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The Other News From England.

5 July 1999.

This week.

Index of earlier issues - click here.

Advance warning.

THE RSI is still a little bit of a problem, so there may yet be further interruptions in the regularity of The Other News.

(Those who like digging about will find that there are hundreds of articles on many subjects to be found on this site. Look at the Index of Earlier issues for a start. There are also some drawings and sheet music.)


A very shy small girl came to the music school for saxophone lessons. Every time anything went wrong, like she played a wrong note or got a squeak, she went completely silent, and the rest of the lesson was wasted waiting for her to regain her confidence. By not making an issue of it I gradually got her round to keeping on going, and then after a few weeks she was a total extrovert, playing rock 'n roll using three notes, making most if not all the educational decisions, and generally getting on like a house on fire. The only fairly minor problem is that her parents want her to learn the saxophone and may not believe that is what is happening, so if I can just direct her energy a tiny bit things could be even better - but not if it leads to any loss of confidence.

So I invented a rock and roll tune that could be sung by any number of people against which she could jam, and sang it whilst she jammed (I played piano), and then two more girls came along and were interested, so I suggested that we might all get together and practice this so that they could sing and the vocals could be harmonised, and they jumped at it. We had a kind of children's Ray Charles situation!

So then I told the principal (a strict lady who is not as strict as she used to be) and she told me she wanted them to learn to sing properly (she teaches singing, but I've never heard her sing), that they'd never get into the festival hall like that, they'd fail their exams, etc., and anyway their parents (who had been enjoying the fun) wouldn't like it!

Oh yes, the good old British approach to education: It's perfectly alright as long as you don't enjoy it. If you enjoy it, it isn't work, and if it isn't work it is by definition unacceptable. Schools are not for enjoying yourself in - neither for staff nor for pupils. Before we know it, we'll have OFSTED breathing down our necks if we go on like this, and knocking me for not teaching properly, whilst commending the school for trying to stop people enjoying themselves, at which point I suppose I will be dismissed from my eternally temporary post.

What a loss!

Well, indeed, what a loss, but it would be the loss of the pupils I would mourn. On the other hand, it would be impossible for me to teach with any enthusiasm under OFSTED guidelines, and impossible for pupils to enjoy it, so I might just as well go if that is the requirement. There'd be more money working on the buildings or something anyway.


It came to me as I was being hurled around inside the No. 176 bus from Waterloo. The driver - about 25 years of age - was putting this classy machine through it's paces and experiencing the extraordinarily sporty handling characteristics of the thing, and as it was crowded I had the interesting experience of trying to stand up, and being thrown backwards as he accelerated, forwards as he braked, sideways as he shot round corners, and on odd occasions managing to stand upright for a few seconds. A lady offered to hold my newspaper and brolly for me so that I had a hand to hold on with (the other hand held a case), and this gave me sufficient stability for a few moments at a time to ponder.

The driver was to do with privatisation. The bus companies, of which there are many (but less than there were at the start because they have taken each other over) were privatised - allegedly in the interests of efficiency. The profits on these companies and all the wheeling and dealing would make your mind boggle, so I probably won't need to tell you what I think the true motive is. What does seem to be a fact is that in order to save some very small amounts of money virtually any person who can scrape through the bus driving test can get a job driving them, and it is not very uncommon to see a bus driver driving the thing like I drive my estate car when I'm feeling exuberant and at the same time talking to the girlfriend on his mobile phone (reverse the genders if you think that was sexist) - something I don't do because I don't have a mobile phone. As to learning to use the skidpan - that was a useful sized piece of land to flog to a developer, so they can't do that particular lesson any more.

The end game of this process (to cut a corner - another thing about busdrivers) is that in a few years all the buses will belong to one company that charges miles too much and whose directors are the only people who benefit - or alternatively, they ransack it financially and when it is about to go bankrupt and most of the equipment is worn out they demand money of the government who then nationalise it again, picking up the tab and leaving the directors to whistle all the way to the bank with the money they got for their shares - and sod Joe Public. I suppose it'll be one or the other.

But here may be the answer to what is going on with our Labour government - their apparently irrational behaviour. Traditionally, the Tories have gained control and then ransacked the economy to the great cost of most of the electorate but to the great profit of a few, and have gone on ransacking it in this way until it begins to collapse, at which point they have made sure that nobody likes them by publicising their various unsavoury personal lives, thus guaranteeing a Labour victory - this being desireable because the Labour party then have the problem of trying to redeem the economy, which is always unpopular with the unseeing electorate who don't like how much it costs them. Thus after five years of repair work, with some of the general infrastructure back in place, the populace decide they have had enough, and vote back in the Tories, who proceed to ransack it all again....and so on.

Not this time, though.

New Labour, being near enough exactly the same as the Tories, will be able to continue in the same way as the Tories did, so that things will get even worse. Thus, when the next election comes they will be voted out, and the Tories will be left with the problem that would traditionally be left to Labour, only it will be even greater.

In other words, the Tories will be left with the problem that they have traditionally left for Labour to sort out, and that will ensure a Labour victory at the following election because of the cost of trying to put it right.....Labour will have reversed the cycle! Quite whitty, really. I knew there was some intelligence there somewhere.

As the only solution to this problem for the Tories might turn out to be to continue ransacking the thing until they can pass it back to Labour, the question is which party can hold out longest doing least to fix things, and it is anyone's guess what the final outcome might be. It becomes a kind of competition in which the two main contestants are engaged in trying to do as much damage as possible for the other to pick up the pieces.

Whilst all this is going on it might also create a space for politicians who are committed to serving the electorate rather than themselves, in which case both Labour and Tories might be in danger of losing their seats, and that really would be a turnup for the books!


The stuff that doesn`t often get changed now follows:

This is a recycling site based in London, and offering materials to anybody. The organisation is a charity seeking to link suppliers of surplus materials with users. Especially good for the more ingenious designers amongst us.

The email of the people who run the above site is They are called Creative Supplies. Look them up for more info.

Here's an interesting education site - particularly for those who have young children and are not quite sure what to do to avoid the worst of what`s on offer in the mainstream of education.They are called

early Othernews - 1992, 93, 94.

Early Other News essays.

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.

The Soup Designer`s Handbook.

London Journey - a trip from Docklands through Beckenham and back to Docklands.

Friday Woodworkers.

(Friday Woodworkers are suffering a temporary break due to some of the episodes not having been fully edited at the time of writing. It may take some timne to fix this problem.

Episode 17.

(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).

Progress is slow but we`re still moving on.

We are still redesigning The Other News From England. Noticed the change so far?

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.

Gabriele Gad on alternative therapy.

A READER COMPLAINED that it was not possible to go back more than 6 articles in Gabriele`s area. Regrettably this is because there is no index, and I have not the time to organise one yet. However, for those determined enough to find the early ones, they should be accessible by going to an early Other News and clicking through from it. This will not be fast, but I think will do the job. They started about November 1997 I think.

Cartoons and graphics.

drawings click here.

sheet music click here.


(I wish someone would make a contribution before I am forced to put in some of my own stuff here).

So new, in fact, that there is nothing there. I want to open a section of this site to be used as a kind of green reference. Ordinary folks usually know what to do in order to be green, but there are times when (a) they don`t know the technology, or (b)they are short of ideas, or (c) they would like to see what some other people think.

So the purpose of this area will be for people to describe to others how they made their own electricity, or saved a great deal of domestic water being wasted, or captured the methane gas from their cesspit, designed their solar bicycle with regenerative braking and portable overnight windcharger, caused plants to grow in a desert, made a solar water pump, etc.

A site for forward-looking people, in fact.

It may be very difficult to edit, but I would like a few articles and tips that are concise, easily understood and ecologically useful. These will be left on the site, and gradually as the number of articles builds up hopefully somebody will construct an index. I won`t volunteer myself, as I have yet to make a subject index for the whole Other News site.



One week carried an article that might be of interest to anybody thinking of taking out an Abbey National mortgage - or those who already have one.

Interestingly, one of the London papers described them as being "among the greediest".

There will soon be a new twist to this story, but I am not sure what it will be until it happens. They are trying to make it as difficult as possible instead of as easy as possible to resolve the present dispute.


(see last week but one).

This Lexmark business gets worse. I refilled the black cartridge with an ordinary cartridge refilling outfit and it won`t print despite telling me that the cartridge is full and that it is printing.

In an earlier issue I told you about my feelings regarding Tempo retailers and the Lexmark 3200 printer I bought from them. I have now found out another thing about it.

The Lexmark 3200 printer I got from Tempo must surely be the most uneconomical printer I could possibly have bought. The black cartridge only does about 250 pages of ordinary type - for 28! That makes each sheet cost 11.2 pence plus the cost of the paper and probably another 11.2 pence more if any colour is used! - ABOUT 22.4 PENCE A SHEET! Nearly a pound for every four sheets!

I wouldn`t recommend you to buy it - but also look at my earlier article for an idea of Tempo`s service.

PIPS Alternative disco.

(held over again.)

These people keep springing up and then disappearing again. They have used a selection of names, but the people always seem to be the same. They are a disco without smoke, alcohol or drugs, and serve refreshments (probably very healthy, macrobiotic, veggy, etc) and dance to a wide range of types of music - including "classical", I am told. Sometimes they go to the Bonnington Cafe afterwards. Also, they occasionally turn up at a LETSSwing gig as a dancing group, and make the dancing a great deal more fun.

Saturdays 7-10pm , 6 March, 3 April, 8th May, at The Contact Centre, 60 Hambolt Rd., London SW4. (10 mins from Clapham Common tube stn. or buses 137, 35, 37. For info ring Kathy Hughes 0181 671 7300. They would like more participants.


A person to help make up a subject index for the growing numbers of articles on The Other News From England. Email

8- or more-track tape recorder. email

Also want good working VW or Volvo 7 series 2.4litre turbodiesel engine. This is the type that goes in an LT van or a Volvo 740TD. email

2,000,000 at 0% interest would quite good too, although I would probably waste quite a lot of it employing musicians to do the great work.

All material on this site is copyright. Contact me if you want to use it. I am quite flexible. Educational non-profit use is free - but ask for permission and print an acknowledgement. If you can`t think what to print, put:

From The Other News From England.

That`s all this week folks