Hospital Friday

29 June 2013 Friday Hospital



Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Murray, Pertwee and Lovable Leslie returning, from a night out board the wrong ship and are on their way to Forbodia Priceless.

Mary still in hospital for a tests I hope all will be well.

I watch The Dominators its not bad

No Scrabble no Mary






Doreen Hawkins

Doreen Hawkins, who has died aged 93, was a member of an Ensa unit which toured the battlefronts of Africa, India and Burma during the Second World War; after the war she married her glamorous boss, Col Jack Hawkins, who would become one of Britain’s most respected actors.

Doreen Hawkins with her husband Jack boarding the boat train at Waterloo bound for America  in 1956

Doreen Hawkins with her husband Jack boarding the boat train at Waterloo bound for America in 1956 Photo: Topical Press/Getty

6:03PM BST 28 Jun 2013

In a memoir of her wartime years, Drury Lane to Dimapur (2009), Doreen Hawkins showed that for a high-spirited young girl from the south coast the war was a liberation. When she returned to Britain after three years in the Far East, she recalled that “I was not the same person who had left, and was thankful for it.”

She was born Doreen Mary Beadle on July 13 1919 in Southampton, where her father, an unsuccessful businessman, devoted much of his time to amateur dramatics. After making her stage debut aged four at the Misses Bird’s Dancing Academy’s annual matinee at the city’s Grand Theatre, she went on to take children’s parts in productions there.

She began her professional career at the age of 15 when she landed the part of a flirtatious teenage girl in a play touring the north of England. From then until the early years of the war she appeared in rep around the country under the stage name Doreen Lawrence while falling in and out of love with mostly unsuitable young men.

Aged 16 she met the future horror film star Peter Cushing and was immediately smitten with his “splendid profile and dark wavy hair”. They became engaged shortly after her 18th birthday, but the relationship took a bad turn when, during an argument at a restaurant, he threw a plate of spaghetti in her face and burst into tears. The engagement ended after a tearful and embarrassing confrontation at Waterloo station, with Cushing’s parents in attendance.

To console him, she recalled, his father gave him money to go to Hollywood, so “without either of us realising it at the time I had given him the chance he needed”.

As war came, streets and trains began filling with “hundreds of men in uniform with kit bags”; and Doreen recalled that “bulbs on the trains were painted blue so you couldn’t see to read and you couldn’t get comfortable to sleep or sit because of the crush of rifles and gas masks. Everywhere was the thick fug of cigarette smoke and stale sweat. Nobody knew where they were because signposts had been concealed or removed.”

In 1940 she married a stage manager at the Sheffield Lyceum who had already been called up for military service. The marriage began badly when, during their wedding night, air raid sirens forced them to evacuate their room at the Grand Hotel in Sheffield. They spent the rest of the night sharing a bottle of Scotch with the tenor Richard Tauber.

With her husband away in North Africa, in 1942 Doreen signed up for the Entertainments National Service Association (Ensa), joining a queue of “strange folk, jugglers, dancers, actors”. After touring RAF bases in East Anglia, in 1943 she joined the Indian Repertory Company — the first acting troupe to be sent abroad to entertain the forces.

At Liverpool they embarked in a troop ship, which zigzagged down the Atlantic to avoid the U-boats, stopping off in Freetown, Accra, Lagos and Durban. From there they travelled by boat, lorry and train to Cairo, where she had a traumatic reunion with her husband, who had turned into a drunken bully of an Army officer. The marriage, she decided, was over.

Nine months after leaving Liverpool her troupe arrived at Bombay, on New Year’s Day 1944. For the next two years, with the help of professional actors lent from the forces, they toured cities and battlefronts in India and Burma, including war-ravaged Kohima and Imphal, putting on Noël Coward plays in hospitals, tents and barns.

The war was a good time for the profession, and Doreen often bumped into the likes of John Gielgud, Joyce Grenfell, Edith Evans and Gracie Fields, “who sang her heart out with that powerful voice and no microphone”. The ubiquitous Noël Coward “only needed a piano and would go anywhere to entertain the troops and improve morale”. Rather less popular was George Formby — or rather his wife Beryl, who insisted on top hotels and star treatment.

For Doreen and her companions life was less luxurious as they lugged their props and scenery in the heat and humidity and spent interminable hours hanging about at railway stations. Malaria and dysentery were constant hazards, and Doreen was grateful if her sleeping quarters had a roof.

Rangoon, recently vacated by the Japanese, was swarming with rats grown fat on human flesh, and she was warned not to use the lavatories as the Japanese had booby-trapped everything they had not had time to smash. The troupe fled their sleeping quarters in a disused nightclub when monsoon rains came pouring through the roof; and Doreen had to beat a hasty retreat from a nearby lake, where she had gone to bathe, after being informed it was “full of dead Japs”.

She had first set eyes on Jack Hawkins in Bombay, where he “appeared as a shining hero to reorganise and redirect” her troupe. As she toured the subcontinent they continued to meet regularly. On one occasion, when acting the part of a secretary away with the boss for a dirty weekend, she persuaded Hawkins to step in as the “boss” when the actor who usually played the role was indisposed. They fell in love, but as Doreen was still married and Hawkins was in the process of getting divorced from his first wife, the actress Jessica Tandy, they were unable to get married until after the war.

When Doreen returned to Britain in 1946, she faced a freezing winter and a divorce suit. But after three years away she was a different person from the ingénue who had left England in 1943. She rented a flat near Covent Garden and resumed her life as an actress. In 1947, after her divorce came through, she married Hawkins.

She gave up her career to devote herself to her husband and their three children. They bought a villa near Cap Ferrat where they enjoyed happy family holidays.

In 1957 they revisited old haunts when Hawkins co-starred in The Bridge on the River Kwai, which was being filmed on location in Ceylon. Doreen recalled his amusement when, from their bedroom in a jungle hut, they heard, in the next door room, the producer Sam Spiegel trying to bed his girlfriend, and being brusquely rebuffed.

Doreen was in her mid-40s when, in 1965, Hawkins was diagnosed with throat cancer. She nursed him devotedly until his death in 1973, aged 63. Though she continued to enjoy a glamorous life, in her memoir she admitted that she had never recovered from her loss.

She is survived by her daughter and two sons.

Doreen Hawkins, born July 13 1919, died June 15 2013




Michael Billington has badly misunderstood August Wilson’s Fences (Review, 27 June). Troy Maxson does not “crave a better future for his son”. Maxson’s sporting career has been ruined by the segregation that was in operation in US baseball when he was young man. He envies his son’s chance of a better sporting career and does what he can to destroy it – in other words he does to his son what has been done to him. Wilson’s point is that racism has distorted the character of black Americans and that they must rediscover their spirituality if they are to escape its effects on them.
Paul Laffan

• I am nearly as fond of alliteration as your headline writers, but I would not use it to mislead, as in Federer crashes out to crown a day of slips and stumbles (27 June), while at the same time repeating a cliche (Letters, 26 June). As I saw, and the score confirms, Federer lost an extremely close match in four sets, three decided by tie-breaks. To lose 7-6 6-7 5-7 6-7 is hardly to “crash out”, but rather to lose a magnificent match by a minimal margin.
Jackie Cove-Smith
Kirkby-in-Cleveland, North Yorkshire

• With the elimination of so many top seeds, it could be an all-Scottish final: Murray versus Jockovic.
Stan Labovitch
Windsor, Berkshire

• Does the dismissal of Gus Poyet by my beloved Brighton and Hove Albion represent the final managerial sacking of last football season, or the first of the forthcoming one (Gus Poyet learns of Brighton sacking while on BBC TV, Sport, 24 June)?
Pete Dorey
Bath, Somerset

• Cliches (Letters, passim)? Us cricket writers thrive on them. Sixes are towering, spinners wily, LBWs plumb, cover drives thunderous, batting collapses like a house of cards, catches electric, declarations challenging, selectors nudged, players given the nod… etc
Mike Selvey

• Premier League clubs don’t just buy players, they always “swoop” for them.
John burns
Hawkinge, Kent

While this week’s public spending review has reduced the immediate threat of slashed arts funding (Report, 27 June), we are writing to support the economic case for continued public financing of the arts as an important contribution to the strength of the economy, as requested by Maria Miller, the secretary of state for culture. Broadly defined commercial creative activities account for a formidable 10% of national output. Britain has a leading world position, as it has in financial and business services, pharmaceuticals, and the arms trade. With finance shrinking, this country can ill afford to neglect an area of such excellence that attracts the rest of the world to this country in such numbers. Tourist spending and its knock-on effects amount to at least 6% of our national output; this is simply the most obvious of the “multiplier” benefits of the arts to the economy.

A recent report, The contribution of the arts and culture to the national economy, commissioned by the Arts Council from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, gives a well argued analysis of how the publicly funded arts, though a small part of the broader commercial creative sector, are crucial to germinating the talent and creativity that are its driving force. The need to encourage creativity goes further. The whole economy requires innovators if Britain is to have a prosperous future in an increasingly competitive world. To achieve the greatest potential of the economy requires giving full rein to this country’s reserves of talent, of which artistic creativity is such a major part. Over time funding should perhaps shift more to local sources of finance; but right now the economy will benefit from its budget remaining well supported by the exchequer. A former secretary of this club, John Maynard Keynes, was instrumental in setting up the Arts Council and we regard public support for the arts as vital to our economy.
Charles Dumas Secretary, Political Economy Club
Ian Byatt
John Chown
Haruko Fukuda
Charles Goodhart
Peter Jay
Rachel Lomax
Peter Lyon
David Marsh
Douglas McWilliams
Geoffrey Maynard
Michael Nevin
Peter Oppenheimer
Alan Peacock
Gordon Pepper
John Plender
Harold Rose
Richard Sargent
Peter Sinclair
Robert Skidelsky
Christopher Smallwood
Peter Warburton

Andrew Motion is an astute politician, as well as poet, who understands how the invocation of a “romantic” poet (Wordsworth, for instance) still translates readily into images of lost idylls, and so into the good causes of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (Report, 27 June). This seems a decent enough pretext for the invocation of poets – but why only dead poets? And why the deafening silence of most contemporary poets on the bigger social, economic and political issues which now threaten our societies? There is a view that too many of our poets have followed their US counterparts into the relative comfort of the university poetry departments, and year-round lit-fests, leaving less time for rubbing shoulders with the rising numbers of the dispossessed outside. Let’s hope not. Read Shelley’s England in 1819 to get some idea of what he would be making of our England in 2013. President Kennedy, honouring Robert Frost, said, “When power corrupts, poetry cleanses …” There’s much cleaning to be done.
Ralph Windle
Witney, Oxfordshire

Oliver Wainwright highlights the problems for architectural education created by the higher student fee regime (Report, 28 July), which I also recognise. I would differ with him, however, on his implied criticism of the quality and approach of UK architectural education. The UK, and London in particular, is the global hub for architectural and advanced engineering design. One reason that it is so attractive to global firms to set up offices here is the quality of the graduates coming out of the UK’s excellent schools. Architectural and engineering practices play an enormous role in tutoring students, which leads to an education that covers both conceptual exploration and practical execution. The result is employment rates for the graduates of the best schools of around 95%, even in the midst of one of the worst recessions on record.

Another key component of the UK’s success is the diversity within and between schools. We educate all stripes of architect and this is what a flourishing industry needs. Wainwright neglects to mention the risk entailed by the EU directive on recognition of professional qualifications currently under review in Brussels, which may try to impose a one size fits all structure on the whole continent.

As to whether some schools are excessively unrealistic: there is a common misconception among architects and non-architects alike, that somehow design can be reduced to a technocratic task. This is not so. Architectural design is above all a multi-disciplinary team activity. The fanciful and visionary landscapes that adorn the walls of student summer shows are a part of the process used to train people in team problem-solving in areas of great uncertainty and complexity. The proof of the educational recipe lies ultimately in the place that London holds internationally in this field. It is flourishing, world leading, diverse and often extremely hard to understand. Something to be cherished and protected from Eurocrats and bean counters alike.
Professor Alan Penn
Dean, Bartlett faculty of the built environment, UCL 

• Apart from the extremes of wealth, a significant problem resulting from the high property prices in Virginia Water (Report, 28 June) is the architectural vandalism that is being wrought on parts of the neighbourhood. The demolition of classic mid-wars houses and their replacement with ugly, box-shaped mansions with massive, ungainly porticos, designed to cater to the whims of wealthy foreign buyers, is turning some roads into a toytown-looking pastiche. Or at least that is how it seems from the more humble perspective of adjacent Englefield Green.
Professor Chris Elders
Egham, Surrey









Yet again the failed policies of the past three years are to be reinforced and the blame game played by this most miserable of governments, continued beyond the date of the next election. Where is the fairness?  Already Labour (or is it New Labour or One Nation Labour) has committed itself to maintaining these cuts. Where is the opposition or any real alternative strategy?

As a lifelong Labour supporter, resident in Scotland, I find myself sinking into a despair I have never experienced before. I find myself – by instinct a believer in the United Kingdom – for the first time in my life considering seriously the prospect of a separate Scotland. The idea of living in a country which would never see a Conservative government, or one supported by their pathetic Lib Dem partners, is becoming increasingly attractive, as it must be to the thousands of Labour supporters living here.   

Does this government’s strategy include a subliminal message that they want Scotland to vote for independence in the hope of securing a Tory hegemony in England?

Jim White, Alloa, Clackmannanshire

It seems to me that all the discussion about austerity measures to bring down the deficit has been aimed at hitting one group or another; on the one hand welfare claimants, the unemployed, pensioners, and on the other, the wealthy. It’s particularly disappointing to see Labour joining the bandwagon.

Some of the rhetoric used (particularly on the government side) makes it look suspiciously like an attempt to divide and rule.

As well as dividing society, many of the options being considered are likely to increase administration costs by making the benefits system, pension arrangements or taxation more complex.

Surely it’s time one party or another was brave enough to talk about the possibility of an increase in income tax. The system exists, and it is fair, taking more from those on high incomes, less from those on modest incomes and none from those who are worst off. So surely now when “we are all in it together” and “hard choices have to be made” is the time to at least consider increasing it.

We are all going to be suffering from the effects of substantially reduced services one way or another, the poor most of all. At least this would make our contribution to resolving the problem much clearer.

Derek Martin, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that social security claimants will be required to attend compulsory English classes if they are not fluent in the language.

It will be interesting to see just how seriously the heads of our devolved governments take the existing statutory protection of the UK’s other native languages (Gaelic in Scotland, Welsh in Wales and Irish and Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland) by demanding that classes in these languages be offered as an alternative.

If not, will monoglot speakers of these tongues also be forced to learn English, or is this new legislation aimed solely at Johnny Foreigner?

John Eoin Douglas, Edinburgh

Public mood shifts on press regulation

Chris Blackhurst (28 June) was right to suggest Lord Justice Leveson “should be put in the select committee dock” but wrong in warning that it must happen “before time runs out”.

If anything, Leveson’s  acceptance of the overly polite invitation from the Culture Select Committee is a very good reason for the whole press regulation issue to be put on ice until after both Leveson’s parliamentary appearance and the outcome of the looming phone-hacking and bribery criminal trials.

Chris Blackhurst takes the pessimistic view that, whatever the results, evidence during the court cases will strengthen the arm of Hacked Off and politicians eager to impose statutory regulation. But it’s also possible to put the more optimistic case that the trials focus on allegations against  a minority of staff on two newspapers and the press as a whole is not in the dock.

Meanwhile Brian Leveson’s belated questioning by the select committee can focus on The Independent’s highly-significant exposé of the Serious Organised Crime Agency report showing that illegal phone-hacking was the standard practice of some law firms, insurance companies, high net worth individuals and, yes, celebrities.

It would be a mistake to downplay the potential of the revelations for shifting the public’s mood over statutory press regulation. As a broadcast commentator on media issues, I hear phone-in callers increasingly demanding to know why SOCA did nothing and voicing welcome appreciation of a free press in exposing NHS whistleblower gags and the smearing of the Lawrence family.

Paul Connew, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Your editorial “Other hackers need scrutiny too” (25 June) attacks Lord Justice Leveson for ignoring evidence that “most theft of private information was carried out on behalf of law firms and large corporations”, yet you have presented only the most tenuous evidence for this startling claim.

Your news report cites a single source: a “hacker” who says that “80 per cent of his client list was taken up by law firms”. This is one operator and it is not even clear whether he is referring to his general client list or just his phone-hacking activity.

And far from being “suppressed” as you suggest, evidence of widespread data abuse was uncovered by the police and the Information Commissioners Office some years ago and published in a 2006 report entitled What Price Privacy? This document is the key source for the “suppressed report” by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency that you mention. The SOCA evidence was supplied to the Leveson inquiry but there is nothing mysterious about its absence from the Leveson report, since the judge’s remit restricted him to matters relating to the press.

It is no surprise, though it is of course preposterous, that other less scrupulous papers have seized on your report to build a claim that, if others such as lawyers were engaged in phone hacking, then there were obviously no grounds for reform of press self-regulation.

Brian Cathcart, Executive Director, Hacked Off, London SW1

CQC report was published

It is incorrect to suggest that a report commissioned by CQC from Deloitte was “buried” (report, 27 June). Nor was this a report into University Hospitals Morecambe Bay. It focused on CQC’s use of its investigation powers.

The report was published on our website following a discussion at a board meeting held in public and broadcast on YouTube on 7 February. We commissioned this work as part of our strategy review, published in April. It was referenced in our recent consultation document and in our response to the Health Select Committee’s annual accountability report published on 7 January 2013.

David Behan, Chief Executive, Care Quality Commission, London EC1

Once again the establishment drags its feet in bringing its own to account. MPs who fiddled their expenses were allowed to simply pay the money back, while benefit claimants are taken to court for much smaller sums.

Now we have allegations of a cover-up in relation to deaths on a maternity ward. First the names of those allegedly involved were kept secret, and now we are told that “those involved may now face disciplinary action”. Surely, if so, it is time for charges of misconduct in public office to be considered, if the allegations are proved.

Stanley Knill, London N15

Falling stars at Wimbledon

In the analysis of the slips and falls on Wimbledon’s “wounded Wednesday”, there are a number of potential culprits which should also be considered.

Are they wearing the right footwear with the appropriate amount of grip?

We should also consider the trend towards the giraffe build, which is a feature of many of today’s top players. Whilst that gives advantages for the service game and reach, the skeleton has disadvantages when having to twist and turn to return balls which come on to them increasingly quickly with today’s rackets and balls.

Chris Bown, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

No political correctness

Trish Scott (letter, 26 June) is disappointed that The Independent mentions that Judge Constance Briscoe’s skin colour is black. Surely the “offending” word was just a fleeting adjective, perhaps of slight interest to some. Maybe a tiny minority of readers were outraged by use of the pronoun “she”. The Independent would never get published if the editors used a politically correct, treading-on-eggshells approach to their work.

Barrie Spooner, Nottingham

Good news buried

Tucked away on page 24 (28 June), was a short and disturbing report “Cyclist deaths up by 10 per cent” (to 118). But what is much more disturbing is the way in which The Independent has failed to tell the whole story. The drop in pedestrian casualties rated a brief mention but not a sausage about the most important of the 2012 road casualty statistics, the 8 per cent drop in the numbers killed to 1,754, the lowest figure since records began in 1926.

Roger Chapman, Keighley, West Yorkshire


There is no comparison between male circumcision and female genital mutilation, except for the very rare procedure of removing the skin covering the clitoris, as described by David Hamilton (letter, 28 June). The commonly performed mutilation of female genitalia in cultures that consider it to be important can only be compared to partial or complete penile amputation. Debate about the rights and wrongs of male circumcision requires a separate forum.

John Beck, Alresford, Hampshire

Church in Arabia

Peter Popham is wrong in writing that Qatar has the only Catholic church in the Gulf states (“The Sheikh from Sandhurst”, 26 June). Whilst Christian worship is forbidden in Saudi Arabia, all the other five Gulf Cooperation Council countries have Catholic churches – including St Mary’s in Dubai, which I have attended many times.

Alan J Percy, Wirral

GM people?

You report on “germ-line gene therapy” to eliminate inherited diseases. Why is genetic modification acceptable in people but not in rice?

Dr John Doherty, Stratford-upon-Avon



The resulting carbon dioxide emissions must be captured and stored safely, and there is also a danger from the release of hazardous radon

Sir, The crucial question you fail to address in your leading article (“Fuel the Future”, June 28) is can the gas then be burnt with impunity? The answer no, unless the resulting emissions of carbon dioxide are captured and stored safely.

The geological record of climate change tells us that we should now take our finger off the carbon trigger. We can do that in part by putting carbon back underground once we’ve had the use of it, whether we burn coal, oil or gas.

We can take the carbon out safely, we can put it back safely. But we can’t argue with a message from a rock.

Bryan Lovell
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Sir, You favour shale gas recovery in the UK, thus following the Institute of Directors report Getting Shale Gas Working published last month. Its authors state in a note: “In order to remain focused, this report does not examine the safety of hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’), either in the UK or overseas.”

The British Geological Survey report announcing the big increase in estimated shale gas reserves does mention risk but it, IoD and you overlook one aspect of fracking that has received no press coverage in the UK: the prospective health hazard of using fracked shale gas.

The Heath Minister Anna Soubry told the Labour MP Paul Flynn in a written answer last month that Public Health England (formerly the Health Protection Agency) “is preparing a report identifying potential public health issues and concerns, including radon (release/emissions) that might be associated with aspects of hydraulic fracturing.”

The report is due out for public consultation in the summer. PHE is concerned to evaluate the potential risks of radon gas being pumped into citizens’ homes as part of the shale gas stream. Unless the gas is stored for several days to allow the radon’s radioactivity to naturally reduce, this is potentially very dangerous. Radon is unquestionably the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

Dr David Lowry
Stoneleigh, Surrey

Sir, Communities near fracking sites would do well to take the Energy Minister Michael Fallon’s assurance of a cash benefit with a pinch of salt (report, June 28). They should look at the Aggregate Levy, currently £2/tonne. This was introduced in 2002 as a “green” tax and to recompense areas near extraction sites via the Grants Scheme. In the Lords in 2008, Lord Redesdale pointed out that only £24m pa was going on the Grants Scheme while the levy was raising over £300m pa. He need not have bothered. In 2010 George Osborne abolished the grants scheme — and kept all of the levy.

Geoff Mason
Loughborough, Leics

We should celebrate the 80th anniversary of the formation of the British Trust for Ornithology, and support its important work

Sir, On July 1, 1933, a letter was published in The Times announcing the foundation of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Eminent birdwatchers asked for support so that the new institute could raise £8,000 for its first five years. The appeal worked and on Monday the charity celebrates its 80th birthday. Our members look forward to the publication of Bird Atlas 2007-11 that will update our shared understanding of what is happening to the birds around us, whether they be the much-loved nightingale or the invasive ring-necked parakeet. More than 40,000 birdwatchers contributed to this atlas, proving right the Editor in 1933, Geoffrey Dawson, who endorsed the BTO’s mission: “In these studies, indeed, Great Britain might lead the world since its area is not so large as to impede co-ordination, and the number of keen and competent observers is larger than in any other country.”

The signatories of the 1933 letter could not have conceived how important BTO data would become. We have provided evidence of climate change, through the advancement of breeding seasons, advised on major planning proposals and helped to formulate farm payment plans to support birds such as the skylark. The BTO is a national and international success; we are grateful to The Times for the far-sighted endorsement of us in 1933. Eighty years on, our need for financial support is as great as ever and we hope that your readers and the interested public will continue to help us for many years to come.

Dr Andy Clements
British Trust for Ornithology

It should be remembered that not one farthing of the monies paid to support the monarch comes from tax paid by her subjects

Sir, You state (June 27) that “the Queen will receive a 5 per cent increase on the money she receives from taxpayers next year”.

She will not. The payment, as you explain later, comes from the Crown Estate, which was surrendered by George III in 1760 in return for an annual grant. Given the value of this estate, the nation had a very good deal. Not one farthing of the monies paid to support the monarch comes from tax paid by her subjects, and it is time that the propagation of this myth ceased.

Neil Stacy
Chippenham, Wilts

There are things that gardeners can do to attract more bees, including growing aconitum, astrantia and geraniums, among other plants

Sir, Everyone is asking where the bees are. They are in my garden. Thousands of them, feasting on aconitum, astrantia, geranium, centaurea, eleagnus, nepeta and lamium. Soon they will enjoy eryngium, salvia, penstemon and veronicastrum.

Grow these and help our beleaguered bees.

Juliet Rogers
Shaftesbury, Dorset

Jane Austen is not the only great author to have slipped up in grammatical terms, Shakespeare seems to have done so as well

Sir, J. R. G. Edwards (letter, June 28) is right to alert us to the dangers of treating great authors as models of correct language.

Yet Shakespeare caused Antonio to say to Bassanio (Merchant of Venice, III, ii), “All debts are cleared between you and I.” Various scholars have tried to excuse the Bard, but it seems that he simply got it wrong. A few years later, Claudius said to Laertes (Hamlet, IV, v), “And they shall hear and judge twixt you and me,” suggesting, perhaps, that Shakespeare had learnt his lesson.

Ian Baird
Framlingham, Suffolk


SIR – Peter Oborne’s verdict on the Chancellor’s public spending record (Comment, June 27) is unduly harsh. George Osborne’s critics too often ignore the fact that public spending rose as a percentage of GDP throughout the first three years of Margaret Thatcher’s administration, only falling below the level inherited of 44.6 per cent after seven years in office. Yet no one considers Geoffrey Howe a profligate chancellor.

Public spending was on a steep upward trajectory before the last election, reaching 47.7 per cent of GDP in 2009-10. This was successfully reduced to 43.1 per cent in 2012-3. Current plans will reduce this to below 40 per cent within four more years if even modest growth is maintained.

George Osborne has simultaneously reduced public spending in cash and percentage terms, avoided politically toxic cuts to the schools and health budgets and changed the terms of political debate in favour of austerity.

This provides the Conservatives with a fighting chance of winning the next election and enhances Mr Osborne’s prospects as a credible future Tory leader.

Philip Duly
Haslemere, Surrey

SIR – Bus passes and heating payments were brought in by the last Labour government as blatant electoral bribes.

The only honest way to help sectors of society that need it is through the tax and benefit system. Anything else is corrupt. Pensioners should also examine their consciences.

Don Edwards
Manningtree, Essex

SIR – If ministers can find £1 million to improve the battlefield of Waterloo, they should insist that something in the shop, amid a plethora of Napoleon ashtrays, pens and fridge magnets, relates to Wellington.

On visiting last year I was almost convinced that the French had won.

Rosie Clarke
Nailsea, Somerset

Boys’ toys at table

SIR – I wonder if newspapers come under the heading of “toys”, like the mobiles that your readers want banned from the meal-table (Letters, June 27).

In the early child-free years of marriage, I tried not to have a television, but was overruled at the time of the 1966 World Cup. I later decreed: “No telly in the dining room.” That ruling was turned to ash by the same person. (The children hadn’t noticed the lack.)

I am writing this at the breakfast table while my husband does the Sudoku.

Janet Spencer-Knott

A cat may look at a king

SIR – I do not know if any cats coexist with the corgis at Buckingham Palace (Letters, June 26), but in March 1948 Princess Elizabeth accepted the wedding gift of a Siamese kitten, Corsham Royal Boy. Timmy, as he was renamed, arrived at the Palace and was collected by the Princess herself, to live with her in the country.

Marianne F Napper
Chale Green, Isle of Wight

SIR – My parents attended the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip (with whom my father had served in the Royal Navy during the war). Later that day we were among the crowds in front of the Palace waiting to see the newlyweds on the balcony. Suddenly a cat appeared and walked along the balustrade to a massive cheer from the waiting crowds.

Violet Hooper
Yatton, Somerset

Positive parenting

SIR – The family lawyer Helen Reece (“Government parenting advice is corrosive and harmful”, Comment, June 26), makes a very simplistic assertion: “Any shortfall in a child’s behaviour can be explained by the fact that the parent’s treatment of the child was not positive enough”.

Positive parenting is not being “nice to children all of the time” and ignoring poor behaviour. It involves methods of discipline that hold children accountable for their actions and help them make amends when they’ve done something wrong.

Elaine Halligan
London Director, The Parent Practice
London SW12

Migrant housing

SIR – “Beds in sheds” (Features, June 27) could be prevented by repealing the section of the Housing Act requiring councils to give 24 hours’ notice before inspections.

John Tilsiter
Radlett, Hertfordshire

Thanks berry much

SIR – While preparing to pick gooseberries yesterday, I was shocked to find the bushes had been stripped. The suspects – two muntjacs from the woods. I was delighted.

None of my family even likes them.

Gillian Lambert
Amersham, Buckinghamshire

Patients could contribute to NHS treatment

SIR – Unlike the NHS, Tesco exists to make a profit, and customers pay at the checkout for everything that they receive.

Let’s move a little towards that world. The NHS could charge £10 for any consultation or visit to A&E (£40 out of normal working hours), the first £20 of the cost of any single medication, and the first £500 of any procedure or test.

How about a pilot scheme – perhaps in Buckinghamshire or Surrey?

Robert Brettell
Anlaby, East Yorkshire

SIR – My daughter is a 31-year-old junior doctor specialising in A&E. She has found it stimulating and enjoyable, but is changing career path as she cannot tolerate the extremely unsocial hours.

She works alternate weekends and most bank holidays as well as the normal working week, with frequent nights, on a fixed rota which is sometimes released only a few days in advance. This makes taking part in regular out-of-work activities or arranging child care very difficult. Her holiday breaks, never more than a week at a time, are imposed with no choice.

I understand that the working conditions in A&E in New Zealand and Australia are better because there are more doctors.

Dr V Hamilton
Streatley, Oxfordshire

SIR – Why is it not possible to contact a service 24/7, and give them your NHS number so that your medical history is instantly available to the doctor?

Alyson Persson
Ewhurst, Surrey

The rock show designer who started with a bang

SIR – Mark Fisher, the rock show designer (Obituary, June 27), developed his pyrotechnical skills in teenage exploits. In the school play and on the Combined Cadet Force pretend battlefield, “Siegfried” – as we nicknamed him – trod the extreme edges of acceptability.

On one occasion, I was among those who helped Mark with a choreographed cadet force display that culminated in a large explosion. The well-dressed visiting party of VIPs and their behatted wives were surprised both by the loud bang and by the clods of earth dropping out of the sky on to their heads.

We were blown off our feet and lucky to have our eardrums intact to hear the visiting general, after a long and pregnant pause, say: “Jolly good show.”

The general’s comment let Mark off the hook from a severe dressing-down from the headmaster.

Richard Lyon

SIR – There can be no sport in which the players are quite so pampered as in tennis.

Children are employed to anticipate and respond to every whim. Players are handed the balls and never have to pick them up or collect them. They are handed a towel to wipe the face after every point, have an umbrella held above them while they have incredibly frequent sit-down rests and are given drinks. They have their rubbish taken away to the very close-by bin.

They are allowed to scream the roof down, and have more officials than any other sport for a two-person encounter, plus Hawkeye – and still they argue.

They should just get real, because I really do enjoy the Wimbledon fortnight.

Cdr John Prime RN (retd)
Old Bedhampton, Hampshire

SIR – Going to Wimbledon this week, I joined the queue at 6.40am and was number 2668. On entering the ground, I ran to Court 3 and again was lucky enough to get one of the last seats available to the general public and saw two great matches.

During that time at least a third of the other seats on Court 3 remained empty for the whole afternoon. How disrespectful this was to the players. There were 4,000 people who had queued overnight and from early morning who would have been thrilled to have filled those seats.

How can quaffing champagne and scoffing smoked salmon equate to watching world-class tennis? It’s high time Wimbledon sorted this out.

It cannot be beyond the wit of man to fill seats until the corporate sponsors can be bothered to turn up.

Natalie Straughen
East Horsley, Surrey

SIR – I listened to the complaints of players about slipping on the grass. Watching the replays of the slips on television, I saw that all were wearing branded tennis shoes with a pimple pattern tread on the sole.

This might be the latest design of shoe, which their sponsors want to advertise, and they may be very effective on clay, but clearly they do not give the wearer the traction and stability needed to play on grass. Perhaps the players who have criticised the quality of the playing surface have been the architects of their own downfall by allowing their sponsors to dictate what they wear on their feet.

Justin Smith
Salisbury, Wiltshire

SIR – If the winner of a match complained at how slippery the court was, then I might start to listen.

Sheila Daintith
Widnes, Cheshire

SIR – Our dog Alfi slept soundly through the epic match between Federer and Stakhovsky unfolding on the television next to his cushion. No sooner had the match ended than his reveries were rudely terminated by the noise emanating from the highlights of Sharapova v De Brito. He rose with a start from his slumbers, anxiously looking around, trying to locate the pair of humans who were so obviously enduring the most excruciating pain.

For the sake of my dog’s sanity will someone please rid us of this needless caterwauling?

Richard Childs
Chichester, West Sussex

Irish Times:

Sir, – I thought Anglo, etc, had just cost us billions of euro, from which we would eventually recover. The taped conversations and the understandable international reaction to it bring to mind Iago’s words in Othello:

“Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.” – Yours etc,


Glasnevin Hill, Dublin 9.

Sir, – The release of the contemptible Anglo tapes just as the EU is giving consideration to retrospective funding of failed banks seems more than mere coincidence. One has to ask who would benefit from these tapes contributing to a refusal from the EU to compensate the Irish State for pouring taxpayers’ funds into Anglo, AIB, etc? The obvious answer is private business interests which would make huge “moolah” by buying at a discount from the strapped State AIB and Bank of Ireland just as they are returning to profitability. I find it frustrating that our standing army of public commentators and columnists are making nothing of this very basic question. Is there a wider conspiracy? – Yours, etc,


St Stephen’s Street,

Off Tower Street, Cork.

Sir, – Why would German buyers buy from Ireland and why would international investors invest in Ireland, given the insulting contemptuous arrogance displayed by some of our bankers on the one hand and the limp-wristed legalistic response of our political leaders on the other?

Five years after the collapse of our banking system, and three investigations later, politicians are still discussing the form of another investigation which should, could or might take place.

The revelations will make business more difficult for those trying to maintain exports and keep our country afloat. We are officially in recession and our manufactured exports are falling. We are facing a national emergency. Could we hope for something more than political infighting and an analysis of our leader’s DNA? – Yours, etc,


Gowrie Park,

Glenageary, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Enda Kenny and other TDs have claimed they understand the public’s rage at the content and tone of the Anglo tapes. I hope they also appreciate the damage these revelations are doing to people’s emotional and spiritual well-being, especially the many who are facing the threat of losing their homes due to the past mismanagement of our economy by both politicians and bankers.

How truly disgusting and disheartening the contents/tone of these recordings must be for these unfortunates.

A chara, – Sam Quirke (June 28th) is right in noting that if one looked to our national broadcaster and print media one would have thought that no commemoration of Wolfe Tone took place and that he was forgotten.

Last weekend, however, I spoke at a commemoration, attended by hundreds of Irishmen and Irishwomen, in Bodenstown, to commemorate the founder of Irish republicanism, Wolfe Tone. In my speech I noted: “In the Ireland of 2013, the message of Tone is more relevant than ever. Now more than ever, this country needs republican politics. We owe it not just to the generations who have gone before us but most importantly the generation growing up in the Ireland of 2013 and the generations yet to come. Let’s make Tone’s Republic a reality.” Such sentiments are not shared by many in positions of influence in our country, North and South, and I am sure they are glad to have them secreted away from each generation. – Yours, etc,


Sir, – As a frequent user of the N7, I am happy to hear that the traffic lights at Newlands Cross are to be replaced by a free flow structure (Home News, June 6th).

However, I would be even happier to have to wait the extra few minutes at the traffic lights if I knew that the €100 million which it will cost was being used to provide accommodation and supports for those homeless people still living on our streets. – Yours, etc,


Upper Sherrard Street,

Sir, – Having been a social worker in London during the 1980s, and seeing many young Irish women having to leave home to have their babies adopted, I watch with both sadness and interest the current debate on the abortion legislation in Ireland.

Surely, in this day and age the case for women’s health outweighs the religious issues being currently made to hold back progress. The women I saw were put in an invidious situation by the religious mores of the time. Please don’t do this again. – Yours, etc,


Whaley Lane,

Whaley Bridge,

Derbyshire, England.

Sir, – I refer to the article by Dr David Grimes (Opinion, June 25th) in which he refers to the pro-life statement last September that “abortion is never necessary to save the life of a mother”.

Dr Grimes seems not to have read or heard any further qualification of this statement. The situation in Ireland to date is that in the treatment of pregnant women with a medically life-threatening condition such as ectopic pregnancy or pre-eclampsia the mother is given whatever medical procedure is necessary to save her life. This intervention may endanger the life of the foetus, but every effort is made to save that life, sadly not always successfully, and the mother has to accept that “I lost the baby”.

It is in this attitude of care for the foetus/unborn child that such medical intervention differs from abortion, the direct object of which is the death of the unborn. There is a clear difference between the two approaches. – Yours, etc,


Sir, – During the recent national commemoration of the visit of President Kennedy, little justification has been given for our adoration, other than that he was charismatic and of Irish descent. Scant mention is made of any substantive achievements made under his presidency.

It is a sign of our immaturity and insecurity as a nation, that we unthinkingly revere a family not for what they do, but for what their surname is. – Yours, etc,


Irish Independent:




One Response to “Hospital Friday”

  1. Says:

    Oh Dear….. I sent Mary a nice Get Well card yesterday. When I took it to the Post Office the man took it and said .46 cents please. I said to him, “Usually it costs a lot more to mail it.” He replied “No, its only .46 cents. So I pay the man and go to the grocery store and about my business. When I get home, hubby wants to go to Branson, to Bass Pro Shop. Off we go. As we are traveling, I mention that the card I mailed to Mary only cost .46 this time. He said “Did the postman look at the address or just weigh the card?” I do not know, I wasn’t watching what he did, I was digging in my purse for my wallet. Hubby said “I’ll bet that he never looked at the address and just weighed the card because .46 cents is the cost of 1 regular stamp for U.S. mailing. So now my though is “Will Mary get the card? Will he realize his mistake and mail it anyway? Will it come back to me in my mailbox with “Insuffient postage stamped on it”? What will happen to Mary’s card. Seeing that it’s the Post Office’s fault, they should pay…..but I’ll bet he just threw it in the regular mail and it will go to the next big city and they won’t know who’s fault it is, only that it does not have enough postage. Guess the fault is actually mine. I should have known better. There are no SALE days at the Post Office…I should have questioned the postman. Mary will probably be out of the hospital for months before we find out where her card is. Oh Well, the though was there… I wish her a speedy recovery.

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