Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Man Of No Party ...

I'm often asked what Political Party I represent, or at least what Party I vote for or are a member of.

The answer is, I'm not.

And I'm asked this a lot, on Social Media, particularly when, as I'm very active on Twitter, I take potshots at politicians from all sides.

I'm neither Lib / Lab / Con, nor Socialist Workers Party (a common suggestion) or a Communist (a common insult) or an Unwashed Pinko Lefty (even more common!). I can't ever imagine being a member of a Political Party, subject to sudden expulsion whenever I might disagree with a policy. That's the problem - Parties are a collection of policies, ever changing, and unless you agree wholeheartedly with all of them, you're considered 'Not One Of Us'.

Who, in all honesty, can support 100% of policies from any party? Today? Next week? Next year? Nobody.

Broadly speaking, I'd consider myself a Left Wing Liberal Socialist Democrat. But I'll happily point out failures of the Labour Party and enjoy it just as much as when ridiculing the Tories and UKIP. So I remain happily outside the Party System.

I don't support Parties - but I do support values.
  • Protecting and caring for our sick, our elderly, our disabled;
  • Ensuring an end to discrimination of all forms;
  • Allowing those who can work to find work that pays a living wage;
  • Paying reasonable Benefits to those who cannot work, or who are on low wages;
  • Allowing a certain amount of Immigration to fill gaps in our work skills;
  • Allowing those even with extremist views to air those views, but to ensure they stay within the laws;
  • Ensuring that those in power and authority are held to account at all times;
  • Ensuring that the highest earners in our nation pay their full tax bills.
Find me a Party that espouses these values in whole, in full, and I'd join. But there are none. So I will never be a party person. And I will continue to defend these values.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Coffee - Know Your Long Blacks From Your Flat Whites ...

I rarely drink alcohol, certainly not when I'm out and about - my motorcycle license is just too precious to me.

But I am a caffeinista - a lover of good coffee. Real coffee. Which is why I frequent local, independant coffee shops instead of the local branch of a national chain with a dubious tax record.

But there are still some people who get a little shy and confused over what coffee to order. What's in an American? What the hell is a Ristretto.

Can't I just have, you know, a coffee ?

Here's a really good guide from this week's Independent Newspaper as a cheat sheet, so next time you waltz in the door, you can order with confidence. :-)
"What beans are you using? Which brew methods? If I go in a shop, I'm asking: what have you got on filter? Who's it roasted by? Where are the beans from?" says Dan Hobson of Flat White, in London's Soho. "Then I'll get a bit nerdier and ask for tasting notes. I'm a real geek."
And my two favourite hang-outs?

In my local area, Surbiton, in Surrey, it's The Pressroom Cafe. When in London, it's Look Mum No Hands! - I'd go to both places even if it was just for the brews, but they're also very chilled environments for contemplating life.

If that's what you fancy. :-)