The Other News From England.

6 March 2000.

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, except that the Bonnington management team have stuck a new notice in the window saying that the cafe will re-open as soon as a suitable arrangement has been agreed between the various caterers.

I just hope they offer us the celebratory re-opening gig.

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



SMOKING makes your breath stink, your clothes stink, your home stink, numbs your gums to the pain of gum disease, which, along with not brushing your gums and inside of mouth and tongue, it aggravates, it stains your teeth brown, and the gaps between them almost black, almost undoubtedly vastly increases the risk of various cancers, lung diseases, heart diseases and digestive problems, causes you to feel ill on such a regular basis that you do not remember what it was like to feel well, relieves depression and tension for seconds and lets you down with more of a bump straight afterwards, is unnatural, is disliked by the great majority of non-smokers for both aesthetic and health reasons, increases the risk of fire, creates unnecessary litter, looks ridiculous and not the least bit sophisticated, and costs a great deal of money.

Still, if you wish to make yourself ill, look ridiculous, waste money and offend your neighbours it's up to you - it's a free world.

Lest we forget.

Held over for one more week.

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 RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS (popularly known as Quakers) believe that "there is that of god in all of us", and as a result of this idea have no need for top-down religion. They have no parson, no choir, almost no nothing. They sit in silence for an hour hoping that God will inspire them to say something, and when someone says something this is considered to be God's Ministry spoken through one of the members of the group. Quite often there is complete silence for an hour, and this is all perfectly satisfactory - in fact rather enjoyable.

If you are not a member of the Religious Society of Friends you may still attend meetings, and by doing this you become labelled as an Attender. Attenders can join the general activities of the meeting, and it occurred the other day that a meeting was held after the "Meeting For Worship" (the one where they sit in silence) to discuss some individuals' ideas about God. A selection of choice bits of bible were read out and in some way the speaker related these to the notion that there is that of God in all of us. Not having a religion, I was a bit sceptical about the connection, and posed a bit of a teaser (as I thought) along the lines of "I am quite heavily challenged by almost every meeting I come to, because at some point someone nearly always gets up and makes a profound statement (someone ministers, as you say) with reference to the bible, Koran, or whatever other standard religious work is available (including Quaker Faith and Practice), when in fact if there is that of God in all of us (and therefore we are, and everything else is, a part of God, and that presumably is what God is) there is absolutely no need whatever for any of these interesting but highly questionable stories. Furthermore, people's own stories are so much fresher, and therefore more powerful".

This was followed by a profound silence (almost as profound as a silence in a Meeting For Worship), then a statement that now everyone else was challenged by what I had said, and then much discussion along the lines of how revivalist, bible-thumping, co-ersive, or threatening various different meetings (they mean Quaker meetings) can be, and whilst I suspect that by this discussion they satisfied themselves on this point I had made, they didn't really satisfy me much. But I will probably go again next week because there is nothing quite like a Quaker for making you feel you have as much right to existence as anybody else (and they make a good cup of tea). In fact, I have gone on and off for so many years that I feel like these good, humorous and generous-spirited people are a part of my family - despite what I perceive as all that religious twaddle.

Next time I intend to tax them further, by asking how it is that they are able to be so peace-loving, generous-hearted, supportive and positive towards their fellows when many of them eat meat, which can only be obtained in large quantities by not respecting other species, and instead farming them. I have some big problems here myself, in that sometimes I resort to eating meat, I wear leather shoes (made from cow hide), and occasionally eat cheese, which is also the result of not respecting other species.

I may yet reach the point where I question the wisdom of those who worship a god, celebrate a victory instead of regretting that the struggle ever took place, and have as a feature of their religious festivals the torture and eventual killing of animals, bull-figthing, bear baiting, cock-fighting, fox-hunting, throwing live pigs off towers, and all manner of obscene, primitive and cruel activities. I rather think you wouldn't find Quakers in these areas.


DAVID BLUNKETT, our minister of education, it appears, either has no understanding of education and psychology or does not give a toss about education or psychology. Either way we are all losers.

Presumably with the aim of catching some votes he has told the nation that certain schools which do not get a certain percentage of exam passes will be threatened with being closed down, that 'superheards' will be sent in to make the existing staff feel inferior (and I presume he believes this will make them try harder when the reality is that many will say, as so many worthwhile teachers have before them, that the management and conditions in teaching are now so bad that they are no longer willing to do the job), and then if the schools do not 'come up to scratch' they will be closed, thereby saving the big corporations a penny on their taxes, releasing some property to flog off cheap to the trade, and rendering the remaining schools even more terrible than they already were, with even bigger classes and even less people willing to teach in them.

Interestingly, he is thinking of trying this with private schools too. A lot of private schools do not have as their first aim the passing of exams so much as the empowering of a complete, socially acceptable person who is able to tackle the challenges of life (even if they do turn out to be as irrelevant as exams) as and when faced with them (see for instance Summerhill). These, we are led to believe, will be closed or 'supervised' by some fool from the ministry until they 'come up to standard' (quite who's standards we are talking about I don't know, but it doesn't sound much like those of the majority of thinking British people to me), or forced to close. Some have huge amounts of land, which will then be sold to the local freemasonry to build matchbox houses by the million on, whilst others will vacate rented premises and enable the owner to sell for the same purpose.

As to the kids from these private schools - they'll have to swell the numbers in the already massively overcrowded state schools, further reducing the chances of any real attainments or happiness on the part of all pupils.

Surely it must be time for people who know something about the subject to take control of education. It is unlikely they could do any worse, and possible they might do better.


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


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