Guardians of Gluten – Why most of us shouldn’t be Gluten Free

 

After centuries of safe consumption, Gluten is now getting a lot a bad press. But is it justified? Copywriter and fearless foodie Babu Basu, thinks that it’s time that someone stood up for Gluten.

The story so far

Our old friend Gluten has fallen out of favour. Yes, this ancient phenomenon that makes your bread brilliant and your pasta perfect is now being shunned. High profile celebs and fitness authors wishing to ride the gluten-free wave are cashing in – whether or not their thinking is sound or responsible.

According to market analysts, Mintel, 12 % of the British public claim that they or a member of their household avoids gluten. Sales of gluten-free products jumped from £160 million in 2013 to £247 million in 2016.

But what’s driving this demand?

Have the number of Coelics / Celiacs (people whose bodies who cannot tolerate gluten) increased substantially in the last few years or, are their darker forces at play?

The charity, Coeliac UK has suggested that 1 in every 100 people are Coeliac. Other organisations are slightly more reticent about the actual figure. Whatever the numbers, one thing is clear – medical intolerance is not the only force driving demand for gluten-free.

So what makes Gluten the new dietary no-no? Here’s what I think is driving the gluten-free juggernaut.

The Gluten Free Juggernaut – Will your meal make me rich?

Fashions come and go and that’s true of food as it is of clothing. For decades we were told to avoid butter and animal fats in favour of vegetable based oils. Now, it seems that at least when frying, animal fats are more stable. We were sold the myth that fats are bad. Then we were told some fats were good. Margarine was once hailed as a hero. Now butter is back in vogue. Many items fall out of favour, but not always for the right reasons.

Socially influential types (celebrities to you and me) and people wishing to make a name for themselves in the fitness world are to blame.

Plugging into our image obsessed collective psyche, these prominent but irresponsible individuals use a heady combination of physical glamour, social media and pseudo-science to make gluten-free the thing to be. They claim that gluten-free lifestyle is slimming and health enhancing.

But before you dive headlong into their anti-glutenistic tendencies, spare a thought for what science (yes, actual science), has to say about it all.

In the words of Jennifer Aniston, ”Here comes the science bit. Concentrate.”

What is Gluten?

Do a little research and you’d be forgiven into thinking that gluten grows naturally.  Many do not realise that gluten doesn’t grow, it’s formed.

Most flour (wheat, rye, spelt, barley) contains proteins, Gliadin and Glutenin. When you combine these together with a little water this forms gluten.

What does it do?

Gluten improves and structure and elasticity of bread. Like the lightness of a loaf? Choose the chewiness of a bun? It’s gluten that produces the incredible texture.

Where do you find it?

In short, wherever you might use flour, you might find gluten. Bread, pasta, cakes, sauces, stock cubes, gravy, beer and most processed foods contain gluten. All pervasive you might say. But that shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

And for those that medically speaking, must steer clear of gluten, there are solutions.

Who should avoid Gluten?

For people with Coelic / Celiac disease, a hereditary condition, short term Gluten consumption is painful and damaging. In the long term it can lead to cancer, osteoporosis and death. For Coelics / Celiacs, gluten is definitely off the menu. For them, the rise of gluten-free products has undoubtedly made their life easier/safer.

Some people are said to be wheat intolerant. For them too, gluten is not recommended, though, on occasion, they can consume it.

So for both groups, here’s a list of gluten free flours recommended by from UK based charity, Coeliac UK:

Agar; Almond; Amaranth; Buckwheat; Carageenan; Cassava (manioc); Chestnut; Corn; Flax/linseed; Gram flour (besan); Hemp; Hops; Maize; Millet/bajra; Mustard; Polenta; Potato; Pulses (peas, beans, lentils); Quinoa; Rice; Sage; Sesame; Sorghum; Soya; Tapioca; Teff; Urd/urid/urad flour.

https://www.coeliac.org.uk/gluten-free-diet-and-lifestyle/gf-diet/grains/

For safety sake I should note that for some people , even some of these flours may agitate. So consult with dieticians.

I had a colleague who was Coelic.

As a good foodie and friend, I was always trying to find new foods she could eat. During our time together I came into contact with foods created for her under the gluten-free banner.

On the whole, they were disgusting.

Removing gluten made biscuits and cakes desert dry and dusty in the mouth. To compensate some manufacturers would up the fat content, or the sugar. Healthy products, they weren’t.

If you’re unable to process gluten, but you fancy eating something naughty, might I suggest you making a cake from ingredients that naturally don’t contain gluten, rather than using ingredients that have gluten taken out?

Nigella Lawson makes fantasticly indulgent cake and brownie recipies made with ground almond flour, perfect for Coeliacs.

What happens if you avoid gluten but you don’t need to?

Ah, the multi-million dollar question.

According to Douglas Faughnan, the senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, “Increasing numbers of the general public are buying gluten free products because they believe [them] to be healthier.”

In Emine Saner’s piece for the Guardian, ‘Gluten free: Health fad or life saving diet?’, she states,

“Gluten-free food has become increasingly popular among people without the disease who perceive it as healthy, with global sales up 12.6 per cent last year, compared to four per cent for packaged foods overall.”

Scientists (remember them), have found that avoiding gluten long term can be damaging to those of us who are not Coeliac by nature.

Research based in New York and carried out by scientists from 13 prestigious universities, including Harvard and Columbia and reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have found gluten free diets,

“…should not be recommended…” to those who do not need to be gluten free.

Sadly, they also found,

“Concern has arisen in the medical community and lay public that gluten may increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and cardiovascular risk among healthy people.”

If parts of the medical community have been misinformed, what hope is there for the rest of us?

I leave you with the findings of Professor Tim Spector, a distinguished professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London and author of The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat.

He found that people avoiding gluten when they didn’t need to initially lost weight and felt better. However, “[these people] do not realise that gluten free diets are unhealthy in the long term. Not only do gluten free products often cost significantly more, they are generally highly processed, containing greater levels of fats, sugars and added ingredients.”

He goes on to say,

“Studies have tentatively suggested higher rates of heart disease amongst people on gluten free diets.”

However, the greatest damage, Professor Spector suggests is to our Microbiome – a recently discovered organ that houses the 100 trillion microbes that live in our lower intestine. This community of microrobes controls our digestion, mood, appetite, hormones, vitamins and immune system.

The more diverse the Microbe community,

“…the healthier and stronger we and our immune system are. Microbes need fibre and a diverse diet to flourish. For most people in the UK who already have too little fibre, bread and grains are a key source.”

Futhermore,

“Studies have shown that restricted gluten free diets reduce the diversity in our gut and so also harm our microbiome – sometimes permanently.”

So there you have it. Going gluten free could be causing you permanent damage. I’m not against celebrity authors selling books. But I am against irresponsible pseudo-science that could harm.

Do your research everyone and eat well.

 

Babu Basu is a Copywriter and Head Honcho at Creative Gluttony. To contact Babu, visit his website: http://www.creativegluttonyagency.weebly.com

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Meanie Marketing – How cost cutting could damage your brand.

Accountants beware. Bean counting is dangerous!

Copywriter and creator of ads, Babu Basu, warns big business not to be mean with their marketing. Rather than increasing efficiency, being parsimonious can actually harm your business.

Imagine that you’re a senior operating officer of a sprawling multinational company.    (Did you feel a shiver run down your spine?) Your job is to generate money and reduce costs.

Great.

But bringing in new money is hard.
It requires growth, inspiration and originality and complex mix of commercial, technological and legal understanding. It’s no mean feat.

You look at your balance sheet and company environment (which in theory, you control) and you make the definite decision to squash your costs.

How very efficient of you.

If you’re company is big (really BIG), you can dictate how much you pay suppliers (think supermarkets paying dairy farmers).

You can choose to pay your employees less in real terms year on year (think NHS staff).

You could choose to put off pay rises by staggering payment over a number of years (think UK Firefighters and Police).

Or, you could move your customer service operations to countries where the salaries are cheaper (think BT or Talk Talk with customer service in India and South Africa).

All sounds a bit controversial? Well, why not just reduce marketing costs?

Sounds easy enough.

Why bother making expensive adverts for every market place? Make one advert and use it in every territory. You’d save thousands. What a brilliant idea!

Well actually, it isn’t.

One size definitely does not fit all.

It can’t.

Shock horror! – Consumers are not the same the world over. Nor, are they the same within one territory. Who knew? Well most of us, actually.

Economists and Psychologists know that demand is driven by a bewildering number of factors including culture, media, finance, legality, ecology, desire and need.

Oh ok. But what about where markets share the same language? Surely then we can use the same advert?

Nope.

It doesn’t matter if we speak the same language. Our cultural and linguistic references are different.

Think about America, Britain, Australia and India.

In theory, each market has a substantial number of English speakers. In theory, you could use the same adverts.

You could.

I wouldn’t.

Each culture and therefore, each market place is different. Yes Australia and the UK might be closer in culture than say Japan and Italy, but what drives taste, fashion and social values is different in each society.

With resources around the world and capable staff in each country, you might think that all multinationals are experts in international marketing. Alas, no.

 

Companies that got it wrong

Wayfair is an American e-commerce company selling home furnishings. Founded in 2002, this Boston based retailer now has offices and warehouses in Canada, UK and Germany.

When it began advertising in the UK, the company made the mistake of thinking their American English marketing message – a very nasally American marketing message would appeal to Brits.

It didn’t.

Wayfair hadn’t realized that their message only appealed to the American market.

Brits assumed that this company was by Americans and for Americans. Trade wasn’t great. It didn’t matter how many times Wayfair ran the ad on TV and radio. The message did not connect with the audience.

Thankfully, Wayfair now understand the need to speak to Brits ‘in their own language.’ The nasally American jingle (“Wayfair is all that I need”) has been dropped in the UK and the American voice-over has been dropped.

Instead the company have employed a much loved British TV Presenter – Lorraine Kelly to give the brand a local, more approachable face. Expect sales to pick up sharply.

Scholl, the American footwear company, who have been selling to the UK for years, seemed to forget that British English is different.

Over the last few years, Scholl ran a very visible (and therefore, expensive) ad campaign selling their high heel shoe inserts. These inserts were meant to make high heels so comfortable they had a ‘sneaker feel,’ ie as comfortable as sports training shoes.

There was just one problem with the campaign.

Brits were not familiar with the term ‘sneaker.’ To us, ‘a sneaker feel,’ sounded sinister, perhaps something a stalker might do. (In case you don’t know, a stalker is someone who follows you obsessively).

The British use the term ‘trainers,’ to describe sports shoes.

Thankfully, Scholl now understands this and is now replacing ‘the sneaker effect’ with the ‘trainer effect.’ Perhaps now they’ll sell their inserts more and creep out customers a little less.

However, Scholl are still making mistakes.

They keep running ads for their mens’ range of inserts that are obviously dubbed from another language. What message does this send out to a customer? You’re obviously not worth my time so I’ll do a second rate job when marketing to you.

The whole point about advertising is to create brand loyalty. If you’re mean with your advertising, expect customers to be mean with you.

Brand loyalty goes out the window and potential customers turn to rivals whose marketing or pricing, appeals.

Here’s the truth – Customers notice more than some companies give them credit for. Patronise them at your peril.

 

Here’s who got it right

Pantene sells a range of hair care products first introduced in Europe in 1945. Their adverts look the same the world over and sound the same. But Pantene understands that each market they sell to needs ‘a face’ that customers connect with.
Pantene adverts in the UK may have British models or popstars, whilst the Indian adverts have Bollywood actresses. The script is the same, but the faces are different.
We buy from those we accept are the same as us, or those we look up to.

There are times when the rules don’t apply.

Luxury marketing is different

Luxury marketing throws standard marketing rules out the window.
Aspirational marketing often relies upon the heritage of the brand. In this case, it is usually better to stay true to your original offering. (Think designer clothing brands like YSL, Chanel or Dior.

Their history and originality is what makes them influential and successful.

But their marketing isn’t mean – far from it.

Luxury marketing appears mystical, exotic and other-worldly. And here’s the biggie, it works.

Standard marketing might claim a product will beat a rival. Luxury marketing suggests a product has no rivals. The term, ‘Peerless Marketing’, is often used.

But even if your brand has history and mystery you still need to target your consumer.

Rolls Royce, which describes itself as one of the best known brands in the world, refer to their heritage and innovation, but also adapt their marketing, their service and, their showrooms.
When customers are expected to pay 100s of 1000s of pounds for one car, targeted marketing has to be effective, especially when fewer customers can afford your products.

Still think that meanie marketing works?

If you’re in any doubt, think about this:

If you have great expectations of a market or territory, understand that a mean budget will usually garner mean results. Why wouldn’t it?

Never forget, consumers are savvy and well informed. They can go elsewhere. And often do.

So don’t be a Marketing Miser.

Make an advert for each of your territories. And make it a good one.

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Babu Basu is a Copywriter and Head Honcho at CREATIVE GLUTTONY, a creative studio based in the East Midlands.
If you’d like to write to him, please email babuhot@aol.com
Thank you.

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The Golden Troll and the Clever Fairy

Are you sitting comfortably my darlings? Then let me begin.

Murica – the back story

I shall tell you a tale of a faraway land, a magical land. A land they call Murica.

Things in Murica grow huge. Houses, cars and even humans are bigger there than you’d believe. But what really makes Murica magic is the fantastic array of differing people.

You see, Muricans came from all corners of the Earth. Travellers from many nations joined together to create one extraordinary nation, Murica. For many years, this nation was seen as exciting, clever and powerful.

Murica was magical. Murica was great.

Sadly however, with the passing of time, Murica started to change.

Murica – the change

The magic of difference, that had once made Murica so exciting, was considered magic no more. At least, that’s what some Muricans thought.

These idiots seemed to forgot that their strength came from being different. They forgot that being respectful of those differences made them strong and compassionate. They forgot the value of decency. And that, children, is a very, very bad thing indeed.

Instead, the dim started repeating things they’d heard from friends in Inger-land. “We want our country back!” “We want our country back!” Which of course, is a silly thing to say, as their country hadn’t gone anywhere.

Some Muricans, who had been in the country a while, starting to blame new Muricans for a lack of jobs. A dip in the global economy, unfettered greed rogue financial traders, banks and other global institutions were somehow brushed under the carpet. The new Muricans and the peoples of other lands were of course to blame.

Of course.

Some Muricans started to think that it was ok to be horrible to Muricans that didn’t look like them or think like them. And we all know that this is wrong, don’t we children?

Some Muricans begin to think they were better than other Muricans, or even better than people from other lands. And children, we definitely know that’s wrong, don’t we?

The Big Chief’s job.

Every four years the people of Murica (both good and bad), would vote to choose their be Big Chief.

The job of Big Chief was important. Very important.

Not only did the Big Chief look after all Muricans, but he or she also had a lot of influence in countries right across the planet. You can imagine therefore, how important it was to find the right Big Chief.

The Big Chief, my darlings, needed to be smart, capable, honest, kind, understanding and very experienced in ruling over so many people.

The Big Chief also had to be very level headed and calm. You see, the Big Chief, was also the keeper of Nuclear bombs. These bombs were astonishingly powerful, and if one ever got fired, it would cause unimaginable death and destruction.

Thankfully, these bombs were not normally used. The theory was, that just by having them, the Big Chief could keep troublemakers at bay.

The Golden Troll and the Clever Fairy.

In 2016, the Muricans voted for their Big Chief. Strangely, the choice of people who could be Big Chief included a Golden Troll and a Clever Fairy.

A Golden Troll?

It was strange (even by the standards of a magical land), to have a Troll as Big Chief. This particular Golden Troll really was ill suited for the job. He was constantly angry, said rude things about people who didn’t deserve it, and he was not experienced in the slightest when it came to ruling people. It was also alleged that the Golden Troll had done some very, very bad things. Things a Big Chief should never do.

The Clever Fairy.

The Clever Fairy was different. Mostly.

She had studied for many years and understood about ruling people. She was kind, level headed, hard working, disciplined, wise and she celebrated the fact that Muricans were magical, because they were different.

The Clever Fairy had worked hard as an Assistant Big Chief and travelled round the world working on behalf of the people of Murica. She was also married to a previous Big Chief and had at one time lived in the Big Chief’s house.

Yes my darlings, it was obvious that the Clever Fairy was well suited to be Big Chief. The angry Golden Troll was not.

For a long time before the election, both the Golden Troll and the Clever Fairy talked. They talked endlessly about how they each were perfect for the job. They talked and talked and talked and talked. And for good measure, they talked some more.

In fact, they talked so much that people got sick of listening. They talked so much, that it started to induce voted apathy. That, my darlings, is when voters don’t care. And that my loves, is every bit as dangerous as Nuclear bombs.

When the Golden Troll talked, he would boom and shout. He was the best. The Clever Fairy, he said, was the worst. He claimed that she was bad and had done so very many bad things. He was of course lying. Mostly.

But because he boomed loud and long, people (some people), started to listen to him. The louder the Golden Troll boomed, the more people forgot about the mistakes he’s made, and focused more on the apparent shortcomings of the Clever Fairy.

They forgot about all the good things she had done and had forgotten about the great qualities that made her right for the job.

The Golden Troll was sneaky.

The Golden Troll knew he had a loud voice and he knew that people would listen to it. He also figured out the more he bad mouthed the Clever Fairy, the better he made himself look.

He told lie after lie about her.

We all know that telling lies is bad, don’t we children.

The Golden Troll lied so much that eventually people started to believe everything he said about the Fairy. The Golden Troll would claim that she was corrupt and evil. She wasn’t, of course, mostly. But it’s easier to accuse a mostly innocent person than talk about your own nefarious activities.

Interestingly, the lies peaked when other people accused the Golden Troll of doing some very, very bad things.

What my darlings? Why didn’t people tell him off for lying?

Well my lovelies, some did. They were smart. They could see he was unsuitable to be Big Chief and that the Clever Fairy would’ve been so much better.

Some people were smart. But a lot of people were not.

Some people thought the Golden Troll was right. They thought that the differences in Muricans was not magical. They didn’t like people to be different from them. And they didn’t understand people who were different from them.

Some people liked the Golden Troll, because he was loud. Because he was Golden and because he had amassed a great deal of gold over the years.

People liked gold. It was shiny.

And some people liked the Golden Troll because he had been on TV for many years, so they were familiar with his burnished features.

And some people, my darlings, loved the Golden Troll because he frequently said some very bad things on a regular basis.

What my darlings? Why didn’t they like the Clever Fairy?

Well my loves, sadly the gold and the shouting and the T.V. appearances made the Golden Troll more visible than the Clever Fairy. Some people thought the Troll was honest. He wasn’t. He was rude.

Everywhere the Muricans went, the Golden Troll was there, shouting and lying.

The Clever Fairy was clever. So she didn’t shout. And she didn’t have as much gold as the Troll. And, she was constantly being put down for being a girl.

Now children, we know that is wrong, don’t we?

You see, some people, some very silly people, thought that the Big Chief had to be a man. And we know that thought is silly.

And some people were jealous of the Clever Fairy. She had lived and worked in the Big Chief’s house for many years.

She was also very clever. And people who weren’t clever, didn’t like that. Some people said she was too aloof. It didn’t matter that in reality she approachable, capable and committed.

The last 2 years

Over the last 2 years, the Golden Troll said bad things and the Clever Fairy was harassed for being clever. At one point, the Golden Troll asked his friends to help him smear the fairy with some really big lies.

When really bad news surfaced about the Golden Troll, he tried to make himself look better by telling more lies about the Clever Fairy. But the Golden Troll had a problem. Because he had told so many lies, he knew he would not be believed. So, he ran to his friends at the Foolish Bureau of Insurrection. Or FBI.

The people at the Bureau, were renowned for being clever. Therefore, when the Troll got the Bureau to say bad things about the Clever Fairy, people believed them.

It didn’t matter that later on, the Bureau said the Clever Fairy was innocent.

It was too late.

Some people had already voted for the Troll, because they thought the Clever Fairy was dishonest. Yes, the Clever Fairy wasn’t perfect. But she was a good deal better than the Golden Troll could ever be.

And much of the media in Murica didn’t do their job. They kept saying that the Clever Fairy was unpopular and untrusted. But they never looked at the real reasons why. There were many problems bubbling up in Murica. So, the Troll made the Fairy the scapegoat. And we all know that scapegoating is a bad thing, don’t we children?

Yes, the media, like many Muricans, became indolent and workshy. They stopped looking for the truth and just gobbled up as many lies as they were fed. And that, my darlings is lazy and foolish.

And even though more people voted for the Clever Fairy to become Big Chief, the Golden Troll got elected. A mysterious creature called the Electoral College was to blame. Democracy, it seemed, was a rare and unobtainable beast. But that wasn’t really important in the land of the free. Was it?

So alas, my darlings, my story ends in a bad way.

You see, the Clever Fairy was not elected as Big Chief. The angry, inexperienced Troll was now in charge and the world he ruled had became a more unsettled place.

And that, my loves, is definitely not a fairy tale.

Night night everyone. x x

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EU OR EEEUGGGGGH?

On the 23 of June, Brits will be voting in their droves to determine whether we should remain in the European Union, or, sail to a new and unchartered place called Brexit.

Those who want stay in Europe have said that in the EU we have financial certainty, economies of scale, lower prices, cleaner beaches, a stronger place at the world table and lasting peace.

Advocates of Brexit however, extol the benefits of a brave new world where the UK is unbound and unhindered by endless EU red tape, making better deals with the rest of the world and weeding out unnecessary expenditure in wasteful European bureaucracy.

Who you believe may depend on your age, your educational level, what you do for a job, what paper you read and your understanding of history and world politics.

If you’ve done your research and know how you’re going to vote, good for you. Read this article anyway and see if it changes anything. The decision you make is a complex one and will have implications for decades to come.

If you’re still not sure how to vote, (and there are plenty of us out there), read this article as well.

A complex decision?

Both stay and leave campaigners will trot out frightening sounding facts and figures (some of which can, at best, be described as ‘untruths’).

They know (or at least, I hope they know) the referendum will have an impact on the economy we work in, the laws we abide by and shape how we as a country are treated by other countries.

In short, how we vote will impact on everything we are and everything we do.

Does it really matter that much?

Yes. And it’s already having an effect.

According to the Telegraph the FTSE 100 (An index of the 100 largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange), financial uncertainty brought about by the referendum has caused the FTSE to lose, ‘£100 billion in 4 days’

£100 billion!

Why is that important?

If 100 of the biggest firms in the UK are losing money, we all lose. These companies create jobs (both inside the companies and outside in the supply chain), provide investment and help to maintain confidence in the economy.

We have the 5th largest economy in the world. If we falter, so do those we deal with. And when global markets shrink, we’re all in trouble.

Why Brexit or why Bremain?

Below is a brief summary of what has been said by both sides. Issues on this topic are incredibly complex and on the whole, politicians have made things harder to understand.

Brexit

  1. The EU has become a superstate and is set to get more powerful. The UK is losing sovereignty (losing the power to make laws for itself, by itself). As a country with a relatively small population, we don’t have much influence in the EU.
  2. The UK spends approximately £20 billion a year on EU membership. That money could be better spent in the UK.
  3. Free movement of people in the EU, could mean that member states and new member states could all move to the UK, ‘overwhelming our country’ so that immigrants can work, live, use our stretched NHS and obtain benefits.

Bremain

  1. The EU is the largest trading bloc in the world. If we stay in the European Union, our companies face no or reduced barriers to trade (economic and legal / social).
  2. Our influence in the world is greater because we are part of this bloc and as we are aligned to other EU markets, easier trade will continue. Should we leave, then our influence reduces and trade agreements between us and those still in the EU will need re-negotiating.
  3. Whilst we are still a substantial market (just over 65 million), we do not have the same influence as the EU which has a population of over 746 million.
  4. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (whose job it is to provide independent economic analysis on matters pertaining to economy and taxation), warn that leaving the EU would cause us to fall back into recession.
  5. This will lead to a smaller economy, less money for the government, more job losses, greater pay cuts, companies going out of business, less training, less investment and lower skilled workforce. Which in turn lowers our ability to grow our economy.
  6. Brexiteers have said that countries like Canada, who are not in the EU and who have just negotiated a favourable deal to trade with the EU, are a shining example of what the UK could achieve.

However, on a BBC Radio 4 programme, the Canadian Finance Minister, whilst extolling the virtues of the agreement was quick to say it took over a decade to put in place. He also admitted that the agreement was in no way as favourable as the agreements the UK has in place, as part of the EU.

Brexiteers claim it would be easy for us to renegotiate favourable terms within the EU and outside the EU. Countries like the US are seen as markets the UK could increase trade with should we leave the EU. However, the US President has himself suggested that we would have less influence with the US, should we make a Brexit for it.

Free movement of workers in the EU allows us to work in other countries and workers in other countries to work here. Brexiteers have suggested that Turkey, who is looking to join the EU, would send great swathes of their population to work in the UK. What Brexiteers conveniently forget to tell us, is that Turkey’s population of 79 million (75 million according to some) are unlikely to join for at least 30 years. Issues with Turkey’s economy, strained relations with the Cypriot Government and a lack of enthusiasm to join, in part created by watching the financial problems on Greece, are major hurdles to Turkey joining.

The issue of ‘mass immigration’ would not cease, were we to leave the EU. Norway, like the UK, is part of the European Economic Area and like the UK, it has certain EU obligations.

A former foreign minister for Norway explains that,

“Norway must a) accept free migration of EU citizens, b) contribute to the EU budget and c) comply with all EU rules but with no say in making those rules.”

According to Full Fact, an independent fact checking organisation and various think tanks on immigration, more people from outside the EU choose to move to the UK than those within the EU.

That won’t change if we leave.

Full Fact state that,

“The vast majority of EU migrants in 2015 said they were coming to the UK for work – and 41% said they already had a job arranged. By contrast, most non-EU migrants (47%) say they have come to study.”

And, as right minded individuals, we need to ask ourselves, is migration necessarily a bad thing? As a second generation Indian, born and raised by professionals living in the UK, I would argue that migration can be a positive. It allows a host country to benefit from the skills and productivity of those who move there.

People working in the EU (wherever they originated from) will pay and create economic wealth. And those coming to study in the UK, bring much needed revenue to our service based economy. The Financial Times estimates that services now account for almost 80% of our economy.

I understand about the economy. But what about the huge numbers of immigrants in holding camps across Europe?

The pictures of thousands of migrants, swelling borders and crashing down fences in Europe has frightened many people and has been seized upon by Brexiteers and extremists.

But leaving the EU wouldn’t stop scenes like this. The vast majority of immigrants who claim political asylum are from outside the EU. How the UK and EU deals with this humanitarian crisis is yet to be seen. But, as the UK is not part of the Schengen Agreement, we will be less troubled than our counterparts in mainland Europe.

Being part of the European Union also increases cooperation between member states when it comes to security – an increasingly important issue in our turbulent world. It also allows us to have greater influence on matters like climate change and the environment.

Indeed EU legislation (and funding) is responsible for clearing our beaches and waterways. We were traditionally known as ‘the dirty man of Europe.’ And European structural funding provided much needed support to areas in the UK with serious economic decline. Liverpool and Newcastle, for example, are now financially much stronger and better places to live because of EU investment in jobs, education, training, housing, the arts and road networks.

So is the EU perfect?

No it isn’t. Bureaucracy, wastage and differing economic and political agendas of differing member states create problems. But, on balance, it is better to be part of the EU, than be apart from it. The EU costs us 30p a day per person. Should we exit the EU, the loss in income from less trade would be greater than the money we would save from not paying fees.

Who are the Brexiteers and who would like to Bremain?

If you’re still unsure about how to vote, ask yourself this, who do I believe? Look at the proponents of Brexit and the campaigners of Bremain. Who carries greater personal authority and what agendas do people have? Probably the best advice I can give you comes from a Facebook article written by Calvin Morris on the 11th June. In it, Calvin considers the voting direction of key figures.

Bremain – key people wanting Britain to stay in Europe:

The Governor of the Bank of England

The International Monetary Fund (The IMF)

The Institute for Fiscal Studies

The Confederation of Business Industry (The CBI)

The President of the United States

8 former US Trade Secretaries

President of China

Prime Minister of India

Prime Minister of Canada

Prime Minister of Australia

Prime Minister of Japan

Prime Minister of New Zealand

Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General to the United Nations

All former living Prime Ministers of the UK (from both parties)

The UK Prime Minister

The leaders of the Labour Party, the Green Party, the Scottish National Party

The National Union of Students

The National Union of Farmers

The World Bank

Director General of the World Trade Organisation

The Secretary General of GCHQ

The Chief Executive of the NHS

Director of Europol

Director General of the World Trade Organisation

 

Brexiteers – people who want to leave the EU:

Boris Johnson

Michael Gove

Nigel Farage -the Leader of UKIP

The BNP (The British Nation Party)

Britain First

Keith Chegwin

David Icke

Rupert Murdoch

And Donald Trump

 

Oh.

Now that you’ve seen both lists, ask yourself this, ‘When it comes to economic and political matters, which list carries more weight with me?’

Good luck on the 23rd everybody.

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The Old Weighing Room – Doncaster Racecourse.

It’s not often I get to eat in such unusual surroundings. Built in an ‘Art Deco meets Classical Empire’ style in 1920, The Old Weighing Room manages to feel both historic and modern. With black matt wooden floor boards, black tables, off white walls, black beams and high white ceilings, this building has a smart, urban feel.

The staff are friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. Without doubt, they are one of the reasons that this 70 seater restaurant has been full every night since opening back in April.

We start with the excellent Trio of Salmon. The Thai Gravadlax, a happy rework of the Scandinavian classic, has a gently spiced kick. The luxurious Salmon Mousse, is rich and creamy. And the Whisky Smoked Salmon is smooth and beautifully paired with delicate sour cream.

Next, the perfectly cooked Roast Pigeon. Served rare, the bird is moist, tender and presented upon a bed of earthy vegetable ribbons.

For Mains, the well seasoned Monkfish Saltimbocca, wrapped in Pancetta. Appropriately, this has a light, bright, citrus butter and a firm meaty texture.

The Cannon of Beef delights. Served with a deliciously meaty Ox Tail Tortellini, sweet Rosti Potato, gently wilted Spinach and superb Trumpet and Oyster Mushrooms. And for dessert, the elegant Trio of Dark Chocolate – with squidgy Brownie, fluffy Cheesecake and rich Marquise.

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Santo’s Higham Farm Hotel, Derbyshire

Tucked away in the historic Derbyshire village of Higham, Santo’s Higham Farm Hotel is built around a 15th century farmhouse. As you walk into reception, you notice Italian granite table tops, beautifully worn stone floors and an ancient sunken well.

It’s Friday night and the award winning hotel is full. Around me, the happy burble of contended patrons. The staff and their manager, Santo, are attentive and eager to please.

There are 4 dining rooms, ranging from formal to informal. The menu is refreshingly simple; a 2 page affair that changes seasonally. As we take our seats, we’re met with a choice of warm, freshly baked roles (wholemeal or cheese and paprika) – a promising start to a fantastic meal.

The chef’s fine dining pedigree is obvious. Each plate is considered, balanced and carefully constructed.

The first dish is the elegant Crispy Parmesan Risotto Balls (mini Arancini). Sat on a bed of creamy celeriac and truffle puree, and served with cubes of salt baked Kohlrabi, and crisp baby endive.

In Sicily, Arancini are robust and rustic.

But here, they are elevated to an elegant, well balanced starter. The gentle heat of the Kohlrabi and subtle bitterness of baby endive works superbly with creamy, cheesy crunch of the small Arancini.

The Confit Duck Leg Rilette is equally sophisticated. The Rilette has a rich and complex flavour, with a hint of star anise, balanced beautifully with a treacly spiced pear puree, a velvety celeriac remoulade and stunning duck breast, delicately smoked, in-house.

For Main Course, we try the light and visually striking pan fried, Fillet of Cod. Served with golden saffron and garlic turned potatoes, buttered kale, fresh samphire, tiny scooped out vegetables and a heady seafood sauce.

We follow this with, slow braised Shoulder of Lamb. Cooked low and slow for 12 hours. The locally sourced meat is moist and packed with flavour. Teamed with and sweet, sharp and spicy red cabbage, comforting mash and the crunchiest of green beans, this dish should be eaten frequently.

We finish with an opulent Cheesecake, made with a generous vanilla filling and crunchy biscuit. Paired perfectly with a soft set full bodied blackberry sorbet and luxurious white chocolate crisp.

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Fashion Nazi? Fashionista? Or Unfashionably Fashioned?

Fashion Nazis and Fashionistas take note. Freelance writer and fashion misfit, Babu Basu creates a few fashion rules of his very own.

I never did fit in, sartorially speaking.

Because I didn’t wear blue jeans and didn’t wear a certain type of boot, I was something of an outsider. In the sixth form I didn’t wear the same T shirt brands as the ‘cool kids’. You never saw me wearing Doc Martins or Timberland Boots and I only wore trainers (sneakers) during Games. I didn’t look like Goths, Rockers or Sporty types. I was different and that was that.

I spent much of my teenage years being told what I should and shouldn’t wear. From the outside, I listened attentively. Inwardly, I would roll my eyes and wish for the ghosts of Coco Chanel and Liberace to spirit away these ‘fashion advisers’.

Well now I am old enough, strong enough and yes, wise enough to have my own sense of style. My individuality is now a strength and it helps me see things a little differently – essential if you’re a Copywriter. So, for all you Fashionistas and Fashion Nazis out there, here are a few new fashion rules to live by:

Babu’s rules of Fashion:

Fashion rule 554: Hat if you dare, don’t if you don’t.

There is nothing fascinating about a Fascinator. Either you have the courage to wear a hat, or, you don’t.

Don’t pretend to be elegant, be elegant.

Fashion rule 555: Say NO to clogs.

The only people who should be allowed to wear clogs are Cheese makers and the Dutch. Or if you insist, Dutch Cheese makers.

You see, these clumpy shoes do not flatter, they flatten (anything in their path).

Fashion rule 556: No Lowriding underwear / trousers please.

Wearing your underwear and /or trousers (‘pants’ if you’re from North America) halfway down your buttocks does not imply that you are a dude – unless you take the word ‘dude’ to mean a Camel’s foreskin. (Source – urbandictionary.com)

There is nothing faintly alluring about Lowriding, and I have asked everyone – men, women, camels. Seriously, not a good look. As NO ONE, is turned on by this look (and I really have asked) I know it doesn’t appeal.

So why do it?

1) Is it to shock?

Quite possibly. It shocks me that people think this is appropriate behaviour. I don’t want to see your bits, or the promise of them as you saunter down the street. Save that behaviour for bedroom.

2) Is it to fit in?

Apparently, this whole shambolic situation started in American prisons. It is alleged that inmates would wear their trousers (pants) very low to show they were the possessions/property/prison bitches of other inmates.

Still want to fit in with this group? I didn’t think so.

Fashion rule 557: You’ve heard about the Ipad, the Ipod, well here’s the Eyesore.

I don’t care how politically incorrect it is to say this but, “Fat people should never wear Jeggings.”

There, I’ve said it. In fact, no one should! (For the uninitiated [or fortunate], Jeggings are Leggings made to look like Jeans).

When the amply fed subject us to Jeggings, we see a lot more of the body than is appropriate in public. The phrase, “I’ve seen too much”, comes to mind. (This also applies to Fashion rule 556).

Ladies, from the waist down, would you be seen in just tights? For the larger lady, that’s what Jeggings become.

Fashion rule 558: Comfort ‘v’ Style

There is no need to choose one over the other. You do not have to dress like a scarecrow to dress comfortably. The implication that ‘the smartly dressed’ are uncomfortably dressed is nonsense! They just have the foresight to wear clothes that fit.

Fashion rule 559: Avoid colour and cut fascism.

Do not feel obliged (forced) to wear a colour just because a few scheming people in the boardrooms of Milan, London and Paris etc tell you that colour is a must have this season. It isn’t. Must Haves are food, shelter, health and if you’re lucky, happiness.

And why, pray tell, is an outfit that looks good on you, considered not as suitable as it was last year, or even last season?

I do have a few relatives that are fashion designers, so please forgive me Paria Shirvani (whose stylings can be found at pariashirvani.com). But, to paraphrase Coco Chanel, “Fashion is not important, style is.”

Fashion rule 560: All crocs are frightening – be they reptile or footwear.

Crocs (those ghastly rubber clog /gel shoes) are not and should not be permitted – unless of course you make cheese (please note Fashion rule 555). What you wear in the comfort of your own home is your business, but if you’re in public, keep those hideous extras from a horror movie (think the mask in the Halloween films) away from my very soul. (Watch me shudder as I move swiftly away).

Fashion rule 561: Flip flop off.

Outside of the pool, the beach and some very hot countries, flip flops should not be worn by grown ups. Seriously people, apart from the very inelegant clack clack clack noise when you walk, when is it practical to wear flip flops in England, in the middle of town and on a cold day? It is bad enough when women wear them, but when men wear them, I am at a loss for words.

In hot countries they serve a practical purpose, but in the UK, they’re frequently a sign of acute laziness.

And Fashion rule 562: Don’t be a fashion victim.

This rule is the most important and to me is just plain common sense. Never (and I’ll say it again for those who weren’t listening), NEVER feel pressured to wear something that is in fashion IF IT DOESN’T SUIT YOU!!!!!!!!

This applies to the cut of clothing, the colour and the size.

And who cares that you’re a size 18? It is far better to be a well dressed size 18 then a fool trying to cram themselves into a size 12.

Fashion is by definition a fickle creature. Shops sell stock, we buy it. It is up to us to buy wisely. I think it was the buxom Comedian, the late Marti Caine, who said, “I woke up one morning and realised that my boobs had gone out of fashion.”

So, unless you’re a modelling scout, do not worry that a body shape is no longer ‘the in thing’. How you carry yourself is far more important.

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