The other News From England. Mar 3Oth., 1993.

THERE ARE days when there appears to be no news at all worth the trouble of relating, and today is one of them.

If I look at my diary for the past week I find I went to have my photograph taken on Monday, and on Wednesday one of my piano-by-ear students cancelled all further lessons, telling m that music theory did not apply to the organ, and therefore she was moving on to an organ teacher. I decided I could not be bothered to argue, since there was a whole ` Organ Club' behind her decision. I know I can be a fool from time to time, but a whole clubful seems beyond normality.

And On that same Wednesday, I was informed that my Wednesday afternoon teachiag post was cancelled from the next week, and would I come back for a one-third cut in salary? It would be difficult to cut it any more without making it such a smaIl amount that it wouldn' t be worth claiming, so I declined. I now have Wednesday afternoons available to write The Other News.

There are no other entries, except one that says 'end of term' on Friday (I usually rely on my students to inform me of iten this is because they are so much better organised than I am), and on Saturday 'Battersea Labour Club`, which is an indication that the rock and roll band I play in has an engagement to play at that hallowed place.

`Labour` is the English equivalent of Bill Clinton's outfit, I believe. They used to call themselves Socialists, but I rather wonder if they do now. It must have been pretty plain to most people that there was not a lot about them that could reasonably be described as Socialist if the word means treating all people evenly and with respect (which is what I always thought it should mean, and why I sometimes describe myself as a 'real' socialist, even if I cannot manage to reach that high moral stance).

What goes on in a Labour Club is what goes on in every other political club I have yet been in - a lot of drinking and smoking, and no noticeable politics, much to my relief. There are other things, too. They`ve always had a rock and roll band on the nights when I've been there (which is why I'm there), and there is usually evidence of stand-up comedians, Country 'n` Western, ceilidh (`ceilidh' is a Gaelic word that was used to describe a party in which songs, tunes, dances and stories were exchanged, but seems to have become a type of band), holiday camp pop and the like in the form of posters on the dressing-room walls - if you' re lucky enough to get a dressing room.

I suppose there must be some reason for advertising acts that are already over in a place where nobody except the following acts can see the posters. In the lobby of these clubs, there is usually a roughly handwritten sheet of paper advertising the forthcoming acts, and I can only presume that the acts` carefully designed and presented posters are put on the wall in the dressing room in case the club members might see them. It could also be that the entertainmnt officer collects posters and doesn't want them dog-eared before they reach his collection.

A couple of other things did happen, though.

There was a letter from the Hire Purchase company telling me that if I didn't bring my instalments up to date they would try to repossess my car. It is particularly interesting this, since at an earlier stage in the contract I could have handed back the car and had no more to pay and they would have been heavily out of pocket. Thus, they didn't become aggressive about getting paid. Now that they have had back all of their original outlay and som of the interest (28% APR!) it would pay them to repossess the car and sell it, so they're trying harder. British banks have become little more than thieves in the past three years or so. It has been suggested to that they were always thus, but that they are now unable to disguise the fact owing to more comprehensive consumer legislation.

I have talked myself into a corner over the term APR, I believe. As far as I know it is a uniquely British term which endeavours to describe the reality of the deal you are getting as opposed to that which you thought you were getting. It means 'Anual Percentage Rate'. A financial institution is obliged in law to tell you the APR. At one time they would aggressively phone you and offer you finance at what sounded like a bargain price - miles below that which the bank was charging - and it was only if you were pretty sharp-witted that you would realise that the interest was chargeable on the whole sum borrowed over the contract period even though the money was being paid back as you went along. Thus 8% on a sum of 4000 over four years would still cost you 320 interest in the last year when you only owed 1000, and that was diminishing as the year went on. I cannot work out the exact difference, but the APR is the kind of interest that deal really came to something like 27%.

And then at the end of the week, along with the letter telling m that my insurance payment had not been honoured by the bank, I was also told that I would be offered quite a lot more lecturing work next year, and a friend offered to bail m out by lending me money, or buying some of my furniture - since I`ve got miles too much this can't be too bed a thing - and customers Came from far and wide to ask for quotations for various things.

Is everyone's life as confusing as mine?

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