Aliens, Anticipation, and Atticus: The Team Behind OxTrad’s Talent Show

by Jacqueline Thompson, journalism student Oxtrad 2019

Pre-show jitters? Niamh doesn’t know them.  Almost four hours before the show, she remarked that she was very excited for the upcoming show.  Although I was only able to ask her a few questions (the banjo kid was jamming on the stage for his sound check), she seemed very confident about the performances. 

Elliectricity (El – definitely not an alien!)


During the intermission, I was also able to interview Grandad Atticus and Ellie (who is definitely not an alien).  Good ole grandad had no idea that there even was a talent show! Meanwhile, Ellie (Atticus’ grandson) thought the show was all meant for her.  Both were very happy with how the show was going, and they were excited for the next half and even more entertainment.

Two days after the talent show, I interviewed activities directors Niamh and Izzy.  They both had an amazing time! Izzy said, “It was great fun and it was amazing to see the depth of talent.” Niamh, on the other hand, had to set the record straight. “The best act was definitely from the admin team,” she remarked. “We had to channel the memes for our performance.” Is there bias? Perhaps, but she is right about the excellence of our great administration’s interpretive dance. 

Niamh and Izzy enjoyed how supportive the audience was. The finger snapping, clapping, hand-waving, and light flashing really helped create a positive energy as well as a feeling of community and togetherness.  At the end of the interview, Izzy summed her sentiments up by saying “You all took us from the Shallow to the Riptide.”  

“You all took us from the Shallow to the Riptide.”

A big thanks to the whole administration team, especially the activities directors!

For more stories and reviews from the journalism team, check out @tradtea on Instagram.

Ups, Downs, and Waiting Arounds: backstage before the OxTrad Talent Show

by Mac Sizeland, journalism student Oxtrad 2019

4:15pm The first few acts are filtering in for a final rehearsal and sound equipment checks before the crowning performance, and everyone is beat. It’s Saturday, we’ve been practicing our acts for at least the last week and a half, and many – including yours truly – chose to take naps we hoped would be energizing but ended up just sapping the little strength we had. There’s no running order, so everyone has to be “on” at all times. 

4:45pm The A Cappella Club is finally here together, and we’re prepared to wait for however long the solo or duet acts’ setups decide to take. One of our performers is in three other acts, and when he returns to his seat, he’s still conferring with the soloists on pitch and staging while the rest of us are only alert enough to murmur amongst ourselves.

5:18pm Still in the midst of sound checks, we’ve been blessed with a moment of comedy. Jacquelyn Thompson’s performance of “Tequila!” is divinely inspired. We all know if there was an audience’s choice awards ceremony for this show, Thompson’s cocktail of a peppy track with deadpan delivery would win in a heartbeat. The only question on our minds is: Is Larry really going to let Jackie do this? The answer, confirmed by the bemused glaze in his eyes, is “Guess so”. I guess he’s just as exhausted as the rest of us.

We all know if there was an audience’s choice awards ceremony for this show, Thompson’s cocktail of a peppy track with deadpan delivery would win in a heartbeat.

5:45pm Finally, the sound check for the A Cappella Club’s act is done! After 20 minutes of standing and shifting minutiae and singing the same four bars “just one last time” we’ve finished deciding where all of us and the mics must stand in order to pick up the best sound. Our throats are shredded, and it’s all we can do to sigh in relief when Ward tells us we can leave at last.

Our throats are shredded, and it’s all we can do to sigh in relief when Ward tells us we can leave at last.

Elsa and Grandad Atticus

7:48pm After dinner and another nap, we’re back to check in with the Activity Directors and find a spot… in a backstage area that doesn’t seem to exist. To my surprise (but seemingly no one else’s), there is no designated area for the talent show performers, so instead we’re scattered amongst the stream of students settling into chairs and chatting with friends. One person sticks out like a wrinkly thumb in the crowd – Atticus – who is trying to memorize his opening speech as Ellie paints wrinkles into places she guesses they’d fall on his not-yet-old-man face. “This is my grandchild, El, who found me…” he mutters over and over again as the crowd ebbs and flows around him.

The show is about to begin….

Check out @tradtea on Instagram for more stories and reviews from the journalism team.

Meet Richard, Porter at Pembroke College

by Laia Besalduch, journalism student OxTrad 2019

 “I’m getting married in three weeks’ time. I’ve known my fiancé for 16 years. We got engaged a year ago in Seville. I met her at my previous job at the county council; we used to talk on the phone as part of our work. I was a manager in payroll for 26 years, speaking to people on the telephone. My job ended because the council sold the payroll to a private company. I have worked at Pembroke College for two years now, but it took me a year and a half to find this job.

The transition was difficult, the work is very different; now I meet people face to face. I knew, though, that this was something I wanted to do – to be more personal rather than communicate over the phone or via email.

This job is about being helpful and nice to people all day. But I also enjoy when people wave at me as they leave; it shows they’re polite. I let other people do the talking, as I am quite quiet, but I do love it when visitors show manners. I would like to travel more and see more of the world after I retire. Unfortunately, I still see myself working in 20 years because I won’t retire until I am 67. I hope that by then I’ll have more grandchildren. I just became a grandpa. I don’t have any children, but my partner has two, and her daughter just gave birth to a boy.

My happiest memories are meeting my fiancé and watching Manchester United win the 1999 European Cup in Barcelona. I was there. It was the biggest thing I had ever done.”

“I am very boring.”

For more stories and reviews from the journalism team, check out @tradtea and the writer @besalduch on Instagram.

Meet Christiane, Scout at Pembroke College

by Maria Antonia Mendez, journalism student OxTrad 2019

“And I said, “Why not?” Why not drop everything and follow in her footsteps? I know it sounds crazy to you now, but it’s been years and I’m still here. Life back home was way harder than in the UK. You’d have to work for endless hours to gain a fraction of what you needed. I had to work even more, because my father was dealing with medulla cancer for almost five years, the kind in which he was always still and lying in bed. It was a very long and tiring process. It still hits me hard thinking about it. We were very close and I know I’ll never have a relationship like the one I had with him. I know it’s been a long time, but it still saddens me.

“My mother came to visit me. I wanted to show her my past 13 years in only two months, but the time felt short.”

The passing of my father turned my world upside down. I wasn’t looking for anything when my friend introduced me to the idea of moving to Europe. I just went for it, leaving my job as a teacher to start cleaning labs in a university in Portugal. Since then I’ve been moving around Europe to work in different universities, with my father and God by my side. There’s a lot I miss about Brazil, mostly my friends and family — but I like it here. Oxford is a small city but it’s busy, which makes it the perfect balance. I’m glad my family and I still maintain a close relationship even when I’m far away. My mother came to visit me. I wanted to show her my past 13 years in only two months, but the time felt short.”

With special thanks to @pedrobellizia. For more stories and reviews from the journalism team, check out @tradtea and the writer @toa._ on Instagram.

Medical Science Presentations

On Wednesday, the Medical Science students presented various topics to their classmates. This format enabled first a factual presentation outlining the topic’s medical relevance and dangers, before a student-led rigorous Q&A.

Topics ranged from ‘Arsenic Poisoning in the Workplace’ to ‘Farmers and Occupational Hazards’

 

In the ‘Arsenic Poisoning’ talk, workplace prevention occupied the first section of the Q&A, with the presenters detailing solutions relating to gas masks and urine tests. Further questioning related to the reasoning for the prominence of arsenic poisoning, with the presenters once more up to the task of outlying the importance of arsenic in the electronics manufacturing process. In order to put further perspective on the issue, Dr Ranavaya then provided a few anecdotes, even including how Indian women would use arsenic to gradually poison their husbands!

 

We also managed to sneak a small sample of the Farming talk!

Gavin Meets Sir Bannister

This morning Gavin had quite a bit of a thrill! A keen track and field athlete, Gavin had the good luck to strike up a rapport with the Pembroke College Porter’s. Speaking to them of his admiration for Sir Roger Bannister – the first man to break the four minute mile, distinguished neurologist, and prior Master of the college – the porter’s took it upon themselves to organise a private meeting between the two at Sir Bannister’s Oxford home.

Let’s hope Gavin was inspired, and takes Sir Bannister’s ethos of academic and athletic excellence to heart!

Waiting to see an archive of Sir Bannister’s

“Here’s a book about Sir Bannister…”

“And in 10 minutes, a taxi will arrive outside…”

“to drive you to Sir Bannister’s house…”

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“where you will have a private meeting with him!”