Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Campaigners regret Michael Gove’s decision to Brexit his beard

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2016 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front
Media Release
25th October
Contact Keith Flett: 07803 167266

Campaigners regret Michael Gove decision to Brexit’s his beard


August 2016             October 2016

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that it regrets the decision of former Minister Michael Gove to Brexit his beard, which he appeared in public with during the summer after pulling out of the race to be Tory leader.

Gove gave an interview to the Radio 4’s World at One on Tuesday and a picture of him in the studio shows him as clearly clean shaven.

Gove came a poor third in the Beard of Autumn poll last week finishing well behind Nick Dwyer designer for craft North London brewer Beavertown and England football manager Gareth Southgate.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, Gove’s beard attracted a lot of media attention and it might have been a sign of him launching a new political image. Sadly he has reverted to the clean shaven man in a suit style favoured by so many mainstream male politicians.


Where now for craft beer in the Age of ABInBev?

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2016 by kmflett

From Craft Beer to Good Beer


Further to my earlier thoughts on craft beer I travelled to Manchester in early October to attend the Independent Manchester Beer Convention (IndyManBeerCon).

This event, held in an old swimming baths a short distance from the centre of Manchester, has become one of the key events of what might (or might not) be called a craft beer movement.

It takes place over 4 days and contains (currently almost exclusively keg) beers from well-known and up and coming ‘craft’ breweries in three large spaces.

It is not particularly cheap. While the entry price is modest (and tickets highly sort after) this year a beer token cost in the region of £2.25 for which you could buy a third of a pint of beer. That was irrespective of strengths which ranged from 3%ers to above 10%.

Even so on the two days I attended there was a mixed crowd there both gender and age wise.

IndyMan is not just about the beer though- interesting as it is. There are also beer tastings and discussions about the industry.

A relevant debate on the Thursday evening was about Craft Beer where it is now and where it is going.

The panel included Paul Jones, an owner of the Manchester based Cloudwater Brewery, Ian Garrett from CAMRA, Sue Hayward from the Welsh brewery Waen which has just closed its brewery in favour of cuckoo brewing at other sites, Jenn Merrick the brewer at Beavertown in Tottenham, the beer writer Matt Curtis and Claudia Asch from the IndyMan organising team.

I didn’t quite last for the entire debate (I had to visit the toilet- this does happen at beer festivals) but it must be said that a good deal of the discussion was quite familiar to me. Not just the beer bit but also questions about what makes businesses tick and what doesn’t. As a trade union officer in the private sector I often have these discussions with employers.

I wasn’t taking either minutes or notes so my discussion of what was said is firstly only a summary (not in order) and secondly unreliable. Not however hopefully so unreliable as to attribute to someone something they didn’t say.

While I wouldn’t be quite so evangelistic about craft beer as Matt Curtis, preferring to see the world in neither black or white but shades of grey, he did make a very good point that in the US even the most depressing of bars usually offered a good range of craft beer. That is far from the case here. But is beer drinking so different in the US that this could not reasonably be expected to happen here?

Paul Jones noted that Cloudwater had never styled itself as a ‘craft’ brewer focusing instead on brewing ‘modern’ beer- styles that appeal to changing tastes in the beer world.

Jenn Merrick, previously the brewer at Dark Star, one of the UK’s most well-known producers of cask beers such as Hophead, took a broader view. Beavertown produce mainly keg beer but she felt that they were very much in the same marketplace as the large scale producers of cask beer. Further she didn’t think cask was particularly on its way out (Sue Hayward argued that the future was keg) and that there was a possibility that new developments in cask could put current trends towards keg in the shade.

Interestingly she also noted that the largest selling beer in Fuller’s pubs was often a Beavertown brew- probably Gamma Ray which is unpasteurised but sold under light gas pressure.

Ian Garrett added an important corrective by underlining that the vast majority of beer currently drunk in the UK is in cask and this can’t simply be ignored.

The point was made during discussion that larger and better capitalised ‘craft’ brewers were one thing but many smaller, microbreweries found difficulty in getting on bar tops in a very competitive market.

Sue Hayward felt that many smaller brewers struggled to get by, but this is often the case with small businesses in general. They are squeezed out by larger competitors.

In the case of beer we have been here before. It was in large part what led to the formation of CAMRA in 1971. A Company like Grand Metropolitan which had no history in brewing managed to acquire both Trumans and Watneys breweries, merge them and in due course destroy them. No doubt the thirst of shareholders for value was satisified. Drinkers thirsts were not.

An attempt at a Craft Brewers Alliance a couple of years back- with some of the larger brewers at its core- has not been taken forward. Perhaps not least because one of the brewers, Camden, sold to mega-giant ABInBev.

The reality is that without a sustained campaigning effort to keep and protect breweries that produce good beer- however defined- rather than good profits with an industrial product tasting vaguely like beer as the commodity concerned- the pressure for takeovers and closures will remain,


The elephant in the room was of course the now completed takeover/merger of SABMIller by ABInBev to create mega giant brewing concern operating in 70 countries across the world. SABMiller is quoted on the London Stock Exchange and it was the largest ever takeover deal there.

The Editor of the Good Beer Guide Roger Protz is certainly right that the big picture in beer is the battle between ABInBev and much smaller breweries whose concern is making excellent beer not huge profits (welcome as the latter obviously are).

Views on the matter of craft beer are as numerous as those who drink it. CAMRA has decided to delay the decision of its Revitalisation Project because there is so much to consider.

As someone who stays resolutely on the drinking side of the bar, I have a simple test though. If a beer tastes good (looking good is another matter) then I’m not too bothered how its dispensed or what it’s called.

This should be about enjoyment.

This post appears on the Culture Matters website


Marlowe co-credit for Shakespeare plays reveals Medieval Pogonophobia say campaigners

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2016 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

Media Release

24th October

Keith Flett 07803 167266

Marlowe co-credit for Shakespeare plays reveals Medieval Pogonophobia say campaigners


The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said the decision of Oxford University Press to co-credit Christopher Marlowe for three Shakespeare plays including Henry V1 reflects the reality of Medieval Pogonophobia.

Pogonophobia is an irrational dislike of and prejudice against facial hair.

The campaigners say that the fact that Marlowe and Shakespeare are often depicted as having similar beards very probably underlines a popular Medieval view that Shakespeare’s play were written by ‘some bloke with a beard’ possibly Marlowe in some cases.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, of course the OUP have based their decision on a textual analysis of the three Shakespeare plays but we suspect the ‘beard’ theory is as likely to be the reality.

BBC Report



The Ambridge Socialist Poll: Should Lynda Snell produce ‘Waiting for Titchener’ for the Xmas play?

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2016 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

24th October

Contact: Keith Flett 07803 167266

Poll: What Play Should Lynda Snell do at Christmas?


Last year’s Ambridge Village Hall Christmas production, directed by the indefatigable Lynda Snell, was a version of Calendar Girls.

Lynda resolved not to direct this year but was persuaded by partner Robert and Kate Aldridge has offered to ‘assist’. We have interpreted Lynda Snell’s remit of a pantomime with a modern twist, liberally though a Marxist Cinderella is her own idea.

The question is posed: what play should Lynda and Kate produce?

Cinderella (Marxist version)

Waiting for Titchener (Samuel Beckett adapted Snell)

War & Peace (abridged & adapted Snell)

Jack & the Genetically Modified Beanstalk (trad)

The Cherry Orchard (Chekhov)

Snow White (Hegelian version)


Brewdog Collabfest 2016: state of the craft art?

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2016 by kmflett

Brewdog Collabfest 2016


I’m not sure that the Brewdog Collabfest makes quite the impact it should in the beer world (I might be wrong).

I happened to notice it in a tweet and noted that as I’d be in Cardiff that weekend, the local Brewdog would be an obvious location to try the beers (it was).

Often when I’m in London I find myself catching up in the early part of the week after the Collabfest weekend.

There are more Brewdog bars this year so there are more beers. I’m not a ticker so I didn’t try (quite) all of them but I did have (mostly in thirds, a Brewdog strength as it were) most of them.

What beer you like is mostly a matter of personal taste, though I didn’t dislike any of those I tried. I did avoid some styles that I’m not super keen on- one or two red ales for example, and some coffee stouts (which I do like but I’ve had a lot of).

Anyway, the Brew By Numbers Table Saison (3% mustard and salt) was both interesting and drinkable. At the other end of the scale Wiper and True’s DIPA at 9.5% was dangerously drinkable (I had two x one third).

The Cloudwater amber beer- a Special Bitter at 4.5% was a good solid beer. Excellent.

The Howling Hops Raspberry Ripple from very much down my way in NE London was very good as was the Siren Ten Dollar Shake, Fruit Smoothie IPA, lovely. The Dead Man Brew Machine, Cherry & Bourbon Oaked Saison was also highly drinkable.

There were others of course but as a snapshot of where UK craft beer is at the Collabfest is arguably unparalleled.

Cherry Coconut. Coffee, Mango and Orange were in various ways popular ingredients, but only beer with chilli.

There is a wider issue of Collab beers. Once quite rare there is an argument that these have become ubiquitous and therefore of less interest. Perhaps in some cases but the Collabfest is a kind of a state of the craft art beer event.

Its perhaps unusual to suggest Brewdog lack promotion, but a bit more focus on that point would be quite justified.

I discussed this post with Megan Davies who drank the beers with me (but not always the same ones). She has commented separately on twitter @megfdavies


Poll for Most Scary Beard of Halloween creaks open

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2016 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

PRESS RELEASE 23rd October

contact Keith Flett      07803 167266



The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, which  campaigns against irrational prejudice against the hirsute, has said that the poll for the Beard of Halloween 2016 title is underway.

In 2015 Jeremy Clarkson took 50% of the vote with Roy Keane second and Lord Sugar third.

The title, awarded each year on October 31st, takes a wry look at Halloween festivities by identifying the scariest beard in the public eye. The winner is likely to win by the narrowest crack of a squeaky floorboard.

The BLF does not generally believe that beards are scary but accepts that on a dark moonless night as a beard looms through the gloom, nerves may rise a little as to what lies behind the beard.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said of course none of the beards on the shortlist is genuinely scary. But come Halloween things can look a little different…



Richard Branson

Noel Edmonds

Philip Green

Roy Keane

Christopher Lee

Lord Sugar

Antony Worrall Thompson



The Ambridge Socialist: The Ambridge Christmas Show-a Marxist take on Cinderella?

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2016 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

October 23rd CONTACT KEITH FLETT 07803 167266

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

The Ambridge Christmas show: a Marxist take on Cinderella?


Lynda Snell has been ‘persuaded’ to do another Christmas production after last year’s successful Calendar Girls. She has is being assisted by Kate. Lynda seems unsure as to whether Ambridge is ‘quite ready for a Marxist take on Cinderella’. The Ambridge Socialist says: why not? Ambridge Socialist Editor Keith Flett, of course there is always War and Peace, or an adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s famous work, Waiting for Rob.

Why is Titchener still allowed in The Bull?

After a fracas at The Bull a few weeks back in which a drunk Rob Titchener was ejected for threatening to hit all and sundry the Ambridge Socialist is surprised to find that Calendar Man has been back at the bar in the last few days.

The Ambridge Socialist is not a fan of banning things (except fox hunting obviously) but we do think there should be a compulsory cooling off period before Titchener is allowed to cause trouble in The Bull again.

Grundy’s cider is best? 85% say it is

Joe Grundy is preoccupied with Bartleby almost as much an Ambridge institution as Joe himself. Even so it is apple picking and cider making time and Apple Day was on October 21st. Is Grundy’s Scrumpy as distributed to co-op members at the Cider Barn the best in Borsetshire? According to the Ambridge Socialist poll 85% think it is.

In Other News

Ian is staying and so is Adam

Rob has bundled up Helen’s belongings and threatened to put them in a skip. Lilian has offered to help Helen sort them out.

Tom is off to Germany as part of his scholarship. Another two fingers at Brexit.

Meanwhile a post-Brexit financial seminar at Lower Loxley has been causing trouble