Historians say Minister’s Trumpian language not the way to discuss future of historic monuments

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2021 by kmflett

London Socialist Historians Group

17th January

Contact Dr Keith Flett 07803 167266

Historians say Minister’s Trumpian language is not the way to discuss the future of historic monuments

The London Socialist Historians Group, which organises the socialist history seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, has said that the language used by Minister Robert Jenrick in a newspaper article, was not the way to discuss the future of Britain’s historic monuments and statues.

In the Sunday Telegraph (17th January) Jenrick used Trumpian hyperbole to claim that those who wanted to take down or move statues of slave traders were a ‘baying mob’ and that decisions made by democratically elected local Councillors were in fact those of a ‘cultural committee’ of town hall militants and woke worthies”.

The historians have accused Jenrick of trying to start a culture war to distract from failures elsewhere in his department.

In fact there are few proposals to take down or alter statues current. Around 12.500 statues already have listed status and are protected. Jenrick doesn’t mention this, possibly because he doesn’t know.

London Socialist Historians convenor Dr Keith Flett said, now is not the time for a such discussion. The priority is to get down COVID infections and vaccinations up not argue about statues. The Minister’s intervention is both unwelcome and entirely misplaced.


Blue Monday & fake news

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2021 by kmflett

Blue Monday & fake news

According to at least one ‘expert’ 18th January is Blue Monday the most depressing day of the year (the date varies according to ‘expert’). You can read how the concept has developed here:

It is not exactly fake news but if you take it too seriously you may wish to think again. Mondays are traditionally rather depressing and January when it’s cold and dark doesnt help. Neither of these things however is exactly news

Blue Monday was started by an academic who now markets himself as a happiness consultant or similar. Certainly, checking my case load as a trade union officer, I note that January can be depressing (& it’s not part of my job description to make people happy anyway), but then, depending on context, so can lots of other times of the year.

In the time of COVID we see lots of experts putting forward theories and sometimes nostrums. Some like the Great Barrington declaration are more in the latter than the former category.

This stuff is not perhaps entirely made up but neither is it actually true either. Between reality and fake is a vast grey area.

Take care out there.


London Socialist Historians: Merilyn Moos & Steve Cushion. Germany w.class resistance to the Nazis 25th Jan 5.30pm

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2021 by kmflett

Monday 25th January 5.30pm Merilyn Moos and Steve Cushion, German working class resistance to the Nazis

Link to register for the meeting:

Seminar part of the socialist history Spring 2021 series at the Institute of Historical Research. More details:


Jenrick is right. British history shouldn’t be censored. Tory links to slave traders must be remembered

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2021 by kmflett

Jenrick is right. British history shouldn’t be censored. Tory links to slave traders must be remembered

Communities Minister Robert Jenrick has announced in the Sunday Telegraph (but will mention the matter in Parliament this week…) that he plans to make any changes to historic statues and monuments subject to planning laws.

Of course the considerable number of statues and monuments that are already protected (mainly against property developers) are already subject to law.

That does not stop Jenrick from using Trumpian language. Anti-racist protesters are a ‘baying mob’ while democratically elected local councillors are ‘cultural committee’ of town hall militants and woke worthies”. If we were to lower ourselves to Jenrick’s level what he is actually proposing is to over ride local democratic processes with decisions by a coterie of racist Tory Ministers.

He is right though that British history should not be censored. I wasn’t aware that anyone was arguing this but just in case its worth keeping in mind the family history of Tory MP Richard Drax who has been less than keen for his links to Barbados sugar plantations (which he now owns) to be in the public domain (although they now are)


Ambridge Socialist: The Professor calls out Modern Slaver Moss

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2021 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

17th January

The Professor calls out Modern Slaver Moss

Philip Moss is out on bail and while one might think restrictions might prevent him from being in the environs of Ambridge he turned up at Alistairs with an attempt to explain away his activities and seek the Vet’s help. Moss claimed that he paid slave workers the minimum wage in kind by offering them housing (a caravan) and food. Unfortunately for Moss slave owners generally have fed and housed their slaves, otherwise they don’t get any work out of them.

Professor Jim turned up and called out Moss’s BS in no uncertain terms. Moss departed.

Sergeant Burns fines Brian Aldridge for speeding

Sergeant Harrison ‘Knacker’ Burns has never been known to solve any crime, not even the issue of who stole the bunting. However he did fine Brian Aldridge for speeding during the week. Aldridge being a significant figure in the village and now back at the helm of Borchester Land, following the purge of Justin Elliott, thought he should get off. Sgt Burns is following a risky strategy. In a class society his job is to harass the poor not penalise the rich.

Tracey and Jazzer avoid a shower scene

Tracey has visited Jazzer’s bedroom. Whether this was prudent in any sense is debatable. She was able to escape via the window (it’s a single story building) before the Professor worked out quite what was going on. Perhaps a shower scene will beckon..

Trump departs: who will celebrate in Ambridge

Trump is one of those things that doesn’t get mentioned in the BBC coverage of Ambridge life. Even so his final departure from the White House will be a cause for celebration for some residents, but who?

Alan the Vicar- Trump was the wrong kind of Christian

Prof Jim- dislikes Trump’s religious bigotry


Arnie Schwarzenegger faces Tim Farron in Beard of Winter poll

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

17th January

Beard of Winter 2021 Vote

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has announced the shortlist for the Beard of Winter 2021 poll.

The list contains a diverse list of contenders for the annual accolade but the BLF has confirmed that Toby Young is not eligible for ‘bringing the hirsute into disrepute’

It is the first of four seasonal awards that lead to the Beard of the Year Award in December 2021.

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, as ever it is a wide ranging, eclectic, list but one very much focused on the winter season.

The poll closes on 30th January 2021

The new blended Twitter and web based poll will be in use.

There will be two ‘Trim-Off’ rounds from 17-20 January and then from 21-24 January. Each will feature four contenders. The top two from each round will feature in a final ‘Beard-Off’ vote from 25-30th January

Trim Off Vote One

Beard of Winter 2021 Shortlist

Arnie Schwarzenegger, actor

Tim Farron, MP

Brian Blessed, actor

Daniel Norcross, broadcaster

Jack Dorsey, CEO Twitter

Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist

Jimmy Wales, founder Wikipedia

Michael Rosen, author and broadcaster


30 years of the Eagle: it started a democratic trend in pub food still too little copied

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2021 by kmflett

The Eagle Pub in Farringdon Rd, just outside the Square Mile of the City of London is 30 years old this January. One of the co-founders Michael Belbin (who is now 68 ahem..) has been giving interviews. There is a decent one in today’s Financial Times (16th Jan) unfortunately its paywalled, but if you have access do give it a read.

I worked for some years in the 1990s in the old BT Fleet Building down the road (on the other side of Holborn Viaduct) in Farringdon St. It was an engineering monolith stretching over an entire block in the City, so much so that I accumulated several offices in it. Its since been knocked down,all the network stuff re-routed, and a whole new building has arisen in its place.

Anyway that meant that while not a regular at the Eagle I certainly frequented it in the afternoon for lunch from time to time. I havent been in recently (its currently closed obviously) but before recent times I passed by on the bus from time to time and it always looked busy still.

The 30 year anniversary is being spun as the Eagle being the original gastro pub. Well,yes and no.

As Belbin doesnt quite underline in the FT piece the Eagle was and is democratic. A turn up, no reservations and see if you can get a table place. The gastro model I think tended towards the more formal. Secondly as Belbin does underline it was a pub. It was leased from Banks and Taylor. It sold handpumped cask beer (something some later gastro pubs rather ‘forgot’). Albeit the beer was not zeitgeist even in the 1990s but it was drinkable enough.

Thirdly the food. It wasnt expensive, it wasnt trendy takes on ‘pub classics’. It was from memory at this time often more Portugeuse focused than not. I’m sure this is where I first tried pastel de nata for example.Again all rather democratic.

Let’s hope it survives into a post lockdown world


Boris Johnson: he couldnt be bothered at Eton & Balliol & he isnt bothered now

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2021 by kmflett

Boris Johnson: he couldn’t be bothered at Eton & Balliol & he isn’t bothered now

I’ve had a skim through the most recent biography of Boris Johnson by Tom Bower. Bower churns out biographies of the well known (and too him anyway) notorious. He certainly can’t be regarded as a reliable source, something he shares with Johnson.

Even so he does add some more detail about how Johnson’s time at Eton (and then Balliol) was viewed by those who had a degree of charge for him. It more or less confirms the view taken in the rather more serious and reliable biography Just Boris by Sonia Purnell.

The summary of his Eton years is that Johnson couldn’t be bothered and did just enough to progress while focusing not on what he should have been doing but on what he liked to do.

As Prime Minister 40 years or so on this seems to remain very much his operating model. He is not bothered about what he should be bothered about, only about what bothers him.

A review of an Eton production of Richard 111 where Johnson failed to learn his lines and stuck them on bits of paper around the stage noted ‘Johnson’s atrocious acting did not quite destroy this production’

In April 1982 his master at Eton Martin Hammond wrote to Stanley Johnson ‘Boris has adopted a disgracefully cavalier attitude to his classical studies’ and noted he risked dropping a grade at A level due to ‘fecklessness’.

By January 1983 Johnson had won a scholarship to Balliol and Hammond again wrote to Stanley Johnson ‘My fear is that Boris may take his easy-going ways with him to Balliol and add to the statistics of Etonians who do little work at Oxbridge’.

Hammond concluded that Johnson had ‘sharp intelligence’ but was easily distracted from serious matters.



Verdant Putty launch: results & prospects for craft beer 2021

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2021 by kmflett

Verdant Putty launch: results & prospects for craft beer in 2021

The can launch of Verdant Putty, an annual release from the Cornish brewery, featuring the  freshest hops, took place this week. No doubt a keg release will occur in due course.

It very quickly sold out direct from the brewery and I note demand is high at those bottle shops that have supplies.

I didn’t buy it this year. Its an excellent beer but there are lots of others, even in days like these, and I like to try new breweries and brews along with old favourites staples.

Even so as I wrote about the 2020 Putty launch (below, slightly edited) it’s clear that even in the rather tough days of early 2021 craft beer has a real reach. Therein lies one of the hopes for beer futures

I was at the 2020 launch of the latest can release of Verdant Putty (8% double ipa) at their joint taproom, the Experiment, in Hackney early in January. I wasn’t particularly there for that purpose then but it was rammed mostly with men of a certain age and facial hair style (and that was just me).

Putty is current beer Zeitgeist, in the way that Cloudwater DIPAs once were (as Toby Wood noted on twitter) but rightly so. It is an excellent beer.

The keg launch saw me at the independent central Cardiff bar (Bubs) in mid-January (16th Jan 2020). It is a sizeable venue so it wasn’t entirely rammed but I note they got through a keg in a few hours and another together with their can stock the following day. That’s impressive given that its not cheap and while to my taste not to everyones. Moreover most of those imbibing did not appear to be the ‘usual’ craft beer adherents and only a few had beards.

The point is that a beer like Putty finds keen drinkers across the country not just in locations where the usual suspects gather. That underlines something about the reach of craft beer in 2020.

I thought the beer was highly drinkable. Murky of course and juicy. You could go further in respect of taste description but those are the keys.

The zeitgeist will move on but I’m sure Verdant will continue to make great beer (which I expect I’ll sample mainly at the Experiment).

Whether such a beer can get beyond niche, albeit a popular one, and whether it should are perhaps a couple of the craft beer questions for 2020, but the launch of the latest iteration of Putty in the middle of Dry January suggests its possible…


Snow & ice Guidelines issued to beard wearers

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

January 15th

Contact Keith Flett      07803 167266

Snow & Ice Guidelines issued to beard wearers

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has issued updated guidelines to beard wearers after many areas of the UK have weekend forecasts for snow and ice.

The BLF says that while beards have been protecting against cold weather since 1854 it is also important to protect the beard itself against snow and ice penetration.

One way to do this may simply be to remain indoors and away from all possible contact with snow. This should be easier to achieve for many in a period of lockdown restrictions.

 However this is not possible for all including key workers and those who venture out for essential reasons.

When venturing out in the ice and snow, the following guidelines for beard wearers are advised-

Snow and Ice Guidelines for Beard Wearers

1] Protect the entire beard with a scarf or roll neck jumper. If the snow is a heavy a snood may be advisable

2] Sweep any drifting snow from the beard on a regular basis. Do not allow snow to accumulate in the beard

3] Comb the beard through regularly to remove any residual snow

4] If the beard becomes chilled or frozen due to snowy or icy weather it is essential to thaw it out slowly.

5] Brief immersion in a glass of imperial stout may help the thawing process but this is optional

6] Dry the beard slowly in a warm room and check for any damaged hairs and follicles

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said snow or ice in the beard can cause serious damage to hairs and follicles and the hirsute are urged to make sure they are protected before venturing out in snowy weather. If snow does accumulate in the beard it is important to follow the BLF guidelines to prevent serious damage. If the beard suffers from icing, gradual thawing following the guidelines is equally important to avoid damage.