Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2010

My article on why super-dairies are a good idea

Published by Spiked:

In defence of factory farming
The celebs campaigning against a mega-dairy in Lincolnshire don’t know which side their bread is buttered on.
What do conservationist Bill Oddie, comedienne Jo Brand and actor William Roache (who plays Ken Barlow in TV soap Coronation Street) have in common? They’re all supporting the Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) campaign against a proposed super dairy at Nocton in Lincolnshire, England.
‘Hundreds of local residents objected to the initial mega-dairy plans earlier this year’, CIWF announced. ‘Now, in the face of a PR offensive from the farm’s backers, we need to help local campaigners galvanise even more people into action.’ Posters saying ‘Mega-dairies have no place in the UK’ and ‘Cows belong in fields’ will soon be seen on the side of buses in Lincolnshire.
The Nocton dairy will be the biggest dairy farm in Britain, housing 8,100 cows. Although that’s tiny compared to the l…

Why artists should welcome cuts to arts funding.

I have been meaning to write something about why this art work / political campaign is naive and wrong but I couldn't put it better than Jan Bowman writing on a little while ago:

Why artists shouldn’t accept state funding
An illustrator argues that the cost of government funding - the loss of artistic independence - is too high a price to pay.
Jan Bowman 
Ceri runs an arts charity in London. For years, she’s applied for government grants to fund her work, but not any more. ‘You can’t do anything interesting or original’, she says. ‘Everything has so many strings and requirements attached about involving the community or helping people stop smoking or whatever, that there’s no room to do anything else.’
Conrad, a filmmaker in Birmingham, agrees. ‘Even after you’ve filled in a million forms to get the money’, he tells me, ‘you then have to spend more time filling out forms to prove you’re spending it correctly. I haven’t the patience.’ His filming partnership is pre…

Photos of Battle of Ideas Satellite meeting organised by Birmingham Salon on Thurs 21 Oct

Rowenna Davis, freelance journalist; political and social affairs commentator
Dr Ken McLaughlin, lecturer in social work, Manchester Metropolitan University; author Social Work, Politics and Society: from radicalism to orthodoxy
Sue Morris, programme director, educational psychology, University of Birmingham
Dr Jerry Tew, senior lecturer, Institute of Applied Social Studies, University of Birmingham; author, Social Approaches to Mental Distress

Doing their 6 minute introductions answering this months salon question 'We're all depressed now? Redefining mental illness in a therapeutic era.

Before being interrogated, challenged and sometimes agreed with by the Birmingham Salon audience.

Radio 4s Cassandra's Good Food Guide

"Cassandra" (Bill Connor) was a Fleet Street legend during the Daily Mirror's heyday, with his column running non stop, not counting global hostilities, for 35 years until 1967.
He could often be cantankerous and comically opinionated in what was described as his "polished-up barrack room" style of writing. Some of Cassandra's best columns, however, were not about people or institutions he wanted to admonish, but humorous personal tales about eating and drinking. Here, we are encouraged to come into the garden by dead of night to listen to the rubbery, rustling noise of a vegetable growing in "How I Like My Cabbage." We learn from him the horrors of being brought up on "Miss Cowie's Porridge" ("If ever a word describing a food had the sound of its meaning, it is 'Porridge' - the slup and slur and costive slirrup of the uneatable.") Then there are the "Scrap Cakes" - his brilliant invention of artillery food …

Nathalie Rothschild writing on about the sterilisation of drug users

Nathalie RothschildThe British elite preferspolite Malthusianism
The American woman paying British drug addicts to stop breeding is only saying out loud what respectable people normally say in code.
Printer-friendly versionEmail-a-friendRespond Barbara Harris, an American mother of four children whom she adopted from a crack addict, is offering British drug users a fix with a twist: cash for sterilisation. Harris’s North Carolina-based charity Project Prevention has already paid 3,500 Americans addicted to drugs or alcohol to have sterilisations or to get long-term birth control. Now she is bringing the initiative to Britain and has been accused of taking advantage of vulnerable people and even of acting like Hitler. She is offering to pay £200 to any drug user in London, Glasgow, Bristol, Leicester and parts of Wales who agrees to be operated on. Critics claim her brash methods may work in America, but they have no place in Britain. In truth, Harris’s highly distasteful Malthusianism is m…

Shocking news story of the day

Project Prevention is offering to pay £200 to any drug user in London, Glasgow, Bristol, Leicester and parts of Wales who agrees to be sterilised. Apparently this is a way to ensure an un-damaged foetus. 


Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929

25 September 2010 - 9 January 2011 Victoria & Albert Museum, London
"Diaghilev's dramatic performances transformed dance, reawakening interest in ballet across Europe and America. Celebrating the company's key period of activity, this major exhibition reveals Diaghilev's enduring  influence on 20th-century art, design and fashion and includes more than 300 objects including giant theatre cloths, original costumes, set designs, props and posters by artists and designers including Léon Bakst, Georges Braque and Natalia Goncharova. These tell the story of a company which began in the social and political upheaval of pre-Revolutionary Russia and went on to cause a sensation with exotic performances that had never been seen before". (
Some great cubist costumes designed by Picasso on show at that this large exhibition. Also stage designs by Natalia Goncharova, wife of Mikhail Larionov, who both developed Rayonnist art in pre-revoluti…

I attended this Battle of Ideas Satellite event at The R.C. of Music on Thursday

X-factor: Singing in the name of quality?
Thursday 14 October, 7.00pm until 8.30pm, Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2BS Satellite Events 2010
Venue: Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2BS

Sarah Boyes, freelance writer and editor; assistant editor, Culture Wars; editor, Battles in Print 2010
Christopher Cook, visiting professor, University of the Arts, London; regular contributor, BBC Music Magazine; convenor pre-performance season with English National Opera, Join the Conversation; chair, Cheltenham Music Festival
Mark Frith, editor, Time Out London; former editor, Heat and Smash Hits; author, The Celeb Diaries
Barb Jungr, singer, writer and performer; current CD release, The Men I Love
Norman Lebrecht, writer, cultural commentator
Michael Rosewell, director of opera, Royal College of Music
Peter Whittle, journalist and broadcaster; director, New Culture Forum; author, A Sorry State
Chair: David Bowden, c…

My piece on university education (somewhat eclipsed by the governments latest report out this week)

The customer is always right. This well-known phrase attributed to Harry Gordon Selfridge Sr. of Selfridges department store fame has perturbed many a retailer. It seems universities must also feel its burden.

Andrew Croskery, an electrical engineering graduate has taken Queen's University in Belfast (QUB) to court after they awarded him a 2:2 degree. He argued that had he received better supervision he would have obtained a 2:1. His barrister Tony McGleenan argued that the university's stance was not compliant with his client's human rights. "It is obviously an important case for the applicant. He avers his employment prospects have been this competitive jobs market”.
At one level this could be seen as a clear case of ‘trying it on’, but it is not the only example of forthright ‘consumers’ of higher education challenging academic decisions. The erosion of the traditional concept of education and its replacement with ‘knowledge provider’ and ‘custome…

3 links to pieces by David Bowden, TV columnist at Spiked

Is the x factor ruining music?

I hope to get to this meeting on Thursday:

BATTLE SATELLITE "X-Factor: singing in the name of quality?"
Thursday, October 14 · 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2BS

TV talent shows have made stars of ‘pop-opera’ singers like Paul Potts, G4 and Rhydian, as well as conventional pop acts. Do these shows offer an opportunity to tap talent excluded from elitist cultural institutions, or reduce serious singers to the same level as dancing dogs and warbling binmen?


Sarah Boyes, assistant editor, Culture Wars; editor, Battles in Print Christopher Cook, visiting professor, University of the Arts, London broadcaster, BBC Radio 3; chair, Cheltenham Music Festival
Mark Frith, ed…

We’re all depressed now? Redefining mental illness in a therapeutic era

Thursday 21 October 2010
The Studio, Cannon St, Birmingham B2 5EP. Drinks reception from 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start
A Battle of Ideas Satellite Event
Book tickets in advance at

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies and Positive Psychology for Dummies join bookshop and library shelves already crowded with books promising to help us improve our mental health and solve our emotional problems. Social workers, teachers, psychologists, therapists and counsellors all agree levels of depression, anxiety, stress, self-harm, and disorders like Attention Deficit and Hyper-Activity Disorder are growing. According to UNICEF, British children are the unhappiest in Europe. Certainly, there is an increase in those treated for mental health-related problems. Recent reports suggest there has been a 65% increase in spending on drugs to treat ADHD over the last four years. Meanwhile, the health service issued 39.1m prescriptions for dru…