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The Other News From England.

19 April 1999.

This week.

Index of earlier issues.


One of the conditions in the General Conditions of Sale in a certain British poperty auction goes thus:

So, as long as we buy property in Southwark none of these things could be enforced.



Episode 1.

Sorry. Shortage of time has forced me to miss this one out for the moment.



Milosevic seems to have scored a propaganda goal. Did he deliberately sacrifice some of his own men in those three trucks that were bombed in order to do it, like Saddam appears to have done when some of his civilians were persuaded to hide in a building that was targetted in the first lot of Iraqi raids, or was there something more complicated than that going on?


THIS GREAT STRUGGLE has been going on for years now, with no particular leader appearing. I am only able to see what goes on locally usually, and so I cannot get a very clear picture. Last survey revealed this (on a Thursday afternoon in Camberwell):

On the basis of this, I am able to suggest that the Post Office has to be the favourite, but they might be disqualified for not being a bank, whilst Abbey National is definitely in the lead but could at any moment be overtaken by one of the others, and Bank of Cyprus doesn`t appear to have a Chance - but as they are newcomers to the game, may yet develop a real queue. There is hope for them yet.

Surveying the whole field, I would have to call Abbey National the favourite. If you have an hour or two to waste queueing in the bookmakers, they would certainly be worth a flutter.


DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS my friend Daisy has had at least three drenchings from the plumbing in the flat above, and a constant soaking from the ill-fitted rainwater pipe outside her flat, so this evening we decided we would see what could be done about it.

The problem, however, is that the flat belongs to the London Borough of Southwark. So, having been told (maybe thirty times) of what is happening there, they send round 'a man', who looks at it and says he will come and fix it next week, and then disappears. Also, being Southwark, when she returns to try again she gets a different person to deal with each time. Thus the matter has to be started from the beginning again, and so another man comes round and disappears.

The last man who came round (before disappearing) told her that the problem was that they couldn`t keep any employees because they didn`t pay enough. They don't pay enough because their brilliant system of financial management tries (successfully, apparently) to harness the greed and self-interest that is in all of us and thus encourages the management to pay as little as they can possibly get away with (this might, if they are lucky, increase their salary).

In addition to paying as little as possible, the managers are encouraged to employ as few people as possible, and so to give the budget a quick shot in the arm they employ too few as well as paying them too little. I expect this has the result of making the impression that the budget is being managed well, and encourages those above (whose greed and self-interest is also tapped) to reduce the budget even more. Presumably there must be a stopping point, but it is difficult to see where.

This great management wisdom has the effect of making sure that many jobs are not done (the only way to make the budget stretch), and that the other jobs are not done properly, thus creating further work in the long run. There is the well-known phenomenon that if you give people too much work to do, they do the little they do less efficiently and often have to do it again. Thus more fails to get done.

Well, we discussed this for a bit, and then hit upon the idea of going to the council`s 'Public Protection Department' (F. Whittle, prop) and asking them to serve a Repair Notice under '$%&*(( Section ??? - but who would they serve it on? Themselves? Would they do anything? Not very likely. And if they did, would it work? We didn`t think that at all likely.

So the next thing was to ask the police, but she had already done this, and they had told her that although she thought the guy upstairs might be doing it deliberately, it was much more likely he was just not very bright, and therefore he could not be prosecuted under the new Crime and Disorder Act, which only allows a prosecution if a person deliberately creates disorder - a thing that could not be proved.

Next thing: She has been trying to buy the flat off the council. They have put a price on it, but the solicitor says she should not buy it until it is in good order, so I suggested she should tell them she is willing to pay their asking price less six thousand pounds, so that she can then arrange her own six thousand pounds worth of repairs.

But what happens when she next gets a soaking?

I won`t go on with this saga, because the way things are organised at the present there will probably be no end to it. But I will go on with other matters. If the council employed enough people and paid them a decent wage, it seems to me that they would not only be able to justify their existence by getting things done, they might even save themselves money. But for the moment let us suppose that it would cost more: If the jobs get done, the public begins to get value for it`s money, and if employment increases because of hiring more people at proper money to do the job, then more people can afford to pay for things, and more people paying for things leads to a circulation of money that would allow people to pay a suitably higher council tax.

Simple local Keynesian economics, I am told, although since the idiotic governments of the Thatcher years it has not been popular. I supopose it must have made it too difficult for 'the few' to corner all the wealth.

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. 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.



Last week but three 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.

The Health Service.


(see last week but one).

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.

PIPS Alternative disco.

(held over again.)

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, at The Contact Centre, 60 Hambolt 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.


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