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The Other News From England.

14 December 1998

Friday Woodworkers.

These articles were written in 1988, and were my first attempt at writing. Some people when showm 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.

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. At last there are a few drawings (see below), and work has begun on putting together old articles form the early nineties. It will be somewhat sparse for some time yet

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.

(I believe she is planning to continue soon.)

Cartoons and drawings.


There are some drawings, and they work with my browser. The intention is that you will be able to download them, but I am still not quite sure how this is done. Presumably you just copy and paste into a graphics application.

I will be working to make the sheet music accessible (some people have complained!) next, and if I get one email saying it has worked I`ll put some more there.

The problem has been largely to do with file types.

drawings click here.

music click here.Only one file - Pavanne - is working, but it`s a start

Ecology and environment.

The Town and Country Planning Association are trying to work out a new set of planning laws, and although I like the idea of freedom I think things would be even more hopeless than they already are if we didn`t have any planning regulations.

Given that most planning applications are to do with financial gain above all other things, it is not surprising that we see a very large amount of cheapskate results - but perhaps even more important is the fact that most applications are to do with things that are ecologically and environmentally worse than leaving things alone.

I have made a few suggestions myself, and I don`t know if these would help or hinder you in assembling your thoughts on the matter (These thoughts are from an email I sent):

Dear --

I understand you are reviewing the planning system.

I am very concerned that planning should not become a laissez-faire system, even though I often disapprove of the bahaviour of planners. There are three areas of particular concern to me: (1)Public involvement, (2) conservation, ecology and susatainability, and (3)the protection of the countryside, and I shall try to separate them from each other even though they may be inextricably linked together:

1. The public nearly always find out about a planning decision after it has been made, and I suspect that the reason is that they don`t expect to be able to have any real influence on things, so that they have given up trying to follow and left it to the control freaks. Public participation should be more than just a p.r. excercise, and should allow people to input their own ideas without feeling that they will be chucked in the wastepaper basket by the first person who comes across them - roughly the feeling generated by your average local council planning dept.


Planning applications should carry with them a statement regarding ecological aspects not just of the project after it has been completed but also of the construction part of the job.

This may be a little difficult to grasp, so I will give examples:

(A) A wall in my area was knocked down by a lorry, and the local people rebuilt it. But this wall had been built with mortar almost as hard as concrete, so that most of the bricks had to be thrown away. Clay (of which bricks are made, and which is included in cement sometimes) is not an unlimited resource, and neither is money nor human energy - neither is space to tip old bricks. Had the same thing happened with my 150-year-old house, I would have collected up the bricks and rebricked it using as near the same cement as I could, and it is unlikely I would have to replace more than 5 percent of the bricks.

(B)When people turn on the hot tap, they let a large amount of water go down the drain until it runs hot. This can be avoided by including the right technology in the plumbing. Again, rainwater goes straight into the main drainage system, but does not have to. There could be ways of saving it for `second-use`- cleaning cars, etc. The same applies to bath water, which could be filtered and re-used.

(c)Insulation standards and type should be specified.

And so on.

I do recognise, however, that such things would have to be done in phases, but if one said that all projects had to have at least 6 of a large list of `green` things, that might start the ball rolling - partially because advertising would begin to carry descriptions of these things as a selling point.


There is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that population in this country will begin to reduce significantly at the beginning of the next century, and consequently it may be worth trying as much as possible to avoid new housing stock being built simply because if this happens we won`t need it and it will all fall into disrepair. Near enough the same argument applies to roads, with the additional argument that the oil for road vehicles won`t last forever, and anyway the countryside shouldn`t be wasted thus.


The `countryside` is the same as anybody`s garden, but there is one fundamental difference: Most of the countryside is a vast factory producing food for our excessive population, and not really something pretty for townies to traipse over. If there is too much freedom to wander then farmers will not be able to feed us and we shall all starve. Planning has to somehow accomodate this fact in it`s thinking. So does the government.


There should be a strong emphasis on leaving nature alone - not even trying to `assist` it as people so often seem to want to do. The only acceptable measures (and these should be questioned, since the methods adopted often do a lot of damage) should be things like cleaning up oil and getting all refuse into one place instead of spread evenly around the countryside. This assumes that there is anything left that is `natural`, but even if this turns out not be so (though I can think of remote instances) it is often better to do nothing than to do something, so that gradually nature will have a chance to re-establish itself.


In addition to these matters, I may send her another email, because the matter of town centres is very important to all of us. The great bulk of us live in towns, yet the towns frequently have no community because multinationals have taken them over entirely. This is a sign of prosperity in the eyes of town councillors, and perhaps many of the populace, but as far as community is concerned it must be the greatest poverty we have ever suffered, so I wish to add that planning laws should put a limit on the amount of town centre that can be anything other than residential, and at the same time a limit on the height of town centre buildings, strongly oppose the demolition of old buildings with a human scale to them, and accomodate pedestrians before rather than after cars, always allowing for the fact that no shop can operate without goods transport access.

The TCPA have been inviting comments and suggestions. Contact Diane Warburton, whose email is, or whose phone no. is 0171 930 8903, or fax 930 3280.

The Music Game

Two very ordinary men (the type who might spend their lives pursuing `honours` and cash) have been shocking the world this week with news that the rest of us have known since the fifties - namely that the record companies fiddle the figures for the `pop charts`.

These pop charts are a list of how many copies of a particular recording have been bought or ordered by retail outlets during the week, and of course it is the easiest thing in the world to make up some figures or to run a chain of outlets that orders more than it can sell - and on some occasions the ruse might work and large quantities of trash be sold.

Presumably these two are kicking up because they think their music might get into the charts if the charts were not thus manipulated, which is not very likely as far as I can see. Or perhaps they just decided they wanted to spend a lot of money on a very old story in order to get a bit of publicity, which they did successfully even if nobody will remember in a few days.

It seems to me more likely that something worthwhile would have a chance if the charts were not manipulated, but it also seems to me that if they were not manipulated by the record companies they would be manipulated by very ordinary men in search of a fast buck.

So what`s the difference? This system has always meant that most composers and musicians of any merit won`t get a look in, and that wouldn`t change.

That`s all this week folks