Archive | May, 2012

Low ABV disillusionment!

28 May

Today I’m a little dissatisfied with the beer world. After enjoying a lovely beer from the Kernel Brewery in the garden, and then another, I found myself feeling a bit skew whiff (if that’s how you spell it!). This narked me somewhat as I would have like to have continued out there, drinking lovely beer after lovely beer until the sun went down unaffected. It seems to be a sad fact of life that if you really want to hit those heights in your beer, alcohol is necessary. I’m not 16 any more. I don’t drink beer (more or less my only vice these days) just to get swerved up. I like to enjoy it and when I do it doesn’t seem fair that I have to stop.

If I had one wish it would be that someone would brew a really low ABV beer that tasted magnificent and different. Yeah! You can keep your world peace, cutting greenhouse emissions and cures for yellowfoot!!

I might feel differently tomorrow….

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Silly Pils, Silly Photos!

23 May

Beermerchants.com sell beer. A lot of nice beer. I’ve ordered beer from them before, it’s been prompt and I have been pretty satisfied with the service. Buying online does tend to put you on mailing lists and you do get a few mails from time to time. In the case of Beermerchants it’s not such a bad thing as the mails can keep you abreast of some developments in the beer world (i.e. new stuff they’re selling, or old). How else would I have been dumbfounded by the idea of Orval coming in cans.

Well, when I received their latest e-mail where they were doing a special offer on Silly Pils, I got a bit spooked out. The photo at the top of the ‘brewsletter’ looked as if it had been taken in my back garden. Closer inspection seems to reveal that it had been, on a table in front of my heather!

The thought of them sneaking round to do a photo shoot for Silly Pils while I was out crossed my mind but I quickly told myself not to be a plum. Then I realised… I’d posted the photo on this sight before!! They must have lifted it.

To be honest, it wasn’t exactly a great picture and they must have thought the same because they’ve done some rather nasty photoshopping on it!! However, I don’t know whether to be indignant that they are using it to make money from or take it as a compliment.

At the end of the day, I think I’ll just think nothing!

Mine

Excited? The Return of Kevin Rowland – the Brummy Irish James Brown!

23 May

There’s a buzz on the streets of on the streets of England. That buzz created by the forthcoming release of what promises to be another amazing, tortuous Dexy’s Midnight Runners album, One Day I’m Going to Soar. Except it isn’t quite, this time the amazing Kevin Rowland has opted to call the band Dexys, which most people did anyway.

I’m sure that if Kevin Rowland read the title of this post, he would give me a big kick in the shins with his two-tone brogues. But make no mistake, I meant it in the best possible way, I’m comparing him with the Minister of the New, New, Superheavy Funk. The Professor is very happy about this new coming.

The last album was way back 1985. Back then, I don’t think I would have understood the cult of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. It was only about 12 years ago when I first considered buying some of their music as before that time I had only associated Come on Eileen with shitty nightclubs or tacky DJs. I was heavily into my funk and soul music at the time and kept hearing these rumours that their first album, In Search of the Young Soul Rebelswas actually pretty good. I was curious.

I’ve always had a light-hearted side and an intense side. The intense side of me is reflected in the types of books, films and a lot of the music I like. After buying the CD in a CD/Record shop (remember them?), I took it home and put it on. I was slightly perplexed because it didn’t quite fit into any category I was listening to at the time, it was punky, poppy, soulful and powerful. Above all, it was one of the most intense albums I had ever heard. Like all good albums it just got better and better and better with every play and was permanently in my CD player for months and months and months and months (I could go on but I wasn’t actually counting at the time). At one point, I almost felt bad if I couldn’t play it or had decided to put on something else. I even took it with me on a trip to Copenhagen and got the barman in a pub to put it on for me. At this point in my life, I hadn’t been obsessed with any album for a long, long time. How do you top that? I thought or rather I would have thought if I hadn’t been consumed by the music. How do you top that? I say with the benefit of hindsight, this is/was as good as it gets!!

One day I was browsing a charity shop in Trinity Road, Tooting Bec, just up from the Wheatsheaf pub and I flicked through the selection of old Herb Alpert and Tijuana Brass and Top of the Pops 70s records. All of a sudden, I came across a creamy green album cover with what looked like a poor destitute hillbilly on the front cover. It was Too-Rye-Ay and that poor destitute hillbilly man was none other than Kevin Rowland!! Oddly, such was the influence of Come on Eileen upon my subconscious that I still hadn’t considered buying this, thinking that it was just a collection of records destined for middle-aged, middle-of-the-road parties or for girls with white handbags. I coughed up my £1, bought it and it must rank as one of my best ever purchases and definitely way above my Hopsack beige Farahs!

From the moment it starting revolving around my turntable I knew it was to be something special. Famously, in the 1986 World Cup TV coverage, co-commentor David Pleat said of Maradona that he believed he had just dethroned Pele. I myself screamed ‘I don’t believe it, they’ve just dethroned In Search of the Young Soul Rebels!’  It’s true there were a few more syllables in my exclamation than David’s but I don’t think it was any less effective for it, particularly as no one else was in the house at the time.

Now I had even seen (heard) Come on Eileen on its own terms and loved it. I was and still am obsessed with this album. Many times the Profesorette would come down the stairs to find out what all the racket was at 2 am only to find me dancing and singing along to Too-Rye-Ay in me underpants!!! I say singing along but if you’ve ever heard Kevin Rowland sing then you’ll know that there is quite a bit of wailing to be had. It is an all-consuming record for me and was ever difficult not to listen to the album in its entirety.

Dexy’s went on to release another quite stunning album in 1985 called Don’t Stand Me Down, this was an altogether slower burner for me but equally brilliant. All three of these albums have their own individual character and are pure class. The last was a very mature offering which I like to savour, much like a Thomas Hardy Vintage Ale, opting not to dance to it in my undergarments and preferring instead to listen to it in the bath or when I’m chopping onions (cooking and music are happy bedfellows in my opinion, or in this case, rather intense bedfellows since they both make your eyes water).

In the interests of balance, I should probably point out at this point that all that Kevin Rowland has done has not been perfect and sometime after Dexy’s disbanded there was a slightly odd cover album that he did with an ‘interesting’ choice of songs and a rather unnerving video for the song Concrete and Clay. Watch it for yourself if you dare but don’t come running to me if you can’t get to sleep tonight.

Dark days indeed for a fallen legend. Nevertheless genius doesn’t die, it just has tea and biscuits. And after the calamity of the rich tea falling into the teacup has come a whole new freshly brewed pot of organic fairtrade Lapsan Souchong. Yes, Dexys have been revived by a rejuvenated band leader and by all accounts the new record is every bit a Dexys classic. I’ll have to see (hear) about that but the early noises bouncing around the internet are very promising indeed.

So have I whet your appetite or are you still suffering from the prejudices of their past success? Conversely, maybe you just think they are shit? (Idiot)

 

Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant

22 May

Ghent, in Belgium for the ignorant, has many plus points for someone like me. First of all, it is very close by. Well, that’s relative I suppose. It’s not that close but it is only 3 train rides away (Lots of my favourite London locations are 3 train rides away.) and one of those is the Eurostar, which is mildly pleasurable with the exception of its poisonous buffet carriage. Secondly, it’s architecturally beautiful and historical. I haven’t ranted on too much about architecture but no doubt will do in future, from a layman’s perspective. It’s also a student location, which lends it a little more life to the old place. It’s a bit more real than it’s more celebrated cousin Bruges. Thirdly, and rather obviously, it has some great Belgian beer!

If you have ever seen the film In Bruges with Colin Farrell, who is actually quite good in it, you’ll recognise Bruges as being both really interesting but really boring and conservative in equal measures. This is also true of Ghent. However, there is enough sexy beer in sexy beer glasses to keep my attention for a day or too. It’s always nice to have a decent beer list in any restaurant or cafe you rock up to. Something that here, through snobbery, foolhardiness and a tendency not to celebrate things we do well, is only just appearing in restaurants. There are some good pubs/bars there too, many institutions that you have to (try to) visit.

Het Waterhuis aan Bierkant

Situated on the canal just along from the market, Het Waterhuis aan Bierkant is a fairly busy place in town. In the daytime when we were there, it was just too busy, being a bank holiday and all. Roll forward a few hours and the crowds had fallen away revealing quite a chilled out little bar. The weather was a little balmy before moving aside for a short rainstorm, which looked almost romantic on the surface of the canal from the pub window.

The service was interesting in the bar. You had to order from behind the counter and then the barman would sort out your drinks before giving them to the waiter who brought them to your table where you paid. I’m sure there is logic there somewhere, maybe they like you to have a seat before serving you.

The beer list was pretty immense and you can check it out on the website. However, what are the chances of me having all those beers in an evening. I had to choose something that I hadn’t had before, I always have to, which is a bit of a chore at times.

chill

There was also a good mix of ages in the place, something I would aim for if I ever opened a pub. The locals were very friendly and were happy to help out with information and a little bit of banter. I’m a sucker for a bit of memorabilia really, or brewerania as some call it, and there were some good little bits and bobs around the place including this:

Xmas box!

I was reliably informed by one of the locals that this was a savings box. Regulars would have a slot where they would put some money aside over the year and it would only be opened around Christmas time, presumably for an almighty blowout in the pub itself. If you ask me, it sounds like a bit of a ruse by the publican to ensure the punters don’t go home with their own change in case they should spend it on the kids or something equally disturbing.

Reinaert Gran Cru

The above beer was fairly interesting. A 9.5% dark beer which was sweet and spicy smelling but with an underlying sourness. It was a thoughtful beer or rather a thought-provoking beer. It provoked me into thinking what I should go for next. After all the talk of choosing beers I hadn’t had before, I went for an old favourite in Saison Dupont. A marvellous choice it was too. I always think of straw bales and barns when I have this beer and it never lets me down. If I were to write tasting notes for this one they would be along the lines of .. bloody lovely  mmm straw bales! It’s quite easy to get my mitts on over here too so I did feel a little guilty choosing it from such an extensive menu. But I wanted it.

Brewerania that you can’t see very well. Still it looks chunky enough.

Overall, I liked the bar, liked the beer and enjoyed the company!!

No more charity bags please!!

16 May

They’ve forced me into it. Although I clearly am a bit grumpy at times, I’m not that bad. The measure that I took today, however, will tell every passer-by that I am a miserable old sod!

Recycling plastic bags is a pain in the neck at the best of times. I do try not to take them in shops and often get shopkeepers to empty them when they have decided to put a single onion in one, which actually happens. Nevertheless, there are times when I either have to take the bag or don’t buy what I need and risk castigation from the Profesorette. Then they build up and clog up the house as I wait until I make the next trip to a recycling area.

So what I don’t need is random delivery people dropping 4 charity bags a day into my porch. Random charities, some I’ve never heard of and have no explanation for. Now initially I felt a little guilty doing this, after all it’s for charity and I should show some good will and take them in every week and dispose of them because it’s for charity and … because it’s for charity. Well, why have I been conditioned to think like that? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not uncharitable at all (that’s what they all say!) but they don’t even come and collect the bloody things! Along with being bothered by those chuggers three times a day, five times a week I think such practices can easily create resentment towards some groups who clearly feel they are doing some good. Perhaps the bags would be put to better use by putting them over the heads of said chuggers so we don’t have to see those nasty, spray-on smiles of theirs!

I typed up a new notice for the front door today and it read:

Bugger off unless I know your first name and don’t even think about going near the letterbox unless you are the postman, otherwise I may spit in your eye!

I was, however, persuaded to change this to something a little less confrontational!

A Tale of Two Stations

14 May

I like St Pancras station.

I do not like Brussels Midi station.

St Pancras station has a lovely roof.

Brussels Midi has concrete and washing up bowls catching the rainwater as it leaks through to the basement.

This is not a poem!!

Brussels Midi does serve this beer in one of life’s more preposterous receptacles though. Every cloud!

Preposterous

All that is Belgium, is not gold!!

14 May

This stuff …

Bellegems Witbier

…. tasted like it had been squeezed out of a ewe’s bladder!!

While that’s certainly no mature verdict on a beer, it does express my profound disappointment upon tasting it. However, top marks must be added for the faux heather (?) and label matching.

The Humble Beer Mat

13 May

I take it all back. A while back I had a rant about ‘real ale’ in which I touched on the ludicrousness of collecting beer mats, actually I didn’t say anything about beer mat collecting but in my head I was suggesting that it was ludicrous and I questioned the need for this particular book.

Bargain

While I still feel it’s a little on the pricey side, I take back all I err thought on the subject. Basically, I was in a pub in Peckham way, I went to the toilet and came across this beer mat wall.

Beer mat wall

Not only did I think it looked great, it was interesting to look through the designs and see how the brands had changed. As well as pushing a few nostalgia buttons, it also made me remember that I like seeing pump clips plastered around pubs, many of them are great design!

From another angle

So I suppose the message is – keep collecting those beer mats!

Cheese of the Moment #4

13 May

I always enjoy a farmers market. Yesterday the Traditional Cheese Dairy were in town again. The cheesemaker was keen to offer us some of his … cheese to taste. This time it was called Burwash Rose, a nice semi-soft cheese again from East Sussex, it was quite squelchy in texture.

This cheese came with a little romantic story. Mr Cheesemaker told me it was called Burwash Rose because it originated in the town of Burwash and it is washed in rosewater during the maturation process. Say what you like, but you don’t get more romantic than that.

Well you do as it happens because the jolly man on the stall went on to tell us that this particular cheese has its origins way back in 1211 although that date could be wrong, he definitely said it was 12 something or 11 something. Whatever year it was it was a long time ago. He said he discovered it in a very old recipe book from an Abbey, again I can’t remember which Abbey but for some reason Nottinghamshire keeps popping into my head. He took the recipe and started making the cheese and there you have it. Originally, he added, the cheese was named Abbot’s Delight but they changed the name because they didn’t want people to get the impression they were in the habit of selling small boys! He then winked or I might have added that for dramatic effect.

I’m a sucker for such romance so this is my cheese of the moment.

BURWASH ROSE!!!!!

Not my pic

Not posting today!

11 May

I was going to write another irrelevant post today but instead I peered into my spam folder. So entertaining did I find it that I decided to read through them all, well almost all there was quite a bit of repetition down there.

Apparently my website is ‘rely nice’ and ‘I share my sex dating’ – must have been this post.

More prose:

‘I used to be recommended this blog via my cousin. I’m no longer certain whether this post is written by way of him as nobody else understand such designated approximately my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thank you!’

He’s dead right, it’s not written by way of him any more but I do try to understand his such designated approximately difficulty, really I do!

‘I truly appreciated this gorgeous weblog. Make confident you maintain up the very good function. Very best Regards’

Always nice to be appreciated. I certainly will make confident I maintain up the very good function. He must be talking about my liver!

‘I’ve been browsing on-line greater than three hours nowadays, yet I never discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s lovely price enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the internet will likely be a lot more useful than ever before’

Too bloody right mate. I’ve always insisted that my just right content was a lovely price enough for anyone.

Does this count as an irrelevant article? Maybe today hasn’t been wasted after all.

So much the time ever did I make the function, if you get my meaning!

Dandelions

10 May

Dandelions get bad press in my opinion, unwanted in gardens and dismissed as ‘just weeds’ by heathens out there but they are so much more. They are a lovely plant. Striking flowers and dreamy fluffy seeds.

Dandelion Frootz

Not only do they look nice but they have many uses. They can be medicinal. They are good for digestion and the liver and kidneys. They are a diuretic and are also known as piss-a-bed, presumably for that very reason! Liquid obtained from boiling the roots and leaves in water can be used as a cleansing wash.

It can be used as a dye for clothes.

They are edible. The young leaves can be put into salads or cooked in butter. The flowers are used to make dandelion wine. Dandelion and Burdock is a classic country drink in this country, a kind of root beer not to be confused with some of the horrible industrially produced versions in supermarkets. Brewers also put them into more modern beers. In addition, the roots can also be roasted and made into a caffeine-free coffee. Need I say more?!

Anyway, I don’t think I can be bothered to do any of the above for the time being so I’ll make do with some photos of them. Far less time-consuming.

Fluffy Clouds n ting

Admittedly this one is rubbish but all of the essential parts apart from the root can be seen!!!

Remote Brewing – Nether Wasdale’s Strands Pub and Brewery

9 May

I probably go to the Lake District in the North West of England about once every year and a half. Each time I have been, I’ve found myself in awe at how beautiful the place is. There is something in the combination of colours, light and stone that is individual. The farmhouses and stone walls are fantastic, the walking is superb and there is plenty of good food and beer to be had to boot.

Cumbria

The West side of the lakes is less visited but equally beautiful. I started a walk from Gosforth village where I saw an excellent bakery which doubles up as someone’s home. Nice. I like that kind of thing.

Gosforth Bakery

The village itself is very pretty by normal standards but certainly not a jewel in any Cumbrian crown. My walk was through the village for about 5 miles in the direction of Nether Wasdale. Another of the great things about being in this part of the world is that the light changes every 5 minutes and the views are in a constant state of change. There are also plenty of animals to look at and, of course, plenty of animal shit to tread in. Oh the great outdoors!

Moo

Goat

Deer

Sheep

I also came across that most rare of things. A fox. Not just any fox, a fox that was actually frightened enough by your presence to bolt off into the fields on seeing you. A far cry from your urban fox with its devil-may-care attitude and its disdain for all things human (as exemplified by the holes in my garden and the ‘little messages’ left outside my front porch).

Road to Wasdale

Nether Wasdale is a stunning place and when I entered the village I came across a young man knocking posts into the ground and fixing some bunting along the roadside. ‘Why?’ I asked. Well, there was to be a May Day Fair in the village that weekend and they were expecting quite a few people. From where I’m not sure I could guess as there seemed to be more pubs in this village than houses (there were 2 pubs). Nevertheless the small green still had its maypole in good working order and apparently the local (?) children were well versed in the ways of traditional country dancing.

A signpost

All good walks in England ought to take in a pub at some point or other and mine did just that. If I’m being completely honest I’ll admit that I had slightly engineered this walk because I had heard about one of the village’s pubs, The Strands pub and microbrewery. We’ll keep quiet about that one though!

As pub location go this is up there with the best of them. We shared the pub garden with a load of hens while a group of brown cows looked over the fence at us. The views towards the mountains were great and sitting back with an ale after a bit of a trek was just what the doctor didn’t order, but I did it anyway because I’m rock and roll! So off to the bar.

Strands handpumps

There is nothing so welcoming as a line of ale pumps set on a pub bar as you walk in. In this case there were 5 from the pub’s own microbrewery. Great – Responsibly, Brown Bitter, Red Screes, Pied Piper Mild and Irresponsibly. It was nice to see a selection of different styles of beer on offer. I didn’t check the food out because I’d brought my own packed lunch (this is also rock and roll). I wasn’t entirely sure about the triangular pump clips but they did catch the eye, or rather I remembered them. The barman happily took me through the beers and made appropriate recommendations along the lines of ‘they are all nice.’ This happened to be true.

Red Screes & Irresponsibly

The beers on the right were halves because I was trying to get into the spirit of the rambler! My first half was Responsibly, again in the spirit of the rambler, a slightly hoppy, light, dare I say largery 3.7% beer.  Their website says it is slightly smoky but I didn’t really get that. I would certainly have a couple of these again though. The two in the picture are Red Screes 4.3% and Irresponsibly 5%. The Red Screes was my favourite of the three, it was tasty, refreshing and interesting. I contemplated it down to the bottom of my glass, much to the chagrin of the Profesorette, who was hoping for a little bit more adult conversation.

Being a saddo who photographs pump clips turns out well sometimes as the owner came out and told me he was setting up a tent in the garden for the next week’s beer festival and that if I gave him a few minutes he would put on all 25 pump clips for me to photograph. Now in the real world I would have taken this as a sarcastic threat but in the beer world people are genuinely nice and I took him up on the offer.

Chickens, or are they hens?

After I finished my beer, I left the Profesorette playing with the hens/chickens and joined him for a while while (ahem) he was setting up. Despite him and his co-worker looking extremely busy he stuck some pump clips on for me and let me take photos. I felt a bit guilty so rushed them. He also took me into the microbrewery where he was brewing up some Angry Bee honey beer and happily answered my questions. If I had known he was going to be so accommodating I would have prepared some more!!

Mark Corr, I believe his name is, brews around 26 beers and many of them look really interesting. Unfortunately, I won’t be there to try them all as the festival is on 11th-13th May 2012. This weekend. He brews for the pub mainly and he mentioned one other pub in another valley that he supplies to as well. He sells bottles from the pub and they are all bottle conditioned and very popular by all accounts.

It’s always quite impressive when a brewer tries his hand at so many different types of beer and even more that he manages to get different beers all ready in time for one festival. Remember they are all beers from the microbrewery and in cask form!!  Unfashionably, I love a TBB (that’s Traditional Brown Bitter apparently) and like the idea of drinking a beer called … Brown Bitter. I’d also love to get my hands on his Barley Wine (and no that isn’t a camp euphemism). There is also a cheeky lager style ale name Corrsberg. (That’s a play on words, you see his surname is Corr and there is a Danish brew…)

It’s a shame the beer is only sold in the pub but next time I go to that part of the world, I will definitely time it right so that I’m there for the festival or if not, I’ll stay the night in front of the fire after a long day walking, supping ales and waxing lyrical about the time I jumped over a stile and nearly fell full force into a great big round cow pat, and we’ll all laugh heartily!

Angry Bee in the tank

 

The cheeky one is on the left!

Pumps

More handpumps

Tea, Beer and a Mallet – 2 Great British Institutions and a potentially lethal murder weapon!

Bored yet?

 

 

If you are in the area. You won’t regret going there if not for the pub then the scenery!

The pub

The pub opposite

Het Velootje Pilgrimage Quashed

6 May

Pilgrimages are all well and good if you’re  religiously insane but what about the rest of us?

A recent beer pilgrimage of mine was a funky little trip to Ghent to visit the legendary Het Velootje bar or pub or whatever they call their drinking establishments over yonder. I’d looked forward to this for some time because, like the religiously insane, I too enjoy long trips of hope and expectation. Only in my beer pilgrimage, I was to actually get to meet a slightly disturbed man with long hair, a beard and dirty fingernails! Better still, I would be able to have a beer with him or at least have a beer served by him. See, we’re all a bit mental!!

Sadly, while the arduous journey through some of the hardest terrain known to humanity (Belgium on the Eurostar) taught me to love myself and to respect other people (allowing other people off the train first), it did not prepare me for the crushing disappointment that was to await me when I found the place.

Het Velootje is situated in the Patershol district of Ghent, a very pretty historical area and the building must be quite old. It is in all the guidebooks as a weird bar with a weird owner and the latter is certainly true.  It’s a bar crammed with bicycles and junk with a roaring fire (by all accounts). I arrived there early in the day just so that I knew where to come later in the day and found a small but lively little street. The place was closed but I was happy that I would be back there later on in the day.

Het Velootje

Great bin location. What looked like a bunch of Romanian cleaners
had just shut themselves inside before I took the photo.

I went back. I dragged the Profesorette. We rocked up and were pleased to find a bevy of lunatics outside. I was beside myself with joy until I found out from the horse’s mouth that, because of problems with the electrics, the fire department had decided to close them down for the time being. What? Seriously? Well, I can’t tell if they were having me on to this moment. “It ish alsho political, oh yes and the neighboursh” is what I was told.

She holding the veggie box, He holding my hopes and dreams in his tool box

Well, I was happy to have met the madman and his friend, who seemed lovely, like a Belgian Pam Ayres. There was another particularly mad fellow who was trying manfully to translate what the creator was trying to explain. Unfortunately, he had to disappear on his bike either for a trip to the dentist or to get his grey roots dyed so I never had the chance for a photograph.

The bar

When all was said and done, I wasn’t really disappointed. I came away content because I’d had quite the most bizarre conversation outside the place of pilgrimage with the legend himself. I didn’t get in for a beer but it just sets me up for the next time. Assuming it is still there that is*. And after all, it’s not every pilgrim who gets to meet the man with the beard!!!

*Apparently, people should write on his website about how much they want to visit, and how disappointed they were that their visit was in vain because the comments are being compiled into some sort of book that will be delivered in front of the powers that be, or something like that, I didn’t understand every cryptic remark that was shot my way!

Why? Oh Why?

6 May

When Arthur Galston invented Agent Orange to increase the yields of soy beans, he probably had no idea that his invention would lead to the deaths of 1/2 million people and result in another 1/2 million disabilities in Vietnam.

When Thomas Midgley added tetraethyl lead to petrol to prevent “knocking” could he have imagined causing the deaths and health problems that arose worldwide from the ensuing lead poisoning?

Similarly, the man who first invented pebble-dashing was probably just joshing on a building site with his pals. You know the kind of stuff these fellas get up to on site – throwing hammers at each other and using staple guns on one another’s goolies. It was probably just one big dido where 3 burly builders threw a load of old stones in the cement mixer while the bloke responsible had been barricaded up inside the site portaloo. Little were they to know that they had unleashed a beast that was to blight towns and cities up and down this country of ours even to this very day.

Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian period properties have fallen foul of this insensitive rendering of outside walls. Why? Why? Why? Who ever thought that it might look nice? When Joe Bloggs first pebble-dashed the outside of his house way back when, which one of his neighbours was jealous enough to want to do the same? And having seen two such examples, who was the third, even more guilty, party?

OK. So we’re in this mess. What do we do? I suggest the current government put aside such trivial matters as the economy for the time being and focus on the real issues. They should break with their current non-interventionist ideals for the sake of everyone in the land and legislate. Yes, start by outlawing the practice based on its visual toxicity – no new pebble-dashing can be allowed to take place. Secondly, any existing pebble-dashed buildings should be painted – under no circumstances can they be allowed to remain brown or grey. Perhaps this could be helped by the introduction of grants to allow people to buy the necessary paint –  after all, this would be a fantastic way of putting all those savings the government has been making to a useful end. Thirdly, they could invest in some research that might lead to a clear and simple method of removing the dastardly stuff once and for all.

Along with wheelchair access for disabled cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay, this is clearly one of the foremost problems currently being faced by society today and one which has been swept under the carpet for far too long. By addressing this concern, the government have the perfect opportunity to re-connect with its public and contribute to the greater good all at once.  Seize the moment Mr Cameron! What would 007 do?