The Other News From England.

28 February 2000.

This one's early, owing to the fact that it will not be possible to log into the Othernews site at midnight 27 Feb. If you wish to see the previous one it is possible to go to it by clicking through the index of earlier issues below.

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.

The struggle continues, but there is no up-to-date news. However, the Bonnington management team seem to be taking advantage of the situation. There is now a notice in the cafe window saying they are closed for building works and will be open again soon.

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


As I grew older my body became ever more difficult to manage in terms of bending and moving about. RSI developed in my right arm as the result of using a computer and playing musical instruments, and soon I was physically all but useless.

The other day, somebody asked me to help install a fitted kitchen. She had thought it would be easy (like they show you in the shop, where the floor is perfectly level, the walls vertical and flat, and all right angles are perfect), bought all the pack-flat units and commenced to assemble them. The first two fell to pieces and were damaged by the strain of not being as easy to assemble as she thought, but she got the hang of it in the end, and having assembled the cupboards tried to fit them, breaking a couple more, and then, mangaging to get one or two approximately in the right place, she gave up. At this point she asked me for help (on the LETS), and I called round to straighten the thing out, on the grounds that I once used to earn my living as a woodwork contractor.

The thing I had forgotten about this kind of hand and brain work is the rate at which one's body warms up, and had to take off some clothing. Having got my temperature up (adrenalin, I suppose) I then got stuck in like a young man might, and by the end of 11 hours we had the whole kitchen installed.

The thing about this kind of work is that it obliges you to get screwed up tight in corners, heave things about (including the washing machine), stretch, bend, push, pull - in fact, do some general excercise.

At the end of the day when I got home I did not feel any the worse for wear, and neither did I the next morning, but the most important thing thing to me was the fact that I no longer had RSI in my right arm!

As a result of this, I would like to suggest that what happens with RSI is that only a very small area of the body is getting any real excercise, and because it is out of balance with the rest it gets into relatively excessive tension with the other parts.

Lest we forget.

Dickens, writing to a friend in March 1842, from the USA:

"At Washington again, Monday, March the twenty-first.

"We had intended to go to Baltimore from Richmond, by a place called Norfolk: but one of the boats being under repair, I found we should probably be detained at this Norfolk two days. Therefore we came back here yesterday, by the road we had travelled before; lay here last night; and go on to Baltimore this afternoon, at four o'clock. It is a journey of only two hours and a half. Richmond is a prettily situated town; but, like other towns in slave districts (as the planters themselves admit), has an aspect of decay and gloom which to an unaccustomed eye is most distressing. In the black car (for they don't let them sit with the whites) on the railroad as we went there, were a mother and family whom the steamer was conveying away, to sell; retaining the man (the husband and father I mean) on his plantation. The children cried the whole way. Yesterday, on board the boat, a slave owner and two constables were our fellow-passengers. They were coming here in search of two negroes who had run away on the previous day. On the bridge at Richmond there is a notice against fast driving over it, as it is rotten and crazy: penalty-for whites, five dollars; for slaves, fifteen stripes. My heart is lightened as if a great load had been taken from it, when I think that we are turning our backs on this accursed and detested system. I really don't think I could have borne it any longer. It is all very well to say 'be silent on the subject.' They won't let you be silent. They will ask you what you think of it; and will expatiate on slavery as if it were one of the greatest blessings of mankind. 'It's not,' said a hard, bad-looking fellow to me the other day, 'it's not the interest of a man to use his slaves ill. It's damned nonsense that you hear in England.'- I told him quietly that it was not a man's interest to get drunk, or to steal, or to game, or to indulge in any other vice, but he did indulge in it for all that. That cruelty, and the abuse of irresponsible power, were two of the bad passions of human nature, with the gratification of which, considerations of interest or of ruin had nothing whatever to do; and that, while every candid man must admit that even a slave might be happy enough with a good master, all human beings knew that bad masters, cruel masters, and masters who disgraced the form they bore, were matters of experience and history, whose existence was as undisputed as that of slaves themselves. He was a little taken aback by this, and asked me if I believed in the Bible. Yes, I said, but if any man could prove to me that it sanctioned slavery, I would place no further credence in it. 'Well, then,' he said, 'by God, sir, the niggers must be kept down, and the whites have put down the coloured people wherever they have found them.' 'That's the whole question,' said I. 'Yes, and by God,' says he, 'the British had better not stand out on that point when Lord Ashburton comes over, for I never felt so warlike as I do now,- and that's a fact.' I was obliged to accept a public supper in this Richmond, and I saw plainly enough, there, that the hatred which these Southern States bear to us as a nation has been fanned up and revived again by this Creole business, and can scarcely be exaggerated. . . . We were desperately tired at Richmond, as we went to a great many places, and received a very great number of visitors. We appoint usually two hours in every day for this latter purpose, and have our room so full at that period that it is difficult to move or breathe. Before we left Richmond, a gentleman told me, when I really was so exhausted that I could hardly stand, that 'three people of great fashion' were much offended by having been told, when they called last evening, that I was tired and not visible, then, but would be 'at home' from twelve to two next day! Another gentleman (no doubt of great fashion also) sent a letter to me two hours after I had gone to bed preparatory to rising at four next morning, with instructions to the slave who brought it to knock me up and wait for an answer! . . ."

The Gallant South?

The Property market.

IN CAMBERWELL, South East London, there is a hill called on one side Dog kennel Hill, on the top Champion Hill, and on the other side Denmark Hill. On and about this hill, there are various slightly exclusive and comfortable groups of spacious homes, and certain roads in which the whole world seems to want to live. The brand leader amongst these roads is Camberwell Grove, a wide, largely Georgian road with classic 4-or-more storey Georgian houses of floor area 1,900 sq. feet upwards, iron railings (some of them the original), the kind of garden my country-dwelling mother would call a postage stamp but which nevertheless here would be considered adequate (total site area about a 20th of an acre for the smallest houses), and no chance whatever of parking a car off the road. There is also a fair amount of through traffic, so that the council have installed bumps across the road, over which the cars bump all day. Here houses start at 625,000.

Amongst the other Groves there is one called Champion Grove. Champion Grove is of a slightly later period, the most sought-after houses (apart from a couple of earlier ones in the corners) being about 1840. These houses are 1,800 sq. ft on three floors, classic again of the period, and in many ways more attractive than the Camberwell Grove classics, occupying about a tenth of an acre (twice the ground of the cheaper Camberwell Grove houses), with a side entrance off the road, and thus parking space for two or three cars, and a great entrance porch on pillars. Furthermore, there is no through traffic, because Champion Grove is a crescent leading nowhere. It is a road in which there is almost never a house on the market because people like living there. Aside from Camberwell Grove, there are few chances to value houses here, unless one looks at Grafton Square in Clapham, where similar houses with less land last time I looked were about 900,000.

Two agents fix the market for both these Groves, one on either side of the hill, and in the same way that the Groves have a brand leader and a brand follower, so do the agents.

Agents, to be most successful, need property in a range of prices, and consequently have a vested interest in keeping the prices for the various different patches in their area different. Furthermore, if a patch is very small, or if people like it so much they don't want to leave, houses do not change hands often enough for the agents (who are also valuers) to know what they would fetch. It therefore follows that if a person from a road like this goes to one of these agents for a valuation the agents can pitch the price how they want it - high if they wish the person to put the house on the market through them, or low, if the person is thinking of trying to buy in one of these places.

Camberwell Grove is a long street, and at any one time there are always a few properties on the market there, and thus it is in the interests of the agents for it to be a brand leader (because they sell more there) and thus more expensive - and indeed it tries to be.

Recently, a purchase of a house in Champion Grove was agreed by an investment trust at a perfectly normal price for Champion Grove, which had been arrived at by comparing sales in Camberwell Grove because almost no property had changed hands in Champion Grove for some years (the price would have been an absolute knockdown price for Camberwell Grove anyway), and as the paperwork for the sale was being prepared the buyer decided he had better check that he had got the value right, and so consulted the two agents most likely to give an accurate valuation for the area - the two I have mentioned.

The two agents valued the property far below the intended purchase price, and the investment trust pulled out of the deal.

Quite right too. How dare anybody try to sell their house without putting it through one of these agents? And how dare someone reason out a value on the basis of local prices without first consulting one of these two?

It seems to me that if the house in question had belonged to one of their freemasonry the valuation would have been significantly higher (about 500,000, in fact, owing to having a sitting tenant in part) than the trust were about to pay. Now the problem for the seller is to work out whether the investment trust is part of the freemasonry as well, or merely that the agents resented not being able to collect a commission and decided to foul up the works.

Either way, he lost his buyer.

Landlord and tenant

The following might interest you if you are that very ubiquitous type of person who believes all landlords are wicked. It was written very recently by a landlord who had had some 14 years of aggro from a tenant, but who knew perfectly well that the courts are not interested in justice when it comes to landlord and tenant and was therefore not taking any action.

The landlord in question is the owner of the property which lost it's buyer (see above):

Without prejudice

(this term 'without prejudice' is a term which is supposed to disallow a lawyer from using the contents of the letter in any subsequent legal action - although in the case of landlord and tenant I think you would find the judge ignoring that rule.)

Dear Mrs. 8888888888

Mess in hall and other matters.

I feel I ought to clarify the position as I see it regarding the mess in the hall and associated matters in the hope that it might improve things.

The first thing to say is that I do not believe your or your son's end will be achieved by this particular strategy as I am aware of the prejudices of the County Court and the Legal Aid Board when it comes to matters of private landlord and tenant. You haven't even succeeded in driving out my lodger (although you have caused her to complain about your behaviour).

But the problem is greater than that, because in the event of my finding a financier able to provide the necessary funds to make you an offer I would still not be willing to make it in the light of the fact that it would be misused in evidence against me if at a later stage you manage to create the illusion that I am harrassing you instead of you harrassing me.

I expect you know that I had a buyer who backed out at the last minute a few days ago, and presumably this was something to do with your behaviour. They were a financial trust who wanted to buy a house with a tenant in part by way of long term investment. I would think they would have put money into improvements, which would not have been a bad thing.

I would suggest that the solution is that you and your son tidy up, or leave it to me to do so when I find some time to waste, and then take the holly clippings off my scaffold poles and offer to compensate me for the damage to the trailer, shed, tree and other things (a token amount would do if we are going to get anywhere) and then tell me what you are trying to get out of me. Further threats, violence, shouting, obstruction, creating a stench, chucking things around, 'passive aggression', vandalism or other strategies will only turn things backwards, but if these don't happen there is no reason why we shouldn't be able to do something creative with your problem - like ordinary civilised people would.

That, I believe, would get us out of this snookered position and give some chance of a satisfactory solution for all parties.

I should point out that although I am now beginning to show my age a little, my children and I have discussed this problem at length, and they know exactly what to do in the event of my sudden departure, and we have agreed it will not be something which will reward your present efforts.


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

Thames Water.

Thames Water continue to send bills for water to a fictitious person in this house in the hope that one day someone will pay two lots of water charges. They find it impossible to accept that, although it has been going on since victorian times, there is only one water account for the whole building. Much earlier Other News' will give you more of this story.


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