Christmas Eve

25 December 2013 Christmas Eve
I go all the way around the park listening to the Navy Lark. Our heroes are in trouble, again. There is a new Wren and Leslie has fallen for her already. Priceless.
Potter around exhausted from the hospital yesterday.
Scrabble today Mary wins and gets  under 400, Perhaps I will win tomorrow.

Obituary:

Sir Derek Hornby , who has died aged 83, enjoyed a successful business career overshadowed at its close by the near-collapse of London & Continental (LCR), the company he chaired to operate Eurostar and build the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. He had previously been chairman of Rank-Xerox and the British Overseas Trade Board.
Early in 1996 LCR outbid its rivals to secure its franchise from John Major’s government; it was believed that profits from Eurostar trains to Paris and Brussels could finance construction of the high-speed link – which was to run 67 miles from London to Folkestone.
But Eurostar was losing £248 million a year when LCR took it on. And the challenge was not just financial — arriving in Brussels in the early days of Eurostar, Hornby was sent back by Belgian immigration because he had forgotten his passport.
Preparations were made to float LCR on the London stock exchange during 1997, but it became clear that Eurostar, far from becoming a money-spinner, would continue to make thumping losses. The fire that briefly closed the Tunnel in November 1996 did not help.
Planned through-trains to the Continent from the regions and Scotland were abandoned, sleeping cars worth £130 million were sold unused to Canada at a knock-down price. And in January 1998 a mortified Hornby told the new Labour government’s transport “supremo”, John Prescott, that LCR could not deliver the link without extra funding.
Prescott refused, and in a late-night statement told the Commons that new funding arrangements would be made — with British Rail, which still existed on paper, taking over Eurostar if no private operator could be found. A new consortium was formed to operate the British end of Eurostar, and LCR survived to deliver the link and the spectacularly renovated St Pancras terminus. It turned out that a change of ownership would have voided European funding. Hornby and his management team, headed by Adam Mills, stood down soon after.
Formed initially by Virgin and Warburgs, with shareholders including Bechtel, National Express, Systra and London Electricity, LCR appointed Hornby its chairman in August 1994, just before Eurostar services began. While its bid of £2.7 billion (raised by £200 million at the last minute to make sure of success) was over-optimistic, LCR’s failure was no reflection on the amiable but cautious Hornby’s abilities.
After working his way up with Mobil, Mars and Texas Instruments, he had made his mark during 17 years with Xerox (later Rank-Xerox) as director of international operations (based in the South of France and Connecticut), executive director and ultimately chairman.
Appointed to the British Overseas Trade Board in 1987, he became its chairman in 1990 — the year he was knighted — and served with vigour for five years.
Hornby believed that business had to be outward-looking, and at Xerox funded the CBI to deliver educational programmes to schools. Again through the CBI, he pioneered initiatives to improve relations between companies and their suppliers. As the final chairman of the British Institute of Management from 1990 to 1993, he presided over its amalgamation with the Institute of Industrial Managers to form the Chartered Management Institute.
Hornby had no connection with the eponymous model train maker . But he had spent five years as a board member of British Rail as Channel Tunnel services were being planned. Tempers at 222 Marylebone Road could run high; one late-night meeting culminated in Hornby and Lord Sheppard, of Grand Metropolitan, clutching each other by their ties across the boardroom table.
A lover of theatre, Hornby met Peter Hall through his (Hornby’s) second wife, the broadcaster Sonia Beesley, and took a year off from Texas Instruments to be administrative director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, close to his Warwickshire home. He was later president of the Shaw Trust. He leaves a creative legacy: his elder son is the author Nick Hornby, who movingly chronicled, in Fever Pitch, the times he spent with his father watching Arsenal after the break-up of Sir Derek’s first marriage; his son-in-law is the novelist Robert Harris.
Derek Peter Hornby was born in Bournemouth on January 10 1930, the eldest of five children. Even before his father was killed in the war, he was brought up by his grandmother down the road from the rest of the family as money was short. Educated at Canford , he joined Mobil after National Service in Aden.
At Mars he was put, aged 29, in charge of a factory with 600 workers. He found out the hard way about the company’s egalitarian ethos; its founder, Forrest Mars, visiting at 7.30am, ordered a carpenter to remove Hornby’s glass door and put his desk where the staff could see it.
In addition to LCR, he was chairman of Video Arts, Partnership Sourcing, IRG and Morgan Sindall. His directorships included Cogent Elliott, London and Edinburgh Insurance, Kode International, Dixons (where he chaired the audit committee), the Sedgwick Group, Pillar Properties and Savills.
Derek Hornby married first, in 1953, Margaret Withers, with whom he had a son and a daughter. The marriage was dissolved, and in 1971 he married Sonia Beesley, who survives him with a younger son and daughter.
Sir Derek Hornby, born January 10 1930, died December 16 2013

Guardian:

I met the painter Maurice Cockrill one evening in April 1968 in O’Connor’s, the pub that had become the hub of the Liverpool poetry scene. He was then living in a room on the first floor at 64 Canning Street; Adrian Henri had the two floors upstairs. With fellow artists John Baum and Sam Walsh, Maurice was teaching in Liverpool College of Art’s pre-diploma department.
Maurice was also a poet. He gave readings, notably at the Traverse theatre during the 1968 Edinburgh festival, when he shared the platform with Alan Jackson, Pete Morgan and Brian Patten.
His poems were published in the magazine Ambit, and two were included in Pete Roche’s anthology Love, Love, Love. The poem Happy Burial, an elegy for his second marriage, became a blues song composed by Mike Evans and Mike Hart; Hart sung it piercingly on his album Mike Hart Bleeds.
I note that in last week’s debate in parliament Conservative MPs voiced the view that users of food banks were deficient in budgeting skills (Charity’s fine, but it can’t justify the wealth of the 1%, 20 December). Providentially, now that parliament is in recess, they have time to help by visiting their local food bank – there is bound to be one nearby.
One of the things we do when clients come to us in the food banks is to ensure that they are receiving advice and support in finding solutions to their problems. These MPs, led by Iain Duncan Smith, that magically gifted operator of budgets, will be able to advise – after all, if it’s possible to continue with one’s project while writing off millions by the score, what possible difficulty could there be in managing when short of the odd tenner?
Mollie Whitworth
North Walsham, Norfolk
•  It’s a shame that the great philanthropist Joseph Rowntree isn’t around to appreciate the Guardian. He would have agreed with Polly Toynbee’s reflection on the limits of charity. In 1865, he wrote: “Charity as ordinarily practised, the charity of endowment, the charity of emotion, the charity which takes the place of justice, creates much of the misery which it relieves, but does not relieve all the misery it creates.”
Steven Burkeman (@stevenburkeman)
York
•  Tory MEP Anthea McIntyre defends the government’s refusal to accept EU funding for food banks on the grounds that “Britain should decide how it spends its own money” (Letters, 20 December).
So what is government policy on food banks, how much, if at all, do they spend on supporting them, and why did they reply to a parliamentary question of mine in relation to food banks that “food banks are not a government responsibility and we do not gather statistics”?
Jeremy Beecham
Labour, House of Lords

Independent:
Times:

Educationists want equality enforced by reducing selective schooling. Aspirational parents want old-fashioned education
Sir, Demitri Coryton, the editor of Education Journal (letter, Dec 21), is correct that I and others are nostalgic for the age of the grammar schools, with good reason.
Take Derby. There were four excellent grammar schools in the town in the 1970s, all of them taking in more working-class children than middle class. I attended Bemrose, an excellent grammar school securing places by attainment alone at Oxford and Cambridge. It is now comprehensive and in June 2003 was placed in “Special Measures”. Of the other three schools, Derby Grammar School for Boys, founded in 1160, was rated as highly as Bemrose. It was re-created in 1994 as a fee-paying school for the middle classes. So I ask Demitri Coryton, what price social mobility now in the city of Derby?
Don Shaw
(Retired Visiting Professor in Drama, University of Derby)
Sir, Until reading the letter from Demitri Coryton I had not realised that I and my fellow 6th-form students in a local authority grammar school in Leeds in the late 1950s were middle class. Most of us lived in back-to-back terrace houses and council houses. Two of us, of whom I was one, lived in prefabs.
Our fathers engaged in such “middle class” employments as butcher, baker, tram driver, British Rail electrician and prison officer.
Bernard Ackroyd
Great Alne, Warks
Sir, Modern educationists’ primary concern is equality. Favourite phrases include mixed-ability, non-streamed, informal, education-through-play, group learning, child-centred, non-competitive, non-labelling. This system works because advantaged children stimulate and inspire others. Unfortunately, aspirational parents are ruining the nation’s education by buying houses together near better schools or, even worse, paying for private education. Their favourite words include work, selective, streamed, formal, spelling, competitive, discipline, times-tables.
The solution is clear to both sides. Educationists want equality enforced by reducing selective schooling. Aspirational parents want old-fashioned education. Whichever side you take, we can agree that modern education is delivering equality: neither my doctor nor plumber is British, and my bright daughter learnt little all year next to the most disruptive boy in her class.
The Rev Ulric Gerry
Glasgow
Sir, The main objection to private education as we know it is not that it removes children from the state system, but that it removes their parents. So, many people who possess influence and know how to use it have no immediate interest in improving state schools. As Bernard Levin pointed out, if their children went to the same schools as the majority we could expect a dramatic improvement in standards, which might then equal those of countries ahead of us in the league tables.
Jim Dukes
Oxford
Sir, As a working-class “kid” who, thanks to a grammar school education, read modern languages at Girton College, Cambridge, in 1948-1951, I was momentarily distracted from disagreeing violently with Sir Michael Wilshaw (Dec 16) by feeling fastidious about the lack of elegance in the expression of his views.
Kathleen Kummer
Stoke Gabriel, Devon

Perhaps if a planning application for greenbelt land is submitted, it should only be considered if paired with a brownfield development
Sir, When the green belt was first put in place, just after the war, there was ample space for house building within towns and cities (letters, Dec 20). It is now an anachronism but is rather selfishly guarded, particularly by those who want the brownfield sites to be built upon. Why not allow the building of houses within green belt areas and green up those brownfield sites? This would go some way to satisfying both sides.
Dan Green
Ewell, Surrey
Sir, The battle over the green belt has already been won: it has been overrun by horses and their attendant paraphernalia. I would be happy to find some remnant scrub land locally, but it has mostly been cleared so as not to impede these galloping pets. I now actually believe that building houses with gardens in the green belt would improve it from a wildlife point of view. It is certainly no longer worth preserving in its present state as a refuge for our fauna and flora.
Andrew J. Bissitt
Romiley, Greater Manchester
Sir, Would it be too controversial to suggest that any planning application on a green-belt site be considered only if matched by an application for an equivalent number of households on a brownfield site somewhere, stimulating an element of co-operation and perhaps even cross subsidy between the development companies involved, one not being permitted to proceed without the other?
Bill Woodcock
Lytham St Annes, Lancs
Sir, It is a profligate use of a finite resource to continue to build so many one and two-storey properties. Flats represent a much better use of land and also cost less than houses. Well designed and well landscaped, they are a very attractive option.
Roger Stapleton
Poole, Dorset
Sir, The recent correspondence regarding the protection of green belt suggests the usual solution of using brownfield land for house building. This land is usually former industrial sites with contamination of heavy metals, arsenic, the remnants of town gas lagoons and sometimes worse. This can all be remedied but who is willing to pay a ten per cent premium to buy a house in these locations? The market dictates price and it is based on low development costs, and always will be. The “clean” brown land is mostly gone now — we need to formulate strategies for the future without it.
Keith Hayday
Attenborough, Nottingham

Telegraph:
SIR – Last year you drew attention to a report on the selection of public art called What’s that thing? (“This is what you get when you put bureaucrats in charge of public art”, report, May 10 2012).
The nub of it was that much bad art, often subsidised by the taxpayer, ends up in our midst and that those most affected by it should be able to vote on a project rather than just finding themselves saddled with it.
Equally important would be to establish a procedure whereby we could vote to get appalling pieces of public art removed, preferably at the expense of whatever organisation caused them to be erected in the first place.
We might thus recover some of the green spaces that most would prefer to have remained as they were.
David Gunn
Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire

SIR – You report the dilemma faced by Forces’ widows who lost their spouses before 2005 (“Military widows ‘forced to choose between love and pension’,” December 19). Sadly, a similar ruling applies to widows of teachers who died before January 1 2007, in that they cannot cohabit or remarry without losing their late husband’s pension.
This inhumane ruling means that widows affected could lose their financial independence if they enter a new partnership. Had they divorced they would almost certainly have been awarded a pension for life or some equivalent financial compensation.
There is surely something very wrong in a ruling that penalises women who have, as in my case, been widowed in my early fifties and been told that I cannot enter a new relationship without losing a pension to which, as a wife, mother and part-time worker, I have also contributed.
Lynn Jones
West Kirby, Wirral
Related Articles
Who will rid us of these awful public art works?
24 Dec 2013
Zoomer not zimmer
SIR – Passing the driving test at 70 (Letters, December 23) is a doddle. Passing the motorbike test at 75 for the first time, as I’m discovering, is a bit more tricky.
Graham Aston
Weybridge, Surrey
Fairytale horrors
SIR – Joanna Comer (Letters, December 21) may well be right that children love gruesome stories. As a professional storyteller, I obtained a copy of the works of Hans Christian Andersen in 2005, to put together a programme for his bicentenary. I could barely find a story that I could bring myself to read to primary school children, such was their baleful content. The Ugly Duckling is a notable exception.
My attempt failed, but his tales live on.
Robert Leven
Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire
Ringed moon, rain soon
SIR – A lunar halo is not a rare phenomenon (report, December 18). It has nothing to do with cold weather. Such haloes, either solar or lunar, occur in any season when a veil of cirrostratus cloud covers the sun or moon. They are often the precursor of precipitation.
Michael Shaw
Grimsby, Lincolnshire
Songs everyone knows
SIR – When I was at college in the Sixties, the song that always provoked a rumbustious lung-bursting effort from everyone in the pub (Letters, December 23) was I’m Getting Married in the Morning. No one really knew all the words, so the chorus tended to be repeated fairly often.
Nevertheless a good time was had by all, and most of the participants ended up married – and they stayed married to this day. That was a different world.
Mick Ferrie
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall
SIR – How about Nellie the Elephant?
Diana Crook
Seaford, East Sussex
SIR – When I was singing in a choir, our conductor used to invite audiences to join in singing My Bonny Lies over the Ocean.
Everyone knew the words, and when they were asked to stand or sit when singing a word beginning with a “B”, happy chaos was achieved.
Sid Brittin
Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey
Helicopter deal
SIR – David Cameron and Vince Cable have warmly welcomed the Norwegian government’s decision to buy 16 AW101 helicopters for search-and-rescue services, safeguarding jobs at AgustaWestland’s factory at Yeovil in Somerset.
If only the Government had shown the same support for British industry by buying AW101s for the RAF and Fleet Air Arm search-and-rescue flights, which are currently equipped with the elderly Sea King helicopter. Instead, search-and-rescue is being privatised and the chosen commercial operator is buying US-built Sikorsky S-92s for the role, which have less interior space than an AW101 and which the Canadians are finding ill-suited to the search-and-rescue role.
The Government claims that it is promoting British exports and supporting advanced technology, but this is to live on borrowed time, and on past investment in new designs. In future, our Armed Forces will be expected to buy “off-the-shelf” equipment from abroad when we cease to invest in new projects.
David Cameron may travel the world acting as a salesman for British industry, but as the years pass he will have less to sell. That AgustaWestland pulled off such a deal in the face of the Government’s indifference to its fine product is a real achievement for the company.
David Wragg
Edinburgh
M&S Muslim code
SIR – I read with horror the report of M&S allowing Muslim staff to refuse to sell alcohol or pork at the checkout (December 23).
This trend must be stopped. We will soon have Jews refusing to sell shellfish or Hindus refusing to sell beef. All these religious laws are based on outdated ideas.
Dave Ketteridge
Doncaster, West Yorkshire
Hang on to the line
SIR – Boris Johnson (Comment, December 23) suggests that we can do perfectly well without a fixed-line telephone. I invite him to visit my home in the Tillingbourne Valley, near Guildford, where he will need to trudge to the end of the garden in the hope of obtaining a signal, only to be cut off in mid-conversation.
The fixed-line telephone does not require recharging, and I have never absent-mindedly left it behind on the train.
Richard Floyd
Chilworth, Surrey
An unexpected present from the Christmas tree
SIR – Further to your report regarding Christmas trees harbouring insects (December 21), today we were sitting by the tree when suddenly a peacock butterfly (Inachis io) flew out into the room.
After taking several photographs of it, we carefully carried it out to a nearby conifer hedge in the hope that it will survive the winter.
Helen Mortimer
Bladon, Oxfordshire
SIR – Anne Stone (Letters, December 20) may be interested to know that I used to have a sign pinned to the front door that read: “If you don’t know two verses, please don’t knock”.
This was much to my girls’ embarrassment, but we always went out when the Salvation Army came to call, and gave generously.
Patricia Camm
Filey, North Yorkshire
SIR – The joy of sending greetings at Christmas is certainly muted by the cost of postage. However, some of our friends and family seem to have solved this problem by not bothering to buy stamps at all. Three times in the past week we have had to make a round trip of 12 miles to the local sorting office to collect unstamped mail, at a cost of £1.50 a time – 50p for the unpaid postage plus £1 “handling charge”.
Jill Smith
Stalbridge, Dorset
SIR – Now that charity cards are so common, would it not make some commercial sense if the Royal Mail offered charity stamps, eligible for use only in the weeks leading up to Christmas?
Not only could this help worthy causes, but it might also help to save us from those often dreadful free email cards.
Mike Cole
Edington, Somerset

SIR – Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, says that our health service would “fall over” if it were not for the foreign nationals working within it. This may be true, but he seems to lack any appreciation of the questionable morality of this position.
Is it fair for a wealthy country such as ours to poach health professionals from poorer countries, whose own health services may then be in danger of “falling over”?
We read that midwives are being recruited from Bulgaria at a salary of £35,000 a year. This may be great for the midwives concerned, but one wonders how this will affect the service available to mothers in Bulgaria.
This seems even more unfair if one considers that Bulgarian taxpayers have paid for the training of these folk. Surely we should be striving to train our own health workers rather than relying on foreign workers who are trained at someone else’s expense.
John Glanville
Hornchurch, Essex
Related Articles
Who will rid us of these awful public art works?
24 Dec 2013
SIR – Madeleine Worrall (Letters, December 23) may well be right about the intelligence and charm of Bulgarian would-be immigrants, but she doesn’t explain where we are supposed to put them all.
I live in one of the numerous areas in the country threatened with large-scale development because of the increasing need for houses.
Our countryside is vanishing, we are running out of space to bury our dead and our rubbish, we are currently the second most overcrowded country in Europe and all Vince Cable can do (report, December 23) is produce the “racist” card. It’s not race, Mr Cable, it’s numbers.
Maggie Hughes
Gnosall, Staffordshire
SIR – Perhaps, as Christmas approaches, those who advocate ever stricter immigration controls should remember that, for two years, Jesus and his family were, effectively, immigrants and asylum seekers in Egypt?
Dr Nick Winstone-Cooper
Laleston, Mid Glamorgan
SIR – How can David Cameron survive the election when his Cabinet colleague Vince Cable likens him to Enoch Powell, and one of his MPs crudely attacks Nigel Farage?
If he believes his own rhetoric on the EU and immigration, he should be brave enough to sack those who disagree with Tory policy, including Ken Clarke, and be prepared to face the consequences.
He might be very pleasantly surprised how much support he gets – more than if he sits on his hands and does nothing.
Maurice Hastings
Bickington, Devon
SIR – “Cable compares Cameron to Enoch Powell” (report, December 23). If only…
John Carlisle
Conservative MP 1979-97
Sevenoaks, Kent
SIR – Steve England has found raspberries in fruit in December. One of our geese started laying in October and is still laying now.
Liz Lucy
Aylton, Herefordshire
SIR – As I watched my pond from my bedroom window this week, a mallard dropped into the water followed by eight newly hatched ducklings. Sadly, I think survival is unlikely without the insect life found on the water at the right time of year.
Jane Neame
Wittersham, Kent
SIR – The raspberries are more likely to be late than early. When I used to grow autumn bliss, it wasn’t unusual to find berries in December in a mild winter.
Mary Richards
Gunnislake, Cornwall

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

* Christmas is a time when we celebrate simplicity and redemption. This year, two leading lights of the world were quenched. In the autumn we lost Seamus Heaney and in winter Nelson Mandela also moved on. Both men were exemplars and champions of truth, though the greatness of each was cloaked by modesty and integrity.
Also in this section
Letters: Happiness is the greatest gift of all
Letters: Support our own causes
A Christmas message
Each struggled with doubt and uncertainty and in the empty spaces found sustainable nuggets of wisdom that will shine long after their passing.
Unsurprisingly, their passing was marked more by a celebration of their accomplishments than by mourning. We lost something but because their sum was greater than their parts, they left us the richer for their being.
Seamus Heaney wrote that: “I have begun to think of life as a series of ripples widening out from an original centre.”
What a lovely thought, we all flow and are carried from and to a source. To him the world was a celebration of the processes of life, he spoke of purification in the grounds of our beseeching. Every battle for understanding and enlightenment was worth the fight and, like Nelson Mandela, he had many victories.
Like Madiba, he understood that insight knows no limits and he once noted that: “I credit poetry for making the space-walk possible.”
Also like South Africa’s most famous son, he did not set much store by boundaries or walls of confinement. Hope’s lantern always burned in his heart even though he accepted that “as writers and readers, as sinners and citizens, our realism and our aesthetic sense make us wary of crediting the positive note”.
Mandela, too, was indifferent to high praise. He scoffed at notions of sainthood, insisting he was an ordinary man who sinned.
Mr Mandela was adamant that: “It is amazing how many things are impossible until they are done.”
RACHAEL E CONNELLEY
CO GALWAY
FOLLOW YONDER STAR
* My niece rushed into the sittingroom the other day wild with excitement. In the eight-year-old’s trembling hand was a gold envelope with a broken seal, inside of which was a note from the North Pole.
Santa had written to her personally assuring her that she had got herself on the ‘nice list’. This was no mean achievement.
It required not missing a day at school, being nice to her two brothers — something that required more effort than a 100 years of homework — but it had all paid off now.
The nice list, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Well, it got me thinking about our belief in magic and enchantment. In particular, it reminded me of the great hopes we have all invested in the ‘Growth Fairy’.
According to Michael Noonan, growth, that great benevolent economic enchantress, will transform us from being bonded to austerity and retrenchment perpetually, to full prosperity in a matter of months. Bah humbug, to those of you non-believers who doubt the purveyors of the dismal science, the elves of the ESRI or the good burghers of IBEC, who are all singing off the same hymn-sheet.
The hymn in question is ‘Joy to the World’, and anyone who sounds a bum note will be kicked out of the gallery.
It is not that I have any problem in believing in growth; it is just that I feel the real heroes of the piece, the working man and woman, are somehow wiped out of this epiphany.
The extra hours put in, the increased workload borne by the few after the many have been made redundant; those who shoulder the levies and the taxes; those for whom there is no real room at the inn when it comes to celebrating the great miracle of the birth of growth; these are the ones I would like to see recognised and exalted.
Despite the slavish devotion, few reap the rewards. And those whose labours and exertions are responsible for producing growth are never invited on to the high altar.
A star was born in the east and it shall be known as ‘growth’. Follow yonder star. The meek may indeed inherit the Earth, but only after the profits have been extracted and the dividends paid to the big stake holders.
R D Ellis
BLACKROCK, CO DUBLIN
HEALTHCARE CRISIS
* The healthcare budget of the public acute system has been mauled over the last four years. This is set to continue into 2014. Nothing should be allowed to divert attention from this reality.
There are two consequences. The first is that service provision, especially for patients seeking access to the public system, has been cut to pieces. The second is that medical stress has increased across the public system, putting more pressure on staff. Notwithstanding new institutional structures, the dysfunctionality and the contradictions in policy are very evident.
What has been presided over — the cuts and the ‘savings’ — has depopulated the public system of medical and nursing staff.
We know from the international data that cuts of this nature and on this scale will ultimately cost far more to put right than the putative ‘savings’ to meet short-term budgetary ‘targets’. The departmental allocation to health, and therefore the allocation to the HSE, is wholly inadequate.
Government policy is, as a consequence, disingenuous. A fictional ‘overspend’ has been injected into the policy narrative, when the reality is that funding of the public acute system falls far short of what is required.
The Government appears to be in denial of the facts and the truth with which senior clinicians and management are having to contend; and it’s not for lack of being told. This is unworthy of the kind of dialogue to which patients and the public are entitled.
PROF RAY KINSELLA
ASHFORD, CO WICKLOW
TURKEY SHOPPING
* It was Christmas Eve in a supermarket and a woman was anxiously picking over the last few remaining turkeys in the hope of finding a large one.
In desperation, she called over a shop assistant and said: “Excuse me. Do these turkeys get any bigger?”
“No,” he replied. “They’re all dead.”
J PENDRED
GREYSTONES, CO WICKLOW
A CHRISTMAS POEM
* Two girls wait for Santa’s Christmas smiles, while likewise their cousins wait across the miles
They spread girly joy where ever they go, but in their dreams they play with snow
Torn between the hot and the cold, still daydreaming of new versus old
Lots of festive lollies and candy to chew, they’d prefer granny’s baking and Irish stew
Seeing loved ones on Skype is not quite the same, between lifestyle and loans, who’s taking the blame?
Carols will be sung but not in Irish voices, I guess that’s what it’s like making life’s choices
A kookaburra sits squawking in his tree, while in my mind’s eye it’s where a robin should be
For us there’ll be no foggy Christmas Eve, but red hot beaches and sun to receive
Barbequed food can be great when you eat it, stuffed turkey and roast spuds surely could beat it
It’s not fair to be pondering as time goes on by, on all that we’ve lost, and gained and why
Christmas just seems so upside down, but a sleigh that goes worldwide must still serve all towns
‘Tis the season to be jolly but in WA there grows no holly
So merry Christmas to all and to all a good year — let’s hope the love grows between Eire and here.
OLIVIA BRENNAN TULLY
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Irish Independent

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