Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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In Defence of Mumbling

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2014 by kmflett

In Defence of Mumbling

I did not see the programme but I didn’t really need to.

I had already picked up from twitter that many felt there was an issue with mumbling in a BBC adaptation of Daphne Du Maurer’s novel Jamaica Inn. Such was the mumbling that it appears the dialogue was hard to understand. There seems to be some suggestion that technical issues with sound quality rather than a cast of mumblers is the cause.

To be clear, unless the programme is meant to be mumbled, and I sense the balance is that it is not, then it should be audible.

However the discussion seems to have set off a hitherto mostly silent army of mumbling-phobics who think it is always bad. It isn’t.

Those that know me will know that I am veteran mumbler. Why is this? Largely because in private [not in public roles] I am quite a shy person and you mostly wont hear me bellowing out my thoughts, [although bellow I can if required]. Mostly I speak quietly and sometimes that is inaudible.

Of course I do sometimes actually do this deliberately, in meetings for example.

I once heard the late, and not great, Gerry Healy speaking in public. His voice would drop to a nearly inaudible whisper and then, in the very next utterance, rise to a huge volume. The impact was startling. A good deal more so than the politics.

The social theorist James C Scott has written in Weapons of the Weak that mumbling can be act of resistance.

He has studied peasant societies where ordinary people have little collective power on most occasions and expressing open dissent can be dangerous.

It is here that the mutter really comes in to its own. An oath or semi-audible word can give the appearance of dissent but since it has not been clearly heard it is very difficult for authority to pursue it.

The mutter provides a sense of dissent without a specific form.

It can work well in meetings- though pick your meeting with care. A remark, let’s say a mild piss-take of someone who is talking, which is only half heard can be off-putting and more effective than a heckle. Of course such interventions are not always designed to take the rise out of authority. They can be used in a reactionary way- the muttered sexist or homophobic remark for example.

But with that caution up front, the mutter and muttering should not be simply dismissed. To use Charles Tilly’s framework it is one of a range of tools that can be used to show dissent.

In the words of the song, ‘there’s something happening here, what it is, ain’t exactly clear

 

 

 

Articles

Ambridge Socialist poll: Kirsty & Tom get married, but for how long?

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2014 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

All the news of the class struggle in Borsetshire

Poll: Kirsty & Tom- how long will this be going on?

Kirsty and Tom are set to get married this week and the great day has been causing much excitement, on the Archers anyway.

The Ambridge Socialist believes that people should be free to marry or not as they choose. At the same time, often due to the pressures of capitalist society, divorce rates remain high.

We ask, how long will Kirsty and Tom’s marriage last?

Articles

Ryan Giggs, first hirsute Manchester United manager for over a century, can bring added Beard Power to side

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2014 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE 22nd April
Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Giggs, first hirsute United manager for over a century, can bring added Beard Power to side

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers that campaigns against beardism, has said that interim Manchester United manager Ryan Giggs can bring much needed beard power to the side for their remaining matches this season.

Giggs who frequently wears a hipster style beard is the first hirsute Manchester United manager since Ernest Mangnall [1903-1912] who had an Edwardian style moustache.

The campaigners say that Manchester United have resisted the trend to hirsuteness in managers and have paid a price for it. Giggs could set a new tone and style at the club

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said We’d expect Ryan Giggs to come under pressure from pogonophobes in high positions at Manchester United to appear clean shaven. It will be a benchmark of whether he can make a managerial impact if he appears at his first game hirsute

 

 

Articles

Tony Benn- Assessing his Legacy for the Left. Saturday 26th April

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2014 by kmflett

Tony Benn – Assessing his Legacy for the Left
2:00pm, 26th April
Brockway Room, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

A seminar to assess Tony Benn’s contribution to British politics. Speakers will look at the historical roots of his commitment to socialism, his record in and
out of office, some of the key causes he championed, and his role as a populariser of history.

Speakers include:
Keith Flett, London Socialist Historians Group
Duncan Bowie, University of Westminster, reviews editor of Chartist magazine
Willie Thompson, historian, former editor of Socialist History
Stefan Dickers, Library and Archives Manager, Bishopsgate Institute
Jon Lansman, editor of Left Futures, CLPD
Stan Newens, ex-MP, ex-MEP; President SHS
Kate Hudson, CND general secretary, historian
(all speakers in their personal capacity)

Nearest tube: Holborn

Admission free of charge, retiring collection

The meeting will be preceded by the Socialist History Society AGM from 1:00 pm.

Organised by the Socialist History Society

Articles

Training for May Day Beard Waggle underway

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2014 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE  21st April

Contact Keith Flett      07803 167266

TRAINING FOR MAY DAY BEARD WAGGLE UNDERWAY

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that with the Easter period drawing to a close  training for the ancient May Day tradition of Beard Waggling is underway around the UK.

 

The beard waggle involves shaking the beard vigorously from side to side and in doing so stimulating air currents that can cause objects to levitate slightly.

 

The BLF traditionally asks its supporters, on the traditional London May Day march from Clerkenwell Green, to waggle their beards individually or collectively as the mood takes them to celebrate the arrival of Spring and to strike a blow against a clean shaven political culture

  

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said Ideal beard waggling temperatures are in the 12-15C range which means that recent weather has been close to ideal for training. Wet conditions cause the beard to become soggy and waggle-less so we’re hoping for dry weather over the next 10 days

 

Articles

Ready Steady Go? Easter 1964- 50 years of Mods & Rockers

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2014 by kmflett

Ready Steady Go? Easter 1964- 50 years of Mods & Rockers
It is fifty years since the first clashes between Mods and Rockers which took place at Clacton on Sea at Easter 1964.

On Easter Sunday 29th March 1964 there were skirmishes between mods and rockers on Clacton beach.

The press and indeed local magistrates were extremely excited about this. As the late sociologist Stan Cohen has argued it was one of the origins of moral panics about the ‘youth of today’.

In reality, according to Dominic Sandbrook, Easter 1964 was the coldest for 80 years and the Sunday was wet. Whatever took place on Clacton beach did not involve anyone much aside from a few bored teenagers and possibly some seagulls.

The clashes were repeated on a wider scale in mid-May 1964 on the Whitsun holiday in Brighton and elsewhere. Again local magistrates and the press were excited.

The mods were fashion conscious, sharp dressers, sometimes to be found riding scooters and wearing parkas, and frequent attenders at dance clubs. The lifestyle was possible partly because all involved were young and partly because of the widespread use of amphetamines- Purple Hearts- which until the 1964 Drugs Act were legal.

Mods were thought to be more middle class than Rockers who stood more in line with the rock’n’roll tradition of the 1950s, rode bikes rather than scooters and possibly did not have that sharp a dress sense.

Mods and Rockers were two distinctive aspects of a youth culture that in the following decades saw the appearance of hippies, skinheads, punks, Goths and much else.

Why is this of interest?

Firstly because it was one of the first visible signs that young people after post-1945 austerity and the end of national service might not fit into the mould of previous generations. There was an element of rebellion about those clashes at Easter 50 years ago, even if what precisely it was, was less clear.

Secondly because media and official reaction, Stan Cohen’s‘moral panic’, remains firmly with us today.

The clashes of 50 years ago are probably best known through the prism of The Who’s 1979 rock opera Quadrophenia. While that makes some useful political points about youth culture it is not regarded as being historically accurate, nor one suspects, was it meant to be.

The rise of the Mods in particular reflected some important trends in the configuration of the class struggle.

Many of those involved were, during the day, training for a range of skilled occupations.

They disliked the lack of control they had at work and the Mod culture, and the evening clubs, were a way of expressing their discontent at their alienation at the workplace..

That disaffection fed its way back into labour relations, and it is no accident that as the Mods became a feature of youth culture so industrially there was a rise in industrial discontent including unofficial strikes.

It was a generation rather less inclined to put up with what the boss wanted.

Cohen makes a further point which has been largely overlooked by historians.

While it was not unusual for working class young men to exert some independence from family ties and authority, it was for young working class women.

The Mods started to change all that as young women too adopted distinctive styles of dress and music.

Some of that new independence can be seen reflected in the equal pay battles that started to take place at the end of the 1960s.
It may have started with a few skirmishes on Clacton beach 50 years ago but the ripples from the Mods and Rockers went much wider than that.

The contours of the modern working class movement and particularly its current leadership were, to a considerable degree formed in this period of new working-class independence.

The music itself is now social history although bands like The Who and the Rolling Stones continue, albeit not with identical line ups

Articles

The Ambridge Socialist: Capital comes to Ambridge

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2014 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

20th April CONTACT KEITH FLETT 07803 167266

 The real Borsetshire Echo: 60 years of class struggle in Ambridge

Ambridge Jesus: Your Verdict. Nail up Rob Titchener

The readers of the Ambridge Socialist have voted. Despite a rumoured bid by well known author Nicholas Lezard for the role and Chris reluctantly agreeing to be Jesus in the Ambridge Easter Passion Play, the readers verdict was that the man to be nailed up should be Rob Titchener. The key requirements are having a beard and being nailed topless to a cross. Rob does not have a beard but it is thought that the Ambridge W.I was prepared to knit him one especially.

A reminder of the candidates

David Archer [well known beard wearer]
Chris Carter [if his beard is real not fictional]
Jazzer McCreary [rebel without a cause. Yet]
Rob Titchener [false beard can be supplied, nail him up]

Borsetshire Land is under performing

The writing is on the spreadsheet for Brian,Adam, Rob and anyone else who has anything to do with Borsetshire Land. Damara Capital and their local micro-manager Charlie Thomas are in charge now. Their interest is most definitely not in farming of any kind but in yield to be extracted from assets [in this case land] that will lead to profit maximisation. They really don’t need people with opinions on things hanging around

In Other News

Tom and Kirsty are getting married after Easter. It will not end well

PC ‘Knacker’ Burns has not arrested Fallon

 

 

Articles

50 years of BBC2. Some notes from the left

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2014 by kmflett

50 years of BBC2

It is 50 years on 20th April since BBC2 first went on air, or rather didn’t because of a power cut. Actual broadcasts started the following day.

In 1967 it became the first UK channel to broadcast in colour.

The world of media and broadcasting has moved on so much in the intervening period that it is hard to know how to assess and position  the anniversary historically, although expect celebrations and nostalgia from the BBC itself.

In the beginning of course there was just the one BBC channel broadcasting from Alexandra Palace in North London. In 1955 commercial competition arrived in the shape of ITV and the BBC responded on the night with the death of Grace Archer in a barn fire in the Archers on radio’s Home Service [now Radio 4].

Much of the left was unhappy about commercial TV and its influence on the BBC. The need to attract large audiences with popular programming- to make advertising pay-undermined what was felt to be an essential role of TV. Namely to educate and to promote democratic discussion and debate.

The Pilkington Report, influenced by the late Richard Hoggart, argued for more serious TV fare and one result was BBC2.

It is worth recalling, and this now seems almost incredible, that in the early 1960s owning a TV was something only a few hundred thousand people did. It was expensive and many rented their set instead.

Of those who did own a set it is probably reasonable to suggest that not too many were left-wing activists, who then- as now- probably did not have much time to watch it or money to afford to have it anyway.

Even so it was the left that had set the original framework for BBC2. Its remit, as later Channel 4 and then BBC4, was to provide minority programming.

In particular in the early years it had a Community Unit which produced Open Door programmes designed to encourage people who were not professional broadcasters to put their point across on TV.

When the Wilson Labour Government set up the Open University in the late 1960s it was BBC2 which showed the programmes that went with the various courses.

It is quite difficult to find left-wing opinion on how good, or otherwise, the early years of BBC2 actually were. However Raymond Williams, the literary theorist and writer, did produce a regular TV column for the BBC magazine The Listener [long since departed]in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

His monthly commentaries found him, more often than not, noting and mostly praising a play or piece of reporting that had appeared on BBC2. BBC1 programmes sometimes get a mention but ITV hardly ever does.

While even today BBC2 is not exactly in the centre mainstream of TV it has long since ceased to be a channel for minority interests. It became arguably a channel for programmes that might not attract a mass audience but were still expected to have a broad appeal. The left departed for Channel 4, and when the same thing happened to that, to BBC4

In historical perspective the arrival of BBC2 might be seen as a success for the left in gaining access to the new medium of TV for ideas and arguments outside of a narrow and often conservative consensus. That it was launched in the radical 1960s probably also helped.

The times as ever are a changin’. With a plethora of TV channels, the internet and social media the medium for entertainment, education and debate is changing quickly. The left, or at least some of it, was able to grasp the importance of TV in the early 1960s, and will have to aim to do the same with new media again now.

 

Articles

Sheffield United’s Brayford beats The I Paper’s Olly Duff for Beard of Spring Award

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2014 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE 18th April
Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Sheffield United’s Brayford beats I Paper’s Olly Duff to Beard of Spring title

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers that campaigns against beardism, has said that there Sheffield United footballer John Brayford has won the Beard of Spring poll comfortably beating Editor of the I Paper Olly Duff and cosmologist Peter Coles

The campaigners say that with over two thousand votes cast  the poll is bristled with interest and goes a long way to disprove research by academics at the University of New South Wales that society has reached ‘peak beard’ and interest in matters hirsute is declining

Sheffield United footballer John Brayford did enough in his team’s defeat to Hull in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final to take the title and challengers  cosmologist Peter Coles and Editor of the I Paper Olly Duff couldn’t catch him.

Also polling well was the Urban Cheesemaker Philip Wilton who makes artisan cheeses in Tottenham

The Award, one of four seasonal hirsute accolades that leads to the Beard of the Year in December, celebrates the coming of Spring and the growth of beards new and old.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said The interest in the Beard of Spring poll indicates not that we have reached or passed Peak Beard as claimed this week but that we are still moving towards it

Beard of Spring list

Moeen Ali, cricketer
Jake Ball, rugby player
Stuart Broad, cricketer
John Brayford, footballer
Peter Coles, cosmologist
Oliver Duff, Editor, The I Paper
Guy Garvey, Elbow
Nick Higham, journalist
Richard Seymour, Guardian columnist and author
Petroc Trewlaney, broadcaster
Hank Wangford, musician
Bradley Wiggins, sportsman

Philip Wilton, cheesemaker

 

 

Articles

Poll set to find Easter Peak Beard: last chance to vote

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2014 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front
PRESS RELEASE 17th April
Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Poll set to find Easter Peak Beard
The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers that campaigns against beardism, has said that there is a last chance to vote for the Beard of Spring. Voting closes at 6pm on Friday

The campaigners say that with nearly two thousand votes cast so far the poll is bristling with interest and goes a long way to disprove research by academics at the University of New South Wales that society has reached ‘peak beard’ and interest in matters hirsute is declining

The big issue in the hours left for voting is whether current leader Sheffield United footballer John Brayford did enough in his team’s defeat to Hull in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final to take the title or whether challengers such as cosmologist Peter Coles and Editor of the I Paper Olly Duff can catch him

The Beard of Spring winner will be announced on 19th April, Easter Saturday

The Award, one of four seasonal hirsute accolades that leads to the Beard of the Year in December, celebrates the coming of Spring and the growth of beards new and old.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said The interest in the Beard of Spring poll indicates not that we have reached or passed Peak Beard but that we are still moving towards it

Vote here

Beard of Spring list
Moeen Ali, cricketer
Jake Ball, rugby player
Stuart Broad, cricketer
John Brayford, footballer
Peter Coles, cosmologist
Oliver Duff, Editor, The I Paper
Guy Garvey, Elbow
Nick Higham, journalist
Richard Seymour, Guardian columnist and author
Petroc Trewlaney, broadcaster
Hank Wangford, musician
Bradley Wiggins, sportsman
Philip Wilton, cheesemaker

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