The Plastic crisis?

Northern Living - Counter The Plastic crisisThere are vast concerns about the amount of single use plastic which ends up in landfill, in our seas or simply blowing around your area when it's windy and the re-cycle bins blow over. Rightly so.

But have any of us actually stopped and thought about who is responsible? Presently we have a 5p “Tax” on single use plastic bags at Supermarkets. The revenue is supposed to go to local Environmental Causes. Have you heard of any of your local Supermarkets giving large sums of money to local Environmental Causes? Has your cause benefited in any way shape or form? I fear generally the answer is no.

Let us put a slightly different angle on this.

When you go to the Supermarket to buy a lettuce, have you ever found the words “ I don't want that one, the half plastic cover has come off” slipping inadvertently through your clenched teeth? I'm guessing not, unless you happen to be shopping at your workplace after shift and have been subliminally programmed. They will tell you that the plastic covering is to preserve freshness. All lies, I afraid. It's all about profits. It they can force their suppliers it insert said lettuce in a half plastic covering before boxing them for them all the better. They will also be obliged to stick the label on the plastic for them which carries the four digit product number and a bar code. How does this increase profit? Well they don't need staff training for the checkout operators to tell the difference between an Iceberg, Red Leaf Lettuce or indeed a Spring lettuce . Because they've burdened their supplier with the packaging and presentation the staff simply need to lay the tray on the shelves and let the customers take what they want. Bonus, they can send the cardboard back to their suppliers to dispose of and they'll never see the plastic again. Win -Win.

Extend this concept to plastic cocktail sticks, plastic straws, plastic coffee cups, plastic once only use water bottles, plastic meat trays and coverings, frozen goods bags......

The next proposal as a “tax” on once only use coffee cups. When an organically waxed degradable paper cup would do the job just as well.

So who should pay? Not you the consumer, I'm quite sure. You didn't request all the excess plastic packaging.

So how is this for an idea? Make the coffee chains and supermarkets pay the “tax” themselves and guarantee that they cannot pass the cost to you, the consumer. Stand at the checkout and simply say “Not I don't want a 5p bag or a bag for life, I want a paper bag with handles free of charge” and stand your ground. Or in the coffee shop simply say “It's to go, in a paper cup if you please”. You might be defeated on the first few visits, but if you start stripping all the plastic off your goods and leaving them behind they will soon get the message. Especially if we all do it....



There is no room for profit over people. There is less room for profit over the planet....

Will free Wi-Fi be an obligatory part of the pub / restaurant and café offering in 2018?

Will free Wi-Fi be an obligatory part of the pub / restaurant and café offering in 2018?As Jimi Famurewa of The Guardian puts it.....

“.......“Ultimately, coffee shops are social environments,” explains Jack Hesketh, owner of Store Street Espresso, which limits Wi-Fi in its two London outlets and has blocked the sockets in its Bloomsbury branch. “We were finding that you’d go into the cafe and it would be 15 people sat at 15 different tables and you could hear a pin drop.” Fighting this mausoleum vibe – as much as the chancers who make a mint tea last all afternoon – seems to be the prime motivation of a lot of the proprietors making a stand.

And sometimes the laptop brigade kill the mood in other ways. “The thing I hate the most is the people who come in and unplug lamps to charge up their laptops,” says Liam Casey, owner of the Pacific Social Club in east London, where laptop and tablet users are exiled to a back room. It’s not just the lone nomads either. “People use cafes for business meetings, which is fine,” says Casey. “But if I’m hungover and just want a breakfast, I don’t really want to get drawn into somebody’s professional networking.”

We all love our mobile phones, some more than others, but being in contact 24 hours a day is a feature of society which we are unlikely to abandon any time soon. But there is a right and wrong place, a 'phoniquette' if you will, which has evolved alongside the integration of mobile technology into our daily lives. Pubs and restaurants often encourage customers to 'Check In' on Facebook, to Tweet a picture of their meal as part of a promotion or  “Tag“ 8 friends who should be with you, for a free drink etc. They are generally less impressed when guesses turn up, rearrange the table setting to accommodate their mobile devices and then spend the evening in silence snapping pictures of every course and tapping away at their screens.

In early 2017 one restaurateur took the unusual step of installing a Faraday Cage in his restaurant, effectively blocking all mobile signals from outdoors. This might have been a publicity stunt, perhaps. But it does highlight another less than sociable social trend.

So if you are up in the Dales and drop in at The Slaughtered Lamb would you now expect to find the Wi-Fi logo emblazoned of the front door?

A bit of advice for Job applicants

A bit of advice for Job applicantsThis is not in any way intended as self promotion. But we though that a little advice from 'Those old dudes' might be of interest. After all some of, or all of, the people running businesses will be in our age group.

(1) Let's settle this first so we get the offense out of the way. We do not owe you a job. We want you to earn a good living whilst making us money. That is how it works. if you think you can do better, you might like to find the funding to start your own business?

(2) This is more to do with our ability than yours. However, if you send us a phone picture of your CV in various segments, via Facebook, Twitter, bogApp etc. the chances are that we won't be able to read them. You might live on and by your mobile phones but we do not. We tend to use Laptops or PCs. Mainly because we have to be able to do serious things like accounts, printing etc. If you send us a CV which we can't read due to image compression in social media sites, this is simply not our fault.

(3) On-line application forms. OK you don't link them. But we are not stupid enough to leave our email address visible on our website for every Spam-Bot on the Internet to abuse. If we provide you with a form to complete please add the correct details in the logical boxes. Name – Name, email – email etc. The Comments box is not for you to copy & paste the text content of your CV into. This results is that pretty text formatting that you have added or possibly paid to have created, being removed. All we get is the raw text. Which doesn't look overly impressive. First impressions etc. You'll find that the 'Upload CV' button works really well. As in that we actually get your CV in the format and style you intended. You'll be surprise by the number of file formats we can deal with!

(4) Pestering.... Sending messages to our Facebook page every two days is not a cool gig. Please see (1) above. We don't owe you the job of your dreams. If for whatever reason we have decided that you are not suitable for the post. Then I'm afraid no number of prompts will change our decision. You really would be better applying for another post, with somebody else, who you've not ticked off.

(5) Social Media Tagging your mates. “Look this is where I'll be wrkn” Firstly, it's not a word dude / dudess. Secondly, we can see the text in your tag and you've just reduced your chances.

(6) Silly email addresses. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is not an appropriate email address for a job application chum. IF you have three legs, effectively this should be between you or your girlfriend. I really hope she's satisfied.

(7) Weird / Obtuse / Obscene Social Media Posts. Yes you've worked out the form page. Well done you. But in doing so you've allowed us to find you on Facebook etc. Unless you've bolted your security settings down. (This will also make us suspicious). Look at what you post. Would you employ you if you were say 20 years older? Would you trust you with our customers? Would you trust you with cash?

In the day, way back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth we had a comedy character called Yosser Hughes who's tag line was “Giz a Job – I can do that” - Don't be Yosser!!!!

Modern Crimes

Modern CrimesBy July 1922 the first two policewomen in Leeds (appointed 1918 and 1920) had both resigned, within months of each other. The official history of Leeds Police doesn't mention a reason. Those pioneering women were the inspiration for Lottie Armstrong, the heroine of Chris Nickson’s new novel, Modern Crimes. 

‘It’s 1924, women over 30 have the vote, but the powers of these policewomen are very limited,’ Nickson says. ‘Lottie wants to be able to do more, and the disappearance of a girl from a home for unwed mothers gives her the chance.’

Lottie ends up working on the case with Detective Sergeant McMillan, and it quickly turns to murder. Finding the truth takes her from the poverty of the back streets and the hangover for the Great War to the front parlours of the rich, where the language of money speaks loudly. And part of the trail leads her to the Royal Hotel, one of the homes of the gay and lesbian community in Leeds, a place where secrets are kept and some revealed.

‘The Royal Hotel on Lower Briggate was one of the centres for what was essentially a community in the shadows then,’ Nickson explains. ‘There was one bar for men, another for women, and there were other pubs like the Mitre where people would gather. And that part of Leeds history is well worth commemorating.’

While Modern Crimes are committed in the novel, the impulses behind them – greed, fear, hate – show that the basic human impulses remain the same.

As Lottie shows herself to be a superb detective, the initiative a woman shows to find answers doesn’t sit well with those in charge. But how far do they believe is too far for a policewoman? Bringing alive Leeds in the 1920s, the mix of vibrancy, glamour, fashion and wealth, next to the squalor and deprivation that hadn’t changed since Victorian times, Modern Crimes immerses the reader in the past – and into Lottie’s battle to solve the mystery.

The History Press

The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud, Glos GL5 2QG

(+44) 01453 732513

Service combinations with unforeseen results – Review Trolling

There are Internet services which when viewed alone seem to be beneficial to all parties. The deep discounting sites such as Groupon and Living Social are examples. The customer gets a great deal and probably visits establishments which they otherwise wouldn't have tried. If managed effectively these sites can be very beneficial to the restaurant / pub as well. Another example are the various reviewing site, Trip Advisor for example. Great for a first time visitor to get a feel for the options available in a location and great for the establishments who provide the best possible service. Or so you might hope… However there are a minority of Internet users who have combined these services to create a rather insidious and damaging hobby. You might call it “Discount Code Review Trolling” Or for short let’s call them Discotrolls….. The pattern of behaviours goes something like this. Trawl through the deep discounting sites and harvest your vouchers. Contact a bunch of like minded friends and prompt them to do the same. Visit the victims establishment and hoover up your meals, spending the absolute minimum on additional items or services. Return home and post damaging and vindictive reviews under a pseudonym using a throw away email account. The really sad part is that they do this week in, week out.

Here’s an example. Obviously fictional, but it will have an all too true feel about it to many in the industry…..

It is Thursday morning and there is a hard frost outdoors. You have a business group in for a lunch meeting in the conservatory and the restaurant and dining areas are just about booked up for lunch. The Chef and his crew are going to deserve a few free pints at the end of this shift. You move from area to area placing menus and specials cards on the tables and making sure that all the place setting are correct and lighting the gas fires as you go. Passing the log burning stove you stop to throw a couple of large logs in and open the vent allowing the stove to crackle into a full blaze. Nothing looks more inviting. 

As you pass the main door you note a couple of cars parked off centre in the parking bays and very close to each other. The occupants have all four windows down and appear to be passing a steaming flask back and forth. You make a note to open as soon as possible and let them in, they must be freezing out there… Having got the float in both tills and stuck your head into the kitchen to be welcomed by the usual banter you replace a blown wall light bulb and gathering up your keys head to the main door to let your guests in. It is about fifteen minutes to twelve, but they have been sat outdoors in the cold for over half an hour as far as you know, maybe longer. Oddly enough your guests don’t make an immediate move, but some of the business group do and soon Helen your head waitress is ushering them through into the conservatory in a friendly and efficient manner. You think to yourself that you really are fortunately with your present staff.

By twenty five past twelve most tables are occupied, there is a busy hustle and bustle at the bar and checks and food orders are passing back and forth to and from the kitchen. At exactly twelve thirty, six very cold looking guests appear through the front door. Helen greets them and shows them to the last remaining large table, which appropriately enough is in the raised area by the bar where the log burner is now belting out heat. You gesture to Helen who deftly slides the vent to the half way position causing the almost incandescent stove to moderate its heat output.

Within moments Sarah as summonsed to the table and takes the order. On her way back from the kitchen she adds ice and a slice of lemon to a large glass pitcher of water and delivers it to their table. Glancing across you note with some puzzlement that three of the party are still wearing the heavy jackets. In a moment between serving drinks you pop over to ask if you could take their jackets. The reply is that they are very cold. Possibly as a result of sitting in their cars with the windows down you think.

Their food is delivered to the table after about ten minutes. Six Grill Platters. Which they consume with gusto. Shortly after finishing their meals one of the party appears at the bar to pay, brandishing six vouchers entitling them to 50% off the bill. He pays the bill and confirms that they thoroughly enjoyed their meals and they depart. All is good. Or so you think.

The afternoon passes into early evening and the business meeting guests begin to leave. You have a couple of pints with the kitchen crew and at eleven forty five you finish your shift and pass the bar over to Ian who as on lates and early mornings until Tuesday.

Having almost forgotten the rather odd group a week earlier the Trip Advisor App on your mobile pings. Checking through the bookings for the previous week you realise that the disparaging review is by none other than Mr. Embitteredshaw, of the self same party of six. They are critical of your foreign staff, your badly laid out parking facilities, the dangerous tree overhanging the front door, the quality of their food, the cold dark and damp feel to the place and the surely landlord. Actually they are critical of everything, which is strange because you’d not had a review with less than a four star rating since the last time you offered Groupon / Living Social vouchers!

Trip Advisor refuse to remove their review which festers there impacting on your ranking for the following six months but thankfully you never see Mr. Enbitteredshaw or any of his fellows again……..



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