10 August 2013 Tired again
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark Troutbridge is off on her summer tour and Pertwee wants to know is she going north or south? Is he flogging pedal boats or fur coats to the natives, Priceless
We are both tired but get a few things done
We watch Yes Minister quite good
Scrabble today Mary wins and she gets under 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.
Karen Black , who has died aged 74, was one of the hardest-working actresses in Hollywood; though never a household name, she appeared in well over 100 film and television roles, ranging from mainstream and counter-culture to low-budget horror and sexploitation.
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Karen Black and Jack Nicholson in ‘Five Easy Pieces’ Photo: REX
6:44PM BST 09 Aug 2013
Karen Black was never afraid of presenting herself in the most unflattering light if it was right for the role. With her messy hair, ski-jump nose, pouting lips and too-close-together eyes, she had a dippy “trailer trash” sex appeal that made her the first port of call for directors casting brassy but vulnerable women on the edge. “Black brings to all her roles a freewheeling combination of raunch and winsomeness,” Time magazine observed in 1975. “Sometimes she is kittenish. At other times she has an overripe quality that makes her look like the kind of woman who gets her name tattooed on sailors.”
Her first decade in front of the camera included work with some of the era’s most important directors. She made her film debut in 1966 in Francis Ford Coppola’s You’re a Big Boy Now, and appeared as a prostitute who drops acid in a cemetery with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda at the psychedelic climax of Hopper’s Easy Rider in 1969. The following year she earned a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for her performance as Rayette Dipesto, Jack Nicholson’s long-suffering waitress girlfriend in Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces.
She went on to appear in Nicholson’s directorial debut, Drive, He Said (1971), and in 1974 won a second Golden Globe for Jack Clayton’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, in which she played Myrtle Wilson, the garage owner’s wife who has an affair with Tom Buchanan (Bruce Dern). She was the sexually voracious girlfriend in Portnoy’s Complaint (1972), starring Richard Benjamin.
Karen Black worked for John Schlesinger (The Day of the Locust, 1975) and for Robert Altman, who cast her as a country-music singer in Nashville (1975) and as a transsexual in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). She was a jewel thief in Alfred Hitchcock’s last film, Family Plot (1976), and the same year found time to play the terrified stewardess taking the controls of a stricken airliner in Jack Smight’s Airport 1975 (with Charlton Heston).
While some actresses are highly selective about which roles they will accept, Karen Black demonstrated an entrepreneurial willingness to take parts at which others would turn up their noses. Thus, as big roles started to dry up, she got a second wind as a diva of the low-budget independent film circuit, becoming the only actor in cinema history to have been directed by both Hitchcock and the shock-rocker-turned-horror-director Rob Zombie.
In 1975 she played a terrified girlfriend chased around her apartment by a foot-high fetish doll in Trilogy of Terror, a television film that became a cult classic (inspiring a new York rock band to name themselves The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black). It launched her on a 20-year run in such B-movie fare as Burnt Offerings; Savage Dawn; The Dinosaur Valley Girls; and Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses, in which she played the matriarch of a crew of backwoods cannibals.
“When you start at the top, which is what happened to me, and then you’re no longer at the top, you can’t expect anyone else to pull you back up,” Karen Black observed. “You have to do it yourself.”
She was born Karen Ziegler into a comfortably off middle-class family on July 1 1939 and grew up at Park Ridge, Illinois. Her father was a sales executive, her mother the children’s novelist Elsie Reif Zeigler. From her earliest years Karen wanted to be an actress, starring in school plays and taking children’s roles in community theatre productions: “I could cry whenever you wanted. I mean, if the script wanted me to cry, I couldn’t see any problem,” she recalled.
After graduating in Drama from Northwestern University, she moved to New York, where she studied acting under Lee Strasberg, performed in Shakespeare in the Park productions and, after appearing in a few off-Broadway plays, landed a lead on Broadway in Mary Drayton’s thriller The Playroom. The show ran for less than a month, but brought her to the attention of Francis Ford Coppola, who cast her in You’re a Big Boy Now.
Karen Black would claim that her career as an A-list actress was ruined by The Day of the Locust, John Schlesinger’s adaptation of Nathanael West’s novel, in which she played a Hollywood hopeful of the 1930s using her female charms to climb to the top. Although the role won her a Golden Globe nomination, she claimed that she became the subject of malicious gossip offset. “I was a magnet for gossipers because I’m kind of flighty,” she recalled, “kind of carefree. And for some people, that equals irresponsible.” It did not help, she admitted, that she was known to be a member of the Church of Scientology.
For, although she was a highly accomplished actress, the kooky and eccentric qualities that made her so compelling on screen were carried over from her personal life, earning her a reputation as iconoclastic and unpredictable.
Karen Black made four visits to the altar. She kept the surname of her first husband, Charles Black, though they were together for only seven years. She married her second husband, the actor Skip Burton, swathed in a white bedsheet (the marriage lasted a year); and her third, the actor and screenwriter Kit Carson, in a 6am outdoor ceremony. That marriage lasted eight years and produced a son, the actor and director Hunter Carson. She also had a daughter with her fourth husband, the film maker Stephen Eckelberry, and another daughter from a relationship with the producer and director Robert Benedetti.
Karen Black was never a wealthy woman, and in April this year, after she had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, her husband launched an appeal on a fundraising website which raised $60,000 to help pay for an experimental treatment.
Her husband and children survive her.
Karen Black, born July 1 1939, died August 8 2013
It’s demeaning for Kenya’s elegant bongo antelope to be caught up in the tawdry debate about “bongo bongo land” (Report, 9 August). The eastern or mountain bongo is a seriously endangered species, largely confined to Kenya’s Aberdare mountains. Fortunately a 400km electrified fence now surrounds the entire Aberdares – built by conservation charity Rhino Ark, in partnership with the Kenya government and private-sector organisations – protecting the bongo and other wildlife, while providing security for forest-edge farming communities. The success of the fence has led to similar fences being planned for Mount Kenya and Mount Mau Eburu – both now under construction.
Trustee, Rhino Ark UK
• Much more important: Thompson LNER B1 4-6-0 locomotive that gave the unofficial name to the whole class. Officially the Antelope class, they were always known by spotters as “bongos”.
• Another 0.7% rise in the UK population over the year (Report, 9 August) – continuing a 10-year trend at the same rate. Should not these figures be taken into account in rate of economic growth? Surely anything less than 0.7% annual “growth” is in effect negative.
• First penises (Suzanne Moore, G2, 8 August), now the size of poo (Comment, 9 August). Is this the Guardian or the Beano? Puerile nonsense, for which I will no longer be paying.
• According to the Fox Project (G2, 5 August) many of these handsome animals fall foul of road accidents, mange and malnutrition and can expect to live for only two years. The public has hopefully a more tolerant attitude and will support similar caring organisations, such as the National Fox Welfare Society.
Brian White & Lesley Buell
• Hugh Warwick’s experience of taming a robin (G2, 8 August) echoes my own (except I used breadcrumbs). My robin began to feed from my hand as a fledgling in 2011 and continued all summer, autumn and winter. Then he found a lady friend and began to loose interest.
I read Terry Eagleton’s piece about Colin Wilson’s The Outsider as “a book that changed me” (5 August). After fumbling about relating his teenage years and dismissing Wilson and his book with contempt, he ends with a bookshop story of mild embarrassment and no consequence. He never gets around to telling us why the book changed him – which I thought was the point of the article.
The book actually did change me. In 1961 I stumbled across it in Coventry public library quite by chance as I liked the title and, I noted with satisfaction as I had recently failed my English A-level exam, that he was very young and did not have a university degree. The book opened my eyes to the world of literature and philosophy, and introduced me to a collection of authors I never knew existed. They were never on the lips of my public school English teachers, who were complacently and idly saturated in the past.
Leaving aside what Eagleton casually terms the “second-rate off-the-peg philosophy”, the book was my bibliography into the future and changed the way I saw the world, and my place in it, and for that I shall always be grateful to Colin Wilson.
• Strange that Martin Kettle (2 August) and your correspondents seem to equate cultural sensibility with “high art” and Wagner in particular. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds more solace in times of despair, more “truth and beauty” and more of meaning about our fractured and complex world in, say, the words and music of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
While we enjoy the August break in the political calendar, party conference season will soon be upon us. Much has been made of whether conferences are still relevant or whether they simply assemble the same Westminster talking heads in their chosen city or seaside resort. All too often, main conference and fringe panel line-ups rely heavily on men, sometimes to the exclusion of women altogether, and don’t come close enough to reflecting the society they claim to represent. Party conferences are the prime opportunity for political parties to live by their values and showcase what kind of society they want to create. To ensure that conferences are a vibrant and democratic forum for political engagement, we are asking political parties, conference organisers, fringe-event organisers and those who attend, to take action on the following.
First, political parties should ensure that they only feature panels with both women and men represented at conference. Our organisations committed to this for our own events some time ago and have not only found it possible to achieve but also a way of making our public debate richer and more democratic. If political thinktanks can commit to this, it should not be beyond political parties and civil society organisations to do the same for events with three or more speakers. The same argument applies to introducing a wider range of voices into debates in terms of ethnicity and background.
Second, parties should require those organising fringe events to ensure panels represent both women and men so that there are no panels with only male speakers included in final conference line-ups. Third, it is up to all of us holding events to ensure that they meet these standards. Where this is not the case, organisers should explain why and attendees should feel free to raise the issue with event or conference organisers.
Nick Pearce and Clare McNeil IPPR, Neal Lawson and Rosie Rogers Compass, Andrew Harrop and Jessica Asato Fabian Society, Stewart Wallis and Anna Coote New Economics Foundation
• Would Ed Miliband not do better to consult people on Labour history, philosophy and ideology to win the next election, rather than consulting with a “longstanding political adversary of Lynton Crosby” (Report, 7 August). He may well find arguments to counteract the techniques and strategies of Cameron and his ilk. Who knows, he may well win by offering a genuine alternative to the tired ragbag of this vile ConDem government. The time has surely come for a political party to win an election on its policies rather than advertising techniques.
Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire
How soon they forget. Amid the current pall of gloom over the release of a new Lone Ranger movie (Gone west: Disney’s hopes of any success with The Lone Ranger, 8 August), one merely has to cast the mind back to the turn of the 80s, when an earlier big-screen incarnation of the western hero helped wreck the film ambitions of Britain’s last movie mogul, Lord Lew Grade. Nineteen-eighty-one’s The Legend of the Lone Ranger, co-starring unknowns Klinton Spilsbury and Michael Horse (as Tonto), but costing, for its day, a massive $18m, turned out to be a huge flop.
It did however at least manage to win three Raspberries, including two for Mr Spilsbury – for worst actor and worst new star – who had to be re-voiced for the film. Maybe history will continue to repeat itself.
Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Illustration by Gillian Blease
This Monday is probably the most inaptly named day in the Scottish calendar, with shooters taking to the grouse moors to celebrate the Glorious Twelfth. Frankly, there is nothing less glorious than individuals, many of whom are untrained and inexperienced, invading the countryside to kill or injure wildlife which is managed solely for this purpose. Yet year after year the start of the grouse shooting season is still referred to as “glorious”.
The Glorious Twelfth may well be awaited with great anticipation by the small minority who seek pleasure in arming themselves with lethal weapons to spend a day causing stress, injury and suffering to one of Scotland’s iconic species. However, as gamekeepers and land managers prepare for the season, the suffering inflicted on wildlife in many cases surpasses the shooting itself. Much of the land around shoots will be littered with snares – thin wire traps which silently garrotte their victims with no discrimination between intended and unintended targets. It is staggering that in this day and age such cruelty is legally acceptable and I would urge readers to support OneKind in our campaign to end the suffering caused by snares and by the commercial shooting industry more widely.
• Hen harrier near extinction (Report, 9 August)? What a surprise. While the elite get fun out of killing grouse, hen harriers and many other species better not mess with this “sport”. A large number of native birds and mammals who interfere with grouse shooting are trapped, poisoned or snared. Victims include stoats, weasels, and raptors such as hen harriers, red kites and golden eagles.
An unnatural, heather-rich environment is created because the grouse thrive on young heather shoots. To create fresh young shoots, the heather is burned, which can harm wildlife and damage the environment. The burning of heather, reports an expert, “threatens to release millions of tonnes of carbon locked into the peat bogs underpinning the moors. Where burning occurs, the hydrology changes and the peat is open to decomposition and erosion. This strips the moor of carbon as surely as setting fire to the Amazon forest.” (Adrian Yallop, New Scientist, 12 August 2006.)
The harsh “management” of moorlands causes grouse numbers to boom. But as they overburden the landscape, they become weakened and fall prey to a lethal parasite – strongylosis. This attacks the gut and leads to a collapse in the population. A cycle of population boom and bust is the norm on Britain’s grouse moors. Large quantities of lead shot are discharged, which is toxic to wildlife. Grouse shooting estates use the Countryside and Rights of Way Act to restrict public access to mountain and moorland. Killing birds for sport is cruel and uncivilised.
• The RSPB report that hen harriers are on the brink of extinction is extremely misleading as to the causes of poor breeding rates of these birds, and no more than a publicity exercise at the start of the shooting season. It unfairly points the finger at gamekeepers and grouse shoots, despite the fact that, in England, there has been no confirmed incident of illegal persecution against hen harriers and no one has ever been convicted of an act of illegal persecution against the species.
The RSPB continues to claim that two hen harriers were shot at Sandringham in 2007 but has no grounds to do so. Despite a thorough investigation, the police found no bodies and there was neither ballistic nor forensic evidence to show that any crime had been committed. The RSPB makes no mention of other factors that can impact on the breeding success of hen harriers, such as weather, availability of prey, unintentional disturbance, predation, lack of suitable habitat, desertion of nest/mate, or indeed unknown factors, as is the case on the Isle of Man where the population of hen harriers has halved for reasons unknown. And we also shouldn’t forget that moorland managed for grouse only accounts for a fifth of the uplands of England and Wales. The success of the hen harrier on the remaining four fifths, which includes land managed by the RSPB, is no better.
The RSPB’s use of the word extinction when referring to hen harriers in England is also intentionally misleading and emotive. There are 646 pairs in the UK (RSPB’s latest figures) and the worldwide population is estimated to be 1,300,000, with no significant decline.
Head of the shooting campaign, Countryside Alliance
I don’t fully understand all the shock-horror and indignant, holier-than-thou comments being made, particularly by the media, about bullying online.
Yes, I could weep for all those unfortunate souls who have become tragic victims of our indifference. And we really do, all of us, have to take responsibility for allowing this contagious spread of foul behaviour to contaminate our society.
But bullying has become an integral part of business, banking, media, news, politics, entertainment, education and goodness knows what else over the past 40-odd years and, because we’re all continually told that we should want more, it drives the boardroom and the bottom line. And we sit back and let it happen.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the current most-watched TV, the most-read newspapers and the highly paid stars of TV.
Bullying has been given the seal of approval by the BBC, ITV, radio, music, sections of the press – it goes on and on.
Simon Cowell behaves rudely and arrogantly and gets rich. Be like Jeremy Clarkson and you can be famous and drive fast, anti-social cars. Treat people like Anne Robinson does, and earn the plaudits of the programme planners. It goes on: Gordon Ramsay, John Humphrys, Lord Sugar, Piers Morgan, Jonathan Ross etc.
Gordon Ramsay has made a fortune from being foul-mouthed, and we wonder why some kids have “no respect”.
The Prime Minister asks everyone to boycott sites that “promote” bullying. Too late, mate. What he should ask us to boycott is the army of money-making, fun-loving, mickey-taking, insensitive, arrogant proponents of the “trade” of bullying and their employers.
When I was a kid, a teacher “bullied” us into not using the word “nice”. I wondered then, and I do now, what’s wrong with the word nice? Perhaps he knew something that we didn’t know. Perhaps he knew the word was going to become redundant.
An invitation to Ukip from Project Bongo
While the term “Bongo, Bongo land” clearly has negative associations, there is a real Bongo in Upper East Ghana, West Africa.
It’s a lovely place which, sadly, like thousands of African villages, just needs some support. My small charity, Project Bongo, works there to provide boreholes for local schools and communities and support education projects in a place with some real poverty.
Perhaps Ukip would like to take an austerity fact-finding trip there sometime?
Secretary, Project Bongo
I was annoyed that Godfrey Bloom implicated members of cricket clubs in his recent rant. Not only does he appear to be racist, he also seems to be ignorant.
The cricket club my (white) son attends has a mix of ethnicities. The majority of boys and girls (I suspect, from his previous comments on women’s issues, that Mr Bloom would be astounded to hear that girls play cricket too) are British Asian, and a few are of West Indian descent. There are also two children whose parents are Chinese.
In the clubhouse I have never heard views similar to Mr Bloom’s being expressed. Mostly we talk, strangely enough, about cricket, often about the weather, and never about “Bongo Bongo land”, although sometimes we discuss how narrow-minded some people can be.
While doing the overland trip back from Australia in 1971, I passed through various remote villages, most of which were very undeveloped, with only basic amenities.
One had a store selling sacks of grain and other foodstuffs, stacked up high at the front of the shop, so that all details on the sacks were plainly visible.
They read: US Foreign Aid Program, Free Gift of Canada, United Nations Foreign Aid, Foreign Aid of United Kingdom.
So although Godfrey Bloom’s comments were moronic and totally unacceptable, it does seem that his argument about foreign aid may have a basis in an ongoing problem of many years.
Worthing, West Sussex
With friends like Ukip prospective candidate Dean Perks, who needs enemies (“How Ukip’s councillors keep on making the headlines”, 8 August)? He says: “Sharia law works as a prevention – and prevention is better than cure. If you think you are going to get your hand chopped off for pinching something, you won’t pinch it”.
Former Ukip councillors Alan Preest and Peter Georgiou, mentioned in the same “Roll of dishonour”, have both been caught shoplifting.
One big happy family, then.
It’s the interview not the grades
Oxbridge admissions do not depend solely on a candidate’s clutch of high-grade A-level passes. Richard Garner (“Thousands of high-flyers are turned down by Oxbridge”, 9 August) fails to point out that the decisive factor is the candidate’s performance at interview.
This involves appropriate dress and body language, no monosyllabic answers, throwing questions at the interviewers, and dropping the ghastly habit of injecting the word “like” as often as possible into any given sentence.
Teachers who fail to provide interview technique training are woefully failing all their pupils, not just Oxbridge candidates.
If a large number of high-flyers are being turned down by Oxford and Cambridge universities, this should mean that other universities will be benefiting from these students. Is this a bad thing?
‘Defence’ label is indefensible
“Serious Farce Office: SFO in biggest criminal data breach ever” (9 August) sums up the absurdity of the latest development in the BAE saga: the loss of thousands of documents.
While I’m pleased that The Independent is covering this, I find it odd that you continue to refer to BAE Systems as a “defence” company. “Arms company” would be more accurate. The victims of armoured vehicles sent by Saudi Arabia to crush protest in Bahrain, or planes used by Indonesia to bomb villages in West Papua, may wonder what is being “defended”.
No arms companies sells weapons only to democracies to use for self-defence. The arms trade is not about defence, but about profiting from violence, poverty and human rights abuse.
Let a new type of politics evolve
Your story “British Politics at a crossroads” suggests that we need something different. One possibility might be an Evolutionary Party. Evolution is about survival, and if British politics is to survive, it needs a successful party.
Evolution can happen quickly and is subject to many different forces, not just from nature, but also from other pressures. Evolution depends on practical alternatives, many of which fail, but some of which create the future.
An Evolutionary Party would bypass political theory and engage in practical developments supported by sections of the population. So the developments would have to be encouraged by public meetings and open discussion – probably in cafes. In Leeds there are science cafés – discussing psychology, economics and philosophy – all of which encourage new ideas and social engagement.
The public don’t want to be lectured to, they want to opinionate and get involved. The Evolutionary Party would admit that many different projects could fail, but that some would succeed and proceed. Its people would have to be discursive, respectful and inventive. Its politicians would have to be open, analytical and practical.
Babies: one boom we don’t need
So, Britain, the most crowded country in Europe, is undergoing a baby boom. State-subsidised breeding and immigration are destroying our quality of life. Overpopulation is ruinous for hard-pressed resources.
I’d rather my taxes were used to pay people not to have babies. An increased personal tax allowance for couples who have only one child would seem to be the way forward. Forget child benefit and childcare vouchers. Can we really afford to offer financial incentives for large families in our overcrowded country?
Dovercourt, Harwich, Essex
The Prince and the panda
One can’t help comparing the possible birth of a baby panda (“Edinburgh Zoo staff hopeful giant panda Tian Tian may be pregnant”, 9 August) with another recent history-making arrival.
While Prince George and Baby Panda can both claim to be good for tourism, their respective futures could not be more different. One will travel the world, whereas the other will spend its life in a cage until the day it dies, thousands of miles from where it truly belongs. It’s time to spurn captivity.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Could Prince George grow up to renounce killing of wild animals for fun? As long as there has been a royal family, its members have slaughtered wildlife for sport.
If a teenage Prince George rebelled and said: “No thanks, I would rather join real sportsmen on the playing fields of Britain”, wouldn’t it be fantastic?
Wildlife Consultant, Protect Our Wild Animals
Next Monday is probably the most inaptly named day in the Scottish calendar, with shooters taking to the grouse moors to celebrate the Glorious Twelfth.
The date may be awaited with great anticipation by the minority who seek pleasure in causing stress, injury and suffering to one of Scotland’s iconic species. But the extra suffering of wildlife can surpass the shooting. Much of the land around shoots will be littered with snares – thin wire traps that silently garrotte their victims.
Advice for getting rid of ragwort — some suggest pulling but others swear by letting sheep graze. And others want to keep it the way it is
Sir, I can reassure Matthew Parris (Aug 7) of one thing, at least. Pulling his ragwort plants will reduce their number. To avoid resorting to herbicide, I began pulling it annually from a 70-acre pasture some 26 years ago, aided by up to 15 volunteers. We initially carted off several five-tonne loads each summer. But 15 years later it began to take longer to quarter the ground than to find enough to fill a single half-tonne trailer. But we still pull it — and that’s the important bit.
Use a proper ragwort fork to take away the worst of the pain and don’t leave behind bare soil in which seeds can germinate. Leave alone those kinds of ragwort that are not harmful and you, too, may be rewarded by the designation of your meadow as a County Wildlife Site.
Upper Sheringham, Norfolk
Sir, One solution to the ragwort problem is the Soay sheep. Years ago our sheep were put on a neighbour’s ragwort-covered field in the autumn and have been given free access ever since. We have never seen ragwort again and 18 years later the field boasts a lovely velvet grass sward, apart from a few thistles which are mowed down in summer before the flowers go to seed. Within a few days the cut thistles are gone — to the sheep! I also suggest the MoD adopts a similar regime and allows Soay sheep to roam Salisbury Plain. They originate from the St Kilda archipelago, and their hardiness is renowned.
Sir, Matthew Parris and Caroline Clayden (letter, Aug 8) mislead on the legal responsibility of landowners to remove ragwort. This responsibility only arises once the landowner is served a notice to do so (Weed Act 1953, reaffirmed by Ragwort Control Act 2003). I have enjoyed a bright display of ragwort in my garden this year but have voluntarily removed it before it seeded, in the interests of livestock in nearby fields.
Sir, Matthew Parris should not give up. It seems that cinnabar moth caterpillars devour ragwort. The moths are beautiful, three red spots on black wings with red hind wings.
I am suggesting that the National Trust introduces these caterpillars to Stockbridge Downs, and Matthew Parris might try the same on his land.
To rid the countryside of ragwort and to give walkers the delight of seeing cinnabar moths must be worth a try.
Sir, Calls for the eradication of ragwort ignore the fact that this is a native flower and an integral part of our natural environment. Over 30 species of insect depend on it, as do 14 species of fungi. If it is spreading, it is because we have interfered with its natural controls. To eradicate it would be irresponsible.
Wadhurst, E Sussex
Sir, Like Matthew Parris I have noticed a heavy crop of ragwort this year. Notably along Scottish roads this summer we saw hawkbit close to the kerb in long stretches rather as, no doubt, the white, low flowers of salt-loving early scurvy grass had appeared in the spring. Beyond the hawkbit was usually a strip of grass perhaps a couple of metres broad and then a long line of ragwort, some of which had drifted into nearly fields.
Sutton Coldfield, W Midlands
Most assets will end up being caught by inheritance tax, which is more expensive and much less easy to avoid than capital gains tax
Sir, Mr Gau (letter, Aug 8) suggests that people pay CGT on everything except a main home. He needs better advice. The annual CGT allowance, CGT-free transfers of assets between spouses, and the ability to invest in CGT-free ISAs, VCTs or government securities (before considering more exotic means of avoidance) all mean that CGT is paid mostly by the ill-informed.
He should not worry too much: most assets, including his main home, will end up getting caught by inheritance tax, which is more expensive and much less easy to avoid.
R. B. Morse
No burial in Westminster Abbey for King John — he was destined to be interred much further away from the capital, in Worcester
Sir, Your list of kings not buried in Westminster Abbey (Aug 9) omits one of the greatest, King John, whose concessions to the nobility in Magna Carta paved the way for our parliamentary democracy. He is buried in Worcester Cathedral in front of the altar of St Wulfstan.
If more than 50 per cent of economic legislation comes from the EU and is having an impact on British businesses, something needs to be done
Sir, On the knotty issue of how much UK legislation with “significant economic impact” originates in the EU, may I suggest Mr Brewer (letter, Aug 8) probes deeper into the October 2010 House of Commons Library paper, “How much legislation comes from Europe?”, which he cites.
This paper clearly quotes Lord Triesman, then a Foreign Office minister, saying “many EU regulations have a purely technical or temporary effect. We estimate that around 50 per cent of UK legislation with a significant economic impact has its origins in EU legislation”. He said this in January 2006 and it is likely that this proportion has increased since.
Economic Adviser, Arbuthnot Banking Group
Sir, Mr Brewer cites figures that show EU-related laws now constitute 53 per cent of the total laws passed in the UK and says that does not necessarily “constitute negative interference”. However, British businesses have said that many of these laws have caused them serious problems. From the disastrous implications of the Financial Transaction Tax to Brussels’ meddling with product regulation and measurements, there are many examples of corrosive European legislation.
If we are going to secure a better deal with the EU in future we must first be honest about the scale of the problems that we face.
Business for Britain
There a few people in the world who can stand up to an irate British mother, and the officials in Gibraltar in 1966 were no exception
Sir, In 1966 we were returning to Gibraltar by car. The Spanish were releasing only one car every half hour. There was a long queue ahead of us.
My mother lost patience. She took three children into the border post, straight past the protesting desk sergeant and into the rear office. She asked the officer if his mother knew that it was as a result of his orders that small children were sitting hungry and thirsty in the hot sun for hours.
In impeccable English he apologised profusely. We were immediately escorted out of the queue. As we passed the border post the officer and sergeant were standing to attention outside, side by side to salute my mother. We were back in time for tea.
SIR – I agree with Heather Johnson (Letters, August 8) that eggs should never be kept in the fridge. They keep very well outside it and seem to stay fresher.
Tomatoes, too, should never be chilled. It spoils their flavour and they go off more quickly. The tomatoes we bought this week from the supermarket are almost tasteless.
Chilling is not good for many cheeses either. I detest Stilton but, as soon as my husband gets his home from the supermarket chill cabinet, he puts it in its dish outside the fridge where it warms up and gains flavour. I insist that the lid remain firmly on!
Why do we believe that only chilled fresh things are safe to eat? My mother never had a fridge but we never had food poisoning, which is something we seem to hear much more about these days.
Rosemary J Wells
Charities that help similar causes could make economies by merging
09 Aug 2013
SIR – As a potential source of food poisoning, eggs certainly do need to be kept in a refrigerator. Note the advice given on every egg box.
SIR – The reason people put their eggs into a refrigerator is because instructions on supermarket egg cartons tell them to do so.
I have no idea why this is. In their journey from warm hen to warm supermarket shelf, eggs go nowhere near refrigerated storage. Quite why they should need it once they arrive in the customer’s house is a mystery.
In any case, putting eggs in the fridge just means you have to bring them out 30 minutes before you cook them in order to get them back to room temperature.
SIR – The level of remuneration paid to charity CEOs (report, August 6) must be a disincentive for potential donors. This is a pity, but in my opinion there are far too many charities covering the same ground.
One rarely hears of mergers but surely these would lead to economies without loss of revenue. One such example is Age UK, which was formed after the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged.
SIR – Why is the focus on development charities rather than other higher paying organisations with charitable status? Eton College, for example, paid 40 members of staff between £100,000 and £240,000 in 2012 alone.
As a charity employee I’m all for curbing executive pay in the third sector, but the problem goes far deeper and wider than 14 charities in international development.
Chill out, not all foods need refrigerating
09 Aug 2013
SIR – The mere salaries received by chief executives of charities do not reveal the whole remuneration package.
You say that the Director of the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (Cafod) receives £87,000 a year.
True, but the advertisement for this post revealed that the perks also include “a car, plus life assurance, permanent private health insurance cover, and removal expenses”.
SIR – I feel saddened by Sir Stephen Bubb’s comment, “Gone are the days when charities were run by retired colonels and daughters of the aristocracy” (report, August 7).
As a retired military man I have also been the chairman of a charity for the past eight years. During this time I have raised nearly £200,000 and used this to support more than 300 needy homeless families with young children. I am happy to declare my salary – nothing. I am in the fortunate position to use my life skills and energy to put something back into my community, and I am not unique.
Perhaps Sir Stephen should remind himself of the definition of charity, that being: the practice of benevolent giving and caring.
Wg Cdr Denys Williams (Retd)
Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire
SIR – Is it significant that all the charities listed do not have a membership structure? Those charities that do, such as the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, are accountable to their members at annual general meetings.
SIR – There can be nothing wrong with high salaries if they are in proportion to what has been raised.
Make do and mend
SIR – Lord de Mauley suggests we should make do and mend to cut waste (report, August 8). Has he tried living in the real world? Take a kettle, toaster or other small appliance to be repaired and all you’ll hear is: “It’s cheaper to replace it than mend it.”
Manufacturers seem to change models of larger appliances such as washing machines so frequently, that, after a few years, parts are no longer available.
Moreover, availability of very cheap clothing tempts people to throw it away after a couple of washes, often because the goods are not of sufficient quality to stand up to many sessions in a washing machine.
Lots of household items these days just do not last any length of time – even cars are looked on as old after a few years.
West Kirby, Cheshire
SIR – Charities do not accept electrical items, therefore that outlet is closed for disposing of unwanted items.
There is a national website called Freecycle.org which operates in local areas. There you can dispose of unwanted items or collect other peoples’ unwanted items free of charge.
SIR – As a stay-at-home mother, I feel constantly under assault at present; the loss of child benefit under an extremely unfair system, the fact that the tax system makes no allowance for a single earner family, and now this insult by George Osborne regarding lifestyle choices.
Should society and the Government not be valuing a little higher the parents who choose to stay at home and care for their children? Who do they think helps in school, picks up other people’s children, bakes for the village fete and so on?
Why is going to work deemed to be a better choice than staying at home to look after the children that I chose to have and whose upbringing I wish not to leave to others?
SIR – Is Mr Osborne trying to buy votes?
John M Scott
SIR – As a non-athlete and non-competitor, Stephen Fry has no business whatsoever commenting on where the Olympics should or should not be held (telegraph.co.uk, August 7). Mr Fry has no idea what athletes sacrifice in order to secure a place at the Games. Before he singles out Russia for its anti-gay laws he should consider the more than 76 nations where homosexuality is illegal.
To this day, athletes who were denied a place at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow still feel the pain of what could have been. That boycott by America, in order to teach the Soviets a lesson regarding their invasion of Afghanistan, was as ineffective as the entire Jimmy Carter administration.
Pamela R Goldsack
SIR – My menswear designer brother is not worried about the colour of my trousers (Letters, August 6). What pains him is my fogeyish propensity for tucking my T-shirt in rather than letting it loosely overlap my trousers. My protestations about comfort and the superior gripping properties of cotton on skin cut no ice with him.
SIR – I was very interested in the letters (August 5 and 7) about the mobility criteria to be used for the personal independence payment (PIP). I have multiple sclerosis and would be at risk of failing the 20-metre test for the enhanced rate of the benefit. This would mean losing my Motability car — my lifeline.
The argument of the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, is misleading. The disability living allowance and PIP are not unemployment benefits, and are essential to enable disabled people to get to work. I no longer do paid work, but rely on my car to fulfil my voluntary responsibilities. I know of many people who do work, however, and could no longer get to their jobs if they lost their car. The Access to Work scheme relies on taxis and funding is limited. If 428,000 people lose out on PIP this will put enormous strain on the scheme and will prove more expensive. It is nonsense to push these costs elsewhere.
Mrs McVey implies that changing the distance people need to walk does not matter, because people will be asked whether they can do it reliably, repeatedly and safely. But the fact remains that the distance is now 30 metres shorter. Her argument just does not make sense.
Invasion of the cyclists
SIR – Boris Johnson (Comment, August 5) correctly predicts a growing gulf between city and countryside attitudes to cycling. Here in the Chiltern Hills, seven parish councils have expressed concerns over the road closures planned for the Henley Challenge due to take place on Sunday September 8, but Oxfordshire county council remains firm.
Cyclists will be allowed to travel over 22 miles of closed roads and lanes, where there are no pavements for residents to use, for 11 hours of a summer weekend. This will cause enormous disruption to local businesses, farmers and families. Many households feel they will be under house arrest.
Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire
SIR – Just as boring as “ussing” (Letters, August 3) are the screeds added to Christmas cards spelling out the activities and achievements of a family during the year.
Warnham, West Sussex
Do you remember Marshall aid, Mr Bloom?
SIR – Godfrey Bloom, the Ukip MEP, believes that taxpayers’ money should stay at home (report, August 8). He seems to ignore the fact that taxpayers’ money from America, in the form of Marshall aid, was asked for and received by Britain after the Second World War.
Thanks to that aid, we were able to lift ourselves off the economic floor. By the end of the Fifties, Harold Macmillan was declaring that “Most of our people have never had it so good.” Now, Godfrey Bloom would deny aid to those peoples of the world who need it most. Charity begins at home, but it must not end there.
SIR – Older readers will recall “Bongola, formerly known as Bongoland”, a creation of the Telegraph’s own (and much missed) Michael Wharton, writing as Peter Simple.
Joseph B Fox
Sir, – I was sickened to read the article “Priest on Mater board rules out abortions at hospital” (Front page, August 7th).
I would like to pose a question to Fr Kevin Doran and the Mater board. What is hospital policy if the following situation should arise. A woman presents as an emergency case in the Mater hospital. She has acute abdominal pain, is found to have an ectopic tubal pregnancy and if left untreated the fallopian tube will rupture with resulting peritonitis, shock, and possible death. Would the doctor in charge decide to move her to another hospital as dealing with this emergency would necessitate terminating the pregnancy?
I worked as a midwife in a Catholic hospital in the 1980s and no such dilemma would have occurred. A mother’s life was considered sacrosanct and a maternal death considered a disaster in obstetrics. In fact, no matter what the gestation was, if the mother was in danger she was delivered in order to save her life, even if it meant the foetus would not survive.
I say shame on the Mater hospital and its Catholic ethos for putting women’s lives at risk. – Yours, etc,
SHEEHAN SRN, SCM,
St Mary’s Place,
Howth, Dublin 13.
Sir, – Conor D Graham (August 8th) writes that hospital protocol regarding abortion should not be based on “fading superstitions.” There are many groups throughout the world which are opposed to abortion on ethical and moral – rather than religious – grounds. These groups include Humanists for Life, Feminists for Life and Atheists for Life.
Of course, babies in the womb have no concept of either religion or ethics: they just want to live. For evidence of this, we need look no further than the testimony of Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Texas. Johnson resigned from her position after witnessing an abortion which was captured on ultrasound, during which a 13-week-old baby squirmed and twisted to avoid the vacuum tube which would end her life.
There is nothing superstitious (or indeed religious) about feeling profound unease and sadness about the reality of abortion – or about hoping and wishing for a better outcome for unborn babies and their mothers. – Yours, etc,
Ard Righ Road, Dublin 7.
Sir, – I disagree with Mark Coen’s comments in relation to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 (“Abortion law may run counter to the Constitution”, Opinion, August 8th). The Act’s provisions will not cause conflict between the right to religious conscience and the right to have a termination; the conflict is between the right to religious conscience and the right to life. This is a fundamental distinction as no person may legally or ethically use another’s life as a means to that person’s own religious ends.
Health care providers concerned about this conflict should read Pope John Paul II’s message on World Day of Peace in 1991, which, in relation to the limits of freedom of religious conscience states, “When an asserted freedom turns into a licence or becomes an excuse for limiting the rights of others, the State is obliged to protect, also by legal means, the inalienable rights of its citizens against such abuses.” – Yours, etc,
ORLA VEALE MARTIN,
Rue de Mentana,
Sir, – I note that junior doctors are balloting to decide on industrial action due to long working hours (Home News, August 9th). I recall having a conversation about this with a young Egyptian doctor when I was a patient in Bantry Hospital in the mid-1970s. He was on continuous duty for about 80 hours over a weekend. I remember he started the weekend on Friday morning clean-shaven, but by the end of his 80-hour shift on the Monday evening he had grown a considerable beard. In fact I was quite envious of his luxuriant growth.
I asked him about his duties and he told me that he was expected to perform faultlessly for the entire 80 hours. This didn’t make any sense to me at the time and it still doesn’t make sense. Surely doctors should have their hours closely monitored in a similar way to pilots, truck drivers and other people who need to be alert while on duty? – Yours, etc,
Crossabeg, Co Wexford.
Sir, – Seán Boyle (August 9th) suggests that Minister for Health, James Reilly bring in salaried GPs from abroad to staff inner city areas to break some sort of alleged “medical monopoly”. His emotive language excoriates GPs for expecting to be paid for seeing more patients.
As senior research fellow in the prestigious London School of Economics, his letter really should make one sit up and think about its contents. However, the points he makes are quite odd. Why does he suggest that people in the inner city should be subjected to a different quality of doctor than, say, somebody in the suburbs?
Does leafy Dún Laoghaire not deserve foreign doctors whose native language is not English, while Dorset Street does? Would salaried GP employees, with their generous public sector pension and leave entitlements, and a need for permanent State-provided office space really be preferable to independent GP contractors who compete against each other out of self-provided accommodation?
Finally, how does Mr Boyle reconcile the fact that employees paid regardless of numbers of patients seen are less productive than employees on a commission-type basis. – Yours, etc,
Dr MAIT O FAOLAIN,
Sir, – While I would strongly support the Dublin City Council proposals for a levy on vacant sites (Home News, August 5th), there is a much better alternative: the introduction of site value tax instead of rates. This would be far more equitable for ratepayers, spreading the financial burden over all commercial users and vacant or underused sites or buildings. It would also enable the council to remove levies on new construction, which would further encourage development of unused sites.
The current proposals for deferring payments for sites brought into temporary use as parks, etc, should be kept.
Such a tax should have been introduced instead of the present property tax as it would have covered vacant sites zoned residential.
One of the reasons it was probably not introduced was the perception that it was difficult to assess land values; however, it is much easier than properly assessing buildings, particularly in cities, where whole blocks would carry the same land value. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I welcome the move by the five Labour TDs to challenge the “austerity junkies” in the Government (August 2nd) and I now look forward to their support in September for my new Bill. The Down Syndrome – Equality of Access Bill 2013 which affords statutory recognition to Down syndrome as a “low incidence disorder”. This will mean these pupils will be guaranteed resource teaching hours.
It will create jobs and bring in more taxes to the Exchequer. I know the “austerity brigade” will whinge about public spending, but if they can’t find the money, our Minister for Finance will tell them that an extra 2 cents on a packet of cigarettes will bring in €3.1 million or 2 cents on a pint will bring in €13.8 million in a full year. The estimated cost of my Bill is €600,000.
I urge common sense economic management and support for all children with a disability. – Yours, etc,
FINIAN McGRATH, TD,
Sir, – I was recently called to sit on a jury in our courts system. While in the lift on the way to the courtroom, I dwelled briefly on the dilemma of the wording of the oath. As a non-believer would it make me a hypocrite or a liar to swear to Almighty God?
However when the time came for me step up and to pledge to carry out my civic duty to the best of my ability, I found it useful to have unambiguous words to use to represent the seriousness of the undertaking.
What is conveyed in the words “Almighty God”? The highest power? All that is good? The totality of the universe? The Creator? Lord God? Jesus? Allah? Vishnu? The list goes on.
May I respectfully suggest that everyone, including a declared atheist or agnostic is entitled to make their own decision whether using such words is compatible with their own views on religion and the existence of God. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Another missive from Women on Air, this time from Jane Suiter (Opinion, August 9th), complains about the lack of female voices on Irish radio and television. As usual, it propagates the myth that insufficient zeal by media producers is to blame. I’ve been contributing to and presenting television and radio programmes for almost 15 years including high-profile shows such as Questions and Answers and the various Sunday shows. I was the first female stand-in presenter for Tonight with Vincent Browne and currently present Talking Point on Newstalk (Saturdays at 1pm). Any reasonable observer might agree I am a “Woman on Air” and can therefore testify that the whiney complaints of this committee that they are victims of neglect by malign or malingering broadcasting executives is wrong on all counts. Perhaps I’m just a girl who can’t say “no”, but the point is, I was asked, and said “yes”. This is the issue.
Suiter cites the Women on Air list of female contributors which she claims (as it does) contains details of 1,000 female experts willing to contribute to shows. Total tosh. There are about 940 entries on the list,but they are entered by subject not person. Each woman can be listed as an expert in anything up to a dozen fields. When the duplications are removed there are about 230 women. That still seems impressive, and about two years ago I and my then female producer attempted for six weeks to use this list to secure women panellists for Talking Point, especially in the areas of economics, finance and politics, where they are scarcest. We abandoned it after that time because the result was the same. An invitation was greeted with an apology that they simply couldn’t do it that day. Just last week Talking Point had a discussion about trade unions and with the shrill complaints of WoA ringing in our ears, our producer, Francis FitzGibbon, tried the famous list. Yet again we drew a blank and instead secured a fantastic panel of three men who were passionate enough about the topic to say “yes”. I’m sure that earned us a black mark in a WoA audit.
We have found fantastic female contributors to our show, particularly on psychology, international politics and social issues, few of whom appear on the sacred list. But since the economy is the big topic, and appropriately qualified women are a) scarce and b) decline the invitations, then it is natural the panels will be male-dominated. If “no means no”, what does Suiter expect producers to do? – Yours, etc,
Presenter, Talking Point,
Sir, – While I have great admiration for Fintan O’Toole, I found his “discovery” column (Opinion, August 6th), describing Ireland as a failed State and rotten to its very core, at least 40 years too late.
I find it hard to accept that it is only now that the Irish media have woken up and are beginning to see any light. Republicans, socialists and free-thinkers have known this for decades.
However, if we have a failed State, then it stands to reason that we also have a failed people. We condoned institutional abuse, State failure to its electorate, embraced corruption and have no concept of an open, fair society. Now, in our time of national guilt, when we need revolution, we whimper to Joe Duffy instead. – Yours, etc,
Why are we having a referendum on the abolition of the Seanad? The most pressing problems with the Oireachtas concern the Dail.
Also in this section
Will the real Vincent Browne stand up?
Government can’t see the depth of our crisis
Public are (sadly not) being taken for a ride
Such problems include the following:
* Lack of power. In practice, the Dail has very little power because: (i) it is answerable to the Executive (it’s supposed to be the other way around, according to the Constitution); (ii) the guillotining of bills; and (iii) strict enforcement of the whip system. What’s worse is that the Executive is largely controlled by an elite inner circle of Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore, Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin (the Economic Management Council). The principle of separation of powers is lost in the dolly mixture that constitutes contemporary Irish political governance.
* Backbenchers have little
power. They are glorified local councillors who are in the double bind that is looking after their constituents at a local level and kowtowing to the whip with regard to government (read Economic Management Council) policy at a national level.
* Ministers double-jobbing as TDs. Ministers should look after the interests of the country; local politicians should look after constituencies.
* Lack of independent thought. Because of the whip system there is no room for conscientious objection (for example, the abortion debate) and independent thought seems to be treated like a venereal disease.
* Numbers. 166 TDs for a bankrupt country of 4.6 million people is ridiculous.
* It doesn’t walk like a duck or quack like a duck. The Dail is supposed to be a ‘legislature’. According to the separation of powers doctrine it is supposed to hold the Executive to account. In reality it is a bloated rubber stamping chamber, under the thumb of an all-powerful Executive.
The bottom line is the Dail needs to be reformed as a matter of urgency. If this is what’s envisaged, the Government needs to spell this out to us. If there is no plan to reform the Dail, how can we be persuaded to abolish the Seanad? (Look where concentration in few hands has got us thus far).
Rathfarnham, Co Dublin
FF AND FG NOW THE SAME
* A few years ago, the idea put forward by Mary O’Rourke that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael should enter into a coalition would have been ludicrous.
Not because there are any political differences between them – clearly there are none. Most people would have thought that the ethos of the parties was different.
However, since 2011, Fine Gael has been the largest party at every level of government for the first time since the 1920s and we have found out that actually, now it can change things, Fine Gael’s ethos of self-enrichment from the public purse is every bit as bad as Fianna Fail’s. The idea of both parties merging doesn’t seem so fanciful anymore. Such a merger would give Fianna Fail the prospect of getting back into government and it gives Fine Gael the option of ditching Labour and really letting rip with the financially conservative agenda to protect the haves at the expense of the have-nots.
Given we know both parties are ideology-free zones, and that we now know that those expecting Fine Gael to provide a higher standard of ethics at decision-making levels were naive and deluded, there is no valid argument anymore for the two parties to not join together.
It’s unlikely the former leaders of either party would be turning in their graves.
Canary Wharf, London
* I have heard it all now – a Fianna Fail and Fine Gael coalition. Is Mary O’Rourke from this planet?
Fianna Fail brought this country to its knees. Fine Gael, propped up by Labour no less, continues disastrous policies that are wreaking havoc on a lot of Irish citizens.
Cuts to homecare, cuts to disability, cuts to special needs assistants and so on have left vulnerable people more vulnerable.
The property tax and upcoming water charges will drive more into poverty. A total 10pc already live in food poverty. We have a whole new level of poverty and a new Ireland thanks to this shower.
Come to think of it, is any one of the parties – Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, or Labour – really living on this planet?
I, for one, hope that the Irish people show all three parties how they feel come the local elections in May 2014.
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
PAIN OF EMIGRATION
* Nothing prepares you for a child emigrating.
On Tuesday our son left for New Zealand and the sense of loss and desperation is overwhelming.
This is not a government-bashing letter because it was for the most part our son’s own choice. This is a letter in empathy with all those other parents who have “lost” a child in similar circumstances.
Prior to this I would have had a fairly blase attitude towards the whole issue.
Now, however, my stance has changed considerably.
I know the pain will never go away but hopefully will diminish in time.
Sutton, Co Dublin
LIVERPOOL HAD IT COMING
* Liverpool FC have accused Luis Suarez of a “total lack of respect”, but only after they themselves have become the victims of his degenerate behaviour.
No such statements emanated from LFC when he was found guilty of racist behaviour against Patrice Evra two seasons ago. No, that warranted the club’s manager and players wearing T-shirts in his defence. And now LFC have the audacity to talk about a “lack of respect”? Two years after they disrespected and shamed their own club by defending the indefensible.
They put one player above the entire ethos of their club. In doing so they presented the club as an institution that condones such conduct, and, in the process, set a poor example to millions worldwide. They put one player over the club’s sense of self-respect and any semblance of integrity, and now they are shocked and appalled when they are the victims.
The dignity ship sailed from Anfield two years ago. In defending a man, and I use the term lightly, such as Luis Suarez, LFC have reaped what they have sown.
THE KEY TO SURVIVAL
* The key to long-term survival on planet Earth is positive thinking. Turn every single negative into a positive.
Ryan Padraig Kelly
Armagh city, Co Armagh
VIGILANCE ON THE WEB
* The recent tragic death of a schoolgirl in England has again raised calls for control of websites.
For children and vulnerable young people, control must start in the home. Parents or responsible adults must ensure that websites are not accessed from remote areas of the house, such as upstairs bedrooms.
Our children need support to avoid all the dangers that confront them.
Strandhil, Co Sligo