2 February 2014 Rest
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 Heather will take a great delight inb clobbering poor old Leslie for a week if he take and interest in her, will he?   Priceless.
Tidy and clean up and move endless things down stairs
Scrabble today Mary wins, just.  and get under 400, Perhaps I will win tomorrow.


Cyril Rosen, who has died aged 86, founded the British branch of the International Primate Protection League in 1977, and served as an expert witness in a landmark court case against the Royal College of Surgeons for animal cruelty.
At the time that Rosen began his work with IPPL-UK, monkeys were generally seen as amusing distractions, usually found in cramped and unstimulating quarters in dilapidated zoos and private homes. For Rosen, however, the relationship between man and primate had far greater, and far more personal, significance. In the early 1960s, in response to a newspaper advertisement, he had rescued and nursed back to health a baby West African Mona monkey, which he named Sousa.
Before long they were inseparable, the primate travelling into work with Rosen on the Northern Line every morning. En route Sousa proved an adept pickpocket, much to the consternation of staff and fellow passengers. At the office Sousa had a large cage in the main showroom and became a valued team-member, with Rosen ghosting a stream of lively correspondence between “Mr da Monk Esq” and various government officials. “Mr da Monk” was even offered an American Express card, and he granted an interview with the Today programme, in which Rosen spoke on his behalf.

While he did not advocate keeping primates as pets (nor encourage others to follow Sousa’s example on the London Underground), Rosen took the opportunity to direct public attention towards the many animals smuggled across borders each year, held in illegal zoos or mistreated by inexpert handlers. For a time he served as trustee and secretary of the now-defunct British Monkey Owners’ Society and helped to advise on the establishment of primate sanctuaries at home and overseas, before founding IPPL-UK, four years after the establishment of its American counterpart in 1973.
In his official capacity as IPPL’s British representative, Rosen played a key professional and financial role in numerous campaigns over the next three decades, lobbying against the use of chimpanzees in tourist attractions and against the bush meat trade, as well as helping to train and place field workers with overseas rescue operations and in newly-founded animal sanctuaries.
He also gave evidence to parliamentary committees on the role of chimpanzees in medical research and served as an expert witness in a landmark 1985 court case against the Royal College of Surgeons, following a raid on the establishment’s research laboratories by an animal activist group. The group had found five monkeys in poorly ventilated cages, one of whom – named Mone – eventually died of dehydration. Though the RCS was found guilty of undue cruelty in
Mone’s case and fined £250, the conviction was overturned on appeal.
Rosen’s interests were not limited to the IPPL, and towards the end of the 1970s he hit on the idea of building Britain’s first “Primatarium”, an audio-visual exhibition to raise awareness of environmental issues. For this purpose he acquired a large building in King’s Cross, formerly an adult cinema which doubled as a rock venue.
The stalls were restructured to resemble a forest and the front rail was cloaked in aluminium leaves, while two pumps to one side created an indoor waterfall. “We also had speakers in the ceiling that re-created the sound of a tropical storm,” Rosen recalled. “I remember seeing people pulling up their coat collars expecting a downpour.”
Despite considerable interest from local schools, however, the project proved too ambitious to maintain, folding after 18 months. Later the site of the Primatarium housed the Scala cinema, which opened its doors in 1981. The first film to be screened there was King Kong.
Cyril Rosen was born in London on February 20 1927, growing up in Highbury with five siblings and a large collection of pets, including dogs, cats, ducks, geese and chickens. It was, he later claimed, the sight of a family chicken being roasted and presented on the dinner table one Sunday lunch that prompted his decision to become a lifelong vegetarian. A bright student who often read so far in advance of the class that he often felt justified in playing truant, he left school on the outbreak of war, aged 12, in order to work at his father’s dental trading business, Nesor (Rosen backwards) .
As a pacifist, Cyril refused conscription into the Army and subsequently served a jail term, returning to work at Nesor with his brother Len upon release. In 1949 he published a work on casting using the lost wax process, and the Nesor Centrifugal Casting Machine became an industry standard. Under the direction of the two brothers Nesor assumed a key role in the modernisation of British dental equipment during the 1960s, developing into one of the leading firms behind what became the British Dental Trade Association (recently renamed the British Dental Industry Association).
Following the death of his wife, Cyril Rosen moved, in 2006, to the Isle of Man, and was forced to curtail his full-time involvement with the IPPL. (The UK branch of the charity is now in the process of closing down.)
Much of his time was dedicated to the restoration of Balcony House in Castletown, formerly the residence of Nelson’s helmsman, Captain Quilliam, who served in Victory at Trafalgar. Hearing that the house was due for demolition, Rosen purchased it and had it rebuilt to the original design, furnishing it with carefully researched period furniture and pictures. Upon its completion he took great pleasure in sitting in the restored library .
In 2007 he was presented with the Primate Society of Great Britain’s Special Conservation Medal, for his contribution to Primatology — the second person to win the award after Jane Goodall, 11 years previously. For many years he was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and would often compare notes with contemporaries such as Patrick Moore. He was also a dedicated show jumper, riding in competitions with his favourite horse, Tarla.
Cyril Rosen’s wife, Gina, predeceased him in 2001.
Cyril Rosen, born February 20 1927, died December 21 2013

Read Victoria Coren Mitchell’s column about my “evil” proposals and you would think that they lie somewhere between the ruminations of Joseph Goebbels and Hendrik Verwoerd (“State school fees? That’s evil”, Comment). In the interests of accuracy, it is important to state what I was saying. Britain’s stagnating social mobility is my concern and I was proposing that a quarter of the places at top state schools and independent schools be reserved for the bottom quartile, who perform least well in schools today.
To combat the stranglehold that the better-off have at top state schools, and to bring fresh money into the state sector, I proposed that those who could very well afford to pay make graduated contributions, while still holding to the principle of free state education for all, with even the richest paying nothing at middle- and lesser-ranking state schools. All independent schools should sponsor academies as partners and state schools should offer the same richness of education that independent schools offer. It may well be that your readers still want to condemn me, but now they can do so knowing what it is that I am proposing.
Anthony Seldon
West Berkshire
Germaine Greer’s inspiring role
The article “Germaine Greer at 75. What did her landmark book do for me?” (Focus) fails to do justice to Greer’s ideas. As an example, Anna Holmes states that Greer is “horribly anaemic on abortion”. In 1972, Germaine Greer was writing in the Sunday Times in support of a woman’s right to choose. She was bombarded with hate mail.
What riles some, I’d guess, is that she’s never been confined to commitment to a single issue but has seen her feminism as linked to the struggles of nurses, teachers, the revolution in Cuba, the rights of Australian Aborigines and a range of others. Her anti-reformism has lost her many friends, but “feminism is a revolutionary movement and cannot reasonably expect to find its interests served by governments which have come to power in the traditional masculine ways” (1975). If the men and women coming to fight for equality over again can embrace her rage and her iconoclasm, they will find in her writings a visceral inspiration, even if they find much with which they might disagree.
Nick Moss
London NW10
The productivity paradox
Will Hutton has noted that half of the recent jobs growth is down to redundant workers appearing as “sole traders”, no doubt propelled in part by the rhetoric against unemployed people, as well as by firms’ outsourcing (“How much can we believe in the Osborne recovery?”, Comment). But at the same time, we are bombarded with accounts of the “productivity puzzle” facing the UK: why we are not seeing the expected productivity growth.
It is plausible that the two phenomena are related. Conventional analysis has it that one of the factors in productivity increase is that less productive firms are being driven out while more productive firms grow. But right now we have the emergence of lots of sole traders, many in sectors where real output is hard to assess. Result: a factor reducing the overall productivity of the UK economy. Thus the finger-pointing at “unproductive” services and suggestions that established firms are featherbedding workers.
Statistical analysis should be able to show whether and how fairly this accounts for the apparent paradox.
Ian Miles
Professor of technological innovation and social change
Manchester Business School
University of Manchester
E-cigarettes are harmful
I am pleased that ministers are seeking a ban on e-cigarette sales to children (“Bid to ban e-cigarette sales to teens”, News). In fact, a ban on sales to children is not going far enough. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and the only rational use of e-cigarettes is as part of a programme for smoking cessation. When I practised as a community pharmacist, it was very noticeable that nicotine replacement products that provided the user with a nicotine “hit” were far harder to stop using than, for example, patches. The latter give a steady level of nicotine, thus breaking the cycle of cravings.
Brian Curwain
Old boys stick together
Sean O’Hagan warns that the middle classes increasingly dominate popular culture (“A working-class hero is something to be… but when it comes to the arts, being posh is the key to success”, In Focus). The same is true for women and workers from ethnic minority backgrounds. O’Hagan says posh schools act as gatekeepers and working-class artists can’t afford practice spaces. True, but the real entry barriers for female, working-class and ethnic-minority workers are the proverbial old boys’ networks. An oversupply of freelancers fight for contracts and fame. Employers and critics overcome that by recruiting and praising those whom they know and whom their mates know – from school, from home, from the dinner party.
Dr Doris Ruth Eikhof

Tony Blair is wrong (“Religious difference, not ideology, will fuel this century’s epic battles”, Comment). As the anthropologist Akbar S Ahmed, a former Pakistani political agent and now at American University in Washington, DC, shows in his excellent recent book The Thistle and the Drone (Brookings Institution, 2013), which looks at 40 case studies of violent conflicts around the world today, the real cause is deeper. It is the clash of social and economic modernisation and globalisation with traditional, localised tribal cultures – with their codes of honour and revenge.
The push for modernisation does not merely derive from the west or the north, but also from central governments in “peripheral” regions of the world, exemplars being Musharraf’s Pakistan, Yemen and the Rohingya of Burma. In this broader context, religion is secondary, co-opted in localised versions to justify resistance struggles in rural, isolated, often mountainous regions otherwise difficult to access and to absorb into a globalising world.
These conflicts are limited in geographical scope and are best dealt with by negotiating with tribal hierarchies and compromising with demands for local autonomy.
Philip G Cerny
Professor emeritus of politics and global affairs
University of Manchester and Rutgers University, New Jersey
Can this Tony Blair who writes about religion as being at the root of future wars be the same Tony Blair who, as prime minister, promoted faith schools?
For many, this early segregation seems the surest way to foster the religious intolerance he now decries – or is it only religions other than his own Roman Catholicism that he sees as extremist?
Jean Glasberg
According to the economist Ben Friedman, whenever the benefits of economic growth are not enjoyed by a broad range of the population, democratic values such as tolerance tend to wane. If this is so, the best way of reducing the potential for abuses of religious power is also to reduce the potential for abuse of political power, military power and market power.
Similarly, to reduce the risk of religious extremism, we might seek to reduce extremism in poverty and wealth.
Kevin Albertson
Manchester Metropolitan University
Wouldn’t it be comforting if we could explain the “ghastly roll call of terror attacks in the obvious places” on religious extremism? It would, after all, allow us to lay the blame fairly and squarely on those “obvious places” and look to a “genuine global strategy”based on the values of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in collaboration with the Harvard Divinity School.
If that didn’t work, then we could always impose our values through the supposedly legitimate use of force (or, more accurately, violence).
We have, of course, been here before, although Blair didn’t quite put it like that when he led the UK into a disastrous war in Iraq.
Again, Blair is hiding the real politics of western domination behind the mask of benign tolerance.
But if the “ghastly roll call” is ever to end, it will require an honest appraisal of how the real politics failed and of how we need a new politics, a politics that acknowledges the immensity of global and regional inequalities and the part that the political elite have played in sustaining and promoting those inequalities.
Jon Nixon
Senior research fellow
Hong Kong Institute of Education
Hong Kong
The fact that Tony Blair is using a faith-based institution to resolve problems caused by people motivated by faith rather than reason is ironic at best.
Jim Pettman


There was one significant omission from Archie Bland’s excellent article on sexism in parliament (“Where are all the women?”, 26 January), and that was the electoral system, which is inimical to women’s representation in the House of Commons. Bland refers to the problem of safe seats, but does not draw the obvious conclusion that this is a consequence of single-member constituencies. If we retain the present electoral system, the only pragmatic solution is to impose all-women short-lists for constituency parties to choose from, but this has serious democratic and political defects.
It only requires multi-member constituencies, with three or four MPs to be elected under a preferential voting system – where the elector votes one, two, three, etc – with the consequent need to present a broad-based team of candidates, to transform the opportunities for women candidates.
Michael Meadowcroft
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Everyone, rightly, condemns “benefits cheats”. However, if Alan Strong’s allegations are substantiated (“Social landlords cheated by repair firm, tribunal hears”, 26 January), are not these companies even bigger “benefits cheats” – for they, too, are robbing the public purse? Why are they not being prosecuted?
Why do councils (and housing associations) place contracts with these national companies rather than with local tradesmen? How can it be cheaper, or more cost-effective, to pay a large company, that owns smaller companies, who sub-contract out the actual work to (usually) local traders?
Malcolm Morrison
Swindon, Wiltshire
While it is more likely than not that Ed Miliband will be prime minister in 2015, he could, as John Rentoul notes, lose and so it is reasonable to look at who his successor might be (26 January). However, probably the more pressing political question is who will be the next leader of the Tories and of the Lib Dems in the event that they fail to win next year. I wonder if Rentoul has some thoughts on this, even though I suspect he believes a Labour defeat to be certain.
Keith Flett
London N17
Jane Merrick is right to say that pensioners’ benefits should be axed (26 January). The retirement age is going up so why are we paying for 60-year-olds to travel to work and to heat their homes when they are out all day? Surely state benefits should, like work pensions, start on the day of retirement.
Gillian Cook
via email
Jane Merrick (26 January) says that she can’t wait for there to be a female party leader so she can write about her husband. I well remember that we had a female party leader from 1974 to 1990 and the intrusive amount of speculative comment, by journalists, about dear Denis. He even took to writing a column for Private Eye to explain himself.
John Buckman
Having castigated school-leavers as being illiterate and innumerate, Janet Street-Porter then goes on to say that high heels and so on aren’t relevant (26 January). I agree with both statements.
But to say that high heels are guilty of “rending [women] fragile and vulnerable”? Really Janet? They might rend the ligaments of the foot, but surely it’s rendering? Perhaps one of your well-heeled, poorly paid runners could have spotted this.
Jack Hughes
Brixham, Devon
I used to smoke in the car when on a long journey with my window down thinking it was OK. But I am sure my smoking near my eldest son contributed to him having asthma and his frequent bad chests he suffers to this day; even though he is in his thirties and has never smoked.
I agree smoking should be banned inside vehicles with children in, or any other person who doesn’t want to breathe in second-hand smoke.
I wish I’d never smoked near my children and I will regret the damage I have done to their lungs for the rest of my life.
Simon Icke
Buckinghamshire via email


Relocated Scots’ yes vote for the United Kingdom
I WAS very pleased to see that there could be a legal challenge over the exclusion from the independence referendum of Scots living outside their homeland (“Expat Scots to sue over exclusion from referendum”, News, last week). However, we Scots who are in this position are not expatriates as we reside within the country of which we have been citizens since birth — the United Kingdom.
When my father moved from Scotland to England it was because he was posted to work at Bletchley Park, where his endeavours were to benefit Britain as a whole. During his career he regarded himself as a UK public servant, and would have been saddened to be described as an expatriate. In my civil service career I too always thought of myself as working for the UK.
It is possible to be proud to be a Scot, but to regard one’s country as the UK. That is why Alex Salmond doesn’t want us to have our say in the referendum — he knows what the answer would be.
Tricia Smith, Leyburn, North Yorkshire
Spoilt ballot
The failure of Scots living in the rest of the UK to receive a vote in the referendum lies not just with the Scottish National party and the Scottish government but with the prime minister, the coalition and every party in parliament, all of whom were happy to restrict the vote to those registered in Scotland.
If Cameron had allowed all Scots in the UK to have a vote, or allowed “devo max” as a second option on the ballot paper, independence would not stand a chance.
Professor Alan Sked, London School of Economics, London WC2
No contest
As an expat Scot, born and raised in Glasgow and now living — via France and Luxembourg — in West Sussex, I disagree with those who think we should be given a vote in the referendum. The policy of giving the vote to those living in and contributing financially and socially to Scotland seems both practical and fair.
It may mean that 1.15m expat Scots don’t get a vote, but a million English and other incomers living in Scotland and making contributions to the community will have their say. There seems to be an assumption that most expat Scots would vote no. I don’t think this is the case necessarily.
Paul McBride, Henfield, West Sussex
Soldiers’ rights
My Royal Marine son is in married quarters in Plymouth after service abroad and lately in Arbroath. When he told me he and his wife could not vote in the referendum I made inquiries and found that this was not the case. Gordon Brown MP proved helpful and provided the necessary information. It is a matter of great importance for the future of the UK military that its members are aware of this.
Reverend Bill Shackleton, Glasgow

Get ‘experts’ out of our classrooms
WHEN, oh when, are we going to realise that education is far too important to be left to the likes of self-confessed policy wonks and strategists, academics turned entrepreneurs and former national newspaper leader writers turned education experts who, I’ll wager, have never between them put in an honest shift in front of a 28-strong group of restless 14-year-olds on a sullen, wet Friday afternoon in deepest, darkest January (“Schools watchdog ‘spitting blood’”, News, last week).
Jon Cooksey, Stratford-upon-Avon
Trading places
In 2012 the UK slipped four places in science to rank 20th out of 65 nations and regions taking part in exams administered by the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development.
In maths and reading the UK gained two places to reach 26th and 23rd overall. The test results for Britain show little difference in maths, English and science for recent years. Sir Michael Wilshaw claims that Ofsted “has done more to raise standards in 21 years of existence than any other organisation”.
After 21 years I would have expected us to be at the top of the league tables.
Howard Elliot, Head of science (retired), Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire
An inspector calls
Criticism of Ofsted is justified not because it is too left or right but because its very nature stifles innovation. The pedagogy of most state schools is determined by the ever-changing requirements of the inspectorate. Every aspect of in-service training is dedicated to the production of an Ofsted-friendly lesson.
And when an inspection is imminent, teachers are given tick lists of what is deemed to be Ofsted best practice.
Stan Labovitch, Windsor
One size fits all
I don’t usually share the concerns of rightwingers when they castigate the failings of the state education system but I do have some sympathy with their view that free schools and academies should not be subject to an inspection regime that doesn’t always reflect their particular aims and aspirations. Free schools do, however, need to be accountable for the extent to which they are achieving their aims.
Professor Colin Richards, Former inspector, Spark Bridge, Cumbria
Rod Liddle concurs with the right-of-centre think tank Civitas that Ofsted is devoted to a “child-centred” model from the 1960s but this could not be further from the truth (“Whoever taught our teachers is the dunce to expel”, Comment, last week).
Ofsted’s model is entirely results-centred and league-table-centred, and leaves the poor child far from the centre. The “forlorn ideology” of Liddle’s apparent nightmares has long been abandoned.
I was one of the misguided leftie teachers trained (at a proper vocational college in London, as it happens ) in the 1960s and I remember the teacher trainers from other countries flocking to see the work in our brilliant schools: they came from Europe, America and the Far East. Now we are supposedly lagging behind all of them.
I presume Liddle recognises the irony of his wish to “deal with the cultural awareness” of his own children: he wants them to be “insular, sociopathic and bigoted, just as I was at their age”. At their age — and now, Rod.
Richard Bristowe, Market Harborough, Leicestershire
Political lesson
Liddle highlights much that is wrong with our education system, but he could have gone further. We had education, even up to tertiary level, long before we had parliamentary democracy, so there is a strong case for taking politics entirely out of the teaching profession.
Anthony Phillips, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Private equity
In suggesting that private schools be heavily taxed to subsidise the state system (“State schools reap rewards of middle-class pupils”, Letters, last week) your correspondent Marianna Wells ignores the fact that, as it is estimated to cost more than £1,600 a year to put a child through state education, the parents of every privately educated pupil are already subsidising that system.
Alan J Miller, Edgware, London

Lift restrictions on prostate cancer drug
I WAS diagnosed with prostate cancer recently. Luckily it was treatable and I am doing well, but for 10,000 men every year in Britain the outcome is fatal. One man every hour dies from prostate cancer in the UK.
That’s why I have signed up to Prostate Cancer UK’s campaign Men United v Prostate Cancer. We must use our voices to campaign for more research funding, better diagnosis, better treatments and better education about men’s rights. We have first to try to reverse the recent illogical decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) to restrict access to a life-extending prostate cancer drug — enzalutamide. This drug is available to men in Scotland without the same restrictions, and we must ensure it’s made equally available throughout the UK.
Every day I wake up I know that I’m lucky to be here. But I want luck to be left out of the equation. Men United aims to save lives and I am delighted to be leading this campaign.
Sir Michael Parkinson,

All systems go for Virgin Galactic lift-off
TOM BOWER’S claims in extracts from his new book on Richard Branson that Virgin Galactic has “no licence” and “no rocket” to go to space (“Lost in space” and “The sun lizard fading into exile”, News Review, last week) misrepresent the facts and use old information to create a story. Indeed the recent progress of the Galactic programme, including the latest rocket-powered flight, renders Bower’s main claims false. The company’s rocket motor has burnt for the full duration and thrust multiple times, and the company released video footage of one such test in December. Bower also fails to note that the team has an experimental permit from the Federal Aviation Administration for the test flight programme phase.
The company applied for a commercial licence in 2013 as planned and to coincide with the latter stages of the test- flight programme. It expects to receive that licence well in advance of commercial service later in 2014.
Most seriously, Bower attempts to cast doubt on Virgin Galactic’s absolute commitment to safety, particularly by suggesting that any potential lessons that could have been learnt by the tragic 2007 industrial accident at Scaled Composites were somehow brushed under the carpet. The opposite is true. The company supported the full independent inquiry and accepted all the resulting recommendations in terms of system redesign along with their costs and time implications. The end result is a system that will be significantly safer.
Bower also claims that Richard no longer owns any of the principal Virgin businesses and that the company has ceased to innovate. Among others, Virgin Galactic is majority-owned by Richard and it certainly innovates. Richard’s empire has not shrunk, and his work, through his foundation and companies, is creating a real impact.
George Whitesides, Chief Executive, Virgin Galactic
Non-appliance of science
The omission of a science category from Debrett’s list highlights that institution’s view of society (“Britain’s 500 most influential”, News Review, last week). I commend the inclusion of Baroness Greenfield, but Lord May and Sir John Beddington (both former government chief scientific advisers) cannot be overlooked. Within the realm of science broadcasting one would hope that Professors Brian Cox and Jim Al-Khalili, and — dare I say — Dara O Briain, will have a greater influence on the nation’s future than the drivel epitomised by Chris Evans.
Stephen Lockwood, Colwyn Bay, Clwyd
Mind the migrant care gap
While confusion over the healthcare entitlement of migrants continues, our doctors pick up the pieces (“Hospitals cheat NHS over health tourists”, News, last week). Our London clinic has been inundated with patients who have been refused care by the NHS — including children and pregnant, trafficked women — all of whom live here and are not tourists. Without a coherent policy we face deploying mobile clinics to Britain’s streets to plug healthcare gaps — resources that arguably would be better spent in Syria.
Leigh Daynes, Doctors of the World UK
Out of office message
The Labour party was founded to represent workers’ interests (“Labour goes back to the bad old days”, Editorial, last week) but until it unshackles itself from a narrow and divisive commitment to only one of the four factors of production — land, labour, capital and enterprise — it will remain a party of the past and be unsuitable for office.
Bernard Kingston, Biddenden, Kent
Christie Brinkley, model, 60; Ken Bruce, DJ, 63; Sir Andrew Davis, conductor, 70; Andy Fordham, darts player, 52;Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former president of France, 88; James Hickman, swimmer, 38; Sir David Jason, actor, 74; Graham Nash, musician, 72; Libby Purves, broadcaster, 64; Shakira, singer, 37
1709 Alexander Selkirk is rescued after being marooned on a Pacific island for more than four years; 1882 birth of James Joyce, author; 1971 Idi Amin declares himself president of Uganda after a coup; 1979 the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious dies; 1990 President FW de Klerk lifts a ban on the ANC and vows to free Nelson Mandela

Corrections and clarifications
In Databank’s Biggest Share Movements (Business, last week) a fall in Tullett Prebon’s share price was attributed to a “trading scandal”. This was incorrect and we apologise for the mistake.


SIR – After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the economies of the newly independent non-Russian republics were in disarray, not least because they still used the rouble as their national currency.
Monetary policy was now being made by the new Bank of Russia (instead of the defunct state bank of the Soviet Union) purely for the purpose of managing the Russian economy and without reference to the needs of the other republics.
Within a few years each country had introduced its own currency and each had its own central bank.
If the Scottish National Party wants genuine independence, it should state its intention to use the pound on a temporary basis until it has set up a new Central Bank of Scotland, which would be responsible for managing a new Scottish currency, conducting monetary policy in Scotland, and regulating the Scottish banking sector.
Toby Wight
London W3
SIR – According to the International Code of Flag Signals, a white cross on a blue background (letter M) signifies “My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water.” Will this be prophetic for the Scottish economy if the saltire is flown after independence?
S G Bowles
Mulbarton, Norfolk
Helping boys succeed
SIR – For many years girls have outperformed boys at GCSE and A-level. Now we hear that more girls than boys apply for and enter university (report, January 31). Competitive courses such as medicine and law also now have a clear female majority.
We have a minister for women. What is needed instead is a minister for boys.
Anthony Whitehead
Supermarket waste
SIR – Jim White (Comment, January 31) wrote about three men charged with stealing food dumped by a supermarket.
He did not mention that in law anything dumped or abandoned by its owner is res abandonata, ownerless and therefore incapable of being stolen.
Perhaps the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case because it recognised that the police had no case.
Norman Baker
Tonbridge, Kent
SIR – Do government regulations prevent farmers from collecting waste supermarket food? It is criminal to pour bleach on it and destroy its value as fodder.
George K McMillan
Second-paw smoke
SIR – I support Labour’s plan to outlaw smoking in cars carrying children, but could this not be extended to cover cars carrying dogs?
I often see both the driver and the front-seat passenger puffing away, seemingly oblivious to the harm being done to the dog accompanying them.
Keith Edwards
Barrowby, Lincolnshire
Oiling my rage
SIR – On the subject of wrap rage, I challenge anyone to open a bottle of Tesco’s extra virgin olive oil without a knife or a screwdriver.
James Logan
Portstewart, Co Londonderry
Sex in the classroom
SIR – If the campaigners who call for “transparent” sex education in schools had made it clear that sex should be viewed within the framework of a moral background, then their ideas would be more acceptable.
Central in helping children to search for purpose in their lives is a discussion of the process of moral development. This covers a wide area involving psychology, sociology, ethics and religion. It can help the child to become aware of the influences that shape his moral attitudes, and irrational prejudices and immature attitudes may be exposed.
This all aids the development of the moral maturity that is the hallmark of responsible citizenship in a democracy.
Where does Lord Nash, the education minister, expect to find the teachers qualified to undertake this huge task?
John Figg
Weymouth, Dorset
One life saved
SIR – I must thank A N Wilson (“Britain has always provided a haven for refugees”) for pointing out how lucky we are to live in this country, come rain or shine.
My 81-year-old mother is one of those fortunate thousands of Jewish children who arrived from Austria, bewildered, unable to speak a word of English and clutching a suitcase from which for months she refused to be parted. Her passport was stamped J for Juden and gave her name as Sara, for, although her name is Nita, all Jewish girls were called Sara by the Nazis.
I thank the Ponsonby family, who took her in with their children, who cared for her and educated her, and brought her up in their English Christian family, but never wanted her to stop being proud of her Jewish heritage.
I thank Britain for letting my mother and the other little children embark to these shores, thus allowing me to be born, and to have four wonderful children.
Mia Woodford
Petworth, West Sussex
Hot room, cold room
SIR– I can sympathise with Judith Woods, as I too have a husband who never feels the cold.
Installing underfloor heating with individual room thermostats has probably saved our marriage, but rather limits conversation during the winter months.
Kirsty Blunt
Sedgeford, Norfolk
Film music on Radio 3 was the last straw
SIR – Classical music lovers have long been poorly served by the BBC because of the lengthy periods of other programming on Radio 3 (Letters, January 31).
The recent changes, such as the introduction of film music, make a bad situation worse. Why impose this genre on Radio 3 listeners when there are more appropriate BBC stations?
Trying to cater for multiple tastes on a single station (and emulating a commercial competitor to boot) risks satisfying no one.
In France, Radio Classique and France Musique both offer a classical repertoire. Given Britain’s tradition of composing, playing and listening to classical music, we deserve something similar. Is Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, listening?
David Gosman
London SW19
SIR – Someone who sees no use for a freezer (Letters, January 31) either has someone to cook for him or is not much of a home-maker.
We have two freezers at home – one upright model and a chest version. Both contain lots of made-in-advance home-made savoury dishes, all ready for pulling out the night before to enjoy for dinner the following evening.
I work full-time, so don’t have time to cook from scratch on the night. Having a freezer also means that I only need to shop at our local supermarket one day a week. The home-freezers among us also like to freeze seasonal produce, such as summer fruits.
I wouldn’t be without my freezer for the world.
Michele Platman
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01 Feb 2014
SIR – For us home-bakers, the freezer is essential. Batches of biscuits, slices of home-baked bread and cakes, and home-made pies and quiches can be stored in individual portions for defrosting and a freshly cooked taste.
Sarah Gall
Rochdale, Lancashire
SIR – You need a freezer for all the leftovers from cooking, and for fruit from the garden and hedgerows.
It saves us money and stops us wasting food.
Valerie Thompson
West Horsley, Surrey
SIR – Bogof.
Martin Yirrell
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
SIR – I would have a job convincing my wife that she should get rid of the freezer and drive to our local supermarket and back each evening to buy the two ice cubes she has in her gin and tonic.
Warren Page
Purley on Thames, Berkshire
SIR – Criticism of the Environment Agency over the lack of effective dredging on the Somerset Levels should be seen in the context of a radical change in attitudes to rural land use.
From the 1980s, farmland was no longer to be managed primarily for food production. European food surpluses and influential leaders of environment pressure groups combined to change practices in land management.
Farm subsidies have been entirely decoupled from food production. Natural England champions letting “natural processes happen”. So dredging is halted when a vole swims into sight.
Perhaps we all need to consider where our priorities lie.
Giles Sturdy
Chairman, Wessex Regional Flood Defence Committee, 1997-2003
Wareham, Dorset
SIR – Did the deployment of Armed Forces to the Somerset Levels bring any respite to the inundated residents? As far as I could see, they came, they saw and they went away.
Diana Holl
Clevedon, Somerset
SIR – Channels called rhynes drain the Somerset Levels. These release water to the sea through sluice gates as the tide falls, as at Huntspill sluice. The gates close as the tide rises. This sluice has been neglected for years, stuck in the “summer” position, discharging a fraction of what it should.
Vernon Evenson
Didcot, Oxfordshire
SIR – As flood water submerges our tiny half-acre watercress farm, thanks largely to lack of maintenance of a carrier of the river Itchen, the Environment Agency finds resources to threaten our 150-year-old business with closure if we fail to comply with demands to pay a “permit to discharge” levy of more than £3,000.
With an annual turnover of just £15,000, we shall be forced to cease watercress growing if we meet their unreasonable demands, and if we fail to meet their demands, fines will have the same effect.
Charles Ranald
Itchen Stoke, Hampshire
SIR – Here in the Brecks, we have had a mere 2.48in of rain this month, only half an inch above the average for the past six years. The figure for November, December and January combined is 6.26in, which is 0.12in less than the six-year average. Certainly not the wettest winter for 100 years here.
David Tomlinson
Bardwell, Suffolk
SIR – On BBC News 24 yesterday, the forecaster said: “There’s loads of weather going on at the moment.” Should I just go back to bed with my head under the duvet until there is no weather going on at all?
Gordon Bain
Ditchling, East Sussex

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Madam – A few years ago I had a letter printed here in the Sunday Independent regarding my contributions to several various charities, and how I was getting dubious about them all, and that charity begins at home after all. Within a week I had letters from practically every one of them explaining how the money I sent was being utilised, and reassuring me that all was well, and hoping that I would continue to subscribe.
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However, not one of them told me how much of the money went to pay off and give top-ups to executives.
In the light of recent events in that regard, it has definitely made up my mind, once and for all, about future contributions from this pensioner.
If I am to make contributions in the future it will be to send a sick child for treatment abroad, or for some charitable event (eg, a hospice) where the money is paid into a fund or bank account to go directly to that event.
It is a disgrace that so many letters are being dropped through my letterbox, and so many phone calls made to my house, begging me to continue with contributions, to what now is turning out to be payments to top dogs who are earning hundreds of times more than my measly pension.
We have had many shameful events down through the years in this country of ours, but surely recent disgusting disclosures must rank with the very worst.
Murt Hunt,
Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo

Madam – On my first cursory glance through last weekend’s Sunday Independent I almost packed it all up, abandoned my place and moved to the Blasket Islands (preferably Tearaght, furthest from the mainland).
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Protecting children is now a legal obligation
We need to support our sporting heroes
What had me in this apoplectic rage is our inept state institutions.
When I returned to my Sindo some time later, I suddenly became in danger of enjoying myself. Brendan O’Connor was exposing the straw man Enda –also known as the mascot of Davos – quite beautifully. Declan Lynch had the habitual kick at bookmakers inc; Stephen Donnelly had a well-crafted economic case regarding the one-per-centers.
Gene Kerrigan was at his brilliant, insightful best savaging a kind of sacred cow.
Despite feeling a little grimy I also relished Aoife Drew’s Paris report on the troubles of that farcical figure, Hollande – some deep-seated jealousy of the parish bull on my part no doubt.
If not for this journalistic resistance and consensus-challenging which gives me hope, I could have found myself in Dingle harbour.
David Cotter,
Co Cork


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