Campaigners announce latest ever start to the Beard, Shorts & Sandals pre-Season

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2018 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

17th April

Media Release contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Campaigners announce latest ever start to the Beard, Shorts & Sandals pre-season


The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that the 2018 Beard, Shorts and Sandals pre-season will start on Wednesday 18th April with the main season scheduled to begin on the May Day Bank Holiday, weather permitting.

The campaigners say that thanks to abysmal weather it is the latest start to the pre-Season in recent years. In 2014 it was underway as early as 10th March and even in 2018 it had started before the end of March.

The BLF says that a key purpose of the pre-Season is try out the most interesting combos of Beard, Shorts and Sandals for the summer Season ahead. Usually this is done within an agreed framework. However because the pre-Season is so late the campaigners have said that ‘anything goes’ will be permitted until May 1st.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the Beard, Socks and Sandals season has been a major influence on summer fashions in recent times and we hope that with better weather forecast people can now flaunt their beards and legs in public together with stylish shorts and sandals or casual shoes.



From Kennington Common to Syria: a difficult week for historians of the present

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2018 by kmflett

A difficult week for historians of the present

At a meeting of the Communist Party Historians Group (now broadly succeeded by the Socialist History Society) the late marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm noted that they ‘must become historians of the present too’.

It was a controversial point because historians in the orbit of the Communist Party at least until quite recently spent their time avoiding the present since that invariably meant grappling with the awkward issues of ‘actually existing’ socialism.

As a Marxist historian, but someone who is not now and has never been a CP member (all right I do write occasionally for the Morning Star) I have always been keen to pursue histories of the present.

It’s my long-standing view that the media are very bad at history and prefer to avoid presenting current events in an historical context. It can raise difficult issues and it also takes journalistic time and resource.

The week including 10th April was the 170th anniversary of the Chartists rally for the vote at Kennington Common. I blogged about several aspects of this and there was an actual commemoration on the day in a rather soggy Kennington Park.

There are more events to come but the anniversary event itself was a result of hard work by the Kennington Chartist Project. Given that it is one of the most famous protests of the nineteenth century because it was photographed and that it also coincides with the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote one might have thought it was worth some media coverage.

Unfortunately not. The Guardian managed nothing as did the Morning Star which to be fair has much more limited space. The BBC also didn’t cover it.

There was a wider link. As Theresa May signed up to Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria (for one night only, he has golf to play) she did so in a way that avoided a Parliamentary vote suggesting that 170 years after Kennington the Tories still struggle with this democracy thing.

As much to the point Syria has a complex history dating back at the very least to the events of 2003. The only journalist to cover this was the invariably excellent Patrick Cockburn in the I paper.

Being an historian of the present has never been more important. The media, never great at historical context for current stories, is getting worse.

Blogs on 10th April 1848


What Labour Governments used to do: Harold Wilson, LBJ, and Vietnam

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2018 by kmflett

What Labour Governments used to do: Harold Wilson, LBJ and Vietnam

Getty Images

The debate about Theresa May’s support for Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria on Friday night (he’s now back on the golf course, there are priorities involved here) saw at least one Labour MP mention what Labour Governments used to do on war. What Blair did on Iraq is well within current memory.

What that altogether more wily politician Harold Wilson did on Vietnam perhaps less so

Unlike Australia and New Zealand, Britain did not commit forces to US efforts to prop up the corrupt Diem regime in South Vietnam from 1962-1975.

If Britain did not commit front line troops in Vietnam, British Government support for American action was largely unwavering. In March 1965 Harold Wilson told the Commons that the Government fully supported ‘the action of the United States in resisting aggression in Vietnam’.

He was echoing a line developed by the Tory PM before him Alec Douglas Home and backed by the Tory PM after him, Heath, as well.

What did this full support mean?

While no troops were officially committed, the SAS fought in Vietnam under the banner of the Australasian forces. Other troops were seconded to the US and fought under that auspices.

These were not rank and file soldiers but specialists and experts in jungle warfare.

Indeed Britain trained US, Vietnamese and Thai troops in its Malaysian facilities in the late 1960s.

It was not just training and expertise that was provided.

The British monitoring station at Little Sai Wan in Hong Kong was used by the Americans to help them target bombing raids on North Vietnam.

All that said Wilson also resisted considerable pressure for Democratic President Johnson to publicly back the US with troops. He resisted, perhaps because he recognised the potential political consequences and that may well have been related to the strength of opposition to the Vietnam War in the UK.

Wilson also, at least up to the Tet Offensive in Spring 1968 when it became clear that the US was in any case losing the war, associated himself very closely with international negotiations to secure a ceasefire and peace in Vietnam, albeit essentially on US terms.

As ever, protest and survive


Wetherspoons abandons social media for the beer mat

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2018 by kmflett

Tim Martin has announced that Wetherspoons is to abandon social media.

The actual reason is hinted at by Rory Cellan-Jones in this BBC report. You can comment there by logging-in

I presume that Mr Martin’s favoured means of communication will now be the more traditional beermat and I have included a suggestion on this post


Who Should the Ambridge Cricket Club’s ‘professional’ player be in 2018

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2018 by kmflett

With the 2018 cricket season getting underway the spotlight is once again on the Ambridge cricket team.

Its performance in 2017 was perhaps not the best with a dispute between Will Grundy and captain PC Burns over the introduction of women players (who were responsible for some of the team’s better efforts).

Things are looking up in 2018 however because the possibility of Ambridge CC having the services of a professional cricketer has been raised by certain events in Australian cricket. However the team could also look to home grown talent given the profile they enjoy on BBC Radio 4.

Who should that player be?



Mystery surrounds Thierry Henry’s sparkling beard on Sky Sports

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2018 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front

15th April

The Beard Liberation Front the informal network of beard wearers say it is investigating reports that former France and Arsenal star Thierry Henry’s beard was seen to be sparkling during his commentary on the Newcastle v Arsenal match covered by Sky on Sunday afternoon. Arsenal lost the match 2-1.

There was clear evidence of sparkling in Henry’s beard on screen. He did not appear to be wearing ill advised beard glitter so the glittering effect may either have been a trick of TV lighting or caused by a particular brand of beard oil.

However in the second commentary match of the afternoon Manchester United v WBA there was no obvious sign of the Henry glitter.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the effect on Henry’s beard was quite striking and we are continuing to investigate


Craft beer & a visit to Waitrose

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2018 by kmflett

Craft beer & a visit to Waitrose

Being in Cardiff for a few days I visited the City’s Waitrose on Sunday lunchtime. Its on an industrial estate and not in the centre of town. The visit was courtesy of my partner Megan who drove.

We were not I confess going there with any intention of buying beer, but rather wine, as Waitrose generally do a good, if of course, rather pricey selection.

I had in mind though the social media discussion this week about Beavertown’s decision to sell some of their core range in Waitrose stores from the end of April. The criticisms of this I think were threefold: a) Beavertown has sold out (hmm) b) it will hit the trade of bottle shops c) the beer may not be kept properly- that is refrigerated.

Ive already commented on the ‘sell out’ point and commended the move but there is nothing like an actual visit to keep things in perspective.

Firstly, certainly in Cardiff and I suspect in many other locations selling cans of Beavertown beer in Waitrose will have no significant impact on the trade of the City’s several excellent bottle shops all of which I am pleased to say are somewhat more centrally located than the Waitrose. Beavertown cans are not particularly easy to come across in Cardiff anyway, particularly non-core which if I am here I often cart down from Tottenham myself.

The reality is that Waitrose is not Tescos or Sainsburys. It doesn’t have anywhere near as many shops and it is positioned in general a little more upmarket. There are none near enough me in North London to make me think, I’ll stop by for some beer. There are several bottle shops much nearer.

Its true that Waitrose do carry a few beers that are largely exclusive to it- Fullers imperial stout for example.

Secondly Waitrose, while it has a decent beer range, doesn’t really carry that much beer that you might find in a bottle shop anyway. Cardiff today had bottles of Wild Beer’s Ninkasi which I think also appears in larger branches of some other supermarkets and Thornbridge which has featured for a while but not all that much else that would qualify as ‘craft’ beyond of course Punk IPA at the usual £6 for 4 cans price you can find widely. Packs of Camden Helles were reduced to clear.

To the third point. None of the beer was refrigerated although I think the shop has space to do that. Its not particularly usual to find beer in fridges in larger supermarkets. Smaller ones often do refrigerate some beer because the assumption is that you are buying it to drink in the near future. But of course that is not the only reason for keeping beer cool. It also helps shelf life and condition. I suspect that Waitrose would say that operate a rigorous system of ‘sell by date’ stock rotation (and experience suggests that’s true- hence the reduced Helles) and that if a beer doesn’t sell enough its dropped anyway. It’s a debate. Not every bottle shop I can think of refrigerates all its beer but most make sure it is kept at cool temperatures. Supermarkets are usually quite cool places generally though (I don’t mean culturally)

Ive discussed this post with Megan Davies who no doubt has her own views