antarctic report 7 – Baffin boots and polished copper pipes

b2 living accomodation module

b2 living accomodation module

This is the seventh in our series of reports from David Goulden working for The British Antarctic Survey. In this report Dave gives us an idea of the clothing required to work in the antarctic.

We have been hampered by strong winds and drifting snow more days than not in the last 2 weeks.
The wind does not have to be that strong but once it starts to pick up the snow you lose visibility and wind tails start to form. Because of this we have be working on base maintenance which has not been that interesting!

On the social front we celebrated Burns Night this weekend with haggis, poetry and highland games. A selection of Rabbie Burns poems were recited. One about a mouse, one concerning his girlfriend Anna, one concerning toothache and one about crofting. The four readers very bravely added their own unique style to each poem to the extent that Rabbie Burns was thought to be a pirate….

The highland games consisted of caber tossing, welly boot wanging, shackle throwing and the ubiquitous Tug of War! Victor Ludorium was, predictably, one of the RSA Morrisons team with the BAS guys competing but rarely challenging. The temperature dropped down to minus 11 during the evening and the sun came out and it was a beautiful night.

The following Sunday we headed to the coast for a spot of ice climbing. More of that in a later correspondence. During the last week we had to complete our Antarctic employment pool form which registers our interest in future work for BAS and our clothing feedback form. The clothing issued by BAS is constantly reviewed. The clothing consists of the following:

  • Baffin shin height boots with a rubber lower section similar to a Wellington boot with lace up leather uppers. We are issued 2 sets of insulated foil liners that keep your feet warm.You remove these each day so that they can dry and air.
  • Leather insulated rigger gloves which are surprisingly warm.They have a soft fleece lining and are pretty resistant to cold and water. The handy thing about these is that you can take them off and on very quickly for when bare fingers are required for a task.
  • Inner cotton gloves – standard inners for use in the above when cold.
  • Knee length socks, 2 pairs – thick wool mix sock – very warm especially when pulled up!
  • Thermal leggings and vest – pretty much the same as the stuff you can buy in the UK.
  • Mole skin trousers (various sizes but 1 pair only).These are incredibly warm and are made of a tight knit wool/cotton blend.The problem is getting a pair the right size.I recall wearing these during D of E hiking expeditions at school and could probably pick up a pair form Chas E Smith.
  • Combat cargo padded knee work trousers – the padded knees come in handy against snow and cold metal surfaces.
  • Mid layer zipped neck thermal – every day wear and very comfortable – alpine low aleutian brand.
  • Fleece jacket – second hand hand me down soft core shell jackets with, if you are unlucky a number of rips and tears from previous users.
  • Insulated overalls – every day wear that go on top of mid layers and trousers.They are padded and insulated and very hard wearing.They are bright orange or orange and blue with luminous stripes which stand out very well in this white environment.
  • Belt – webbing strap
  • Buck lock Knife – standard BAS issue. Not that robust but designed for all God fearing folk.
  • Necky – I have not owned a neckie before and always thought them a little “princess like” however they are invaluable here and are used as scarves / neck warmers,ear warmers or as a thin hat.
  • Beanie – Sealskin if you are lucky. Good brand!
  • Sunglasses – Joubo french UV resistance glasses with eye shades and groaky to ensure they stay on. Very good kit if a little large. Good lenses and great eye protection.
  • Uninsulated overalls – these are used for indoor tasks and come in black for working on machines and engines to hide the grease.
  • Sunscreen / aftersun and moisturisers – free dispenser stations as you leave the building – obligatory especially in this arid environment.
  • Laundry – once a week on an allotted day.

Common gear worn around the BAS buildings after work tends to be shorts, base layer and flip flops/crocs. The buildings are kept at approx 20 degrees and so is fairly warm. No overalls or boots are allowed in the dining room or lounge. The Bar opens at 1930 hrs for your allotted 2 cans and our meal times start from 0630 for breakfast, smoko at 1030,lunch at 1300hrs and afternoon smoko at 1630. Our days end at 1830 hrs apart from Saturdays where we have afternoon scrub out. We are allocated a job form 1530 to 1630 hrs which could be scrubbing out the ovens and hobs or cleaning the boot room or Toilets etc. The tasks are varied each week and help ensure the base is kept clean.
The copper pipework in the WC and showers is polished to a brilliant shine each week and looks very smart. I think this is a tradition perhaps left over from the Navy .

In the next few days we hope to have a visit around the construction site. They are now 4 weeks before the first Construction team leaves – the target is to clad the remaining 4 modules before the winter season.

– David Goulden, Halley Research Station, Antarctica

12/01 Antarctic Report 6 – deadmen timbers and russian catering
30/12 Antarctic Report 5 – prime movers, melt tank and cricket
22/12 Antarctic Report 4 – quiet week at 75 degrees south
15/12 Antarctic Report 3 – Mech boys, adventuring and the flow
08/12 Antarctic Report 2 – Penguins, balloons, stuffing and apple sauce
06/12 Antarctic Report 1 – Nunatacs, Blue Ice and 4 beers on Saturday night

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

Today I attended a rally in Trafalgar Square with the title I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist. The idea is to protest the abuse by the police of anti-terror legislation. Specifically it is to protest the fact that police continue to harass individuals who are lawfully taking photographs in public spaces.

The Chief Constable, Head of ACPO Media Advisory Group, Andrew Trotter OBE QPM has written to ACPO Chief Constables stating: “Section 44 gives officers no specific powers in relation to photography and there is no provision in law for the confiscation of equipment or the destruction of images, either digital or on film.”

The rally was pretty low key. There seemed to be no centre or organising force, it was just a lot of photographers gathered together in one place taking photographs of each other. Now and then a little vortex would run through the crowd as something appeared to be happening and all cameras would turn to face the supposed centre of the disturbance. I myself was lucky enough to be at the centre of one such vortex as two police officers attempted to stop a girl with a bicycle. The rumour was that she had been cycling on the pavement and when the police officers attempted to hold her bike there were irritated cries from the assembled photographers. The police officers in question seemed, to me, to have faint smiles on their faces and I wonder whether they were merely toying with the crowd.

Police - Stop!

Police – Stop!

There were all sorts of photographers, the earnest and the joyful, the outraged and the tourist. There were all sorts of cameras, pocket digitals, 35 mm Nikormats, vast telephoto lenses, Leicas and strange twin lens contraptions. Sadly there were very few police.

The Socialist Workers were there of course (yawn). Aren’t, they everywhere? Also I was handed a leaflet banging on about the U.S. government being responsible for the 9/11.

More seriously there was a small demonstration against the current Iranian regime. Two women gave very emotional and fervent speeches begging for the support of the British people. I think that the Left in Britain and America understand  the ignominious involvement of our countries in Iran and this leaves us loath to criticise the current Iranian regime. This is a mistake.  While we, in the UK, are protesting that police are trying to stop us taking pictures Iranian are protesting that their government tortures and kills innocent people. We should support them. A good start to appreciating the dreadfulness of this regime would be to read Persepolis by Marjane Satrap.

Iran Solidarity

Iran Solidarity

i’m a photographer, not a terrorist

i’m a photographer, not a terrorist

’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

And here’s a fantastic vid named Evidence by La La and the Boo Ya

 

Unsettling robots

There is an interesting article on the H+ Magazine web site on Jan 15th about life like robots. The thrust of the argument is that humans are attracted to life like things. Like Teddy bears and cars with headlights like eyes and whatnot. But when the objects become too true to life we are revolted because it causes some kind of dissonance. We think it is life like but it seems wrong. Like people with disfigured faces. They link to this very unsettling youtube vid of a four legged robot built for the U.S. army to carry stuff.

Wonga – greedy and irresponsible lending

Wonga

Wonga

Remember when it used to take five days to transfer money from one account to the other? Remember all the irritated letters to TV and radio consumer programs? In 2009, the banks finally got their act together and it is now possible to transfer money on the same day. A good idea? I’d say so. However the law of unintended consequence has now kicked in with the arrival of Wonga.com.

I heard about Wonga on the radio yesterday and later saw their advert on the London Underground. Wonga are a company who will give you a short term loan and provide the money in around 15 minutes. The application is handled using the Internet via your PC or mobile phone. The customer uses a simple “slider” to select how much money they want to borrow and how long they want it for. Presumably credit checks are performed automatically and, if approved, the money is squirted into the customers bank account within minutes. A good idea? I’d say not.

The world has only just gone through a financial crisis which broke all sorts of records in all sorts of ways. The blame has been placed firmly on cheap and overly available credit. The result has been to put the western world in massive debt to a totalitarian and undemocratic Chinese regime.

While the experts rake over the details the public are disgusted by the greed of the banks and the incompetence of the organisations responsible for monitoring and controlling credit risk. Even Gordon Brown, the British chancellor on whose watch Britain’s economy was flushed down the toilet, claimed that he knew nothing of what was going on. While the world and his wife knew that anyone could get a “self certified” mortgage by lying on their application form Gordon Brown knew nothing. One wonders whether Brown knows about Wonga. Does he know that Wonga are targeting young people? Check them out on facebook and twitter.

British young people have a reputation for liking their booze. Now we have a company which is allowing them to buy credit when they’re drunk. You’re out with your mates, you’ve been in the pub all evening and now everyone is off clubbing but you’ve run out of cash. No problem, pull out your mobile and click, click, click you have £200 dumped in your bank account. What’s not to like?

Well how about a typical APR of 2,689%

Wonga is the epitome of greedy and irresponsible lending and one has to ask: Are our regulators asleep or simply stupid?
Let’s be clear who is behind these greedy, irresponsible people. Wonga list the following Joint Venture partnerships amongst their investors:

Balderton Capital
Greylock Partners
Accel Partners
Dawn Capital

Here are the people behind each partnership. I encourage you to click on the  link,  view the thumbnail pictures and then Email these greedy and irresponsible people and tell them in, polite but firm terms, what you think about loan sharks. If you know them then disown them.

Balderton Capital

Barry Maloney
Mark Evans
Bernard Liautaud
Tim Bunting
Dharmash Mistry
Jerome Misso
Roberto Bonanzinga
Andrew Nutter
Harry Briggs
Rob Moffat

http://www.balderton.com/our-team/

Greylock Partners

Arvin Babu
Aneel Bhusri
Tom Bogan
Asheem Chandna
Charles Chi
Roger Evans
Isaac Fehrenbach
Donald Fischer
Bill Helman
Reid Hoffman
Bill Kaiser
Ivy Li
James Slavet
David Strohm
David Sze
David Thacker

http://www.greylock.com/team/team/

Accel Partners

Kevin Comolli
Sonali De Rycker
Bruce Golden
Harry Nelis
Jeremiah Daly
Spencer Lazar

http://www.accel.com/people/index.php?group_id=122000

Dawn Capital

Josh Bell
Norman Fiore
Haakon Overli
Chad Raube
Glen Drury
Dr. Arjang Zadeh

http://www.dawncapital.co.uk/welcome/our-team/the-dawn-team.aspx

P.S. – I heard a guy on the radio from an organisation named Debt Wizard who seemed pretty knowledgable about all aspects of debt.

P.P.S – Here’s an interesting blog about Wonga targeting students and then lying about it.

02-04-2012 – Guardian article: Stella Creasy: ‘You can see a perfect storm coming’

01-03-2012 – Guardian article: Wonga: the real cost of a payday loan

Buy Poppies at Fine Art America

Poppies

antarctic report 6 – Deadmen timbers and Russian catering

Convoy

Convoy

This is the sixth in our series of reports from David Goulden working for The British Antarctic Survey. Last time Dave had just heard of the arrival of the Russian supply ship Igarka. This time we hear of the unloading.

After taking a leisurely breakfast over at the Drury annexe kitchen we had met at the garage at 0745 where I read the instructions from a white board pinched from the kitchen in the Laws building.

We were then given 15 minutes notice to get packed and be ready for the Relief party heading down to the coast. I jumped on my skidoo and raced back to my bunk room where I threw everything in a bag and went to the pick up point where I was assigned a snow cat for the 40min journey to the coast.

We arrived as the Russian supply ship Igarka was steaming over the horizon trailing a plume of black smoke from its funnel. It arrived an hour later and spent the rest of the day charging at the ice in an attempt to break off the jagged ice so that it could moor square to the edge.The 3no 100t cranes only have a lift reach of 12m and so it could not afford to be anything but snug against the sea ice.

A stubborn lump of ice refused to break away from the shelf so we ended up with 6 Jiffy ice drills with 2 men a piece stitch drilling a line of holes in an attempt to assist in breaking off a section of ice. Each man was roped up as they were standing in sea water whilst drilling.

Eventually at 1900hrs after a final successful charge at the ice, the ship was able to moor up and we accepted her bow lines, dug holes for deadmen timbers and wire strops and secured her bow. We handed over to the night shift at 2100 hrs and headed home to base for dinner and bed.

The Relief rotation started that night. We were the first point of contact for the cargo with sea ice drivers delivering sledges to us at the ship side where we loaded and stropped all the material. We had a small caboose with a paraffin heater and 4 beds in with us on the sea ice edge – this acted as our refuge throughout the day.

As one sledge departed another pulled in from its waiting point at the mooring lines and made its way to us. The loaded sledge travelled off the ice and up the ramp to the Shelf ice where the full cargo sledges were lined up so that they could be collected by the Prime Movers 3 or 4 at a time and delivered to base.

As the Prime Mover left the Shelf ice depot it radioed Halley Comms and gave a description of the cargo which was logged.The cargo was then deposited on the Cargo lines at base from where it would be distributed.

The first shift went amazingly well and we moved 40 sledges. We had 6 holds to empty each with its own crane. The holds had “‘tween” decks. This meant that you emptied the top half and then opened the hatches below (the floor) and started work on the lower hold below. My job was banking and slinging loads and strapping the cargo. We got to recognise the Russian vocab for “up” and “down” and developed a rapport with each shift. They worked extremely hard for us considering they were on a day rate (20,000k a day for the ship and crew not inc fuel)

We were bunked on the Igarka and had a hot bed rota with the night shift. The cabins were OK but reminded me of travelling in China and the hostels common to the country. Each cabin had its own WC/shower room. One of the best things was the fact that you could open the windows!
The russian catering was, as expected peas and spam for breakfast, but the crew were very friendly and perfect hosts. In the evenings we explored the ship and its holds. They had a swimming pool and gym on board but the pool was empty and covered in oil and the Gym had parts of cargo hold bolts as dumbbells!

Because the unloading was non-stop we had a couple of days of cargo moving where we ate on the run and were fed with coffee and chocolate by the sea ice driver’s mate. The shelf ice kitchen caboose (our canteen staffed by one of the chefs) opened at 1300hrs. If we managed to get back we would be served much welcome soup or sandwiches. More often than not we were sent flasks of soup down and ate between loads. The Russians were on an 8hr shift.

Loading a Challenger cat onto the Ernest Shackleton for return to Cape Town

Loading a Challenger cat onto the Ernest Shackleton for return to Cape Town

The Ernest Shackleton (ES) turned up 2 days into the Igarka relief. She moored to the bow of the Igarka and was dwarfed by the bulk carrier. The Shackleton is much more manoeuvrable, having bow and stern thrusters, and she was able to shave off sections of the sea ice.

Our access to the Igarka was via a Wor Geordie which was dropped at 1930 hrs with the n/s crew and not dropped again until 0700 hrs the next morning with us hanging on. It was a great way to get to work as but you had to hang on!

Some friendly penguins joined in the Relief. They would sit in the middle of the operation squawking and franticly moulting trying to rid there down feathers in favour of their mature and waterproof coats. They could not leave the ice for the sea until they had moulted.

We were moved over to the ES half way through the week.The accommodation aboard made the Igarka look like a prison ship. I have never been on a cruise ship but if I had I would expect her to look like the Shackleton. We had en suite facilities and our own lounge and TV room. The food was fantastic. We could dine on 5 course meals and I took the opportunity to eat my weight in fresh fruit and soft cheese. We even had real milk (well UHT).

The Igarka was unloaded in 4.5 shifts and departed playing the Russian national anthem on its deck speakers and the crew waving as she steamed away. She was on charter to BAS until she left the sea ice zone.

We then moved to emptying the ES. For this section of work I was to be a sea ice drivers mate which meant riding a skidoo shadowing the snow cat driver in case the cat fell through the ice. We all carried/wore life jackets and throw lines which are mandatory when on sea ice.

The ES relief was run by the ES bridge officers. Protocol was such that you had to call them up to request permission to come along side or depart with the loads. Each wagon would be held at the mooring lines until its predecessor was ready to depart. It was a much more formal arrangement and slowed the process down somewhat. We were also back on BAS work schedules so stopped for smoko and lunch for an hour each day.

As far as I was concerned I was quite happy to dawdle the days away as it meant we had more time eating and sleeping on the ES – we very nearly had the ship to ourselves for the period and there were a few days when I was actually bunking on my own for the first time since leaving the UK.

Once the ship was unloaded we began backloading waste from base. This took a couple of days and we then started wrapping up our makeshift shanty town. On the last day the remaining 5 of us had our last meal on the ES (we were treated to lobster and prawns) before being assigned a snow cat for the journey home. As we loaded up the sledges in preparation for the convoy journey we were handed a can of beer for the hour trip. It was a very satisfying trip home. We had completed the largest relief in the shortest time. We’d moved over 250 wagons and travelling over 4000km over the sea ice. We arrived back at base at 2200hrs and were given the next 2 days off.

Saturday night was the Relief barbecue night with a free bar supplied by Morrisons (Gallifords) and the RSA teams supplied and cooked the meat. It was a great night but most of us were more than a little tired after 10 days of non stop working and shift changes.

Our next task will be unloading and categorising the cargo and carrying out repairs and logistics work before the end of the season – we are half way through today……

– David Goulden, Halley Research Station, Antarctica

30/12 Antarctic Report 5 – prime movers, melt tank and cricket
22/12 Antarctic Report 4 – quiet week at 75 degrees south
15/12 Antarctic Report 3 – Mech boys, adventuring and the flow
08/12 Antarctic Report 2 – Penguins, balloons, stuffing and apple sauce
06/12 Antarctic Report 1 – Nunatacs, Blue Ice and 4 beers on Saturday night

Wine Merchants go bust but estate agents doing very nicely

What do we expect if we buy everything at Tesco?

At least three off licenses and wine merchants have closed on Western Road/Church Road in Hove recently. I guess we only have ourselves to blame for shopping in super markets. I used to enjoy getting a vid from the local DVD rental shop and then choosing a bottle of plonk but now I am forced to queue up at the Tesco Metro behind people buying sandwiches or pasties or washing powder.

The news covered the fact that the recession had hit wine merchants but estate agents still seem to be thriving. Western Road/Church Road seems to have just as many estate agents. This is not surprising as, though property prices may have dropped around 10%, they are still up as much as 300% on ten years ago. As the general public are stupid enough to pay estate agents a percentage based commission their income must have sky-rocketed too. The estate agents in Church Road seem to think that the pavement outside their shops is a private parking space for their Jags and Porches. Nothing like rubbing it in!

Cut backs? - Not bloody likely!

It seems to me that whenever one deals with large sums of money one finds that the “professionals” involved demand a percentage based fee. Whether you are investing in funds or buying a property the professionals want a piece of it. When you are forking out 300,000 for a property the addition of another £4,500 can be easily overlooked but I see no reason why the estate agent should earn more merely because the property prices have increased. It seems to me that the estate agent business is money for old rope. Ask yourself: What do estate agents do? They keep a list of properties. They stick pictures in their windows. They maintain a web site. They keep your keys and show people around your house. And for that they can demand 2%. That is outrageous.

An Inspector Calls – The Wyndham Theatre

An Inspector Calls

An Inspector Calls

Last night I went to see An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley at The Wyndham theatre on Charing Cross Road. The event was organised by a friend and I had expected some kind of “Who Done it” but this was not to be.

The play is directed Stephen Daldry and opens with a bunch of urchins faffing around on stage. One kicks an old radio and the scene begins proper. The curtain opens on a stunning set. An old English town house tall, against a smokey backdrop. Inside there are people talking, a dinner party is taking place, a family in evening dress. The set design is by Ian MacNeil and this combined with Lighting by Rick Fisher create a impression which is almost magic realism. An engagement is announced and toasts drunk. The gentlemen retire outside to smoke.

Of course an inspector calls and relates a story of a young woman who has committed suicide by drinking bleach. The woman had been lower class and the family can see no reason why this sad but apparently unrelated event should upset their evening. However, as each of the family express their self riotous indignation, it becomes apparent that all of them have had dealings with the young woman and the inspector insists that blame is apportioned. For some reason Nicholas Woodeson was not available to play Inspector Goole and so the understudy, Jeremy Spriggs, stepped in. While one could not fault his lines he failed to bring an authoritative presence to the part and his frequent position at the far left of the stage did not help.

Set between the wars, the play evolves into a morality tale, a spotlight on a family representing a ruling class divorced from and exploiters of the common people. A fascinating twist leaves us all considering our own actions.

Creators
Written by J B Priestley
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Design by Ian MacNeil
Lighting Design by Rick Fisher
Music by Stephen Warbeck
Associate Director, Julian Webber

Cast
Nicholas Woodeson as Inspector Goole
Sandra Duncan as Mrs Birling
Marianne Oldham as Sheila Birling
David Roper as Mr Birling
Diana Payne Myers as Edna
Robin Whiting as Eric Birling
Timoth Watson as Gerald Croft

Cheap alcohol and de facto social engineering

Booze

The man on the radio is talking about binge drinking in the UK and the mumblings in the political establishment is in favour of “banning cheap alcohol”. God knows how they plan to achieve this – I think I’ve heard arguments to stop super markets doing cheap offers.

As I have pointed out before, New Labour has embraced hyper-commercialism as it’s core ideology and subsequently perceive that their only lever for affecting alcohol consumption is price. Since the commercial revolution which engulfed the UK under first Thatcher and now Brown, controls have been removed from all aspects of commerce. We are now bombarded with advertising everywhere we go and everywhere we look. The emphasis on terming everyone a “customer” is key as it means that success is determined by achieving a sale.

In Britain and America we, rightly, tend to look very much askance at any type of social engineering and this includes government advertising exhorting us to some worthy goal. But this is odd as we do not even notice when large corporations attempt social engineering and this is exactly what is achieved by large marketing campaigns.

Our society is undergoing social engineering but the engineering is not devised by a national government with goals such as social cohesion or community responsibility. The goal of those that control social engineering is simple: Profit.

So while the government attempts social change by squeezing in a few sound bytes on a news program, the alcohol companies are able to keep up a relentless campaign which targets kids and tells them alcohol is stylish, alcohol is fun, alcohol is cool.
I saw a bit of video on The Sun web site which underlines the ubiquity of this message. The video was of a drunken reveller desecrating a war memorial. The story in the sun was full of outrage but the video had a little advertisement tacked on the front and the advertisement was for cider!

Prior to the commercial revolution, restrictions existed on the sale of alcohol. In my youth one could only buy booze at a pub or off license and the off licenses was generally part of the pub. I think it is understandable that we can now buy booze in super markets but this means little metro super markets in the centre of town too. Walking along Western Road in Brighton there are a string of little grocer shops which also sell alcohol and there is at least one which appears to do very little business in anything but alcohol and I suspect that the dodgy looking vegetables are just there for show.

Deliberate targeting of youth by the alcohol industry also plays a part in increased consumption with fruit flavoured vodka based drinks and high strength lagers. Another factor related to greater alcohol consumption is that the owners of pubs and bars have strived to make them more “efficient”. In our commercialised society efficient means that they generate as much money as possible and this means selling as much booze as possible. To achieve this the environment in pubs and bars has been modified in a number of ways. For example there is little room to sit down and the music has been turned up so that one must shout to be heard. I have been in pubs like this myself and when nobody can talk we just resort to drinking. Why do we stay in the pub? A good question. I guess it is that a majority of the people present have fallen for the marketing that a noisy uncomfortable bar is the place to be.

I am not arguing for draconian laws to curb alcohol. I like to drink myself. What I am criticising is the government’s lack of understanding and imagination when tacking the problem. I am criticising, once again, New Labour’s obsession with the market and commercialism. I am criticising New Labour inability to affect anything because of their obsequious relationship with bis business. I am criticising the fact that New Labour are now so scared of business that they dare not make any change that would affect someone in a pin striped suit. If New Labour had been in power in 1833 the Slavery Abolition Act would never have been passed because the slave owners would have whinged that their profits would be affected.

Before the government looks at the price of alcohol they should look at Targeting, Advertising, Drinking environment and Availability (TADA).

Moving the booze away from the fruit and veg would be social engineering

MPs call for clampdown on alcohol misuse