The Other News From England.

19 February 2001.

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.

There are some much earlier Other News on this site. Click below.

early Othernews - 1992, 93, 94.

Bonnington Cafe and Bonnington Square.

THIS Saturday, act undecided. Probably some members of LETSwing, with original material and old standards. 'I'll certainly bring friends next time. I didn't realise there would be such a variety of material' - Claire Martin. No charge, but the hat goes round.

Bonnington cafe is a communally owned cafe in Vauxhall, Central London. The atmosphere is somewhat Bohemian, international, friendly, educated, and much wine (bought from the corner shop across the road) gets drunk. Good quality vegetarian. Cheap. The only lighting is usually candles stuck in wine bottles, and the furniture is a collection of odds and sods that people have thrown out. The overall result is relaxed and pleasing. People tend to spend the whole evening over their meal, and engage in discussion with those on other tables, the caterer, the band, passers through......

Bonnington Cafe, Vauxhall Grove, London SW8 UK. Near Vauxhall underground and mainline station, buses 185, 36, 2, 88, 322 and others. Booking is difficult.


This week a letter came from the Department of Inland Revenue informing me:

Inland Revenue


District Inspector G A HUNTER

Help us to help you! When telephoning or writing please quote your reference number, surname and extension number.

Date: 13 February 2001

Our Ref: **

Your Ref:**

NINO: ***

Dear Sir

Thank you for your letter dated 11/2/01, the 1998/99 Return was processed on 8/2/2000 and an overpayment of 33.80 arose, 32.91 of that overpayment was set against earlier year tax arrears,this Return was amended on 24/01/01 following an amendment received from yourself in which loan interest was decreased from 3700 to 2993 resulting in an underpayment of 36.90 plus the original credit of 33.80 making total tax due at 5/4/99 70.70, the 36.90 paid by yourself on 21/2/01 was not sufficient to cover your total tax liability at 5/4/99,33.80 plus interest to date of 3.04 equals 36.84 still outstanding.

I note your comments relating to late submission of your 2000 Return, which to date is still outstanding, I do not consider that you have reasonable excuse for non submission of this Return, ample time was given for the Return to be completed and ample notice given as to when the Return was due, I have enclosed leaflet SA/BK6 for your information.

Yours sincerely


Revenue Officer

Inland Revenue North: An Executive Office of the Inland Revenue

Director: G W Lunn

As that must be entirely plain and clear to you, I won't bother to go over it and explain it!

This outstanding document was in reply to an earlier letter from me to them which said the following:

11 Februay 2001

Dear Mr., Mrs or Miss Ashmore,

Income tax for year 1999-2000 Thank you for your letter of the 6th February.

During January I was trying to find out from both the local tax office, whose phones were never answered, and yourselves, who received my letter but did not answer it, whether or not I needed to put in a tax return for the year 1999- 2000. I came to the conclusion that as nobody commented on my letter I did not need to.

I therefore consider it extremely unjust to now be asked to pay 100 penalty.

I enclose a copy of the letter of the 19th. Jan., even though you have already told me you have received it, and would refer you to the last paragraph.

I also notice that you are asking me to pay 36.84, not 36.90, and would like to point out that I sent a cheque for 36.90 on the 19th Jan., with the payslip that came with the form SA309A (2000) (shipley).

Do you think you could please rectify things?

Yours, etc.

(English Tax Collectors fine people 100 for putting in a late tax return, even though the tax form is far too difficult for the average person to fill in. They also ignore the fact that a 100 fine for somebody on a few million a year makes no difference, whist it almost bankrupts those on pensions or ordinary incomes).

The letter referred to in my letter was as follows:

Inland Revenue Tees Valley Operations Office

Your ref**

My NI number ** 19 January 2001

Dear Sir/Madam

Income tax for year 1999-2000

I understand that my tax liability for the above year is 36.90 in addition to any PAYE tax I have paid, but I am not sure how to pay it.

I am making the assumption that all I need to do is make a payment using form SA309A (2000) (Shipley) BMSD 9/00, and that there is no further requirement regarding the self-assessment forms or any other tax liability for that year unless told otherwise.

This means that for the year 1999-2000 I will be doing nothing more than make that one payment and send in the single payslip, and will not expect to pay any penalties.

Yours, etc.

Since everything the Inland Revenue send out in the way of written communication is of the clearest, most comprehensive nature (as any professor of galactic languages and encrypted communications will tell you), I have a very weak case.

In the front of the booklet 'Self Assessment - penalties for late tax returns', you will find the sentence: "our leaflet IR120 'You and The Inland Revenue' tells you more about the standard of service you can expect from us. It also tells you the steps you can take if you want to make any comments on the service you receive, or complain about the way your tax affairs have been handled."

It goes on to tell you where you can go to get other leaflets, and invites you to phone them for any help you would like.

What they don't tell you is that they don't answer the phone when they are busy, and that they appear to have been taught to speak a special type of English which nobody else can understand, and neither can they understand the (evidently too difficult) language used in my various letters to them.

Or is Mr. Ashmore just being malicious by way of retaliation for being sent a letter he doesn't know how to answer?

Joe Punter's Shakespeare.

King Henry the 6th. part 3.

ACT 2 .

Scene 1.

A plain near Mortimer's Cross in Hertfordshire. A march. Enter Edward, Richard and their Power (forces? ed.)


I wonder if our father got away? Had he been taken or killed, we would have heard, surely. Or had he escaped we would surelky have heard that too. How fares my brother? Why so sad?


I can't be happy until I know how our father did. I saw him in battle with Clifford looking like a bear surrounded by dogs, who, having bitten a couple, the rest stand aside and bark at him. That's how it looked. I think it's prize enough to be his son. See how the morning opens her golden gates and takes her farewell of the glorious sun! How well it resembles the prime of youth drunkenly prancing to his love.


Dazzle my eyes, or do I see three suns?


Three suns, and each one perfect. Not separated by clouds, but each separate in a pale clear sky. See! They join, embrace, and seem to kiss as though in some inviolable league. Now they are one lamp, one light, one sun. In this heaven (sky? ed) some event figures.


It seems to me to be telling us to go forth, we three brave sons of Plantagenet, and dominate the world. Whatever it bodes, from now on I will bear upon my target three fair-shining suns.


Nay, bear three daughters - you love the breeder better than the male.

('enter one blowing', Shakespeare said)

But what are you? those heavy looks foretell some dreadful story hanging on your tongue.


Aye, one who was a woeful looker-on whenthe noble duke of York your father and my loving lord was slain.


Oh speak no more, for I have heard too much.


Say how he died, for I will hear it.


He was surrounded by many foes, and stood against them as the people of Troy stood against the Greeks. But even Hercules must yield to overwhelming odds, and he was overcome, but only later slaughtered by the ireful arm of Clifford and the queen, who crowned him in mockery, laughed in his face, and when with grief he wept the queen gave him a napkin steeped in the blood of the harmless Rutland slain by rough Clifford to dry his cheeks. After many scorns and foul taunts they took his head and set it on the gates of York, and there it remains, the saddest spectacle that I ever viewed.


Sweet duke of York, our prop to lean upon, now thou art gone we have no staff, no stay. Oh, Clifford, you have slain the flower of Europe for his chivalry, and treacherously too, for hand to hand he would have vanquished you. Now my soul's palace has become a prison, and from this I would break just so that this my body might be buried and at rest! For I shall never be joyful again. Never.


I cannot weep, for all my body's moisture is scarcely enough to quench the fire in my heart. Nor can can my tongue unload my heart's great burden.......... (more, similar)... Richard, I bear your name, I'll venge your death or die renowned by attempting it.


His name he left with you, his chair with me.


No, if you be his son, show your descent by gazing at the sun. For either you are his son or you are not his heir.

(enter Warwick, Montague, and their army.)


How's it going, fair lords? What news is there?


Great lord of Warwick, if we should recount our baleful news and stab ourselves with poniards in our flesh until the the whole tale were told, the words would add more anguish than the wounds. Our valiant lord the duke of York is slain!


Oh Warwick, Warwick, that Plantagenet who was so fond of you, has been killed by the stern lord clifford.


Aye, aye, I have known some days. I now come to add more to your woes. And now to add to your burden, I come to tell you what has happened since.After the bloody fray at Wakefield where your father breathed his last, news was brought to me as swiftly as the posts could run of your great loss. I, at the time in London, keeper of the king, mustered my soldiers, gathered flocks of friends, and, as I thought well appointed, marched towards St. Alban's to intercept the queen, taking the king with me, for I had heard that she was coming with full intent to dash our late decree in parliament touching King Henry's oath and your succession. I'll keep it short. We met ast st. Albans, the two sides joined and both sides fought fiercely, but whether it was the coldness of the king, who looked so gently upon his warlike queen or her success that that robbed my soldiers of their heated spleen, or more than common fear of Clifford's rigour, I cannot tell. But to tell the truth our soldiers just fell. I cheered them on with the justice of our cause and promises of high rewards, but all in vain. They had no heart to fight, and we in them no hope to win the day. So we fled. The king unto the queen. Lord George your brother, Norfolk and myself, have come post haste to join you, for we heard you were making another head to fight again.


Where is the duke of Norfolk, and when did George come from Burgundy to England?


The duke is some six miles away with his force, and your brother was sent lately from your kind aunt the Duchess of Burgundy, with more soldiers for this needy war.


Must have been odds when valiant Warwick fled. I've often heard his praises in pursuit, but ne'er til now the scandal of retreat.


Not even now my scandal, for I could easily pluck the crown from faint Henry's head and wring the awful sceptre from his fist, even if he were as bold in war as he is famed for mildness, peace and prayer.


I know it well. Don't blame me. The question is what to do? Do we go into mourning or fight back? What about it, lords? If for the latter, say 'aye', and we shall go to it.


That's why I came to seek you out - and of course my brother Montague comes. That proud, insulting queen, with Clifford and Northumberland have wrought the easily manipulated king like wax. He swore consent to your succession, and now the whole crew have gone to London to frustrate his oath. If we, with the help of Norfolk and the brave earl of March, can muster enough men amongst the loving Welshmen - about 25,000 - then to London we can go, and never again turn back or fly.


Now that sounds more like the great Warwick I know. Let nobody live to see a sunshiney day who cries 'retreat' if Warwick asks him to stay.


No longer earl of March but duke of York, and the next degree is England's throne. For king you shall be proclaimed in every borough as we pass through, and he who doesn't throw up his hat with joy will forfeit his head. King Edward, valiant Richard, let's get on with it.


Then, Clifford, were your heart as hard as steel, as you have shown flinty by your deeds, I come to pierce it, or to give you mine.


Then strike up drums!. god and St. George for us!

(enter a messenger)


Hello. What news?


The duke of Norfolk sends you word by me. Thje queen is coming and wishes to speak with you speedily.


Let's go.....

(All exit)

More next week.


Gordon Brown has found a word. The word was so unmemorable that I cannot remember it with certainty, but I suspect that it may have been 'rigorous'. Whatever the word was, it was used in a radio interview in response to all questions, and not a single question was in any way answered.

This ability to keep saying the same thing and ignore all questions, amongst politicians and probably amongst lawyers, is considered to be a great skill, even though the public have no difficulty realising that the man is taking them for idiots. The problem for his party is that they have not yet reached the stage where it would be expedient to let the opposition get elected, so that he would be better presenting himself as an honest man with something to say - particularly as the voters by and large take money as a subject quite seriously, and he is supposed to be in charge of the public purse.

Luckily for labour, they have a secret weapon both in the opposition leadership and in the opposition electioneering team, who are also taking the public to be idiots and trying to lead them to believe that various completely unacceptable aspects of the health service, transport, social security, etc. are products of the Labour party when we can nearly all remember the conservatives introducing them.

That gives the labour party roughly a two-to-one advantage on the electioneering front, but the advantage may not be so great if those of the population who are old enough to remember a few governments and not old enough to have become witless do not get a bit more than a promise - I suspect particularly when it comes to the question of pensions, but possibly on other fronts as well.


RECENTLY, an upbeat note marked "CSL working in partnership with Southwark" came from Southwark's contractor who deals with housing benefit telling me:

which many of us know does not happen.

What actually happens is that CSL have not enough people to do the job in hand, and so do something like throw the claims in the wastepaper bin when there are too many of them. Nobody has yet found out for certain exactly what they do, but it is clear from the number of persons whose benefit is not being paid when they are obviously a valid claimant that something like that happens.

And on the other hand, my lodger, who left last september, still has mail from CSL sent to her at this address, despite the fact that CSL were notified at the time she departed that she was leaving. These letters come in threes, thus maximising as much as possible the waste without it being so many letters that it is obvious even within CSL that there is something wrong. I have the problem of working out whether to forward them to her or return them to CSL, who presumably will not know what to do with them. CSL's envelope has on it the message: "if you are not the named person please complete the following: Name(s)....... Date moved in....." . It is of course quite obvious that any person moving into a flat out of which somebody else has just moved will be thrilled to have such important things to do, so they're bound to get returned. As for their arriving in the hallway of a block of flats in large numbers, that could be even more enthralling.

And then finally, I was told the other day that a representative of Southwark was on the radio recently telling the nation that Southwark was the only council in Britain whose housing benefit claims were all up to date, when I know for a fact that one claim very close to me was put in last Autumn and looks like it will never get processed. Well, I suppose that is a way of getting things up to date - you lose them.

Any old fool can throw a piece of paper in the wastepaper bin. Some can even throw them in the recycle bin.........


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

Alternet News.

Alternet News might appeal to some readers as a regular list of goings-on in the human rights/green areas of life. You can receive it by email. I have put one copy on this site so that you get an idea of what it is about and how to subscribe.

For sample Alternet email click here.


Click here for an email that arrived in January 2000 concerning a proposed reasoned approach to this tricky subject

Goforth's social justice e-zine.

This interesting email magazine comes at fairly regular intervals and is of interest to almost anybody who is interested in human rights and green issues. In November 2000 it was going out to about 10,000 addresses. Try it. It won't cost you anything, and you can reproduce the contents without paying. You can subscribe by writing to them at:, or visit: Goforth's site

This website is about accounting investigations and fiddles. If you like to look at financial scandals (both hidden and public) this might be worth a look. I have not been there myself, but the books produced by these people, although difficult to follow, cover a lot of mysterious ground.

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.The British Association for 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 (this may now have been provided, but please email if you might like to join in in some way - ed.)

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.

Even better if you print the date of the article.

That`s all this week folks