29 June 2014 Rain
I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage to get round the park. We potter around its raining, and cold so much for Flaming June!
Scrabble Mary wins well she did get most of the high letters. perhaps I will win tomorrow.
Delia Craig was a colonial farmer turned conservationist whose Kenyan rhino sanctuary provided the setting for Prince William’s proposal to Kate Middleton
Delia Craig and her husband, David, at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in the shadow of Mount Kenya
3:52PM BST 28 Jun 2014
DELIA CRAIG, who has died aged 90, was born into a family of colonial farmers in Kenya and chose to stay on after the country became independent; on their vast estate on the Lewa Downs in the shadow of Mount Kenya, she and her husband David grew wheat and raised cattle, sheep – and rhinos.
What became known as the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, now listed as part of a World Heritage Site by Unesco, started life in 1983, when David and Delia Craig were approached by the conservationist Anna Merz and agreed to set aside 5,000 acres of their ranch for conversion into a rhino sanctuary. The Craigs and Anna Merz then set to work, recruiting game-trackers, bush pilots, veterinarians and others to round up animals; and for the next few years they tracked, captured and relocated to the refuge every remaining wild rhino in northern Kenya for breeding and safe-keeping.
Despite pressure from poachers, the programme was so successful that eventually the Craigs decided to dedicate their entire ranch to conservation. By 1994, the whole of Lewa Downs, as well as the government-owned Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve, had been enclosed, creating a 61,000-acre rhino sanctuary. It is now home to 10 per cent of Kenya’s black-rhino population and 14 per cent of its white-rhino population (as well as the world’s largest population of Grevy’s zebra) raising hopes that the animals might one day return to their former dominance in northern Kenya.
The Lewa Conservancy became a major tourist attraction, visited by, among others, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, who famously proposed to his then girlfriend, Kate Middleton, there in 2010.
One of the keys to the Craigs’ success was getting local Masai communities involved, through direct employment and with financial assistance for education, health care support, water and agricultural projects. In 2001, Delia (affectionately known as Mama) and her son Ian established the Lewa Education Trust, which supports local primary schools, awards bursaries for local children to attend secondary school and university, and funds courses for local teachers.
Delia Craig was born Mary Fidelia Douglas on June 6 1924, on the ranch in Lewa Downs that her formidable father, Alec Douglas, had founded in 1922. Alec was a Scot who had trekked in an ox-cart from South Africa to Kenya (then British East Africa) in 1912. During the First World War he had served with the King’s African Rifles in Tanganyika, as a result of which he became eligible for the “soldiers’ settlement” scheme whereby ex-servicemen could apply for land parcels in Kenya. He drew a plot on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya and began purchasing parcels of surrounding land as they became available, including a swamp area known as Lewa.
Meanwhile, Delia’s equally feisty mother, Elizabeth, the granddaughter of a viscount, served as an ambulance driver and nurse in Europe in the First World War. Within a few months of her arrival at the Front, a bomb scored a direct hit on the hospital where she was working, blowing off the soles of her feet. Despite her injuries, she managed to rescue scores of people, as a result of which she was awarded a Military Medal.
After the war Elizabeth, too, took advantage of the settlement scheme (her father gave her a shotgun and simply wished her “Good luck”). She drew a plot of land outside Nairobi and set out to become a cattle rancher. For a time, before she married Alec Douglas in 1923, she lived in a hut with only a horse and a white bull terrier for company.
Elizabeth’s and Alec’s marriage ended after Delia was born, and Elizabeth and Delia moved briefly to Tanganyika, returning to Kenya when Delia was five. Elizabeth subsequently remarried, to William Powys (brother of the writer John Cowper Powys), who owned a sheep farm adjacent to Alec Douglas’s estate and with whom she had a second daughter and two sons.
Delia was sent to England for her education, returning to Kenya via fleet convoy in 1941, after the outbreak of war.
On her return she volunteered as a nurse and was then posted to Egypt, where she had a narrow escape on a train blown up by the Haganah. She then moved to Jerusalem to train as a wireless operator, before moving to the Suez Canal Zone and Cairo. While waiting to be demobbed she took flying lessons and on her return to Kenya bought a Tiger Moth.
In 1949 she married David Craig, who had served in the King’s African Rifles during the war, and with whom she would have three children. For a time they lived on David’s farm in England, but in 1950 they accepted her father’s suggestion that they take over his ranch at Lewa, which he was finding hard to maintain. As Douglas drove away from Lewa, he called out: “Remember! Make sure there’s always room for wildlife…”
Delia Craig’s early years there were difficult due to the threat of the Mau Mau. After Kenyan independence in 1962, however, they threw themselves wholeheartedly into the task of building the new nation. Their involvement with conservation began in 1967 when they agreed to help move some rare Rothschild’s giraffes from an estate formerly owned by Delia’s father. Then in 1974 they entered into a partnership with Peter Hankin to provide “walking” safaris at Lewa, becoming one of the first ranches in Kenya to operate safaris on their own land.
Over time, Wilderness Trails, as it was known, attracted a devoted coterie of regular guests from around the world. Then, in 1983, they teamed up with Anna Merz and began their work with rhinos.
A self-effacing woman with a keen sense of fun and adventure, Delia Craig kept in touch with a large circle of friends around the world, by letters or emails notable for their eccentric spelling. In 2011, her story was told in From Ox Cart to Email: the Kenya Story of Delia Craig, by Natasha Breed.
Delia Craig’s husband David died in 2009. She is survived by their daughter and two sons.
Delia Craig, born June 6 1924, died June 12 2014
The laws protecting our children from drug abuse are already in place. Photograph: Doug Steley C / Alamy
The death by overdose of 15-year-old Martha Fernback was indeed a terrible tragedy. But I fail to see any logic in the Observer’s In Focus piece that seeks not to blame her death on the offending drug (MDMA), its producers, dealers and users, but on its current prohibition under law.
The article makes the case that minors should be permitted to take this dangerous substance, but not in its most pure and deadly form, and be advised by their teachers which are the least deadly options, while government takes control of the trade that is now the preserve of criminal gangs.
Current policy on the legal status of dangerous substances is clumsy and inconsistent but one thing is clear – when it comes to protecting minors such as Martha, prevention (through education) must always be reinforced by prohibition. Making dangerous substances more easily accessible will not reduce usage, neither will it discourage criminal gangs from seeking alternative ways of corrupting young people.
The lessons of this case seem clear. Martha was a child; MDMA is illegal; the dealer who provided the substance is a criminal. We have laws to protect children. They should be enforced.
Green initiative is just hot air
The optimistic tone of your leader (“At last, Obama is making good on green promises”) appears to be drawn from some limits now being set on the carbon dioxide that US power plants can emit into the atmosphere and is cited as justification for commending the president for building “a real legacy on global warming”.
Far from that initiative deserving approbation, it reflects a disturbing lack of understanding of the predicament the world now faces. The reality is that, as an inevitable consequence of climate change, we are bequeathing an appalling legacy to future generations: this includes regions of the world becoming uninhabitable at an accelerating pace; escalating millions of ecological migrants; fewer and fewer of the planet’s finite mineral reserves available; widespread loss of species diversity; catastrophic loss of life and likely wars of survival.
Coming to terms with the immensity of the challenge is not helped by exaggerating the significance of small steps.
Dr Mayer Hillman
Policy Studies Institute
The true cost of rural bliss
Just as key workers are finding it impossible to buy or rent in cities, families and young people are losing the struggle to stay in their “idyllic” rural communities (“Sun, sand and inequality”, In Focus).
If a levy were added to the purchase price of a second home based on the cost of replacing a dwelling, this fund could be ploughed directly into new housing projects. These could be in the form of grants for small-scale self-build or affordable housing for local people. Alternatively, a massive hike in council tax for owner-unoccupied dwellings could be considered.
If people could better afford to live and work in their locality, it would strengthen communities and regenerate our villages. It would arguably help to combat social problems associated with unsatisfactory housing and the lowered expectations highlighted in your article.
PM Ed will have the last laugh
The trouble for Ed Miliband, though few dare to say it, is that he doesn’t conform in appearance to the limited and stereotyped images that the media now have, and propagate to the public, of what politicians have to look like (“Ten crucial months remain for Ed Miliband to pass the blink test”, Comment).
The duller media can now only see images in terms of central casting candidates for the The West Wing. Or as elongated Ants and Decs, like the current leaders of the coalition. This shrinkage of the media imagination, while detrimental to Ed Miliband, can be countered by considering, say, Disraeli, Attlee, Margaret Thatcher or Golda Meir as politicians who have, for better or for worse, had impact while not conforming to the prim little images of today’s tabloids.
Prime minister Ed Miliband will, I am sure, prove this point next year.
Why I’m haunted by loneliness
Barbara Ellen is fortunate in her self-sufficiency (“Loneliness is one thing. A happy loner quite another” Comment). Not all people are.
I am a sociable, active, late 50s female, but since the death of my husband two years ago I have been struggling to come to terms with the echoing loneliness of the house when I come back to it after one of my many outings and when I waken in the morning. Our adult children live in America and England, adding to my sense of isolation.
I work part-time, have a very good network of family and friends, volunteer for charities and participate in other activities, but loneliness still haunts me. Human beings lived close to one another for millennia; it is only in recent times that enforced solitary living became the norm. I am not “trying to hide in the crowd”, as Ms Ellen says, I just like company. And no, my dog is not a substitute for a life partner.
Ballyclare, Co Antrim
As a committed NHS consultant (part retired) dealing with leukaemias among other haematological disorders, I read Will Hutton’s column with great satisfaction (“The NHS is loved and efficient, so why the obsession with reform?”, Comment). Not because I want a pat on the back, but because his position on the NHS and condemnation of the current government’s systematic and determined undermining of the organisation resonate with my own and many others’ attitudes. He is right to assess that its strength lies in the underlying “value driven” ethos. His reference to the “drive to cure” uniting the teams, including the altruistic blood and marrow donors, is, in my mind, what it is all about and why I work in it.
It was the freedom from having to be commercial that allowed me and my colleagues to place the patients’ interests as our paramount concern. Never having to question how a patient was to pay for their treatment has been a great privilege.
Susan J Kelly
It’s genuinely good to know that Will Hutton has experienced first-class leukaemia services with the NHS at the excellent UCL, but he will know the problems that other patients experience because of the variability of those services across the NHS. He will also recognise the problems of issues of late diagnosis of cancer highlighted by Macmillan cancer care. Most major patient groups, as well as the NHS Confederation, are arguing strongly for new models of health and social care that are much better co-ordinated around patients’ lives and not health providers’ organisational needs.
We believe in the ethos of the NHS and that it is strong enough to go with these changes demanded by patients. The last thing the NHS needs as it faces the challenges of greater demand is complacency.
Professor Paul Corrigan
and Mike Parish, chief executive, Care UK
It is a shame that politicians are not as candid in public as they are in private about the problems facing the NHS. Rising patient demand, falling resources, workforce shortages: the picture sadly is the same throughout the NHS. Unfortunately, politicians in public seem to ignore this reality and instead meddle in the NHS in a way that ends up contributing to the problem rather than solving it.
The Health and Social Care Act wasted huge amounts of time and resources on an experiment that is already fragmenting the delivery of care by introducing needless competition. It is not surprising in this climate that a BMA poll found that three-quarters of the public thought politicians designed their polices to win votes rather than improve care.
We need our policymakers to be transparent about the state of the NHS and to stop inflicting ill thought-out policies on a health service that is already struggling. Most importantly, politicians need to have this conversation in public rather than hiding their comments behind close doors.
Dr Mark Porter
Chair of BMA Council
Toby Helm reminds us that the pointless £3bn shake-up of the NHS caused by Andrew Lansley was not voted for and not spelled out in the 2010 election manifesto (“Minister: NHS is out of our control”, News). Actually, it is far worse than that. He had told us clearly that it was not going to happen. At the British Pharmaceutical conference in 2009, in front of several hundred pharmacy and scientific colleagues, Mr Lansley informed me, in response to a direct question, that no major NHS reorganisation was planned. His reply was, for a politician, surprisingly clear and unequivocal. So was the palpable sigh of relief among my 700 or so colleagues at this welcome news. I will not forgive Mr Lansley or his party for being so very economical with the truth.
The British Medical Association is right to warn of a funding crisis in the NHS (“Doctors’ leader warns of more NHS rationing,” 22 June). There are two clear issues. First, Jeremy Hunt’s naïve presumption that healthcare, like sales, can be run on economies of scale. This is simply not true. There is a minimum cost per patient, and this cannot be reduced. To continue to cut budgets will have a detrimental impact.
The second is the spiralling debt incurred by Labour’s years of pandering to headlines about waiting times and beds. The debt escalated and was then sold off in chunks to try and recoup value. The reality is that not even the Treasury has a grasp of who owns Private Finance Initiative debts, and Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups are still racking up interest, reducing their ability to invest in better care.
We need an approach that puts patients first, not pennies. A system where you get good quality care quickly and locally. And for goodness sake stop treating a public service like a factory production line. This is people we’re talking about.
Social Liberal Forum
Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, says the NHS can save yet more money by avoiding litigation costs. Has it not occurred to him that people exhausted by long hours, lack of resources and staff shortages will inevitably make mistakes, especially if they face a constant barrage of criticism from their masters in Government? And in the NHS such mistakes will prove very costly, both in human and monetary terms.
Hamish McRae (June 22) is missing a fourth reason why the amount of tax being collected is going down: even though there are more of us in employment, a lot of us are earning less, in some cases much less.
As a small-business owner I am earning about half what I used to, and there is less work available. A friend of mine, working in what used to be a stable job in education, has been forced to take a 15 per cent salary reduction – he now cuts his own hair, so presumably his former barber isn’t earning as much either.
Many people who are now no longer classed as unemployed have gone, in some cases very reluctantly, into self-employment, and are making very little money. Many used to have well-paid, secure jobs, from which they have been made redundant. It is not always the big picture that provides the clues – the devil is in the detail, and for many of us, the devil is driving us pretty hard.
Name and address withheld
Ben Williamson of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals rolls out that old chestnut of “90 per cent of medicines that pass animal tests fail in humans” (Letters, 22 June).
This is an utterly misleading statistic. The 90 per cent figure is the proportion of new drugs that never make it though all levels of testing and to licensing. This includes the drugs that don’t make it out of preclinical non-animal tests, the ones that are shown to be dangerous or ineffective in animal studies, all of the drugs that fail during the various stages of testing in humans, and all the drugs that regulators do not license at the end of testing.
The point of animal testing is to see whether a drug has any potential therapeutic value and, more importantly, to see whether it is safe to test in humans. It should tell you something that over 30 years there has not been a death in Phase 1 trials.
The fact is, animal testing saves lives. It isn’t perfect – but it is the best we have for now.
Archie Bland’s article on rape (22 June) seems to imply that men cannot be victims. Rape is common in prisons worldwide, prevalent in the theatre of war and, as is the case for many women, a violent assault committed by someone they know and once trusted.
Rape is about power, whether perpetrated on male or female. Please do not simply paint men as the villains because all victims need to be shown support.
Older people who are lonely could seek out company in social activities, charity work or volunteering (Diverse Images)
Prevention better than cure for loneliness among the elderly
THE answer to loneliness — as with fatness — is to stop it happening in the first place (India Knight, “A simple cure for the lonely elderly — the spring chicken companion”, Comment, last week). I would urge anyone who is not working to volunteer at a hospital, library or other such institution. And to develop social skills so that they can make the most of life.
Alastair Lack, By email
Get out more
We have to stop expecting the government to have a solution to every problem. Life is unfair and there are plenty of people who have larger crosses to bear than old age. Loneliness is a spiritual issue that does not necessarily equate with being physically alone. There is an onus on the elderly to address this problem themselves — most communities have charities, bowling clubs, voluntary organisations and so on where one can meet other people and feel useful.
Mike Kemp, Truro
I knew an old man who used to have foreign students lodging with him free in return for some cooking and companionship. It was mutually beneficial and kept him young.
Chris Melikian, By email
Knight says: “It makes perfect sense for an elderly woman with more space than she needs, to share that space with somebody younger.” As elderly people lose their faculties, though, such an arrangement becomes highly dubious, and they are at the mercy of a stranger.
Dr Adam Darowski, Oxford
Will to live
My parents, married for 70 years, lived at St Mary’s House care home in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, for 12 months until my mother died. I felt my father would fade away too. However, that has not been the case. He sees a lot of people and goes out nearly every day on his scooter, does his own shopping and visits my mother’s grave.
Mary Guppy, South Kilworth, Leicestershire
Going it alone
I have to disagree strongly that most elderly people have “serious, medical-grade loneliness”. They don’t. Of course there will always be lonely people of all ages, but there are many older people who relish life on their own, free of work and family commitments.
Sue Light, Lancing, West Sussex
The best way to combat loneliness and stay independent is to have a home-share arrangement — a companion who will do a little shopping, make a couple of meals a week and do light domestic duties.
Alex Fox, Chief Executive, Shared Lives Plus, Liverpool
EU membership has become political
THE nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president is unlikely to influence how most of us would vote in a referendum, but what would have an impact is if the EU decides that Albania and Ukraine should be considered for membership (“Defeated on Juncker, No 10 must fight on”, Editorial, last week). I voted to stay in the European Community but EU membership has now become political and I do not agree with this.
TP Charles, Newcastle-under-Lyme Staffordshire
How sad that the signatories of the letter “Vital to stop EU curbs on City” (Letters, last week) cannot grasp the fact that EU procedures are so convoluted that any change in policy is virtually impossible. The concept of renegotiation is a pipe dream. Only by leaving the EU can Britain regain the freedom to develop its competitiveness. Perhaps most of the signatories are too young to recall a time when we coped well without the nanny EU to control our endeavours.
John Myles, Peterborough
The lady was for turning
While I agree with much of the historian Niall Ferguson’s argument in “What would the Iron Lady do?”(News Review, last week), he is quite wrong about Margaret Thatcher’s attitude to Europe. She detested the Maastricht treaty and told me herself that signing the Single European Act had probably been a mistake. By the time she died she believed that Britain should quit the EU.
Alan Sked, Professor of International History, London School of Economics
Valuable lessons from Festival of Education
I WRITE to commend The Sunday Times Festival of Education. Our charity aims to prevent young people from turning into Neets (not in employment, education or training) by early intervention and an out-of-school, full-time curriculum. We do not tell anyone what to do but enable them to see their capabilities. The festival gave us time to talk, to listen and to see others doing amazing work.
Tom Clark, aspire@wokingham
Tackling the burden of cheap alcohol
This week , we will be shown yet more evidence of this government’s failure to tackle the burden that cheap alcohol places on society. A Channel 4 Dispatches investigation has revealed that current policy has failed to deliver the prime minister David Cameron’s commitment to stop beer being sold more cheaply than water. Rock-bottom supermarket prices mean that even with a ban on below-cost sales, alcohol prices remain at dangerously low levels, fuelling rates of liver disease, crime and disorder and loss of work that cost the nation £21 billion each year.
The public health and crime prevention community has unanimously called for the government to bring back plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol. This is a policy that will target the cheapest, strongest drinks that put some of the most vulnerable members of our society at risk of harm. It will not affect the pockets of the majority of moderate drinkers but will make a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of low-income groups.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all acknowledged the benefits of minimum unit pricing and are pressing ahead with plans for its introduction. England risks being left behind to deal with a growing burden of disease and social disorder that is not only costing taxpayers, but is also costing lives. Urgent action is required to curb the damage caused by cheap drink.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair, Alcohol Health Alliance UK and Special Advisor on Alcohol to the Royal College of Physicians
Katherine Brown, Director, Institute of Alcohol Studies
Eric Appleby, Chief Executive, Alcohol Concern
Tom Smith, Chief Executive, British Society of Gastroenterology
Professor Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy & Director, Institute for Social Marketing University of Stirling; Deputy Director, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS)
Suzanne Costello, Chief Executive Officer, Alcohol Action Ireland
Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland
Professor John R Ashton CBE, President, UK Faculty of Public Health
Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing
Professor Marsha Morgan, Principal Research Fellow and Consultant Physician, Division of Medicine, University College London
Professor Robin Touquet, Emeritus Professor of Emergency Medicine, Imperial College, Vice Chairman, Medical Council of Alcohol UK
Dr Dominique Florin, Medical Director, Medical Council on Alcohol
Dr Adrian Boyle, Chair of the Quality in Emergency Care Committee, College of Emergency Medicine
Colin Shevills, Director, Balance, the North East Alcohol Office
Terry Martin, Chair of Trustees, AlcoHELP
Dr Chris Record, Consultant Hepatologist, Newcastle upon Tyne
Dr Zul Mirza, College of Emergency Medicine
Professor Mark Bellis, Alcohol Lead, UK Faculty of Public Health
Hazel Parsons, Director, Drink Wise North West
Dr Kieran Moriarty CBE, Alcohol Lead, British Society of Gastroenterology
Dr Nick Sheron, Alcohol Lead, British Association for the Study of Liver Disease
Your correspondent Adrian Perry misses the point about encouraging leadership through school sport (“Losers at sport but winners in life”, Letters, last week). Many children find success through sport that they can’t find via academic studies.
Sue Hunter, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
Meet the ancestors
May I, as a descendant of the original Britons, respond to comments by David Cameron and Lord Bragg (“PM brings in barons to teach British values”, News, June 15). The prime minister wants all children to learn about Magna Carta and Bragg wants them all to read the King James Bible. Welsh pupils might prefer to learn about our contribution to Wales’s culture and it would do no harm for those in the rest of the UK to understand what we British/Celts have done in the past.
Wyn Thomas, Carmarthen
Failing to add up
The writer and businesswoman Shirley Conran (“It’s Supermaths”, News Review, June 15) had to resort to having a stomachache when her maths teacher focused on her for an answer. I clearly remember our maths teacher, Mrs Carr, when I was at Notre Dame High School in Sheffield in the 1950s, giving us the hard stare and saying: “I can tell the girls who are good at maths by the alert expressions on their faces.” Being a member of the drama club, I found it no great hardship to cultivate this look. I failed my mocks with an embarrassing 17%.
Ann Tyas, Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Peace index warning signs for Qatar ahead of World Cup 2022
Your article “Fifa ignored own terror alert” (News, June 15) rightly drew attention to the terrorism risks facing the 2022 World Cup host Qatar but did not touch on other institutional factors that will affect the country’s stability between now and then. In the past Qatar consistently topped the regional rankings in the Global Peace Index (GPI), a testament to the ability of its successive leaders to ensure domestic stability. However, the Gulf state fell by five places to 22 out of the 162 countries in the 2014 GPI report, published on June 18. Moreover, our new risk assessment model identified it as among the top 10 in the world at risk of experiencing small-to-medium deteriorations in peace levels in the next two years. The absence of certain underlying qualities such as low levels of corruption, well-functioning government and equitable distribution of resources would all be reasons for a country to be on a “watch list”.
Given the deteriorating levels of global peacefulness we have seen in this year’s index, this is a wake-up call to governments, development agencies, investors and the wider international community that building peace is the prerequisite for economic and social development.
Steve Killelea, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace, Sydney, Australia
BBC quality control
India Knight misunderstands me if she thinks my support for the quality of British drama was a way of moaning at critics (Comment, last week). My focus is on championing the brilliant creative work of the UK’s drama community. I believe that shows such as Sherlock, Happy Valley and Line of Duty compare to anything produced across the world.
Danny Cohen, Director of BBC Television
The captain of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have had an unusual hobby — creating aviation videos that he posted online — but the scenario that was deleted from his computer is a standard one in the Microsoft flight simulator list (“MH370 pilot ‘chief suspect’”, News, last week). It is to fly your Boeing 737 from the Seychelles across the Indian Ocean to Trivandrum airport in southern India. Both engines fail and the only place to land is a remote island with a short runway. The captain may be the culprit but this might not be the evidence that clinches his guilt.
Bernard Newnham, Woodham, Surrey
I am stunned by the religious hatred you gave space to in “Bullying priests” (Letters, last week). In the 1940s my mother-in-law, from a strong Catholic working-class family, had two illegitimate children. The father abandoned them and she gave birth to the first in a convent, where she says the nuns were very kind to her. Her family then persuaded her to return home and gave her every support, even after she went on to have a second child by the same man. Both boys were baptised, were educated in Catholic schools and went to good universities.
Janet Smith, Hastings, East Sussex
Double or quits
Dominic Lawson explains clearly Alex Salmond’s gamble (“Salmond’s scratchcard plan: bet his nation’s future on hand-outs”, last week). Could we double the stake? If the residents of Scotland vote to leave the union in September, let them have our place in Europe and we’d be free to join the wealthy countries such as Norway and Switzerland.
Richard Tanner, North Waltham, Hampshire
Potboiler gets thumbs-up
I congratulate the writer Jeanette Winterson (“She hit a nerve… and skin, sinew and bone”, Profile, last week), who cooked the rabbit that ate her parsley. This year my garden has become overrun with wild rabbits from the field next door. These are not sweet little picture-book bunnies; they breed like, well, rabbits and are a pest. Beatrix Potter’s Mr McGregor was right, and so is Winterson.
S Donald, Christleton, Cheshire
As a vegetarian for 50 years and a former chief executive of the Vegetarian Society in Britain I have far greater respect for Winterson’s approach than I have for those who buy meat that is pre-packaged. Meat bought from supermarkets and in fast-food restaurants has probably been intensively reared, mass-transported and slaughtered in an environment of fear.
Patricia Moss, Bere Alston, Devon
All in vein
Matt Rudd (“God of Small Things”, Magazine, June 15) asks: “Why are veins blue?” It is not because the blood they carry is blue: blood normally loses only 75% of its oxygen in circulating round the body and changes from bright red to maroon. The colour of veins is due to the connective tissue and muscle in the wall. Unfortunately this common mistake is reinforced by the convention of colouring veins blue in medical textbooks.
Philip James, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Dundee
Corrections and clarifications
On June 1, 2014, in “Inside the City: Genel cash may start to gush” (Business) we incorrectly reported that BB Energy had purchased the first tanker of crude oil delivered via a new pipeline from Kurdistan in northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. BB Energy was not the purchaser of this consignment and BB Energy has not entered into any agreement with Genel or the Kurdish government for the purchase of oil. We are happy to make this clear and apologise for the error.
Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, including online, should be addressed to email@example.com or The Editor, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST. In addition, the Press Complaints Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7831 0022) examines formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites)
Gary Busey, actor, 70; Amanda Donohoe, actress, 52; Robert Evans, film producer, 84; Katherine Jenkins, singer, 34; Rosa Mota, marathon runner, 56; Anne-Sophie Mutter, violinist, 51; Ian Paice, drummer, 66; Mark Radcliffe, broadcaster, 56; Nicole Scherzinger, singer, 36; DJ Shadow, musician, 42
1613 fire destroys the original Globe Theatre in London; 1861 poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning dies; 1956 playwright Arthur Miller marries Marilyn Monroe; 1974 ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov defects from the Soviet Union to Canada; 2007 Apple releases the first iPhone
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The profession has become focused on complying with the demands of Ofsted reports
Elizabeth Truss, the schools minister, has said that teachers spend too much time preparing new lessons Photo: Alamy
6:57AM BST 28 Jun 2014
SIR – Elizabeth Truss, the minister for education and childcare, criticises teachers for preparing different lesson plans for children in the same class. She is right: it is time-consuming and ineffective. But teachers are directed to do this; it is not just a way to add excitement to one’s life.
As for excessive use of worksheets (and, while we’re at it, PowerPoint and interactive whiteboard presentations), this could be born of the need to “put on a show” to comply with what school leaders think Ofsted wants to see in classrooms.
SIR – If, as Elizabeth Truss states, teachers spend hours preparing lessons that do not result in better outcomes for students, they do so because successive ministers and Ofsted inspectors have said that their lessons should have different activities that apparently improve students’ learning. These activities require preparation.
Just under half – 46 per cent – of new teachers leave the profession after five years. Continual interference by ministers, with contradictory advice, may have something to do with this sorry statistic.
Criminals in No 10
SIR – Both Peter Oborne and Ed Miliband may be wrong in asserting that the present Prime Minister is the first to host a criminal in No 10, as Harold Wilson entertained there the then Sir Joseph Kagan (whom he subsequently ennobled in his dissolution honours list) and who later went to prison.
Ticket to ride
SIR – Mike Hawes (Letters, June 21) asks how one can fly from Sussex to Scotland without a passport. For adults, at least, a valid photo driving licence or – if they are old enough – a photo bus pass will do.
Rooks Bridge, Somerset
Not in Cumbria
SIR – I was born in the historic county of Westmorland (Letters, June 24) and have no intention of allowing anyone to tell me that I no longer live here.
SIR – As a life-long tennis player and fan, it is not just grunting players that I find irritating.
Commentators who continue to witter on about irrelevancies when play is under way have me reaching for the television mute button.
Then there is the crowd screeching and bellowing in an unsporting way whenever a British man is on court. Last year the wall of noise during Andy Murray’s semi-final match was so bad that we left the Centre Court after the first set.
There is also the apparent acceptance by umpires of players trashing their racquets on court. It is like watching a top violinist destroy his violin – shocking. It should be firmly discouraged by all tennis coaches, especially those who teach children.
It was a pleasure to watch the tournament at Queen’s Club, which is more like Wimbledon used to be, and less like a football stadium.
SIR – Those less lucky than I, who have to catch up on the day’s tennis with the Today at Wimbledon programme at 8pm, must find it frustrating when, intent on seeing several hours of play condensed into an hour, they have to sit through uninteresting analysis by yesterday’s celebrities rather than watch actual play.
SIR – I had a wonderful day at Wimbledon. However, sitting on half of one of the new padded seats in Centre Court is not a comfortable experience. Looking around, I could see I was not the only one suffering.
Paying for the Queen
SIR – It is a misconception that the Queen is awarded taxpayers’ money. She is not. The arrangement that George III made was to give the Crown Estate to the nation in return for an income. It made a return last year of £267 million, of which the Queen received £35 million (£12 million being for major repairs to historic buildings).
The arrangement with the Crown Estate can be reversed. Each monarch ascending the throne is presented with the option.
Open and shut case
SIR – So now it is quite clear. We know who has the teeth, and it is not Fifa.
W N B Richardson
Armistice on a plate
SIR – On show in the Museum of Military History in Vienna is the car in which the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot. It has the number plate A111118, the date of the armistice ending the First World War.
Is this one of the most extraordinary coincidences in history, or merely a number plate added after the event?
SIR – On a previous occasion when England were dire at rugby, soccer and cricket, I made it known that, in this area, we were at least good at cheese-rolling.
The following year’s event was won by a former Kiwi rugby player.
Snapping up tales of crocodiles in British rivers
SIR – The story about the Avon crocodile reminded me of the Trent piranha fish and the Great Ouse crocodile, two incidents in which I was involved more than 30 years ago.
I was a biologist for the power industry based near Nottingham, working on the environmental effects of warm cooling-water effluents on rivers. A reporter from Radio Nottingham phoned to say that a boy had been admitted to hospital with what the boy said was a piranha bite on his foot, which he had apparently sustained while paddling in the river near Ratcliffe power station. Could piranha fish live in the warm water, the reporter asked.
The reporter also quoted a man who owned a tank of tropical fish and said he had tipped some into the river.
The river Trent at the time was warmed by several power stations, and winter temperatures could reach summer levels in places. However, putting together devil and detail, we found out eventually that the boy, it seems, had been paddling in the River Soar, which was not warmed, and had cut his foot on some glass and was afraid to tell his mum, so he allegedly made up the story to get out of trouble.
The Barford crocodile was supposedly spotted in the Great Ouse river near the effluent from Little Barford power station at St Neots. But there were no photographs of the croc, just pictures of a man on the riverbank, who had opened a pet-and-tropical-fish shop in St Neots and needed some publicity. No pictures of a crocodile ever emerged, though we did find a half-submerged log near there on a later visit.
The only exotic fish population in warmed water I knew of was a group of tropical fish that lived for some years in the St Helens canal, near a warm glassworks effluent.
I look forward to the investigation of the Avon crocodile or alligator.
Prof Terry Langford
University of Southampton
Competitors in the Great British Duck Race, at Molesey Lock, near Hampton Court, Surrey Photo: Alamy
6:59AM BST 28 Jun 2014
SIR – In our garden we have a bird bath that contains two small rubber ducks – one blue and one orange – to entertain our grandchildren.
Most mornings we find the blue duck has been removed and dropped on the patio about three yards away. We suspect that a wood pigeon which frequents the garden is performing this activity.
Can any ornithologist confirm this strange action? Why remove the duck, and why always the blue one?
The Prime Minister has called the selection of Jean-Claude Juncker ‘a bad day for Europe’ Photo: REX
7:00AM BST 28 Jun 2014
SIR – I listened to David Cameron yesterday morning in Europe, making an excellent speech on his coming encounter over Jean-Claude Juncker’s appointment as president of the European Commission. He knew he would be defeated, but his determination reminded me of 1940, when Britain was alone.
Mr Cameron may think he is alone but he has the backing of millions of British and Europeans who do not like the way Europe is going, as can be seen by the last European elections.
SIR – We are living in a political fantasy world where politicians, by negligence or wilful misrepresentation, take our country sleepwalking into a federal Europe.
For years, EU mandarins have been talking of “ever closer union”, culminating in a United States of Europe.
How is the appointment of Mr Juncker any more than just another step towards a federal Europe? I fear Mr Cameron is disingenuous in suggesting that Mr Juncker’s appointment is somehow a departure from established EU objectives.
Darley Abbey, Derbyshire
SIR – By electing Mr Juncker to the presidency of the European Commission, European leaders are saying that Mr Cameron is not going to get anywhere with his renegotiation of EU membership. So either Britain stays as it is or goes.
If Mr Cameron had the stomach for it, he could call the promised vote on our EU membership this year, after the Scottish referendum.
Then when the majority votes to withdraw, he could go into the next election to carry out the British people’s wishes, ensuring his party’s position in power for many years.
Brighton, East Sussex
SIR – The appointment of Mr Juncker may raise support in Britain for an exit from the EU. If Ukip is serious about wanting such an exit, it will be placed under increasing pressure to support the Conservatives publicly at the next general election, as that is the only way to achieve a referendum.
SIR – David Cameron need not be too concerned about his isolated position on the Juncker vote. In the 1972 US presidential election, only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia didn’t vote for Nixon. Two years later he resigned.
SIR – The game used to be to ask the names of three famous Belgians. Should we now be asking the same question in relation to Luxembourgeois?
Madam – The place to start the new politics is here – at home, so to speak.
Having been involved for more decades than I care to remember in the mundane nitty-gritty of ‘real politics’ I look with horror at any suggestion that we should start to try to build a ‘new’ political movement from scratch. One of the lessons of the so-called ‘Arab Springs’, is that quick-fix, emotion-driven ‘cardboard revolutions’ almost always end in disaster.
But if our political elite does not provide the equivalent of the ‘Velvet Revolutions’ which freed much (but not all) of Eastern Europe, we are going to have to provide our own. Soon.
Being of a somewhat left-of-centre tinge, I have placed my confidence consistently, in the ‘potential’ (sic) of Labour to deliver in the broadest and most fundamental way. Given that the Irish voter does, every now and again (since the foundation of the State), make a lunge to the left – with very positive, (if electorally short-lived), results, this is not an entirely witless policy.
However, whatever small chance there may be of re-electing a reasonable ‘critical mass’ of coherent Labour TDs and Senators to the next Dail and Seanad to keep the Plough and the Stars flying in Leinster House, it will be minimal, if not non-existent, if the next Labour leader cannot enter a credible dialogue with us, the people.
If our citizens want to live in a Republic, every individual among them must take that Republic back into their homes. They can start by engaging the new Labour leadership in serious debate during the few months remaining for this Government. If that turns out simply to be a ‘dialogue of the deaf’, then they will have to look at and engage with those among their fellow-citizens who share their views. Take whatever means are necessary to ensure that there is at least the makings of a genuine pragmatic social democratic presence in Leinster House.
Tralee, Co Kerry