Hallelujah

August 23, 2016

Rufus Wainright and choir of 1500 singing Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah.

I can personally vouch for what Jeremy Corbyn has stated are the conditions on Virgin Trains East Coast Mainline

August 23, 2016
Virgin Train at King's Cross

Virgin Train at King’s Cross

Virgin Train CCTV shows seats either occupied or reserved

Virgin Train CCTV shows seats either occupied or reserved

Jeremy Corbyn was pictured sitting on the floor by the door of a Virgin Train, bound for Newcastle on the East Coast Mainline, due to overcrowded train, nowhere to sit.

Not true proclaim Virgin Trains, we have the film footage to prove it.

I cannot comment on this particular train, 1100 Newcastle train from King’s Cross, but I can personally vouch that this is the situation on Virgin Trains heading North from King’s Cross.

I walk the length of the platform, dragging my luggage, lugging my laptop, looking for a seat.

Do I find a seat? No. What appears to be empty seats are not, they all have reserved tickets.

I get to the end of the train.

I get on, ignore the reservation, and take a seat. I encourage others to do the same.

Last time I did this, a  passenger came along and claimed their seat. I gladly gave it up. They kindly said, as you are getting off at the next stop, keep the seat until then.

This train was one coach short. Whether now the norm, I do not know.

The train was in an appalling state of repairs.

I was on the 1330 to Newcastle, overcrowded, lack of luggage space, every seat reserved.

Toilet door, lock broken. Nigh impossible to get out of toilet, as door jammed, brute force required to open. Bin for paper, hanging open, not been emptied.

When I walked down to the buffet car, people were sitting on the floor, sitting on their luggage by the doors.

By buffet car, cupboard hanging open, broken.

Totally inadequate luggage space.

One coach missing.

At Newark, passengers barely had time to get off the train.

Virgin Trains even rip passengers off on the so-called ‘free’ wifi. All of 15 minutes free, then have to pay.

This is the reality of travelling on the East Coast Mainline since Virgin Trains took over. It was never like this when the line was in public ownership, but against strong public opposition, it was handed to Richard Branson.

Speaking to staff, they confirmed my own observations, serious deterioration since Branson took over.

I was not on the train with Jeremy Corbyn, but those who were, confirm that the train was overcrowded and people were forced to sit by the door, which is the norm on Virgin Trains on the East Coast Mainline.

So who do we believe, Jeremy Corbyn, fellow passengers, or a man who knows his profiteering from the NHS and the railways will hit the buffers if Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn win the next election?

#BlockedByBlenkinsop

August 23, 2016

Who are what is Blenkinsop?

I decided to check, to find that I too am #BlockedByBlenkinsop which makes it curiouser and curiouser to be blocked by someone you have no idea who they are or why you should be blocked.

I decided to check out Blenkinsop, turns out to be a Tom Blenkinsop, a rather pathetic Labour MP from the wastes of the North East, a supporter of Owen Smith and one of the coup plotters.

A cursory glance through his twitter feed and he appears to spend his time when not finding tweets of support for Owen Smith to re-tweet, which must be as rare as finding nuggets of gold, spends his time when not tweeting or re-tweeting an anti-Corbyn rant or falsehood, spends his time  insulting and abusing supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, and should they react, cries foul, that he is the victim of abuse.

But why the mass blocking of people, often people who have had no contact with him, who like me, have no idea who he is, have never heard of him?

He must spend his time trawling the net, finding anyone who may or has been a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn.

It is some perverse form of reverse troll behaviour. Instead of harassing and abusing people, to attract attention, and he does plenty of that, he attracts attention by blocking people.

Weird.

Do the good folk of the North East, really want a perverted troll to be their representative in Parliament?

Sadiq Khan does a Michael Gove impression

August 21, 2016

Did Sadiq Khan read the Micheal Gove guide How to do Politics, subtitled How to stab a colleague in the back, as that is what Sadiq Khan has just done, granted a platform to do so by those bastions of The Establishment, The Guardian and the BBC.

Sadiq Khan is telling member of the Labour Party to vote for Owen Smith.

Does Sadiq Khan seriously think that will influence a single Labour member to vote for Owen Smith?

If he does, then he is a bloody fool.

But what it does mean, is that Sadiq Khan has lost the support of members of the Labour Party. His treachery will not be forgotten.

When his name was mentioned at a Jeremy Corbyn rally tonight, it was booed.

Owen Smith is a PR drone, he says what he thinks will get him elected. He is as shallow as war criminal Tony Blair.

Pfizer has just been exposed for overcharging MSF for medicines. MSF works in war zones. Owen Smith used to be a lobbyist for Pfizer.

Why does Sadiq Khan think he was elected as London Mayor?

Two reasons

  • Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters backed him
  •  Zac Goldsmith foolishly employed a vile Aussie spin doctor to run his campaign

I have never liked Sadiq Khan or trusted him. It seems my gut reactions were correct.

Sadiq Khan is a puppet of the City of London. There to do the bidding of the greedy bankers. One of his first acts was to give the green light for the expansion of London City Airport. He has pushed for a second runway at Gatwick. Has reneged on his promise to cap rents.

According to Sadiq Khan, it was all the fault of Jeremy Corbyn that we voted to leave the EU.  This is to insult the intelligence of the people, who voted to leave because they did not wished to be ruled by the EU dictatorship. Nor do they like Sadiq Khan telling then what to do. He also misses the point, the whole point of a referendum is for the people to decide, not self-serving politicians like himself. He wanted us to side with his puppet masters the greedy bankers. And note how he is singing from the same hymn sheet as his fellow coup plotters.

Everyone is entitled to a point of view, even Sadiq Khan, but as Labour Mayor of London, he is expected to respect the wishes of the members,and those members chose Jeremy Corbyn as their leader. They did not choose their leader according to what best served the ambitions of Sadiq Khan, though Sadiq Khan was only too happy to have the support of Jeremy Corbyn to get himself elected as Mayor of London.

The Final Reckoning

August 21, 2016

The Final Reckoning by Petros Markaris, dramatised for BBC Radio 4.

Set in Athens during the economic crisis, shortly after the 2008 banking crisis and before Syriza come to power, with roots in the dark Fascist past.

Wealthy tax dodgers receive demands for unpaid taxes, when not paid, they are killed with hemlock, their bodies dumped at archaeological sites. Next are corrupt politicians.

Socrates was killed with hemlock. His dying words, the final reckoning, was that his debts and taxes be paid.

Gail’s Artisan Bakery

August 20, 2016
Gail's Artisan Bakery

Gail’s Artisan Bakery

I was told there was a new bakery in Castle Street, where you could also eat out the back.

I needed a loaf of bread, and therefore decided to check it out, then return to Downing Street for a coffee.

Very little choice, no wholemeal bread. Staff were apologetic, said it had been a busy day, and had sold out.

I saw they had soup. Anything to eat. Sorry,  kitchen closed at three.

They had sandwiches, but ludicrous price.  £5 to take out, £6 to eat in.

To put this price in context, I can have lunch in the Thai Restaurant in Jeffries  Passage for this price.

I decided on the soup. Small or large? I decided on small.

I had the soup at a table outside. I think it was tomato and red pepper. It was excellent and generous portion. Served with a small piece of bread. I asked for butter and salt. This was brought out to me, as was the soup and a roll. Salt rock salt, butter in a little dish.

The small roll, and it was small, with smoked salmon was good.

I was asked would I like a coffee?

I had intended to visit Krema in Downing Street where I knew I would get an excellent coffee and flapjack. But decided as I was there, and to save walking down to Downing Street, I would stay and at least try the coffee.

It was not good. Not disgusting as tax-dodging Starbucks or Costa, but not good.

The coffee should have been much better, as beans were from Union Hand Roasted, same roaster as used by Harris + Hoole and Taylor Street Baristas, but nowhere near their standard.

The cookie I enjoyed.

If I had wished to eat, I was too late, as kitchen was closed, it was a choice of breakfast or breakfast, which was served until three.  As with the sandwich, expensive, and there was nothing I fancied.

Why not serve breakfast until midday, lunch until three, then afternoon tea and cakes?

The ambience where the cakes were served was quite pleasant, but further in somewhat stark, more like a prison environment.

I sat at a table, but in reality a piece of wood sticking out from the wall, another for a seat, only enough room for one person, and elbow bashed the wall. I was sat in a corridor. I could have gone further in.

Completely lacking in ambience.

Water, help yourself.

This is now quite commonplace.

On the table were free postcards. This was a clever idea, cheap publicity. Also a little fold out chart, but differed from the reality of Farnham.

The staff were excellent, very pleasant and helpful.

Gail’s class themselves as a neighbourhood bakery. Not really. It is a purveyor of very expensive breads and cakes and sandwiches, a bread shop cum coffee shop cum cafe. It is a chain. The entire environment screamed corporate.

Gail's Artisan Bakery Cookbook

Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook

On sale was their own cookbook, Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook.

Loyalty card unusual, stamped if bought a loaf or a coffee. But had to collect nine stamps.

Gail’s open until seven in the evening. I cannot see any point opening beyond six as no one about.  Contrast with Guildford where the indie coffee shops shut at five, turning custom away.

I can recommend the soup. The bread I did not try, apart from my roll, which was good. The coffee not good. Try Krema in Downing Street or Barista Lounge.

I cannot see Loaf in Downing Street surviving, nor the Downing Street Deli, with competition from Gail’s.

Afternoon in Farnham

August 20, 2016

Heavy rain during the night, early afternoon warm and sunny, by evening back to rain.

As I walked through Gostrey Meadow, some sort of fun fair. No publicity. I only learnt what it was from one of the stalls, a VE/VJ Celebration.

I have learnt I am not the only customer to have an unpleasant experience from the woman running the Deli. If behave like this and with competition from Gail’s Artisan Bakery that has recently opened in Castle Street, it is difficult to see them surviving. The best thing that could happen, would be someone takes over the business and does a better job.

Gail's Artisan Bakery

Gail’s Artisan Bakery

I learnt of Gail’s Artisan Bakery, a new baker in Castle Street.  I decided to take a look.

Very little bread left, not much choice, but the staff said they were busy earlier.

A selection of cakes, cookies, rolls and sandwiches,

Very expensive for example a sandwich, £5 takeaway, £6 eat in.

I stayed and had a soup, and a small roll. I ate outside, cheaper,

Soup was tomato and red pepper. Choice of small or large. I chose small, which was of generous portion size. It was excellent, as was the tiny roll with smoked salmon.

I was then going to return to Downing Street and have a coffee in  Krema.

I stayed and had a coffee. A mistake, it was not good.

It was then on to Waitrose.

I walked up Castle Street and along an alley to Waitrose.

I was shocked at the number of chain eateries in Castle Street and more yet to open.

Gail’s where I had been, claims to be a neighbourhood bakery. Not really, it’s a chain of over 30 outlets, a bakery cum coffee shop cum cafe.

I cannot see Loaf in Downing Street surviving, nor the Downing Street Deli with competition from Gail’s.

Jeremy Corbyn v The Establishment

August 19, 2016
Parliament is there to serve the people

Parliament is there to serve the people

The Establishment hate Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Why, because they know their days are numbered, that their gravy train is about to hit the buffers.

When opponents attack Jeremy Corbyn, and say it is about being in power, what they actually  mean is that it is about a self-serving elite seizing power with party members and the electorate being used as ballot fodder.

Labour lost the last election because they offered Tory Lite, they supported the attacks on the poor, austerity and everything that comes with the neo-liberal agenda and Shock Doctrine. In Scotland, Labour were wiped out because SNP offered a radical alternative.

When Jeremy Corbyn threw his hat in the ring last year, he was to most people a breath of fresh air, here was for the first time in a generation the opportunity for genuine political change.

In less than a year, he has managed to form a mass social movement, which goes way beyond what can simply be measured as the numbers who have joined the labour Party.

And that is what worries the elite, the broad social movement which is eager for real change, and who having had a taste for it, are not going to give up lightly.

We are seeing the same in Spain and Greece, where the old corrupt socialist parties are dying and being replaced by vibrant dynamic radical parties like Podemos and Syriza.

When Thomas Paine proposed representative democracy at a time of Absolute Monarchs, he proposed radical change, so radical that he had to flee the country for fear of losing his head. What we are seeing now with Jeremy Corbyn, Podemos and Syriza is a change as radical. We are living in a post-2008, post-Capitalism world. In this New World Order, we have participatory democracy, not representative democracy, last seen in Athens in Ancient Greece.

Once Jeremy Corbyn threw his hat in the ring, the Party Establishment did everything they could to stop his election, then once elected everything they could to destroy his leadership.

The mainstream media talks of splits, the only split is between the Party Establishment who think they own the Party and have a God-given right to rule and the party membership.

This is our Arab Spring, the leadership election a counter coup by The Establishment.

Owen Smith was the scraping of the bottom of the barrel, the best they could come up with. A Blairite in his own words, who bragged he was more Blairite than war criminal Tony Blair, who called Blair a socialist. A former lobbyist for a major US drugs company, a PR drone, who wished to see privatisation of the NHS, who supported austerity, who abstained on massive Tory welfare cuts, but who now proclaims himself to be Corbyn Lite, as convincing as when Labour passed itself of as Tory Lite.

When Owen Smith was asked would he talk to Isis, his Pavlovian response was yes, presumably because he thought that would be what Jeremy Corbyn would say and he had to appear more Corbyn than Corbyn to win over any of the Corbyn supporters.

It badly backfired, it showed he had no understanding of Isis, how Isis has arisen, of Syria, Iraq or the Middle East.

Isis talks to no one. Canon Andrew White has tried. His intermediary had his head chopped off.

Isis is not the IRA, though it seems Owen Smith cannot see the difference.

Note: We are not allowed to call anyone ‘Blairite’, at least if not a Labour Party Member, as that disqualifies you from voting in the leadership election.

It is ok for the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn to be called Nazis, thugs, Trots, cultists and a whole load of other insults, ok to disenfranchise 130,000 party  members and use party funds, ie money belonging to the members,  to do so, but call anyone a Blairite and immediately face a sanction.

Blairites though have been remarkably quiet. In the last leadership election they were popping up in the media every day, all the has-been politicians we thought we had seen the back of were granted a soapbox.  Could it be they realise, if they are seen supporting Unelectable Owen, they will let the cat out of the bag?

Imagine for one moment, the impossible, that Oily Owen (as he is known in Wales) wins the leadership election, wins the next election, does anyone seriously think anything would change? It would be businesses as usual, one elite replaces another elite. It would be as the end of Animal Farm when the animals look in the farmhouse window, look from pig to man, man to pig, and cannot tell the difference.

But will Tony Blair be able to keep quiet?

It is not only the Blairites who are quiet, so is the rabid right wing press, controlled by Murdoch and Lord Rothermere. Not a dickybird.

Paul Mason (The sound of Blairite silence):

Normally, if a Labour figure stood up and, from thin air, plucked a £200bn spending pledge based on a wealth tax, the Sun, the Mail and the Telegraph would have reporters going through his bin-bags.

It’s the same over Smith’s call for a second referendum. The pro-Brexit tabloids would normally be eviscerating any Labour figure who called, effectively, for people to be made to “vote until they vote the right way”. But they’re silent over this.

The Blairite front groups, Progress, Saving Labour and now Labour Tomorrow, are also quiet. The latter two, who owns and controls them, who are their members, where is their money coming from, no one knows.

What we do know is, when Owen Smith was lobbyist for Pfizer, he arranged over £80,000 to be paid to Progress.

More appropriate names for the Blair fan clubs or cults would be Regression, Destroying Labour and Labour Yesterday.

Owen Smith shows his contempt for the British public by calling for a second EU Referendum, for Labour Party members by not opposing the decision to go to the Appeal Court to reverse the High Court ruling that struck down the act by Labour NEC to disenfranchises 130,000 members.

Time that should be spent drawing up a Post-Brexit future, has been squandered by the coup plotters on a completely unnecessary leadership election

We live in a world of newspeak constructed by George Orwell, where War is Peace, Peace is War, where Owen Smith tries to claim he is more radical than Jeremy Corbyn, where he claims Jeremy Corbyn fails to inspire people, has only sound bytes and no policies.

Owen Smith rally with free ice cream

Owen Smith rally with free ice cream

If the low point for Owen Smith was handing out free ice creams and burgers, he has yet to hit a high point.

Maybe he fails to notice the large numbers who attend a Jeremy Corbyn rally, when he can barely attract a couple of dozen, not even when he has an ice cream van or offers free burgers, that last year at Beyond Austerity, John McDonnell with Yanis Varoufakis sketched out a viable economic policy.

Jeremy Corbyn when asked a dumb question, did not recognise who Ant and Dec were, for most people this  enhanced his reputation, for who is interested in banal C-list celebrities?

When people attend a Jeremy Corbyn rally, they see here is a guy they can relate to. They see him travelling on the tube, travelling on the East Coast Mainline (now run by Virgin) sat on the floor. They see him without the distorting prism of the mainstream media.

From the coup plotters and those pulling the strings of Owen Smith, we have had smears and rigged elections. Their role, appears to be, if Jeremy Corbyn remains leader, which we can take as a given, destroy the Labour Party.

Where to now?

The coup plotter have made it clear, the war of attrition will continue.  We must turn mass social movement into more than just words. We have to be active at all levels. We have to create open coops, collaborative commons, ordinary citizens seize control of local Town Halls (as seen in Frome in Somerset, Barcelona and other towns and cities across Spain), then network across Europe. The coup plotters must be de-selected, votes of no confidence at local party meetings, the Labour NEC diktat on no meetings until after the leadership election ignored, the Right of Recall must be brought in, not only for Parliament but also local councils.

Afternoon in Guildford

August 19, 2016
how not to a narrow boat on the River Wey

how not to a narrow boat on the River Wey

All week, hot and sunny. A change today. Cooler, raining, though not heavy, still pleasantly warm.

Chat with chase at FCB coffee kiosk. Excellent cappuccino. He has improved.

When hiring a narrow boar for the day, you are not in a race, the idea is to leisurely sail down the driver, not turn the engine on full throttle, create a racket and cause a bow wave that damages the river banks.

Too late for dinner at Debenhams, but would not have had, as once again turkey.

Excellent lunch at La Casita. My only criticism, too salty.

Surrey Hills Coffee empty as I passed by, but were a few people in, when I passed by again.

I suggested they apply to the council for a stall on the farmers market. It will be interesting to see how they get on.

It looks like the work to the High Street is finally finished. But a tragedy to allow traffic back through, as it is going to destroy the surface.

Excellent smoothie from what was Glutton & Glee. But no sooner did I try to sit down, told we are closed. It has gone rapidly downhill since the original owner sold, name change and now owned by a catering company.

In the summer why close at five when thee are loads of people about? Last time I was there, they were turning away a steady stream of people, and even today, people were being turned away.

Looked in on Ben, bought On an Island by David Gilmour. I have bought before, but I think I gave my copy away.

Coffee Lab

August 17, 2016
Coffee Lab

Coffee Lab

Coffee Lab is hidden down a side street off the High Street in what was Ginger Gelato, opposite what was Ginger Two.

I had noticed Coffee Lab on my last visit to Winchester a couple of months ago. A promise of high quality coffee. Many promise, few deliver. I was pleasantly surprised, excellent cappuccino.

An argument often put, with which I strongly disagree, no point in attempting to serve high quality coffee as it will not be appreciated. If true, then we would not have seen the rise of quality coffee shops in London, slowly slowly spreading beyond London.

Coffee Lab has a top of the range espresso machine and coffee grinder, they buy their milk from a dairy in Wiltshire, buy top quality beans, employ top class baristas. And it shows.

cappuccino at Coffee Lab in Winchester

cappuccino at Coffee Lab in Winchester

My cappuccino was excellent, gold standard by which other coffees are judged.

It is always a pleasure to visit a quality coffee shop, where they take a pride in their coffee.

Sometimes I think, is it my sense of taste, then I am delighted by an excellent coffee and I am assured.

I queried had they added chocolate, a sin, but try telling that to the imbecile manager in Caracoli Guildford.

They had not, it was the quality of the beans, the milk and the skill of the barista.

The quality of the cappuccino was that of Shaun when he was running the FCB coffee kiosk on Platform 2 at Guildford Station.

A suggestion, remove the sugar, has to be requested. Let customers try first with no sugar. I think they will be pleasantly surprised.

Coffees are named after scientists, or at least the beans. When I visited it was the turn of Einstein.

With my coffee I had a date slice. It was excellent. Although ideally I prefer a cookie. A date slice or cake, is somewhat rich and better with tea.

When I looked in June, towards five o’clock, they were empty. This time they were full. I sat outside. I did not mind as it was a warm afternoon. And one of my minor criticisms, loud music, which was not pleasant.

I thought they closed at five, must be wrong, as I was sat outside undisturbed at 5-30.

I queried their closing time. Yes, it was five, but they did not chase people away.

Contrast with the indie coffee shops in Guildford, where they are turning people away before five with ‘we are closed’. By all means close at five in the winter, cold and dark and people wish to go home, but not in the summer.

For Coffee Lab a very long day, preparing to open from six in the morning.

On my visit, staff were Heidi and Ben. Very pleasant and helpful, answered all my questions which for them was at the end of a long tiring day.

They had opened in March, and word of mouth spread that a top quality coffee shop had opened.

For a fee, I think it was £25, whether one off or for a year, I do not know, can join their coffee club. This entitles to reduced price on coffee during off peak mid-afternoon and invites to special evening events to learn more about coffee.

Grouts are available to take away for free. Excellent slug repellent I am told.

Beans, roasted by The Roasting Party, are bagged and available for sale. But why 125g, would it not be better 250g? Details of the beans on the bags, and of course the roast date.

Contrast with Caracoli Guildford, where the manger could not understand the importance of roast date, or why I was appalled to learn the set of digits so tiny almost needed a magnifying glass to read showed roast date of October last year.

If I was to level any criticism, it is that a little pricey. My cappuccino and date slice was over a fiver. I always recommend charge less than Costa or Starbucks, but serve much higher standard.

On TripAdvisor, a couple of reviewers have compared with Monmouth Coffee Company. There is no comparison, at least not with Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden. I have tried a couple of times and been a little disappointed. Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market may be better I have not tried.

If I was to make a comparison, it would be with The Ethiopian Coffee Company Coffee Roasters on the South Bank street food market or Curio Cabal in Dalston.

TripAdvisor needs to have a separate category for coffee shops and tea shops. It is ridiculous that they are lumped together with restaurants, which they are not.

With such a high quality coffee shop, and Flat White on the street food market, it begs the question why anyone drinks the disgusting stuff masquerading as coffee in Costa, Caffe Nero or tax-dodging Starbucks?  Although I am pleased they do not all turn up, as the likes of myself would not get a decent coffee.

Coffee Lab is not only the top coffee spot in Winchester by a long way, it is one of the best in the country.

Gold standard by which other coffees are judged.


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