Joan home

16 June 2013 Joan at home

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, oh dear oh dear.
Troutbridge has been sent off to test a new secret shell, an indestructible shell. Fired at the target ship it goes straight through the other side and the flag ship, and an air craft carrier and all the other ships in the fleet and ends up in Captain Povey’s office. Priceless.
Another quiet day Sandy rings Joan is going home today all will be well I hope.
We watch The Pallaisers Bye bye Mr Finn MP Hello again Mr Finn, the old duke dies.
Mary wins at scrabble but she gets under 400 perhaps I can have my revenge tomorrow.


Dorothea Wight
Dorothea Wight, who has died aged 68, was an artist and founder of Studio Prints, Kentish Town, the first workshop in London to produce editions of intaglio artists’ prints; over 40 years she worked with many of the most important names in British art.

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Dorothea Wight at work 
6:02PM BST 14 Jun 2013
Dorothea Wight first established her studio as a workshop for plate making and editioning etchings in 1968, shortly after leaving art school, in a damp basement of a building awaiting demolition in Modbury Road, Chalk Farm. In 1972 the studio moved to new premises in Queen’s Crescent, into a building which had been the first branch of Sainsbury’s, where she installed three presses and other equipment. The studio was opened by Lord Sainsbury, and from the mid 1970s Dorothea Wight ran it with Marc Balakjian, the Armenian-born artist who became her husband in 1977.
Dorothea and her husband worked with more than 100 artists, while also making a name for themselves as artists in their own right. Lucian Freud made 47 of his later etchings at Studio Prints and other clients included Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Ron Kitaj, Julian Trevelyan, Norman Ackroyd, Stephen Conroy, Ken Kiff, Celia Paul, Paula Rego and William Tillyer.
Celia Paul has recalled that Dorothea Wight “had a way of wiping a plate to create a glowing effect, and was particularly good at catching the quality of light”. To prepare a plate for one of Celia Paul’s soft-ground etchings, she would immerse it in very dilute acid, checking its progress every quarter of an hour; the whole process might take four days. Towards the end of her career, when illness prevented her from working on plates herself, she trained her daughter, Tamar, to produce her characteristic effects.
Dorothea’s own preferred medium was the coloured mezzotint and over the course of 30 years she exhibited her work, mostly dream-like landscapes seen through windows, at group and solo exhibitions in Britain and around the world, winning many prizes. The art critic Guy Keriben observed that she had a “secret bond” with her medium that allowed her to “create a world where all the delights of a thought float between dream and memory” evoking “a lost world of tranquillity and happiness”.
One of her prints was used by Pat Gilmour in her book Understanding Contemporary Prints to illustrate the mezzotint process, and examples of her work are held in the permanent collections of museums and galleries including the V&A, the British Museum, the Bibliotheque National in Paris and the Warsaw Museum of Fine Art.
Dorothea Wight was born on September 23 1944 and grew up in Devon where her father ran a pottery. After Totnes High School and a year at Dartington School of Art, she attended the Slade School of Fine Art where she studied painting, but was soon drawn to the print department under Anthony Gross. She was taught lithography by Stanley Johns.
She founded Studio Prints shortly after graduation, having persuaded her bank manager to give her a loan to buy a press. Her first customer was the artist Julian Trevelyan, who rode to the rescue when the delivery of her press was delayed, offering her the use of his press at his riverside studio in Hammersmith. Trevelyan became a loyal customer and firm friend.
As well as running her workshop, Dorothea Wight taught printmaking at Morley College and at art schools including the Royal College, Cambridge, Brighton and Medway. As a visiting lecturer she established an etching department at the Camden Institute.
As a child Dorothea learned the piano and she later returned to the instrument, winning a prize for a public performance of Satie’s Gymnopédie No I. With her husband she enjoyed travelling around European cities; at home they liked to take breakfast at Kenwood House and walk on Hampstead Heath.
Dorothea Wight was an honorary member of the Royal Society of Painter Etchers.
In 2000 she was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and in 2011, as her health deteriorated, she and her husband decided to close Studio Prints.
For the last six months of her life her only contact with the outside world was the view from her bedroom window of a corner of the garden where forget-me-nots flowered.
Dorothea Wight is survived by her husband and by a son and daughter.
Dorothea Wight, born September 23 1944, died May 23 2013


By the end of this parliament, councils’ funding from central government will have been cut by 33%. In comparison, Whitehall departments will have faced average reductions of 12%.
This pattern cannot be repeated without it having a serious impact on local services and people.
Councils have so far taken £3.1bn from the annual pay bill, reduced management costs by more than 12.5% and saved hundreds of millions of pounds by teaming up to provide both back office and frontline services. Council tax increases have also been kept well below the rate of inflation for the past four years. The resilience of local government cannot be stretched much further. For many councils, new funding cuts in 2015/16 will lead to a significant reduction in, and in some cases even loss of, important local services.
In the next spending round, local government finance must be put on a sustainable footing. To do this, the government has to adjust health and schools budgets to incorporate the local services that help the elderly stay independent longer and ensure children are ready for school. This will ultimately save money by reducing pressure on our hospitals, police and prisons.
It must also embark on a rewiring of public services. The only way of maintaining them in the face of proposed long-term cuts is to design them around the needs of people and communities. That means devolving budgets away from Whitehall to increase co-operation between public agencies, save money and improve services.
Local government bore the brunt of cuts in the last spending review. For the sake of the public it cannot afford to do so again. It would be bad for the country, bad for people and bad for our prospects of economic recovery if funding for local services is cut further to reinforce inefficiencies within Whitehall.
Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman, LGA; Gary Porter, vice chair, LGA, leader of the LGA Conservative group and leader of South Holland District Council; David Sparks, vice chair of the LGA, leader of the LGA Labour group and leader of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council; Gerald Vernon-Jackson, vice chair of the LGA, leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat group and leader of Portsmouth City Council; Marianne Overton, LGA Independent group leader and Independent group leader at Lincolnshire County Council and North Kesteven District Council, and 146 others (see
Neil Parkin, leader Adur District Council
Alan Smith, leader Allerdale Borough Council
Gillian Brown, leader Arun District Council
John Cartwright, leader Aylesbury Vale District Council
Stephen Houghton CBE, leader of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Simon Greaves, leader Bassetlaw District Council
Paul Crossley, leader Bath and North Somerset Council
Mayor Dave Hodgson, Bedford Borough Council
Sir Albert Bore, leader Birmingham City Council
Kate Hollern, leader Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
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Eion Watts, leader Bolsover District Council
Clifford Morris JP, leader Bolton Council
Peter Bedford, leader Boston Borough Council
John Beesley, leader Bournemouth Borough Council
Paul Bettison, leader Bracknell Forest Borough Council
David Green, leader Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Muhammed Butt, leader Brent Council
Jason Kitcat, leader Brighton and Hove City Council
Milan Radulovic, leader Broxtowe Borough Council
Julie Cooper, leader Burnley Borough Council
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Tim Bick, leader Cambridge City Council
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Mike Jones, leader Cheshire West and Chester
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Tom Beattie, leader Corby Borough Council
Ann Lucas, leader Coventry City Council
Chris Knowles-Fitton, leader Craven District Council
Chris Millar, leader Daventry District Council
Paul Bayliss, leader Derby City Council
Anne Western, leader Derbyshire County Council
Roselyn Jones, elected mayor Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
Simon Henig, leader Durham County Council
Julian Bell, leader Ealing London Borough Council
Paul Diviani, leader East Devon District Council
David Tutt, leader Eastbourne Borough Council
Keith House, leader Eastleigh Borough Council
Doug Taylor, leader Enfield Council
Peter Edwards, leader Exeter City Council
Mick Henry CBE, leader Gateshead Council
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Trevor Wainwright, leader Great Yarmouth Borough Council
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Rob Polhill, leader Halton Borough Council
Roy Perry, leader Hampshire County Council
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Mark Wilkinson, leader Harlow District Council
Michael White, leader Havering London Borough Council
Caitlin Bisknell, leader High Peak Borough Council
Stuart Bray, leader Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council
Miles Parkinson, leader Hyndburn Borough Council
David Ellesmere, leader Ipswich Borough Council
Catherine West, leader Islington Council
Mehboob Khan, leader Kirklees Metropolitan Council
Ron Round JP, leader Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Lib Peck, leader Lambeth London Borough Council
Jenny Mein, leader Lancashire County Council
Keith Wakefield, leader Leeds City Council
Sir Peter Soulsby, City Mayor Leicester City Council
Nicholas Rushton, leader Leicestershire County Council
Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, executive mayor Lewisham London Borough Council
Richard Metcalfe, leader Lincoln City Council
Mayor Joe Anderson OBE, executive mayor Liverpool City Council
Hazel Simmons, leader Luton Borough Council
Sir Richard Leese CBE, leader Manchester City Council
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Byron Rhodes, leader Melton Borough Council
Stephen Alambritis, leader Merton London Borough Council
Nick Forbes, leader Newcastle upon Tyne City Council
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Sir Robin Wales, executive mayor Newham London Borough Council
Brian Greenslade, leader North Devon District Council
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Lynda Needham, leader North Hertfordshire District Council
Marion Brighton, leader North Kesteven District Council
Brenda Arthur, leader Norwich City Council
Jon Collins, leader Nottingham City Council
Alan Rhodes, leader Nottinghamshire County Council
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Colin Lambert, leader Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council
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Carl Maynard, leader Rother District Council
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Chris Roberts, leader Royal Borough of Greenwich
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Darren Cooper, leader Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Peter Dowd, leader Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council
Peter Fleming, leader Sevenoaks District Council
Julie Dore, leader Sheffield City Council
Ken Meeson, leader Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
Ann Ducker, leader South Oxfordshire District Council
Ric Pallister, leader South Somerset District Council
Iain Malcolm, leader South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council
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Peter John, leader Southwark Council
Barrie Grunewald, leader St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council
Philip Atkins, leader Staffordshire County Council
Sharon Taylor OBE, leader Stevenage Borough Council
Sue Derbyshire, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Bob Cook, leader Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
Mohammed Pervez, leader Stoke-on-Trent City Council
Geoffrey Wheeler, leader Stroud District Council
Paul Watson, leader Sunderland City Council
David Hodge, leader Surrey County Council
Ruth Dombey, leader London Borough of Sutton
Andrew Bowles, leader Swale Borough Council
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Kuldip Sahota, leader Telford and Wrekin Council
Peter Halliday, leader Tendring District Council
Clive Hart, leader Thanet District Council
John Kent, leader Thurrock Council
Peter Box CBE, leader Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
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Terry O’Neill, leader Warrington Council
Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, Watford Borough Council
Philip Sanders, leader West Devon Borough Council
Lord Peter Smith, leader Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council
Jane Scott, leader Wiltshire Council
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Roger Lawrence, leader Wolverhampton City Council
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Martin Hill OBE, leader Lincolnshire County Council
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Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council
Chalk it up to experience
Barbara Ellen misunderstands the opposition to Michael Gove’s “Troops to Teachers” wheeze, attributing it to anti-military prejudice (“I salute the idea of soldiers in the classroom”. A common characteristic of all the world’s most successful education systems is that their teachers are educated and professionally trained to the highest standard. Finland, for example, which has by far the most successful education system in Europe, admits only the brightest and best to teacher training, rejecting 90% of applicants
Michael Gove, by contrast, regards school teaching as something that can be learned “on the job”, even by people who may lack education, a view apparently supported by Ellen, since “not everyone has the opportunity to get a degree or even make it to sixth form”. Such attitudes derive from the Victorian “pupil-teacher” system and, along with the rest of Gove’s reactionary ideas, can only result in our education system going backwards.
Michael Pyke
Shenstone, Staffs
Liberals must be braver
Will Hutton’s despair at the illiberal trends in the Western world can certainly be alleviated, but it depends on liberals ending their endemic lack of confidence in their beliefs (“I despair as I watch the erosion of the liberal views I hold dear”, Comment). It is too easy to blame the electoral weakness of political liberals over the past 90 years when that weakness itself is largely a consequence of the reticence of holders of the faith.
The one thing that has characterised my 50 years as a “working” liberal at myriad levels, and which has always baffled me, is the shyness of so many political colleagues when faced with clear opportunities, even when, as with the Iraq invasion, the erosion of civil liberties and the consequences of the obsession with the nation state, liberalism is manifestly relevant. It will not be easy, but to make Will Hutton and those of like mind happier, simply requires liberals to be brave and to promote their values and their policies.
Michael Meadowcroft
Cockadoodle do’s and don’ts
I have kept hens in the garden for the last 18 years and wrote one of the first beginners’ guides in 2003: Hens in the Garden, Eggs in the Kitchen (“Eggs come first as chickens take over our gardens”, News).
Yes, keeping hens is now hugely popular but the industry is being fuelled by the burgeoning fox population; all over the country, every night foxes are getting into people’s gardens and feasting on a chicken dinner. People are not adequately protecting their hens but this is actually good news for the breeders as those who lose their chickens return for more. Also, people don’t realise that for their hens to thrive they need as much space as possible. Four square feet really isn’t enough. Hens enjoy being on grass and they will quickly destroy a small area of grass, turning their space into bare earth or mud and will create craters where they have their dust baths.
Charlotte Popescu
Upavon, Wilts

Many readers will have been shocked at your revelation that Unesco is so concerned at the threat to our heritage from ill-considered developments that it is considering adding three further UK world heritage sites to the “endangered” list, including the Houses of Parliament (“Westminster’s world heritage status at risk as Unesco condemns plan for skyscrapers”, News).
Sadly, those of us working in the heritage sector know this to be the tip of the iceberg. English Heritage has had its government grant reduced by nearly 40%, while Cadw and Historic Scotland have also suffered significant reductions. Local government cuts have seen the loss of more than a third of the conservation officer posts working in planning departments.
Not only have conservation services been weakened in this way, but those that remain do not have the ear of chief officers and, dispiritingly, face the continual threat of redundancy. Where now is the confident and independent conservation voice that will advise planning committees against the kind of poor development and short-termism revealed in your article?
It appears that government has decided that we can no longer afford to protect our heritage; a heritage that is the cornerstone of our tourism industry, a major player in efforts to regenerate our towns and cities, the cherished setting for our daily lives and recognised as among the most important in the world.
Jo Evans
Chair, the Institute of Historic Building Conservation
Tisbury, Wilts
Regarding Unesco’s determination to preserve chunks of the planet in aspic, or perhaps even amber, London’s joy and the reason it kicks Paris and Rome into touch is its vibrancy and variety and that it challenges convention and history, as well as preserving what truly matters of its past. If Big Ben can’t be seen from all directions from miles away, so what? And speaking as someone who occasionally worked in the crumbling shame of Elizabeth House as is, it’s less of a buffer zone, more of a health risk. Developing it in no way detracts from the value of the Palace of Westminster and its environs’ cultural significance or impact, and I rather doubt will dilute its attraction as a tourist destination.
Mike Noakes
To your excellent leading article, “Unesco’s verdict shames our planners”, I would like to mention the Southbank Centre. It might not be a Unesco heritage site, but this ever-popular and functional cultural hub was designed in a harmonious and durable style by architects with vision and an understanding of the best of the brutalist style, a style that has always been misunderstood and abused.
Now, without a mandate, developers and ignorant guardians of our patrimony are at it again. It is impossible to see or appreciate the architecture through all the vulgar neon frontages, hodgepodge of various pop-ups, add-ons and stands, chain restaurants and shops. And yet the Southbank Centre management is actually raising money to continue this attack , with no clear architectural vision.
Why must ignorant planners and councillors destroy what they cannot understand – in this case 1950s and 1960s architecture?
Joyce Glasser
London NW3
I would draw your attention in particular to the situation at Hampton Court where, at the railway station, it would appear that the various council authorities are being suborned – no other word for it – by developers intent on driving through massive change at the expense of local amenities, the railway hub and the palace itself. In one respect, this shows the government totally adrift of a sense of the history that they are also intent on promoting. The slighting of Hampton Court goes against the very grain of Gove’s endeavours, let alone the full panoply of planning and local endeavours to maintain due decorum of the environment at so sensitive a location.
SW Massil
London N8



It is naive of D J Taylor to conclude that independent schools’ superiority in sporting contests rests in “desirable abstracts” such as “team spirit, motivation, collective will”, and that state schools could level the field by a “mass implantation of esprit de corps” (“Why private schools do better”, 9 June).
To quote privately educated Molesworth, “as any fule kno …” young people of social and financial advantage whose experience of life is to mix with others of such advantage are powerfully convinced of their own superiority. Moreover, when these young people find employment in fields dominated by the kind of people they went to school with, they perpetuate this dominance by favouring the appointment of new colleagues from that school.
No amount of esprit de corps will enable other social groups to oust them on the playing fields they dominate, for example, the judiciary, the Government or the civil service. In areas where the privately educated cannot use social advantage to rise to the top, they tend not to do so.
We should educate our children together in community schools supported by the kind of income that independent schools enjoy, funded by a focused tax regime.
Pauline Wilcock
Halesworth, Suffolk

Jenny Gilbert wondered how the live stream of Swan Lake from St Petersburg was received in Redditch or Rhyl (The Critics, 9 June). Well, I don’t know about them, but in Leigh, near Manchester, it was fabulous. I especially loved the extra bits that you wouldn’t normally get to see. I’m now booking for Shakespeare live from the Globe and opera live from New York, all at my local cinema for £16. I guess the purists will say it’s a poor replacement for being there, but for those who would have a long trip to a good theatre or without the financial wherewithal to fly to New York or St Petersburg, it’s a joy.
Jean Williams
Warrington, Cheshire

Ed Miliband’s pledge to limit welfare spending may be part of Labour’s pre-election campaign (“Longest election campaign starts now”, 9 June), but it’s an unwise strategy to say he will stick to Tory plans in order to win the floating voter. For Tony Blair did this before 1997, only to see turnout fall from 72 per cent to 59 per cent four years later, as people became unhappy with a party that wasted its massive parliamentary majority. Miliband should have stressed job creation, saying that benefit spending is high because 2.5 million are out of work.
Tim Mickleburgh
Grimsby, Lincolnshire

To answer Adam Abbot, excess wind energy can be stored (Letters, 9 June). The energy can be used in hydroelectric schemes to pump water back uphill; it can be stored as compressed air; it could be used to make synthetic fuels, and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility to use it to charge batteries. Such ideas may be in their infancy, but the more they are applied, the better we’ll be at putting them into practice.
Terence hollingworth
Blagnac, France

I disagree with Katy Guest (“Nepotism? I blame the children”, 9 June). If a parent offers help into paid work in a time of austerity, it would be a strong-minded young adult that turned their back on such a first step.
But what really gets my goat is the failure to question whether James Caan is “morally respectable” in seeing a daughter into a “job with Caan enterprises”, while telling the rest of us “not to give their kids a leg up the career ladder”. The arrogance of doing as I say, not as I do!
James Derounian
Principal lecturer in local governance
University of Gloucestershire

The new Black Sabbath album, 13, is not “the first Sabbath album without estranged drummer Bill Ward” (Simon Price, The Critics, 9 June). In fact, the Sabs have recorded eight studio albums without Ward, the first of which was 1981’s Mob Rules, which featured Vinny Appice on drums.
Martyn P Jackson
Cramlington, Northumberland
Corrections and clarifications
Last week we described Baron Williams of Baglan as the UN special co-ordinator for Lebanon. That post, which Lord Williams held from 2008-11, is now held by Sir Derek Plumbly, We apologise to both men


Minister has forgotten the value of caring
IT IS too simple for politicians and journalists to view work through the prism of gender equality and stark GDP figures (“Motherland”, News Review, last week). Does it not occur to Maria Miller, the equalities minister, that not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted?
Unfortunately the time and energy that a mother invests in her young family, that an active pensioner devotes to the community and that the middle-aged spend caring for elderly parents are of enormous value, but their contributions to society are overlooked because they are invisible to the exchequer.
If all these people were to be replaced by state-subsidised carers, more money would change hands, so GDP figures would be boosted, but it would not necessarily make society wealthier and happier.
Anna Lines, London SE19

False economy
One cause of mental health issues is the absence of a mother in childhood. It is much better for mothers to cut the cloth accordingly money-wise and prioritise nurturing children during their formative years. Putting babies and toddlers into childcare will breed angry adults. And society will bear the brunt of it.
Kim Crosby, London SW1

Father figures
Come on, India Knight, get real. While I agree that it is no one’s business but her own whether Kate Winslet has three children with three fathers, that is because she has the money to provide for them (“Welcome to the ordinary happy family: 2.4 children, 2.4 fathers”, Comment, last week).
It may come as a surprise to India that the squeezed middle also “love being pregnant, love having children and have enormous quantities of love to give”, but we don’t have Winslet’s resources and, unlike the “baby-mama-ish end of the spectrum”, don’t rely on the state to be another father. As a result, the richest and the poorest have the largest families; the rest of us settle for the children we can afford, whether we have one partner or several.
Anna Lane, Dorking, Surrey

Commitment problems
Knight may call me sour but what is “unseemly” about three children with three fathers is: how loving can a person be who cannot commit to a relationship for longer than a few years? If that is the norm of an ordinary and supposedly happy family life, then some of us “sour” folk do despair.
A recent report on family breakdown says there are a million children without a father. If this is what comes of those “romantic” women who “live their lives as they see fit”, it is not a happy result.
Those of us who take a more traditional view of love, marriage and family life are not all misogynistic and Victorian.
Deborah Silver, Maidenhead, Berkshire

Unfair advantage
Knight does not mind some of her taxes being spent on supporting these lovely families, but I for one — and, I suspect, others like me — do. It is unfair of such women to take for granted that they can have as many babies, by as many fathers, as they like and that taxpayers will pick up the bill. Far from being a sour child hater, I am a father of four with a growing number of grandchildren.
Ian Glasspool, Bognor Regis, West Sussex

China’s solution
Chinese environmental pollution is frowned on by western commentators.
China is well aware of this problem, which cannot be solved with an ever-rising population, and for this reason the one-child policy universally condemned in the West was introduced. It is often equated with eugenics, as Knight implies. China is the only country to attempt to combat population pressure — something that has the potential to destroy us all.
Kent Brooks, Kendal, Cumbria
Down’s syndrome screening may rob many of a full and happy life
WE WERE moved by Dominic Lawson’s article “Down’s screening seems simple economics — but it’s eugenics too”, Comment, last week). My husband’s Down’s sister Julie, who passed away recently aged 50 brought much love and joy into many lives. She did most things “normal” people do, including travelling the world and encountering love.
There were difficulties, especially as her parents grew older, and the attitudes of others — even people in the family — were often hurtful, but she never viewed herself as “suffering”.
If screening for Down’s is advocated on the grounds of savings, will treatment be supported for very premature babies because of a high risk of disability? The medical establishment seeks to reduce the cost of disability by withdrawing the right to life, yet it rightly prolongs life and in doing so greatly increases the incidence of associated disability.
Alison and Peter Martin, Fownhope, Hereford

Playing God
Our son is 28 this week, and when he was born with Down’s we had the kind of reaction described — a mixture of sympathy and horror from people who really ought to have known better.
He pursues his interests in photography, songwriting and music. He frequently announces, “I love my life.” What gives the medical profession the right to assume that it has a fail-safe measure of what makes a life of value or otherwise?
Jennifer Davies, Wrexham

Put to the test
Thank you for raising the moral and ethical issues surrounding the newly developed screening test. At a time when individuals with Down’s syndrome are achieving more than ever before, the diagnosis of the condition itself should not be viewed as an automatic reason for termination.
Rachael Ross, Portsmouth
Wildflower cull verges on ridiculous
IT WOULD be marvellous if people with a high media profile could be persuaded to give voice to a plea for clemency for the wildflowers as well as the bugs, bees and butterflies that rely on them (“The verge vigilantes stopping the annual roadside beheadings”, Comment, last week). I feel strongly about this and have tried with little success to start a campaign — the Campaign to Protect Rural England refused to do anything.
When I lived in Nottinghamshire the local farmer cut the verges every week from May to September. I now live in Fife, where the verges are cut much more sensibly, although they still cut them where the road is arrow-straight — a case of men-with-machines syndrome.
Fife is also sowing strips of wildflowers on some verges that last year looked wonderful. Until local councils see the need for sensible verge-cutting the slaughter will continue.
Lou Lidderdale, Cupar, Fife

Petal power
I totally agree with Charles Clover. After a cold winter and late spring, this year the wildflowers in the verges are a sight to behold. Yes, let councils cut away verges that may impede the sight of drivers and cyclists, but please leave alone all other verges and let wildlife enjoy the abundance of food and let wildflowers prosper.
Mick Rawdin, Nottingham

Mown down
I live in a special conservation village within Birmingham where we have a few large round grass islands. Last month they were covered in a riot of gold, yellow and cream — a real host of daffodils. Two weeks ago the council mowers took the lot, still in full bloom. I protested, but was threatened and had foul abuse hurled at me.
Brian Coote, Birmingham
Pouring cold water on frozen brains
YOUR account of the goings-on at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute (“Freeze a jolly good fellow”, News, last week) reads like an April Fools’ Day joke. It is almost unbelievable that the the entire senior academic staff will pay what must amount to a fortune to have themselves preserved, after brain death, in liquid nitrogen, to be resurrected when the necessary technology has been developed centuries later.
I spent several years as a member of the board of governors of the Society for Cryobiology, a learned society devoted to studies of bio-preservation, but not bringing dead mammals back to life. The governors spent a good deal of time fighting the “body freezers” and in the end saw fit to bar them from membership.
My 60 years of studies on water and its remarkable properties have convinced me that low temperature is indeed a means of preserving life — probably in a dormant state — but that freezing, which is the removal of liquid water, is a drying process that invariably kills. In other words, low temperature and freezing have nothing to do with each other. It is even more bizarre to read about reducing the expense by having just the head preserved because that is where all wisdom resides. Let resurrection remain where it belongs: in the divinity school.
Dr Felix Franks, London N3

Popsicle idol
Cryo-preservation seems considerably less attractive with the prospect of regaining consciousness next to a defrosted Simon Cowell.
Cliff Redman, Worthing, West Sussex
Moving on
The projections of the numbers of Romanians likely to come to this country consider only those who will migrate from their homeland (“UK is first choice of young Romanians”, News, last week). The Italian National Institute of Statistics reports that in 2010 there were 968,576 Romanians living in Italy. Because of the economic crisis in Italy the number has been declining as they move to other EU nations. Guess what their country of choice will be from January 2014.
Alessandro Severi, London W8

Slow learner
Erratic examination marking and grading appear not to be the only problems (“Exam boards failing duty to pupils”, Letters, and “Heads fear fresh exams fiasco”, News, June 2). I am still awaiting approval of our OCR GCSE history syllabus, apparently subject to major late changes yet expected to be taught this September.
Chris Brant, Via email

Trial and error
As a former Defra field manager involved in the randomised badger culling trials, I feel well qualified to say that the current method of culling badgers — by night- time shooting — will never be accepted by the general public (“Badger lovers threaten MP’s home”, News, last week). Until the use of polymerase chain reaction technology is used to pinpoint badger TB infection, facilitating the removal of only infected badgers, the public and many farmers will never buy into a badger-culling scheme. Target sick badgers, use a tried, tested and effective method of culling and you have a sure-fire vote winner.
Paul Caruana, Truro, Cornwall

Picture spread
Indignation has been expressed after the report that in 1930 the then Prince of Wales borrowed pictures from the National Gallery for St James’s Palace (“Biteback”, Culture, last week). However, Ramsay MacDonald had done the same for No 10, and Winston Churchill continued to keep some important works from the Turner bequest there. Much of the bequest was still kept at the National Gallery, which still had jurisdiction over the Tate. It was pointed out in the course of the debates on the National Gallery and Tate Gallery bill in 1954 that there had been no statutory authority for such loans. Since then, of course, the Tate has been given carte blanche by parliament to lend, so that the bequest is even more scattered and endangered.
Dr Selby Whittingham, The Independent Turner Society, London SW5

Rotten borough
Your correspondent George Krawiec is far too sanguine in his belief that there is far less skulduggery in local councils than in parliament (“Councils are better run”, Letters, last week). He need only come to my part of the world to find how deals are made between councillors and those wishing to profit from such arrangements, with little or no consultation with residents. Within miles of my home, parish councils and the local district council have faced challenges from their council-tax payers, who have been treated appallingly.
Like fish, government rots from the head.
Richard English, Via email
Corrections and clarifications
On December 23 last year we published an article (“Wonga may quit UK to cut tax”, News) in which we referred to the possibility of the company moving abroad. When approached before publication, the company said that it had no comment to make on the structure of its business. However, following publication, it said it was not planning to move domicile from the UK, for tax reasons or otherwise. We are happy to accept this assurance from Wonga.
In the Travel section special 50 Best Beaches the phone number for Oddicombe beach, Torquay, was incorrect. It should have been 01803 327 083. We apologise for the error.
Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, including online, should be addressed to or The Editor, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST. In addition, the Press Complaints Commission ( or 020 7831 0022) examines formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites)
Giacomo Agostini, motorcycle racer, 71; Dame Eileen Atkins, actress, 79; James Bolam, actor, 78; Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, 44; Tom Graveney, England cricketer, 86; Lyndsey Marshal, actress, 35; Phil Mickelson, golfer, 43; Ian Mosley,drummer with Marillion, 60; Joyce Carol Oates, author, 75
1487 Henry VII wins the Battle of Stoke Field, ending the Wars of the Roses; 1890 birth of Stan Laurel, comic actor; 1961 Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defects to the West at Le Bourget airport, Paris; 1963 the USSR’s Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space; 1976 the Soweto uprising in South Africa begins, with the eventual loss of up to 700 lives

SIR – I saw a floral lawn (report, June 12) at the Chelsea Flower Show, and its fussy appearance did not impress, unless as a wildlife-friendly alternative to the decking favoured by those who dislike gardening.
My garden is buzzing with bees and other insects. Blackbirds in particular find lawns a good source of worms. We neither fertilise nor water our grass, so cannot be accused of wasting resources on it. After a few years of cool, wet summers, it has never looked better. The assumption that climate change equals drought looks increasingly inaccurate.
Karin Proudfoot
Longfield, Kent
SIR – Not allowing wildflowers to flourish in lawns is symptomatic of the “tidiness” which has overtaken the countryside, public spaces and gardens.
Little wonder that the recent State of Nature report by 25 voluntary conservation bodies documents a decline in the abundance and variety of British wildlife. Closely mown lawns are a sterile habitat for all but a very few species.
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The law must be changed if surgeons are using it to prevent disclosure of their results
15 Jun 2013
We need a change of perspective, where the bowling-green lawn is confined to smaller areas and tall grasses and wildflowers are appreciated as a valuable resource rather than a symptom of neglect.
A small flower-rich patch of grassland in every English village could achieve a great deal for wildlife and be a wonderful spectacle for all of us.
Alan Bowley
Holme, Cambridgeshire

SIR – We agree wholeheartedly with your leading article (“Honesty in the NHS”, June 13). Indeed this week the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) became the first trust to publish the clinical results and patients’ experience of its cardiac surgeons and cardiologists, as a first step towards disclosure for all consultants in the trust.
Two years ago the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery, in a landmark publication, emphasised the link between medical professionalism and accountability (to patients and the public) demonstrated through publication. Such professionalism, involving clinical judgment, is fundamental to good, accountable patient care.
If data-protection legislation can be used by some doctors to obstruct full disclosure, it is the law that needs changing.
Sir Donald Irvine
Chairman, Picker Institute Europe
President, GMC, 1995-2002
Felicity Goodey
Chairman, UHSMFT
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Buttercups and daisies versus striped lawns
15 Jun 2013
SIR – Surgeons who refuse to allow publication of data relating to professional performance may be entitled to do so by the Data Protection Act.
However, surgeons place their names and list specialisms on NHS Foundation Trust and hospital websites and on private hospital websites. There can be no credible reason why their names should not appear on NHS league tables with a classification such as, for example, “No data provided”.
J R Ball
Hale, Cheshire
SIR – On June 30 mortality outcome data for surgeons performing major surgery for bowel cancer in England will be published for more than 400 colorectal surgeons by the Association of Coloproctology.
For some years, using NHS cancer data primarily designed to monitor waiting times, we have produced national and even unit cancer-outcomes, but have struggled to extract accurate outcome data for individual surgeons. This is because there are widely acknowledged problems in how routine NHS administrative data collection reflects actual patient outcomes.
These shortcomings were highlighted by a recent analysis of nationally submitted data. Using such data to determine individual clinician-related outcomes can be like predicting the weather in your garden next August from a long-range forecast.
Surgeons – as professionals and NHS patients – are unequivocally committed to transparency of outcome at any level that helps a patient make a treatment decision.
But our initial experience of this rushed exercise has exposed the known problems with NHS administrative data. We believe it resulted in grossly inaccurate mortality figures for some individual clinicians.
Publication of erroneous data does not help anyone, especially patients facing treatment for bowel cancer. It is for this reason that a number of skilled surgeons will withhold publication of their outcome data – not to hide poor results.
This association, working with NHS England, is determined to improve NHS colorectal cancer data accuracy, as transparency without accuracy can harm patient care, more than advance it.
Graham Williams FRCS
President, Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland
Nigel Scott FRCS
Clinical Lead, National Bowel Cancer Audit
Paul Finan FRCS
Chairman Colorectal Group, National Cancer Intelligence Network
SIR – Quality of outcome after surgery depends as much on the team as the surgeon. Poor nursing or management contribute to adverse events, as shown at Mid Staffs.
I will sign up to publication of my data, but I have had the privilege of working in a large London teaching hospital for 25 years. I can well understand colleagues elsewhere being reluctant to do so.
David Nunn FRCS
Guy’s Hospital, London SE1
Business-rate burden
SIR – We welcome the debate on the urgent need to address the unfair burden of tax that falls on bricks-and-mortar retailers versus their internet-only counterparts. Your leading article (Business, June 14) somewhat misrepresents my position, which is in fact very close to your own.
A sales tax may be the right solution for the United States, but I do not think it could work in Britain, where all retailers already collect a uniform rate of VAT. Instead, we must look to business rates, which are the way “local” tax is largely collected in Britain. This gives a massive advantage to internet-only players and puts high-street shops at a clear disadvantage.
There is of course a need to address the tax shortfall at a local level, and that is for the Government to consider. I certainly don’t believe there is a need to increase the overall tax burden, just to rebalance it and level the playing field.
Justin King
CEO, Sainsbury’s
London EC1
Diagnosing diabetes
SIR – Dr James Le Fanu (Health, June 11) mentions our report that the use of the HbA1c test more than doubles the rate of diagnosis of type-2 diabetes.
However, it is wrong to suggest that the patients who are diagnosed by this new test do not have real diabetes. They all have diabetes as defined by internationally agreed criteria. Doctors across the world are now diagnosing diabetes in this way.
Diabetes UK has referred to the million people in Britain who have diabetes but do not know it. Our report suggests that this new test is finding the missing million.
GPs treat millions with symptomless high blood-pressure, and the stroke rate is falling. In our practice three quarters of those with type-2 diabetes are diagnosed before they complain of a symptom.
Dr Philip Evans
Sir Denis Pereira Gray
Dr Christine Wright
Dr Peter Langley
Exeter, Devon
Archers’ appearance
SIR – My imagined Lilian and Matt are very different from those of Amanda Allen (Letters, June 14). Matt is balding and thick-set, Lilian petite and bottle blonde.
This is why radio is a joy – imagination provides the set and costumes. That’s why I much prefer radio drama to television.
Mary Wright
Amersham, Buckinghamshire
Exposing tax havens
SIR – Ahead of the G8 summit on Monday, we, members of the House of Lords from across the political spectrum, have written to the Prime Minister to support his work against the scourge of tax dodging.
It is devastating for poor countries. Every year, they lose more than £100 billion to tax dodging by multinationals alone – more than they receive in aid. This hinders development by depriving governments of revenues needed to combat hunger and poverty. To stop this loss of money and undermining of the rule of law, any G8 tax agreement must achieve two things.
First, Britain must require overseas territories and Crown dependencies that act as tax havens to join the existing global treaty on financial information sharing. The treaty is vital in helping signatory countries get the information needed to collect the taxes they are owed.
Secondly, Britain must press G8 countries to initiate a new international standard for publicly registering who really owns companies and trusts. This would make it far harder for tax evaders, money launderers and corrupt politicians to abuse opaque corporate structures.
In line with the Prime Minister’s stated focus on open societies and economies, this register must be made publicly available, open to scrutiny from journalists and civil society as well as law enforcers.
A G8 agreement with these hallmarks will be warmly welcomed by politicians of all hues and will benefit billions of people living in poverty around the world.
Most Rev Lord Williams of Oystermouth
Rt Rev Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville
Lord Chidgey
Lord Grantchester
Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick
Lord Judd
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead
Baroness Kramer
Lord Maclennan of Rogart
Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay
Lord Rana
Earl of Selborne
Baroness Williams of Crosby
Unfattening water
SIR – Plastic bottles used in Britain for mineral and spring water do not contain bisphenol A, the chemical mentioned in your report “Bottled water may raise obesity risk” (June 13). They are made of polyethylene terephthalate, the best plastic available for this purpose, meeting all EU and British safety requirements.
Kinvara Carey
The Natural Hydration Council
London W2
Western intervention in the Syria civil war
SIR – Should the United States not be stepping up the diplomatic offensive, and be seeking a solemn assurance from President Assad that he will in future use only bullets and high-explosive to slaughter his people, rather than the less-desirable Sarin gas?
John Snowden
Rockhampton, Gloucestershire
SIR – Yet again America plans to intervene in a far-flung struggle by supplying arms to one side in a civil war. We must now fear that David Cameron will emulate Tony Blair and join Barack Obama in supporting one side in a war which is not our business – at a time when our Armed Forces are being ruthlessly depleted.
How can we prevent Western leaders from interfering – which will inevitably lead to more bloodshed all round and solve nothing?
Rebecca Goldsmith
London SW11

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:
As I live through my final few weeks in Ireland before flying to Australia to enjoy a ‘better’ life with my young family, I cannot help but constantly wonder . . . what if ?
Also in this section
Standing up to the church
Time to slam the brakes on our errant cyclists
High time Swift was allowed to Bloom
What if . . . the country’s banking bosses had not been so greedy?
What if . . . we had not all jumped on the bandwagon and taken out those last few loans?
What if . . . taxes were going down rather than up?
What if . . . large overseas companies were still setting up shop in Ireland and employing plenty of staff?
What if . . . we all talked about the long hot summer we are having instead of farmers panicking to save crops and ensure their livestock do not die in the fields next year from a lack of grass or fodder?
What if . . . I never heard of another local suicide but the happiness of families flourishing and doing well.
What if . . . we did not all play the blame game but looked to ourselves to solve our own problems?
What if . . . the youth of Ireland felt empowered, enlightened and passionate about their futures?
What if . . . what was best for Ireland was also best for me?
What if . . . I did not have a knot in my stomach and a tear in my eye as I write this?
What if . . . I did not feel compelled to leave my native soil and rear my children in a land Down Under, where there is an abundance of natural resources, sunshine and employment?
What if . . . it wasn’t so, what if I could live here with my husband and two daughters and enjoy work and prosperity for us all, visit our friends and families on birthdays and special occasions, and be proud of being Irish while simply living in Ireland?
Olivia Tully
Mount Prospect, Co Cavan
* Is the recent comment about the Taoiseach urinating on the Seanad a case of ‘a constant drop will wear a stone’?
Tom Gilsenan
Beaumont, Dublin 9
* I have never regarded myself as a fan of Enda Kenny but I am bound to say that he has acted admirably in the church-State conflicts regarding the child sex-abuse scandals and with the legislation to enforce the X case judgment by the Supreme Court.
When you compare the Taoiseach’s statements on these issues with the embarrassing grovelling of one of his predecessors, John A Costello, it clearly shows how far this country has come in the past 60 years.
Any day now we will be just like a normal western European democracy, with tolerance for all beliefs and an understanding that the law cannot reflect just one philosophical school of thought.
Bravo Enda Kenny – June 12, 2013, was a great day for Ireland.
Liam Cooke
Coolock, Dublin 13
* Either you believe in antidisestablishmentarianism – a political philosophy opposed to the separation of church and state – or you believe in the Enda Kenny idea of disestablishmentarianism – the separation of church and State.
Whatever you believe in . . . you’re right.
Kevin Devitte
Westport, Co Mayo
* Years ago almost every house in the land had a picture of the Sacred Heart, John F Kennedy and Pope John XXIII displayed on the wall.
Today, most houses have a crutch or two under the stairs or in the garden shed. This is because the HSE will not take them back.
No doubt health and safety and hygiene will be mentioned but, considering the dire state of our national finances, our health system cannot afford such luxuries.
Most of this equipment, which is in perfectly good order, is expensive to replace. Think how much money could be saved if these very useful items were collected and recycled.
Over to you James Reilly and, if your department does not agree with me, at least let us have access to some depots where we can leave the equipment and perhaps they could then be shipped to another deserving country.
Aidan Hampson
Artane, Dublin 5
* I followed closely the visit to Kilrush recently of President Michael D Higgins, who was there along with a host of foreign dignitaries to commemorate the terrible times here during the Famine.
Kilrush was chosen for this special commemoration as it was an area greatly impacted by an Gorta Mor. Lording over the thousands of deaths of those times was the landlord, John Ormsby Vandeleur, widely regarded as one of the worst of that time.
He was succeeded by Hector Vandeleur who was no better.
Was it not a national disgrace then that Mr Higgins and his cavalcade entered Kilrush directly by Vandeleur Street, named in honour of John Ormsby Vandeleur, proceeded down Henry Street, named after his son, on to Frances Street, called after his wife, and finally on to the solemn remembrances of our famine victims.
Indeed, if arriving from the east, north or south it would not have mattered which route Mr Higgins took as he would have had to travel via a street still eponymously honouring a Vandeleur.
Perhaps the planners should have had Mr Higgins arrive by sea – thus passing the remnants of the old workhouse and poorhouse where so many perished – and thus landing at Paupers’ Quay where so many famine survivors departed to their exile and, in many cases, death on coffin ships?
Conor Coffey
Formerly of Kilrush, Co Clare
* Next week the eternal flame from JFK’s tomb will make its first expedition anywhere in the world. It will be shared with the people of Ireland as it visits Wexford.
The stature of this champion of the people grows with each generation. His great unfulfilled project – returning the power to produce money to the sovereign nation never saw the light of day. He knew if the international bankers were not bypassed their business plan would result in servitude for one and all eventually.
How ironic that exactly 50 years later their business plan is just starting to bear real fruit.
Also, next week, the G8 leaders meet in Co Fermanagh. Casting no aspersions on the individual leaders – but their policies violate everything JFK stood for.
They will do everything to maintain the illusion that we are all beholden to private bankers and also to prop up immoral entities such as the IMF, World Bank and so on.
So while the light returns to one part of Ireland, the dark fumbles on in another.
The sun still shines, the rains fall, the soils yield harvest but yet the lack of means of exchange – pieces of paper – are causing misery and penury. JFK understood this and knew the limitless potential of mankind once freed from these unnecessary and idiotic shackles.
Barry Fitzgerald
Lissarda, Co Cork
* The best, most accurate poll of all: a referendum.
Killian Foley-Walsh


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