15 Dec 1997.
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Unions and work
Index of earlier issues.
For conditions see end of document.
Blackspot on health and safety. click here to see.
Played in the Bonnington Cafe last night. My daughter had come up to see me before Christmas, and so we dined free as part of the playing fee. Gabriele Gad was the pianist. A collection of French students and other youth held a bit of an economical banquet in there, and it was pretty riotous, but Gabriele in particular enjoyed their frequent applause - so we were better than usual. I must say, I made far less mistakes than I normally do, but this may be at least partially due to the fact that I have also been playing with Bill Brunskill (probably Britain`s oldest regularly performing jazz player) quite often lately.
Ah, the french always appreciate the arts.
However, we were talking about the Bonnington Cafe when I came in.
Not only were there riotous French people, but a great collection of other people of all ages that I have never seen before. It was so packed nobody could move without upsetting their neighbour`s glass.
Much wine was drunk. Even I had a glass (provided free by the French).
Blackspot is talking about health and safety at work this week. He`s nearly always at odds with the establishment. click here to see.
Ecologically committed groups seem to have attached to them an overall principle of ethical behaviour, and I think I rather approve, although there are often times when I think people have got the wrong idea - but this is only to do with how they perceive things, or how I perceive things. This is not so much an article about ecology, as about the types of ethical behaviour of ecologically concerned groups.....
Green Adventure was started to observe the best possible practices ecologically and to couple this with a concern that everything should be as `ethical` as possible and that `ordinary people` should be able to be involved and make a serious and useful input to it`s activities.
What a good idea.
It caught on. Lottery money was onbtained, and as soon as it looked as though it really was going somewhere (indeed it was) a whole collection of power and control freaks came along and tried to take control - as happens with such endeavours.
They had to be challenged, and indeed they were, but they never finally gave up.
Green Adventure continues to deliver vegetables in boxes towed by bicycles throughout Southwark, and charges for them in LETS currencies., but now they are getting seriously involved in gardening in various ways, so much so that the council offered them an are of Brockwell Park in which to build an ecobuilding and to grow veg for the district.
What does, however, bother me is that now there really is a serious bit of decision-making and designing to be done Green Adventure are consulting that pillar of freemasonry, mediocrity and power-seeking, the Royal Institute of British Architects! They very kindly invited me to get in co-operation with the architects to design certain other elements around the garden!
Where has the `ordinary person` element gone?
I`m glad I resigned from the management committee due to pressure of work (the birth of The Other News on the WWW).
Gabriele Gad on alternative therapy: press here.
Tried another bass player this week, who described my own Peckham Calypso as "a bit like Sonny Rollins - only better". I could do with abit more of that! He also liked Pavanne, and liked our general way of doing things, and so we are now all buttered up and ready to give him a try.
Meanwhile Matt, who`s playing we liked so much but who felt he couldn`t give enough commitment, has told me by email that he would quite like to get involved again!
You may think I`m joking, but whilst it is not universally true, I think you will find it to be mainly true - and it is the downfall of most amateur bands.
Presumably people choose the instrument they play partly because of the things you can do with it, and thus the guitar appeals to those persons who are not interested in what anybody else is playing, and who think of playing music as a kind of a competition.
I was talking to Dominic White on Thursday - he`s the amazing r`n`r singer (when you can hear him) who sang for a band called Red River Rock) - and he told me that he went into a club the other evening that was so small they couldn`t use any PA and thus he had to sing with no mike and everybody else had to go sufficiently quiet to make it work (I have to say I`ve done this with him, too, but he didn`t mention it), and, of course, for the first time he was able to hear what they were playing.
It takes some learning, this playing wuietly enough to hear what you`re doing, because at first it is difficult to hear yourself and so the easy thing is to turn up a bit - but people always turn up too much because they only need such a tiny amount that they can`t judge it. there is, however, just one other thing - when you become practiced it is possible on most instruments to play quieter or louder to suit the occasion.
I suffered badly from this problem when I first started playing rock and roll, and it was not until the band told me that I began to ask Dominic`s wife to sound check the whole band from the floor and tell us all how quiet or loud we were and should be. she did this job beautifully, but there was always one person (who shall be nameless!) who observed her instructions for half a bar and then turned up, throwing the whole thing into unbalance and irritating all. Having experienced being too loud and not being aware despite years of experience, I was reluctant to comment and equally reluctant to play louder and get us all on the playing loud slope. Eventually, Dominic would have a go, but the effect never lasted a whole number.
That was a popular band despite all that, and mostly well received, but the greatest applause came the night we played at Coulsden Court Hotel (out there in the suburbs) at a level so low that dominic sang without a microphone and I played my sax mostly in subtones. The dancers danced in silence in order to hear the music! I have to say it was the best gig I ever did with them.
By the way - with LETSSwing I play saxophone so quietly that I can play duets with Steve on the flute, and sometimes he complains that I`m playing too quiet as he wants me to lead so that he can weave about! LETSSwing makes a clean and clear sound. the same with Bill Brunskill.
When people can hear what they`re doing they`re bound to be able to play better - and surely that must be what it`s about.
I HAVE BEEN CONNED BY THE INDUSTRIAL TRIBUNAL, it would seem.
I went to them with my case against Bromley Adult College for hearing, but as I had been wrongly advised by NATFHE to apply only for a redundancy payment for 6 hours a week, they would only hear that application - but they did tell me I could bring the other matter before them afterwards.
They then heard the borough solicitor asking for a payment for having come to the meeting despite the fact that he had told me that the matter could not be settled outside the tribunal if I was unrepresented, and finally disallowed the solicitor`s request and awarded me the standard minimum payment for redundancy from 6 hours per week.
I then tried to come back with the other matters, which amounted to breach of contract, constructive dismissal, `bullying`, etc., and they responded that this was not `an originating application`.
Quite cryptic, I`m sure you`ll agree.
So I went for more advice, and was told by the lawyer who advised me that when the tribunal said there was limited time in which to pursue these other matters, they probably meant further time during the hearing at which they were not allowing to raise the said matters!
But he also advised me that I could appeal to their overseeing body, but that I ought to have the chairman`s `notes of evidence` before pursuing that course.
So I wrote to them asking them for the said notes and asking them what they would consider to be `an originating application`.
They then responded by sending me a copy bundle of my original documents but no notes of evidence, followed some days later by the following: "(The Industrial Tribunals, Tufton House, Ashford Kent) 2 Dec 97 (this arrived 9th Dec., so they don`t use skates there.)
1. Thank you for your letter dated 25 November which was referred to the Chairman of the Tribunals.
2. the Chairman regrets that the Tribunal, which is a strictly impartial judicial body (sic), cannot advise either of the parties to an application. You should seek your own advice from a Solicitor, Law Centre, or from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
3. Copies of our exchange of correspondence are being sent as indicated below.
Yours faithfully, Mrs. J. Sapsford ....etc
Name of borough solicitor..."
This bit of advice came on the same day that I sent them another letter asking them if they could now send me the chairman`s notes of evidence, but is noteworthy for it`s lack of the said notes.
However, I could be generous and surmise that all this cryptic behaviour is designed to help me find out what to do to comply with their requirements without them breaking the rules.
So at least for the moment I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.
French polish is a sticky fluid made by melting the unfortunate shellac beetle. The first part of the process melts out a rather brown part, and this as it falls on the ground forms into round blobs that look like buttons. This substance when dissolved in alcohol is called button polish. As far as I know, the rest is called French polish.
These days there are plenty of other sticky substances available that behave in the same or a similar way, so when I talk about French polishing I am talking about these substances too.
French polish is a minutely thin coating of shellac polish that is applied by whatever means will allow it to go on nice and level and without runs. Because it is dissolved in alcohol it dries quite quickly (the alcohol evaporates leaving dry shellac behind). It is often applied with a rubber (which is a piece of cotton wool soaked just the right amount in polish and wrapped up in lint-free cotton cloth - more later), but it is also often impossible to use a rubber on an area, and so it gets brushed on like thin paint or varnish.
The rubber is an item of much ritual, but some of the rituals do have an effect on the result. In particular, creases on the surface of a rubber make streaks. The main idea is as above, and the amount of polish in the rubber is just enough for it to `sweat` through the cotton. This is then rubbed systematically all over the surface several times until a good `body` of polish has been obtained (this means enough to know that you have some), and then the rubber is used to wipe along it and gradually tease it out to a level and shiney surface.
If the rubber threatens to stick, don`t go on but rub a drip of linseed oil onto the working surface of the rubber and then carry on teasing out. If the polish goes all horrible and lumpy looking, let it dry out a bit and then rub it over with fine steel wool to get a level surface before applying one more very light coat.Then Leave it alone to dry.
Finally, when the polish is dry you can use a substance that the Victorians used to call crystalglaze and motor traders now call bodywork compound to give it a high polish (just read the instructions on the tin) and go on to wax it with finishing wax - very similar to ordinary furniture wax, but don`t use silicon wax because it is a disaster for any decent work.
That was the long way. Now I`ll tell you something a bit easier.
I nearly always apply French polish with a brush because I then only need about 3 coats to get a decent finish.
The quality of the finish you can get with a brush is partially dependant on the quality of the brush, but I will say that I can get a fair finish with a 50p Chinese housepaint brush (!). You just brush it on as thin as possible (always brush off rather than on at the edges to avoid runs), let it dry (usually about 15 minutes is sufficient if you are sensitive), steel wool it with very fine steel wool, brush on the next coat, same again, and then usually after three coats it is OK to do the other stuff listed above (crystalglaze, etc). Microscopic runs and dribbles that persist will usually shrink out over the ensuing months, because the polish takes a long time to be fully dry, and if they don`t you can always give the whole thing a steelwooling after it has set really hard - which will rub out those runs.
I have polished a turn of the century school clock to match a grandfather clock with a very early and fine nineteenth century French polish finish by this method. The difference is only seen by the use of a magnifying glass.
That`s about it. You need to experiment on bits of old offcut to be confident about polishing your furniture. And you also need to bear in mind that you might be reducing the value of an antique if you decide to polish it and lose the original patina. However, restoration is a subject in it`s own right, and so involved that I couldn`t give you more than a faint outline in writing.
I have thousands of articles on PCW disks that I want to gradually feed onto The Other News. To do this I need a means of converting from 3" disks to 3.5" disks. Has anyone in South East england got either a 3.5" drive for PCW or another means of converting? email@example.com.
Cheap laptop for writing the Other News when away from base. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Wanted pc/Acorn monitor, London area. email@example.com
Who knows where on the Internet I can get a good freeware or shareware score-writing program that will run on my p100 or Acorn 5000? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
(Will take LETS currencies): Industrial quality roofrack about 7 feet X 3.5 feet, made to measure for ford Sierra estate. I used it for woodwork contracting. It is the best I`ve ever seen. Contact email@example.com
LETSSwing (the London all-LETS-members band) need a bass player. Suit someone who thinks of playing and writing music as a creative, co-operative, gentle activity, who likes out-of-date pop and jazz, and who doesn`t like making a noise. We play so quiet you could have it in your livingroom without bothering the neighbours most of the time, and are looking at the possibilities for involvement in `the community` (playing in hospitals and so on). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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