Joan’s feet

11 June 2013 Joan’s feet

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, oh dear oh dear. Taffy has accidently been made a Commodore, and has taken Troutbridge off to Wales, to give his relatives trips round Cardigan bay. Priceless.
Another quiet day visit Joan post office chemist and Co-op, Joans legs very bad
We watch The Pallaisers The rise and rise of Mr Finn MP
Mary wins at scrabble but she gets under 400 perhaps I can have my revenge tomorrow.

Obituary:

Elizabeth Mavor
Elizabeth Mavor, who has died aged 85, wrote novels and biographies of unusual, adventurous women; her A Green Equinox was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1973, though she was probably better known as the author of The Ladies of Llangollen (1971), an account of the lives of a famous pair of 18th century Sapphists.

Elizabeth Mavor 
5:18PM BST 10 Jun 2013
Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby were friends who, in 1778, fled from their native Ireland and set up home together in a slate-roofed cottage in the north Wales village of Llangollen . There, until their deaths in 1829 and 1831 respectively, they spent their days together, industriously gardening and improving their minds by reading the classics, studying languages and writing journals and letters. The subject of much gossip and romantic speculation, they became celebrities and their visitors included royalty, philanthropists, artists, writers and poets.
The nature of their “romantic friendship” excited much curiosity over the years. They referred to each other as “My Beloved” or “My Better Half”; slept in the same bed and dressed like men with top hats and fitted jackets, their hair cut short . Most commentators nowadays assume they were lesbians, yet few who visited them thought they were and neither did Elizabeth Mavor. In her biography, she pointed out that the word “romantic” simply meant fanciful in the 18th century; that it was the fashion for friends to speak to each other in language people now reserve for sexual partners; that it was not uncommon to share a bed with a sister or a friend, and that the ladies’ hairstyles and mannish hats followed a French fashion and were in any case practical for the country.
The two women’s friendship, she maintained, was a perfect union of souls — and no more: “Depending as they did upon time and leisure, they were aristocratic, they were idealistic, blissfully free, allowing for a dimension of sympathy between women that would not now be possible outside an avowedly lesbian connection. Indeed, much that we would now associate solely with a sexual attachment is contained in romantic friends: tenderness, loyalty, sensibility, shared beds, shared tastes, coquetry, even passion.”
The daughter of an engineer, Elizabeth Osborne Mavor was born in Glasgow on December 17 1927 and educated at St Leonards School, St Andrews, and at St Anne’s College, Oxford, where she read Modern History and edited Cherwell. After graduation she worked for the magazine Argosy , wrote reviews for newspapers and began writing fiction.
In her first novel, Summer in the Greenhouse (1959), an elderly woman tells the story of a youthful affair . She wrote several more novels, including A Green Equinox in which the heroine becomes involved in an affair with the married owner of a grand country estate, but ultimately forms deeper friendships with the other women in his life — his wife and mother.
Elizabeth Mavor became interested in women like the Llangollen ladies not so much because of their ambiguous sexuality but because of their willingness to flout convention. In a similar vein, her The White Solitaire (1988) was a fictionalised account of the life of Mary Read, an 18th century woman who lived as a man, concealing her identity in her life as a soldier and sailor-turned-pirate.
Elizabeth Mavor’s other non-fiction works included editions of the American journals of the 19th century actress Fanny Kemble and Grand Tours of Katherine Wilmot: France 1801-3 and Russia 1805-7 (1992), the edited journals of an Irish socialite and traveller. A Year with the Ladies of Llangollen (1984) was an edited selection of entries from their journals, letters and account books.
Her biographies included Virgin Mistress: a study in survival, an account of the life of Elizabeth Chudleigh, a pretty country maid with social aspirations who charmed the royal houses of Europe and became Duchess of Kingston, but was later tried for bigamy.
In 1953 Elizabeth Mavor married the illustrator Haro Hodson, who survives her with their two sons.
Elizabeth Mavor, born December 17 1927, died May 22 2013

Guardian:

I doubt if all the secrets of the Kikuyu uprising will ever be known. Young soldiers were brainwashed into believing they were fighting in Kenya for our glorious empire. Sixty years ago I was there as a 19-year-old national service officer. I am delighted that the government has given some token compensation for Kenyans who suffered torture (Britain’s brutal past exposed, 6 June). I still suffer from memories of the British apartheid system there and numerous instances of arbitrary killing and brutality by British forces, Kenya police and Kenyan African Rifles. In reality we protected land-grabbing British farmers and enriched UK companies.
Young troops were encouraged to shoot any African on sight in certain areas. Prize money was offered by senior officers for every death. The brains of one young black lad I shot with no warning (by orders) landed on my chest. He had no weapons, only a piece of the Bible and part of an English-language primer in his pocket. Before I burned his body near the farm where he had been working, I was ordered to cut off his hands, which I did, and put them in my ammunition pouches, as we’d run out of fingerprinting kits. Of course, he was recorded as “a terrorist”. I was told to shoot down unarmed women in the jungle because they were carrying food to the so-called “Mau Mau” – a word they never called themselves.
The whole of this Kenyan tragedy was predictable. Although Kenyan black troops had fought for the British in the second world war, they were rewarded with their land being taken away, no press or trade union freedom, suppression of political movements and slave-like conditions of work, which I witnessed. Yes, some black Kenyans did turn on others for not rising up against such indignities. But many of those who were killed were local chiefs and their supporters, who had co-operated with hugely rich white farmers. However, the revenge killings by the colonial authorities were totally disproportionate – with bombing raids, burning of villages and the forced movement of thousands of families onto poorer land, in the name of “protection”. Very few white people were killed by Africans.
But it wasn’t just the black people who suffered. I remember telling my company commander that a young soldier whose medical records showed he was only fit for clerical work should not go on a military exercise. I was laughed at. He was forced to go. After three hours’ steep climb through jungle, he died in my arms, probably from a heart attack. Because I remonstrated, I was ordered to take a donkey and carry his body, which kept slipping off, for nearly a week to deposit him at HQ on the other side of the Aberdare mountains. His mother was told he was a hero who’d died on active service.
I was sickened by my experiences. I disobeyed orders and was court-martialled and dismissed from the service. I actually thought I was going to be shot. Stripped of my uniform, I was told to make my own way home. Then I wrote to Bessie Braddock, the Labour MP, and was put back in my uniform to fly home in a RAF plane. After campaigning around the country for Kenyan independence, I received new call-up papers, because I had not finished my national service. I then decided to stand trial and become the first British man allowed to be registered as a conscientious objector against colonial warfare. History has proved me right. With these expressions of “regret” by our foreign secretary, I now feel vindicated for being pilloried as a “conchie”.
David Larder
Retford, Nottinghamshire

Dani Dayan of the Yesha Council attempts to recruit President Jimmy Carter to the cause of a restored “Judea and Samaria” (We’re on solid moral ground, 8 June) on the strength of his being, in 2009, favourably “shocked … by the reality on the ground” of the West Bank Jewish settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, and of his personally rejecting the idea of its ever becoming part of “a Palestinian territory”.
In his Trip Report of 17 June, Carter in fact writes: “At Kerev Foundation, Yossi Beilin explained the status of the Geneva Initiative annexes (basic proposals unchanged), and then we drove to the Gush Etzion settlement south of Jerusalem. This is one of the settlements that, under the Geneva Initiative, would be within the 2% of Palestine to be swapped to Israel”. Carter, in short, merely cites a proposal incorporated in the 2003 accord (with Dr Beilin as a signatory) and its supplementary annexes of 2009 – Gush Etzion being a special case, its Jewish character dating back to the last years of the British Mandate.
Failing to offer that necessary context, Dayan also omits to mention how, watching a Netanyahu speech later in the same day, Carter finds himself “appalled by his introduction of numerous obstacles to peace, some of them insurmountable” – no sharing of Jerusalem, no settlement freeze, Palestine demilitarisation and open airspace, and the removal of Hamas.
But if the ex-president really has become, in Dayan’s words, a “notable exception” to the allegedly ignorant denizens of “the international diplomatic high echelons” and their opposition to the continuing occupation of the West Bank, presumably we can await a radically revised version of his 2006 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid?
William Mathew
Norwich
•  Dani Dayan’s article turns logic on its head and is an example of the old technique of hoping that if you say something often enough, in this case “solid moral ground” (five times) it will be believed. The settlements are a blatant – and under international law illegal – occupation of land belonging to someone else. Apparently, according to Dayan, the fact that over half a million live there makes them legal. Apparently looking into the eyes and faces of settlers would make the settlements legal.
Apparently the right of Jews to live in certain places is inalienable because they are cradles of Jewish civilisation. On this argument there would have to be hundreds of population exchanges throughout the world – many of claimants who occupied lands far more recently than Jews occupied Palestine.
Joseph Cocker
Leominster
•  I expect that Jews and non-Jews alike will take issue with the morality of Dani Dayan’s statement that “the right of Jews to live in Shiloh, Hebron or Beth El is inalienable”. However, I am more interested in the last paragraph. What does Mr Dayan have in mind when he says “the time has come to invest in new innovative paths to peace that unite people through acts of mutual respect”?
If he rejects a two-state solution, is he thinking of a new Israeli/Palestinian superstate or some sort of equal federation? By “acts of mutual respect” does he mean that the two peoples would live together in complete equality with all the peoples in the region having unfettered rights to live, work and pray wherever they choose? Perhaps you could give him more space in your paper or in your correspondence columns to elaborate on this. Who knows, we may be on the verge of a breakthrough that Blair and others have “flown over”.
Jeremy Solnick
Walberswick, Suffolk
•  Dani Dayan is typical of Israelis who tell Palestinians why the Jews are justified in occupying the West Bank with far less justification for their claims than the millions of Palestinians whose families, like mine, lived continuously in Palestine for hundreds if not thousands of years before being expelled by Jewish armies in 1948.
Dayan himself was born in Argentina and is proudly secular and has no religious beliefs. But this doesn’t stop him rolling out mytho-religious arguments for occupying the West Bank. Most modern Israelis are, in historical terms, recent immigrants from the west, colonisers who plotted to take over a land whose inhabitants had all the rights of any indigenous population.
Karl Sabbagh
Newbold on Stour, Warwickshire

Another day, another workplace horror (Fire at Chinese slaughterhouse kills 119 after locked gate traps victims, 4 June). Another corporate-designed disaster, aided and abetted by deregulatory, enforcement-slashing, business-friendly governments, kills yet more workers.
The Hazards Campaign is utterly appalled at the death of at least 122 workers at a poultry farm fire in China and the injury of many more. In the 20th anniversary year of the Zhili fire in Shenzhen that killed 88 young workers, and more than a century after the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 in New York, locked fire exits and death-trap factories should be a thing of the past everywhere. Garment factory fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and the Rana Plaza collapse, show that employers and governments have not implemented fire safety and building regulations or failed to enforce them, or both, and that we are going backwards not forward.
This is not a developing-nation phenomenon, it is an industrial safety phenomenon caused by a lack of respect for the lives of workers and a lack of proper regulation, properly enforced. Some may remember the 1991 Imperial Chicken fire in the US, in which 25 died, also behind locked doors. The factory had never been inspected. In the current global deregulatory tide, the fashion is to relax regulation and enforcement, not improve it – so similar disasters are becoming more and not less likely.
Workers in the UK cannot feel safe, as the government dismantles our hard-won health and safety protection net at a breakneck rate, to ensure the lack of regulation and scrutiny that corporate elites crave, here and abroad.
Hilda Palmer
Acting chair, Hazards Campaign

When my friend Colin Sale and I interviewed Tom Sharpe (Obituary, 7 June) for our school magazine in 1980, we experienced neither the ex-colonial type nor the genial old buffer that Stanley Reynolds describes as the “two mask-like personas” that Sharpe developed when “much in demand for interviews and often besieged by fans”. He was gracious, inquiring and entertaining, furnished us with outrageous anecdotes eventually deemed unsuitable for publication, treated us to lunch courtesy of his wife, Nancy, and wasted the better part of his day on us. Learning that I intended to become an ecologist, we discussed at length his recently dug pond, heat pumps and the potential for fish farming, while his advice for Colin was: “Don’t study English, it’ll make you far too critical of your own work.”
While we were indignant about his treatment in South Africa, he seemed almost to shrug it off, and to delight in the opportunity it had given him to rip the piss out of the pompous, the incompetent and illegitimate authority. And the delightful man was right, it’s such great fun!
Simon Aumonier
Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire
•  Tom loved pranks. Once, when he was visiting, my husband told that while I was out of the room, Tom took a naughty delight in peeing out of the drawing room window on to the Michaelmas daisies. He was generous and softhearted. When I was setting up the Bridport community play he made a contribution. One day, seeing me looking glum, he asked what was the matter. I confessed I thought I’d underbudgeted and we were going to make a loss. He went away and came back saying he’d talked with his wife, and they’d like to make a further contribution. In the event there was no loss but money was so tight that instead of returning his cheque I put it towards the next community play in Sherborne without asking Tom. He never complained or mentioned the matter.
Ann Jellicoe
Lyme Regis, Dorset

As current chair of What, an organisation set up in the early 1970s as West Hampstead Action on Traffic to oppose the motorway “box” in London, I could hardly believe that supporters of that doomed enterprise, which would have decimated the inner suburbs, still existed. Steve Smart’s letter (6 June), written from Malvern, at a comfortable distance from London, proves me wrong. His lament that one cannot easily drive freight across London or drive by car is odd. It’s at variance with the way public and freight transport have changed since the 1970s. There have been vast recent improvements, which affect this and other areas, to the orbital London Overground, which is also a freight line; and to the Thameslink cross-London line. These have been a stimulus for regeneration in east London. The judgement (Obituary, 4 June) of the late Andrew Roth (also a West Hampstead resident) on John Gilbert’s decision is one that many London residents would support.
Virginia Berridge
Chair, What

A mischievous comedian of Bea Lillie’s vintage would surely have enjoyed Chas Brewster’s fancifully confused suggestion (Letters, 10 June) that audiences kept applauding every time she spoke on stage when appearing in The Amorous Prawn at the Piccadilly theatre in the late 1960s. Lillie did not appear in The Amorous Prawn – which starred Evelyn Laye at the Saville a decade earlier. Lillie’s last London play was Auntie Mame – not at the Piccadilly but at the Aldephi; not in the late 1960s but in 1958. Is there anyone left alive to confirm Brewster’s assertion that the audience (which and when?) went obstructively wild over Lillie?
Nicholas de Jongh
London
•  It is scarcely surprising that the Berliner Ensemble is reluctant to keep staging Rolf Hochhuth’s The Deputy, performed here as The Representative (Brecht’s Berlin theatre company faces eviction, 10 June). It would easily get into my top 10 list of the most boring plays I ever saw in my life.
Michael Bath
Rochester, Kent
• Aside from the novels, Iain Banks (Obituary, 10 June) must surely be remembered for his letters to the Guardian, particularly as the head of the London magazine Time Out reveals that it has scrapped its letters page (Media, 10 June). No good will come of that.
Keith Flett
London
• I notice that no one comes from anywhere these days; they “hail”, as in Boards of Canada “hailing from rural Scotland” (‘We’ve become a lot more nihilistic’, G2, 7 June; Letters, 10 June).
Copland Smith
Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester
•  So our “cherished photos” panned out at four dads, one grandad, one son and a pic of the Yorkshire Dales (Picture perfect, G2, 10 June). Something to be said about the Page 3 girls after all.
Geraldine Monk
Sheffield
• Would the Nobel committee consider withdrawing the peace award from Barack Obama and honouring Edward Snowden instead (The whistleblower, 10 June)?
Ann Black
Oxford

Independent:

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You quote William Hague as saying law-abiding citizens had “nothing to fear” from intelligence agencies’ activities. Except of course the illegal activities of governments.
On the other hand, as your article on the Tor project demonstrates (10 June), do we really want dark secret corners on the internet beyond the reach of all investigation? Worse still, do we want governments using the dark secret corners for their own illegal and unaccountable activities? 
The answer must be to eliminate secrecy on the internet but establish independent, hardware-based logging of all access to the private data of individuals, so that governments, and others, can be held to account when they abuse it.
Jon Hawksley, London EC1
 
William Hague says law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from GCHQ. The only problem with that statement is that it is not for GCHQ to decide whether or not I’m law-abiding. In a democracy it’s a decision to be made by the courts, based upon legally obtained evidence – not uncorroborated hearsay provided by a foreign government.
Gavin Lewis, Manchester
 
Revelations about US spying on private communications have elicited from William Hague the response that if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear. So why isn’t the same principle applied to lobbying, with all meetings between big business and ministers and MPs minuted and open to public scrutiny?
Michael McCarthy, London W13
 
In regard to the current GCHQ scandal, is the media frightened to mention what activities could be possibly going on inside the walls of the joint GCHQ/NSA station at RAF Menwith Hill?
George D Lewis, Brackley, Northamptonshire
 
Cuts threaten museums and libraries
You rightly draw attention to the challenges facing the Science Museum group and the possible impact on the National Railway Museum (York and Shildon), the Museum of Science and Industry (Manchester) and the National Media Museum (Bradford) (report, 4 June). It is wrong to suggest, however, that this is a form of discrimination against the North. Instead, heritage-based organisations are facing further cuts to their funding.
Our 5,000 members in these organisations will be surprised at the suggestion in your editorial (5 June) that “Britain’s free-of-charge museums could not expect to escape attention”. These organisations have suffered millions of pounds of cuts in the past three years. Substantial activities have been cut in most organisations, including reductions in service in curatorial departments, collection care, learning and education, visitor services and photography. Given the people-based nature of these organisations the reduction in these activities has inevitably fallen on staff – 89 staff within the Science Museum Group nationwide have been made redundant since May 2010.
Consequently, these further cuts are now causing the museums to consider even more drastic measures, such as the introduction of charges or closures.
Prospect agrees that introducing charges is not acceptable but neither is the closure of galleries. The museums and galleries add so much to society, including advancing an understanding of science, technology and the arts. Furthermore, every £1 invested in the arts generates £4 in the economy. We should be looking to increase investment in these valuable organisations, not reducing it.
Alan Leighton, National secretary, Prospect, Union for Professionals, London SE1
 
The Prime Minister has announced that up to a quarter of a billion pounds in grants and loans will be made available for villages, local estates or community groups to buy assets and run them as new social enterprises – including public libraries – “especially if they are under threat of closure from local government funding cuts” (report, 6 June). 
Evidently, the statutory library service is to be bundled in with the discretionary services, like swimming pools. This is in spite of the UK economy losing approximately £81bn per year from the nation’s illiteracy, as well as concerns that lack of access to a comprehensive network of libraries is contributing to a widening digital divide.  
Let us not be bamboozled into believing that Mr Cameron is offering largesse to our communities here. His government is giving with one hand, while taking away with the other.
Shirley Burnham, Swindon,  Wiltshire
 
A model housing development
Michael W Cook’s suggestion (Letters, 30 May) that local authorities should buy housing land and sell it on for self-build development reminds me of another possible way forward.
The small town where I live saw rapid expansion in the later 19th century, but our first “developer” in the modern sense built no houses at all; instead he bought a large parcel of land, laid out four parallel roads on it, and then sold individual plots, or small batches of plots, to individual builders, who developed them under covenant. The covenant was important as it specified what type of house should be built in each road, and whether for example it should have a big front garden, a small one, or none at all.
There were no planning laws or building regulations, but this tight control meant that though there was a pleasant variety in the appearance of individual dwellings, or terraces, they cohered well stylistically and in terms of building materials, which were local.
It helped that the developer was also general manager of the local building society – and it was local, catering for a population in local towns and villages of about 50,000. Mortgages could be offered on the basis often of personal knowledge of applicants and their standing. Few properties ever needed to be repossessed.
These roads have never “gone down” or “gone up” in the world. Their structures remain as sound as when they were built. Their adaptable internal spaces have been updated where necessary, and they have aged gracefully. Whatever their size, they are still regarded as premium properties locally.
Perhaps this is a model of development that could be revived today.
Arthur Percival, Faversham, Kent
 
Code’s verdict on lane-hoggers
I question Jonathan Brown’s assertion (6 June) that “motorway driving does not yet feature as part of the driving test”.
Is not knowledge of the Highway Code an integral feature of the driving test?
Even my 1978 version has a whole section devoted to motorway driving and specifically: “Lane discipline – On a three-lane carriageway the normal ‘keep to the left’ rule still applies. You may, however, stay in the middle lane when there are slower vehicles in the left-hand lane, but you should return to the left-hand lane when you have passed them. The right-hand lane is for overtaking only. If you use it, move back to the middle lane and then into the left-hand lane as soon as you can, but without cutting in.”
Graham Feakins, London SE24
 
Rule 160 of the Highway Code states:
“Keep to the left unless road signs and markings indicate otherwise. The exceptions are when you want to overtake, turn right or pass parked vehicles or pedestrians in the road.” What could be clearer?
Hogging the middle lane is simply bad driving as it can contribute to congestion, it forces good drivers who are obeying the Highway Code to cross two carriageways to overtake and it encourages dangerous undertaking manoeuvres.
Ian Quayle, Fownhope,  Herefordshire
 
There are no such things as the slow lane, the fast lane, the middle lane or the lorry lane on the motorway (Letters, 7 June).
There are the inside lane and the overtaking lanes. The Highway Code guidance is that you travel in the inside lane and overtake in the overtaking lanes. Simple.
Chris Harding, Parkstone,  Dorset
 
No windfarm in our back yard
Ed Davey (letter, 7 June) makes an admirable defence of government energy policy and highlights the need for certainty to attract investment. It’s just a shame his enthusiasm is not shared by his colleagues in the Cabinet.
The latest planning guidance, which gives a much greater role to local communities, in effect creates a veto that means future wind-farm development in England will come to a standstill. It’s difficult to see how that helps the UK meet its renewables targets. Will this new enthusiasm for empowering local communities extend to other planning decisions of similar national importance, such as HS2?
David Wallism Cirencester, Gloucestershire
 
Treasury cat’s bid for freedom
Poor Freya (“Meet Freya, the roving tabby of the Treasury” 8 June). Female cats do not normally roam, but stay within a small territory. Perhaps Freya is looking for a home more suited to her tastes. If so, she must be spitting and swearing every time well-meaning people return her to Downing Street.
And cats are politically extremely independent, nor are they impressed by wealth. If I were a cat, I wouldn’t want to share a home with George Osborne.
Lesley Docksey, Buckland Newton, Dorset
 
Back to polys, and back to work
Giving polytechnics the green light to turn into universities damaged our education system (“Think-tank demands the return of polytechnics”, 10 June). We have created a society in which everyone wants a university education and many have an unrealistic perception that a degree is the only route into a career.
The return of the polytechnic will raise awareness of how high-quality vocational programmes offer valuable alternatives, giving people more choice.
Suzie Webb, Director of Education, Association of Accounting Technicians, London EC1
Capital notion
I can’t see Birmingham airport expanding (report, 10 June), with our country being so London-centric. Why not promise to call the expanded airport London Birmingham, this could fool the investors to back it.
Kartar Uppal, West Bromwich, West Midlands

Times:

With our long coastline and tidal rivers, the UK is well placed to benefit from investment in hydro power
Sir, Gaynor Hartnell (letter, June 8) of the Renewable Energy Association may well be right that 68 per cent of the British public support wind farms. The question is, is this well informed public opinion? I doubt that the 68 per cent realise that wind energy is intermittent and generates only over a limited range of wind speeds. Because of the high visibility of such generators they confer a comfort factor to the public that something is being done about global warming.
However, the uplands of the UK have considerable amounts of hydro power which is reliable and controllable. The difficulty with this energy source is the current high cost of connection to the electricity network from many of these regions. This is a direct consequence of the structure of the electricity market. The Government’s new proposals on wind farms are to be welcomed in the expectation that it may lead to a policy review that would enable our hydro resources to be exploited.
Stewart Hill
Director, Assynt Foundation
Lochinver, Highland
Sir, Whether or not wind farms are a blot on the landscape, what is certain is that they are a most cost-inefficient means of producing electricity.
Apart from their unreliability, it does not take a scientist to compare the cost per unit when wind-generated with the cost per unit from hydro-generated power. Water is 1,000 times more dense than air, so can generate 1,000 times more energy per flow than does air.
With our long coastline and tidal rivers, the UK is well placed to benefit from investment in hydro power.
Professor R. G. Austin
Bracknell, Berks
Sir, Most of the 68 per cent who support them do not live near wind farms and are never likely to. If they did, many of them may join the 11 per cent who actively question wind energy and complain about its effect on the countryside and on residential amenity in so many ways, including for some sleepless nights from noise. The may also, like the 11 per cent, start to question more deeply the effect of wind energy on reducing our commitment to fossil fuels because of its intermittent nature. Then the 68 per cent may start to see why the anger has arisen about the way wind farms have been dealt with in the planning system up to now and appreciate why the 11 per cent hope that the new planning rules will bring about a real change.
Richard Cowen
Old Quarrington, Co Durham
Sir, The 68 per cent public support for onshore wind cited by the Renewable Energy Association has to be seen against the latest World Bank estimate that today 90 per cent of the UK population are urban dwellers. Whereas they are largely unaffected by wind turbines, the rural minority can hardly be blamed for their vociferous objections.
Most surveys depend on the questions put. While a large majority may favour renewable energy in principle, those facing the prospect of having to live close to a wind farm or single turbine are likely to respond very differently. For them the impact can be devastating. By its new policy of giving communities a greater say over the siting of these developments, the Government seems to recognise the need to ensure that those people are entitled to receive fair compensation. Until now this is something that the industry has refused to provide.
Jeremy Varcoe
Cornwall Protect
Wadebridge, Cornwall

Budget constaints mean that pproblems with council care for the elderly is one of the key causes of pressure on the emergency services
Sir, The British Red Cross agrees with the King’s Fund (report, June 4) that problems with council care for the elderly is one of the key causes of pressure on emergency services. We provided support to 50,000 people in the UK last year, helping them to live independently at home. We support vulnerable people to stay independent at home who would otherwise call 999, or help them to resettle at home, reducing pressure on hospital beds. But local councils are under severe budget constraints and all too often it is these preventive care and support services that are cut.
We are calling for the new Care Bill to ensure that everyone in need receives an offer of care and support, before they reach crisis point. This also needs to be properly funded through this month’s Spending Review.
Our work consistently shows us how a little practical support and social interaction can boost people’s resilience and wellbeing. Without these vital services vulnerable people will reach crisis point sooner, pushing them to require more costly acute care within the NHS.
Joe Farrington-Douglas
Head of public policy, British Red Cross
Sir, All the fretting about waiting times in A&E always raises a wry smile. Where my charity works in a remote part of Kenya there is no A&E. Anyone needing medical treatment has to walk sometimes hours to the nearest hospital. And when they get there, they have to pay for treatment.
David Baldwin
Glastonbury, Somerset

‘At a time when the use of illegal drugs in the UK is in decline we should be wary of those who claim that existing drug laws have failed’
Sir. An MP and chair of a Parliamentary Committee, a Green MP and others, join forces to call for support of “the global effort towards an alternative drug strategy” (letters, June 6).
Moves towards cannabis legalisation in some states of the US are now much in evidence with “Big Marijuana” following the example of “Big Tobacco” in promoting its favoured products. There are now more medical marijuana outlets in some parts of the US than Starbucks cafés with cannabis-laced soft drinks and medical marijuana vending machines already much in evidence. Is this the alternative drug strategy that the signatories to the Times letter are seeking to promote?
There are grave dangers for humanity here. We believe there is enough scope within the existing international drug conventions for countries to tackle their own drug problem and meet the needs for co-ordinated international regulation. We need a greater focus on abstinence-focused treatment, prevention, and robust enforcement and we need to strengthen, not weaken, the principle of shared responsibility between nations in how they are tackling their drug problem.
At a time when the use of illegal drugs in the UK is in decline we should be wary of those who claim that existing drug laws have failed. It is hard to imagine that any nations’ interests could be served by such a development.
Patrick J. Kennedy, Co-founder Project SAM; Antonio Maria Costa, Former Head United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; Kevin Sabet, Co-founder, Project SAM; Stig Eric Sorheim, President, Europe Against Drugs; Kathy Gyngell, Centre for Policy Studies; Neil McKeganey, Centre for Drug Misuse Research

Over a 30-year career one hospital consultant will train four new ones, but this would lead to unsustainable growth in numbers
Sir, Any comments on the adequacy of medical school numbers (letter, June 10) should take account of the peculiar medical workforce issues of the NHS. A specialty registrar will spend 5-7 years in training in a consultant-led team. This means that over a 30-year career one consultant will train four new consultants. But this implies an unsustainable growth in consultant numbers.
In other professions, a balance is restored through the departure of many lawyers and accountants into jobs outside the main training firms. But with the NHS being a near monopoly there are fewer opportunities to move out. The numbers can only be balanced by training enough doctors to replace retiring consultants and GPs and bringing migrants who train but do not stay for the career posts. Hence the puzzle of too few and too many trainees at the same time.
Peter West
London SW20

After the end of the Second World War, it was quite common for Servicemen to find new careers in grammar schools and universities
Sir, In the late 1940s there was an influx of ex-Servicemen into the universities, who often became teachers, especially in grammar schools, which had struggled to find staff during the war (report, June 7; letter, June 10). Alongside the men from the Services were those like myself, who went up straight from school, doing National Service later. A disadvantage for us was that women students preferred the older men with the glamorous past. Thankfully my future wife thought I must be former Service since with all the affectation of callow youth I smoked a pipe.
Dr J. P. Toomey
Stourport on Severn, Worcs

Telegraph:

SIR – Dogs and their owners have a rather raw deal compared with the freedom afforded to cats and their owners.
Cats are conservatively estimated to kill 55 million songbirds a year, and are free to foul in strangers’ gardens. Were dogs to behave in such a way, their owners would be liable for prosecution. Immune from any form of punishment, cat owners appear to abdicate responsibility for their felines.
They should be made to exercise greater control over their anti-social pets.
Andrew Copeman
London SW18

SIR – As a former infantry officer, and now a deputy headmaster of St John’s School in Leatherhead, Surrey, I believe that there are many skills acquired in the military that are transferable to, and compatible with, teaching (report, June 7).
What makes a good teacher? An excellent role model, someone who leads by example, shows great integrity, communicates clearly, is fair and consistent and knows how to get the best out of people while establishing a sense of common purpose and unity. In short, exactly the same qualities that are so important to the Army and its success.
As an infantry commander, I was always struck by how so many of my young soldiers, the majority of whom had not done well at school, responded in the military environment. What I witnessed, which had a large part to play in my decision to become a teacher, was how many of them excelled when they were well looked after, treated with respect and trusted with responsibility. That was a priceless lesson and as applicable to a school as to any other organisation.
Of course, not every soldier will be a good teacher, but it is misguided not to recognise the potential merits of the Troops to Teachers scheme.
Mark Mortimer
Leatherhead, Surrey
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10 Jun 2013
SIR – As a military education and training officer, I experienced several weeks of teaching pupils in a large comprehensive school in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, as part of my training. Servicemen, who are considering career teaching in our state school system after leaving the Armed Forces, should approach this career with caution. The transition will be a daunting and a challenging one.
Instructing a small class of motivated and well-disciplined Service personnel requires many skills and qualities. However, creating a satisfactory learning environment with 30-plus children of varying levels of academic interest, social background and self discipline, is a different story. New skills will need to be acquired, and patience tested.
However, many of our Servicemen are resourceful, multi-talented and highly motivated. They will, no doubt, become valuable members of staff in our schools, both in, and out, of the classroom.
Sqn Ldr G A Walsh RAF (Rtd)
Sleaford, Lincolnshire
SIR – It costs a prospective teacher around £40,000 to complete a degree course and teacher training. How can the same government that has imposed crippling costs on students and a strict requirement of passing qualified teacher status tests, now propose to allow former Servicemen to teach our children without meeting their own training and academic requirements?
These proposals must be resisted by the qualified professionals who prepare our children for the future.
Phil Willcock
Paphos, Cyprus
Mau Mau payment
SIR – Thank you, Tim Stanley, for your sane and balanced article (“The guilt-ridden British must not rewrite the history of the Mau Mau”, Comment, June 7).
I was born in Kenya, the daughter of a white farmer, who had gone to Africa hoping to produce food for a post world-war world. Very little is said these days of the vile nature of the blood oaths that the Mau Mau demanded of their own people, or of the atrocities carried out by them on their fellow Africans. It is hard to believe that anyone would actually boast of being Mau Mau.
My father’s stockman at the time of the uprising was visiting relatives. At considerable risk to himself and his family he travelled home to my father’s farm, in time to warn us of an imminent attack. We owe our lives to this brave man. Is this the action of someone who was the victim of our much maligned “imperialism”?
Sarah Maxwell-Wood
Banbury, Oxfordshire
SIR – I was a nursing sister in Nairobi towards the end of the Mau Mau uprising.
I looked after a very traumatised woman whose only child had been taken by the Mau Mau and beheaded. I knew of around 120 loyal Kikuyu who were hacked or burnt to death during the Lari massacre, and an elderly couple near where we farmed who were buried alive. Many Kikuyu Christians who refused to renounce their faith were murdered.
There is already a statue honouring a Mau Mau guerilla leader in Nairobi. Do we really need to compensate these people? Is an apology not sufficient?
Joan Carles
Oxford
Homework at school
SIR – I applaud the move by Jane Austen College in Norwich to ban homework (report, June 5). The word “homework” has long been a misnomer for children at many good prep schools, including Bilton Grange, where I am headmaster.
We know that children respond to clear boundaries, and so we take the approach that school is for work, and home is for family, so all homework is done in school.
Teachers should be overseeing prep rather than parents. In turn, freed from the shackles of acting as teacher, families can enjoy time together, reaping the many benefits this brings.
Peter Kirk
Rugby, Warwickshire
Reporting bad news
SIR – Charles Moore (Comment, June 8) wonders why there isn’t more good news in newspapers and television bulletins. He ignores a basic principle taught to me as a trainee reporter: “News is something someone, somewhere wants kept out of the papers; all the rest is just free advertising.”
The Daily Telegraph has done rather well sticking to that lately. Ask any MP.
Philip Moger
East Preston, West Sussex
Not music to our ears
SIR – I am told that I am a philistine for suggesting that Benjamin Britten’s music is anything other than brilliant, but has anyone ever left a concert whistling a tune of his? His work is usually a cacophony.
With the current centenary celebrations, we are subjected to some of his more obscure offerings, which are even worse than the well-known ones. At least with modern art, the viewer can walk away. Once inside the concert hall, the listener is trapped for a couple of hours.
Peter Daggett
Stafford
Coping with depression
SIR – I share the unease expressed by Tim Lott (Features, June 7) that public self-identification with bipolar disorder can be misleading, but equally the term depression is often unhelpful.
The causes of major depressive episodes are wide-ranging, often inter-related, and sometimes ferociously resistant to treatment, such that some sufferers will be led to commit suicide. This is indicative of the all-consuming, destructive nature of the illness, and, contrary to Stephen Fry’s assertion, may ultimately have a cause that can be rationally articulated.
Lack of public knowledge surrounding such torment, the social stigma attached to it, and the shortage of funding are all matters of grave concern.
Philip March
Croydon, Surrey
Sale of heritage stamps
SIR – The response by Adrian Steel, Director of the British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) (Letters, May 17), to concerns over the museum’s imminent sales at Sotheby’s of important philatelic archival material avoids the issues. Why are two auctions required, with the first alone estimated to raise over £5 million, when only £2 million is needed to make up the shortfall for the BPMA’s new building?
It is untrue that the sale comprises only duplicate material, as manuscript markings are unique, and there are shade and paper varieties for important future research. Museums need duplicates, for exchange and exhibiting purposes.
Has the BPMA followed all its charity trust regulations and standards, and the guiding principles applying to museum
deaccessioning? As a postal historian friend of the BPMA, I have not seen any evidence of fund-raising events being organised to save our national heritage.
The only responsible option is to suspend the auctions, pending a full public inquiry that involves key collectors and trade professionals. This week, Matthew Offord MP, is tabling a written question on this critical subject in the House.
Gavin Littaur
London NW4
Polished room service
SIR – The demise of room service (Letters, June 6) has deprived youngsters of one of the joys of staying in a hotel: the swapping of shoes put outside bedroom doors overnight for polishing.
David Edwards
White Roding, Essex
Police car presence improves motorway driving
SIR – As a former police traffic officer, I regularly patrolled the M40 and M25, (“Motorway driving”, Letters, June 7). Part of our work was to try to educate the motoring public by friendly advice; the mere presence of a marked police vehicle made drivers consider their driving manner.
Sadly, because of budget restraints, most police forces now put little emphasis on providing dedicated motorway patrols. The Highway Agency traffic officers have no enforcement powers, and the chances of being stopped by the police on the motorway are remote.
Perhaps the message “Don’t hog the middle lane or use your phone” on the overhead gantries might nudge some motorists into behaving.
Michael Carpenter
Wooburn Moor, Buckinghamshire
SIR – Derek Brumhead (Letters, June 6) supports overtaking on both sides of the motorway, as is allowed in America.
Although I have lived here for 50 years, I am American, and have often visited friends and family there, usually driving 1,500 miles or more between Maine and Maryland. I was appalled when they made overtaking on both sides legal.
Drivers in America used to be much better behaved than those here. Now the opposite is true. I have often seen cars there weaving across three lanes and back again in heavy traffic, just to gain a slight advantage. And it can be terrifying to find huge trucks overtaking you on either side.
If you can only overtake on one side, at least you can be sure of moving over safely. I hope this change will never happen here.
Lucretia Denny
Liskeard, Cornwall
SIR – David Whitaker (Letters, June 6) says that he drives at “exactly 70mph” in the middle lane of the motorway.
Constructional regulation prohibits speedometers from indicating a lower speed than the car is travelling and to avoid any possibility of this, they invariably read fast. His speedometer may well say 70mph, but his actual speed is likely to be as low as 63mph. Small wonder everybody behind him is so frustrated.
Marcus Dain
Fyfield, Essex

Irish Times:

Sir, – Opponents of Seanad abolition argue that the Seanad is necessary and should be reformed instead. A gullible voter might believe that voting No will lead to this reform. But where is the guarantee that such promised reform will materialise in the event of a No vote?
The Irish electorate has been promised Seanad reform many times before. We even had a referendum on it. In 1979, the Irish people by 92 per cent approved the Seventh Amendment which allowed the university franchise to be expanded to include other third-level institutions. In the 34 years since then, has the university franchise been expanded?
There have been numerous reports on Seanad reform. The most recent in 2004 made many suggestions, including that half the Seanad should be directly elected by the people. Has this suggestion been implemented yet?
If, after three decades, the political establishment won’t even expand the university franchise, what realistic hope is there for more radical reform?
The danger of voting No is that reform may not happen and the Seanad continues on in its current form. This autumn, I will have my first vote on the Seanad. I sincerely hope, with your assistance, that it will also be my last. – Yours, etc,
JASON FITZHARRIS,
Rivervalley,
Swords, Co Dublin.
Sir, – The main reason a Senate of 60 members was established in the first place in negotiations with Griffith and Collins in 1922 was to protect the interests of the small unionist/Protestant minority in the Free State.
A second chamber was the norm at the time in the British Commonwealth, to which the Free State was required to belong. Viewed as elitist, it was abolished and replaced by the present Seanad Éireann under the 1937 Constitution.
Forty-three of its members are elected after very competitive contests by the people whom the people elect, eg city and county councillors, incoming TDs and outgoing Senators. It is a form of indirect democracy very similar to the French system, which ensures there is no conflict of legitimacy between the two chambers.
The only elite element is that of the university seats: the electorate for which should at least have been broadened out long ago, since the 1979 referendum, to include all third-level institutions. Nevertheless, one of the Seanad’s more important functions through the mid-20th century continued to be to give a voice to the minority, represented for instance by Professor WB Stanford for 25 years, at a time when majority political and religious opinion was still fairly monolithic. He also defended the State from unfair political criticism from unionist co-religionists in Northern Ireland. Historically, the Seanad will be seen to have played a significant role since in the opening up of Irish society.

   
A chara, – Stephen Neill (Rite and Reason, June 4th) has done a great service to our country in pointing out the “increasingly dysfunctional and polarising” nature of the present abortion debate. On the previous day, and from an entirely different perspective, Cora Sherlock, spokeswoman for the Pro Life Campaign, in her article, “Coalition turning deaf ear to opponents of legislation” wrote, “If you think we’re having a debate on abortion at the moment, I’m afraid you’re mistaken”. But Sherlock makes clear that she wants a one-sided debate!
Has the time come to debate the debate?
The present ping-pong nature of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” is, for me, souless. In presenting us with a a purely static moral system, both of these polarised camps are dealing in mechanical, impersonal, selective absolutes that are rigid, external, black and white. One side’s Yes is the other side’s predictable No. There is no growth or development possible. As the months go by, it gets so boring!
We who are Christians claim to be co-creators with God and Christ-bearers, as Canon Neill reminds us. That, to me, means that we struggle to live, moment by moment, by love and compassion for all humanity. Muslims, Buddhists and other religions follow a similar vision, expressed differently.
As a Christian, I am both “pro-life” and “pro-choice”. In this middle ground I can both appreciate and withdraw from aspects of both camps. I want the great gift of life respected from the moment of conception to death: but where that involves difficult decisions, I want responsible choice to be the hallmark of respect for life. I want the heart-rending decisions of women in child-birth to be respected and supported.
Finally, I would love to see the abortion debate move to this middle ground and I thank Canon Neill for his inspiring contribution. – Is mise,
IRENE Ní MHÁILLE,
Seapoint Avenue,

Sir, – As a family friend of one of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s sons I was horrified at the the sight of gardaí­ in full riot gear at the funeral of a man who was grandfather to some very young children who would have been at the funeral (Home News, June 10th).
Can the spend on what looked to be an unnecessary show of force be justified, given the much talked of need to economise in the Garda Síochána? Or is this just another example of the State- sponsored bullying that has become all too familiar in the north west (Belmullet and Donegal). – Yours, etc,
SARAH GLENNANE,
Oakland Crescent,
Rathgar,
Dublin 6.
Sir, – I was at Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s funeral ceremony at the Sacred Heart Church in Roscommon. I was outside during the service and was perturbed by the unnecessary overmanned Garda presence. They were all shapes, sizes and sexes, some in uniform, some in civilian clothes, some with bullet-proof vests and guns and others with small video cameras walking around pointedly recording everybody in attendance. There was even a spotter plane circling in the distance! As Mr Ó Brádaigh was of a senior age, quite a number of the mourners were old-age pensioners.
I cannot call them gardaí any more; they were more like old- style RUC. Their presence and demeanour at the church and graveyard were the only reason there was any trouble. The distress to the Ó Brádaigh family and friends by this over-the-top policing was visible and I am tempted to apply the despised name of “blueshirts” to these permanent employees of our State and Republic.
It was a depressing sight and bordered on the fascist! – Yours, etc,
K NOLAN,
Caldragh,
Carrick-on-Shannon,

Sir, – Billy Hawkes’s comment that the gardaí have significant powers to access data regarding citizens’ use of the Internet is correct, but he is not comparing like with like (Breaking News, June 10th).
The significant difference between Ireland and the US is that in Ireland a strict judicial process is required for the Garda Síochána to legally gain access. A court or ministerial order is required.
In the US there is no judicial oversight. The “Patriot Act” allows US law enforcement agencies to self-regulate. It is well-known that this system has been very widely abused.
US companies in Ireland are obliged to comply with the Patriot Act even if this means that they may be breaking data protection law in Ireland or Europe.
Simple fact: data handled by US companies worldwide can be accessed by US government agencies at their discretion. It is important Irish organisations ensure that their employees are educated and informed with respect to the implications of this because they are significant.
Many of the inmates of Guantánamo found themselves there as a consequence of this and many of them have still not been even tried, let alone found guilty. – Yours, etc,
Dr ROBERT STRUNZ,

   
Sir, – Cormac O’Raifeartaigh (Life Science, May 30th) is in serious error in claiming that greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating because he only cites figures for one of the greenhouse gases, CO2.
However, when the other greenhouse gases are included the warming effect of all the gases has actually decelerated since 1990!
This is because the other greenhouse gases – mainly CFCs and methane – have not been increasing as fast since 1990 as they did in the period 1960-1990.
Of course this slower rate of increase in the warming effect since 1990 does not mean that we can ignore climate change, but it may give us more time to innovate our way out of the problem. – Yours, etc,
TONY CAREY,
Glencree Road,

Sir, – Frank McNally’s highlighting of the upcoming Flann O’Brien symposium in Rome and the first biennial award for O’Brien Scholarship – the Fahrt Memorial Prize (An Irishman’s Diary, June 6th) brings to mind another famous Irish satirist.
In 1721, Jonathan Swift wrote “The Benefit of Farting” in which he suggested, among other things, that we could judge the character of a person through the “noxious humours of their bowels”.
It’s certainly a novel idea and might also be applied to politicians and their utterances, but much as I admire Swift, regrettably I guess that listening to hot air is more preferable than inhaling it!
His own opinion on politicians wasn’t much higher, as he indicated in Gulliver’s Travels: “Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together”.
Given the amount of hot air that will undoubtedly be expelled in praise of another Irish writer on Sunday June 16th, spare a thought for the same Jonathan Swift who, 300 years ago this coming week, ascended to the Deanery of St Patrick’s Cathedral on June 13th, 1713. – Yours, etc,
MARK LAWLER,

Irish Independent:
* The forthcoming referendum on the abolition of the Seanad is a good illustration of the type of insidious politics we have to deal with in Ireland nowadays.
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There is no doubt whatsoever that the Seanad is in dire need of reform – even senators admit as much.
Yet the Government, in its determination to centralise power in the Dail, is refusing to consider reforming the upper house.
The proposal being put to the people is a stark choice between abolishing the Seanad altogether, or retaining it in its current form.
I suspect this is a very deliberate attempt on the Government’s behalf to take advantage of the public disillusionment with the Seanad in order to increase support for the abolition amendment.
In the absence of a true democratic choice with regard to the future of the Seanad, I believe we should opt for the safest course of action and reject its abolition.
Especially when one considers the proposal that was mooted briefly last week, whereby a group of ‘experts’ – handpicked by the Government – would effectively replace the Seanad.
Even though that proposal appears to have been abandoned, the fact that it was even discussed is a disturbing development.
Such centralisation of legislative and executive power in an ever-decreasing number of individuals is a serious threat to healthy democracy. Retaining the Seanad is important for democracy in the State.
Once we have ensured its existence, it must then be reformed to make it fit for purpose.
Simon O’Connor
Crumlin, Dublin 12
PERFECT SMILE
* Under a blue sky, with the sun on my back, while walking through the streets of the capital this weekend, I witnessed a strange phenomenon.
It came about through a strange configuration of muscles in a beautiful woman’s face. It was transformational, something akin to what we once called a smile. Alas, it has been so long since I have seen such a positive display of emotional contentment I could not be sure.
This is post-crash Ireland after all.
I wonder might any of your readers be in a position to confirm similar sightings?
Ed Toal
Monkstown, Co Dublin
DAIL REFORM THE PRIORITY
* Only two reasons have been given by recent contributors for retaining the Senate: it provides a platform for influential public voices and future leaders; and we also need it to contain a “dysfunctional Dail” and a “discredited political system”.
If it is abolished, then Dail reform becomes a “vital priority”, with special attention to the disconnection between the Executive and Parliament.
Realistically, Dail reform should precede the Senate referendum. The final solution must include electoral reform. Conforming to the constitutional requirement to elect one TD per 30,000 people has turned reform into superficial, regressive patchwork.
Multi-seat constituencies – by crossing local authority boundaries – downgrade local government. Ministers should not be burdened by local duties or be appointed on the basis of local voting success rather than suitability. Many suitable candidates – including some senators – are deterred from contesting.
A properly reformed Dail could lead to a new definition of the purpose, function and structure of the Senate, as an alternative to its abolition. Reform remains within the gift of career politicians. We may have to ask them to take back and don the green jerseys they gave us in 2008 and 2010.
Tom Martin
Celbridge, Co Kildare.
TAXING TIMES
* I have just taxed my car for three months.
In a time of huge financial difficulty for Irish people, our Government is creaming profits from folk like me who can’t afford to pay for 12 months. It costs me €90 extra a year to pay quarterly. There is no justification for this since I logged in and did the administrative work myself.
When I printed the payment page to place on my dashboard until the disc arrived, the page was set up to print over two pages. I know how to print only the page that I want but my mother, for example, wouldn’t know how to do this.
It is inconceivable at a time when austerity and eco-friendly are the buzzwords that every person who taxes their car should print two pages instead of one. The public system is still so out of touch with the needs of the ordinary citizen. It is incredible.
Sarah Nic Lochlainn
Ardee, Co Louth
THE LIONS STILL BITE
* A recent letter writer observed that the words of Aesop, from ancient Greece, are still relevant today. May I add that ancient Rome still applies – the senators are in revolt and the lions still bite!
Sean Kelly
Tramore, Waterford
RETHINKING THE CRISIS
* A first indicator of hope appears on the horizon as the IMF and European Commission squabble about action taken on the Greek collapse. Each questions the other’s diagnosis and remedial action of the problem and both are actually correct. The diagnosis was wrong then and is still wrong, and perhaps logical thinking is at last about to break out.
The economic problems of the 21st century are basically not financial at all. They derive from a transformation of production capacity that is unprecedented and unrecognised.
There is now an ability to produce more than the world can consume, which is causing chaos in markets, investment, banking, employment, growth and practically every aspect of economics.
Technology has taken economic activity to a new place, where sterile economic policies of a bygone age are futile, counterproductive and no longer fit for purpose.
Employment will not be restored until it is understood that work is diminishing as every hour passes and jobs must be reconsidered as a means of distributing wealth rather than creating it.
Advancing technology can and will produce more wealth; indeed more of everything than the world needs or can consume.
It must be the task of the IMF and the European Commission to devise methods of administering such phenomenal and unprecedented technological success for the benefit of humanity. Instead they treat the crisis as financial failure because their obsolete philosophy is unable to keep pace with the phenomenal technological advances. Perhaps the developing spat between two very powerful but misguided heavyweights of world administration will force them to rethink their fundamental misjudgments and begin proper administration of the best economic time there ever was for the benefit of all.
Padraic Neary
Tubbercurry, Co Sligo
COST OF GREEN SHOOTS
* I am curious as to whether I am the only person who is cutting back entirely all the hedging/greenery that I am (was) fortunate enough to have growing in my garden? The reason that I am doing so is that the cost of disposing of the off-shoots when cutting back has become too expensive, with the ‘green bins’ being weighed by the waste management companies.
I felt particularly bad yesterday when I discovered an empty bird’s nest in the Butterfly bush I totally cut down – but I can no longer afford to have the privilege of growing such wonderful greenery. Next job: concreting over the grass.
Name and address with editor
Irish Independent

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