Sainsbury’s, T20 and other stuff

To start with the Sainsbury’s developments: Having made sure that I logged into the Sainsbury’s site first thing on Monday morning to catch any suitable vacancies, and duly applied for an administrative job I have got through the first stage of their recruitment process and have an interview coming on 6 August at 12:00.

The T20 quarter finals are done, and the four teams who will take part in Finals day are Somerset, Sussex, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. The star individual performance from these matches came from Scott Styris of Sussex who scored 100 not out off 37 balls (yes, you read that right) to boost Sussex to an unassailable 230-4 from their 20 overs. Samit Patel for Notts scored a rapid half century and followed up with three wickets making the decision as to who was man of that particular match very straightforward. Yorkshire’s star was Gary Ballance (although Joe Root’s 65 was invaluable in laying the foundation it was Ballance’s 46 not out off about 20 balls at the end that made the Yorkshire total unassailable). Also to be noted is the fact that all four winning teams batted first – which makes Hampshire’s decision to field first in the last fo the four matches seem rather curious.

I have completed another secttion of my current course at Learning Works, and found it veyr enjoyable. My recommendation (unless something very dramatic happens during what is left of the course) will be that they do offer it, but take a bit of care over who they offer it to. Anyone who made heavy weather of the more basic employability course would definitely struggle with this one (it is not possible to genuinely struggle with the other).

Some more photos (making full use of the warm weather we have finally got)!


Congratulations South Africa (but don’t count your chickens yet!)

South Africa duly completed the emphatic victory that put them 1-0 up in the three match battle of the test match titans. At one point, when Ian Bell and Matt Prior were going well it looked as though the greatest of escapes might just be on, but once Prior was out, attempting to sweep the leg spin of Tahir the end came swiftly. However, it should be remembered that this is the first innings defeat England have suffered in two and a half years, and the first time in a long time that both bowling and batting have malfunctioned for them in the same game. I would not recommend sweeping changes (I still have horrible memories of the effects of “in, out, shake it all about” selections in the 1990s, as well as less horrible memories of the 2010-11 Aussies adopting this approach), and would also point out that immediately following a thrashing in Perth, England bowled out Australia on the first morning in Melbourne – these guys know how to bounce back and have done so before.

The Sunday at Marxism 2012 featured a couple of frustrations when I twice indicated a desire to speak but missed out (these things happen), but I was nevertheless impressed that there were two meetings relating to disability. On the Monday, the highlight of the morning was Gigi Ibrahim talking about Egypt complete with some quite horrific photos (this was one of many interactive meetings). I thoroughly enjoyed the bit of the final rally that I was there for. Faced with a choice between being there for the whole thing and then almost certainly having to stand all the way to Cambridge or leaving early and probably having a seat I chose the latter.

If the accounts and photos I have provided in this blog have impressed you, book early for next year’s event (I booked in February for this year’s event) and you won’t regret it.

Enjoy some photos…


South Africa’s day

South Africa enjoyed a bonanza day in the world of sport yesterday (it was probably just as well for Bradley Wiggins that no South Africans were involved in the Tour de France!) with golf and cricket happenings that were the stuff of dreams (or nightmares according to perspective).

At Royal Lytham & St Annes Ernie Els recorded a final round 68 to get to the safety of the clubhouse at seven under par for the week. The combination of gusting winds and pressure got to long-time leader Adam Scott who bogeyed the last four holes, missing a shortish putt at the last to go into a play off. Spectacular happenings of this sort are by no means unknown at the business end of majors – Jean Van de Velde’s triple bogey at Carnoustie to drop into a playoff and Paul Azinger’s 6,5 finish at Muirfield that gave Nick Faldo the 1987 Open are just two other examples, while in the US Open Arnold Palmer was once seven clear with nine to play and failed to seal the deal, but four bogeys in a row to finish is definitely unusual.

A couple of hundred miles south at The Oval (I refuse to incorporate the name of whoever happens to be the current sponsor), South Africa were having a day that they would scarcely have dared to dream about. In the first two sessions Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis piled on 234 runs without being dismissed, taking their stand to a South African third wicket record 376 unbroken. Amla became the first South African to pass 300 in a test match, while Kallis was on 183 not out when tea arrived and with it Graeme Smith’s declaration. England then contrived to lose four wickets, all bar that of first inings centurion Cook to poor shots, in the final session. I will not venture a firm prediction on this occasion, but with all due respect to the batting talents of Prior, Bresnan, Broad, Swann and Anderson, it is clear that Bell and Bopara will have to stay together for much of this final day to give England any chance of pulling off an escape act that would earn plaudits from Harry Houdini.

Thats it for today apart from some photos…


Summer and other stuff

For the first time in a long time we are getting some genuine summer weather. I spent yesterday sitting outside, following various developments in the sporting world. Barring a ‘Van de Velde’ moment Adam Scott will be crowned Open Champion tomorrow evening as he leads by four strokes going into the final round. Brant Snedeker who equalled Scott’s course record 64 on the second day fell away in the later stages of the third. Having been bogey free for the first 40 holes (an unprecendented achievement at the Open) he dropped four shots in the last 14 holes of his third round.

South Africa have had two very good days in the test match and at 403-2 are almost certainly secure against defeat (there is no certainly in cricket – remember Headingley 1981). However, as this score suggests, the pitch is showing precious few signs of mischief, and the last time England faced a large first innings deficit on a pitch of this nature, at Brisbane in 2010 they responded with 517-1 in the second innings to save the game. With a possible 196 overs remaining in the game there is still time for all sorts of things to happen.

Returning to the Saturday at Marxism, the fourth meeting I attended featured Panos Garganas from our Greek sister organisation the SEK talking about “Can Greece beat the Troika?” This was remarkably upbeat given the situation in Greece. As the speaker pointed out, not only did Siriza gain the highest percentage of the vote for a left organsiation in a Greek election since 1958, they did so in the face of open intimidation from the major European powers.

After the two hour break I attended a meeting titled “Defend the right to protest”. This featured three main speakers, Nina Power who runs Defend the Right to Protest, criminal defence lawyer Matt Foot and Alfie Meadows. Alfie Meadows is a victim of police brutality, and a piece of doublethink that Orwell would never have dared to make up. Having been battered to within an inch of his life (he needed emergency brain surgery to save hime) he then found himself charged with violent disorder, a case that is still ongoing (comes up for retrial in October).

At the end of the day I met up with the Norwich comrades and we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours talking about our respective days (although the bar, which I have already kvetched about, ran out of ale that night – and did not bother to restock) before heading to our accommodation.

Enjoy a selection of photos…



England have made a strong start to the clash of the test match titans. Andrew Strauss was dismissed by the fourth ball of the match but that was the first and only time South Africa were in a strong position. Alastair Cook became the second youngest ever to reach 20 test match hundreds (behind – surprise, surprise – Sachin Tendulkar) and was still there at the close on 114 not out. There were also substantial contributions from Trott (61) and Pietersen (42), while Ian Bell looked as solid as ever as he and Cook reached the close at 267-3. Since this series is only three matches long, instead of the five a series of this standing should be a strong start is particularly important. South Africa need to get the last seven wickets fairly quickly to get back in things, while for England the aim would be to bat for most of today as well and then give South Africa a testing 40 minutes or so before the close.

The Open is in full swing at Royal Lytham & St Annes (note to any American reading this: there is no such tournament as the British Open – it started in 1860 as The Open and that remains its name). The early pace setter is Adam Scott of Australia who broke the course record yesterday with a 64, but many top names are well in contention, and there have been many occasions on which an unknown has shot the lights out early on and then faded under pressure.

The Saturday at Marxism was a truly magnificent day – even the weather was quite pleasant. On this occasion it was also World Pride day, so a number of people were taking part in that, but every meeting was still packed to bursting.

The first meeting I attended featured lawyer Gareth Peirce speaking on the subject of “The dark arts of the secret state: a decade of false narratives”. One of those who spoke from the floor talked about the coverage of PC Simon Harwell’s trial (since this meeting the trial has concluded, and the jury, disgracefully and indefensibly, have acquitted him), and particularly of the moment when he broke down in tears. Contrary to the impression given by most reporters, PC Harwell was not actually talking about Ian Tomlinson when he broke down, but about a motorcycle accident he had suffered. At the end of the meeting a book by the main speaker was being sold at a very reasonable price, and proved (as expected) to be compulsive reading. The final essay in the collection has the same title as this meeting and contains most of what was said there.

Nick Davies’ talk about “The press, power and the phone hacking scandal” As you might imagine, there were many juicy stories in this session. I will record just one, relatively unimportant but quite amusing. There was a story in the run up to the Euro 2012 football tournament about an England fan who was so worried about a poor performance by the England team that he took out insurance for neurological problems. The “fan” allowed himself to be named, which along wth a few other things prompted some digging, which revealed that our supposed “worried fan” was actually the PR manager of the insurance company!

After lunch I headed for the meeting on “The Higgs Boson: should Marxists care?” and was never gladder to arrive early since it was obvious even at that stage that the room was far too small for a meeting on this topic, which opinion was confirmed when it was soon full to beyond a level of which the safety elf would have approved. The one word answer to the question in the meeting title is, of course, yes. An interest in science is valuable in and of itself, and the discovery of the Higgs Boson is a huge development, plugging a gap in the so called “Standard Model”. Our speaker pointed out for those who talk of “wasted money” that last year the British government lavished £34 billion on defence and only £4 billion on science.

I will continue my account of this extraordinary Saturday in my next post. Enjoy the photos…


Cricket and Marxism 2012 (continued)

Even in this ridiculous summer some cricket is being played – yesterday two batsmen made double centuries, Joe Root for Yorkshire and Kevin Pietersen for Surrey. Rain has banjaxed both these fixtures.

Although, as I have already recorded, I think that Marxism 2012 was the best ever, I have two gripes to record: First, the food and drink being provided on site were overpriced and not great quality (though the lunch time picnics provided by the Norwich comrades somewhat mitigated the problems with the food).The other gripe was that a majority of te meetings I attended were disrupted by noise of mobile phones going off – is it really so very difficult to turn the thing off once you are seated (as I was doing)?

All the meetings I attended on the Friday were very interesting, although I was slightly disappointed by the last of them, A Very Short History of God. In my next post, when I cover Saturday, I will go into more detail about some of the meetings.

As usual I have some photos for you…


Sainsbury’s, cricket and more about Marxism 2012

 Yesterday I attended Seetec to hear Sainsbury’s explain their recruitment process and give those of us who could make it a head start, and registered online as suggested so that as soon as jobs become available in King’s Lynn I will be able to apply. This is important because there is often a very short window, sometimes as little as 12 hours in which to apply for them.

In the evening, the final ODI of the series between England and Australia took place, much to the credit of the groundstaff. For the foruth time out of four matches that went ahead Australia simply weren’t good enough (we saw the reverse situation often enough in the 1990s).

As I prepare myself for a day’s voluntary work at Learning Works, I am also recreating the atmosphere of Marxism 2012, and in particular of the Thursday, listening to recordings of the meetings I attended that day, both of which I have on CDs.

The first meeting I attended, on Climate Change, was a foretaste of what was to come, both in being full to bursting and in the excellence of both the main speech and the contributions from the floor. Among the contributors from the floor were people from Ireland and Canada who talked about significant events in their localities. The mentions of problems with public transport struck an obvious chord, especially given the way First Capital Connect have ramped up their open return fares (£42.40, as against £34.40 this time last year, a 23% increase).

The second meeting I attended was on “Does the Media Control Our Minds?” (the overall answer, given a packed house attendance at a meeting of that title at an event called Marxism , being no).

After these two meetings was a two-hour break before the opening rally (the scheduled half-hour between the end of the first meeting and start of the second not being worth considering as a break given the necessity of getting to venues early if one wanted to be sure of getting in) during which I touched base with the Norwich comrades and made final arrangements for getting to my accommodation. Since the person who was very kindly putting me up felt too tired to come in that day I was happy to make my own way there (especially as consultation of the A-Z I had had the foresight to bring with me revealed that her flat was practically on top of Clapham North station).

The Opening Rally was absolutely packed, and although George Galloway was unable to put in his scheduled appearance, we still had a panel of speakers who were brilliantly inspiring. Maria Stylou, from our Greek sister organisation the SEK opened proceedings with an account of recent developments in the Greek struggle. She was followed by Preston councillor Michael Lavalette, a speaker from World Pride and finally SWP industrial organsier Martin Smith. The noise of 2,000 people giving someone a round of applause has to be heard to be believed.

As usual, here some photos…


Marxism 2012

I have just got back from London’s true summer spectacular – not the overhyped contest to see who has the best performance enhancing substances but Marxism 2012, a five day extravaganza of meetings, rallies and more, this years version of the SWPs annual summer event – if this inspires you and you did not make it this year make a note to leave early July clear in next year;s diary. To describe the whole event from my view in a single post seems to me neither sensible nor desirable, so this is the first in a series of posts in which I will be writing about the event and displaying photos that I took over the five days. Many of the photos were taken inside meeting venues. For those who were lucky enough to be at the event I invite you to guess which venues the the indoor photos come from (some will be very easy, some exceedingly difficult.).

First a brief overview of the event: some 5,000 people turned up (4,000 booked in advance as I did and another thousand paid on the door) to give you an idea of the scale of the operation. The venues are mainly lecture theatres at University College London (UCL) with the biggest meetings being staged at Friends Meeting House (capacity 2,000, and it was full to bursting for both the opening and closing rallies). This works considerably better than the previous venues which ranged across ULU, SOAS, The Institue of Education and the Royal National Hotel as well as Friends. At this point I am going to make a bold claim based on an experience of the events that dates back to 1995: THIS WAS THE BEST MARXISM EVER!!!

Having booked well in advance and got some suitable accommodation sorted, the next thing was to actually get there. With the first meetings starting at 2:00 on Thursday afternoon I had two possible trains to catch (the venues are very close together and all withing walking distance of King’s Cross where the train comes in), either the 10:56 or the 11:56. In accordance with Sutcliffe’s laws of travelling by public transport I went for the earlier train so that I could take any but a very substantial delay in my stride. This (as so often) proved well founded – there was a delay. One of the other passengers had been so foolhardy as take the 10:56 when he had a twelve o’clock appointment in Cambridge and was obliged to phone to say he was going to be late. I was at the event by 1:30, giving me time to put my larger bag into the baggage room at Friends for the afternoon and evening before heading for the first meeting.

In the two hour break between the Thursday afternoon session  and the Opening Rally, I phoned the person I was staying with (having experienced a Community Centre last year I was reluctant to endure the experience again, and the organisers did a superb job a finding my somewhere convenient to stay where I would have at least some privacy. At this point to give some idea of the breadth of the event and to whet your appetite for posts to come I will list the meetings I attended (and remember in each case there between seven and eleven different meetings in the session): Thursday, Climate change: are we too late to save the planet; Does the Media Control Our Minds?; Opening Rally; Friday, Marxism and Ecology; Darwin, Engels and the evolution of modern humans; Do genes determine our behaviour; Primitive communism: Marxism and pre-history; A very short history of god; Saturday, The dark arts of the secret state: a decade of false narratives; The press, power & the phone-hacking scandal; The Higgs boson: should Marxists care?; Can Greece beat the Troika?; Defend the right to protest; Sunday, Marxism & human nature; Disability and the fight against austerity; The case for sanctions against Israel; Dear Mr Gove…; Capitalism & the creation of disability; Monday, Why we defend multiculturalism; ‘Festivals of the oppressed’: women in revolution from Russia to Egypt; Closing Rally.

I append some photos…. (note for new readers, the first picture was taken outside my flat and is one of my View from the Rooftops series which is a regular part of gthese posts)

View from the rooftops 9 July


Wimbledon, Cricket and more

Having beaten Australia in the first match of the 5-match series at Lord’s, England have started very well in the second at the Oval (Finn has already picked up a wicket). A clean sweep of the series would see England become the No 1 ranked one-day side to go with the No 1 test ranking they already hold.

Talking of clean sweeps, Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan achieved a remarkable one in the course of knocking out French Open finalist Sara Errani, winning the first set without dropping a point. Even more remarkable, the record sequence of points won that she beat in the process was her own 23 versus Amy Frazier in 2006. Andy Murray was spared coming back on Monday to finish his singles when after he had secured a second break of the Baghdatis serve in the fourth set to go 5-1 and two sets to one up, common sense prevailed and although the clock read 10:59 with an official curfew of 11:00 he was allowed to play his final service game (and settled the issue very quickly).

The broad bean plants at my aunt’s allotment yielded a fourth *and undoubtedly final) harvest today, so that is one of tonight’s vegetables settled. Talking of food, I think even at £7 each, more than I would usually pay for such things, my new roasting dishes are a good buy – not only are they superbly non-stick, they come clean incredibly easily.

A couple of photos for you to enjoy…