Saturday, 30 August 2008

Mixing blogs and politics

Political blogging is a worldwide phenomenon.
Does it mean democratic participation is on the up?
Or are anorak activists just talking to themselves?
Dave’s Part is one of the most influential blogs on the British left. It takes its name from a fictional character in the satirical magazine Private Eye and is written by professional journalist David Osler.
Recently Dave asked for comments about the blog.
It’s All Culture sought out opinions from two perspectives:

A male Labour Party member and trade union activist says:
I check Dave’s Part most days. I love it when I find there’s a new post.
Dave is a bit too pessimistic – but his analysis is usually spot on and remarkably well-informed.
I like the variety of comments – though it can descend into sniping from rival branches of the Judean People’s Front.
It’s a clever blog but not scared to include jokes and jibes.
And as a left-Labour syndicalist it re-inforces my opinions – which is always nice.
My one criticism is that there aren’t enough calls to participate or links to campaigns and events.
But I guess other blogs do that.

A female non-activist trade union member, reading Dave’s Part for the first time says:
The blog is written by someone who, I suspect, has been sitting alone in their room reading political pamphlets and texts for far too long. All this, without taking a moment to lift their political snout up from their work and take a long, hard, and realistic look out of the window and study life outside.
At the moment I am concerned by the huge gas bills which come through the letterbox. An increase of 26% eats into a budget. When I’m in the supermarket I am always amazed at how much a loaf has gone up in a week – how much everything has gone up. I won’t mention petrol.
My point is that I can’t see how showing off you are an expert on Galbraith or Keynes can be of much practical use to the common man.
I’m not inspired.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Top Lebanese food in Manchester

The Bawadi CafĂ©, just a couple of minutes walk down Cheetham Hill Road from the MEN Arena, is one of Manchester’s hidden culinary gems.
It serves Lebanese and Mediterranean delights in a pleasant contemporary wood-panelled environment.
Hot and cold starters in decent portions are good for sharing.
The humus (£3.80) is particularly tasty – creamy, not too bitter or too sweet, and served with warm flat bread.
The falafel (£3.80) is a little dry but accompanied by a minty dip and salad.
Old-fashioned iceberg makes a delightful change from the plate of weeds served up in most restaurants as lettuce.
Main courses come with rice and a spicy tomato-based sauce.
The cubed chicken (£7.95) is extraordinary. Tender and flavoursome it really does melt in your mouth.
Za’atar is the secret ingredient.
The mixed grill (£9.50) features the remarkable cubed chicken, well-done lamb chops, and lamb kebab.
The Bawadi is not licensed – but there is an off-license less than 50 yards away.
From next week it will open at lunchtime as well as in the evening – but with a different menu.
The only bad thing is that they take ages to greet customers on entry. It’s annoying – but worth the wait.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Mamma Mia - how can you resist it?

When serious actors with serious reputations sing Abba songs on a beach they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
If serious film watchers get seriously shirty about a former James Bond's vocal range they deserve nothing but contempt.
Mamma Mia is a magnificent romp. Silly story, great songs, beautiful scenery, and a happy ending.
If any of that puts you off don't go. Stay at home and amuse yourself with your intellectual wit.
Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Julie Walters and the enthusiastic cast hit exactly the right note throughout.
A joy from start to finish.
Odeon Merry Hill - adults £6.20.

California uber alles

The coast road which winds from misty San Francisco is one of the most spectacular drives that you could possibly make. The scenery is wild and rugged and certainly dramatic.
It can change within seconds. One minute you are in the highlands of Scotland and then in a few moments the sea is azure blue and purple.
This is due to what the Americans call the marine layer, a blip in the bay weather conditions which can render it nippy to say the least. It catches most people out. Take a jumper.
Plan the drive to Monterey - home of the renowned jazz festival – to include many stops to catch the breathtaking views.
Monterey itself is a white clapperboard town, with a marina full of fishing boats and a bucket full of history. It is also renowned for a world class fun-and-interactive aquarium which does much to promote environmental issues.
From there, on to Paso Robles - a town away from the coast and in the heart of cattle country. This really felt like being an extra in a western. How the early settlers battled to scratch out a living is hard to appreciate.
One who succeeded more than most was William Hearst, the media mogul who built the grand and so ostentatious Hearst Castle. One visit was really not enough. It was a beautiful monstrosity.
The long drive further inland along the never ending straight interstates which led to Yosemite was worth the nine-hour journey. Ansel Adams’ famous black and white photographs captured some of the power and delicate beauty of Yosemite but the stature of el Capitan, the power of Bridal veil Falls, the colour of the wildflower meadows and the sequoias take the breath away. It’s a must see.
Fifteen nights in California – flights, car hire, and hotels - £1,500 per person with Virgin.

Shakespeare's day out in Blackpool

Blackpool prom's a stage,
And all the hens and stags are merely players;
They have their hotels and their B and Bs;
And one man in his time drinks many pints,
His limit being closing time. Just like the infant,
Mewling and puking in the best man’s arms.
And the whining school-boy, with his bucket,
Spade, and weather beaten face, dragged from beach
Unwillingly to bed. And then the lover,
Drunk with Guinness, buys a new tattoo to
Match his partner’s pierced eyebrow. Squaddies,
Full of oaths, and bearded like the Taliban,
Guard drinks and girls, swift and quick in quarrel,
Look for trouble and a reputation
Even in the p’liceman’s face. The pregnant teen,
In fair round belly. Primark crop top lin'd,
With eyes severe and hair of Spice Girl cut,
Full of cold sores and modern e-numbers;
And so they play their part. The sixth pint spills
Onto the floor and soiled pantaloons.
With spectacles askew, throws up outside;
His youthful hopes, to cross, a road too wide
For his drunk shanks; and his big manly voice,
Turns back to order treble vodka, pies,
And whiskies in his round. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Go home by coach to mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.