The Other News From England.

21 February 2000.

(Yes - there was no edition last week. This was due to illness.)

Index of earlier issues - click here.

(Those who like digging about will find that there are hundreds of articles on many subjects to be found on this site.)

Old issues.

I am working again on old issues of Other News (1993) and hope soon to put a few more of them on the site.

The Bonnington Cafe Struggle.

Disappointed diners have been complaining that they went to this great institution to find it closed on Saturday - two weeks running - and not just on Saturday, but midweek as well.

The members of LETSSwing complained too, because they had been booked to play there and the cafe was closed when they turned up.

Not only was the cafe closed, but there was evidence of much turmoil within, with tables turned up on edge, a billiard table from upstairs out on the pavement, various fruit and veg boxes scattered about, no lights on and the door locked. The lady who has the contract to cater on Saturday night was nowhere to be seen, and we telephoned her as she had been the one who booked us. She invited us into her place and gave us a run-down on the action.

It all started about three weeks ago, which is why we were not there as advertised last week. The cafe is an offshoot of the Bonnington Community Centre, which informally licenses people to cater for profit in there on certain terms - the main one being I believe that they keep the prices affordable to the people of Bonnington Sq., which may be impossible in some cases as some people in Bonnington Square have no money at all (and some are on the LETS). These caterers then pay a nominal rent for the use of the cafe for the evening and pay the rent out of their profits. This results in a wide range of high-quality vagetarian cuisine and a constantly changing management, and therefore much interest from a customer point of view.

Those who go to the Bonnington will know that it is not a fussy place, and that not a single item of furniture within it's walls matches any other single item, and at least some of them may remember a time when the interior was not unlike an air-raid shelter during the blitz being put to better purpose, with much camaraderie and chatter and a fire in the grate made from wood out of skips which permanently threatened to escape into the room but which somehow, despite the most casual of tending, never did.

The Users Association, who constitute the various caterers, have been happily going on for years with only the smallest differences of opinion, blaming each other for the state of the floor and the maintenance of the kitchen (a real hippy affair if ever there was one) and the cafe has become ever more popular, until on some nights you can be turned away if you come too late, owing to lack of space or food. In the last event, you could still sit and drink a coffee or something, because the place still has it's strong entertainment value.

Recently, somebody decided that it was unfair that one of the users had the cafe for two evenings when all the others could only have it for one, and a big struggle ensued. The person who has it for two nights was not willing to give up either night, possibly because he felt it was through the efforts of him more than anybody else that the cafe had become so popular, and pointed out that he had been there for so many years that anybody else's tenure was relatively insignifant, and that anyway he had gone through the hard times when it was almost impossible to make a living out of the place, and when the other people were not even interested or didn't know of it's existence. He was not going to relinquish his tenancy of two nights, on any terms, now. He was staying exactly as he always had been, and that was that.

It was not a difference which could easily be resolved by discussion along these lines, and so, flinging ultimatums and statements of intent at each other they stopped negotiating - which is approximately what happens immediately before a war starts between two or more nations.

On the afternoon prior to one of the gentleman's two evenings he barricaded himself in the premises and commenced preparations for the evening meal, with the rest of the group outside telling him he couldn't do this, and he ignoring them, and was not budged from this position until an official from the council was called in, who required entry to check public health matters and was admitted. This did the trick to gain entry, and then somehow............there's all this chaos, and furniture belonging not to the caterer in question but to the Bonnington Centre out on the pavement, and all the rest that I have described above.

He has now called in solicitors, and the Bonnington Centre are not going to allow the place to re-open until a 'proper system' is organised (and as there are solicitors involved it could take forever and be a considerable moneyspinner for them - at least some of it courtesy of the Legal Aid Board - to work out this 'proper system'). This action, from the point of view of all participants except the lawyers, will be, although I doubt that the 'users' yet realise it, a cause of considerable loss, because people who find the cafe closed will think it has gone forever. The strong atmosphere of the place has taken years to build.

It will re-open eventually - maybe next week, but maybe next year - and I suspect when it does it might be somewhat tamed. We hope to be there again in some form on that occasion if it's worth the trouble - perhaps the band which heralds in the new tamed Bonnington Cafe, or perhaps the band to celebrate the same old chaos continuing.

When I first saw the Bonnington, I didn't like it much because I didn't really understand it, but it has grown on me a great deal now, and I would not like to see it change much - except possibly more towards what it originally was - a cafe for the poverty-stricken people of Bonnington Square and Vauxhall Grove. This I presume to be the result of my own financial limitations, but there might be more to it than that.

Bonnington Cafe, Vauxhall Grove, London SW8 UK. Near Vauxhall underground and mainline station, and many buses. Booking is difficult.

Compassion in Farming?

(held over from last week).

The following is a letter on the horrors of duck farming reproduced from The Catford and Hither Green Newsreel - a rather unusual and apparently free newspaper distributed in that area. I hope you will, at the very least, note it's contents:

"Fly? These ducks can hardly walk.

Have our food producers learned nothing? After bringing us cannibalism, BSE, Salmonella, E coli and antibiotic-resistant drugs, they've done it again. They're promoting duck as the new, healthy meat, and Lewisham supermarkets are going along with it. It is almost all factory-farmed and unbelievably cruel.

Farmed ducks are mostly close relatives of Mallards, the brown ducks you see on every pond. Like them, they have evolved to eat, swim, dive, clean and play in water, which is the basis of their life. In today's stinking factory farms, where 10,000 birds are often crammed into one shed, they never see water except in their drinkers.

Also, like their wild cousins, tney would love to fly at 50mph, to choose a mate and to live for 15 years or more. fly? Some can hardly walk because of leg deformities. There's no mating and life ends brutally after seven weeks. Many will be fully conscious when their throats are cut. Not only is the factory farming of ducks immoral, it is almost certainly illegal.

Happily, you can help restore freedom to these wonderful birds by refusing to buy the meat, complaining to any store that sells it and by supporting Vival's "Ducks out of Water' campaign (12 Queen Square, Brighton BNI 3FD) (01273 777688).

D. Mawson, Catford"

Thank you Mrs/r/s Mawson for drawing yet another abomination caused by human greed to people's attention. I don't suppose we'll ever stop it, but at least we can resist and campaign, and so reduce the number of sufferers involved.

Catford and Hither Green Newsreel can be contacted by telephoning (UK) 0208 690 2564. They appear to have a broad range of interests, and to be sparsely funded by adverts, so I expect any help might be appreciated.

So would Ducks out of Water.


IF YOU WANT A REAL COCKUP, see if you can get Southwark to help you.

Last word.

Time for an apology again. There is too much going on currently to be able to present you with much in the way of articles. Things will almost certainly improve within the next three months, however, as the property market settles (as we all believe it must).


The stuff that doesn`t often get changed now follows:

Wanted: Established musical act performing to reasonably sophisticated adult audiences needs an agent. This act is already on the road but needs help with increasing it's profile, and getting in front of a wider variety of audiences. Please email or if that doesn't work.

This website is about the destruction of countryside and agriculture. Worth a visit if you want to find out about how it is thought the British countryside will fair under the ongoing creep of the multinationals.

This website is one to do with monetary reform. If you are interested in economics it is worth a look.

This is a website about alternative currencies.Might be worth a look to those who have realised that you don't necessarily have to have money as such to be prosperous.

This is a website for something called The Green Guide. I know nothing about it, but am hoping it is something worthy. Please let me know if it is questionable.

This is a site concerned with one of the most unpopular planning decisions ever made in Greater London, the Crystal Palace Complex. It is so stunningly awful that only a handful of people who do not live near it appear to approve, whilst the rest are not entirely uninclined to mention such things as payola, name it! The site belongs to the London Borough of Bromley, but the aggro generated by it and the destruction of amenity caused by it will be almost entirely suffered by residents of adjoining boroughs and not the people of Bromley themselves.

This is a recycling site based in London, and offering materials to anybody. The organisation is a charity seeking to link suppliers of surplus materials with users. Especially good for the more ingenious designers amongst us.

The email of the people who run the above site is They are called Creative Supplies. Look them up for more info.

Here's an interesting education site - particularly for those who have young children and are not quite sure what to do to avoid the worst of what`s on offer in the mainstream of education.They are called

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).

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.



In an earlier issue I told you about my feelings regarding Tempo retailers and the Lexmark 3200 printer I bought from them.

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.


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

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