A Stepford student on seeing the light

Published on The Spectator‘s Coffee House blog on 22 February 2016

I’ll put my hands up and admit it: I’m one of the nasties you’ve read about – a Stepford student. I was one of the original group of stony-eyed students who, our ‘brains bereft of critical faculties and programmed to conform’, conspired to set up a new publication to promote our ‘groupthink’ philosophy.

The Stepford Student was founded to tackle the picture that Brendan O’Neill painted of us in this magazine in two ways. We wanted to show that young lefties aren’t dogged by a perpetual earnestness, and do actually possess a sense of humour and an ability to laugh things off, and we wanted to bring our arguments to a wider audience beyond the gilded cages of our universities.

We failed. I ended up as the publication’s last editor, and we’ve shut up shop for good.

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The Cambridge University Charity Fashion Show was an artistic triumph, but an access disaster

Published in The Cambridge Student on 18 February 2016

First up, some truths universally acknowledged, because they supposedly make for good openers: charity, and the act of raising money for charity, is a good thing.

Fashion – as a type of art – is a good thing. Supporting and promoting the work of student fashion designers, is a good thing.

An extraordinary amount of hard work went into putting on the Cambridge University Charity Fashion Show, which looks set to have raised around £10,000 for (you guessed it) charity.

Another truth universally acknowledged: The coverage of the event in The Daily Mail and The Sun was sexist, pervy, and, to use the de rigeur term, basic. Now here comes the more complicated part. What impression of Cambridge – of its students, and of the University as a whole – will the thousands of potential Cambridge applicants reading these articles have?

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If we want to increase escalator capacity, why don’t we just run the things faster?

Published on CityMetric.com on 17 February 2016.

While Londoners may still be recovering from the trauma, many outside the capital probably completely missed Transport for London’s audacious and sacrilegious experiment at Holborn station.

For three weeks, tube passengers stood on both sides of the escalators going up from the platforms to the ticket hall. There were people standing on both the left and the right. Nobody could walk.

I know: it was madness. I understand your anguish.

TfL’s logic was as follows. On long escalators, the vast majority of people won’t want to walk because humanity is an intuitively lazy species. Thus, huge queues build up at the bottom of the escalator as large volumes of people try to squeeze onto the right-hand side, so that they can obediently stand in line as they chug slowly upwards, like a slightly less sedate, slightly less terracotta terracotta army.

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