Sore throat

13 July 2013 Sore throat

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Heather ditches Leslie and take up with Pertwee, who is not sure she can afford her and the Cafe Romantica. Priceless.
Warmer today I have a sore throat and we both feel utterly exhausted.
We watch Double Bunk its awful
No Scrabble we are just too tired perhaps tomorrow.

Obituary:
One of the medium’s first celebrities, he was often described as a “travel journalist” on account of his many reports from exotic locations. But he preferred to call himself “a journalist who travels”, considering that everyone had a story which it was his job to tell. To this end he traversed the globe “at least 97 times”, and as early as 1982 presented the retrospective Whicker’s World — The First Million Miles.
His programmes delighted in the colourful, the eccentric and the downright ludicrous. Charming and deferential in blazer or safari suit, Whicker allowed his subjects to speak for — and often condemn — themselves. His habit of keeping his back to the camera suggested an air of neutrality and an absence of ego. His satirical asides, rich and subtle, influenced fly-on-the-wall documentary makers from Clive James to Louis Theroux; and his distinctive drawling, flat delivery was widely and affectionately mimicked in the nation’s saloon bars.
Whicker was particularly fascinated by the hidden lives of the rich and famous, and he interviewed figures such as J Paul Getty, the Sultan of Brunei and the Haitian dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier. He was never more content than when sipping champagne and gliding around the deck of a “superyacht” surrounded by scantily-clad women and self-made men, admitting that he was “happy enough to have the best”. In a poll by the advertising agency J Walter Thompson he was once voted “the most envied man in Britain”.
At the same time, Whicker was a consummate professional. He conceived, researched, wrote, produced and presented his programmes; this would often involve writing one while simultaneously filming, researching and planning others.
The son of a soldier who died young, Alan Donald Whicker was born in Cairo on August 2 1925, and was brought up by his mother in Hampstead. He was educated at Haberdasher’s Aske’s, where he would write to travel agents asking for brochures for “exotic locations such as Ostend”.
On leaving school he joined the Army, and was serving as an officer with the Devonshire Regiment in 1943 when an uncle, who was a City banker, invited him to a lunch at which a senior official in the War Office announced that he was looking for a young man to direct some 40 sergeant-cameramen in the Eighth Army’s newly-formed film and photo unit, which was to provide an official record and news footage.
Whicker’s first assignment was to film church bells ringing a victory peal in a Holborn back street for the time when it would be needed. On arrival in North Africa, he recorded ships arriving, men marching, guns firing, and General Montgomery obligingly pointing significantly into the distance.
If Whicker’s role was safer than that of many others, it still had its dangers. Having moved on to Sicily, he had been there for only 24 hours when a brother officer in the jeep ahead of him was killed by a landmine. Another lost an arm at Salerno .
With what he regularly described as “Whicker’s luck”, the young officer crossed the lightly defended Strait of Messina unscathed, and was driving along a coastal road when he came across several hundred Italian soldiers. Although armed with only a revolver, he leapt out of his vehicle brandishing his camera, and was greeted by a lowering of weapons and delighted smiles. Combs were pulled out as the troop smartened up to be photographed surrendering, though Italy would not capitulate for another five days.
Having photographed the American General Mark Clark’s entry into Rome, Whicker became fed up with waiting for the Allied advance, and set off for Milan, where he arrived without seeing a German until a crowd of partisans rushed to tell him that they had surrounded the SS headquarters. Striding past the silent black-uniformed guard posts, he entered to be greeted by a general, who clicked his heels, saluted and handed over his revolver, saying in English: “My men are at your disposal.” Soon Whicker was given a trunk containing the SS’s treasury, which he placed in his car ready for handing over to the Americans.
For several hours he reassured both the nervous SS inside the building and the raging crowd outside that reinforcements were on the way. When an American tank regiment finally arrived, he realised that he had been the only person who had not believed his story.
Whicker’s last acts of the war were to photograph the bodies of Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci, which were hanging upside down from lamp posts, and to take delivery of John Amery, the cabinet minister’s son later executed for broadcasting for the enemy. “Thank God, you’ve come,” said Amery. “I thought they were going to shoot me.”
After the war Whicker edited the Army newspaper Union Jack in Venice, before reluctantly returning home, with a mention in dispatches, to work for the Exchange Telegraph news agency. He reported from Cairo and covered the Korean War, where he upset American correspondents by ostentatiously shaving every day and wearing red pyjamas at night. After an aircraft identical to the one in which he had been travelling was shot down, he filed a service message: UNKILLED UNINJURED ONPRESSING”.
In 1957 Whicker was invited to join the BBC’s early evening magazine programme Tonight, presented by Cliff Michelmore. His first story was about Ramsgate landladies. Nine reports from Northern Ireland about the uneasy truce between Catholics and Protestants went unused after vociferous complaints about his deadpan, even-handed approach from the local BBC controller and the Bishop of Derry. But soon he was encouraged to set viewers asking: “Where the hell will Whicker be next?” in his own programme, Whicker’s World.
Dispensing with scripted interviews, Whicker left his subjects to reveal themselves unhindered, often employing the technique of prolonged silence on the part of the interviewer. He believed that “you can ask the rudest, most personal questions if you smile”, and that “you should never patronise your subject”.
All his programmes, or “signed documentaries”, were entitled “Whicker…” and his public knew what to expect. With Whicker Down Under (1961), On Top Of The World (1962), In Sweden, In The Heart of Texas and Down Mexico Way (all 1963), the successful template was established. He also made a series of hour-long, one-on-one interviews with The Solitary Billionaire (1964), a profile of the reclusive oilman J Paul Getty. In unusually combative mode, Whicker pressed the oilman about his famous meanness, lack of sociability and inability to relate to women. Getty was, however, unflustered, and the two men became friends, the billionaire confiding that the only downside of the programme was the 25,000 begging letters he had consequently received.
In 1968 Whicker left the BBC for a time to join a consortium organised by Telefusion, which won the franchise for Yorkshire Television, where he was said to have become the largest shareholder. This enabled him to continue with his interviews — probing without prying, diffident, puzzled, apparently onside — as he went on to tackle General Stroessner of Paraguay and the brutal “Papa Doc” Duvalier, “a little roly-poly man in a homburg” who toured Port-au-Prince in his Mercedes throwing money out of the window and quoting his own poetry. Later there was the Sultan of Brunei in his 1,776-room palace, a task Whicker described as being like “trying to interview God”.
Whicker was equally well known for his travel programmes, in which he managed to encounter the bizarre under every coconut or kumquat tree. Playing the politely interested and innocently perplexed, he would draw from his subjects details of the QE2, clubland, expat or indigenous life . It was indicative of the mileage he covered that when asked by a newspaper for his favourite holiday destination he answered Bali, Hong Kong, Mauritius, New York, Australia and Norfolk Island. Only Point Barrow in Alaska and Easter Island (which he referred to as “Dartmoor-on-Sea”) failed to delight. American Express used him in their “That’ll do nicely” advertising campaign, and AOL made him their worldwide travel ambassador.
He would point out that he made films (though not many) about drugs, violence, delinquents and the Poor Clare nuns; but it was his mingling with the yacht-owning classes which was most memorable. Monty Python performed a sketch about “Whicker Island”, which was peopled only by Alan Whicker lookalikes vainly searching for a millionaire to interview. There was an Alan Whicker Appreciation Society, whose members dressed up as their hero, played cricket matches with a “Whicker keeper” and claimed to speak “Whickeric”.
In addition to compiling books on his travels, Whicker chaired the wireless programme Start the Week and wrote columns for The Listener and the Sunday Express. Apart from the countless awards for individual television programmes, he won the Television Director’s Personality of the Year (1964), the Silver Medal of the Royal Television Society (1967), the Dimbleby Award from Bafta (1978) and the TV Times Special Award (1978). In 1993 he was the first person to be inducted into the Royal Television Society’s Hall of Fame.
He was appointed CBE in 2005.
Whicker was not a fan of the new generation of television travel programmes, with its “mandatory blondes” gushing about “a land of contrasts”.
In 2004 he was seen at his best in the two-episode Whicker’s War, about the 666-day Italian campaign . He revisited the landing beaches and the villas where he had stayed; sketched in the commanders’ decisions; and dwelt on the slaughter while noting that the ruins of Florence “looked like a beautiful woman with most of her teeth knocked out”. His concluding regret was that none of his colleagues in the film unit were alive to enjoying watching the programme with him at home.
In 2009 he returned to some of the locations and people who had featured in his programmes for a BBC series, Alan Whicker’s Journey of a Lifetime.
He listed “reading airline timetables” among his interests in Who’s Who, and once caused a furore by saying that if he could take only six objects to a desert island he would choose “two blondes, two brunettes and two redheads”.
Whicker once said: “I always pack a blazer because you can wear it on the beach or in the Governor’s palace and not look out of place”. And he never seemed to change, even if the moustache was whiter, the steady walk a little slower. When he was offered a cameo role in the British film Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999), Whicker was asked by the costume department exactly what he had worn in the 1970s. “You’re looking at it,” he replied.
Away from the cameras, Whicker lived quietly among the millionaires of Jersey, enjoying the landscape and his 1964 Bentley Continental. After being engaged for some years to the oil heiress Olga Deterding, his companion on the island for more than 40 years was the photographer Valerie Kleeman; she survives him.
Alan Whicker, born August 2 1925, died July 12 2013

Guardian:

So our upmarket burger-eating chancellor thinks in relation to food banks “it’s a good thing that those services are advertised in jobcentres” (Report, 12 July). Clearly he’s not disturbed that people are driven to rely on food banks to survive. No doubt if we still had workhouses there’d be signposts in jobcentres showing the way.
Jeremy Beecham
Labour, House of Lords
• I see Claire Armitstead feels that Samuel Beckett’s Murphy has “a clear debt to an English literary tradition stretching back to Dr Johnson, Sterne and Swift” (Report, 11 July). Considering that three of the four authors mentioned were, in fact, Irish, I wonder to what extent it is fair to say that Johnson belongs to an Irish literary tradition?
Niall Carson
Liverpool
• If an evangelical or pentecostal church achieved the same attendance as the East London mosque, would it have received editorial praise in the Guardian (In praise of … the Maryam Centre, 11 July)? Somehow I doubt it.
Roger Backhouse
Ilford, Essex
• Robin Wendt (Letters, 12 July) says that what the Queen makes of the privatisation of Royal Mail is “a matter for interesting speculation”. Not so. The royal warrant for express parcel delivery is already held by DHL, now owned by the German post office.
Michael Fox
London
• I was able to break the code – I’ve had worse at Bletchley Park (Simon Hoggart’s sketch, 11 July). The first line was “Gurrgh hagg scree cranggg brung”. With the help of an old Enigma machine it translated into “Are you sure he’s away for the weekend?”. “Piperade quantum dholakia scram spongiest,” I deciphered as: “Roll on Friday, wear the nurse’s uniform.”
KJ Wilson
Edinburgh
• From experience, I’d say Mary Jackson needs to get three facetious letters published, in order to earn one “serious” space (Letters, 12 July). Unless she signs as Bob Holman, Rev Paul Nicolson or DBC Reed. See if Keith Flett concurs.
Fr Alec Mitchell
Manchester

I read with some amusement the article on the well-loved film The Railway Children (Censors unfazed by Railway Children ‘danger’: Classic film receives first complaint in 42 years, 12 July) and the possibility that it might encourage children to play on the railway lines. The book, by Edith Nesbit, on which the film was based, was read to us many times by my mother who was herself a “railway child”.
Her father, my grandfather, was the stationmaster of a small village, Cranford, in the 1930s. Despite many warnings of the possible dangers, for my mother and her two sisters the station was a wonderful playground.
One day they were playing cowboys and indians and Doris, the youngest, was tied to a totem pole – actually a telegraph pole – right next to the line. Too late they heard the train approaching; the knots would not come undone and so Vera and Mona stood valiantly at Doris’s side as the express train thundered past. Retribution followed when the driver stopped in Kettering and sent a message back to say there were children playing on the line.
One unforeseen drawback came when my mother won a scholarship to Kettering High school and travelled daily on the train. She was strictly forbidden to travel in the same carriage as any of the boys from Kettering Grammar school. And in those days there were no corridors for the boys to escape to when the train pulled in to Cranford.
The solution – the boys placed their coats on the hammock-like luggage racks and lay on top of them so they were invisible to her father standing on the platform.
Hazel Anderson
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

OK, we get the point. You think that more of your readers are interested in pop music than the many and varied classical music styles. Film&Music (12 July) has 11 pages devoted to the former, but only one page of record reviews of (mostly obscure) classical stuff. Not a worthwhile mention of arguably the world’s most important classical concert series, the Proms. That is, unless you count the television listing for the First Night, where the office junior seems to have been left in charge. Stephen Hough is a pianist not a conductor, so he wouldn’t be the one to “take on” Britten’s Sea Interludes. That would be Sakari Oramo with the BBCSO. The excellent Mr Hough will be taking on (and conquering I’ve no doubt) the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov and Lutoslawski’s Paganini Variations. Both are based on the theme music to the South Bank Show.
Barry Russell
Composer, performer and animateur, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire

I am not surprised to see Seumas Milne’s summary of the Labour party report into the Falkirk West selection as offering “thin gruel” (Comment, 10 July). As we have seen time and again, the track record of party officials in conducting these investigations is frankly amateurish. However, he has the advantage on an ordinary member of Falkirk CLP like myself. My democratic rights in the party I joined over 20 years ago have been abrogated on the basis of a report that I am not allowed to see. This report should be published. If Labour won’t do it, then the Guardian should.
Graham Day
Falkirk, Stirlingshire
• Polly Toynbee’s justifiable frustration with “the pretensions of those who won’t join Labour because it isn’t exactly what they want it to be” (Comment, 9 July) is rather at odds with her suggestion that “opening up selection of candidates to anyone who registers as a Labour supporter” is a good idea. Before we all get overexcited by open primaries or such like, can anyone point to a country in which they’ve raised the general quality of politicians? The US example is not encouraging. A useful test for the likely efficacy of political policies is “do they work in any other country that is similar to the UK”? If they don’t, they’re probably unworkable.  Mr Farage’s and McCluskey’s fans, amongst many others, would do well to take note.
Brian Hughes
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
• We welcome Ed Miliband’s bold speech setting out reforms to ensure that Labour politics is more open and that machine politics is consigned to history. Organisations like Pragmatic Radicalism, through its Top of the Policies events, are pioneering new ways to encourage the participation of the broadest possible range of people in Labour policy-making. We support Ed Miliband’s view that Labour must “reach out to others outside our party” in order “to genuinely build a movement again”, and agree that primaries may help this process. While no panacea, experimenting with primaries between now and the next election will show the British public that we are an outward-looking party that aspires to bring in a wider range of people as our candidates, not just a narrow elite.
John Slinger Chair, Pragmatic Radicalism
Cllr Mike Harris International officer, Pragmatic Radicalism
Jonathan Todd Vice-chair, Pragmatic Radicalism
Amanda Ramsay Vice-chair, Pragmatic Radicalism
John Mann MP
Gisela Stuart MP
Steve Reed MP
Jenny Chapman MP
Graham Jones MP
David Lammy MP
Ann Clwyd MP 
John Woodcock MP
Kevin Barron MP
Lord Rogers of Riverside
Cllr Theo Blackwell London Borough of Camden
Cllr Simon Hogg London Borough of Wandsworth
Cllr Rachel Rogers Chair, Labour Group, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council
Robert Philpot Director, Progress
Joe Dancey Acting director, Progress
Peter Watt Former general secretary of the Labour Party
James Bloodworth Editor, Left Foot Forward
Hopi Sen Former head of campaigns, parliamentary Labour party
Cllr Mike Le-Surf Leader, Labour group, Brentwood Borough Council
Anthony Painter Author, Left without a future?
Cllr Stephen Cowan Leader, Labour group, London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
David Goodhart
Jess Asato Labour PPC for Norwich North
Alex Smith Former Ed Miliband adviser/ Editor LabourList
Jonny Medland Secretary, Battersea Labour party
Atul Hatwal Editor, Labour Uncut
Lord Turnberg

My most vivid memory of attending an early Rolling Stones concert (at which they were supported by the long-forgotten Peter and Gordon) is of being hit by a truncheon as the police attempted to maintain order after the concert (Letters, 11 July). This was not long after the Stones first entered the UK charts with (I think) It’s All Over Now in 1964. I cannot report what the Stones played, as they were completely drowned out by screaming (presumably) girl fans. I imagine the band had been booked before they became famous, as the unlikely venue was the Essoldo Cinema, Stockport.
Neil Redfern
Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester
• My only sight of the Stones was at Eel Pie Island in September 1963. I missed the last tube back to my bedsit in Islington and arrived around 2.30am. The landlady was waiting with her proverbial rolling pin. She said she’d phoned my parents to tell them that I was in Soho with a prostitute. I didn’t know whether she was making it up so I took the precaution of calling home the next day to touch base. My father never mentioned the contents of the call but suggested I might try to find somewhere else to live because he wasn’t too keen on being woken up at two in the morning.
Rod White
Uley, Gloucestershire
• On 15 October 1963, I saw the Stones at Hull City Hall for 7/6d. They were third on the bill to Johnny Kidd & the Pirates and Heinz. We all went to see the Stones. I saw them a few more times over the following few years at Hull ABC and Bridlington Spar, where Bill Wyman told us a joke I still occasionally recount. It is not fit for publication involving as it does unspeakable acts with sheep and a slander against the judiciary.
Derek Elton
Todmorden, West Yorkshire
• Dixieland at Ken Colyer’s Jazz Club (Letters, 9 July)? Yikes! Jo Russell, don’t you know it’s the very definition of anathema to speak of Dixieland and the prophet of New Orleans jazz in the same breath?
Maurice Zeegen
Watford, Hertfordshire
• Whether I actually did see Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and the Move on one bill at Portsmouth Guildhall for the equivalent of 50p, I will leave to the fact-checkers. What I do recall is encountering an old school acquaintance in the queue beforehand, who disclosed he was now in the drugs squad, and could get me “the best stuff ever”.
Paul Roper
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
• In the Lent term of 1963, I, as editor of the Cambridge student newspaper, went with my friend Karl Sabbagh to a pop concert at the Odeon cinema. There we saw, and interviewed, the star of the show, Cliff Richard (Karl still has a photograph of the event). As we left, we noticed that the poptastic attraction the following week was to be a rock group called the Beatles. We both agreed to give that one a miss.
James Cox
Twickenham, Middlesex
• In the 60s my grandmother worked as a chambermaid in a north-east hotel. She cleaned the rooms of many up and coming rock and roll bands. The person she preferred was not John Lennon, as to be expected, but Mick Jagger.
Ron Winn
Southowram, West Yorkshire
• I saw Mick Taylor, later of the Rolling Stones, in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers at the Saville Theatre in Tottenham Court Road in 1968. Second on the bill was the Jeff Beck band – featuring Rod “the Mod” Stewart – wearing blue shorts and short fur coats. A lowly third was the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And all for 17/6d.
R Davis
London
• I don’t know about first dates with the Rolling Stones but I’ve just come across my ticket to a concert in Manchester on what I recall was billed as their farewell tour. It is dated 5 March 1971. And I paid 65p (13/-) for a balcony seat in the second house, 9.15pm performance that night in the Free Trade Hall. Seems they didn’t retire afterwards, after all.
Paul Allin
Newport, Gwent

Independent:

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Most readers are probably unaware that a photograph in the Walsall New Art Gallery’s current exhibition “Epstein and Hirst: birth, death and religion” shows a grinning young Damien Hirst standing in a laboratory with his arm around the severed head of an identifiable individual. 
Although we have written twice to the gallery, we have not yet received any response. This photograph was taken in 1981, presumably without the consent of the subject himself, the laboratory or the man’s family. Taking such a picture breaches all professional standards of those who regularly deal with the bodies of the dead.
As archaeologists we are accustomed to considering a responsibility towards the dead as well as one towards the sensibilities of the living, as are the pathologists whose trust was abused in the taking of this photograph. These days students of any discipline whose work brings them into contact with dead bodies are asked to reflect about what constitutes ethical treatment of the dead.
We are well aware that Hirst’s art is intended to challenge and outrage and that it frequently deals with the bodies of the dead, but find this image to be exploitative and insensitive. The photo is an abuse of power by the artist.
In this case a person who had made a decision in good faith to give his body to medical science – a philanthropic act – has been betrayed by a young student for egocentric reasons. Such a photo has a place in Hirst’s archive, but giving it wall space without including in the commentary any acknowledgement of the ethical issues suggests that the gallery finds nothing objectionable in such a “joke”.
Matthew Beamish, Project Officer,  University of Leicester Archaeological Services
Sarah Tarlow, Professor of Archaeology, University of Leicester
Shard climb: silly stunt or brave protest?
Presumably Greenpeace is happy for anybody who disagrees with it to break the law, waste police time at taxpayers’ expense and disrupt ordinary people’s lives to make an ideological point.
While the rest of the population follows due process and engages in peaceful demonstrations to voice their grievances, Greenpeace’s self-righteous activists think they are entitled to special treatment. As Shell indicated, we all “respect the right of individuals and organisations to engage in a free and frank exchange of views”; but Greenpeace’s irresponsible publicity stunt has only succeeded in weakening their reputation as a serious organisation while doing a disservice to their cause.
Ironically, the misguided Shard climb has highlighted a security gap at the new London Bridge Quarter, home to the type of corporate interests to which Greenpeace seems to object.
Dr Christina Julios, London SE1
No, it is not a plane and no, it is not a reckless publicity stunt as your front page suggests (“Is it a plane? Is it a reckless publicity stunt?”, 12 July). It is the action of six very courageous women protesting against the despoiling of our beautiful planet by the forces of reckless greed.
Jim McCluskey, Twickenham, Middlesex
Peg MPs’ pay to Civil Service
Those of us with long memories can recall when the salary of an MP was linked to the Principal/Grade 7 pay grade in the Civil Service. This was then deemed inadequate and a large pay rise agreed, supposedly to reduce the need for them to take on other work. Now a similar rise is being suggested again, although there seems to be no shortage of applicants for the role.
It is also surprising that MPs are not subject to the performance pay system that they have foisted on the rest of the public service, under which only the top 25 per cent get a significant pay rise and the bottom are put on an improvement programme with a view to dismissal.
Dr N J T Long, Bristol
Wimbledon shoppers
I was disappointed to read Simon Read’s article about his shopping experience at one of our stores (“Why I won’t be hurrying back to Sainsbury’s”, 6 July). Our colleagues work really hard to make shopping in our stores as pleasant and hassle-free as possible, and I’m glad to say that customer feedback suggests that they achieve this.
Wimbledon fortnight was phenomenal. The sun shone, Andy Murray was playing brilliantly and, in the store your correspondent complained about, we served over 50,000 customers – almost double the usual number. Tennis fans queued with our local customers and everyone was very good-humoured, but with so many people wanting to be served quickly we had to put extra queuing controls in place to keep things flowing. I’m sorry that Mr Read felt he experienced poor service as a result – that is not acceptable and was certainly not our intention. 
Let me also reassure him that we don’t “hike prices” around Wimbledon during the fortnight to “fleece” our customers. Our national pricing policy means prices in our convenience stores are the same in Wimbledon, Wigan or Watford.
Simon Twigger, Director of Convenience, Sainsbury’s, London EC1
Sex, power and the naked body
In response to Patrick Cleary (letter, 6 July). Yes, I daresay the average male would not care one jot about seeing such a marvellous display of rampant masculinity, when we consider the fact that women are naked on the covers of magazines to pleasure men, while men are naked on the covers of magazines to inspire other men.
The sad truth is, in our society the naked male body is seen as a symbol of strength, power and confidence, while the naked female form has been reduced to merely a symbol of sex and reproduction.
In response to R S Foster (letter, 6 July), if the average British female were to follow the example of her male counterpart, as you suggested, and go topless in public, I am afraid the poor woman would very likely end up facing accusations of indecency from the more narrow-minded onlooker, and unwanted advances from dozens of men who unfortunately see the exposed female body as an invitation for sex. In this country you can publicly sell breasts (as in lads’ mags) but cannot publicly wear breasts.
Also, please could you recommend which parks, pools and beaches to visit to see a “buff male torso or a well-toned gluteus maximus”? In my experience, these sights are virtually non-existent among the British male population.
Leigh-Ann Turnbull, South Shields, Tyne and Wear
Brief mention of women’s football
I am writing to express my dismay at your coverage of the England women’s football team in this year’s Euro 2013. Looking through the sports section this morning (12 July) I was expecting to see a full page article discussing the team and their plans for their game against Spain. Instead I found only 58 words under the heading “Football in Brief” while you dedicate two and a half pages to men’s football, with no games played as the season hasn’t even started!
If The Independent is to be taken seriously as a truly independent voice, then you should consider how sexist your sports reporting is and perhaps even consider becoming pioneers in the reporting of women’s sport in general.
Airavata Carroll, Ipswich
How to boost British tennis
Richard Walker asks: “How can we  make a British win at Wimbledon a more frequent occurrence?” (Letters, 9 July).  For a start we could ensure that every British primary school has fully equipped indoor and outdoor sporting facilities, including at least one tennis court, manned by qualified sports staff. Perhaps the Lawn Tennis Association would contribute. This could be an excellent project for Michael Gove.
These facilities should, of course, be made available to the local community during holiday time and at weekends.
Auriol Earle, Guildford
In all the justifiable celebration of Andy Murray’s great win at Wimbledon, let’s not forget to give praise to the art of tennis itself and, in particular, this current generation of male players. The era which has produced the massive talent of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray is a golden age – and it’s happening now. Let’s celebrate that.
Alan Maughan, Chester-le-Street, Co Durham
Unexpected inspections
As a former HMI, I have some sympathy for the points made by Chris Blackhurst (“An inspector calls”, 11 July), but there would need to be another major change in school inspection practice were no-notice inspections to be introduced, as he suggests.
Inspectors themselves should not be given advance notice of the schools they are to inspect, so that their judgements are not pre-empted by prior-disclosed performance data, and so that their inspection can be properly focused on what really matters – the quality of what they actually observe in classrooms.
Professor Colin Richards, Spark Bridge, Cumbria
Good sense about children
What a lot of sense Rosie Millard talks. Her articles of last week and this (10 July) about the benefits of walking and talking her way to school with her children, and the absolute must of a bedtime regime, are superb.
As a teacher of young children, who are increasingly difficult to handle and whose learning is severely hampered, I fully endorse what she says. She talks more sense about parenting and education than many MPs concerned with education at the moment. I propose her for a position as a parenting tsar.
Anne Stoneman, Downham Market, Norfolk
Out of wedlock
The Office for National Statistics says the proportion of children born to unmarried mothers hit 47.5 per cent last year. The figure has risen from 25 per cent in 1988 and 11 per cent in 1979. If the trend continues, by 2016 the majority of children will be born to parents who are not married. I’m counting the hours until some self-appointed moralist blames this on the proposal to introduce gay marriage.
Stephen Wyatt, London SE17
Vanished life
It’s not just roadkill (“Roadkill nation”, 10 July). I come over to England most Junes for my mother’s birthday, but am spending a further enforced week of convalescence in Dorset. No rooks, no magpies, no rabbits, no hares. Few butterflies, wood pigeons, blackbirds, starlings. Where are the pheasants and deer? Something has changed. Has a new insecticide been authorised?
David Woolley, Los Angele

Times:

Lovely though they sound, the tea and tennis parties of the 1930s did not produce a flurry of future Wimbledon champions
Sir, It is precisely the the attitude of the “tea and tennis” brigade (letter, July 10) that has prevented tennis from competing at world-class level until now in this country. The idea of gardens large enough to accommodate tennis courts as the norm is laughable. Tennis clubs do an excellent job of creating the social ambience and promoting players’ ability; that is what they are there for.
Tim Henman honed his skills on a family court, while Andy Murray had to make do with the public courts of Dunblane.
Catherine Harden
Reigate, Surrey
Sir, I was at prep school in the 1950s with Jamie Maskell, son of Dan. Their house in Merton had a full-size grass court, and we played on it all summer. I played Doris Hart one set. Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewell were often there. Jaroslav Drobny was a wonderful man who encouraged us to keep playing, rain or shine. In the winter we used to go to “the bumps at Barnes” — public courts — and once even scraped off the snow to be able to play.
None of this means much to anybody these days, but the enthusiasm was there. That is what matters.
Colin Strickland
Faversham, Kent
Sir, How nice for John Pope to be able to look back with affection to his tennis and tea parties (letter, July 10).
My 4ft x 12ft East End council block balcony could not quite take a tennis court, so the public courts were the only place to play.
It is worth noting that the tea and tennis parties of the 1930s did not produce a flurry of future Wimbledon champions.
Graham Lewis
Wiveliscombe, Somerset
Sir, In suburban Maidstone in the 1960s we played on a fine hard court — the road of our crescent. We honed other skills too. Listening out for cars approaching — often a set could be completed without interruption — negotiating with neighbours to be allowed into their garden to retrieve the ball and so on. Most useful were the covert search-and-rescue moves as “big Mrs Smith” always refused entry. Her tennis ball collection must have been massive. Nowadays you couldn’t even toss up for ends in that road for fear of damaging a parked car.
Lynn Rylands
Langley Heath, Kent
Sir, On the search for a new head of the Lawn Tennis Association, may I suggest that first the LTA needs to think what its role is. If it is to propel players into the top 100 then it is failing, and has failed spectacularly for 77 years. Even Laura Robson and Andy Murray came via other routes.
If the LTA is there to increase the country’s participation in tennis, it needs to reach out to players of all ages. We have found it extremely difficult to raise funds to get our club’s tennis courts relaid because we have no junior section; all the LTA’s efforts are focused on those clubs with large junior sections, despite evidence that the children never make it to the top 100.
Clare Heaton
Croydon
Sir, Your reference to the schools tennis programme delivered by the LTA and the Tennis Foundation did not mention the Aegon Schools Programme. This has provided teacher training, resources and free tennis equipment to more than half the schools across Great Britain, the vast majority of them state schools. As a result, more than two million children have been given the chance to play tennis at school in 16,500 schools. The programme is a leading sports resource in schools.
Geoff Newton
Tennis Foundation

Most teacher training is now conducted in universities, where trainees are part of a high-aspiration, high-achievement culture
Sir, Alice Thomson (“Come on, teacher, light my fire”, Opinion, July 10) reminded me of the geography teacher at the mixed-ability school in Kent which I attended in 1973-78. Our form’s O-level results were a mixed bag, and yet in geography, I remember, we almost all achieved A grades. Our teacher was a large, rather unsmiling lady, not someone teenagers would necessarily be well disposed to. But the moment she entered our classroom she caught our attention and held it, as she led us through a world of oxbow lakes and equatorial rainforests. She had the ability to inspire all of us, whatever our ability, and we all wanted to do well in her subject. I do not know to this day how she did it.
Lorna Robson
London SW13
Sir, Like Alice Thomson, I have four children and learnt a great deal from them about the importance of teaching, of understanding and building on children’s interests and of giving them the confidence and ambition to succeed. She is right on the curriculum and teaching, about the importance of teaching, of ambition, of aspiration. Right, indeed, until the end, when she suggested that “teacher training colleges” are “inadequate”, “not even showing primary school teachers how to teach children to read”.
Most teacher training is now conducted in universities, where trainees are part of a high-aspiration, high-achievement culture, in close partnership with outstanding teachers. And we do teach teachers to teach children to read, systematically and thoroughly.
Professor Chris Husbands
Director, Institute of Education, University of London
Sir, Alice Thomson says: “There was a reason we turned our back on Victorian rote learning … We have to light their fires, encourage as well as cajole, so they can compete creatively as well as academically.”
Bach’s and Mozart’s childhoods were blighted by ceaseless drilling in scales, arpeggios, harmony and counterpoint. Just think of what great works they might have composed if their natural creativity had been freed from all that rote learning.
Michael Bird
London SW13

The effect of the Premier League in countries such as Zambia can be devasting for the local teams who are left denuded of talent
Sir, John Worne (letter, July 10) enthuses about the impact of the Premier League from Afghanistan to Zambia and how the “brand” has changed lives. For the lucky few who make the grade as a professional in European leagues that can be true. What he fails to mention is the devastating effect that these European leagues have on the local leagues around the globe whose clubs are left impoverished and denuded of talent.
That football in countries such as Zambia continues to function is a testament to the dedication of fans and the strong sense of culture and history that every country has towards its own league, clubs and national team — a fact that the Premier League would do well to acknowledge instead of pretending that all Zambians support one English club or another.
It is just not true, and it was this arrogance and lack of respect for football beyond Europe that lost England the right to host the 2018 World Cup.
Guy Oliver
Bransgore, Hants

Goldfinger may have been a charmer and a brilliant architect, but he was also ‘a manipulative bully’ who was difficult to work for
Sir, In November 1954 I was on a bomb disposal course before demob when I was interviewed by Ernö Goldfinger (letter, July 12). He offered me work starting in February as he had to sack an architect to make room for me. I was sacked in November when I asked for a day off to go for an interview. In an office of four architects I was the 13th to depart in ten months. Mr Goldfinger had charm but he was a manipulative bully. The profession is littered with former staff who tell tales of his egotism and aggressive architectural stance. The office was ordered to keep every sketch and idea as he said he would be famous one day.
Anthony Short
Kirk Ireton, Derbyshire

The British Bankers’ Association agrees that a new body to improve standards should be completely independent of the industry
Sir, Ian King (July 11) argues that the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) should not be responsible for setting up a new body to improve professional standards in banking. I could not agree more. That is why the BBA proposed to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards that any new professional standards body should be “independent of the industry”.
There is a huge amount of work to be done to increase ethical practice in banking, but we understand better than anyone that does not include us setting up a new standards body.
Anthony Browne
Chief Executive, British Bankers’ Association

Telegraph:

SIR – Colin Senneck (Letters, July 6) asks why English Heritage’s blue plaque scheme costs millions of pounds to run, and suggests that the scheme be handed over to the voluntary sector.
Here in Lytham St Annes, our local Civic Society has had a blue plaques programme for many years. Our plaques commemorate events, people and buildings in the town. Members’ time is given freely and the minimal costs borne by the society and the local community.
Janet Turner
Lytham St Annes, Lancashire
SIR – The Ulster History Circle has put up 160 plaques all over Northern Ireland, to celebrate people of achievement.
The scheme incurs only modest overheads above the price of the plaques themselves.
Local authorities, businesses, organisations and individuals fund the plaques, and the Circle’s hard-working committee determines the names for commemoration.
Chris Spurr
Chairman, Ulster History
Ballygowan, Co Down

SIR – How corrosive it is that the process of professionalising MPs continues apace. Parliament sits only 150 days a year. This leaves ample time for enrichment in the real world through outside interests, as long as they are properly declared.
Sadly most MPs have decreed that their “full-time job” requires half the year replicating the role of councillors, citizens’ advice bureaus and social workers in their constituencies.
Surely it is appropriate for Ipsa to benchmark MPs’ pay against these professions?
Andrew Hayes
London EC1
SIR – Yes, a good MP is worth the proposed pay. But there are many who do not qualify.
Related Articles
If you want a blue plaque put up, do it yourself
12 Jul 2013
The selection committees are not offering us nominees of the standard the electorate has a right to expect. Candidates should have at least seven years’ experience of life in the commercial world, not including time spent in the cloistered environment of the Westminster village.
It may well be difficult to attract such candidates, but that is a result of possible candidates being deterred by the thought of working in the current atmosphere at Westminster.
John Yates
Chichester, West Sussex
SIR – What a shame it was to see two women MPs sitting directly behind Vince Cable fiddling with their phones while he was making an important speech about selling off Royal Mail.
Harman Smith-Weston
Sutton, Surrey
SIR – I remember that the independent Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body’s recommendations for pay increases throughout the Eighties were continually turned down by the government.
While there is no doubt that MPs’ pay needs overhauling, the fact that the body recommending it is independent is no reason for it to go ahead automatically.
David Wiltshire
Bedford
SIR – Of course MPs should be paid more. We want the best MPs money can buy.
Rev Richard Haggis
Oxford
SIR – A scheme gleans bankers’ bonuses to pay towards the recuperation of wounded servicemen. If MPs’ pay was linked to the claw-back of money mispaid to managers in NHS, the BBC and other public bodies, taxpayers would be more than pleased to support an appropriate increase.
Brian Farmer
Chelmsford, Essex
SIR – MPs should be paid £100,000 and allowed to steal another £50,000. In return, they must give a firm undertaking not to interfere with the running of the country.
Derek Pereira
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
Foreign postmarks
SIR – With the sell-off of the Royal Mail, are we prepared to let another vital service come under foreign control?
John Milhofer
Broadstone, Dorset
SIR – Previous governments have already sold off gas and electricity, water, rail, pretty well everything of value. In each case, competition was meant to raise standards and save money for the consumer.
So what actually happened? There was a free for all, as companies competed to take each other over and boost their profits. Costs for the consumer rocketed.
Peter Edward
Coleford, Gloucestershire
SIR – I am glad to have the assurance that daily postal deliveries after privatisation will still be guaranteed. Yesterday our mail arrived at 7pm.
John Tilsiter
Radlett, Hertfordshire
Spitting images
SIR – As an avid watcher of football on television, I am disturbed by the continual close-up pictures of players spitting.
The season came to a close and I rushed home to switch on the television as England started to take Australian wickets. You guessed, a close-up of a man dribbling on to the ground as he stood waiting.
Where is that remote control?
Colin Mitchell
Bordon, Hampshire
Secret Atlantic victory
SIR – The secrecy surrounding the destruction of German submarines was essential in 1943 (Britain at War, Court & Social page, July 10).
As my biography of the great astronomer Bernard Lovell will show, his wartime work on short-wave radar was of vital importance in defeating the U-boat threat. The device he and his team created for Coastal Command wreaked a fearful toll upon them from March 1943. They could not cross the Bay of Biscay without being attacked. By August the Battle of the Atlantic was won and American armies were able to cross the ocean safely in time for D-Day.
In June 1943 Hitler announced: “The temporary setback to our U-boats is due to a single technical invention of our enemies.” He was both right and wrong: it was one technical invention; but the setback was permanent.
John Bromley-Davenport
Malpas, Cheshire
Butterfly blues
SIR – It is the Large Blue butterfly whose caterpillar is hosted by the red ant Myrmica sabuleti, not the Chalk Hill Blue (Leading article, July 10), which, while equally beautiful, has a considerably more prosaic life cycle.
The Large Blue is an exceptional example of conservation. It became extinct in 1979, but, with the identification of its ant host and a reintroduction of butterflies from Sweden, it is now firmly re-established.
John Pankhurst
Nottingham
Birthday chimes
SIR – I suggest that on the birth of the new royal baby all the church bells throughout the land should chime in celebration to herald its safe arrival.
Rupert Frost
Modbury, Devon
Rogue job agencies
SIR – Reports of failings in the financial and health sectors show the importance of sound regulation and robust enforcement.
This is why it is so important, following recent consultations, for the Government to maintain the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate. The inspectorate protects employers from rogue traders and protects vulnerable workers from exploitation. It helps ensure that agency workers are paid properly, are not charged fees in advance to find work, and are placed in safe workplaces.
Businesses rely on high quality recruitment to attract the best talent. Workers need the right support to do well in a competitive jobs market.
Most of those in Britain’s £25 billion recruitment industry uphold high standards. We need the Government to maintain effective enforcement to tackle the minority who don’t play by the rules.
Kevin Green
CEO, Recruitment and Employment Confederation

Frances O’Grady
General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
London SE1
C of E and gay culture
SIR – The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to point out that there have been changes in society’s approach to homosexuality.
Two points need to be made. First, the Church takes its teaching and beliefs from God, not the surrounding culture.
Secondly, the latest word is not the last word. Things will continue to change. The Church must follow the everlasting Gospel.
John Allen
Swindon, Wiltshire
Where opposites meet
SIR – Besides hating whistling (Letters, July 9), Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler had in common that they enjoyed painting.
David Bennett
Hove, East Sussex
Alarming tactics
SIR – If a patient answered a mobile during a consultation in the surgery (Letters, July 8), I secretly pressed the hidden alarm button. Then I apologised to all in the waiting room over the intercom: “I think a mobile phone might have set off the alarm.” This always worked, but my partners were not too happy.
Dr Roger Hart
Cranbrook, Kent
Constable’s way of taking the gilt off a royal job
SIR – As Ron Moss points out in his letter about Constable’s Hay Wain (July 8), a soaking keeps the spokes tight in wooden wheels.
When my father was Comptroller of Stores in the Royal Mews he was asked to tighten the spokes on a royal carriage, so soaked them overnight in the horses’ pool. Next day he found gold leaf floating on the surface, which cost a fortune to put right. He kept his job.
Richard Fletcher
Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey
SIR – The wagon in Constable’s painting is not a hay wain (as letters published in The Daily Telegraph established some years ago). The wagon has an extendable rear axle, as can be seen by the central beam, which designates it as a timber wagon.
My interpretation of the picture is that at the end of a hot day the horses’ tendons were being relaxed in the cool running waters before being stabled.
Even the theory that the fellies were being soaked to swell them to secure the rims is not true, for at that time wagons did not have continuous iron bands binding the fellies but discontinuous strakes.
There are many interpretations of the wagon standing in the water, but being a hay wain after a day collecting hay cannot be one of them. Let us revert to calling it by its given name: Landscape, Noon.
Keith Phillips
Marlborough, Wiltshire

SIR – Proposals to build a pedestrian crossing over the Thames to connect Covent Garden and the South Bank are beguiling but overlook the existing direct link – Waterloo Bridge, which incidentally offers the finest views of London.
What better reason than the approaching bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo to exploit the potential of Waterloo Bridge as a symbol of international rapprochement in place of division?
Might we not emulate the French, with their annual Paris Plage along the Seine, and pedestrianise one carriageway every August?
Robert Bargery
Director, The Georgian Group
London W1

Irish Times:

Sir, – Suddenly we discover that some TDs have discovered that they have consciences when it comes to voting for a piece of legislation in the Dáil. But if they were true both to themselves and the general electorate they would ask themselves: Is it my conscience or my constituency that persuades me to vote against the legal termination of a pregnancy under any circumstances? Is it any wonder that most of the electorate still don’t trust politicians. – Yours, etc,
IVOR SHORTS,
Hermitage Close,
Rathfarnham,
Dublin 16.
Sir, – Irrespective of any of Lucinda Creighton’s policies, it is a great shame that she was forced from Government due to her having a mind of her own. Her departure is a deep indictment of the whip system, group-think and group-ego. As a person of self-sacrificing principle, whatever that principle may be, her loss diminishes authenticity in Irish political life. I hope that she remains in politics and, whatever policies she might propose, I for one would consider them more favourably in light of her recent self-sacrifice. – Yours, etc,
RYAN FITZPATRICK
The Diamond,
Belturbet,
Co Cavan.
Sir, – Thankfully we can now expect a welcome break from Lucinda Creighton’s very public struggles with her conscience. In the interlude perhaps she could explain why she had no trouble in axing support for the poor, the disabled,the educationally disadvantaged, the carers and the elderly in community centres. What it is to have such a well disciplined and discriminating conscience. – Yours, etc,
RICHARD MURPHY,
Coralstown,
Mullingar,
Co Westmeath.
Sir, – I was very surprised that the Dáil debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was adjourned at 5am so that TDs could get some rest before returning to the Dáil at 5pm to continue the debate.
If these TDs were junior doctors working in an Irish hospital looking after sick patients there would have been no one to call a pause in proceedings, no 12-hour rest break, and certainly no open bar.
However, I wasn’t surprised and had some sympathy for Labour TD Michael McNamara’s lapse in concentration . . . mistakes happen when people are tired. – Yours, etc,
Dr KAREN O’CONNOR,
Castleforbes Road,
Dublin 1.
Sir, – Lucinda Creighton called for a specific care pathway to be put on a legislative basis for pregnant women suffering mental health issues. She, however, had no issues in standing with her Government on the cuts inflicted upon and the delays experienced by the mental health services over the last number of years.
It would appear that it is only pregnant women that should be entitled to a timely intervention from our mental health service!
I also note that the Minister for Health is to withdraw automatic medical cards for cancer patients. A vicious and cruel attack on those at their most vulnerable.
One can presume there will be no call for legislative care pathways for these patients! – Yours, etc,
TRIONA MURPHY,
Ballycullen View,
Firhouse,
Dublin 24.
Sir, – I cannot say I support the stance taken by Lucinda Creighton, but I can now say I have the utmost respect for her.
On the other hand we have Michelle Mulherin, who has long been pirouetting on her soapbox on a range of issues, including abortion. For that TD to then support the Bill in question, just to remain within a party which was opposed to her personal beliefs, is deplorable.
Ms Mulherin may seem to be in a better position within a popular and powerful party, but Ms Creighton can at least pride herself on the power and consistency of her core convictions. – Yours, etc,
JUSTIN KELLY,
Edenderry,
Co Offaly.
Sir, – Now that the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill has been passed, it will be interesting to see if the Catholic Church carries out its threat to excommunicate those TDs who voted in favour. – Yours, etc,
DAVID DORAN,
Royal Oak Road,
Bagenalstown,
Co Carlow.
Sir, – What type of democracy does this Republic possess when all of those expelled from the Fine Gael and Labour parties over the last two years were people who were sticking to promises made to the electorate? – Yours, etc,
FRANK BARR,
Ballyboggan Road,
Dubllin 11.
A chara, – As attention now switches to the Seanad in respect of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, one can only hope that its deliberations are as comprehensively reported as the proceedings in the Lower House. Particularly so considering the impending referendum on its survival.
The intellectual rigour and parliamentary value of the Seanad – and the contribution of each member – in the coming week might serve as a useful yardstick in respect of its retention or disposal. – Is mise,
CORMAC Ó CULAIN,
Thomas Davis Street,
Christchurch,

Sir, – It would be unthinkable for schools, Garda stations, tax offices or workplace canteens to have a private bar available to staff on duty,  yet those who make laws that decide the fate of mothers and children and laws that restrict the sale and advertising of alcohol can do so while enjoying access to a late-night bar where alcoholic drinks are available at reduced prices, courtesy of the taxpayer.
What an earnest of their own sincerity members could give the nation in the campaign against the low-cost sale and excessive consumption of alcohol, if they replaced the Dáil bar with an “Austerity Cafe” providing tea, coffee, soft drinks, cakes and sandwiches.
Voices at the gates are, I am sure, saying, “Time, gentlemen (and ladies), please!” – Yours, etc,
DENIS O’DONOGHUE,
Countess Grove,
Killarney,
Co Kerry.
Sir, – I wonder how much TD Tom Barry would be prepared to pay this morning if he could buy back Kipling’s “unforgiving minute”? – Yours, etc,
PJ MALONEY,
Cloneyheigue,
Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath.
Sir, – To have such tomfoolery at that hour of the morning has made a mockery of our parliament. Debates should not be allowed to continue through the night. Why does the Dáil need a bar anyway? – Yours, etc,
SINÉAD SHEEHAN,
Grange Road ,
Douglas,
Cork.
Sir, – So Micheál Martin finds working to 5am “shambolic and lamentable” (Home News, July 12th). As somebody subjected to 36-hour shifts every five days under his time as minister for health, I can sympathise with that 5am feeling of utter dejection, sheer exhaustion and mental emptiness. Happily, as a hospital doctor, I only had to deal with real life-and-death situations as opposed to the surely more arduous task of talking about them. – Yours, etc,
Dr MAIT Ó FAOLÁIN,
Beechwood Court,
Stillorgan,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – Tom Barry TD’s laptop lapse was lamentable. – Yours, etc,
NIALL GINTY,
The Demesne,

Sir, – “Lawyers for Seanad Reform” (July 11th) present the upcoming Seanad referendum as a “farcical” choice between “abolition or nothing” and argue for an alternative reform option.
Let us be clear: reform is only being discussed because of the threat of abolition. Should the outcome of the referendum be to retain the Seanad, there will be no reform.
The Government will have no interest wasting further political capital pursuing a lost cause, and the self-serving voices within and around the Seanad now shouting for reform will fall silent.
The stark choice offered to the people in the coming referendum is as it must be. – Yours, etc,
JOHN THOMPSON,
Sir, – Are we losing all sense of proportion in this country? Among the issues which drew comment in the HSE creche reports were that “the tone of voice was raised by staff when addressing the pre-school children” and “two children who were taking longer over their lunch than others were told to finish up” (Social Affairs, July 11th).
How do you get the attention of a bunch of pre-school children except by raising the tone of your voice? How do you get children who are dawdling over their lunches to finish except by telling them to finish up?
It’s time this country got real and stopped this over-emphasis on so called political correctness. – Yours, etc,
AJ MULLOWNEY,

Sir, – As an animal shelter with 79 dogs currently in our care, we would like to bring to the attention of your readers the distress caused to dogs by our current heat wave. One of the worst things you can do to a dog is keep him tied up. But if the sun is shining, it is particularly cruel.
Make sure that your dog’s kennel is in a very shaded spot and that he never runs out of water while you are at work.
Most of us have experienced that horrible feeling when you get into the car on a hot summers day and the windows and doors have been closed. First your burn your posterior on the seat, then your burn your hands on the steering wheel and the air is so heavy you cannot breathe.
Imagine getting into that car with a heavy woolly jumper on and you will feel what your dog feels. But what is uncomfortable for us can be fatal for your dog so never leave a pet in a parked car for any length of time – just 10 minutes in a car in sunshine and a dog can collapse even on overcast days. In fact when it is 22 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can reach 47 degrees within 60 minutes.
The rules for cats are very much the same as with dogs. Lots of water, shady spots and ventilation. – Yours, etc,
GINA HETHERINGTON,

Sir, – Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland, as quoted in Patsy McGarry’s “A return to paganism or disillusion with the church?” (June 29th), says that censuses underestimate atheism in Ireland. That deserves far more attention.
Mammy is filling out the census and she calls her family. “Gather round, and we’ll fill in the religious section. Because we have so many frank discussions about religion, I could do this without asking, but I thought I’d better check.
“Annie, you’ve been atheist since you were 17. And John, you’ve remained a Roman Catholic, although we know your views on gay rights. Maria, you’re still Wiccan? And Paddy, you’ve hardly been in a church since we married, so we’ll mark you ‘No Religion’ too. And then, I’ll put myself in as Catholic. Right, that’s done.”
Yes, that’s a joke for most of us. We’ve never had that conversation at census time. Many adults are scared to tell their parents that they smoke, let alone discuss atheism with them. So, if Mammy or Daddy is a Catholic, the census form shows a staunch Catholic family. And how easy is it to tell your partner that you do not believe in a god?
So, every census creates bad data about religions, and especially about people with no religious belief. Bad data means failure to recognise change in society, and that very many citizens see no evidence for a god. – Yours, etc,
MICHAEL O’MALLEY,

Sir, – A current radio ad features a male voice talking about “thirdy” as opposed to “thirty” years. I just wanted to set the “ricard” straight. – Yours, etc,
TOM GILSENAN,
Elm Mount,

Irish Independent:

I am a proud Castlebar native; I have not lived there for over 15 years, but regularly visit relatives. I was deeply saddened by the horrendous deaths of Jack and Tommy Blaine.
Also in this section
Let’s all take care of mothers and their babies
Law should be there to protect women today
Time for some blue-sky thinking
The senselessness of such an act on two men that were so inoffensive is shocking. I remember growing up in the town as a teenager and seeing Jack daily on the Main Street, with his hunched posture. Although a man of few words, even as a teenager I showed him the respect of at least a ‘hello’. He would always mutter a greeting along with a raised hand.
There are no words that your reporters can write to describe how defenceless and mild-mannered these men were, which is what makes this horrid crime most shocking. To live a life and be ended by such violence makes my heart drop.
Castlebar is a good town and one, which, like every other town of its kind, needs proper policing. It is a town which, like every other, needs parents to take control of and responsibility for their children. We cannot leave the sole responsibility of policing society to the gardai; we need to help them.
I have the utmost faith that the gardai in Mayo will bring the person who carried out this crime before the courts. I just hope that the courts of this country will give Jack and Tommy Blaine the justice that they deserve.
To Jack and Tommy, may your gentle souls rest in peace. I have no doubt that the good people of Castlebar will show their true respect for you in the coming days. To the person who did this, well you deserve no words.
John Coughlan
Lucan, Co Dublin
DEATH BY BOREDOM
* As the hours evaporated and the first light of morning came into my living room, I switched off the TV with a sinking heart.
I had listened to the circular meandering and mostly self-serving hot air that the majority of TDs in the Dail contributed to the abortion debate.
We did not need the temperature to be raised any higher; we are in the middle of a heatwave for God sake.
We wanted light, not heat.
I tried to put myself in their shoes and make allowances for their posturing and protesting, but as they rambled on interminably, I began to lose the will to live.
Peter Matthews may be a sincere man, but he is a drone with lethal potential when it comes to killing with boredom. He showed little respect to those who wanted to listen by prattling on and on self-righteously but bringing only noise to the proceedings
That is not good enough, he had all the time in the world to prepare a coherent and insightful case; instead we were treated to a load of insufferable blather.
A genuine man, no doubt, but one who needs to learn that less is more in presenting an argument.
And after all those hours of torturous, excruciating engagement, where did we get?
Nowhere. That’s where!
Our cradle of democracy needs to be rocked, now that the rattles have all been thrown out.
JF Boggs
Killiney, Co Dublin
* Speaking as a person who is in neither camp in the abortion debate, I think it only fair to inform some TDs that “honour, integrity and dignity” are admirable human traits and not, as they seem to think, the latest fragrances from Calvin Klein.
Shane Browne
Dublin
* Whatever the outcome of Lucinda Creighton’s decision, one has to admire her stance. She has the courage of her convictions unlike many who have thrown in the towel for the sake of their own political gain.
The overwhelming irony of this decision is that this is an issue affecting mainly women but the bulk of the decisions will be made by men in the Dail. I wonder why they are so eager to implement this ruling?
When the last vote was given to the public, the electorate rejected it. Forgive my ignorance, but I thought our politicians represented our views, or are we fast becoming a dictatorship? The moral standing which Ms Creighton has taken should only springboard her career as she has the courage of her convictions.
Cathy Daniel
Enfield, Co Meath
* For once, I would like to congratulate the legislators in the Dail for making a decision that may be of benefit to the women of child-bearing age in this country. It is, however, unfortunate that they have not legislated for cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.
Regarding the legislation for suicide, I doubt if it will open any floodgates because women will still go elsewhere. Anyone who might be feeling suicidal would certainly be pushed over the edge by having to sit in front of a group of doctors with the pro-life brigade banging on the door outside.
Much easier to take the boat!
Rachael Acton
Tinahely, Wicklow
* A sin someone else commits is not my sin.
All this talk of conscience is a load of nonsense. You are not making the decision whether to have an abortion or not. You are saving not one child’s life, as anyone who is able to travel will go to England. You may be saving the life of mothers whose lives are threatened.
Is it less of a murder (as it has been called) refusing a mother treatment that would save her life when her child will never live even if it is born?
How many more Savitas do we need? How can you call this a matter of conscience? Abstain, sure, take no part, but why vote No?
If Jesus himself said back out of other people’s lives, and concern yourself with the mote in your own eye, why should you listen to a church over the man himself?
Pauline Bleach
Wolli Creek, Australia
THE ‘MOOLAH’ GRABBERS
* Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Susan Denham rightly points out that directors must put ethics before profits.
No arguments there, but the nub of the issue is how to make sure this happens.
The “moolah” grabbers have so far been laughing all the way to the bank.
Kathleen Corrigan
Cootehill, Co Cavan
NOT BUYING INTO TRENDS
l Alarm bells ring when I consider our excessive communications technology. The mobile phone has almost become an extra limb. TV tells some of us how to live.
I’m alarmed again when I note the excessive amount of money spent (even by people with mortgages) on the days of a wedding or a communion, or even a child’s party.
There is a starving world out there.
We are at risk of mental implosion and social explosion when faced with these and other intemperate ways of life people feel are being forced on them.
Can we change things? Of course; just refuse to buy into it all.
Angela MacNamara
Churchtown, Dublin
Irish Independent

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