Even more leaves

21 November 2013 Even More Leaves

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark.
Our heroes are in trouble they are moved from their beloved island. Will they ever get back again? Priceless.
Quiet sweep leaves Peter does conservatory and the front light. I sweep leaves.
Scrabble Mary wins but get just less than 400 perhaps it will be my turn tomorrow.

Obituary:

Frederick Sanger, OM
Frederick Sanger, OM, who revolutionised science and medicine through DNA and protein sequencing, was the only Briton twice to win the Nobel Prize

Sanger in 1999 
1:37PM GMT 20 Nov 2013
12 Comments
Frederick Sanger, OM, the biochemist, who has died aged 95, was the only Briton — and one of only four people in history — to win the Nobel Prize twice.
His work unlocked the chemical secrets that underlie genes — the basic building blocks of life — and laid the foundation for genetic engineering and the Human Genome Project, a unique effort to spell out the chemical structure of every gene in the human body.
Sanger was awarded his first Nobel Prize in 1958 for work carried out with colleagues in the early 1950s. Toiling away in a small hutlike laboratory buried in Cambridge University’s department of biotechnology , Sanger deduced the sequence of amino acids (chemical building blocks) in the hormone insulin, the first complete protein sequence ever to be determined.

An introduction to protein sequencing
His second Nobel, in 1980, was awarded for related work carried out at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, where he developed an ingenious method of working out the basic chemical “grammar” of DNA that has enabled scientists to “read” the chemical sequencing — the long chains of DNA molecules — that form our genes. The technique he developed, known as “Sanger” sequencing, was still used decades later.
The DNA sequencing method Sanger pioneered, with Alan Coulson, involves manufacturing a replica of the gene under study. The next step is to add a specially coloured “killer chemical” that terminates the replication once it hits a particular chemical link, or nucleotide, in the gene (DNA chains have four types of chemical links, and the order of these determines what the genes do).
The process is repeated with different killer chemicals which stop the replication at different sets of links. This gives a mixture of DNA fragments of varying lengths, each finishing with one of four different fluorescent dye molecules corresponding to the four nucleotides of DNA. The fragments are then driven by an electric field through a slab of gel or hair-thin capillary tubes filled with polymer. This sorts them by length. The order of colours that emerges — corresponding to the sequence of nucleotides in the original piece of DNA — is scanned by laser and displayed on a computer screen.

An excellent and simple video explaining DNA mapping by “Sanger sequencing”
This method made it possible to sequence several hundred DNA bases in one day, a process that previously took many years. It enabled Sanger and his colleagues to map the sequence of links of simple structures such as proteins and viruses, leading to far greater scientific understanding of the chemical basis of genetic defects and the processes that lead to disease — work that has led to an explosion in drug and vaccine development.
Frederick Sanger was born on August 13 1918 into a Quaker family at the village of Rendcomb in Gloucestershire, where his father was the local doctor. Under his father’s influence and that of his elder brother Theodore, Fred became interested in biology and set his heart on following his father into medicine.
From Bryanston he won a place at St John’s College, Cambridge, but even before going to university he decided he would be best suited to a scientific career — albeit one which he hoped would have clinical applications. At Cambridge he became interested in the emerging field of biochemistry, convinced that it offered a way to develop a more scientific basis to understand many medical problems. But he did not appear to be a particularly promising student, and took three years to complete the first part of his degree when normally it took only two.
Sanger was a conscientious objector, and after taking his degree in 1939 remained at the university for a further year after the outbreak of war to take an advanced course in Biochemistry, surprising everyone by obtaining a First. From 1940 to 1943 he worked with Albert Neuberger on the metabolism of the amino acid lysine, and at the same time became involved in a government-sponsored research project looking at the protein content of the potato.
When AC Chibnall was appointed Professor of Biochemistry in 1943, Sanger joined his research group working on proteins. This was an especially exciting time in protein chemistry: new chromatography techniques had been developed by Archer Martin and Richard Synge; and Chibnall and Sanger believed that there might be a real possibility of determining the exact chemical structure of proteins.
This idea was controversial at the time as, although the 20 or so amino acids that can go to make up proteins were known, most scientists believed the arrangement of different amino acids in a protein to be random. One professor had even produced a complex mathematical formula that would express this random function. Thus, when Chibnall tried to get Sanger a grant from the Medical Research Council to work on protein structure, the grant was refused because “everyone knew” that the pattern of amino acids in a protein was random.
Nevertheless, Sanger scraped together enough money from various sources to start work. From 1944 to 1951 he held a Beit Memorial Fellowship for Medical Research; and in 1951, by which time the Medical Research Council had come to recognise the importance of his work, he became a member of the MRC’s external staff.
The protein which Sanger chose for his research was insulin which, as well as being relatively small in size and available in large quantities, had strong clinical implications in the understanding of diseases such as diabetes. He developed a method of marking the end amino acid and splitting it off from the insulin. The end amino acid was then identified and the process repeated. By this painstaking method, Sanger showed that a molecule of insulin contains two peptide chains made of two or more amino acids that are linked together by two disulphide bonds. It took eight more years finally to identify the 51 amino acids that make up insulin.
The award of the Nobel Prize in 1958 had an important and stimulating effect on Sanger’s subsequent career, enabling him to obtain better research facilities and to attract the brightest young scientists to work alongside him. In 1962 — with Max Perutz’s unit from the Cavendish Laboratory, which included Francis Crick, John Kendrew and Aaron Klug — Sanger moved to the MRC’s newly-built Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.
Surrounded by researchers interested in DNA and genes, Sanger was struck by the challenge of determining the order of bases in DNA — known as DNA sequencing. It was by this time clear that DNA was a linear code, and although the code was being unravelled, no methods existed to read the code in even the simplest genome. To Sanger, though, the problem was simply a natural extension of his work on protein sequencing.
Over the next 15 years he and his team developed several methods to sequence nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), eventually developing the method for which he won his second Nobel. The Sanger method is capable of “reading” genomes as much as 3,000,000,000 base-pairs long — 500 bases at a time.
Sanger shared his second Nobel Prize with Walter Gilbert, who had carried out independent research into the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids, and Paul Berg, for his work on recombinant DNA.
A courteous, serious-minded man of strong socialist opinions, Sanger’s thin, bespectacled figure, habitually dressed in academic-casual v-necked sweater, open-necked shirt and rubber-soled shoes, was a familiar sight in Cambridge for many years.
Though he was one of only four people ever to have won two Nobel Prizes (the others being Marie Curie, John Bardeen and Linus Pauling), he remained modest about his achievements, putting them down to hard work and team spirit rather than genius.
The walls of his simply-furnished house at Swaffham Bulbeck, a fen-side village outside Cambridge, were bare of plaques, certificates or citations: “You get a nice gold medal, which is in the bank,” he explained. “And you get a certificate, which is in the loft. I could put it on the wall, I suppose. I was lucky and happy to get it, but I’m more proud of the research I did. There are some people, you know, who are in science just to get prizes. But that’s not what motivates me.”
After retiring in 1985 Sanger devoted most of his time to working in his garden. In 1992 the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council established the Sanger Centre, for furthering the knowledge of genomes. Located 10 miles outside Cambridge, it became one of the main sequencing centres of the Human Genome Sequencing Project.

A guide the Human Genome Project
Among many honours and awards, Sanger received the Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize of the Chemical Society in 1951; the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1969; the Royal Society’s Copley Medal in 1977; and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 1979. He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1983.
In 1954 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. He was an honorary member of many foreign scientific academies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Sanger was appointed CBE in 1963 and made a Companion of Honour in 1981 — but he turned down a knighthood, not wanting to be called “Sir”: “A knighthood makes you different, doesn’t it, and I don’t want to be different.” He did, however, accept the considerably more distinguished Order of Merit in 1986.
Frederick Sanger married, in 1940, Margaret Joan Howe. She was not a scientist, but he described her as having contributed more to his work than anyone else by providing a peaceful and happy home. They had two sons and a daughter.
Frederick Sanger, OM, born August 13 1918, died November 19 2013

suchan104
• 8 hours ago

One of the true greats of British science and my biochemistry hero as a young undergraduate. I’ll never forget first learning about the Sanger method for DNA sequencing and being stunned by its elegant simplicity and also its power in revolutionising molecular biology. As a graduate student I occasionally encountered him at Cambridge where I was always impressed by the time he had for young scientists and how modest he was about his own achievements. RIP Fred Sanger.

paige_follett
• 9 hours ago

“Though he was one of only four people ever to have won two Nobel Prizes (the
others being Marie Curie, John Bardeen and Linus Pauling), he remained
modest about his achievements”
This really understates the matter.
Curie, Bardeen and Sanger should be grouped together, as they were the only ones who achieved the truly monumental, winning two Nobels each in the hard sciences.
Pauling, meanwhile, earned only one scientific Nobel. His other prize was the Peace Prize, which he was awarded for rather bog standard peacenik piffle of little actual intellectual substance.
3

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PdoffbyPS
• 11 hours ago

“Toiling away in a small hutlike laboratory buried in Cambridge University’s department of biotechnology …”
As an undergraduate reading biochemistry at Cambridge in the early ’60s, I well remember the hut and often refer to it anecdotally when I hear modern academics wanting millions for their laboratories!
And, by the way, Telegaffe writer, it was the Department of Biochemistry, not biotechnology.
RIP, Fred – and thanks for all your contributions to biochemistry.

John Mark
• 11 hours ago

How amazingly complicated is and, before Sanger, was the DNA molecule.
It required the genius of Fred Sanger and his teams of people over years, decades, to experiment again and again to discover that proteins each possessed their own order of amino acids, such as insulin.
Then he, and they, sequenced the nucleotide order to make the amino-acids to form the protein.
Great science and two very well-deserved Nobel Prizes.
His genius was to unravel the Design that was incorporated into the DNA molecule.
Since the unravelling of a pre-existing Design was brilliant, then the original Design from an idea in the mind of an Intelligent Being was even more brilliant.
Yet, Evolutionism tells us that “Clay Crystals” gradually built up the Design of the DNA molecule over billions of years.
This is sheer lunacy!
If the unraveller of the DNA Design had to be so intelligent, as Sanger was, then how could wholly unintelligent “Clay Crystals” have designed the molecule that Sanger took years to comprehend?
It’s impossible!
Yet, Evolutionism is based on just this!
Developmental biological evolution requires natural selection;
Natural selection requires mutations;
Mutations require DNA.
So, NO evolution occurred before DNA was in existence. How, then, did DNA come into being in all its splendid brilliance of Design?
Mankind is wholly deluded in believing in Evolution, yet it is the atheists’ bible that there is no God, no Designer.
How much longer will God have patience with the human race?
And what happens after death to those who have put their faith in such impossible beliefs so that they have denied the God and Father of Jesus Christ, who brought it all into being?
“What can be known about God is spread out in front of them. God has DISPLAYED it to them! What is invisible about God, about his everlasting power and his Deity, are seen clearly from the created world, They are understood from the DESIGN of things.
“They suppress the Truth in their unrighteousness” (EpRom).
But the Messiah, the Son of God, came into the world to take away the sin of false belief by his death on the cross.
see more

lyndon666 John Mark
• 7 hours ago

So, who designed God then?

Bonzodog John Mark
• 10 hours ago

Google ribozymes and then sod off.

Tony R.
• 12 hours ago

Place of death? This article reads like it was prepared well ahead of time and just whipped out for the occasion, without updating salient details.

Bonzodog
• 14 hours ago

Sad news. One of the true greats of British science

JJ
• 14 hours ago

“She was not a
scientist, but he described her as having contributed more to his work than
anyone else by providing a peaceful and happy home. They had two sons and a
daughter.”
Read this and weep feminists. How many brilliant inventions have been missed due to a lack of such women these days.

John Evans JJ
• 10 hours ago

I don’t see how this doesn’t map to a brilliant female researcher being supported emotionally by a male partner who stays at home raising the kids.

writerr John Evans
• 7 hours ago

Indeed, a rather weak analysis and demonstrates the folly of allowing inappropriate commentary. An obituary about an incredible scientist, belittled by irrevelant drivel.

JJ
• 14 hours ago

I’m pretty sure it’s Rendcomb not Rendcombe.

Guardian:

Touching though they were, the photographs of Licia Ronzulli with her daughter in the European parliament (Eyewitness, 20 November) raise an even more important question than the right of women to bring their children to work. When will we see photographs of a man caring and committed enough to take his child to work?
Richard Denton
London
• The out-of-control college course subsidy (Report, 19 November) is an uncanny re-run of the 1996-2001 independent learning accounts fiasco. Both were driven by ministerial dogma that private provision was best and the system needed a shake up. Both ran wildly over budget, no one monitored what was going on and in both there was a failure to anticipate the possibility of fraud (£100m in the earlier instance).
Dr PW Overstall
Hereford
• I’ve just looked at my Co-op Bank cheque book. On the cover it says “good with money”.
Hilary Perraton
Cambridge
• You refer in your editorial (19 November) to the defusing, by Justin Welby, of “an existential crisis” over women bishops. Are others as bewildered as I am by the increasingly frequent use of the word existential? It hardly ever seems to add meaning.
Tim Nicholson
Bristol
• An economics student notices that the same questions have been set every year for finals papers and challenges her professor (Letters, 20 November). “Yes it’s true,” he admits. “In economics the questions are always the same. All we ever do is change the answers.”
Dr Ken Bray
Bath
• Never mind missing Doctor Who because of a funeral in the US (Letters, 18 November). Imagine my disappointment when the broadcast visit by Wilfred Pickles and his radio show, Have a Go, from my village, Bethesda in north Wales, was cancelled in 1952 because the king had died. It started my lifelong republicanism.
Wyn Thomas
Swansea

Zoe Williams (Childcare is about so much more than economics, 20 November) rightly draws attention to the need to recognise that mothers value their time spent with their children. It is also important to value childcare workers’ time. This means paying and training them properly.
The introduction of the minimum wage in 1999 doubled the pay rates of half of all childcare workers. In 2006, Labour started to invest seriously in the skills of the early years workforce at every level. Now, as a result of austerity cuts, the children’s centres that are managing to survive are losing qualified and experienced staff as well as having to privatise the support services offered to childminders. Overall, budgets for staff development are disappearing and the government-commissioned Nutbrown report, recommending further improvements in training, is largely ignored. The market cannot deliver good-quality and affordable childcare for all who want and need it. Childcare is a public good, and our children and those who look after them deserve better.
Hilary Land
Emeritus professor of family policy,University of Bristol
• Zoe Williams reminds us of the inhumanity of our governing classes: whether it’s Liz Truss’s proposed testing of pre-school children or Ed Miliband’s 10-hour school day, all want to sacrifice family life to the greater economic good. The unanswered question is: whose economic good? Is it going too far to compare our current leaders to those of the Mayan and Incan civilisations who sacrificed thousands to their malevolent deities? Our leaders seem indifferent to the needs and wants of their people and are prepared to sacrifice the incomes, health and wellbeing to the malevolent deities of economics, whether they be named fiscal rectitude or economic progress. The difference is not intent: both groups are prepared to impose any suffering necessary on their peoples to appease their gods, to benefit themselves; the difference is in method of sacrifice: impoverishment instead of death.
Derrick Joad
Leeds
• The Guardian’s roundtable report on motherhood and mental health (20 November) provides clear analysis of the dislocation of health provision, reiterates the solid case for agencies and individuals to work across professional boundaries, but looks insufficiently at the lack of parity in policy, strategy and practice between mental and physical health services as a root cause of poor and tardy responses to need.
Whole-person care cannot be delivered without equal consideration of mental and physical health. A recent paper from the Royal College of Psychiatrists provides coherent recommendations that mesh to form a useful template for a government or hopefully successive governments willing to deliver that objective; to move in the words of the report from rhetoric to reality.
Efforts to achieve parity need to be driven consistently across all government departments – education as much as health – begin before conception and continue through life; considering the mental health needs of infants equal to their physical health needs, and adopting approaches to their wellbeing that prioritise the quality of relationships between parents and infants.
Alan Coombe
Independent consultant, child protection and early intervention policy and practice

I share Lord Falconer’s  view that the framework for intelligence oversight is not “fit for purpose” (Report, 18 November), but the former lord chancellor does not seem to appreciate that “bulk surveillance” was legalised by the Interception of Communications Act 1985. As well as warrants in relation to named persons or premises, section 3 provided for warrants where the minister certified “the descriptions of intercepted material the examination of which he considers necessary… “. This was the legal basis for the Echelon system of trawling through satellite communications before the internet, exposed during the 1990s. This same provision was carried forward into section 8 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The chances of persuading governments and their intelligence agencies to give up this broad surveillance power are remote, but its exercise must be subject to greater oversight than hitherto.
Peter Gill
Honorary senior research fellow, University of Liverpool

Simon Jenkins is right to call for the regeneration of England’s provincial cities as a better solution to the housing crisis than building yet another soulless new town (Why build new towns when we already have great cities?, 15 November). However, this will require changes to much more than just housing policy.
It will mean giving our cities the right – and, crucially, the funding – to control their own affairs, rather than being micro-managed by civil servants in far-off London. It will mean abandoning the longstanding policy of concentrating the overwhelming majority of public transport investment in the south-east (think Thameslink, CrossRail, new Routemasters, etc), and instead funding high-quality light rail systems in regional centres. In most developed countries, cities such as Bristol or Leeds would have extensive tram and metro networks; in England, they are told to make do with a few grotty buses.
It will mean dropping the automatic assumption that any “national” projects (think the Olympics) must always be in London, and that any such expenditure in the provinces is a luxury to be cut at the first hint of austerity.
Crucially, it will mean focusing on industry across the country, rather than always favouring finance and the Square Mile. Housing demand and employment are intrinsically linked, and until more jobs are created in the regions the pressure to cover the Home Counties in concrete will continue.
New Labour ran the country as if it were the United Kingdom of London and Scotland; with the Tories it is the United Kingdom of London and Surrey. Neither approach has worked. Westminster and Whitehall need to discard their prejudices and start regarding beyond the M25 as being part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
Allan Dare
Cromford, Derbyshire
• Unlike Simon Jenkins, I welcome Lord Wolfson’s prize of £250,000 for a plan for a new garden city. His view that “the Tory peer is only trying to help his developer friends push through volume housebuilding where it would otherwise not be allowed” is unduly cynical.
I came to live in Crawley in 1957 when it was very young and the press ran stories of “the new town blues”. These stories were based on a few instances of “miserable married women”, which was later recognised as a national problem of young mothers trapped at home with young children and no support. I found a young community and people with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.
For more than 55 years I have watched our town move to flourishing maturity, rejoicing in sound planning, parks and gardens, abundant trees and good living space.
But the need for more housing is recognised. We need planned communities more than ever so that people can live near where they work, have open spaces for active leisure, schools that children can walk to without crossing main roads, local medical centres and convenience shops. I hope that town planners will grasp the opportunity Wolfson’s competition gives to think imaginatively about the future and find suitable sites within the 92% of Britain not currently built on.
Gillian Pitt
Crawley, West Sussex
• Writing for the London Evening Standard recently, Jenkins had the audacity to compare the moving of BBC workers to their new offices in Salford to that of “the Pilgrim Fathers… settling New England among the savages”. In other words, don’t bother investing in a northern brownfield site, London’s where it’s at and always will be.
Now, Jenkins believes the cure for Britain’s sclerotic provincial cities is to embrace them, using Germany, among others, as a role model. The Germany I know is one of wealth-creating, medium-sized cities crisscrossed by world-leading public transport networks and linked to one another (and Europe) by a network of high-speed rail lines. Berlin alone may not be a as big a deal as London is, but linked to Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt it is.
Transport-wise, Manchester fought hard to build its Metrolink and extensions, only for similar schemes planned for Leeds and Liverpool to be scrapped (make do with your buses and two-car trains instead, said Whitehall mandarins).
Daniel Crowther
Preston, Lancashire
• Has Simon Jenkins ever tried living in the nightmare fringe of settled cities in England, more especially London? If he had, he’d have found precious little “vitality and social support” – in fact, much of the time the reverse: social isolation and instability. All places have their problems and their advantages, including big cities. But those aren’t made any better by continuing over-expansion. Starting a new town, and designing it well, physically and socially, makes a lot of sense sometimes. Like now, when we are needing masses of new homes built.
Kevin McGrath
Harlow, Essex
•I read with fascination about a 74-storey private residential block that will tower over Canary Wharf and provide yet more buy-to-let flats for the rich (London is a property developers’ paradise, 18 November). It’s appalling that we no longer have a duty to provide affordable housing to the poor.
I was just researching the speeches my great-grandfather, James Ranger MP, made to parliament in 1949 about a different housing crisis. He read out letters from the “displaced”, many of whom were living in overcrowded accommodation in Ilford as there was no suitable accommodation in the East End. They struggled to survive without support from family and friends. This was a few years after the war.
We cannot say the same today. There has been no war, but simply a failure by successive governments to provide for all. We now need new legislation to build the social housing that honest taxpayers need rather than create another housing bubble that will help only the rich.
Mark Murton
Wallington, Surrey

Your front-page story that the police spied on the political activities of students at Cambridge University (Undercover police target students, 15 November) fits in with the way the police have prosecuted students protesting over the last few years. Following the 2010 demonstrations against tuition fees, counter terrorism police were used to process cautions in the police station. The police went on to charge more than 60 students of good character with violent disorder, the second most serious public order charge, which carries with it an almost inevitable prison sentence on conviction. Thankfully, Alfie Meadows’s acquittal earlier this year and the acquittal of the large majority of those who went to trial, have gone some way to undermine the use of excessive charging by the police and prosecution.
Matt Foot
Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners
• We the undersigned unreservedly condemn the arrest of University of London union president, Michael Chessum, for allegedly organising a demonstration apparently contrary to the Public Order Act (G2, 19 November). This arrest coincides with the revelations that Cambridge police have been attempting to pay students to inform on fellow student “activists”, and follows the arrest of a student activist in the 3Cosas campaign in the ULU building itself. We believe it is time to reiterate the basic position that universities are centres of learning and we condemn the increasing role of the police on university campuses to stifle legitimate protest.
All names in a personal capacity
Molly Cooper Unison Greater London women’s rep service group executive Max Watson Unison NEC and London Met Uni Unison branch secretary, Sandy Nicoll SOAS Unison branch secretary and London region general seat, Unison higher education service group executive, Simon Deville Branch secretary, Birkbeck Unison, Sean Wallis President, University College London UCU, Secretary London HE UCU, UCU NEC, Louise Lambe Unison HE member, Yassin Benserghin UCL Unison vice-chair, Gyta Nicola Branch secretary IOE Unison, Des Freedman Secretary, Goldsmiths UCU, Ulrike Sommer UCU departmental rep for the Institute of Archaeology, Tom Hickey Chair, UCU co-ordinating committee, David Hardman London Met UCU membership secretary, Jacqueline Sheehan Branch chair UCL Unison, Dr Laurie Stras Southampton University UCU exec committee member, Marian Mayer Vice chair BU UCU, Dr John Fry Department of physics, University of Liverpool, Mark Campbell London Met UCU (chair), UCU NEC, Daragh O’Reilly Manager, marketing and cultural industries division, Management School, University of Sheffield, Sophie Hope UCU Birkbeck branch secretary, Mike Lammiman VP University of Hull UCU, Dr Karen F Evans Senior lecturer, department of sociology, social policy and criminology, University of Liverpool, John Baxter UCU co-ordinating committee member, Sheffield College, Mark O’Brien Membership secretary, University of Liverpool UCU, Marian Mayer Vice-chair, BU UCU, Javed Khanzada Unison HE member, Lesley McGorrigan UCU, NEC member and Yorkshire and the Humber regional secretary, Ciara Doyle UCU, Kath Owen Yorkshire & Humberside Unison service group executive, Dr James Chiriyankandath Senior research fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Dr Geoff Williams UCL UCU Immediate past (joint) president, Dr Andy Higginbottom Principal lecturer, international politics and human rights, Kevin Moloney, Cliff Snaith UCU London Met secretary & UCU London region secretary, Louis Bayman Department of film studies, Oxford Brookes University, Richard McEwan UCU NEC, Dr Sue McPherson Sheffield Hallam University UCU branch officer, Pauline Croft Professor of early modern history, Royal Holloway, University of London, Professor John Newsinger, Andy Coles UCU study coach at University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, Graham Mustin Joint branch secretary, Barnsley College UCU, Dr Julie Hearn Department of politics, philosophy and religion, Lancaster University, Dr Jennifer Fraser UCU Birkbeck branch, joint president, Linda Milbourne Birkbeck UCU, Dr Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormick Senior lecturer, department of management, Leo Zeilig, Hewal Sores UCU equality officer, Bradford College, Dr Mark Abel UCU University of Brighton, Allister Mactaggart UCU branch chair, Chesterfield College, Laura Miles Chair, Yorkshire and Humberside regional council UCU and UCU NEC, Anthony Leaker Lecturer in humanities, University of Brighton, Matthew Raine Birmingham University Unison branch secretary, West Midlands region general seat, Unison higher education service group executive, Dr Chris Cocking Senior lecturer, Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia Vice-president, UCL UCU, David Graeber, Jonathan Gilhooly Lecturer, Brighton University, Professor David Oswell Head of department, department of sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London, Alex Colas Birkbeck UCU, Professor Raphael Salkie School of humanities, University of Brighton, Louise Purbrick UCU member, University of Brighton, Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya UEL, Alberto Toscano Department of sociology, Goldsmiths, Patrick Connellan Branch secretary, Nottingham Trent UCU, Helena Reckitt Senior lecturer in curating, department of art, Goldsmiths, University of London, Kalbir Shukra Goldsmiths UCU

Independent:
I’m pleased that Emma Way’s “bloody cyclists” tweet and Boris Johnson’s callous comments were covered (“Boris turns on cyclists with threat to ban headphones”, 20 November).
Statistics suggest it’s careful cyclists who are killed. In contrast, the aggressive behaviour of boy racers protects them.
I’ve cycled to work for 35 years but, like most adults, I’m also a driver and pay as much road tax as anyone. I agree that I shouldn’t creep up on the inside of a lorry, but usually that lorry has just overtaken me before it cuts me up.
A nurse who knocked me off my bike said she thought I was turning left because I was on the left side of a road with no left-turning lane. A driver who knocked two cyclists flying (just one broken back) had been blinded by sunlight.
My colleague’s ex-partner, who was killed, was a man in his sixties. He didn’t jump lights or wear headphones. Another local cyclist was killed by a car that reversed back over his body. A van driver recently drove straight at me because he wrongly thought I’d gone through on red. Being pelted with snowballs by car passengers was a regular experience in Manchester.
You never get treated like this in the Netherlands or Germany, because a higher proportion of drivers are also cyclists.
To end on a positive note, when I was knocked off my bike in Park Lane by a motorcyclist weaving between lanes, although he didn’t stop, all the cars stopped dead. Very impressive.
Dr Andrew Charters, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire 
 
The promotion of cycling and road safety for cyclists isn’t something that has been evident, despite both the boom in the activity and the recent tragedies on London’s streets.
As a London cyclist, I feel it would be encouraging to see a multifaceted approach, bringing safe cycling to the forefront of the minds of cyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike.
Signs that clarify rules of the road that are commonly neglected or misunderstood would be a great relief for many cyclists, such as those who have been cut up by drivers turning left without checking their mirrors.
Similarly valuable would be reminders for drivers not to edge out at junctions, drifting into the sights of oncoming cyclists, who must brake suddenly or dangerously swerve.
A campaign would also have to focus on the responsibility of the cyclist to respect the rules of the road and adhere to every safety precaution, in terms of clothing and lights. And there needs to be a further step: to encourage all road-users to respect each other, show humility and slow down.
I know that my own arrogance and pride have been as dangerous as bad driving to my safety while on my bike, and this is something that I have to address and need to be reminded of. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
There must be changes to encourage non-cyclists to get on their bike, including a real improvement of road quality. There’s nothing more frustrating than riding down a “cycle lane” littered with potholes. Equally annoying are cycle lanes that suddenly disappear.
Lastly, promoting affordable cyclewear, and explaining how to ride through all the elements in comfort and how to become involved in bike-to-work schemes will help move us towards a more bike-friendly, sustainable and healthy society.
Sam Edwards, London SW8
 
I am shocked by Sean O’Grady’s moaning about being penalised for using a mobile phone while driving a car (“Look, no hands”, 19 November), and by his sneeringly referring to the younger policeman who gave him three points and a fine as a “rookie”.  Having been penalised twice, he still does not seem to get it.
As a result of using a phone while driving, his attention is distracted from the road, and one of his hands is not free to control his car. This applies even when driving “at no great speed”. The fact that an intelligent man such as O’Grady does not understand this, despite being fined twice, is worrying.
John Dakin, Toddington, Bedfordshire
 
Somalia does not deserve a penny
David Waldrop’s complaint that “poor old Somalia” (letter, 18 November) isn’t getting any money from the rest of the world is tripe.
Somalia’s pirates and government are no friends of the British public. I dare say they still get lots of money in overseas aid despite this. But I will not give to a country that kidnapped and killed a relative of my family.
Perhaps you will, Mr Waldrop – but until this happens to you, stop acting the do-gooder and think about who deserves our  country’s money.
We give to people who deserve it, not just anyone. Look at Children In Need or the Philippines crisis.
If you wish to give to this disgraceful country, you can. In the meantime, my family and I will continue to grieve. Let’s hope you are never in the same position, having to tell young boys why their Grandpa won’t be coming home, or why Mummy is crying so much.
This letter is for my dead father-in-law, killed while trying to help out some people in Somalia.
Mark Buckmaster, Reading
 
Why I am not a ‘follower’ on twitter
John Rentoul (“One-Way tweets”, 20 November) is touchingly concerned that I “follow” nobody on Twitter.
Of course I don’t. Twitter is a left-wing electronic mob, and I visit it only to promote my Mail on Sunday blog, and to respond to and correct the ignorant attacks that are sometimes made on me there.
This activity is like unblocking the sink: necessary, disagreeable – but satisfying when you succeed and positively enjoyable when you hear the waste gurgling away down the drain.
As John rightly points out, I debate with readers on my blog, where there is room and time for intelligent discussion.  
Peter Hitchens, London W8
 
The many problems of condom use in africa
Finger-pointing at African women and especially sex workers for not using condoms (“The condom conundrum”, 19 November) is misguided and at odds with what people in the article said.
The problem with condoms is not that sex workers (or women) do not want to use them – condom use is high among sex workers – but that condoms are often not available, that women and men do not want to use them for various reasons, that sex workers carrying them face the threat of arrest and violence from the police, and that religious leaders do their best to prevent their use.
As for new prevention technologies such as gel and pills, the intention is certainly not for these to be used secretively, as it would foil their purpose.
HIV prevention is a shared effort by both men and women. Though it is encouraging to see articles on the HIV epidemic as we approach World Aids Day, these should be an opportunity to dispel myths and misconceptions rather than perpetuate them.
Roger Tatoud. Senior Programme Manager, International HIV Clinical Trials Research Management Office,  Imperial College London
 
That bedroom could be for children
Rivers Pound’s story (“Forced to pay the bedroom tax – even if the room is used for a kidney dialysis machine”, 19 November) elicits sympathy, but the fact is he could move to a one-bedroom flat, and if he comes to need dialysis, he could put the dialysis machine in the bedroom or lounge.
Then housing benefit would cover the full cost of his flat, and a family could move into his two-bedroom council flat.
Surely it is better that children have their own bedroom than that he has a spare room in which to put his dialysis machine?
Dan Dennis, Philosophy Tutor, Department of  Continuing Education, University of Oxford
 
You reported (“Every little helps Nadhim Zahawi”, 11 November) that a Conservative MP claimed almost £6,000 in heating expenses for his estate, but was to repay the part that was accidentally claimed related to heating his stables.
There is a severe housing shortage in this country. For the state to pay the heating bills of MPs is surely a form of housing benefit. As such, it should surely reflect the genuine needs of those affected.
To encourage recipients to move to properties  more in line with their real needs, I suggest their housing expenses should be reduced by £14 per week for every unoccupied bedroom.
Ken Gofton, Tonbridge, Kent
 
Who is innocent in financial services?
Is there anyone in financial services, anywhere in the world, who doesn’t deserve to be in prison – and what’s her name?
Martin London, Henllan, Denbighshire
 
Make a royal  meal of horses
Would sibling solidarity be enhanced by marketing stallion steaks and filly burgers as Duchy Originals?
Dr John Doherty, Stratford-upon-Avon
 
Man with the perfect CV
Should not the Mayor of Toronto become the next chair of the Co-op Bank?
Philip Goldenberg, Woking, Surrey

Times:

All road users should be made to obey the same rules, and pay the same penalties if we deliberately refuse to do so
Sir, News of yet another death of a cyclist on London’s roads is sickening (report, Nov 19), particularly so because no one appears willing to spell out the unpalatable truth. I live, work and drive in Central London and it is fast becoming a battle zone. With angry cyclists fighting angry drivers there can be no winners.
While cyclists continue to ignore all the rules that the drivers have to obey, including crossing red lights and driving with no lights, motorists will inevitably tire of having single fingers stuck up at them and having abuse hurled at them, so the polarisation will only get worse. Truck and bus drivers don’t stand a chance if cyclists insist on driving alongside their nearside.
By all means please build more and better cycle ways. Do everything and anything to protect cyclists not only against us but equally against themselves. At the same time please license the bicycles and the cyclists, make them obey the rules of the road and stop playing the blame game. Car drivers, lorry drivers and bus drivers are all genuinely scared of killing someone and we are getting little or no support from the Mayor or the Government. We should all be made to obey the same rules, and pay the same penalties if we deliberately refuse to do so.
Anthony Stanbury
London SW3
Sir, Chris Boardman’s proposal to ban lorries from Central London following the deaths of several cyclists (report, Nov 19) quite simply fails to address the root cause of this problem. The problem is not the vehicles, nor the cyclists’ behaviour. It is the very poor layout of certain road junctions in our capital city.
Almost all of these fatal incidents with cyclists in London occur at the same few accident blackspots — among the most notorious of which is Blackfriars Bridge. The underlying reasons have been known to highways design engineers for decades. The road junctions which regularly kill cyclists need to be redesigned and replanned in accordance with the best highways engineering design practices.
Peter Bryson
Addingham, West Yorks
Sir, Karen Oldridge (letter, Nov 19) suggests that drivers of all vehicles involved in accidents with cyclists should be held legally responsible. Whether or not such a law is in force elsewhere in Europe and whether or not it is an “easy, simple and cost-effective change”, I suggest that justice is the paramount issue as in any road accident. Justice can only be served by examining the circumstances in each case. Some motorists put cyclists at risk by driving too close or overtaking dangerously. Some cyclists risk their own lives by shooting red lights, cycling down one-way streets, and cutting suddenly and without warning across the path of cars.
Why should an accident involving a vehicle with a cyclist be an exception to this principle of justice?
Susan Band
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warks
Sir, Karen Oldridge is quite right. As a cyclist in England I have lost count of the number of times vehicles have passed within a whisker of me. I have twice been hit by the rear-view mirrors of cars. What makes it worse now is the depth of potholes in the cyclist’s path, which often cause one to swerve at the last moment or risk serious damage to the bike.
Ivor Blight
Guildford, Surrey

A number of cases settle because the evidence obtained by both parties indicates that the claimant has suffered harm as a result of negligent treatment
Sir, M.C. Bishop (letter, Nov 20) is wrong to assert that a settlement in a medical negligence case rarely equates with genuinely poor practice. Save in the most obvious cases, the first step for a lawyer is to obtain a medical report from an independent expert. The expert is asked whether the treatment provided fell below the standard of any reasonable doctor and, if so, whether this made any difference to the patient’s outcome. Only if the answer to both questions is yes will the case proceed. In all but the most straightforward cases the expert’s opinion is tested by counsel in a legal conference.
A huge number of cases settle because the evidence obtained by both parties indicates that the claimant has suffered harm as a result of negligent treatment. Many other cases settle because each party has supportive expert evidence and it makes sense to compromise with an appropriate discount to reflect the risk to each party of losing. Given the complexity of medicine it is not surprising that there will be legitimate differences of opinion between experts. There are some cases where an opposing expert’s opinion appears unsustainable. If those cases are not abandoned we fight them to trial.John de Bono Serjeants’ Inn Chambers London EC4

‘History cannot be changed but is always a rich source of enlightenment in myriad miracle ways’
Sir, Leave the good old golliwog where he is and let people see the truth (report, Nov 20).
History cannot be changed but is always a rich source of enlightenment in myriad miracle ways. For us Africans and blacks of the diaspora, our sad history is a source of inspiration, as we slowly and painfully plod our way into modernity.
As I pen a tale of my own region — southern Africa — the exchanges between black, white and brown over the centuries make for everything that is enthralling in literature and the arts in general. God, golliwog and savage are all in the mix. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry — such is the perennial human experience.
sydney martin
Honiton, Devon

‘The masterly Counter-Offput of Graeme Smith in demolishing irritating wicket-kicking by Stephen Finn is likely to rank as a classic’
Sir, As mind games go, the exchanges preceding the Ashes Tests are pretty poor stuff. Subversive remarks on Twitter have a lack of subtlety, acute timing or original creativity that would appal a true gamesman.
Stephen Potter, in The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship (1947), surely established that the best ploys are those used during, or shortly before, play, and at close quarters.
Modern examples include the bowler discombobulation which some call Trottmanship. The masterly Counter-Offput of Graeme Smith in demolishing irritating wicket-kicking by Stephen Finn is likely to rank as a classic.
Potter’s researchers identified 8,400 instances of gamesmanship in one and a half days of county cricket at Hove. The latterday tweeters have much to learn.
John Barrons
Belfast

‘Church schools should make parents and children aware that the example of Jesus is our inspiration’
Sir, My formal education began in a church school (letters, Nov 18, 20). My family were not regular attenders at worship. I have no doubt that my current role was partly due to the inspiration I received from those who helped nurture me in my early years. Their motivation as Christians was clear as was their commitment to a rounded education.
I serve as a governor in a Church of England secondary school. Previously I was chairman of governors in an ethnically diverse church school. I hope and trust we can reflect some of the commitment that I saw from my teachers to achieving a diverse, yet gospel-centred community.
I make no apology for suggesting church schools should make parents and children aware that the example of Jesus is our inspiration. Equally, any faith school should see itself as part of the wider community and should seek to serve its interests.
David Picken
Archdeacon of Newark
Edwinstowe, Notts

Telegraph:

SIR – I was extremely disappointed to learn that David Dimbleby, the Question Time presenter, recently had a tattoo inscribed on his shoulder. I used to admire him for his grey hair and dignified looks. My only consolation is that the younger generation will no longer see tattoos as trendy.
Susan Honnor
Tonbridge, Kent
SIR – I read your report about mis-spelled tattoos and the “think before you ink” campaign launched by a translation service, which aims to help people avoid them.
A tattoo parlour in Brighton advertised its wares until recently with a sign in its window reading: “1,000’s of desings”.
Barbara Aston
Brighton, East Sussex

Presumably this is Dimbleby’s attempt to be with it. Thank God he’s not a woman or we would all be treated to sights of bony old legs in a mini.

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Geoffrey Woollard
• 10 hours ago

“The Question Time presenter’s embrace of the scorpion may not inspire the youth.”
There’s no fool like an old fool. I hope that this man’s action will put off all young fools thinking of using him as a guide.

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peddytheviking Geoffrey Woollard
• 5 hours ago

Have you been reading Johnny’s comments, Geoffrey?

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Archie_Douglas
• 10 hours ago

I’ve never understood why people should want a tattoo.
As to why Mr Dimbleby chose to publicise it can only be guessed at. Luckily I will never meet the man and choose to watch the other channel or switch off altogether if he appears on TV.

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Ped
• 15 hours ago

I should have thought toidI tattooed across his forehead would have been more appropriate. We know what he is but a reminder every time he looks in a mirror, which I imagine is quite often, would be a salutary lesson to the old duffer.
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molamola Ped
• 8 hours ago

“toidI tattooed across his forehead would have been more appropriate”
So that every time you looked in the mirror it would remind you that you were an Ibiot who couldn’t spell.
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Ped molamola
• 5 hours ago

So why haven’t you reversed the ‘t’ then clever clogs?
You are obviously closely related to Fabian Solutions.
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molamola Ped
• 4 hours ago

I notice you have edited your reply to add “You are obviously closely related to Fabian Solutions.”
I was just pointing out a humorous error. I just looked up “Fabian Solutions” and see an I.T. company, Je ne comprends pas.
Listening to TMS, so eagerly awaiting any response.

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molamola Ped
• 5 hours ago

Shush, it reflects badly on you.

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peddytheviking Ped
• 14 hours ago

Look everybody, this is the real Ped. He looks a bit like me in real life but I’m peddy.
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Ped peddytheviking
• 14 hours ago

The clan motto should be ‘Best foot forward’.

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peddytheviking Ped
• 12 hours ago

‘….& the Devil take the Hindmost”.

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plum-tart
• 17 hours ago

http://www.express.co.uk/news/…
;-)……say no more
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One Last Try
• 19 hours ago

I have heard, that a scorpion tattoo walked into a tattoo parlour and demanded the man underneath him be removed, as the scorpion was fed up of always going to the Left
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peddytheviking One Last Try
• 3 hours ago

…of always being a top.

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bassetedge
• 20 hours ago

A quick glance at the photo at the top got me to wondering if anyone has a full tattoo of a nice clean shirt and tie.
It would certainly be ‘different’, a new way of saying ‘look at me’..
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One Last Try bassetedge
• 12 hours ago

I had a dinner-suit T shirt, confused the ‘ell of od people til they got close
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JDavidJ bassetedge
• 19 hours ago

But it would be a devil to iron, on the older figure!
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phrancofile
• 20 hours ago

I don’t care whether or not Dimbleby has a tattoo, what worries me about the man is that he chose to go public on it. What a pillock.
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JDavidJ phrancofile
• 19 hours ago

It was done in the course of a TV series, so this was perhaps inevitable.

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JohnnyNorfolk
• 21 hours ago

There is no fool like an old fool. I find them repulsive.
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Geoffrey Woollard JohnnyNorfolk
• 10 hours ago

Snap. We agree, JN.

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hantshog JohnnyNorfolk
• 20 hours ago

Old fools or tattoos?
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chezz
• 21 hours ago

Dimbleby’s tattoo is one of those subjects that are discussed in earnest solemnity and at great length in national newspapers, and about which the rest of us couldn’t give two hoots.
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ilpugliese chezz
• 19 hours ago

Two hoots, no. But it just seems odd, so it gets talked about. Particularly by those who have no idea why anyone would want to have a permanent drawing or writing on themselves.
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JDavidJ
• 21 hours ago

“I was extremely disappointed to learn that David Dimbleby, the Question Time presenter, recently had a tattoo inscribed on his shoulder.” – Susan Honnor.
Why? he took the trouble to place it so it will be covered in polite company.
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One Last Try JDavidJ
• 19 hours ago

Would you be polite to Dumbleboy?
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JDavidJ One Last Try
• 19 hours ago

Generally no, but I was surprised how much I am enjoying his series about Britain and the sea. Lets hope he doesn’t return to current affairs.

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One Last Try JDavidJ
• 12 hours ago

I would love to see him swept away by the Gulf Stream, that is a current

SIR – Music remains a statutory subject for children aged five to 14 (“We’re turning a deaf ear to our musical youth”, Comment, November 19). But that in itself is no guarantee that children will receive a
first-class music education.
This Government’s plan will make the difference. It includes a guarantee that all parts of the country will get fair funding for music on a per-pupil basis, with a weighting for deprivation.
Music hubs will ensure that every child has the chance to learn a musical instrument and sing, as well as perform as part of an ensemble or choir.
We are providing funding of more than £200 million for music between 2012 and 2015 to support these hubs, as well as partnerships with In Harmony, National Youth Music Organisations, and Music For Youth. In addition, we continue to support the Music and Dance Scheme, which provides money for exceptionally gifted young people to attend the highly specialist music and dance schools and Centres for Advanced Training.
Related Articles
Will Dimbleby’s tattoo put young people off?
20 Nov 2013
Elizabeth Truss
Education Minister
London SW1
Freezing rates
SIR – The pressure on the Chancellor to freeze business rates is growing, but what actually is needed is a reduction and a freeze. It is, moreover, unfair to charge a property owner rates when there is no rent coming in.
G G Garner
Ravensden, Bedfordshire
Steam-age science
SIR – I was surprised to read your report that a team of scientists working at Cambridge University has “discovered” what makes a kettle whistle.
It has been known for a very long time that fluids or vapours accelerating through an aperture produce vortices, which make a noise; steam whistles were in common use in the 19th century; primitive man made musical sounds by blowing through a hole in a piece of wood; and most children are able to whistle before they reach adolescence. Ways to reduce or eliminate noise from air trapped in heating pipes are also well established.
If scientists at one of our leading universities are investing time and energy on “research” like this, it’s not surprising that we are falling behind in global technology.
Richard Jones
Goostrey, Cheshire
SIR – It’s a pity that the Cambridge scientists weren’t in my physics class at grammar school in 1957; it would have saved them a lot of time and money.
Geoff Jones
Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
Button bonanza
SIR – The remote control on my first video recorder had seven buttons. The one I have now has 54, plus another 39 on the television control. Still, I can sit on the sofa and fiddle with it without endangering anybody’s life.
My first car had a choke control, starter button and light switch. My present car has 37 buttons of various types at the centre of the dashboard, plus eight on the steering wheel, which has a stalk either side, each containing five switches and levers. I could have an accident if I don’t de-mist the screen, but I also could have one while looking for the right button.
Should I stay at home?
Ivor Williams
Okehampton, Devon
Getting your facts right
SIR – Britain’s independent schools have long been a beacon in an otherwise depressing educational landscape, but this won’t last long if Hilary French has her way. As the president of the Girls’ Schools Association, she argues that it is a waste of time teaching pupils mere “facts” in the internet age.
However, facts are the basis of all knowledge and understanding. How well we can think about any subject depends upon how much we know about it. We would never want to be operated on by a surgeon who lacked an exact knowledge of the human anatomy. Nor would we want to be represented by a lawyer who lacked specialised knowledge in the relevant field.
And so it is in any profession. Just being able to use the internet to extend one’s knowledge depends upon being able to ask the right questions and to judge the veracity of the information one finds.
Prof Tom Burkard
Easton, Norfolk
Planning system failure
SIR – The Prime Minister’s intervention on planning rather misses the shortcomings inherent in the system.
Test Valley is a case in point. Its planning committee has a broadly liberal approach to new housing and has given approval for tens of thousands of new homes on greenfield sites around Andover in line with its plan. However, a recent application for 21 homes was unanimously rejected after being “called in”, as the very specific site was inappropriate in the eyes of all the councillors, who had local knowledge.
The developer didn’t like this answer and appealed to the “Secretary of State”, in reality an unelected surveyor from hundreds of miles away with no local knowledge. He approved the scheme and there can be no appeal other than on the grounds of legal technicality.
Decisions need to rest with those we elect if we want sensible building in the countryside.
Toby Gunter
Weyhill, Hampshire
Tea time, all the time
SIR – I was pleased to read that three cups of tea a day can cut the risk of a stroke by 20 per cent. I drink around 15 cups of tea a day. That must mean that I will never, ever have a stroke.
Sarah Allen
North Newton, Somerset
Protecting the countryside from speed and signs
SIR – Cathy Cooke states that lower rural speed limits would require reminder signs at frequent intervals.
As the senior transport campaigner for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, I share her concern about the impact of signage clutter on the countryside, but fortunately, following our work with the Department for Transport, there is another way. Since January, new guidance on speed limits enables the creation of 40mph zones on minor rural roads that, like 20mph zones in built-up areas, do not require repeater signs. Currently only used in national parks, these are now options for all highway authorities.
Ralph Smyth
London SE1

Bill Thomas
• 19 hours ago

As comments are not allowed on the front page item about the weather – could I make a plea to the DT to STOP having hysterical headlines about “winter weather”. It is November – almost December. It is the time of year – every year – where the weather becomes colder and of ten snowy. I have lived through 72 such years – and for most of that time, we just had a simple weather forecast. The DT is implyig that the moment the temperature drops below 20º C we should all stay indoors….. Get a grip!
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ilpugliese Bill Thomas
• 11 hours ago

There’s something about winter arriving, but you can comment on that. What article are you talking about?

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Astrantia Bill Thomas
• 15 hours ago

Cold weather in November. Who’d a thunk it?
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richardl_on_disqus Bill Thomas
• 15 hours ago

No pleses keep them coming.
Nothing helps us deal with a real winter than being able read UK stories about a light frost causing travel chaos.
Maybe the EUocrats will discover Quebecs law that mandates winter tyres on all cars and bring in something similar for all of Europe.
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ladyofthelake richardl_on_disqus
• 14 hours ago

Indeed! We had some winter weather “up north” in US that would have caused hysteria in UK. One time, after digging for half an hour, I still couldn’t find my mailbox. Called the guy who ploughed our drive to come and excavate it for me. We had snow still melting sometimes in May.
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danielfg Bill Thomas
• 16 hours ago

The trouble is that they have got all jittery about us oldies.

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peddytheviking danielfg
• 14 hours ago

Shivering, are they?

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Hugh Janus
• 19 hours ago

Toby Gunter – your example of an undemocratic planning decision is just another example of Cameron’s promise of ‘localism’, ie just another empty headline and a broken promise. Like all the rest.
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One Last Try Hugh Janus
• 19 hours ago

Spelling Error: The word is Locoism
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peddytheviking One Last Try
• 14 hours ago

Isn’t that what we used to call train-spotting?
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One Last Try
• 19 hours ago

Should I stay at home? Ivor Williams
I was going to say that you should get out more… But it will be safer for us all if you stay in and help with music teaching!
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Nickr
• 20 hours ago

I’m surprised that there is no EU edict that children should be able to play Ode to Joy on at least one instrument. I suggest the kazoo.
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nicolsinclair Nickr
• 19 hours ago

Or, vuvuzela?
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ladyofthelake nicolsinclair
• 10 hours ago

You should have been over here during the world cup and listening to the US sports people trying to pronounce that word. Hilarious and I don’t think there were two the same!

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One Last Try nicolsinclair
• 17 hours ago

surely you will be moderated for that word
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nicolsinclair One Last Try
• 17 hours ago

Not yet…

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peddytheviking nicolsinclair
• 14 hours ago

Nor yet.

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One Last Try peddytheviking
• 11 hours ago

How do you, or where blow into a volvo to make it play a tune?

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peddytheviking One Last Try
• 6 hours ago

I don’t know. I’ll have no truck with that because I’m feeling rather tyred.

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thatIIdo One Last Try
• 9 hours ago

How do you … blow into a volvo …?
Stop being daf!
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peddytheviking thatIIdo
• 3 hours ago

If you do succeed in producing music from one of those Swedish cars, do you get the “Trumpet Volvntary”?

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One Last Try Nickr
• 19 hours ago

My musical aptitude is Zero. My singing prowess is such, that when joining in the singing of the National Anthem at sporting events, people move away.
Being made to stand up and sing infront of a class at school, to me was degredation and an infringement of my ‘uman rites. No child should have to undertake such punishment.
Music teachers may drive cars, they are not forced to repair them infront of a class and have vicious comments made about their prowess. Ban all musical education.
Before you Musicnazis complain, perhaps the pupils should be involved in whether they want to have their educational time wasted, as failed ‘artistes’, try to live their ambition to perform at the Albert Hall, or Hammersmith Pally, forced upon them
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ladyofthelake One Last Try
• 14 hours ago

Music appreciation classes would be ok. Just listening and enjoying various types of music.
It is said that George V was tone deaf and only recognised the National Anthem when everyone stood up.
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Fairy_Hanny ladyofthelake
• 14 hours ago

He wouldn’t these days as the ignoramuses don’t
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ladyofthelake Fairy_Hanny
• 13 hours ago

So the poor man would sit through his own song. Shame.

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peddytheviking ladyofthelake
• 14 hours ago

We had those in the 6th form, especially the 3rd year 6th. The plan was to turn us into cultured gentlemen, so I told the headmaster that if that were so, we should learn to play bridge. After that it was the only card game allowed in school.

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Astrantia One Last Try
• 15 hours ago

Oh dear. You surely shared my experience of music teaching. I arrived new to a Junior School and was made to stand at the front and sing Shenandoah in front too the whole class. I was mortified. Then, because the others had already started to learn the recorder and I hadn’t, I was told to bring a book and sit at the back for those lessons. As you can imagine, I hated Music lessons.
Contrast these with my daughter’s lessons, where it was a fun, participating subject with all sorts of instruments, and all sorts of songs to sing. She went on to join the local Music Centre, playing clarinet and bassoon. This helped her through Music AS which she did for pleasure, and then to join the ‘no audition, just come along and play’ orchestra at Uni. The difference in teaching was huge, as were the results.
I still resent the fact that I had such poor Music teaching and find the thought of trying to learn an instrument in my advancing years just too unpleasant to contemplate as I’m sure the feelings of humiliation would all come flooding back. How I envy those who had a different experience. However, when I went into teaching myself, such dreadful experiences made me mindful of how not to treat children.
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betonkopf Astrantia
• 12 hours ago

It is my secret ambition to learn the trumpet. It could not be any worse than the bell-clanging from my local church.
On second thoughts…

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ladyofthelake Astrantia
• 14 hours ago

I had piano lessons as a child and when it became obvious that I would never be any more than adequate, I moved onto singing lessons. I did well at those and had a strong voice. My downfall was competitions as my nerves were terrible and my singing teacher and accompanist was often late and on one awful occasion had forgotten to put in her false teeth. That was it. Singing for fun only now and in private!!

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Fairy_Hanny ladyofthelake
• 10 hours ago

We had a music teacher who had a huge mouthful of teeth and some were bad – when he smiled he looked like the keyboard
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ladyofthelake Fairy_Hanny
• 8 hours ago

Oh horrors. This lady wore knee length bloomers as well which were on display far too often. In all fairness she was an elderly spinster trying to make ends meet but she wasn’t half distracting when you were trying to concentrate.

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peddytheviking ladyofthelake
• 3 hours ago

I suspect those ends were trying to meet at her ankles.

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JDavidJ ladyofthelake
• 12 hours ago

LoL,
What was the problem with the toothless accompanist (I am guessing they were a pianist)?

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ladyofthelake JDavidJ
• 10 hours ago

You try standing on a stage trying to sing in front of an audience and a panel of judges when your pianist is gumming encouragement at you. How I got through it without wetting myself laughing I will never know.
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peddytheviking ladyofthelake
• 3 hours ago

LOL!

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richardl_on_disqus One Last Try
• 15 hours ago

Are you me?
I remember back at primary school being singled out because I was only miming the words and then I was forced to sing on my ownsome in front of the class. It only happened once.
Despite that, I like to listen to music and can sing along (an ode to my joy, not my wifes) to music on the radio.
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peddytheviking One Last Try
• 18 hours ago

I hated music lessons in primary school. The form mistress was an amateur operatic chorus member & she made us sing scales every bloomin’ day. Unfortunately the wooden front of her upright piano was so highly polished it was like a mirror & although she had her back to the class, she didn’t miss a thing. One day she caught me mucking about, hauled me out of my back seat & caned me viciously on the back of the hand in front of the class. I hated her.
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Fairy_Hanny Nickr
• 19 hours ago

More appropriately the anal sphincter
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Oberstleutnant Fairy_Hanny
• 17 hours ago

Ah, the butt trombone. A favourite in my household, to the distress of Frau Oberstleutnant.
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ladyofthelake Oberstleutnant
• 14 hours ago

Here as well. Lord Lake trumpeted his way out of the house this morning. My fault for making sausage and cheese quiche for dinner. He likes it so has a big slice and then we sit back and wait for the bassoon concerto in F!
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Fairy_Hanny ladyofthelake
• 10 hours ago

isn’t a trumpet and small trump

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ladyofthelake Fairy_Hanny
• 8 hours ago

More than likely if you mean a small trump. Looks as though you didn’t quite finish your thought.

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peddytheviking ladyofthelake
• 3 hours ago

Maybe the topic caused Spikey to make a dash for it.

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Fairy_Hanny ladyofthelake
• 6 hours ago

That’s what I meant – well spotted LotL
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peddytheviking ladyofthelake
• 6 hours ago

Chicken is what gets me going, sometimes within minutes.
For the second time – pathetic troll!
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This comment was deleted.

Fairy_Hanny peddytheviking
• 11 hours ago

Why are you eating so many omelettes then Peddy?

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peddytheviking Fairy_Hanny
• 6 hours ago

Because I like them & they’re easy to do in my wonderful new omelet pan.

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JDavidJ peddytheviking
• 12 hours ago

Ped,
Mrs JDJ says that whatever I eat does it – I have no special needs.

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ladyofthelake JDavidJ
• 10 hours ago

As they say, “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.”
What cracks me up is when the old man tries to blame it on the dog. We never hear the dog do it, just gradually become aware of an eye watering pong. You could hear the old man from over there probably!!
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SIR – If your leading article, “Sykes and Ukip could put Labour into No 10” (November 18), does become a reality, it is because the electorate rejected the Alternative Vote (AV) proposed in a referendum. The adoption of AV would have consigned that fear to history.
Under AV, Right-wing voters could have voted for their main choice, either the Tory or Ukip candidate, while giving their second preferences to the other candidate of the Right, with no risk of handing the seat to a minority Labour candidate.
Peter J Taylor
Louth, Lincolnshire
SIR – There is an alternative scenario to the one espoused in your leading article.
Ukip does not just take votes from the Conservatives; it takes votes from across the political spectrum from people who are disillusioned with the three main parties. A situation could arise at the next election where votes for Ukip do not necessarily mean a Labour government but a coalition of Conservatives and Ukip, however unpalatable that may be to the upper echelons of Conservative Central Office.
This would mean, of course, that the electorate would get a referendum on EU membership sooner rather than later.
David Samuel-Camps
Eastleigh, Hampshire
SIR – By consistently pursuing policies that are not conservative, the Tories have created a vacuum at the centre of British politics. One can hardly be surprised that another party, in this instance Ukip, seeks to fill that vacuum.
Christopher Gill
Bridgnorth, Shropshire
SIR – Your leading article repeated the argument used for the past 40 years by Conservatives: support us so we can make the EU better, or the other lot will land us with more of what you don’t want.
Over those years the Conservative Party has forced us to become citizens of the EU, whether we like it or not, and handed swathes of law-making to Brussels. Why trust them to change next time?
Andrew Smith
Epping, Essex
SIR – Many donors who supported the Tory party are now giving to Ukip because of the significant difference between the two parties over Europe. While David Cameron has promised to offer a referendum, he will campaign to stay in the EU. Ukip’s aim is for Britain to leave the union and restore our national sovereignty.
Jonathan Grant-Nicholas
Brassington, Derbyshire
SIR – The Deputy Prime Minister thinks that wanting to leave the EU is unpatriotic (report, November 19). Nick Clegg should take heed of Mark Twain: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
George Sullivan
Cubbington, Warwickshire

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meerschaum
• 17 hours ago

Hammond says it will harm morale, if the vote goes against his plans for a part – time army.
Not half as much as getting a P45 from a desk jockey, when you have served on the front line.
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danielfg meerschaum
• 11 hours ago

I like the “desk jockey” bit. Very original.
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Fairy_Hanny danielfg
• 11 hours ago

It’s not really Daniel – it’s an old RAF expression
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danielfg Fairy_Hanny
• 7 hours ago

I only did two years National Service in the RAF so I didn’t get to hear it. And I didn’t get off the ground!

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thatIIdo Fairy_Hanny
• 10 hours ago

My dad (ex-RAF Coastal Command) calls them ‘Hooray Henries’ or ‘stumblebums’ – the ones who write the rules.
The people who forbid you from landing with more than 1% fuel load on board (I don’t know if he means 1% of total fuel load or 1% of total aircraft weight – he’s not clear about that).
But of course the Engineer always makes sure there’s a few hundred gallons spare, so they can get home.
Then the Hooray Henries banned dumping excess fuel in the sea.
So the only trick left up your sleeve is to fly ‘wind checks’ all the way home, to expend excess fuel. That involves flying in a triangular path to measure wind direction and speed accurately.
Then Hooray Henry says you can only fly a maximum of one wind check per hour.
Needless to say, about 90% of Coastal Comand aircraft losses were due to running out of fuel.
I think if I’d been there I would have spat my dummy out on the first patrol.
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jp1000
• 17 hours ago

I’ve pinched this from elsewhere, but worth repeating in a slightly different format
Mr Farage is recovering from an operation on his spine, proving he has one, unlike anyone in the LIB/LAB/CON camp
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betonkopf jp1000
• 12 hours ago

Sir Alec Douglas Home explained in his memoirs how he had undergone a spinal operation. “Congratulations,” he said to the surgeon, “you have put backbone into a politician”.
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danielfg betonkopf
• 11 hours ago

Alec did have a sense of humour. But he wasn’t a real politician – I think he was drafted in in an emergency.
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Fairy_Hanny jp1000
• 17 hours ago

brilliant jp
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nicolsinclair Fairy_Hanny
• 16 hours ago

recommends – loadsa of them
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Oldboy65
• 18 hours ago

UKIP will be the kingmakers after the next so called election in 2015. There is nothing to chose between the existing groups of people who sit in various parts of the house of commons. What a shower!
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durnovaria Oldboy65
• 13 hours ago

William Hill are offering 40-1 with a £25 free bet against the next government involving UKIP in a coalition. So stake £25 yourself to get odds of 80-1.
Must be worth a punt – your winnings are only 18 months away!
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toots
• 18 hours ago

Presumably the advocate of AV, Peter J Taylor, is a LibDem. It’s LidDems like the convicted liar Chris Huhne who want AV … to ensure that their middle-of-the-road party is never out of government.
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grizzly toots
• 16 hours ago

Morning Toots,
I see you have accrued a ‘down’ vote. I wonder where that might have come from! ;º)
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ladyofthelake grizzly
• 15 hours ago

Don’t know about you but some of these comments are wearying. A comment line should be for people to air their opinions and, of course, not everyone will agree. Some of the belittling remarks are quite off putting. Surely you can air your thoughts without being insulting to those who may hold a different view?
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grizzly ladyofthelake
• 13 hours ago

Hi, LOL,
I couldn’t agree more. They say an empty vessel makes the most noise: today’s thread is relatively (and thankfully) free of one particular empty vessel that makes far too much noise.
A few of us, on here, have been plagued for a number of years by unwarranted troll activity: sometimes by the random (and cowardly) pressing of the ‘report’ button, and sometimes by insulting remarks in place of proper debate. A bit of humour and banter is always welcome, unfortunately some think they can dish it out but turn nasty when on the receiving end. Occasionally threats have been made, but the moderators are either loathe, or too spineless to do anything about it. This means that the trolls are given carte blanche whilst ordinary commentators’ wishes are ignored.
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ladyofthelake grizzly
• 13 hours ago

Yes, I’ve noticed that there are a few that like to blow their own trumpets and put others down as well. You will notice that I don’t comment on a lot of the UKIP stuff because I live out of the UK, and although I read about it, I feel I am not well enough informed to pass a useful comment. I will vote up something that seems sensible or right.
It’s a shame that “grown ups” can’t express themselves without resorting to insult.
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peddytheviking ladyofthelake
• 4 hours ago

I find it’s also a shame that some of the “grown-ups” on here seem incapable of reading an article or others’ comments without misunderstanding them (I’m not talking about irony here). Some don’t answer original questions or answer questions which simply aren’t there or respond by trying to divert attention to something which wasn’t formerly there.
Isn’t/wasn’t comprehension taught in most schools?
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ladyofthelake peddytheviking
• 4 hours ago

When I was teaching it certainly was. Everyone is fully entitled to their own opinions but it’s when people start to get nasty and insult others simply because they don’t think the same way that I, and I’m sure others, find unsettling.

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peddytheviking ladyofthelake
• 4 hours ago

I find it unsettling when others jump down your throat & shout WRONG! when their own view is only a bagatelle, whether it’s a shade of grey, 2mm, a component, a few mph, a traffic lane, or whatever, away from your own, if you can pin them down, that is.

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JDavidJ ladyofthelake
• 12 hours ago

Hi LoL,
Not knowing about something doesn’t stop many of us from commenting on it!
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ladyofthelake JDavidJ
• 10 hours ago

So I’ve noticed but some are not as pleasant about it as others. Not suggesting for a moment that you should all be boy scouts but a little courtesy goes a long way.
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thatIIdo ladyofthelake
• 10 hours ago

LotL,
If you don’t mind me saying so, courtesy to ladies at my dad’s servicemens’ club involves barring them from the snooker room. For their own good of course – they wouldn’t want to hear the comments when someone flukes a red or inadvertently hides the cue-ball behind the black.
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ladyofthelake thatIIdo
• 8 hours ago

I don’t just mean courtesy to ladies…the other chaps as well. I’m fully aware of what goes on when “gentlemen” are on their own in clubs or rugby trips!! More power to them. Women can be just as naughty when the boys aren’t around.
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peddytheviking ladyofthelake
• 4 hours ago

I attend the monthly meetings of a book-reading club, where the members are all retired & only 2 of us are men. If one of (us men) forgets himself & comes out with a fruity expression all the other members without exception cackle like hens.

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grizzly ladyofthelake
• 13 hours ago

Thank goodness for people, like your good self, who are a breath of fresh air on these threads. 🙂
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ladyofthelake grizzly
• 12 hours ago

Thanks Grizzly. I do try to keep a sense of perspective and keep the old humour button active!
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Fairy_Hanny toots
• 17 hours ago

I must admit I voted against AV but I can see the attraction now if it meant UKIP had a greater voice, as it surely would.
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zaharadelasierra Fairy_Hanny
• 16 hours ago

Can’t agree with you, Spikey. Despite UKIP’s policy of voting for AV to give them a “fairer” representation, I did not, for the simple reason that AV leads to constant coalition government. UKIP will continue to grow until a tipping point is reached when they will become one of the two main parties at General Elections. When that happens and they are voted in as the Government they will become a strong government thanks to the “first past the post” system and not have their power diluted by having to work in a coalition-style system.
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mrsbimble zaharadelasierra
• 16 hours ago

I thought UKIP advised against voting for AV as it would ensure the Lib Dems were always in the running. I voted against for this reason, even though it seemed to make sense to help UKIP.
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zaharadelasierra mrsbimble
• 2 hours ago

You are mistaken, Mrs. Bimble, as the following shows:
“UKIP formally supports the Yes to AV campaign, a decision made by its National Executive Committee on 10 January and confirmed on 7 February. Its principal spokesmen on the campaign will be William Dartmouth MEP, and the party leader, Nigel Farage MEP.
The National Executive also resolved that UKIP members who do not agree with this position are entitled to express their personal views. However, it reiterated at its meeting on 7 February that UKIP members are expected not to actively campaign against the party’s policy, to seek publicity for the contrary view or, in particular, to be involved in any direct opposition to UKIP’s spokesmen and representatives in the course of the campaign.
Steve Crowther, Executive Chairman,
16 February 2011”

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danielfg mrsbimble
• 11 hours ago

Farage advised against voting for AV even though UKIP may have benefited. He was thinking more of the country than UKIP. An honest politician, and the media ridicule him.
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Fairy_Hanny zaharadelasierra
• 16 hours ago

Fair point Z
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YamalDodgyData toots
• 17 hours ago

Australia has AV, the middle of the road party “The Democrats” were marginalised and never gained a seat in the House of Reps because of it.
AV favours the National Party (a UKIP-like party) that prevents the other conservative party from veering to leftist ideologies (like Dave Camoron has and Kim Campbell did in Canada)
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richardl_on_disqus YamalDodgyData
• 16 hours ago

Kim Campbells defeat was truly spectacular, going from power to having only 2 seats in parliament.
Not all her fault, she took over at the last minute from a PM with the popularity of Brown and there were two regional parties who took a lot of the vote.
However, it was quite an achievement to reduce a majority of 169 to a phone box sized caucus, while keeping a significant number of the votes.
Hopefully an extreme example of what happens with first post the post and a new party.
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oldgit13
• 19 hours ago

One thing’s certain, there’s far more debate about UKIP and its chances now than at any time in the past and in itself that is welcome publicity. That can only grow as the borders are opened on 1 Jan and the EU elections follow next year. By the time we get to 2015 the whole scenario may have shifted dramatically and the political landscape could well change for ever.
That must be good compared to the near dictatorship we have at present, in which all three main parties aided by the media collude to deny the electorate their true wishes and the voting system actively works against smaller parties.
I’m sure LibLabCon would welcome the sort of apathy which marked the PCC elections but UKIP will ensure that doesn’t happen.
Wouldn’t it be good if the first thing which happened on the first day of the new government in 2015 were to be the cancellation of all standing orders payable to the EU and the issue of redundancy notices to all British MEP’s and their staff?
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Geoffrey Woollard
• 20 hours ago

There’s a lot of discussion about and some support for UKIP. Has anyone thought what might have happened had Mr Farridge not survived his ‘plane crash in 2010? I know of no other significant person who could or would have taken his place.
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mrsbimble Geoffrey Woollard
• 16 hours ago

I think the whole episode was very suspicious and if I were Nigel I would watch my back.
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Geoffrey Woollard mrsbimble
• 16 hours ago

Well, I was many miles away when it happened, mrsbimble.
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Oberstleutnant Geoffrey Woollard
• 17 hours ago

Its a good point, Geoffrey: Is UKIP a one-horse party? I only know of one other UKIPper, and he seems to be a Yorkshire buffoon who tells dodgy jokes at the expense of women at their conference. Can’t remember his name. Maybe UKIP need to get some more noticeable (for the right reason) people at the top?
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oldgit13 Oberstleutnant
• 13 hours ago

But then, given that UKIP has no MP’s and gets little coverage from the media, it’s not easy for them to gain publicity for anyone other than Nigel Farage.
How many prospective, as yet unelected, candidates can you name from any of the three main parties?
In the event I don’t see it as a problem. Support for UKIP will come for what they stand for, not for the personalities of those standing – and that’s as it should be.
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Geoffrey Woollard Oberstleutnant
• 16 hours ago

Thank you, Herr Oberst. Others don’t seem to see what they don’t wish to see.
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peddytheviking Geoffrey Woollard
• 4 hours ago

….while others see things which aren’t there & then make issues out of them & that isn’t restricted to politics.

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flexico Geoffrey Woollard
• 17 hours ago

Mmm, I think I see what you mean. If anything happened to Cameron there are a dozen or more career politicians ready to jump into the saddle. A dozen or more EU-ophile traitors ready to sell this country down the river to further their own careers.
People with courage, conviction and their country’s best interests at heart seem thinner on the ground. Or maybe they are just denied publicity by the blatantly biased BBC and (sadly) Telegraph.
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glentoran Geoffrey Woollard
• 17 hours ago

I would have thought that Paul Nuttal would have been quite capable of taking over as leader if necessary. Jonathan Arnott is also very capable.
I understand your concern though given that the Conservative party have failed to find anyone who can take over from Lady Thatcher so far.
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durnovaria Geoffrey Woollard
• 19 hours ago

Had you attended the hustings, you would be aware that there were other excellent candidates, such as Professor Tim Congdon CBE, a renowned economist. Then, there are our MEP candidates: Paul Nuttall, Nigel’s deputy, Roger Helmer (energy), Gerard Batten and Patrick O’Flynn, as well as rising stars such as Diane James and Margot Parker. All have acquitted themselves well on radio and TV, and whilst they may not have Nigel’s charisma, they would give anyone in the Lib/Lab/Con a run for their money.
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Geoffrey Woollard durnovaria
• 19 hours ago

Pull the other leg, durnovia. They’re pygmies.
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oldschooltie Geoffrey Woollard
• 18 hours ago

Geoffrey
You appear very adept at criticising but very reluctant to support you criticisms with alternatives?
Who, in your opinion, are the political ‘giants’ strutting the stage in Wasteminster?
The ‘big beasts’ of the LibLabCon are the very people who have brought the UK to where it is today – a bloody shambles!
Support the Harrogate Agenda for real change!
http://harrogatedeclaration.or…
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Geoffrey Woollard oldschooltie
• 17 hours ago

“4. all legislation subject to consent: no legislation or treaty shall take effect without the direct consent of the majority of the people, by positive vote if so demanded, and that no legislation or treaty shall continue to have effect when that consent is withdrawn by the majority of the people;”
We’ll be having a referendum every few days if we follow that one (from the so-called Harrogate Declaration).

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oldschooltie Geoffrey Woollard
• 17 hours ago

Geofffrey
You mean a Referendum every week like Switzerland has?
A grand Total of 8 in 2013 with 3 of those held on the same day in March 2013!
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Irish Times:

Sir, – While it is understandable that private companies will want to head-hunt and retain the best staff to lead their organisations, as a health care worker, I am disappointed to learn that many of our respected managers and lead clinicians are being paid additional payments to agreed salary scales with the knowledge that these were in breach of Government policy, and funded from income that could have been used to improve patient care or hospital facilities.
Hopefully all concerned will return these over-payments as a means to restore their reputations and relevant hospital boards will appreciate that while there is a risk talented people may leave the country, creating a bidding war within our health services for talent is hardly affordable or wise in the current economic climate. – Yours, etc,
FRANK BROWNE,
Ballyroan Park,
Templeogue,
Dublin 16.
Sir, – The hysteria over supplementary pay for CEOs of voluntary hospitals is unreasonable and unfair. These are exceptional and very hardworking individuals who make our public hospitals work as best they can in very difficult circumstances. As such they are poorly paid compared to private industry and certainly compared to the baying politicians who now attack them. – Yours, etc,
JOE DUIGNAN,
Orwell Park, Dublin 6.
A chara, – I was horrified to read your article regarding the pay of senior managers in voluntary hospitals, in particular that of the Central Remedial Clinic, €242,865, of which €116,949 was funded solely by the CRC. The CRC was founded by Lady Goulding and began treating disabled children, on the top floor of No 6 Hatch Street, in the 1950s. I was one of those children who attended the clinic twice a week for three years. A large amount of running of the establishment and the transporting of children to and from the clinic was carried out by volunteers.
I am not suggesting we return to those distant days, but simply question the justification for paying such a substantial salary with “top-up payments” to a senior manager of what is after all a charitable organisation. How can an organisation as important as this, and which relies on Government assistance as well as the generosity of the public through donations and flag days, etc, pay its senior manager such an obscene amount of money? – Is mise,
JOAN PARSONS,
Gurteen,
Bantry,
Co Cork.
Sir, – James Reilly is about to tackle the breaking of the salary cap in the health services. Might he also walk down the hall in the Dáíl and demand that his Taoiseach and Tánaiste obey the salary cap for their for advisers. Four advisers on nearly twice the current salary cap of €92,000, averaging €165,000 each. This is our money being thrown around. – Yours, etc,
CONAN DOYLE,
Pococke Lower,
Kilkenny.
Sir, – Following the latest revelations about hospital salaries and the funds from which they are paid many of my friends and acquaintances have said that they will not give a red cent should they be approached for “charitable” donations by these institutions.
I disagree and, in mitigation, will write a cheque for precisely that amount to the first hospital that applies to me. Please specify whether I should make it payable to the hospital’s account or the CEO’s. – Yours, etc,
PAT Mc QUAILE,
William Street,
Drogheda,
Co Louth.
Sir, – I was both horrified and disgusted to read your article regarding the top-up allowance paid to the chief executive of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin.
While we the general public listen daily to the heartfelt pleas asking for a contribution towards the upkeep of Crumlin from our meagre salaries, which would be a far cry from the chief executive’s, perhaps the hospital should look closer to home. – Yours, etc,
MARY KELLY,
Ardmore Park,
Bray,
Co Wicklow.
Sir, – As we deal with the ludicrous revelation that hospitals were quietly topping up CEO salaries with tuck shop profits, the Swiss are preparing to vote on the “1:12 referendum”. This is a proposal that the best paid in an organisation should be paid no more than 12 times the pay of the lowest grade in the same organisation. Essentially the proposal would roll back the widening gap back between pay at the top and bottom of society to what pertained before neo-liberalism took hold in the 1980s.
For 30 years we have been told there would be increased growth if we unleashed the risk-taking gifts of a new meritocratic aristocracy by throwing money at them. The increased growth never materialised and instead the proceeds of ordinary growth went to this new aristocracy.
The Swiss have copped on that this new aristocracy takes no risks and generates no wealth except for their own enrichment. There is a striking parallel with the way their ancestors came to a similar revelation when they invented modern democracy in the 1400s. Then the Swiss peasants copped on that the aristocrats they lavished with wealth in supposed return for their protection, actually retreated to their castles when enemies approached and simply let the invaders slaughter the peasants. If by chance an aristocrat was captured in battle, his fellow aristocrat would simply wine and dine him till a ransom was paid, while his unfortunate foot soldiers would generally be slaughtered. The Swiss simply got rid of its indispensable aristocracy and never looked back.
We can learn from history, that is if Ruairí Quinn will let children study something beside basic programming. – Yours, etc,
TIM O’HALLORAN,
Ferndale Road,
Dublin 11.

Sir, – Like many commentators, Fiona Reddan focused on the tiny number of public servants who retire on large pensions before concluding that public service pensions are “very generous” (“Are public sector pensions justified?”, Pension Focus 2013, November 19th). However, official figures show 78 per cent of civil servants retire on pensions of less than €30,000 a year. For most this is their entire retirement income as those who joined the public service before 1995 are not entitled to any State old-age pension.
The same figures show that just 6 per cent of retired civil servants have pensions of more than €50,000 a year. So, while it’s regularly cited as an example of public service generosity, former secretary general Dermot McCarthy’s extravagant pension is so vastly untypical that it fails to inform the wider debate on pensions.
Furthermore, a new public service pension scheme was introduced this year, which is expected to slash the public service pension bill by a third by the middle of the century. Among other changes, new entrants to the public service will now have their pensions calculated on the basis of career average earnings instead of earnings at the time of retirement, while pension increases will be linked to inflation rather than the pay of the grade from which a pensioner retires. – Yours, etc,
BERNARD HARBOR,
Head of Communications,

Sir, –   A private pension fund of €1 million will provide about €40,000 per year at age 60. The pension levy over four years will reduce this by fund by €25,500 (Three years at 0.6 per cent and one year at 0.75 per cent). Using these figures for ease of reference a person about to retire will have their pension reduced by €1,000 per year for the rest of their life while not being in a position to rebuild the fund at such a late stage. This compounds any significant losses in recent years and is very unfair.
Government employees should have similar reductions applied rather than escape as usual. The levy is unfair to people about to retire and has been largely ignored in the media. –  Yours, etc,
JAMES EIVERS,

Sir, – Kitty Holland’s article on landlords retaining deposits (News Agenda, November 20th) includes comments from the CEO of Threshold that the average rental deposit represents a low-income family’s life savings.
He might reflect that the average rental property represents a typical landlord’s life savings and then some (mortgage, property tax and negative equity). – Yours, etc,
JOHN BARNEWELL,
Sir, – Further to coverage of the assassination of President John F Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963, it may be of interest to you to know how hundreds of Dubliners, including myself, first learnt of the shooting of JFK.
On the evening of Friday, November 22nd, I attended an early showing of the movie film Days of Wine and Roses in the Adelphi Cinema on Middle Abbey Street, Dublin. Mid-way through the film, the lights went up in the cinema and the projectionist stopped showing the film (at a highly dramatic moment in the plot) and the manager of the Adelphi walked onto the stage and addressed the audience. He told us news had just reached Ireland by TV and radio that President Kennedy had been shot and injured and had been taken to a hospital in Dallas, Texas. He said it was not known yet how serious were the president’s injuries, or whether he had been killed. He apologised for interrupting the showing of the movie, but said that he thought we would like to know this very dramatic news.
Of course, it was nearly impossible then to concentrate on the film. When we emerged from the cinema at the end of the showing, newsboys carrying bundles of evening papers were running around Abbey Street and O’Connell Street calling out ‘“President Kennedy shot, President Kennedy shot, read all about it, Evening Press or Herald, Herald or Press”. Ever since, my memories of the shooting of JFK have been indelibly linked with the movie Days of Wine and Roses. – Yours, etc,
HUGH McFADDEN,
Clareville Road, Dublin 6W.

Sir,– Of the suggestions to date re finding a match for the haka, those involving an element of Irish dancing à la Riverdance seem appropriate. I would suggest having a few trial runs in forthcoming inter-provincial matches, eg Munster could put The Siege of Ennis or The Walls of Limerick up against Ulster’s Waves of Tory or Connacht’s Galway Reel. Unfortunately, I can’t think of an appropriate title which might be chosen by Leinster. Any ideas? – Yours, etc,
AIDAN COOKE,
Mullaghconnor,
Dungannon.
A chara, – How about the Angelus? – Is mise,
LOMAN O LOINGSIGH,
Kiltipper Road,
Dublin 24.

   
Sir, – McAlpine’s Fusiliers were not the only the Irish navvies who rebuilt Britain after the second World War (Frank McNally, An Irishman’s Diary, November 16th).
A rival army was mustered by Wimpey – commonly believed to be an acronym for “We Import More Paddies Every Year”. – Yours, etc,
Dr JOHN DOHERTY,
Cnoc an Stollaire,
Gaoth Dobhair,
Co Donegal.

Sir, – As someone who on occasion agrees with Fintan O’Toole and on other occasions uses four-letter Anglo-Saxon in reaction to some of the stuff he writes, may I congratulate him on his excellent contribution to Irish journalism (Opinion, November 19th).
One of the things I disagree with him is when he says that journalism is “old fashioned” or “an anachronistic trade”. It will never be replaced by “social media” which is mostly just one step removed from the brain dead on the one hand and the lynch mob on the other. – Yours, etc,
ANTHONY LEAVY,
Shielmartin Drive,
Sutton, Dublin 13.
Sir, – I put your supplement of “25 years of Irish life through the columns of Fintan O’Toole” (November 20th) to good cheerful use, this cold and wintry morning. I made paper sticks to light the fire. – Yours, etc,
KEITH NOLAN,
Caldragh,
Carrick-on-Shannon,

Sir, – I see the blaa – introduced to Waterford by French immigrants in the 17th century – has been granted pan-European protection (Home News, November 20th).
It just goes to show that when it comes to getting your way with the EU, it’s not what you know, it’s Huguenot! – Yours, etc,
EDDIE HEARNE,
Grove Avenue,
Rathmines,
Dublin 6.

Irish Independent:

21 November 2013
* On September 28, 1963, I saw President John F Kennedy at the Las Vegas Convention Centre. At that moment, he became a hero of mine. Up until then, I had the usual heroes, such as John Wayne, Dan Blocker (Hoss Cartwright of the TV show ‘Bonanza’), Sean Connery’s James Bond, Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia and Elvis Presley – the usual assortment of a 10-year-old growing up in America.
Also in this section
Misplaced antipathy for religious intelligence
Martin and Roy were well taught by Cloughie
It’s about time for reconciliation
He only spoke for 17 minutes but the crowd went crazy. My mother and my friends’ mothers were calling out: “Mr President, Mr President.” It was pandemonium.
I saw The Beatles at the same venue less than a year later and they had the same effect on the young kids that JFK had on the adults.
One of the saddest days of my life was the day that JFK was killed, November 22, 1963. I remember the exact moment. I was in fifth grade and in sixth grade reading class.
A kid named Kenny, who just got back from the dentist, and who was a bit of a jokester, burst into the room and yelled to the nun that someone had shot the president.
The nun immediately slapped Kenny across the face and yelled at him for saying what he said.
Kenny was shocked; he told the sister that he was not lying and then she began to cry. She knew Kenny was telling the truth.
About 30 seconds later, Fr Baldus came over the loudspeaker and told everyone to go to the church across the street to pray for the president, who had been shot. While we were on our knees praying, Fr Baldus, from the pulpit, said that the president had died. Darkness!
Later that day, at home with my misty-eyed and distraught parents, we sat in front of the TV.
I could understand my mom being affected but not my dad. My mom was a great supporter of JFK and my dad totally disliked him.
I asked my dad why he was crying. He told me it was because “he was one of us”. I’ll never forget that day.
Kevin Devitte
Mill Street, Westport, Co Mayo
‘COMPENSATION’ CRISIS
* I love the term applied to the “top-ups” paid discreetly to senior hospital management, namely “compensation”. My own word for it is a lot harsher but neither I nor you wish to be sued!
I am disappointed, too, given the dire state of the nation’s health resources, at the very muted tone of statements like “. . . picture reveals a complex pattern of pay rates, which evolved over years”. Evolved? Like organic growth? More like a cancer.
I am so angry. And apparently, “auditors found at least 36 types of allowance and benefit . . . were being made by voluntary hospitals and agencies to managers from HSE funds at a cost of €3.224m”.
Why has it taken auditors until now to ‘discover’ such behaviour? Are audits not carried out annually?
And the HSE’s response? Dismissals? Fines? Repayments demanded? Oh no! The HSE will continue to “. . . allow agencies to make a case to retain non-standard allowances for five years”. Ah no, lads, keep the money and sure keep paying yourselves way over the odds, too.
And why not? Sure it’s not like the HSE is short of cash, is it? Sure didn’t it lose €90m in the accounts somewhere – what’s a few million between friends, after all? What makes it okay (apparently) is the fact that “the compensation does not involve any public funds or any funds from the foundation or other donated funds”. It came instead from hospital car parks, etc. Oh, that’s alright then.
William F (Liam) O’Mahony
GraigueNAMAnagh, Co Kilkenny
* I thought it couldn’t get any worse, but now we learn that the profits from buying gifts and necessaries for patients in hospital shops and possibly feeding the voracious parking meters on the hospital grounds are being used to top up the already-inflated salaries of the hospital bosses.
We will now possibly have to endure power cuts during the run-up to Christmas because the pampered ESB public sector unions are worried about their over-generous pensions – and we mustn’t forget the teachers!
The Celtic Tiger has gone septic.
Keith Nolan
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim
* It is extraordinary that minister Brendan Howlin and junior minister Brian Hayes in the Department of Public Expenditure did not know that funds to top up the already-obscene salaries of senior hospital managers were being paid from the till. How were these payments accounted for in the hospital accounts .
But then again, these are the same politicians who themselves are in receipt of thousands of euro in tax-free unverified expenses and allowances every year.
Aside from the horror that patients may have gone without treatment when funding was diverted to these management payments, it is equally depressing that, despite everything that has happened in Ireland since we went into meltdown, these people did not turn down this money.
And what does the fact we will just shrug when nothing is done about it say about us?
Desmond FitzGerald
Canary Wharf, London
ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME BID
* A country our size will never have the necessary infrastructure to hold the Olympics or the Soccer World Cup, so I was delighted to hear we are preparing to make a bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. This would, without doubt, be the largest sporting event Ireland is capable of holding.
As well as being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it is also reputed it would boost the economy by €800m. Let the governments on both sides of the Border get behind the IRFU and make this happen.
John Bellew
Paughanstown, Dunleer, Co Louth
PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS
* Last week, the British government’s minister for faith, Baroness Warsi, highlighted the growing crisis of Christian persecution around the world and called for an urgent international response. She is not Christian but Muslim.
The previous week in the House of Commons, MP Fiona Bruce listed the increasing prevalence of anti-Christian violence in the world.
Surely the time has come for the Irish Government and people to add their voice and efforts to protect and help persecuted Christians.
Religious freedom is part of civil liberty and is a basic human right. It is being horribly denied to thousands of Christians across the globe.
Fellow Christians and people of good will cannot stand idly by.
Fr Billy Swan
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford
A FATEFUL DAY
* When jfk used to go visiting, he would usually descend the stairs from Air Force One clutching a hat in his right hand – this was especially the form if he was travelling without his wife – then the hat would be slipped to an aide as he stepped on to the apron to do the handshakes.
It was strange to see a man carrying a hat that he never put on his head, a bit like those car owners who place a ‘baby on board’ sticker in the rear window of the family car.
It would have been much smarter if he had donned something a little more protective on that fateful sunny day in Dallas. If he had, it’s most likely that he would have survived the gun attack on the limousine and that he would have gone on to win the ’64 election. But the gods decreed that it was not to be, and the gods, as we know, sometimes do work in very strange ways.
Paddy O’Brien
Co Dublin
SEANAD REFORM
* Seanad reform: make senators ineligible to run for the Dail for 10 years after they leave the Seanad.
JP McCarthy Annascaul, Co Kerry
Irish Independent

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