Je suis toujours Charlie

I commented on the murders of Charlie Hebdo staff by religious nutters when they happened (mainly here) (and slightly here) and now its the fifth anniversary of the killings it is probably worth noting what has changed in the world.

To be honest I feel this piece by Jonathan Ervine  does a far, far better job than I could ever do about analysing the history and the repercussions so all I can do is add my own thoughts.

Religious murder and persecutions of and by the religious still continue, no surprises but the role of blasphemy in modern life has evolved away from the deity inspired religious to those that have replaced God with their own cult and cult-life figureheads.

You can’t compare murderous zealots with these new heretic hunters because the latter don’t commit murder; but they are two cheeks of the same arse, seeking to hurt you in other ways.  To dox you.  To name and shame you.  To get you fired and to make you unemployable.

All for merely expressing an opinion that, other than being perhaps factually or historically correct, simply offends the opinions of the neo-religious.

Just offends mind.  Nothing else.  Feelings over facts.

And worst of all is that you never really know who the perpetually offend are, well you do but only after the fact in most cases.  In other cases you just learn to avoid them by the past actions and this sadly leads to trust issues and lessens interactions with strangers.

Nothing shows this turnaround more than Angela Merkel

From marching “in solidarity” with the murder Hebdo writers to this

 

I’m not really Charlie.  I’m a tiny blog with a tiny reach, no other online presence with merely a penchant for wanting to point out the comedic hypocrisy of the woke, sometimes through satire, sometimes with direct postings like this.

I choose anonymity so as to hopefully not bring any employers into disrepute as this blog is my own personal feelings.  The comments are open (provided you’ve already had one post approved, these aren’t my rules) and I welcome any discussion, even face to face where I wouldn’t be anonymous.

I would hope the year 2020 will bring about a realignment but I don’t hold much hope.

In the USA; the only country with free speech enshrined as law, support for the 1st amendment has been slipping over the previous decade that we now end up with

What is more strange is that the people driving this want and need do not seem to be aware of just how important free speech is for gaining real equality in society and how it was instrumental in the past to the gains that have been made.

You don’t eliminate the nasty elements of society by not allowing them to speak, or by locking them up and you certainly don’t do it by killing them.  Well technically you do but you are not going to be able to kill everybody you disagree with and they’ll probably be trying to kill you too.

You do it by debating them and showing the error of their thinking.  You can’t win the battle for hearts and minds if your own mind and heart is closed to hearing anything you don’t like.

Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants (Louis D. Brandeis, 1913/14).

This evening I toast the dead and those currently still writing for Charlie Hebdo.

 

Thanks for reading and all the best for 2020.

Leigh, Thick Northerners and the Tory Bulwark

Leigh and thick northerners

I was in the process of thinking about writing and posting this before the election but thought I’d wait having already done a post more recently.

As it turned out I was wrong about Leigh.  A 10,000 majority for Labour swung 12% to a 2,000 majority for the Conservatives.

I woke on Friday to find one of my WhatsApp groups going mental.  Most of my friends are dyed in wool Labour, though really its more an anyone-but-Tory attitude.  Many of them actually knew the new MP for Leigh from their school days.  So a mixture of his win, jealousy and general belligerence was split between insulting the man and insulting the voters of Leigh.  They are all thick, apparently.

Now I’ve not really been good at political predictions, though reading back on my last few posts (wondering if Labour was finished in Manchester) or mulling over the (clusterfuck General Election of 2017) I am actually quite happy that the main drivers in those pieces are quite accurate, at least from a personal point of view.

My internal prediction for the 2019 UK election was a small Tory majority but Labour holding on to their “red wall” heartland seats in the main.  This would then lead to a load of “the right” blaming “thick northerners” for another tricky, stagnant session of Parliament where nothing gets done and we remain in the EU.

How wrong I was.  For of course, a conservative majority of 80 (ish) has now lead to “the left” blaming “thick northerners” for this humiliation.

And the old.

And anyone white.

And anyone English, the Scots and the Northern Irish are OK in some twisted mental gymnastics they are currently performing.

I thought I’d stick my head into beer twitter, to see how much salty crying was diluting their expensive beers and turning them into Gose and it didn’t disappoint.

And so the disconnect will continue.

A 3 year sulk will merge into 8, maybe 13, maybe 18, maybe 20+, until those ignorant narcissists leave their snotty bubble and realise what else is out there.

Best is to see the likes of anti-democrats like Ed Miliband, Yvette Cooper (both crawling in on barely 2000 majorities), Abbott, Thornberry and Jess Philips, all having to live on and off the rancid husk of the party that is left, a nub of self-pity and the future insufficient introspection of the grand sell-out of their core they perpetuated.

If we’re playing guilt by association as is the favourite of pathetic liberals these days; the Labour party, a political party referred to the ECHR for the stain of anti-semitisim that runs through it, from the top to the pits of those that deny it all as smears.  If you voted for this fucking party, if you “held your nose” but still voted for the fucking Labour party, you know exactly what that fucking makes you.

Tory Bulwark

Perhaps it is a self-inflicted wound, I for one do not like to see any party with this much “power” in the main.

But from one point of view, that of free speech and free thought this might be a good thing.  Yes, yes the Tories are no friends of those two things I hold dear to my heart but they are the best of the horrible bunch and definitely far less of a threat than Labour, Greens and the Lib Dems with what their pronouns, GRA changes and their “hate speech” law extensions would have wrought upon us.

Pessimistically, this could all be a pipe dream and maybe we have handed “power” to an “a hard -right cabal” who’ll chip away at hard won rights and freedoms, and if that is the case I’ll be trying to find ways to stop them too but currently this feels like a breathe of fresh air, while all on the left carry on breathing in the own farted out self-righteous opinions.

Like another heady beer blogger opined:

“Feel a bit powerless today? Here’s a few things to do: – Join a union (writers, for us that’s the NUJ) – Invest your time in reading and sharing well produced left-wing news sources such as – Send an official complaint to the BBC for their biased reporting.”

Breathe that shit in deeply, son,  Inflate that bubble along with your ego, you pathetic, violence-endorsing creep.

On a final note, BeerFinderGeneral who was/is a mate does appear to have had one moment of reflection

Cynically I could call this a huge virtue signal but he isn’t/wasn’t that kind of bloke so feel free to get in on it and help those who would rather buy scratch cards than food are in need this Christmas.

 

Thanks for reading and if I don’t post again this year, Merry Xmas and Happy New Year.

Leigh Won’t Vote Tory…But…

“‘I’m voting Tory for the first time’: Things appear to be changing in Leigh” (MEN article (engage ad blockers))

“Leigh constituency election portrait” (the same article but for the local rag)

“Leigh could vote in Tory MP, says YouGov MRP poll” (Leigh Reporter)

The last two links to the local paper give a better insight into the split in Leigh politically as it has comments from, well regular commentators.  How local to Leigh they are is unknown but as sure as the sun rises, you can guarantee that anything story remotely political on that website will have the same commentators have their little spats, its like Twitter but on a diet of lobby.

The above articles give some good insight and my title it’s exactly a massive gamble as it is such a narrow “victory” by the 2019 Tories that only a few votes either way would swing it, the whole point being of course, how has it got to this and again the linked pieces go into some detail.

I personally think that Labour will still win quite strongly though if you look at the trend according to wikipedia the swing has been more “to the right” since the Blair years but the Labour majority seems to swing fairly consistently between 10,000-16,000 over the election cycles.

It is also worth noting that from the high turnouts of 70%+ in the 70’s and 80’s (when you factor in an anti-Tory, pro-mining sensibility) they have plummeted since, barely scratching 60% over recent elections.

The local wisdom being anything with a red rosette wins.

The Conservative candidate is well known locally and a local councillor as far as I’m aware who my sources tell me (i.e. my mates who are actually on Facebook), that he is campaigning hard, so he clearly thinks he is in with a shot.

Current Labour incumbent Jo Platt, on the other hand is a form councillor herself who it’s exactly well liked locally.

But probably liked enough to be voted for because her rosette is red and not blue.

As you may note there are 6 candidates standing this time around.  If we take Labour and the Lib Dems to represent a vote to continue to remain in the EU, then the other 4 are to leave the EU and then the possibility of vote splitting comes into play.

As the graphic above predicts, the Brexit Party could get almost 12%, costing the Conservatives victory?  Probably not.  Anyone who wants to vote Tory will vote Tory, the Brexit party votes will be, in the vast majority, disgruntled Labour voters who just can’t ever vote Conservative.

And that is where I was going to leave this totally amateur look into local politics until the news today that Labour wish to cut rail fares by 75%

The running joke about Leigh as a town, especially in the rugby league community and general banter between the local towns, is that “Leigh is the biggest town in the UK without a train station.”

There are talks locally to open Golborne station, which would do nothing for Leigh.  The original rail lines from Leigh now had the guided bus way on it, which just makes Leigh a commuter hub for Manchester rather than bringing anything into the town.

So the question is, would the train-less residents of Leigh really wish to pay out extra money in taxes just to fund those with rail stations, like the pie-eaters in Wigan and would it be enough to stop any of them voting Labour?

No.  I doubt it.  And if the Tories get in then “I’ll show my arse at Turnpike.”*

 

Thanks for reading.

 

*This is a local phrase; I won’t actually be engaging in acts of public nudity should something highly unlikely actually occur.

My Dad’s Dead Cat

My previous post about toilet behaviour was a moment of levity while I pondered a few things personally.

Given the private nature of myself I try to avoid much details of my life beyond my opinions of the political, beer related or free speech/free thought kind.  The most personal posts I’ve done on here relate to dead pets and this one will be no exception; give or take.  That I’ve procrastinated in posting this in order to get my head around things has allowed life to move on a bit and I now write this with a sense of hope.

My mum would have it that “your father has always been afraid to talk to you,” which of itself is a bit ridiculous but I do get what she means.  My dad is a practical soul and I’m, for lack of a better word, an academic.  Conversations between us are mainly me asking him questions or telling him stories in order to engage his interest, in my old science jobs this would require me to save up about a fortnights worth of banal tales all for half an hour of one-sided chit-chat.

This is the inverse to how my dad is with my mum.  On his visits to her in order to use the toilet and nab a free coffee or tea he too will either sit in silence while my mum works around him or follow her around ranting.  I have yet to experience the latter but I get it from other quarters anyway so that is my penance.

“That Erasure, not bad for a couple of poofs,” is the only opinion my dad has really ever expressed unprompted.  This from a man who happily sang along to Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  A proper boomer.

However since I started brewing he has shown a very keen interest in all its aspects; including, much like the shopkeeper in Mr. Benn, turning up at my work out of nowhere to just hang around while every so often knocking on stuff with a crooked index finger (a habit I also do, especially with walls in unfamiliar surroundings).

My dad and the male side of his family, have a history of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, etc. but thanks to modern medicine, even a man who once insisted he drove himself to the hospital after a car battery exploded on him (and again when he burnt his hand in a chip pan) has quiet significantly surpassed the age at which his dad died.

It is always odd writing these things, a fear of tempting horrible fate takes hold but life is what it is.

As “luck” would have it, it was again on a forced hospital visit that symptoms my dad simply ignored because he associated them with his health’s history, that something more serious was found but after treatment it seems to have regressed and he can go back to bothering about his blood pressure again.

During that period it was the first but subsequently not the only time I saw my dad tearful.  I wouldn’t say cry, my dad is a person who doesn’t cry.

As a child I recall my dad visibly upset three times.  When his mother died.  When my mum’s mother died.  And when it was announced that Ayrton Senna had died.

His first bout of tears I saw were born of frustration.  Confined to a bed and swamped in the hospital by relatives, including one who’s sole word, to be fair trying to process the whole situation themselves, was “The Christie,” rather than simply telling everyone to fuck off (I’d only just arrived) his emotions came out in the water works.  This cleared the room except for me and him, so we could engage in another hour of tales and elongated comfortable silences.

Later, on the morphine he was proscribed his emotions were even more unpredictable and any tears during this phase I associated with him being off his face.

Truncating this tale to the present and my dad again appears at work.  It was not unexpected, except for his out-of-thin-air appearance, as I’d been forewarned that he’d had to take his cat to the vets.

I knew the drill; carry on working around him, watch him knock on things, answer his random questions and then when the time was right, I’d ask how he was and see if he wanted to talk about it.

The barely disguised tears started as he recounted finding his cat dragging herself around the kitchen floor, a blood clot had paralysed her back legs.  I too had had to deal with a cat in similar circumstances (and a dog too) and it is quite brutal.  To paraphrase George Carlin  “I’ve got half a cat, the front end is perfectly serviceable, it’s just the back end.”

You always feel like you’ve betrayed the pet you take to the vet somehow but you tell yourself, rightly, that there was no quality of life to be had, and we should all be thankful we can at least euthanise our pets.

But sat with him it then occurred to me, given some other things that were happening in his life, this would be the first time my dad would be coming home to an empty house.

We are quite a nuclear family (I’ve just looked up this term, it seems I’ve been using it incorrectly all this time), all the direct members of our clan (bar two) live within a 5-10 mile radius but even in these times of realisation you sometimes can’t change our own nature.  To act out a different set of behaviours based on worry would be noted, commented on and nixed before it even got going.  So we all just revert to type.  So; much like a cat, if my dad wants something then he’ll come to you, you don’t need to continuously approach him unless you are either bringing food, or need to borrow some tools.

You don’t need to worry and you definitely don’t need to fuss.  The fuss will be sought as and when required.

You will worry but that is for you to deal with.

I did raise the subject of getting another cat but he just didn’t feel like it.  Emotions being raw.  I could call his home phone but he seldom answers it.  I could try and call his newly sim-carded mobile but it is always switched off.  I wait.

He is going to be looking after guide dogs.

Well, that is his plan.  His plan, that he came to all by himself.

When my mum lost one of her dogs, she got 15 cats to replace him (she is the quintessential crazy cat lady, plus I always feel she got them to deter my dad from visiting too often given his allergies).  When my dad loses his cat he will now look after dogs.  Dogs, the first time he’s going to have one in his house since he lost his only other previous dog some near forty years ago.

Catharsis for all.

 

Thanks for reading.

That Time I Accidentally Had a Shit in a Wetherspoons Women’s Toilet

This post is literally toilet humour, nothing horribly descriptive but from now on I’m talking shit more than I normally do.

 

 

In the UK, before the advent of “24 hour drinking,” the only place to go for a drink after time had been called at 11pm was to a club.

I hate clubs, I craved a lock-in or to go back to a mates house but it was always insisted, usually be the females in the group or the singles, that we go clubbing it “just for a short while.”

I’m reminded of my time in Bradford, in a club called Maestros, the men’s toilets the cloakroom in, luckily hidden around from the eye-line of the actual bogs but enough so the attendants could keep an eye out for any tampering with the fountain of the fish it contained.

That is almost as irritating as going to the loo only to find some poor soul there waiting with a selection of fragrances and pre-torn hand towels.

For me going to the toilet is a private activity but one I’ve learnt to deal with as not solely being unaccompanied if you are in a public place.

Plus pub toilet banter is almost as funny as pub toilet graffiti.

But that is having a pee and having a pee is fine, for me at least, I still have one shy-peeing/cubicle only mate but horses for courses.

Why bring up clubs? Simply because this was my first introduction to the brassy “don’t worry lads, I’ve seen it all before” type of women who, because the facilities in women’s club loos was so inadequate that the only option was to brave the blokes.

And quite a few did, with the usual complaints about the smell and the general state.  Still, it was another source of toilet banter.

Fast forward my continued attendance at music festivals.  The long queues, or perpetual free-for-all of getting a loo at peak periods.  The fear of what awaits as you open the door of an empty one, or the worry that the next person out of the one you are queuing for will be a boy and not a girl.  Or the bigger worry for me, the fear that when I leave the portaloo it will be a girl waiting to go in after me.

Lucky them, as I leave them in a better state than I find them (within music festival toilet reason) but it is still with due deference you make that fleeting eye contact and sheepish knowing look that we are all in this together.

“Spotless” used to be my boast if I was particularly drunk, the hopefully allay worries, while also realising that this sort of toilet banter isn’t best done in an open field to complete strangers.  Meh.

And so we find ourselves with micro pubs and micro bars and the advent of one, singular shared toilet facility (because as I understand it, to have two or more would require the place to be suitable for disabled access, don’t quote me on that, this blog isn’t about accuracy, just entertainment).

Again; I leave the toilet better than I found it, though it has to be said toilet in micro bars are generally of a better standard that a regular pub, probably because of the far less work required in cleaning just the one, but I still leave the cubicle with the dread of a woman waiting to use it.

However, regardless of sex, if they’ve been the type of person that persistently has tried to open the door when it is clearly locked, then I don’t care.  These are the same people that press both the up and down buttons on a lift and then wonder why they go in the wrong direction when they get in the first one that arrives.

Patience.  All good things to those who wait.

Which brings us to the title of this piece, which must have happened a good decade ago now I think on it.

There is nothing worse than knowing, on a night out, that you need to poo.  In unfamiliar surroundings it is just potty luck, in familiar surroundings it can be worse knowing just how limited your options truly are.

There are times I’ve gone home to use my own loo or, for the price of a drink, borrowed the key to a closer by friend’s house to use theirs.

I’ve gone back to pubs to use better toilets and I’ve gone ahead, leaving drinks behind, in order to get a more comfortable shit somewhere else.

Loo roll is a must.  Then a toilet seat.  Then a door that locks.

In a Wetherspoons I was, or rather thought I was familiar with, I got caught very short and went to use the gents.  In my solitary defence, I was desperate, rather drunk and the entry doors are more or less next to each other.

I flew through the door and briefly acknowledged that the toilet was completely empty as I found a suitable WC.

I was not more than 20 seconds into my ablutions than, very much like the ending of “The Usual Suspects,” all the evidence fell into place.

This place smelt nice.  Did I just walk passed sofas and comfy chairs? And a table with magazines on it?  Wait, where were the urinals?  Why is most of the floor I walked in on still carpeted?  Why were there so many cubicles?  Is that…is that women’s voices I hear?

This would seem like the least stressful way out of this.

I tensed.  Somehow trying to control my releasing of both sound, smell and anything else that could possibly give me up to the new and rightful entrants to the toilets.

Not that shit smells any better out of women but let us not take chances here.

I finished up.  Tidied the toilet to within an inch of its ceramic life and then waited, poised for my escape.

The doors closed.  Silence.  I gave it 5 seconds for the previous occupants to reach minimum safe distance and then I moved.  Quickly ran my hands under the tap in a show of some cleanliness and then just hoped that then next few metres to me and the relative safety and embarrassment free zone of the men’s toilets would not be spoiled by the face of any other person witnessing the horrific mistake I made.

I made it to safety, unseen, unspotted.  Soaped my hands and washing them properly looked at my suddenly very sober self in the mirror.  Dried my hands and rejoined the group.

Somewhere I get the feeling that there is a staff or security member who watched this unfold live.  I also get the feeling this did not go as smoothly as I thought it did and have relayed here.

Still, the past is the past, onwards to being confused by foreign toilet signs.

 

Thanks for reading.

Manchester Foodies Political Intolerance

I was racking my brain for a more punchy title, obviously based around food intolerance, etc. so all ideas are welcome.  This one is certainly less click-bait than the original “The Bigots of the Manchester Craft scene.”

Plus it needs to be said that I have no idea if the title is grammatically correct, meh.

One of my mates is actually an entrepreneur of the burgeoning food scene in Manchester and he too charges astronomical prices for what is a simple product to make and sell and fair play to him.  Fair play to all of them, if you can mug someone off for triple the price and let your confidence trick of more cash must equal better product than have at it, fools and their money.

But as I’ve droned on about before, business and politics don’t mix and said friend in a WhatsApp chat posted this picture…

I wonder if Slowthai will make an appearance?

You just know that all the food and drink available there will be so salty from the tears that Sally Davies would be shutting the event down on the grounds of it being hazardous to health.

And why couldn’t a charity event be held on a weekend, perhaps the rich pickings of the weekend crowd are far too much to give up for the homeless.  Then again Tuesday is a nothing day so I suppose it has less challenges for attention.

As far as I’m aware the #pleaseleavemytown is a reference to this…

 

A typically British confrontation; quietly reserved, passive-aggression met with passive acceptance and droll humour.

“My town” – one bloke with a personal opinion.  Not bubbled seals harping on thinking they speak for everyone.

Still, please leave is quite comparable to “go back to where you came from” and speaking to power is fine, speaking to simple members and voters is just a question of punching in every direction other than up but that is what we’ve become, when simple differences of opinion can see the use of certain words lose all meaning from over use and in completely the wrong context.

More civilised that the way Antifa behave at least…

Still homelessness is worthy enough cause to contribute to, after all its proponents are the first to resist the craft beer wave; why bother paying £10 for a half of an imperial stout or TIPA, when you can mix and match four cans of Kestrel, Skol, Tennent’s and Carlsberg Super Strength for the same price.

 

In other fake news, it turns out both Grub and Indy Man Beer Festival had to issue retractions recently.  Happy they were that rather than the white and middle class turning up to all their events, they finally managed to attract their first paying black and arab customers.

Sadly, on all occasions it turned out to be Justin Trudeau.

 

Thanks for reading.

My Love of Holt’s Pubs

Subtitle: Oh great, if my grammar wasn’t bad enough I’m going to struggle with possessive apostrophes.

Search Holt’s Pubs

Only 12 Holt’s pubs are Cask Marque apparently.  Good, ignoring those chancers is one of my fanciful whimsies I get when I go drinking.

I don’t treat Holt’s pubs the way that some would a Hard Rock Cafe, then again if each pub did their own pin badge then I might consider the pilgrimage to every one, I’ve already got their “bee glass” and my Untappd history seems to suggest I’ve had every beer they’ve done (give or take).  Make it happen Joey.

Now I can’t say I’ve been in a vast range of Holt’s pubs and as my previous post alluded to, the city centre pubs, like The Old Monkey and Ape and Apple just don’t do it for me, not because of the pub itself but because of the location.

If you want a list of my main visitations then it would be:

Tamar (Leigh), Mort Arms (Tyldesley), Atherton Arms (er, Atherton, pronounced a-THE-er-tun), Cart & Horses (Astley), Rosehill Tavern (Daisy Hill), Edington Arms (Hindley), The Crown (Horwich) and a few others more out of the way (i.e. not a simple bus/train ride).

I used to go in The Park in Monton, replete with fish tank and bench seating.  Then they gutted it and made it a mimic of the micro bars that sprung up in “the new Chorlton,” way back when every little enclave just outside of Manchester was “the new Chorlton.”

Now I could bang on about another of my whimsy annoyances which is purely of Holt’s own making and that is their pricing.

They are cheap as chips across the board for all their wares but don’t expect a menu saying 4.5 or 3.0 as a price guide, just some well trained bar monkey going £2.57 or £9.52 all together.

Yep, you’ll be coming home with pockets bulging of coppers to stick in your empty, over sized Bell’s whisky bottle.  Unless you wish to tip the weird amounts “no, you keep the 8p, luv.”

The beer isn’t half bad either but this isn’t about the beer it is about the pubs. “Always a warm and friendly welcome;” carpets, except around the bar area, strategic coat hooks (or full on hangers/stands), bench seating, the right temperature, nice toilets, very well trained staff, TVs at the right volume that can still be easily ignored if need be, cubbyholes, etched glass, etc.

You get the picture.

To conclude this post, I’ll finish with two quotes which sum up with brevity what I’ve drawn out to pass the time; one from Martin:

A TOAST TO SIR HUMPHREY IN THE BLUE BELL

Sam Smiths pubs most easily convey that sense of peace and contentment that justify getting out of your sofa to visit pubs…”

Except at Holt’s you can still use your electronic devices, should you so wish.

The second from my mum:

“If you’re old and can’t afford the heating, just go and sit in the Athy Arms.  You wouldn’t really have to buy anything and you’ll be as alone or as talkative as you want.”

 

Thanks for reading.