Drainee engineer

1 December 2013 Drainage engineer

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark.
Our heroes are in trouble they are to collect the Admirals barge can they deliver it safely? Priceless.
No books sold sweep leaves replant plants very annoyed drain cleaner man comes
No Scrabble we keep losing the game


The Dowager Lady Egremont – obituary
The Dowager Lady Egremont was the beautiful chatelaine of Petworth House who charmed Macmillan, Thesiger and Stalin’s daughter

6:29PM GMT 29 Nov 2013
The Dowager Lady Egremont , who has died aged 88, was an adventurous traveller, a supporter of charities, and a generous hostess, first at Petworth House, home of her late husband Lord Egremont, and later at Cockermouth Castle in Cumbria.
She was born Pamela Wyndham-Quin on April 29 1925, the third daughter of Capt Valentine Wyndham-Quin (younger son of the 5th Earl of Dunraven) and his wife, Marjorie Pretyman, of Orwell Park in Suffolk.
Valentine Wyndham-Quin served in the Royal Navy before and during the First World War and then had various jobs, including running the polo on the then Italian islands of Brioni and as an organiser of the Conservative Party, which involved periodic moves. It was, however, with their Dunraven grandparents that Pamela and her two older sisters – Ursula and Mollie – passed the happiest days of their childhoods: hunting and fishing at Adare in Co Limerick and playing among the cliffs, woods and beaches of Dunraven Castle on the Glamorgan coast.
Educated haphazardly by a series of much put-upon governesses (one was said to have left after a few hours), Pamela found this early freedom curtailed when war broke out in 1939. Her father rejoined the Navy, commanding destroyers in the Mediterranean; Pamela became a Wren, and was sent to Bletchley Park to work on the decoding operations there, securing a prime billet nearby in one of the Duke of Bedford’s guest bedrooms at Woburn Abbey.
The three Wyndham-Quin girls were very beautiful. A duke proposed unsuccessfully to one, trying to tempt her by showing off his family’s collection of jewels; a young officer, hoping to impress, turned up to take another out in an armoured car; a cavalry subaltern was reputed, in the course of a week, to have proposed (again with no success) to all three in turn.
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When their father was appointed naval attaché in Argentina towards the end of the war, Pamela accompanied him. Here the captain showed cunning in fending off those he considered inappropriate suitors, a particularly near miss being a Swiss diplomat.
Soon after her return to Britain, Pamela met John Wyndham, a distant cousin and nephew of the childless 3rd Lord Leconfield. He was also heir to the 17th-century house of Petworth with its art collection (including 20 pictures by Turner) and land in Sussex and Cumbria. Wyndham, unable to join the forces owing to his poor eyesight, had worked during the war for Harold Macmillan, the start of an association that lasted until Wyndham’s early death in 1972.
Wyndham and Pamela married in 1947, by which time he was working in the Conservative Research Department. They lived in London until the death of Wyndham’s uncle in 1952, when they moved to Petworth, to face the vast death duties and debts that threatened to bankrupt the Wyndham family estates.

Petworth House in West Sussex (JANE MINGAY)
It is a measure of the Wyndhams’ generosity and ingenuity that, the house having been accepted by the National Trust, much of the art collection was given in lieu of tax to the nation at low values, in a pioneering arrangement whereby the works stayed at Petworth, on view to the public. After negotiating this, John Wyndham returned to work for Harold Macmillan, eventually as an unpaid private secretary when Macmillan became Prime Minister.
Macmillan, often shy with women, became devoted to Pamela, who could be very sympathetic. The explorer Wilfred Thesiger found her to be the only member of the opposite sex with whom he felt completely comfortable, apart from his old nanny. Stalin’s daughter, the redoubtable Svetlana, who lived in England for some years, adored and confided in Pamela. Among her other close friends, some of whom she cared for as they became frail, were the writers Gavin Young and Patrick Leigh-Fermor.
In 1963 Wyndham was created Lord Egremont in Harold Macmillan’s retirement honours list, thus reviving an old family title. Original, witty and highly intelligent, he was, however, inclined towards melancholy and, dogged by depression and poor health, died young in 1972.
Pamela had already begun making adventurous journeys with friends in the 1950s, to Kenya and Ethiopia and on the annual migration of the Bakhtiari tribe in Iran. In the late 1960s she started to go to the Far East, working for some weeks each spring in a hospital run by French nuns near Saigon during the Vietnam War. Her life there was a fascinating mixture of elegant evenings at embassies in Saigon and daytime dealings with the Viet Cong who came often into the hospital after they advanced on the South Vietnamese capital; they always treated her, and the nuns, with great respect.
Other journeys – which became more frequent after her husband’s death – were with the artist Rory McEwen to Afghanistan and Bhutan (where they stayed with the King); to China with the botanist Martyn Rix; and to India and Bangladesh on behalf of the charity Impact that treated blindness in remote districts.
She continued to have many friends and admirers. In 1973 the Dalai Lama came to Petworth, to a house party that included Lord Mountbatten, Harold Macmillan, Yehudi Menuhin, the philosopher Karl Popper and Sir Olaf Caroe, one of the last British governors of India’s North-West frontier.
When her elder son married in 1978, Pamela Egremont left Petworth, thereafter spending much time at the hitherto neglected Wyndham family property of Cockermouth Castle in Cumbria. There she created a remarkable garden; revived the house with great style and taste; fished with skill on the river Derwent; entertained an eclectic selection of guests (including Sir Ian Botham and the Chinese poet Liu Hongbin); and became very involved in local causes such as the West Cumbria Hospice at Home and the Wordsworth Trust.
Humorous, intelligent, well-read and brave, she kept her elegance, poise and beauty until the end. She is survived by two sons and a daughter; her elder son is the 2nd Lord Egremont, the biographer and novelist Max Egremont.
The Dowager Lady Egremont, born April 29 1925, died November 4 2013


Iain Duncan Smith is delusional if he thinks most sick and disabled people are employable, when companies can pick and choose (“Duncan Smith ‘targeting seriously ill claimants’ in benefits overhaul”, News). Even with a numerate first-class degree in a field for which visas are issued, I am unemployable.
A mentor confirmed that I was the only applicant for a mundane job for which I was still not interviewed even though I had the relevant experience. Going to an employment tribunal would be pointless, as my medical history could be reported and means testing would ensure a pyrrhic victory.
Being sent on a fool’s errand with a private training company does nothing to improve my health. My limited odds would be improved if the Department for Work & Pensions simply cut out the middle man, so that we could send out certificates explaining the support on offer to prospective employers, including thousands of pounds if someone held down even a part-time job for increasing periods of time.
In three decades, my benefits have fallen by two-fifths compared to wages. Disability premiums would have to rise by more than inflation for my total income support not to fall further behind. To say otherwise is another outright lie.
Name and address supplied
I was recently put into the work-related activity group without so much as a medical. I suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I sent in various pieces of medical information from my GP and family and it was all completely ignored. I am appealing to be put into the support group.
In Kettering in Northamptonshire, the waiting time for an employment and support allowance tribunal is 40 weeks when the national average is 17 weeks. Last week, a DWP official telephoned me and tried to persuade me to drop my appeal. I will not.
Atos and the DWP’s behaviour has been an utter disgrace and disabled people are the easiest targets of “welfare reforms”.
Scott Speirs
Your article states: “The work and pensions secretary is pushing to scrap a part of the benefits system that helps sufferers of recent illnesses get back into employment. These individuals are covered by the term ‘work-related activity group’ (Wrag) and are regarded as being capable of work in the future.”
While this description of the Wrag is often used by the DWP, it is inaccurate and highly misleading. The rules determining which claimants are placed in the Wrag make no reference to the date of the onset of the condition, nor its expected duration, and so it is wrong to say that it applies to “sufferers of recent illnesses”.
The regulations do not make any reference to the expected functional ability of the claimant at any future date, and so it is also wrong to say that they “are regarded as being capable of work in the future”.
The only reference to the duration of illness in the regulations is the rule relating to people with terminal illnesses who are not expected to live for more than six months, who are then placed in the support group and not the Wrag.
I have been ill with chronic fatigue syndrome/ME for 17 years and am currently in the Wrag. I am expected to attend meetings at the Jobcentre and work towards returning to the job market even though it is unlikely that my health will improve.
Charlotte Mulliner

Catherine Bennett touches a nerve (“The arts are more than just a way to make money, Maria”, Comment). Outside the narrow, self-important world of wealthy art market dealers, most people look to artworks for non-material enhancement of their lives – for a different and precious experience from their everyday financial constraints and strivings. The cultural and creative sector is indeed a vital component of the UK economy, but it can also contribute much more to raising our quality of life in a society burdened by long-term austerity.
Westminster coalition ministers, however, have cut arts funding, largely ignored its wider potential beyond London and increased its reliance on rich collectors and benefactors. In consequence, while we see innovations in form, the actual content of too much contemporary art is unexcitingly “safe” or subjective to the point where no basic ring of truth is registered. Cities of Culture are helpful, but no substitute for a forward-looking government policy on the arts and creativity.
John Chowcat
W Yorkshire
Transported by Dr Who
The real celebration of Dr Who should have occurred on the morning of Monday 25 November. It was at that time 50 years ago, in the playground just before school started, that we knew something significant had happened. A quarter of the kids at St Michael’s C of E primary were in deep discussion trying to comprehend the true nature of time, space and relative dimension. The first screening of the BBC’s Dr Who had content so profound that many of us children were actually thinking with depth and intensity for the very first time in our lives.
Later that morning, one brave girl even dared to ask our teacher: “Miss – if you went back in time and changed something that altered your future, could you still come back to the same present?” To the teacher’s credit, she acknowledged that perhaps this question cannot be answered.
So in 1963 the BBC initiated both thinking and questioning and for many of us a lifelong fascination with science. This indicates that the BBC has a value beyond computation.
Ronald Elliott
Victoria, Australia
Homophobia fuels HIV/Aids
Thank you for the special report on the rise of homophobia in Uganda (“No country for gay men: Uganda’s harsh laws torment a Briton and his partner”, News), which we have been following closely because of the implications for the HIV epidemic there as well as for human rights.
As we mark World Aids Day today, it is worth reiterating that the growing persecution of individuals for their sexual orientation in Uganda and elsewhere is creating a context that will fuel the HIV epidemic rather than contain it. Criminalisation and discrimination of people make populations at higher risk of HIV, such as men who have sex with men, less likely to engage with the health system to access HIV treatment and prevention services.
Alvaro Bermejo
Executive director, International HIV/Aids Alliance
The way to economic recovery
Heather Stewart’s “Unthinkable? Five ways to stop the slump” (Business) is intentionally provocative and, as one of the architects of what became the National Enterprise Board, until Thatcher abolished it, I would strongly support the idea of a British enterprise investment agency. Debt write-offs, more quantitative easing and even helicopter money also may have merits.
But the private sector is not going to invest unless it sees the prospects of long-term demand, while low interest rates in a prolonged recession, as Keynes recognised, are as useful as pushing on a piece of string. Also, Britain not only needs recovery, Europe does too. Without this, British exporters have little chance of sustained success.
There is vast scope for European recovery through a broadly based investment push. The European Investment Bank could in principle achieve this, but recently has lacked co-finance. But the economic and social committee of the EU – trade union and employer representatives, including German employers – last year endorsed the case that its sister institution, the European Investment Fund, should issue euro bonds, attracting uninvested global surpluses to co-finance an investment-led European recovery.
Professor Stuart Holland
Faculty of Economics
University of Coimbra
We need dater protection
Smartphones seem to be producing a lot of very socially inadequate people (“How I fell in love with Tinder, the dating app adding spice to single life”, News). If these mobile phone junkies weren’t spending every minute staring down at their screens, they might start noticing other people (and being noticed) by using their eyes, and engaging in the dying art of face-to-face conversations, which might then lead to friendships and more.
I bet these sad people need to download an app to tell them how to consummate their relationships too!
Pete Dorey

In the Special Report by James Cusick on Scotland and independence (24 November) he talks of the proposed divorce between Scotland/UK. I am divorced and it is not that great. Sure, you get some financial independence but [you] can feel cut off and isolated.
I have spent the past year in Helensburgh, a town steeped in Naval history. The article provoked memories of the people and their concerns. They were positing the Navy leaving Helensburgh. What would happen to the town, house prices, people, and where would the Navy go?
How can the people be asked to seriously debate, let alone decide, on a future Independent Scotland with such a poor level of research into the stark reality?
Alice Smith Hogan
I hope Scotland does attain its independence in 2016. I believe, however, that full Scottish sovereignty can only be achieved by Edinburgh having its own elected head of state. Scotland should embrace the chance to be free to stand in its own two feet, whatever the economic price.
Dominic Shelmerdine
London W8
I deplore calls for heavy goods vehicles to be banned from central London during the day because of the percentage involved in the death of cyclists (Archie Bland, 24 November). Such a ban would do immeasurable harm to the capital’s economy. Since 100 per cent of these fatalities involved pedal cycles, surely it would be more to the point to ban these dangerous contraptions in the rush hour? Or, better still, permanently.
John Eoin Douglas
I was disappointed to read that women’s football is again facing barriers to participation, as highlighted in “Rising fees force the next David Beckham… off the pitches” (24 November).
It is unacceptable that the Hackney Laces are unable to access the reduced pitch fees available to boys’ teams, just because they are girls.
Our figures show that 131,000 women over 16 play football every week, making it more popular than men’s rugby. A £2.4m scheme launched by the FA, Sport England, the Premier League and the Football League will help to further drive participation among girls and women. Hackney Council should review current arrangements to ensure girls’ teams are not marginalised.
Ruth Holdaway
Chief executive
The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation
Congratulations to Christopher Fowler for reaching No 200 in his excellent Invisible Ink series (Arts & Books, 24 November). I have enjoyed reading so many of the writers he has rediscovered for me. I hope he will find space for the favourite author of my teens, Percy Westerman.
Michael Davison
Kingston, Surrey
I read Paul Gallagher’s article about nursing numbers with concern (24 November 2013). He is right to note that by March 2014, NHS organisations are planning to hire an additional 3,700 nurses. But he is wrong to say nursing numbers have gone down in hospitals since 2010.
The data he quotes covers hospital and community health services, and does not take into account the record increases in midwives, health visitors and school nurses since 2010. The best approximation for hospital nurse numbers is those providing acute, elderly and general care and they also rose, by around 1,280 between August 2010 and August 2013.
The Francis Report has had a significant effect in increasing the number of hospitals saying they are going to employ more nurses on wards, but we need to make sure this happens across the NHS. In light of the rising needs of vulnerable older people, we also expect local NHS organisations to make sure they have the right number of staff caring for patients in our communities.
Dr Dan Poulter MP
Health Minister, Department of Health
What a wasted opportunity! Rather than setting out what Labour could, should or would do after being elected in 2015, Ed Miliband spends his time complaining about those nasty Tories and their tactics, all wrapped up in vacuous soundbites of his own. Surely, to misquote him, “Labour can do better than this”?
Robin Bulow
Deal, Kent
Have your say

Patients need to be told what they cost the NHS
A WAY forward for the NHS is to let the consumer know the cost of treatments (“You get what you pay for — which, for most NHS users, is nothing”, Comment, last week). There are standard health service tariffs for acute admissions, outpatient attendances and diagnostic procedures.
Let the over-80s see how much their drugs cost each month, when there seems to be no money for someone to come in to help with personal care in washing and toileting for those with dementia.
Once an 85-year-old sees the cost of his statin and his osteoporosis medication he might well opt for a Guinness a day. Many elderly people would rather see the education of their great-grandchildren than have a vain, expensive hope that their lives be extended by a few days.
In the past I did some private practice. Costs were transparent to patients and many were astonished by the high price of blood tests and x-rays and then wanted to know if the tests would help, or was I just “covering my back” — or even out to make money?
We owe it to our shareholders — our citizens — to let them see the real costs of NHS and social care.
Dr Gordon Caldwell, Consultant Physician, Worthing, West Sussex
Private view
I spent 12 days in a French state hospital in Tours in 2007 after a road accident that resulted in a broken vertebra, and the care was excellent. I was then flown home to a private hospital.
On the first night I was told by the nurse I should go the bathroom on my own, even though I had not been on my feet for almost two weeks. When I asked to wash my hair, which was managed twice with a minimum of fuss in France, it was treated as a most unreasonable request, and a bowl of water was spilt on the mattress.
Nurses in the private sector are recruited from the same agencies as those in the public sector and standards of competence appear to be a matter of luck.
Sheila Woodward, Long Melford, Suffolk
On the record
Very few patients know that the various healthcare professionals they consult do not have access to their medical records, which can lead to errors in the prescribing of medication.
While real progress has been made in some hospitals, the situation in primary care is a disaster waiting to happen, with GPs fighting a rearguard battle to deny access on spurious grounds that resemble a “computer says no” scenario.
One of the reasons why most western European countries have better health services is that patients have their test results, which they keep as they would birth and marriage certificates, or property deeds.
Your campaign highlighting mortality rates and poor outcomes in A&E at weekends was very worthwhile.
Fran Husson, London NW1
Pay structure
Dominic Lawson is right about the NHS: the problem with the health service has always been one of who pays for it. The attitude on the part of doctors and nurses alike was ever: “You’re not paying for it, therefore I’m not getting paid for it. I’m doing this out of the kindness of my own heart”.
The apparent passivity of the public can also be explained by the fact there is no point in complaining — all you do is compromise your own future treatment. Until we get an effective patient support system, we are mired in the situation as it is.
Edna Reith, London, N19

Casting a positive light on immigration debate
THE myth is that immigrants are flooding the NHS and welfare system, pushing British citizens down the lists for council housing and destroying education in our primary schools by swamping classrooms with pupils who cannot speak English (“Cameron to defy EU on migrants”, News, last week).
As far as the NHS and the welfare system are concerned, there is no evidence to support this: immigrants are less likely to resort to benefits than Britons in the same age group and they are also less likely to need healthcare than the British population in general. There probably are some primary schools that have problems with an overlarge immigrant intake but this is not the case for the vast majority.
All those non-white people waiting in doctors’ surgeries, A&E units and jobcentres are not in fact immigrants. Often they are first or second- generation UK citizens who were born in this country. They may not talk like us, or dress like us, but they are as British as we are.
The impact of immigrants as a whole upon the economy is positive. This is not the same as saying that all immigrants make a positive contribution — if there is a way of identifying those who do not and it is legal, we should take action.
However, the basic reason to encourage immigrants who can make a contribution is simple. Unless there is an increase in the workforce, there will be no possibility of sustaining medical care for our ageing population and no possibility of providing welfare for those who need it.
The risks of alienating the working population become greater if a decreasing proportion is required to pay ever more to support our increasingly aged citizens.
Adrian Hill, By email
Balanced argument
David Cameron now accepts that the free movement of peoples within an ever-expanding EU constitutes a problem. A living wage and mass immigration are mutually exclusive.
Either curtail immigration, in which case the market will automatically raise unskilled wages, or let business decide how many people to let in. An end to importing cheap labour from within as well as outside the EU has a democratic cost.
As for Labour, it’s not too late to pay heed to the free market economist Milton Friedman, who said you can have open borders or you can have the welfare state, but you cannot have both.
Yugo Kovach, Winterborne Houghton, Dorset
Helmets for all cyclists
FRANCESCA ANGELINI’S story makes salutary and frightening reading for cyclists who do not wear protective headgear (“Saved by the bike helmet I didn’t want to wear”, News Review, last week). According to research, about 34% of cyclists wear helmets and for children the figure is less than 18% (for boys it’s 13%).
At my grandson’s school the wearing of helmets varies between 2% and 5%. I am told this dangerously low percentage is because children see it as “uncool” to wear a helmet and those who do are bullied.
According to the secretary of state for education in a reply to a question from my local MP, Frank Field, last year 308 children aged 5-16 were injured on bicycles in road accidents between 7.30am and 8.59am on school days in Britain. Surely safety helmets should be made compulsory for all cyclists.
Barry Natton, Birkenhead, Merseyside
Playing the Dane
Amid all the agonising about the risks of cycling in London, I’m intrigued to see that cyclists in the bicycle-friendly city of Copenhagen, as depicted in the latest series of Borgen, do not wear helmets. Is this artistic licence or are the roads much safer there?
Amanda Gardner, London SW13
Africa crisis
Miles Amoore’s article (One by one, the knifeman killed my 9 children, 24 November) vividly described the horrors people experience on a daily basis in the Central African Republic, highlighting the urgent need for rapid stabilisation.
While the draft Security Council Resolution issued by France on Tuesday last week is welcomed in calling for strengthening of the African Union mandated force, there are many who fear this will be too little, too late. Even if the 3,500 troops are supplied and equipped as promised, it seems hard to believe that they will be able to halt the violent armed rebels now thought to number 23,000, who are running rampage in a country two and a half times the size of Britain.
The reports over the last few months of the sectarian nature of this conflict mean that the region could be destabilised. CAFOD, a UK agency working closely with the Catholic Church, believe that it is vital to establish a mechanism to review the efficacy of the AU force. I am in agreement with this. It is also crucial that the voice of civil society is heard, particularly representatives of the Christian and Muslim communities.
Should the next few weeks prove that the AU forces are unable to stop the crisis, a rapid transition to a UN Peacekeeping force must be effected. However, it will also take at least two to three months to equip, resource and assemble such a UN Peacekeeping Force. Whilst the history of French involvement in CAR is not uncontroversial, only their military intervention seems possible, in the time scale needed, to protect people from further harm.
I fear that the consequences of delay will be deadly.
Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose

Judgment call
Congratulations to India Knight for “Everyone has been stirring the poison that makes a champion cry” (Comment, last week). Rebecca Adlington is a national heroine and a role model for anyone wishing to understand how mentally tough one has to be to succeed at anything worthy of being called elite. Her error has been one of judgment — appearing on I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!, the television equivalent of crack cocaine. She would do better to follow the example of another of our great female super-achievers — the yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur. Competing with the likes of the beauty queen Amy Willerton demeans her.
Milos Stankovic, Farnham, Surrey
Defending testosterone
Your article “Flabby fellas in rush for testosterone” (News, last week) was negative about the medical use of this key hormone and confused the very real condition of testosterone deficiency with the male midlife crisis. There are a number of articles testifying to its ability to cure the symptoms of loss of vitality, virility and potency, as well as depression, irritability and joint pains. It also increases longevity and lessens frailty. I promote the appropriate use of testosterone treatment, which is now an integral part of mainstream medicine.
Dr Malcolm Carruthers, Centre for Men’s Health
Thought for the data
There is nothing in the Data Protection Act to prevent Ian Greenwood, the former Labour leader of Bradford council, from informing anyone about his knowledge of the former councillor and Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers’s misdemeanours, because he is unlikely to be a data controller (“Sleazy rider”, Focus, last week). Even if he did tell Ed Miliband, he could be sued only for proven monetary loss. If people are not sure about what they can and cannot say, they should contact the information commissioner and not make assumptions. Sadly people hide behind data protection.
Paul Morris, The Data Protection Society, Manchester

Corrections and clarifications
In the article “Flabby fellas in rush for testosterone” (News, last week) we stated that the men taking HRT who participated in a US study had a mean age of 50. This should have been 60.
Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, including online, should be addressed to editor@sunday-times.co.uk or The Editor, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST. In addition, the Press Complaints Commission (complaints@pcc.org.uk or 020 7831 0022) examines formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites)

Woody Allen, film director, 78; Candace Bushnell, writer, 55; Bette Midler, singer, 68; Emily Mortimer, actress, 42; Sandy Nelson, drummer, 75; Jeremy Northam, actor, 52; Gilbert O’Sullivan, singer, 67; Billy Paul, singer, 79; Charlene Tilton, actress, 55; Lee Trevino, golfer, 74

1919 Lady Astor becomes first woman MP to take her seat in the Commons; 1955 Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, after refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger; 1990 the last piece of rock is drilled to create the Channel tunnel


SIR – Last week my husband lost his way en route from Newcastle to Shropshire.
As I had stayed at home, I could not fulfil my usual role as chief map reader.
However, my daughter telephoned me from the car and I was able to guide them, via the car’s loudspeaker, using my map as they shouted out the passing landmarks.
Lindsay Sandiford
Newcastle upon Tyne
SIR – On leaving the ferry at Dunkirk once, en route to Kaiserslautern, I discovered that my roadmap was missing. With the aid of a Sally Line advert, which had a map of Europe (everything from Paris to Berlin on one A5 sheet), and relying on what I believe are still called “road signs”, we navigated 320 miles without difficulty.

SIR – One of the greatest challenges today is youth unemployment and providing opportunities to young people who are not in a job, training or education. As some of Britain’s largest companies, we feel the responsibility to help young people enter the workplace. We want to support small and medium enterprises that can help too.
This week we met the Prime Minister in Downing Street to update him on Movement to Work, an initiative he announced a few weeks ago. By mid 2015, it aims to have provided 100,000 vocational training and work-experience placements for young unemployed people.
We will do this, first at our own companies, where our aspiration is to create placements equivalent to around 2 per cent of our workforces. We were also pleased to hear from the Prime Minister that the Civil Service is joining us in our initiative. As of today, more than 15,000 commitments are already confirmed.
Secondly, by working with our suppliers, and with the support of youth organisations, we will enable thousands of small and medium enterprises to take part in the scheme, bringing tangible benefits to local communities nationwide. Our experience is that work placements, rightly done, can achieve remarkable results for those in them and those that offer them.
We look forward to inviting companies the length and breadth of Britain to join our Movement to Work early next year.
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Breakfast thieves
SIR – When staying alone on business at well-known hotel chains that serve a buffet breakfast, I have often had my half-eaten breakfast cleared while picking up an item from the counter.
Replacing the breakfast is easy, but retrieving my Daily Telegraph and its half-completed crossword is trickier.
Austin Jackson
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
SIR – Why should any adult need to leave a meal unfinished to visit the lavatory? I can’t remember ever leaving the table to visit the facilities; I do this before I wash my hands and have encouraged my offspring to do the same.
Eleanor Taylor
Rugby, Warwickshire
SIR – When we once ran a pub, one customer used to put his false teeth in his unattended cider to stop others drinking it. It probably cleaned his teeth as well.
Jon Redfern
Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire
Fear of a sick old age
SIR – I am in my mid-sixties. The thought that sooner or later I will need to call upon the NHS fills me with dread and trepidation. The chance my wife, family or I will receive care and compassion seems to get more remote.
I really wonder if the NHS truly understands this kind of fear and, indeed, if such fear is felt by me alone?
John Reeve
Ormskirk, Lancashire
SIR – As a retired GP, now officially an oldie, I am concerned about the tenor of the debate as we try to solve the problem of sustainability for the NHS. Politicians and NHS managers seem to think the main problem afflicting our hospitals is this strange population called “the elderly”.
Exactly who are hospitals for? Young, fit adults who need a quick fix? Smokers who need their arteries unclogged? Teenage boys who smash up cars?
Hospitals are primarily for sick people. Older people tend to get sick and there are more of us about. We are not a nuisance and we expect to be catered for, not blamed for management failures in the NHS and Department of Health.
Dr Robert Walker
Workington, Cumberland
Bye, thanks for the loan
SIR – It is incredible to me that loans of up to £45,000 are available to students from the European Union to study in Britain without any assurances of their being repaid after the students return to their countries and with no system through taxation in those countries to collect it.
The earnings threshold for starting repayment is also faulty: salaries in eastern Europe are lower than in Britain, meaning that, even if a collection system is devised, the money might never be repaid.
Likewise, loans for degrees offering low earning prospects need to be monitored to ensure that students are not obtaining a degree with the certain knowledge that their debt will never have to be repaid.
Monty Taylor
Harpsden, Oxfordshire
Maternity job-share
SIR – It would certainly make Prime Minister’s Questions more tolerable if Miriam Clegg appeared intermittently, beside the PM. What it would do for the development of the Clegg children is more difficult to assess.
Kerry Bagshaw
Newbiggin, North Yorkshire
How Greenwich turned its back on the sea
SIR – Greenwich has, indeed, fared badly in recent years. The National Maritime Museum is the inversion of Doctor Who’s Tardis: huge outside, but with less than expected within.
When the main entrance was relocated to the Sammy Ofer Wing, the museum turned its back on the Thames and, by extension, the sea.
Lord Nelson’s role has been reduced to that of a bit player, and a new interactive display even depicts him with the wrong arm missing. This situation demands a mutiny.
Horatio Blood
London SE10
SIR – There are similar depredations at the V&A, where the printing techniques gallery has been banished to storage. In this exhibit, museum-goers could physically examine the distinction between wood engravings and woodcuts, compare intaglio processes with relief processes, see the actual litho stone and the mezzotinter’s plate.
Instead, the V&A has introduced “topic boxes” containing the commonest printing techniques. However, they are available only on application, if you happen to know of their existence.
John Branston
Lindfield, West Sussex

SIR – The United Kingdom population is nearly 70 million. That of Scotland is just over five million. The Government employs about 350,000 civil servants in Scotland.
If Scotland leaves the Union, it may need only some 25,000 of those civil servants. How does the Scottish National Party leader, Alex Salmond, propose to fund those who are left unemployed?
Tony Pay
Blairgowrie, Perthshire
SIR – Spain (report, November 28) thinks an independent Scotland would be outside the EU. It should be told that the United Kingdom is a political union between two sovereign nations. If they decide to separate, both have the same relationship to the EU, and thus, if legally necessary, both will have to re-apply for membership.
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A M T Maxwell-Irving
Blairlogie, Stirling
SIR – I was born and brought up in Scotland, as were all my forefathers, but I now live in England. Alex Salmond’s White Paper says that if Scottish independence is accomplished I will “automatically be considered a Scottish citizen”. Yet I will not be permitted to vote in the referendum on Scotland’s independence. This anomaly is like a red rag to me.
Susan Napier
Petersfield, Hampshire
SIR – If taxes in an independent Scotland rise by £1,000 per head, how much of a tax reduction could all the rest of us expect?
And will England be obliged to accept Scotland’s economic migrants?
Jim McCue
London SE1
SIR – My father’s family comes from Norway. I visited the Orkney Islands last year and found flying everywhere the Orkney flag (which is very similar to the Norwegian flag, the islands having been handed over to Scotland only in 1468).
I was told that most islanders wanted to leave the European Union and rejoin Norway (which does not belong to the EU). There were two reasons: first, to get their fisheries back, and, secondly, they did not like Alex Salmond.
Islanders told me that if they had a vote they would choose to leave Scotland and join Norway and thereby take with them all their oil and gas fields in the North Sea to add to the huge Norwegian reserves.
This year I was back in Norway and chatted to a number of Norwegian friends about the question of Orkney and the Shetland Islands. All said they would “welcome the islands back home again”.
Colonel Ivar Hellberg (retd)
Camberley, Surrey
SIR – I find it disconcerting that, even at 670 pages, Mr Salmond’s plans for the future of Scotland are given in 1 per cent of the number of pages detailing the proposed few miles of a high-speed railway line.
Ian Birchall
Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Irish Times:
Irish Independent:
Madam – A few comments on Brendan O’Connor’s article (Sunday Independent, November 24, 2013) and the strange intersection of State and charity in this country.
Also in this section
No understanding of credit unions
Letters to the Editor: Youths letting themselves down by cursing
Letters to the Editor: Housing ‘have-nots’ are paying for the ‘haves’
At last, at long last someone has said in print what very many people have been saying for a long time, namely that most domestic Irish charities are performing functions that should be performed by the HSE. Could we call for a piece of research to see just how many charities are doing that?
Has anyone ever asked why people (a lot of them parents of sick children) feel compelled to set up charities in the first instance? Let’s find out just how many charities have been set up by parents. Let’s ask them why.
These charity cases are indirect employers, without them a lot of people (some of them very highly paid) would be out of jobs. Children with disabilities (who grow up into adults with disabilities) are the best teachers of the values that by and large this country has lost. We owe them a debt of gratitude for keeping it real.
My daughter is one such ‘charity case’. Diagnosed at 15 with a syndrome caused by a missing piece of genetic material on her 22nd chromosome, she was 22 before we got the necessary accurate information on her condition. We got that by attending an International Conference in France. And guess what, we came home and with a couple of other families set the wheels in motion to set up a charity. Why? Because we had to. We would have liked to just give mutual support to other families affected by the same condition but actually we have had to go beyond that and perform functions that the HSE should be doing.
Research, holding conferences, educating the very many professionals that of necessity we have to involve in our children’s care and raising awareness are just some of the many things that we do.
In addition we battle for services, medical cards, speech and language therapies, SNA’s, care allowances…. the list goes on and on. We have no paid employees and only voluntary funding. We have a list of extraordinary achievements made possible by the fundraising efforts of dedicated parents, families and friends. We rock. We would climb mountains for our kids, in fact we have! My daughter rocks. All kids born with 22qDS rock. We don’t top up hospitals that are not fully paid for by the Government because we need our resources to help give our families what they need. It’s not done for us so we have to do it for ourselves – and for the sake of our kids.
Strange Intersection indeed. How many more of us are out there?
P.S. I very much like Brendan’s cracker of an idea of music rooms for kids with disabilities.
Anne Lawlor,
22q11 Ireland Support Group,
Marino, Dublin 3
Madam – In last Sunday’s paper (Sunday Independent, November 24, 2013) two pieces of journalism portrayed so vividly the very different worlds of the horse industry.
Tamso Doyle’s article, “Excitement, glamour and history at Goffs”, opened the door and gave us readers a glimpse into a world of excessive wealth, competition and the business of the bloodstock industry. In stark contrast to this, Declan Lynch (LIFE) challenged us as a nation on our so-called “love of horses and horse racing”.
There are many who would agree with Mr Lynch’s observations that if there were no betting and drinking, very few of us would go to a race meeting. The fate of the horses at the end of their racing career would appear to be of little or no consequence to the average person. Once “Paddy” has his day out at the races, boasts about knowing “the Form” and, even better, wins on a bet, then everything else is insignificant.
Horses are magnificent, intelligent animals. Perhaps if we were to witness their demise at a slaughter house, their fear and distress as they sense their impending death, we might realise that very few old horses retire gracefully to pastures green with treats of autumn apples.
Those who love animals will endorse the hope expressed so eloquently by Martin Luther King: “One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.”
Mary C Fitzpatrick,
Bishopstown, Cork
Madam – Tim Pat Coogan’s tribute to Fr Alec Reid (Obituaries, Sunday Independent, November 24, 2013) is an example of golden journalism, linking the silver threads of fact, revealing the simple truths.
How many decades will we have to wait for something similar to reveal the silver threads of fact concerning the night of the bailout?
Peter Kennedy,
Sutton, Dublin 13
Madam – I refer to the article by Daniel McConnell (Sunday Independent, November 24, 2013) headed “Charity begins … with a direct debit”.
From the time I was nine years old I was involved in fundraising for charity. Back then one of my sisters and I put on a play in the back garden and raised funds to help a priest in Wales replace a roof on the parish church. We duly sent every penny we made to the priest (who wrote and thanked us). It never occurred to either of us to make profit from our endeavour.
However, it was not long before I learned that raising funds for charity is a big business – and I have to agree fully with Daniel McConnell when he says, “But far from the image of well-meaning, amateur charities doing their best, charity is now big business. Some may baulk at describing charity as an industry, but it most certainly is.”
While it is excellent news that Minister for Justice Alan Shatter TD announced the establishment of a Charities Regulatory Authority next year, why was this not done years ago? When Joan Burton was a junior minister she brought such a Bill to the Dail, in an effort to introduce a Charities Regulatory Authority. If this had been made law, maybe we could have avoided today’s major governance questions.
Derry-Ann Morgan,
Naul, Co Dublin
Madam – After reading “Crying out for new people” (Letters, Sunday Independent, November 24, 2013), it struck me that there is a body of people completely fed up with all the spin and self-interest that is prominent in our country.
I am a self-employed individual who is working night and day to stand still. Our pillar banks are closed to many of us; many of our new politicians spend more time attending self-promoting events than doing the job they were elected for.
And the possibility of a strike at the ESB may not be a idea that would please many people, but I would actually support the ESB employees. It might just be the spark that will light the fire for people who are looking to shake off all the bluff and bluster of our elected nobility.
I, like many other people, have no pension – the downturn put paid to that. But those who are still in defined benefit schemes need to watch the ESB outcome with interest. In fact we all should. Maybe the State pension is next on the political agenda.
KJ Connolly,
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Madam – After reading Colm O’Rourke’s diatribe (Sunday Independent, November 24, 2013) against a union he is not in, yet has benefited from, two questions occurred to me.
First, where does he get the time? Principal, columnist and GAA commentator. Most principals I know work 60 hours a week. He should really be writing “How to do three jobs a week” columns. Or give one up and create a job. He is some man for one man, as they used to say when I was a lad.
The second question that occurred to me: has your newspaper ever published a positive piece about a union in over 100 years? I think I know the answer to the second question.
I would be surprised if you published this – it’s too truthful.
Barry Hazel (Asti CEC),
Bray, Co Wicklow
Madam – “The light of public scrutiny” is often the greatest deterrent to “wrongdoing” according to Anne Harris (Sunday Independent, November 24, 2013).
We need to repeat that many times, since it was the lack of adequate public scrutiny that led to the decisions which eventually bankrupted the country during Celtic Tiger times.
She quotes the high level of pay and the long duration of past government-approved public tribunals as a case in point inhibiting future inquiries.
Dearbhail McDonald, legal editor of the Irish Independent, is quoted as saying in the same article that it was politicians who not alone approved the terms of reference but also the rates of pay of these tribunals.
Despite that she points out that the tribunals went on forever and their costs were “appalling”.
Dearbhail McDonald concludes that this is damaging the prospects for public scrutiny of the causes of the bankrupting of the country.
A Leavy,
Sutton, Dublin 13
Sunday Independent


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