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The Other News From England.

18 January 1999.

Sorry we`re late.

There has been a server problem, so that, although The Other News was ready to fly, we couldn`t actually get it to take off.

Then, at about 11.00 a.m. GMT I logged on again to see if all was OK, and a whole lot of machine code came down the line into my modem driver program. So we did the necessaries, and as you can see got the thing flying.

Freemasons, or some other type of control freaks, I suppose.

Early pre-internet issues of The Other News from England.

the Other News From England used to be sent by ordinary post to a selection of editors in other parts of the world in the early 1990`s. Some of these early issues are quite a good read. I am beginning to process them for publication here.


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 continues this week with a recipe.

The Soup Designer`s Handbook.

London Journey - a trip from Docklands through Beckenham and back to Docklands.

Friday Woodworkers.

Episode 9.

(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.

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.

Cartoons and graphics.

drawings click here.

sheet music click here.



I MADE THE MISTAKE OF believing a Tempo salesman in November. It has not been a pleasing experience.

Tempo are a British chain or retail outlets specialising in consumer electricals and computer stuff. They are selling pretty hard and fast, and do have a customer complaints dept who sound as though they will try to do something for you, but that seems to be as far as it goes.

I bought a Lexmark 3200 printer from them on November the fifth last year, because of the manufacturer`s specifications and the salesman`s claim that it would print at least 500 pages of colour before it needed a new cartridge.

Apart from the amazing slowness of the thing I was quite pleased with it.

It took me till late December to go through three hundred sheets of paper - most of them printed with black only - before the colour started to run out.

I phoned the shop asking for a refund and they were not friendly. So I phoned the local trading standards office, who informed me that Tempo would get away with it because I had kept it more than 28 days (that`s how long it took to use the paper and find out - hard luck) - the limit in British law unless the machine did not come up to the manufacturer`s specifications.

Then I tried the customer services department, where I got a very pleasant young woman who told me that I would not get any satisfaction unless it might be that I would accept an alternative printer in exchange. As there would be nothing wrong with this (subject to it coming up to a suitable specification) I said this might suit the purpose. She gave me the name of one Spencer Mason, who is customer relatiuons manager. I had to contact him by fax, and this is the fax (my error to call him `Mr. Spencer`):

Mr. Mason would appear to have searched high and low for an excuse. Ignoring the fact that the machine could only by the skin of it`s teeth print 6 pages per minute, that the replacement black cartridge appeared already to be running out after less than 150 sheets, and all the salesman had said, he decided not to rely on the 28-day bit, but to say instead:

It just shows how carefully he read the fax and how much thought he put into the matter. It wasn`t a computer I was talking about but a printer, and a salesman`s story.

As to the #30 vouchers, they can ony be used in Tempo, where the cartridges are very expensive, and from Tempo`s point of view they amount to about #5 in the light of the company`s markups. Pretty cheap, I`d say.

I wonder why they didn`t just opt for sending me a plastic pen and pencil set like you get down the market for a pound?

Ecology and Environment.

It is reported that Deutshce Shell have started marketing copmpressed hydrogen as a moter fuel, leading people to believe that all you get out of the exhaust pipe is water vapour.

Before you rush out and convert your car, I think it might be as well to have a look at what happens when you burn hydrogen in air, because this is what you will be doing by using hydrogen as a motor fuel. I am not trying to suggest that other fuels do no harm, because they do harm, and it is also quite possible that hydrogen would do less harm than other fuels. What I am trying to do is to stop you becoming complacent about running a car. They will still pollute - not just in burning fuel, either.

Air is a mixture of gases, some of which are easily burnt and some of which are not. There is (or once was) the right amount of oxygen for survival, because if there was more then spontaneous combustion of certain substances would take place, using up the surplus.There is also a lot of nitrogen, and many odds and ends of other gases - perhaps some of them unknown (for we don`t necessarily know everything there is to be known, as many `scientists` would like us to believe), and some solids which are light enough to float in air.

The problem with burning anything in air is that when you burn the intended substance the other substances in the air (nitrogen, etc.) are also changed into a selection of other substances, many of which must be poisonous, by the process. Additionally, you are throwing out nature`s balance whatever you do, and we are not yet quite sure whether nature can rebalance itself as fast as we unbalance it. These things happen with all fuels, including hydrogen.

If we could devise a method by which pure oxygen was mixed with pure hydrogen and lit under appropriate circumstances, we would then genuinely have pure water a a result. The technology might come one day, but as far as I know that day is not yet with us.

Even if it were here now, one must bear in mind that the process of separating oxygen and hydrogen from those substances to which they are normally attached might be a process that pollutes more than the hydrocarbons that we burn now, and therefore in the long term might well result in greater, not reduced, pollution.

So far, the only possibility of reducing ecological damage known (to me, at least) is to reduce the amount that we do things.

That is a very tall order, given how adventurous humans can be.

The Southwark System.

IN THE PEOPLE`S Republic of Southwark there are few people who have any power, but the few who do weald it as though they are the only people who matter.

These people spend a lot of their time trying to push the other people of Southwark into corners where they can impose Notices on them, or charge them with not having done something that the council itself would not do if it were in their position.

My own experience of this has been one of being a landlord, and as everyone knows all landlords are wicked it will not surprise you to read my tale.

In 1978 the council served a repair notice on the previous owner of my house, requiring him to repair certain things, and some of these these he did. In 1981 I bought the house, and in 1983 I applied for a mandatory grant to do certain works, but being a landlord the council required me to prove that the works needed to be done. So I persuaded a council surveyor to come and look at the property, and in a week or two a repair notice arrived. It was a version of the 1978 notice with one or two items missing, but served the purpose - except in that it didn`t list the very jobs that I knew needed to be done and which I wanted to do.

So I re-applied for the grant, and was told that I couldn`t have one as the works didn`t need doing.

A few years passed whilst we argued about this, and then in 1990 or so the council served a repair notice on me, requiring me to carry out all works or the council would engage `craftsmen` to do the job and charge me for it. In the main, the works were the works listed in the 1978 notice.

I tried again for a grant, pointing out that the grant was mandatory if the work was deemed necessary, and the council ignored all correspondence for a considerable period of time, and finally sent in their `craftsmen` (they were just like a lodge of freemasons, I thought) to do the job without my permission and against my will.

they are now suing me for #37,000 and I am suing them for #42,000 plus costs (probably about #12,000 by the time we`ve finished) to undo the damage they have done, but as the People`s Republic of Southwark is within the area tended by Lambeth County Court, who also think all landlords except Councils and the Duchy of Cornwall (who have a very bad reputation amongst tenants) are wicked, there is no telling how it will come out. It is very much a gambler`s field of activity.

I have wasted 16 years so far on these people, and quite frankly they aren`t really worth wasting ten minutes on. I must be mad.

That`s all this week folks