Back to Butler – February Reunion 2015

The weekend of February the 14th is usually a time to celebrate love, normally with a partner. However, for 50 alumni this weekend was a point to celebrate their truest love; their love for Butler. Soppy I know, but these 50 alumni made the trek back up South Road to experience a nostalgic weekend and to keep engaging with the Butler Spirit.

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The weekend was kicked off with a Karaoke night on the Friday in the Bar. Whilst slow to start it eventually picked up towards the later evening, with a variety of tunes from Taylor Swift to Queen. It was great to see the interaction between current students and alumni as they battled over who could sing the most out of tune. After the karaoke had finished the alumni flocked to the only place worth going to after 11pm, classic Klute. The celebrations ran far into the early hours of Saturday morning, it was bound to happen really though.

Saturday saw even more alumni arriving, and then began some planned events. A number of people just chilled out in the bar area, whilst others went to play football for one of Butlers prestigious teams.  Later in the afternoon there was a Meet the Angels event, which gave the opportunity for current students to meet and talk careers with the alumni. The evening saw the main event approach. Everyone gathered in the bar to jump on a coach to Ushaw College. It’s safe to say that the alumni found the aesthetics very impressive, as we were able to dine in the refectory hall. The meal gave the opportunity for all the alumni visiting to reconnect in one space, as after the food was finished there was a lot of mingling between tables. The night then continued with coaches back to Butler and a few drinks before once again heading out to Klute. The biggest shock for some alumni is the conversion of Studio to “Union Bar”, hence the infamous double Klute weekend. Once again the festivities carried on far into the night.

Sunday morning was a ghost town as most people were still in bed until the afternoon sleeping off the third quaddie. By Sunday afternoon though the bar was once again littered with hung-over and sleep deprived bodies, to the untrained eye it looked like normal students, not those that have left a year or more ago. Finally as the evening approached the crowds departed, and Butler once again became alumni-less. That is apart from ex-SCDO Sian who decided to stay one more night in order to watch the JCR Meeting and the Presidential husts.

It was great to see such a variety of year groups attending the weekend as a whole, and it can only be hoped that the successes of the reunions keep increasing year on year. The weekend has shown that the Butler Spirit never truly goes away, and the smile on people’s faces as they walk through the bar again after so long is just incredible to see. The next reunion will be the weekend of Butler Day (30th – 31st May) so look out for more information closer to the time!

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Alumni Reunion, London 2014

Saturday 6th December marked the annual congregation of Butler alumni in London. 45 alumni battled their way through the bustling streets of central London, braving the bitter cold and the numerous packs of Santa Clause look-alikes to reach the Spaghettihouse restaurant on Goodge Street. There they ascended 4 flights of stairs to finally reach the private room that had been set out for us. Crowds flocked around the doorway as glasses of Prosecco were handed out, and the unique friendly vibe that Butler has began to shine through in conversation straight away. There were hugs, there were laughs; there were smiles, there were cheers, but most importantly everyone was incredibly comfortable and seemed at home.

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The meal kicked off with a brief presentation by Adrian, and then a fiasco of everyone trying to remember what dish they had ordered! Eventually everyone began eating and I for one thought the food was pretty smashing to say the restaurant was catering for 50 people at once. The meal continued as expected, with a great buzz of conversation filling the room. After dessert there was the standard toast to Josephine Butler and it was a great surprise to see so many alumni trying to recall those faithful words of our College’s claim.

After the meal had finally ended most of us moved on to the Tottenham Court Road Lounge Bar, where other alumni who didn’t get on to the meal were meeting us. As soon as we entered the bar, it was clear to see we had found the London equivalent of Klute, as cheesy music blasted out of the speakers for a good half hour before changing to more standard bar tunes. It was safe to say everyone appreciated the choice of the bar greatly. At around 2am those who were still left with copious amounts of energy moved on to The Roxy, where I am told they had an exceptional night, which included a part where ex-President Will Kendall was astounded by London prices even after living there for several months.

Overall it was an incredible night and it was a privilege to organise. Seeing so many happy alumni was fantastic, and it was amazing to see lots of people meeting us in the bar after the meal. It definitely is true in that once you are a member of Butler you are a member for life. I thoroughly look forward to next year’s reunion and to the Durham reunion in February. Each year seems to be getting bigger and better as the events build upon the success of the previous so lets hope this trend can continue far into the future! Once again thank you to everyone who came and I look forward to seeing many more of you soon!

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A jammed packed October!

Returners Cocktails –  The term kicked off with Returners Week, where a number of events were held in College and in the Liver’s Out locations. The most notable of these was the Returners Cocktail event, hosted by Cocktail Soc and the Livers Out Officer. The night was Mean Girls themed as “on Wednesdays we wear pink”. After the cocktails the crowd headed off to Lloyds to further enjoy the night.

Open Mic – The first Open Mic of the year saw several performances from the Freshers’, all of who were fantastic, and several sets from returning students too. The combination of new and old is very promising for increasing those interested in performing in future events! There was a great atmosphere and great music, what more could you wants from an evening in the bar?

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Returners Social – The Returners Social teamed up with Allotment Soc again this year, where just like last year everyone was given a fruit or vegetable to protect throughout the bar crawl. There was so much vegetable carnage outside of the bar the next day… Congratulations must go to Mr Jonny Harrison who managed to keep his potato intact all the way to Cuths Bar, even after several attempts of groups wrestling him to the ground the ensure the destruction of his starchy prize. The Social ended in Klute of course, where the emotional trauma of losing the loved vegetables could be forgotten in a sea of Quaddies.

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Returners Formal – The first formal of the year was as always the Returners formal, this year the theme was Monopoly. The decorations were astounding, as each table was labelled as a section of the board, there was a Monopoly board on the tables too, allowing for games to be played during the meal! After formal entertainment was in the form of St Mary’s Basement Jazz band, who provided an excellent set of tunes to top off the evening!

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Dare Night – As always Dare Night proved to be a fantastic night of mischievous fun. The evening kicked off with leg waxing and a few drinks in the bar. There was then a set of 40 challenges to complete, including drawing a cat on a strangers face, singing Frozen songs in the frozen aisle of Tesco and getting a piggy back of a bouncer. There were so many teams that completed nearly every dare, and over £400 was raised for Grace House (who are the real winners). Overall it was a great night!

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Halloween Formal + Stroll – Things got a little bit spooky towards the end of October. This year’s Halloween formal was a Circus of Horrors theme; the amount of scary clowns in the hall was almost unbearable! A personal highlight of the formal was the dessert: a double chocolate cake with popcorn and popcorn ice-cream, it was to die for. Things didn’t stop there though for the Halloween fun, as the Wednesday night after saw a Halloween Stroll, starting at College and re-enacting the Freshers’ Week Stroll. There was a huge turnout from Freshers. A testimony to how successful a Freshers’ Week it was!

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That’s a roundup from October, November has plenty more to offer, including the York Varsity trip for the second year running, the Great Butler Bake-Off, the Green Formal, the Inter-Collegiate  Conference, Concerts, Karaoke’s and Open Mics galore and so much more!

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Freshers’ Week 2014, aka #ButlerMoments

After weeks of meticulous planning by Head Freps Rupert Maspero and Sally Crawford, and after days of set-up from this year’s fantastic Frep team, on Sunday the 28th September over 200 new Butlerites arrived at the College!

Day 1: Arrivals and Colours Rave

The day kicked off with the first arrival at 8:37 am exactly, even though it was specified not to arrive before 10am, these new Freshers were just too keen! Like every other year the new arrivals were piled upon with gowns, T-shirts, wristbands, lanyards, guides to the week, welfare guides and goodies and countless smiles. By 10am the bar was jammed packed full of people eager to receive their keys and get moved into the room which they will call home for the next 9 months. A few parents seemed tearful whilst others looked simply ecstatic that they were finally getting their homes back to themselves! By about 2pm most of the crowds had dissipated, surely this is the most eager to move in year so far.

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The evening kicked off with a huge turnout in the bar for the first event of the week, Bushtucker trials. The game consisted of questions to the audience who could then pick which Freps had to do a series of forfeits. These included having to eat/drink/somehow consume what can only be called revolting concoctions, a game called “boiled egg roulette” which involved cracking (hopefully) boiled eggs over Freps heads and letting the Freps try to shave a water balloon. It is safe to say that most forfeits did not end well for the Freps, much to the amusement of the Freshers. After the Bushtucker trials the Freps went back with their flats to cook up some standard Butler fajitas and then it was on to the Butler Colours Rave.

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Day 2: Beach Party

Monday began with a well-timed Welcome Talk at 9am. There were many a tired looking face in the crowds as Adrian, Karen, Des and Siri gave their respective talks on College life. Afterwards most students had academic commitments, but for those that had free time there were plenty of chilled activities on offer during the afternoon, including table tennis, croquet and films in the JCR lounge. The evenings consisted of the first Formal for Milfield whilst the other 2 blocks had a chilli con carne cooked for them. It is always a great sight when a flat of Freshers walk out in their gowns for the first time and you see one of them pretending to be Harry Potter. After the formal the Beach Party kicked off. This consisted of a live performance from the ever popular Quays, some excellent Beach tunes (bring on the Nicki Minaj’s Starships), a coconut shy, a great selection of shorts/sunglasses/garlands and of course many life loving Freshers!

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Day 3: Stroll

Like the day before many new students had academic commitments during the day, so similar chilled activities to Monday were planned to run all week, including Town Tours and Coffee Shop crawls. Whilst half of the Freshers had their first Mentor Night the other half were invited down to the Indoor Market for tasters of a multitude of food stalls. Afterwards the annual Butler Stroll began with Stroll T-shirts becoming blank canvases for the Freshers to let their creative juices flow. On the Stroll the Freshers were taught the classic Butler chants, which led to a victorious “chant off” with Mildert on the Bailey. The end destination was Loveshack which became packed with Butler students for the majority of the night!

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Day 4: Matriculation, UV Silent Disco

Matriculation means early morning wake-up call! The Freps utilised pots, pans, giant jenga blocks, car horns and those croaky tired voices to raise all the hungover and sleepy Freshers from their beds. The College photo ran very smoothly with only a few stranglers having to run down to Milfield field. After the photo Freshers grabbed some brunch bags before heading to the Cathedral. The ceremony was very short this year meaning that there were very few casualties in the Cathedral! On the way back to College the Freshers were greeted by the balloon arch and enthusiastic Freps on Prebends Bridge. College Matriculation took place straight after, running very smoothly and allowing the bleary eyed Freshers to grab a couple of hours sleep before the evening entertainment kicked in.

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Wednesday night was a mirror of Monday with the Formal for Dilston and Kirknewton blocks whilst Milfield were cooked for by Freps. After this the bar was cleared in time for the Silent Disco. Each year it is claimed this is the best night of Freshers, and this year was no different, with a great turnout of UV clad Freshers singing their hearts out. The choice of 2 different channels for song selection hilariously led to groups having several members singing and raving to one song whilst the others were singing along to a completely different song. Of course when headsets were removed it became evident that the majority of the Freshers were not even singing the correct lyrics at all! Overall it was a fantastic night and hopefully not one to be forgotten by the Freshers!

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Day 5: All American Night Out

Thursday began with very few students rising early, a testimony of the night before! This day saw the second Mentor night, whilst the other Freshers who had mentor night on the Tuesday were invited down to the Indoor Market. The night then consisted of another stroll but this time ending in the rising favourite club of Lloyds.

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Day 6: Speed Meeting, Boys vs Girls, Butler Live

Friday saw more chilled events in the evening as the DSU Ball attracted some of our students out of College. This did not make the evening any less special though as those that stayed learnt some valuable (and sometimes disturbing) information about one another through speed meeting. The highlight was finding out just how many claims to fame Head Frep Rupert Maspero really has. Afterwards began the ultimate battle of the sexes in a Boys vs Girls competition. This consisted of the two sexes splitting into separate groups and then partaking in a series of challenges such as racing to eat a 3 course meal with one person eating and one person feeding, coming up with a new Butler chant, and creating several new iconic fashion outfits using toilet roll and cling film. The end result saw the girls come out on top with a staggering 18 points – 9 points victory. To lighten the tension in the air after such a vicious competition, Butler Live began with an external band called BluePrint taking to the stage. There was a warm reception for the band and they played a fantastic 1 hour set. We then saw our very own Freps Rosie Bawn, followed by Becky Teece and Alex Naylor, crack out some wonderful tunes. Overall the night was pretty fantastic and provided a great alternative to the previous nights of partying.

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Day 7: Butler Fair and Noah’s Ark Party

Saturday kicked off at midday with the Butler Fair, where societies, sport and committees all had stands for sign-ups. This year saw an incredible number of sign-ups for all clubs, with a special mention to croquet who had over three sheets full of names! Whilst the Fair was going on inside the Bar and Howlands, there were inflatables outside to use throughout the day. The popular “Demolition Ball” made an appearance, as well as an incredibly fun assault course.

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As Saturday marked the day when returners came back to College the night’s event was extra special. The theme for this was Noahs’ Ark, so we expected pairs of animals galore. There were many a funny costume, including a crocodile hunter, a penguin, and Noah himself. The night raved on until 2am to a special playlist of “animal” tunes. All in all it was a great end to the week!

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Day 8: Chill Out Day and JCR Meeting

Sunday was the last day of Freshers and as such was a much needed day of rest. There were copious amounts of cake all day and the big screen displayed all the major sporting events for those that came down to the Bar. The evening finished off with the first JCR Meeting of the year, which saw the husts of Bar Stewards and Tour Rep (both of which results will be announced on Wednesday later in the week), the elections of DSU Rep, Careers Rep, Green Comm Rep, Year Abroad Rep, Quizmaster and Mole Master. Three positions were taken over by Freshers’ which is a great sign of the amount of involvement to come throughout the year. Overall it has been an outstanding week. A big shout out to Rupert Maspero and Sally Crawford for organising it, with the help of their lovely Frep team. Lets hope the year ahead is just as good!

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The Pre-Sessional Period

For the last few years Butler College has been the host of the Pre-Sessional students for Durham University. These students are Internationals who partake in an English Language course over the summer before starting their degrees. Many students move on to their respective Colleges for the year after completing the Pre-Sessional course, and with just a few days of them left in our College I thought it would be nice to talk about some of the activities that have happened over the summer.

Because Durham University is so special in its Collegiate system, when the Pre-Sessional students attend this course the University wants to display not just its academic prowess but also the social aspects that College life offers. Butler has employed Pre-Sessional Reps over the summer, who have been fantastic in organising trips and events as well as running book clubs and planning formals and a final ball! There has been a few challenges over the course, namely with the switch of the Pre-Sessional Support Officer half way through the summer, but overall it seems like every student has really enjoyed and benefitted from the experience of being at Butler.

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Welcome Formal for the first arivals just after the meal

There were 3 different arrivals of students, those that partook in a 12 week course, those on an 8 week course and a final arrival on a 4 week course, bringing the total number of Pre-Sessional students to over 540 which is the biggest number of students so far! By the last arrival all of Butler’s accommodation was full so many of these students were housed in either Trevs College or Brooks House accommodation. Living outside of Butler did not stop people getting involved though and all events and trips had an outstanding turnout.

Farewell Ball at the end of the Pre-Sessional course

Farewell Ball at the end of the Pre-Sessional course

Each week had a similar structure with Monday being book club, Tuesday mentor night, Wednesday sign ups, Friday bar nights, Saturday trips and Sunday sport. The bar activities included Ceilidhs, Karaoke, Film nights and Formal dinners. Each weekend a fleet of coaches transported the students all over the Country, visiting the Metrocentre, Whitby, York, Manchester and Edinburgh. All events and trips received hugely positive feedback, with many students asking for more!

Ceilidh in the Howlands

Ceilidh in the Howlands

Karaoke night in the bar

Karaoke night in the bar

Butler also hosted a series of lectures in the bar, with the hope of promoting what academic opportunities Colleges can provide as well the social aspects. The lectures started with a talk on the Harry Potter module held at Durham. This was followed by a lecture on Globalization, and finally there was a lecture from one of our new Resident Tutors (Ruth Houghton) on International Law. The vast range of activities that Butler has put on for the Pre-Sessionals has been incredible in terms of showcasing possibly the greatest aspect of Durham life, in that there is something for everyone to get involved with.

Coach trip to Edinburgh

Coach trip to Edinburgh

On a personal level I have learnt a huge amount this summer from the Pre-Sessional students. Whether it was learning some new recipes from living with a number of different cultures, to experiencing Manchester for the first time with a group who were just as lost as I was. The entire extravaganza that was this summer has resulted in many friendships being forged with students who will be moving onto other Colleges very soon, and hopefully these relationships can be used to strengthen the links that Butler has throughout the University.

Conga line during the Ents of the second Welcome Formal

Conga line during the Ents of the second Welcome Formal

It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the Pre-Sessional students, the Reps, and all of the staff and external people associated with the course. It is not a summer I am likely to forget and I hope that this feeling is reciprocated throughout all those who have attended the course.

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Another year over, a new one begins!

So another year has been and gone! I thought as a recent graduate and newly appointed SCDO/ARA that it would be great to have a sum up of the year from a student perspective. I hope not only that this first blog will be interesting for you, but will also be a good reference for me in a years’ time when I’m old and have forgotten what student life is all about! I think it’s safe to say that Will Garrison did a fantastic job over the year and has really left some big boots to fill! I hope I can make you proud! Anyway, sob story over, onto the good stuff!

Since the last post in October the year has been none stop action, with the new Freshers really settling into college life quickly and becoming involved from the start. The first JCR meeting of the year saw 3 Freshers being elected for the positions of Tour Rep, Mole Master and Quizmaster. The enthusiasm and engagement of this new intake was a joy to see.

The Butler spirit didn’t stop there though! Nearly every formal this year has been filled within seconds of sign up being open; bar events have had great turnouts and numerous new sports and societies have been created! We now boast over 30 societies, from the good old GRAW to the new Nail Soc, it cannot be disputed that we are indeed a college that caters for all!

What makes Butler so special though (in my opinion anyway!) are the events that take place here. Below is a brief rundown of what has occurred over the year.

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Butler travelled to York for a weekend of sports at what hopefully will become an annual Varsity trip.

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This years Halloween formal was themed around the Mexican celebration of Day of the Dead, where many attendees utilised coloured face paints to jazz up the standard skull.

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The Lumiere festival was incredible once again, and Butler even got a snazzy lit up car at the bottom of the drive!

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Butler hit a time warp and went back to the Medieval period for the 2013 Winter Ball. The optional fancy dress was really taken to by members of the SCR. As well as being served Pies and large bits of bread to share dessert was accompanied by a shot of mead and the option of Ale was available to drink out of goblets! After meal entertainment included a Ceilidh which proved incredibly popular.

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Second term saw the return of Butlers Got Talent. As well as the more standard singing and dancing performances, this year also saw an eating contest, highly enjoyable to all those watching, not so much for those taking part!

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Performances were not over though as the Societies Showcase was only a few weeks after. There were a variety of societies involved including Chamber Choir, Barbershop, Dance Soc and Juggling Soc. All performances were incredible and hopefully next year will see an even bigger showcase of our talent!

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After exams Butler Day has a huge turnout! Mexican themed, the day included a Bucking Bronco, a mariachi band, a cocktail bar and loads of live music, with a headline act from H’Oasis!

Graduation was an emotional time for all involved, whether they were students or parents. And the graduation dinners were very popular and fantastically planned events! I feel so privileged to be able to stay in College another year and support a new set of students, the prospect of leaving and joining the big bad world is daunting and I wish everyone out there the best of luck! But whatever you do, wherever you are, Butler College will always be your home and be here for you! (Gosh could I make that sound any cornier?!)

I hope to update this blog about once every month so please do keep checking back if you would like to stay in touch with the developments that are happening here! And I hope I see some of your friendly faces at our upcoming reunions! As usual here are the Plugs for all the social media…

Facebook: Butler Alumni

Twitter: @butler_alumni

Or email if you want any more deets at matthew.armitage@durham.ac.uk

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Quick Turnaround

Almost four months have flown by since the Class of 2013 graduated from Durham Cathedral. Now 250 new students have just been matriculated into Butler, sharing the same experiences that you did in what may seem like a lifetime ago. It’s hard to ignore the often cyclic nature of Durham University, however for me personally this summer proved to be a real eye opener – arguably more so than my first and last week as a Butler student.

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At graduation everyone experienced a similar combination of mixed emotions especially the parents, grandparents and friends who came to support their loved ones. My graduation was similar to the first day I arrived, tipping it down with rain and with two proud parents eagerly looking out for me – not too much has changed in three years then! Yet I soon realised it is the time I spent at Butler which will prove more memorable for me. The friends I have made, the experiences we shared and all the people who have helped me being much more important than graduation day itself.

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Over the summer Durham has been a completely different place, but the community feel still exists even without students. One example of this was the Durham Miners’ Gala, which over 50,000 people attended to see speeches from Bob Crow and Ricky Tomlinson. True some people were just there to get drunk; however it still brought people from the north east together. At Butler the summer played host to over 200 pre-sessional students from around the world. While they were studying how to succeed in essays we learnt a lot about peoples’ different cultures an experience difficult to find during term time.

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Freshers’ Week 2013 was as hectic and exciting as ever. Balloons, inflatables, a silent disco, taster sessions, nights out and the wonderful frep team all contributing to an incredible week. Cast your minds back to how you felt on that very first day and compare it to how you felt on the last day in Durham. Get in touch and let us know your favourite memories! For me the most rewarding part was seeing the transformation from nervous individuals to a strong community looking out for one another, all in the space of just one week. A community that will continue to support each other well after its short stay at Butler.

So that has been my first few months working at Butler and it has been a whirlwind time. In true Butler fashion it remains wildly unpredictable what could happen in the rest of the year.

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