Monday 30 March 2009
According to a press release issued in July 2008 by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), the House of Commons Refreshment Department received a subsidy of £5.5 million of taxpayers’ money in the 2007/8 financial year, equivalent to total annual tax receipts from 35 pubs. This subsidy, not published in the House of Commons’ Annual Accounts, was 15% higher than 2006/7.
The subsidy makes up 43% of the Department's income, so taxpayers cough up £4-30 for every £10 spent refreshing our politicians, even before they claim back their outgoings without receipts through their notorious expenses system, which they devised themselves. There are at least 12 bars in the Parliamentary estate, plus various dining rooms, brasseries and banqueting suites. As MPs write their own laws as well as ours, they operate without a licence and have no restrictions on hours.Thanks to us, MPs can enjoy much cheaper drinks than we can ourselves. A pint of Foster’s costs them £2.10, compared with a national average of £2.80 (33% higher) and a London average of around £3.00 (43% higher). A House of Commons 8-year-old Scotch costs £1.35, while our politicians can enjoy a Pimm’s on the Thames-side terrace for just £1.65.
How can we ever take their health messages about alcohol seriously again? They must laughing all the way to the bar. One way to protest is to go to http://www.axethebeertax.com/ and show your support for fairer alcohol taxation.
Full ALMR press release at: http://www.almr.org.uk/presspdfs/69.pdf
Saturday 28 March 2009
Worth a listen, if only to show that not all folk song is about frolicking in the new-mown hay!
Friday 27 March 2009
Doors 7 p.m. Concert 8 p.m. Tickets: £10.
For information (Richard): 07801 849635 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For tickets, 01704 540011 - or click here for Boo tickets
No real ale, but you won't see this singer-songwriter anywhere else locally; his website is at: http://www.boohewerdine.net/
Thursday 26 March 2009
Wednesday 25 March 2009
- It has no advance tickets, a system which tends to exclude casual punters.
- It is open all day, just as CAMRA campaigned for years ago in pubs.
- It is a good venue with acceptable disability access, an indoor queue at opening time and a courtesy bus between the festival and the town centre.
Wigan is a friendly festival that attracts quite a broad range of drinkers, including groups of young drinkers who start there and then go on to clubs in town. Unlike, say, Liverpool, you get groups of young women on their own, not dragged along by boyfriends. Many of these go straight to the cider and perry bar, but some try the ales. A group of lads come each year dressed in bear costumes, declaring they were told it was a real bear festival. To get a good idea of what it was like, look at the pictures on the Wigan CAMRA website. I can be seen in one unpacking glasses, something we were close to running out of at one point, it was so busy.
The Light Beer of the Festival was Dark Star American Pale Ale. The Dark Beer of the Festival was Dark Star Expresso Stout.
By 9.00 p.m. on Saturday, every single cask and bottle of beer, cider and perry was empty, and only a few fruit wines remained. So we volunteers went to the Boulevard and the Berkeley in Wigan, where I was introduced to Prospect beers. Nutty Slack is a delicious 3.9% mild which I found to be full of flavour but not overpowering. A dark beer, I announced, to add to the small range of dark beers I drink. Then I tried Silver Tally, which at 3.7% is light but still tasty; I don't often drink beers below 4% as they can be thin, but this one certainly wasn't. Another to enjoy. Finally, I tried Big John, a 4.8% dark beer, and found another dark beer to add to my 'dark' list. Keep an eye out for Prospect beers.
If you weren't at Wigan, you missed a treat.
Tuesday 24 March 2009
The website, This Day In Music, is holding a poll for the best decade in music. The 60s and 70s are neck & neck in the lead with the 80s in 3rd place. If you want take part, click on http://www.thisdayinmusic.com/index.php. At the time of posting, this is how the polls stand:
- 50's 3% (290 votes)
- 60's 27% (2256 votes)
- 70's 27% (2279 votes)
- 80's 21% (1787 votes)
- 90's 15% (1315 votes)
- 00's 7% (585 votes)
Monday 23 March 2009
Sunday: singers night at the Bothy Folk Club, Park Golf Club, Park Road West. Performers free, and the beer is Thwaites Lancaster Bomber.
Thursday 19 March 2009
Tuesday 17 March 2009
The session was particularly busy, with more singers than usual ~ I'm often the only singer among all the musicians. Colin and Claire from Liverpool had rolled up for the night and sang for us, and as Claire is a student, her presence made a significant reduction in the average age. It was a good lively night, which inspired someone who just happened to have sat in the same room to give a song. The music was the better for not being entirely accordion-based, with a couple of violins and other string instruments added to the mix, along with a penny whistle; accordions are fine but can dominate en masse. Pub regulars sometimes refer to the motley collection of musicians as a band, not surprising as some of these musicians can join in with songs or tunes that they're not particular familiar with, but it's just a session for whoever happens to turn up.
Overall, a good night for music and beer.
I'm not convinced that a minimum price on alcohol will cut alcohol problems - alcoholics will find a way to drink no matter what the tax regime is - but a real cut in beer tax will definitely help struggling pubs and the sensible drinkers Gordon claims to care about.
Monday 16 March 2009
Wednesday ~ free singaround in the Mason's Arms in Anchor Street. Begins around 8.30 p.m., with free supper provided. Robinson's Unicorn always on, and sometimes Dizzy Blonde or Cumbrian Way.
Thursday to Saturday ~ Wigan Beer Festival. No need for advance tickets; just roll up. Excellent festival; come and say hello to me as I'll be working there. For more details, go to: http://www.wigancamra.org.uk/. Over 50 real ales, and some live entertainment.
Sunday ~ Bothy Folk Club, Park Golf Club, Park Road West. Guest singers from the USA are William Pint & Felicia Dale, who are old Bothy favorites back for a long overdue return to these shores. As usual, the beer will be Thwaites Lancaster Bomber.
Sunday was a singers night, with no booked guest, just local performers and club residents; it's the same principle as an open mike night, but no PA. I was going to write a summary of the night, but Alun Parry, who will be appearing at Southport Arts Centre next month supporting Roy Bailey, put the following on his blog.
"I decided to head off to the Bothy Folk Club in Southport last night. They were holding a singer's night and I thought I'd go and join in the fun. For those who say live authentic music is dead, you should really head to the Bothy each Sunday. It was packed and was a thoroughly enjoyable night of entertainment. Wonderfully hosted by the very amusing and charming Clive, an array of singers got up to do their turn for two songs, ensuring lots of variety and giving the warm feel of the best kind of family party.
"I performed two songs myself. I chose The Ship Song for audience nah nah nahhing, and You Are My Addiction for the largely comic premise and lyrics. It's great to put your guitar down and be so royally entertained by your peers too. I particularly enjoyed Ellen who delivered two songs with real showmanship and gusto. And Stuart on his squeezebox was a treat too. As was Keith, who did the most extraordinary song about a boozy night in a burning pub! With much help from the audience who provided sound effects and more! Marvellous stuff. Was nice to bump into Pete Rimmer again too, and hear Neville Grundy sing Billy Bragg's Which Side Are You On."
I think that sums it all up pretty well.