Sandy, Sharland en fam

12July2014 Sandy, Sharland en fam

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage toget round the park. SaNDY, Sharland.Poots, Anna And sTEFAN Come for Mary’s birthday party

ScrabbleIwin, but gets under 400. perhaps Marywill win tomorrow.


Eileen Ford – obituary

Eileen Ford was a matriarch of the modelling world who ushered in the ‘supermodel’ — but banned hanky panky

Eileen Ford


5:27PM BST 11 Jul 2014


Eileen Ford, who has died aged 92, founded what became the world’s biggest model agency in 1946 and came to rival that other Ford, Henry (no relation), as an embodiment of the American Dream.

Before Ford Models arrived, modelling was a hobby for society girls before they found a husband and something poor girls did but were seldom paid for. Working in partnership with her husband Jerry, who managed the business side of things, Eileen Ford turned modelling into a respectable and highly lucrative career, ushering in the age of the “supermodel”.

When she began her agency, Eileen Ford was pregnant with her first child and living with her parents. From representing a couple of friends, by 1948 she had more than 30 girls on her books, bringing in revenues of $250,000. Her husband joined her in the business and they opened an office on Second Avenue, New York.

At the time, the American fashion industry and beauty business were beginning to eclipse their rivals in Paris. Eileen Ford provided the faces to sell their products; soon both the products and the models became international household names. Her mission was to make American beauty the international standard and she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams: “Everyone wants to look American,” she claimed after a visit to Europe in 1958.

Eileen (left), and Jerry Ford with (l-r) models Sunny Redmond and Jane Gill (GARRY SETTLE/NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX/EYEVINE)

With some notable exceptions, the typical Ford model changed remarkably little over the decades. She was tall, willowy, usually blonde, and fresh-faced, with wide-set eyes and a long neck. Early stars, like Suzy Parker and Jean Patchett, set the template for their successors — Lauren Hutton, Kim Basinger, Elle Macpherson, Brooke Shields and Christy Turlington — to name a few. “I create a look and I create a style,’’ Eileen Ford explained.

She did not spare the feelings of those who fell short of the ideal. Lynn Kohlman was told to get a nose job; Birgitta af Klercker was told she was fat and had crooked teeth; anyone under 5 ft 7 in was told to forget it: “If you’re short you’re not going to model. That’s it,” she said.

Eileen Ford was similarly robust in rejecting charges that the fashion industry promotes an unhealthy body image: “I never worry about fat people worrying about thin people, because slender people bury the dead,’’ she observed. Yet she disdained the 1990s waif look, predicting that it would not last. “I don’t want a girl who is a little of this and a little of that,” she said. “I want her to be truly beautiful in a very feminine way. I want her to have good shoulders — broad — and a good chest but I don’t mean huge bazookas sticking out like balloons. I mean well formed. Long legs are essential.”

Eileen Ford made it her business to cultivate every aspect of her girls, from their looks to their personalities, often accommodating newcomers in her Manhattan home so that she could “keep a close eye” on them. A young Kim Basinger was forbidden to go out until she had finished her French homework and strict curfews were imposed on the youngest girls. Her charges would often be expected to accompany the Fords to help out on their New Jersey farm at weekends while, to ensure they got up to no hanky panky, Eileen would act as chaperone on trips to the cinema or theatre. To preserve their “apple pie” image, she refused to let her models promote products that might demand the baring of more than a modicum of bosom.

Tending to blisters: Eileen Ford applies ointment to model Sandra Nelson’s feet (NINA LEEN/TIME & LIFE PICTURES/GETTY)

Some models complained that the Ford agency was like a nunnery, and in the 1970s it began to lose out to racier concerns, most notably Elite, the agency founded by John Casablancas, who wooed defectors with Champagne and promises of a wilder, more exotic lifestyle. In 1977, after Casablancas poached three members of staff from Ford, Eileen sent them copies of the Bible with Jesus’s words to Judas underlined in red — then filed a $7.5 million lawsuit. She lost, prompting stories of Ford girls being banned from going to Studio 54, a Casablancas hangout, in case they did not return. Some went, in spite of her strictures.

In fact Eileen Ford had herself been accused of poaching from smaller agencies. All the same Casablancas’s description of her as “a snake with seven heads: cut off six and she still has one left to bite you’’, was, perhaps, a little over the top.

Despite her longevity in the business, Eileen Ford never got bored: “I have always been consumed with fashion,’’ she said, “and live every day of my life to read Women’s Wear Daily. I really care whether skirts are long or short.’’ She had once considered going to law school, she recalled: “Just imagine if I had done that. I would be looking things up in law books now. How lucky I’ve been.’’

Eileen Ford shows Anita Ekberg how to tilt her nose (LISA LARSEN/TIME & LIFE PICTURES/GETTY)

She was born Eileen Cecile Otte on March 25 1922, in Manhattan, the only daughter of four children. Her father, Nathaniel, was the owner of a credit-rating company while her mother, Loretta, had been the first model ever hired by the clothing chain Best & Company. Both parents were Quakers and Eileen claimed to have learned the “right and wrong way to do things” from their example: “It was unheard of not to pay your bills,” she recalled. But, “there was no need to discuss ‘tolerance’ because it just didn’t happen. I was expected to do things properly and to the best of my ability.”

Eileen grew up in Manhattan and in Great Neck, Long Island. She studied Psychology at Barnard College and, during summer holidays, worked as a model for the Harry Conover agency. After graduating in 1943, she worked as a photographer’s stylist, copy writer and fashion reporter.

In 1944 she met and married Jerry Ford, then serving in the US Navy. After the war he worked as an accountant before joining his wife’s business. While Eileen became the face of the agency and chief talent scout, Jerry worked to improve models’ pay and conditions and later created the lucrative multi-million dollar commercial and cosmetics contracts that are the bread and butter of today’s supermodels.

Eileen Ford comperes the Supermodel of the World final in Chicago in 2004 (REX)

Many Ford models went on to successful careers in Hollywood, among them Suzy Parker, Jane Fonda, Ali MacGraw, Brooke Shields, Candice Bergen, Kim Basinger, Lauren Hutton and Jean Shrimpton. In fact the Fords were so successful that the perceived glamour of modelling began to overtake that of Hollywood, with the result that, instead of models becoming actresses, many actresses began queueing to become models.

As part of their response to growing competition the Fords set up a new division for creative artists, alongside divisions for plus-sized models, older models and children.

In 1980 Eileen Ford founded an international contest which became known as the Ford Supermodel of the World.

Jerry Ford died in 2006. Eileen Ford is survived by their son and three daughters.

Eileen Ford, born March 25 1922, died July 10 2014


It is now 10 years since the international court of justice ruled that the wall built by Israel in the occupied West Bank contravenes international law and must be removed. Israel is marking this anniversary with renewed attacks on Gaza which continue to punish the Palestinians for resisting the illegal occupation of their land (Israel turns screw on Hamas as 300 targets are hit in a single night, 11 July). The apartheid wall is still there, making any kind of normal life for Palestinians an impossibility, as well as stealing their land. It is 47 years since Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, thus extending the process (begun in 1948) of ethnically cleansing the indigenous population and then installing settlers.

All this is illegal under international law, which has been flouted by Israel, aided by the complicity of western governments. The media too, especially the BBC, must bear some responsibility with its grotesquely biased reporting which, as Owen Jones notes (9 July), portrays Israel as an innocent victim, exempt from any norms of behaviour. Our government will not hold Israel accountable, so we have a responsibility to do so, especially through the civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Miriam Margolyes, Mike Marqusee, Alexei Sayle, Ahdaf Soueif, Prof Haim Bresheeth, Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, Prof Moshe Machover, Prof Nira Yuval-Davies, Seymour Alexander, Rica Bird, Elizabeth Carola, Mike Cushman, Judit Druks, Nancy Elan, Mark Elf, Deborah Fink, Sylvia Finzi, Kenneth Fryde, Claire Glasman, Tony Greenstein, Abe Hayeem, Rosamine Hayeem, Selma James, Riva Joffe, Michael Kalmanovitz, Adah Kay, Leah Levane, Les Levidow, Mica Nava, Diane Neslen, Susan Pashkoff, Roland Rance, Leon Rosselson, Maureen Rothstein, Michael Sackin, Ian Saville, Miriam Scharf, Sam Weinstein, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Devra Wiseman, Ben Young
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

• Debate about strategy is vital for good politics. We welcome Noam Chomsky‘s admonitions as a stimulus to the debate and education which the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement has enabled globally. Aside from the errors of fact in Chomsky’s Nation article reported on by Ian Black (Israeli sanctions campaign: Chomsky’s boycott warning, 2 July), the timing of his intervention is unfortunate since the BDS movement has now reached even American campuses, occasioned Israeli cabinet deliberations as to how to counter it, and caused reputational damage to corporations working with Israeli firms in occupied Palestine.

Chomsky also ignores that BDS is fully backed by Palestinian civil society and a growing number of Israelis. In this difficult period for progressive politics and international solidarity, the BDS movement builds across the globe. In its stead Chomsky proposes nothing.
Hilary Rose Professor emeritus of social policy, Bradford, Martha Mundy Professor emeritus in anthropology, LSE, Steven Rose Professor emeritus of neuroscience, Open University, Sami Ramadani London Metropolitan University

This week on the Today programme, George Osborne brushed aside questions on the impact of Conservative actions over the last four years on Indian students entering this country. At Leeds University, of which I am chancellor, between 2009 and 2012 the master’s intake dropped by two thirds from 418 to 141. These students have traditionally been fine ambassadors for the UK, enriching to the scholarship of the university and not unimportant for the economy of Leeds itself. The clumsy visa changes are one cause of this dramatic drop. So is the debarring decision to cut down opportunities for these students to work here for two years after they graduate. The anti-student immigration rhetoric of some Tories and the press made negative headlines and caused outrage in India. As we close our doors to these brilliant young people, the US and Australia open theirs wider and welcome them in. They can’t believe their luck. We can’t credit our loss.
Melvyn Bragg

With reference to the 4.5 million self-employed left out of official statistics (ONS figures understate fall in pay, 10 July), it is also worth noting that many of these “self-employed” are not independent traders but work for large companies, hired to do the same tasks as regular employees but without entitlements to sickness or pension benefits or job security.
Susanne MacGregor

• In 1996 I returned my Labour party membership card in two pieces to Tony Blair because he didn’t punish Harriet Harman for sending her son to a selective grammar school (Blair replied that Ms Harman had the right to decide what was best for her family). Harman wants a level playing field when it comes to gender and her own political career (Report, 9 July) but not when it comes to the education of her children and mine.
Neil Ferguson

• Do women really have a voice in politics and the media? I have noticed the heavy male bias on the Guardian letters page. Correspondents who frequently appear – eg Bob Holman, Brian Smith, Keith Flett – are all male. Where are your female regulars?
Jean McGowan

“Let’s start a feminist party” says Suzanne Moore (G2, 10 July). We’re surprised she genuinely seems unaware that feminism is, and always has been, at the core of Green party philosophy since its foundation 40 years ago. However, she’s only following your normal editorial practice of ignoring the Green party.
Sue and Steve Boulding
Baschurch, Shropshire

• For an even better alternative jazz station (Letters, 11 July), try with continuous music. Not even a DJ. Just the occasional station identification. There are similar radioswiss online stations to suit other tastes as well.
Patrick Billingham

• For those with eclectic musical tastes I would highly recommend KCRW from Los Angeles, or FIP (Paris) if you like a French slant.
Marc Tischkowitz
Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire

Geoffrey Robertson QC suggests that the Charity Commission does not understand what causes are good (The Charity Commission doesn’t know what charity is, 5 June).

He was referring to the commission’s decision not to register the Human Dignity Trust as a charity. The trust supports those who seek to challenge legislation criminalising consensual sexual activity between same sex adults in certain foreign jurisdictions. The trust appealed our decision to the Charity Tribunal which has now ruled that it is a charity.

Robertson was wrong to suggest that our decision was based on flawed moral judgment. As the tribunal acknowledges in its decision, we rejected the charity’s original application for reasons grounded in charity law, not moral judgment. We have always recognised the valuable work carried out by the Human Dignity Trust and the sympathy that work generates in many places.

However, as Robertson well knows, the commission’s duty is to assess whether an organisation is charitable in law. We cannot make our decisions based on value judgments about the merits of an organisation’s aims. We made our original decision on the basis of an interpretation of the law. We are glad that it is now clarified.
William Shawcross
Chairman, Charity Commission 

Illustration: GKIMAGES.COM

As the death toll among the illegally occupied and blockaded Palestinians races beyond 100 (Report, 11 July), the world impotently looks on. It is time for supporters of social justice and human rights to be heard. Leading up to the current onslaught against Gazan residents there has been a steady accumulation of children killed by Israeli forces throughout Gaza and the West Bank. This escalation has happened against the constant backdrop of disruption, arrest and harassment of civilians by occupying military forces. It is clear that time and time again it is ordinary people, especially children, who bear the brutal burden of fatalities and casualties that accompany the fierce bombardments and threats of troops on the streets.

As groups interested in supporting vulnerable people we are only too well aware of the long-term consequences of poverty, dispossession and trauma for developing children, adults and communities. All life is sacred and there is no justification for violence against civilians. However, the sight of one of the world’s military superpowers repeatedly inflicting collective punishment and terror on a people illegally occupied and held in an apartheid state is an affront to human decency. We urge the UN security council to take a decisive stance on the wholesale violations of human rights abuses and to give protection to the Palestinians. The international community must demand the end to injustice and human rights for all Palestinians.
Rupert Franklin and Guy Shennan
Palestine UK Social Work Network
Martin Kemp
UK Palestine Mental Health Network

• Hamas must be disarmed for the sake of both Israel and the Palestinian authority. Hamas is recognised by the EU as a terrorist organisation. Its charter calls for the destruction of Israel and it has fired thousands of rockets into civilian areas. Though no one has been killed recently, Hamas’s goal with each shot was attempted mass murder. Hamas cannot be a partner with Fatah either. Can one imagine a government with its own army and 10,000 rockets? How can the central government in Ramallah exercise any control over this rogue entity? Only when Hamas is disarmed can there be a Palestinian government. Only then will the Palestinian authority have a chance of reaching a deal for a two-state solution. This depends, of course, on the Arab League deciding Israel has a right to exist in the Middle East. In the meantime, Hamas will use civilians as human shields, and women and children will die. Dead civilians (real or fake) will be a PR coup for the terrorists and antisemites worldwide will rant and rave.
Len Bennett
Montreal, Quebec

• I’ve been an active and vocal supporter of the BBC for the whole of my adult life, admiring its courage and commitment to the values of fairness that we in England claim to cherish. The BBC’s famous impartiality made it a global standard of honest journalism. But now that reputation is being eroded. It’s a drift I started to notice a few years ago, and which I think has become very obvious.

The most recent incident concerns the killing of three Israeli teenagers in Hebron. This admittedly disgusting crime has received an entirely disproportionate treatment: listening to the BBC one would be left with the impression that killing children had never happened in Israel before. But it has. And it happens with monotonous regularity. Not, by and large, to Israeli children, but to Palestinians. And not only killing, but imprisonment and torture and day-to-day harassment and brutality. This goes on all the time – and I see little reaction to it from the international media. Unfortunately, that increasingly includes the BBC, which now, like many others, seems to regard Palestinian lives as less valuable, less newsworthy.

The following is taken from the recent UN general assembly security council report A/68/878-S/2014/339  – Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children: “In 2013, eight Palestinian children were killed by Israelis, and no Israeli children were killed by Palestinians” – p17/50; “1,265 Palestinian children were injured by Israelis, and eight Israeli children were injured by Palestinians” – p17/50.

“1,004 Palestinian children were arrested by Israeli security forces, with 107 of them (including five children under the age of 12) reporting cruel and degrading ill-treatment by the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli police, including painful restraint, blindfolding, strip-searching, verbal and physical abuse, solitary confinement and threats of violence” – p18/50

There were 58 education-related incidents affecting over 11,000 Palestinian children, with 41 of them involving Israeli security forces operations near or inside schools, forced entry without forewarning, the firing of tear gas canisters and sound bombs into school yards and, in some cases, structural damage to schools. In 15 of the incidents, Israeli security forces fired tear gas canisters into schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), some during class hours, without forewarning – p19/50

Can the BBC honestly say its recent coverage reflects this balance of events?
Brian Eno

• Following the Israeli airstrikes against Gaza, you published a letter headed “Brutality of the Israel crackdown” and a cartoon mocking Netanyahu against a background of violence by Israel. Nowhere in the letter is there a reference to the hundreds of rockets fired by Hamas at Israel and Steve Bell’s cartoon ignores the fact acknowledged even by Arab commentators that Netanyahu was resisting military involvement in Gaza, his hand being forced by the aggressive bombardment. The Guardian reflection on this latest crisis only underlines its perceived bias.
Paul Miller

• Without in any way seeking to condone Israel’s counterproductive overreaction to the murder of the three teenagers, would it not have helped the Palestinian cause had Hamas been as assiduous in pursuing those responsible for that crime as the Israelis have been in tracking down the murderers of Muhammad Khdair?

As for the ineffective rocket attacks, what purpose do they achieve other than to provoke Israeli overreaction to the political benefit of Hamas? Perhaps Mr Barghouti (The world must intervene to restrain the Israeli army, 10 July) should be seeking to restrain Hamas as much as he tries to persuade the world to restrain the Israeli army.
Roy Boffy

• Michael Herzog (A necessary show of force, 11 July) asks “what would be a proportionate response to hundreds of rockets … targeting Israeli civilians?” Perhaps an Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 border, a dismantling of all Israeli settlements beyond that border and an acceptance of an independent Palestinian state might be a start.
John Warburton

• Israel’s actions in Gaza are yet another deplorable reminder of the savagery that is aerial bombardment (Israel turns screw on Hamas as 300 targets are hit in single night, 11 July). US and EU leaders can hardly condemn the action, however, as it is their own modus operandi when it comes to dealing with enemies. The human suffering wreaked by the RAF’s “precision bombing” on the people of Tripoli, Sirte, Brega, Zliten and other Libyan cities was no different from what we are now seeing in Gaza.
Peter McKenna


We have sleep-walked into an Orwellian state (report, 11 July) and the beneficiaries are not the people themselves but the security apparatus.

I have no doubt the security services have a difficult job but legally extending blanket surveillance harms all of us.  Because there will always be those, across all industries, who will abuse their powers.

Bush introduced the Patriot Act after 9/11 to protect the US from terrorism. Instead, he created the terrorists who now frighten us into giving up our freedom and privacy. He gave the CIA and the NSA far-reaching powers – making them (along with our own security services) the new untouchables. Absolute power now resides with the spooks.

Snowden shocked the world when he highlighted mass surveillance and now the UK has legally extended what the European Court ruled is a breach of our privacy and human rights.

The Emergency Data Retention & Investigative Powers Bill was deliberately pushed through with no time for parliament to debate it against a backdrop of leaks designed to frighten our MPs into implementing it.

No one argues that a suspect shouldn’t be subject to surveillance – though even that wasn’t enough to prevent Lee Rigby’s murder. It’s the old-fashioned surveillance of targeted individuals that will protect us – not a free-for-all to spy on everyone.

The most dangerous criminals and terrorists will never use the same phone twice. They will become experts in masking their digital identities. But the rest of us will suffer, along with democracy itself.

The modern Doreen Lawrences and John Stalkers; the whistleblowers striving to inform us; the journalists trying to break unpalatable news about the state – these are the people we risk silencing in this scary, brave new world.

Stefan Wickham

Hove, East Sussex

It’s a classic example of what is meant by the term “the establishment”. A key component of the deep state, the security services, cracked the whip to those politicians who are most sympathetic to them; the party leaders were summoned, and an announcement was made that legislation will be pushed through. A few  MPs will be defiant but most will follow their leaders, and the people who really rule will get their way.

And there will be more. The desire for control is  in the DNA of officialdom and enough is never enough for long.

Roger Schafir

London N21


Historical parallels in Israel’s situation

Robert Fisk (10 July) displays a woeful ignorance of British history when he asserts that Canada did not push its original inhabitants out.

In 1857, Queen Victoria selected Ottawa to serve as the capital of the colony. The aboriginal inhabitants were removed to reservations, their land seized and the city built. Aboriginal reservations were ruled by brutal laws intended to assure aboriginal people could never assert their rights.

Ignoring British imperial history suggests that Israel is without parallel and therefore to be judged by standards unlike any other nation. No one demands Canadian settler populations restore the land to its original inhabitants who remain subject to appalling conditions on reserves.

Ignoring complex histories will not allow Israelis or Canadians to confront the legacy of injustice.

Dr Pamela J Walker

Professor of History

Carleton University Ottawa, Canada


Robert Fisk “forgets” that in November 1947 the Palestinian Jewish community accepted the UN partition plan which called for the establishment of two states in Mandatory Palestine. The Arabs not only rejected the UN plan, they started a war; they objected to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, regardless of its size. In spite of the help they got from the regular armies of the Arab states, they lost and brought nothing but disaster to the Palestinian Arabs.

Had the Arabs accepted the partition, their state would be 66 years old now; there would have been no refugees and the lives of thousands, on both sides, would have been spared.

What is more, Hamas is not fighting to end the occupation, but to end Israel’s existence. That is why thousands of rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israeli towns and villages. In many places the residents have only 15 seconds to reach a shelter after the alarm sounds. No country can be expected to tolerate such attacks on its citizens. Israel may be criticised for the intensity of its military actions in Gaza, but would the UK respond any differently if hundreds of missiles were fired on its cities by terrorists?

Dr Jacob Amir

Jerusalem, Israel

Israel is being blamed for the current escalation in the Middle East (11 July), although it is Hamas that started the conflict.

The Arab world is in turmoil, but the engine that drives it is powered not by the Israel-Palestine dispute, but by Sunni-Shiite sectarianism. What better way to shift the focus to Israel than to attack her with rockets, thereby forcing her to respond?

Israel, however, instead of escalating, should channel its rage towards finding a peaceful solution, whose framework has now existed for several years. This involves land swap, whereby the Palestinians cede their claims to the larger Israeli settlements in return for which Israel would surrender territory in predominantly Arab areas.

It is a pity that although this proposal has been on the table for many years, President Mahmoud Abbas, instead of signing the proposal, chose to build bridges with Hamas, thereby sowing the seeds for the current conflict.

Randhir Singh Bains

Gants Hill, Essex

The Netanyahu brigade are warming up for another war. As Israeli peace activist Miko Peled has said, each war is provoked or started by the Zionists. At the peace talks John Kerry, Joe Biden and Barack Obama all blamed the breakdown on the Netanyahu cabinet, not the rest of the Israelis.

With the Caliphate gaining ground on the back of Saudi money and Wahhabi fanaticism, how long before the Islamists appear in Palestine? Then woe betide not only the Jews, but the Palestinian Muslims and Christians too.

We in the West owe the Palestinians our support. But it is needed now.

Peter Downey



The rights and wrongs of strikes

Julie Partridge (letter, 11 July) seems to think it would be inconsistent to require at least 50 per cent of union members to vote for strike action while allowing many MPs to take their seats on a turnout of under 50 per cent. This accusation of hypocrisy has been heard across all media in recent days but the comparison is a spurious one. In a general, local or mayoral election, everyone who will be directly affected by the outcome is given the opportunity to vote. This is clearly not the case with unions deciding to strike – as everyone affected by Thursday’s industrial action will have noticed!

Keith Gilmour


My advice to any striking fool: if you can get a better deal elsewhere, take it. However, if you can’t, shut up and be glad you have a job at all! If you still want to strike, don’t block access to work to others… and expect to be fired for stupidity and for damaging the very person or company that employs you!

Further – people who get paid by taxpayers should not be allowed to strike at all, because the public purse is not a bottomless pit from which they can extort money at whim.

Fred Nicholson

Westcliff, Essex

Talk of ‘france’s woes’ smacks of jealousy

Hamish McRae may crow on about meaningless growth figures (“Britain and France have very different strengths, but only one of their economies is thriving”, 9 July), but he forgets completely that France has a state pension worthy of its name, a health service which still works, education which is free, laic and open to all, doesn’t have hordes of people without proper homes to go to and doesn’t massage employment figures with zero-hours contracts and “McJobs”.

Moreover the railways are efficient and effective, traffic jams are relatively rare, as are bacchanalian orgies on Friday nights. I’ve chosen where I prefer to live and can only see these constant references to “France’s woes” as a kind of jealousy when it is seen how much better life is on the other side of the tunnel.

Terence Hollingworth

Blagnac, France


One hundred more moments, please

Today marks the end of The Independent’s “Great War in a Hundred Moments”, a superb, insightful series that seems to have gone over the top a bit early, over before even the lamps have gone out all over Europe.

The 1914-18 War lasted about 1,500 days, so lots of time please for several more “100 Great Moments”.

Jeff Wright

Broughton, Hampshire

Taking sides on Scottish vote

I have been impressed by the number of articles about the Scottish referendum this week. But are you not sending subliminal messages in support of the Yes vote with the title of this newspaper?

Rob Davidson



Getty Images

Published at 4:46PM, July 11 2014

Gandhi deserves a statue on the strength of his policy of non-violence

Sir, No freedom fighter deserves a statue in Parliament Square more than Mahatma Gandhi (Opinion, July 11). His policy of non-violence ensured that India’s independence movement remained on the right side of history and on the right side of morality.

Gandhi did more than just fight for independence, however. He created a legacy in which British rule could be seen not only as an epitome of nastiness but also as a force for good. This explains why, even after 200 years of British rule, Indians still feel no resentment or hatred towards the British.

Randhir Singh Bains

Gants Hill, Essex

Sir, Peter Watson argues that the initiative to erect a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square should be applauded. I disagree.

First, a statue of Gandhi already exists in Tavistock Square, near the British Museum. Second, Gandhi’s reputation is not without blemish. On December 24, 1940, he congratulated his “dear friend”Adolf Hitler on his “bravery and devotion to [his] fatherland”. He had sent similar letters in the 1930s. Gandhi also preferred to trust India’s fate to “God or the Japanese” rather than the hated British.

Following the old principle of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” led the “pacifist” Gandhi to keep some unusual company.

Anthony Martin

London SE15

Sir, There are already ten statues in Parliament Square: seven British prime ministers, one South African prime minister, and two presidents. All were considered to have been outstanding statesmen of their time. Gandhi never held high office and although he was a great man he was not, strictly speaking, a statesman.

Dennis Lanner

Guestling, E Sussex

Sir, Sikhs in India would be proud that a statue of Mahatma Gandhi will be installed in Westminster Square. It is some Sikhs in the West who have developed an extreme ideology of victimhood and a consequent hostility to India based on the massacre that followed the assassination of Mrs Gandhi by a Sikh bodyguard. Some of these Sikhs have probably never been to India. Their claims that Gandhi was a racist, a “sexual weirdo” and a proponent of the caste system are risible. Gandhi was anything but a racist, and his support for the rights of Muslims led to his assassination. He worked hard to free people from their belief in a caste hierarchy. As for being a “sexual weirdo”, there may be some purchase here. He was obsessed with the notion of celibacy which is an important part of Hindu mythology and theology. He tested himself in unusual ways which could and does attract criticism because he was selfish in getting young women to play a part in testing his willpower. He was a complex man but his life, work and achievements have secured his place in history as an extraordinary and great leader. He ranks with Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, who were both inspired by him.

Malathy Sitaram


Sir, Forgive my cynicism but if we are erecting a statue to the Father of India and former opponent of the British Empire could we not erect one of Michael Collins, who fought for freedom from English rule too?

Anne Hewson

Macclesfield, Cheshire

The path from girls in sport to women in power seems to make a detour to the winner’s rostrum

Sir, I am intrigued by some of the events listed in DB Jenkin’s delightful letter about sports day at a girls’ school in 1914 (“High jinks”, July 10).

“Flat”, “balls” and “consolation” should be revived; and in such a disappointing sporting year as this, are events in which Britain would surely excel.

Bernard Kingston

Biddenden, Kent

Sir, I notice that both football World Cup finalists are countries led by a woman. Come to think of it, England seemed to do better in the Eighties and indeed in 1990.

Hugh Schollick

Southport, Merseyside

A solver of the Quick Cryptic is entertained by an ingenious spoonerism clue and solution combo

Sir, 3 Down in Quick Cryptic 88 (July 9): “Actor representing Spooner’s announcement of American general’s defeat” (6,6). Solution: “Buster Keaton”. Congratulations, Izetti, you made my day.

Judith Thunhurst


Pies are growlers, sausages are snarlers, so what, pray, should we call trotters?

Sir, Michael Barton (letter, July 10) says that on the Wirral pork pies are known as “growlers”. In New Zealand we call sausages “snarlers”.

What, I wonder, is the accepted synonym for trotters?

Dr David Mitchell

c/o Hundleby, Lincs

A veteran BBC newsman laments the wodges of cookery programmes which fill the schedules these days

Sir, I hope your readers will join me in complaining about the excess of cooking programmes on BBC TV and other channels. On Thursday the BBC devoted two hours of primetime TV to cooking. I am a passionate foodie but I look to the media to provide a more substantial and varied diet. I fear it is cost-cutting that is leading to this lazy and predictable programming. After 50 years in broadcasting, I have lots of new ideas, but the chefs always take precedence.

Julian Pettifer

Marlborough, Wilts

A reader and correspondent believes that people write to The Times from only the most disinterested motives

Sir, In 1977 I wrote to The Times about the way racial issues were being covered. Like your correspondent, I received back my letter set in type with the comment that I would see that the editor hoped to print it: “Unfortunately, this has after all not been possible, but your comments have been read with interest here.”

This was most gratifying as that of course is the only reason we write letters to The Times.

Michael Henderson

Westward Ho! Devon


SIR – As Geoffrey Lean points out, the Prime Minister’s plan to develop new antibiotics won’t solve anything if the new drugs are over-used like most antibiotics to date. This is why innovation is only half the answer, and stewardship must be the priority.

We must put public health above economic interests. Almost half of all the antibiotics in Britain are given to intensively farmed livestock, mostly pigs and poultry, to ensure they survive the overcrowded and unhygienic conditions they live in. This is leading to antimicrobial resistance in people. Of urgent concern is the death toll of 5,000 people a year, in England alone, from resistant E. coli.

Alison Craig
Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics
Salisbury, Wiltshire

SIR – Over a decade ago, as an NHS GP, I wondered why female patients often returned more than once for the same urinary tract infection. I had treated them with a broad-spectrum antibiotic and expected their problem to subside. Closer investigation revealed that up to 30 per cent of urine specimens were contaminated. This adds up to 22 million specimens a year that cannot be read, wasting time and money and a huge quantity of antibiotics, and fuelling the problem of antibiotic resistance.

I invented a low-tech specimen collection system, which won an NHS and other awards for its efficacy, hygiene and long-term cost savings. It is a right-first-time treatment, precluding the over-prescription of antibiotics and has proven, peer-reviewed clinical evidence.

The company I co-founded has largely been met with negativity by an NHS procurement body that refuses to countenance additional expenditure on a basic but critical process they hitherto have not invested in. Silo thinking remains alive in the NHS, notwithstanding “reforms”.

Dr Vincent Forte
London EC2

The Snoopers’ Charter

SIR – The Government claims we need a snoopers’ charter to protect us from the terrorists, rioting hoodies and Rolf Harrises of the world.

However, the snag with universal snooping is that it produces false positives. The cost of investigating the innocent thousands will drain resources, allowing real terrorists to avoid detection, and turn more people against Britain and its values.

Barry Tighe
Woodford Green, Essex

SIR – I have watched with amazement the opposition growing to the appointment of Baroness Butler-Sloss to inquire into the allegations of paedophilia at Westminster.

I know her and have appeared before her in the Court of Appeal. She is entirely fearless in seeking the truth. The fact that her brother was once the Attorney General and then briefly Lord Chancellor would not affect her in the slightest.

When the objectors talk about integrity they are really talking about what they see as apparent bias, which is not the same thing. Integrity means coming to the problem with a wholly open mind; that she will do. She is right not to recuse herself.

Joseph Harper QC
London EC4

Job interview feedback

SIR – It is understandable that it is uneconomic for every job application to be acknowledged. But surely if an applicant is asked for interview, they should receive feedback on their performance.

In recent days my son travelled for 12 hours for an hour-long job interview; on another occasion he had a telephone interview, face-to-face interview, and numerous additional tests, including a role-play exercise. Despite several follow-up emails, he heard nothing more from either company.

There should be a code of practice to ensure feedback is given, even in standard rejection letters, and companies that do not comply should be named and shamed.

Sheila Peel
Crook, Co Durham

All of a flutter

SIR – I live south of Lincoln and I hold my hands up to having a profusion of butterflies and moths (Letters, July 10).

I do not have a single buddleia bush to my name, but there are many grasses, which they seem to adore.

Heather M Tanner
Earl Soham, Suffolk

SIR – Never mind the butterflies: it is surely summer itself which has fled.

After a mild winter, there was an explosively lush spring, followed by signs of what the Americans term “fall” before midsummer. Autumn berries proliferate, but birds, bees and butterflies are absent.

Anthony Rodriguez
Staines Upon Thames, Middlesex

Stiff price for a skiff

SIR – I think we can top Dr Ian Cowley’s £96 per mile cost for public transport (Letters, July 10).

One may cross into Mexico from Texas’s Big Bend National Park to a village called Boquillas del Carmen. While it is quite possible to walk across the Rio Grande in dry season, when it is reduced to a muddy stream about 15 metres wide, the locals charge you $5 (£2.90) a head for a skiff journey that takes just two strokes of the oar. I calculate this to be around £309 per mile. And they expect a tip.

Richard Coleman
St Albans, Hertfordshire

Volunteer reserves

SIR – The growing cultural isolation of our regular Armed Forces is a key reason why we need volunteer forces embedded in the civilian community. In a democracy, there are few examples of armed forces thriving for long in an exclusively regular structure. Some countries traditionally have had conscription. Some, such as France and Italy, have a gendarmerie, trained in military skills and deployed in communities. Anglophone countries, outside major wars, have always relied on volunteer reserves.

Reserves are not a substitute for regulars. Their roles are to provide an affordable framework for expansion, a source of civilian talent and skills and, crucially, the link between the Armed Forces and the wider civilian community.

The RNR, Army Reserve and RAuxAF have between them around 350 training centres across the country. Their active members include directors of FTSE companies, journalists and five MPs.

Historically, Britain’s reserves were a much larger part of the Forces than today. In America, Canada and Australia, they form a larger proportion of the forces than in Britain. If we are to remain close to, and willing to pay for, our Forces, we need reserves in our communities helping to develop leaders who understand defence.

Julian Brazier MP (Con)
London SW1

Young athletes

SIR – Morgan Lake has withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games because her father wasn’t allowed to stay in the Games Village. At the same age in 1956, I competed in the Melbourne Olympics, travelling there with three other 17-year-old athletes, a team manager and a chaperone.

We were away from home for six weeks and had no contact with our families apart from letters. We came home with a gold and a bronze medal and two finalists.

Margaret Wilding (née Edwards)
Burgess Hill, West Sussex

Something fishy

SIR – My son and his family moved to Suwanee, Georgia, last week. One evening, they went to a local restaurant. They all had fish and chips served in greaseproof paper printed to look like a newspaper. It was The Daily Telegraph, dated April 14, 1969: the day my son was born.

Ann Seddon
Hayling Island, Hampshire

Heads up: the Elgin Marbles have lain in the British Museum’s Duveen Galleries since 1962  Photo: Bloomberg News/Graham Barclay

6:59AM BST 11 Jul 2014


SIR – It is wholly inappropriate for the Elgin Marbles – or Parthenon marbles – to be housed in the British Museum’s Duveen Galleries (“Elgin Marbles moved for first time in over half a century”).

These galleries are named after Joseph Duveen (1869-1939), who made a fortune by buying Old Masters for a song from impoverished aristocrats and selling them on to American millionaires. In return for lavish donations to the museum, he was made a trustee in 1929, becoming the first dealer ever to buy his way on to the board.

The marbles were lucky to escape serious damage. According to his fellow trustee, Lord Crawford, Duveen wanted them to be “thoroughly cleaned – so thoroughly he would dip them into acid”.

Lord Lexden
London SW1

SIR – I am a small-business owner. When the financial crisis hit, my income dropped by 60 per cent pretty much overnight. Even now it is only at 70 per cent of pre-crisis levels. Small- and medium-enterprise owners are the backbone of the British economy and when times are tough, we tighten our belts and soldier on.

Public-sector workers still enjoy very generous pension schemes that will drain the public purse for many years to come. Rather than striking, they should knuckle down and work in unison with private-sector employees to contribute to Britain’s economic recovery, which is the envy of many of our European neighbours.

James Lindon-Travers
Cobham, Surrey

SIR – You question the timing of the public-sector strike, because “the economy is roaring ahead”.

However, that is precisely the reason that public-sector workers such as myself went on strike: we, too, want to share in the proceeds of growth. Why should we be treated differently to the bankers, whose bonuses have shot back up to pre-recession levels?

Public-sector workers feel that we are being treated as collateral damage for the austerity drive, with our sacrifice essential to balancing our fragile economy and getting the Government re-elected. But we are also human beings with bills to pay and mouths to feed – not to mention votes to cast.

Bobby Smith
Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire

SIR – Do head teachers send letters to striking teachers’ homes, fining them for taking time out? Their absence from the workplace is no different to a parent removing a child for a holiday in term time.

Charlotte Phillips
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

SIR – My daughter is a nurse who works shifts in a major trauma unit. She cannot strike – although there are many reasons why NHS personnel should do so – without risking her continuity of service for pension and other things.

She has four sons, two in primary school, and twins in nursery. She was told, at short notice, that the primary school would not be able to arrange cover for striking teachers yesterday, and that parents should make other arrangements.

My son-in-law’s work is also very intense and his schedule cannot be changed at short notice.

Surely the education authorities have a duty of care to children whose parents are unable to make arrangements for situations beyond their control, and which are caused by a disagreement between the education authorities and the unions.

Moreover, if key workers, such as nurses, are not able to strike because it affects their employment records and pensions, why does this not apply to the education sector?

R P Draper
Burgess Hill, West Sussex

Irish Times:

Sir, – The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (and the young people for whom it has vital responsibility) looks to be no more than a political football in the proverbial schoolyard. Charlie Flanagan has held that portfolio in Cabinet since May and now moves on. What message does that temporary little assignment send out? – Yours, etc,


Marley Avenue,


Dublin 16.

Sir, – It’s possible there might be people who are genuinely deluded enough to think a few new faces around the Cabinet table signals that the political class has learned the lessons of the May election results.

Such a delusion will be exposed when not one of the new appointees has the integrity to decline the pay rise that comes with their new job, even though they will happily rubber-stamp decisions by their colleagues that identify a whole range of cuts that have to be inflicted on other people. – Yours, etc,


Canary Wharf,


Sir, – In her analysis of the recent “gay marriage cake” controversy, Fionola Meredith (“Case of the ‘gay cake’ reveals worrying double standards among liberals”, Opinion & Analysis, July 11th) mischaracterises the purpose of equality legislation, both as it applies in Northern Ireland and the wider United Kingdom. Prohibiting persons who provide services to the public from discriminating on the grounds of gender, race, disability and sexual orientation, does not, nor is it intended to, require such service providers to accept, condone or promote a particular type of lifestyle.

Bakers who disagree with gay marriage are free, both before and after they sell their goods, to maintain their disagreement. What equality legislation does ensure, however, is that historically marginalised groups cannot be prevented from the most basic participation in social life, simply because the majority dislikes the type of person who makes up these groups.

In the 1960s, many service providers in the southern states of the US objected to Title II of the Civil Rights Act 1964 because they said it conflicted with both their personal, and in some cases, their religious belief in the righteousness of segregation. Should these individuals have been exempted from serving African American customers in order to shelter them from a “totalitarian impulse”?

The simple fact is that if Ashers Bakery feels it cannot provide services to large sections of society because the owner’s condemn the lifestyle of those sections, then perhaps the owners should reconsider their choice of engaging in such a public activity. – Yours, etc,


Castle Avenue,


Dublin 3.

Sir, – Those requesting the cake could (and should) have simply gone to another supplier.

I will be contacting Ashers and offering financial assistance in defending our Judeo-Christian culture, the cornerstone of our western society. – Yours, etc,


Chirnside Park,



Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 01:09

First published: Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 01:09

A chara, – John A Murphy in his article “Why we should be wary of Sinn Féin in government” (Opinion & Analysis, July 9th) states that: “Sinn Féin constantly claims to be more republican than the rest of us”. This is untrue. I have consistently stated that Sinn Féin has no monopoly on republicanism.

What is true, however, is that for several decades the word “republican” was virtually excised from political discourse in this State, not least due to the efforts of revisionist historians such as John A Murphy. I am pleased to inform the professor, however, that the growth of Sinn Féin has indeed contributed to a popularising of republican ideals.While claiming that “we are all republicans”, Prof Murphy, in the same breath, dismisses the aim of bringing Orange and Green together as “aspirational waffle”.This narrow, partitionist view rejects the approach underpinning the idea of national reconciliation and is a rejection of an inclusive definition of Irishness.

Incredibly, Prof Murphy accuses Sinn Féin of “breath-taking revisionism” for unequivocally supporting a peace process of which we were one of the architects! What is really breathtaking is the deficiency of the professor’s understanding of the most significant political development on this island since partition, namely the Belfast Agreement.

He asserts that planning for Irish unity is “a very negation of the peace process”.

However, the agreement, endorsed by the vast majority of people who share this island, explicitly provides for a peaceful path to Irish unity and Bunreacht na hÉireann was amended on that basis. Sinn Féin negotiated for this. If such a provision was absent Irish republicans and democrats would not have signed up for it. As John Hume said, it could not be an internal settlement.

What Sinn Féin is attempting to do is unprecedented. It hasn’t been done before and arguably it hasn’t been tried. We are trying to build, in two parts of a partitioned island, a national political project that transcends the border, that doesn’t succumb to partitionism, that is cohesive and continuously moving forward.

Rather than worrying about Sinn Féin, which he has been doing for as long as I can remember, perhaps Prof Murphy should look at whether this State is a real republic. Surely a rights-based, citizen-centred society would not depend on emigration as a policy choice and would protect the elderly, the young and citizens who are ill through the lack of provision of decent public services. – Is mise,


Leinster House,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – John A Murphy’s article was brilliant. It’s easy to forget recent history, to fall into line with views promoted by commentators too young to remember the realities of the past. They lack the knowledge or insight which John A brings to the topic. Despite its electoral success, Sinn Féin is still only a slightly constitutional party. – Yours, etc,



Co Tipperary.

Sir, – I agree with Dominic Carroll (July 11th) about the sad situation in Palestine and Israel. Is everyone else waiting for another member of the UN to propose a resolution at the assembly to suggest a peace-keeping force between these warring nations, or has it become too routine to comment? – Yours etc,


Birchfield Park,

Goatstown, Dublin 14.

Sir, – Dominic Carroll (July 11th) asks where all the letter writers have gone on the subject of the current round of conflict in the region. Speaking for myself, I was waiting for a word of sympathy from letter writers, bloggers and the wider pro-Palestinian activist community for the murdered teenagers and a condemnation for the Hamas rocketing of civilians in Israel.

Come the Israeli retaliation, all woke from their moral slumber and the usual themes were trotted out; everything from hyperbolic comparisons between Israel and the Nazis to mealy-mouthed insinuations that missiles carrying 75-pound payloads are somehow intrinsically ineffective and not rendered so by Israel’s efforts to protect its population. – Yours, etc,


Dundanion Road,

Ballintemple, Cork.

Sir, – Further to Fiach Kelly’s “Should we save the Poolbeg chimneys?” (July 11th), I well remember when the Poolbeg chimneys were being built. They were an eyesore then and they are an eyesore now.

Roll on the demolition team, and while they are at it, continue on to Liberty Hall and the Spire! – Yours, etc,




Co Leitrim.

Sir, – The physical heritage of a city – its buildings, bridges, roads, lamps and other equipment like the two chimney stacks at Poolbeg, with their barber-pole colouring and their differing widths – evolves organically. It is only when such items face removal that it is realised how reassuring their presence is. – Yours, etc,


Claremont Road,


Dublin 13.

Sir, – The Jackie Kennedy letters controversy has surfaced again (“Robert Kennedy’s widow tells priest Jackie letters could be ‘burned’”, Front Page, July 7th). A confidant of the Kennedy clan suggests their historical value is “a lot of malarkey”.

Her letters, from what we’ve read, reveal much about her charm and infectious good humour. She knew herself that Fr Leonard kept them because John A Costello wrote to her in the 1960s requesting permission to quote an extract, to which she willingly agreed.

Libraries and archives around the world are filled with the personal letters of previous generations and these institutions would be very much poorer without them.

The correspondence of the Lennox sisters is one example, without which Stella Tillyard may not have written The Aristocrats. The National Library of Ireland has just made available for online access correspondence between James Joyce and his son Giorgio, and the poignant letters and artefacts of the men who fought in the Great War have been willingly shared by their immensely proud descendants.

It is to be hoped that Jacqueline Kennedy’s letters to Fr Joe Leonard will survive in the care of one of our institutions, with proper archival resources, to be available to scholars at some future date. – Yours, etc,


Kenilworth Road,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – I drowsily switched on the early morning news and, for a second, sleepily thought we were being invaded! President Obama and the Mexican Ambassador were being invoked in connection with the Garth Brooks non-event. Are we for real? Whatever about losing millions as a result of this monumental debacle, we have definitely lost our self respect. – Yours, etc,


The Burrow,

Portrane, Co Dublin.

Sir, – I suggest that next year’s Leaving Certificate Geography examination should contain a multiple choice question. What is the capital of Ireland? Is it 1) Dublin; 2) Old Trafford; 3) Frankfurt; 4) Rome; or 5) Nashville, Tennessee?

To paraphrase Bill O’Herlihy in another context earlier this week, “What in God’s name has gone wrong?” – Yours, etc,




Co Wicklow.

Sir, – The relocation of Croke Park could be a possible solution. Would that require a licence? – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Barf. – Yours, etc,


New Street,

Lismore, Co Waterford.

Sir, – Let’s have a referendum. – Yours, etc,


Hillcrest Court,


Sir, – Further to “AIB should have shown O’Reilly more sensitivity – Desmond” (Business News, July 4th) and “Desmond on O’Reilly – words not action” (Cantillon, July 5th), no wonder my disdain for the media is “legendary” when on one day you give fair coverage to my words and then on the very next day an unidentified author is facilitated to write comments which are completely out of context. It’s disappointing but hardly surprising that when for once you had something good to say, you tried to take it all back the next day.

The comments on Tony O’Reilly on Friday were in the context of a ceremony at Queen’s University for business graduates. I believe that AIB should have allowed Tony O’Reilly to sell his assets and deal with his affairs in an orderly basis. Making comments about Tony O’Reilly’s position does not mean in any way that I am insensitive to other borrowers with AIB – for the record, I am sympathetic to their position and it is misleading for you to suggest otherwise. Whoever “Cantillon” is went off on a complete tangent out of context and introduced a subtext which simply did not arise at Friday’s discussions.

My decisions in relation to INM are well recorded in the press and are made for commercial reasons. I did not take any action against Tony O’Reilly personally such as voting him off the board of INM.

I wonder what Gerry Moriarty thinks of Cantillon’s piece? Hopefully he will not fall into the same cabal of negativity as the other journalists. – Yours, etc,


IFSC House,

Custom House,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – I note Diarmuid Griffin’s comments that “life” sentences for murder in Ireland have increased significantly over the past decade (“Why does ‘life’ now mean a much longer sentence?”, Opinion & Analysis, July 7th).

Killings of innocent people by drunken louts on our streets at night are viewed as “spur of the moment” events and the resulting manslaughter convictions carry sentences as low as three years in some cases. In this area, Ireland is indeed out of line with other jurisdictions. – Yours, etc,


Chemin de la Pinede,



Sir, – Gearoid Kilgallen (July 9th) makes an important point – there are many dangerous cyclists on our roads (and footpaths). However there are equally negligent car, bus, motorbike and taxi drivers, pedestrians and skateboarders as well. Rather than criticising one particular group, we need to recognise that there is a collective responsibility to use our roads and footpaths safely. When unavoidable and tragic accidents happen, the mode of transport doesn’t matter. – Yours, etc,


Oaklands Drive,

Rathgar, Dublin 6.

Irish Independent:

* The ongoing intransigence in Northern Ireland, over parades, flags, etc., reminds me of an incident I was involved in some years ago. I was driving a JCB in Finchley, London. Vehicles were parked on each side of the road, and there was only space for my vehicle to pass between them. In the distance, I saw a bus coming.

The bus had various places where it could have pulled in, so that we could have continued our journey. Instead, the bus kept coming until it stopped about six inches from the front bucket of the JCB. I got out to remonstrate with the driver and was slightly surprised to find that it was a woman and so I kept quiet.

She said: “Move your machine out of the way.” I now see that the bus is full of people, and I tell her that she is driving dangerously, should not be in control of a bus, and for her to summon someone from her depot to come and take control of the bus. She shouts at me: “I’ll soon have you moved.” I get back into my machine and wait. An hour or more passes.

The police come. I refuse to move. A bus inspector comes. Still neither of us will move. More police. I hear on the radio a message to drivers to avoid the Finchley area, because of traffic gridlock. Three hours passed.

All the vehicles that were parked on each side of the road are long gone. All the passengers that were on the bus have departed. All that is left now is the two dinosaurs in the middle of the road, with nothing really to stop them going on about their business. After four hours, a policeman comes up in his little Panda Car. He comes to me and says: “Look, we all know that she is in the wrong, but I am asking you, could you please reverse away from the bus, so that we can all go home and have our dinner.”

I said: “Seeing that you are the only one who actually had the manners to ask me move, of course I’ll move.” Is there some lesson in that for the dinosaur in Northern Ireland?



A great leap backwards

* I for one will not be celebrating 1916. The only good revolution is from a closed society to an open society. We went from an open creative scientific society, a fruit of the enlightenment to a closed society. Irish Nationalism was a mutation of race and religion; the tyranny of unscientific rhetoric, requiring compulsory conformity. Expulsion if you disagree, and if you remain, a vow of silence and keep your head under the barricade.

Patrick Pearse should be subject to critical reasoning and stronger censure. He said: “Irish hate of the English is a holy passion”, even though his own father was an Englishman. In 1914 the war put us in a hi-tech race and it was not what you knew, but what you invented and patented that kept you employed. In Limerick we were doing well with making millions of army uniforms on unique sewing machines.

We had innovated condensed milk and were selling millions of products per day. Ham and corned beef were selling by the boatload every day.

The year 1916 was 200 years after the beginning of the era of enlightenment in the UK which prompted millions of people to push out the frontiers of knowledge and not the frontiers of their territories. The Industrial Revolution was the result as well as medical breakthroughs which cured small pox, rabies, tuberculosis and polio.

We are interdependent in a global village and the policy of isolation and self-sufficiency adopted by Sinn Fein is based on ignorance. We have gone from an Empire to an economic quagmire. The big oppressors are ignorance and fundamentalist religion, and Pearse’s education allowed both to flourish, bringing a diminishing of human rights, especially for women.




* “I will crawl, swim or fly…”

I have a solution: forget about playing Croke Park. Instead Garth Brooks’s World Tour should involve taking a NASA rocket into outer space and playing as many televised gigs out there as he wants. That way everybody will be happy.

And if there are any aliens out there we’ll know soon enough because they’ll be complaining to Dublin City Council.




* So the city fathers convened to sort out Garth (by the way, why do they call him Garrett?) and came up with the earth-shattering decision that two matinees would solve the problem.

They might as well have proposed moving the lot to Ringsend Park.

Isn’t it a good thing that we never had to solve some real problems – like the banks.

The mind boggles.




* What is it in the mindsets of both our captain and his first mate that leads them to think that by shuffling the deckchairs on the SS Ireland from the foredeck to the poop deck, that they are going to avoid any or all of the following:

The Iceberg,

the Shores of Need,

and the Reefs of Greed?




* I have just watched Ciaran Cuffe on ‘Prime Time’ saying that “the last thing we want is to give in to the whim of public opinion”. Has he forgotten that the people are sovereign?

Obviously he has, even though he is a public representative, he doesn’t care about, not only the 400,000 ticketholders, but all the small businesses affected by the decision not to allow the five concerts to go ahead.

Surely we are now a banana republic when the Taoiseach, the elected leader of our country is powerless to overturn a decision made by a man who is elected by nobody.

When will we see the Dublin city manager on TV being held accountable for his decision?




* Perhaps the solution to the Brooks concert is Compromise Rules.

For example, the Dublin city manager could ride his bike around Croke Park with Garth in the middle with his guitar. Then if Garth was able to knock the manager off his bike with his guitar he could have five concerts. If he failed then he should go home and forget the whole thing.




* Garth Brooks’s heart is breaking, he says – because he could not bear to see 160,000 hearts broken through the denial of licences for two of his five concerts. He thinks it best to pull the plug on the other three concerts for which permission was granted. All or nothing he says, even if this decision breaks the hearts of the 240,000 he could have performed to.

Mr Brooks, my heart also breaks when I see our Government, local authority officials and residents being dictated to by a country and western singer who demands everything on his terms only. In this life we need compromise and in giving you three dates, the ‘powers that be’ have been more than conciliatory to you.



Irish Independent

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