Campaigners say fashion for Monkey Tail beards is hirsute topiary

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2021 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

15th January

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners say fashion for Monkey Tail beards is hirsute topiary

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that the renewed fashion for Monkey Tail beards is hirsute topiary and likely to be the work of men’s hairdressers.

The Monkey Tail beard consists of a sideburn grown and shaped so that it curls round and joins up with the moustache. One sideburn only is worn.

The campaigners say that to achieve the style requires a considerable amount of effort and maintenance and have labelled it as hirsute topiary, trimming facial hair into particular shapes for aesthetic reasons.

For that reason the Monkey Tail beard is popular with men’s hairdressers who enjoy cutting rather than growing facial hair.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett, if people want to go to the effort of wearing a Monkey Tail beard, then why not. At the same time using the beard as a fashion statement is not for everyone


Not funny: Boris Johnson on Marcus Rashford, Starmer & food parcels

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2021 by kmflett

Not Funny: Boris Johnson on Marcus Rashford, Starmer & food parcels

Labour leader Keir Starmer pressed Boris Johnson on replacement school meals food parcels at Prime Minister’s Questions on 13th January. Johnson inevitably used the occasion for some political theatre. It was effective but entirely hypocritical.

It’s the Tories who handed the contract for food parcels to their mates Chartwells with predictable results. Starmer has been critical before today. Johnson’s response aside from suggesting that his main concern was that he might end up with a food parcel himself for lunch, played to discontents with Starmer’s leadership, particularly on the left.

I’m on the record (Guardian) as noting that Starmer is on a steep learning curve as a Party leader and progress seems slow. That said the issue here is Johnson and his Government. Entertaining theatre? Ordinarily yes but not when the subject is such a serious and indeed deadly one. Over 1500 people were reported as dead from COVID-19 as Johnson quipped his way through PMQs.

Johnson struggles with gravitas every time.

Marcus Rashford continues to do a great job by the way, tho not quite so sure about the football…

PMQs 13th January

I do not think anybody in this House is happy with the disgraceful images that we have seen of the food parcels that have been offered. They are appalling; they are an insult to the families who have received them. I am grateful, by the way, to Marcus Rashford, who highlighted the issue and is doing quite an effective job, by comparison with the right hon. and learned Gentleman, of holding the Government to account for these issues. The company in question has rightly apologised and agreed to reimburse.


Beard Liberation Front banner. South Africa v England, Port Elizabeth 16 Jan 2020

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2021 by kmflett

The Beard Liberation Front banner was on display at the South Africa v England Test in Port Elizabeth a year ago. Thanks as ever to the intrepid BLF Expeditionary Force of Hazel Potter and Ian Marriott.

The first Sri Lanka v England Test at Galle starts on 14th January 2021. There will be no spectators or BLF banner but a close eye will still be kept on how much beard power is influencing the course of the game. At a location where spin is often decisive England may miss the legendary beard power of Moeen Ali who is not yet cleared to play after quarantine.

England won the Port Elizabeth Test by an innings and 53 runs


Lost Tottenham breweries: Wooldridge

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2021 by kmflett

Lost Tottenham breweries: Wooldridge

My thanks to North London craft beer drinker and beard wearer @PeterMacCiarrai for alerting twitter (& myself)to plans by Haringey Council to redevelop property at 551b Tottenham High Rd, known as Morrisons Yard:

The building to be redeveloped is the former gatehouse of Wooldridge brewery which was based in Tottenham from 1834 until the late 1920s. By then it had been bought out several times the final ownership resting with Davenports, Birmingham brewers

The location for those planning some exercise is a couple of blocks up Tottenham High Rd from Bruce Grove station in the direction of Spurs (left hand side of the road in front of the railway line).

I’d never heard of the brewery but it appears to have pioneered new brewing methods. I’m definitely not a brewer but those who are may be able to judge from this report:

The brewery (parts of which still stand) was designed in 1892 by William Bradford a specialist brewery architect also responsible for Harveys and Hook Norton breweries amongst others:

As well as the current Tottenham brewing scene perhaps a walk around the lost breweries of Tottenham in the summer would be an idea.


Tories,Chartwells, the 1834 Poor Law & Lockdown School lunches

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2021 by kmflett

The Tories, Chartwells, the Less Eligibility Principle & Lockdown School lunches

The political row over the contents (or lack of them) of school lunches provided to parents in lockdown in lieu of free school meals (In England, in Wales the lunches are not provided by privateers but by local authorities) has unsurprisingly for this Government suggested an echo of the Victorian Workhouse:

The Workhouse, established by a Whig (Liberal) Government in 1834 worked on the Less Eligibility principle. Essentially it was a place of last resort that you’d leave as soon as you could.

That was partly about diet. The link below from the 1836 Poor Law Commissioners report details meal provision in six Workhouses. The qualification underneath sounds very, well, Chartwell.

workhouse food often was adulterated because under-paid workhouse Masters colluded with the suppliers and contractors to make the ingredients ‘go further’. Food adulteration generally was not suppressed effectively until after the 1872 Public Health Act.

Workhouse meals while dull and certainly not balanced were not particularly insubstantial. As E P Thompson notes in the Making of the English Working Class they were only part of a much wider Malthusianism-Benthamism (liberal) plan to instil discipline and purpose into the poorest in society.

In 2020 the Tories clearly see diet as a much more central part of the effort to discipline and punish the poor.


The fragility of US democracy(New York Times)

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2021 by kmflett

Churchill noted that Parliamentary Democracy was the worst possible way of running things except for the alternatives and on this occasion he had a point.

Parliamentary Democracy in the UK has been issues, problems and downsides but was in any case complete until 1928 when all women got the vote. That is even so almost a 100 years ago now.

The New York Times(11th January 2021) commenting on the Trump coup attempt has underlined that anything resembling US democracy (which has its own very considerable issues)is much more recent:

...full American democracy is not centuries old and static but fragile and relatively new

The road to the Civil Rights Act (1964) was paved with Black death like the killings of 13 year old Virgil Lamar Ware and the 14 year old Emmett Till. And for every Raphael Warnock who will become the first Black Georgian to serve in the Senate, there are descendants of black sharecroppers who are still mired in poverty, stuck in the generational cycle of inequality that stretches from the political to social and economic.


Boris Johnson cycles in E20. At least he didnt go to Barnard Castle

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2021 by kmflett

Boris Johnson cycles in London E20. At least he didn’t go to Barnard Castle

Boris Johnson has been spotted cycling in the Olympic Park, aka London E20 (Walford Square doesn’t actually exist). Its 7 miles from Downing St and it has provoked media and social media commentary about the Government’s lockdown exercise rules (not law).

According to these you are not meant to drive to exercise but walk, jog or cycle from your home and return there. No doubt the rule was drafted by someone with a large house in a leafy space.

It can work. In Tottenham a short walk can take me to the Marsh or to the Wetlands(RSPB)- the largest urban example in Western Europe. No need to drive anywhere (I don’t drive like many Londoners btw).

In Cardiff a walk from my house takes me around terraced city streets where I have to perpetually dodge other people. There is a nice park 10 minutes-walk away which because of the preceding sentence is usually busy..

So if Johnson did cycle to E20 I don’t think this is an issue. Perhaps clarification to rules can be made and the police advised to stop wasting their time pursuing people (I’m not talking about people who drive to different cities as a few appear to). They can then devote effort to investigating workplaces where people could and should be working from home (with support) but arent thanks to employers flouting COVID rules

Whether he did actually cycle is another matter. When he was Mayor of London he was known as the cycling Mayor and was sometimes spotted cycling from City Hall to his then Angel Islington house. However as Sonia Purnell’s biography Just Boris reveals scrutiny of his expense claims revealed thousands of pounds spent on taxi fares mostly for short journeys in London.

One suspects driving may have been involved. At least he didn’t go to Barnard Castle for his exercise.


Hospitality debate: not Last Orders for the Pub?

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2021 by kmflett

Hospitality debate: Not Last Orders for the Pub?

I was in London in mid-December, before current restrictions started (where I live and work when life is ‘normal’) and was able to stop by some pubs which sell great beer and eat a range of substantial meals too.

The very good value noodles at the Cock Tavern E8, Beard Friendly Pub of the Year, were decent but the Honey Pie chilli pizza at the Pembury Tavern (tap of Hackney’s Five Points brewery) and the venison & mushroom pie and the fish finger sandwich at my Tottenham local, the High Cross, were superb.

Sadly I wont be eating them again anytime soon as the pubs in London after briefly re-opening have shut again, in common with pubs across the UK, many of which haven’t been fully open since the summer.

These are not big chain bars but local craft beer establishments that care about beer, food and community.

There was no coherent evidence for closing them in the autumn, although in January 2021 obviously matters are different.

It was in part the influence, no point in hiding it, of a temperance lobby in Public Health that lay behind the closures. The advice of health experts in the current crisis is invaluable and must be taken seriously. Their opinions on pubs and drink are just that. And, yes, that is only my opinion as well. I would add that drinking too much alcohol can seriously harm your health and one of the many roles of the pub is to provide a controlled social environment where drinking is supervised and limited.

Given the stop, start, dream up absurd new restrictions for pubs etc attitude that officially exists across all four UK nations perhaps its best just to keep them closed until restrictions are gone.

However if that is the decision there needs to be proper support for pub businesses and for all those whose economic livelihood is associated with them in the pub and its supply chain. Expensive? Certainly but what is the bottom line here? Cost or human life?

Much of this was echoed in the Westminster Hall debate on 11th January inspired by CAMRA, SIBA and others around the call to appoint a Hospitality Minister. MPs agreed the motion. There was only one silly contribution from Tory MP Steve Who about take away coffee, and numbers of well informed points about the impact that random restrictions on pubs and hospitality had had on jobs and local economies.

I was particularly pleased to see Cardiff South MP Stephen Doughty speaking up about Brains Dark

The Minister for Small Business Paul Scully made most of the right noises about the importance of pubs.

It’s a start but what is needed is financial support to keep pubs, central to so many communities going. That means support for the people who actually run and work in them rather than something filtered done from on high via large pub companies.

Why beyond that does it matter? Because pubs are where many people socialise, places where the community gets together, the hub of many areas for the lonely, the single, for lovers and friends.

I know some people don’t get any of that and they don’t have to, but don’t base public policy on a minority of anti-pub obsessives.


Australia v India, the Society of the Spectacle & Steve Smith

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2021 by kmflett

Australia v India, the Society of the Spectacle & Steve Smith

The current Australia v India Test series has provided some great cricket. A final game is due in Brisbane from Friday with the series currently drawn at 1-1

The Third Test in Sydney ended on Monday with a draw after India batted out the final day, falling a bit short of the target of 407 for victory. Draws seem boring to some but this wasn’t reflecting a real tussle between two great teams.

As ever with sporting occasions there has been controversy. A handful of spectators were ejected from the ground after Indian players objected to racist comments. Notably the players did not take the knee at the start of the match, and while there is clearly an official anti-racist policy, there is a lot more work to be done.

These games perhaps more than many also have something of the society of the spectacle about them (on the Australian side). The Australian captain Paine is the wicket keeper and his dialogue with spin bowler Nathan ‘Garry’ Lyon is a feature.

In my view Lyon is no more than an average spin bowler at Test level. He can do well on a favourable pitch. The dialogue between Paine behind the stumps and Lyon when bowling is about trying to pretend that most balls bowled have nearly got the batsman out, thereby putting doubt into their mind which mostly is not provided by Lyon’s bowling.

I find it irritating and on this occasion Paine also had to apologise for swearing at Indian batsman Ashwin, but its gamesmanship. Anyone who has ever watched Stuart Broad claim he has taken a wicket after most balls will get the idea.

What was a bit more than gamesmanship was when Steve Smith was caught on the stump camera scuffing out the batting guard of Indian batsman Pant during a drinks break. He should not have been on the pitch at all and certainly should not have been scuffing it in the crease area.

Perhaps Smith will explain what he thought he was doing.

There is no doubt that he is a great batsman and that like numbers he is obsessed with being so. I’m not keen on obsessives so I don’t find that endearing behaviour hence my fervent wish for Smith to be out as soon as he comes to the crease. Often he isn’t and in this game he scored a 100+ and 80 odd.

This is the Smith who was banned in 2018, when he was Australian captain, for ball tampering in South Africa. In this case the ball was being sandpapered. Gamesmanship perhaps but in the modern day technology, like the crease scuffing, means it will be found out.

If this was a normal employment situation this new incident might mean the end of Smith’s Test career. It was trivial but the underlying point is, can Smith be trusted not to try something again, bringing his side and the game into disrepute?

I doubt it, though his importance to the Australian side may seen him escape with a telling off, if that.


Launch of Kernel Black IPA at The Rake. 10 years ago today.

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2021 by kmflett

The launch of Kernel Black IPA at The Rake. 10 years have gone. What a long strange trip it’s been

It wasn’t the start of craft beer in London or anything like that but the launch of Kernel’s first Black IPA(6.8%) at the Rake in Borough Market on this day in 2011 was a landmark.

The actual date was 9th January 2011 but it was the second Sunday of the New Year and crucially a long Sunday afternoon…

It was perhaps the first time some had ever tasted the style which was then controversial since clearly IPAs weren’t meant to be black

I was there with Megan Davies and I was reminded subsequently by Hazel Potter (who was there with Ian Marriott and no doubt others) that on that day I was beardless. I had shaved my beard off the previous day for some socialist good cause or other.

The manager at the Rake back then was of course no less than RabidBarFly (Glyn) who appears to have consumed a few pints of it. Those were the days etc.

Fortunately for all concerned, and a warning to archivists and historians, while news of my shave and a picture of it did appear in the press, the interweb record of it has been deleted. If I feel sufficiently energetic I may seek out the print copy in the British Library at some point.

In the meantime, what a beer it was.. Kernel don’t currently have a Black IPA listed but surely its time for an anniversary edition. A reminder that ten years ago in beer, all things became possible.