Articles

Could Archers man make it a close shave for the Beard of Winter Award?

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2017 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE 24th January

Contact Keith Flett     07803 167266

Could Archers man make it a close shave for the Beard of Winter Award?

keri

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that with less than a week to go in the poll for the coveted Beard of Winter 2017 Award Keri Davies, who is one of the team of scriptwriters on Radio 4’s The Archers, could make the outcome a close shave

Winner of the Best Food Producer in the 2016 Awards, hosted by Radio 4’s The Food Programme, Illtud Llyr Dunsford (The Charcutier) leads the poll, with Charles Dagnall commentator on Radio 5’s Test Match Special and NFL coverage lying second but Keri Davies has come from languishing at the bottom of the poll to a good fourth position in less than 24 hours

The shortlist ranges from journalists to, writers, footballers and Chief Executives, but as usual, the key point is whether their beard is helping to create a positive image of the hirsute in public life.

It is the first of four seasonal awards that lead to the Beard of the Year Award in December 2017.

The Beard of Winter focuses both on fuller organic beards, suitable for winter weather but also on beards that have made an early New Year impact in the public eye.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, of course radio is not the best place to display a beard but the gravitas and impact of a good beard can still be felt across the airwaves

The poll closes on Monday January 30th

Beard of Winter shortlist

Charles Dagnall, broadcaster

Keri Davies, Archers, scriptwriter

Evan Davis, presenter Newsnight

Illtyd Llyr Dunsford, Award winning charcutier

Mark Gatiss, writer

Olivier Giroud, footballer

Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP

Harnaam Kaur, Award winning female beard wearer

Simon Stevens, NHS CEO

Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF

Articles

The Pub: between capital & community

In Uncategorized on January 23, 2017 by kmflett

handpump

Having written on the current state of beer and brewing, together with some historical context, it is perhaps time to take a brief stop to actually sample some beer. This can be done in numerous places but the traditional British venue is the pub.

The final weeks of the year are the busiest in the pub trade- January is somewhat quieter- and regular drinkers are confronted with the ‘Xmas drinker’, someone who is often not exactly sure what they what to drink and may be a little unfamiliar with the impact alcohol can have on their behaviour.

What exactly constitutes the traditional British pub can be debated- often in the pub- all night. One widely noted benchmark is George Orwell’s 1946 essay, the Moon Under Water, that appeared in the London Evening Standard. Orwell’s classic pub, often seen in current pub names, particularly from the PubCo J D Wetherspoon, was an amalgam of several hostelries around his Canonbury North London home. One of Orwell’s points arguably was that while it might be possible to define the ‘perfect’ pub- in his case a beer garden and friendly service featured-it was rather unlikely that you would actually find a single pub to match the criteria.

Since Orwell wrote 70 years ago it has become harder in some senses to find that perfect pub or pubs. The number of pubs in Britain has been in decline for decades.

The reasons are well known and quite varied. With changes in industry there is less call for the basic boozer where manual workers went to replace the liquid they had lost during the working day. There is less demand for the beers they enjoyed drinking too but that is for another post. Many others have been lost because owners and developers determined that while they might be profitable even more profit could be made by developing them as flats.

Then there is the impact of changing demographics and competition from the off trade, in particular supermarkets. If you are not well paid but like a drink, the chances are that is a good bit cheaper to buy beer- not just mass produced blandness but also ‘craft’ beer-in a large supermarket and drink it at home. Moreover, and it’s important to recognise the reality, non-drinking is also an important element amongst some sections of the population. Anyone who thinks that the large variety of those who follow aspects of the Muslim faith are all non-drinkers will be in for a surprise, but alcohol consumption is below the average.

We might balance that against the important point that historically considerable sections of the UK population were absolutely against drinking (at least in theory) as religious supporters of temperance, so there is nothing really that new here. Indeed it is quite possible to find areas of high population with very few pubs because the owners of the land disapproved of drink. The area around London University in central London remains one such.

Enough however about problems with the pub! The reality is that there are still many thousands of pubs in the UK and while ownership, tenancy agreements and the actions of pub companies like Punch are often the cause of concern, numbers of them do continue to thrive. The traditional idea is that pub is the place where people from a variety of backgrounds can be found socialising together. Well, up to a point! At a craft beer house I frequent in Hackney for example you will often find a well-known local builder, someone who works in the financial heart of the City of London, senior managers from the local Council and myself as a union official to adjudicate on issues of the day. It is somewhat idealised but the interesting point is that all these people are drawn to the pub because of their liking for good beer.

That does raise a point of quite particular current relevance. In his new book on the pub, the beer writer Pete Brown argues, in a sense after Orwell, that the main thing about the pub is its role at the centre of a community. A place where much human life and discourse takes place. Of course in 2016 there are other places where this takes place, sometimes in virtual arenas eg on-line, but the pub remains an important meeting place. Communities that lose their pub are often held to be less cohesive as a result.

Two things have come together to do something to halt the apparently perpetual decline of the pub. Firstly there is now a legal right for community campaigners, often backed by the Campaign for Real Ale, to apply to make an under-threat pub an Asset of Community Value. This, where successful, provides a breathing space to see if funds can be raised to allow a pub to be bought by the community and continue in operation. Some recent well known examples where this has happened are the Chesham in Hackney and the Antwerp in Tottenham.

Secondly with the rise of craft beer however defined there has been a new interest in opening or re-opening pubs. There is a new generation of micro-pubs, in effect, beer shops, which are small and resolutely community focused. In addition pubs that have long been shut and left vacant or used for other purposes have started to re-open as pubs. A recent example is The Mermaid in Clapton E5. Previously known as the Cricketers from 1872 it closed in 2008 against a background of declining custom. It then became a restaurant. More recently it has re-opened as a pub selling craft beer. Of course the customers are different and the public bar has gone but there is a wider point.

The pub as an institution that sells alcohol as part of a community hub has survived for many hundreds of years by reflecting what people in the community want. Into that has intruded capital in terms of beer supply companies and pub companies. As elsewhere there is a tension and struggle between the two.

This piece appears on-line here:

http://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/culture/dining/item/2426-the-pub

 

Articles

Trump & teetotalism

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2017 by kmflett

Gin Lane by William Hogarth

My Guardian Fletter (23rd January) on Donald Trump’s lifetime abstinence from the booze is here:

President Nixon was well known to try and make decisions while drunk and George W Bush only gave up heavy drinking as he became president. The truly worrying thing about Trump is that he is a lifelong teetotaller. All the bluster and hard rightwing rhetoric comes from someone who is completely sober.
Keith Flett
London

The (mainly) positive relationship between politicans and drink has been summarised by an authoritative source- the Daily Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/10974124/All-the-best-world-leaders-have-loved-a-drink.html

I think matters are a little more complex than this (perhaps particularly in the labour movement of which Trump is certainly not a part) but it does beg a very important question. Does The Donald know just how thirsty his new special friend Nigel is?

Articles

The Ambridge Socialist poll: what will Titchener do next?

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2017 by kmflett

22nd January

rt2

Titchener has been sacked by Justin Elliott concerned at the reputational damage that the news that an employee of Damara Capital was behind the Great Flood of Ambridge might cause to the Company. Elliott probably had a corporate duty to tell the police, but he didnt.

We ask, what will Titchener do next?

Articles

Pictorial guide to leaders in the Beard of Winter poll

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2017 by kmflett

22nd January

daggerscharcutier

Charles Dagnall                              Illtyd Llyr Dunsford

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has published a rare pictorial guide to the current leaders in the Beard of Winter poll.

They are Illtyd Llyr Dunsford, the winner of the best food producer in the BBC Food Awards 2016 and Test Match Special and NFL commentator Charles Dagnall.

The campaigners say that it is not the length or style of the beard that counts but the impact in the public eye, in other words, the gravitas adding qualities of the beard

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the poll has seven days to run and both current leaders could yet end up being shaved for the title but after requests we thought a visual guide would be of some interest.

 

Articles

The Ambridge Socialist. Titchener: So, Farewell then OR I’ll be back…

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2017 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

January 22nd CONTACT KEITH FLETT 07803 167266

The real Borsetshire Echo: 65 years of class struggle in Ambridge

Titchener: So, Farewell then OR I’ll be back?

rt2

By the Editor

With his sacking by Justin Elliott (likely to be fair, he has under two years service & has no obvious protected characteristics- the Ambridge Socialist supports employment rights from day one) it looks like Rob Titchener has, at last, departed the Archers.

The programme has a new Editor and it may be that he felt the storyline of Titchener and Helen was very much associated with the previous incumbent.

Rob seems set to depart for the US, where he can no doubt find employment as an agricultural advisor to Donald Trump. In that sense a return to Ambridge at some point can’t be ruled out. With Titchener there is always unfinished business.

In the mean time we should pay tribute to the acting abilities of Timothy Watson and equally Louiza Patkis as Helen. Titchener was a character like no other in the Archers in recent times. Perhaps the nearest, going back, was Nelson Gabriel-Jack May- (who actually owned an antiques shop in Islington in real life), someone whose escapades had a certain melodramatic quality although in the days before the interweb and social media (May died in 1997) somewhat attenuated.

Titchener has gripped a good part of the nation for several years. Odd as it may seem he will be missed.

Village Green Vigil: Friday 20th Jan .Titchener & Trump out now. We were 50% successful

The Ambridge Socialist called a vigil on Friday 20th January at 4pm to demand that Titchener and Trump get out of our lives.

Trump was inaugurated on Friday afternoon in Washington while at café somewhere near Ambridge Titchener was due to meet Stefan to hand over the reasonable sum he has demanded to keep quiet about what knows on the Great Flood of Ambridge two years ago.

The vigil ran from 4-6pm after which we retired to The Bull to plan further campaigns and toast our (so far) 50% success

Trump: who backs the President in Ambridge?

Justin Elliott

Brian Aldridge

Susan Carter

Rob Titchener

Toby Fairbrother

Neville Booth

 

Articles

BBC takes centre stage in race for Beard of Winter Award

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2017 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE 22nd January

Contact Keith Flett      07803 167266

BBC takes centre stage in race for Beard of Winter Award

charcutier

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that with a week to go in the poll for the coveted Beard of Winter 2017 Award the BBC has taken centre stage at the top of the poll.

Winner of the Best Food Producer in the 2016 Awards, hosted by Radio 4’s The Food Programme, Illtud Llyr Dunsford (The Charcutier) leads the poll, with Charles Dagnall commentator on Radio 5’s Test Match Special and NFL coverage lying second.

The shortlist ranges from journalists to, writers, footballers and Chief Executives, but as usual, the key point is whether their beard is helping to create a positive image of the hirsute in public life.

It is the first of four seasonal awards that lead to the Beard of the Year Award in December 2017.

The Beard of Winter focuses both on fuller organic beards, suitable for winter weather but also on beards that have made an early New Year impact in the public eye.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, it may be pure coincidence but the BBC looks set to have a significant influence on who the winner of the Beard of Winter is.

The poll closes on Monday January 30th

Beard of Winter shortlist

Charles Dagnall, broadcaster

Keri Davies, Archers, scriptwriter

Evan Davis, presenter Newsnight

Illtyd Llyr Dunsford, Award winning charcutier

Mark Gatiss, writer

Olivier Giroud, footballer

Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP

Harnaam Kaur, Award winning female beard wearer

Simon Stevens, NHS CEO

Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF