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The Other News From England.

22 November 1999.

This week.

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.

Freemasons and lawyers.

LORD BINGHAM, THE LORD CHIEF Justice whom I have in the past suggested might be a freemason, and two other senior judges, have decided between them (if we are to believe the newspapers) that freemasons can be judges, saying that as long as they are doing their job properly it does not matter what they are doing in the rest of their lives because there will be no cause for concern about whether they are being just or not. They seem to have sidestepped the issue which was bothering the public, namely that they thought judges should be required to state whether they were a freemason or not so that each litigant would know and be able to act according to their own beliefs and suspicions - surely a requirement of 'fair play' and fair justice?

If Lord Bingham is a freemason, it is pretty likely the other two will be as well, because of the rules of the masonic game, whilst his quoted public statement seems carefully worded to lead us to believe that there is no cause for concern when I suspect the majority feel the same concern they always did. The public may not be articulate, but that does not mean they cannot think.

I am glad he made that point, however (that as long as they are doing their job properly it does not matter) because it is quite possible that the majority of the British public do not trust freemasons and would not expect a masonic judge to do his job properly or to make any other decision than that which would suit either his own or his 'society with secrets's purposes, and would go to great lengths to bend the law to fit the case. They also might well believe that a masonic judge is just a member of a criminal organisation whose brief has been to rise as high as possible in the legal profession in order to be able to pervert the course of justice when such a case as the one I talked about a couple of weeks ago comes through the courts - it would be highly profitable.

I do not know how many times the public will have to state their case before it sinks in, or whether there will ever be a government who can actually be in control in this country, or even whether we will ever have government which cares about everybody, and I do not know how many versions of the public's case there are with regard to freemasons, but I do know that an international organisation with secrets which 'studies politics' and which calls itself a brotherhood is a perfect vehicle through which to launder money, print money, share the proceeds of crime, bend the arms of politicians so that they do the right things for the brotherhood, decide who is appointed to which key jobs, pervert the course of justice, fiddle the stockmarket, and generally defeat all attempts at democracy. I imagine the public would not like this.

I know I have said it before, but I will say it again: If I started a 'society with secrets' which 'studied politics' and used a series of secret signs to communicate between members, and it was discovered that somehow members of my society found their way into key jobs everywhere without any special justification, whilst the membership also never seemed to suffer the kind of financial problems that the rest of the world suffers, the public would justly not trust me.

Hourbank Xmas Dinner.

This very economical community event is actually a lunch. In Peckham Settlement, Goldsmiths Road, London SE15 from 12.30-3.00 pm on 8th December 1999. Multi-course lunch (vegetarian or carnivore choice) plus LETSSwing (very quiet old-fashioned jazz/pop/swing band belonging to LETS everywhere) for a mere 3.

Book in advance by phoning (Central London) 0207 639 7298 or you might not get fed - but you could still attend the event without eating.

For more info about Hourbank see below.


I looked in on some people trying to finalise the constitution for their Hourbank this week. The principal of this hourbank is much the same as that of LETS - that is, a system of exchange that does not rely on the existing money system. Members are able to get services from their neighbours and give services to their neighbours through a central agency (unfortunately the central agency is funded in Sterling). The reason for the central agency is alleged to be that the people whom it seeks to serve are quite likely to be nervous of strangers coming into their homes to do things, and so the central agency can check them first (thus making the recipients reliant on somebody else's judgment rather than their own!) whilst with a LETS scheme the people deal directly and 'bank' their hypothetical currency through a central volunteer banker. The whole thing is really a system of people volunteering to help each other, as they should in any economy, but using a central agency.

There are other differences. The LETS schemes I am in are entirely self-funding, and so although the accounting is rickety they cannot be hijacked very easily by the local council or other power-seekers. The ricketiness of the accounting matters to those who take currency seriously, but to those who just want to give their services and to receive other people's services it doesn't matter, and the accounting can be treated as just a rough guide. When the system has been going long enough, I imagine the accountancy people will be paid in local currency, thereby enabling accuracy and giving higher credibility to the currency in the eyes of potential new members - but possibly reducing the socially inclusive leanings of the thing because those with less ability would profit less if we took the currency very seriously.

Meanwhile, a collection of people are making careers out of our poverty (or riches, according to how you view it) by studying our efforts. These people are funded in ordinary currency to the tune of enough to live on comfortably whilst they study our efforts, and no doubt in due course will tell the world how it was they who really made it all happen. "Of course, I was in at the start of all that LETS stuff........things aren't what they used to be," they will say, and in due course some of them will write learned books which - even though in many cases they will not ever have been LETS members themselves - will become standard reference on the subject. The likes of Liz Shephard and Mary Fee will be forgotten, because they did it voluntarily out of some incomprehendable compulsion and not particularly as a career matter.

Today I also got the first whiff of bankers trying to work out how they can get in on the act. They will find a way in sure as eggs is eggs at some stage, and it is just a question of working out how. The first thing for them will probably be to supply a LETS system with funding, so that the LETS are obliged to have an ordinary bank account. Once the bank account is established there is the opportunity for the bank to make charges. The government, we are told, is also interested, and of course once they start to help they and the banks between them will rapidly gain control of the LETS systems, thereby enabling them to 'officially recognise' all the various currencies, thereby enabling:

The first I thoroughly object to because the main reason for LETS and the like is that the banks have a stranglehold on the economy which for social and economic reasons we need to break and this is one of the ways by which people are trying to break it, but I am not so sure about the second. If we were living in a just and fair society it would be necessary for us all to make our contribution towards such things as the many public services, and the general fabric of our country, and it might perhaps be considered just for LETS people to be part of this. In fact, it might people back to what they once were - full participants in a publicly owned economy.

However, both the politicians and the banks will do all they can to wrest control of these things, probably for the wrong reasons, whilst it is also quite likely that a great amount of trading will go underground if they succeed, not because of avoidance of tax but because of avoidance of official interference.

London Rent Assessment Panel.

THIS FUNNY OLD QUANGO (Quasi-Autonomous National Government Organisation) the London Rent Assessment Panel (LRAP) has the unfortunate job of trying to create the illusion that fair play is in progress over the rents charged by 'private sector' landlords by pretending to review rents set by the local Rent Officers in the event of either the landlord or the tenant complaining that the rent has been set either too high or too low (depending on which you are).

The Rent Officers have the job of setting a 'fair rent' , which does not mean that which you think it does so much as setting a rent which they think the tenant might be able to afford. The nature of the market is such that no tenant could ever afford a rent which would reflect the true cost of owning a building if the building is in any way mortgaged, and so the whole process is a sham, and the only way to make sense of living in a place is to own it - something which large numbers of people do not feel they can afford to do (in some cases this is true). The reason that we have this crazy and unmanageable situation appears to be that in order to buy a building a person has to rent the money to buy it instead of renting the building itself - that is, to pay interest on borrowed money (usually loaned by banks who don't have it to lend in the first place).

The end resiult of the above set of problems is that tenants become more and more dependant on paying too little rent, and at the same time they are less and less inclined to buy because it certainly looks (and probably is) cheaper to rent. They do not feel they can afford to look at the future. The landlords who are saddled with these unfortunate dependants (for they have to be 'protected' by law to avoid eviction under such circumstances) spend their lives trying to get the rent officers and the LRAP to register a fair rent, but it gets them nowhere.

I have recently been scrutinising the paperwork for a certain registered rent and have discovered something that should not shock me but does - that the Rent Officer for Southwark has fiddled his or her survey sheets. The fiddles are various, ranging from just petty to very serious, and take the form of massaging the figures and dimensions of everything. You could say 'ah well, anyone can make a mistake', but in this case all the mistakes (and there are plenty of them) go in the same direction. I will outline a few:

This rent has to go the LRAP this week to be re-assessed because of an objection, and these things will be highlighted. Past experience has shown that it will make no difference whatever, but if nobody makes a stand nothing can improve when it comes to this type of behaviour.

A court has ruled that Rent Officers have to register a rent that is 'a market rent less a percentage to take account of scarcity'. That would make this rent about 450 per week, less the scarcity, which even if the Rent Officer were right about the 30% (but we already know how straight the Rent Officer is) would still come to 315 a week - a sum which the Department of Social will not pay and which the average tenant could not pay, and so we can be sure the LRAP will find a way round it even if they shouldn't.

The landlord has no money, and has been unable to pay off the mortgage owing to the high cost of having tenants, and so actually all the rent officer is doing with all this fiddling is creating two lots of poverty to replace one lot, whilst making yet another bank that bit richer. The only profit for the landlord lies in the effects of inflation, which can only be realised by selling - and since the cost of property has gone up and the price of an alternative property has gone up at the same time, that could result in a loss.

But still, as everybody knows, all landlords are wicked (which is why local councils are so keen to get rid of their financially draining public housing, no doubt) and should be punished (as the LRAP well know).

I am very inquisitive to know how they will get the Rent Officer off the hook, though.


ALL THESE MONTHS I HAVE BEEN WRITING about this great hive of incompetence believing the chief executive to be Julie Belvir, who in fact turns out to be borough solicitor and secretary - which probably accounts for the fact that nothing happens if you write to her.

The chief executive officer is in fact Mr. Robert Coomber, and when I got through to his office the lady who answered the phone was very civil and understanding. I wonder if she will in the long run do nothing like everyone else?


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

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 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).

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. Authors will be named if they so wish. 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 several weeks back).

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.


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