1 February 1999.
Although the internet goes back quite a long time, these are all pre-internet ones from our point of view. They are 1993.
There were a few essays that went out with the early Other News as a freestanding item. You can read these by clicking below.
The Soup Designer`s Handbook.
London Journey - a trip from Docklands through Beckenham and back to Docklands.
(These articles were written in 1988, and were my first attempt at writing. Some people when shown these fell about laughing, some smiled faintly - and some yawned. I thought I was going to write a technical book, but it soon became apparent that I was much more interested in the people than the technology - and that is the main reason there are no drawings - although it might be rather good to do a couple of caricatures sometime.)
Index of Friday Woodorker articles (and a means of access).
We are still redesigning The Other News From England.
There is at least one new article this week, and articles on many subjects in earlier issues (which can be seen by clicking below).
Index of earlier issues.
THE ABBEY NATIONAL RECENTLY sued me for possession of my property. The reason they sued was because when I resigned from my job and became unemployed the arrears on my mortgage started to increase rapidly, and I suppose they thought they saw an opportunity to make a fast buck.
So they let them build up a bit higher than they already were before the unemployment and then sued for possession. The cyinc in me says they did it thinking that this was the ideal moment because in my position I would be bound not to be able to find the money to get them off my back. they may well be right, and I may well lose my house.
I decided not to take the matter lying down, and explored a few possibilities for rectifying the situation, and discovered that because they had sued for possession I could not borrow money from any other commercial lender, the security in question being threatened by the very company I was intending to pay off. Pretty strategic I`d call that.
However, I don`t give up very easily, so I mustered together all my tiny savings and paid them into the mortgage account, thus reducing the amount claimed by almost a quarter, and then I got the tenant`s rent diverted from my bank account to the Abbey National mortgage account, thus reducing the payment problems to a minimum, even if increasing my other financial problems - though perhaps not too much to manage.
Thus I can now go to court saying I have done almost enough to clear the backlog within a shortish time.
NOW I WILL TELL YOU WHY I was in such arrears. If Abbey National had been charging me their normal rates, I would be quite the opposite of in arrears. They are charging me about #425 a month for a sum outstanding of about #48,000, yet on the noticeboard in the Abbey National where I called to make my payment I notice that they are offering to lend people #60,000 for #258 a month.
Whilst I am not an actuary, I can safely say that had they been charging me anything like their normal rate these last 25 years I would by now have paid off the whole mortgage.
Read the small print if you decide on a mortgage, and I would suggest that AN may not be the best source.
EDUCATION IS SELF-LIMITING. This thought has been going through my head for some weeks now, and I would like to try to elaborate on it. The people who make education happen are teachers, whilst those who are incompetent to teach are kicked upstairs to become various types of managers and principals.
Well, so what, you say? Well, the problem with the type of people who become managers (particularly since Thatcher) is that they are normally so incompetent that the only bit of power they can find is the power to stop people doing what they are doing - and in some cases to try to get them to do something else. This is the counter-productive bit, because the more competent the teachers, the more inferior the principals feel, and therefore the more they interfere.
When I was doing teacher training the course was run by two principals, and one of the most noteworthy things about the course for me was how much resistance there was amongst us trainees to learning anything from these two.
It was not like other teachers, who would offer you their knowledge and let you take it or leave it. These two were so desperate that you would do as they say that nobody wanted to do it. However, we were all told that we wouldn`t be able to keep our jobs if we didn`t both do and pass the course, and so we all tried.
They showed us how to teach people, and then we all went back to our classes and tried their methods, often offending our students so much that they left, and in due course (in my own case at least) discovered that the students liked the way we did it before much better. It didn`t end there, however, because if we ignored instructions and did the job properly (our own particular type of proper) people learned more. (How do you measure "more", I hear you say. I just know.)
So the great majority of us went on and became popular teachers (people can walk out any time they like in adult education), but it would not be difficult to conclude that it was despite rather than because of teacher training.
The self-limiting occurs because the sort of people who get kicked upstairs get envious about the way ordinary teachers can communicate, and interfere (possibly to find out how they do it, but they always seem to get in the way somehow). It makes them very unpopular with the students, but I suppose they would feel completely useless if they left things alone.
There is a saying amongst various types of engineers: "If it ain`t bust, don`t fix it." It has some merit.
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