Busy day

24 September 2013 Busy day

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble they are to rescue the Admirals barge with the Admirals still on it Priceless.
Piano in road, pallet of books arrive, chop 3 ash trees start apple wine
We watch Dads army v good.
Scrabble today I win and gets under over 400. perhaps Mary might win tomorrow.


Nick Robinson
Nick Robinson, who has died aged 58, created one of Britain’s last genuinely independent publishing houses, Constable & Robinson, with particular strengths in modern fiction, “cosy crime” and psychology.

6:50PM BST 23 Sep 2013
His Victorian ancestor, Henry Tate, had achieved success by purchasing a German patent to make sugar cubes; Robinson brought the same entrepreneurial zeal to books. He spotted opportunities and gaps, broadening into new areas — from China and supermarkets to e-books and websites (he was responsible for setting up honestjohn.co.uk, a site for car-buyers).
As a result, he survived and thrived in an era especially difficult for independent publishers, and showed how an old firm could adapt. “In some paradoxical way,” he said only recently, “there’s never been a better time to be a small publisher.”
Though deeply literary, Robinson was no traditional literary publisher. He rarely thought in terms of individual books, but in terms of lists. Just as John Murray depended on Kennedy’s Latin Primer to fund its other titles, so the Mammoth books of True Crime, Horror and Science Fiction enabled Robinson to build up a formidable operation.
Yet the business did not dominate his life . Rather it was a means to get out of the office and on to the grouse moor near Cambusmore, a Scottish estate on the coast near Golspie where he spent many summers; and latterly, in to the woods around Wardour, Wiltshire, with a Harris hawk called Jess clamped to his wrist. If there was an individual book that gave him most pleasure to publish, it was probably The Doomsday Book of Giant Salmon.
Nicholas John Winwood Robinson was born on February 18 1955 in Cheltenham, the second son of Major ERW Robinson, MC, and Prudence (neé Arthur), and grew up at Moor Wood farm outside Cirencester. He was educated at Winchester, where he was expelled from the college fishing club for laying night-lines on Meads, and for using “bombers” — huge (and illicit) lures.
Academically a slow-burner, he liked to tell how he got into Cambridge to read Archaeology and Anthropology by memorising a learned essay on King John by his fellow Wykehamist Christopher Vajda (now a European Court judge). At Downing College, he changed to History of Art under David Watkin.
The death of his mother when he was 21 left an all-male household at Moor Wood. After his father’s death in 1985, a second home was Essex House at Little Badminton, where his great-uncle, the diarist James Lees-Milne, lived. “Nick is the best man in the world, and the human being I am now most fond of,” Lees-Milne wrote in his journal. “His very presence does me good. He arrived like a breath of fresh Scotch air. In a neatly-fitted tweed suit.” Lees-Milne gave him intellectual guidance and stimulation, and introductions to the London publishing scene which were invaluable in the late 1970s.
Through Lees-Milne’s contacts, Robinson worked for Denys Sutton at the art magazine Apollo (1978-79) and for Norah Smallwood at Chatto & Windus (1979-82). He set up his own imprint after three years with the book packagers Breslich & Foss (1982-85).
He founded Robinson Publishing in 1983, operating out of his one-bedroom flat in Shepherd Market, Mayfair. His formula was simple: to repackage and republish out-of-copyright classics, such as HE Bates’s In the Heart of the Country, and to pan through the detritus of the big publishers. An early Robinson author was the neglected Boston crime-writer George V Higgins, who flew to London, keen to be shown Robinson’s premises.
Finally admitted into the Robinson bedsit, Higgins looked around, and seeing a rotting pheasant hanging outside the bathroom and two spaniels, said: “I need a drink.” Robinson then invited him to the Flyfishers’ Club for lunch .
An important break came in 1989 when Robinson met Guy Parr, founder of Parragon , which distributed titles to Asda and Sainsbury. Parr had grown up on a Liverpool council estate and had to fight to get into the business: “Nick was the first person in the publishing establishment who was prepared to listen to me, and one of the first to see the potential of getting books into supermarkets.” Through Parr, Robinson sold, in prodigious quantities, the cheapest complete works of Shakespeare in the English-speaking world (for £1.99), and the mini Oxford English Dictionary (for 99p), which sold 1.5 million copies.
Another stroke of luck was Robinson’s meeting in Frankfurt with the New York publisher Herman Graf, who agreed to take any Mammoth title in America. Together they published more than 90, of which The Mammoth Book of True Crime, compiled by Colin Wilson, was the most successful; it remains in print.
One of the earliest British publishers into China in the 1990s, Robinson secured the UK rights to the novel Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui, which was banned in China. It sold more than 200,000 copies, and with the proceeds Robinson was able to secure the future of Britain’s oldest independent publisher, Constable & Co, which he bought to create Constable & Robinson.
Robinson was wary of fiction, partly because he saw how much could be wasted in large advances. He veered away from trophy authors, not least because he was bankrolling the company from his own pocket . A fundamentally modest and private man, the trophies he came to cherish were the Bookseller Industry Awards in 2012 for Independent Publisher of the Year and Digital Publisher of the Year.
In 2009 Robinson was diagnosed with colon cancer, which he fought with courage and without self-pity.
In 1990 Nick Robinson married (dissolved) Alice Webb, who survives him with their son and daughter. In 2010 he married Nova Jayne Heath, who becomes chair of the board.
Nick Robinson, born February 18 1955, died August 30 2013


Robert Newman takes incomplete quotations out of context and selects his facts in order to construct a straw man to argue against (Don’t panic over people, 23 September). It is disingenuous to misquote David Attenborough as saying it is ” ‘barmy’ to send food to Africa”, when he actually said that it was barmy to imagine that this alone would be enough to end hunger there if, at the same time, not enough is done to tackle the problem of population growth. 
Whether one chooses to call a projected growth of the world’s population to 10 billion by the end of the century an “explosion” or not is a semantic choice, one which does not add or subtract any number from the total. That fertility rates are falling is well-known and understood by all those expressing concern over population growth, and the UN projections take this fully into account.
Newman is neither adding facts to the debate nor contradicting anyone’s calculations when he draws attention to it. Perhaps he does not realise that a fall in fertility rate takes a long time to lead to a fall in birth rate, especially where there has been a previous high growth rate (this is because there are so many young people yet to have children – a phenomenon called demographic momentum). 
In any case, fertility rates fall because people have access to contraception and education. Given that more of both is exactly what campaigners like Attenborough call for, drawing attention to how successful this has been so far is hardly an argument against spreading these benefits further.
Chris Padley

In her account of Grayson Perry’s Reith lecture about the workings of the art world, Deborah Orr (21 September) describes how the art market operates as a “formidable cartel”, and advises us to recognise it as a “gargantuan practical refutation” of the idea that only free markets create economic growth. She’s probably right. But by bringing money into it, as usual, she is once again pointing a finger at the wrong bad guys.
The real problem with the art world is not the money men scavenging in its wake – they’ve always been there – but the pirates who’ve taken over the ship. I am thinking of course of that awful art world species: the curator. When I started writing about art, there were no curators. Now they are everywhere. They go to the same biennales; speak the same meaningless art language; and control the art world from within by privileging their creativity ahead of the artist’s. For 5,000 years art survived perfectly well without curators. Now they are its gate keepers.
What we need is a revolution, akin to the impressionist revolution in 19th-century France. Just as the impressionists overthrew the salon and put artists back at the centre of the art world, so someone out there needs to overthrow the Tate empire. Come on Hackney. Rise up.
Waldemar Januszczak
• In addition to the advantages libraries bestow (What libraries do for us, 23 Sept), you can add the findings published in the journal Research Stratification and Mobility (2010), which found that having books around the house, even unread, correlated with how many years of schooling a child will complete. Living with 500 or more books was as great an advantage of having university-educated parents. Given children are more likely now to have sight of e-readers than books and parents who can’t afford to go to university, where else but libraries can they be immersed in books?
Anne Strachan

So, 48 NHS England bosses earn more than David Cameron, (Report, 20 September), the highest being paid £211,249. Well, fancy that. Last month 740 partners at Deloitte UK each took home an average £772,000 in the year to the end of May, the highest being £2.7m (Report, 12 August). Well, fancy that. Why do we pay NHS managers and the prime minister peanuts when compared to bean-counters?
Rev Barry Parker
• You note that not enough is done to mark the history of the labour movement (In praise of…, 23 September) and mention a few unnoticed anniversaries. The Labour party is, I hope, ready to mark an imminent centenary that merits equal attention. Next year Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – a book known to have influenced George Orwell, among many others – will have been continuously in print for a hundred years.
Gerry Abbott
• I’ve a lot of time for Benjamin Disraeli (Letters, 21 September ) – he did, after all, refer to a Conservative government as an “organised hypocrisy”.
David Kenrick
Widnes, Lancashire
• Perhaps political parties need all stop fretting about gender balance among MPs (Where are the Lib Dems’ women? 19 September) and legislate to ensure parliament’s balance represents that of the whole country – slightly more women than men.
Andrew Kitchen
Kessingland, Suffolk
• The Lib Dems are unhappy about their low percentage of women MPs. The Green party is delighted to have reached 100%.
Maurice George
Ormskirk, Lancashire
• Years ago an aunt gave my two daughters a Tiny Tears doll for Christmas (Letters, 23 September. You filled these with water and when you squeezed their tummies they did a wee. Imagine my delight in their creativity when, on Boxing Day, I saw them in the garden racing around using their dolls as water pistols.
Kay Ara
Trinity, Jersey

While the eventual U-turn by the Labour party on the bedroom tax is to be welcomed (Editorial, 23 September), it has only taken it six months of confusion, twists and turns to come to a position on what is quite clearly a damaging and unfair tax. Labour was in fact panicked into making this announcement in fear of looming bad headlines over its internal splits. The fact it has taken this long to make any decision, after all the contradictory statements we’ve heard, is evidence that we cannot trust this one.
We know from its history that the party cannot be trusted to keep the policies it is forced into. In 1997 Labour cut single-parent and disability benefits and we know Alistair Darling reneged on a Labour promise to introduce a wind-chill factor to cold-weather payments. The only guaranteed way for Scotland to get rid of the bedroom tax is with independence. Independence will ensure that Scotland’s welfare policy is in Scotland’s hands and allow us to address other punitive welfare cuts from a Tory government we didn’t vote for.
Alex Orr
• Your editorial (20 September) makes a misplaced comparison between the bedroom tax and the poll tax. There were no caps and cuts under the poll tax; benefits were increased to pay it. Last year the coalition proceeded, despite authoritative warnings in parliament, to pass a series of acts which deliberately impose unmanageable debts on poverty incomes. These debts lead to individual and family ill-health, eviction, temporary and overcrowded accommodation, and damage children’s education. It is not only the bedroom tax which is creating these increased costs to the taxpayer in the NHS, schools and wider economy. The £500 overall benefit is cap forcing mothers to pay rent out of the child benefit, because of the 1% freeze on benefit increases for three years, while the prices of necessities escalate.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
• It is good to have some respectable research to back up our opinions (Half the families hit by bedroom tax ‘now in debt’, 19 September). The Simon Community has been working with homeless and poor people for 50 years and we are appalled at the cruel imposition of the immoral and ill-thought-out bedroom tax. To impose additional costs on tenants in social housing if they refuse to move to nonexistent smaller properties is as ridiculous as it is indefensible.
The evidence clearly shows that this shameful rule has already pushed tens of thousands of people into rent arrears. It will certainly result in serious debt for tens of thousands more. Inevitably this will end in eviction and destitution for many. It is impossible to quantify the terrible effects of the fear and anxiety which this has brought to social housing tenants – and this includes the working poor and disabled people, as well as the easier-to-stigmatise unemployed. We support the calls from David Orr, chairman of the National Housing Federation; Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary; Raquel Rolnik, the UN’s special rapporteur on housing; and the growing number of other well-informed experts demanding the immediate repeal of this iniquitous measure.
Bob Baker
Director, Simon Community
• I’m puzzled that such a sensible tax, designed to prevent under-occupation of valuable public housing, isn’t to be levied on privately owned dwellings. Surely it’s no less desirable that private dwellings be underused than public. Most of Mayfair, and one large dwelling at the end of the Mall, seem to be seriously underoccupied and a tax, set at a rate reflecting the apparent value of these properties, would both raise revenue while improving the housing market’s efficiency. It’s time that both sides of politics recognised the virtues of this tax, fairly applied.
Adam Thomson
• Your list of good reasons why households might want to have a spare room is not complete. An acquaintance (undoubtedly a Tory supporter) commented to me recently that she could not understand homelessness, for “surely everyone knows someone with a spare room”.
William Solesbury
Research fellow, King’s College London
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Edward Said, the renowned US academic and author of Orientalism, the groundbreaking critique of western colonialism. Jerusalem-born Dr Said fought for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and abhorred violence on both sides. In the 1990s he co-founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim in an attempt to promote mutual understanding. During his immensely productive period as professor of comparative literature at Columbia University, Said suffered intimidation because of to his unstinting support for Palestinians suffering human rights abuses in the occupied territories. His brilliant essays on the post-colonial world and western foreign policy, together with classical music and literary reviews, found him allies in the form of Noam Chomsky, and high-profile opponents such as the historian Bernard Lewis. At a time when the Middle East is as troubled as ever, the world continues to miss such an informed and eloquent voice for peace and reconciliation.
Andrew Allen

It is now your turn. By holding credible elections earlier this year and through other recent developments, the Iranian government has taken substantial steps towards reform in Iran (Editorial, 20 September). The people of Iran seized the opportunity to elect Hassan Rouhani, a reform-minded lawyer and proponent of normalisation of Iranian international relations. And as a result, we have witnessed the release of several political prisoners and relative progress in the country’s public and political atmosphere over the past weeks. It is often claimed that important decisions in Iran are made, not by the president, but by the supreme leader. But today even the supreme leader is speaking of “heroic flexibility”, and Iran is now united to engage in constructive engagement with the world. 
The promising trends in our country has set the stage for cutting the Gordian knot of more than three decades of Iran-US alienation – and specifically resolving disagreements over Iran’s nuclear programme. In the prospective negotiations, Rouhani and the foreign minister, Javad Zarif, have the support of not only the Iranian government, but also a majority of Iranian voters, as well as a wide spectrum of political and social activists and many political prisoners.
Greater economic and political engagement with the world will be essential in increasing political freedom in Iran. If the US government and the international community fail to seize this golden opportunity, they will aid the cynics of both countries and make it more difficult to believe in the willingness of the US to improve relations. Any success that Rouhani achieves in foreign policy will help his domestic agenda in opening the political, social and economic spheres.
Mr President,We call upon you to take advantage of Rouhani’s presence in New York to repair Iran-US relations and improve the regional prospects for peace which requires further cooperation between the two countries. This is an important historical opportunity that must not be exhausted. It is now the turn of the US, and that of the international community, to reciprocate Iran’s measures of goodwill and pursue a win-win strategy that encompasses the lifting of the unjust economic sanctions on Iran.
Asghar Farhadi, Saeed Hajjarian, Sadeq Zibakalam, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Isa Saharkhiz, Ali Shakourirad, Masoud Behnood, Alireza Alavitabar, Zahra Eshraghi, Trita Parsi, Ahmad Shirzad, Saeed Shariati, Nazanin Khosravani, Parisa Bakhtavar, Mostafa Malekian
For a full list see: http://kaleme.com/1392/07/01/klm-159371/
• Now that Syria has agreed to get rid of its chemical weapons (Report, 19 September), an opportunity has arisen to achieve a WMD-free Middle East. Iran would be the first to agree, given its bitter memories of having been at the receiving end of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons. This will require the west, in particular the United States, to pressure Israel into joining the chemical weapons convention and giving up its nuclear weapons.
Yugo Kovach
Winterborne Houghton, Dorset
• And when will Israel allow its courageous whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu, to leave the country?
Benedict Birnberg
Ernest Rodker


‘Militarily speaking, Britain is not important enough to deserve a “pre-emptive” blow’
Sir, I was surprised to read former high-ranking officers and defence secretaries (letter, Sept 19) claiming that the Liberal Democrat policy of equipping submarines with nuclear missiles only in an international crisis “could provoke a pre-emptive strike against us”.
These gentlemen seem to operate on the assumption that in such a hypothetical crisis the Royal Navy would be a major player — a thought which is so far fetched that it is likely to inspire more Russian jokes about insignificant but conceited little islands. If ever we find ourselves in a crisis involving serious nuclear powers (rather than rogue regimes and terrorist plots), what matters is what the US forces do, not how rapidly we equip our few submarines with nuclear missiles.
Militarily speaking, Britain is not important enough to deserve a “pre-emptive” blow, and if ever we are attacked by a superpower, this would be after the forces of our allies have been all but vanquished. At that undesirable point, rather than a pre-emptive strike, such enemy attack would be a coup de grace, which is, metaphorically speaking, what the post-imperial delusions of these former strategists would deserve.
Eugenio F. Biagini
Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

Sir, Thinking about nuclear deterrence, as the late Sir Michael Quinlan argued, is “in a strict sense speculative”. It is based on particular ‘beliefs’ and judgment, not on absolute certainty. Quinlan was perhaps our most influential and deepest thinker on nuclear weapons during the past 40 years.
He would have joined Lord Robertson and his colleagues (letter, Sept 19) in challenging the Liberal Democrat ideas about the efficacy of their ideas of “virtual deterrence”. He saw a “formidable difficulty” in such ideas and he would have wanted to know the details of such things as how nuclear warheads would be stored and the dangers of re-assembly during a crisis. At the same time, however, he was acutely aware of the very serious tensions between policies of nuclear deterrence and non-proliferation.
In a book, published shortly before his death, Quinlan argued that “it cannot be right to acquiesce uncritically, for the rest of human history, in a system that maintains peace between potential adversaries partly by the threat of colossal disaster”. He accepted that we would have to live with nuclear weapons, but he was anxious to think about new ideas. In particular, he wanted to see an open and honest debate about the alternatives to past policies. We would do well to follow that advice, not dismissing out of hand alternative nuclear policies, and challenging the “beliefs” we all hold.
Professor John Baylis
Mumbles, Swansea

Sir, The claims of those now supporting the reinforcement of
our nuclear armoury that this policy would maintain our strategic security are spurious. Has this intended happy state in fact been achieved to date or has the only significant direct consequence of our nuclear armament been
that half a dozen other nations have felt it necessary to acquire and develop their own ? Has this investment and massive diversion of resources really established a safer world? No.
Anthony Winters
Hoghton, Lancs


‘Both protagonists present an argument that appears to be convincing to those of us who don’t have the time or opportunity to check out the facts for ourselves’
Sir, The debate on climate change has degenerated into little more than a dialogue of the deaf (report, Sept 19 & letters, Sept 23). Supporters of the view that the actions of man are making the planet warmer ignore the strong and reasonable arguments put forward by their opponents, accusing them of not looking at the evidence. The climate change deniers fail to acknowledge the strength of the opposite case and put forward their own point of view, with a few swipes at any weaknesses in the other case.
Both protagonists present an argument that appears to be convincing to those of us who don’t have the time or opportunity to check out the facts for ourselves. Both have their followings, based more on temperament than on science.
The view of those who believe in climate change is supported by those to whom it comes naturally to trust experts and by those who believe that Western lifestyles are damaging the planet. The deniers win support from those who distrust bandwagons and who believe that we are all being taken for a ride by experts and politicians.
If both sides engaged with the stronger aspects of their opponents’ arguments, we might get somewhere.
Henry Haslam

The frequency of binge drinking among unemployed people who are not abstainers has increased, by almost two-thirds
Sir, In your report on “drunk-tanks” (Sept 21), you quote a nightclub owner who reports seeing more drunkenness since the recession. By coincidence, the previous day we published a study in the European Journal of Public Health showing how, although overall alcohol consumption in England has fallen since the start of the recession, the frequency of binge drinking among unemployed people who are not abstainers has increased, by almost two-thirds. As the police constable you interviewed noted, the idea of privatised “drunk-tanks” has not been thought through and would fall at the first hurdle of creating a plausible business plan. Instead we should focus on the one policy that would work, minimum unit pricing. It is unfortunate that, in this case, the government is determined to ignore the evidence.
Professor Martin Mckee, CBE
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Dr David Stuckler
Department of Sociology, University of Oxford

Sir There is no need to finance drunk tanks or extra policing. Instead, just restore the licensing hours in place before the last government’s daft idea of creating a “cafe society”.
Ian Robertson
Falmouth, Cornwall

Circular wards in hospitals have been tried before, but could cause confusion among new arrivals on the medical staff
Sir, Circular wards also featured at the general hospital in Nottingham, with the fittest patient in the bed in the nurses’ blind spot on the other side of the central chimney (letter, Sept 21). To add to my confusion on arrival as a very green registrar the identical appearance of the ward was enhanced by the sisters on male and female wards being identical twins.
When I was a houseman I was in charge of two Nightingale wards, one above the other for males and females. If we wished to use more beds than standard, we put them down the middle of the ward. Privacy was minimal but you didn’t get overlooked.
Robin Hughes
East Owell, Devon


The dining car of the much-loved Brighton Belle was elegant and refined, with the possible exception of when the train took a fast bend
Sir, The breakfast catering on the much-loved and lamented Brighton Belle was both splendid and comical in equal measure (Daniel Finkelstein, Sept 21, letter, Sept 23). The napery and decoration on each of the tables in the elegant dining car were always just so, the waiters deft and all tricked out in their neat little boleros, while every favourite hot option – including kippers – was constantly available. But there was a problem: because the journey between London and Brighton, even in those days, was such a brief one, by the time the meal was served, practically no one had time to actually eat the thing.
The final laugh was reserved for when the train hit the bends just before Brighton station, whereupon recent refills of tea and coffee would slop out of the china cups and all over the white and starchy tablecloths, as well as down the fronts of the unwary. The good news is that quite a few carriages from this legendary train have since been incorporated into the privately operated British Pullman and Northern Belle – and aboard both the catering is quite superb.
Joseph Connolly
London NW3


SIR – This month, the BBC’s excellent drama The Wipers Times reminded me that my mother, then Lilian Watson of Aylesbury, went to Rouen in 1917 as part of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps to work in the Army records office.
Her main motivation was to find my father, serving with the 1st Battalion of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire regiment, who had been posted as missing but was in fact left for dead in no man’s land on the Somme. He was picked up from a shell hole by a German patrol and hospitalised.
While she was in Rouen, my mother also joined a concert party that performed for the troops in the theatre, when it was said that “her legs were the toast of Rouen”.
Their performances were organised by Cecil Watson, whose brother was the music hall entertainer known as Nosmo King.
Jeremy Wheeler
Byfield, Northamptonshire

SIR – The intention of the Ministry of Justice to “defend vigorously” the decision to re-inter Richard III in Leicester Cathedral is welcome (report, September 18). Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is under no legal obligation to consult, or seek the consent of, anyone, because the remains are over 100 years old.
In any case, whom should he consult? He cannot consult Richard’s descendants for none exist; Edward, Prince of Wales, the only child of his marriage to Anne Neville, died in April, 1484, probably before his 10th and certainly before his 11th birthday.
Members of the Plantagenet Alliance can perhaps claim descent from Richard’s siblings, but they must be a tiny minority of millions scattered across the globe who would be able to claim similar descent. So far, they have never produced any authority to speak on behalf of anyone except themselves, so why should their views be given stronger weight than others?
The last drama in the tumultuous reign of Richard III was played out in Leicestershire and it is appropriate, and in accordance with good archaeological practice, that he be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral – this time with all due dignity.
Robert Ingle
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23 Sep 2013
SIR – The Justice Department ought not to be backing any one claimant for the burial place for the remains of Richard III, nor ought it to be decided by judicial review. The obvious person to make the decision is the Queen.
John Waine
Nuneaton, Warwickshire
SIR – May I point out that Richard III was a practising Roman Catholic and would, almost certainly, have attended Mass and taken Communion on the morning of the battle of Bosworth where he died. As he would have regarded the Anglican Church, and therefore both York and Leicester Cathedrals, as heretical, it would seem that neither are suitable sites for his grave.
Logically, the best place for his tomb to be placed would be Westminster Cathedral.
Peter Williams
Newbury, Berkshire
SIR – To spare King Richard from being involved in another war, I suggest he should be buried close to where he was born – Fotheringhay’s magnificent collegiate church in Northamptonshire. He was born in the castle nearby, but that, like so much of England’s history, has been destroyed. Leicester Cathedral is one of the new ones, created in 1926, and it was once part of the diocese of Peterborough, in which Fotheringhay firmly sits.
Rev David Saint
Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
SIR – King Solomon would order that the remains of Richard III be cremated, and that half of the ashes be buried in Leicester and the other half in Yorkshire.
Sandy Pratt
Lingfield, Surrey
Scottish debts
SIR – Malcolm Parkin (Letters, September 21) identifies a problem with the national debt in the event of Scottish independence. The question is – who has the problem?
If the £1 trillion debt is divided pro rata, then, as he correctly says, Scotland has a debt of £100 billion, which leaves the rest of the UK with a debt of £900 billion.
There is estimated to be about £1.5 trillion worth of recoverable offshore oil and gas, the bulk of which lies in Scottish waters. If Mr Parkin were an international financier, whom would he lend money to?
Dr J M Morrison
SIR – Roger Hannaford (Letters, September 21) asks why a 70-year-old Englishman cannot decide the fate of the nation when a 16-year-old in Scotland can. The answer is obvious: England does not have a Parliament of its own but relies on the UK Parliament to manage its affairs for it.
If you want free prescriptions, free universities or a referendum on independence for England, then roll up your sleeves and get your own Parliament.
Steve McIntosh
Johnstone, Renfrewshire
SIR – If we are ever allowed a referendum on our membership of the EU, would Roger Hannaford expect citizens of all its member states to vote in it?
Joseph B Fox
Redhill, Surrey
Blood diamonds
SIR – The Government’s decision to support lifting the ban on the sale of diamonds from Zimbabwe (report, September 19) is deeply wrong. Not only is it wrong in principle, given the bloody history of the Marange diamond fields, but, by destroying the reputation of the diamond market in Europe, it will have damaging impacts on countries such as Botswana, which has an exemplary diamond industry, and Sierra Leone, which has changed dramatically from its terrible past. Who will buy a diamond ring that is tainted by blood?
Euan Nisbet
Egham, Surrey
SIR – Since the Fifties, successive British governments have had very little understanding of how Africa works. The decision to allow Zimbabwe’s diamonds to be sold in the EU bears out this notion.
T T Walton
North Curry, Somerset
Plebgate delay
SIR – Dan Hodges writes that the “Plebgate” inquiry is taking too long (“And still Andrew Mitchell waits for justice”, Comment, September 19). Why should Mr Mitchell be treated any differently because he is an MP? Twelve months isn’t long compared with some of the Operation Yewtree cases. Moreover, cases heard by the Medical and Nursing Councils can take up to four or five years.
Steve Cattell
Grantham, Lincolnshire
SIR – When will the Chilcot Inquiry report on Iraq be published?
Jim Smith
Canterbury, Kent
Deficient diary
SIR – Some make unmemorable diary entries on memorable days (Letters, September 19), but no one could outdo Louis XVI, who, on July 14 1789, the day that the Bastille was stormed, entered one word in his diary: “Rien.”
Helen Johnson
London N7
Overpopulation truths
SIR – Sir David Attenborough is right – Ethiopia is a good example of what happens if we supply food to a country and fail to address the root cause of the problem: overpopulation (report, September 18). In 1984 there was famine in Ethiopia. Huge efforts were made to supply food to the hungry. In 2011 there was again famine. But the population that was 40 million in 1984 had grown to 80 million in the intervening years. The result of delivering aid in 1984 was a much larger number of hungry people 27 years later.
Stabilising the population in such a country is difficult, but it can be done. It requires government action to establish family planning, and special clinics for children under five, as well as a change in social custom which enables boys and girls to have equal education opportunities.
Dr John Moor
Petersfield, Hampshire
Awaiting HS2
SIR – The HS2 debate was given some meaning for me recently. A closure of the East Coast Main Line due to a not-uncommon failure of its electrification infrastructure forced me to take a Manchester train from Euston up the West Coast Main Line.
HS2 cannot come a moment too soon, and should serve not just Birmingham but the north of England and Scotland, too. The Virgin Pendolino trains are cramped and claustrophobic and offer minimal views out to the countryside. They are the result of designing the fastest possible train for the existing route’s loading gauge and alignment. I hope I never have to use one again.
At a point not far north of Birmingham, even the Pendolino is reduced to a 19th-century speed through endless sharp curves. The country that gave the world the railway should offer better than this in both comfort and timing.
Neil Ruddock
Middleton, Co Durham
Festive summer
SIR – The early references to Christmas (Letters, September 21) make the words of the singer Paddy Roberts sound prophetic.
In the second verse of his 1962 record Merry Christmas You Suckers, Roberts refers to falling for Christmas a bit sooner each year. He then warns: “If it goes on like this you’ll find pretty soon you’ll be singing White Christmas in the middle of June.”
David Bennett
Hove, East Sussex
A bedtime story to thrill (and frighten) children
SIR – Your readers seem to have such rosy recollections of childhood storytelling (Letters, September 18). My father conjured up for my brother and me a pair of ghouls who operated a crude canning factory in the disused bunker of a local airfield.
Here, they used to process small children. I think one of them had chainsaws for arms. We were terrified and thrilled in equal measure – I still can’t pass the airfield without a shudder.
Dominic Weston Smith
Faringdon, Oxfordshire
SIR – My children always enjoyed the numerous Brer Rabbit stories told, from memory, by grandad, as he, granny, and our three all squeezed together in a 4ft 6in bed in the morning.
The children all knew it was time to get up when he told them the story of Brer Rabbit’s tail – it was very short.
Margaret Higgs
Shillingstone, Dorset
SIR – My son was regularly visited by a figure named Black Spot, who obliged him with maps of treasure sites and tales of piratical derring-do. His messages, on faux parchment, came via the bedroom window.
It took a long time for the perpetrator to be uncovered, and even then, my son didn’t really want to know. It would have spoilt everything.
Anthony Barlow
Kingsbridge, Devon
SIR – My two boys were brought up listening to stories about a mythical elephant named YoYo, who shadowed our family around the world. He skied in Austria, surfed in Cornwall, visited Penang, discovered digital clocks, defeated Moriarty and gave the boys a love of stories.
He then became a friend to my granddaughters; one of whom has added to the tales.
Robin Croslegh
Bideford, Devon

Irish Times:

Sir, – The Minister for Justice (September 23rd) does not mention the cost of the proposed new court of appeal.
To put an extra court in place on the basis that there is a backlog to be cleared looks a little like arranging deck-chairs on the Titanic. Can the Minister guarantee us that this extra court will not itself become part of the problem rather than the hoped for solution?
While a simple solution to a complex problem may seem attractive, a complex response, which may take time, is normally more effective. Regarding institutional change, it may also be worth considering that if we always do what we always did we will always get what we always got. – Yours, etc,
Clancy Road,

Sir, – The Minister for Justice (September 23rd) does not mention the cost of the proposed new court of appeal.
To put an extra court in place on the basis that there is a backlog to be cleared looks a little like arranging deck-chairs on the Titanic. Can the Minister guarantee us that this extra court will not itself become part of the problem rather than the hoped for solution?
While a simple solution to a complex problem may seem attractive, a complex response, which may take time, is normally more effective. Regarding institutional change, it may also be worth considering that if we always do what we always did we will always get what we always got. – Yours, etc,
Clancy Road,

Sir, – An easy narrative for journalists to hang their opinions on for this dispute is: pesky teachers in secure jobs ask broke nation for money. It is more complex than that. Few teachers expect pay cuts to be reversed because of industrial action. Then why take action?
First, ASTI teachers don’t trust the Government. Croke Park was meant to run to the end of this year – not July. They trust even less this Government promising what the next government will do, in 2018.
Second, acceptance of Haddington Road means de facto acceptance of the new Junior Certificate, with its incumbent problems. Does anybody believe teachers can be fully objective in marking their own students? Will a Gonzaga school cert really be equal to that of a disadvantaged VEC?
Third, with the erosion of management posts in schools and a plethora of initiatives from Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, we want the pause button pressed so we can concentrate on teaching/discipline and not some poorly resourced initiative.
Lastly, we are tired of bully-boy deals: accept this or we will make things worse for you.
I look forward to a more truthful narrative but I won’t hold my breath. – Yours, etc,
Killarney Road,

Sir, – A minor win. . . a major loss. – Yours, etc,
Mill Street,
Co Mayo.
Sir, – Mayo minors win and Enda Kenny is all smiles as the Tom Markham cup is presented. Happy story!
Wherefore our leader when Sam Maguire is presented? Enda story! – Yours, etc,
Roncalli Road,
Sir, – The article by Una Mullally over-simplifies the terrible crime of rape (Opinion, September 23rd). She states that most violent crimes against women are committed by men: this is probably very true, but then it is also innocent other men who are most at risk of attack by violent men.
In saying other men have the power to stop violent crime, the article does not say how this is to achieved. It is as if she believes these crimes are discussed in advance with other men and that they somehow fail to intervene to save the victim. The men I know all abhor violence and would listen to any advice to be vigilant in certain areas of our cities, I don’t believe this is gender specific.
The very low conviction rate in rape cases is quoted, but it is a very hard crime to obtain a guilty verdict as it is usually one person’s word against another, without a witness. The juries are often comprised of at least 50 per cent females in rape cases, so unless the courts are expected to find everyone guilty, I am not sure how this is to be resolved. – Yours, etc,
Church Street,
Skerries, Co Dublin.
Sir, – Dan O’Brien’s commentary on President Higgins (September 20th) is something of a surprise. So, President Higgins has been a champion of the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised. What else did he expect?
President Higgins has been a prophetic voice and his message has been consistent throughout his public career. He has also been scrupulous in upholding his constitutional obligations while remaining faithful to his promises.
As far as Michael D Higgins is concerned we have never had to ask the question posed by Woodie Guthrie “Which Side are You On?”. For that, I for one am grateful. – Yours, etc,
Larkin Hedge School,
Spencer House, Dublin 1.
Sir, – I second Dr Aidan Regan’s comment that “President Higgins should be commended for his bravery to confront the intellectual hubris that accompanied this (. . reckless behaviour of private market actors).”, (Letters, September 21st). I look forward to the day when he will show the same critical courage in relation to his neoLaboural converts to the same unreformed and disastrous ideological conformity. The breath is not being held. – Yours, etc,
Castleview Estate,
Headford, Co Galway.
Sir, – Dan O’Brien (“Presidency ill-served by economic partisanship”, September 20th) displays an economist’s partisanship in his failure to address the central arguments of President Higgins’s recent speech.
This speech was given in a DCU series titled Ethics for All, and yet O’Brien mentions the ethical dimension only in passing. The speech explored the values and choices that underlie the dominant economic discourse.
The President offered a critique of the supposedly value-free character of economics, drawing on the observations of Emile Durkheim (not in O’Brien’s listing of dubious characters the President cited approvingly) on the social sciences of over a century ago. He drew attention to the quantification bias in current economics and made a “contentious assertion” that economics might be better considered a craft rather than a science.
The President observed, following Nobel prize-winner Amartya Sen (also not in O’Brien’s listing), that Adam Smith (ditto) has been misrepresented; his writings on morality have been neglected in consideration of his economic theory.
The President is a public intellectual and serves his office and the people well by offering a critique of ideas that shape our society. – Yours, etc,
Griffith Avenue,
Dublin 11.

Sir, – I see that the chimes at St Bartholomew’s church have been silenced because somebody thinks they are too loud (Front page, September 21st). I live about 100 yards from them and I really like them, night and day.
Even if I didn’t, surely the fact that they got here more than 130 years before me, gives them greater right to continue as they are. – Yours, etc,
Clyde Lane,

Sir, – Raise a glass to Arthur, eh? While the Protestant ascendant’s main contribution to society was to get them drunk, why not toast our real historic heroes, such as Charles Stewart Parnell or Daniel O’Connell, for instance? – Yours, etc,
Haddon Park,
Clontarf, Dublin 3.
Sir, – I am trying to put two and two together. We officially have among the highest suicide rates in Europe for young men. We have a serious binge drinking problem among young adults.
I thought the drug, alcohol was a depressant.
Ah sure, it’s only a bit of craic! Happy Arthur’s Day. – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:

* The current news and economic headlines seem to be an urgent list of needs and quick-fix panaceas:
Also in this section
Violence part of history
Men of 1916 unmandated
Labour policies called for abolition
1. ‘Payments to the poorer sections of society are to be revisited’ or ‘Coalition considers cap on welfare’.
2. ‘The banks dictate to Government what is right or wrong.’
3. ‘The newly created PIPs have different approaches to plebian and professional classes. A solicitor or doctor must have a physical locus in society in keeping with his/her perceived status.’
All of these opinions are aired as if such concepts are original.
However, 600 years ago, the first international banker and politician, Cosimo De Medici, clearly articulated these modern articles of faith in Florence, Italy.
Cosimo said: “Even if money could be made by waving a wand, I would still want to be a banker because banking involves manipulation, risk and power.”
In 1427, Florence proposed a law that implied that, for the future, the imposition of taxes would depend on the ability to pay. Until then only the plebs paid taxes.
The city had two currencies, one for the poor – a silver coin called the piccioli – and one for the rich – a gold coin called the florin.
The piccioli was used for paying plebs, weavers, workers and shopkeepers. The merchants and the bankers who controlled coin minting reduced the amount of silver in the piccioli so that, based on the intrinsic value of the silver, the relative value moved in 100 years from seven piccioli to 140 piccioli for a gold florin.
The government of Florence understood money will not stay still. If a worker managed to save money, the law must discourage him from frittering it away.
The laws prevented the workers having more than two courses in restaurants. No clothes could have more than one colour unless you were a knight or his lady, a lawyer or doctor. The lower orders were prevented from spending themselves into poverty. These are merely examples of consumer manipulation; nothing new in that. It did not work then either.
Finally, Florence had to introduce a wealth tax. Cosimo instructed the managers of his banks to create fake accounts to limit the damage of the tax. It worked. Cosimo’s bank lasted 100 years. It is no wonder Ruairi Quinn is trying to remove history from the school curriculum.
Hugh Duffy
Aughrusmore, Cleggan, Co Galway
* Pope Francis says: “See everything, turn a blind eye to much, correct a little.” He sounds like he worked in the Central Bank or the Financial Regulator’s Office pre-2008.
While everybody has their own style of doing things, one wonders would the Jesus Christ of the Gospels do likewise?
Liam Cooke
Coolock, Dublin 17
* We are told we are exiting the recession and Finance Minister Michael Noonan said we won’t be throwing the hats up in the air yet.
But many of us can’t even afford the hat so we don’t even have one to throw up, not with all the VAT we pay on our food, drink, shoes, clothes, fuel – and hats, of course – and to top it all, bills at 23pc VAT.
Now who could put up with all of that, only the common citizens of Ireland, of course, who the Government squeeze for every last cent for the VAT, VAT, VAT.
Can anybody lend me a hat just in case I miss the recession exit date?
Kathleen Ryan
* Enough of these woolly arguments, let’s focus on where our parliamentary problems, and the solution to them, lie.
Time for backbench TDs to realise what every schoolboy knows, that they are animals with a backbone and spine who should stand upright.
This is what needs to happen if they are to have a meaningful role in parliament.
I am not naive enough to think it will happen overnight but there are more “rebels” now than ever before and the number is growing.
To argue that the problems in the Dail can be solved by reforming the Seanad makes about as much sense as saying that you should respond to the low BER rating of your house by insulating the garden shed!
Brendan Casserly
Abbeybridge, Waterfall, Cork
* The Seanad has been called by many names – from being elitist to being a hibernation nest for failed TDs.
Many of the reasons for scrapping it are weak and negative ones and the implications of doing so, regardless of how desperate the public are to see savings delivered, could be serious.
According to Labour senator John Whelan’s analysis, scrapping the Seanad would save less than €5m a year.
The Government, however, is adamant it would save €20m, which many experts doubt.
I say save the Seanad, on the understanding that a drastic overhaul and complete reform are essential to deliver the required savings.
The Upper House, despite being a relic of the old ascendancy days, is, nevertheless, still a historic emblem of considerable prestige that helps sell Ireland and its produce internationally.
The number of Seanad seats could be reduced to 50, with at least one senator for each county.
Members, all of varied professional or proved business ability, must be directly elected by the public.
Apart from its general obligations and acting as watchdog on the Dail, one of the Seanad’s main portfolios should be job creation.
In the long term, to provide real savings, the Dail will need similar reform to conform with other countries by reducing the number of deputies from 160 to at least 100, for a start.
This would save around €15m annually on just salaries and expenses.
James Gleeson
Thurles, Co Tipperary
* In response to Dr A Rogers’s letter (Irish Independent, September 19) stating the irrefutable evidence of the existence of God, I would ask: exactly what evidence is that?
While we hear that the theory of evolution is completely ridiculous and isn’t backed up by any ‘philosophical and metaphysical’ proofs, I can’t help but notice a great lack of examples proving the existence of a higher power in Dr Rogers’s letter.
It’s almost as if he is unable to give us these foolproof pieces of evidence because they, like God, probably do not exist.
On the other hand, Dr Rogers must be blind to be able to ignore the mountains of evidence that back up evolution, the most obvious being the fossils of extinct creatures petrified in different geological layers of rock, but also in the differences in animals of the same species alive today, such as the finches and tortoises that Charles Darwin noticed on his trip to the Galapagos Islands.
Even the evolution of hundreds of breeds of dog from a single breed of wolf should be compelling proof of the merit of Darwin’s theory.
I’m not going to say that the theory of evolution is flawless.
We will never know with 100pc certainty what has happened over the billions of years in the life of our planet.
However, as far as proof goes, Dr Rogers, Darwin has much more merit than God.
Ross Walsh
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford
Irish Independent


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