cuts through the pliable record to the left of the table.

  1. start to push the melting side down against the 90-degree angle, so now the record is in an L shape (of sorts)
  2. the hotter the record is, the more pliable it becomes! Remember these records can become brittle really quickly so you want to do this as quickly as possible
  3. now that you have the body, pencil where you want the nails to go onto your shelf and mark the place on the wall you want it to go
  4. drill it into the wall babe (safely)

Thus you have a shelf! This shelf will be able to hold light little things like succulents, jewellery, a skull – anything that you would want!

this sort of project can also make –

  • bookends
  • paper holders/organisers
  • and much more!

DIY is something that I adore, it seeks to breathe new life into things that are deemed past its sell by date. Applying your own hands to a seemingly has-been object can give it far more purpose. In the world of fast fashion and Amazon Prime, everything seems a bit too… simple. Artificial. Not that I don’t appreciate the ease of these simplifying luxuries; but the pride of making hugely outweighs anything that I could get for £15.99 (especially if your handiwork is a lot cheaper).

Something for my readers to ruminate on: when was the last time you made something? Truly? That wasn’t for a woodshop class? Making things is some of life’s greatest treasures, and you can enjoy them without fail every time.

Until next time my friends, I bid you farewell – happy crafting!

Science & Tech | Artificial or Intelligent: Art by AI

Words by Megan Farrimond (she/her)

With the rapid advancement in our understanding of cyber and intelligent technology, the shared theories of future enhancements are often met with a sense of worry. At what point will our familiar, largely tactile world stop and the world of self-learning technology begin? Could the intersection between the two blur so heavily that we are left in a mangled confusion of the in-between?

It is proper to consider our reaction to these worries. Are we right to be concerned that the ‘posthuman’ will ultimately take over all aspects of life and culture that seem so intrinsically ‘human’? The world of scientific fiction has been indulging and enforcing this idea for decades, if not longer. It seems that the intuitive conclusion when we imagine a world where things such as art, film, and music are created in a world removed from ‘the artists’ (us) stirs unease. Would this be a more efficient, fast-paced world of art, or would it be a more insincere one? It depends on what side of the debate surrounding artificial intelligence you lie on. Regardless, our concerns are completely justified – as technology advances, a posthuman world does not seem so incomprehensible anymore.

The creation of art through the use of artificial intelligence is already well established as its own distinct process and artform, and remains esteemed in the Art world. Examples such as Beethoven’s unfinished symphony being finished by an AI, or ‘Sunspring’, the first film script ever written entirely by an AI, blur the lines between art and science, artificial and human intelligence. But, as the philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote in ‘the medium is the message’ – why do we let technology influence (corrupt?) so much of what makes us human?

The lack of imaginative intent in the artificial process leads us to question: is this art or simply imitation? The removal of ‘the (human) Artist’ from the creation removes the inherently human feelings which tend to bring about subjective analysis – curiosity, randomness, and emotion – from both the creator and the observer. But, these could be processes that could be learnt: a machine can be programmed and grow to act randomly, mimicking the mind of some artist, through computational creativity. By learning algorithms, AIs can learn to ‘formulate an algorithmic perspective on creative behaviour in humans’. Instead of learning rules, the technology learns a specific aesthetic. What is disputed is whether the results are just a less meaningful version of an original piece, and whether media created by Artificial Intelligence can be reduced to just that – artificial.

Yet, this is perhaps a pessimistic approach. AIs are our growing reality and art has always defied restrictions. The art world does not need to be an overlap between human and AI made art, it’s a scape for either, both, or neither. Even AI artwork can be seen as a collaboration between the human and the machine, rather than a replacement of one or the other, even if the line is blurred between artist and programmer. We can even imagine creating our dream pieces of art using half the effort, and all our innovation. By feeding a machine our collective history of philosophy, literature, art, and dream analyses, this technology could enable an artist to produce an ultimate piece that they may not have been capable of achieving solo: their ideal. Is there a world where the machine has almost complete autonomy when creating art? The ‘Art and Artificial Intelligence’ lab at Rutgers University have created AICAN (Artificial Intelligence Creative Adversarial Network), that learns existing styles and creates completely original artworks on their own. Ahmed Elgammal writes, ‘people genuinely like AICAN’s work, and can’t distinguish it from that of human artists’, its behaviour is reminiscent of a Turing Machine: something which can utilise and transform an unlimited amount of data (given a sufficient timescale).

After all, is all art that is learnt just the learning of algorithms? Is that not what the students of the great art Masters did? Art that is not created after repetition is often academically referred to as ‘naive art’. In their learning and growing, is our AI’s naivety not then something that is intrinsic to art itself?

Style & Beauty | Dress Me Up

Words by Naomi Maeve (she/her)

Art by Séania Strain (she/her)

Image description: A burgundy painted background with white stars and the moon in the corner. A person with short blonde hair sits on top of a metal bin, wearing an oversized leather jacket, black trousers, and green patterned knee-high boots.

Clothes are a sixth sense, in a way. They’re a looking glass. Never judging a book by its cover, on principle, is a non-starter. Covers are meant to be admired. A crumbling leather Bible, with goldust pages and the amalgamated stains of monk’s quills and ink blots and coffee pots exudes an entirely different aura to that of a streamlined Waterstones paperback. So it is in a library, so it is with strangers on the street. Clothes are the password to the speakeasy of people’s souls.

And so, dressing up is a ritual, or at least inherently ritualistic. To smooth fabrics between fingers, heft the weight of aged suede onto tired arms, mesh onto dancing shoulders; to heave thick socks over woollen tights to then clamp your toes between cowhide boots in the winter – it’s a universal process that is at once beautifully, shimmeringly individualistic.

I arrived Glasgow with a jammed suitcase housing my nearest and dearest garments: some threadbare Lana-del-Rey bluejeans, tactile as cotton in their weathering; a skin tight turtleneck that clings to my arms like dew, a bloody satin skirt, safety-pinned at my lower back so it pools loose and heavy about my ankles. A last-minute addition was the low-rise velvet straight-legs, inky black as a petrol stain with an embroidered floral waistband of blossoming pinks and golds, bright as the hues of Chinatown against the night-dark velour. Paired with my fake croc-skin Gogo boots, purchased guiltily (in my vegetarianism) on sale, they cut a silhouette so disgustingly 60s that I could’ve pulled off a Halloween costume as Twiggy’s lady-in-waiting. I caught sight of myself in every reflective surface that night, enthralled by the shapes I made. The clothes transcended me.

Despite this cherry-picked and curated collection that either hangs dishevelled and sweaty on my chair to be tackled the next morning, or lovingly on wireframes in my thumb-sized closet, I found my outfit game to be healthily challenged in Glasgow. Between the hippie glam-rocker two floors above, the skater next door, and the grungy-druggie-Spice-girl a couple of flats over, I realised that a few gorgeously bold statement pieces weren’t enough to make my style self-evident. My repertoire needed pruning on a student (and sustainable) budget. Thus, the people of Glasgow became one endlessly giving free-for-all lost and found bin.

First came my father’s flannel work shirts: one swampy green and smelling of that fragrant autumnal cherry-pine woodsmoke, and one military-style shacket with sleeves rolled and buttons bronzed. If I was a bass player in some softcore New Order shoegaze band, then maybe I could’ve pulled the first one off, but it ended up being relegated to pyjamas – the jacket, however, was quickly adorned with ornamental Blondie pins and bright red badges of Japanese artwork, pockets filled with loose change and pub coasters and club tickets, which felt far more fitting to me. I wore it down until it moulded to the shape of my shoulders instead of my dad’s burly lumbering ones, and it became a staple.

Next was the gossamer-thin paisley overshirt, exchanged with my friend for a double vodka, all golds and frills and swirls. I wore it loose over a dark bralette, feeling the fingers of mesh on my skin as I twirled. When I sat, it coalesced weightless and watery about my hips, and made me feel as though I wore wings that my friend had crafted. She gave it to me the night that she hacked the hems from her velvet flares with a pair of kitchen scissors as they trailed too long in the mud. Together we rinsed the offcuts in her sink and pinned them around our necks as chokers, like thick decapitation scars, luscious crimson and deep.

Soon after was the heavy-duty biker jacket, sheepskin-collared and re-lined in glossiest aquamarine silk, whisked unknowingly from my uncle’s possession on its decaying hanger in my Nan’s attic. The stale aroma of mothballs, rodent-nibbled and age-bleached lining, and the scarred leather shoulders were so endearing to me; the jacket was a person, a character. It had a form and a body. When it came to me, repaired but weathered, still emblazoned with the hallmarks of its past owner’s story, it felt like embodying another persons’ life; it was almost spiritual.

The beanie I found in the rain on Great Western Road at 6pm, the striped pyjama shirt, gifted (perhaps unknowingly) by a drunk friend, the espresso-brown silk scrunchie abandoned in the hallway. Hanging in my wardrobe, on my body. Clothes are talismanic. To wear them is to bear the emblem of another person. The ritual of clothing is the ritual of community.

Creative Writing | A Review of With the Boys

Words by Esme Lloyd (she/her)

The final poem in fred spoliar’s With the Boys finishes with the couplet ‘All shadows / All fall down’, a splintering of things which is, in many ways, representative of the whole collection. At times it feels as if With the Boys creates worlds only to destroy them in a spasm of rage, glitter or glee. It is the earnestness through which spoliar explores these destructions that is so compelling; we watch as they feel ‘love’s gravity dirtied by hours’, searching for something beyond the wrecks of ‘gas storms on jupiter’ and escalator adventures ‘with the boys’. Upon finishing, I feel unsure they have found it.

The titular collective unit of ‘the boys’ has an overarching presence through which spoliar explores their relationship to collective masculinity. With them we vibe, we are raised into crisis, we crusade, we are gambling on the green, we lie prostrate, we take the road less travelled, we terraform. We see spoliar adopt a variety of masculinities within this relationship – as feelings for and against the boys ebb and swell, a multiplicity in identity is revealed. Their relationship to the boys is a space of interrogation; within this ‘man-cave of tenderness’ spoliar both probes and elevates masculine platonic love, which they describe as ‘a kind of kissing / ass’. One poem ends ‘i have made you these great men’, and we feel the pressurising weight of the boys against our speaker. With this line we leave wondering whether it is spoliar’s speaker or the boys themselves who have gifted greatness – either way, it doesn’t feel entirely a success.

spoliar’s structuring is consciously absent minded; many poems seem almost unaware that they fall into stanzas. It is a kind of fairy radicalism, these poems floating about the pages with razor point determination. ‘This mills mills mills / Song’ eases into and out of margins, a sigh personified, and yet speaks with all the certainty of a tarot reader, describing it as ‘a good day for night’.

In this inverted world we watch ‘lunch pixels’ and ‘zoomy love’ commingle with a woodcut of folklore moons – technology and pseudoscience feel like inevitable bedfellows in spoliar’s universe of mystical computerism. This meeting is ecstatic – spoliar’s work possesses all the confidence of spirituality, alongside all the excitement and propulsion of a hypertechnologised 2021. Despite this, there’s an edge of terror working to counteract any zinging celebration. References to their own death are frequent, and all of the poems in the collection have a catch breath of danger. ‘I fear  myself  alive’, spoliar writes, and this fear bubbles under their recklessness and vulnerability ‘with the boys’. A dated year becomes ‘2000-and-gender-panic’, underscoring their discovery of ‘soft-porn and urinals’ with an undeniable terseness. The vulnerability of existing is dangerous for them and this manifests in a sinisterness, sending the reader spinning down concurrent holes of nightmares that have ‘lost control again’.

But before any panic or eerie vulnerability, there is an undeniable hedonism that makes With the Boys an indulgent delight. spoliar’s verse feels so rich it is difficult to consume in one sitting. There is a tactility to this hedonism, it is all ‘foxes and furs’ – an opulence so confident and tangible it suggests spoliar owns all the luxuries they write about (even non-fungible tokens become ‘fungible tokens’ in spoliar’s world of having and holding). We leave believing even the ‘sects of stars’ are spoliar’s alone.

This is a debut collection that spins. We climb aboard spoliar’s carousel of emotion, and they present us with an internet age folktale. ‘At 11:07’ describes ‘a shock collar for the somersaulting heart’, which feels like the perfect metaphor for this collection as a whole – a jolting volt of singing feeling, sure to send you further spinning, if you dare.

You can purchase With the Boys from SPAM Press.

Creative Writing | 1:03PM

Words by Eden Dodd (she/her)

Image Description: A photo taken from a bed, of a window with a small table in front of it, filled with miscellaneous objects. There is a mirror to the right of the window, leaning against the wall. Bunting hangs across the window.

Light backed into a corner

From window to mirror to mirror

Intangible tangents, tangled

Tempted, I reach a hand into the rays

Wanting warmth

I’m being greedy

Already tucked and twisted under clean cloth,

I am encased in a cosiness that competes with any urge to go outside

My hand falls from hue to heart to hand

Fingers latch and attach

Tangled, tempted, wanting



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