Afternoon in Reading

December 4, 2017

I had intended to visit Reading last week, but too cold. Today cold and damp, but lacking the cold north wind. In Reading it was fresher, not so damp.

Train on the way to Reading, display not working, wifi not connecting to Internet.

As walk from Station to town centre, what appears to be a Victorian Arcade, though the building not Victorian, or at least does not appear to be. I cut through Harris Arcade.

My initial impression correct, Harris Arcade built in the 1930s by John Harris.

A coffee in Workhouse.

Very annoyed chocolate dumped on my cappuccino. They should know better.

18 different coffee beans to buy.  Espresso machine, the pumps are in a rack on the wall.

I would have stayed to eat, but not tempted by what is on offer.

I wish Waterstone’s would not insult readers and coffee lovers with their very poor choice of coffee books.

Coffee Art and Coffee Style excellent, but not Where to Drink Coffee, one of the most useless guides written.

Lunch and a coffee at Artigiano, my reason for revisiting Reading. I had looked in on my last visit, but no time for a coffee.

I was not impressed on my last visit, and not impressed today by their poor choice of food, poor choice, and expensive. Nor that upstairs was out of bounds due to a private party.

I can though see why upstairs hired out. Not busy.

I would have had bacon and brie, but not available. Beetroot yuk, chutney yuk, mustard less yuk. I settled for the ham, salami and mustard.

Not good. Poor quality bread, sent down from London, and ruined by the vile tasting mustard.

It is better to let the customer add mustard, add chutney, if they wish. Also better to make fresh food periodically throughout the day, not early in the day, then remove at three o’clock.

The problem, Artigiano have no kitchen staff. Whether this is cannot find, or directive from head office to cut staff, the same problem Harris + Hoole has now owned by tax-dodging Caffe Nero, loss of good staff, never see same staff twice, death by a thousand cuts, I do not know.

Not a place to eat. Though that is true of all the good coffee shops in Reading.

By contrast, excellent cappuccino, a blend from Origin. far superior to Origin coffee I have been served in Canopy Coffee.

No single origin or pour over coffee.

2.5 billion takeaway cups a year are thrown away in the UK. Anything we can do to reduce this trash mountain is to be welcomed.

In Artigiano, takeaway cups are paper, paper that can be composted. The lids are plant-based plastic, thus biodegradable.

So far so good, except too simplistic.

If I am on my way home, if I have bought fruit and vegetables from the shop in the nearby alley, I can pop in my bag with my fresh produce, then throw on my compost heap when I arrive home.

What though if not on my way home? What then do I do with the cup? Throw in the bushes, throw in the river, throw in the nearest litter bin? And that is the dilemma, and why compostable paper cups are not the answer. Yes, if have a captive audience, with a bin for the cups that can then be collected and composted, but if that be the case, why use disposable cups?

Artigiano sell KeepCup. Plastic is light, relatively cheap, but made of plastic. Glass is heavy, expensive, and shatters if dropped. Plus have to cart around the KeepCup.

If buy a KeepCup, first drink free, 15p discount thereafter. If buy a coffee every working day, then will take five months to break even if buy a glass KeepCup, two and a half months if buy a plastic KeepCup.

KeepCup only comes into its own if popping out from the office for a coffee.

The only real solution to the problem of disposable coffee cups is to discourage their use, if not an outright ban.

Interesting conversation with the barista.

Cappuccino in CUP.

Interesting art on the walls. Ink line drawings.

One was an avenue of coppiced trees. I recognised, unless several such avenues, as used by Gary Nicholls for The Imaginarium.

I caught the same train as two weeks ago, 1732 to Gatwick. Possibly the worst train to catch, as everyone leaving work. As two weeks ago, packed in like sardines, standing room only. Two weeks ago, the train emptied at the first stop. Not today, more people got on than the few that got off.

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Afternoon in Farnham

December 2, 2017

Anther cold day, not far above freezing, but did not feel as cold due to lack of strong wind and wind chill.

Alight from bus and walk along the riverside walk and through Gostrey Meadow.

Last week I found a heron in the River Wey. It was there again this afternoon.

The Christmas fair held two weeks ago has badly churned up Gostrey Meadow. It should not have been held in Gostrey Meadow. Castle Street would have  been a better location.

Lunch at Krema, a bacon in a bap. I would have had soup, but already gone.

Krema was empty when I walked in, but soon filled up.

I was pleased to again find Angar, and he made me an excellent cappuccino.

Which will go first, Wholefood shop, Deli or Barista Lounge? I cannot see any surviving.

Wholefood shop has very poor stock. I wanted muesli, no muesli. I would have thought very basic item  for a wholefood shop.

I made the mistake of buying a jar of peanut butter in the wholefood shop. I could as I anticipated bought one got one half price in Holland & Barrett.

I thought The Lion and Lamb Cafe and Restaurant had closed down as when I walked by Thursday it was in darkness. No it is still there, as always empty when I walk by.

I popped in Neal’s Yard Remedies in Lion and Lamb Courtyard. Man was chuffed when I complimented him on his wonderful winter scene in the window.

Why oh why does Waterstone’s not stock any coffee books worth reading?  Where to Drink Coffee, their one and only coffee book, is rubbish.

Stock control in Waitrose gets worse, fruit and vegetables empty shelves, cheese counter empty.  Then when go to pay, only half the checkouts and not all are manned.

A friend has the right idea. It used to be possible to obtain a free coffee in Waitrose, then they removed the takeaway cups. She takes in her own mug.

But, why, as she said, are their disposable coffee cups not biodegradable, then could go on the compost heap. A bin in Waitrose in which to deposit.

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups go to waste every year. Waitrose are contributing to the problem.

Finca El Tormento

December 1, 2017

Tormento Colombia is a single origin coffee from Finca El Tormento in Colombia.

I passed by FCB kiosk on Guildford Station on my way to catch the train. No time to stop, other than say hi. Try our guest coffee next time you pass by.

This I did next time I passed by.

The Colombian coffee was excellent. One of the best coffees I have had at FCB kiosk.

Odd though, no information on the bag apart from an interesting drawing and the name, Colombia Tormento.

A little sleuthing and I learnt the guest coffee was supplied by Dark Woods Coffee.

varieties

Castillo, Colombia and Caturra.

estate

Finca El Tormento located at a height of 1,750 – 1,850 metres above sea level in the mountains of Southwest Antioquia is owned by Oscar Montoya Vazques.

The hand-picked cherries are dry pulped, fermented and washed, then sun dried on raised beds (parihuelas).

FCB kiosk

Guest coffee at FCB kiosk on Platform 2 at Guildford Station.

tasting notes

Citrus flavours and nutty caramel.

Northern Coffee Adventure

One does not expect a rail company to take passengers on a tour of a a coffee roastery, and yet that is exactly what Northern Rail did, to a few specially invited passengers.

During their visit, a very very special treat. They had a taste of  lot #227 from an estate in Panama. This scored a Q grade of 97, and  was sold at auction for a mind boggling $5000 per kilogram.

Synchronicity. Taf serve Ninety Plus coffee, coffee with a Q grade in excess of 90. Whilst there I had the great honour of being introduced to World Barista champion Stefanos Domatiotis. He showed me some beans that he said was from their estate in Panama. He then made me a V60 using Geisha from their Panama estate. The same estate that produced  lot #227. Was I served the same coffee? I do not know.

Afternoon in Guildford

December 1, 2017

A freezing cold afternoon in Guildford. Barely above freezing, strong north wind with wind chill made it much colder. Pleasant in the sun, but out of the sun, in the shade, in the wind, very very cold.

A long chat at FCB kiosk. Luckily stood in the sun.

Last week, as I passed by to catch the train, I was told must try their new guest coffee from Colombia. Sadly their guest coffee over the last few weeks which I was told was good, I never tried, as grinder was not working. Waiting new blades, then waiting for blades to be attached to the grinder.

The Colombian coffee was excellent. Best coffee I have had at FCB kiosk.

It also put to shame the undrinkable coffee I had at Farnham Malting Riverside Cafe, beans supplied by Cupsmith.

It also makes the point, there is no excuse for bad coffee.

This coffee firmly puts FCB kiosk at no 1 coffee spot in Guildford. Canopy Coffee iffy, very variable. Harris + Hoole been going downhill since acquired by Cafe Nero, never see the same staff twice, all their good staff have left.

There was unfortunately no information on the Colombian coffee. FCB need to make available more information, and offer for sale in 250g bags. Few will wish to buy beans in a kilogram bag.

I have done a little sleuthing. I learnt Colombia Tormento sourced from Dark Woods.

UK disposes of 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. More must be done to tackle this problem, and other waste in the coffee supply chain. What happens for example to the coffee grinds, all the milk that is wasted making cappuccinos?

FCB kiosk sell KeepCup. They also offer a discount, 30p off the price of a takeaway.

Assume commute every day, buy a glass KeePCup at £20. Pick up a coffee in the morning to drink on the train. £1-50 saved in a week. Ten weeks of commutting have saved £15. It will take 14 weeks of commuting to exceed break even.

Plastic KeepCup are light, relatively cheap, but plastic. Glass KeepCup are expensive, heavy and break when dropped. And have to be carried around.

A lady working for SWR ordered something to eat and drink, a little card tray for her drinks, even brought back her paper carrier bag for her food. Ideal person for a KeepCup, as only carrying to her office.

FCB kiosk give their grounds to a gardener.

Harris + Hoole sell KeepCup. What I do not know is if offer a discount if used for a takeaway.

Walking along the river very cold.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots. As always, excellent. Today honey crunch chicken with brown rice.

Then go home as sun is setting.

Too cold to hang around.

Caught train at four o’clock.

Farnham Maltings Riverside Cafe

November 30, 2017

Pleasant ambience, but terrible coffee.

Sourced from Cupsmith, the coffee was disgusting. I left it after one sip.

I was appalled by their low environmental standards, takeaway cups in both the riverside cafe and the foyer cafe.

This is a captive audience. They should not be serving drinks in takeaway cups.

Do they not care about the environment? Apparently not. 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups thrown away every year, and Farnham Maltings doing their best to keep the numbers up.

I was so concerned, I complained.

Their lame excuse, someone may drop a cup and there would be broken crockery on the floor.

That would be true in every single coffee shop, and the most pathetic excuse I have come across.

If that concerned, then use biodegradable cups, bins to drop in, then compost outside, spread on the flower beds. Do the same with the coffee grounds.

Take a look at what 3fe are doing on sustainability and follow their example.

Or buy HuskeeCups. These cups made from coffee bean husks can be re-used or recycled, will not break if dropped.

Their excuse for using Cupsmith was that local.

How local is local? The Roasting Party are in Winchester, there is a coffee roastery in Arlseford. Slightly further afield Horsham Coffee as used by Krema.

They serve Loseley ice cream. Apart from not quality ice cream, it is not local and comes from an industrial conglomerate.

Coffee served in Gail’s is not good. It should better, it is sourced from Union, but the people employed clueless on making coffee.

Costa, Cafe Nero, Starbucks, serve disgusting coffee, but this was far worse.

The free coffee out of a machine in Waitrose at least dinkable.

The rubbish Italian catering supply coffee served by Jamie’s Coffee at Gatwick far better.

I have been served bad coffee, but this ranks as one of the worst.

Farnham Maltings should invite someone from outside who would do a far better job to run their coffee shop for them.

Farnham Maltings Christmas Market

November 30, 2017

It is many years since I have been at a market at Farnham Maltings, the only reason I was there today was for a French stall.

A freezing cold day, barely above zero, strong wind and wind chill making colder still.

I alighted from the bus, walked along the riverside walk to Farnham Maltings.

The French stall was outside. I should have got what I wanted and left, but I thought no this is England go in first, maybe if I am lucky, find something to eat.

Shocked and annoyed had to pay a pound to enter the building.

Over 100 stalls each paying £75 for their pitch.

A little cafe in the foyer, impossible to remain due to the dreadful noise from a group of tone deaf people playing ukuleles.

I commented to one of the traders. She replied we have had two days of this and someone playing a penney whistle was even worse.

I looked in the main hall, nothing of interest.

The dreadful noise from the ukuleles had stopped. But it was only a temporary reprieve, followed by keyboard and penny whistle. It was hard to imagine anything worse than what had gone before, but this was worse.

As I wandered around the main hall, I noticed people with takeaway cups. Why? This is a captive market, it is not people grabbing a takeaway and running down the street.

The soup, long time coming, served in a takeaway cup, plastic spoon and knife stuffed in a card box with a bit of bread.

Do they not care about the environment? Apparently not. 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups thrown away every year, and Farnham Maltings doing their best to keep the numbers up.

I took my takeaway into a little coffe shop.

The soup was awful.

I asked what the coffee was. Cupsmith. Not good.

I chanced a cappuccino. I had to shout at the girl not to dump chocolate, as I had seen two served with chocolate dumped on top.

My cappuccino looked disgusting, and tasted even worse. It was very unpleasant. This was not only the lack of skills of the person making the coffee, I would not insult baristas by calling a barista, it was also the poor quality coffee being used.

A strange Viennese mince pie.

I decided to leave, maybe time to catch the butcher, maybe even a coffee at Krema.

I was not going to visit Krema, I thought whilst in Farnham Maltings, I would try their coffee, a big mistake, therefore maybe grab a coffee in Krema.

As I was leaving, I noticed more stalls upstairs. Only interesting stall I found was iron works.

Then as I was leaving I noticed more stalls downstairs.

Cupsmith had a stall, a lady with different lenses could add to a mobile phone, including a pouch that had five different lenses. And a guy doing tours of vineyards and breweries.

A chat with the Cupsmith stall. I was asked had I tried their coffee? Yes, and it was disgusting. That did not go down too well. The bags of coffee have silly names, nothing obvious like country of origin or roast date. I was told customers did not want roast date. The lady running the stall impressed me with her lack of knowledge. This was a roastery selling their coffee, or trying to. What is the point of manning a stall and cannot handled questions on coffee?

Lady with the different lenses, had tripods, and solar-powered power banks. I picked up a couple of the solar-powered power banks.

Interesting chat about wine with with the guy running the vineyard tours. I recommended read The Devil’s Cup.

A chat with the French guys running their stall. By now very very cold.

I picked up a small jar of honey, nuts and a couple of large tomatoes. It was a pity all the walnuts had gone. I regret I did not buy any of their onions.

Anyone wishing to find this French stall and their quality produce, they will be at the Winchester street food market on Wednesday 20 December 2017.

Had I not decided to visit Waitrose, I would have caught the train as not too far to the station.

I never did make it to the butcher.

Disposable coffee cups

November 28, 2017

In the UK we throw away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year.

…the thing we found with the glass-only to-go program, is that once people understood why we made that choice and the benefits of doing so, we’ve seen tremendous support and love for the program. – Zayde Naquib, Bar Nine

Often there are very simple things we can do … like relaxing in a coffee shop with a cup of coffee, not walking down the street with a takeaway cup in our hands.

Simple things, when we all act, can change the world.

If I go to a coffee shop, unless they know me, I am greeted with, to drink in or takeaway?

I can just about understand a cappuccino in a takeaway cup, but a single origin V60, no way.

I would not drink a good red wine in a disposable cup, I object to beer in a plastic glass, why would I wish to drink a single origin V60 in a takeaway cup?

These takeaway cups are often referred to as paper cups. They are not, they have a plastic liner, and it is this plastic liner that makes them take a one way trip to incarceration or landfill, as they cannot be recycled.

OK for the pedantic, maybe a couple of plants that can recycle, but, no one is going to take the effort to separate out, therefore for all practical purposes, cannot be recycled, and are therefore on a one way trip to landfill or incineration.

That is a lot of disposable cups. One estimate puts the figure at 2.5 billion throwaway coffee cups every year in the UK.

According to a recent article in fake-left Guardian, environment department Defra using 1400 disposable coffee cups every day.

There can be no excuse for this, not when from their own internal canteens, nor for House of Commons or House of Lords.

It also means it can easily be tackled.

Bulk order KeepCups, sell to staff at a discount. Staff have to bring their own mugs or KeepCups if they wish to buy a drink.

KeepCups with Defra logo together with a few words on recycling could be handed to visitors.

Defra should look to the Bank of England. Staff were encouraged to either purchase a KeepCup or bring their own mug, for which they received a small discount of 10p. 10p was chosen as it was self-financing, cost neutral, it covered the actual cost of the disposable cup. The KeepCups have the Bank of England logo.

Lush in Australia and New Zealand gave all their employees a KeepCup in vibrant Lush colours as a Christmas present.

Disposable cups are lined with polyethylene and have a polystyrene lid, there is sufficient plastic in 28 disposable cups to make one small KeepCup.

In 2009, Simon Lockrey from the Centre for Design at RMIT completed a Symapro Life Cycle Analysis which has independently verified KeepCup sustainability claims.

Research by Canadian chemist Dr Martin Hocking found the break-even energy requirement to manufacture a reusable plastic cup versus a paper cup over a lifetime use was under 15 uses.

A captive audience at Lush, Bank of England or Defra is relatively easy to eliminate the use of disposable cups, what of the passing trade in the street?

A few coffee shops offer a discount if use your own cup. I found one offering a a substantial discount. But these are rare and makes little difference on the use of disposable cups

Coffee shops have KeepCups on sale. I have seen the cheap plastic ones in Harris + Hoole and at FCB kiosk, the more expensive glass in Coffee Island flagship store in Covent Garden.

I mention KeepCup, as they are the industry leaders. There are alternatives. I have seen a bamboo version of a KeepCup.

I have yet to see anyone walk in a coffee shop and buy a KeepCup, let alone walk in and request a refill of their KeepCup.

HuskeeCup made from coffee bean husks is unusual in that it is reusable and recyclable. If not made at country of origin, questionable environmental credentials, and even more questionable the husks are being sourced from Burma, a major human rights violator.

The cups are around $10 each, not including a saucer.

The coffee shop, it may have been a kiosk, that was offering a substantial discount, maybe half price, I asked were there any takers. I think a couple of takers, that was all.

Ben, at Ben’s Records, pops to the adjacent coffee shop with a mug.

Prior to Budget November 2017, it was suggested impose a levy of 5p on takeaway cups, cf 5p levy on plastic bags which has reduced use of plastic bags. It was not taken up.

I doubt it would make a difference, not when the takeaway coffee is cheaper than drinking in.

Tax has various functions, raising revenue, changing behaviour.

The principle the polluter must pay be would be grounds for imposing a levy.

Let us assume a tax on takeaway cups of 10p, levied on 2.5 billion throwaway coffee cups that would raise an annual £250 million, not a paltry sum.

There are recyclable paper cups, that can be composted, but I do not see them in use. There is though a problem. If a few unlikely coincidences occur, I am on my way home, have coffee from a kiosk that serves coffee in a compostable paper cup, I have been to the market and can drop my cup in my bag with the fruit and vegetables, else where do I put the cup, and if I remember when I get home to remove from the bag with my fresh produce, then yes I can throw on my compost heap.

But if not, if these happy but unlikely coincidences do not align, then what do I do with this cup? Throw it on the nearest waste bin. That is the dilemma most will face, what to do with the cup? It is unlikely to be composted, even though it could be. It will go into the waste stream with all the other non-recyclable cups.

In Athens and Cyprus, it is the norm to see people drinking from a takeaway cup. The worst offenders are Coffee Island (Greek equivalent of Starbucks) and Coffee Berry, two chains which serve coffee in disposable cups.

At Jamie’s Coffee at Gatwick Airport, Italian catering supply coffee served in takeaway cups.

Personally I would not buy a coffee in a takeaway cup, I prefer to sit down and relax with a cup of coffee, not drink on the hoof, which I find uncivilised, apart from the very act of drinking out of a takeaway cup as opposed to a ceramic cup or from a glass.

That is not to say I never. I will have a coffee from FCB kiosk at Guildford Station or the Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station or the little kiosk on the South Bank at the foot of Hungerford Bridge or Ethiopian Coffee Roasters on the South Bank Street Food Market, but only because these three kiosks and one stall serve excellent coffee, not because I wish to grab and go.

Kaya has a narrow bar, barely wide enough to balance a cup, the ground slopes, pick the height that suits you. There are no seats. The coffee shop is long and narrow, with no room for seats. Stools outside to sit at the bar not possible as the ground slopes. I was the only one drinking out of a cup. All I saw were office workers, grabbing a takeaway coffee on their way home.

Coffee shops must do do more. They could voluntarily refuse to serve coffee in a takeaway cup.

Bar Nine does not serve coffee in takeaway cups. If you really need to take away your coffee and not sit and relax with your coffee, they will lend you a glass jar and trust you to return it on your next visit.

Nova Gea serves fresh fruit juices in jars.

Eden Cafe does not serve coffee in takeaway cups. It buys ceramic cups from local charity shops, the cost about the same as a takeaway cup, which customers can take away if they wish.

I have seen beautiful china tea sets in a charity shop. I recommended to a local tea shop they bought them. Not for everyday use, for special occasions when groups come in to celebrate.

We could turn the serving of coffee on its head, charge more for a takeaway coffee than if sit and relax with a coffee.

This sounds impossible, pigs may fly, and yet Lemonjello’s Coffee do just that, charge more for a takeaway coffee.

You pay for the cost of the takeaway cup, it is built into the price, it is not made explicit. Why not make it explicit? Why not separate out as airlines do with luggage? You pay for your seat, want to take luggage that is an additional charge. You pay for your coffee, want something to carry it away with, that is an extra charge.

If I drink a coffee, I wish to sit down and relax in a coffee shop with my coffee in a ceramic cup, whether or not a saucer a moot point. If V60, Chemex or Japanese syphon, in a glass.

I do not like carting stuff around, if had a KeepCup I would have to cart it around. Then I would leave it somewhere and lose it.

Where I think a KeepCup comes into its own, is for office workers and shop workers who pop out for a takeaway coffee, then yes, they should be using a KeepCup.

I like to post pictures of the coffee shops, the coffee served. But not on Instagram, they claim rights to the pictures, and Instagram not visible on twitter.

What looks more photogenic, a takeaway cup or a ceramic cup or a glass?

To put your image, logo, marketing crap on a disposable cup is to associate your message with trash, it is saying you are ephemeral, transient, worthless. But then is that not true of most marketing?

One person using one paper coffee cup a day is the equivalent of a tree being cut down each year to produce those cups.

Why do we not value the coffee we drink? If we would not dream of drinking wine out of a disposable cup, why do we treat coffee in this way?

The only way this can be tackled, is to ban the use of disposable takeaway cups, coupled with information on why they are being banned.

The takeaway cups are not the only waste coffee shops generate. What of the coffee grounds? These can be used on the garden, used in cakes.

A couple of coffee shops, at my suggestion, have made the grounds available for people to take away. The take up has bordered on zero.

3fe recycles waste, compost bins, using waste milk, sources local food, chaff from the coffee roasting process is used by a local supplier to smoke bacon.

Coffee grounds are used on their garden out the back, what they do not use, a local cress grower Littlecress uses, who then supplies them with cress.

Steaming milk for a cappuccino wastes a lot of milk. 3fe use for making yogurt.

Coffee industry, the speciality end, has quite rightly focused on the supply chain, traceability, transparency, quality, accountability, from farm, through roastery to the coffee shop and what is poured into our cup.

We now must ask what happens, beyond the coffee shop.

Underlying all this and more fundamental, is the grab it and go culture, pointless consumerism, a throw away culture. The consumer culture that keeps the economy afloat.

Consumer junk passes from extraction to factory, six months in the home, then on its one way trip to incineration or landfill.

Until that is tackled, we will have a problem, and not only limited to coffee cups.

The People’s Internet

November 27, 2017

It is shocking that in a major American city like Detroit, a city that had two major car companies, 40% of the city lacks access to Internet.

Net neutrality is a big political issue. We cannot have a handful of companies controlling access to the Internet. That access has to be for everyone, rich or poor.

In Detroit, the Equitable Internet Initiative is building community-owned wireless internet infrastructure in towns that big telecom won’t touch. Hundreds of towns have built their own internet service providers. Rural communities are putting wireless internet antennas on top of mountains, grain silos, and tall trees. The fastest internet connections in the United States are provided by local governments, not big telecom. In Southern California, Tribal Digital Village is using unused television spectrum to deliver internet. All over the country, big telecom is being rejected and subverted, and you do not need to have a pile of money, an army of lawyers, or a degree in network engineering to take action.

In England in rural areas, local people are digging the trenches, laying fibre optic cable.

In Greece communities are building their own broadband network.

Postcapitalism, people are taking control of their own political, social, employment space.

Why is the Mail targeting Naomi Wu?

November 26, 2017

I put up with constant abuse and endless shit, I wake up to DMs and emails full of rape and more rape every day. I’d just like to share my builds and tech stuff without the constant condescending nitpicking. It’s very little to ask why not just show that small measure of respect? — Naomi Wu

Very strange that the Mail appears to be running a smear campaign against Naomi Wu.

Naomi Wu has wisely launched a preemptive strike, as did Charlotte Church when gutter press tried to dig up dirt from her neighbours

But why Naom Wu?

Smear campaigns have been launched against Charlotte Church, Russell Brand, Jeremy Corbyn for having the audacity to attack the tax-dodging oligarchs who own and control the media, even worse for daring to propose an alternative to neoliberalism and a fairer society.

The Budget has estate agents rubbing their hands with glee at abolition of Stamp Duty, which will lead to a hike in house prices in a stagnant housing market, no attempt to deal with tax dodging, tax hand outs to oil companies, the poorest third of society will be poorer, the richest third richer.

The media oligarchs are losing their grip. They smeared Jeremy Corbtyn, nevertheless he manged to win the Labour leadership twice, has turned Labour into the largest social movement in Europe, almost won the last General Election, and has had the government on the defensive ever since.

Where though does Naomi Wu fit into all of this?

Maybe she was confused with Naomi Klein?

We are now postcapitalism.

Do we have a future of low wages, zero hours, part time, temporary, soul destroying McShit Jobs? Deliveroo and Uber are but two examples of serfs working for apps, old fashioned exploitation by any other name.

Or do we have a future of open source, open coops, collaborative commons?

Naomi Wu is an innovator, designer, a passionate and articulate advocate of open source, sino:bit in addition to being a coding project for kids is to introduce at an early age the concept of open source, the first official certified open source hardware project in China.

is this why she is seen as a threat?

Every day Naomi Wu wakes to a torrent of abuse, threats of rape.

The last thing she needs, a smear campaign by the Mail.

It could of course be a journalist collecting background, prior to writing an article on the work of Naomi Wu, two side panels, one highlighting the abuse she receives, the other on how to deal with on-line abuse and cyber bullying. Plus a supplement on projects people can build.

But until that happens, until we start to see quality journalism, retailers will continue to pull their advertising from the Mail, Paperchase being but the latest to do so.

Media has a vital role to play, challenging corruption, informing democracy, and holding government to account. But less and less does it play that role, it acts as a megaphone for the corrupt, smears anyone who does expose corruption. 

To be a journalist is a dangerous profession, we see that with the number of journalists put in prison, killed. 

Journalists are put in danger when Donald Trump attacks the media. 

But we need to question when vile trolls like Katie Hopkins are granted a media platform, as the hate they espouse then becomes the norm, by granting her the oxygen of publicity all attention seeking trolls crave, it acts to normalise and encourage their behaviour.
 

Christmas street scene window display

November 25, 2017

A cold afternoon in Farnham.

I cut through the churchyard. It is freezing, noticeable colder than the street.

Walking through Lion and Lamb Courtyard, it too is freezing cold as the churchyard.

I look in Waterstone’s. Their one and only book on coffee, Where to Drink Coffee, is probably one of the worst they could stock, entirely useless as a guide.

Walking back from Waitrose, I notice a wonderful display in Neal’s Yard Remedies. This time last year in Puerto de la Cruz, Exposición de Belenes en Casa Ventoso, an amazing exhibition of Christmas street scenes. This was similar, though on a  much smaller scale, nevertheless, it must have taken a lot of time and effort to construct. Far, far better than the usual Christmas scenes.