LEISTENSTEIN'S WINDOW (also called LEISTENSTEIN'S WELL) is the name given both to the apparatus and to the resulting phenomenon from which gravity beds and sodomite propulsion are derived. 

While sometimes used interchangeably, Leistenstein's Well is increasingly applied to the apparatus, with Leistenstein's Window being reserved for the mercury interface effect. This article will follow that use. Dommety, Sodor and Leistenstein's original paper referred to the entire system as "the Window", while later works of the three have only served to confuse the terminology.

While more commonly (and more reliably) encountered in the form of a Gravity Trellis comprising multiple wells, the Leistenstein's Window can be achieved with an individual well of 16 iron rods arranged in three layers. The bottom and top layers are of four rods (of length six units) arranged in a noughts-and-crosses-style grid (two unit squares). The middle layer is another such grid of four rods (of length 3√2 units) rotated by 45 degrees about the centre of the grid. The top and bottom layers are held two units apart, as a cube, with the middle layer sandwiched at the mid-way point. The three layers are joined at the four central nodes of each grid by four 'vertical' rods (of length nine units). Each rod describes a (c.4.5 units long) right-handed hyperbolic tangent across the central 22 units of height so as to interact with the node-points of the middle layer (in this way, a rod touching the top layer at the top right will touch the middle layer at the right and the bottom layer at the bottom right). The rods extend vertically by two units above the top layer and two units below the bottom layer. Lengths of the rods in all cases may be approximated, but should approach the appropriate ratios outlined. Crystal size is the only limiting factor (to date the largest viable unit length has been 4"). The resulting structure, called the H-frame, broadly resembles a 3D noughts-and-crosses grid:

Leistenstein's Well: Top view (left); Side view (right)
Middle layer (pink) ; Leistenstein's Window (blue pecked)

The H-frame, thus constructed, serves as an electrode in an electrolytic sodomite solution until triangular crystals span each corner of the frame. Viewed from above, the top layer of crystals will mirror the lattice of the middle layer. The crystals on the middle layer will surround a central window of one unit square (depicted by the blue pecked line in the diagram above).

The crystalised apparatus is removed from the sodomite solution but a current is maintained through the H-frame at a sufficient strength as to gently fluoresce the highly energetic crystals.

Mercury is then poured into the well where an attractive force suspends the liquid metal as a film across the aperture at the centre of the middle layer: the Leistenstein's Window proper. Filming may also occur across other parts of the framework, although such films will not exhibit the more advanced phenomena outlined below.

Development of the apparatus
The H-frame was ascertained by Swarna Dommety at the Plaza in 2014, originally as a personal development exercise to create a sculpture in honour of Hull's UK City of Culture win. She noticed a small but palpable energy discharge from the crystals she'd grown on the frame, and began tinkering with the design to investigate the phenomenon. In this process she was assisted by her colleague, James Sodor, with whom she had previously worked on the sodomite project. Alexander Leistenstein was then invited to overlook the work and it was his suggestion to introduce the mercury in a desperate effort to track possible field effects. What he could not have anticipated was the glazing effect achieved. In an effort to test the resilience of the mercury film, the trio turned the apparatus on its side, and it was at that point that the gravitational effect became apparent. Sodor tested the effect with a ball bearing, before Leistenstein introduced first a plumb-line and later a camera into the experiments. A full account of the trio's original investigations can be found in Dommety, S., Sodor, J.E., and Leistenstein, A.A. (2016). "A laboratory-produced worm-hole phenomenon, and resultant gravity and energy effects", New Journal of Physics, 18 112003.

Gravity effect
A Leistenstein's Window exerts a gravitational pull in line with the location in which the crystals were formed. This pull decays as an inverse Fibonacci sequence at a rate of one step per 22 unit lengths: i.e. the first 44 units from the Window maintain a constant pull of g, reducing rapidly to 1/2 g at 66 units, 1/3 g at 88 units, 1/5 g at 110 units, 1/8 g at 132 units etc.

A Gravity Trellis, consisting of a number of linked H-Frames covered with a floor, is used to provide artificial gravity, not only in space but also in specialist applications on Earth.

A Gravity Trellis masks the effects of Earth gravity, casting an anti-gravitational shadow that ablates in equivalence to the aforementioned Fibonacci decay. This is especially beneficial as it means that any spacecraft built within such a shadow will effectively weigh only as much as the Gravity Trellis on which it stands, therefore requiring less energy to attain escape velocity. The same effect (in conjunction with the Fibonacci decay) can be employed in a spherical arrangement to create a gravity baffle, permitting near-zero-gravity environments on Earth.

Wormhole effect
Without the addition of an intervening floor, an object attracted to a Leistenstein Window will pass through the window and disappear. The mercury of the window is observed to glow a magenta pink when matter passes through; the glow being more intense in proportion to the speed and density of the transmitted object. An object partially passed through the Window will behave in a cohesive way (so a plumb line can continue to be manipulated as such once the plumb has disappeared through the mercury). Experiments with video cameras discovered early on that a second 'world' exists beyond the Window, although the precise location has been a matter of some debate.

The location beyond the window (the so-called Window World) is arid and atmospherically hostile: volcanic rock dominates the landscape, often at some distance below the window; there is a high density, high carbon, and often highly acidic atmosphere that led to early speculation that the location may be Venus. However, the climate is mild in comparison (the recorded temperature generally falls within 250-300°C, below Venus's coldest regions). Limited astronomical observations suggest a celestially local location, but there is debate as to precisely how local (studies are confounded by the atmospheric conditions). Leistenstein himself has speculated that the world may represent a parallel Earth of some kind, although he admits to having no evidential basis for this conjecture.

Energy effect
A Leistenstein Window radiates a small amount of heat from the Window World. Unchecked, the incremental effect of this heat can damage the surrounding sodomite crystals, potentially destroying the Window. However, it appears that most of the heat that ought otherwise to pass through from the Window World is somehow employed in maintaining the Window itself. Attempts to calculate the cooling effect this dissipation has upon the Window World have so far been inconclusive.

Perhaps most astonishingly, the high temperature atmosphere of the Window World can be employed as a heat reservoir energy source: the principle behind what is known as 'sodomite propulsion'. While a Leistenstein Window requires a constant supply of electrical energy to remain open, plus the necessary cooling (as well as the initial energy investment in the creation of the apparatus), this may be offset by the energy which can be generated from within the system. Indeed, a Gravity Trellis can be equipped to power and cool itself indefinitely. This, of course, raises significant questions, not least with respect to conservation of energy.



IVAN METHUSELAH (21° October 1944 - 22° October 2014) was an AVW journalist from 2001 to his death in 2014. Born in Bath, his father was a Jewish refugee from Danzig and his mother managed three grocers' shops (White's) inherited from her father. The family was the first in their street to own a television set, though Ivan had already developed an interest in the moving image through childhood trips to the local picture house. In 1959, at the age of 15, Ivan began his journalistic career with an apprenticeship at the Keynsham Courier. He moved onto the staff of the Bristol Herald in 1962. 

In 1972, Ivan met Hela Czerwińska, a Polish biologist and visiting scholar at the University of Bristol. The two had a daughter, Irene. Hela returned to Poland with Irene in 1976, and was later part of the dissident Polish Flying University. Ivan lost contact with Hela and Irene in 1981. 

It is assumed that Hela and Irene's departure in 1976 was a contributory factor towards Ivan losing his job at the Bristol Herald that same year. He soon managed to find employment with the Cardiff Reporter but disliked working there, and in 1979 he moved north, taking a job at the Rotherham Recorder. In 1983 he submitted a review of Return of the Jedi to a local fanzine, and this was seen by the Recorder's editor, John Schofield, who was impressed with the writing and asked Ivan to shadow the syndicated film column they currently used at the paper. Schofield was happy with the trial and from early 1984 Ivan's film reviews became a regular feature for the Recorder. Ivan also contributed to television, theatre and concert reviews, and received a good deal of support early on for his enthusiastic and carefully scathing commentaries from miners' benefit performances. By the time his photograph was appearing on his by-line he had already curated his trademark large white beard and thick-framed glasses.

In 1992, Ivan published his first book: After Endor. Now considered a landmark in textual analysis, it is perhaps best summed up by the following excerpt:
The events in the final reel of Return of the Jedi leave us in no doubt as to the fate of the Sanctuary Moon of Endor: the detonation of an immense space-station in a low orbit, and the sort of 'fireworks' we see during the celebrations spell nothing short of an Ewok holocaust... In omitting to show this carnage, Lucas and his directors are making an editorial decision which casts the Rebels as heroic victors, but the truth is almost certainly far more complicated... the decision to end at this particular point of celebration, when there is much unresolved both in the present location and in the wider Galaxy is a political decision: we view these events through the prism of propaganda... If the Star Wars trilogy is a documentary cut in the interests of the Rebellion, even the backstory crawls cannot be trusted and so it is that we must ask ourselves "is this Evil Empire really so?"
2001 saw Ivan's first involvement with AVW when A/V Woman Productions published Ivan's second book: Buffy the Homicidal Maniac, an exploration of the value of life and the nature of death in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then in October of that year he joined the AView editorial staff in the role he would occupy until his death. 

In 2003 Ivan was diagnosed with a benign but inoperable tumour, the first effect of which was to reduce his bladder capacity beyond the length of most films. This was a great frustration to Ivan, who dubbed the tumour Margaret (after Margaret Thatcher, and with reference to Dennis Potter's Rupert). He shifted his energies to TV reviews, and in 2004 he embarked upon his much-celebrated Digi-Box Rationbook project which he ran for six years before Margaret put a stop to that too. Ivan continued to engage with AView as much as health would allow (including collaborations with Aidan Ross: Racing News and The Library of News), and he presented a series of programmes on ATV, including arts magazine The Foyer, film-club strand Early Cinema and the award-winning TV-criticism show Boxed In. Throughout his time at AVW he was also part of the AView Eurovision Jury.

2012 was not a good year for Ivan. It began with the death of his cat, Lauren (after Lauren Laverne), who had been regularly namechecked in his columns. He said that television died that same year (although he was referring to digital switchover rather than ennui). It was also in 2012 that Ivan's tumour became malignant, and he was told not to expect to make his 70th birthday. 

But like his Biblical namesake, Ivan Methuselah was intent upon living longer than might be considered usual under the circumstances. Six months prior to his 70th birthday he set up a Twitter account subtitled "Ivan Methuselah has six months to live tweet", and he was determined to see two things before he would accede to death: enjoy his birthday and make it to the end of the first Capaldi series of Doctor Who. He managed the former in a small celebration with friends, after which, at 10:39pm, he tweeted "Doctor Who seems a lot better this year." He died the following afternoon with three episodes left in the series.
When asked for his favourite film, Ivan famously replied: "well it's Citizen Kane but I usually tell people it's Watership Down to sound more interesting."


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Whitchurch, K. (2015): ""Europe Endless"; A/V Woman, 15(20)

A/V Woman; 19th May 2015

HIS month I was honoured to join the now legendary AView contingent at the mighty Eurovision Song Contest.[2] From this year our jury consists of five members, because it takes three people to replace the now sadly missed Ivan Methuselah[3] who finally lost a long-standing tussle against her pet cancer, Margaret, earlier this year on the day after her 70th birthday. Perhaps you came across some of our extensive coverage of Eurovision.[4] I hope it was very entertaining and not in the slightest a self-indulgent mess. I’m a very optimistic person. Anyway, this article is about my month immersed in Europop whimsy and Belgian lager.
     The five of us: the old guard of Evan Paris (music editor) and Chrissie Hammond (general editor), plus Karl Border (technology), Miquita Imran (our new television editor) and myself (fashion; don’t laugh!)[5] convened at our main office on the morning of Wednesday 6th, our bulging suitcases already proving too much for the young urchins employed beneath them. Tearful relations and well-wishers waved us farewell as we boarded the private train that would take us, via the Channel and Gibraltar tunnels to our host nation, Morocco.[6]
     We arrived at our Casablancan sidings on Friday afternoon; there would be no luxury hotel rooms for us but our train is a pretty plush one: The Shoveller[7] is the LNER’s[8] world-beating engine and we had it hooked up to the finest residential carriages ACNC own. The five of us were not the only occupants; we were accompanied by a small diplomatic mission of the company’s ‘A&R’ division: at A/V Woman, a trick is never missed to expand the imperial yoke.
     What do these mysterious salesmen do? Well on the whole they keep themselves to themselves, occasionally bringing back local businessmen and dignitaries to enjoy the splendour of our surroundings and witness a marvel of Danish engineering (that’s Danish as in Doncaster, and that’s a salesman’s joke). I am told that these parasitic tendrils (I mean that in a purely scientific way) may expand the financial clout of our organization by billions of pounds in a single week’s junket. Eurovision is not all schlager and lager.
     Being an Islamic country (particularly in the current climate), Morocco and Eurovision may seem a little incongruous, but history thrives on such meetings of worlds. The state TV company organizing this year’s contest know full well what’s coming, and it wouldn’t be coming if they were minded not to grin and bear the sodomy and insobriety of our western decadent selves. Eurovision thrives in a culture of pansies and piss-heads and if the prospective host can’t accept that (as happened in Russia a few years ago and will not, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) insist with a fervent glint in their collective eye, happen again) then they shouldn’t be entering.
     Why then do so many African and Middle Eastern nations want in? It’s a complicated mix of a desire for tourism, a desire to kick the bottoms of the old Imperial powers, and a desire to simply be seen on the same stage as the first world. In Eurovision, Luxembourg is a more powerful entity than Germany, and, in the same way, Jordan can stick it to Israel without getting its face blown off.
     And so they pay the devil for this privilege. If it means a few thousand alcohol consuming homosexuals swanning into their capital and wiggling their bottoms provocatively at the odd Imam then that’s a sacrifice worth making. Money so often speaks louder than Allah. No, that’s unfair. Money is a means to an end, and the end might well be one of social advancement. Fingers crossed.
     And so it is that Casablanca is turning a blind eye to the antics of the Eurovision char-à-banc, as it has with its tourist trade for pretty much ever. Indeed, let’s be straight about this (straight! ha) Morocco has something of a historical reputation for turning a blind eye (and indeed a receptive bottom) to ‘that sort of thing’. What a man does to another man in her own private pleasure-dome is between the two of them and the ‘all-seeing’. Just don’t brandish it in my face, ta very much (which is, save the occasional pocket, an almost universal truth).
     There is, of course, a certain section of the gay community which is unhappy with this way of doing things, and it has its reasons so to be. There is also, of course, a certain section of the Islamic community which is unhappy with this way of doing things, albeit from a rather different perspective. Both have been making their feelings felt, and it has not all been pretty. It’s a battle that only antagonizes the opponent, such is the fervour felt on each side of the debate. And so exotic rallies for both camps are essentially self-defeating, just pissing off everybody with an ounce of tolerance but little investment. Indeed, in a religious world the cards are rather stacked against the ‘pride’ set, who can never out-argue eternal damnation. The world is best turned through small degrees: come at it with a crowbar and it’s liable to get defensive.
     As aggressively polemic as the protests have been, they have thankfully been handled with the sort of kid gloves that made Morocco a gay paradise a few generations ago. We have not seen a repetition of the scenes in Moscow, for which we must be thankful.
     And so, for the most part, the dance has been a cordial one. Certainly, there’s plenty of booze to go round, which is always important. Of course, there’s also a third wheel of tension at play which has been much more of an elephant in the concert-hall: the war which dare not speak its name.[9] To call the security presence oppressive would be a reasonable over-statement. There’s very much a cordon in operation, beyond which you’re on your own. Access to this bubble of assumed safety requires certain documents: tickets, work papers or proof of residence. It isn’t an especially comfortable arrangement, though the locals seem to tolerate it on the assumption that it will prevent them from being blown up. In fairness it seems to have done the job.
     Anyway, back to the song contest. Or rather, song contests, plural, for there are semi-finals to be considered. The reason we have got here when we have is to be present for that most important of events: the Western Final. The Western Final is somewhat deliberately scheduled on the Saturday before the contest proper and in many of the competing nations, ours increasingly included, it is seen as the contest of most meaning. It was, of course, a concept initially mooted by our very own Methuselah, and he was certainly rather proud to see it finally in operation. For the uninterested among you, the Western Final is a semi-final event consisting of the nations of northern and western Europe; that is to say the nations of the Cold War era song contest. That is to say, before the Eastern Bloc got involved and spoiled it for us. The top eight acts of Old Europe go forth to meet the top eight acts of the Eastern Final, the top four acts of the Southern Final and the hosts, Morocco, in the contest proper. But for many competitors, a win in the local final is cherished enough. Sure, it would be great to win the grand prix itself, but so long as we’re better than France and Germany, that’s kind of what matters. The Western Final, by mimicking the contest of old, replaces it effectively. We can, in fact, have our cake and be thoroughly within our rights to ingest it: we have the Western Final and, if we’re one of the top eight (which the UK tend to be) then we can play the broader game too.
     There is a great deal of attention afforded to the Western Final, as one might expect. It is indisputably abustle. We occupy one of the smaller commentary booths within the auditorium, which is very much fine by us, despite it being a little on the cramped side. Evan still feels that any sort of semi-final is wrong, but that’s something he must deal with. The reality is that there are simply too many nations involved to do it any other way. The rest of us feel that the current system offers the best possible arrangement under the circumstances.
     Our presenting team consists of a young, hip, slightly cheeky boy in a collarless shirt and jacket, and an older, more stately woman in an ethnically flavoured dress, balancing a scarf somewhere near the back of her immaculate hair-do. One could in no way shape or form describe her as veiled; I’ve seen Iberian entries with more head-covering. It is, in a way, a political gesture: an indicator of solidarity with the Islamic world while at the same time an attempt to present a conventional westernized front of the sort that goes down nicely with the tourists. On seeing the look I began to wonder what sort of thing he might wear when not presenting a major international competition of popular song. Perhaps a chadri, as I never did catch a glimpse of her en drab.
     San Marino are first up, with some faintly ethnic hard rock. It is easy to dismiss.  Then it’s the UK’s turn: the cheeky retro Carole and “My Heart Skips a Beat”: a good number with a catchy and temporally interesting chorus but let down somewhat by the poor girl’s inability to hold anything that might legitimately be described as a note. Unsurprising therefore that the UK failed to make the cut. As did the next five acts. This suggests a certain long-term memory problem in Western Europe, because Spain, at least, were pretty interesting (three women throwing themselves about to some hardcore flamenco disco) and most of the rest showed more than a little competence. Still, only eight can go through. Also not in the eight but deserving of it were Germany (with an electro-pop opera), the Netherlands (a pounding gay anthem with more than a smattering of schlagery goodness) and the Vatican (four men doing hymnal goth-metal). Making it through, after some moderately tense voting, were Finland (a creepy anthemic ballad in a minor key), Sweden (god-awful shoe-gazing rock with a cheesy chorus grafted onto it), Monaco (a young woman performing a glitzy dance number), France (a suitably Moroccan entry in an effort to capture the Southern vote), Belgium (an excitingly modern electro-folk groove performed by three women and a man in matching costumes), Luxembourg (a power-ballad), Liechtenstein (a whimsical waltz from a woman in a big dress), and Iceland (a particularly annoying cartoon duet based around a rock’n’roll / charleston synthesis). Of those, our favourites were the Belgians.
     With three days to kill before the next semi: the Eastern round on Tuesday night, we slipped out of the ‘green zone’ and into the real word to experience some genuine Berber culture.
     Morocco, for all its loveliness and apparent tolerance is nonetheless not the nicest place in the world to live, especially if you’re a journalist: the notion of a free press is probably sufficient by itself to get you locked away. But one does have to balance this a little with the reputations of nations south and east. In comparison to a good many African states, Morocco is a liberal paradise. But it has some way to go before it reaches Northern European levels of tolerance and freedom. Let’s be bold about this: you wouldn’t want to live there. Visit, sure, by all means. Live, not if you could help it. As with most things, this is particularly true for women. Western fashions abound and as a non-Islamic tourist I have pretty much the run of the place. But the lot of a Moroccan woman, while being somewhat nicer than in some parts of the world, is still a bit shitty. While laws have tried to bring about a greater sense of equality (particularly on a financial level), they only go so far, and there’s still a sense of second class even here in crazy cosmopolitan Casablanca. This is particularly obvious of an evening, when the vast majority of women you see are tourists: wives have homes and families with which to attend, while daughters are locked away for their own safety and ‘modesty’. The occasional rebellious spirit turns up here and there, but when you’re one of only a handful of women on the town, surrounded by swarthy, sex-starved men, well, either you’re loose or you’re rock hard (more often than not the former). Yes, being a local woman strikes me as not much fun at all.
     Depressed by this thought, and having consumed more couscous than is good for anyone, not to mention a heady quantity of spiced stew and the bitterest teas imaginable, we crawled back to the Eurovision camp where for the next couple of days we latched onto a festival of local music. “In places like this”, Evan explained, “these samplers are always a damn site better than the proper contest”. He’s unsurprisingly right.
     And so arrives Tuesday evening, and the Eastern Final. This we watched on the beach, where a big screen had been erected. Musically, it was the usual jumble of hard rock, club beats, power-ballads and folk. Debuting Kazakhstan went with a menacing, semi-electronic folk-metal onslaught that deserved real credit and was easily the stand-out song of the night. Unsurprising therefore that it failed to make the cut. Slovakia (moody folk), Slovenia (Euro-rock), Ukraine (sexy goth dance), Russia (rousing and oddly Soviet power-ballad), Romania (a pretty, Luxembourgish ballad by a pretty, Luxembourgish woman), Kosovo (thrash metal), Hungary (glam rock) and Macedonia (a besuited gent doing some rather retro chanson) were the eight finalists voted through, which was probably a fair selection, the Kazak entry notwithstanding.
     On Wednesday we made a few video pieces about the place before retiring to the luxury of our train and sampling some of the finer goodies we’d brought with us on our journey.
     And so on to Thursday night: the start of the weekend for many of the entrants in the Southern Final. This is a somewhat depleted group: Palestine and Syria failed to select entrants on account of being too busy fending off the Israelis, while Iraq have stayed away because the contest clashes with its Mass Graves memorial day. Indeed, there was a good deal of speculation as to whether or not Casablanca itself would be up for the gig, given that the final falls on the 12th anniversary of the terrorist bombings of 2003. But Morocco seems to have been keen to ignore any sentimentalization of May 16th; “If we’d abandoned this contest, or even rescheduled it, simply because of the date, it would’ve been another hit for the terrorists, wouldn’t it?” explained a Moroccan TV spokesman. Still, this is a city with a history of terrorist incidents, and the coincidence of the date only served to exacerbate a perhaps not unreasonable fear given the state of things. As it transpired, it was a fear unrealised, though to what extent we owe our lives to the watertight security is unclear. If you were a Moroccan suicide-bomber and Eurovision was in town, wouldn’t you be inclined to blow your party popper there? A number of arrests were certainly made over the course of the fortnight, with some particularly high profile swoops in the weeks before. Whatever the truth of the matter, nothing exploded during our visit that wasn’t meant to explode as part of the show.
     Poor old Israel. Whatever you might think of them as a political entity, as a musical entity Israel have, on the whole, been pretty impressive. But stuck in this Southern group, surrounded by Arab Islamic nations, many of whom fail to recognize Israel at the best of times, it’s going to struggle. In fairness, it has Greece, Cyprus, the Caucasian states and the utterly out-of-place Malta in its potential defence, and since the arrival of the three-semi system in 2012 they have twice edged Israel into a final position (that’s 50% of the time). But when you go embarking upon unpopular wars with your neighbours, you’re likely to lose a good deal of good will, and it’s therefore perhaps unsurprising to see Israel taking nul points this year in spite of the fact that they put in a cracking performance. The other old guard nations of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Malta, also fell by the wayside, and there’s an increasing sense of anger coming from these Mediterranean nations: a sense that the Southern Final is unfair: that the Arab states are an impenetrable block and whilever only five or six entries go through from the Southern round the Mediterranean acts have little chance of qualification. Perhaps if there wasn’t so much infighting in the Caucasian and Mediterranean blocks they might stand a chance against the Arabs. In the long term, if the war hots up in the Middle East, we might find the Southern group sufficiently depleted that the Caucasus can join the Eastern Final and the Mediterranean nations the Western Final without much difficulty. Failing that, perhaps some increased partition of North Africa’s expansive nations could bump the Southern group to the same size as its rivals, allowing another nation to pass into the grand final. Neither seem altogether satisfactory solutions to the problem, but it’s clear that, as good as things are for mainland Europe, the Southern Final has some significant problems that need to be addressed.
     Anyway, progressing from Thursday night were the Lebanon (feisty indie rock fronted by a woman), Jordan (up-beat chanson), Algeria (an acid-jazz boy-band), Armenia (dark and ethnically charged dance), and Libya (this year’s only full-on hip-hop finalist).
     Friday night is Eurovision disco night: easily the best night of the week: wall to wall Eurovision classics filling the dance floor from 6pm to 3am. It’s a truly fantastic party and much continental lager is consumed.
     And then it comes to it: the Eurovision Song Contest itself. This time we watch not from the venue, not from the beach, nor from any number of programmed parties about the place; this one we watch from our train. We have a smörgåsbord of international dishes and beverages tailored (slightly) to the acts we are about to see. As nice as the beach was, and the park where we watched the Southern Final on Thursday; and as privileged as
it is to see the thing live from one of the commentary boxes, the fact of the matter is that Eurovision is best viewed among a small group of friends on an insignificant television surrounded by breads, cheeses and beers of various different strengths and hues. It’s just the way of things. To do it in an expensive train three miles away from the actual concert and 1,400 miles from home may seem a bit stupid, but then Eurovision is stupid, so in that respect we are being pretty consistent. We do at least get to breathe in a little of the atmosphere.
     Twenty-two acts (including our first view of the Moroccan number: suitably North African, but with little more than that to its credit), and several bottles later we reach the interval act and the moment at which we, the AView jury, must place our votes. I went as follows: 12pts - Belgium, 10pts - Ukraine, 8pts - Armenia, 7pts - Slovakia, 6pts - Finland, 5pts - Monaco, 4pts - France, 3pts - Libya, 2pts - Russia, 1pt – Hungary. As a collective our points fell slightly differently, but not to any disturbing degree.
     The current voting system in the real world is still a little more controversial than the stuff we get up to in our own private train. The points from the semi-finals are carried over, putting Russia in an immediate lead with the Lebanon second and Libya third. In the final, juries can only vote for songs from outside their semi-final region, the only exception being the Moroccan entry which enters the final on nul points but can be voted for by any of the juries. The juries representing nations knocked out in the semis have their votes presented en masse to save time, the spokesperson being that of the nation with the highest unqualified song. This helped bump Libya up into second place. From then on it is classic 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-10-12 voting all the way: arguably the best bit of the show.
     Since the big shake-up in 2012, national broadcasters make the decision as to how their jury functions. Some countries have persisted with simple juries (especially in the Middle East), others still make use of the phone-vote (Eastern Europe in particular). In the UK, along with much of North-West Europe, broadcast-aligned net-voting is the method of census currently employed, and the UK was one of a number of nations giving Libya the full twelve and easing them into that early second place. As night wore on it became clear that this was going to be a two hare race between Russia’s potent anthem and Libya’s rap grooves. As the final jury, Slovakia (automated telephone tone vote) called in its results, Russia held a nine point lead over its rival. But Slovakia would be unable to vote for Russia. Libya needed at least 10pts from Slovakia, and so by this point those of us who were still conscious were but inches from the screen; cheese smeared across our chins (even I went up close, despite watching proceedings through the internal feed of my robot eye). At eight points there was still no mention... “We give our ten points to... who else but our delightful hosts, Morocco!” So... twelve or nothing... The Slovakian spokesman knows that right now he’s the very centre of the universe, and he makes the most of it. It’s amazing how annoying a spokesman can make himself without even saying anything.
     I’ll spare you the agony, and let’s face it, unless this article has made it to an anthology of my work at some distant point in the future (and if it has, god help me that this article should be considered worthy) the chances are you either know the result of the contest already or you haven’t read this far. For those of you who don’t know, and have read this far, you mythical beasts you (and for the poor, underpaid editor of my anthology; dear child how I love you so; put this one down and publish the one about oral sex instead[10]), Libya won.
     Prizes dished and encores played, the train sets off and we slope away to our sleeper cells for the long journey back home, where complaints and conspiracies await our beady eyes in columns of tabloid outrage. But in a year we’ll be back, just along the coast there, for the second North African Eurovision, and I must say, I’m rather looking forward to the prospect of a Libyan Eurovision Song Contest.


[1] Whitchurch described this article as “the worst piece of shit I’ve ever dared to submit”. When asked to expand on her experiences in Morocco she replied “I’m not a fucking travel writer; sorry.” When asked to write more about the contest itself she said “What did we do the AView report for? I mean, I can copy and paste that if you like, but I doubt the readers will be very interested.” “I don’t like travel,” she once wrote; “I mean, I like exploring new places, but I don’t like the getting from A to B and I don’t like all that stuff that comes afterwards: telling people what you saw.  From someone who makes a living telling people what they saw that might come as a curious statement, I know. But I just think back to people’s holiday photos and how bored I used to get when relatives started going on about what they did on the Tuesday afternoon.” I think there was also an extent to which Whitchurch was frustrated by her inability to properly give an eyewitness account given that her eyes were far from perfect.
[2] Ever since its establishment in 1998, AView had been reviewing Eurovision Song Contests. In 2004 they established a regular jury consisting of Evan Paris, Chrissie Hammond and Ivan Methuselah who in 2009 also went back and reviewed every contest since the inaugural event of 1956. With the introduction of the regional semi-final system in 2012, the AView jury began actually attending the contest, reviewing the Western Final from inside the venue but always insisting on watching the Grand Prix itself on television and surrounded by copious quantities of food and alcohol.
[3] Ivan Methuselah (1944-2014): born in Bath to a Jewish refugee from Danzig and the heiress to a small grocery empire. Entered journalism at the age of 15, moving to Yorkshire at the turn of the 1980s and arriving at AView in 2001 as the magazine’s film and television reviewer. For eleven years he struggled with bouts of ill health brought on by an inoperable but for the most part benign tumour called Margaret. This caused him to concentrate his efforts on television, most notably his celebrated Digi-box Rationbook column which first launched in late 2004.
[4] By this point, AView were providing masses of video and textual on-line material in support of their print output.
[5] Fashion was one of a number of roles Whitchurch assumed as part of the magazine’s small body of London-based staff. In practice her ability to function as a fashion correspondent had been greatly reduced by the loss of her good eye in 2013, but her opinions on the subject were still immensely well respected. Her place on the jury, though, was more down to her standing as a senior journalist at AView than to her fashion brief.
[6] Morocco, whose first entry in the contest had been as early as 1980, secured victory in 2014 with Halima Tazi’s “Salam”.
[7] Named with respect to The Mallard, and making particular reference to the broad, flattened nose of the train, The Shoveller had recently attained the status as the world’s fastest train after a number of demonstration events and ‘diplomatic missions’ for AVW companies during the course of 2015, it was put into service on the East Coast Mainline on 1st January 2016.
[8] Loversall & New Edlington Railways, a deliberate backronym and the name of ACNC’s Doncaster-based rail technology subsidiary. They were founded in 2010.
[9] The United States, operating primarily from Iraq and Afghanistan, had embarked upon a full-scale invasion of Iran in 2013. Meanwhile, following on from its roundly condemned occupation of Palestine in the same year, Israel had made a series of what it described as ‘necessary security incursions for defensive purposes’ on three of its neighbours: Syria, the Lebanon and Jordan. Syria’s infrastructure had been particularly severely hit by the Israeli attacks.
[10] I have searched long and hard for an article about oral sex. Alas, Xenon knows nothing of it.



A NEW SOAP is a comic strip, a corresponding run of graphic novels, and a spin-off series of TV movies. The stories follow the fantastical adventures of a group of York students who include the four AVW founders and their friends (albeit depicted as being played by celebrities). The series is noted for its pop-culture references and local in-jokes. Such was the success of the series that its casting of Christopher Eccleston in the role of 'Doctor Who' (first established in 2000) was subsequently adopted by the BBC.

The title, A New Soap, and the use of "Episode" to denote each part, is a deliberate homage to the original Star Wars film (aka Episode IV: A New Hope).

The comic strip
Published as part of AView, it was written by Stew Chester and drawn by Alex Jefferson. The first strip appeared in February 1999. The last new serialisation concluded in May 2002.

The graphic novels
PPP began publishing the strips in graphic novel form from early 2000. In May 2002 they published the first straight-to-book story: The New Soap T-N-G. This was followed in 2003 by TARDIS Down.

The TV series
The opening night of ATV featured a trailer for "Episode Nought: A New Soap" which aired on 6th May 2006. This was followed by adaptations of each book. In March 2008, ANSX became the only story to premiere in the TV format, while 2015's The Foss Awakens (another Star Wars pun) had a simultaneous release as a TV movie and a graphic novel.

Publication history:

A group of students in a dorm at the University of York awake to find their cleaning lady has been murdered.

Episode 1: A New Soap - 19th February 1999 (AView 01:04)
Episode 2: A New Soap - 19th March 1999 (AView 01:05)
(graphic novel published March 2000, incorporating unissued Episode 3)

The students are embroiled in the search for a magical crystal.

Episode 4: A New Soap - 20th August 1999  (AView 01:10) (note: there was no Episode 3)
A New Soap: Episode 5 - 24th September 1999 (AView 01:11)
A New Soap: Episode 6 - 22nd October 1999 (AView 01:12)
Episode 7 - 19th November 1999 (AView 02:01)
Episode 8: The Christmas Special -  17th December 1999 (AView 02:03)
Episode 9 - 7th January 2000 (AView 02:04)
(graphic novel published October 2000)
(TV adaptation, June 2006)

The students are sucked into their television and must find their way back home.

Episode 10 - 4th February 2000 (AView 02:06)
Episode 11 - 18th February 2000 (AView 02:07)
Episode 12 - 3rd March 2000 (AView 02:08)
Episode 13 - 17th March 2000 (AView 02:09)
Episode 14 - 31st March 2000 (AView 02:10)
The Easter Special pt.I - 14th April 2000 (AView 02:11)
The Easter Special pt.II - 28th April 2000 (AView 02:12)
(graphic novel published March 2001)
(TV adaptation, July 2006)

Still trapped in the television universe, the students learn that their only hope is to find Fred Harris.

Episode 17 - 12th May 2000 (AView 02:13)
Episode 18 - 26th May 2000 (AView 02:14)
Episode 19 - 9th June 2000 (AView 02:15)
Episode 20 - 23rd June 2000 (AView 02:16)
Episode 21 - 7th July 2000 (AView 02:17)
(graphic novel published June 2001)
(TV adaptation, August 2006)

The students find themselves cast adrift on the high seas.

Episode 22 - 21st July 2000 (AView 02:18)
Episode 23 - 4th August 2000 (AView 02:19)
Episode 24 - 18th August 2000 (AView 02:20)
(graphic novel published August 2001, incorporating unissued Episode 25)
(TV adaptation, September 2006)

Star Wars spoof in which the students play characters from their history.

Episode -n - 1st September 2000 (AView 02:21)
The second episode - 15th September 2000 (AView 02:22)
The third episode - 29th September 2000 (AView 02:23)
(graphic novel published October 2001)
(TV adaptation, October 2006)

The students must face their deadliest enemy: Jim's dad.

Episode 26: The Cheese of Ragnor - 27th October 2000  (AView 02:25) (note: there was no Episode 25)
Episode 27: Recreational Winter Trapezoid - 24th November 2000 (AView 03:01)
Episode 28: Good Morning Swansea - 8th December 2000 (AView 03:03)
Episode 29: Narwhals Ate My Rhino Card - 29th December 2000 (AView 03:05)
Episode 30: The Final Episode - 12th January 2001 (AView 03:07)
(graphic novel published December 2001)
(TV adaptation, December 2006 (two episodes))

Eight vignettes to tease a forthcoming graphic novel.

Trailer 1 - 5th April 2002 (AView 04:18)
Trailer 2 - 12th April 2002 (AView 04:19)
Trailer 3 - 19th April 2002 (AView 04:20)
Trailer 4 - 26th April 2002 (AView 04:21) (note: two different versions)
Trailer 5 - 3rd May 2002 (AView 04:22)
Trailer 6 - 10th May (AView 04:23)
Trailer 7 - 17th May 2002 (AView 04:24)
Trailer 8 - 24th May 2002 (AView 04:25)

Geese are plotting to destroy the Earth. Can our students stop them?
(published as a graphic novel, May 2002; no serialisation)
(TV adaptation, April 2007)

The students are stranded on an alien planet without any female companionship.
(published as a graphic novel, December 2003; no serialisation)
(TV adaptation, July 2007) 

Six part series of stand-alone comics in which the students find themselves in Hell.
(published monthly: May-October 2004; last issue published in two different versions)
(TV adaptation, September/October 2007 (six episodes))

TV adaptation of the Pilot Episodes; first broadcast 6th May 2006.

TV movie, first shown 23rd March 2008. The students hatch a plan to escape Hell.
(graphic novel published November 2008)

Simultaneously released as a TV movie and a graphic novel, Christmas 2015.



RECORDIAU CLUSTCWYR (effectively Earwax Records, though not to be confused with the Sheffield-based sister-label of that name) were a recording studio and record label based in Cwmann, near Lampeter, Wales. The studio was established by Dafydd Morgan in 1974 to capitalise on the captive student population of the nearby (and newly expanded) St David's University College. The ensuing music scene was the subject of Evan Paris's 2000 book The Locked Groove, the introduction of which is given below:
Regional music scenes vary wildly. While Manchester was producing speed-upping angry punk, its neighbours in Liverpool were getting into acid, and its neighbours on the other side, in Sheffield, were stealing their mothers’ make-up and buying synthesisers. Such variation on such a local scale continues even today despite our increasingly globalised world. Usually some of it rises to the surface, bubbling into our consciousness and influencing the bigger picture. Of the stuff that doesn’t, much might still hope to find an underground national following through niche programming and press. And then there’s the rest; the acts that never quite got there. That Peel didn’t get around to listening to. That the NME chose to ignore. For almost every musical scene in history there are the successes, the marginals and the failures. The nation knows of the Human League, the musically curious know of Cabaret Voltaire. Only the people around in Sheffield at the right time know of Hula.

A modicum of fame is available for most scenes, but not all. Some may only ever hope of reaching cult notoriety. And occasionally there is some part of the country that fails to gain any attention at all. One such region is the subject of this book.

Wales has had its share of attention over the years. Be it big vocal talents like Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey, west-coast psyche-rock acts like Man, the underground successes of Datblygu and their ilk, or the Ankst-era psychedelia of ‘90s bands like the Gorkys and SFA (not to mention the immense success of recent dad-rockers The Stereophonics). Much of the talent to have reached the attention of the English ear filtered out through the north, through Liverpool labels like Probe Plus. Even the Ankst scene was profoundly northern, based around the Caernarfon Bay area. The other breeding ground for Welsh talent is to the south, in the cities: Swansea and Cardiff. Down here, the talent tends to filter out through the less scouted exit of Bristol.

Wales is something of a natural fortress, and that which doesn’t seep out through the top or the bottom of the country is not going to get out at all.

The university town of Lampeter is further from Swansea than Manchester is from either Liverpool or Sheffield, and as far from Ankst country as Manchester is. It was there, in the Teifi valley, that  Dafydd Morgan set up Recordiau Clustcwyr, a record company that has had absolutely no commercial success outside of  the Cardigan and Carmarthen area. Anthropologists take no end of excitement from finding an isolated community hidden deep in the rainforests and untouched by the rest of civilisation. Here, in the heart of Wales, is the musical equivalent: a microcosm so trapped in its valley that it has become inbred.
Clustcwyr's primary function was as a studio, but it also operated artist-paid pressing and a limited distribution model. Surprisingly few students engaged as far as the label side of the business, and the released material comes mostly from a network of inter-related artists operating in the Ceredigion/Carmarthenshire region. These artists were largely inherited from an earlier label: Tapioca Records, founded in 1959 but closed in 1974 following a suspicious fire at their isolated Joppa studio near Llanrhystud (15 miles away from Clustcwyr). Chief among the Tapioca acts were former Lampeter students turned art-rockers Et Cetera, and Caernarfon girl-band Cathy Carrow and the Cookie Crumbs. Any map of the Clustcwyr 'scene' starts with these two groups.

In the late '70s, the label gained a strong reputation (locally speaking) for their punk output, typified by Dirywio's legendary naked gig as part of their notorious 1978 "Anhrefn Yn Cymru" tour. Such antics, and Dirywio's stage-managed rivalry with label-mates The Seed (formed by an ex-Cookie Crumb), served to bring Clustcwyr to a wider attention. The label maintained this momentum through the early-'80s with the chic yet cynical pop-rock of bands like The Margarets and Helena's Box (effectively a decapitated Cookie Crumbs). The latter would be Clustcwyr's most successful act, and the one which came closest to breaking out, nearly being signed to Island Records in 1988 but breaking up instead.

Sophisticated grunge-rock emerged after this, provided first by The Angels of Death (formed from the ashes of Dirywio and The Seed), ex-students The Moisture Farmers, and later Rotten Fruit (made up of former members of The Margarets and Helena's Box). But distribution levels fell throughout the '90s, and the label was continually being propped up by the same faces under different names (The Angels of Death would later be Cyfeb and later still Diwydianfa, in spite of an at-the-time unchanging lineup (a post-Clustcwyr iteration of Diwydianfa (with none of the original members) would, of course, become infamous for other reasons)). Furthermore, home recording technology was slowly eroding the studio side of the operation.

From the mid-'90s onwards, the label shifted its focus to progressive folk acts such as Llefrith (another decapitation in the Cookie Crumbs / Helena's Box line) and Rhonwen Stephens (the last student on the label's books, and briefly also a member of Llefrith). The new direction was sufficient to aid a small revival in fortunes, and a number of prodigal acts returned to the label, not least Sheffield-based The Science Department (an Et Cetera spin-off). This loose collective of electronic musicians introduced other Sheffield-scene acts to the valley, not least Chesterfield duo MOSFET. In 2001, a sister label, Earwax Records, was founded by The Science Department in Sheffield, and this introduced a brief period of cultural exchange. In 2002 the two labels merged as part of a buy-out by ACNC Records to create RCE Records (Recordiau Clustcwyr / Earwax). In spite of the merger, the two labels retained their former identities, though many of the more experimental acts drifted to the Sheffield arm. 

Following the buy-out, Dafydd Morgan emigrated to Mallorca. Gorwel Edwards, who had bankrolled the label in its early days and had co-managed since the mid-80s, stayed on at the helm, but was arrested for fraud in 2003, and declared bankrupt in 2004. Dafydd Morgan died later that year.

The continuing rise of home recording and paid tuition, general decline in record sales and record retailers, some unquestionably bad management, and a lack of investment finally took their toll on the two studios, and RCE Records were wound down in March 2006.

The barn that housed Clustcwyr had remained the property of Dafydd Morgan until his death in 2004. It was then bequeathed to John Craven (ex-Et Cetera) and Helena Jones (ex-Cookie Crumbs; ex-Helena's Box) -- the two artists had formerly hated each other, and had to perform a duet of "Some Velvet Morning" to receive the bequest; they now live together at the barn. The offices were converted into a flat, and the pair maintained the studios until 2007 when flooding destroyed much of the equipment. A good deal of the Clustcwyr back-catalogue was also severely damaged. The former studios have subsequently been repurposed as a practice space and venue. The Sheffield studios were likewise hit by flooding in 2007, and are now derelict.