Articles

The Ambridge Socialist. Flett on the Grundys: ‘shamelessly partisan’

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2021 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist. Flett on the Grundys: ‘shamelessly partisan’

Below is a review in the Times Literary Supplement of the new Academic Archers collection, Flapjacks and Feudalism. I’m pleased to see that the reviewer suggests that in my opening chapter on the Grundys and the class struggle in Ambridge I am being ‘shamelessly partisan’. It is a badge of honour. Clearly the book is an essential addition to any genuine socialists collection

July 30, 2021

Read this issue

IN THIS REVIEW

FLAPJACKS AND FEUDALISM

Social mobility and class in ‘The Archers’

348pp. Emerald. £16.99.

Cara Courage and Nicola Headlam, editors

Thanks to the Academic Archers community, the people of Ambridge and Borsetshire have by now been as extensively studied as Trobriand islanders and the Nuer. The idea of applying anthropological, sociological and social psychological methodologies to a fictional community in a radio serial may strike an outsider as pretentious or excessively niche, but in a post-post-post structuralist environment it merely reinforces the conviction that any community bracketed for intensive study is already a fictional entity.

Following on from Cara Courage’s and Nicola Headlam’s Custard, Culverts and Cake: Academics on life in ‘The Archers’ (2017), this new collection finds itself in the same bibliography column as Engels’s The Condition of the Working Class in England, with the emphasis falling on the deep social fault lines between the perennially dispossessed Grundys and the Aldridges and Archers. It is widely recognized that the titular family are now so relatively marginal to the main narrative that a change might seem to be called for – though the programme continues on the same principle as the posthumous Taggart – but it’s clear that social stratification in Ambridge is a matter of caste rather than class and increasingly subject to the encroachment of dark corporate interests.

Keith Flett sets the tone and nails his shamelessly partisan colours to the mast with “The Grundys and their Oppressors”. It is a theme that will be taken up more fully and positively in a second section of the anthology, headed “The Fall of the House of Aldridge, the Rise of the Oppressed Grundys?” (the question-mark being fair warning that the rise is illusory). The question is most thoroughly explored in Lalage Campbell’s “If You Have Security, Ed, That Is Everything: Deconstructing ‘security’ as a buffer against life’s challenges”.

The matriarchal underpinning of Ambridge and the “kin-keeping” role of Peggy and Jill are explored again by Headlam in “Two-In/One-Out”, an extension of her work in Gender, Sex And Gossip: Women in ‘The Archers’ (2019). Headlam also returns with “‘Feeding the Horses’: The dark side of construction hidden in plain sight in Ambridge”, an example of how unclunkingly Academic Archers manage to approach serious social issues, whether it be coercive control, infidelity or the role of gangmasters.

Unspoken through the first AA collection and the first half of this one is any recognition that The Archers is not just fictional but also radiophonic and entirely aural.…

Articles

ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill joins Hirsute Royalty in the Beard Hall of Fame

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

29th July

Contact BLF Organiser Keith Flett 07803 167266

ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill joins Hirsute Royalty in the Beard Hall of Fame

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has paid tribute to Dusty Hill (1949-2021) who has died after a hip injury

Hill was bassist for ZZ Top, and one of the most iconic beard wearers of the post-1945 era.

The campaigners say that when people thought of impressive facial hair ZZ Top and Dusty Hill often featured despite the fact that until recent times band member Frank Beard did not have facial hair.

Dusty Hill has now been inducted posthumously into the Beard Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame, a virtual listing, consists of a range of hirsute public figures, both alive and deceased, whose beard has had a distinctively positive impact in the public sphere.

It currently includes Richard Attenborough, Acker Bilk, Brian Blessed, Frank Dobson, Bob Dylan, Dave Swarbrick, Spike Milligan, Jeremy Paxman and Roger Protz amongst others

It is the highest honour a beard wearer can attain

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, Dusty Hill’s beard was visual gravitas. It is a model others in public life would be well advised to follow.

Articles

Beard Liberation Front pays tribute to ‘iconic’Dusty Hill of ZZ Top

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

28th July

Contact BLF Organiser Keith Flett 07803 167266

Beard Liberation Front pays tribute to ‘iconic’ Dusty Hill of ZZ Top

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has paid tribute to Dusty Hill (1949-2021) who has died after a hip injury

Hill was bassist for ZZ Top, and one of the most iconic beard wearers of the post-1945 era.

The campaigners say that when people thought of impressive facial hair ZZ Top and Dusty Hill often featured despite the fact that until recent times band member Frank Beard did not have facial hair.

Dusty Hill will now be inducted posthumously into the Beard Hall of Fame.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, Dusty Hill did a lot for the positive image of the hirsute and he will be remembered both for his music and his iconic beard.

Articles

Beard Liberation Front beards Farage on facial hair

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2021 by kmflett

Failed politician Nigel Farage currently has a nightly show on an obscure and little watched TV station. So desperate are they that when the Beard Liberation Front asked him on Monday evening if beards were vote winners he answered on air.

The noted pogonophobe, who has never worn a beard in any of his many unsuccessful efforts to be an MP, argued that it doesnt look as if beards are vote winners. For ‘balance’ he then suggested that perhaps there shouldnt be discrimination.

BLFOrganiser Keith Flett said, the increasing number of beard wearers on both sides of the Common clearly think that facial hair is a vote winner. However for Farage it remains the case that there is no success like failure.

Articles

Beard Campaigners sound note of caution in move of Morning Star to Croydon

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

27th July

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Beard Campaigners sound note of caution in move of Morning Star to Croydon

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has sounded a note of caution on news that the Morning Star, the daily socialist paper, is to move from its current base in Hackney Wick to Ruskin House in Croydon.

The campaigners say that there are clearly sound reasons for the move, with less office space being required in an age of blended and hybrid working.

However during its tenure at Hackney Wick from 2002 the paper has seen its environs become one of the most beard friendly areas of the UK and this has been reflected in the fact that the Star has been the foremost reporter of beard news in the media.

The paper is based at William Rust House- the name of the founding Editor of the paper in 1930- himself clean shaven, and the name will be retained in the move to Croydon. However in the late John Haylett the paper had for many years one of the most distinguished hirsute Editors in the UK media.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, obviously we are concerned about the Star’s move away from Hackney Wick to Croydon, an area not noted for its beard friendliness. We will be reading the Star closely as ever in the hope that its excellent coverage of socialist beards continues.

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/goodbye-fish-island-hello-ruskin-house

Articles

London Socialist Historians Summer ’21 Newsletter. Trump & the Christian Right, Geffrye must fall

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2021 by kmflett

London Socialist Historians Summer ’21 Newsletter: Trump & the Christian Right, Geffrye must fall,

The Summer 2021 Newsletter of the London Socialist Historians Newsletter is now on-line:

https://londonsocialisthistorians.blogspot.com/

John Newsinger reviews two new books on Donald Trump & the Christian Right.

We also look at George Obsorne at the British Museum and Tory Culture Wars plus the continuing campaign to move the statue of slave trader Geffrye at the Museum of the Home in Hackney.

There is a review of a new biography of an International Brigader who also fought in the British Army and worked for the NHS for many years

Finally the Editorial looks at the danger to history teaching posed by the present Government

Articles

2021 Beard, Shorts & Sandals Season Suspension lifted

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

27th July

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

2021 Beard, Shorts & Sandals Season Suspension lifted

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that the 2021 Beard, Shorts and Sandals Season will resume at midday following its suspension due to inclement weather.

The suspension runs until midday on Tuesday 27th July. It related to weather warnings for thunder, lightning and torrential rain.

There are amended guidelines for the 2021 Season and a new framework to facilitate social distancing.

1] Shorts should ideally be three-quarter length-‘culottes’ for the  2021 season. The length of shorts is particularly important as climate change may mean that unprotected legs get sunburnt.

2] Footwear should be casual. There is a considerable range of sandal type footwear now available. Some leaves parts of the feet and toes open to public view, while some does not. The BLF is not prescriptive about the matter.

3] Socks should generally not be worn during the official season. However if the beard, shorts and sandals are to be displayed in relatively busier urban areas it is likely to be prudent to wear closed rather than open casual footwear and ankle socks, not visible to others may be worn.

4] There is no prescription or definition on what type of beard may be worn, or how this may match with the shorts and sandals. This is left up to the individual.

5] Social distance should be kept where appropriate and required. On no account should there be any large groups of beard, shorts and sandals wearers. Discussion of styles should be confined to small groups or social media.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, we are pleased to announce that once again from midday people can flaunt their beards, shorts and sandals should they so desire.

Articles

Dominic Cummings praises Bismarckian dictatorship again

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2021 by kmflett

Dominic Cummings praises Bismarckian dictatorship again

Just read that 1866-7 Bismarck considered putting the new Reichstag in a provincial town to discourage journalists from political careers… He also rejected pay for deputies. ‘Attendance fees mean paying the educated proletariat for the professional practice of demagogy’

Dominic Cummings Twitter 26th July 2021

It may come as a surprise to those who know Dominic Cummings from his Vote Leave and No.10 period but he took a first in history at Oxford, studying under the late Prof. Norman Stone.

Stone was a right-wing historian and fan of Mrs Thatcher and idiosyncratic in his views. Of historical actors in the modern era he favoured Churchill and Bismarck as significant historical figures.

Cummings picked up his interest for Bismarck from Stone and has blogged about the German Chancellor (1815-1898). Bismarck, the ‘Iron Chancellor’ was instrumental in creating a unified German State. His Wiki entry notes that he ‘distrusted democracy and ruled through a strong well-trained bureaucracy’.

Cummings returned to the Bismarck question in answers to questions to subscribers to his social media site. Not just Stone but Eric Hobsbawm supported the historical significance of Bismarck. Cummings may warrant a footnote in the history of post-Brexit Britain.

Studying Bismarck was the best help to understand what politics really is and how it’s possible to radically outperform – but also that you should never ever expect anybody to say ‘oh I was wrong you were right’. In politics you never really know if what you’ve done is a mistake! And even very smart people struggle to escape fashion and gang mentality

And in another answer he said:

If you want to study effective action in politics there is no better case study than Bismarck.

He was playing a completely different game to everybody else and you can trace a lot of how he did it and how he thought in the record.

Guardian report 21st June

Cummings latest Bismarckian comment essentially amounts to measures to stop journalists (Johnson & Gove) from being politicians and to restrict Labour by stopping people becoming MPs who don’t have significant private incomes.

Bismarck implemented anti-socialist laws between 1868 and 1878 to effectively constrain the organisation of German socialist politics. They didn’t quite have the impact he anticipated and they were scrapped when it became clear they were actually promoting the appeal of the left.

Articles

Hirsute say Beard Waggling should be an Olympic Sport

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE 26th July

Contact Keith Flett      07803 167266

HIRSUTE SAY BEARD WAGGLING SHOULD BE AN OLYMPIC SPORT

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that the ancient tradition of Beard Waggling should be an Olympic Sport in future.

The beard waggle is a traditional British May Day custom which involves shaking the beard vigorously from side to side and in doing so stimulating air currents that can cause objects to levitate slightly.

However very similar customs are to be found in many countries across the world and competitive beard waggling is a new but growing sporting activity

BLF Organiser Keith Flett, its great to see a whole new series of activities such as skateboarding at the Olympics this year. Some dismiss this as lacking technical skill which simply reflects their lack of understanding and this equally applies to beard waggling. To waggle competitively requires great skill and training.

Beard Liberation Front guide on how to train for beard waggling

1] Ensure the beard is supple. This may be done by moistening is slightly with water or, if preferred, craft beer.

2] Choose a suitable location to waggle, preferably in the sun rather than the shade.

3] Move the beard vigorously from side to side and then up and down while otherwise standing still. Repeat several times.

4] While waggling the traditional UK chant is, Hail the Beard, Hail Spring, Johnson Out. The last two words may be omitted for Olympic purposes

5] Alternatively beard wagglers may simply intone Om, Om, Om

6} The winner is the person whose beard waggling is found to have created the most measurable air turbulence and whose waggle has been judged best in three categories:

Difficulty

Style

Artistic impression.

Thanks to Toby Wood for updated Waggle Assessment criteria

Articles

Sajid Javid follows the Johnsonian model of apologies: for the words not the sentiment

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2021 by kmflett

Sajid Javid follows the Johnsonian model of apologies: for the words not the sentiment

Sajid Javid has apologised for his choice of words in a tweet he made on Saturday which suggested people should not cower from Covid. He has subsequently pointed out that people should get vaccinated. I entirely agree. But there was another meaning to his tweet which is that people need no longer take care out there. In my view they definitely should.

The Javid apology follows the Johnsonian model in the sense that he has apologised for his words but not the sentiment behind them.

As Sonia Purnell noted in her biography of the current PM, Just Boris, he has become an almost habitual apologiser for ‘any offence’ that his earlier words, often racist, have caused.

Johnson has a long standing history of racist comments and of dismissing reports that highlight the role racism had and has in British society, to go along with his history of apologising for these when called to account.

One example is the 1999 Macpherson Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence that found institutionalise racism in the Met Police. Johnson dismissed the findings as ‘Orwellian’ ‘weird’ and ‘crazy’.

Purnell points out that following discussions with his then wife, prominent lawyer Marina Wheeler, by 2001 he was prepared to concede that Macpherson may have had a point. Not of course that when he later became Mayor of London he did anything about this.

As recently as 15th July 20201 in a  speech about ‘levelling up’ Johnson rolled out the non-apology again. Afterwards he was asked by the Independent if he would disown earlier comments about Muslim women he said:

The best thing I can say is that I’ve obviously apologised in the past for the things that Ive said that have caused offence and continue to apologise for them.

So carry on apologising and carry on making the remarks too