5 September 2013 Waiting
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble Leslie decides that he really wants to be engaged to Heather after all and so they arrange a party Priceless.
Off to post office no Dalek and no Gardener Sharland does turn up though
We watch Dads army v good.
Scrabble today Mary wins and get over 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.
David Jacobs, who has died aged 87, became one of Britain’s best-known and popular broadcasters, mainly through his long-running presence on BBC radio; he also became famous on television in the 1960s as the urbane host of Juke Box Jury.
David Jacobs Photo: REX
11:19AM BST 03 Sep 2013
Immaculately-tailored and groomed, the softly-spoken Jacobs presided over a jury of four — often excitable and exotic — celebrities, as they pronounced newly-released pop records either a hit (drawing a sforzando “ding” from a bell on Jacobs’s desk) or a miss (prompting a dismissive honk from a klaxon concealed beneath it). Whatever the verdict, Jacobs would invariably manage a wide, reassuring smile. Under his chairmanship Juke Box Jury was a popular weekly fixture from 1959 until 1967.
To this, as to all his broadcasting work, Jacobs brought huge middlebrow appeal, versatility and inexhaustible reserves of enthusiasm, albeit politely contained. His radio credits ranged from the sedate Housewives’ Choice on the old Light Programme, his Sunday morning Melodies for You on Radio 2, Music from the Musicals and, on Radio 4, Any Questions? which, with its younger stablemate Any Answers?, he anchored for 17 years.
On television, as well as Juke Box Jury Jacobs presented What’s My Line? (post-Eamonn Andrews), the Eurovision Song Contest (pre-Terry Wogan), Top of the Pops, a revival of Come Dancing and the Ivor Novello Awards, to name a few. He was a shrewd investor of the proceeds of his success: he owned eight successive houses in 15 years and in 1974 was a member of the consortium, chaired by Sir Richard Attenborough, that won the commercial radio entertainment franchise for London with Capital Radio.
In a notoriously precarious business, Jacobs enjoyed constant employment, thanks to his easy, friendly and fluent presentation style and total professionalism. In his early days as a staff announcer, he got the sack for giggling during a news bulletin, but he was reinstated as a freelance and mistakes were rare.
On radio Jacobs’s unmistakable and distinctive tones would invariably greet listeners with his signature salutation: “Hello there”, followed on his music shows by an invitation to enjoy a selection of “our kind of music”.
David Lewis Jacobs was born on May 19 1926 at Streatham Hill, London, the youngest of three sons of a Jewish fruit broker. The only member of his family who was not connected with Covent Garden and the fruit trade was a great-aunt, Lena Verdi, who was a music-hall artist and an inspiration to her young great-nephew. When his father’s business failed, and Jacobs père was forced to scrape a living as a salesman, David’s mother turned to dressmaking.
Educated at Belmont College and Strand School, David got his first job as a groom in a riding stables, but later developed his business acumen as a pawnbroker’s assistant, a salesman in a men’s outfitter and as an office boy, before embarking on a stint as a tobacconist, buying cigarettes from American GIs and selling them to select customers. In 1944, aged 18, he joined the Royal Navy, a move that signalled the start of his professional broadcasting career.
He made his first broadcast that year as an impressionist in Navy Mixture, and after working as an announcer in the Forces’ Broadcasting Service joined the staff of Lord Louis Mountbatten as chief announcer on Radio SEAC in what was then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), eventually becoming assistant station director. Although he had no formal training, he possessed a natural talent and grasped a wartime opportunity to gain experience which might have proved more elusive in a more competitive peacetime environment.
On leaving the Navy in 1947 Jacobs joined the BBC as a newsreader and announcer in the General Overseas Service, but soon left the staff to try his luck as a freelance. As well as in his radio work, his voice became familiar to cinema audiences as the commentator on British Movietone News.
He also acted in radio plays, including in 150 episodes of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and played 23 parts in the 1950s serial Journey Into Space.
But music was Jacobs’s first love, and his knowledge, enthusiasm and genuine love of musical theatre was central to his appeal. Listeners came to trust his judgment, and his programmes became required listening for followers of both the British and American musical traditions. His radio shows also brought him into contact with many of the world’s leading performers whom he admired, among them Frank Sinatra and Mario Lanza; he rated introducing Judy Garland at a Variety Club lunch as his most exciting professional moment.
Although ignored by the purveyors of official honours — until he was appointed CBE in 1996, when he was 70 — Jacobs earned many important industry awards, and was voted Variety Club television personality of 1960, and radio personality of 1975. He appeared in six Royal Command performances; was named top radio disc jockey six times; and in 1984 took the Sony gold award for his outstanding contribution to radio over the years.
But with professional triumphs came personal grief. His 19-year-old son by his first marriage, Jeremy, was killed in a car accident in Israel in 1972, and his second wife, Caroline (pregnant with their unborn child), died in another car crash while on holiday with him in Spain in 1975.
Jacobs was a compassionate man and somehow his personal misfortune (as much, perhaps, as his good fortune) stimulated his desire to help others. He did much good work for the Stars’ Organisation for Spastics, becoming chairman and later vice-president. He also served in various offices with the RSPCA, St John Ambulance in London, the National Children’s Orchestra and the Wimbledon Girls’ Choir.
He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London in 1983 and became president of the Kingston-upon-Thames Royal British Legion the following year. He published an autobiography, Jacobs’ Ladder, in 1963 and a memoir of his second wife, Caroline, in 1978. He co-authored (with Michael Bowen) Any Questions? in 1981.
During the 1980s Jacobs flourished on his lunchtime show on Radio 2, and this was perhaps the programme for which he was best known. It had originally been scheduled for two hours, but it was cut back by an hour and finally dropped altogether at the end of 1991 — mistakenly, in the view of his legions of listeners, who had thrived on the Jacobs mix of stars of the calibre of Sinatra, Astaire and Garland and music from the golden age of stage and film by composers such as Kern, Gershwin, Porter and Berlin. He also presented a similar bill of musical fare on a Saturday morning show.
Jacobs unashamedly plugged the shows he himself really enjoyed, such as Mr Cinders, La Cage Aux Folles and the ill-fated Mack and Mabel. He devoted his penultimate Saturday show to the music of Jerry Herman, and his last to his favourite, nostalgic, songs. Jacobs ended by quoting what his mother had taught him to say when leaving a children’s party: “Thank you very much for having me. Please may I come again?”
Latterly he represented Radio 2’s “old guard” and, like many of his era, was shunted off to Sundays, where he presented a late evening easy-listening show called The David Jacobs Collection. Last year, while he was recovering from two major operations, the station broadcast repeats of the show before he returned to his regular Sunday night slot in July. In July this year it was announced that he was leaving his show for health reasons.
David Jacobs married three times. His first marriage in 1949, to Patricia Bradlaw, was dissolved in 1972; in 1975 he married Caroline Munro, who died same year; and in 1979 he married Lindsay Stuart-Hutcheson, a former model, who survives him with three daughters of his first marriage and a stepson.
David Jacobs, born May 19 1926, died September 2 2013
Simon Jenkins’s resolute argument (Comment, 4 September) was going splendidly. Then: “To our grandparents, the idea of a woman driving a bus, reading the news, conducting an orchestra … would have been beyond imagining.” I’d guarantee that my own feisty Cornish grandma, having come through WWII with her married daughters (cf Princess Elizabeth with her army lorry) would have been not a whit surprised.
• Simon Jenkins misses the point. It does not try to include women regardless of their ability, it ends discrimination against women with ability.
• Greenham women are still everywhere (Report, 3 September). On Monday several people from Action AWE were arrested just down the road from Greenham for blockading Burghfield nuclear weapons factory; and every second weekend of the month Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp holds a camp to protest about the UK’s retention and maintenance of nuclear weapons and all the research and development which is going into the production of the next generation of nuclear weapons.
• I see that according to the developers, Land Securities and Canary Wharf, that it was the sun wot did it (Hot spots: when builders turn up the heat, Shortcuts, G2, 4 September). An Arthur C Clarke short story told of an angry South American football crowd using reflective football programmes to fry a referee. It now seems that insufficiently imaginative architects and engineers (and not the sun) are bringing another of his ideas to fruition.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
• Jeremy Taylor wrote and recorded Jobsworth (Letters, 3 September) in 1966. You can listen to it on any reputable music-sharing service – that is, until some jobsworth stops you.
• I see weather forecasters are predicting an Indian summer (Weather, 4 September). Is this what TV forecasters mean by “Apache rain in places”?
The British pub (Editorial, 29 August) is under threat principally for one reason you omit to mention. The debt-ridden business model of the pub companies that own half our 55,000 pubs has led to, on average, 23 a week being disposed of by the pubcos. Mostly they never open again, sold to developers for a quick buck to keep the interest payments topped up. There is a close correlation between the figures for pubco disposals and overall pub closures.
There are many parallels between the story of the pubcos and the banks: historically overvalued estates leading to big problems when good times turn bad; malpractice (in the case of the pubco/lessee relationship, as noted by the business, innovation and skills select committee); devastating effects in terms of lost jobs and reduced consumer choice. But while the authors of the Good Pub Guide take a lazy pot shot at licensees good and bad, not a mention is made of the publicans forced to pay inflated wholesale prices for a restricted choice of drinks, in premises underinvested in for decades by the pubco owners, and often subject to arbitrary rent increases and other restrictions on trade.
The Fair Deal for your Local campaign coalition, including trade unions, the Federation of Small Businesses, licensees and consumers (via Camra) has endorsed the government’s realisation that reform is overdue. We should support that campaign and not pay attention to industry lobbyists or those seeking not the success of the wider pub trade, but to profit from it.
• Early this year the Anglers Rest, the last remaining pub in the village of Bamford in High Peak, was registered as an “asset of community value”. A price was agreed with the owner, Admiral Taverns, in May, and the Bamford Community Benefit Society thought they were allowed six months to raise funds to buy the pub, and to run it as a “pub is the hub”, including a cafe and post office.
By mid-August it had raised the funds and obtained the franchise for the post office, and contacted Admiral saying it was ready to proceed. Inexplicably, Admiral (whose strapline is “working with communities”) sold the pub to a property developer whose main purpose is to flatten pubs and build houses. The village was devastated, but has not given up the fight to save the Anglers.
I know we are not alone as a village losing services and I wonder if others out there have thought the Localism Act would protect their community assets?
• “Forget fusty Camra types,” says your writer (Food festivals, Travel, 31 August), heralding the Independent Beer Convention in Manchester. Come on, you can do better than fusty: how about “bearded, big-bellied, sandal-wearing, lentil-eating Camra types”? Don’t miss the chance to trot out all the tired and stereotypes. I wish the Manchester festival well. I’m sure many people will attend – as did 51,000 beer lovers who packed Camra’s Great British festival in London last month. It was an event open to the public, not just Camra members, and a substantial number were young people. Tell your writer to come along next year, but leave the cliches at the door.
Editor, Camra Good Beer Guide
The 13% drop in domestic violence prosecutions is shocking, considering that we believe cases of domestic abuse are increasing (Drop in domestic violence cases coming to court, 4 September). On average, women experience 35 incidents of domestic violence before reporting it to the police. Housing for Women, a charity that provides housing and support to domestic violence victims, believes this will further inhibit women coming forward and reduce levels of confidence in the police. But pockets of good practice do exist.
In Greenwich, we provide a worker to offer support and advice to both officers and victims at the local police station’s domestic violence suite, with successful results. Even if a woman’s case cannot be taken forward, at least she is made aware of her options and the support services available to her and her children. We would urge Theresa May to put similar effective practices in place in police forces across the country, or risk failing in the ambition to end violence against women and girls.
Chief executive, Housing for Women
Chris Trude’s main point that 99.5% of the British population had to bail out the slavers through government-enforced taxes (Letters, 2 September) is a good one, but he makes a few mistakes. Not all British slave owners lived in Britain, nor were they all aristocrats. My great-great-great-grandfather, George Henry Burt, himself the great-great-grandson of one of the 17th-century settlers, owned 129 of the 19,780 slaves in St Kitts at the time of emancipation and took his share of the £329,393 compensation paid to the slave-owners in St Kitts. He lived in the West Indies and was most certainly not an aristocrat.
• The recent letters on the compensation to slave owners discuss what is only one part of the story of slavery. Many are unaware of what happened in Ireland: starting in the reign of Elizabeth I, tens of thousands of men, women and children disappeared from Ireland. Catholics were shipped off to plantations in the Americas and the Caribbean. The cry “to hell or Barbados” was official policy.
Plantation owners used Irish women and black male slaves to produce “light-skinned offspring” who proved more valuable at market, while thousands of children under the age of 14 were kidnapped and transported as slaves. In the island of Barbados, there are the “redlegs” – the descendants of these Irish slaves. The story of Irish slaves was expunged from the school books in Ireland and England, a decision no doubt made by the British aristocracy. Compensation for slave owners confirms we placed profit (property) before people then – and we still do now.
• The republic of Vermont outlawed slavery in its constitution of 1777, which pre-dates both the British and French actions.
Enniskillen, County Fermanagh
From the Luddites to anti-war demonstrations, we have a proud tradition of standing up against injustice. However, campaigning has been increasingly regulated since 1988 and the government’s lobbying bill will regulate it further and in ways that are raising serious concerns for charities and campaigners (Shameless, shameful and shaming, Editorial, 3 September).
Through a combination of poor definition, overly onerous reporting and significantly extended scope for liability, the bill presents a threat to legitimate campaigning in the UK. While the leader of the house, Andrew Lansley, said charities were excluded, even he admits that there are “uncertainties” in the law. Many go further and the Electoral Commission foresees problems and major uncertainty arising from the bill. Whether by accident or, as some suggest, intent, this bill creates a serious risk to charities and campaigners across the UK.
Dr Andy Williamson
• Polly Toynbee’s forensic analysis of the deficiencies of the lobbying bill introduced in parliament this week covers only half its faults (This bill will save the PRs but silence the protesters, 3 September). As well as clamping down on charities’ activity, it does all but nothing to register lobbying activity. Only agencies are covered by this bill, and then only if they’ve had meetings at the very highest level of government. It’s so bad that even groups representing lobbyists say it should go further.
Toynbee is right to finger Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems for this. From Home Office ads on vans to silencing students protesting against tuition fees, even the most committed Lib Dem supporters must be wondering how – far from being a moderating influence on the Tories – they have come to stand for such illiberal policies.
Cllr Mike Katz
Labour, London Borough of Camden
• The lobbying bill presently going through parliament shows once again the truth of the late Lord Hailsham’s 1976 description of the British system of government as an elective dictatorship. So where is the competition that the present government so loudly and repeatedly proclaim is fundamental to a healthy democracy? Obviously not in the political debate. But then with a joint party membership of about 162,000 – 0.3% of the adult population – the Tories and the Lib Dems much prefer monopoly once in power and will have their MPs legislate to keep the rest of us 99.7% out.
• Andrew Lansley hints at a “partial retreat” on the government’s anti-lobbying bill, but as you report, he is unwilling to move “over restrictions on election campaigning” which are at the heart of the bill (Report, 4 September).
There is a case for protecting election campaigning, but the government’s proposals are overkill. At present, activities undertaken with the intent of influencing an election result are regulated; the bill will regulate activity over a year which may affect the result of an election. Moreover, the bill introduces criminal sanctions that are likely to frighten off many organisations from legitimate comment on government policies and imposes crippling reporting and other obligations that would restrain freedom of expression.
The bill, if passed, would have a chilling effect on our everyday democracy and open debate on issues of public policy. The government’s bill does exempt one group from its punitive measures – the political parties. They will be freer to propagandise while civil society is muzzled.
• What if a charity wants to support the government at election time? All the discussion of the lobbying bill has assumed they will wish to oppose.
Will the bill allow a repeat of the 2010 Conservative manifesto which featured on page 14, a full-page portrait and endorsement of the policy contained on the following pages from a named head of a national charity? The charities and Electoral Commission will, I assume, appreciate clarity on this aspect.
House of Lords
We were disappointed to read a reference to “illegal migrants” in your report (Rise in net migration puts Tory pledge in jeopardy, 29 August). Those referred to as “illegal migrants” – who are liable to be forcibly removed by the government – in fact include people in a wide variety of circumstances, such as refused asylum-seekers and children born to undocumented parents. They often have strong legal claims to stay in the UK but too often they struggle – especially following legal aid cuts – to access legal representation.
With an upcoming immigration bill and new government proposals to prevent people without regular status, including children and families, from accessing privately rented accommodation and even essential healthcare, as well as plans that will cut some of those most at risk of abuses off from access to the courts, the rights of those without regular immigration status (an estimated 618,000 people) are going to be at the centre of the debate. We should be careful about our assumptions.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre
• “Go home” has such negative connotations for asylum-seekers (New Home Office posters ‘shameful’, 31 August). It may be a reminder of torture, or family and country left behind. In Glasgow, posters of aeroplanes appear in the main inquiry office used by asylum-seekers whose cases are still open. Scotland has to follow the Westminster model at present, but it is to be hoped it will follow the recommendations of the Scottish Refugee Council to form a new asylum body if Scotland becomes independent.
Dr Graham Ullathorne
Katherine Butler’s article “In that hour” (3 September) made me smile. I was brought up in the UK, the child of Irish parents from Tipperary. I remember their funerals for the healing power of the fun we had.
The bona fide Irish relatives – who have branded me a “plastic paddy” – turned up in colourful clothes and announced they were taking in a shopping trip while over in England.
At my mother’s funeral, we danced in the garden and even the bemused English guests were up for a reel or two. In the evening when the merriment had died down, the booze had worn off, and the grim return of grief started to seep back, my mother’s male cousin from Cork took me and my siblings to the pub and told us hilarious, outrageous jokes the whole evening.
“I want everyone dancing on my grave when it’s my time,” announced the comedian cousin we had met for the first time. We never saw him again, but the funerals of my parents were arguably the most enjoyable, therapeutic events I have experienced.
Finally I felt proud to be a “plastic paddy”.
Rose Kavanagh, Cambridge
Israel goes well beyond self-defence
Dominic Lawson (3 September) refers to Israel’s “ferociously single minded . . . self-defence” within the Middle East. If that were all there was to it, most critics of Israel would accept that necessity.
But, only too typically, I am afraid, of apologists for Israel’s conduct, Mr Lawson does not even make a passing reference to its fast ongoing colonisation of the West Bank and brutal siege of Gaza. The hard and accelerating reality is that Israel’s army is relentlessly colonising the Palestinian West Bank, to over 40 per cent of its land mass, and East Jerusalem. Gaza is constantly being besieged by land, sea and air. Self-defence, did he say?
Mr Lawson also purports to believe that to reach a resolution of this longstanding conflict would not even “help to solve all other conflicts in the region”. He also asserts that Muslims there “care very little, if at all, about the fate of the Palestinians”.
But having visited the region many times over the past decade, sometimes as part of a parliamentary delegation, I can say that Mr Lawson’s dogmatisms seem considerably at odds with what I observed and was told on the ground.
Furthermore, unwavering US and UK military, intelligence and economic support for Israel, regardless of its breaches of UN resolutions and international law, help to disbar us from playing the role of honest broker in Syria. A unilateral military incursion now would lack moral authority and prove tragically counter-productive.
Andrew Phillips , (Lord Phillips of Sudbury)
House of Lords
Dominic Lawson uses the tired old tactic of creating a straw man to shoot down. I have heard many hours of debate over Syria, but so far not one suggestion that Israel is the cause of the troubles there.
Of course there will be the odd Syrian official and other racists who will take any opportunity to attack Jews and Israel. But Lawson then goes on to use such examples of mindless anti-Semitism to attack other critics of Israel, such as Nigel Kennedy and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters.
As a coup de grâce against Waters he quotes the statement that he has “very many close Jewish friends”. If this is the case, why should Waters not say so, other than to avoid politically correct innuendos from the likes of Mr Lawson?
David Simmonds, Epping, Essex
Dominic Lawson’s attack on critics of Israel conforms to a standard formula: 1) Always state or imply that critics are anti-Semitic. 2) Never bring Israel’s own nuclear and WMD capability into the argument.
Michael Allen, Brighton
Minimum wage or free market
What nonsense you write about wages when you ask “at what level [the minimum wage] should be set” (leading article, 4 September).
Employers have got to cover costs and your desire to raise wages “voluntarily” must be accompanied by another desire for the customer to “voluntarily” pay more. Do you want purchasers and sellers to arrive at “voluntarily” agreed prices, no doubt arranged by a new publicly funded body? Leaving such matters to the market would be simpler and quicker and would achieve the same end.
If you directed your efforts to abolishing such organisations as the Resolution Foundation, our living standards would be raised. You have the wrong target.
G D Morris, Port Talbot
Increasing the minimum wage by legislation and trying to police it is a mug’s game. Better to admit that a living wage and mass immigration are mutually exclusive. Either curtail immigration, in which case the market will automatically raise unskilled wages, or let employers decide how many people to let in.
To achieve a living wage requires curtailing unskilled immigration from inside an ever-expanding EU as well as without. But an end to importing cheap labour has a “democratic” downside. It will involve a transfer of purchasing power from the more numerous and more likely-to-vote middle class to the less numerous and less likely-to-vote working class, as menial jobs that cannot be outsourced abroad become more costly.
Our mainstream political parties would probably find this electorally unacceptable, although for anyone concerned about national cohesiveness it should be a price worth paying.
Yugo Kovach, Winterborne Houghton, Dorset
Why farmers back the badger cull
It is quite wrong to say that the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is pouring all its efforts into promoting and trying to justify a badger cull to help tackle bovine TB (letter, 3 September).
The NFU has always said that every available tool must be used to eradicate this terrible disease. These tools include improved cattle testing, stringent cattle movement controls, better biosecurity and vaccination of both cattle and badgers, as well as a targeted cull of wildlife in areas where bovine TB is endemic.
Farmers are fully supportive of vaccines for both badgers and cattle, but all the experts agree that vaccination is not, and will not be, a “silver bullet”. There is no vaccine available to protect cattle, and best estimates from the European Commission suggest it will be 10 years before a licensed vaccine is available.
Similarly, vaccinating badgers is not a viable alternative at present. It is of no use at all if a badger already has bovine TB, and it is logistically challenging and, as a result, costly.
Bovine TB is devastating farming families across the country and resulted in more than 38,000 cattle being slaughtered in Great Britain last year. The best scientific evidence available, and the experience of other countries, shows that employing all the available measures at the same time can have a significant impact.
The NFU wants to see healthy badgers, healthy cattle and a healthy countryside. That is why we need to use everything available to help eradicate this devastating disease.
Martin Haworth, Director of Policy, NFU, Warwickshire
London’s ‘death ray’ building
Reading your report on the focusing of the sun’s rays by the “walkie talkie” building in Fenchurch Street, London (3 September), I was particularly taken by the architect’s comment that the building had been designed to “respect the City’s historic character, following the contour of the river and the medieval streets that bound the site, while further contributing to the evolution of the high-rise building type”.
We live and learn, don’t we? There was I thinking that it looked like just another high-rise slab block, only one that was bent over a bit so that it could act as a sort of “death ray” for cars parked nearby. Well well well! I suppose that architects know best.
John Cooper, Forest Hill, London
Now to reclaim the language
Now that, thanks to Parliament, the Special Relationship is apparently over, it is time to purge the English language of some of the Americanisms that have crept in.
I mean, “cookbook” for “cookery book”, “swim pool” for “swimming pool” etc. and cigarette “butt” for “end”. ( I confess I can understand the US objection to “fag end”). Worst of all is the fatuous “ass” for the fine old English word ”arse”. Let us strike a blow for Anglo-Saxon freedom!
Peter Metcalfe, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
White queen of Egypt
Sorry to be a geek, but I’ve got a thing for history. In your Ben Affleck story (“Like a Batman out of hell?”, 4 September) it says that Rouben Mamoulian wanted an African-American actress to play Cleopatra. Strangely, Cleopatra wasn’t black at all, she was Greek/Macedonian, descended from one of Alexander the Great’s generals.
Richard Denhamm Farnborough, Hampshire
Much is made of the Chinese taste for shark’s fin and the consequential decline of the species (report, 3 September). Yet no one mentions the British fondness for skate wings, which are essentially the same thing, and our waters have seen a huge decline in ray stocks as a result
David Buttery, Douglas, Isle of Man
Your account of Seamus Heaney’s funeral (3 September) reports that “The cortege was headed by a lone piper”. Why are pipers always “lone”? We never hear of a lone guitarist, or a lone violinist. Maybe piping is a peculiarly solitary occupation, in that nobody wants to get too close.
John Smurthwaite, Leeds
Not like us
Rupert Fast (letter, 3 September) wonders if “top bankers, Premier League footballers, successful company directors, chief executives of councils, quangos and big charities” opt for the state school system. I hope not. I wouldn’t want my children picking up bad habits from the unsuitable offspring of people like that.
Alison Sutherland, Kirkwall, Orkne
Sir, John Bright, the 19th-century British Radical, famously remarked, “Force is not a remedy”.
A remedy for the appalling situation in Syria is certainly needed but Bright’s statement is applicable: the addition of more destruction and more misery (“unavoidable collateral damage to civilians”) will not provide a remedy. Parliament’s decision was almost inescapable: the measures it was asked to consider were undefined; and “the warning shot across the bow” is already mutating; the consequences of even defined measures are unpredictable; and, of great importance, the scope and the implementation of the measures would be outside the control of the British Government (as was the case after the invasion of Iraq).
This is not a situation in which Parliament has blocked a measure that was called for because the national security of our ally, the US, any more than our own national security, is threatened. Parliament would surely agree that, if such a situation were to arise, the UK would again stand shoulder to shoulder with our US ally; and, as I would hope, the US would stand shoulder to shoulder with us.
Sir Jeremy Lever
All Souls College, Oxford
Sir, Your leading article (Sept 3) about Syria and chemical weapons refers to the need “to uphold international norms and legal prohibitions that have held since 1925 on the use of chemical weapons”. Your editorial memory is curiously selective. The West has in the past turned a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons. In 1988 Saddam Hussein used mustard gas and sarin against Iranian troops, killing 20,000 and leaving 100,000 wounded. A recent article in the US magazine Foreign Policy claimed that US officials who gave Iraq intelligence about Iranian troop movements, did so in the knowledge that the Iraqis would use chemical weapons. The Iranians even flew some victims to British hospitals and tried to raise the issue in the UN. The West was indifferent. You are right: the use of chemical weapons is, indeed, horrific and unacceptable. But if you wish to carry conviction with your arguments, should you not at least acknowledge the West’s position in the past has been woefully far from consistent?
House of Lords
Sir, You call for a military response in Syria. But why a military response? One would have to be sure that a military response did more good than harm. Lobbing relatively small quantities of high explosives on to hardened targets in Syria (which is all that cruise missiles can achieve) is merely a gesture, and one that might produce many civilian casualties. To do more than this would be to alter the balance of power in Syria in favour of the rebels, more than a few of whom are not allies of the West. This is a situation where we should seek a political and legal solution first, bringing on board as many of our allies as possible.
After all, nobody is in favour of gassing children, so most people can agree about that as a starting point. If, despite all, a military solution is to be pursued it should be undertaken only with a clear idea of the aims and consequences, and only with sufficient forces to achieve a quick victory and to replace the regime with a more acceptable one.
T. K. Day
An account of the editions occurs in Halliday’s A Shakespeare Companion where he shows that each of the four is significantly different from the others
Sir, The intended sale of four volumes of Shakespeare’s “collected plays” by the University of London is an act of folly (report, Sept 4). Dr Brian Vickers is right: every individual copy is unique. Close examination of each reveals significant corrections, paper used, printing method and timings and so on, even the identity of compositors. It will be a long time before scholars have exhausted their examination of these volumes and revealed their secrets.
The first of the four editions (F1) includes Troilus and Cressida at the beginning of the Tragedies section, which is not listed in the Contents reproduced on page 13 of the Norton Facsimile. This preliminary list has 36 plays; in fact the volume contains 37 plays. This play was seemingly inserted at the last minute.
A useful account of the four editions occurs in Halliday’s A Shakespeare Companion where he shows that each of the four (1623, 1632, 1663 and 1685) is significantly different from the others: editions three and four contain plays not in the first two. These are mostly not by Shakespeare although Pericles Prince of Tyre is included in F3, but not in F1. This shows how important it is not to consider the later volumes as “essentially duplicates”. Halliday also notes that F3 is relatively scarce, possibly because unsold copies perished in the Fire of London.
The Folger Institute in Washington has the largest collection of Shakespearean original volumes. If London University did sell, the Folger is the best place for its volumes.
John Idris Jones
Hard work and graft in sport versus natural talent and ability is a subject that has divided our writers this week more than any other
Sir, I was impressed by Matthew Syed’s book Bounce and its central argument that it is hard work, not innate talent, that produces sporting champions. So it was surprising that Ed Smith’s article (Times 2, Sept 3) supporting the alternative theory of sporting genes and innate talent being all important made no mention of Syed’s (well-received) book — although Syed’s column was on the same page and though there was a reference to Smith’s recent book. And the following day (Sept 4) we read Syed reaffirming his belief in what has become known as the 10,000 hours of practice rule — ie, nurture is still more important than nature.
Are Syed and Smith rivals, not acknowledging each other?
This Bill creates a serious risk to charities and campaigners across the UK. It attacks all of us who believe in democracy, from residents’ associations to the Woodland Trust
Sir, The lobbying Bill is a serious concern for campaigners and charities (report, Sept 4). Through a combination of poor definition, overly onerous reporting and significantly extended scope for liability, the Bill presents a threat to legitimate campaigning in the UK.
Although the Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley, said charities were excluded, even he admits that there are “uncertainties” in the law. Many go further: the Electoral Commission foresees problems and great uncertainty arising from the Bill.
Whether by accident or, as some suggest, intent, this Bill creates a serious risk to charities and campaigners across the UK. It attacks all of us who believe in democracy, from residents’ associations to the Woodland Trust and Women’s Institute, as well as 38 Degrees and UKUncut. We must act now to ensure that what passes into law is sensible, fair and good for democracy.
Watching and shadowing is a thing of the past; employers and interns want the interns to do something, so interns work
Sir, I was interested in your report “Sony pays up after working intern sues” (Sept 2) as my daughter, a graduate aged 23, is an unpaid intern.
It is right that HMRC is targeting 100 companies for breaching minimum wage laws. Watching and shadowing is a thing of the past; employers and interns want the interns to do something, so interns work. Word should go out to all employers that paying the minimum wage is mandatory if the intern does work in the organisation. This will stop the need for targeting and suing, or the intern just losing out.
The payment to an intern is vital. To qualify for Job Seekers Allowance and other unemployment benefit you must be unemployed, be actively seeking work and be available to work. This means that with an internship, you are not able to claim.
Companies will complain, but £216.65 for a 35-hour week is not much and there is little chance that the quoted 100,000 interns will be reduced. Our bright graduates come out of university but have no income. Paying the minimum wage, as it ought to be paid, is a good first step.
SIR – I must take issue with Anne Billson’s dismissal, in an otherwise excellent article (Film, August 29), of Audrey Hepburn’s “serious” performances as “rarely convincing and frequently dull”.
I think Hepburn does very well in The Unforgiven as a Native American brought up by a white settler family. The racial issues it deals with are uncomfortable to watch even today. She also copes well with an often melodramatic and unconvincing script in The Children’s Hour, taking the role seriously along with her co-stars, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner.
She also gives one of her finest performances in The Nun’s Story, for which she was nominated for an Oscar and won a Bafta. And she was nominated for an Oscar for her excellent performance as a blind woman in Wait until Dark.
Philip R J Jones
SIR – The gov.uk website tells us that the UK has committed £348 million to help those affected by the Syrian conflict. This is a drop in the ocean compared with the billions given away by the Department for International Development (DfID).
The website also tells us that we, the public, can help by donating to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal. I’m sure the British people will respond to this as generously as ever. But why is it necessary? It seems to me that DfID could do so much more with the money it already has in its coffers. Surely DfID would be of more use to the world if became the DEC?
SIR – Following the vote in Parliament, if the Government wants to do something about Syria, let it use the money that would otherwise be spent on bombing raids to provide more aid for the thousands of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.
School sex education guidance must be updated to reflect the digital age
04 Sep 2013
Audrey Hepburn could play serious roles, too
04 Sep 2013
There is more than one way of being a “great” country – bombing others is not one of them.
Rev Paul Roberts
SIR – Bashar al-Assad has challenged the West to prove that he has used chemical weapons (report, September 3). He seems to be resigned to the fact that the world believes he has used these weapons and focuses on warning against military action against him.
The question is, if the chemical weapons were actually used by the opposition forces, why is Assad not appealing to the world for international help in dealing with an outrage against his country?
Hon Ian MacGregor
SIR – Forcing all children to continue to study GCSE maths until they have achieved at least a grade C is attacking the problem from the wrong end (report, September 2). The Government should instead ensure that maths is taught properly at primary and elementary school to set the groundwork.
By the time a child has reached the age of 16 and cannot “do” maths, the rot has either set in through boredom, or the child simply has no aptitude and is a lost cause.
There will be many stroppy young adults wasting their own time and their teachers’.
Jane S Haworth
SIR – Could literacy have become the casualty of an overcrowded school curriculum, with teachers burdened with instructing pupils on subjects once considered the responsibility of parents?
Mansion tax burden
SIR – Surely it must be apparent, even to Labour and the Lib Dems, that the way to rejuvenate the country is not more petty taxes, but less, with reduced public expenditure (“Homes in mansion tax band could treble”, report, September 3)?
Roots of ignorance
SIR – While it is easy to bemoan the ignorance of youth (Letters, September 2), I am amazed at the number of young checkout personnel at supermarkets who have to ask what one vegetable or another is. This has occurred in the case of a Savoy cabbage and, in one instance, a parsnip.
SIR – Where did Nick Clegg get the idea that men had two weeks’ paternity leave in Edwardian times (report, September 3)?
Our children were born in the Sixties, when paternity leave was non-existent. Time off had to be taken from a meagre annual holiday allowance. Mr Clegg seems to ignore the extra burdens his proposals would put on employers, especially small-business owners.
SIR – Now that the Girl Guides’ Promise has been changed to omit the word “God”, I asked friends if they knew what it meant to “be true to oneself”. Nobody did.
We are all reasonably well-adjusted adults. What hope is there for teenage Guides?
SIR – Sid Davies (Letters, September 2) is lucky. Around here, the estate has stripped the hedges of every hip, haw, blackberry and crab apple just as they were ripening.
The fields were ploughed within hours of harvesting, so that the gleanings were buried away from any wildlife, and two large set-aside fields, where two months ago I was photographing bee orchids, sticky catchfly and crested cow-wheat, have been sprayed with weed-killer. The area has been reduced to a neat and tidy desert.
Philip J Stainer
Great Wratting, Suffolk
Words, words, words
SIR – I am sure we were all grateful to Robert Colvile (Comment, August 29) for explaining what is meant by twerking, one of the new words admitted to Oxford’s online dictionaries, to describe a current dance craze. For me it recalled my surprise more than 40 years ago when the Oxford English Dictionary included the word Madison, citing a reference in a book I had written on the Sixties to a dance craze briefly fashionable but quickly forgotten.
At least the dictionary also included a word I had coined for the title of the book, neophiliacs, to describe those who are easily excited by their discovery of “some new thing”, such as the word twerking, which vanishes into the memory hole of history as soon as it has arrived.
Human rights and common-sense wrongs
SIR – Are the notable signatories who want an alternative jubilee for six decades of human rights (Letters, September 3) really celebrating an Act that allows full life-term prisoners the right to challenge their sentence?
People who have committed the most abhorrent of crimes, and violated the human rights of others, are now able to challenge the rule of law because of their own perceived human rights. This is the same movement that has stopped this country ejecting foreign nationals who have gone on to commit heinous crimes, purely on the grounds of their right to a family life. We have also seen cases of radical Islamic preachers, who have wished death and destruction on our people, prevented from being deported because they themselves might suffer injustice abroad.
As a tolerant nation we are right to uphold secularism, remove barriers for the disabled, respect the freedom of differing sexualities, and hold no resentment on nationality. But when human rights override common sense and, ultimately, the proper rule of law, I, for one, shall not be celebrating.
SIR – I see that the usual suspects are pontificating on the Human Rights Act. They, of course, make no mention of the fact that European law uses it to emasculate the United Kingdom, especially when making it impossible to deport known criminals from this country. It is the European Court of Human Rights that is responsible for this ridiculous state of affairs.
I am sure that there more than 88 people who would like David Cameron to bring forward his UK Bill of Rights.
SIR – As a new term begins, we are concerned that many schools are no better equipped to teach sex and relationships education (SRE) to a good standard than in previous years. Ofsted inspections have found that SRE needs improving in a third of schools.
Schools have out-of-date guidance, published 13 years ago by the Department for Education and Employment. This pre-dates the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act and the 2010 Equalities legislation, which requires schools to take account of gender equality when teaching young people about non-violent, respectful relationships. The Government’s SRE guidance is also behind the times on technology and safeguarding, with no reference to addressing online safety, “sexting” or pornography.
Parents want SRE to be addressed in schools but need to know what their children will be taught at different ages. Teachers would welcome this, too, when planning the curriculum; they are often anxious about what can be included.
The Government says that its ambition is for “all children and young people to receive good-quality SRE”, but has not said what that includes or how it will be achieved. If the Government believes SRE, including the teaching of “sexual consent”, is important, then it is worthy of up-to-date guidance that all schools should be required to put into practice.
We call on the Government to work with professionals to produce this guidance. This would send out a message to schools that SRE is an absolute requirement, and that high standards must be met.
Development aid should be used to help the Syrian refugees
04 Sep 2013
Audrey Hepburn could play serious roles, too
04 Sep 2013
Chair, Sex Education Forum
General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers
General Secretary, National Association of Headteachers
Dr Mary Bousted
General Secretary, ATL
General Secretary, NASUWT
Lead Professional Officer, Unite-CPHVA
Director of Strategy and Development, NSPCC
CEO, National Children’s Bureau
Chief Executive, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation
CEO, NWG Network – Tackling Sexual Exploitation
Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition
CBE, Chief Executive, The Mothers’ Union
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain
Chair, Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education
CEO, PSHE Association
Dr Audrey Simpson
Acting CEO, fpa
Sir Nick Partridge
CEO, Terrence Higgins Trust
CEO, National AIDS Trust
Dr Janet Wilson
President of British Association for Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH)
Dr John Lloyd
President, Institute of Health Promotion and Education (IHPE)
Chief Executive, MEDFASH (Medical Foundation for HIV & Sexual Health)
Director of Sexual Health, BHA for equality in health and social care
Life Member of the Sex Education Forum
Life Member of the Sex Education Forum
Life Member of the Sex Education Forum
Life Member of the Sex Education Forum
Life Member of the Sex Education Forum
Life Member of the Sex Education Forum
Director, Loudmouth Education and Training
Director, CWP Resources Ltd
PSHE Lead, Sponne School
Head of PSHE, Sheffield High School
Student Support Manager, Woodhouse College
Independent Health & Wellbeing Education Consultant
Susie March Consulting
Proprietor, Big Talk Education
Sexual Health Promotion Nurse Specialist
Managing Director, Teaching Lifeskills
SRE in London
Public Health Practitioner (Advanced), Buckinghamshire County Council
Chief Executive, Population Matters
Member of Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM)
Coordinator, RSE Hub
Head of Public Affairs, British Humanist Association
CEO, SRE Project and Apause
Chief Executive, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS)
Chair- The Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality (CSCS)
CEO, Leap – Confronting Violence
Development Worker, Parent to Parent
Director, Image in Action
Director, One Plus One
Director of Romance Academy
President of the National Secular Society
Chair, Jewish Action and Training (for Sexual Health)
Chair, The National PSE Association for Advisors, Inspectors & Consultants (NSCoPSE)
Chair, National Health Education Group (NHEG)
Chief Executive, Family Lives
Rev Jane Fraser
National Coordinator, Anti-Bullying Alliance
Campaign Director, Life in My Shoes, Body and Soul
Sexual Health Education Unit; Health & Care Worcestershire
The British Youth Council
SIR – The campaign by Claire Perry, the Conservative MP, to teach schoolchildren about the negative impact of online pornography, seems a timely idea (report, September 3). However, this depends on who teaches it, and what they teach.
If the charities to which she refers are pro-family and pro-child, this is good, but not if they are the same “experts” who have succeeded in raising the rate of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases by delivering sex education unjudgmentally, with the approach that an activity is all right if that is how the individual feels. They sideline the fact that under-age sex is illegal. Will they teach children that pornography, which is legal, is always wrong?
Mrs Perry has done sterling work in informing the public of the dangers of pornography to children. Surely it is better to restrain the perpetrators than to teach the victims how to “manage the damage”?
Woodford Green, Essex
Sir, – Kieran Mulvey’s insistence that his involvement chairing the anti-Seanad group “One House” will not compromise his professional duties is perturbing. In my profession, a requirement exists to be seen to be independent, in fact and appearance. I would hope similar guidance applies to the role of chief executive of a statutory body like the Labour Relations Commission, though it’s hard to tell as the Code of Conduct on the LRC’s website is currently “being updated”.
Mr Mulvey should pick his cause, labour relations or abolition of the Seanad, and urgently reconsider his position on either management structure. Juggling both roles, one of which explicitly supports the Government, would evaporate any faith the public has in the LRC when next it acts as mediator or fails to highlight non-adherence to LRC agreements by the Government. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Your Editorial “An unwelcome partner” (September 2nd) ignores the following facts:
1. The EU blocked Ryanair’s third offer for Aer Lingus just five months ago (on February 13th) on the grounds that competition between Ryanair and Aer Lingus has “intensified” over the past seven years. How then can UK regulators claim “a substantial lessening of competition” has taken place?
2. Ryanair’s minority stake clearly hasn’t impeded Aer Lingus’s madcap (and unprofitable) commercial developments in recent years which have included alliances and combinations with United, Jetblue, Etihad, Aer Arann and more recently Virgin.
3. Ryanair’s minority stake clearly hasn’t prevented other airlines investing in Aer Lingus. Etihad has taken a 3 per cent stake and both BA and Air France testified to the UK Competition Commission that while they have no interest in investing in Aer Lingus, Ryanair’s minority stake would not be a barrier.
4. When the EU has already ruled that competition has intensified over the past seven years to the benefit of consumers, it is bizarre and manifestly wrong that a UK quango can rule the polar opposite, in order to compel one Irish airline to divest a minority stake in another non-UK airline which affects less than 1 per cent of UK air passengers without one iota or shred of evidence of consumer harm or material influence, or any lessening of competition.
Imagine how the UK media would react if the Irish competition authorities forced BA to sell its stake in British Midland two years later? Perhaps your paper favours Irish merger policy being dictated to or reinvented with the benefit of years of hindsight. Perhaps in five years’ time they’ll require Denis O’Brien to sell down his 29 per cent stake in INM, where he has considerably more influence than Ryanair has ever had over Aer Lingus? – Yours, etc,
Head of Communications,
Sir, – The use of chemical weapons and attacks against civilians represent abhorrent breaches of international humanitarian law. In the wake of such atrocities, the focus of the international community must be on ending the war in Syria and easing what is the worst humanitarian crisis the world has seen in a generation. Far from achieving these aims, military action by Western governments runs the risk of increasing regional tensions, fuelling the war further and increasing the humanitarian crisis.
After two years of war, it is only right to question whether all diplomatic avenues towards bringing about peace have been explored. The members of the UN Security Council have an obligation to uphold international law and protect the lives of civilians in Syria. They must put rivalries aside and fulfil their duties. Our partners, both in Syria and Lebanon, are deeply concerned that military strikes will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. Given Syria’s high population density and already destroyed infrastructure, increased military action will lead to an increase in the number of Syrian civilians fleeing the country. The humanitarian consequences of this action may be enormous.
Military strikes are unlikely to lead to a political solution and there is a real fear that they will only increase regional tensions and further diminish chances of a negotiated peace settlement. Ultimately, the only lasting solution to this conflict will be through diplomacy and dialogue. A military response cannot be justified if it is essentially a face-saving exercise to compensate for political inaction. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Prof Donncha O’Connell (Opinion, September 2nd) rightly exhorts us to take the European Convention on Human Rights more seriously.
To that end, and as a matter of public information, it would be encouraging to know what specific qualifications in Human Rights Law the incoming members of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission have. – Yours, etc,
JOHN A. KEHOE LLB.,LLM (Human Rights Law),
Sir, – Breandan O’Broin (September 4th) praises the use of funeral eulogies. Judging by the largely positive reaction in Co Meath to Bishop Smith’s ban on same, it would appear that the Roman Catholic community in the county are more familiar with the meaning/purpose of a Requiem Mass than are those in other diocese. A tribute perhaps to Bishop Smith’s wise leadership. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I have great sympathy for John Waters in light of his recent experience (News Agenda, September 4th).
The event has prompted me to wonder why it is that in this age of advanced technology that it is not possible for off-street car parks to charge for the actual time involved rather than the punitive system that allows the operator to charge “per hour or part thereof ”. This is a prime example of unabashed profiteering.
I believe that this is one area where the Consumers Association of Ireland could usefully apply its talents. Perhaps with a little of the vigour that was applied to the plastic bags and smoking issues this “disease” could also be eliminated. – Yours, etc,
Merrion Road, Dublin 4.
Sir, – Hooray for your columnist John Waters and his brave actions in refusing to pay a parking fine (News Agenda, September 4th). The regressive parking laws imposed by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have been harsh on local retailers, with many businesses closing in recent years.
Hopefully, Waters’s resistance to such bureaucratic nonsense and paying the price by spending a brief time behind bars, will help turn the tide. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Now that he has suffered the Hell of 45 minutes behind bars for making a stand against the “system”, can we take it that John Waters will henceforth be known as the Dún Laoghaire One? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – John Waters: “I was weighed, measured and put in a cell with two men”. (News Agenda, September 4th).
Who was served by or obtained fulfilment from this sentence? It would have been much more sensible to have given him community service. Perhaps Waters could arrange to be arraigned again, and this time ask the judge for community service, and write about that experience. Perhaps our judges upon reading it might consider using it more often.
Or better yet, when issuing fines, give the recipient the option of paying the fine or doing hours of community service – it might catch on. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Small offence in Dún Laoghaire. Not many jailed. – Yours, etc,
De Courcey Square,
Glasnevin, Dublin 9.
Sir, – John Waters and his principled stand against bureaucracy (news agenda, September 4th) has to be admired, as does the judiciary, which, in sending The Irish Times man to clink for a day (well two hours anyway) ensures justice has been satisfied and the philosophy that we are all answerable to the law has not been compromised.
The same thing happened in Liverpool years ago, when offenders for trivial cases were often sentenced to a similar length of time, but instead of being hauled off to Walton jail, they would be told to sit at the back of the court for the duration of the day’s proceedings. Procedurally convenient. Justice done. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I was a boarder in St Pat’s Armagh in the 1960s. One evening in 1967 it was announced that the senior boarders would be allowed to attend a poetry reading by a young poet named Seamus Heaney.
While I enjoyed English as a subject poetry appreciation was entirely beyond my comprehension. None the less a night out from college meant a trip afterwards to the local cafe for the delights of a bag of chips, a coke and the chance to eye up Armagh‘s finest female talent. As a result we all headed off to the reading hoping it would not last too long and that we would have plenty of time afterwards to enjoy ourselves in the town. We arrived to the hall where the reading was to take place. I think Death of a Naturalist had just recently been published and it was from this collection that Seamus read. I recall vividly the impression his reading made on me – indeed I think on all of us. The soft Derry accent reciting poetry on basic rural topics struck a chord.The poetry thing started to make sense for the first time and I left the reading with a feeling of awe and bewilderment that it resonated with me to such an extent. I have never forgotten that evening but have no recollection of the cafe afterwards!
I met the great man at a function about two years ago , took the opportunity to introduce myself and recalled the event some 45 years previously.He nodded his head and smiled shyly as if to say “Sure what about it”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – If the banks are responsible for the property bubble as a consequence of their earlier flawed credit policy, why, when a property is dispossessed, does the bank not simply take over the property and leave the ex-owner debt-free? Am I right in thinking that this is the US practice?
The bank could usefully develop a rental property management business, and give the ex-owner the right to stay on at a negotiated rent, with option to re-purchase. The current situation, where a citizen is dispossessed carrying a “negative-equity” debt, the amount of which is a consequence of earlier banking policy, is a travesty of justice. – Yours, etc,
ROY H W JOHNSTON,
Sir, – If AIB believes it can threaten mortgage holders in arrears with impunity then it should think again (“AIB issues warning to almost 6,000 mortgage customers”, Business, September 4th).The time has come for the taxpayers of this country to shout “Stop” to this bullying.
The Government must prevent this abuse of power by the banks. The time has long past when the people would accept this behaviour. A change in the rules of money is long overdue. Taxpayers should demand no less. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Joanne Hunt (“Is it time to legalise marijuana?”, Health + Family, September 2nd) refers to a book with a dubious title, Marijuana is Safer: so why are we driving people to drink?
Most people are sensible enough to recognise the folly of the question and to realise that “We” are not forcing anyone to drink. People take alcohol and other drugs to alter their mood and perceptions, and with that comes the danger.
A study in the academic journal, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, demonstrated that a marijuana cigarette deposits four times the amount of tar in the human respiratory tract than a tobacco cigarette.
The British Medical Journal indicated “drivers who consume cannabis within three hours of driving are nearly twice as likely to cause a vehicle collision as those who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol”.
To try to justify marijuana on the basis that it “is less toxic, less addictive and less harmful for the body than alcohol” ignores a key fact (discovered by the Australian National Household Survey of 2001) that 95 per cent of cannabis users also drink alcohol.
Perhaps we could instead have an alternative article entitled “Is it time to drink more orange juice?” as it “is less toxic, less addictive and less harmful for the body that either alcohol or marijuana”. – Yours, etc,
* Liz O’Donnell writes that “sometimes war is the honourable thing to do”.
Also in this section
Library cuts a sorry chapter for Hogan
The people of Ireland cannot take more taxes
Creighton’s ‘brass neck’ astonishes
Some may wholly disagree with this statement, believing war to be an invention of the ignorant. It involves an ignorance of conflict resolution and political debate, a total disregard for the human worth of all sides caught up in it and, ultimately, ignorance of the catastrophic physical and psychological aftermath borne by its survivors.
If she feels that war is honourable, let her offer herself as a volunteer from, in her own words, “the rudderless and weak EU”.
Michael Moore’s film ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ comes to mind in which the film-maker asked members of Congress whether any of their family were directly involved in the fighting in Iraq, to which only one answered in the affirmative.
The drug feuds in Dublin and Limerick may be a good example of how disputes escalate to war.
The argument starts with a wrongdoing committed by one faction against the other. This can be a minor altercation, such as theft, or a major incident, such as murder.
Following from this is the inevitable tit-for-tat killings which may escalate over time to the extent where neither family can remember the true reasons for the original fallout.
Eventually it is not only the families at war but also their neighbours and friends. This is the micro situation; the macro is when countries go to war.
It is exactly the same scenario: people who shouldn’t be involved find themselves in the middle of a bloodbath with no way of escaping.
Ms O’Donnell has ample experience in conflict resolution, having played a role in the Good Friday Agreement. She has vast experience in dealing with poverty and destitution and the physical and psychological damage that these problems bring to the fore.
We are fighting a universal war on poverty. Does Ms O’Donnell also advocate the slaughter of those maniacs who cause this deprivation? We are fighting a universal war on drugs. Does she urge us to wipe out the drug smugglers?
The solution to the problem may lie with those who are closest to the conflict.
In Syria, it is the Syrians. In Iraq, it is the Iraqis. Certainly, the atrocities in Syria are inhumane and one cannot accept the plight of their refugees, but war is not a solution.
Salthill, Co Galway
TIME TO TRIM THE FAT?
* I was enjoying Laura Butler’s (Irish Independent, September 2) analysis of the opening days of Pat Kenny’s and Sean O’Rourke’s new radio shows until I got to the last two paragraphs.
Apparently, Pat Kenny in the private sector will have one producer, three researchers and a technician whereas Sean O’Rourke’s RTE team will consist of five producers, two senior researchers, two reporters and a broadcast assistant.
No wonder the state broadcaster is broke.
Sandymount Avenue, Co Dublin
THE MEANING OF LIFE
* Scientists who teach us the chemistry of life state that it is simply a subset of material chemistry.
However, they overlook the fact that biochemistry only works if the organism in which the chemistry takes place is alive. For example, photosynthesis only occurs in living plants, the replication of proteins only occurs in living cells.
But we do not know what life is. We theorise that life comes from Mars but if so, where did Mars get it from? Until we know what life is, we cannot state where it comes from, nor that there is no God.
Religion, of course, has been the cause of more deaths than most other things, but the moral standard in the scriptures (upon which Irish laws are based) seems to work.
For instance, families who are not broken by adultery, cruelty or drunkenness seem to be happier than others and form the basis for a stable country.
But we can either be like the Scribes and Pharisees who were religious but had a book of rules they sought to enforce, or we can be like Christ who fed the hungry, helped the sick and was willing to put others ahead of his own needs.
Killarney, Co Kerry
LOST IN ‘COWEN SPEAK’
* TG4 will broadcast an interview that will interest some of your readers tomorrow.
To my loss, not being fluent in Gaeilge, I won’t be listening; however I am curious to know if the undecipherable verbiage commonly known as ‘Cowen speak’ is compatible with our native tongue.
Dunleer, Co Louth
COLLINS’ LETHAL COCKTAIL
* The suggestion by Frank O’Connor (Irish Independent, August 27) that Michael Collins left the comparative safety of the armoured car and ran to the middle of the road in order that he might get killed and thus sacrifice himself in the hope of ending the Civil War, seems to be silly in the extreme.
Perhaps a more plausible explanation of what happened lies in the fact that Collins had been drinking on his way to Beal na mBlath, which may explain the reason for his reckless behaviour and lapse of judgment leading to his subsequent untimely death.
Athlone, Co Westmeath
* It is innovation that produces products that penetrate markets profitably that provide jobs and wages.
Big Jim Larkin was not an ordinary trade unionist but a ‘syndicalist’ working to control all industries.
Larkin had a heart of a lion, the voice of a basset hound and the brains of a sheep. He lived in a Kafkaesque world of surrealism where wishes were dishes and nobody starves.
In the real world ‘there are no free lunches’. Military success and economic success goes to the community with the best creative, scientific society.
A closed mind like Larkin would not prosper in an open economy. Learn from the past or we will repeat it in the future.
Spanish Point, Co Clare
A HERO AT PEACE
* Reading Bronagh Gallagher’s beautiful tribute (Irish Independent, August 31) about her perfect late-night meeting with her childhood hero Seamus Heaney and his wife Marie, which left her floating and charmed, brought tears to my eyes. I was so jealous, and only wished I had met this wonderful human being who charmed so many.
As the perfect meeting came to the perfect end, her hero said, “I must take my lovely wife home, Bronagh”.
This says it all. May this lovely man rest in peace.
Glenties, Co Donegal
ERECTING A MEMORIAL
* I have built a monument/More lasting than bronze/And loftier than the regal peak/Of a Pharaoh’s pyramid, I have erected a memorial, Which neither lashing rains, Nor violent North winds can chase, Nor the fleeting sequence of countless generations destroy; I shall not altogether die – A great part of me shall cheat/The goddess of death, Libitina . . . As long as the High Priest, with vestal silence, Climbs the steps of the Capitol/My fame shall survive with posterity’s praise . . . I shall be spoken of as one who, From humble beginnings . . .
Pioneered the adaptation of Greek verse to Latin rhythms. Translated from Latin by:
Letterkenny, Co Donegal