Category Archives: old

Bad booze

My letter to co-op about the poor choice of real ale in their new store. I wait in anticipation for their response!

Hi there,

I’d just like to let you know that the choice of real bottled ale in your new converted Somerfield store is awful! When it was Somerfield it was pretty bad but the choice of ales is now less than 1/2 dozen.

Llanidloes does not have an off-license so we rely on the co-op and spar to provide good alcoholIc beverages.

I have noticed in your larger stores that you have a good selection including a reasonably priced Badger beer. Please please please can you improve the choice here as we don’t have an alternative (apart from brewing our own which I will have to do unless something happens soon)…

Many thanks,
Andy Wright

Real England, Work, Recession and Allotments

Phew. It’s all go at the moment. I feel like my todo list fills up every morning and my head is buzzing til I lay it on my pillow at night. Still despite the stresses, I’m having a great time with everything and I’m never going to complain about being out of the misery of the 9-5.

This week I have been mainly getting people to fill in my questionnaires which are a component of my primary research for my thesis. It’s not been as bad as I feared. The farmer’s market was a saviour for getting allotment holders as a good proportion of them visited it. I also dropped a good amount off at the 3 allotment sites nearest to me and the response back through the post has been encouraging. I also took a trip to Newton allotments near West Kirby to chat to a lady involved in the Transition West Kirby movement. That also bagged me a few responses.

I was more worried however about “non-allotment” people. I decided to randomly poll households in the “030B Lower Layer Super Output Area” which is basically the postcode area used for ONS statistics around my house. There were about 700 households so I randomly put surveys through 150 household’s doors. I’d received 86 back this morning so I think thats a pretty good response rate. Next I’ve got to type it all in to some sampling software and analyse it which isn’t going to be too much fun….

Anyway, the main purpose of this post was to extoll the latest book I’ve just finished; namely Real England by Paul Kingsnorth. I don’t know what it was about it, but it struck a real chord with everything I’ve been thinking and doing to some extent. It talks about how society in England is slowly becoming homogenised. All the usual suspects are mentioned; food, shops, pubs, farming. I found the tales of Paul’s travels around the country incredibly powerful. I’d recommend you all put this book on your Christmas list (if you have one this year…) or get it out the library!

I suppose this book links in with the current economic situation. We are told we need more stimulus, cuts in interest rates, more consumption. But when it comes down to it, all these things are what did the damage in the first place. Since I quit my job 18 months ago I wanted to get out of the system to some extent. I don’t believe in becoming a hermit and living in a cave though, just that the small differences you can do personally do actually make a difference. Meeting people on allotments during my study has once again made me realise that for 20 hours a week, all these people need is a patch of soil and they are content. Perhaps this is the ultimate problem. Namely if too many people start doing this there will be nothing to tax and nobody will need to buy as much. Oh dear it sounds like I’m becoming some sort of libertarian! I think the issues transgress political lines actually (as mentioned in Real England). We just need to stop doing as much “stuff” which ultimately damages the planet and find a path in life which you enjoy.

His blog links to a Richard Wilson‘s with whom he did a debate at the Anarchist’s bookfair in Edinburgh. I’ve not heard about this book, “Don’t get fooled again”, but it seems pretty interesting and will definitely be on my travel reading list. But for now I ought to be reading about the History of Allotments, it’s landscape and culture… It’s fascinating stuff I assure you.

This brings me to my final link. I just read a small document entitled “Work and the Art of Living”, by Roman Kraznaric. I suggest you head off to his website now and download it! He’s talking about what your purpose in life is; how the freedom we have now means it’s almost even more difficult now to know what to do in life. I really suggest you read it. My favourite bit was him suggesting to write your own obituary this evening and see if what you are currently doing (career, job, hobbies, talents etc) matches up to what you expect to think about your life when you are old and decrepid!

Remember you only get one life. Don’t waste it!

Questionnaire Thanks

Just a quick thanks to everyone who filled in a questionnaire for me over the weekend. I really appreciate you spending a few minutes contributing to my thesis research. Hopefully (fingers crossed) the analysis and write-up will happy in the next couple of weeks and I’ll be publishing the final document and a summary just before Christmas.

Thanks again.

Chagos Islanders lose appeal to return

I’ve written about this issue before. However today the Law Lords voted 3-2 that the Chagos Islanders lost the right to return to the archipelago. This was the final stage of a process which has taken over 10 years and in which they had actually won the right to return in 2000. The fury of the comments in Guardian article show that everyone thinks what’s happened today is disgusting and personally I feel ashamed to be British. It’s not surprising given what goes on behind the scenes of our government – I just wish more people were aware and bothered about political processes and did something about it (me included I must add).

“We” (the British government) forced them off their land to let the Americans have a military base, then argued that the land was unsuitable for people to live on, despite there being a military base. These people deserve to be left alone to do as they have done for hundreds, if not thousands of years; eck out a living with fish and other crops for food, live happily on the island and be left alone. Not good enough. The United States need a military base as a handy point in the Indian Ocean – probably just one of the places where rendition flights make their inhumane fuelling stops.

The Telegraph states the “immense importance (to America) of the base on Diego Garcia. No human settlements are found within about 1,000 miles of the installation in all directions, rendering it a uniquely secure location.

If you don’t know anything about the case, I suggest you watch this John Pilger documentary, Stealing a Nation.


Anyway, it’s good to know that the US Military is having a nice time over there:


Is it time to just sit back and relax yet? Take a rest and turn on the TV to catch the latest ball game. The Naval Media Center Detachment on Diego Garcia broadcasts three radio signals and three television channels 24 hours a day.


Power 99 FM is the station for Live DJ’s during the day playing the latest hits to your favorites of yesterday. Tune to 101.9 FM for a variety of music styles. If you are a talk radio or sports fan, switch it to 1485 AM for the best in stateside programming, live from the Broadcast Center California.


Island 8 is your primary channel from the American Forces Network and brings you prime-time programming, live sports, news and entertainment. Don’t miss the nightly local newscast either to find out what’s going on around the island. News Sports 10 is focused more towards, you guessed it, news and sports, while Tropical 12 carries syndicated programming and movies all day long.


Do you still need to know what is on which channel and at what time? Pick up the latest issue of the Tropical Times, Diego Garcia’s weekly newspaper. In it you will find the TV schedules, along with the movie listings, the galley menu, MWR events and a wealth of other information.

I think the next (and final) stage is the European Court of Human Rights. Who knows what will happen there…