The Compostual Existentialist

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At the weekend the wife, an out-of-town friend and I nipped out to the lovely town of Royal Leamington Spa for a mooch around the Peace Festival.

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Leamington Peace Festival 2015

The Leamington Spa Peace Festival, for those who don’t know, is an annual rain causing event held in the Pump Room Gardens and features all manner of new age nonsense such as yogurt weaving, kaftan liberation, tofu swallowing and vagina floating.

The food sold there is mostly vegetarian to vegan on the omnivore spectrum. Free range falafel chocolate bars, organic gravel soaps, crunchy compost on a stick and fair trade mong bean ice creams abound. That kind of thing.

As well as hearing local folk bands and pan pipes, it’s also a good opportunity to see the latest trends of the anathematic capitalist hippies are pushing onto today’s youth. For example, stove pipe hats seem to be entering a renaissance, gong showering is breaking into the wavy world of healing and knotted dyed rags are this year’s rad hair fashion (again).

An aging hipster

An aging hipster

With hipsters now denying their own existence in a Schrodingeresque fashion (you’re either a cool cat in a box or not, depending on who is observing you), goths morphing into the less threatening emo collective and  neo-nerd-geeks becoming vogue thanks to Big Bang Theory the time is right for a new collective. One that is so trendy and beyond cool that it is off the spectrum entirely, but one whose emergence will be unobserved until it has spread to a point where it becomes commonplace.

Of course it’s not just teenagers and infantilised twenteenies trying to be trendy. While beards may no longer be the fashion and half-mast trousers and arse showing waistlines have gone the back into the wardrobe for several years, the smart Sunday shirt wearing, middle class middle age organic free range grass eating daddies of the world appear to be taking their midlife crisis to the high street. Quitting their well-paid, high stress jobs and opening cafés using the stylistic ideals of designer hipsters to influence their décor.

At least, that’s how it appears from my visit to the overly trendy café, Bread and Butter on Regent Street in Leamington Spa. In what appears to be a former butcher’s shop a couple of doors down from the fishmongers, Bread and Butter just oozes huge blobs of “I’ve been to that London and seen how the well to do spend their leisure time”. I was reluctant to go in but guests take precedence and so began an experience I am about to recount.

Stepping through the door, it is difficult to see what’s going on due to the low level lighting. Windows provide free light and white tiled walls help reflect it around the important areas mostly to the till area which is sat on a thick wooden counter.

Autumn leaves artistically strewn near garden furniture

Garden furniture, the crap type that rotund people will find difficult to sit on comfortably or safely, are the choice of the day, enhanced only by artistically and purposefully strewn autumnal leaves on the floor. These, it has been debated, appear to be swept up of an evening, sieved to remove dust and detritus before being replaced after the floor has been mopped, cleaned and dried. Wankery.

Menus come in the form of a sheet of A4, minimalistic in choice, as per instructions from Blumenthal and Ramsay, but in a way that is limiting to the consumer.  Old favourites ruined by the addition of wankery. A bacon club sandwich with wanky bread and avocado. Wanky salad, served with wank. Poncey toasties with cheese and a selection of teas that would ordinarily cost you about 30p to make yourself in a mug sold at the exorbitant price of £2 for a mingy scale model cup.

I had the “slow roasted” pork  bap which came garnished with stale musty tasting crackling. This was obviously a new definition of “slow roasted” as to me, slow roasting means that the meat is succulent and melt in the mouth. I’ve chewed shoes less tough. Supposedly reasonably priced at £6.70.

During my years of eating out and writing about my experiences in the food world I’ve always said that you can’t make a restaurant or café trendy and popular by charging a lot of money for a small portion of food. Sure, you’ll get some tossers who think “Hey! This is so trendy and cool I’m going to come here every day because £6 for a stale pork butty is the lifestyle I want to lead”. But these people, like the hipsters they gave birth to, are dying out.

IMG_1026Although a greasy spoon café has its place, I’m not calling for that, I’m calling for some balance. Wankery has had its day back in the noughties when we found it ironic and amusing. Wankery today is just a road to disaster and mockery. Just as sticking the words “Organic” and “Free range” before every item on your menu is passé so is bringing the outside in, tiny portions and over pricing. The people you think you’re appealing to have grown out of this kind of approach and, much in the same way as faux-Victoriana and retro tea rooms have faded from popularity, so will wankery in décor. If it isn’t naturally worthy of brown leaves being tastefully placed on the floor, then don’t do it.

As we left and made our way back to the car, I observed corduroy trouser, gingham shirt wearing, late thirty something middle class graphic designer dad with his stay at home on an allowance yummy mummy  what lunches and writes crap fiction wife pushing  their child-with-a-neo-trad-name-like-Edna in its free range organically padded for their own safety comfort five wheeler monster stroller making their way into the café. Exactly the kind of clientele the café is trying to attract.

Would I go again? No I wouldn’t.

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UK General Elections: 2015

daventry-mb21-01_thumb.jpgIt’s getting to that time again. That time where I extend my hand towards the local political persons hoping for my vote and offer them a gauntlet. That gauntlet being: Meet me in my local pub and tell me why I should vote for you.

Nothing more. Nothing less. A chat and a pint or two. Low key. No press. No song or dance. Just you, me, your minders if appropriate and whoever else is in the pub at the time. We chat politics. I ask you questions. You answer them. Honestly. Without the fear of your employers tutting at you.

So far I have made this offer for the past ten years at local, general and police and crime commissioner elections. So far nobody has accepted my challenge. It’s almost as if no politician wants to ask for my vote.

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Daventry Local Elections 2014

Well, the day is at hand. Tomorrow is election day and I am still to receive any form of communication (other than the tweets from Emma Collins) from any of the candidates running tomorrow.

 

I was unable to write profiles on the Liberal Democrat candidate or the Trade Unionist. Purely because I couldn’t find anything out about them. They too, like the Labour candidate, appear to not want to be elected and are happy to fritter away their deposit on a whim.

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I suppose it’s like betting on horses or entering the National Lottery. Only with a higher stake.

 

It’s a sorry state of affairs when the candidates in the local area just aren’t bothered about promoting their cause. It’s a sorry state of affairs when potentially good candidates give up before they’ve even started the race.

 

Tomorrow I will vote in two elections. The local and the European. I know nothing about any of the candidates other than bold brags about how they are going to stand up. Well I’ve got news. I’m going to stand up.

 

None of you candidates are worth the lives of the thousands of soldiers who died in the Great War 100 years ago. Not one of you. You should be ashamed and you are an affront to democracy. No wonder that the youth are disconnected from politics. No wonder fascist groups are on the rise in the UK and EU. It is even no wonder great minds and thinkers are leaving this country for other more enlightened parts of the world. When people like you are all the people have to select as their voice once every few years. Prove me wrong. Come canvassing in Norton tomorrow. I’m in all day. Come and tell me why I should vote for you. Contact me via this blog, twitter or where ever. I’ll meet you. Convince me you are doing this for your own beliefs and not some misguided attempt at getting your name on a park bench when you die.

 

And so, to you dear reader, all I can urge you to do tomorrow is vote. Vote for the candidate you feel is worthy of the job of representing you in the European parliament. Vote for the candidate who you feel will do the best for your local area. Remember their promises and, if they default on them, use your greatest weapon against them to bring shame upon them. Your democratic vote and your freedom of speech.

 

While, of course, you still have them.


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Daventry Local Elections 2014–Emma Collins

Every election – local, European or General – I offer the local candidates the opportunity to come and tell me why I should vote for them.

This year I am providing insights into the candidates running in the Weedon ward in Daventry.

And, so it seems, is the BBC.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-27471122

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Emma Tiny Picture Collins

Today, Emma Collins – Labour.

Now, considering that Daventry is a crucial Conservative hot spot you would expect a lot of campaigning by the opposition parties. Not so here in sleepy Norton. Sure, European election leaflets have fluttered unbidden onto my door mat but local candidates seem to be few and far between.  Considering the election is only a few days away, the opposition candidates had better get a move on if they want possible swing voters to make their minds up.

I have no leaflet for Ms Collins. I knew nothing about her, her policies, what issues she feels strongly about or whether like Mr Smith she likes to have a poo in a field before standing up and fighting builders. With her fists.

So, using my l33t skills and well honed research methods, I had a poke about on the internet to see what I could find out about Ms Collins. It’s scary what you can find about people online, or so they say. Heh, that’s why, I suppose, I don’t use my real name online.

And never have.

Anyway, I know where she lives but where’s the fun in that. I mean this kind of information is given by the election’s returning officer and in the election notices. Turning up unbidden on her doorstep is a bit creepy so I wouldn’t do that. Although I suppose I could go canvassing. You know like candidates do only as a voter…Or will that get me arrested…Maybe not eh?

So the first port of call was Google. Using a bit of Googlefoo, I was able to find Ms Collins’ twitter account. So let’s do this in real time and send her a tweet…

 

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I’ll post her response if it comes….

Her feed seems to be akin to Mr Chris “I’ll block you if you question my insistence that Margaret Thatcher was the best thing that happened to the UK” Heaton-Harris. Jokes, asides and retweets of the odd bit of opposition political linkage. Nothing that says “Hey, intarwebz, I am young and clued up about social media and know how to market myself as a potential politician! Vote for me!”

Nothing that says “I’ll have a fight with navvies in a field if they so much as look at it through the windscreen of a JCB”

In fact there’s nothing. Nothing political…Couple of possible leads but out of decency I won’t mention those. But I did find three Emma Collins on Facebook in the Northamptonshire area. None of which, look like the tiny picture above, they all look like they’re still in school.

Ok, so let’s check the old Twitter feed….

Oooh! Look! She’s replied!

 

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So it’s off to the local press.

Good old Gusher. They are now part of Johnston Press so their website isn’t very good. Their weekly newspaper is often a bit low on gripping local news and is more akin to the old “Man who Once Passed through Daventry Met Elvis” kind of headline. But none-the-less, we should all use our local press or we will lose them. And then where would we be for news about Angry People, new toasters in Estate agents or cats stuck up trees.

Anyway, a quick search on the site brings me:

Nothing.

Nada.

Not a peep.

A few articles containing the words “EMMA” and “COLLINS” but nothing about our candidate. Meh.

Maybe my skills aren’t as l33t as I think. Maybe Emma Collins is still waiting for her leaflets to come back from Vistaprint. Maybe she’s going to pull out all the stops on Thursday by filling the sky with giant letters explaining what her policies are. Maybe now she’s heard of me, she’ll take me up on my offer of joining me in the White Horse in Norton so she can tell me why I should vote for her.

 

Or maybe not.

 

I’ll let you know if she gets back to me before Thursday…


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Daventry Local Elections 2014–David Smith

Continuing my insights into the local council elections in Daventry, covering the Weedon ward.

 

“Parliamentary politics do not belong in local government” – Mr Pritchard, Barnsley

 

Too true. And yet most local elections end up being a barney between central government sponsored councillors. It makes me wonder where all the funding put into the promotion of the candidate goes, because they surely can’t be spending it on the crappy, poorly spelt leaflets that they shove through the door when everyone is at work.

Today – David Smith, Conservative

 

David Smith

David “Don’t pick on me” Smith

 

This is he. I think. He looks like the kind of person one might have experienced at school. The one who hangs around with the School Governor’s kid as their minion.

Oh look….

 

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Vote for us or we’ll have your lunch money.

I was right…There he is with the school governor’s kid. Chris Heaton-“I block people I disagree with on Twitter”-Harris.

The leaflet that one of his acolytes posted through my door is laid out as a letter on one side and what he’s going to do on the other.

Apparently  he is the:

“Local Choice for Weedon Ward”

Which is curious as for once, they’re all local people.

He’s also a “Hard working local campaigner” and he is “Standing up for the issues that matter to you and your family”.

Really? He must be very tired. I look forward to meeting him in the White Horse, Norton, so he can stand and tell me about these issues and why I should vote for him.

He’s lived in Weedon for 7 years with two daughters and two grandchildren. Two grandchildren? Really? At your age?

He is a local business man who has run a successful business  for the past few years. What that business is, I have no idea. Perhaps it is yoghurt weaving.

He’s been a member of the Weedon Neighbourhood Planning Group – never heard of them, and believed that local people deserve a say over the way their village looks and feels – That’s nice of him.

 

Shitting

Standing up for issues by having a shite

He will be campaigning against large scale and inappropriate developments in our future  – so that’s the proposed Giant Phallus development scuppered.

He also mentions broadband, the Weedon Bypass and Over development – yes, those pesky washed out photographs are a nuisance.

He hopes to me me on my doorstep during his campaign. I hope so too. Then he can tell me:

– What he’s going to do about fuel prices in Daventry

– How he’s going to increase sustainable employment opportunities in Daventry

– What he’s going to say when he’s enjoying a council tax paid for lunch at my expense (and it better not be “Thanks”)

On the reverse there are three priorities highlighted.

Protecting our villages – He’s going to fight to ensure our villages remain preserved and unspoilt. I look forward to seeing him getting into fisticuffs with 20 burly navvies who are trying to erect a housing estate.

 

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David Smith wants to fight with builders and planners. Something I’d pay to watch.

 

Fight over development in our villages – Yes, Max Spielmann must be stopped!

 

Give you a voice – I have one. You’re reading it.

 

He goes on to talk about what has been achieved so far:

 

Low council tax – really? Can’t say I’ve noticed

 

Opposition to inefficient windfarms – If they were inefficient, there wouldn’t be so many of them.

 

Improving frontline services – I’m sure the Tommies will be pleased. Over the top please…

 

Attracting inward investment into our district – Yeah, that’s taxes in another language. There should be more investment in the area, agreed, but not just at the expense of the people that live here

 

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Smithy reckons he built this with his bear hands.

 

 

A new University Technical College – You did that single handed did you? I don’t think so.

 

Standing up for local people to protect our beautiful countryside – Have a seat mate.

 

Weekly food waste collection service – An EU requirement, not something you can take credit for I’m afraid.

 

Supporting DACT and Advice Daventry – How? Please explain.

 

Free parking throughout our district – Except at the country park.

 

Working for more affordable housing – Whilst stamping on development and proposals for new housing? That’s a bit contradictory. Please explain.

Or he's going for a stroll.

Look out! He’s standing up! In the countryside! He’s looking for a fight!!

I smell the freshness of the countryside. Oh no, sorry it’s the shite pouring from your election leaflet.

The offer still stands Mr David Smith. Come and tell me why I should vote for you in the 2014 Daventry Local Elections. Stand up and tell me. Like you promised.

Wouldnt buy a used car from this guy.


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Daventry Local Elections 2014–John Gale

daventry-mb21-01One of the differences with local elections that I have noticed here in Daventry is that the local candidates like to shove leaflets through the door.

In Brierley, I think we only had one or two leaflets through the door with the majority of local political news coming from the Barnsley Chronicle.

Here in Daventry, the local press The Daventry Express or “The Gusher”, is as political as The Beano. I understand that such is the fate of local newspapers.

I’ve also noticed that local candidates here don’t seem to use the internet effectively. So as a favour, I will examine each of the candidates that shove leaflets through my door. Right here….On the internets…..for ALL to see.

 

Today is John Clifford Gale

Full of wind

Full of wind

 

John Clifford Gale is, according to his leaflet, my UKIP candidate for Daventry District Council Weedon Ward. He has lived in Northamptonshire for 35 years and has worked on the parish council in Brington

On the front of his leaflet:-

We Don’t Just Need a Breath of Fresh Air. We Need A Gale

Really? We need strong winds in the area? Damage to trees, chimneys and rooftops? I don’t think so

Not only is this country governed by Brussels – your local councils are governed by their political parties.

Curious. There I was thinking my taxes went to fund booze orgies for the privileged in London. So what’s with all the goings on in London then? If the country is being governed by Brussels why am I paying for Cameron’s cronies?

Then you say that my local councils are governed by their political parties…

Ok, let me look at the list of candidates again. Yep, UKIP, Tory, Labour, Libdem…nope….I can’t see any parties from Brussels there. Christian Democrats? Nope can’t see them. Social Democrats? Nope. Oooh ooh LIBERAL DEMOCRATS! I can see them. But they’re only a weak ineffective wedge in government and hardly swamping us with ineffectual laws and policies.

On the reverse of the leaflet:-

John Gale believes that:

The new housing development planned for New Croft Weedon should be questioned

Really? The residents and the buildings? The planners? Or the people on the council who allowed it? Well, it’s UKIP so I suspect he means the residents. Drag them in for questioning! Why do you not conform? Why?! Why?!

We deserve a review of our local bus services

Why? There are more buses here in the Daventry district than anywhere else I’ve lived. Heck, there’s even a bus that goes past my house once a week. Unless you mean that the only thing we deserve is a review of local bus services. You know, so you can carry on with your sinister shenanigans in the council chambers unbridled.

Let’s see more Police around our district

More police? Oh yes of course, because as a member of a local council you have control over police budgets and policing levels. No doubt the need for more police will be so that Mr Gale and his jack booted friends can make sure the electorate are conforming and doing as they are told.

Dog fouling is out of control

John Clifford Gale is Full of shite

Shit shit everywhere

Out of control! That must mean that there are heaps and heaps of dog shit filling the streets. Poor little urchins wander through the lanes and byways of the region, knee deep in festering poop crying and begging for a small morsel of food.  Oh the horror. The smell. The humanity.

The only shite I’ve seen around Norton is this leaflet Mr John Clifford Gale has pushed through my door. That’s out of control.

Wind farms will ruin our stunning local landscape

 

Oh the railways/canals will spoil the countryside and go through our lands”. That’s what your lot said about the railways Mr Gale. We dun’t liek change round here

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Which is nicer?

Windfarms will bring lots of lovely cheap energy and remove the need of marching pylons in the area. Moreso than a high speed white elephant stretching from London to Birmingham sucking all the regional talent away from the areas that need them most.

There should be more Local Surgery Facilities

 

Really? Is this so your jackbooted friends can perform labotomies on those that don’t conform? Or do you mean Surgeries run by the local politician? Or perhaps you mean more facilities in the local surgeries? You know like slides, snack bars, bingo for the over 60s…that kind of thing?

Pot Holes: Enough is enough

I had a pot hole once. Curiously it was filled the other week.

I’m sorry Mr John Clifford Gale, UKIP candidate in Weedon ward, Daventry. Your beliefs as advertised on your leaflet do not appeal to me. Tell me about what you’re going to do about the shit broadband speed in the area. Tell me about what you are going to do about the speeding idiots that pass my house every day? Tell me what you’re going to do to encourage employment, education and facilities in the Daventry area. Dog shit, windfarms and coffee shops at the doctors aren’t going to cut the mustard.

Come on. John Clifford Gale, UKIP Candidate for Weedon, Daventry. Take me up on my challenge and tell me face to face why I should vote for you.

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Local Elections 2014

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Daventry, Northamptonshire

It’s the local elections in Daventry in May this year. As readers of my last post will recall I mentioned that I do something during election time. As long term readers will recall, every election time I offer the opportunity for all candidates to present their case as to why I should vote for them to me personally, in my local pub over a pint or on my couch over a cup of tea.

 

Historically, I have offered this opportunity since the dark days of Livejournal when I lived in Liverpool and only had two candidates to choose from in my local area. Since then I have offered it both in Barnsley and Leamington Spa where no candidates took me up on my offer.

 

I was almost not going to bother this year but something happened last year when I moved to Daventry that made me think I’d give it another go.

 

Daventry is an odd place. It’s older than the hills and yet as modern as Milton Keynes or Warrington. It was as if Daventry was used as a practice during the design of new towns. Thoughtfully zoned areas linked by expressways and peppered with green space. It’s lovely. Internet is a bit pants mind but I couldn’t think of anywhere nicer to live. Except maybe Monaco. Or maybe Bonaire.

 

The people are very friendly in a way that is akin to one of the more northern areas than one would expect from a small provincial town teetering on the borders of the great North South divide. Yes, that’s right, people actually talk to each other. Something unthinkable in London.

 

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Knock knock

Last year when I moved to Daventry I had a knock on the door from a canvassing local politician. I was so shocked. Unfortunately I had only just moved into the area and hadn’t had time to register to vote in time for the election.  So I would have been wasting his time.

Since then I have tried to become more involved with local politics when my work allows. I’ve done this by annoying the local MP Chris Heaton Harris by asking him, via Twitter, to think about his heroine, Margaret Thatcher’s, impact on miners which resulted in him blocking me and having my tweet removed from my feed.

 

COLLINS, Emma Clare  — Labour Party – misguided neo-socialist

GALE,  John Clifford — UKIP — Fascist racist banker party

PRICE, Tom — Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – Self explanatory

SALAMAN Christopher Robin — Liberal Democrat — Wishy washy  party

SMITH David — The Conservative Party –—Look after the Bankers Party

 

None of which seem to inspire. None of which actually say anything about themselves on the internet. None of which have knocked on my door and asked how they can represent my interests on the council.

 

The last time I had this level of choice was when I lived in Liverpool and had the option of BNP (Racist wankers) or Labour.  Of course Labour won that particular election but only by 4 votes or so. It’s like having to choose between horrible death by red hot nails being driven into your eyes and dying from an eye infection of red hot nails .

 

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White Horse in Norton

Every election I tell myself, the next time, I’m going to run. As an independent. Make a really good marketing campaign and actually put myself out there.

 

Its simple. Engage with your voters, convince them you’re not as bad as the others, make and keep promises and don’t be one of those tossers who tweet shit jokes and referee bollocks on Twitter all day. (Heaton-Harris, yes I mean you!). Actually engage with the electorate. Be accessible and accountable.

 

And so once more I open my offer to Mssrs Collins, Gale, Price, Salaman and Smith…get in touch. Speak to me. Let’s chat. Tell me what it is that makes you so deserving of my vote. We can do it over a pint in the White Horse in Norton or you can come and have a cup of tea with me, the cats and the missis. You can bring the press along too. Make a big deal of it. I’m sure the Daventry Express or Gusher as it is known in these parts would love the scoop. Barnsley Chronicle did (or at least they kept my letter to them on file for shits and giggles).