Friday, 19 January 2018

Careless Talk Costs Nuggs

The way Hampstead is going about its business is getting more Sztazi-esque by the second. Whilst we are all already aware of how the school treats its students when it comes to having the right papers uniform and only taking exams that will please Comrade Szemalikowski, the Hitler Youth-style intelligence gathering now extends to visitors as well.

The Trash has gained an exclusive look at the leaflet that is given to all visitors to the school (see images below.) Whilst the majority of the guidance on said leaflet seems fairly standard, such as “wear your visitor’s badge” and “follow your host’s instructions”, some of it would make any sane person question what went through their mind when writing it.

On the back under their ‘Mobile Phone Policy’ they write that “we ask all visitors to support our mobile-free school by switching phones and other electronic devices to silent and only using them in staff-only areas”, because students are such impressionable creatures that they would never produce a mobile phone in school unless they saw an adult flaunting theirs. To say that Hampstead is mobile free is to be kidding yourself; the collection box of confiscated mobiles in the reception at the end of every day is testament to that. In this day and age, students will have phones; the most you can ask is that they put them away whilst in the classroom.

Where the leaflet becomes truly insidious is when it asks that visitors “Do not: agree to keep anything confidential that a student may say to you”. There are many instances wherein a student may need to confide in a visitor without the school knowing, especially with a senior leadership such as the one Hampstead has that has been known to act in a bullying and intimidating way. There are many things a student may not feel comfortable sharing with the school, and we have come across instances wherein a student needed to report about the school to someone impartial without reprimand; when the school was applying for Rights Respecting status being one such instance.

If visitors to the school are not allowed to talk to students in the knowledge what is said between them will be kept away from the school, there are few other avenues of recourse when attempting to report about the misdoings of the school itself. The only other way a student might protest a decision made by the school would be to go to their parents, who may be apathetic, or to a publication such as The Trash. Far more gravely, the inclusion of this guidance for visitors suggests the leadership of the school is actively trying to control the student voice and what is said to members of the public, or otherwise ascertain what is said off the record. Once again, Big Szemalikowski is watching you.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

FIRE and FURY: Inside The Head's Office

With all 3 copies of it at Hampstead's Library currently on loan, we caught up with Michael Wolfe, author of the sensational new book Fire and Fury: Inside The Head's Office to discuss his insider's peek into the day-to-day runnings of a place that has been dogged with controversy since the Head took his office. Since the book was released, various revelatory claims in it have lead to fresh condemnation of the Head's leadership.

Trash Intern: The Head referred to you as a "complete loser", adding "he didn't even pass his English GCSE [...] I had to organize the provision of special classes!". How do you respond to this?

Wolfe: 'Your mum.'

Trash Intern: You describe the day Dr Brookman [a senior adviser to the Head] was forced out in incredible detail. How did it feel to stand there as all these events unfolded? 

Wolfe: Strange.

From the book:
"Brookman left today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure. It was a strange occasion nonetheless. Like so many times before, the Head's hand seemed to rise of its own accord. Guided by an unearthly presence. The words seemed to fall out of his mouth like pasta does onto a new white shirt: 'You're fired'. We were all expecting it, but it still came as a surprise."
Trash Intern: How did the Head react to news that planning permission for his "border wall" between Hampstead School and nearby UCS had been denied? 

Wolfe: I'll say what 100% - 100% - of people around him say: "Like. A. Child."
"Ever seen a year seven walking up the stairs? ...neither have I - they're just too short. I imagine however that they would be incredibly uncoordinated and largely oblivious to their surroundings. But in comparison to the man who has somehow found himself in charge of this sinking ship [Hampstead School], they ought to be praised as specimens of graceful coordination and sharply tuned awareness."
Trash Intern: How did you gain so much access to the Head's office?

Wolfe: With as much ease as someone might have gained access to 400 sets of personal information... 

Trash Intern: And what about the infamous excerpt from Brookman about the meeting in Jacques Tower [formerly the English Block]? How did you get him to go on record saying something like that?

Wolfe: Easy. One, the guy secretly despises the Head. He just wanted to see in a Republican and was then waiting to be sacked. He wanted to be the opposition again. Two, he didn't know he was on the record.
"The three senior leadership guys thought it was a good idea to meet with an underage minor inside Jacques Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor - with a policeman present and no parents. They didn't have any parents. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called home immediately."

Since the book has been released, the Head has branded it "defamatory", "untrue" and containing masses of "mad writings. Sad." prompting many to go out a buy a copy. He recently attempted to involve the law by calling the police to arrest the writer, but the police said there had been "no wrongdoing." 

Michael Wolfe served as head editor of ETC. before resigning to accept a lucrative book deal with the Trash. His other works include World Fury and Accidents and 'Fire in a Crowded Theatre'.

FIRE and FURY: Inside the Head's Office is out now via Hampstead Trash Books Inc.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Marketing Ideology

With the start of term comes the yearly deluge of pointless and, you guessed it, expensive advertising by the school. With a marketing budget that could easily be put to better use educating children (see Trash passim), especially in these belt-tightening times, half-page adverts for prospective students have already been spotted in copies of the Ham&High, despite the paper recently ignoring the school’s exam results almost entirely. As well as this, multiple posters have been spotted on bus stops along the C11 route.

All the advertising material this year has had a bit of an update from that of the past few years, now featuring students that actually still attend the school (see below). The new (and most likely costly) design features most prominently an image of two students – one male, one female – sitting beside each other, of course in ‘perfect’, yet nowhere near close to smart, uniform. Whilst the male student pretends to be working for the camera, the female student gazes wistfully at this most proud and powerful boy as he works away.

Of course, the school couldn’t possibly be suggesting with such a pose that it is men that do all the hard work whilst it is a woman’s place to simply admire their male superiors? That would be like something out of a 1950’s infomercial on how to keep a good house. But whilst the smaller images of the advertising campaign show students pretending to be able to act, two sixth formers pretending to study and a student pretending to be a cardboard fox (we’re not kidding on that last one), the main image provides what may or may not be inadvertent sexist overtones. Surely this isn’t the same Hampstead that solved gender discrimination by segregating girls and boys with a sign now, is it?

Friday, 15 December 2017

Szmerry Christmas 2017

You can enjoy your holiday this year, safe in the knowledge that wherever you are, a certain smug      twat is smiling complacently, misguidedly believing that for yet another year, he has fooled us all.

What Christmas Cheer?

Christmas is an offering thrown to to the cultural black hole at the center of British society. What black hole? What center? What society? Fraulein Narrator, we are lost.

Fear not, dear reader: we would not subject you to the horror of new ideas (as if we have any). We go back to the old. If, as Margaret Thatcher said "There's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families", then the world must essentially feature a black hole. The effects of the black hole are seen in the disintegration of communal spirits, and the subsequent replacement of the visible manifestations of collective culture with solipsitically formulated replicants. If we see X Factor (or Pop Idol, or Britain's Got Talent) and Inside Out as being related, then we see that in a way, the basic configuration of "Talent" shows is to turn our mental processes inside out, in a larger-than-life-format. Our mental judgments could only gain such great power as to cause roaring cheers at every moment of approval, and loud buzzing, a glowing red cross, at our disapproval, within our minds. Unless, of course, we begin to see the proclamations of a who's-who panel of celebrities as the products of our own minds. X Factor is a capitulation to the black hole.

The replacement for community itself is the anonymous crowd. Although phones are often singled out as isolating us from each other and engendering narcissism, little discussed is how the various locations and systems we interact with actively prevent the formation of collective mindsets. While it is true that many people who share an environment (e.g. a workplace or a school) will end up having similar attitudes and approaches to a number of things, the largest part of this apparently collective mindset will be the result of external impositions, rather than the conscious decisions of individuals. This is because in so many environments, the individuals who form the anonymous crowd (be it a crowd of workers, students, cinema-goers, shoppers, etc.) are denied the power to alter their environment, and even more fundamentally the power to act within it. Having a power to act means no longer being fully bound to the dynamic between a consumer-object passing through a set of mechanisms and those who control the mechanisms. Symbolic concessions are the only thing that the anonymous crowd that gathers around a place are given. Those in control of the mechanisms are willing to introduce "change", so long as it does not challenge their authority to control the mechanisms. What is important about symbolic concessions is that the mechanism retains the functions it had before whatever "change" supposedly occurred. The ultimate supremacy of the mechanisms that make up an environment  over the people who are subject to it is asserted. In such structures, the community cannot even decide what it is, or determine the sense in which it is a community. Because it has little to no active presence in the environment, it is open to being fractured at the will of management, and represents no empowerment for the individuals that comprise it.

The concept of community has to be sold back to the people. This is again a sign of the black hole's effects. Gradually, cultural entities are replaced with simulations. "This is what hard work looks like", "This is what talent looks like", or in the case of the Army, "This is belonging". Culture is being liquidated. As it is liquidated, we are increasingly left stranded. Soon what will disappear are not only traditions and cultures, but the very possibility of them existing at all. As the symbols that we exchange to form a culture decay, become less valuable, have fewer connections to anything beyond the narrow circles of our own lives, we are forced to retreat, as the smothering fog of a second, virtual Industrial Revolution descends upon us. More and more, we are enveloped in the darkness of this fog, unable to really depend on anything or anyone, and suffer the stupefying effects it has on our minds.  Culture becomes another name for a cycle of pointless offerings, pseudo-practices and countless layers of self-delusion.