Herewith for your delectation, a flow chart that sets out your options should you be accused of witchcraft, taken from the Summer 2012 edition is Lapham's Quarterly magazine.
Malleus Malificarum (Hammer of the Witches) is a treatise on the prosecution of witches, written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer, a German Catholic clergyman. Here
in England we hanged our witches, we didn't burn them... the Scots did though...
You can't say I never post anything useful!
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Further to my Food Bank post here, I'd just like to add that the charity I referred to in the Morton Hall at the Baptist Church in Newbury is currently seeking volunteers for their Drop In Centre called Loose Ends. They provide a hot meal, groceries to take away, toiletries, showers and clean clothes for homeless or inadequately housed people in the Newbury area.
"At the moment the doors are open for 4 sessions a week. A home cooked soup is provided on Mondays between 12:30pm and 1:30pm, a freshly cooked breakfast on Wednesdays and Fridays between 9:30am and 11:00am and on Sundays a cooked lunch between 2:00pm and 3:30pm. Volunteers are needed to arrive 45 minutes before the start of their session.
Another new trend is the number of young people coming through the doors. They are either living rough, or what is known as 'invisible homeless' ie constantly on the move from one 'friends' door to another's. So many of these people are the product of broken homes and failed 'care' systems, and a surprising number are ex-service personnel. Most of them have histories that move one to tears and have suffered terribly either physically or mentally or both. The majority have an alcohol or drug problem, or both, and most of them are known to the police.
If you are interested in getting involved, but don't feel this role is for you, then there are other equally important ways to support LOOSE ENDS i.e. collecting supplies of food/clothes/ toiletries, doing the regular shopping or fund-raising."I don't attend this church and I'm not currently a volunteer, but having mentioned this work several weeks ago, it seemed important to help publicise their search for volunteers.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
|Blocked drain in Berkeley Road|
We've seen rather gross "dog whistle politics" in a town council election leaflet. Immigration? How wrong is that? Purleese!
They're trying to tell us that it's the river that will flood us but we know that it's the blocked drains 'wot dun it' last time in 2007 and they haven't been cleared since. I have a FOI request in, but hey.
It is entirely testament to the point that we are making about the parties failing the people. I certainly don't mean to have a go at the Tories at the expense of the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems are the ones who've been presiding over the Town Council's fiasco - they've had control!
There are 23 seats on the Town Council. It was 12 Lib Dems to 11 Tories, until two Lib Dems couldn't be arsed anymore and caused this election, the Lib Dems had control. Now they're all fighting over it.
The irony is that if you vote for me and Dave Yates, you have a unique opportunity here tomorrow to make a real difference. If we are elected neither of these parties will hold sway unopposed. We can hold them to account on every vote.
Please don't give your vote to any of these numpties! Vote for me and Dave!
Saturday, May 04, 2013
|Victoria and Sophie on the Apolitical campaign trail in Newbury|
Charter market today with Eilish Cooling.
I wrote the following letter to the Newbury Weekly News on 8th April, the Editor didn’t publish it for reasons best known herself… but I thought I’d share it here.
Charter Market why wait?
The Charter Market is shrinking. Some traders will pack up soon for good and they do not want their children following them into third generation businesses. The supermarkets and on-line shopping have rendered the traditional market obsolete.
However, talking to the traders on Saturday, I was delighted to find that there is a great sense of buzz and hope which is being frustrated by excessive customer parking charges and a lack of acceptance by the Town Council that the dynamic of the town has shifted north away from the Market Square.
I talked to Michelle and Jessie. Michelle makes and sells handcrafted jewellery. She had been allocated a pitch facing the Hatchet. It was her second visit to Newbury and was very downhearted to have taken just £8 that morning.
Jessie has had her cupcake stall for about a year and a half. When her pitch was moved from Nat West to Bartholomew Street her takings doubled, and she was able to buy a shop in Swindon, but her Newbury stall is the powerhouse of her business.
Both enterprising young women are offering unique handmade products which sell themselves - if only the customer can see them! There is footfall at the top end of Bartholomew Street but Northbrook Street was positively awash with shoppers in the sunshine. There is already planning permission for 6 pitches in Northbrook Street – why are they not let?
I went back to tell Michelle of Jessie’s story and Michelle’s going to stick with it in the hopes that we can make Newbury Town Council wake up and make those pitches available – sooner rather than later.
Apolitical Candidate for Victoria Ward
(We like cupcakes!)
Friday, May 03, 2013
The MarketThe Council seem hellbent on getting rid of the market. They seem to want to turn the town into the next Basingstoke. Who has been consulted on this? The people we speak to don't want the town changed, they want us to stay as a nice little market town.
The traders and shopkeepers tell us they are frustrated by excessive customer parking charges and that the Council has shifted the dynamic of the town north away from the Market Square.Traders who have been allowed pitches in Bartholomew Street have doubled their takings. But most are forced to occupy the retail desert that the Market Square has become. There is planning permission already for six pitches in Northbrook Street.
Victoria ParkThe Coalition monopoly has presided complacently over significant loss of amenity in Victoria Park. The playing field and bowling green are out of action. We have cracked paths and cracks in houses. We have no toilets, no fence around the play park and a £24,000 bill for a report into the damage that we can’t see because it’s commercially sensitive!
We didn't need a hydrogeological report to tell us what's wrong with the park. We know it's the Parkway development that's caused it. For the amount of money they have squandered on reports and prevarication we could have fixed the damage and put up the railings around the toddler play area that parents wanted reinstating.
Charlie was one of the organisers of the 1500 strong petition to put the fence back around the toddler play area in Victoria Park. The petition was presented in October 2011 but rejected because it’s not current thinking in leisure planning. It would be reconsidered only if there were lots of incidents, due to a lack of a fence! So they’ll act only after preventable disaster has struck! Registered childminders tell us they are prohibited from using unfenced spaces for insurance reasons.There was a fence before the council removed it and installed new equipment, so we weren't asking for anything new, just to keep what we had!
- We will get started on remedying the damage to the Park without waiting to apportion blame or further prevarication.
We think it’s about time someone starts demanding answers for the people of Newbury:
- Investigating why the Town Council has been paying £50,000 annually to West Berks Council for market cleansing which is now being done at virtually no cost through self-cleansing.
- Looking at why the market hasn’t been managed and marketed more efficiently.
Information on reverse of leaflet
I’ve been a Marketing Manager in a school and a university and for some of the biggest brands. I’ve been a Governor of Park House and for several years I’ve been an active volunteer member of the Sustainable Newbury Group on Newbury Town Council.
I was asked by a group of young mums to help them campaign to get the fence put back round the toddler play area in Victoria Park. But we were refused - all 1500 of us!
I was among the first cohort of Chartered Marketers in the UK and if I can’t get the market thriving again, then nobody can.
I have a love of the history of Newbury and I’m concerned that its heritage is being squandered with the ever greater needs of 'vanity projects.
Apolitical means ‘politically neutral, unbiased, non-aligned’.
'Apolitical' describes a convention of impartiality amongst people active in politics, like the Speaker of the Commons, the Cross-Benchers in the Lords or most parish councillors, who are not subject to the party 'whip' or told what to think by a political party.
Being Apolitical doesn't mean apathy or lack of interest in democracy or local affairs.
We believe we should be guided by our electors' wishes, considered evidence, our real world experience and expertise, and our consciences.
In that order.
I joined the army age 16 and my role as a Military Surveyor brought me to the School of Military Survey at Hermitage in the early 1980's. I have been in Newbury ever since, first in York Road, and then Berkeley Road where I have lived for over twenty five years. A surveyor by profession and a builder by choice, I am a detail man with an eye for numbers.
I worked for many years in the piling industry, and have been involved on many
projects which utilised de-watering systems, similar to that used by Costains, in the construction of the Parkway Development. I, like many others, believe that the damage done to Victoria Park and the buildings around, is entirely the fault of Costains.
If Charlie and I are elected to the Town Council, I will not consider myself to be bound by the gagging order placed on the Lib-Dems and Conservatives by their masters at West Berkshire Council. I will make known the details of the report commissioned by the Town Council, which has been paid for by you.
Reverse of leaflet here.
Friday, March 29, 2013
This is a story that appeared in my news feed on Facebook and appears to be going viral. I thought it was rather heart warming but wondered whether it was for real.
"We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we're approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter.'Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended'They pay for their order, take the two and leave. I ask my friend, 'What are those 'suspended' coffees?''Wait for it and you will see'Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers - three for them and four 'suspended'. While I still wonder what's the deal with those 'suspended' coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café.
It seems that it is an Italian tradition that has been around for some time. This blogger witnessed it in Naples in 2011 and identified it as a form of dignified charity, giving this explanation:Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks'Do you have a suspended coffee ?'It's simple - people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal."
“Right after the war, many gentlemen had lost everything they had, and couldn’t even afford coffee. Now, being that black hot liquid pleasure not considered a treat, but rather a basic human right in the life of any Neapolitan, those gentlemen who could still afford to have one, took a habit of paying for two: one they drank, the other was credited, to be had by the first less fortunate peer who would casually walk in the bar. The bartender would then say: “would you like a coffee, sir?”
Which meant: there is a coffee paid for you, if you can’t afford one. The donor and the recipient would remain anonymous to each other, to protect generosity, pride, and the pleasure of coffee beyond hardships.
Although I think food rather than coffee is the priority; a hot drink can be a wonderful boost.
At a time when so many people are struggling, it seems to me to be helpful, to publicise ways that those of us who are fortunate enough not to have to rely on benefits can help others - without compromising their dignity.
My local newspaper the Newbury Weekly News reported the official opening of a food bank this week. The occasion was graced by a former archbishop to 'open' it, but the Baptist Church in Cheap St has been doing a wonderful job for some time. I am made slightly anxious about the mention in the news report of people being 'referrred' to the Food Bank now that it's under the management of the Trussell Trust. The Baptist Church used to give it to anyone who turned up twice a week for a hot meal. I hope people can 'self refer' and won't have to be in the system in order to get help. The new distribution points are the Salvation Army in Northcroft Lane, Newbury, The Baptist Church in Thatcham and the Methodist Church in Hungerford.
I'm glad the Food Bank is getting publicity and good people will donate, but the irony is that food brand owners have mountains of unwanted stocks, that are surplus for so many reasons (short codes, packaging redesign, a promotion that has expired but not the shelf life etc) but they don't want to release this perfectly good stock into their regular distribution channels at discounted rates because it erodes brand values. So the brand owner has basically got 4 options.. They can:
- destroy the stock;
- sell to a discount channel -
- redistribute the food in a charitable way that doesn't dissipate brand values.
It's something I researched and had quite a bit published on a few years back, and it still astonishes me that it is primarily individuals that contribute the actual food, not companies and that it is churches organising the distribution points.
The link given in the paper for cash donations to the Food Bank doesn't appear to be linkable to directly (what genius designed that?) but if you go here http://www.findmeagrant.org/wberks/browse.aspx and search for the keyword WB10419 you should arrive at a page where you can donate with Gift Aid.
Donations in cash or cheque payable to CTNA and tinned food donations can be left at the West Berkshire Food Bank, 4-8 The Broadway, Northbrook Street, tel 01635 760540, email email@example.com. and I imagine you can still take tinned food and donations to the Baptist Church in Cheap St as before.
There's a Suspended Coffee Facebook page which is campaigning to get people to urge their nearest coffee shop to get on board.
Monday, December 17, 2012
I slipped out in the glorious sunshine on a day back in mid-October to do a swift forage while the weather held. There is nothing lovelier than a beautiful, blowy sunny Autumn day in England's season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, spent harvesting the fruits of the hedgerow.
And bountiful such fruits are! Curiously the abundance available these days is the fruit of our lives of plenty. In wartime, the children would have stripped the hedgerows of the rosehips, hawthorn berries, and blackberries, before such as I came along with bucket and basket to browse for the last pickings that they couldn't have reached.
These days it seems very few people are interested enough in the magic, mystery and myth of the hedgerow to gather this bounty, but during the Second World War the collection of rosehips was organised on a national scale as a patriotic duty. The collection was organised by schools, voluntary groups and the Women's Institute. The scale of the crop during the war years was huge - some 2,000 tons - all gathered for syrup manufacture. Collectors were paid 3d a pound and the commercially produced syrup was rationed.
Rosehips are the fruit of the 'dog rose' or briar, and are one of the best sources of vitamin C, benefitting the immune and digestive systems, cooling the body and assisting elimination of wastes. Brilliant for colds and 'flu!
The syrup is absolutely delicious but is laborious to make because the juice and flesh must be extracted from the fine hairs surrounding the seed which are irritants. But if you've ever strained anything through a jellybag or muslin it's not rocket science.
Rosehip SyrupObviously the forager doesn't collect a specific amount, one just gathers what's there, or a bucketful or there abouts...
What you need to do is boil them up in water. So if you've got a bucketful of rosehips, then you need half a bucketful of water (and a very big pan!). Or scale your quantities according to how many of these gorgeous glossy beauties you have. One measure of water to 2 measures of rosehips - jug, pint or cup it doesn't matter.
Boil them in a pan with the lid on until they are mushy and tender then have a go at them with the potato masher. Then when the contents of your pan looks for all the world like spaghetti sauce (as above) strain it through muslin or a jelly bag.
If you want a really clear syrup, don't squeeze it through - let it drip like making a jelly. Or if you don't mind the pulp (which I don't) push it through the strainer with a spoon and squeeze.
Then stick it all back in a clean pan. Then for every two measures of strained gorgeousness add one measure of sugar. Boil for 10 mins, then pour into hot, sterilised bottles.
Take a teaspoon or two daily throughout the winter season or as needed to relieve colds and sore throats.
My elder son declared it to taste surprising, but pleasant - a sort of cross between ketchup and strawberries! Win!
|Rosehip Syrup, rosehip vinegar and hawthorn berry syrup.|
Rosehip VinegarGiven that I had a surfeit of rosehips I made a rosehip vinegar too. Herbal vinegars are an interesting way of using the extracted herbal principle combined with the medicinal and culinary properties of a cider vinegar. The vinegars are delicious in salad dressings and sauces so one's recalcitrant offspring need not know they are being done good to!
The little jar in the picture above contains 30 rosehips,scored with a knife to help release the juices, then covered in a good cider vinegar and set on a sunny windowsill for six weeks to infuse. Then strained and bottled, it's equally useful in the kitchen or medicine cupboard.
A dessert spoonful in a little warm water, then swallowed, makes a great gargle for a sore throat
Taken with hot water and honey as a drink for colds.
You can make a wine out of rosehips or use the little hairy seeds as an itching powder.
As it happens the rosehips were an added bonus, discovered on my expedition to forage for hawthorn berries (more of which later), I wasn't looking for them - they kind of found me - which is the way of herbs...