Greater London Urban Area

Greater London Urban Area 2

Greater London Urban Area

As can be seen from the map above, the official Greater London Urban Area now includes many of the surrounding towns in the London conurbation. Were it not for Green Belt land in between the legs of this ‘spider’ the whole of the area above, and perhaps beyond, would be completely swallowed up in the conurbation.

Back in the 1960s the old London County Council, which only included inner London, was abolished and replaced by the Greater London Council, which itself has now been replaced by the Greater London Authority. The area covered by this body, effectively a metropolitan county, covers most of the urban area in the ‘body’ of the ‘spider’ pictured above and some open countryside.

However in the 1960s London Transport buses covered a much bigger area than even that shown above. Their green buses and Greenline coaches covered an area as far north as Luton, well outside this map, while the Metropolitan Line of the Underground in the 1950s went out as far as Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, and before that, beyond to Verney Junction.

Commuter towns like Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Slough, Windsor,  Maidenhead,  New Addington, Sevenoaks, the Medway Towns, Reigate, Dorking, Brentwood, Redhill, Amersham, Farnborough (Surrey), Aldershot, Camberley, Wokingham, Reading, etc. would also surely be part of the London conurbation were it not for relatively small patches of Green Belt land separating them from the metropolis and the ribbon development tentacles stretching far out into the countryside.

Perhaps it is now time for a new county covering the whole of the Greater London Urban Area, and possibly some of the commuter towns beyond, with all local transport (buses, trams, Underground, local rail services) coming under Transport for London.  The West Midlands has such an authority which covers not only places in the conurbation like Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall etc. but cities outside it like Coventry.

However there is strong resistance in London, hence the practice of many residents even in the Greater London Authority area to still include old county names in their postal addresses. In actual fact the county of Middlesex hasn’t existed since 1964 when it was entirely swallowed up by the new Greater London county (except for Potters Bar which was transferred to neighboring Hertfordshire), and outlying London areas like Barnet, Romford, Ilford, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston, etc. haven’t been part of Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent or Surrey since then either.

It would have helped if the Post Office had allocated London postal districts/postcodes to the whole Greater London area when the GLC was established in the 1960s, then we would no longer have erroneous written/printed addresses like Ilford, Essex or Barnet, Hertfordshire which are quite outdated as these places are no longer in those counties and anyway county names are not now required on envelopes since the introduction of postcodes for all areas. Battersea, where I live, was once in Surrey, but as it has a London postal district nobody now puts ‘Battersea, Surrey’ on envelopes and headed notepaper. But the Post Office has never acknowledged county or authority boundaries and has always gone its own sweet, illogical way. Thus I grew up in the 1950s in London N22 (Wood Green) which was then in the county of Middlesex, while Sewardstone, still outside the GLA area in Essex, has a postcode of London E4.

Maybe we need one authority for the whole of the Greater London Urban Area, one centralized local transport authority (Transport for London maybe), and new postcodes which at least cover the whole GLA area of Greater London, and perhaps the whole Greater London Urban Area, although I imagine there would be great resistance to a postal address including something like ‘Bracknell, London SW32’. It would, however, be more logical than ‘Wembley, Middlesex’ when that county hasn’t even existed for nearly half a century, or indeed ‘Bromley, Kent’ when the London Borough of Bromley has existed for the same five decades.

Uncertainties, Probabilities and Possibilities

Everything is in a state of constant flux. Nothing can be predicted with absolute certainty. If it could we would have no free will. This is why messages about the future from psychics are notoriously unreliable. While some may be accurate at the time, reflecting what is in people’s minds to do, that prediction can be altered. It can be delayed, hastened, or maybe changed altogether.

It is said that in the Spirit world there is no Time as we know it, past, present and future  are all accessible. However because we have free will, it must be all possible futures which are accessible. So psychics and Spirit messengers can point out the likely future, but timescales will often be inaccurate, as can the actual outcome.

Now if we delve into the strange and weird world of Quantum Physics the sub-atomic universe is much the same. There are ‘waves of probability’ which only become sub-atomic particles when consciously observed. When no longer being consciously observed, they collapse into wave function again.

This means that consciousness or Mind must be non-material since it actually creates and organizes matter. In other words, everything is created and organized by thought. If the thought changes, so does the matter that is created.

We are told that on the Third Level of Spirit, sometimes referred to as Summerland or Heaven, things are created by thought, but it seems this is true of ALL matter systems, including our own. Nothing can exist without consciousness, that is the only reality. Everything else, all matter systems, all physical universes, are created by Mind and are therefore really virtual realities.

Our physical universe is dense and vibrates at a much lower speed than the Spiritual planes above it. Not literally above it, the various planes or dimensions interpenetrate each other, so exist in the same space, just the frequencies of the vibrations are different.

In all matter universes or dimensions nothing  is solid until it is consciously observed as being so, and even then it isn’t solid, but predominantely empty space. Except there’s no such thing as empty space, because everything is permeated by the intelligent ether which created and organized it, what scientist Ron Pearson calls the ‘i-ther’, an intelligent matrix which creates virtual realities for itself to experience and evolve. We and all living things are all part of this process.

The state of ‘wave function’ or ‘waves of probability’ is therefore the undetermined stage of the creation and organization of matter; it is the thought before it is fully formed, concentrated on and becomes matter. And what is matter? It is thought energy converted into waves and then sub-atomic particles which can then cling together to form the illusion of solidity. In the huge spaces between these particles other matter systems or dimensions exist. It is much like a radio or TV receiver which can tune to in the many different channels or frequencies.

Most of us while on Earth are only tuned in to our frequency, but mediums and those who have trained themselves to do so can tune in to the higher ones. They can relay very accurate messages about the past or even the present, but the future is always uncertain because there are countless possible futures.

Imagine a car going along a narrow winding lane. From the vantage point of a helicopter flying above, the pilot can see a heavy truck coming in the opposite direction. He knows if neither vehicle slows down, there will probably be a crash, but he can’t be certain. One or other vehicle may slow down soon enough to avoid a collision.

Perhaps a more accurate analogy is the director of a movie who films several different endings. The actors are then left to decide which ending is used. We are the actors, and we collectively choose which future will play out.

Our lives are not all mapped out for us in every detail, like some believe. We may have a general life-plan but it is always subject to change and alteration otherwise there would be no point in being born. We make our own decisions in life. There may be certain milestones planned beforehand where we have to make these choices.

I completely reject the idea which some have postulated that murderers are programmed or have volunteered to fulfil this role, or that their victims have similarly opted for their role. This would make complete nonsense of karmic justice and human free will. What is very possible, however, is that before we are born we know in our life-plan will come many times when we will be faced with a dilemma. It might be anything, including matters of life and what we call death, or just something as mundane as what job we choose to take.

Nothing is written in stone, so don’t let anyone tell you that it is or that you have no free will. You are in control of your own destiny to a large extent, and must therefore make choices thruout your life. Some may have been born with a special mission and so have limited choice, but even they have free will whether to carry it out or not, and certainly in minor things like what clothes to wear, what food to eat, etc.

So be wary of all predictions. There may well be a general long-term plan which will come to fruition as we all constantly develop and evolve to higher spiritual levels, but when you get down to the timescales and the details there must be an element of uncertainty or we would have no free will. This also applies in the Summerland, the spiritual plane where most of us go when we die. People can stay there for eons of Earth time, in homes they’ve created or re-created with their thoughts. Perhaps homes they lived in on Earth or wished they had lived in. But if and when they feel it is time to move on, they can progress to the higher Spiritual planes, the highest of which have no need for virtual realities or matter systems, there they are pure Spirit.

The same applies to those unfortunate spirits on the lower astral planes, which some call Hell. They have gravitated to be with those who are similar to them, like the rest of us do when we leave the Earth plane. Like attracts like. So when they get tired of living in a gloomy environment among spirits as greedy and selfish as themselves (who were murderers, dictators, torturers, etc. on the Earth plane), then they can ask for help and rescuers will assist them to develop spiritually by being willing to help others themselves. In this way the law of cause and effect, or karma, gives the possibility of progress and development to all.

Learning from past mistakes, the GDR and beyond

DDR roundel


The German Democratic Republic (GDR/DDR) was founded 64 years ago today in the former Soviet Zone of Germany, following the declaration of the Federal Republic of (West) Germany in the three Western occupation zones. Berlin was also divided into four occupation zones, and the Soviet sector of Berlin became the capital of the GDR. The three Western sectors of Berlin were an enclave of capitalism 100 miles inside the Socialist GDR, and were collectively known as West Berlin.

Effectively East Berlin was an integral part of the GDR, and West Berlin, despite its geographical position, was part of the FRG, though neither side was happy about this as Berlin was officially still an occupied city with 4 occupation zones – Soviet, US, British and French.

There was an open border in Berlin until August 1961, and free movement from East to West and vice versa. It was possible for East Berliners to get high paid jobs in West Berlin whilst enjoying the subsidized rents, subsidized food, etc. in the East, and for West Berliners to pop over to the East and buy cheap subsidized food in their shops. The strain on the GDR economy became too great as their citizens either got jobs in West Berlin or emigrated to the Western sectors of the city or West Germany, where they were guaranteed West German citizenship. Professionals were highly sought after and were offered high salaries if they emigrated to the West, so the GDR was being drained of people they had educated and trained to this level at their expense.

While West Germany received Marshall Aid to rebuild after the Second World War, the GDR paid reparation fees to the Soviet Union for the whole of Germany, yet despite this it became one of the leading industrial nations in the world, with a standard of living much higher than most of the Socialist block.

By 1961 some sort of barrier between the Western and Eastern parts of Berlin became essential but the brutal nature of the Berlin Wall with its death strips, minefields and the shooting of people trying to flee West, mirrored on the inter-German border 100 miles West, was one of the biggest mistakes the GDR made.

It should have been possible to erect border installations to stop the brain drain, and the influx of Westerners stripping shops of subsidized goods to take back home, by economic measures. A tax could have been imposed on goods bought in the GDR by returning Westerners, and a hefty deposit (raised by public collections) could have been required for GDR citizens to visit the Western parts of Berlin and West Germany. This deposit would be refunded when they returned to the GDR, and bureaucratic measures could have insured it was impossible to commute between the two halves of the city for work as each visit would require a new visa which would deliberately take days to process, plus the deposits would have to be processed.

This would have been a much more humane way of restricting the movement of populations and ending the cross-border scams which were damaging the GDR economy.

Another lesson to be learnt is that no political system can be imposed by another country, and Socialism was imposed on many of the countries liberated from Fascism by the Soviet Red Army. The Soviets required friendly ‘buffer states’ after suffering tremendous losses due to the Nazi invasion of 1941, but neutrality was negotiated for Finland which bordered the Soviet Union, and even for Austria in 1955. Soviet troops withdrew from Vienna that year (Austria had been divided into occupation zones much like Germany).

Once Socialism was established in the Soviet Zone of Germany, which then became the GDR, a semblance of democracy was established in a Communist-led coalition government (and similarly for Czechoslovakia which actually voted in the Communists in a free election in the 1940s). There was a forced merger between the German Communist Party (KPD) and the much bigger Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the GDR, which formed the Socialist Unity Party (SED). Other political parties included the Liberal Democrats, the National Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Democratic Farmers Party. These together formed the National Front of the GDR, a coalition which was effectively dominated by the SED, which itself was dominated by the Communists.

A joint list of candidates was put to the electorate periodically, but they could only vote for the entire list, dominated by SED candidates, or reject it. To vote for it, you simply put it in the ballot box, but to vote against you had to go in a booth to strike all the names out. You were then noted as a dissident, and were seriously harassed and disadvantaged in many ways. A similar system existed in all the Socialist countries. They were not, therefore, genuinely free elections.

True you could join one of the political parties in the GDR and take part in the selection process, but again it was dominated and controlled by the SED, and much like our own Labour and Tory Parties, the leadership was firmly in control of the party machine, the conferences/congresses, etc.

Basically the GDR, like the Soviet Union, was effectively a one-party State, and what happens in a dictatorship like that? Why the ordinary people feel there’s no point in becoming politically active or joining the ruling party/parties, but careerists, opportunists and criminal elements flock to join them and get awarded special privileges. In no time at all the whole of the Socialist system is corrupted as it is run and firmly controlled by people who have no real interest in Socialism, and are just out to help themselves and their own families.

While the basis of Socialism was laid in the GDR and the other Socialist countries, and they achieved full employment, security in old age, good education, health and other public services, and good transport networks, also subsidized rents, etc. those Party officials and State bureaucrats got special privileges and better class housing, cars, etc. It was, therefore, a very distorted form of Socialism where the basics were provided for all, but there was a ruling privileged clique. With the added fact that after 1961 it was almost impossible for ordinary GDR citizens to even visit their relatives in the West (unless they were of pensionable age; visas were issued to most GDR pensioners as if they stayed in the West their pension burden would then be on West Berlin and West Germany not the GDR!)

In 1989 Hungary opened its borders to the West, and many GDR citizens used that route to go West, where they were guaranteed West German citizenship if they so desired. The grass always seems greener on the other side, particularly if you were constantly bombarded with TV adverts from West German television for products which you could only buy, if you were lucky, with Western currency in the GDR Intershops.

The Berlin Wall and inter-German border thus became virtually redundant in 1989, but the GDR survived for another year, then was officially re-united with West Germany, but in effect, absorbed into or annexed by the Federal Republic by common consent of most GDR citizens. A decision many of them later had second thoughts about, when they found that everything was not so rosy under a free enterprise system, with no security in old age, with no guaranteed full employment, and the other advantages of even the imperfect Socialism the GDR enjoyed.

This, in my view, constituted the final mistake – to allow the GDR, which had existed for 40 years, to just be annexed by West Germany. Under the GDR’s Socialist Constitution all the political parties mentioned existed in the National Front, so a slight amendment of this Constitution would have allowed them, and other political parties, to exist and put up rival candidates in genuinely free elections provided they maintained the Socialist nature of the State.

In the West we have various political parties which put up rival candidates to run capitalism so there is no reason why the Socialist countries could not have allowed other political parties to freely contest and win elections and administer their own brand of Socialism. This would have ended the corruption and bureaucracy of being effectively a one-party State, because a government which became too corrupt or bureaucratic could be voted out, and another political party given a chance to run Socialism.

There are many varieties of Socialism, and the Yugoslav version, for instance, based largely on worker cooperatives was very different to the Soviet one of huge State monopolies, and it worked much more efficiently.

The GDR had basically the Soviet model, but also quite a few private shops and publicly owned firms like Carl Zeiss of  Jena. If anyone could make this model work it would be the efficient Germans, and to a large extent they did.

GDR citizens enjoyed a higher state of living than citizens in the Soviet Union, and their country was one of the leading industrial nations of the world. No way were all their factories out-dated or clapped out, as was made out when the country was taken over by the West Germans and used as a pool of cheap labor for years.

A great opportunity lost to build on the imperfect Socialism established for 40 years, try out new models, and retain the unique identity of the first Socialist state on German soil.

Now the whole of Germany flounders along with much of the rest of Europe, East and West, to find its way in the European Union, which is neither one thing nor another. It is not a federal union, and yet it is more than a loose confederation of independent states. The Euro is an excellent idea, but it will never work unless there is a unitary federal state and central control of the economy. There must be a level playing field in all EU states with a  universal minimum wage, similar pricing thruout the EU, and a central European fiscal policy. Much as in the United States, where the individual states have a lot of autonomy, but you don’t get a situation where 49 states have to bail out a 50th state when it gets into debt because the US dollar is centrally controlled by the federal government.

The EU is not a Socialist union, that could come about later perhaps with a break-away group of states, but even as a free enterprise/capitalist union it is making mistakes which will doom it to go the same way of the GDR if it does not learn from its errors. The last thing I want to see is the break-up of Europe into warring states, and a repeat of the terrible conflicts we saw in the 20th Century, which all started in Europe centered on Germany.

Germany is a wonderful country, and its people are friendly and very efficient. West Germany made capitalism work as efficiently as possible, and the East Germans made a basically inefficient, bureaucratic Soviet model of Socialism work quite efficiently. I hope Germany is the driving force towards a federal European Union, led by Angela Merkel whose family emigrated the other way from Hamburg in West Germany to Leipzig in the GDR.

As for Socialism, I’m afraid that may have to wait till the mistakes and crimes of the 20th Century versions are a more distant memory, but the lessons learnt from these errors are remembered and not repeated.

Look towards former Yugoslavia for the future of Socialism in the 21st Century. They got it right economically, competing cooperative and Socialist enterprises in the market place, but they too had a one-party dictatorship. Achieve plurality in the political field as well, as the GDR could easily have done in 1989/1990, and you would have a truly democratic Socialist state or Socialist union where different parties could compete to run the system which must replace the outdated and unstable capitalist system eventually. Capitalism needs a big arms industry, paid for by the taxpayers, and constant wars in order to survive the booms, slumps, mass unemployment and depressions inherent in the drive for maximum profits.

Mao said it, but really never practised it: ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom’. Meaning there are many roads to Socialism, many models of Socialism. There can be as many political parties contesting elections as there are models of Socialism.