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The Other News From England.

12 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.)


IN THIS COUNTRY we have an organisation called OFSTED who are famous amongst teachers of almost every kind for their lack of classroom experience, lack of knowledge of psychology, lack of ability to understand what education might be deemed to be for, insistence upon ever more impossible tasks, apparent lack of acceptance of the fact that there will always be some children who do not reach the 'levels' they set because if they did the 'levels' would be set 'higher', and last but not least lack of knowledge of what the average person has to do for a living - let alone how they might actually go about doing it.

I will not go on in this vein except to say that we have an equally dimwitted government (OFSTED being the inspiration of the current government in it's previous form, and perpetuated out of lack of ability to understand what is wrong with it!), who are also interested in perpetuating the ridiculous behaviour of the previous government with regard to 'saving the taxpayer money' - an excercise that costs the taxpayer an arm and a leg in terms of lost and incompetent/inefficient services, and will in due course leave us with a nation even less able than it is now, populated by a mass of very financially stretched persons lorded over by a tiny group of very rich and possibly completely unprincipled people who have grabbed whilst they could.

The aforementioned OFSTED, then, have been sent out to inspect independent schools and tell them how they should behave - a task requiring imagination, breadth of vision, tolerance, creative thought, perception, intelligence, and a desire to address issues other than one's own neuroses. This has proved unpopular with not a few private schools (I suspect even the ones like Eton and Benenden who could afford to spend whatever it takes to justify their position, and thereby send them packing - even if they might have stumbled onto something worth mentioning by mistake), and in some cases has aroused the wrath of great teams of people all over the world (linked by the Internet) who know all about the folly of the Emperor's new clothes.

The thin end of the wedge for OFSTED seems to be the small schools, most of whom cannot find the funds to fight back, and therefore are easy game - particularly the more eccentric ones, who may easily be closed just for not being like the school down the road (which itself may be threatened with closure for some entirely different thing). I particularly have in mind the kind of schools that have discovered the value of non-coersive education, schools with strong arts traditions, or engineering, etc. - in fact, anything that might be deemed not to be turning out either factory fodder or Flash Alfs to work the Stock Exchange.

Whilst I don't like this form of behaviour on the part of our public servants, and wish to express my disapproval right now, the part of the subject that interests me about all this is that if these fools manage to put a collection of innocent and creative schools out of business they wll be forcing the state to carry the cost of giving the children who currently go to them the usual third-rate state education (not the fault of the teachers), and at the same time will be stopping a lot of foreign children from coming to England to attend these schools.

This will not just mean losing substantial exports (oh yes), and costing the state money it was not previously having to pay out, but will also help towards the decline of British influence in the rest of the world (if you can't see how, I suggest you start thinking about it).

This is something we can well do without.


I WAS ABOUT 25TH in the queue in the post office,and being so far back enabled me to take from the largely depleted shelves of pamphlets one telling me how excellent the post office was at meeting it's goals (set by some buffoon up in Whitehall, I suppose, or a time and motion expert).

There were about nine goals, all of which had allegedly been met, and this included nobody having to queue for more than 5 minutes (or was it four?) and other equally unattainable and unbelieveable ends.

Of course, they had been met at some time somewhere - probably at the post office within the Houses of Parliament or perhaps one in South Kensington.

So whilst the higher taxpayer was being saved a few pounds a year by this parsimony we lower taxpayers were paying very dearly with our time for their saving, and there is really only one thing to be said for it from my point of view: I had enough time to read the whole pamphlet (about 10 pages) and check whether in reality in our local post office any of these goals were being met before I reached the counter. You know the answer, so I won't bother to tell you.

I considered the possibility of remonstrating with the people behind the counter, but was quick to realise that they are being treated as little more than battery hens (another area I wish to protest in) and that in no way was it their fault. Furthermore, for slaves they were being extremely conscienscious and polite and doing everything they possibly could to help the customers - there just were not enough of them.

I am glad to say I was not alone, for everybody bore it with great patience - most with much more than me. And because of this the government believe that the customers are satisfied.

I suspect if our politicians would withdraw their heads from the sand for a moment they would discover that this is not the case - but even if they do, will they have the wit to know what to do? And if they have the wit, do they really care one way or the other as long as they themselves are doing OK?


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