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The Other News From England

Week beginning 9 March 1998.

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

Click here for Blackspot on new cars.

Consumers

Ecology

Education.

Freemasons.

Gabriele Gad

Lawyers

LETSSwing

Music

Unions and work

Woodworking

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Stop Press

Last week`s edition.

Index of earlier issues.

For conditions see end of document.

foreword

If you haven`t looked at the other News From England before, read this in case it may save you some time.

The Other News consists of a selection of articles on whatever subjects find their way to the top of the pile on the week in which it is written. Whilst some of it is intended to be serious, quite a lot is just a bit of light reading (or heavy, if you are a certain type of person), and intended to keep you amused, and cause people to question some of the assumptions of life. Most of the material here is written by the editor, but no single article necessarily reflects the views of the editor or anyone else who writes here. They only might.

Consumers

Nothing this week.

Ecology

Blackspot (see above) emailed me this week that he didn`t think my Per Capita Motor Fuel Rationing idea would work in the countryside because there is no other way of going about aside from pony and trap and buses too infrequent to be practical and not going anywhere near your house (he didn`t didn`t talk about these alternatives, but I am sure that was the idea).

He would be right in current circumstances, and if there were no provision for that particular situation in the legislation, but in fact it probably would not be difficult to legislate to accomodate the wide range of people who do not come into the standard town dweller category - farmers, countrydwellers, OAPs, disabled, travelling salesmen, etc., most of whom would need special extra supplies - and of course the usual parasites who always claim they are far more important than the rest of us (the list would be too long to compile, so how can they be superior given that they are such a huge freemasonry? Are they superior to each other?). It would of course be rather clumsy, but then if you are trying to make the most of a diminishing resource that is relatively unimportant.

There are other things one might do to reduce traffic democratically. For instance, as we are so very competent with electronics now, it would not be at all difficult to tag all road vehicles and charge a different (additional) road tax for each county or borough boundary crossed, and fine any that are found to have non-functioning tags. The annual statement might take a similar form to a telephone bill or a bank statement.

It would be nice to put together a whole package of prospective measures and discuss them at great length. The method would be to try not to behave like politicians but to place all ideas regardless of apparent usefulness equally before the discussion and discuss each one fully whilst attempting not to bicker or compete. We would then go on discussing until we had a general concensus. This would then put us in a position to make a non-partisan suggestion and suggest it`s usefulness to whoever happens to be `in power` at the time.

Perhaps nothing could be simpler.

Education.

A year or two ago I was asked to apply for a job teaching a Furniture Restoration class in adult education in one of the outer London suburbs. Presumably the reason for asking me was that I was thought to know what I was doing in this field. I was short of work and money at the time and so accepted the offer, filling forms and going for an interview. I viewed the equipment, which was somewhere near OK, and the workshop, which was also somewhere near OK, and was told by the principal that the equipment kept disappearing - this normally only happens when students think they`re getting a poor deal, so I was not particularly put off by that.

Having a reputation for being able to run these classes with a high degree of student morale and zero theft rate, I said I would give it a go. So then the crunch came. Instead of letting people do the things they wanted and facilitating that, the college wanted me to design a `course` with objectives, standards and tests. I advised that it would not work, but the college (they always do know what they`re doing even when they`re wrong) were determined to `follow government guidelines`, get a chartermark, IIP etc. and insisted that if I did want the work I should do the same. I offered to do things my way, but wrote them a course plan to wave at OFSTED, and was asked about crossbanding. Not having heard the term before because I would have used some other expression I said I would be able to do it but hadn`t so far ever had a need for crossbanding (economical with the truth?). I had actually done it on many occasions, but not using any particular term to describe it I didn`t know what crossbanding was.

In due course I failed to get the class, and was informed of the reason I didn`t get it: insufficient experience! (after 40 years or so on the job).

The person who got the work was fairly fresh out of college and knew all the right words and how to write a course plan (even probably meant it). I was later informed independantly that this person had got the course because they had made a course plan - they were obviously someone who would be very useful to the college in due course if they knew anything about letting people be their own boss.

The course failed after a few weeks and has not been offered this year. Given that has happened I suppose all the tools have been stolen too. I wonder if they`ll ever learn?

Freemasons.

These highly questionable collection of people continue to attract attention to themselves by being suspiciously secretive - in fact, as secretive as they possibly can be, and cause us all to speculate about their involvement in all manner of dodgy deeds, when a bit of satraightforwardness might clear the decks. It`s a bit like the policeman said when the kid was caught with an obviously nicked apple: `If you`ve got nothing to hide, why do you keep trying to hide it?`

A few readers` letters have appeared in newspapers attempting to defend freemasons in what can only be perceived by the general public as an attempt at covering up something. The smokescreen they have put up in the papers I have read have been along the lines of how charitable they are, and of course we probably all believe that - even if we are not too sure to whom they are charitable or with who`s resources. I know of a freemason`s widow who benefits from a handout from time to time - or an offer of help (just calling to see that everything is alright for you). I also know at least one lawyer whose school fees were paid by freemasons, and who is at least potentially very useful to them, and might be beholden to them, but I don`t know of any person or group not directly connected who had help from them. I wonder if they would like to name a few.

One of the things I come across from time to time when listening to people complaining of bent judges, dodgy dealings (for some reason particularly in connection with lawyers) is the suggestion that freemasons are behind it all (some of the stories are difficult to account for by any other reasoning actually, so it is more a question of whether they are fabrications or not). Freemasons would have it that this is not the case despite being apparently heavily outnumbered by complainants, but if they would reveal who is a freemason and who isn`t they would protect themselves from this criticism just by this simple act if they are honest - and, of course, if they are not they will land themselves right in it.

I am intrigued by this resistance on the part of judges to declare whether they are or are not freemasons. Given the general level of competence they show I am sure it must be that you cannot be a judge without first being a freemason. It`s not an ideal selection process.

Wasn`t it one of the features of Al Capone that he gave to charity regularly? Didn`t he help the poor?

I think it was the Lord Chancellor who spent six hundred thousand pounds on redecorating his official residence and then told the nation that it was very good value, quality stuff that would probably last 70 years or so instead of the rubbish from the local DIY store (which has a nasty habit of lasting 70 years or so), but I doubt those members of the public who know about these things would be the least bit impressed by the argument. The DIY stores do tend to sell rubbish, it is true, but so do those who charge very high prices for their particular type of rubbish.

So, in the light of all speculation to date one asks is he a freemason, who tendered for this work, and was the firm that got the work masonic?

It is all very unfortunate for these very honest men.

Gabriele Gad on alternative therapy.

Lawyers

Nothing this week, except possibly insofar as many people cannot dissociate lawyers from freemasons - for these people the two are often one and the same, and this is a thing which they think might account for the huge amounts of time spent by lawyers milking simple legal cases. The current hoohah about masonic judges may well be just the tip of an iceberg.

LETSSwing

I played Sinclair Rag to some kids this week and they told me they had heard it on television. Since I am unaware of it being there, I am quite desperate to know who is ripping off my copyright without paying any royalties, and will have to start a detailed investigation of this extremely tedious but lucrative medium. This is an area all musicians need to be constantly vigilant about if they are intending to make a living out of music - it ain`t easy.

Some of the LETSSwing material will be available as sheet music on the net soon - and some other stuff that I have written for other bands and orchestras.

I have been saying this for four weeks now, but have patience. The person on who`s website it will be placed is a learner (even more than I am), and I have to go to someone else`s computer to scan the manuscripts (I do this on the LETS, by the way).

If you are in a LETS somewhere and would like LETSSwing to play to you, please contact editor@othernews.co.uk.

LETSSwing and/or I also do gigs for money - a variety of types of music.

Music

Chords continued - melody intruments.

On a melody instrument (sax, trumpet, sousaphone, etc) you have a different way of expressing chords because you cannot play more than one note at a time, and for this reason you need to use arpeggios to represent chords. It is also useful to know about arpeggios for other reasons, but these I hope will become apparent as we go along.

An arpeggio is what happens when you play the notes in a chord one at a time. So the arpeggio of C major (ordinary C) can be played C, E, G, C E, G......If you play those notes on your instrument in that order and evenly spaced you will get the idea, and I am sure it will not be long before it becomes apparent to you that you can start at any point in the series. If you want to play an F arpeggio, of course, you would use F, A, C.....and get the same kind of result.

So when your friend plays a chord of C on the piano, you will know that during the time your friend is playing that chord (or at least referring to it) you can play at least the notes in the chord - C, E, G. And when your friend stops playing the C and moves on to (say) F, then you know that the notes you can play with that F chord will be at least F, A, and C.

It doesn`t end there, of course, because it will become apparent to you by trial and error that you can play quite a few other notes that fit that are not included in the arpeggio. Experiment and counting will show that mainly these are the 6th, 7th, 9th (also known as the 2nd, see), and on occasions you can get away with notes that apparently and according to theory do not fit at all (as far as I am aware nobody knows quite when this will occur - it just works out that way by how it sounds).

But ... you tell me, when I play those notes on my saxophone/brass etc it doesn`t match the notes coming from the piano.

The answer is that you have forgotten about transposition and pitch, both of which either combined or separately could lead to this situation. You will have to double back to the issue on pitch and transposition for the answer if you can`t remember it. I will tell you to help you that if you have an alto and play in C the piano will need to play in E flat, and if it is a tenor the piano will need to play in B flat. This results in the alto being described as an E flat instrument and the tenor as a B flat instrument, and will help you to realise why a trumpet is usually referred to as a B flat trumpet, etc. (see `pitched instruments` in your musical dictionary).

So now what you do is this: Go back till you find the chord sequence for the twelve bar blues (in earlier issues) and play the chords as arpeggios. The easiest thing to try first is to just play the notes in the chord (arpeggio) one note per beat (it doesn`t matter if you repeat any notes), so that you get four beats in a four beat bar. When You can do that, try swapping the notes round within the same bar, and when you are happy with that try things like how few notes can be used to make a tune, how many notes that fit can you get in per bar, how long and over how many chord changes you can hold one note and make it fit (try playing a C for all of the first C and F bars in a C twelve bar, for instance), and try playing wrong notes and all notes till you have satisfactorily (for you) managed to fit notes that are not in the arpeggios into the sequence.

Next, try singing a tune to the chord sequence (make one up) and then by trial and error find the notes on your melody instrument and notice how they fit (or don`t fit) the chords.

More next week. I`m pushed for time this week. Sorry

Unions and work

This week the local Joint Negotiating Committee met in the Civic Centre to determine the issues that would be of interest to all parties. Our independant chairman helped us to remove most of the pages from the "Silver Book", which is the interim terms we are using whilst negotiatiing, and the terms we have been observing for many years. The Chief Education officer took notes of which parts had to reviewed in the book with a view to writing new paragraphs to replace them. I thought that wouldn`t do and unlike most people don`t mind very much `looking a fool`, so took the trouble to check that these paragraphs he was writing for us were only drafts for discussion rather than his office`s interpretation of the rules. Some seemed amused by my naievite, so I reinforced it by spelling out what I was beginning to believe. That seemed to help.

I kept on asking questions that i found pertinent but which apparently most people were not interested in until the independant chairman offered to interpret what the Chief Education Officer was saying. So he started, then the chief Education Officer said that wasn`t what he was saying, and so we started again.

What I was doing was to fish about for answers to the questions my fellows had not asked but which I believed they wanted answers for. I have not actually the ability at present to understand execubabble, and so the answers were often `over the top of my head`. I am hoping my fellows understood them.

However, at about the end of the meeting I asked the Chief Education Officer if the budget was adequate for the job in hand, and that seemed to silence everybody. Shock. But why I don`t know. Maybe because I should have known the answer anyway.

But I didn`t, and we`re being open and honest.

Woodworking

In the light of shortage of writing time, I am only briefly going to go into some of the various things for hitting with and their uses.

The tools that immediately come to mind are:

Clawhammer, ball-pein hammer, pin hammer, upholsterer`s hammer, flat-pein hammer, mallet and the first thing you can lay your hands on. These all have their individual uses.

The clawhammer has a claw at the back for pulling out nails. The plan is to slide the claw under the nail head and then roll it against the surface of the wood using the handle as a lever. This gives you several times more power to pull the nail than you would have by just pulling away from the wood. The clawhammer is usually rather heavy and a bit more than an inch thick at the hitting surface, so that it is nice and easy to hit a nail with and has enough weight if you hold the end of the handle to bang the nail in without bouncing off it and thereby bending it.

The ball-pein hammer is normally used by engineers, and not at all much by woodworkers. It has a hammer front but a ball-shaped back. The ball is very handy for beating sheet metal out into rounded bowls and the like. The flat end might be used on an anvil to gently beat it flat again (tricky though).

The pin hammer is a flat pein hammer (see below) but smaller than usual. I find it a bit useless because it doesn`t have much weight and quite often bends pins as a result. Couple this with the fact that it`s narrowness makes it difficult to hit the pin and you have a tool of fairly limited use. A fairly large clawhammer usually does a better job - especially for kids, incidentally, who can use the extra weight.

The upholsterer`s hammer is useful because it has a magnetic end which allows you to pick up a nail and bang it staight onto the surface of the wood, then turn the hammer round and hammer it in the rest of the way with the other end.

The flat-pein hammer has no special use that I can see. It is an ordinary hammer at the front with a thing a bit like a tiny door wedge on the back, which like the ball-pain might be quite good for beating metal - particularly long strips of stuff beaten across their length to get a bit of a curve in them.

The mallet is not the same thing at all, because it is normally made of wood. The purpose of it being made of wood is that you can hit your chisel handle with it without the handle splitting. It is often useful in other situations where the work or tools would get damaged by being hit with metal.

Beyond these, there are a multitude of special types for all manner of uses, and the only thing for it is to try them. You should also consider what the criteria are before starting the operation, particularly with regard to how much damage the hitting tool will do whilst achieving your end, and whether there is a less damaging way.

Students frequently bring in chisels with mangled handles and have to make new handles or restore them before the tools are any good. This can almost invariably be avoided by using a mallet not a hammer. The mallet is as soft as or softer than the chisel handle, and so....

The first thing you can lay your hands on can be the best tool for the job, but frequently isn`t. Bear in mind that you might not only damage your work but the thing you picked up to hit it with. A bit of experience might be a good idea here.

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Wanted

I want some Locolink stuff. This is the program and disks for getting data off Amstrad PCW`s onto ordinary PC`s. editor@othernews.co.uk

Cheap laptop for writing the Other News when away from base. Contact editor@othernews.co.uk

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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 editor@othernews.co.uk

For sale or barter

(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 editor@othernews.co.uk

Same again, about 48" by 96", but lesser quality, for Ford Granada estate or Volvo 7 series - free owing to poor condition - but it works. editor@othernews.co.uk

musical

LETSSwing (the London all-LETS-members band) need a percussionist. 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 editor@othernews.co.uk

stop press

What, no stop press?

notes re publication.

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