29 December 2013 itunes
I go all the way around the park listening to the Navy Lark. Our heroes are in trouble, again. Heather and Judy feel they are being taken for granted and Pertwee has arranges some Humm-Gromits for the export marker. On Nunky’s tug Priceless.
Potter around sort itunes persevere with Springpad
Scrabbletoday Mary wins and gets under 400, she got all the vowels and I got the consonants. Perhaps Iwill win tomorrow.
Lady Acland – obituary
Lady Acland was a fifties mannequin and long-lost ‘Aero girl’ whose wasp waist made her a favourite with Dior
Lady Acland, who has died aged 85, was one of the leading models of the late 1940s and early 1950s and — as Myrtle Crawford — appeared on the front covers of Vogue and Harpers’ Bazaar.
At 36-19-36, Myrtle Crawford’s hourglass figure was highly fashionable in the early 1950s and she claimed that her father could girdle her wasplike waist with his hands. She worked with many celebrated photographers of the day, including John French and Norman Parkinson. On the catwalks of Paris she also modelled for Christian Dior and other famous fashion houses. Her face, like that of Elizabeth Taylor and other beautiful women of the time, was used to promote Lux soap.
Myrtle Crawford was also one of the Aero girls, whose portraits, painted in oils by accomplished artists, were used in an eye-catching campaign to advertise Aero chocolate, the bubble-filled bars marketed in the early 1950s as “The chocolate for her”.
She sat for a young art student at the Royal Academy, Frederick Deane, whose talent had been spotted by the J Walter Thompson advertising agency. Deane’s portrait of Myrtle Crawford, completed in only two sittings, has since disappeared. But he kept a photograph of it and wrote her name on the back. Last month Channel 4 News tracked down Frederick Deane, now nearly 90 and living in North Wales, and reunited him with his glamorous former sitter.
The second of three children, Myrtle Christian Euing Crawford was born on July 29 1928 in Stirling. In 1936 her father, Brigadier Alastair Crawford of the Scots Greys, settled at the family home, Auchentroig, a large Scottish house where Myrtle was allowed to run wild in the extensive grounds with little supervision and developed a fiercely independent character.
After boarding school at Killearne in Scotland, she was sent to Roedean, which had been evacuated to the Lake District during the war. On leaving, she enrolled at the London School of Architecture and, already a strikingly beautiful young woman, took modelling classes at the same time.
She started modelling in a small way, and at a fashion show for her mother’s tweed company in Glasgow was spotted by an editor from Vogue who gave her first proper assignment. Myrtle then joined the Jean Bell modelling agency, sharing a flat with another top model of the day, Susan Abraham.
Myrtle Crawford’s modelling career was brief but glamorous: she travelled frequently, and was well-paid, earning £5 a day at a time of post-war austerity when many were managing on £5 a month. In 1953 she married Capt John Acland and gave up her modelling career; but having trained as an architect and being a talented artist, she took up painting, studying at the Reading School of Art.
During her years as an Army wife, she lived in Germany three times, Kenya (where she learned to fly), and Cyprus as well as at numerous Army camps around England. Her husband became Maj-Gen Sir John Acland, a Guards officer who in the late 1970s helped to supervise the handover of power in Zimbabwe.
When he left the Army, they retired to his family home of Feniton Court, near Honiton in East Devon, where Lady Acland took up painting again, some of her work being exhibited at the West of England Academy and at the Westminster Galleries in London. She was a gifted gardener, and her expertise at fly-fishing was much admired by Scottish ghillies.
Myrtle Acland’s husband died in 2006, and she is survived by her son and daughter.
Lady Acland, born July 29 1928, died December 15 2013
To avoid facing up to the damage their policies are inflicting on some of the most vulnerable people in society, the DWP argues that because the Trussell Trust is opening new food banks “it’s not surprising more people are using them” (“Charities condemn IDS for food bank snub“, News). Furthermore “awareness has helped to explain their growth”. On this argument, all charities, which seek to extend their services and publicise them, are guilty of causing the problems they are seeking to solve. Clearly the reasoning behind the latest welfare reforms is intellectually as well as morally bankrupt.
John Saxbee (Rt Revd Dr)
Oh dear, poor old embattled IDS. One can understand why the government is so keen to shut charities up for the year before an election. Of course there is a “clear political agenda” involved here. His “welfare reform” is part of a vicious political agenda. Warren Buffett said: “There’s class warfare all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” But perhaps not as smoothly as IDS hoped.
Maybe IDS should just cancel all forms of welfare benefit and, hey presto, he could claim to have cut welfare claims by 100%!
British politics is shameful
A much better title for Andrew Rawnsley’s article would have been “How ridiculous can British politics get?” (“Why all three leaders reach the end of the year sighing with relief“, Comment). The party leaders may, indeed, be relieved, but it is shame they should really be feeling.
We have a duplicitous coalition government, with each of its member parties vying with the other for votes, while the opposition does nothing, hoping a general policy of silence, allied to one of wait and see, will enable it to scrape through to electoral success. Voters will spend the next 16 months listening to the parties blaming each other, and watching them behave like out-of-control bottom set year 10s at PMQs. Is it any wonder that pantomime buffoons such as Johnson and Farage win popularity?
Put our plutonium to good use
Jamie Doward questions the plans to build 50 nuclear power stations on the grounds of waste disposal (“Fifty new nuclear plants could be goal in official energy plans“, News). A more pressing problem is where is the uranium to come from? Most estimates put a 40-year limit on uranium supplies at the current rate of usage never mind the substantial increases proposed worldwide. It is time to develop new cycles to use up our grotesque dump of 120 tons of plutonium, a programme which might attract support even from those suspicious of present policies.
Profumo didn’t topple premier
In her review of Stephen Ward (Critics, last week) Susannah Clapp is the latest to blame the “nonsense” of the Profumo affair for “the collapse of Macmillan’s government”. The affair undermined the reputation of Harold Macmillan as a leader and of the Conservative government he led but his premiership ended when he resigned believing (wrongly he later felt) that he could not continue as prime minister after a prostate operation.
The comments are perhaps meant more loosely, arguing that Profumo contributed significantly to election defeat for Alec Douglas-Home’s Conservatives a year later in 1964. Even this seems thin as Home was only narrowly defeated by Harold Wilson’s Labour party.
History has already been re-written as far as the 1966 election is concerned. Wilson, it is said, rode to victory on the outpouring of euphoria as a consequence of England’s victory in the World Cup final. Actually the election was held before England lifted the trophy.
Don’t let the reviewers of Stephen Ward do a 1966!
Vive French film in the UK
It seems odd that your correspondent Kim Willsher, based in Paris, was not able to acknowledge in her piece on the invasion of French films on UK screens the work of the French Film Festival UK in broadening the horizons of British film-goers to French-language cinema for more than two decades (“Record number of French films will invade cinemas as Gallic charm seduces British“, News).
The festival’s role will remain pivotal in giving the French film industry a UK-wide showcase that displays le cinéma français’s true breadth and diversity.
Director, French Film Festival UK
Make that the last gasp
Question 56 in the magazine quiz asked “Which woman – gasp – became the first conductor of the Last Night of the Proms?” If we could just cease gasping, equilibrium between men and women could get closer, quicker. The question should have read “Who conducted…?”
The rediscovery of a moral consensus for a market capitalism that will meet human needs, and developing credit unions to see Wonga competed out of the market, are worthy visions brewing in Lambeth Palace (“Without morality, the market economy will destroy itself“, Comment). However they will take too long for the poorest citizens in the UK who are suffering a severe crisis of poverty, debt and related ill health today; it can only get worse. “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and invisible hand of the market,” in the Pope’s recent exhortation is closer to the mark.
We need economic, social and moral policies now that value, even love, the unemployed as the vital reserve workforce we all need. Parliament already has all the power it needs to pass and enforce moral legislation. Any implementation of Lambeth’s vision of a moral market will also need an early change of political leadership in parliament away from the insults and impositions of hunger, cold, unmanageable debt and insecurity of tenure, which sap the health and morale of the unemployed and low paid.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty,
Competition already exists in health provision, where the private exists side by side with the public. A phoney market is encouraged in public health services where private operators manage to generate enough profit, and secure huge buy-outs, to attract investment by private equity firms with international interests. They are spared the cut and thrust of the normal market and relieved of the burden of producing something useful for public consumption and merely conjure up supposedly cheaper ways of administering that which could be kept within the public sphere, given the right leadership.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Malcolm Brown argues powerfully that without morality the market economy will destroy itself. In a sense though, those operating the unregulated market he condemns do have a clear moral guideline: the bottom line. If an action increases corporate profit or personal wealth it is, they believe, for the greater good and is therefore morally acceptable. This belief that money is a measure of virtue seems now to be widely accepted by business leaders and politicians. It has led to the perception that increasing inequalities of wealth are morally justified and to the deliberate creation of a society divided between the absurdly affluent and the hard-working poor.
According to Malcolm Brown: “Markets serve human needs properly only if markets operate in a moral context.” What a wonderfully incisive and perceptive statement this is given developments in the UK over the last year, namely: the Royal Mail asset-stripped by the banks and financial institutions, growing homelessness, the increasing poverty and inequality in our society, little done to curb outrageous bankers’ bonuses, the impoverishment of benefits claimants, the creeping privatisation of the NHS and other public services, and the criminality and corruption of unaccountable outsourcing companies. No moral context there then.
Mike Broussine and Mick Beeby
Malcolm Brown omits to consider the behaviour of capitalism’s rich members towards its victims – the poor. Jesus never condemned the poor, but he frequently criticised the rich. He instructed his followers: “Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth.” Why does the church not urge its millionaire members to distribute their wealth among the needy?
Malcolm Brown is forgetting two things: capitalism is a system based on greed and the narcissistic sociopaths who run many of our multi-national companies have only one aim in life – more wealth and more power. Yes, capitalism isn’t working any more but the answer is not to appeal to the “better nature” of those who control the world, for they have no intention of giving up what they have, but democracy. Grassroots democracy – companies controlled by democratically elected boards of the people who work in the company, who hire the managers and set the pay rates; open democracy that tempers the obsessive greed of those that have much already. Unfortunately, we are approaching an era of more power and wealth concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer.
While governments might pay lip-service to the notion of free markets, in reality they do everything in their power to stifle them. Britain has never liked free markets. From the imposition of the statute of labourers in the 14th century, through corn laws, the navigation acts, the calico acts and imperial preference, we have never approached within a million miles of genuinely free markets. Morality does not need to be imposed upon a market if it is genuinely free. Morality is an integral part of the market, which if truly free, expresses the ethics of its participants.
Malcolm Brown’s argument is equally relevant to the voluntary sector. We are currently witnessing a ruthless colonisation of the world of voluntary action, led by pure ideology from neo-liberal economics. All the malign processes to which Brown draws attention can be observed, including centralisation, cartels, dominance of economic values and polarisation of the sector in ways which threaten the very wellsprings of voluntary action. The voluntary sector’s basic values – free and willing co-operation, giving of time and resources to meet important human needs – are the antithesis of a market economy. Hence, the voluntary sector is in a good position to add its voice to the growing chorus of challenges from faith groups. But will it? Certainly not if it relies upon its national “leadership” bodies, whose limp pandering to the government and private sector throws petrol on the fire. But there are hopeful challenges, including the important campaign by the National Coalition for Independent Action (www.independentaction.net), and a growing voice from local groups, like West Sussex’s Don’t Cut Us Out (www.dontcutusout.org.uk). Without morality, unrestrained market processes are worse than self-destructive, for they take the rest of us with them.
National Coalition for Independent Action
Don’t Cut Us Out West Sussex
Like so many Irish Catholic families of that time, we had a nun among us – my Aunty Joan. Her parents – my grandparents – were from the south of Ireland. They had a mixed marriage in the 1920s, and it was hard to find their place in a free state that wasn’t really so free. So they moved north; my grandfather, George, the eldest son, losing his family farm for love of a sweet girl, Brigit, from “the other side”. They settled in Donegore, near Antrim, where George’s love of the land led him to labour on another man’s farm.
Joan was the youngest of seven. Although all were much loved, it was said that “wee Joan” held a special place in her father’s heart. Gentle, slight, spirited and with a deep faith, she left at the age of 17 to join a convent in the remote west of Ireland. That day George retreated to the land, unable to say goodbye. A man of great faith himself, he must have struggled to reconcile whose sacrifice this was, his love of a Catholic girl had lost him more than just his farm.
As a missionary sister with the Columban order, Joan travelled widely over the years. Her mission took her to the high villages of the Andes, until she settled in the late 1970s in the shanty towns around Lima, Peru.
Joan came home to Ireland every three to four years. As a child I remember the excitement and the baking and other preparations for her visits. There were family parties where she sang – her favourite was Over the Rainbow and on a par any day with Judy Garland’s version.
In Peru, she spent time helping in Lurigancho prison, visiting the poorest of the poor. Thirty years ago, on 14 December, we received an early morning call to tell us that she had been killed.
She had been taken hostage by a group of prisoners in a bid to have their conditions improved. The authorities opened fire, killing Joan and seven of the prisoners. She was 51.
The prisoners collected what little money they had to buy paint for a mural of Joan. It was painted on a public wall in the city and is still cherished. The prison library was named after her, as was a road – and many little girls locally were called Juanita after her.
As I leave on my first trip to Lima to mark the anniversary of Joan’s death, I think of the unlikely connection between a small village in County Antrim and Lima, and the many other connections created by chance and circumstance the world over.
Hilary Georgina Cross
As the person in whose apartment Stephen Ward was staying at the time that he took the overdose of barbiturates, I have been following the controversy between the writers Tom Mangold and Anthony Summers (Letters, 22 December).
Contrary to what Mr Summers has said, I can state with absolute certainty that I have never refused to comment to anybody about this tragic and disgraceful affair.
I can state with equal certainty that nobody fed Stephen Ward his Nembutal. He took his overdose in the next room to the one in which I was trying to sleep, and I could even hear him striking the matches to light his cigarettes; no voices, door bell or knock, no MI5 agents, no Polish assassins, in short, nobody.
For Mr Summers’ version to carry any credibility, he would have to assume that somebody else wrote over a dozen suicide letters to everybody from me to the judge, counsel, journalists etc. Indeed, killing a man who had just expressed his intent to kill himself would appear to have been redundant, even in those days when “overkill” was a term in frequent use.
Given the Royal Family’s delight in bloodsports, why did you make such a thing of Prince William signing up for your elephant poaching campaign (Page one, 22 December)?
The front page should have had a photograph of these magnificent creatures – the elephants. I thought that was what the campaign was about? Print Prince Williams’ contributions inside.
DJ Taylor underlines the Victorian invention of Christmas traditions (“Bah to the humbuggers”, 22 December) and suggests that even if few know the true meaning of the festival it is worth having a celebration at this time of year anyway. I agree, but it is surely time to reclaim the more radical festival of Twelfth Night on 6 January, which the Victorian Christmas aimed to replace. Epiphany was traditionally focused on a Lord of Misrule and the turning upside down of authority, sometimes leading to riots. This more robust winter tradition speaks to the times we live in.
Hamish McRae indicates (22 December) that the thing we have to fear is too much optimism. That may be so, but a greater fear might be too much prosperity.
Some time ago, in a letter to The Independent, I indicated that increasing prosperity, or apparent prosperity, (they are not the same thing) could undo our fragile economy. I suggested that there is no longer the capacity in the British manufacturing sector to meet demand created at a time when, whether justified or not, the “feel-good factor” is in operation. I also argued that this would lead to an increase in manufactured imports which might otherwise have been supplied by British producers.
Mr McRae, in an email sent to me, suggested that the London based service sector would fill the gap created by manufactured imports. I was sceptical at the time and it seems that my fears were justified.
Your sister paper published an article, by Russell Lynch, (21 December) entitled “Britain’s deficit soars to highest for 24 years”. In it, Mr Lynch points out that the deficit rose to £20.7bn for the third quarter of the present year compared with £6bn for the second quarter.
Perhaps Mr McRae still believes that, like the US Cavalry, London will ride to the rescue! Is it not about time that this myth is felled once and for all?
Roger Barstow Frost
I disagree with your editorial that the “best protection for witnesses is that afforded by public opinion” (Leading article, 22 December). A video link would protect witnesses who feel vulnerable in court, because by simply having a delay to allow the judge to decide if the barrister’s question is fair and not intimidatory allows witnesses to be protected. Why subject witnesses to aggressive barristers and rely on juries to sympathise with the witness?
West Bromwich, West Midlands
Putting court witnesses on trial is indefensible
I COMPLETELY support Dominic Lawson’s standpoint: how was justice and truth upheld during the trial of Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, at which his sibling Nigella was a prosecution witness (“My sister was found guilty — with no defence”, Comment, last week)? How irresponsible, too, of newspapers to print allegations against children who were not in court to defend themselves.
More than 20 years ago I was one of six victims of a violent serial sex offender. Two of the women he attacked were too badly damaged physically and mentally to attend court. Their cases were therefore thrown out by the judge. In order to do our “civic duty” and try to take this brute off the streets, the other four of us reluctantly agreed to testify as witnesses.
During the trial we were humiliated and ridiculed, first by the barrister for the defence, and then unbelievably by the defendant. He sacked his lawyer during the court case and was allowed to cross-examine his victims himself.
Had I known the horror and degradation that being a witness would involve I would not have come forward. And yet the criminal was convicted and received four life sentences. Had we not gone to testify he would have been freed. It is depressing to realise that things have not improved for witnesses in all these years.
It really is time that some new rules were drawn up to protect people who are not supposed to be on trial, but end up having their lives shattered because the courts and the press have no boundaries.
Name and address withheld
Nigella Lawson undoubtedly feels let down by the legal system and the great British press but it seems the public is on her side. The only real winners in this case were the lawyers. My stepfather was a solicitor and his advice to his clients was: never go to court.
Caroline Tebbutt Menai Bridge, Gwynedd
There should be no sympathy for Nigella Lawson over the trial of the Grillo sisters (“How the Nigella drug allegations surfaced”, News, last week). Her behaviour can only be described as stupid and naive. Stupid for allowing employees to use a company credit card without monitoring their monthly expenditure. And naive for not expecting to be called as a witness in the court case and to be cross-examined by the defence lawyer, who would inevitably discredit her by washing dirty laundry in public.
Richard Beames Andalusia, Spain
Speaking as a former CID officer, I found Lawson’s article reminded me of a renowned barrister who more than 40 years ago wisely said to me after a crown court acquittal: “Please, never get downhearted — it’s all in the game.” The “wonderfully entertaining circus” in a courtroom is exactly what deters large numbers of victims and witnesses from giving evidence and in so doing denies justice to many.
Crawford Chalmers Weybridge, Surrey
May I congratulate Lawson and The Sunday Times for this column. I hope that he is successful in his efforts to change judicial procedures and thus prevent a repetition of such a travesty.
Stella Fearnley Poole
Long’s shot completely off the mark on Strictly
SURELY Strictly Come Dancing aims to entertain, and its continued popularity and the huge response from the public prove that it succeeds (“A handful of hot hormones”, News, last week). The contestants repeatedly tell viewers they are overjoyed to be part of the show — often described as a “life-changing experience”.
With the end-of-summer return to reality, many of us are delighted to have a few hours of escapism from shortening daylight and mounting pre-Christmas panic. Yes, a critic’s job is to criticise, but this article was rather spiteful. Camilla Long should be invited to compete on Strictly next year.
Anne Dale Repton, Derbyshire
Long’s article was offensive and unpleasant. Whether one is a fan of the programme or not — and many are, to judge by the 11m-plus viewers who watched the final — I cannot understand her need to attack and denigrate the participants.
Sarah Miles Carshalton, London
Out of step
Your critic has no appreciation of the time and effort the contestants must put into their performances. Clearly in excess of 11m viewers do not take this dark view of a family- friendly, inspirational and entertaining programme. If Long does not like dancing, then please ask her to keep her jaundiced views to herself.
Roger Longland Swindon
Curbing migrant myths
IT IS time to dispel yet another EU myth, promoted this time by Nick Clegg (“Clegg blocks more curbs on migrants”, News, last week). The deputy prime minister worries that we would lose German lawyers, Dutch accountants and Finnish engineers if there were restrictions on European migrants, and the NHS and City of London would grind to a halt without EU beneficence.
Yet professionals moved around unrestricted long before the EU talked of free movement. I myself relocated to Denmark nearly 50 years ago as a university teacher. There was no impediment and my rights were largely the same as those of nationals. Nor was there any impediment for much-needed labourers from Turkey to enter Germany.
The difference is that then a job was necessary, and now people move solely to better themselves regardless of the labour requirements of the host country. Before there was migration control; now it is a free-for-all.
Just as the euro cannot function over a wide range of disparate economies, so free movement cannot work over a wide range of pay and benefits — people will always go to where the money is best.
Kent Brooks Kendal, Cumbria
Open all hours
So Michael Gove wants schools to be open for much of the year (“Yikes, Sir! Gove wants schools open 51 weeks a year”, News, last week). The education secretary would greatly strengthen his argument for this were he to press for the same arrangement for parliament.
Roger Howes Leamington Spa
Almost 30 years ago New Zealand dropped farming subsidies and the result has been quite remarkable (“Farm subsidies vital for a level EU playing field”, Letters, last week). Farmers no longer toe the line dictated by quangos and no one is starving.
Colin Milne Blairgowrie, Perth and Kinross
The picture of the late Peter O’Toole and the child (“Our Peter Pan”, News Review, last week) was wonderful. Surely it’s worth a place on a Royal Mail stamp.
Ken Bell Sheffield
India Knight (Comment, last week) said O’Toole hadn’t been an alcoholic since the 1970s. Alcoholism is an illness and unfortunately it stays with you for life.
Alan Kelleher Co Kildare
I was disappointed and dismayed that Sir Henry Cecil, the greatest racehorse trainer of the past 50 years, did not feature in “The last goodbye” (Magazine, last week).
Andrew Blair London N6
You published a photograph last week in the Magazine of the America’s Cup with a caption that referred to Ben Ainslie, but there was no mention of the late Andrew Simpson, who tragically died during training for the yachting race, leaving a family behind. The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation was set up to support youngsters entering the sport.
Siobhan Filmore By email
India Knight (“Lay the ghost of Christmas past”, Focus, last week) needs to reread Charles Dickens. The Cratchits’ Christmas meal, so beautifully described by the author, is at a point in A Christmas Carol before Scrooge’s intervention.
Angela McCourt By email
Chewing the fat
While I agree with India Knight about actions rather than words in tackling obesity (“So, we can’t call anyone fat but we can still stuff them with junk food”, Comment, last week), we must not perpetuate some of the myths about eating healthily. Understanding basic good nutrition is not complex, and neither is healthy food necessarily costlier or more difficult to prepare than the fattening rubbish she mentions.
Gerald Hope Glasgow
Poor parcel delivery service is not restricted to Yodel and Hermes (“No one home? Your parcel’s in the bin”, News, last week). The problem arises because however much they claim they want to offer a good customer experience, retailers don’t want to deal with the problem but would rather offload it onto the carriers. Retailers also want to pay as little as possible — the £1 per drop quoted in your article — yet charge consumers more, making delivery fees a nice little revenue stream.
Marcia MacLeod London NW6
Bernard Cribbins, actor, 85; Ted Danson, actor, 66; Jennifer Ehle, actress, 44; Marianne Faithfull, singer, 67; Aled Jones, singer, 43; Jude Law, actor, 41; Martin Offiah, rugby player, 47; Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland first minister, 65; Harvey Smith, showjumper, 75; Jon Voight, actor, 75
1170 Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, murdered; 1809 William Gladstone, Liberal prime minister, born; 1890 US army kills 300 Lakota Indians at Wounded Knee; 1916 Rasputin, mystic to the Russian tsars, murdered; 1986 Harold Macmillan, Tory prime minister, dies
Corrections and clarifications
Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, including online, should be addressed to email@example.com or The Editor, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST. In addition, the Press Complaints Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7831 0022) examines formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites)
SIR – David Cameron’s programme of commemoration for the First World War does not mention soldiers from the Empire who were drawn into the conflict.
There is great ignorance of the fact that thousands of Canadians, Australians, Indians, Africans, West Indians and New Zealanders were in Britain and France. In the case of New Zealanders, there were 131,000 in hospitals here, out of a population of less than a million. At Ewshot, Hampshire, where 5,000 New Zealanders were based, there is nothing to mark their presence.
Mr Cameron’s outline also neglects the suffering of the civilian population. The Defence of the Realm Act turned military towns like Aldershot into armed centres with such limited civil liberties that they resembled later towns in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
SIR – My father-in-law, Jim Purfield, joined the newly created 8th Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent, in September 1914. After a year of training in southern England, the battalion, untried in battle, was pitched into the Battle of Looson its second day. After a disciplined march across open ground, the battalion was decimated by fire from three sides.
Cpl Jim Purfield’s diary records: “Ultimately got caught in a proper trap in front of barbed wire from L and R flanks. Stuck it for a time, losing heavily… Awful time, but boys stuck it grandly and behaved splendidly. Lost the battalion myself and wandered around for the rest of day in reserve trenches trying to find them again. Spent night in dugout in evacuated trench.”
Jim survived and, like many others, kept his memories and experiences to himself.
Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire
SIR – The Church may sometimes be “overzealous” in enforcing criminal record checks for volunteers, but some checks will also be duplicated needlessly, as guidelines require a check for each role undertaken.
In recent years I had been checked in order to work as a GP at a local surgery but had to repeat the process within months to be allowed to continue as an altar server at my local church.
Dr James Hinksman
The man in plaster
SIR – As you reported, the man that the Queen referred to in her Christmas broadcast, who spent months in a plaster cast, but “realised this time of forced retreat from the world had helped him to understand the world more clearly”, was almost certainly Lord Home of the Hirsel, later Prime Minister.
As Lord Dunglass, when he was an MP, he was found in 1940 to be suffering from spinal tuberculosis. After a pioneering operation he was encased in plaster for nearly two years, during which he read deeply the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin, giving him a far greater knowledge of the workings of the Soviet mind.
After he returned to the Commons in 1943 he challenged Churchill in debates on Poland’s future, greatly aided by the profound knowledge he had gained.
Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire
Faiths in public life
SIR – If Christianity is pushed to the margins, as Lord Carey warns, then this does a disservice to all faiths. Faith is an abundant source of volunteering, charitable giving and other acts of compassion, and its principles can enrich contemporary debates in politics and on topics such as business ethics.
Minority faith groups, which according to the last census, are growing, tend to welcome a strong role for Christianity in public life, as a standard-bearer for all the faiths in our pluralist democracy.
Council of Christians and Jews
SIR – In the Christmas Downton Abbey, a return railway ticket, York to King’s Cross, was found in Bates’s overcoat pocket, and several people concluded that this proved that Bates had travelled to London in order to murder the man who had raped his wife.
On the contrary it proves his innocence. Tickets were collected at the end of each leg of the journey, so he could not have used the ticket. Whatever was in his mind when he bought it, he did not carry it out.
Parliament out of town
SIR – Richard Miller proposes moving Parliament out of London. A good idea, but, please, not in my back yard – all those ghastly politicians and their insufferable strap-hangers littering one’s restaurants, cafés and pubs.
SIR – May I suggest Parliament be located in Heckmondwike, in easy commuting distance of Osset, Batley and Cleckheaton? The cost of housing is low and anything that happens there is ignored by the rest of the country – a great improvement on Westminster.
Halifax, West Yorkshire
The right helicopter
SIR – David Wragg praises AgustaWestland for its sale to the Norwegian armed forces of 16 AW101 helicopters for search-and-rescue services.
The Royal Canadian Air Force also uses the AW101 (termed Cormorant in Canadian service) in a search-and-rescue role, not Sikorsky S-92s. The S-92s are due to be in service as a primarily anti-surface warfare platform with limited search-and-rescue capability.
Contrary to Mr Wragg’s suggestion, AgustaWestland received high levels of support from the Government via the Defence & Security Organisation and the Royal Air Force and Ministry of Defence.
The Ministry of Defence has invested in the AW101 Merlin for both the RAF and Royal Navy in upgrades and life-extension work, which has benefited not only AgustaWestland but many small companies in the supply chain.
SIR – Boris Johnson lists myths we’re brainwashed to believe, including the unnecessary ban on using mobile phones on aeroplanes.
I wonder if your readers could furnish me with a convincing scientific explanation as to why I may not use one in a petrol station. I have never known a mobile phone to emit sparks.
Paying the bills
SIR – One wonders how much of the £2.7 billion spent on Boxing Daywas on credit cards, how much from benefit payments and how much from “savings” ?
Ian A. Powys
Sprouts and spring
SIR – While eating my Christmas dinner, I spotted a blue tit inspecting one of our nest-boxes.
Since birds are unlikely to seek refuge from the cold at the present time, is this an indication of a very early spring?
SIR – I have just seen a bumble bee.
Peasedown St John, Somerset
Evidence on effectiveness of antibacterial soap
SIR – I was not surprised to read that antibacterial soaps are no more effective than soap and water. Most claim to kill 99.9 per cent of bacteria but do not state whether this is 99.9 per cent of all existing bacteria or just bacteria most commonly found on hands.
On a recent episode of BBC Two’s Trust me I’m a doctor, Dr Michael Mosley showed that washing hands with soap and water was much more effective at removing bacteria than antibacterial soap. The American Food and Drug Administration requires companies to prove that their products are more effective than plain soap when used with water. Companies selling antibacterial soaps in Britain should be required to produce the same evidence. Thus far, the public has had to take the manufacturers’ claims at face value.
SIR – Your editorial was correct in highlighting the need for improved flood defences. There is another very important point, namely the need to avoid the risk of flooding in new developments.
The Government’s emasculation of the planning process will almost certainly worsen the situation. There are cases of developments being allowed where planning inspectors overrule refusals of planning permission by local councils, in areas where residents know that there is a high water table, even though it does not appear in the Environment Agency’s list of areas at risk of flooding.
Prevention is usually better than cure, even if is harder to accomplish.
SIR – In the Seventies, it was decided no longer to keep railway banks trimmed. The bushes have become trees over the years, and the result is seen now in train delays every time there is a gale.
Photos of railways before the Seventies show not a tree in sight. On Michael Portillo’s railway series, the helicopter now always shows his train in a green tunnel of trees.
SIR – I have every sympathy for those who have suffered from the effects of the recent weather. I can’t help thinking that some of the flooding could have been avoided.
None of the rivers and streams in my area appear to have had any husbandry, and are now so clogged with vegetation and rubbish that it is no wonder they break their banks.
Maintenance is needed rather than spending on new projects, such as HS2 and other hare-brained schemes.
Isn’t that what “make do and mend” means?
SIR – I am amazed that Gatwick, an airport which is promoting itself as a contender for “hub” status in the south east, was not equipped with a stand-by generation system that could cope with some inclement weather.
J R Ball
SIR – Among my family memorabilia I have a letter, written in a copper-plate hand and dated February 9 1814, addressed to my great-great-grandfather from his brother.
In it he describes the Frost Fair on the Thames.
He says that there were “nearly a thousand persons on the ice at one time”, and mentions the “fine elephant that was driven over the ice to perform its part in a play in one of the theatres”.
He predicted, correctly, that he would “never see anything like it again”.
David Osmond Davis
* Something happened to Irish republicanism.
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As a term, it became sullied by the deeds of a few.
The broad history of Irish republicanism started to become lost in a mist of pedantic revisionism. Marginal points became major. Core points were lost.
The political party most associated with Ireland’s recent demise and longest in power continuing to label itself the ‘The Republican Party‘ seems amiss.
On the eve of a new year, it would be grand if we could spare a moment for the Republic.
Not wearing the over-priced strip of one of the international teams, nor embarrassingly stumbling through the words of Amhran na bhFiann at a GAA match or plying oneself wet on Arthur’s Day.
Rather, asking what it means to be republican — and an Irish one at that.
This is, after all, what we are: citizens of an Irish republic with an Irish republican Constitution and part of a greater European project. Our elite let us down recently. We let ourselves down. What matters, though, is being able to learn from it, grow and strive to do better next time.
The Irish take on republicanism is unique. Although inspired by the French, our attempt seems closer to the real thing. As for the US version, tea parties aren’t us.
Our version of republicanism is generally about being equals.
We really don’t do snobbery well; hence the slaggin’.
We seriously do, do freedom; hence the disproportionate success.
And yet, on the whole we never lose sight of our core belief in caring — fraternity, you might say.
Never let anyone tell you or make you feel that caring is weak. That being equal isn’t reality. That success isn’t possible.
It’s fine to be an Irish republican. You’re not Sinn Fein/IRA; you’re not a bigot when it comes to the British and you’re not Bertie Ahern‘s mob.
Let’s reclaim Irish republicanism, embrace it and work together to make our republic and all our island of Ireland great in 2014.
ADAM O HAODH
LITTLE TOWN, BETHLEHEM
* Christmas, 2013, and excited tourists are milling around Bethlehem’s Manger Square, stopping in restaurants and souvenir shops and enjoying the marching bands and scout troops performing next to the large tree in front of the Church of the Nativity.
Some 25,000 visitors are expected this year, up from recent years but way below the crowds that filled the area between 1967 and 2000.
In 1967, Christians made up 80pc of Bethlehem’s population.
During the period from the Six-Day War to Arafat’s intifada, there were no barriers to traffic between Israel, Gaza and the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. Muslims, Christians and Jews travelled back and forth to work, shop and play.
The 1993-95 Oslo Accords marked the beginning of the end of Christian Bethlehem.
Bethlehem’s Christians were forced out and the PLO confiscated their properties. As conditions worsened, more families, who had lived there for centuries, fled. Today, Bethlehem is predominantly Muslim.
In 2000, following the Camp David talks between Clinton, Arafat and Barak, Arafat began the second Intifada.
This ended the peaceful commerce the region had enjoyed and Bethlehem became more isolated. Even the Church of the Nativity was later over-run and desecrated by PLO fighters.
Israel built the security barrier to thwart terror attacks, and it has been relatively effective.
The passage through the barrier near Bethlehem is lightly guarded and traffic flows through, slowing but rarely stopping.
At this time of year, we can all hope for success in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
NEW YEAR, NEW FUTURE
* As we get ready for a new year, it might be useful to reflect on some of the opportunities we will have to help shape our future.
In 2014, we have the opportunity to elect 950 local councillors and 11 Irish members of the European Parliament. Politicians are not universally popular at the moment, but we should remember the political choices we make do shape our future.
Our local councillors have an important say in local planning and environmental issues and the MEPs will play an important part in shaping international issues, such as trade and research policies.
During the coming year the Government will review Ireland’s foreign policy. This is important, as our foreign policy is an expression of who we want to be as a people. The global economy determines our economic prosperity and our foreign policy can help shape the global political framework we need to face the challenges of a rapidly changing international system.
Hopefully, in 2014, we will use our power as citizens of a democracy to benefit not just ourselves, but the planet and those without a say, too.
NO MEN ALLOWED HERE
* I read with great interest Martina Devlin’s article about the Neanderthal and sexist men who run the various swimming clubs in this country and her call for state bodies to ensure they do all they can for equality. A great piece of journalism.
I wait eagerly for her next article on the organisations run by women which are equally as bad; I refer to the likes of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association. No men allowed here. Why even our national broadcaster, RTE, has been caught up in this sexist organisation by giving it its own television show, ‘ICA Bootcamp’.
As a TV licence payer, I am disgusted to think my money is used to support an organisation that excludes men. I am sure Martina intends to give the same coverage to a sexist women’s organisation as she did to men’s ones.
PS. Anybody got an application form for CURVES?
NAVAN, CO MEATH
KEEP THE PARTY GOING
* Jose Manuel Barosso was quite rightly apoplectic and inconsolable; Herman Achille Van Rompuy was incandescent with indignation; Olli Rehn was incensed and infuriated; Mario Draghi was extremely vexed; while Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schaeuble were exasperated to the point of rage.
No doubt all of this due to some pending nuclear attack by Iran, eruptions in the Middle East, problems with the ESM, the ESFM, the EFSF or the backstop, or maybe those Russians are again muscling in on EU territory?
No, simply our own great leader Enda Kenny omitted to invite them to Paddy’s bailout exit party.
Such a gaffe represents a major diplomatic faux pas in the galaxy inhabited by these pygmaean giants, who stride across the continents making all those nasty austerity decisions designed to screw unrepentant Paddy for screwing up Europe in the first place.
Not to worry, our Enda and Michael are in recovery mode and have it sorted; they will be flying out to Brussels at the first opportunity in the two government jets.
We can console ourselves as we are in good hands — compliant and submissive Paddy will meekly step back in his box and normal business will resume.
Meanwhile, back in the stable, Jesus wept, uncontrollably.