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The Other News From England.

21 June 1999.

This week.

Index of earlier issues.


"THE EDITOR has developed RSI in one arm through writing too much on the computer" etc...........This has now to some extent cleared up owing to having learnt to use the computer without a mouse (the apparent culprit), so we will see how much I can do.

(Those who like that sort of thing will find that there are hundreds of articles on many subjects to be found on this site. Look at the Index of Earlier issues for a start. There are also some drawings and sheet music.)


I'M SO EXASPERATED I don't know where to start, so this subject is skipped this week. Perhaps I should just comment that politicians seem to me to be the absolute last people to be likely to know anything useful about education, the lack of likelihood being exceded only by managers.


OUR CURRENT GOVERNMENT had as part of it`s manifesto the notion of 'open government' (as did the equally inept lot before them, I believe), and this must have been part of what got them elected (aren't people gullible?), so when I wanted to find out how to add to my current driving license the capacity to drive a bus (45 seats type of bus, or a double decker), I took the logical course of contacting the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority, who referred me to the Driving Standards Authority, tel no. ********* (not telling you because it will waste your money for you) because although they are the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority they do not deal with driving licenses! This area is dealt with by the Driving Standards Authority.

To cut a long story short, I still, a month or two after my initial enquiry, do not know the answer to my question, because, like Southwark, this organisation is not designed to communicate with people - they are purely a dummy, designed to give the impression that the public is being served when in fact it would take a few staff with some experience and liveable pay packets to serve the public and they don`t have any such thing.

A result of this is that I am missing the relief driving season (and missing a few outings to boot), and my economy is getting weaker and weaker, so I wrote and faxed the following to the Driving Standards Authority and the Minister of Transport later (with covering letter, also published here):

Driving Standards Authority

FAX 01159 01 2510.

June 13 1999

Dear Sir/Madam

I have been trying to find a way to actually communicate with your agency for three weeks now, to no avail. Telephone answering machines that cannot respond in any way are worse than no answer at all, whilst those that put you in a queue are a great expense to the caller and a great profit to BT, and at the same time show the contempt you so obviously feel for your customers, having a monopoly as you do. This may make economic sense within your organisation, but it will not in the long run make for a vibrant economy.

I wish to extend my existing HGV3 licence to include the driving of PSV`s, but before I am able to do this I need to know the following:

1. Will I need to actually be tested on the road with a PSV when I already have a licence for it`s equivalent HGV?

2. I understand there is also a theory test, but I am unable to find out what things I will need to know to pass it. Could you please send me details of what I need to know?

3. The driving of PSV`s may entail certain obligations that do not apply to HGV - possibly such things as basic first aid. Could you please tell me what these are - if any?

Full details of the test would greatly help me to find out if I am ready to take it.

I am aware of the need to pass a medical.

These should not be difficult questions to answer. My email is above if that helps.


AND THEN after a month, this went to whoever the Min of Transport is:

June 13 1999

Minister of Transport

House of Commons,


Dear Sir/Madam -

I thought this might interest you.

Although this particular fax applies to your area of admin., it could equally be applied to almost any area of government at the present time, and reflects on the whole of your party`s ridiculous Thatcherite approach to things.

Wherever this subject is raised now amongst the ordinary people, there is the same response - that there will be a backlash soon. Why does your government not try to do something about it before what is left of your credibility is lost?

Yours etc.

Nobody has responded in any way yet, but it is only a week in the case of the Minister, and only five weeks in the case of the DSA, so what can I expect? Service?

Wonderful how efficient the administration of this country is, don`t you think? Did you know that I am claiming unemployment benefit whilst all this is going on, and that the local coach operators are crying out for drivers? Did you also know that the kind of people who know the trnasport business inside out (indeed I do, but am 20 years out of date) are cheap to hire, and are still considered to be too expensive by a civil service that is so obsessed with not spending money that it can no longer do anything at all except try to avoid spending money - and even this simple thing they can't manage. You just close your offices down and sack everyone except the manager, then you send the manager on prolonged leave with full pay if he or she is a government supporter, or no pay if not.

The government's answer (if they could be bothered to answer) to all this is likely to be along the lines that I should look elsewhere for information - like a private driving school, who have an interest in fogging things over and selling me as much as possible instead of clarifying the picture - and my answer is that I have already paid for the civil service to do this job, and as a matter of principle I expect them to do it. Perhaps they could replace some of the telephone queuing systems with live humans - that would be novel.

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

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.

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.



One week 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.


(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