Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bad Poetry Day

I read the christmas annual from the Black Country Bugle and thought the poetry in here is poor I should have ago. So I did here is my first attempt:

Wolverhampton – All Change

Nick Matthews

(With apologies to John Betjeman)

Past new student flats, so spick and span,
Against an unencumbered sky,
The Old Great Western Railway ran
When someone different was I.

Springfield bitter now does not flow
From Butlers Brewery tap
Drinkers looking to get the glow,
Use elsewhere ale to fill the gap.

St Georges where the Matin’s bell,
No longer rings. Drowned out by
Supermarket tills. A shopping hell?
Or heaven with plenty for you to buy.

Mander tower marks the spot
Where inks and paint did flow
Today in the mall get your caffeine shot
To recover from another retail blow.

Then the Molineux, the pleasure ground,
You stood behind the goal up at the back
Feeling the crowds sway and sound
Come on you Wolves the old gold and black.

The work benches are all empty now
At Chubbs great red brick pile
Ask and they will tell you how
They kept us locked and safe in style.

The only thing that does not change
St Peter’s proud upon the hill
The tiles spick and flowers arranged
A place loved and tended still.

Wolverhampton all change!
Comes the cry from an unencumbered sky,
Over old Great Western rails I did range,
Now homeward bound am I.

If you are familiar with John  Betjeman you will recognize his poem a Distant View of a Provincial Town which I think is based on a trip to Swindon! Anyway its not brill but the Bugle liked it!

Time to End Fairtrade Fortnight

Every year I wish that fair trade fortnight could be the last because we have made all trade fair! Capitalism is very good at through the abstraction of the market at hiding the unequal human relationships that mark out the interchange of goods and services between us.

So fair trade is a small step in making those relationships real. This year we have been asked by the Fair Trade foundation to “go further for fair trade”. And there is one co-operative that seems to be doing just that.

For the last thirty years Paul Birch has been better known as a record producer and MD of a record label. In that time he has released over a thousand albums by artists as diverse as Stone Roses to UFO, the Scorpions to Sister Sledge. He struck the fair-trade bug when he started developing a line in merchandising for many of the bands he promoted.

Paul says that it took a while to tick all the ethical boxes finding your way through the process of getting the T-shirts with fair trade and organic accreditation was a steep learning curve. Having built up a supply chain and created relationships with the producers it seemed like a good idea to put together all the marketing skills they had developed in thirty years in the music business into selling fair trade products.
In thinking about this the idea of a co-operative structure linking producers and consumers became the obvious vehicle. Today  Revolver Co-operative Limited is the trading co-operative company behind the Revolver World brand. Organised as an Industrial and Provident society it is a bona fide co-operative, formed with the help of The Co-operative Group (through the Co-operative Hub) and Co-operatives UK.
What is unusual about it however is that they incorporate the whole supply chain in the ownership of the business. As a multistakeholder community co-operative membership open to all, producer co-operatives in the developing world, retailers such as the Co-op’s in which it sells the products and the final customers.
What’s more 25% of the profit is invested back into the producers' communities. It prefers to trade with co-operatives because it says this strengthens the relationships between consumers and producers. In a very short time as well as a great range of fair trade organic apparel it now has a great range of coffees.
I have to make an admission at this point. Despite the fact that I come from a family of tea bellies.  I hate tea. I just can’t drink it. I am a total coffee head. And one of the most depressing features of modern life is the fact despite the fact that coffee and coffee shops have become ubiquitous most of what they sell is not very good!
So I drink most of my coffee at home and I like to try out coffees from around the world and have become a bit of a coffee snob. So to discover Revolvers coffee range was a delight. Their African coffee is grown by the co-operatives Kagera Coffee Union in Tanzania and Gumutindo Coffee Co-Operative in Uganda. This superb blend combines Tanzanian Peaberry, grown on the upper slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, and Ugandan High-grown Northern Bugisu, grown under shade not far from the Ugandan/Kenyan border.
Their Columbian coffee is a single-estate blend grown by the Riseralda Co-Operative established in 1959 of Fairtrade certified Arabica beans and the their Costa Rica coffee comes from members of the CoopeDota coffee growers co-operative who produce a terrific AA Grade TarrazĂș arabica coffee.
The most recent venture however is probably of most interest to Morning Star readers. Paul says, “Cuban coffee is one of the most underrated coffees we've come across recently. Not only is it delicious, its quality rivals that of the established 'standard' coffees like Colombia. Not a word of a lie, when we received our first cupping samples in the office it's all we drank for two weeks straight!”

There is no doubt that their latest product is a bit special: exclusively imported Cuba Altura coffee sourced from one of the oldest grower co-operatives in Cuba.

Paul adds that, “at the moment given the somewhat 'unique' commercial situation in Cuba its not possible to get Fairtrade accreditation but nonetheless we're delighted to have this co-operatively produced arabica in both whole bean and roast & ground. Try it may well become one of your favourites - it makes great espressos.”

 Given that fairness is the whole basis of the Cuban economy you can do your bit and get great coffee and support the Cuban revolution by breaking the embargo everyday!

Currently a 227 gram pack is selling for just £3.75 and a pack of six for £22.50 or a kilo of beans for just £15.99. If you don’t have a co-op shop near you to obtain Revolver World coffee head to the website at