3 November 2013 Dewsbury road
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble they have to take the Todd-Hunters to Shanghai but there has been a coup.
Quiet day relaxing after the funeral yesterday get some books from Victory Church Dewsbury road from two South Africans.
We watch Hancock its not too bad
Scrabble today Mary wins just under 400, perhaps I’ll win tomorrow
Jonathan Minns was an engineer who showcased the British age of steam at his museum in Sussex
Jonathan Minns at the British Engineerium in Hove Photo: PA
6:12PM GMT 01 Nov 2013
Jonathan Minns , who has died the day after his 75th birthday, was an engineer infused with the spirit of Stephenson and Brunel; entranced by steam and the marvels of mechanical antiquities, he restored a derelict Victorian water pumping station at Hove, Sussex, and transformed it into the “British Engineerium”.
A world-renowned expert in his field, Minns, a maestro of groaning gears, heaving pistons and spinning flywheels, spent more than 40 years researching, conserving and collecting engineering artefacts. With a showman’s flourish, he would often present them using dry ice and video projections, at the same time enthusing about “the rabid sexuality of steam”.
At the Engineerium, the unlikely crowning jewel of his collection was a battered 22in model built by George Stephenson of his famous Locomotion No1, the first engine built by the world’s first locomotive builder. In 1825 the full-size version, originally known as “the Iron Horse”, with Stephenson himself at the controls, took two hours to haul 38 wagons of coal, flour, passengers and engineers from Darlington to Stockton in Co Durham.
As well as steam engines and locomotives Minns collected road, rail, marine and stationary steam engines, traction engines, manufacturers’ nameplates and working tools, hot air and internal combustion engines, domestic tools and assorted memorabilia. Another prize at the Engineerium was the superb 10 metre-high Easton and Anderson beam engine which had been installed in the pumping station in 1875.
20 Mar 2012
Leopold de Rothschild
02 May 2012
Amid the sweet smell of coal smoke, hot steel, Brasso and machine lubricant, visitors could marvel at an 1802 model engine signed by Richard Trevithick; a scarlet Victorian horse-drawn steam powered fire engine; and (at 14.5 tonnes, the largest exhibit) a gold medal-winning Corliss engine built by Crepelle and Garland of Lille in 1889, for which Minns had outbid a scrap dealer.
Although it was regarded as the most important private collection of its kind, funding was always a problem. Neither government nor the local authority offered financial support; a bid for lottery money failed; and visitors covered only a fraction of the costs. Minns subsidised it by undertaking contract engineering in Britain and abroad, and by designing and building other industrial museums. In 2002 he suffered four heart attacks, an experience he described as “absolutely fascinating”.
Tall and elegant, Minns was at various times an underwater archaeologist, an actor in Paris, a rancher in Mexico, a London plumber, a television presenter, the proprietor of a marriage guidance agency and, for nearly 20 years, a judge for the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World Award for Invention, presented annually by the Prince of Wales.
When his Engineerium closed down in 2006, it was put up for auction — only to be saved at the last minute with a £3 million offer from a local businessman. Currently closed for restoration, it is due to reopen in 2016. Minns marked the closure with some bitterness. “In every other profession, in art, in law, in medicine, in architecture, students are taught the history of the discipline. They understand that the past informs the present,” he said, “but not in engineering, where the past is seen as irrelevant stuff… And yet the world has never had more need of engineers.”
The second of three brothers, Jonathan Ellis Minns was born on October 12 1938 into a family steeped in engineering. His father, the engineer Anthony Minns, kept a shed in the garden and taught his sons about wheels, cogs and rigging; an uncle was the hovercraft inventor Sir Christopher Cockerell; and his maternal grandfather, Sir Sidney Cockerell, was director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (his other grandfather, Sir Ellis Minns, was Dean of Pembroke College).
While the Cockerell pioneering spirit inspired him, his father’s interest in steam strongly influenced Jonathan’s childhood in a house crammed with working steam models. Through the family shipping company, he enjoyed clambering aboard Thames tugs, treacle barges from the West Indies, a steam pinnace at St Katharine Docks, and visits to many steam pumping stations and watermills all over England.
Educated at Haileybury, at 17 Jonathan enrolled on an engineering apprenticeship with WH Allen in Bedford. A two-year placement with Gulf Oil took him to the United States, working in Boston, Texas, New Orleans and on the oil rigs of the Gulf of Mexico; but when he eventually returned to Gulf Oil in Britain he soon wearied of office life.
While working on restorations for the wealthy antiques dealer and nightclub owner Horace (Hod) Dibben, he remodelled (with his younger brother Patrick) his mother’s beautiful 11th-century house at Ramatuelle, in the South of France, before launching Jonathan Minns Steam in Hollywood Road, Fulham. There he stocked a profusion of Pre-Raphaelite nude images alongside oily engines, all restored to perfection. As well as the steam variety, he surrounded himself with live fashion models and other “beautiful people” of the 1960s London scene, while in the basement amateur engineers learned the intricacies of the lathe.
Jonathan Minns as a man about town in London
At the same time Minns was a consultant on steam engines to Christie’s and ran the firm’s Steam Model and Mechanical Antiquities sales, first in London and eventually at the Engineerium.
In 1971, with a few friends and £350 capital, he saved the Goldstone pumping station in Hove a fortnight before it was due to be demolished. Having managed to persuade the authorities to list it grade II*, Minns started restoring it three years later. It was opened as a Steam Museum in 1976 and subsequently as the British Engineerium.
Among its most popular exhibits were an 18-ton flywheel and “Chain Reaction”, a history of the lavatory illustrated with working examples.
As he assembled his collection, Minns had to recast missing flywheels, melted down for armaments during two World Wars, and cleanse steam engine parts of centuries of oily grime. One engine was found in a mouldering barn, another in a long-forgotten hospital.
Minns’s personal steam artefacts included The Little Gem — a traction engine on which he travelled all over southern England with his restored 1895 showman’s wagon. He also ran Firebird, a steam launch, which he kept at Hurley on the Thames. He restored the Dutch tug Liberty and sailed one of the Dunkirk “little ships”, Providence, a gaff cutter built in Cornwall in 1936.
Minns was concerned that in a post-industrial age people should keep in touch with moving objects. “Pure interpretation is not enough. Someone has to get their hands dirty,” he declared. He deplored the tendency of centres like the Science Museum to put real mechanical objects in storage and instead offer multimedia interactive displays.
“Our fate is a microcosm of the country’s attitude to value-added manufacturing,” Minns reflected. “We make nothing, and we don’t care. We’re not even a nation of shopkeepers, we’re a nation of shelf-stackers — Napoleon must be screaming with laughter.”
With his wife, Vanessa, Jonathan Minns lived at Hellingly in East Sussex in a beautiful watermill that he restored. She and their two daughters survive him.
Jonathan Minns, born October 12 1938, died October 13 2013
Rachel Cooke’s article (“The open spaces where we played are cruelly lost to today’s children”, Comment), rightly draws attention to the diminishing amount of time children spend outdoors.
A National Children’s Bureau report this year showed that 50 years ago there was no difference between the access to, and use of, open spaces and leisure facilities between advantaged and disadvantaged children. Today, there is a ninefold difference.
This huge increase in inequality cannot be reduced by individual parents, however hard they “strive”.
As the social philosopher RH Tawney pointed out 80 years ago: “No individual can create by his isolated action a healthy environment… or eliminate the causes of accidents in factories or streets. Yet these are all differences between happiness and misery and sometimes, indeed between life and death.”
The current generation of young citizens is paying a very heavy price for the erosion of social income and the hollowing-out of the meaning and content of citizenship, which started in the 1980s. It will take more than vitamin pills to secure the wellbeing of all our children.
Hilary Land Emeritus professor of family policy, University of Bristol
As a GP and the clinical lead for Vitamin D in Liverpool, I was pleased to see an article emphasising the importance of getting outside. Rachel Cooke reminds us that we need to maintain and improve urban environments so people can enjoy the outdoors. This is particularly true in the inner city. I am not surprised at the upsurge in rickets.
I was all the more shocked to read her comments about Liverpool One. This development has dramatically improved a grotty part of Liverpool, previously featuring grim streets and a piece of mostly unused and unloved waste ground.
I have just returned from there on a sunny afternoon, where the green space, fountain area, extensive walkway and wide steps were full of people enjoying the sun, splashing in the fountains, sitting on the steps and on the grass.
I am passionate about Liverpool and we are fortunate in having many green spaces, including in some of our very deprived areas. As for private funding: would someone tell me what other means there may be, as this government is busy removing money from the city in an unprecedented way?
Dr Katy Gardner Liverpool
Rachel Cooke is correct in bemoaning the loss of open spaces where children can play and the effects of this on physical health Equally important, though, is the decline in street play and the potential effects of this on children’s social health.
Growing up in Newcastle upon Tyne, we all “played out”, feeling very fed up when a car spoiled a game of rounders. My sons were lucky enough to have the same experience in Edinburgh, rushing to call out friends to play in the street after school and at weekends.
Now, I see the parents of kids in my street supervising them as they scooter along the pavement or taking them to cycle with them on the roads.
What happened? Parking charges moved relentlessly further out; our street is on the periphery, becoming effectively a park-and-ride street, congested and unsafe for the free and easy play and social life right outside our children’s homes. Did the decision-makers never come and see those children having fun and developing unfettered friendships 20 years ago?
Professor Kathryn Milburn Edinburgh
The reference in your editorial to “low-skill sectors such as social care” exemplifies so many problems (“Time to learn from post-crash economics”, Comment). Caring is not low skill. It is hugely demanding and needs a broad skill set – empathy, basic pharmacology, low gag reflex. I have a PhD and years of academic experience but faced with the task of nursing my elderly mother I floundered.
The problem is presumably that the skills needed for caring are the traditional “womanly” skills and these have always been belittled and devalued by the job market. This is why the people who perform this most crucial (and skilled) of functions are paid miserable wages, have to cope with zero-hours contracts and are being laid off because politicians think anyone can do their job. And should. For no money.
Feminists, face the ugly facts
If we really want to challenge the sexism in our culture, then there are two uncomfortable truths for feminists to confront (“Maybe we can develop an app for gender equality”, News). The first is that the prediction that ubiquitous sexually explicit material in the mass media would be hugely socially harmful was right. It is difficult to uphold female dignity in an ultra-permissive society. The second is that female repression is so persistent because women are complicit in it.
History is full of women spurring each other on to damage their bodies out of sexual competitiveness: foot-binding, corsets, plastic surgery, high heels, excessive slimming. Tell it straight and teach our daughters that women who place physical beauty above character, intelligence and wellbeing are mugs, morally wrong, or both.
Saffron Walden, Essex
School sums don’t add up
Innumerate politicians are squabbling over “facts” about the relative performance of a handful of free schools (“‘False’ data on free schools attacked”, News) when neither party realises these numbers are not statistically significant. Compared with the other 21,162 state schools in England, they would not be meaningful even on a longer timescale, unless there were a really marked difference.
When New Labour introduced “value added” measures, the Department of Education didn’t understand that individual Sats results for each child at primary school, and not their levels of attainment, had to be compared with GCSE results to have any semblance of validity. Silliest of all are the new tables for “GCSE and equivalent results” for pupils in each council ward. The results are for schools and not the local population, leaving some very odd blanks and distortions in the data, while A-level results are only given at the local education authority level. If the Ucas system can access university applicants’ full postcodes, then why can’t exam boards and the Department of Education get their act together?
New Barnet, Herts
Take the long view on the UK
Your articles on housing and energy reinforced the general point that we should be planning for posterity, not austerity. The UK has been living off capital for decades when it should have been investing. As a consequence, social divides have widened. We should learn from countries such as France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, which all have state investment banks and local authorities that take a much longer and wider perspective. A short-term freeze on energy or any other prices is not enough.
Director, London Office
URBED (Urbanism Environment Design)
The fathers who suffer still
Yvonne Roberts’s article about adoption (“I lost my son for 29 years”, Magazine) captured the pain of birth mothers but unfairly dismissed the grief of birth fathers in one sentence: “The men, at worst, had to endure shotgun marriages.” Celia Witney’s research, published in 2004, showed that nearly 80% of birth fathers saw the emotional impact of the adoption as deeper and more lasting than anything else in their lives. I am one of the 1960s’ generation of birth fathers who have found it difficult to deal with the loss. Many of us felt we had let down the mother as well as the baby.
Author of The Birth Father’s Tale
Railroaded by the railway
While it is right that any profits from a publicly subsidised service should be returned to the public purse (“Profitable and publicly owned – so why sell it?”, News), the state-owned Directly Operated Railways appear to have adopted Ryanair as their business model: ruthlessly enforcing the conditions of carriage in circumstances where a bit of humanity, common sense, or simply understanding that running the trains is not an end in itself, would suggest some flexibility is in order. While passengers should pay for the service they are using, it is equally important for a company to ensure that clients should get the service they have paid for.
Kingston upon Thames
Sifting through an envelope labelled family, I found this photo. I was immediately struck by the man on the left – he reminded me of Captain Birdseye in the old TV adverts. On the back, my father has written, Ayr circa 1918/1920? Frederick (?) Timbury at 90+, Henry Thomas Timbury.
Henry was my great-grandpa and I have a vague recollection that Frederick was my great-great-grandpa. Looking at this photo, though, brings back many happy memories of my own Grandpa Timbury of whom I was particularly fond; Montague Charles Timbury, known as Mont, son of Henry.
I still smile to myself remembering, as a wee girl, how I thought it was very clever to call Grandpa “Polo Mont” and giggled and squealed with delight as he laughed along with me. My father, Gerald, told me that Grandpa’s love of making model ships was a result of his disappointment at not being accepted for the Royal Navy, like most of his predecessors, because of his childhood asthma or “weak chest”. The model ships became his way of maintaining a connection with the navy. A man who was very neat, tidy and hyper-organised (rather like me!), making models – including a replica of the Cutty Sark in a bottle – played to his strengths of exactitude and attention to detail.
Starting out as a boy apprentice in the Glasgow optical engineering firm Barr and Stroud, Grandpa eventually became managing director. One of the greatest prides of his career was that one of his radar designs was stationed in Singapore in the second world war to detect enemy ships for the Royal Navy. My own father broke with the nautical tradition and became a consultant psychiatrist, but he too loved boats. Together we went fishing and sailing while he, upholding Timbury tradition, puffed on his pipe.
Along with the naval heritage, there is a long history of only children through the Timbury generations, and I feel sad that, having no other Timbury relatives nor children of my own, this family of seamen will end after my passing. How special, therefore, to have this old photograph and mark its significance with this story.
Playlist: Dad doing the funny voices
New York Telephone Conversation by Lou Reed
“I was sleeping, gently napping / when I heard the phone / Who is on the other end talking / am I even home”
New York Telephone Conversation from Lou Reed’s Transformer album.
My mother’s side of the family is the creative half. The eldest sister is (still) a hippie, the second was so deeply immersed in Berlin’s art scene in the 70s and 80s that she told me to call David Bowie “uncle” – they had an affair – the third is a singer and musician and my mother is a theatre and TV actress. My father is a professor of immunology.
But it was he who introduced me to the records that first shaped me. I was five when my parents separated, after which my father moved into flatshares with a handful of other twenty and thirtysomethings. It was incredibly fun – I was allowed to ride a bicycle in the hallway. Play Sim City on his boxy Macintosh. Hang self-made anti-George Bush Sr posters in the hallway.
I also got to run my fingers through his record collection. If I washed and dried my hands first and was supervised, that is. Lou Reed’s Transformer and the Beatles’ White Album both got me, immediately. Nothing made me giggle as much as my father replying to my early morning requests with a rendition of I’m So Tired.
The lyrics of Transformer were too mature for me, but I learned that Holly went from a he to a she and someone was bold with Harry, Mark and John.
New York Telephone Conversation was the track my dad found particularly funny. He’d sing it to me – he doesn’t sing often – in a nursery-rhyme manner. It was funny because he would act out the voices (“Did you see what she did to him / did you hear what they said?”) and it was poignant because I only saw him every second weekend (“I am calling, yes I am calling just to speak to you / For I know this night will kill me if I can’t be with you”).
We love to eat: Auntie’s Yorkshire parkin
Auntie Kath’s Yorkshire parkin.
2 cups medium oatmeal
1 ½ cups plain flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
6oz (170g) margarine
12oz (340g) golden syrup
2 eggs, plus a drop of milk
Mix the dry ingredients in a big mixing bowl. Spoon the syrup into a small pan. (Be generous: the stickier the parkin, the better.) Add the margarine, heat until melted, then pour on to the dry ingredients, along with the beaten eggs and milk. Combine to a sloppy mixture, turn into a greased and lined 9in square tin and bake at gas mark 3/160C for 1-1¼ hours. Time to lick the spoon! The parkin is ready when the top is firm to the touch and a glorious golden brown – see my photograph.
Every bonfire night, when I was a child, we used to fatten ourselves up with layers of clothes, pull on our wellies and stomp to the end of the cul-de-sac where our friends lived. They had a sprawling back garden on two tiers and with a steep bank down to the main road below; this was where the big bonfire used to burn.
We’d gather on the top tier for the fireworks display, watching catherine wheels spitting and fizzling out on the tree trunks, sparklers dancing in our hands. Then it was time for the food: the crisped, blackened shells of jacket potatoes full of fallen fluff and melting butter; the brittle, dark bonfire toffee and my mum’s sticky, grainy parkin.
This was Auntie Kath’s recipe – my children love it and we don’t wait for bonfire night to bake it!
Thank you for exposing the scandal of power giants using a loophole to drive down their tax bills (“The other energy scandal: tax avoidance”, 27 October). As a recent pensioner, I am happy to pay tax on my income, just as when I was employed. But it is reasonable to expect that everyone else, including huge companies who make large profits from their UK operations, also pay tax. Please sort out this scandalous state of affairs, Mr Osborne.
Joan Smith rightly dismisses Russell Brand’s political posturing (“Spare us the vacuous talk “, 27 October). Proudly declaring that he doesn’t vote, and encouraging others to do likewise, is profoundly irresponsible. Celebrating cynicism benefits no one and insults those who died to preserve our precious right to peacefully change society through the ballot box. The young deserve better leadership.
In the aftermath of all this revolution will you, Mr Brand, hang about the decimated streets of our towns and cities to help sweep up the destruction of homes and livelihoods? Or will you be jetting home to your Hollywood Hills mansion?
Jane Merrick is correct in highlighting the apathy that exists in young voters (“Young voters are bolder than Brand”, 27 October). However, the way we cast our votes is archaic. It is time to introduce internet voting. Yes there would be security issues but there would, I think, be a surge in voting. Times have changed – simple as that.
I live part-time in a small Andalucian village in Spain where quite a few of my neighbours are “gypsies”, (“Grim history of the Roma is no fairy tale”, 27 October) who work, worship, and live in houses alongside the other inhabitants. As in the rest of Spain, the Roma have integrated. There are some in the cities who operate in the drugs and crime world, just as the non-Roma do. And their traditions, particularly their love of Flamenco music and dancing, are celebrated worldwide. What is happening elsewhere in Europe is the obvious result of marginalisation and exclusion, and the shameful scapegoating by individuals and governments for their own interests.
Hove, East Sussex
Sue Lewis criticises the “middle class value judgments” of those who campaign against payday loan companies.(“Payday loans defended by new consumer champion”, 27 October).
She says that bank charges on overdrafts and unpaid credit card bills are a bigger problem.
In a recent study, we found that many very low-income households tended not to have credit cards or bank accounts. They used high-cost credit providers – doorstep lenders, rent-to-own companies, catalogues and payday loans. To tackle the problems faced by people on very low incomes, as well as wealthier people who take on too much credit, it is vital that there is much tighter regulation of all high-cost credit.
Professor Sarah Banks
School of Applied Social Sciences Durham University, Durham
We don’t have to buy “two for one” just because they’re offered to us (“Let’s check out of this supermarket swizz”, 27 October). I don’t like wasting food so I don’t buy more than I need. It isn’t rocket science! (Pun intended.)
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
According to my 2013 Whitaker’s Almanack, Birmingham has a population of 1,073,000, compared to Glasgow’s 592,800. So it is not being anti-Scottish to call Birmingham Britain’s second city (Letters, 27 October).
Stephen Brenkley lists 12 English captains to have won the Ashes in Australia (“Cook faces toughest test”, 27 October). Surely he forgets one of the best: Raymond Illingworth. He is still alive and well and has not been subject to any of the unusual ends of other captains listed.
English lit must stay a core subject
UNDER the government’s reforms, the English GCSE, which covers language and literature, will no longer be available to pupils. The proposed content of the new language GCSE narrows the field of study, while the new literature exam contains more challenging texts than the existing syllabuses. English language has a designated “core” status, while English literature will become an optional GCSE subject.
There is great concern among teachers and academics — and beyond — that the reduction of English literature to an optional status will result in a drop in the number of pupils taking it at GCSE and in the take-up of the subject at A-level and at university. We are also concerned that because those students who are not being entered for GCSE English literature will be assessed only on unseen texts in the English language exam, they will have limited opportunity to read and study whole novels and plays. We believe that both English language and literature are worthy of study and public assessment; in fact, an integrated approach to the subjects is the most fruitful for students and teachers. Both aspects of English should be given core status at GCSE.
Michael Morpurgo, Author, poet and playwright, Robert Harris, Novelist, John Carey, Professor of English literature, Oxford University, Professor AC Grayling, Master of New College of the Humanities, John Sutherland, Professor of English literature, University College London, David Crystal, Professor of linguistics, Bangor, Professor Robert Eaglestone, Royal Holloway, University of London, Professor Philip Davis, Liverpool University, Dr Jennifer Wallace, Cambridge University, Dr Bethan Marshall, King’s College London, chairwoman of National Association for the Teaching of English, Professor Christine Hall, Nottingham University, Roger Scruton, Visiting professor, Oxford and St Andrews, Dr Andrew Green, Brunel University, Miriam Margolyes, Actress, Sheila Hancock, Actress, Susanna Jones, Award-winning novelist, Tom Healy, professor of Renaissance Studies, Sussex University, Michael Rosen, writer and former Children’s Laureate, Morlette Lindsay, lecturer, Institute of Education, London, Sarah Butler, lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University, Jane Coles, lecturer, Institute of Education, John Gordon, lecturer, University of East Anglia, Prof Philip Davis, head of the Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems, Liverpool University, Dr Jennifer Wallace, directs English studies at Peterhouse, Cambridge University, Professor Christine Hall, head of education, Nottingham University, Dr Andrew Green, senior lecturer, Brunel University, Mick Connell, lecturer, Sheffield University, Simon Gibbs, former chair of NATE, John Hodgson, Lecturer, University of the West of England and chair of NATE post-16 and higher education committee, Moyra Beverton, teacher and education consultant, Jane Bluett, teacher, Susan Cockcroft, teacher, Jean Dourneen, senior teaching fellow, Bristol University, Marcello Giovanelli, lecturer, Nottingham University, Ann Harris, teacher, Marcella McCarthy, vice principal, Gary Snapper, teacher
Taking the gene out of genius for pupil IQ tests
ROBERT PLOMIN claims that genetics is “the biggest factor by far” in predicting academic success, and that IQ is the “best predictor we have of success in later life” (“Genes test may find top pupils”, News, last week).
But Professor Plomin’s own data implies that genetic differences between pupils account for less than 60% of the variation in GCSE exam results, and although IQ scores certainly do predict educational success, there is only a limited correlation between IQ and GCSE results. So environmental differences and factors other than IQ are also very significant.
As for the idea that genetic screening will identify children with lower abilities — and presumably also those with higher ones — the pursuit of the genes “for” intelligence has so far proved singularly unsuccessful.
A recent report by the US academic Christopher Chabris and his colleagues, based on three studies that tested nearly 10,000 people, failed to replicate any previously reported claim to have identified a gene associated with variation in IQ. Its title was Most Reported Genetic Associations with General Intelligence Are Probably False Positives — that is to say untrue.
Nicholas Mackintosh, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge
Your article on genes and IQ frightened me. My fear is that my grandchildren’s education may suffer if politicians are guided by people such as Plomin. Charles Darwin observed that species changed in shape and size to suit the environment in different parts of the world.
Our children are also influenced by environmental factors such as wealth, ambitious parents, good teachers and numerous other things. For example, I have seen children who were below average gain A and A* grades after numerous expensive private lessons.
Denzil Morgan, Swansea
Flair for the dramatic
The desire to learn is perhaps the best gift we can bestow on our children. Youngsters need a broad, balanced curriculum to find out how best to find and live this passion. Your report of GCSEs being sorted into “hard” and “soft” disciplines (“Axeing of soft GCSEs to hit PE and drama”, News, last week) shows that examination boards are not just simply wrong — so actors aren’t “intelligent”? — but are also condemning many to live their lives without their passion being justly recognised.
Mark Featherstone-Witty, The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
Subjects such as PE are misunderstood: there is a lot more to it than running round a field. A large percentage of PE is theory and includes a significant amount of biology. All this talk also goes against the grain, especially after recent initiatives to drive the interest in sport, including the Olympics.
Pindi Sandhu (16) Studying for a career in sport
Clear-sighted MPs show vision on Heathrow hub
THE article by Nick Raynsford and Bernard Jenkin (“A Thames airport to end the nightmare”, Comment, last week) on the need to replace Heathrow with a new terminal restores my faith that we have MPs who can throw off the myopic focus on the next election and do what is right.
If we can only get a few more with vision to see HS2 for the obsolete project it is and replace it with a Maglev project, similar to the magnetic levitation train in Shanghai, or look at the Hyperloop proposed between Los Angeles and San Francisco that will make HS2 look like a horse and cart. If money is an issue we could scrap Trident, which should be named HMS Good Money After Bad.
Russell Sage, By email
Raynsford and Jenkin make a spirited case for a new London airport. However, the total cost will not be £24bn but about £70bn. An estuary hub would not be in the right place. The bulk of Heathrow traffic comes from the north and west of Britain, not the south and east. Stansted is half empty. An estuary airport will be like Canada’s Montreal-Mirabel terminal, a white elephant, especially if the airlines decide to decamp to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris or Madrid. Most importantly, a new estuary airport could take decades to come on line yet the crisis in London airport capacity is here and now.
More than 2m UK passengers travel via Schiphol in Amsterdam to pick up connections to the global air service network. Amsterdam is connected to 22 UK airports; Heathrow currently seven.
Whatever option is proposed by the Davies commission, a third runway at Heathrow is going to have to be built if we are to be a major aviation hub.
Andrew Brookes, Director, The Air League
Making a first visit to Kew Gardens we were appalled at the sight of planes descending into Heathrow every few minutes at what appeared to be chimney-pot height. How anybody in their right mind could consider continuing subjecting human beings to this cacophony and danger is beyond comprehension.
Gerald Edmonds, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
In all the NHS debates, newly qualified doctors are hardly mentioned. My son recently qualified as a GP and has been offered £50,000 a year, the average salary of workers at the Grangemouth oil refinery in Falkirk. He is 29, and in the past 10 years he has never been on holiday without a pile of books to study. He is going to Australia or Canada along with 12 of his year group because there is no respect or a decent salary here. I’m devastated — not so much as a mum, but for the loss to the NHS.
Name and address withheld
Crying foul over selfish dog owners
I HAVE little sympathy for the dog owners (“Dog bans get pet lovers hot under collar”, News, October 20). All too often lanes, parks and country walks are turned into dog lavatories that make them no-go areas.
The clampdown has reduced the amount of dog mess on our streets but has left us with another problem — bags of canine waste dropped on the ground, or left hanging from hedges, trees and fences.
My husband and I were walking around a beautiful Jacobean property in Norfolk and despite notices pleading with dog owners not to deposit the bags, the perimeter fence was festooned with them. Many people with dogs are responsible but there are still plenty who are not.
Joanna Holding, Cambridge
Dog owners have been marginalised for good reason — a large number of them promenade with a supercilious air while little Rover defecates at will. During the summer while I was watching a cricket match I saw an elderly gentleman allow his dog to run on to the outfield and foul the pitch, after which this individual carried on without the slightest sign of remorse.
It is not just young thugs who are antisocial where dogs are concerned. I am glad there are playgrounds and gardens to which I can take my children without fear of them being bitten by dogs or blinded by their waste.
Vincent Coster, Dorset
Clean, safe beaches are a priority as the Environment Agency works to raise standards before the introduction of the 2015 bathing water directive. Like smoking regulations, this is a matter of public health, not a punishment. The Kennel Club should end its campaign against restrictions on dogs.
Mark Noall, St Ives, Cornwall
Must do better
Your editorial “Mr Cameron snatches defeat from victory” (last week) contends that “the government should be doing well [in the opinion polls]” mainly on the basis of three periods of growth averaging 0.6%. Really? It is not doing well because 2.5m are unemployed, many in work either earn a pittance or do not receive wage increases, inflation is running well above the government’s target, those with hard-earned savings see them eroded, energy prices are soaring — and so on.
David Middlemiss, Beverley, East Yorkshire
Sir Ian Kennedy, head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), is rightly concerned about his independence (“Threat to quit by battered overlord of MPs’ salaries”, News, last week). But is he representative of the people of the country? Is there a healthcare worker, teacher or police officer on Ipsa? I doubt they would recommend an 11% pay rise for MPs in 2015.
Vernon Muller, Chelmsford, Essex
Dan Snow says religion has co-opted rituals for marriage and death (“God dismissed as atheists honour fallen”, News, last week) but if he studied prehistoric archeology he would know they have always been intertwined. If you talk to many Second World War servicemen they will tell you that they went to church as children, and often to Sunday school. They remember hymns from childhood and a surprising number sang in the choir. It is not possible to say what impact this had on their later lives but they are a more disciplined generation than those that have followed them.
Ann Ferguson, By email
Well done to Dan Snow et al for providing an alternative to the usual religious service of remembrance. This kind of event would let non-believers such as myself pay their respects and honour the fallen without the religious trappings we find impossible to buy into.
Gill Morse, Southampton
Age of enlightenment
Your report that older audiences are saving the film business is borne out by my two recent visits to the cinema (“Hollywood veterans coax grown-ups back to cinema”, World News, last week). At a senior citizens’ screening of Beyond the Candelabra in Rochdale, a 400-seat venue was almost full. A Bolton cinema was two-thirds full for Captain Phillips and most attending were as snowy-haired as me.
Martin Henfield, Bury, Greater Manchester
Back of the class
The case of the teacher who wrote “you could of” on a child’s work (“Writing wrongs”, Letters, October 20) is not an isolated one. It does seem strange that while pupils are regularly tested and they and their parents are lumbered with hours of homework, prospective teachers are not expected to have acquired the same grasp of English.
Vera Lustig, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey
Corrections and clarifications
Remarks by two former nurses, Richard Harrison and Bob Allen, in the article “Savile’s power as secret king of Broadmoor” (News, last week) should have been attributed to Channel 4 News. The attribution was removed in editing. We apologise for the error.
The article “Prisoners gloat over medical records of sex assault victims” (News, last week) referred to “recent research commissioned by Dominic Grieve, the attorney-general” on medical records of sex assault victims. The information, in fact, came from a report by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, which is an independent body.
■ Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, including online, should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Editor, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST. In addition, the Press Complaints Commission (email@example.com or 020 7831 0022) examines formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites)
Adam Ant, singer, 59; Roseanne Barr, comedian and actress, 61; Ben Fogle, television presenter, 40; Viscount Linley, 52; Lulu, singer, 65; Dolph Lundgren, actor, 56; Marilyn, singer, 51; Dylan Moran, comedian and actor, 42; Jacqui Smith, former Labour home secretary, 51; Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, 64; Ian Wright, footballer, 50; Dwight Yorke, footballer, 42
1534 Act of Supremacy makes Henry VIII head of the Church of England; 1843 the first half of Nelson’s statue is sited on top of the column in Trafalgar Square — it was completed the following day; 1903 Panama declares independence from Colombia; 1954 death of Henri Matisse; 1957 the Soviet Union launches Sputnik II, carrying Laika, the first dog in space; 1978 Dominica gains independence from the UK
SIR – I have been trying to make voice contact with Scottish Power for three days without success.
First, I have to dial an expensive 0800 number. Then, I’m told that, due to the high density of calls requesting information about its products, there will be a half-hour wait.
When I finally press five to talk to someone, I’m told that, to save holding on, I can leave my number and they will call back. “You won’t lose your place in the queue” – but the wait will be between four and six hours.
Having been told there is a 30-minute delay at the start, it looks as though the company does not want to talk to me, and that I most certainly will lose my place in the queue.
In desperation I have sent two emails and have been told I will receive a reply in five days. What sort of business is this?
New sugar regulations will make commercial jam go mouldy in the jar
02 Nov 2013
Taxing foreign house-buyers
02 Nov 2013
I have just done as David Cameron suggested and bought two electric radiators to heat my bedroom and drawing room to save heating the whole house with gas central heating.
All I want to know is how much extra I have spent on electricity since I have been using them.
The Scottish Power bills are too complicated to work this out myself.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Helping possible immigrants to stay at home
SIR – David Cameron is right to focus on education, welfare and immigration policy as a means of helping young British people compete for jobs with immigrants from Eastern Europe.
This, however, is only one element of what his Government can do to level the playing field. It is equally important that Britain and its EU allies encourage the immigrants’ home countries to pursue sound economic policies that would lessen the likelihood of their workers seeking employment in Britain in the first place.
Two of the poorest countries in the EU, Bulgaria and Romania, will have worker travel restrictions removed in January 2014. Our study of Romania’s economy found that Victor Ponta, the prime minister, and his parliament are at a crucial point for decision-making, where their policy choices could either set the country on a course to Western-style prosperity or relegate it to the status of an impoverished backwater.
It is up to Mr Cameron and other Western leaders to encourage countries such as Romania to make the kind of choices that give the best chance of economic success. The alternative would be disastrous for domestic prosperity and have profound consequences for the job market in Britain and elsewhere.
Director, Democracy Institute
SIR – Graeme Archer’s article on immigration was highly thought-provoking. No other country has an open-door policy like Britain’s. If politicians in Austria promoted this “to keep wage levels down”, their capacities would be seriously questioned.
A far more simple and orderly way of controlling wage levels is by negotiation between workers’ and employers’ representatives. In Austria and Germany, this is called the “social partnership” and it works quite well. Youth unemployment in both countries is among the lowest in the EU.
SIR – Overseas investors in British property should not be exempt from capital gains tax. But the Government should think carefully before slapping capital gains tax on everybody just to hit short-term speculators.
France has a system that makes speculators pay without penalising long-term investment in property. As in Britain, the main residence is exempt. On second homes or investment properties, capital gains tax is payable at the full rate for the first five years. Each subsequent year sees a reduction of 10 per cent, until after about 20 years there is no tax to pay.
France also allows for the erosion of money so gains are adjusted each year for inflation. This means that any investor who acquired property 20-30 years ago will not pay any tax on the increase in values.
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02 Nov 2013
New sugar regulations will make commercial jam go mouldy in the jar
02 Nov 2013
Care pathway evidence
SIR – It is ironic that Margaret Kendall, a leading nurse, should make anecdotal claims of patient suffering now following condemnation by the Neuberger Report of the similarly evidence-free Liverpool Care Pathway.
Many in palliative care seem to remain as unwilling now to accept Lady Neuberger’s findings as they were to investigate earlier reports of severe suffering and harm caused by the Liverpool Care Pathway.
It is profoundly disturbing that the Liverpool Care Pathway should continue in use at all, whether under its own name, or, increasingly, in derivative or “rebadged” forms.
Dr R J Clearkin
SIR – My father was a pacifist and a conscientious objector during the war. I have always admired him for the strength of his beliefs and worn the white “peace” poppy at this time of year for him.
I often explain that it is also in memory of those who fought and gave their lives for whom I have a similar great respect. But should I wear both a red and a white poppy to avoid any misunderstanding?
Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire
SIR – The Bank of England has made a brave attempt at conveying what Jane Austen could have looked like. There was never the remotest possibility that this would be a close likeness.
Since the only known lifetime image of Jane Austen is a feebly drawn amateur effort by her sister, which only replicates the conventionally fashionable idiom of the period, it affords no more reliable evidence of her appearance than the banknote.
Emeritus Dean, Faculty of Arts
University of Bristol
SIR – I am intrigued. How do readers discover these wackadoodle remedies? Was the unwrapped bar of soap that prevents night cramps put in the bed by accident? Was someone else dissecting the broad beans that cure warts?
SIR – Peter Oborne’s claims that ministers are treating the Commonwealth with “contempt” could not be further from the truth. In our Coalition Agreement, we promised we would “strengthen the Commonwealth as a focus for promoting democratic values and development”. That is what we have done.
We worked with Australia to ensure that in 2011 the Commonwealth adopted the most significant reforms in its recent history, including the adoption of a historic Commonwealth charter. We have increased the number of FCO staff working with the Commonwealth on trade, development and good governance, in London and in Sierra Leone, South Africa, Ghana and Mozambique.
We are its largest financial contributor – providing approximately a third of funding. The Department for International Development is now spending more in Commonwealth countries because we want to support its members’ development. We ministers take pride in the Commonwealth as a legacy of our great history and a unique diplomatic asset for the future, underpinned by common values.
Because we attach such importance to its future, we are attending the Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo shortly – in the teeth of opposition in some quarters. We want the Commonwealth to take action on the things that matter to Britain, so we need to be at the table – and we will be, now and in the future.
Hugo Swire MP (Con)
Minister for the Commonwealth
Grade 9 returns
SIR – After 50 years of shame I can finally display my grade 9 certificate for O-level biology with pride.
SIR – Further to comments by Tessa Munt, the parliamentary private secretary to Vince Cable, the real problem would be that the jam at 50 per cent sugar solids would no longer be microbiologically stable.
In the Fifties, sugar solids of jams were 67 per cent, making them microbiologically stable. At lower solids, the only people to benefit would be jam producers, who could sell more jam (and water), as more jam is thrown away because it has gone mouldy.
SIR – Tampering with the amount of sugar means British companies will not be delivering “delicious British jam” to the world as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs imagines. If too little sugar is used, jam decays sooner, particularly in warm climates, and will not reflect the quality for which Britain is renowned.
Instead, British jam, if it is fully made in the United Kingdom to the traditional fruit-sugar ratio, should be given Protected Geographical Indication by the EU.
Taxing foreign house-buyers
02 Nov 2013
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02 Nov 2013
SIR – Shop-bought jams may be heading for a transformation into coloured gloop but I won’t be reducing the sugar in my home-made Seville orange marmalade. I occasionally end up with a “soft-set” batch, but storing it in the fridge will solve that.
The correct amount of sugar is essential to give Seville marmalade that wonderful bitter-sweet “kick”. Roll on January.
SIR – The normal ratio of sugar to fruit for home jam-making is 50-50. Only sour fruit (such as citrus, for marmalades) may need more sugar. Using jam sugar for low-pectin fruit or combining high and low types (pear with damson) avoids runniness. Preserving-sugar enhances the beautiful colour of jellies. Otherwise, granulated does the job.
Penny Ann McKeon
Henfield, West Sussex
SIR – Surplus pumpkin can become angel’s hair (cabello de ángel). Cover 4lb pumpkin chunks with water. Simmer 20 minutes. Drain, cool and shred. Put 2lb sugar in a pan with ½ tsp ground saffron, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp ground ginger and juice of 2 lemons. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved, add the pumpkin strings, boil for an hour until setting point is reached, cool, put into warm jars and seal. Ideal with ice-cream.
Rev David Johnson
SIR – Mrs Munt believes British preserves keep for a year. We are enjoying my mother’s 1968 quince and crab-apple jelly.
Nuthurst, West Sussex
In most matters of tribulation, a point is inevitably reached when you end up saying enough is enough.
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Sinn Fein hypocrisy
Tackle ‘fat tax’ head on
We must change Northern attitude
The latest announcement by Revenue about the payment of the controversial property tax reached this point for me, and it showed clearly that this Government’s brass neck has not dulled.
Revenue’s statement that those opting to pay this tax for 2014 by either cheque or debit card can expect to have the money deducted instantly after the November 27 deadline left even a hardened cynic like me aghast.
Not only have they swooped upon the property-owning populace – who will receive absolutely nothing in return for this cash grab – but they have the gall to demand that the money be given to them ahead of the year in question.
But please remember, none of this is their fault. It’s those nasty banks yet again.
Revenue’s website has the temerity to blame the fact that the money will be instantly deducted more than five weeks before the year of the tax itself on “the nature of the banking and credit card systems”!
Obviously, the simple expedient of allotting a deadline in January or February 2014 just did not occur to them.
Never mind that this course of action will be monumentally unpopular and massively unfair (the Government has long since abandoned any such considerations with regard to these matters) but have our leaders even half-considered the gross economic stupidity of sucking millions of euro out of a half-dead economy at precisely the time of year when the hard-pressed citizen might be prepared to part with at least some of their dwindling cash?
Stillorgan, Co Dublin
THE BIG TURN OFF
* The State spent €100m on the Ballymore Eustace water plant when it had the money to burn.
Now that the country is bankrupt, there is not an earthly chance that we can do the necessary repairs to address our water needs.
I dread to think what the infrastructure around the country will look like about 10 years from now. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that parts of the country will resemble scenes from Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic thriller ‘The Road’.
Sean Mc Phillips
College Point, New York
ROAD TAX INJUSTICE
* Those reading your Motoring section’s review of the new S-Class Mercedes (Irish Independent, October 30) will either be salivating with anticipation at getting one or seething with rage at the injustice of the road tax regime.
Isn’t there some irony that in a bankrupt country, a person who can afford a €100,000 car will only pay some €200 or less in road tax, whereas the vast majority of the downtrodden, taxed-into-oblivion masses pay over €700 for an old, two-litre family car?
Of course, the mantra is trotted out again and again that the older cars are contributing more to climate change than the newer models. The dogs in the street know that the politicians don’t lose sleep over global warming but the excuse is a nice little earner for the Exchequer.
History will record these times as a period of great unfairness and injustice by the Government towards its people.
Clonbur, Co Galway
* “Innovative and interesting” – that’s the phrase that best describes Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s decision to engage Willie Walsh, current head of International Airlines Group (IAG), British Airways and Iberia’s parent company, as chairman of the advisory committee of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) (Irish Independent October 29).
It is a real breath of fresh air when one realises that this vast wealth of knowledge and experience is being tapped free of charge. The former Aer Lingus boss had a salary of £1.08m (€1.3m) from his day job last year, but won’t earn a cent from the NTMA.
Come to think of it, hasn’t the boss of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary – another world leader – been advising the Government where to “get on and get off” for years, and has charged them nothing for it?
It would be another real coup for Mr Noonan if he succeeded in roping him into the NTMA on an official basis, similar to Mr Walsh’s role. Mr O’Leary’s vast experience would be a mighty asset.
Incidentally, I would like to compliment Mr Noonan on his foresight in selecting Mr Walsh and in realising that those of “sky-high ambitions” are undoubtedly a cloud above the rest of the posse.
Thurles, Co Tipperary
GROWTH THEORY OBSOLETE
* I refer to an article by David McWilliams (Irish Independent, October 30).
I always get depressed when some economic expert writes, “it is just like the 1980s”. The time we live in is unlike any other in history.
The great economic ambitions of past centuries have been spectacularly achieved – the world can produce everything in great abundance and as a consequence “growth” is no longer necessary or possible.
But an endless frenzy to promote growth continues and as long as it does, economics will lurch from boom to bust, with each collapse leaving greater debt and human casualties in its wake. The economics of “growth” have been replaced by the economics of sufficiency or “enough”.
The economics of work have been replaced by the economics of “automation”, which, without policies to create more jobs from less work, will lead to unsustainable unemployment.
That is why the 21st Century is totally unlike any other period in history.
It is a remarkable time with great potential, but we will realise this potential only if we can adapt an out-of-date, ineffective economic philosophy to manage an entirely new and wonderful technological age, unlike anything ever experienced before.
WE’VE GOT IT COVERED
* The fluid situation regarding water supplies at the moment reminds me of the advice given to consumers in Britain during a long, hot summer by Ken Dodd: “When having a bath, just fill the water to a depth of six inches . . . that should cover it.”
Beaumont, Dublin 9
TV VIOLENCE PEAKS
* Your letters page on October 31 showed an interesting and contrasting view on the quality of the programmes on radio and television these days.
Using phrases such as “enthralled”, “top-notch drama” and “excellent narrative”, Aaron McCormack asked whether we have “reached the pinnacle of television”.
Gary Cummins, on the other hand, came to the conclusion that we are “being insulted with the general lack of quality in the programmes being screened” to the extent that they are “an affront to people’s intelligence”.
The fact that such programmes mirror a decadent and violent society raises questions as to the effect these shows have on the mentality of the the millions who watch them each week.
It also raises questions as to how displaying arrogance and contempt for fellow human beings week after week could be declared the pinnacle of television.