17 NOV 1997.
The Other News is made up as a single document, so that you can scroll your way through it.
BUT I am also working on links so that you an skip straight from the index to a given subject. Unfortunately, I can`t get them to work at present, so I have just made a list of subjects. At least you can get an idea of how the thing will work when it`s done.
Unions and work
Water (see ecology/recycling)
Index of earlier issues. (this link should work)
For conditions see end of document.
The people of Bonnington Square are once again doing things for themselves and everybody else.
A notice appeared on lampposts around the square this week advertising Bulb-planting Day.
It wasn`t one of those awful garden centre places trying to sell bulbs, but a collection of residents (mostly from the social housing element) who have decided to ignore council guidelines and plant a few bulbs here and there, in any odd little bit of bare ground (not much of that in central London) for the benefit of all. The whole activity will be led by Bimbo the Bulb-planting Clown, for the edification and amusement of residents of all ages.
There are places in Bonnington Square where the paving stones have been removed to make flower beds, and there is also a communal garden that the residents have made out of a derelict site - a kind of paradise in the middle of a traffic island.
Have you ever thought about doing thins like this in your street?
DURING THE PAST FEW WEEKS I HAVE HEARD a collection of apparently conflicting reports regarding water, rainfall, water tables etc.
(1) that the water table under London has now become so high that there is a danger to buildings and the government must be pressed to spend large sums of money with those worthies who fix things like that (rather like the leeches of the middle ages in relation to health).
(2)That we desperately need massive and extended rains before we run right out of water.
(3)That Thames Water PLC claim the great innovation of filling up the huge chalk areas underneath London with massive amounts of water like one giant reservoir for all our benefits.
(4)That it is quite possible that the level of the sea will rise so much in the next five or ten years that a large amount of Britain that is currently above water will be under it.
I don`t know which of these things is right, or whether they really do conflict with each other, but I do know that we ought to find a few things out about them.
Are the people who are lobbying parliament to get them to spend massive sums on protecting builings in London from the water under London the board of directors of Thames Water PLC, who see yet another chance for a fast buck?
Did Thames Water PLC do anything at all to increase the reservoir under London, and if so should they bear the cost of protecting our buildings? Or was it merely that they saw a cheap opportunity to promote themselves (rather like intellectual theft)?
If we are so desperately short of water, then can`t we pump out some of the water that is threatening London and use it until it reaches a sensible level, or does it find it`s way back through the drains and sewers?
Why are no real efforts being made to get people to be sensible and sensitive about water and their use of it? should we not be recycling our water by a selection of means?
If the table of water is too high under London, what will we do to avoid damage to buildings if we get the rain that we allegedly want?
Are we being led up the garden path in some way,
and what for?
The sea is a more intersting thing.
Of course, it gives politicians something to campaign about, even if they are unlikely to have any ideas about how to deal with it, but there is more to it than that.
Scientists have told us that it is likely that the sea will rise considerably, and I realise that my house, which is up a hill, will be on an island, whilst some of the most expensive property in London will be under water, as will many other places like Romney Marsh and the Lincolnshire Fens. And my mother`s house, which interestingly was called `the mermaind cottage` by local people up until this century but is currently a mile or so inland, will be on the shore - very pleasant. Half a mile from her house is my favourite small farm, and most of the land of that farm will be under water.
Looking carefully some years ago I noticed next to the ancient farm house what appears to be a landing stage.
The landing stage caused my daughter and I to investigate, because the local castle, completed in the 13th century, has a landing stage that is no longer near the sea.
In fact, it is about 20 feet above the ground, and local historians like to believe that there was an inlet there and that people walked from small boats that came into the inlet and went up twenty feet of steps to the landing stage, where a gate was opened to let them in, and closed behind them.
A likely story.
We looked at the rocks where the landing stage is, and at the level of the stage itself the rocks are worn smooth like only the sea can do.
Knowing that the opposite side of Britain is gradully sinking under water, we realised that it was possible that the whole of Britain has tilted slightly, raising one side and submerging the other, so we got a great length of string and a stone and made a plumb line to hang down the castle wall, (which would, of course, have a faint lean if this were the case) but were unable to detect any lean - the wall was one of the most perfectly upright walls I`ve ever had the pleasure to view, despite being made of dry stone and 700 years old.
We then made some checks to find out how far above sea level both the castle landing stage and the farm landing stage were, and concluded that according to the primitive surveing methods we used, they were probably at about the same level.
Whilst this was far from conclusive evidence of anything, it still seems likely to me that the sea has before been a great deal higher than it currently is, that the farm will one day be a pleasant little inlet on which one could enjoy a rowing boat (too shallow to sail with a centreboard), and that the castle will one day once again be able to have small (by modern standards) ships anchoring and discharging at the landing stage.
As to the houses that have in the past forty years been built on the sea bed, I suspect they will go under.
I can see no particluar reason to doubt that such a level will occur again at some time, although obviously it is not a certainty.
ONE OF THE THINGS I TEACH is furniture restoration, and I expect you will know that most of the furniture that people want to resore is made of now rare tropical hardwoods. The consequence of this is that I dig into skips and visit the rubbish tip to obtain for my students broken furniture and odd bits of wood. This is often the only possible way of getting the right timber to do a job.
I approve of this situation, and I believe you are already educated enough in these matters to know why I approve. But in case you aren`t, I will just tell you that we (the human race) have cut down so many trees that we are in danger of suffocating ourselves and have already done a great amount of damage to other species upon whom we all in the long run rely - we are all interdependant.
What caused me to raise this subject was a student with a fine rosewood writing box with the two inner leaves missing.
The workshop has all around it pieces of all manner of types of timber carefully saved for people like him, but he told me he was going to go and buy a piece of mahogony - a new piece!
Aside from the fact that it ought to be and probably would be impossible to buy the mahogony, there was the question of recycling, and with missionary zeal I gave him a very brief lecture on the subject of ecology, the environment, trees and survival.
In this country the ground has already been prepared in that people are now conscious that something has to be done, but not many people realise what that means, and this young man was no exception. I persuaded him to accept the gift of a piece of tropical hardwood (nicer than mahogony) that I had removed from an Indonesian (yes) packing crate (YES! The whole crate was made of rare tropical hardwoods), and was rather pleased with myself because I think of fine timber as being rather more important than gold.
The piece I gave him was about 6 feet long, and he needed two pices off it about 11 inches (just under one foot) long each.
So he cut it in half!
I managed to keep my cool, but questioned why he had cut it in half instead of just cutting off the two pieces he wanted from one end, and then he cut one of the two pieces in half again! (you can`t print the sort of symbols I would put here in HTML, or I`d do it).
I queried this again, so he cut one piece off one of the 1.5 foot pieces, and then started to saw the second three foot bit across the middle! (ditto)
It is infuriating me so much that I cannot go on to describe the whole process, but if I tell you that the remaining four feet of this perfectly good piece of timber were reduced to one at 0.5 foot, and some others about 0.33ft. long, and a few bits about 0.25 foot, I hope you will appreciate how incredibly wasteful this is. There are few students who can use such small pieces, and even when they find a new owner they will be cut further to make them into whatever they are destined to be.
The rest will go in the firewood bin, because although we would eventually use it in the restoration of something that needs tiny bits of new timber added, there is a limitation on space available to store it.
Getting back to the student. He obviously hadn`t understood anything, and I did speculate about whether he had a certain mental limitation (which was not apparent in other things he did), but then it dawned on me where he might be in this process. I turned to him and said:
"If you were doing this commercially, that would be your profit gone. Do you know how much that stuff costs?"
Sadly, it worked like magic.
for some time I was both a lecturer and an engineering student. It was one of the most enjoyable episodes of my working life.
At the tech where I studied the engineering staff where some of the most professional people I`ve ever met. They weren`t full of pretensious twaddle about being professional, of course, but they were truly professional in that they could do everything that was wanted of them and a great deal more. Some of the most creative people I`ve ever met.
We got on like a house on fire. They envied me for being able to teach and do woodwork, and I envied them for being able to teach and do engineering. They thought of wood as precious in the same way as I do. You can make something out of it. I thought of metal as precious in the same way as they do. You can make something out of it.
So when I saw the best lecturer in the college putting small offcuts of steel and swarf (those curly bits that come off when you machine metal) in the rubbish bin I had to ask what it was about. What about recycling?
He told me.
The problem is that if you try to re-smelt very small bits, they burn away to ???? (whatever basic chemistry tells us that steel burns away to).
That`s OK then, I thought.
But actually it probably isn`t, because what you are doing by dumping metal in the bin is teaching people that it is OK to trash it, and in a world with ever-diminishing resources this will not do - even though it is thought the earth is made up of about 98%^ iron (iron is the main ingredient of steel).
Presumably we don`t want to end up mining the whole surface of the earth, and probably the less we mine of it the better. Just because we can make something brilliant or destructive out of it doesn`t necessarily mean it is a good idea to keep digging it up and throwing it away.
So I would suggest that the college should put all the swarf and offcuts, no matter how small, in a recycle bin and make sure that the students do the same thing (after all, it`s their future we`re talking about), and that part of the activity of the engineering department should be to study ways of recycling this impossible material, and to keep on until they find a way that is ecologically worthwhile.
A student came in this week with a collection of illustrations of how much oak was affected by fuming (the process of exposing it to ammonia fumes in a confined space).
But the most interesting new (probably very old really) idea he introduced was that of treating the oak with tannic acid prior to fuming, which increased it`s capacity to be darkened. I won`t use pictures because I haven`t got any and they slow the site down.
Not long ago, a student brought to a restoration class an oak table (out of a neighbour`s rubbish!) that was very dark. The top had separated owing to being out in the rain, and during the regluing and finishing process a stip of it`s surface was planed back to a very light colour. The darkness was not stain, it was very natural looking, and it wasn`t fuming, so we were unable to match it and decided to just accept the light streak.
So she linseed-oiled it. And three minutes later it was the same colour as the rest!
Does anyone know how this happened? email@example.com
Flatfoot Spin`s next disco is Friday 5 December 1997 at Wheatsheaf Hall, Wheatsheaf Lane, off South Lambeth Rd. London SW8 (nr Vauxhall tube) 7.30-11. Children under 8 free, but fuller details in earlier issues.
Gabriele Gad is a lady with a German accent - almost of the music hall type, but not quite - who is searching the extremes of alternative therapy. Some of the things she has asked me to try have appeared to me to be completely off the edge, but in fact have either slightly or dramatically worked. She even does things with stones.
She doesn`t write about the sort of things I write about, or in the style I write in, so I have given her a separate section to do whatever she likes with (as long as it doesn`t have graphics). If you want to see what she`s doing, press here.
IN THE LAMBETH COUNTY COURT there used to be a judge who many local lawyers named after a certain type of gaming machine. He was well known for his great principles, and in certain circles very popular for them too.
These principles, as applied to landlords and tenants, although not comprehensive, were very easily understood, and seemed to be applied to all cases that came before him with complete impartiality.
Because they had such extraordinary effects upon the matters that came before him, I think I should tell you what they were.
I have never seen the principles myself, but it is not difficult to define from the things that happened in that court what they were. For all practical purposes they were as follows:
1. All landlords are wicked save in those instances where schedule 5, 6. below apply.
2. All tenants are honest, save those included in schedule 5, 6 below, notwithstanding those parties who subject to the Aeroplane and Bat (low flying) Orders 1932 would otherwise be exhempt under section 43 of the Hot Air (elimination) Act 1922 (Clause 14 as amended), save if it does not suit his honour at the time in force would otherwise be deemed fit and proper hereintoforebehindafter referred to as.......
3. All councils are honest and honourable and always do the right thing, subject to suitable political leanings, and always subject to clause (2) above and the limitation that any dispute beteween tenant and council shall be found in favour of the council or such other proper body as may be...............blah blah
4. All councils know what they are doing subject to being of suitable political leaning.
5. The Duchy of Cornwall is always right..
6. Evidence submitted by tenants specified in schedule 1 below shall be taken as being true save in cases where clause 5 applies
7. Evidence submitted by landlords not specified in schedule 5,6 shall be deemed to be invalid except in cases where the evidence submitted is substantially in favour of the tenant, but always subject to principle 5, hereinafter referred to as `the principle`, but always subject to other conditions and principles as published and amended from time to time or generated at the time of hearing.
8. In the event of substantial damage being proved by one party against another, no damages shall be paid, except where those damages are payable to those litigants listed in schedules1, 5, 6..and anyway not to any persons who are either not the Duchy of Cornwall or the local council, except insofar as if the recipient is the tenant of a private landlord, in which case such damages shall be disproportionate to the matter complained of, and shall be paid through proper solicitors, who shall be duly paid for their work in handling the payment. The tenant shall receive any residue after such legal and proper costs.
9.. `Proper` shall be that which is defined as proper by the proper person to judge properness. In the absence of a proper person to decide an issue of properness the judge or next most proper person shall be deemed to be the proper person to decide any questions of propriety.
10. This honourable judge is always right.
1. Tenants of private landlords, but excluding those in schedule 2.
2. Tenants of the Duchy of Cornwall.
3. Tenants of local authorities.
4. Private landlords, but not those described in Schedule 5.
5. The Duchy of Cornwall.
6. Local authorities.
7, All persons who are deemed to have no financial substance.
8. Those persons who, by reason of Schedule 16 of the Bat and Ball Act 1432 clause 43 subclause 13 are unable to vote but may be worth a bob or two.
I once sat through a case heard by this worthy, which could have been resolved in a day or so, but which was caused to last for four or five days, during which time the landlord, who, having been ransacked by his tenant, was unable to afford a lawyer (which should have gone in his favour in that one could have half a chance of a bit of honest dealing by not using a lawyer) was being taken for a general ride by the barrister for the defence (funded by the state) and the judge. It was interesting for those who have the patience to sit through torrents of twaddle.
There was not a single bit of serious consideration going on with regard to the actual case in hand, merely a great deal of time-wasting and playing about with Latin by two silly little men so obsessed with the tiny bit of power they had that they were unable to adhere to the rules of conduct of their own seedy club. (Although actually, this may not be entirely fair, because towards the end of the last day the judge said to the barrister "we haven`t seen any hubris yet. I`d like to see that". Hubris is a Greek word).
They did try for the hubris, but the landlord had long before realised their game and used their efforts to demonstrate and more clearly illustrate their general foolishness.
The outcome of the case was, of course, that the principles were applied, the landlord was asked to pay £9000 costs, and a further £3000 to the tenant, and in a few days a land speculation company, Safeland PLC, contacted the landlord asking him if he would like to sell his house with the now sitting tenant.
I always speculate about the possible hidden agenda in matters like this, and on this occasion I thought I would find out if the judge or Mr. P the barrister had shares in Safeland (these days I would also try to find out if Safeland was a masonic company).
Safeland were reluctant to give me a list of shareholders. At first they didn`t respond to my request at all (that is illegal in this country), but later after much nagging referred me to their registrars, who after a bit more badgering offered to give me a current list for £5.
What I actually wanted was a list of shareholders at the time of the event in question, because the judge and Mr. P could have got rid of their shares during the time the company was avoiding my request, but the registrars wouldn`t do that.
The Fraud Squad at Scotland Yard told me they could get a backdated list, but somehow things just faded away, and it was never done, and in due course the whole matter was forgotten - perhaps by everybody except myself. After all, the only person to whom it was of any importance was the landlord, and they don`t count.
However, in certain ways the landlord had the last laugh, and that is a story I will tell you on another occasion. The people involved in this matter would probably be petty enough to immediately start legal proceedings if I told you now.
Complaints were made about this judge and he was moved to another court, where the local people were probably unaware of his eccentricities, but I doubt they avoided being subjected to the same great and honourable principles, and must in due course have been able to define them.
He was replaced in Lambeth by another equally principled judge (probably the same principles, too), who endeared himself to all and sundry on what I believe to have been his first day by telling the assembled public that all process-servers (those who deliver legal documents) were dead from the neck upwards.
This, of course, showed his great wit, intelligence and impartiality all in one neat sentence, and left the whole locality in complete confidence about future events.
I`m told we have the greatest and best legal system in the world. I wonder what the worst is like?
Nothing happened of any interest this week with regard to the struggle with the college.
The college put out their annual report, glowing about all the amazing things the board of governors and the principle have done, and not addressing any of the bits that need darning.
I couldn`t make it to the end.
Who knows where on the Internet I can get a good freeware or shareware score-writing program that will run on my p100? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
STEVE, who studies saxophone with me, asked why The Other News is such a weird colour. It`s a good and useful question. The reason is that I don`t know how to choose a colour using html codes. This week I have removed the colour codes altogether in the hope that it will go black and white, and since `experts` believe this is the most readable combination second to black on yellow I intend to leave it like that until either I find out how to get the right yellow or have some whim about another colour.
A CONTRIBUTOR who wishes to be anonymous has been sending me a great many documents about economy of fuel in road vehicles, which is an interesting subject if you are interested in ecology and technology. These will be published as soon as I can work out (much reading needed) which ones are the ones he is offering for publication, under what name, and which ones are for the trash.
If you decide to print any of this copyright material in your periodical, please (a)acknowledge othernews.co.uk by writing "othernews.co.uk" in a noticeable position(b) send some money to Editor, othernews co, 25 SE5 8BN, UK. There will come a time when payments can be received over the net. When this happens, I will work out a standard rate per word instead of leaving everyone guessing.
Readers are invited to help prosecute illegal use of this material in exchange for receiving 70% of any financial gain resulting (after all overheads).
I sincerely hope no such event will occur.