15 February 1999.
early Othernews - 1993.
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.
London Journey - a trip from Docklands through Beckenham and back to Docklands.
(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).
We are still redesigning The Other News From England.
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.
I think she may be being lyrical when she says "once we are balanced we will remember we can fly". The articles she has put on this site (see above) will tell you more than I can about what she does. It`s all a bit metaphysical for me.
BUT - remember "the wearing of loose trousers is recommended"!
there is a new one this week, drawn originally for an adult ed class called "Front bites, rear kicks".
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.
Having been an art student I don`t normally bother to read any of the stuff about art, but this week two items caught my eye and my imagination because they so effortlessly illustrated the folly of how people value art.
The first was an article about a man who made a lot of money selling fake paintings `by` certain artists whom we are all intended to believe are exceptionally talented. The trick to it was getting the confidence of some organisation like the National Gallery by making a donation then going into the library to `study`, and then having got in he altered all the records of certain artists to record that they had also made the paintings he was having painted in their style. These paintings he could then sell as genuine masterpieces.
Everybody was happy, from the dimwit who was willing to part with a million or two for a painting because he/she thought it had been done by a famous artist through to the `talented genius` who could paint in anybody`s style and received a few pounds for doing it, and quite frankly I can`t see how the national collection would have suffered either.
Later in the week a newspaper announced the discovery that a decidedly brilliant sculpture had not been made by an unknown nobody but by Michelangelo, the heavily sold Italian sculptor of the Middle Ages - or was that time called The Renaissance? Whatever it was called, this discovery sent the `art world` into a flurry of excitement, and no doubt a great many more tourists will travel to the site of this suddenly great art this year than did last year.
I can admire the `talented genius` for being able to turn out a decent painting. This is obviously someone who knows what they are doing, and furthermore he seems to have turned out the works in the same spirit as a painter would have done in the middle ages - that is, it was an artefact parallel to, say, a table or a front door, and had a price that reflected the amount of effort that went into it. His price seems to have been #250, so I suppose they took about a day to complete, which would put him financially in the same position as a woodwork contractor (something I know something about).
I can also admire the contempt the con-man must have felt for the buyers of these obviously excellent paintings.
Now we come to the tricky bit. The unknown that was discovered to be a Michelangelo has gone up in value no doubt because of this discovery, whilst the works of this apparently equally brilliant but unknown artist have gone down as a result of the discovery that the paintings he did were not by the person they were alleged to be by! Suddenly, the sculpture is more brilliant whilst the paintings are less brilliant without any actual change taking place at all in either!
Before I ask the final question, I will point out that people who call themselves art experts have to tell you that they would always know a fake when they see one (which must presumably be why these paintings were bought!).
The final questions must be: (a) What kind of idiots buy this stuff, (b) what kind of idiots decide what is good art?, and (c) is money of any value in the first place?
(held over from last week).
I wrote about these people last week, but at that time I hadn`t realised the magnitude of their scam-like activities.
Looking through the paperwork in connection with the summons for possession I noticed that far from my repayments being #425 a month on #48,000, they are #500, and the interest alone is far greater than the whole repayment on another of their mortgages would be for #60,000!
The Abbey National say I owe them #47,000 (but that it would take #48,000 to get them off my back) and that the current monthly instalment is #499.91! This makes the total repayments per year amount to just under #6000 - which is approximately 13% of the total. This is the cost of not being able to pay them off.
Because the mortgage has been going a long time the interest is #364.02 per month, or #4368 per year. This amounts to an interest rate of 9.5%!
Almost anybody who knows anything about mortgages will know that if I were creditworthy I would be able to borrow money for this kind of purpose at about 6%, and had I been borrowing at normal mortgage rates over the years there would now be no arrears, the total outstanding would be reduced instead of increased, and I would be creditworthy. But I`m not creditworthy, so they know they can charge what they like - and the current reason I`m not creditworthy is largely that they are suing me for possession of my property!
It doesn`t end there, though. They are also asking for costs!
I know what I`d call them. It isn`t complimentary.
It had been pretty suspect to me for some time. Davros is a meeting of "big cheeses" from various countries to discuss how they are going to divide the spoils of trade from the coming year. It is purportedly international, but may well be instead multinational, and exclude many countries.
The Americans seem to run the show, and the reason I am writing about the matter at all is a letter that appeared in the International Herald Tribune on the subject from a participant in the show. This man had looked in on a meeting to discuss the subject of Information Warfare, and someone had asked during quesion time why the whole panel were American.
The Americans (for, of course, that`s what they were) on the panel answered that nobody else seemed to know anything about the subject, and a great many members of the audience who knew a great deal about such things but were not American retaliated that they had been available.
The writer of this letter had been engaged to send a communique to someone (a paper?). He tells us that his record of this particular incident had been completely erased from his communique, and he then ended up warning us to bear in mind that the whole show is just another commercial activity - it is designed to work out how to squeeze as much profit as possible out of the rest of the world, and for no other purpose. All the positive stuff you get in the press, as far as this writer was concerned, was just a bit of choreography.
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, aat The Contact Centre, 60 Hamnbolt 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.
I had the great fortune this week to hear Frank Dobson the Health Minister make a speech on the subject of the health service. He was extremely natural and convincing. He was in fact so convincing that the greatest cynic I know - I myself - believed him, which in my eyes is not a bad achievement for a politician.
He told us of some seriously useful sums of money to be spent on bringing the whole Health Service back together to the kind of health service my grandparents, parents and I thought we had already bought before the last government ransacked it. It even made me feel enthusiastic enough to speculate whether I could find myself a Health Service job again (I was once a hospital teacher until the shortage of funds to pay managers made me redundant).
The problems will of course lie not in the idea but in the execution of it.
The National Health Service mental hospital I taught in was both a happy place and one that ran very smoothly (difficult to believe now) when I started in 1981. I had the best job in Britain. The hospital had one manager and his secretary, and all the other employees were people who did the job of attending to patients and maintaining the buildings (and gardens). We were like a community. Even my dog was liked, and would be invited onto the wards for a quick pat.
I could go over the whole eight years of steady decline that occurred whilst I was there, but there is no need because most people will already be familiar with the story. It starts with one manager and plenty of staff and a well served community of mentally ill people, and ends with a team (I think it may have been approaching 20) of managers, too few staff on all wards, no Occupational Therapy activities, buildings in disrepair, discontented staff and patients, the restaurant reduced to a vending machine room, reduced or non-existent access to special facilities such as theatres and swimming pools (all part of the treatment if you`re mentally ill), inadequate cleaning, the gardens in decline, and not enough pay for a family to survive on (except, of course if you are a manager on performance related pay - and even that is being cheese-pared in some cases).
It doesn`t only need huge sums of money thrown at it - those sums might well just disappear into the nearest lodge if the job isn`t done properly. The whole process probably needs to be put into reverse somehow - but how?
It is possible that it also needs to be fully returned to the public so that it is run for the joy of doing the job instead of for the profit of a collection of execs. and shareholders.
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