This site will not work properly if viewed through Internet Explorer.

The Other News From England.

11 Oct 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.

However, I do seem to manage to keep on going without it getting any worse.

(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.)

Old issues.

I am working again on old issues of Other News (1993) and hope soon to put a few more of them on the site. This is a very long-winded job as they are coming off a computer that is not compatible enough with the present one to transfer them by disk. I have to print them and scan them in through a text reader.

Train crash.

There was an almighty train crash at Paddington during the week, and the newspapers had a field day - several in fact.

Amongst the many stories that were about there seemed to be one which was common to all writers - namely that a local train crossed a red light and moved into the path of an express train coming into Paddington, carriages tipped over and caught fire (I saw photos) and that some of those safety hammers that you use to break the windows in such an event - and thereby escape - were missing. The papers were also reasonably consistent in their estimates of the number of victims, the number being between 150 and 200 most of the time, and all seemed to agree that some victims would never be clearly identified because they were too burnt.

A reasonably serious newspaper - one read by persons who are believed to be 'intelligent' - carried an article that suggested it was such a shame because already persons who were opposed to privatisation were telling the public it was the fault of Thatcherite government policy - and probably not a few attributed the whole thing to Thatcher herself, the person who first set this ridiculous and destructive obsession with privatisation in motion (perhaps they did this with some justice). The article went on to say that rail travel was still statistically the safest you can get, and that therefore even in the reduced safety environment of today trains were a good purchase if you must travel. One must presume the writer has rail shares in fair number.

I expect the public relations firms will make a packet out of this thing too, building stories that minimise the damage to the rail firms and looking for politicians and academics who can be relied upon to say the right thing at the right moment. How much do they pay, I wondered, and is there anything I could be paid to say?

I started making enquiries myself after a few days, because I thought it highly likely the public would be being misled over various matters, and discoverd to my amazement that the people who know most about these things - the drivers and other people actually working with, for and on the trains - have a clause in their contract of employment that forbids them to talk about accidents. I don't just mean their own accidents. I got the impression that this meant railway accidents generally. Presumably such talk is reserved for members of the board of directors and the PR people engaged to talk on their behalf. I daresay we all know how much these people will know about the practical running of railways.

What I also found out was that there is a thing in railway organisation going back a very long time called a 'conflicting movement', and I believe this train made one of these. The defence against a conflicting movement used to be a very expensive mechanism that would automatically move the points when there was a red light, sending any train that crossed the lights up another track and causing the driver to stop - exactly how I do not know, but the technique was said to be 100% failsafe. The problem seems to have been that the mechanism costs a lot of money and uses some track that is needed for things like express trains, thereby reducing the number of trains that can be run - both things which reduce shareholders' profits. It might be worth some mathematician working out the relative costs of closing Paddington station for a few days and keeping this mechanism for many years, because that is what this accident appears to be about.

The questions for me are: (1) before privatisation did they have this mechanism, or had they already got rid of it in the interests of 'efficiency' during the run up to privatisation?, and (2) exactly to what extent should one go for safety, given that railways are already statistically the safest form of travel we have and that the population could do with a bit of pruning?

Those who have read Orwell/Huxley and the like may remember a story in which the surplus population after a certain age were obliged to go on certain bus trips, and from time to time the bus would crash.....


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

This is a site concerned with one of the most unpopular planning decisions ever made in Greater London, the Crystal Palace Complex. It is so stunningly awful that only a handful of people who do not live near it appear to approve, whilst the rest are not entirely uninclined to mention such things as payola, name it! The site belongs to the London Borough of Bromley, but the aggro generated by it and the destruction of amenity caused by it will be almost entirely suffered by residents of adjoining boroughs and not the people of Bromley themselves.

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. Authors will be named if they so wish. 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 several weeks back).

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.


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