Waitrose Is Like All Other Supermarkets, Except It Shows Off In Your Face

There’s always been that classic argument as to which supermarket is the best today. It depends upon what the customer is looking for. If its cheap food that you know will cause you some long-term damage, may I suggest Iceland or Aldi. Maybe you’d prefer to go middle of the road and visit Asda or Sainsburys. Just make sure you enjoy green and orange like its going out of fashion. There is always the argument that Tescos  is the best supermarket available today but then again its stores look like they were built on a budget of about the same as its Everday Value ‘Mac N Cheese’ meals. I recently visited Waitrose, for what can only be described as a different supermarket experience than ever before.

This was the first time I’d been to this particular Waitrose since it infamously burnt down in 2009. Its re-opening a year later had made it both smaller and more modern but it didn’t seem any different to what it used to be, nor different to a modern £4.99 building of Tescos. Waitrose have always had a reputation for being “over-priced” and “middle class” with its products and prices. This simply isn’t the case. Waitrose, when it comes to regular purchases such as baked beans, were as good as if not better value than mainstream shops. It has deals and a deli and a delightful check-out girl and for that reason I just couldn’t see why it was any different from Tescos.

It’s the little things that matter though. Maybe because I was wearing a t-shirt that had the word ‘peasant’ on it but the whole shop looked like it was judging me. Waitrose try to portray themselves as a regular supermarket but the whole experience left me feeling ashamed. The staff wear ridiculous shirt and tie uniforms that I wouldn’t wear to lunch with the Queen. I tried to find a toilet there to which the response from a staff member was “Not for customers”. Charming. At the end, I was given a little token to vote on which local charity Waitrose should be supporting. This annoyed me lots and I even asked a manager for two more tokens just so I could vote for all 3 as they should be supporting all charities.

This may be coming across as petty and childish. I agree that their staff should be well presented and that they should be supporting charities but its the fact that the whole shop looked like it was showing off in my face. I get it Waitrose. You’re very impressive and generally better than everything else out there. When I can afford it I will shop with you more regularly.

For now, I’ll stick with Morrisons!

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Happy Easter Brunel! Now Stay In Your Room And Do Nothing

Brunel campus is notorious for being an abandoned concrete desert when the students aren’t around. The Christmas Holidays. Saturdays. 10am. It can often be an eerie place to be and many a time, my friends and I have said that it would be the perfect setting for a post-apocalyptic zombie film.

This Easter holiday was no exception. I was on campus this past Thursday with friends and witnessed first hand how empty the campus was. An odd and mysterious quiet was ever present, all the way from the Isambard Complex to the hugely necessary Eastern Gateway. I could count the number of people I saw on one hand and hear my voice echo throughout the campus.

You always hear stories of how the students are apathetic and unwilling to engage but at the heart of the problem is the university’s unwillingness to allow students to grow. The Easter holidays provide an opportunity for students to grow, along with revision of course, but the students aren’t allowed. The only building open was the library which means the University are saying ‘you must revise. Do not have fun’.

Bar facilities are closed. Shop facilities have limited to no hours. Even the sports facilities are shut. This is not only a slap in the face to the students who choose to stay there but it is an outright insult to the international students who have no choice but to stay here. Especially when they pay far far more than national students.

There is always the option of reaching outside of Brunel but at a time when academic pressures are at an all time high it shouldn’t be an option. Brunel is more than an academic institution. It’s a campus lifestyle that should be doing more than just encouraging people to sit in the library and revise. Whilst it is important, it should not be the only thing in a students life.

Brunel are saying ‘happy Easter. Now sit in your room and do nothing.’

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Are Brunel Lecturers Treating Us Like Children?

On 12th March 2012, I went to my very first Brunel Public Lecture as part of Brunel Universities Hidden Truth Lecture Series. It was a fantastic event and incredibly thought-provoking although it did get me thinking about something else. The lecture, which was attended by about 150 Brunel staff members and members of the public, not to mention 4 or 5 actual students that bothered to turn up, seemed to be remarkably different to all other lectures I’ve had over the last 4 years.

What I realised that despite being in “higher education”, I am still a victim of childish learning experiences. I do not believe that this is a challenge on the lecturers in particular but maybe it is a challenge on university education as a whole.

I witnessed an incredibly different lecture to the ones I pay £3,000 a year for. The public lecture, entitled Exploring E-Life: Big Brother or Brave New World, was thought-provoking and a wonderful experience to be a part of. I really felt as though I was learning something from the lecture as the speakers spoke with passion, drive and a real knowledge of the subject. The lectures that I get on a daily basis, in comparison, always seem unprepared, boring and if I’m honest, the lectures just read off handouts or the presentation slides.

I think I figured out why. Despite Brunel being classed as a “university”, the lectures teaching students is not their top priority. The academic members of staff are here year round, working on their own research and improving their own portfolio. The reason why lectures seem so unprepared and uninterested is because they are. Teaching their students is an afterthought to them and they probably see us students as more of an annoyance. Like the title of this peice suggests, our lectures teach us like children and they are too busy leading their adult lives to pay us any attention.

I also believe that it is not entirely the lecturers fault. The audience at the two lectures were remarkably different. At my daily lectures, there is this underlining desire to show off and be the best – to be the number 1 student in the class. It is always a competition even when it shouldn’t be. At the public lecture, everyone was equal. No-one was showing off, except the occasional oddball who asks a question just to hear the sound of his own voice. Everyone who turned up to the lecture was there to listen and to learn something new. The lack of competition and, in turn, pressure made it a much better experience.

So are Brunel lectures treating us like children? Yes and that is because we still are children. Even at the age of 21, I do not consider myself a fully grown adult and still have alot of experiences left in me, as well as a childish side to satisfy. I not expecting a lecturer to turn up at 9am and present a 30 minute presentation because I wouldn’t care or pay attention. I like the fact that my lecturer acknowledges that students go out and get drunk and won’t turn up at 9am.

At the end of the day, as long as lecturers and students are treating each other as equals, then that is the only way that the learning experience will be of benefit to both sides.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Are you treated like a child by your lecturers or are you a lecturer and do you students act like children in the classroom?

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Eddie Izzard Visits Brunel

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Today Brunel students had the opportunity to meet and discuss politics and much more with Eddie Izzard as he paid a visit to the Brunel campus in support of the Labour Party and mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone.

Sitting in a packed out lecture theatre (the first time I’ve seen a room so busy in almost 4 years at Brunel), there was a jovial mood amongst the crowd, with the majority engaging and active politics students wanting an opportunity to quiz Eddie on his views. Not only on politics but on other aspects of his career.

The talk was chaired by Labour Society Chair Kerri Prince, with representatives from Labour, Conservates and even the Lib Dems turned up!

I had the priviledge of being front row as a “member of the press” and a camera in tow and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon experience.

Whilst I believed that some were there to heckle and cause a bit of trouble, Eddie focused more on engaging students with the voting experience rather than specifically supporting Ken and slating Boris Johnson. This is certainly a credit to him and many people seemed to warm to that. The talk would have become more of a lecture were he to turn up and just throwing abuse at Ken’s opponents.

Questions and answers between himself and the audience included topics such as:

  • Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone
  • The £9,000 tuition fees
  • LGBT Issues
  • His upcoming fundraising projects
  • Comedy
  • The Monarchy
  • His potential ambitions to run for office in 2020.

Footage of the entire event will soon be available via the Labour Society website at www.brunelstudents.com. I would encourage all to watch, even if you just fancy a giggle!

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What Annoys Me Most About This Whole KONY Thing

I seem to understand the premise of the issue being raised by the KONY video. So please don’t start going on and commenting about how I’m ignorant to the issues at hand. If there is a serious dictatorship issue going on in Uganda that it compelled a young film maker to help create this half hour documentary, then I’m not going to challenge that.

What I will argue is the amount of stupid people on Facebook and Twitter who go on and on as if they were personally affected by the issue and act as if they care. I logged on to Facebook yesterday and almost 50 people had shared or posted about this video, adding to the already ludicrous viral nature of this campaign.

Now they have moved been by this video but I felt compelled to ask some of them “At no point have you ever given a damn about Uganda, it’s people or it’s government.” Suddenly, when something gives you an opportunity to look like a better person than your friends, you’re all over it like a fly on a turd.

KONY 2012 is a fashion statement. It’ll be out of fashion as quickly as it got into fashion and shame on all of those who got involved for the sake of it.

Don’t fuel a fire when you have no petrol.

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Royal Rumble Results

Want to know what happened at the 2012 Royal Rumble?

Check out the official magazine spread for the Royal Rumble 2012!

Let me know your thoughts.

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Would Brunel Benefit From A Political Awareness Week?

I heard something on the grapevine. I heard that there are plans in place for a Political Awareness Week at Brunel University this February but will this event have the desired effect that people are hoping for? Well, like everything, there are two sides to this argument but first I’ll detail what I have heard so far. I’m not sure about the dates for this week but it will occur at some point in late February. Brunel’s political based societies will put on a series of events such as lectures and debates and give students, who currently have no knowledge or interest in political, a chance to engage. I’ve also been told that, for one week only, students will be allowed to join political societies, despite all applications being closed in October/November time. All in all, seems like it could be a really great week ahead.

If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s student apathy. It is a ridiculous stereotype that all students do is drink and occasionally stumble into the library for about 20 minutes before getting bored and go out drinking again. Times have changed and more and more students are getting involved in extra-curricular activities that could well benefit them, either in a professional or a personal way. Yet there is still a majority that live up to this stereotype of students who don’t care enough to get involved in the world around them and this week long event is exactly what is needed to shake up things a bit. Honestly, I wish these sorts of things happened more often than it does. Maybe there should be a Brunel Science Week where the Science based societies and courses have a “Brainiac” style week with bunsen burners and washing machines. Maybe invite Richard Hammond down. It could be a laugh. I applaud the students who want to try and open up the rather small world of student politics and get students involved because that is what universities do best.

Yet there is something that I can’t shake. A Brunel Political Awareness Week would almost seem redundant. I’m pretty certain that students are aware of politics but choose not to get involved actively. Why would they? The current government almost abandoned them when it comes to the taboo subject of tuition fees and, as far as I’m aware, not many students on campus actually bothered to vote this year. If I was thinking logically, if students who had a vested interest or did a politics based course, I would have joined one of the political societies at the beginning of the year, when there was over a month to have the chance too. I don’t know why now I would want to pick a side and start debating. There’s no logical reason for the date. Maybe it would be better to base the event around a political event such as the 2012 London Mayoral Election.

Now at this point I should state that I do not have much of an interest in politics and don’t really get the difference between the major political parties. Call me uneducated but there are other things on my life to focus on. I do have an interest in the student body and what the student body are up too so when I overheard this all on the grapevine, I definitely had some thoughts about how students may well perceive this.

Quite frankly though, if this event get students involved, gets them talking and gives them a chance to enhance their university experience, then I’m all for it.

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