Statues are for heroes & heroines, not zeroes

In Uncategorized on August 17, 2017 by kmflett

Statues are for heroes & heroines not zeroes

Kick Over the Statues for those unaware is the title of a song by the Redskins:

They had in mind the struggles of the time, the fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe and the end of apartheid in South Africa.

The wider point was clear however. Statues of the rich and powerful are swept away as popular movements arise to change the state of things.

The felling of Confederate statues in America has some feel of this. A final settling of scores with a racist past that unsurprisingly the current President Trump would like to maintain.

In general kicking over the statues is a good idea, even from an historical angle. A US Democrat tweeted on 17th August that Confederate statues could be replaced with figures from the underground railroad that helped free slaves. Why not?

Does that mean that Confederates, the US South and racism should be white-washed from history as it were? Certainly not. Those times need to be remembered and understood historically. That is the role of museums and sometimes of plaques. Statues are for heroes not zeros.


Campaigners say Day-Night Test will lead to an increase in beards

In Uncategorized on August 17, 2017 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front
Media Release
17th August
Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners say Day-Night Test will lead to an increase in beards

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that the first day-night Test Match in the UK between England and the West Indies will lead to an increase in beard wearing amongst the players.

Numbers of the two teams are already hirsute including on occasion England captain Joe Root.

However the specific context of the day-night game is certain to lead to more beards:

1 With matches not finishing until at least 9pm as opposed to the traditional 6pm players will have more time to grow facial hair

2 In the twilight zone of the dusk period of play the beards of batsmen may be able to deceive bowlers as to where best to place a ball

3 By contrast with the pink Duke ball carrying on grease bowlers rubbing the ball in their beards will be essential to obtain movement.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, we welcome the day-night Test and expect the format to see an increase in hirsute cricketers.


Day-Night Test Matches: did Geoffrey Boycott think of it first?

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2017 by kmflett

England play the UK’s first ever Day/Night Test Match at Edgbaston against the West Indies starting on Thursday at 2pm.

A pink coloured Duke ball will be used (Financial Times 16th August).

Its not the first Day/Night Test worldwide but who thought of the idea.

According to an interview given to the BBC on 25th November 2015 it was of course Geoffrey Boycott

Former England batsman Boycott, who mooted day-night Tests 10 years ago, says change is needed to prevent the game from “dying”.

“Cricket is a product and you have to sell it to people,” he told Test Match Special.

“Play it at night when people aren’t working and the kids have finished school. Sell it as a family cricket.”


Some further notes on London cask beer: on price & range

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2017 by kmflett

Some further notes on London cask beer

For my earlier brief comment on London cask beer see here:

Ordinarily I might have done just one post but as a union officer I’m consumed with work (yes, even in August).

So, a little more time permitting, a couple more thoughts on the state of London cask.

The first is price. This is covered in the Editorial in the August/September issue of the CAMRA London magazine London Drinker. You can find a copy in many pubs, free, or on-line. The point being made is that cask ale of average strength at £4-4.40 a pint in many pubs is beyond the pocket of many on the minimum or London Living Wage except perhaps for the occasional pint.

Indeed beer in supermarkets is cheaper. 4 cans of Brewdog Punk IPA are readily available for £6 or often less for example.

Of course the narrative goes that cask is under-priced and brewers struggle to make a profit from it. Indeed but on the other side of the bar drinkers struggle to afford the price in many cases (not mine btw I’m decently paid in a unionised workplace).

It’s a conundrum to which I don’t have a ready answer (beyond Wetherspoons which is not really an answer) but it remains a big issue.

The other point is what now appears on cask as opposed to ‘craft’ keg ranges in pubs. Often the cask beer selection is of lower strength beers that can be drunk by the pint. Understandbly so because the beer needs to be shifted in a few days. On the keg side are the stronger and perhaps to many more interesting and unusual beers. They cost more, they are often consumed in halves and they can stay on the bar a bit longer (tho not for ever, they are deteriorating too just not as quickly as cask does).

So here is the challenge for pubs; How about a cask beer range that is as interesting and as varied in style and strength as your keg range? Few if any pubs are currently meeting that challenge.


A brief note on trends in London cask ale

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2017 by kmflett

A brief note on trends in London cask ale

With the biggest cask ale showcase of the year just finished at Olympia, CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival, I thought I add a brief note on what I observe is happening to cask ale in London pubs.

Ive been a cask ale drinker since the early 1970s and I still drink it today. True I drink more in halves than pints now and I’m also not adverse to beer in other formats these being keykeg, bottle and can. I still think that properly served and in good condition there is little to beat cask.

That said I think it’s well appreciated that finding cask in such a state is no easy matter. Often it is not properly conditioned, tired because it’s been on too long and so on.

I observe, drinking in what would mainly be called craft beer pubs in North and Central London, that the number of handpumps in use is in slight decline. It’s quite usual to walk into to a pub that has 4-6 handpumps and find one or two not in use at that moment, whereas previously they would all have been.

Of course it’s the peak of summer and this may account for some of it, although I don’t think the August (lack) of heat is a factor currently.

I suspect that people are drinking good beer across a wider range of formats now and this means a slightly less strong throughput of cask.

It doesn’t mean the end for cask or anything like that and if fewer pumps means the beer that’s on gets sold more quickly it may actually end up improving quality in the glass and boosting sales.

But perhaps I’m wrong on all this and have just been in the wrong sort of pubs…


50 years since the Marine Offences Act: when Tony Benn outlawed pirate radio

In Uncategorized on August 14, 2017 by kmflett

50 years since the Marine Offences Act: when Tony Benn outlawed pirate radio

At midnight tonight its 50 years since the Marine Offences Act made broadcasting from a boat off the UK mainland illegal. That meant the end for most of the ‘pirate’ stations that had broadcast, primarily off the Essex Coast, although Radio Caroline continued and was joined for a period by Radio North Sea which was run out of Holland.

Many of the DJs on the pirate ships went on to work for BBC Radio One which was set up as the official alternative including of course John Peel.

The Wilson Labour Government had pushed through the measure- the Minister ultimately responsible being Tony Benn- because of concerns about how the pirate ships operated and also because of issues with interference with communications channels.

Benn was Minister for Technology in August 1967 but had spent much of the time since 1964 as Posts Minister. In his Diary he lays out a future for radio which the Act started to put in place. He noted a dislike of commercial stations and the people who ran them but wanted to promote both popular music on the BBC and set up a series of local radio stations.

Benn reports that the BBC showed no interest in devoting more air time to pop music as this would be pandering to popular tastes. Dominic  Sandbrook’s suggestion in his book White Heat, a social history of the 1960s, that the BBC was behind the 1967 Act appears mistaken. It was the Post Office and to some extent the Musicians Union, concerned that they and their members gained no direct benefit from records played on the pirates.

The reality is though without the pirate ships pop music culture would not have made the impact it did on 1960s Britain.

There was something of a radical element of shaking up the stifling conservatism of post-1945 British popular culture but the stations were commercial affairs. They were the forerunners of the independent radio stations that operate throughout the UK today and many of the leading DJs were hardly radical themselves. Indeed one, Roger Gale, became a Tory MP. He is currently the member for North Thanet, having previously joined Radio Caroline as a DJ in 1964.


Campaigners say pogonophobia still an issue at BBC as Jeremy Vine shaves ‘holiday beard’

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2017 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front press release

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

14th August

Campaigners say pogonophobia still an issue at BBC as Jeremy Vine shaves ‘holiday beard’

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that pogonophobia, irrational dislike of the hirsute, remains an issue at the BBC after presenter Jeremy Vine shaved his ‘holiday beard’ on Sunday before returning to broadcasting this week.

Vine posted a picture of his beard on twitter together with a poll on whether he should keep it. Less than 30% thought he should shave his facial hair.

Vine’s beard was attacked by the pogonophobic Sun ‘newspaper’ which claimed it made him look like Jeremy Corbyn. Of course to pogonophobes anyone with a beard ‘looks like’ the Labour leader

The campaigners say that Vine’s beard dilemma came on the 4th anniversary of Jeremy Paxman’s decision to keep his own holiday beard in August 2013. He shaved it off after 147 days claiming that the BBC was pogonophobic and he had been pressured to shave.

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, of course its entirely up to Jeremy Vine whether or not he has a beard. However if a newspaper calls your beard ‘scruffy’ on Saturday, you don’t shave it off on Sunday. We think Vine should have kept the beard for a while and then decided its future.