Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Beard Campaigners renew offer to LibDems to provide advisor for new ‘Shadow Cabinet’

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2019 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

23rd August

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Beard Campaigners renew offer to LibDems to provide advisor for new ‘Shadow Cabinet’

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has renewed its offer to provide a beard advisor to the new Liberal Democrat ‘Shadow Cabinet’ which was announced earlier this week.

The campaigners say that while the Liberals have been traditionally associated with ‘beards and sandals’ in reality the new LibDem Shadow Cabinet has no beard wearers.

The BLF says that appointing a beard advisor would underline the LibDems’ commitment both to a diverse Britain and to their hirsute heritage

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, we stand ready to provide a beard advisor to the LibDems. We’d hope their future can be hairy in a good way.



Would Eric Hobsbawm have backed Jeremy Corbyn?

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2019 by kmflett

Earlier this year the historian Richard J Evans produced a large volume of biography about the late socialist historian Eric Hobsbawm. The book is fascinating and contains much previously little known or unknown material. Of course, and the point is made factually not as a criticism, Evans is neither a marxist or a marxist historian so there is more to be said on Hobsbawm yet, but the book still stands as a very worthwhile project in its own right, or perhaps write..

More recently in the New Statesman Evans has opined on whether

I listened to, argued with and latterly agreed with Eric Hobsbawm from his Forward March of Labour period on. I dont fully agree with Richard Evans assessment that Hobsbawm would be critical of Jeremy Corbyn. Hobsbawm’s Forward March laid some of the intellectual foundations of New Labour. Particularly after 2008 he clearly came to regret that and emphasise the importance of grappling with economic crisis and austerity.

Perhaps the wider point however was that there was far from always a clear link between Hobsbawm’s historical research, invariably excellent, and his political pronouncements, which were sometimes much more open to question. They were often one felt dictated by his personal history and background rather than by his historical researches, and why not?

However for that reason I often argued he would have been better to keep the two distinct and perhaps the same might be said about Richard Evans assessment of him. His biography of Hobsbawm, while not the last word, is an important contribution. His political views are another matter, not less valid but not necessarily linked either.

Would Hobsbawm have supported Corbyn? We cant know. Evans is right to underline that Hobsbawm would have wanted a Labour Government and Hobsbawm’s lengthy probing interview with Tony Benn published in Marxism Today suggests he would have been asking questions. Rightly so in my view whether I liked the questions or not, one thing a marxist historian should do is to raise awkward points and issues not just cheer


Brewers & Publicans at Peterloo, Manchester August 1819. Which side were they on?

In Uncategorized on August 22, 2019 by kmflett

Beer & Peterloo

Beer played an interesting part in Peterloo 200 years ago on Monday 16th August 1819.


The keynote speaker Henry Hunt had, ten years earlier, been the owner of a Bristol brewery. Flyers hostile to Hunt which circulated in Manchester in the days before Peterloo suggested that the beer was bad or adulterated. This was untrue. Below is an extract from Hunt’s memoirs on the brewery

The brewery was built upon the site of an old distillery, at the rising of a spring called Jacob’s Well, at the foot of Brandon Hill, and immediately below Belleview, at Clifton. The whole was soon completed under my own eye, and finished entirely on my own plan. I took advantage of the declivity of the hill, on the side of which the premises were situated, to have it so constructed that the whole process of brewing was conducted, from the grinding of the malt, which fell from the mill into the mash-tun, without any lifting or pumping; with the exception of pumping the water, called _liquor_ by brewers, first into the reservoir, which composed the roof of the building. By turning a cock, this liquor filled the steam boiler, from thence it flowed into the mash-tun; the wort had only once to be pumped, once from the under back into the boiler, from thence it emptied itself, by turning the cock, into the coolers; it then flowed into the working vats and riving casks, and from the stillions, which were immediately above the store casks into which it flowed, only by turning a cock. These store casks were mounted on stands or horses, high enough to set a butt upright, and fill it out of the lower cock; and then the butts and barrels were rolled to the door, and upon the drays, without one ounce of lifting from the commencement of the process to the end. This was a great saving of labour. I left the concern in the hands of my young friend, with every prospect of success, and I then returned to my farm at Chisenbury; having, as I was taught to believe, laid the foundation of a lucrative concern, from which I expected to derive a liberal interest for the money I had advanced, which was about eight thousand pounds, and at the same time afford a handsome income for my young friend. But such is the uncertainty and precarious state of all speculative concerns of this nature, and such the inconstancy of friendship, that, instead of ever receiving one shilling from this concern, I found it still continue to be a drain upon my purse. Bills were coming due, I was told, and they must be provided for, or the credit of the firm would be blasted. Duty, to a large amount, was to be paid every six weeks, and as often I was called upon to assist in making up the sum.

Henry Hunt’s Memoirs Volume 2

On the day itself many who attended Peterloo had considerable distances to march to get there in the days before coach and rail travel. Below is a brief passage from the Guardian (16th August) which notes how the contingent that Samuel Bamford led from Middleton stopped to refresh themselves at a taproom

When the Peterloo marchers reached Harpurhey, the halfway point to Manchester, they needed a rest. In his memoirs, Bamford recalled how “those who thought proper refreshed with a cup of prime ale from Sam Ogden’s tap”. Fighting for democracy was thirsty work.

But beer and brewing were on the other side too at Peterloo and below is a list of publicans who are known to have ridden with the Yeomanry at Peterloo. Whether, as Mike Leigh’s film Peterloo suggests, they had been drinking before the massacre seems difficult to discover (there may be something in the trials of protesters that followed) but it would perhaps not be entirely surprising.

Publicans at Peterloo

John Beeston, Windsor Castle (George Inn) Deansgate

William Bowker, Kings Head, Old Shambles

George Burgess late of Hen & Chickens, Deansgate

Jacob Chadderton, Wool Pack, Pendleton

Cope (first name missing) Liquor Vaults, Corner of Bridge St

Edward Hulms, Blue Cap, Salford

Lees (first name missing) Crown & Thistle, Half St

John Reid, Globe, Gartside St



England could shave Australia in key Beard of the Ashes contest

In Uncategorized on August 22, 2019 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

22nd August

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

England could shave Australia in key Beard of the Ashes contest

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that England look well placed to shave Australia in the key Beard of the Ashes vote.

While David Warner is reported to have shaved his beard, England have added two hirsute bowlers, Archer and Leach to their side.

Moeen Ali, often a frontrunner in similar votes has been dropped from the England side for the moment but they are still making easily the most hirsute impact on the pitch whether its Stokes batting, Archer’s bowling or Bairstow behind the stumps.

Australia’s Steve Smith has grown a beard but unfortunately cant play at Leeds. If he returns at Manchester Australia may still be able to mount a challenge

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, Beard Power could yet win England the Ashes as well as the Beard of the Ashes vote


Marx & Engels at the Victorian Seaside in August & September 1857

In Uncategorized on August 21, 2019 by kmflett

During the summer of 1857 Engels was unwell and determined that visiting seaside locations would help.

He went first to Waterloo, Liverpool where Marx offered him this advice:

[London,] 15 August 1857

Dear Frederick,

I am delighted to hear that the sea is doing you good, as was to be expected. As soon as you are fit enough to bathe, It will take effect even more quickly.

The sea itself is, of course, the principal remedy. However, some medicaments ought to be taken internally, partly preventive, partly curative, so as to introduce into the blood those substances it lacks. As opposed to your assumptions in your letter to my wife and basing myself on the most recent French, English and German literature, which 1 have been reading on the subject of your illness, I put forward the following, which you may submit to the scrutiny of any college of physicians or pharmacists:

1. Whereas cod-liver oil requires 3 months to take effect, iron does so in 3 weeks.

2. Cod-liver oil and iron are not mutually exclusive but complement each other during treatment.

3. A temporary iron shortage in the blood is the primary characteristic of your disease. Besides bathing in the sea, you must take iron, even should there no longer be any outward sign of the disease.

4. In your case the therapeutic element in cod – liver oil is iodine, since the oil’s fattening properties are of no moment to you. Hence iodide of iron combines both the elements you need, one of which you would obtain from cod-liver oil. At the same time, it would spare your stomach the extra ballast inevitable in the case of cod-liver oil.

Voilà mes theses, and I hope you will give them your serious consideration so that, once cured, you do not suffer subsequent relapses which are said to be exceedingly disagreeable.

However as the following extract from a history of Jersey indicates Engels did not recover and headed south:

Engels obediently took iron iodide (and cod liver oil) but only felt worse, though he did find that taking baths reduced the inflammation. He thought of going to a ‘vigorous’ bathing station like the Isle of Man and then moving on to the Isle of Wight. Marx replied that the Isle of Man was distinguished only by its smell and that Engels should go to the best place in England for his complaint, Hastings.

The Isle of Wight almost cured Engels, but he wrote to Marx from Ryde to invite him to join him in Brighton to cross to Jersey. Why did Engels choose Jersey? No doubt because an ailing acquaintance, Conrad Schramm, who had gone there on 20 September, recommended the climate. Marx said he might come to Brighton, and Engels replied that he would go to Brighton on 28 September at the latest and to Jersey on the 29th. In fact, as the passenger lists show, “Engels and friend” arrived in Jersey on 1 October on the Brighton from Kingston. The friend must surely have been Marx.

Engels and, presumably, Marx found lodgings in Saint Helier at 3 Edward Place in The Parade. Marx saw Schramm but must have left Jersey by about 5 October when Engels went alone to Schramm’s and renewed acquaintance with George Julian Harney. Marx and Engels had known Harney as a revolutionary in London, “one of the best of the English popular speakers”. as Marx put it. After the failure of Chartism and his newspapers, Harney had come to Jersey and, in July 1856, had accepted editorship of the Jersey Independent.



After Fullers & Greene King: what is to be done?

In Uncategorized on August 21, 2019 by kmflett

After Fullers & Greene King: what is to be done?

Following Fullers sale of its brewing operations (not pubs) to Asahi, another large ex-regional brewer, Greene King has announced its sale to a Hong Kong based property company. Its fair to say they are not here for the beer.

A good analysis, as would be expected, is here from Roger Protz

Protz has suggested on social media a summit of CAMRA, SIBA and others to determine proposals to put to Government once there is one that is actually concerned with day to day Government.

But what should be proposed? As ever it is much easier to oppose than argue for a positive way forward.

One idea might be to return to the model of the State-owned brewery in Carlisle that was started during World War One and lasted until the 1970s. Its aim was to set a benchmark for good beer and pubs and of course initially to stop munitions workers from drinking too much.

I have no issue with reasserting that idea but in a world where global beer and capital operate it cant be the entire answer.

Another is to strengthen legislation (which currently operates in England) to allow community bids a first crack at buying a pub under threat of closure. That would make bids like that for Greene King less attractive.

More is still required. Perhaps its time to designate a range of regional brewers as producing something unique to the UK and put strict regulations around anyone trying to interfere with it. Much for example as the EU has done (remember them) with Stilton cheese.

Finally, not State ownership but an alternative, perhaps the Government could take a golden share in some leading breweries meaning they could not be sold without a process where the sense of doing so was reviewed.

Of course that depends on the Government….



Aussies David Warner Ashes facial hair crisis worsens as he shaves his beard

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2019 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

20th August

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Aussies David Warner Ashes facial hair crisis worsens as he shaves his beard

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that Australian opening batsman David Warner’s Ashes facial hair crisis has worsened after he was reported to be clean shaven as the Australian team trained at Leeds today ahead of the Third Test on Thursday

Warner was dismissed by Stuart Broad at Edgbaston for 2 and 8 in the First Test and at Lords he made just 3 and 5

The BLF says that after an incident that saw Warner suspended from Test cricket for a period, he grew a gravitas adding beard. It had been thought this would make Warner a key contender for the coveted Beard of the Ashes 2019 accolade.

However it became clear at both Edgbaston and Lords that Warner had been trimming his beard and the campaigners say that the Aussie opener clearly did not have the right balance between beard and ball interaction at the moment.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, by shaving his beard Warner has made precisely the wrong tactical decision. He should have been growing it Mike Brearley style not getting rid of it.