Monthly Archives: November 2018


Our bus correspondent reports… locals in Bowerham and Hala are becoming increasingly irritated as they realise that what was a rather good number 2 bus service (6 double-deckers an hour) has become a distinctly inferior service (4 single-deckers an hour). This wouldn’t matter so much if they could get a seat, but for much of the day, as subtext readers know very well, this is a forlorn hope. What’s happening?

subtext understands the main problem is that, whereas previously the number 2 only went to and from the underpass, it now makes the circuit of Alexandra Park formerly taken by the number 3 (RIP). If you’re getting on at Cartmel, you’re unlikely to want to change to a number 1 at the underpass, so you’ll sit tight, despite the longer journey time. Hence the number 2 is now trying to ferry more people with fewer buses.

Longer term, the only solution looks like running more double-deckers – which Stagecoach currently doesn’t have. Stagecoach Group plc’s pre-tax profit in 2017-18: £95.3 million.


Contributed by Martin Widden

The composer J S Bach was very skilled at reusing pieces he had composed for other purposes, a practice he often adopted to enable him to meet the many tight deadlines he was set by his employers. But the St Matthew Passion is unusual among Bach’s major sacred works in having been composed as a whole, rather than being put together or adapted from music he had on the shelf. A devout Christian, Bach evidently regarded the composition of this work as a highly important matter in his life – it is tightly structured, and we are told that the manuscript is much more neatly finished than those for most of his works.

In these relatively faithless times, it fortunately isn’t necessary to be a Christian to appreciate the wonders of this work. The Passion is an account of the events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ, a tale that includes capture, denial, betrayal, and appeal to the instincts of the crowd (as we know, they preferred Barabbas, a known crook, to Jesus, and Pilate washed his hands of their decision). It is a dramatic story, and Bach’s treatment of it exploits the dramatic potential of the story to the full.

The University’s 2018-19 international concert season opened with a performance of the St Matthew Passion by English Touring Opera, presented in Lancaster Priory Church. The principal soloists sang their parts from memory, without books or copies. They were thus able to move around the church engaging the audience with eye contact. As a member of the audience, it was sometimes a little unnerving to be addressed from a distance of only a metre or two by a powerful singer, especially if you weren’t quite expecting it, but the dramatic effect was very strong, and to have the piece performed by an opera company seemed completely appropriate.

The story is told by the Evangelist. This is a big part – very reasonably, it was shared among several singers – and as they sang in German, it was useful to have surtitles on screens at the front of the church. The part of Christ is always accompanied by sustained strings, representing his halo remarkably effectively. The chorus was formed of local singers. Putting all this together is a considerable logistical triumph, since there is little time for rehearsal with everyone present, but no hitches were detectable on the night.

English Touring Opera are performing the St Matthew Passion at some eleven locations around the country. To witness and be part of one of these performances was a great experience: we were fortunate that one of them was given here in Lancaster.


As part of a possibly ongoing series of reviews of the places that matter on campus (i.e. food and drink venues) we have dispatched our gaggle of taster drones on a culinary fact finding mission. The first to report back was last seen in public staggering out of Go Burrito, clutching its stomach-parts and softly whimpering ‘can’t… eat… any… moar’.

The campus Go Burrito started as a rather ingenious attempt to keep a business afloat – or rather, not afloat, given the mothership premises are on Church Street in Lancaster, in one of the areas of the city centre worst affected by flooding following Storm Desmond in late 2015.

The formula is relatively simple, and superficially reminiscent of the Starbucks/Subway style choice system, where customers are given a series of increasingly complex options about what exactly they want in their food. At Go Burrito, fortunately, rather than over-sweetened and overpriced coffee drinks or limp-looking bread rolls topped with limp-looking other stuff, the choices are rather more appealing. Patrons are invited to choose their burrito size, type of beans, spicy or mild rice, main filling (a choice of around 5-6 meat or vegetarian options including beef/veggie chilli, pulled pork, stir fry veg, and sometimes specials), salsas of various spiciness, and a large selection of other fillings including jalapeños, guacamole and, for some bizarre reason, crushed tortilla chips.

There isn’t much in the way of sides: currently curly fries or nachos, and the hot cheese sauce is a bit too like what you might find in a cinema chain (our drone preferred sour cream as a topping). The drinks are also a little on the sugary side (who even knew that Lilt still existed?), but by and large Go Burrito offers a decent lunch of not too unhealthy fast-food at non-astronomical prices. And if you ramp up the spice levels enough, you might even be able to stay awake after lunch despite having consumed a large burrito oozing with cheesy chilli goodness.


Dear subtext,

Re: car parking and passes

Ah for the heady days of yesteryear (well about 18 years ago) when car park passes were collected in person from the security office. And parking, at least on a Friday (or POETS day – Push Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday) meant my husband and young son could parallel park on the back carpark across as many spaces as they wanted (yes, it was that empty) with our caravan in tow. They’d get the kettle on and have a brew while waiting for me to finish work before a weekend escape to the Lake District. Eeh, them were t’ days.

Irene Dudley-Swarbrick
Teaching Fellow, Project Management Unit, 1999-2001


Dear subtext,

While I never met any Freemasons during my time at Lancaster (or since for that matter), I do recall seeing posters on the spine advertising for new members. I think this was at the start of my third year – October 2012. A secret society advertising struck me as rather defeating the point!


Jack Fleming