20 July2014 Pouring

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage toget round the park. A very damp day

ScrabbleIwins, but gets over 400. perhaps Marywill win tomorrow.


Alan Stanbrook – obituary

Alan Stanbrook was a journalist who championed world cinema and brought an informed waspishness to his film criticism

Alan Stanbrook

Alan Stanbrook

6:22PM BST 17 Jul 2014


Alan Stanbrook, who has died aged 76, was among Fleet Street’s most respected writers about cinema, and contributed many obituaries on the subject to The Telegraph.

His accounts of the lives of actors, actresses and directors were always highly intelligent and informative, but Stanbrook did not shrink from an occasional waspishness where he thought it appropriate.

For example, while acknowledging the brilliance and importance of the French New Wave director Alain Resnais, Stanbrook was able to say of Resnais’s film Providence (1977), starring John Gielgud: “The celebrated actor played an ageing novelist sitting for most of the film on a garden lavatory, seeking a subject for his next book. The novelist’s family appear to him in various guises, and Resnais’s preoccupations report for duty once again: identity, time, place and whether what we are watching is real or imaginary. By this stage in his career few people were still trying to make literal sense of a Resnais film; it was a relief not to have to try.”

Alan Geoffrey Stanbrook was born at Worthing, Sussex, on May 27 1938, the only son of an accountant. On leaving Worthing High School after A-levels, he did National Service with the Army, where as part of his duties he learned to type, giving him the opportunity to contribute reviews to the magazine Films and Filming. His interest in film had been established in boyhood (he also relished amateur dramatics, particularly when allowed to take the role of a villain), and he was already a member of the Sussex Film Society.

Stanbrook then went up to Jesus College, Oxford, to read Modern Languages (Italian and French), developing his lifelong interest in opera — Verdi, Puccini and Wagner would become particular favourites. This interest in the arts was not, however, reflected in his early choice of career: his first job was as a writer for a financial magazine, from which he moved on to the weekly Investors Chronicle. He then went to The Economist as deputy financial editor, and in the mid-Eighties the magazine asked him to start an arts section. Stanbrook had found his true métier. He also undertook freelance work for the British Film Institute’s monthly Sight & Sound.

In 1989 he was hired by The Telegraph, where he was a respected writer about film until his retirement in 2001. He then continued to contribute to the paper: not only obituaries, but also reviews of DVDs.

To the end of his life Stanbrook made annual trips to the Far East to attend film festivals — he had a keen interest in Asian cinema, and harboured a particular admiration for the Japanese directors Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu; he also had extensive knowledge of the French New Wave and Italian films.

Alan Stanbrook married, in 1968, Marva Watson, who survives him with their son.

Alan Stanbrook, born May 27 1938, died July 4 2014


Yvonne Robert’s article “A feminist party? Perfect. Provided it didn’t last too long“, (Comment), chimed with a relatively recent experience in Northern Ireland – the North of Ireland, or whatever you call it yourself. Indeed I am surprised that she failed to reference the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition. As some of your readers might remember, this was a political coalition (deliberately not named as a party) that drew its membership from women from both nationalist/republican and unionist/loyalist traditions. It modelled its intent by having a leadership-share arrangement; one from each of the main communal backgrounds. The coalition knew that it would never hold the position as minister of agriculture (or indeed any other ministry), so rather than having detailed policies on suckling calves it worked to three principles – social/political inclusion, equality and human rights. All the political positions that were adopted – many of them controversial – were discussed and filtered through the lens of these principles.

The coalition made a contribution to political debate over a 10-year period before its graceful exit back into civil society activism. There is still much to be done to ensure the adequate and appropriate representation of women in electoral politics in both Northern Ireland and across the United Kingdom, but there are examples that politics can be done differently. A first step might be acknowledging the fact that politics is about more than the management of the state, it’s about meeting the challenge of developing a relationship between representative and participative democracy.

Avila Kilmurray


For many years I have been trying to make the point that women must have the bold support of male feminists. Male feminists such as myself have no wish to take over or dominate the debate; women know what is best for them. But it is absurd to think that the feminist movement is by its nature exclusively female.

I am not prepared simply to see women allowed into certain archaic male roles. We must have women determining the structures, ethics, and the very philosophy of our society, having been forcibly denied this for at least 30 centuries. We must fight this together – and conquer.

Ian Flintoff


As Yvonne Roberts so amply demonstrated, the problem with defining feminism as “individual flourishing” is that it takes no account of the cultural pervasiveness of gender stereotyping. You have only to look at the weekly macho ritual baying, personal attacks and point scoring of prime minister’s questions and the dismissive hostility to Harriet Harman’s serious analysis of the difficulties capable women have in political life. Why should it be considered such a compliment that the women likely to be promoted are not to be afraid to say testicles in the House of Commons? Do we promote men because they are unafraid of saying vagina on the floor of the House?

Of course we need more women in high political office to change political culture and make it more relevant to the issues faced by so many women on a daily basis. But we also need to change popular culture, including films, books, magazines and television, so the norm is not for women to be in support roles to their active men folk, attractive but essentially passive, or the exception who stands out as an oddity.

But bringing about changes in popular culture is as difficult as achieving true political change. I was a first-wave feminist when we had to fight such strange causes as to have our own chequebooks if we had a joint account with our husbands and not be dismissed as intellectually, emotionally and physically inferior. But it depresses me how little we have really achieved since the 1960s and 1970s. We need to celebrate women taking initiatives, taking charge and carrying out all types of roles without excluding men, but we also need to show women’s perspective on the world as opposed to just men’s.

Thirza Rochester

Exmouth, Devon

What is the best way forward for the BBC? Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

The Observer, like so many others, is right to recognise that the BBC faces both a crisis in credibility and accountability (“The BBC must evolve – to ensure its future“, leader, Comment). However if the BBC is worth saving, it won’t be by privatising it, thereby giving away this substantial national asset to the forces of vested interest. If the last 20 years has taught us anything, it’s that the social marketisation, in health, education, the arts, etc, results in public-owned resources being virtually gifted to an unaccountable self-selecting managerial elite, who pay themselves what they like via damaging erosions in worker employment standards and service provision.

An answer, maybe, is to campaign for direct electoral representation in this important public service. Certainly, privatisation – at a time when the case for rail renationalisation is becoming indisputable – is more undemocratic and a step in the wrong direction.

Dr Gavin Lewis


Tobacco farmers treated well

Jamie Doward takes a strong line against BAT Uganda, including claims, through a quote from the Tobacco Control Research Group that: “BAT is fostering a system of credit bondage whereby tobacco farmers are continually indebted to the company” (“British tobacco giant ‘tried blackmail’ in fight against tough anti-smoking laws in Uganda“, News).

As an operator in the smallholder production space in Uganda, I can say that BAT’s extension services and management of contracted outgrowers is seen as an example of best practice by business and the development sector. In no other industry is there the same level of investment in farmers through training and transparent buying. The “credit bondage” is in fact an interest-free loan of inputs that allows farmers’ productivity, and therefore revenue, to be increased at least threefold compared with production without such assistance.

Both sides benefit, the farmer through improved revenue and the company through higher volume and better quality.

Alex Elphinstone

Managing director

D, Yield Uganda Ltd

Kampala, Uganda

Our cruelty towards weight

Barbara Ellen is depressingly accurate about society’s perception of “fat people” in my experience (“The overweight deserve help, not sneers or malice“, Comment).

I have watched my brother battle for 25 years with his weight and his feelings of self-loathing, shame and depression. He is, as Ellen describes, an “emotional overeater” whose problems stem from unresolved grief. Publicly he is the archetypal jolly fat bloke, but in reality he experiences taunts and stares daily and chooses to work nights as a security guard on a disused site so that people can’t see him. He was forced to leave that job last month because he was being ridiculed.

He and I know he needs to confront the complex issues that have made him the way he is, but he struggles to lift his self-esteem and I can see why. Why is society so unforgiving about the overweight? Where has the compassion gone? I see my kids so tender and kind with their lovely, funny uncle. When do we morph into uncaring, spiteful beings? Now he’s been told he has type 2 diabetes. It’s bleak, but hopefully with the support of a few who do care, he’ll get there.

Name and address supplied

Laurels to our libraries

Thank you for your item on Cheltenham public library (“The view from … Cheltenham“, Comment). I was a reader of Gloucestershire’s library books from 1955 till 2010 and benefited from the excellent facilities. For the last 40 of those years I lived in a small village served by the mobile library based at Moreton-in-Marsh. The van came for 20 minutes once a fortnight. I could order books I knew I wanted and keep them six weeks. We had a bus to Cheltenham once a fortnight giving us just over two hours there. I could choose from a wider range there and bring home a book which could be returned at the van.

I occasionally visited the libraries at Cirencester, Stow and Bourton-on-the-Water, all excellent. Many thanks to all you Gloucestershire librarians.

Elisabeth Rowlands


Required reading, Mr Peston

As ever, the summer reads in the New Review was informative and instructive. Most amusing, however, was the BBC’s economics editor Robert Peston vowing he will not be taking Thomas Piketty’s Capital In The Twenty-First Century with him because it has been spoiled by all the blooming polemics he has read about it. I’d have thought that he would have made it part of his job before now to read a book which has caused so much media debate. Or perhaps that’s just a naive belief.

Jon Myles


The glory of the Ramones

The Ramones did not play their guitars “badly” (“End of a punk era as Tommy, last original Ramone, dies at 62“, News). They cut out all the self-indulgent widdling and stripped everything down to glorious adrenalin-rush basics. That’s what made them great.

Graham Larkbey


Zoë Harcombe states that the obesity epidemic started when we followed the “wrong” kind of dietary advice (“Gastric bands are as useful as a plaster on a severed artery”, 13 July). I think the simpler explanation is that more food is being processed, and more food is being offered where previously it wasn’t.

Councils and local authorities have allowed a proliferation of fast-food outlets, often within yards of each other. There used to be planning laws which stated that similar trades could not operate in close proximity, these have been so relaxed that there are often six or seven outlets within the same block, many remaining open all day capitalising on the after-school trade. Cinemas sell popcorn in buckets and sugary drinks by the litre. Most hospitals are replete with vending machines that offer nothing other than unhealthy snacks and drinks, often to patients who are there because of their intake of such.

There’ll be no change from the food manufacturers, the Government is too weak to enforce that and councils will keep allowing fast-food outlets, they want the business rates. But there can be very little sympathy for the NHS “struggling” with the increasing “obesity epidemic” when it’s contributing to it.

Geoff Hulme

Altrincham, Cheshire

Joan Smith’s rant about Harriet Harman’s failure to become deputy prime minister seems to assume women have the right to promotion simply because they are female (13 July). Harman claims victim status which is something we can all do. I would like to welcome you to the world of the single, white, middle-aged male where I get used as a cash cow to pay taxes for all the supposed hard-working families while getting very little in the way of benefits. Women still get their pensions earlier than men. Is Smith complaining about that? Are any women refusing to accept it early in solidarity with men?

Rob Edwards

Harrogate, Yorkshire

John Rentoul (13 July) thinks voters “will shy away from Miliband”. But people cast their ballot for the party rather than its leader, and those who’ve suffered from the Coalition’s austerity programme will want to see Cameron ousted. Rentoul says Neil Kinnock’s unpopularity in 1992 led to Labour’s defeat, but I recall Edward Heath beating Harold Wilson in 1970 and Margaret Thatcher defeating James Callaghan in 1979. Both times the outgoing prime ministers were more popular than their successors. Personality isn’t everything.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

John Rentoul obviously thinks Miliband losing would be a good thing. I’m not sure who he envisages forming the next government, but if it is the likes of Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and Chris Grayling, I can see why he keeps quiet.

Keith Flett

London N17

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIPP) could give authorities the right to sue governments over laws designed to protect workers and the environment (“Protesters fear trade deal will ‘carve open’ health service” 13 July). An understanding of how this deal could violate human rights led the public out en-masse last weekend in opposition to the treaty.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

Green Party Group, London Assembly


A funeral procession A funeral procession

Support the church or risk losing the comfort it offers

THANKS are owed to Camilla Cavendishfor her willingness to share her grief after her mother’s death (“I can’t see God but since my mother’s death I can see the value of his house”, Comment, last week).

Our sense of loss does diminish with time but never leaves us entirely. After more than 45 years in the Anglican ministry — part in London, part in Canada — I have shared the sense of loss of many families.

I am glad that Cavendish, like so many others, has found the fact that the church is there for her is some help and consolation. The problem, very sadly, as she discerns from her quotation from Philip Larkin’s verse, is that the church will continue to be available to those who find they want it when they need it only if enough people support it.
Oliver Osmond, Nova Scotia, Canada

Reasonable doubt
Cavendish was brave to express her agnostic doubts. Her quote from the atheist philosopher AC Grayling about his “sense of yearning for the absolute” reminded me of the words found on the desk of his illustrious atheist predecessor Bertrand Russell after his death: “The centre of me is always and eternally a terrible pain — a curious, wild pain — a searching for something transfigured and infinite. The beatific vision — God. I do not find it. I do not think it is to be found — but the love of it is my life.”

Maybe St Augustine was right: “Our hearts were made for You… and are restless till they find their rest in you.”
Peter Anderson, Grasse, France

Divine inspiration
I am a Roman Catholic priest in the suburbs of Chicago. Cavendish’s experience in the church is what I hope I offer to my people. I am going to quote the article extensively in my weekly column of our parish bulletin.
Charles Niblick, Dyer, Indiana, USA

Religious goals
The article was a great encouragement to me. In my role of placing chaplains into professional sport, I often come up against the “We don’t do religion in sport” line — and this against the backdrop of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Premier League, and managers and the players asking us for their support.

Everyone experiences the rollercoaster of life whatever their profession and we are there to be a comfort and listening ear. It seems that while many lobby to eradicate religion from society, more and more are finding refuge in it.
Richard Gamble, Sports Chaplaincy UK

Finding consolation
I have a terminal cancer and I hope my beloved daughter can find a measure of comfort such as Cavendish has, however infinitesimal, when my time comes.
Maureen Jeffs, Nottingham

Speaking out on assisted dying laws

BRAVO to Lord Carey for turning round the traditional Christian standpoint and supporting assisted dying (“The rights and wrongs of assisted dying”, Editorial, and “Church asks Lord Falconer to withdraw Assisted Dying Bill”, News, last week). All human and social developments, from IVF to the benefits system, have potential for abuse. This is no reason to shy away from a change whose time has come — build in safeguards and manage the risks.
Sheila Edwards, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire

Fatal decisions
While it may become legal to kill some terminally ill patients, limited thought has been spent on those who would have to prescribe and administer the fatal potions. Selecting staff would not be straightforward. Setting aside those with ethical restrictions, who would be chosen and by whom?
Dr Roger Gabriel, Consultant Physician, Chichester

Death wish
I am nearly 86. I have painful sciatica and other problems but can use my computer, talk reasonably intelligently, do the shopping and take my dog out for short walks. When I deteriorate to a medically incurable and abysmal quality of life (albeit not necessarily terminal), why should I be forced to stay alive because I can’t commit suicide on my own? Some people have religions that require the acceptance of these agonies of body and mind — I don’t, so let me die in peace.

I fully accept there will be a legal and medical requirement to register my wishes while I am still mentally competent. But this should be at any stage, not just when a person is deemed to have six months to live. What proportion of people are still mentally competent at that point?
Rodney Seeley, Beckenham, London

Die hard

Chris Woodhead’s article “Please help me to let go” (News Review, last week) was very moving. He says he still likes his wine and food. Felix Dennis, the media magnate who died last month aged 67, went further in his verse: “They tell me I’m riddled with cancer/ So I’m planning to croak with elan / If you’ll pass the cigars and decanter / I’ll be dying as hard as I can.” Gerry Davey, Loughton, Essex

Nil by mouth
Woodhead stated that one opponent of the proposed bill held that a person could refuse sustenance and so die. Two members of my family separately have done just that — a very brave thing to do, but very stressful for others.
Mike Whitby, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire

Three cheers for Gove, the great reformer

MANY column inches have been afforded to teachers celebrating the departure of Michael Gove as secretary of state for education, but we as head teachers, teachers and educationalists think it vital that we also mark his achievements and thank him for the difference he has made for some of the most disadvantaged children.

Politics aside, Gove is a man of great conviction. In education that conviction has always been to ensure that where you are born doesn’t have to determine where you end up. Gove witnessed the power of a great education first hand and has used his tenure to champion opportunities for children and families who too often have little choice.

His achievements range from laying the foundations for the first free state boarding school for children from the inner city and giving great teachers more opportunity than ever before to turn around failing schools in the poorest parts of the country to allowing great head teachers to set up new schools in disadvantaged areas to ensure that more children can benefit from outstanding teaching. These are all important and brave strides forwards that should not be overlooked.

Gove’s passion to level the playing field has been unwavering, but we will see the impact of much of his work only in years to come as children benefit from a more rigorous examination system, a more competitive teaching profession and a narrowing of the gap between children in the richest and poorest boroughs.

Change breeds controversy, and while we don’t all agree with every policy or priority, we do believe that, in time, history will remember him alongside Lord Adonis and Lord Baker as a great reformer in education. We warmly welcome Nicky Morgan into office and hope she will continue with the zeal, determination and passion of her predecessor.
Sir Greg Martin, Durand Academy; Professor Julian Le Grand, LSE; Dame Joan McVitti, Woodside High and former president of the Association of School and College Leaders; Sir David Carter, Cabot Learning Foundation; Sir Dan Moynihan, Harris Federation; Victoria Beer CBE, Ashton on Mersey School; David Hampson OBE, Tollbar Academies; Joan Deslandes, Kingsford Community School; Amanda Phillips, Old Ford and Culloden Primary Academies; Pamela Wright OBE, Wade Deacon High School; Professor Alison Wolf, King’s College London; Dame Sally Coates, Burlington Danes Academy; Patricia Sowter CBE, Cuckoo Hall Academies Trust; Anthony Seldon, Wellington College and Wellington Academy; Jane Simons, Berkhamsted School; Judette Tapper CBE, The Platanos Trust; Liam Nolan, Jackie Powell, Russell Bond and Darren Foreman, Perry Beeches Academy Trust; Dame Rachel de Souza, Inspiration Trust; Adrian Ball, Thetford Academy; Dr Chris Tomlinson, Harris Federation; Paul Smith, Parbold Douglas CE Academy Trust; Alison Edmonds, Woodpecker Hall Primary Academy; Richard Cairns, Brighton College and London Academy of Excellence; Sharon Ahmet, Cuckoo Hall Primary Academy; Matthew Laban, Kingfisher Hall Primary Academy; Lord Ralph Lucas, Good Schools Guide; Barnaby Lennon, London Academy of Excellence; Mike Griffiths, The Samworth Church Academy; Jane Bass, Powers Hall Academy and Connected Learning MAT; John Townsley, The Gorse Academies Trust; Kris Boulton, King Solomon Academy; James Easy, ARK Academy Primary; Mary Elcock, Heron Hall Secondary Academy; Sarah Counter, Canary Wharf College; Tom Clark CBE, formerly George Spencer Academy; Dame Helen Hyde, Watford Girl’s Grammar School; Martin Latham, The Robinswood Academy Trust; Dame Susan John, Lampton School; Marc Jordan, Creative Education Academies; Maura Regan, Carmel College; Hamid Patel, Tauheedul Education Trust; Charles Rigby, Challenger Trust; Toby Young, Hywel Jones & Robert Peal, West London Free School; James O’Shaughnessy & Briar Lipson, Floreat Education; Tim Knox, Centre for Policy Studies; Katharine Birbalsingh, Barry Smith, Jonathan Porter, Katie Ashford, Joe Kirby, Michaela Community School; Dennis Sewell and Ben Thompson, Trinity Academy; Jo Glen, Dolphin School; Sir Andrew Carter, South Farnham School; Mark Goodchild, Challenge Partners; Karen Walsh, Cedar Mount Academy; Alison Colwell, The Ebbsfleet Academy; Dame Dana Ross-Wawrzynski, Gary Handforth, Elizabeth Allen CBE, Bright Futures Educational Trust; Professor Anthony O’Hear, University of Buckingham; Jennifer Bexon-Smith, Tudor Grange Multi-Academy Trust; Mark Lehain, Bedford Free School; John Tomasevic, Torch Academy Gateway Trust; Alan Davies, Great Sankey High School; Kate Dethridge, Churchend Primary; John Mcintosh, former head of the London Oratory

Upfront solution to health tourist payments

SO HEALTH tourists will pay a 50% supplement if they can be traced and if the relevant NHS trust can be bothered to chase up the bill (“This will hurt a bit: health tourists face 150% bill for treatment”, News, last week). When I had private treatment, the hospital rang me the day before and I gave my credit card details. How simple is that as a way of collecting due monies?
Peter Doolan, Watton-at-Stone, Hertfordshire

Spelling it out
Rod Liddle (“Drop the staple gun, Doc, and tell Fatty to grow some willpower”, Comment, last week) would have welcomed the advice of my GP in a local practice with every modern computerised aid, but still blessedly traditional in its approach. When told I should lose weight, I asked what diet she recommended. She replied: “I’ll spell it for you in capital letters. Pen handy? E. A. T. New word. L. E. S. S.”
Francis Hitching, Oxford

No belly laughs
I have some self-control: I managed to stop smoking 30 years ago, although it creased me to do so, and I understand how some may continue to fight their addiction. Having battled obesity all my adult life, I grasp the weight-food-exercise equation and have never been a net drain on the health service. Liddle’s attempt at humour is offensive.
Joe Barnes, Doncaster


Radical action

Frequently British soldiers returning from active service are described in the media as traumatised. Just as frequently young British civilians returning from combat in Syria and elsewhere without prior military experience or training are described as battle-hardened fighters. Should we be recruiting them?
Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Palmer (Retired) Former Tri-Service Professor of Military Psychiatry, Whitstable, Kent

Rural planning

I am delighted that the ministerial duo of Eric Pickles and Nick Boles have “revalued heritage within the planning system for decades to come” by saving Smithfield from partial destruction and redevelopment motivated “by greed” (“Kapow! A blow to butchering developers that will resonate for years”, Comment, last week). If only they would have the same understanding and respect for the British countryside.
Rachael Webb, Dunton, Buckinghamshire

Hot under the collar

An RSPCA welfare expert (“Dangerous game”, Letters, last week) advises on good and bad games to play with your dog on the beach. What are these animals doing there in the first place? In Bude, Cornwall, our walks by the sea in the off season are spoilt by free-ranging dogs, and even in summer some owners think the “dogs on leads” rule doesn’t apply to them. As one bitten by a dog in January and still in some pain, I say keep them off our beaches. Dave Wright, Holsworthy, Devon

Lost ball

I’m an Englishman with a Welsh surname, so quite what the Scots decide to do in their referendum is not going to make a great difference to my life. However, have they realised that a “yes” vote would make them no longer British, and therefore not eligible to host the British Open golf championship? Perhaps a small loss to their economy and prestige.
Neville Lloyd, Portishead, Somerset

Corrections and clarifications

Hans-Olav Eldring

A recent report (“Sacked Credit Suisse banker helped drug lord move cash”, Business, June 22) stated that Hans-Olav Eldring had been sacked by Credit Suisse and that he had admitted helping a client of his former employer, who happened to be a drug dealer, move cash to Switzerland. We now understand, and accept, that Mr Eldring was not sacked by Credit Suisse, but resigned, and that he had no knowledge of the drug dealer’s criminal background when he unwittingly assisted him. We apologise for the distress and embarrassment caused.

Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, including online, should be addressed to editor@sunday-times.co.uk or The Editor, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST. In addition, the Press Complaints Commission (complaints@pcc.org.uk or 020 7831 0022) examines formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites)


Anton du Beke, dancer,48; Gisele Bündchen, model, 34; Paul Cook, drummer, 58; Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, 89; Roger Hunt, member of England’s 1966 World Cup football team, 76; Dame Diana Rigg, actress, 76; Julian Rhind-Tutt, actor, 46; Carlos Santana, guitarist, 67


1944 Adolf Hitler survives bomb plot; 1960 Ceylon chooses world’s first female prime minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike; 1969 Neil Armstrong becomes first person to walk on the moon; 1974 Turkish forces invade Cyprus; 1982 11 soldiers and seven horses killed by two IRA bombs in Hyde Park and Regent’s Park


SIR – You report that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has issued new guidance recommending statins for a wider group of patients with a lower risk of heart disease.

We therefore urge doctors to offer patients the option of taking a statin. Debates like this must genuinely involve patients. Individual patients may themselves opt not to use statins, but doctors may not do this on their behalf – that is old-fashioned paternalism.

Instead, patients should be given the information necessary to participate in shared decision-making – this is the essence of modern medical practice and the patient-centred medicine that is being taught to medical students.

Professor Mayur Lakhani
Past Chairman, Royal College of GPs
Dr Patricia Wilkie
President and Chairman, National Association for Patient Participation
Professor Richard Baker
University of Leicester
Dr Mike Knapton
Associate Medical Director, British Heart Foundation

Cornish, not English

SIR – Fears that the England team may be booed by the Scots at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games are a sad reflection on the referendum hostility fuelled by some nationalists. The games should and must be friendly.

However, if England were to appear in Truro, they would be booed not for being English but because the Cornish, despite recognition of us as a nationality, are forced to masquerade as English in these games. The England team T-shirt, “We are England”, is selling well in Cornwall, where an extra word “Not” is added, to make our point.

Tim James
Penzance, Cornwall

Our number’s up

SIR – Most landline numbers in Britain are 11 digits. Mine and a significant minority in other regions have 10 digits.

I frequently encounter problems with systems (online and by phone) failing to accept 10-digit numbers. My bank has been “playing” with its systems, and now it doesn’t recognise my phone number – because it has 10 digits. issue.

It’s time that this matter was resolved by our telephone industry.

Stephen Gledhill
Evesham, Worcestershire

Secret voting

SIR – Lord Kilclooney deplores secret voting in the European Parliament as rendering MEPs unaccountable to those who vote for them.

He should direct his concern nearer home.

South Cambridgeshire District Council voted until recently by show of hands. Now, however, the councillors press a button beneath their expensive new desks.

Colin Kolbert
Girton, Cambridgeshire

Thames airport

SIR – What has happened to our nation’s self-confidence? Has it been misplaced, lost forever, or did the Victorians use it all up? The construction of a new airport in the Thames estuary is a no-brainer. Is there not a single politician with the vision to support the sustainable future of the South East? Apart from Boris Johnson, of course.

Ian McCutcheon
Burton in Kendal, Westmorland

Name of the father

SIR – James Logan called his father Atna (“All talk, no action”). My kids call me Daddle (“Dad’ll do it”).

Alastair Pringle
Benenden, Kent

Turning the tables

SIR – Maggi Davis asks for uses of the 12-times table. Prior to decimalisation, it was recognised that many industries, such as construction and engineering, would need to run parallel systems of measurement – imperial and metric – well into this century because of the expected life-span of many products.

For my part, being on a strict diet, I sometimes wish that they had included the 14-times table in school, as I struggle in converting my weight to stones and pounds for comparison purposes.

Peter Cornish
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

SIR – There must be dozens of reasons why knowing the 12-times table is useful.

Duncan Wang
Arlesey, Bedfordshire

SIR – Apart from its relative ease of learning, what are the everyday uses of the 11-times table?

Hilary Stone
Epsom, Surrey

Birds in their nests agree on the uses of twinery

SIR – I had the same problem as Gavin Inglis: sparrows untied the fastenings on my runner-bean supports when collecting material for their nests.

The answer is to use nylon twine in place of the natural jute type. Either it is too tough, or they just do not like it.

Richard Matkin
Rolleston-on-Dove, Staffordshire

SIR – On my allotment, sparrows help themselves to the twine I use to tie my runner-bean canes together. But I don’t bear them a grudge: on finding one chap caught up in the netting over my brassicas, I spent quite some time cutting him out, thus enabling him to raid my garden again.

Colin Brown
Castor, Northamptonshire

SIR – Sparrows have pinched so many bits from the lining of my hanging basket that the bare minimum remains to contain the compost. Then they teach their young to “bath” in the dry soil of the flower beds, throwing it all over the path.

Still, I enjoy having them visit the garden, so continue to feed them.

Sheila Weary
Evesham, Worcestershire

SIR – A squirrel has stripped our garden of twine. We have captured her on film, which shows her tearing twine off the plants, then chewing it up, stuffing it into her mouth and rushing off to continue building.

Doug Whittaker
Upminster, Essex

SIR – Sparrows are just another hurdle in growing runner beans. Slugs can’t resist the newly planted seeds. Then wood pigeons peck out the tender new shoots. The growing plants provide sap for endless colonies of aphids. But the tender beans always make it all worthwhile.

Keith Hill

SIR – I was the first female caddy on the Old Course and was a married student at St Andrews in the early Seventies.

I would like to give Louise Richardson, the current principal of the university, my full support in her fight for membership of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

The R&A caddy master when I worked there was unwilling to allow me equal rights with the male caddies. Because I prioritised money over feminism, I quietly suffered the malevolent glances of the caddy master and earned as much as a bar girl.

I am sure the R&A employs many female staff today and would find women members a true asset in the future. If not, I would suggest a renaming: “Curmudgeonly and Dated” seems apt.

Rosanne Walmsley
Newtown, Hampshire

SIR – Relatives and friends will ask: did those aboard flight MH17 suffer? Following the Lockerbie disaster of 1988, in which my daughter Flora was among those murdered, we learnt that the answer was that loss of consciousness would be virtually instantaneous, from the moment that the fuselage depressurised.

When we commit ourselves to sit in a thinly clad metal fuselage travelling at about 500mph, some six miles above the earth, survival depends absolutely upon maintenance of a calm air pressure not too much different from that at sea level.

When the fuselage is suddenly disrupted, the instantaneous reduction of air pressure results in immediate loss of consciousness.

The bomb that destroyed the Lockerbie aircraft in 1988 held less than a pound of explosive. If it is confirmed that MH17 was hit by a Soviet-built Buk missile, the warhead would contain an explosive charge 140 times greater, adding to the certainty of immediate unconsciousness.

Some relatives will want to see the bodies of their loved ones, some will not. They should be given the choice, but in the knowledge that many bodies will be dismembered, and that any recognisably retrieved will show the bloated features of rapid depressurisation. In addition, a forensic examination will probably be required, and to perform this on so many victims will require remains to be preserved; so even a lock of hair is likely to be pungent with preservative.

Later will come the allegations and recriminations. Why did Malaysia Airlines overfly an area of conflict when some other airlines avoided it? Who provided the rocket, assuming it was hit by one? Who had the skills to organise the radar painting of the target? Who pressed the button?

There is no answer to the question: “Why did it have to be the aircraft with my loved ones aboard that was destroyed?” It is poignant for us Lockerbie relatives that the Dutch, who showed us so much kindness during the Lockerbie trial of two Libyans in 2000 near Utrecht, should now be so heavily wounded by this dreadful event.

An unusual feature after Lockerbie was the absence of credible claims of responsibility. This left the field open to the chicanery of international politics seeking to apportion blame. Relatives of MH17 victims should be cautious in assessing where guilt lies, for governments can massage apparent facts in ways which families may be unable to unravel.

The long-term consequences for relatives will cascade down the decades. It will be wise to seek professional help for post-traumatic stress disorder, and relationship and financial repercussions..

There is a small British charity called Disaster Action which, although not equipped to deal with the acute phase of an international disaster of this magnitude, does seek to support those affected, and draws on the experience of many such victims’ relatives.

Dr Jim Swire
Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

SIR – Russia is being reviled across the world, accused of supplying the missile system responsible for the deaths of 298 passengers and crew on flight MH17.

In Moscow, meanwhile, preparations continue for the 2018 World Cup. I have no doubt this will take place, and that Fifa will rake in yet more billions. The slaughter of the innocent will quickly be forgotten, for such is the world we now inhabit.

Simon Baumgartner
Hampton, Middlesex

SIR – The horrific events of recent days are a reminder of how little the world has changed over the centuries. Wars continue to rage all over the world and now innocent people are slaughtered by weapons fired by an adversary many miles away. “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn,” wrote Robert Burns in the 18th century. The difference now is the huge increase in the number who mourn.

George Wilkie
Hemingford Grey, Huntingdonshire

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Madam – Friends I made in London while working there told me they were coming to Dublin on holiday during in the World Cup and wished to experience the atmosphere in one of Dublin’s  pubs while watching England playing.

 Before my friends’ arrival I decided to sample the attitude of the patrons in a number of pubs to see how many, like President Higgins and my humble self, were supporting England in the World Cup.

I knew many Irish would support any team but England. However,  I was not prepared for my  experience in the first pub I visited.  When Italy scored their first goal everyone in the pub, including members of staff, erupted into loud cheering.  When England equalised I was  the only one to applaud.    This clearly  was not a pub to host  my English friends during their visit.

At  half time I headed off down road and found another pub that looked good – it had a sign indicating that “neat dress” was essential. But once inside I realised that keeping a civil tongue in one’s head was not essential. The air was blue with the kind of language that would make Mrs Brown and her boys blush. The owner also seemed to think that patrons required loud background music even during football matches.

Finally  I found a pleasant haven for my English tourist friends, a pub where attitudes and behaviour appeared more acceptable and some customers even cheered for England.

There is a widespread  presumption that all tourists will automatically enjoy our pub culture without question. But from some of my excursions I can tell that many of our visitors are irritated by some our habits. Chief among them is the almost continuous – and loud – foul language. And I can tell you they are not amused by the high prices of drinks,  both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, either.

Could there be any connection between the apparent rise in anti-English sentiment and the rise of Sinn Fein?

Tony Moriarty,

Harold’s Cross,

Dublin 6w

Some way to go to being proud

Madam –

Throughout the civilised world Irish people are considered kind just and considerate and in most cases they are entitled to be thought of in that way. In the past few months or years however many scandals of abuse have come to light. All of these scandals were well known to have happened by people in authority but unless they were forced to speak out they stayed silent.

There was the Magdaline Laundry abuse, the priests who abused so many and were allowed to stay within the Church, the unfortunate women who suffered at the hands of those who performed symphysiotomy on mothers trying to give birth to their children. But none of these atrocities could have happened without the State being aware of them.

Today surely we are all similarly aware of the terrible situation of the homeless, the drug addicted, the people living in poverty, the youth of our country forced to emigrate or to take a job at €50 a week plus social welfare.

Seven years ago the State saw it necessary to enact a law overnight to secure the repayment to bondholders to the tune of some €60 to 80 billion. Surely the vulnerable are entitled to the same kind of help, or is the law different when it comes to the poor.

Should we not demand that there be proper facilities provided for the sick, that is all the sick whether caused by drugs or otherwise? Should we not be ashamed to see our own sleeping on the street?

Are we the laughing stock to the rest of the world for saving the Euro, but in the process, putting ourselves in penury, a situation likely to last for the foreseeable future?

Are our politicians not ashamed to see our people in the state that they are now living in? Try living on the minimum wages to achieve a better understanding.

When we have righted all the wrongs done to the poor and the sick, then, and only then, can we hold our heads up and say Yes, we are proud to be Irish.

Fred Molloy


Dublin 15

Coalition’s policies are “immoral”

Madam – Re last week’s letter “How others live” (Sunday Independent, 13 July, 2014), my Civil Service pension is €13,309 gross per annum, a cost neutral pension accepted in 2005 due to personal circumstances.

Since 2008 not only has there been no increase but I have been subjected to a Pension reduction of 1.3pc together with USC charge of 4.95pc .

With VHI of 21pc I have a take home pay of €184 per week. Even “dole” recipients get more than this and yet I am, as a civil servant, excluded from all benefits available to welfare claimants and the low paid.

After 35 years service I am to live on €184 per week. Destitute does not even begin to describe my circumstances. I am devastated and sickened beyond words.

The imposition of these taxes may have been warranted but government’s retention of these taxes on a miniscule income is an amoral act by every member of government. And in conclusion, though I of course include it, please do not print my name and address. I am humiliated enough as it is.

(Name and address with Editor)

Help available for distressed Mamils

Madam- I am writing regarding Shane Doran’s article “Confession of a Mamil”. I have to take issue with this piece which ridicules the beneficial sporting pursuits being taken up by middle aged men. I am one of those seemly offensive men enjoying cycling. I have now moved on to become one of those lycra loving triathletes.

The article highlights a very negative experience a journalist endured after borrowing a carbon fibre bike and hitting the road with no preparation. Perhaps a journalist could be sent to interview a cardioligist or bariatric surgeon to highlight the beneficial gains obtained by exercising in your middle age.

There was no mention of the Mawil (Middle aged women in lycra). Personally I would like to congratulate all those brilliant ladies who have turned to running, cycling and triathalon in their droves.

Regarding injuries, many clubs now set up training programmes suited to all levels. Most people are sensible enough to take a gradual increase in performance avoiding the physio.

To end, a big hello to all those fantastic people who have got off the sofa and enjoy the thrill of exercise at any age. My vote is for more closed off cycle ways and funding for triathalon.

No offence intended towards the journalist who wrote the entertaining article. I realise it was written in a light hearted way .

Paul Parker

Lough Key Triathalon Club,


Fair air play for Irish musicians

Madam- Well done to Johnny Duhan for his piece on airplay procedures and practices in Irish radio. As someone who is about to release an independently financed album, I’d like to think I would earn some small reasonable amount of royalties for what airplay I garner. It would help offset my costs and further develop my musical productions and hopefully evolve into a small business enterprise for me.

If singer/songwriters of Mr. Duhan’s proven calibre are having difficulty getting airplay royalties, what chance does an unknown entity like myself stand?

If radio stations use our music and do not pay, is this not akin to theft ?

I have spent time joining IMRO, obtaining ISRC codes and getting an album together over many long hours of labour, only to find that I may not even be paid the due royalties if I manage to get a bit of airplay, because of a poor and under-developed sampling system.

My belief is that the computer technology, software and hardware are out there to facilitate a 100pc reporting of airplay listings to IMRO, but radio stations resist the change because they see it as an increased financial burden on their businesses.

What of the financial burdens of the creative artist ? The recording of airplay listings and submissions of same is not as manually labour intensive an operation as in the past and surely if ISRC codes are used, automatic logging should occur in the majority of cases and should guarantee a royalty payment. Have we not a Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to oversee and regulate here also? These are some of the questions that I would like answered. If we do not value our music and artists, and stand up for fair pay for air play, then society, and the economy as a whole lose out and the native Irish music Industry suffers. If the seedlings in the nursery are not tended and fed, then the crop yield of future musical talent will not flourish.

Jerome Taheny

Co Sligo

Trusting SF to break its promises

Madam – At election time, the question usually is, “Can political parties be trusted to keep their promises?” However, in the case of Sinn Fein, the question should be; “Can Sinn Fein be trusted to break its promises”? As it is, Sinn Fein promises on public sector pay will lead to a brain drain of the most talented from the Civil Service. Its promises on taxation will frighten off both foreign and domestic investment.

Of course if we can trust Sinn Fein to break their promises, then maybe everything will be fine. Dorcha Lee,


Reshuffle was just window dressing

Madam – Having read the lead story on the front page of your paper (Sunday Independent, 13 July 2014) I could not help but notice that all the members of the Labour Party were interested in was who was going to get what portfolio in the re-shuffle and who was going to get the position of junior minister.

There was no mention by any of them about serving the people the party was established to represent. The so-called strained relationship between the new leader of the Labour Party and the leader of Fine Gael is only window dressing, to create the impression that the Labour Party under Joan Burton is now going to be somewhat radical. However, one has only to remember that this new leader was a part of the old guard, which helped to implement the austerity measures now in place. Joan Burton is also on record as saying that she would continue to support the programme for government.

This party can no longer claim to represent those it was founded to fight for.

Dr Tadhg Moloney,



We feel good but don’t get results

Madam- Congratulations to Patrick Fleming for his letter on letters to the editor being chosen as the “Letter of the Week.”

I do not expect this letter to be given such an honour nor do I expect that it will be published. Why? National newspaper in this country will not print letters of substance or letters that require the mass media to be held accountable. (Space does not allow me to support these two premises but if asked to do so by the editor I will gladly do so.)

Ninty-nine per cent of the letters to editors are “feel good expressions” of the writer without the expectation that there will be any follow-up or change resulting in society. Seldom do editors allow on-going discussion between letter writers and those in positions of power and influence. In short – letter writing to editors of newspapers in this country can best be described as a feel good moment without any result.

Vincent J. Lavery,

Irish Free Speech Movement,


Co Dublin

We must adapt to our circumstances

Madam – Reporting and analysis of economic matters by Irish media is determined to give only one view of a very altered economic situation. In a century that is defined by the excellence and genius of technology there has never been the slightest attempt to examine the effect of such technology .The reality of an entirely changed situation of goods/service supply and dependence on human labour is never mentioned and events which raise questions on these vital matters conveniently ignored and repressed.

Last week the UK price index showed one of the greatest annual price index reductions ever recorded. This may appear good but it’s it an alarming wake-up call of what is happening in the business markets of the world. There is such a glut and oversupply of goods and services that competition is cut-throat and profits reduced and eliminated like never before. Business is failing on all sides and can only lead to monstrous monopolisation unless oversupply is managed and restrained. Yet the call from political and economic journalistic circles is a return to “growth”; increasing further the flood of goods and services that feed madcap promotions, constant sales and tantalizing special offers which increase weekly the percentage of the shopping trolley going into landfill.

In matters of work and employment the lack of balanced reporting and comment is even more deplorable. Automation, which is truly awesome and improving, is never mentioned in the struggle to provide jobs. Indeed policies lauded and encouraged by the media are utterly counterproductive and detrimental towards providing employment into the future. Working harder, longer and towards later retirement only ensures that greater numbers will never work at all.

Economic success is gauged by the ease and reduced interest at which we conduct “bond” sales; in other words borrow. There is no other ambition and our Government has been extremely successful. We are welcome clients at the “bond market” counters having proved conclusively there is no austerity or hardship we will not inflict on the Irish people to repay the conversion of defaulted private borrowing to public long term debt. Recent revelations on troubled Portuguese Banking reveal just how fragile supposed “recovery” is and how easily the whole absurd edifice could crumble.

These are dreadful times for many. But in reality we live in the best economic times that ever existed. Apart from extraordinarily enhanced living conditions we can produce everything the world needs and desires in great abundance.

But we are turning this almost Utopian situation into a nightmare. Practically all our misfortunes are self- inflicted and can be traced back to our inability to deal with the success of technology. A world of abundance, sufficiency and automation can not be administered by an ideology of shortage, growth and work. We must adapt to extraordinary and wonderful economic change wrought by the genius of technology. We have no hope of doing so as long as media exercises a stranglehold of censorship on considering and discussing the enormous and benign impact of modern technology on the economic situation in the 21st century.

Padraic Neary,

Co Sligo


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