Tag Archives: Buildaburger Conference

Buildaburger Conference 3rd April 2015 – Having your cake and eating it too – politicians, pundits and players

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Don’t you just love a General Election? It’s such a feeding frenzy for the media people and political pundits, it’s like watching sharks and wolves masturbating whilst eating each other’s vomit.

I know there are many exceptions to the rule, but my own disdain for politicians and Members of Parliament is fed primarily by the corruption that is so universal and familiar in the UK that it has almost become an institutional orthodoxy. By corruption, I mean mortgage-flipping, employing relatives and fiddling expenses amongst many other commonly exercised indiscretions.

However, I recently worked in a technical support role at the 2015 Political Studies Association conference and this experience provided me with a novel perspective on politics.
I was present as a subcontracted technician and, as is often the case, I didn’t even know the subject of the conference before I got there. This is not unusual and not in anyway a problem as my role is purely technical. I have worked on many scientific, medical or academic conferences where I have no clue whatsoever what they are talking about, but I do know how to fix their technical problems.

As a rule, academic conferences are good to work on because, despite the boredom that is an inherent duty of the job, the delegates are almost always polite, well-educated and undemanding, and this event was no exception.

Surprisingly, political scientists are nowhere the top of the list of people I would prefer not to work with. Not all of them, of course, but media people generally, and television people specifically are some of the most aggressive and sociopathic narcissists on the planet. I suppose it comes with the territory, but academics like to show off their brains rather than their penises.
I didn’t see much of the lectures at this conference, but what I did see was fascinating and shed a very different light on subjects such as immigration that the supposedly flagship television news programmes treat as sensational propaganda.

Academia is just another self-sustaining bubble, but by no means an extravagant one, and this was one of the only conferences I have ever worked where I had to provide my own lunch. We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and maybe the symbolic purity of this conscious omission was such that we can all claim to be no more corrupted by the experience of attending #PSA2015.

What you see here is a selection of cakes bought and shared by the volunteers performing the front-of-house duties, all of them either currently of recently having studied politics at the University of Sheffield. It was a real pleasure to work alongside them and the selection of cakes reflects the diversity and quality of our interactions. Such a shame that for us at least, just like the cake, nothing lasts forever.

As a nascent activist, I am getting increasingly interested and increasingly active in politics, although possibly more pessimistic the more I find out about the state of the world.
As the UK General Election approaches, it’s only going to get worse, or better if you work in the media. The tv people love it and they’ll get paid whatever happens, regurgitating the event into vox pops, panel discussions and exposés for months or even years to come, and they’ll get paid whatever bullshit they come up with.

That’s having your cake and eating it too.

However, when all said and done, the media is just broadcast opinion and can be switched off or ignored, and the same goes for the academics. They are not the people making dubiously-motivated legislation that might have a material affect on your life.

In the end, it seem that only government gives politics a bad name.

Buildaburger Conference 3 November 2014 – British #SausageWeek Day 1 – The “Special Relationship”

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Regular readers will know I have no love for Boris Johnson, currently Mayor of London, but as car-crash politicians go, he is one of the most cringe-makingly deluded individuals that has been in the public eye for many years, and so it’s only fair to impugne him further.

It seems no ambition is too high for Johnson and no deception too low. It is rumoured that he will be angling for high office in government soon, and will be standing for parliament in the forthcoming 2015 general election.

Also, Johnson has just published a biography of Winston Churchill. I have no intention of reading it, but according to John Kampfner’s review in The Guardian, Johnson tries to spin Churchill’s relationship with Europe in order to promote his own anti-European prejudice. Bless.
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/03/churchill-factor-review-boris-johnson-winston

The quotation normally misattributed to Churchill “The English and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language” was actually written by George Bernard Shaw, but it embodies an enigmatic truth which gave me an idea for this week’s Buildaburger’s posts.

Churchill coined the phrase “special relationship” and I am sure in the period towards the end of the Second World War and immediately afterwards, the close political, diplomatic and military relationships would have been genuinely beneficial to the UK. These days it has taken on a much more invidious meaning.

I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Anyway, I must say that I feel sorry for the row of sociopaths currently populating the UK government front bench (possibly soon to be joined by Johnson). No doubt they yearn to be recorded by history as statesmen, but they are no more than mean-spirited bigots, abusing their positions to punish the undeserving poor and reward the deserving rich. It is such a shame for them that, despite doing their best to spin Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and Jihadi John into a decent enemy at the gates, there is not such an easily identified threat as Adolf Hitler and the Nazi horde to unite a nation against for their aspirational, Churchillian leadership. How they must wish for proper world war to really get their teeth into. All they have is the increasingly embarrassing legacy of dirty wars, mostly perpetrated by the US with the UK as lapdog.

Apart from the Falklands War, of course, and that was a glory all of our own.

In more recent years, the UK has had to be content with being Aircraft Carrier GB, aiding and abetting the US military-industrial complex to fuck with Arabs around the world, and maybe gain a little reflected glory in that “special relationship”.

Let me be clear. I do not have a problem with Americans. Actually, the British and American people have a common language and also a common enemy, the British and American governments.

You may already be aware of the disdain in which I hold frankfurter sausages (and you will too once you find out what’s in them), but as we say in Yorkshire, UK, you’ve got to eat some dirt before you die.

I realise that does not necessarily mean immediately before, but this week, to honour British Sausage Week and to acknowledge the “special relationship” between the US and UK, I decided to use the humble hot dog as a focal point for celebrating the common language that divides us, and explore some of the euphemisms that are used to describe otherwise unpalatable dishes.

Conceptually sound, if not nutritionally.

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This was not an auspicious start.

I had the “brilliant” idea, to actually eat a hot dog (that most North American of fast foods) each day for the seven days of British Sausage Week and spin an indictment around each one about the delusional facade of the classic dog and how this somehow represents the United States governments’ thinly veiled programme of colonial theft and the homogenised view of the rest of the world, its peoples, its cultures and their political needs.

The United States is now the biggest threat to peace and stability in the entire world, and the UK is the jumping off point for them in Europe and the Middle-East.

So, to kick off day 1 of British Sausage Week 2014 I went for the generous Gregg’s Hot Dog in a classic configuration with both ketchup and mustard, but without the onions. I fumbled it before getting to the Instagram stage, hence its appropriate resemblance to a severed limb rather than a tasty snack meal.

Gregg’s classic hot dog has gone down well across the pond, although I cannot concur.

Whilst I am a fan of this budget takeway food chain, I cannot recommend the hot dog. Despite having a good snap, the contents are a too much of an approximation of food rather than genuine nutrition. Rather like the sullied “special relationship” which no longer has any credibility and which is now only an artificially coloured and flavoured bag of emulsified slop.

Despite my conceptual brief, and after the disappointment of day one, I think it only fair to my lower colon to absolve myself from the  commitment of eating a hot dog each day for British Sausage Week.

Stay tuned as each day I will be exploring the United States government’s “special relationship” with the English language.

Anyway, here is a genuine quotation by Winston Churchill.
“The gift of a common tongue is a priceless inheritance and it may well some day become the foundation of a common citizenship.”

Oh dear.

Buildaburger Conference – 2 November 2014 – Sausages for Peace 2014

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It’s that time of year again, British Sausage Week. I am sure you all remember how I failed to fulfill last year’s excessively complicated brief where I tried to write a blog post each day using one of the seven deadly sins and also relate them to the movie “Se7en” whilst tying them to a kind of sausage and using each one as an anti-war critique. Remember that?

Well, it was undoubtedly a “brilliant” idea, but I just didn’t have the time to tie up all the loose ends and produce all the amazingly clever insights that I no doubt would have come up with.

Anyway, like whatever. This year I have a more straightforward brief, so stand by for Sausages for Peace 2014. I doubt that Love Pork had this in mind, but I will be posting a series of seven critical and anti-war posts over the coming week.

Stand by…

Buildaburger Conference 27/28 August 2014 – National Stating the Bleeding Obvious Day

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Today we celebrate the annual reiteration of a fact that anyone with an ounce of common-sense has known their whole life and thinks that it is so obvious and commonly understood that it doesn’t even need acknowledging, never mind having a government report commissioned in order to document it.

National Stating the Bleeding Obvious Day 2013 was all about how poor people die younger, but National Stating the Bleeding Obvious Day 2014 is all about how UK society is élitist.

According to gov.uk “The Social Mobility and Child Poverty (SMCP) Commission monitors the progress of government and others in improving social mobility and reducing child poverty in the United Kingdom. SMCP Commission is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Education.”
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/social-mobility-and-child-poverty-commission

Widely reported today is that this body has just published a report about the state of inequality in the UK.

The Guardian quoted a bit: “Where institutions rely on too narrow a range of people from too narrow a range of backgrounds with too narrow a range of experiences, they risk behaving in ways and focusing on issues that are of salience only to a minority but not the majority in society.”

No fucking shit, Sherlock!

The whole world knows this to be true but somehow we need to pay a group of fucking politicians to tell us. I guess it’s an example of hiding in plain view.

From The Huffington Post “The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission… said it was deeply concerned about the dramatically elitist society which it said its report had uncovered.”

Uncovered? It’s not even slightly covered.

Huff Post again: “those reaching the highest positions were not always doing so through merit.” Well, bless my soul! I thought that paragon of insight, Boris Johnson had told us that the bigger cornflakes would naturally rise to the top? Surely it can’t be true that mummy and daddy can buy you success?

However, here in the UK we have a double-whammy of élitism. It’s not just the toffs and the proles, but those in London and those of us outside. A few years ago, when I was ordering something from a mail order company, the North American voice on the other end of the phone asked if Rotherham was in Greater London. But it’s not just foreigners who think that there is nothing of worth outside the M25.

There was a time when government was a career pursued by statesmen, but these days the most successful are not necessarily the biggest cornflakes, but the most ambitious and amoral bigots with some inherited cash. There are exceptions of course, but many MPs choose politics as a convenient job that does not even require basic competence, and one that has a generous range of publicly paid-for perks providing expensive breakfasts, second homes and subsidised alcoholism.

Although he was particularly referring to the Scottish referendum on independence, Channel 4 News’ Jon Snow put it well in his blog post about the “the sleaze, dishonesty, and self-serving London-centric politics of Westminster”, but it’s not only the Scots that think that way.
http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/visceral-hatred-westminister-politics/23805

Unfortunately I can’t remember the name, but one Tory politician advised unemployed people in the north of Britain to solve their problems by moving to London.

From the SMCP report: “Our examination of who gets the top jobs in Britain today found elitism so stark that it could be called ‘social engineering’”.

I hope Alan Milburn is simply being professionally courteous, because in a country that has much of its wealth in the hands of an aristocracy, and still supports the burden of a Royal Family of all things, we cannot really be described as anything but élitist.

Anyway, let’s take a look at that government front bench. It’s no secret that they are not my favourite people, but it might be worth considering their suitability for their jobs when you consider that David Cameron and George Osborne also went to private boarding schools before St. Paul’s (Osborne), Eton (Cameron) and Oxford. These are schools where they are separated from their parents from 7 years old until secondary school. In the UK it’s a bit like being “in care” but without the care bit.

British boarding schools are notorious for brutalising their pupils and attenuating the emotional development that everyone else takes for granted, producing the kind of conditioned sociopaths that that consider themselves an élite. This is the same élite that still doesn’t understand that the British Empire was not a good thing. And these are the very same people making decisions about our livelihoods. If they weren’t from wealthy families we would consider them deprived.
http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/may/10/campaign-boarding-schools-young-children
http://woundedleaders.co.uk/observer-newspaper-backs-campaign-boarding/

But they’re toffs. Cameron is related to the Queen and Osborne is a direct descendent of Henry III of England. Incompetent, deceitful and greedy, but well-connected. You couldn’t get more élitist if you tried. Clegg is just the fag.

And to put a lid on it, yesterday was National Burger Day, which I should have been marking more auspiciously, but the only organisations celebrating it were London-based commercial organisations. This sort of celestial alignment is proof of the existence of God. Not necessarily a loving God, but definitely one with a wicked sense of humour, and I am His vessel.

Anyway, as a kind of double-header blog post to mark the damp squib that was National London Burger Day and to mark National Stating the Bleeding Obvious Day 2014, I’m calling this excellent burger I recently had at the Wig and Pen in Sheffield, (that’s in South Yorkshire, for those of you inside London) simply “This is a burger and fries at a pub that’s not in London”.
http://www.the-wigandpen.co.uk/

Buildaburger Conference – 11 December 2013 – Sausages for Peace & Gandhi’s Gravy of Truth

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I have always been very productive, but even I have slow times. You might have noticed that I didn’t manage to complete the full 7 days of my overly elaborate anti-war “Sausages For Peace” satire for British Sausage Week. A few life issues and work commitments conspired against me and I had to admit defeat, or at least defer victory.

I’m rather pleased with the logo and I might resurrect the idea next year with a bit more preparation. After all, giving peace a chance requires eternal vigilance.

What you see in this picture is Cumberland sausages with mashed potatoes, sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and most important of all, onion gravy.

Please note, this is proper British gravy, not that North American “gravy”. It doesn’t matter if you use the same word, it’s not the same thing. And neither is Bisto.

There is no a single route to proper gravy but my own savoury journey begins with fried onions and garlic, includes the fat and juices from the meat, diluted with boiling water and vegetable stock, a dash of Hendo’s and thickened with cornflour.

Thoughts of gravy naturally lead me to Mohandas K. Gandhi, not exactly my role model, but nevertheless my inspiration. Gandhi coined the Sanskrit word “Satyagraha” which means truth with firmness, and to me it means sticking to your guns, although Gandhi would probably not have liked that turn of phrase. It means standing by what you know to be right and holding out whatever happens.

It seems to me that Western imperialism is symbolised by the bastardisation of true gravy into the rhetoric of sound-alike lubricants and the salty, granulated emulsion that bears the same name.

In India, Gandhi led protests that brought about the end of the British salt monopoly by making his own salt and not paying tax to the British. I urge you to follow his example, shun the the government gravy trains and go DIY.

We all have setbacks, but despite my own failings, I remain true to my convictions. Do not believe the gravy propaganda. Remain firm, remain true, accept no imitations and always insist on proper gravy.

Buildaburger Conference – 23 September 2013 – The Cheeseburger Pizza

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Photo: mirror.co.uk

Honestly, I thought this was a joke when I first saw it online. I love this and hate it simultaneously. My inner being tells me that it would be bad for me, and probably very disappointing, but its sheer novelty means I still want to try it. What’s more, it was obviously made for a round table conference.

Most conferences I work on provide the usual bleached twin triangles of “bread” with a smear of organically-derived protein approximation inbetween, slightly ameliorated with a few leaves of salad and some sliced fruit. But at what kind of discussion would this culinary safety hazard be appropriate?

I wonder if this is what David Cameron and the blood-sucking lizards of the Illuminati tuck into on the long, occluded evenings at the Bilderberg meetings? If you’re going to get up to no good, you might as well have some dirty food as well.

Anyway, here is an idea for you. We should put eleven of our cabinet ministers in a room with a ten-portion cheeseburger pizza and let the dirty, lying, cheating bastards of the UK Conservative Party fight it out. Pizza Hut bill it as a “fun, sharing pizza” but we know what Tories think about sharing.

I’d also like to see Cameron, Gove, Osborne, Hague, Alexander, Clarke, Lansley, Shapps, Hunt, Grayling and Duncan Smith attempt to split the bill. Best not let Osborne, Shapps or Duncan Smith work it out, they all belong in a remedial arithmetic class, and Gove and Clarke are not the kind of people you would want to turn your back on if your wallet was on the table. You would never be able to get a straight answer out of Hague, and Cameron would just keep trying to pin the tab on the others claiming that cheating them was “good for the economy, good for Britain”.

That doesn’t leave much, but best not let Jeremy Hunt work it out, he always seems like he would get lost in his own toilet.

Cleggie can fetch the cola.

Buildaburger Conference – 20 September 2013 – Seize The Dates

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As I have said before, keeping well-nourished is a major challenge for event workers. The hours are often very long and there is not always an opportunity to find good food, unless you bring it with you.

As I write this, I am working as and AV technician at a charity dinner. Any professional will tell you, it is not a given that you will be fed, even at an event where there is surplus food, so it’s best to take precautions, pictured here.

Much as my own work schedule can be occasionally punishing, it hardly compares with those poor unfortunates who work for Merrill Lynch, the wealth management division of Bank of America.

I am sure you will have heard of the ignoble fate of 21-year-old intern Moritz Erhardt who, despite being “tipped for greatness” was found dead in his shower after reportedly working 72 hours straight for Merrill Lynch. According to the Guardian he was paid £45k pro rata, which is more than the average for an intern, but that is no compensation for missing the rest of your life. I could find no recorded cause of death so far, so who knows as we wait for the post-mortem.
http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/aug/21/bank-intern-death-working-hours

Anyway, this sudden death throws up a few questions that have, to my knowledge, have not been asked in the mainstream media. Despite the undoubted tragedy for his friends and family, why did he find it necessary to work so hard? Well, it’s because he was in effect bribing his way into a highly rewarding job at some time in the not too distant future. I’m sure he was a fine individual, but despite the eulogies, he was attempting to fast-track his way into shitloads of money, some of it probably yours.

I wonder if some of these all-nighters, and the gung-ho culture widely reported in that sector, might explain the gigantic fuck-up of the global economy that our financial institutions and negligent governments have made. Perhaps they were all so whacked on Relentless that they were hallucinating and thought they were selling junk bonds to space monkeys.

Believe me, two Red Bulls and I’m anybody’s, even a banker. I am joking, of course, I never touch that rat’s piss, and I am broadly opposed to taking stimulants stronger than the odd latté with an extra shot.

However, it does make me wonder just what sort of stimulants even a young man needed in order to work three days without sleep. Those of you who have worked alongside me will know I can work hard and for long hours but at around the 14-16 hour mark I start to get a bit incoherent, and after 18 hours you would not want to be asking me for financial advice.

Anyway, what has this got to do with the Buildaburger Conference? Well, I worked at a cinema for four years, which also hosted a generous portion of corporate events too, and after the first two years of being run ragged I very often missed my lunch, and all this on a salary far more meagre than Moritz’s. Mind you, I never had to pull any all-nighters, but one day I promised myself I would not miss any more meals. From that moment on I never ran when working on events, even if in a divine rush, and always took a meal break.

Much as I am a fan of the classic meat patty smothered in various animal products, even I am keenly aware of my own mortality. The truth is that employers everywhere will let you work yourself to death, but only if you are willing.

To return to my current work commitment, despite being surrounded by people enjoying rich and excellent food, I have opted for healthy snacks of fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts in order to moderately ameliorate the effects of stress, or at least not exacerbate the life-shortening effects of working long hours by attacking my own body with saturated animal fats.

So remember, crisps, chocolate and caffeine-laced energy drinks are not a recommended solution for a lack of energy brought on by working too long hours, the problem is the other way around. If you need to resort to artificial stimulants then what you are trying to achieve is not what your body was designed for. My advice is work hard, but not so hard that it brings on a seizure in the shower, unless you want to be pushing up the most expensive daisies in the cemetary.

Eschew the energy drinks that will chase you to your own corner of some domestic field in favour of more natural sources of energy and, before it’s too late, Seize The Dates.