12 Oct 1998. Only three days late.
We are currently redesigning The Other News From England, and when it is complete, you will be able to log on and click through to articles on a range of subjects. We hope also to include with each set of articles an index, and to have each week`s new articles on the front page before they are moved to their particular area. We are hoping this will in the long run save you time and allow us more flexible working arrangements.
However, there are lots of articles on many subjects in earlier issues (which can be seen by clicking below) and new articles attached hereto.
Index of earlier issues.
This week I have put a single cartoon on the site. The intention is that you will be able to download it, but I am not quite sure how this is done. Presumably you just select `view source` and copy it.
If this can be made to work, I will then know how to make the sheet music accessible.
<4>One cartoon to look at.
Office World are a pretty aggressive trading company.
One of the things Office World do to get you to shop with them is to give you a card that will give you a 10 percent discount on things.
There is a snag. If you are shopping they will be quite happy to remind you that if you have a card you will get a 10 percent discount, but when you get to the checkout suddenly you discoiver which things are exempt.
Yesterday, I ordered some labels that they had not got in stock, and then noticed one of these fancy multifunction machines. Whilst talking about the labels (about 14 pounds) the salesman talked about ten percent discount, and I thought `well, actually I could afford the machine with 10 percent off`, so I decided to have the machine.
The machine had to be oredered from another branch for me to collect today, so that when I came back the exact details of the converstation about the 10 percent had been forgotten, and the salesman wrote an invoice for the full price for the machine, with the labels discounted 10 percent. When I queried this, the pleasant young salesman suddenly had a fit of amnesia, and told me that the card would get me no discount on the machine, only on the labels.
"But," I said, you were only telling me yesterday that my card, which I took all this trouble to find, would get me a ten percent discount off this price."
"Oh no," he said "that was years ago. We don`t do that any more. This card gets you air miles. That`s about all."
Having built my new commercial plans around the new multifunction I felt unable to start planning all over again, and paid the full price.
Beware Office World. They may not be all they seem.
I am particularly interested int The Highways Agency this week.
The Highways Agency have sent me an `executive summary` of a plan called `A New Deal For Trunk Roads In Briatin`. In this document, amongst a large amount of twaddle about public consultation, measuring `standards`, and new objectives we can, if we don`t fall to sleep first, find (under `Protecting the Environment`) the following:
(we will) `operate a strong presumption against major new transport infrastructure which damages environmentally sensitive areas..............` `manage the trunkroad network to support the protection of species and habitats`........... I won`t go on, because to someone like you, who is environmentally conscious, the rest is obvious: 1. The enviornment is sensitive. All environment is sensitive. Just as there is no such thing as a `beneficial species` (and for similar reasons) so there is no such thing as environmental damage that does not matter. All environmental damage matters - it is at present just a question of whether it matters enough to an old man who will not be alive to reap the results of his foolhardiness for him to do something about it.
And the answer is probably: no, someone like that wouldn`t have the wit to know what you are talking about.
As to transport protecting species (like humans, for instance?) and habitats: how, exactly, can it be doing anything other than damaging them?
The industrial tribunal was a disaster.
My case was that the caretaker harrassed myself and my students so much that without guarantees of better behaviour I could not stay, that the college had thrown out all the good materials and kept the rubbish, that the college was offering me less hours and therefore I couldn`t accept the contract, and that with such rigid people it was impossible to negotiate, which is what I had tried to do. Thus I had been constructively dismissed.
Unfortunately, they had been so rigid that I might as well have been banging my head on a brick wall for all they noticed of my attempts to negotiate. These people have learnt that if you keep on saying something, however obviously wrong, for long enough, people will first pretend to believe that it is so, and will after a very long period begin to accept it as truth despite reason. Not being as bright as they might be, when this point is reached they begin to believe they were really right in the first place. God knows how they live with themselves.
The principal risked prosecution by telling the tribunal that he decided the wood must be thrown out because of risk of woodworm, when in fact they had kept a good fifty percent of it, and stated that he had told the caretaker to throw it out when it is almost certain the boot was on the other foot. He had also `taken advice`. The caretaker once worked in the woodwork shop at Windsor and Newton, although in fact the principal said he had taken advice from the borough surveyor. One should believe someone so honourable.
The Borough solicitor stopped the caretaker reading his written witness statement just before the bit that said he knew he might be prosecuted if he lied, thus demonstrasting that at least he (the borough solicitor) did not think the caretaker an honest man. He was not alone. The caretaker denied ever sabotaging any machines, putting a stinkbomb in the class cupboard, trying to order people about, or any other obnoxious behaviour. My collaborator insisted that the caretaker tell him who wrote his written statement, and also asked him to read the previously unread bit. He explained to me that as the caretaker had had difficulty reading his own statement there had to be something wrong with it.
The sub-principal risked prosecution by (at the very least) stating that the college were offering me eight hours a week when all the evidence they had brought showed that they were offering 6 hours a week.
These are desperate people.
The panel of the tribunal consisted of a member of the Confederation of British Industry, a local businessman and a union representative.
Do I need to tell you the outcome?