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

The Other News From England.

13 December 1999.

This week.

Index of earlier issues - click here.

(Those who like digging about will find that there are hundreds of articles on many subjects to be found on this site.)

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.

Ecology and conservation.

A very interesting thing is happening in big cities like London. There are so many cars that in certain areas it is impossible to park a car! Local councils have responded by installing (a) extra car-parks, and (b) residents' parking schemes in which only those persons who live in the area may park - or if they come from outside the area there are one or two places where they can pay a lot of money to park. For many car owners this has at least partially defeated their purpose in having a car, and so some people expect it to reduce the number of cars in use.

But there is a great amount of money about, so that in a street like mine, where once only about three families could afford a car (or wanted one), there is now about one car per household. But of course, there is so much money about that as soon as we get our residents' parking scheme and have enough room to park them, many of the houses will buy an extra car!

The fact that they will have less and less chance of parking it as time goes by will not be something they think about.


I COULDN'T PAY MY house insurance this year so I had to opt for paying by instalments. This will apparently cost me about 10% interest and charges over the whole period, but I would like to try unearthing the reality of the matter.

I am overdrawn at the bank, owing to not having a job (this is due to being above 30 years of age and therefore past any serious work) and so when the first payment is made I will be paying interest on the money borrowed to pay the money borrowed to pay the insurance premium - that is, I will be paying interest at least twice, so it will probably come to about 20% by the time we have finished.

But that is only what I thought at first. The money that I have paid 10 percent to borrow will be half paid back by half-way through the year, yet I will be paying the interest on the money I no longer owe as well as the interest on the money I still owe, and at the time of the last payment (in one year) I will still be making the same payment when in fact there is unlikely to be anything at all owing, making the aggregate more like 30% (or is it 35? - or is it even more than that? I can't be bothered to work it out in detail).

Meanwhile, the bank with whom I keep my overdraft have created the money that they are charging me interest on by electronic transfer, and no real money has at any time changed hands, and neither will it ever, because the transfers are just symbols of their claim to my labours - a kind of slavery if you like, or if it were done in a controlled manner a 'system of exchange' which somehow miraculously creates from thin air a currency I believe in enough to work for, never gives enough for me to stop working, and keeps moving the goalposts about as I find solutions to the various problems posed by this ridiculous illusion. Furthermore, it always puts the power firmly back in the bank's hands at the end of the day - a bit of a recipe for failure on my part and an unacceptable level of control over my life on the bank's part.

Meanwhile, the realisation dawns upon me that actually I would not need the insurance in the first palce if we didn't have a system of currency, so things would be greatly simplified - but how would I get some help to rebuild the house if it burnt down?


This week I cannot think of anything to say that I have not already said in connection with this subject, except to remind you that there are many organisations who try to help the homeless cope with the winter (some of them run by the homeless, I believe) and you could help them - often just by giving warm clothing you don't want, duvets, or any help. If you don't know where to start you could go to your local Religious Society of Friends and ask because there are always one or two people concerning themselves with this field of endeavour amongst them - and if not, they will be very pleased to point you in some useful direction. But then..............

News broke during the week that some homeless people have squatted a small Kensington mansion belonging to one of the universities. The mansion is said to be 'worth' 5.5m, and the college are allegedly going to court to regain possession because they wish to sell it. It was originally used for student accomodation, and so the whole thing is fitted out for multi-occupation, with firdges, fitted kitchens, showers, soft beds - the perfect place for a collection of homeless people to get a rest over the 'season of goodwill'.

I hope the squatters will all have the sense to treat everything that they have in effect stolen (albeit temporarily) with the greatest respect, and to clean up after themselves when they leave - that is the least the college can expect, and it might make it easier for them should they find another place to squat in the future. Leaving a squat unaltered and in clean and good order would be a newsworthy event because it is deemed to be such a rare occurrence.

This incident and many others like it raise not a few issues to do with trying to find a way of deciding who owns what - a question that is never entirely simple to answer. We live in a capitalist society and are expected to earn money and buy those things we wish to own, yet at the same time we have a large collection of people who appear to do nothing useful to get the very large incomes they have, and another even larger collection of people who are all but entirely excluded from the normal processes by which people acquire money, and whose role it is to pay rent to the former group. The former group take ownership for granted and as a right (as indeed it must be if capitalism is what we are doing), but the latter group may well not consider it fair, and one must presume it is because of this that they think it perfectly OK to squat. However, I have also known people move from the latter group to the former, and those people seem to change their position when they become a property-owner.

Of course, the questions only begin at this point, because the human race generally does not respect most of it's neighbours, and neither does it respect the other species - not even when it would be expedient to do so.

If there is a god out there, please could you give us some guidance?


A journalist, I am told, foolishly used the term 'Utopia' in connection with LETS this week.

The point about LETS is that a LETS system will allow a person who has a very low or middle income to 'progress' in our society despite the near enough irrelevant fact of their level of income. Whilst probably all of us involved in LETS would like to live in a Utopia, I do not think that is what we have in mind when we get involved. What we have in mind is (a) to serve our neighbours, and (b) to be served by our neighbours, and possibly (c) to demolish the class system and (d) to join a network of people who are all in similar financial difficulties to ourselves. Most LETSies additionally have a strong 'Green' element to their thinking.

The result of doing this over a long span of time is that the network can create opportunities for individuals to serve the community generally, as well as those who are in the LETS - LETSSwing being an example, where a group of LETSies got together to play some music and ended up having a part-time (albeit underpaid) job as musicians in the community, and another group got together to purchase organic veg for themselves and ended up serving their neighbours by becoming an organic veg trading firm (before GM had become a generally publicised concern) - need I go on?

We work harder than we would have to if we got a 'proper' job, earn less (some of us nothing except LETS currencies), but we have the satisfaction of knowing that what we do goes to those who need it, appreciate it, respect us (and we them), and who will at some stage be willing to do something for us (many of us put in far more than we get out).

Furthermore, if a job came up most of us would take it, and be practiced in the disciplines of going to work as a result of our LETS activities.

LETSSwing at Crawley January 29, 2000.

LETSSwing have become very slick over the last couple of years. A well laid back group playing a great mixture of stuff - harmonised vocals, smooth old saxophone, Gabriele Gad on piano (so unique I can't describe it), instrumentals on flute and/or saxophone, old, new, LETS songs, folksy songs, jazz pop and swing, reggae, bluebeat - and near enough all of it danceable.

Many LETSSwing engagements are in hospitals and homes (working for Council for Music in Hospitals), and so are not open to the general public, but on January 29 LETSSwing is doing another show that is open to the public (last one was 8 Dec 99). This will also be an opportunity to see what LETS' are about if you are interested.

at Northgate Community Centre, Crawley, W. Sussex, 10 minutes walk from Station.

7pm till 11pm, admission 5, 2 for 10-15 year olds, under 10 free!

You could email for extra info.

London Mayoral Elections.

I forgot to mention Frank Dobson in this connection last week, not because he is insignificant, but more because he keeps a low profile whilst trying to be a bit sensible. However, he is a successful politician, and as such is always someone I would not be entirely happy to trust. This is a most unfortunate situation, but it does seem to be a fact of British life.

My main anxiety about these elections is that we will find ourselves with a collection of members of a 'society with secrets', after which things may get steadily worse.

London Rent Assessment Panel.

STILL NO WORD from these people. I assume they cannot hold out forever, but you never know. They are, after all, an organisation with a political purpose, and one of the things these do when they are not sure what to do is to do nothing.

Possibly what is bothering them is that if they register a rent that truly reflects the market the landlord will be able to retire - the politicis of envy.


"AT LAST THE MESSAGE is beginning to sink in", I thought when I read that the government had assembled the heads of all the various government covert intelligence agencies to discuss the problems of large-scale organised crime (stuff on a scale that makes Robert Owen's matter a mere drop in an ocean), and reading on I discovered that they were targetting a Russian Bortherhood, a West African brotherhood, a West Indian brotherhood, an East European brotherhood, a Turkish brotherhood - but they were not, after all, targeting a UK brotherhood.

So what kind of government is this, then?

Robert Owen.

I promised something about Robert Owen, the man who says he feels he has been defrauded out of a 1.4m business by one of our high street banks, and that he has caught them forging crucial evidence, caught one of the magistrates of the City of London cheating the law by not declaring a friendship with the defendant (chairman of said bank), and so on.........His story has plenty of credibility, but I am reluctant to name anybody until I have his permission to tell you. He has not addressed this question (I do not know if this is absent-mindedness under stress, or evasion). But he has told me that I can publish his email address, so if you are looking for a juicy story you can email him and ask. It is

Have fun. I find his written communications difficult to understand, but when I briefly interviewed him face to face things began to become clear. If I was asked to judge, and knew for certain that every word spoken was the truth, I would say he had been diddled out of 1.4m and that a certain underground team of operators had conspired to pervert the course of justice because they were challenged when they hadn't expected to be. They thought they were too big to be challenged - especially by a person who is all but bankrupt and cannot get legal aid because the matter is considered to be a 'business matter' rather than a civil one. In order to have got the court decisions they have got, they had to either bribe or otherwise twist the arm of certain judges, and in order to organise hearings that were all but impossible to attend for mr Owen's supporters, they must have done a fair amount of arm-twisting. But then again, if Robert Owen never quite answers the questions I ask him, how can I know for certain what is going on?

Robert Owen's story has been one of many things that have caused me to question the value of money and whether we can't just all do things for each other and forget the money part of it. It becomes much more difficult to steal other people's efforts if there is no 'currency' involved, and of course it rather disarms those who think they have a god-given right to parasite off the rest. How would they manage it without money or force?

Friday, Robert Owen emailed me thus:

10th December 1999

On Wednesday 8th, about 40 victims met opposite Downing Street and six of us presented relevant papers at 'No.10'. Afterwards at about 2.45, to make sure 'Tony' did not bin the papers, Keith Whincup, who organised the show, together with four others, chained the front and inner doors of the Treasury building in Whitehall, encarsarating themselves in the lobby space in between the two doors. This caused considerable embarrassment and annoyance to the security/establishment in general, plus the ecsessive police activity as well as much public and press interest. The 'internees' let themselves out after being assured that the Cabinet had been made aware of their complaints, but promised to see the police in the New Year and left the Treasury at 2300 hours, no charges being brought.

The Daily Telegraph covered the story on Thursday and so did the BBC 0630 News cast, (3 minutes 20 seconds), however, so as to thwart any 'copy-cat' incidents the story was dropped at the request of the establishment.

Regards Rob Owen

Email ends.

I find it interesting that the establishment are worried about 'copycat' incidents. They must, then, be aware that there is plenty of this kind of theft about.


Southwark are being dead boring again - it's seemingly always the same set of departments and the same set of underpaid employees failing to do that which they are (under)paid to do by the same processes that they used last year.

The trick which is annoying me (and many Southwark inhabitants) at the moment is the method by which they avoid paying people their statutorily rightful council tax or housing benefit. It is extremely simple, and very mean. They send you a letter asking for "proof of other income" (they do it in bold like that), and then when you ask by post what they mean they throw the letter in the shredder, whilst it is impossible to get them on the phone. This leaves the unfortunate claimants (who have paid national insurance stamps all their life for this service) unable to actually get the payment, and eventually leads to the council passing the debt on to the bailiffs, who in the main are rather embarrassed to be asked to collect it.

I don't know what happens next, but this week I am intending to make some further enquiries. What I expect to find is that the people who manage the council tax benefit department are paid a portion of any amount of money that is 'saved' during the year - the Southwark system I described to you much earlier this year - and so are hell-bent on stopping any payments they can, regardless of the justice of so doing.

Theft at work.

I once worked at Warlingham Park mental Hospital. For a brief spell a thief regularly stole things from the nurses home. Most people felt they knew who it was, but were too polite to say anything. One person kept getting her cooked food stolen off the stove and retaliated by cooking something rather unsavoury and leaving it for the thief to steal, only announcing the contents afterwards, and this put a fairly abrupt stop to the theft of cooked things, but it didn't help with much else.

Seated one day at lunch in the staff canteen I was in conversation with a young man who was saving so that he could go back to India a rich man and have an easy time of it.

"These people who keep getting things stolen are fools," he told me, "if you don't lock things up they're bound to get stolen."

"Some people like to think their neighbours are honest," I said, "and anyway sometimes they forget to lock things up."

"Anyway, they won't steal from me," he said.

"Why not?"

"Because they wouldn't dare. I'll hit em if they do."

"How will you know who they are?"

"Well, it'd be obvious............." he spluttered in a rage, and then sank.

After that the thefts ceased for a while, but I daresay from time to time someone else equally dense and equally devoid of social skills comes along.

Last weekend, I was doing some work in another hospital, in a large hall, where those helping were obliged to put their coats on a table in the lobby, and walking silently into the lobby in the middle of a show I found another similar young man going through the pockets, but this time I behaved like the staff in the nurses home at Warlingham Park had done, rather than how I should have done, and giving (as most people do) the benefit of the doubt to the supposed villain I decided I must be mistaken. Surely nobody could be so pathetic as to do that at age 30?

On getting home, however, I had a change of heart, and vowed to telephone the management on Monday, which I did. It saves the embarrassment of a confrontation, you see. We British are so reserved that we'd sooner allow ourselves to be robbed than complain.

And anyway, he might have been trying to find his own jacket amongst all the others by knowing what the contents of his pockets feel like!

World Trade Organisation.

Big riots surrounded the World Trade Organisation meetings in Canada this year, apparently caused by a small underground group of persons whom one could easily imagine to have been trying to discredit protesters. They achieved a state of emergency and a curfew, but did not seem to discourage protesters very much. Two people who run a 'social issues' free email magazine have written extensively about it. You can get a copy of the current issue by emailing (free of course).


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

This website is about the destruction of countryside and agriculture. Worth a visit if you want to find out about how it is thought the British countryside will fair under the ongoing creep of the multinationals.

This website is one to do with monetary reform. If you are interested in economics it is worth a look.

This is a website about alternative currencies.Might be worth a look to those who have realised that you don't necessarily have to have money as such to be prosperous.

This is a website for something called The Green Guide. I know nothing about it, but am hoping it is something worthy. Please let me know if it is questionable.

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