Why I’m so angry with a brewery

I could burble about the disastrously regressive nature of the George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the misrepresentation of how the economy got in this state and the lies behind the “all in this together” line. But I won’t. Lots of other people have done this better than I could. However, one little detail has caught my interest. A letter was printed in the Daily Telegraph last week, from 35 business leaders who wanted to voice their approval of George Osborne’s cuts…

Osborne’s cuts will strengthen Britain’s economy… (Daily Telegraph)

… and I didn’t initially pay much attention. Big deal, some rich blokes are pro-Tory… YOU DON’T SAY! Even when I followed a link to the Hangbitch blog and browsed the list, I wasn’t particularly surprised. They’re all either massive high street chains or huge technology companies or… well, actually I haven’t got a clue what half of those companies do.

But then I saw one name that made me blink and look again. Way down the list, “Michael Turner, Executive Chairman, Fuller Smith and Turner”. That’s Fuller’s to you and me, award-winning brewery behind London Pride and owners of some of the better pubs in London and the Home Counties.

What’s wrong with this? Well, on that Telegraph letter, you’ll also see representatives from Whitbread and Diageo, companies with histories on the bad side of brewing and pub ownership in this country… the Big Six which became the Big Four and once even looked like becoming an Even Bigger One or Two. Fuller’s have always been seen as part of the solution, the (mostly CAMRA-centred) push to lift British brewing out of its 1970s low point.

And that’s why it hurts to see their name on that list. Buying into the Fuller’s brand is so much more appealing than buying into the Asda, GSK or Alliance Boots brands. They’re by no means a small brewery any more, and they’re no corporate angels, but they’re still a vital part of the whole “real ale” world… a world where natural ingredients, local sourcing, carbon-friendliness and attention to quality and detail are important. It’s a world that stands in opposition to the brutal homogenisation and rationalisation of so much recent government policy (of both colours).

We should boycott everyone on that list, but with Fuller’s, there’s a dilemma for me. I make a point of supporting local businesses when I can, and that includes going to Fuller’s pubs… they’re “local” compared to the national Pubcos that fill most high streets and in the sense that, although centrally owned, each pub performs a unique role in its local community. I choose pubs where good quality beer is expertly kept and served, and that includes Fuller’s as a shining example. In boycotting Fuller’s pubs, I’m boycotting part of the alternative to so many of the companies on that list. That’s why, despite my jaded lack of surprise at 34 of the companies, I’m quite eye-poppingly angry at Michael Turner.

Posted in Consumer, Food/Drink, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Custom Transcription – new site

My little freelance transcription sideline is always a going concern, but while we’ve all been putting a lot of energy into jamtrackcentral I haven’t really done much to market myself. There hasn’t even been a website for about two years, so I’ve rectified that with a new design…


Oh, and in an attempt to harness a bit of the power of social networking…

Custom Transcription on Facebook

Go on, click “Like”… make me think I’m popular!

Posted in Guitar, Music | Leave a comment

Catching up, post-summer 2010

Blimey, didn’t intend that to be quite such a long blog hiatus.

That’s summer for you, I guess… there are always plenty of alternatives to sitting in front of a computer, typing shite. Not that I haven’t been doing any of that; I’ve just been spreading it more thinly. I’m not keen on where this metaphor is going.

Anyway, yes… summer. Spent a pleasant week-and-a-bit exploring Morocco and southern Spain. Marrakech is hectic, colourful, fascinating and incredibly hot in late August. Rabat is less picturesque, but almost certainly a more authentic (and less obviously tourist-centred) view of Morocco. Being by the sea was a lot cooler, but strength-sappingly humid. By way of a quick flight to Malaga, we then spent a few days in Granada, which was beautiful and totally fascinating. Pictures to follow, once I’ve got them up on Flickr.

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Facebook lies

I suppose we already know that they like to play fast and loose with our personal data, so it’s not surprising that a few people have been noticing something like this recently…

Er, no I haven’t!

It’s hardly worth getting worked up about such an insignificant thing, but really… are they so desperate to get us to make more friends? Or is this somehow to do with the fact that Friend Finder requires you to hand over your email address(es)…?

Posted in Consumer, Drivel | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Posterouses… Posteri…?

I’ve tweaked my Posterous blogs slightly, mostly because I’ve an idea for another one in the near future and wanted to reserve one of the existing usernames for it.

So, in case you need more of my bilge than can currently be consumed here and on Twitter, there’s also…

adrianclark.posterous.com – Cool bits of music I find online, music by friends or even (hah!) myself.

sforzo.posterous.com – SFORZO… the Spaghetti Factory Outdoor Recreation Zone. Basically just snaps uploaded from my phonecam, and not “proper” enough for Flickr.

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Lame browser, Dave.

The government has decided it’s quite happy to keep using Internet Explorer 6 as its official web browser of choice. A nine-year-old piece of software that never adhered to commonly agreed standards of usability even back in 2001.

So when they start legislating about how they think we should be using our computers I think we can safely ignore them, can’t we?

Posted in Politics, Technology | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The rise of the glorified security stooge

Some scary abuse-of-power stuff here…

The Private Police State

Nope, it’s nothing to do with protesting in Parliament Square or marching through Westminster or taking photos of police snipers. It’s about transgressing the arbitrary social code of a bunch of third-party train ticket inspectors.

I hadn’t been aware of Rail Enforcement Officers until a couple of days before reading Sir Olly’s post. A gang of them (A gaggle of REOs? A superfluity of REOs?) got on my train en route from Epsom to Wimbledon.

I remember RPOs (Revenue Protection Officers) who used to do regular anti-fare-dodger campaigns at Sutton station during the school holidays, usually in tandem with the police, who would have their x-ray scanner to check for knives. However, the RPOs were always polite and stuck to their allotted task. This doesn’t appear to be the case with the REOs, who seem to revel in the same wildly random interpretation of their rights and duties as the PCSOs. No doubt we’ll be hearing more of them pretty soon.

As ever with this sort of thing, do please quote Olly’s article or retweet him on Twitter.

Posted in Photography, Politics, Public Transport | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ban the berk (-ah)

This all seems pretty simple to me… you can’t start banning items of clothing. The burqa and niqab are clearly far more controversial and symbolically loaded than the average pair of socks or woolly sweater, but the wholesale ban of any garment would set a scary precedent.

It would also completely miss the point. The only reasonable objection to burqas involves the issue of oppression and female inequality. Fine, deal with that… question the values, not the symptoms. A total ban on the garments would just blur the distinctions between women’s reasons for wearing them, and mostly satisfies the sort of people who hate being confronted by difference of any kind.

The issue of banks and security-sensitive situations is something of a red herring. Just forbid ALL face coverings… motorbike helmets, balaklavas, whatever. Again, address the real issue, rather than hiding behind the simplistic prejudice.

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In praise of geeks

One of my favourite radio programmes is Laurie Taylor’s Thinking Allowed on Radio 4… it manages to hit a nice middle ground of eclectic, intelligent discussion without going full-on academic.

A recent edition focused on the concept of fandom, specifically music fandom among mature women. The two expert guests had studied the loyal followers of Duran Duran and death metal. To clarify the concept of death metal for Confused of Camberley, a short burst of an Arch Enemy song was included.

In the following week’s postbag, among the clarifications, disagreements and delight at hearing Arch Enemy on Radio 4, came a letter from an annoyed metal geek. He pointed out that Arch Enemy were an entirely unsuitable example of the death metal genre, being from the typically Gothenburg-based sub-genre of melodic death metal.

When the final days come, these are the people we need to be taking into the bunkers, not the military and political leaders.

Posted in Art/Culture, Music, TV/Radio | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

He’s not God, he’s just a naughty boy

Despite the potentially damaging nature of the bad refereeing decisions (suffered by England and Mexico) in the second round, the controversy was fairly short-lived. There’s always another controversy round the corner, and the hot issue is now Luis Suarez’s deliberate handball in the dying seconds of the Uruguay-Ghana match.

However, I just can’t understand why this is controversial at all.

FIFA’s Laws of the Game are clear on this. From page 32…

A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following three offences:
- handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own
penalty area)
A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above ten offences is committed by
a player inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.

And then, on page 35…

Sending-off offences
A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offences:
- denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity
by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
- denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving
towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a
penalty kick

And that covers every aspect of Suarez’s offence. The deliberate handball, normally punishable by a direct free kick, was in the penalty area, so Ghana were given a penalty. In addition, Suarez prevented a goalscoring attempt, so he was sent off.

The controversy in the press has involved frequent use of the word “cheating”, and that’s where I think it all starts to get a bit hysterical. Cheating is a tricky concept in football, because just about every in-game transgression we can conceive is already covered by the Laws of the Game. To me, “cheating” implies activities outside of play… doctoring urine samples for drug tests, poisoning the opposition’s drinking water, taking a bribe to lose a game. It’s also a very emotive word to use, whereas Suarez simply committed a foul and received the appropriate punishment.

Admittedly, Suarez hasn’t exactly helped his country’s PR efforts by comparing his handball to Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” goal in 1986. But again, that’s another situation where emotion (and as an Englishman, I assure you I’ve debated this incident from every possible angle!) has taken precedence over the Laws of the Game.

If Maradona hadn’t scored, he would still have been guilty of the same offence… deliberate handball, outside his own penalty area, for which he should have received a yellow card. Of course, he did score, but the fact that the goal stands, and the fact that he didn’t receive a yellow card, are first and foremost errors in REFEREEING. Of course, he could have owned up to his illegally scored goal, but that’s an issue with fair play, not the rules of the game. The same goes for Thierry Henry’s “Hand of Frog” against Ireland. Don’t blame football, blame the player’s attitude, something that can’t be governed by the rules of a game.

In comparison, the Suarez incident is far simpler. There was no issue of good grace… Suarez was caught and his transgression was punished accordingly. Uruguay had to complete the game with ten men and will have to play the semi-final without Suarez’s help. Ghana were given the penalty; it seems cruel that Asamoah Gyan then failed to score, but that’s no fault of Suarez. Perhaps the combined offences should result in a penalty taken without a goalkeeper, or an automatic goal?

Posted in Football | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments