Archive for June, 2014

Afternoon in Guildford

June 27, 2014
apple, pear and ginger

apple, pear and ginger

Glutton & Glee Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Glutton & Glee Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Glutton & Glee Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Glutton & Glee Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

It was forecast cool, heavy rain, and yes, it did start off cloudy and cool, but then the sun came out and a very hot day.

I dropped off a copy of The Alchemist to a friend in Harris + Hoole.

Fresh peas off the market in North Street. They had strawberries too, but when I popped back later, none left.

As always, excellent Friday lunch at the Guildford Institute.

An art exhibition in the Guildford Institute. I think called Nature and Architecture. Watercolours of buildings and flowers. The flowers were not very good, but the buildings were excellent, though it could have been the subject matter. But why frame with glass, all you could see was reflections.

The Guildford Institute Library were chucking out lots of books. I carried them across the Save the Children.

Apple, pear and ginger at Glutton & Glee. They warned me no shade out the back. It was unpleasant sitting in the sun. The balance of the drink was not quite right, I preferred the zinger at Cafe Mila earlier in the week.

Inside Glutton & Glee, table laid for Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

Zorba the Greek flashmob

June 27, 2014

Zorba le grec en pleine rue à Ottawa.

Helenic and Cypriot Societies of Birmingham.

Zorba the Greek from the film Zorba the Greek.

Memories of a party in Athens.

Income inequality in the UK

June 26, 2014

The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. The gap between pay at the top and bottom is huge. Living standards for everyone – apart from those at the very top – remain squeezed. But it does not have to be.

Distorted news coverage by the BBC

June 26, 2014
Metro letters

Metro letters

You may or may not have been aware that 50,000 marched against austerity in London last Saturday.

You may or may not have been aware that the Saturday previous, across the country Vodafone was occupied in protest at their tax dodging activity.

If you were thinking, maybe you missed the mention by the BBC, you’d be correct. You missed the mention because there was no mention.

Nor would you be aware that the Green Party were offering a radical alternative, which is more can be said of Labour under the spineless Ed Miliband, which is offering, what ever the Tories offer, we will hit the poor and disadvantaged even harder, as we saw with the threat to curtail benefits to young unemployed.

We have banal news coverage at its worse with the Westminster Hour, or the infantile exchanges at Prime Minister Question Time.

We have has-been politicians wheeled out as ‘experts’.

We are led to believe there are no alternatives to austerity, that there is no money.

There are alternatives, it is simply that they are not being discussed.

There is the money, if tax dodging was dealt with.

If a poorly resourced outfit like Democracy Now, can cover the issues, can wheel out experts, why not the BBC?

A couple of nights ago, BBC Radio 4 World Tonight had a report on what the Germans thought of British thoughts on the EU. Does anyone give a toss?

BBC Radio 4 World at One, once a week wheels out their so-called MPs Panel. Does anyone give a toss?

BBC is obsessed with the minutia of what happens at Westminster, the tittle-tattle.

On Climate Change, BBC practices what can only be described as false impartiality. A reputable scientist will be pitched against Nigel Lawson, a has-been politicians, disaster as Chancellor, and an ignoramus on climate science (which he dismisses as opinion). No mention of where the funding is coming from.

Across Europe, and in Latin America, though to a lesser extent in the UK, as a reaction to austerity, people are moving towards collaborative commons, a sharing economy. When did you last hear this discussed, analysed or reported on by the BBC?

This criticism could equally be levelled at the mainstream media. True, but when newspapers are the organs of Big Business, we know what to expect, we can choose not to buy, not to read.

BBC is funded by us, we have already paid up front for the coverage.

BBC is a public service with a remit to cover and analyse news, events signifying social and political shifts in the country, and not a spokesperson for power or corporate interests.

We have a cosy elite, all went to the same schools.

Do we need to launch a campaign for real news?

Without news, analysis, people do not know what is going on in the world.

Failure to report protest is deliberate, it may give others ideas, show them it is the norm not the exception.

The response from the BBC is the usual Nanny knows best:

Thanks for contacting us about coverage of the People’s Assembly anti-austerity demonstration on 21 June.

We understand you feel there was insufficient coverage of this demonstration by BBC News.

We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this story. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this general response aims to answer the key concerns raised, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer.

Your concerns were raised with senior editorial staff at BBC News who responded as follows:

“We covered this demonstration on the BBC News Channel with five reports throughout Saturday evening, on the BBC News website on Sunday, as well as on social media. We choose which stories we cover based on how newsworthy they are and what else is happening and we didn’t provide extensive coverage because of a number of bigger national and international news stories that day, including the escalating crisis in Iraq, British citizens fighting in Syria and the death of Gerry Conlon.

We frequently report on the UK economy and what it means for the British public. We also reflect the concerns of people such as those demonstrating, and others who hold opposing views, across our daily news output on TV, radio as well as online, and we also explore them in more depth including in our political programming and current affairs investigations, debates on ‘Question Time’ and during interviews and analysis on programmes such as ‘PM’ and ‘Newsnight’. Inevitably, there may be disagreements over the level of prominence we give to stories, but we believe our coverage of this subject has been fair and impartial.”

We hope this goes some way to explaining our position, and thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Convicted criminal Andy Coulson, former Editor of The News of The World and government spin doctor, was “concerned” that a forthcoming series of reports on the Government’s public spending review had the correct “context”.

Coulson made his concerns known to Helen Boaden, the BBC’s head of news, at a recent lunch meeting. Miss Boaden is understood to have “reassured” Mr Coulson over his concerns.

In the note for Mr Thompson, Miss Boaden provided Mr Thompson with a detailed list of all the positive news coverage that the BBC was planning, or had already broadcast.

It details the extensive opportunities that will be offered to Government ministers including George Osborne, the Chancellor; Nick Clegg; the Deputy Prime Minister; and Mr Cameron to explain the public sector cuts.

In the absence of a functioning independent media, not one promoting vested interests, we do not have a functioning democracy.

Please sign the petition calling for changes to BBC news reporting.

Sheffield reporter threatened with arrest under anti-terrorism laws

June 25, 2014

Alex Evans ordered by police not to film pensioners’ Freedom Ride protest against cuts to free travel at city train station.

Sheffield Star editor James Mitchinson said what happened to the reporter was absolutely unacceptable and the paper would be seeking an explanation

Sheffield Star editor James Mitchinson said what happened to the reporter was absolutely unacceptable and the paper would be seeking an explanation

A reporter was threatened with arrest under anti-terrorism laws and forced to erase potentially important video evidence after filming a protest in Sheffield.

The editor of the Sheffield Star has demanded an explanation as to why his reporter, Alex Evans, was warned off filming a protest against cuts to free travel provision for pensioners and disabled people by British transport police officers on Monday.

Evans claims he was ordered to erase footage he’d recorded on his phone because he did not have permission to film on private property inside Sheffield station. When he initially resisted the request and continued to film, he says he was told he could be arrested under terror laws.

Shortly after he stopped filming, British transport police officers handcuffing and bundling away two men. The arrested men, aged 64 and 65, were taking part in the Freedom Ride, a long-running protest against cuts to free travel provision in South Yorkshire.

Evans claims he was ordered to erase footage he’d recorded on his phone because he did not have permission to film on private property inside Sheffield station. When he initially resisted the request and continued to film, he says he was told he could be arrested under terror laws.

James Mitchinson, editor of the Star, said on Tuesday: “What happened to our reporter Alex Evans yesterday was absolutely unacceptable and we will be seeking a full explanation of why he was treated in such a heavy-handed, threatening manner. To cite anti-terror laws is clearly nonsense. We have a right to report the news, and the Star will always fight for that right. Our readers expect nothing less.

“But this case illustrates just how difficult it can be to report the news, on the spot when, increasingly, authorities are seeking to ‘manage’ it.

“We’re well aware that Sheffield Station is, like all stations, technically private property, and ordinarily we’d need to seek permission to film there. But this wasn’t a PR stunt, it was an extraordinary event that couldn’t have been predicted and it was very much in the public interest that people were made aware of what was going on. As the local paper and website that’s our job, and it’s a job that people expect us to do.”

Evans claims British transport police told him the officer who asked him to delete his footage was part of Northern Rail’s rail response team. Northern Rail said it was trying to establish who made the request.

Though the reporter was prevented from filming the scuffles, members of the public managed to capture the arrests on their own phones.

The “rough” manner of the arrests have been criticised by organisers of the Freedom Ride demonstrations, which involve large groups of protesters all attempting to board the same train without buying a ticket.

Jen Dunstan, of Sheffield Disabled People Against the Cuts, told the Star: “Dozens of elderly and disabled people have been left with bruising. Some have cuts where their skin has broken from being pushed and shoved.

“A placid and calm gentleman was roughly manhandled. I am angry and shocked. The police are meant to protect elderly people.”

Northern Rail said in a statement: “Members of the media must have written permission from the train operator which manages the station before undertaking any filming on station property. Under no circumstances are Northern Rail employees to be filmed without prior agreement from the Northern Rail press office.”

A spokesman for British Transport Police said: “We were called upon to assist rail staff dealing with issues relating to an ongoing protest.

“As a result two people were arrested – on suspicion of travel fraud and obstructing a police officer – and the investigation into these alleged offences is ongoing.

“A number of separate incidents arising from these arrests, and involving police, have been brought to our attention. We are in the process of fully investigating these and will speak to all those involved.”

George Arthur, aged 64, and Tony Nuttall, 65, have been charged with failure to pay and obstructing police.

Reposted from The Guardian.

I have had the same problem, been threatened with arrest for taking photos on a station, though terrorism legislation was not invoked.

Another retailer closing in Aldershot

June 25, 2014
Aldershot retail

Aldershot retail

Another retailer closing in Aldershot.

Just Shop, appears to either have closed or be closing. An excellent Lithuanian shop, but struggling to stay afloat thanks to a greedy landlord screwing them on the rent. Their neighbours have the same problem.

Service in shops in Aldershot is appalling.

Long queue at 99p Stores Aldershot, at least three staff standing around. Eventually guy on checkout calls for back up.

Same story in Lidl, where service always is appalling, long queue at check out, half a dozen members of staff idly standing around. Eventually another checkout is opened.

Poor service and food at The Queen Hotel

June 25, 2014
rump steak less peas

rump steak less peas

 rump steak with peas

rump steak with peas

Since it re-opened in April following a £2.3 million refurbishment, the service and food at the Victorian Queen Hotel in Aldershot has been very mixed. Sometimes very good, at other times very poor.

The week it opened, it was chaotic, it then improved, now complacency has set in.

Rump steak can be excellent, it can also be very poor. Usually tough, but tasty. Last week the steak almost cold, the peas cold, the mushroom cold.

I once made the mistake of ordering steak when it was not steak day. A big mistake, you pay a lot more.

Chicken is pretty disgusting.

Burgers usually good.

Gammon steak usually good. Though why no pineapple?

Curry avoid, go to a decent Indian restaurant.

Fish n chips, the fish usually very good, the chips leave much to be desired.

Beer is usually good. I once had to send a beer back. It was changed without a quibble. I opted for a cup of tea.

Today, the service was abysmal, as was the food.

I asked for fish n chips. I was charged the wrong price. When I queried this, I was told only available on Friday. I pointed out available at special price afternoon up until 5pm and it was only 4pm.

The excuse then was I had ordered London Pride and offer only applied to guest beers, and yet, most of the guest beers were not available, and whilst this may be true, I have had London Pride in the past.

Manager intervened, and went through at correct price.

Not the first time this has happened, charging for the free beer. Last time this happened, it was because the beer was over 5.0% alcohol. And yet I had specifically asked was it in the offer. They were going to throw away what had been drawn and serve me a different beer. I pointed out this was ridiculous. A manager intervened, I kept what had originally been drawn.

I have also been charged high price for gammon, when on offer during the afternoon.

The fish was awful. And was not served with peas.

I called over a member of staff, and said it was not edible, and wished to send it back.

Why, what is wrong with it?

Fish taste not good.

Cannot change because you do not like the the taste of the fish.

Then relented when I said I had had fish before.

I said I did not want fish, I would have the rump steak, left over from day before, which was on offer and cheaper than fish n chips.

Waitress had to go away and discover if this was possible.

Yes, it was. I emphasised that I wanted it with peas, peas which should have come with my fish n chips.

Rump steak served with chips, no peas.

I point out, I had asked for peas.

No, cannot have peas.

Then tried to claim I had not ordered peas with my fish n chips. It actually comes with peas.

Then tries to take away my steak and chips.

I said no, bring the peas,

The peas came. They did not taste very nice either.

At no time during my two different attempts at a decent meal, did anyone come over to ask how was the meal.

When my meal was finished, the waitress who had quibbled when I sent the fish n chips back came to clear away my plate. She made no attempt the pick up the peas that had spilled onto the table, or to clean the table.

Building work taking place. Apparently to install new staircase next to existing staircase. A somewhat pointless exercise, but I guess to segregate the hotel.

The Queen Hotel is a Grade II listed building. Should planning permission not be applied for?

The female manager who is usually there, very good and always helpful, not there. On holiday, left? Maybe explains how bad today.

A pretty bad experience.

A couple of hours later, I was feeling sick.

Surfing the waves in Cornwall

June 24, 2014
What if the next wave never comes?

What if the next wave never comes?

In Cornwall, I would wander around the old mine tailings, open mine shafts, former now long abandoned tin mines.

In Puerto de la Cruz, I would watch surfers. Not bad, though nothing though to the surfers I would see in Cornwall.

Water and steams would wash through the mine tailings, these have now formed rich tin deposits off the Cornish Coast. A company, Marine Minerals, wishes to dredge and dump millions of tonnes on the seabed.

I was horrified and dismayed, when I saw in pristine water, a very small dredging operation in operation in Protaras. It was only affecting a few hundred square metres, but the damage to the beach, the rocks, the sea life, the water being tuned cloudy, was very evident.

The proposed dredging in Cornwall, apart from the damage to the seabed and impact on marine life, will release heavy metals and toxic materials.

The dredging off the Cornish coast, would be as close as 200m to the shoreline, putting paid to any recreational activity, including surfing.

Surfing in the UK is estimated at £3.2 billion (of which the majority is in Cornwall).

There is no legislation in place to protect surfing beaches.

Please sign the petition to oppose dredging.

Letters to Lincolnshire Echo on library closures

June 24, 2014

We realise there were some people who wanted services to remain as they are, but with £2 million less to spend that just wasn’t possible. — Nick Worth

Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. — Walter Cronkite

We measure the value of a civilized society by the number of libraries it opens, not the number it closes down. — Philip Pullman

Three letters to the Lincolnshire Echo on library closures:

Dear Editor

I was horrified to read your story dated 4 June detailing the £41 million underspend by Lincolnshire County Council in the last financial year.

As a campaigner with Save Lincolnshire Libraries I have, over the last eighteen months had my eyes opened to the flagrant arrogance and ignorance of the decision-making group within County Offices, but this latest story takes the barrel, the biscuit and the mug to dunk it in!

If the Lincolnshire people needed evidence of their representatives working against, not for their communities they need look no further. Cllr Hill in particular has been startlingly out of touch with the electorate since the beginning of the libraries campaign. First signing a petition against his own cuts, and more recently claiming that Lincolnshire residents (whom he thinks of in the guise of ‘the great unwashed’ it seems) deserve no legal recourse against his party’s farcical ‘consultation’ unless they dig deep into their own pockets. I wonder: who does Cllr Hill think has paid for the consultation process, the council’s legal expenses thus far, and now the Save Lincolnshire Libraries legal fund – the Leprechaun at the end of that rainbow he’s sitting on, perhaps?

For the leader of the county council to now so flippantly tell the Echo that “careful financial management” has ensured that he and his colleagues can squirrel away £41 million of ratepayers’ money against the proverbial rainy day is nothing short of a direct kick in the stomach to those librarians, campaigners and communities who have paid for that “financial management” plan with their livelihoods, their man hours, their blood, sweat and tears, and their libraries. Out of touch does not even come close.

To the people of Lincolnshire I say this: it IS raining in Lincolnshire, right now. It is raining lies, pomposity and smug, self-serving, money-grabbing elitism disguised as community-mindedness. This is our rainy day, and it is up to us to poke the county council with our umbrellas and remind them that they work for OUR interest, and not the interest they’ll receive on that £41 million they have in the bank.

Yours sincerely,

Leah Warriner-Wood (North Hykeham)

Dear Editor

I have read the piece about the County Council having an underspend of £41 million for the last financial year. This, of course, was on top of an over £20 million underspend the year before. That was announced at the time of the proposals being published to dismember the library service. At that time, opposition councillors asked that some of that money could go into the budget to offset the mammoth 32% reduction in library services. Of course, this was turned down, as it did not fit with the alliance’s plans, which they had already decided upon.

As we all know, the Council decided to go ahead with its proposals even after a consultation that was almost totally against what they had put forward. Furthermore, just to show how right they were, the Executive Committee introduced interim arrangements from this May reducing library opening hours. They have already made 170 members of staff redundant. Now they face the Judicial Review in July, with a decision probably due in September. Why could not the Councillors have thought ahead and put aside some of this underspend in December, when they made the fateful decision about the library service? I realise some of this underspend might be “one-off” money, which can only be spent once. Members at the top of the Council chain would have known when they made their decision in December that there was likely to be an underspend. If they didn’t, they are not doing their job of monitoring the budget. This budget, by the way, is the money we all put in as taxpayers. Isn’t it about time our County Council listened and tried to be forward looking enough to grasp that this would have been an excellent opportunity to keep staff for the first 6 months of the new financial year at least, so that the outcome of the Judicial Review would be known. It is obviously too much to ask. This administration is well passed its sell by date.

Yours sincerely,
Maurice Nauta (Nettleham)

Dear Editor

There is one good thing that has resulted from the news that, following their £50m underspend of 2013, Lincolnshire County Council has underspent for this year by another £40m; we now know that the Council’s story of having a desperate need to save £2m by closing libraries, and that it is being done only under duress, must be purely fictional. In which case the only motivation we can attribute to LCC is that the executive really believes that public access to the services, professional staff and resources of fully funded libraries is a useless and expendable waste of money. I would have liked to say that this is an example of cultural indifference worthy of Genghis Khan, were it not that even Genghis Khan knew the value of reading and writing, encouraged the adoption of an alphabet and made literacy freely available for his people.

Yours sincerely

Liz Waterland, The Friends of Deeping Library

We have councillors who are unfit for public office, who have nothing but arrogant contempt for the local communities they supposedly represent, who stuck two fingers up to the local community when they awarded themselves an increase in their already overgenerous allowances.

Summer Art Exhibition at Café Mila

June 23, 2014
Café Mila summer art exhibition 2014

Café Mila summer art exhibition 2014

Café Mila are currently holding their summer art exhibition.

Well worth a visit.

Café Mila summer art exhibition 2014

Café Mila summer art exhibition 2014

cafe mila summer art exhibition 2014

Café Mila summer art exhibition 2014

Café Mila summer art exhibition 2014

Café Mila summer art exhibition 2014