This site will not work properly if viewed through Internet Explorer.

The Other News From England

3 NOV 1997.

2nd edition.

The Other News is made up as a single document, so that you can scroll your way through it.

BUT I am also working on links so that you an skip straight from the index to a given subject. Unfortunately, I can`t get them to work at present, so I have just made a kist of subjects. At least you can get an idea of how the thing will work when it`s done.

none of these links except "Index of earlier issues" work at the moment, so don`t press them because your browser will waste time not finding them.

Bonnington Cafe





Unions and work



Design Council>


Flatfoot Spin

Index of earlier issues. (this link should work)

For conditions see end of document.


(a)Still having trouble keeping up with the Other News. Does anyone out there have a cheap old laptop that I can write and send text from when I am not at my post? Most of the time could be made up by writing articles between one class and another.

(b)I used to know how to make those links to other parts of the document work in HTML, but that was using a Mackintosh. Can someone tell me how they are done using a PC?

I think that we probably all owe Bill Gates and friends a kick up the backside. Looking at computers and what you can do with them, I came across a few that can really do things - and truly fast - but that nobody ever buys. These include the lightning-fast Acorn (I have one. It takes 11 seconds from switching on to `desktop`), the Amiga, Commodore, Mackintosh (a bit ploddy and slow, but aesthetically pleasing, and rather user-friendly), and I am sure readers would be able to list more.

The reason I don`t have my Acorn doing The Other News is that I can`t get a built-in modem, and when I had an external one I left it on overnight so many times it burnt out. Had I the modem, it would be easy to get all the internet stuff off various ftp sites, and I would save myself some very long phone calls because I am sure my Acorn would do the job much faster.

Furthermore, the computers I am talking about use far less bytes - which is why on these machines a hard disk of about 40 megabytes can be considered pretty big.

2meg RAM is considered to be quite good likewise!

Is there something Gates and co don`t want us to know?


Nobody has shown up on my doorstep making any threats yet, but the Industrial Tribunal office are being decidedly obstructive suddenly and for no apparent reason.

I suspected certain members of Southwark Council to be masonic and manipulating democracy to their own ends recently. One of the people concerned was a rent officer, Mr. Croke, and another the complaints officer, a Mr. Mearns.

I decided to suggest to the chief executive that she had an infestation of freemasons `obstructing democracy`. She was extremely quick to respond. She told me that this was denied and definitely not the case.

She was so quick to respond, in fact, that she hadn`t given herself any time to consider whether it was or was not the case.

My conclusion was that I must have hit the nail right on the head.


They`re probably talking about something, but I haven`t noticed anything of any interest this week. There has been a bit of a hoohah about EMU, but I have written about that in another article.

Unions and work

At last! Some action. The Industrial Tribunal have gone very cryptic and obstructive in their correspondence with me, and I am now not sure whether I have also to spar with them over this matter.

Essentially, what has happened is that the college have been in breach of several contractual affairs but the breach has never been tested in law (the state of British Lawyers, the outcome could be anything as long as it isn`t logical). This is the breach:

Verbally, I was offered many hours of classes in place of a redundancy payment many years ago, and took them (in fact, I didn`t have a choice, because these classes were given as a substitute for reduncancy), and then a few years ago the college started reducing the hours a few each term until I only had 6 hours a week. Realising that they would go on like this until I had no hours, I claimed I had been made redundant, but because I had only recently been doing 6 hours a week I was only offered redundancy payment for 6 hours.

The union, NATFHE, thought this redundancy offer was good, but I thought it was bad. The union collect fees from part-timers, but act for full-timers.

Breach of contract?, you say.

Yes. Aside from the contract to give me the work they had replaced my earlier contract with (and not erode it), they also had a collection of agreements with the Unions designed to protect not people like me but people like the principal, who is a full-time union member, but nevertheless purporting to apply to all staff.

These agreements, then, apply to me.

Amongst these agreements is an agreement to keep all employees informed of impending redundancies and to offer them alternative work wherever it is available.

That didn`t happen. Instead a few hours were knocked off each term until half the staff had been sacked.

Then the college principles and managers were able to give themselves a rise, and we all went home to tea.

I`ve decided to try doing something about it, but having no serious money and no real legal skills don`t quite know what.

Perhaps more interesting than what I`m going to do is the fact that probably a few thousand lecturers will have the same case because my case does not hang on my earlier verbal contract but on the college`s failure to comply with union agreements.

There may be room here for a union that only represents part-timers. Would you like to start it?

To be continued.

EMU - European Monetary Union

This has been a major issue for years now, and a great many tedious debates have taken place, quite often with each participant trying to hide their self-interest, and so many people have become confused about what it is and what it means that I thought you might like to know what I think it is about and what it all means - even if it`s twaddle.

EMU is exactly what it says. It would be a system in which instead of there being a different currency for each European country there would be one currency for the whole of Europe.

Sounds simple enough, doesn`t it? And it could, if we wished, accomodate each country haiving it`s own currency at the same time as EMU.

And simple it is, but there are various pressure groups who wish to oppose it for a great many reasons, and not by any means all of them savoury.

The first will be banks, who make a profit out of every transaction conducted between any other country and their own owing to currency exchange fees - just the same as they do when you cross the channel and they give you too few francs for your pounds and then give you too few pounds for your francs on the way back.

Then the second will be the banks and the currency dealers (often one and the same thing, I believe), who make a profit by buying and selling currencies as they go about making the rates of exchange fluctuate and generally sapping everyondy`s financial strength. (Sometimes they are unable to make things fluctuate in the chosen direction, and might not do so well).

And the third will be banks, who can lend............

There may be some other than banks on this side, as some individuals and companies own a few bank shares.

Then there are those on the other side.

There`s you, for instance, who might find it rather nice for your five EMUs to still be worth five EMUs when you return home after a trip round Europe.

There may also be some multinationals, who would no doubt be interested in not having to pay conversion charges on every cross-border transaction they make, but who may well own part of the bank concerned, and anyway get subsidised by the bank`s day-to-day customers.

Then there`s the Tory Party, who seem to want it (and also seem to not want it) but also seem to want to project the idea that they are thinking intelligently about it (you never know, there have been some strange things in politics from time to time), and therefore would be much better off being in controversy. But I suspect most of them either have financial interests in banks or currency dealing.

No doubt, being into self-reliance and individualism, they will have feathered their various nests and hedged their bets in whatever way is appropriate to their individual needs.

There`s me too, and I don`t just dislike having to fork out to persons whom I find difficult to perceive as anything other than parasites (there aren`t any Quakers left in banking as far as I know) each time I cross a border. I also dislike the other problems of having to change currencies all the time.

It is just about possible that if the banks and other parasite organisations were richer we, also, would be richer, but I`d call that an outside chance.

I believe that sums it up, however complicated people try to make it sound. Bear in mind that those who hold most of the wealth can more easily afford to promote their view than those who don`t, and you probably will come to a suitably cynical conclusion.


The subject of homoeopathy came up this week, and I was surprised yet again that the person who raised it didn`t know what it was.

I can`t say I know a lot, either, but there is proabably enough here for you to get the general idea.

For those who believe in it, homoeopathy is the only sensible form of medicine. In fact, I think you will find that it`s truest adherents think that `conventional` medicine gets in the way of good health - putting poisons down yourself is not thought to be the ideal way to tackle illness, and is thought to obstruct homoeopathic effect.

With conventional medicine, if a substance is thought to do something good then the strategy seems to be to increase the dose as far as possible without killing the patient. Killing the patient is not considered to be a good goal, even though it might be argued that it is often the end result.

With homoeopathy, the opposite is thought to be the case. The less you give, the more likely it is to succeed, and the les risk to the patient`s life.

Homoeopathic treatments are arrived at by experimenting to find out what substances will do to the body in their unhomoeopathic form, and then drastically reducing the dose by repeated dilution and shaking, and finally using the resulting substance as an antidote to the symptoms that it produced. Thus, if swallowing arsenic kills you, then a homoeopathic dilution of arsenic might be argued to be a potential cure for death.

Unfortunately, death has so far shown itself to be irreversible, but the same principle applies in less extreme circumstances.

The dilutions of homoeopathic remedies are fairly commonly so great that one could not expect to find a whole molecule of the substance left in the fluid in which it has been diluted, leading to the claims of charlatanism one comes across from time to time. The only possible argument for their expedience, then, seems to be that one is not any longer dealing with the substance at all, but only the energy of the substance.

I have tried homoeopathy myself, and it is very difficult now to get me anywhere near the ordinary doctor. The results were dramatic, my ailment getting first briefly worse then considerably better, and finally disappearing. This unfortunately does not mean that I`ll never be ill again, but it does mean that if I feel ill there are a wide range of entirely safe treatments I can try instead of the poisons the doctor (and my grandfather and great grandfather in earlier years) offer.

I have often heard people tell about trying homoeopathy out of desperation after all else has failed. Full to the brim with failed poisons, they went to the homoeopath, and in dues course discovered it made them worse! It is remarkable how resilient the human body is. The homoeopath`s interpretation of this would be that the body still had the determination to fight off the illness despite all the poison, and (the symptoms being the way of dealing with the complaint) really got into repairing itself.

Pretty unscientific, you say?

Yes - but only unscientific until we know why it happens, and then all science will claim property rights.

IN the meantime, what`s so scientific in pouring poison down your throat?

Bonnington Cafe

The Bonnington benefit was a success. A great deal of being artistic went on, the caterer panicked at the last moment and a replacement caterer was spirited out of the square, who did rather well considering all things, Gabriele and Hugh played a bit of piano and saxophone (some of it a bit dodgy), an alternative disco was held in the basement (causing an unusual rhythmic effect with the piano and sax above), and there were some mysterious shows upstairs which I didn`t see.

I believe they did quite well financially, which is what it was for, but what is more significant is that people enjoyed themselves.

There`ll be another along sometime.

The Design Council

I was an art student when I was young. My specialism was a form of product design, and my mother used to get me Design Magazine.

I matured a little (not as much as one might), and noticed along with various of my fellow students that if something had a Design Centre Label attached it always looked `designed` but almost invariably didn`t work properly.

Thus, it became a joke to look at the labels on things and not buy them if they were so labelled. (A friend of mine still has a Design Centre teaset where the teacups fall over if not put precisely in the centre of the saucers).

In later years, needing `credibility` to get work, I tried to join the Society of Industrial Artists, which is, as far as I remember, a part of the same organisation. I was making a living doing various things with furniture design and making, designing shops, and so on. They told me I wasn`t sufficiently experienced!

The government, not knowing what this freemasonry are about, has decided on a `design initiative` to `lead us into the 21st century`.

Have we heard the term before?

I seem to remember it in the fifties (when I was a student), but more recently we had an `enterprise initiative` which consumed large quantites of government funds employing failed business people to teach other people who had not yet failed how to run a business.

I tried to make use of this at one stage in my career, and wrote all about my experiences, prompting the government minister in charge of such things at the time to write me a long and defensive letter. I must put the article and letter into Other News sometime. I particularly remember Peckham Enterprise having a `drop-in` facility (for advice) which, should anyone try to use it (god help them) they would find themselves asked to make an appointment even if there was nobody else wanting help, and an enterprise centre in The Rhondda telling me that I could use their workshops to develop products, but when confronted with the reality of me turning up to do some work telling me that I must first move house from London to South Wales!

Impressive stuff, these Initiatives.


Schools in this country get inspected.

The previous government devised a system of `National Curriculum` with mountains of paper and a great deal of mediocrity attached.

The school inspectors have the unfortunate task of monitoring this process, and they go about from school seeing over considerable periods of time (like one week, for instance) whether the `criteria are being met`.

The areas of greatest weakness are, predictably, reading, and probably maths and science. There may be other areas too, but it is the system rather than the subjects I am interested in.

The first stage of failure is where the inspectors declare a school to have `serious weaknesses`, at which point the county inspectors advise what the school should do about it.

If the inspectors return to find this has had no effect, they take `special measures`.

Further failure results in the county inspectors telling the school what to do. Essentially, this would appear to involve using a great deal of staff time writing an action plan and telling the staff they are all failures.

Then, if having done all this the school still fails, it is either taken over by the government or closed down.

There is allegedly no consideration of the nature of the area in which the school operates, and certainly no taking into account such things as whether most of the parents never read or can`t read in this area whilst they do in another area, or whether this is an area where adults value education or not, and there is certainly no recognition of the idea that to do anything successfully is a step forward - a thing recognised by the people who do the teaching.

Finally, a scapegoat is needed, and so some of the staff (who have been taught in teacher training and by the inspectors that criticising in this way never helps) are reminded that they are useless and sacked.

Where does that get us? Do we now have the potential for even more people who can`t read, or is there some subtle aspect to this subject I haven`t yet seen?

Flatfoot Spin

stop press

Flatfoot Spin is a disco. To be precise it calls itself an `alternaive disco`. The other eveing when I did a gig with a jazz/pop band, members of Flatfoot Spin came along and made the whole gig a great deal more stisfying than it would have otherwise been. They liked the reggae the best, but were very elegant with the country and western waltz, hip-hopped around with Tuxedo Junction and put considerable energy into Peckham Calypso.

But they also dance to classical, 60`s, folk - you name it.

So they`re not just a disco. They visit live gigs as well, and go as a group which makes it more fun.

And they don`t smoke or drink alcohol, which for some would be nice.

their normal meeting place is Wheatsheaf Hall Community Centre, Wheatsheaf Lane, South Lambeth Rd., London SW8 (10 Mins from Vauxhall Tube and overground train stations)

Next meetings 8-11 pm 7 Nov, and 5 Dec, entrance 5 pounds or concession 4 pounds children under 8 free.

And whatever else you do, have a good time.

notes re publication.

If you decide to print any of this copyright material in your periodical, please (a)acknowledge (b) send some money to Editor, othernews co, 25 SE5 8BN, UK. There will come a time when payments can be received over the net. When this happens, I will work out a standard rate per word instead of leaving everyone guessing.

Readers are invited to help prosecute illegal use of this material in exchange for receiving 70% of any financial gain resulting (after all overheads).

I sincerely hope no such event will occur.