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Showing posts from December, 2015

2015: The Year in Music

There's been some good music about again this year.

Around Brighouse there has been some fine music to be heard most weekends at the Beck and/or Millers Bar, plus the odd event at the Cock of the North. And the highlight of the year on the local scene had to be the amazing Brighouse Canal and Music Festival in August where the weather's dramatic mood swings did nothing to dampen the spirits! I know I probably sound like a stuck record, but to have the quality of musicians like The Rainey Street Band, Blood, Sweat and Beers, Ryan Spendlove, Chris Martin, Bella Gaffney, Scott Wainwright, JP Totham, and the Tom Gee Band, regularly playing in the town means we punch well above our weight in terms of musical quality. And then there's bands like Rugosa, who are from Brighouse, but tend to play further afield but who nonetheless contribute to the area's musical heritage. And let's not forget Roger Davies, who whilst playing nowadays all over the country still comes back to…

Not So Happy Valley....

Many of you will have seen the excellent TV series 'Happy Valley', starring Sarah Lancashire and written by Sally Wainwright, filmed in and around the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. Now the Calder and neighbouring Ryburn Valley are my patch. I was brought up here, and I have also lived, worked or studied for a fair amount of time in Leeds, Manchester, and other areas close by. So to see the devastation caused by flooding of the past couple of days across this area is horrendous. This is my country, and it is horrible to see what has happened.

OK, so the weather of the past few days has been exceptional, the temperatures have been high, meaning there's more moisture in the air, and as we keep getting told repeatedly, global warming is having a major impact. 

However, it keeps happening again, not just here but in Cumbria, North Yorkshire, and no doubt in due course, down the Severn Valley. Does it not occur to the powers that be that the preventative action taken is inadequ…

Bar Humbug....

As Christmas approaches, many of us look forward to a well-earned break and time with family and friends. And it is quite likely you may end up in a pub at some point over the festive period.

But, beware! If you fancy a pint, you risk encountering the dreaded Christmas beer!!! Beers with names like Rockin' Rudolph, Santa's Ruin, Good Elf, It's a Cracker...the list goes on. At least one of those names has been used but I'm sure you get the picture!

In my view, 90% of these are an excuse for brewers of some of the most boring beers to pump them full of 'Christmas' flavours like cinnamon and cloves, badge them with a seasonal hand pump clip featuring a cartoon Santa/Reindeer/Elf/Christmas Tree(delete as required), then add a novelty flashing light and/or a bauble, whilst at the same time stopping supplying their regular beers so those that don't want a mouthful of seasonal spices are left with no alternative!

Now not all of them are bad - Batemans' Rosey Nose…

Quality, not Quantity....

Whilst the increasing spread and widening presence of real ale is to be applauded, unfortunately for the real ale drinker, there are dangers lurking out there.
Walking in to a pub for the first time to be greeted by a bank of hand pumps stretching as far as the eye can see is certainly a sight to make the pulses quicken. What delights are there on offer? Some rare classic from a far-flung part of the country? Or the first brew of a fledgling start-up? Or maybe a collaboration between two of the rising stars of the brewing scene?
The sad truth is that for so many pubs more than 4 real ales on sale can be a problem. Few places can pull it off. There are exceptions, of course, than can do it, such as the Cross Keys in Siddal, just outside Halifax. However, once you get above 4 or 5 beers it can become increasingly difficult for many pubs to manage and maintain the quality of the beer unless the footflow is regular and sustained, the range of beers is well balanced in terms of style and str…

Me? A Terrorist Sympathiser?

So, because I don't agree with David Cameron's assertion that we should extend the bombing of Iraq to Syria, where a very complicated civil war has been raging for years, I am a 'Terrorist Sympathiser'?!!

I find that deeply offensive, as I am sure so many like-minded people who actually care about what happens elsewhere in the world also do.

We have intervened too many times in recent years in overseas events with a virtually nil-rate of success -with possibly Sierra Leone the only exception - think of Afghanistan, Iraq - the mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction - Libya. How much harm has been done and what has been achieved? 

So, why will bombing Syria to take out ISIS, or Daesh as they are being referred to increasingly, be any different?

Eliminating this evil terrorist group is not like fighting a so-called conventional war as they are not concentrated in specific areas, they are spread out across wide areas of Iraq and Syria, and as recent tragic events have shown, in …