10 August 2014 tomatoes

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage to get round the park. A warmish day. I get some books and replant some tomartoes

Scrabble Mary wins, but gets over just 400. perhaps I will win tomorrow.


Ken Tickell – obituary

Ken Tickell was an organ builder who made instruments for Eton and Keble College, Oxford

Ken Tickell

Ken Tickell

4:53PM BST 07 Aug 2014


Ken Tickell, who has died aged 57, was a leading British organ builder whose instruments can be found in Eton College, Worcester Cathedral, and at Keble College, Oxford, where the pipes were painted to match the chapel’s spectacular colouring.

Over the past three decades Tickell had built up a team of dedicated craftsmen at his workshop in Northampton, where he was renowned for his perfectionism and for being able to visualise how an instrument would look and sound even before it was built.

The new organ for the lower chapel at Eton was built in 2000 inside the original (c. 1700) Father Smith case. Meanwhile, Worcester Cathedral’s new organ, which was heard in the recent Three Choirs Festival , was inaugurated by Dame Gillian Weir during the festival there in 2008.

For many years Keble College had relied on an electronic organ. Here the challenge for Tickell was not only matching the sound to the ambience of the Victorian chapel, but also ensuring that the architectural integrity of William Butterfield’s magnificent building was not compromised.

Tickell was the first to admit that organ design – and sound – was a very personal taste and that pleasing such disparate groups as congregation, clergy, choir and organist could be a near-impossible task. “My philosophy has always been that good organs result from pursuing a single-minded purpose,” he once said, and with his quiet determination he built up an impressive reputation for his small company.

Kenneth Hugh Tickell was born at Orrell, Lancashire, on August 25 1956, the elder of two brothers. His father was a teacher who moved the family to Coventry when Ken was two. He learnt violin as a child and, despite not having a keyboard at home, became a young church organist. He entered Coventry School of Music, where he studied with Robert Weddle from Coventry Cathedral, before winning an organ scholarship to the University of Hull, where his teachers included Simon Lindley.

One summer, while he was still a student at Hull, a friend was helping a vicar’s son to install a second-hand organ in his parish church. Tickell was roped in to help with what turned out to be a more complicated job than the vicar had anticipated.

He quickly spotted the opportunity to marry his practical nature with his musical talent, and, after completing his Fellowship at the Royal College of Organists, became a trainee with Grant, Degens and Bradbeer, the organ builders based in Northampton. He struck out on his own in 1982. His first instrument, which was displayed at St Albans organ festival, was acquired by All Saints’ church, Preston Bagot, in Warwickshire.

Tickell’s first workshop was in outbuildings on a farm, where he was often irritated by the presence of a goat watching him constantly as he assembled his instruments. In 1986 the company, by now taking on staff, moved to an old bakery, where he lived with his young family above the shop. On one occasion he had to cut a hole in the bakery ceiling and into his living quarters to accommodate a particularly large organ pipe.

Over the next 32 years Tickell built or rebuilt instruments around the country, as well as several overseas. From the outset he was adamant that, while many organ builders are required to renovate existing instruments to make ends meet, he would build only new instruments, albeit sometimes in existing cases.

Today his instruments can also be heard in Sherborne Abbey, Dorset, and Lincoln’s Inn chapel, Holborn — which, he said, was his favourite because it was one of those rare venues where everything comes together both visually and acoustically.

Tickell was a founding member of the Institute of British Organ Building. For a number of years he was organist at St Mary’s Church, Northampton.

He is survived by his wife, Philippa James, whom he married in 1977, and by their daughter.

Ken Tickell, born August 25 1956, died July 24 2014



There is a question missing from your leader on tax (“On tax, our politicians are just too cowardly“, Comment). It should be asked of every member of parliament elected in 1979 and since. How did this nation arrive at a byzantine system of national government paying social security, intended to secure the lawful survival and shelter of the poorest citizens and then allowing local government to tax it? A national administrative army pays a very inadequate £72.40 a week jobseekers’ allowance to individual adults; then the local army taxes it an average of £149 a year council tax.

Unsurprisingly, given that £72.40 now has to pay some of the rent and that other laws have reduced its value, while the prices of food and fuel rise, there are late and non-payers of council tax. Byzantium expects a third army of magistrates, court and council enforcers to be paid for, even by the poorest citizens, by charging up to £125 on top of the arrears and more for the private army of bailiffs

Sadly, you subscribe to the conventional wisdom that raising income tax to a 50p rate for the highly affluent and an additional £1.2bn a year from a mansion tax is mainly symbolic.

Not so; £1.2bn would pay all the average £149 a year council tax of the 2.3 million working-age families claiming social security, saving them £348m a year, with £852m left over and saving admin and enforcers’ costs.

It was estimated in 2009 that a 50p tax rate above £150,000 a year income would raise a further £1.3bn in 2010/11, rising to £3.05bn in 2011/12. Think what that could do for the common good.

The Rev Paul Nicolson

Taxpayers Against Poverty

London N17

Your editorial on NHS costs and taxation says that the latter is “a system filled with anomalies… council tax bands based on a valuation of properties last done in 1991 and fiscal drag (increasing numbers… caught in higher tax bands as average wages increase)”. Surely the biggest anomaly is corporation tax? With numerous HMRC concessions, tax havens and tax avoidance, this tax brings in much less than it should. The total revenues lost because of these flaws are disputed. But even, on HMRC’s own, conservative (2011) estimate of £4.1bn, more rigorous regulation, enforcement and collection could eliminate the NHS deficit and lighten the burden of personal taxation.

John Ingham, Bryn Jones, David Lucas

Tax Justice


Your editorial on tax is timely, certainly, but while you accuse politicians of being too cowardly, aren’t you approaching the issue somewhat timidly?

No mention of a land value tax, the idea of which some politicians are at least toying with. And what about the bold, even radical, citizen’s income proposed by Compass and one or two Green and Labour MPs?

Then you restrict your central discussion of income tax to that paid by individuals. In 2013, UK corporations were sitting on a £750bn cash mountain. How much of that was taxed and how much was buried on Treasure Islands?

You seem to dismiss “increasing yields by cutting evasion” as a mere technocratic diversion.

I know you are talking about what the spin doctors will allow but a serious debate about tax cannot afford to be so cautious.

John Airs

While someone as unfit as I am might be in awe of Will Hutton’s achievement at riding a bicycle 700 miles at a rate of 70 miles per day, his claim that the peloton offers a reminder of the benefits of co-operation ought not to go unchallenged (“What my 700-mile bike ride taught me about togetherness“, News). True, it draws attention to the fact that we can frequently achieve more as a group than we can as individuals, but it does so by providing us with a badly flawed model.

Members of the peloton have a single goal and under such circumstances co-operation is unproblematic, but when that model is applied to the real world, in a context where there are profound differences of direction as well as of individual goals, it is often used to ride roughshod over potentially valuable individual contributions to social goals. The peloton model can lead to forced “co-operation” and it can lead to the suppression of the voice that feels something is wrong with the direction taken.
Tony McWalter
Labour and Co-operative MP (1997-2005)

Glasgow Games above politics

Nicola Sturgeon has spectacularly misread the public mood in Scotland over our success at the Commonwealth Games, in imagining it will increase the yes vote (“‘The momentum is with the yes campaign“, News). Has she even noticed that Scotland has done well without being independent? Hearing Scottish crowds cheering on English competitors, and the total lack of the sort of tribal narcissism on which the independence movement will heavily rely, makes me more confident than ever that we will vote no.
Ian Close

Unite the railways

As a potential Labour voter and retired railwayman, I became quite excited after reading your article on Labour’s plans for the rail network (“Labour’s proposed rail shake-up leaves nationalisation off the agenda“, Business). Then I read that Mary Creagh rules out one body for running trains and the infrastructure and this left me aghast! Does Labour not realise the cost of our railways won’t be reduced until we unite trains and track?
Peter Tattersall

Phones in theatres

Having read “Stephen Fry backs theatre charter to ban use of mobiles“, (News), I am left wondering why, as a regular concert-goer at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, I have never once heard a mobile ringtone in the concert hall. Is it that the environment commands more attention and respect from the audience or perhaps that, unlike theatres, concert auditoria are rarely plunged into the anonymity of darkness? Put the lights up and shame the culprits!
Janet Brindley

Max Mosley: the real reason I am taking on Google

When my lawyers put out a very short announcement that I was suing Google in the UK for showing illegal images, they said: “This is not a case about the ‘right to be forgotten’ or freedom of speech. Nor does it require Google to act as an arbiter of what is lawful and what is not. All that Google is being asked to do is to take practical measures to give effect to that decision of the court.”

That could not be clearer. Yet Catherine Bennett claimed I was trying to use the recent case in the European Court of Justice to “airbrush” my past (“And just when you had forgotten all about Max Mosley…”, Comment). Moreover, she added the untrue claim that I have “already exploited” the ECJ judgement. My case is nothing to do with the right to be forgotten or airbrushing the past; it is about Google continuing to publish pictures that it knows have already been ruled illegal by the high court.

In relation to the right to be forgotten, it is absurd to suggest it “must rankle” with me that Google is itself deciding which links to take down. The opposite is true. Google earns vast amounts by making information available on the internet. I think it entirely right that it should spend some of its money on trying to make sure it does so lawfully. If it gets it wrong (which it may do from time to time), the information commissioner or the courts can decide.

Apart from making me part of Hacked Off (which I’m not, though I agree with most of what it says), the writer goes on to make the blindingly obvious point that suing will increase searches for the pictures. She should try to understand that sometimes people do what’s right even when the consequences are unpleasant. Six years ago, I took on the bullies and criminals at the News of the World despite knowing I would have to endure days of embarrassing reports of the court proceedings.

But I won and in doing so I hope I have helped deter tabloids from causing similar unnecessary misery to others. The choice between what’s expedient and what’s right is an age-old one. Governments make it all the time and often (in my view) get it wrong. When something is clearly wrong and you have the means to act, you should.

Max Mosley



Children benefit enormously from visiting art galleries (“A gallery visit? Leave the children at home, says top artist”, 3 August). If anything, children of primary-school age have more to gain from early engagement with high-quality art, as it can help them better engage with learning, develop their creativity and imagination, encourage communication and language skills, and most of all, inspire them.

Children may not “understand” a complex artwork (who can claim they do?) but they quickly develop an appreciation for what they’re seeing and the thoughts, ideas and feelings it can stimulate. The more they see, the better; so the opportunity to visit an art gallery is hugely valuable. We work with children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and have seen the transformative effect that regular visits to galleries can have on children’s lives.

Jeremy Newton

Chief executive The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts

London E1

Why does John Lichfield feel it is appropriate to smear Sir Edward Grey (Comment, 3 August)? There are extensive published documents about the lead-up to war, for instance The Origins of the First World War: Diplomatic and Military Documents, by Annika Mombauer. These generally support the case that Grey behaved honourably and worked hard to try to prevent war.

Peter Brooker

West Wickham, Kent

John Ashton (“They’d find a cure if Ebola came to London”, 3 August) is very unfair when he says that it was only when “innocent” groups were affected by Aids that the scientific community took notice. It was scientists at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta who worked out its epidemiology from its beginning, showed its risk to blood transfusion recipients, and fought to make it a public health priority. They also went to Zaire in 1976 and investigated every case of Ebola fever in the outbreak that gave it its name, worked out its transmission and identified its cause as a new virus.

Professor Hugh Pennington


Stan Labovitch asks why atrocities other than Gaza don’t readily attract similar protests (Letters, 3 August).The reason for me is that it is such an obscenely one-sided conflict, in which the Middle East’s superpower has serially inflicted devastation on a captive impoverished people, who see their homeland continually diminish, where electricity and water are cut off, where homes, hospitals, schools and their inhabitants are routinely destroyed, where women and children form the greater proportion of deaths and injuries. Israel is protected at the UN by the US veto and funded by the US financially and militarily: these are my reasons.

Eddie Dougall

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

There is always a gaping hole at the centre of Hamish McRae’s analysis (3 August). The “rising productivity” he desires can be fed only with a voracious increase in the use of energy and resources. Ultimately, even renewable energy will be finite but other resources, including many of the basics of modern civilisation, will run out much sooner.

A tiny handful of economists, most notably Fritz Schumacher and Herman Daly, have shown the breadth of vision to engage with this most pressing and fundamental problem. But how often is it even mentioned by classical economists who seem to live on another planet of their theoretical imagination?

Steve Edwards

Wivelsfield Green, East Sussex

Countries such as Poland are not part of a Western campaign of “encirclement and humiliation since communism fell in 1991” (“The West cannot keep poking the bear”, 3 August). They are merely doing everything possible to preserve the freedom they’ve gained after decades of dictatorship, repression, poverty, brutality and incompetence under puppet governments told what to do by Moscow which, now a mafia state instead of a communist one, continues to show disdain for decency, democracy and human rights.

Jan Wiczkowski

Prestwich, Manchester


Calculating Salmond only out to cherry-pick devolved powers

I HAVE a Scottish wife and have travelled to Scotland for 45 years. While it does seem, delightfully, to be a different country when I am there, I am just as fiercely proud of sharing our joint heritage and our future as one nation as AA Gill is of going it alone (“I’d vote for independence if I could”, Magazine, last week). If I had a vote, I would vote to stay as one nation even though I believe England would be financially better off separated.

I suspect Alex Salmond has never wanted total independence. He’s a very clever politician who wants a big minority “yes” vote in order to cherry-pick responsibilities for the Scottish parliament to manage — mainly fiscally determined.

I am not alone in England in hoping for a resounding “no” vote, but there are many here who would probably vote “yes”, given the chance, to see just how competent Scotland would be as a single nation.
Tim Burton, Wokingham, Berkshire

Isolated incident

Gill displays a confusion between separateness and independence — they are not the same. In extremis, Scotland would be easily isolated. In Salmond’s presumed currency union, why would the Bank of England and the Treasury take any account of the interests of a little foreign country called Scotland?

How much clout will such a tiny, remote country carry within the EU, the UN, Nato or the World Bank? If the Scots vote to secede, the 2015 general election will be won by the party that promises the hardest exit deal.
Larry Rushton, Maignaut, France

Aye stakes

Gill and his fellow “ayes” would rather not admit to the enjoyment they get from feeling perennial victims of English domination and exploitation, or the masochistic pleasure they derive from carefully nurtured feelings of hurt and injustice.

Most of us English, for practical and sentimental reasons, don’t want the Scots to swap a union with us for one with the EU. The language of the debate, though, as exemplified by Gill’s article, is causing a hardening of attitude south of the border that could sour future relations.
Ted Shore, Bristol

Independent spirit

Why isn’t anyone getting to grips with the emotional subtext of independence? I hear economic and political arguments when much of the desire for independence is driven by a heartfelt and deeply ingrained cultural wish to be free of English rule.
Michael Partridge (retired psychotherapist), Brocton, Staffordshire

Ending it all

I am not eligible to vote on whether I want Scotland to sever its allegiance to the UK, but if it ends the continual carping and whining, let them have the place.
Chris Greenwell, Darlington, Co Durham

Poms and circumstance

Gill reminded us why English migrants to Australia were labelled “whingeing Poms”. If it came to the Scots needing Scottish passports, I seriously doubt he would be offered one. Do his hand-wringing Highlanders not realise that the generosity of the EU comes from a fund financed partly by the UK’s massive contributions? Unfortunately articles such as his cause many English people to say, “Go for it,” when in reality we all know we are better together.
Robin Wrigley, Verwood, Dorset

Home result

I think I understand from Gill’s impassioned and well-reasoned feature that he will be among the first to move home if they vote for independence. But why does he not move back now and work for this result?
Pam Dobson, Welwyn Garden City Hertfordshire

Union vote

I fear Gill’s article is somewhat premature. He should keep his powder dry until the next referendum, to be conducted in England and Wales in a year or two’s time, about whether to let an impoverished country back into the union.
John Samuel, Coulton, North Yorkshire

So last century

Gill’s article was an evocation of a childhood in a long-lost, mid-20th-century Scotland and was clearly written for English readers who wanted to read a self-exculpatory potted history of Scotland. Gill needs to get into the 21st century.

Talk about the 1690s Darien scheme — Scotland’s attempt to bypass dependence on trade through and with England by forming its own colony — and the alleged (but never proved) bribing of Scottish aristocrats to sell out for “English gold” is like a Scottish National party (SNP) flyer from the 1960s.

He may claim Edinburgh as his city but it bears little similarity to the place I have lived in for a number of decades. If he wants to be ruled by the SNP, he is welcome to it. If he moves north, we could swap houses.
Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Treating burns

Unlike Gill, no Scot would say Robbie Burns. It’s Rabbie Burns. Gill was born in Scotland and brought up by his English parents in England from the age of one. As the Duke of Wellington said: “If a gentleman happens to be born in a stable, it does not follow that he should be called a horse.”
Eric Brown, Bromley, London

Forth degree

Adam Boulton (“Not debating on Scotland is canny, PM — and a kick in the kilt for voters”, Comment, last week) stated that the Queen cracked a magnum of best Bowmore Surf Islay whisky on the bows of her new namesake carrier on the banks of the Clyde. It was launched at Rosyth on the River Forth.
Douglas Tott, Isle of Islay, Argyll and Bute

City needs EU for business to prosper
BUSINESSES across the UK need confidence in the domestic environment if they are to plan with any degree of certainty. Now the economy is showing signs of a sustained recovery, the political debate around Britain’s relationship with the EU is becoming a risk factor when it comes to investment and location decisions for internationally mobile firms (“Boris warns PM: be ready to leave EU”, News, last week).

London’s success as a global financial centre is underpinned by access to the single market. The reason why many large financial institutions base their operations in the capital or other parts of the UK is that we serve as a gateway to bigger markets in Europe and beyond. According to our polling, the vast majority of businesses favour staying in the EU.

Of course the City wants reforms to make Europe more competitive. These include completing the single market in services, cutting needless red tape and making the EU far more efficient. The government and MEPs of all parties should engage with the new European Commission to deliver this reform agenda.

A successful and reformed EU is a prize worth fighting for. The future prosperity of London and the country depends on it.
Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman, City of London Corporation

Hands off anti-whaler Pamela Anderson
YOUR headline “Pammy’s here to harass whalers in Faroes Baywatch” (World News, last week) was juvenile. Calling Pamela Anderson “Pammy” was rude — and she did not harass anyone. She came from Copenhagen on a scheduled flight, not in a private jet as you claimed, and she was not roped into the campaign — like all the other activists she is a volunteer and a longtime supporter of Sea Shepherd’s efforts to defend life in our ocean.

Your reporter Josh Glancy’s description of passionate volunteers who have come to the Faroe Islands on their own time and at their own expense as “a motley collection of international misfits” reveals he does not understand the concept of marine conservation. Glancy says the pilot whale is not endangered. There is no scientific validation of the number 800,000 that the Faroese throw around as no one knows what the numbers are.

The Canadians said the same thing about pilot whales in Newfoundland right up until 1966, when their populations crashed and the pods stopped returning to the coast.
Captain Paul Watson, International Director, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society


Jeremy Clarkson says: “For reasons I can’t explain, I’m especially troubled by people who have thin lips. They can appear to be amusing and kind, but I’ll have already decided that actually they are not” (“Heathrow’s a hole. Our new runway must be at London Hogwarts”, News Review, last week). Very perceptive and spot-on, which is presumably why he always gives David Cameron a very wide berth.
Huw Beynon, Penybanc, Dyfed

I was saddened that your headline “Ben Whishaw: why I came out” (Magazine, last week) is felt to be relevant in this day and age. I can’t wait for the day people don’t have to “come out” and can just be accepted.
Nicola Denson, Guiseley, West Yorkshire

In the event that the UK votes to leave the EU, why doesn’t the government publish its contingency plans — the essence of wise management (“Cameron’s Euro fudge is Boris’s opportunity”, Editorial, last week)?
Bob Woodman, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

Your article “Students face £16,000 fees for Oxbridge” (News, last week) suggested a panel set up by Universities UK to look at the fees and loans system in England is “likely to include a push to raise tuition fees”. This is not the case. The panel — which includes people from outside the university sector — has only just started its work and nothing has been decided, least of all its final recommendations. It will continue to take evidence from a wide range of organisations and individuals, including groups such as the National Union of Students.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive Universities UK, London

In your excellent article “One hot mother” (Style, last week”) the model Lara Stone is quoted as saying: “I did worry about the impact [of pregnancy], because my body is my job and my livelihood.” It is to be hoped that her intellect will suffice when the wrinkles inevitably appear.
Adrian Mann, York

Your breathless headline informed us that “Ed’s cousin prefers David” (News, last week). Now the secret is out and we wait anxiously for the next insider to trash the Labour leader, Ed Miliband. I have it from impeccable sources that Florence Pendlebury from Pratts Bottom in southeast London saw him once in the high street and thought him arrogant. My own cousin in Australia, Dippo Brown, says that Miliband wouldn’t shout if a shark bit him. These testimonials do not bode well for Miliband. I hope he resigns to make way for “Gromit Balls”, whom no one can mock.
Terry Aulich, Tasmania

I agree with Mick Davis, the chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, that Israel has a right to defend itself (“Three basic rights Gaza’s death toll won’t change”, Comment, last week). But the country does not have a right to kill innocent bystanders, or those seeking shelter in UN schools. As for Davis exhorting us to choose Israel or Hamas, I choose peace.
Barclay Davies, Gelli, Rhondda Cynon Taff

Eyewitness accounts from Iraq tell us about the thousands of Christians, many of them women and children, who have been killed by the jihadist group the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Isis). Others fleeing from the militants are trapped in the mountains. Where is the condemnation of Isis from those political leaders quick to criticise Israel’s attempt to defend itself?
Jeff Caplan, Hale, Greater Manchester

Rod Liddle’s reporting of the Pope’s modern-day take on the Ten Commandments fails to mention “Thou shall not covet your neighbour’s wi-fi” (“I am the Lord thy Rod; now listen up”, Comment, last week). This is a big issue in the country.
Roger Foord, Chorleywood, Hertfordshire

Ian Anderson, singer and flautist, 67; Rosanna Arquette, actress, 55; Antonio Banderas, actor, 54; Riddick Bowe, boxer, 47; Baroness Butler-Sloss, judge, 81; Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games writer, 52; Lawrence Dallaglio, rugby player, 42; Charlie Dimmock, gardener, 48; Roy Keane, footballer, 43; Ronnie Spector, singer, 71

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

1519 Ferdinand Magellan’s five ships leave Seville to circumnavigate globe; 1793 the Louvre officially opens in Paris; 1977 David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”) arrested for six murders in New York; 1990 Magellan space probe reaches Venus; 2003 highest temperature yet recorded in the UK — 38.5C (101.3F) in Faversham, Kent


America needs active suport from Britain and Nato in Iraq

A no-fly zone over northern Iraq would help to protect Kurds and other minorities

Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence, walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul, August 5, 2014.

Displaced families from the Yazidi sect walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul Photo: Reuters

6:57AM BST 09 Aug 2014


SIR – The desperate situation in northern Iraq requires a rapid response from the West, to prevent a massacre of Kurds and minorities by Isis.

The situation is similar to 1992, when Saddam’s army pursued the Kurds into the same mountains, to starve and kill them. To his credit, John Major, prime minister at the time, advocated designated safe areas for the Kurds and the whole of northern Iraq was successfully protected by a no-fly zone until the invasion of 2003.

Nato should again impose a no-fly zone and actively interdict Isis wherever it threatens the Kurdish area and those of minority groups. Fortunately, America has started to act, if only in a limited way, but Britain and Nato should actively support America in defending these people.

Nicholas Watkis

SIR – The turmoil, death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted from intervention by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. David Cameron intervened in Libya (and almost in Syria).

What is particularly galling is that none of these three seems able to accept responsibility for their decisions.

Trevor Jones
West Chiltington, Sussex

SIR – On Radio 4 news an eye witness from a Christian town in northern Iraq spoke of the dead bodies, many of women and children, who had been killed by Isis terrorists.

Where is the emotive condemnation from the likes of Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Baroness Warsi, and George Galloway against Isis, such as they voiced against Israel’s attempt to defend itself?

Jeff Caplan
Hale, Cheshire

A modest proposal

SIR – Eric Howarth (Letters, August 5) suggests that it would be simpler if the Government took all our money and dished out a little weekly pocket money.

He must know that such a proposal would be totally unacceptable to all the major parties: if we were given cash we might spend it on something of our choice.

Coupons might be acceptable. Our five a day could be specified, and we might be entitled to half a teaspoon of salt and sugar a week, and a small portion of butter or margarine, depending on whether they were in medical vogue.

Jeremy Lousada
Sledge Green, Worcestershire

Top Gear change

SIR – I was editor of Top Gear in its original format between 1986 and 1991, when it was made at BBC Pebble Mill. By the time Jeremy Clarkson first appeared in 1988, Top Gear already had an audience of more than five million and was regularly the most popular programme on BBC2.

We had nine staff in total, with extra “volunteers” drafted in when needed. My line of command was through my local Head of Television straight to the Controller of BBC2. As Paul Bonner suggests (Letters, August 6), budgets, formats, chains of command and staffing numbers haven’t half changed.

Tom Ross
Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire

How are you?

SIR – My late father’s invariable reply to the question “How are you?” was “Better in health than in temper.”

I now know exactly what he meant.

Simon Edsor
London SW1

Ageing Britain

SIR – Your leading article about the impact of an ageing population on economic growth fails to mention what criteria Moody’s, the credit ratings agency, used in its assessment.

Presumably these predictions don’t include services provided by retired people that do not receive a financial reward. How would the National Trust, the RSPB or community transport services – to name only a few examples – cope without unpaid volunteers, most of whom are retired? And then there are those grandparents who are providing child care in many families.

I am not qualified to put an economic value on any of this activity, but surely it is not negligible.

Martin Sage
Westhay, Somerset

SIR – England will need to build 840 primary schools by 2017, as between 2000 and 2010 our population increased rapidly.

Much of this is due to a mass influx from within the EU. The pressure this has caused on Britain’s infrastructure will outweigh the benefits that migrants have brought to our economy. Still no major party is prepared to fight Brussels on this.

G P Dipper
Leominster, Herefordshire

Air pockets

SIR – If one isn’t wearing a jacket, the shirt pocket (Letters, August 8) is the best place to carry a boarding pass and a pen.

Only one pen, of course.

Rodney Touche
Holmwood, Surrey

Blackberry breakfast

SIR – For ripe and ready fruit, available free, surely now is the time to head to the hedgerows (Letters, August 7).

I have just picked the first of this season’s blackberries, and am enjoying them for breakfast.

Geoffrey Treloar
Cranage, Cheshire

A fateful day

SIR – It was on August 9 1945 that Kokura was nominated as the second atom bomb target on Japan.

Fortunately for this city, the cloud cover was too great, so the bombers were redirected to Nagasaki, the secondary target.

Peter Ashcroft
Sapley, Huntingdonshire

The British Empire in the First World War

SIR – I am irritated by the BBC’s use of the anachronistic term “Commonwealth” in its programmes about the commemoration of the First World War. The Commonwealth did not come into being until 1948. In 1914 people in the five dominions, India or the colonies, were part of the British Empire.

Wg Cdr G L D Alderson RAF (retd)
Stamford, Lincolnshire

SIR – As a gesture of goodwill, could the Government repay the 3.5 per cent War Loan so patriotically bought to fund the Great War by our grandparents, who all died waiting for their promised money?

John D Scatchard
Batley, West Yorkshire

SIR – My father came home from the First World War a nervous wreck, but was nursed back to health by my grandmother, who made him promise never to mention the war again – a promise he kept.

Geoffrey Down
Padbury, Buckinghamshire

SIR – How sad it is that war graves are now omitted from the new Michelin maps. Are they trying to forget?

David Cardwell
Les Houches, Haute-Savoie, France

SIR – Is this celebration of the First World War not just emotional indulgence? Surely we should concentrate on all the present-day atrocities throughout the world, or maybe we have learnt nothing from the Remembrance celebrations in the past.

Rosemay Ostick
Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire

Billowing washing on the line in ‘Early Spring’ by Gilbert Spencer (1892-1979)  Photo:

6:59AM BST 09 Aug 2014


SIR – I was interested to read of the benefits of hanging washing outdoors in helping prevent respiratory problems (Letters, August 8). I also find the sunshine works a treat in bleaching out the inevitable stains that find themselves on the clothes of my two young children.

Alexandra Beynon
Church Crookham, Hampshire

SIR – While I appreciate the environmental objective, the problem with wind-drying laundry is that it leaves towels like sandpaper, no matter how much conditioner is used.

Chris Whitehouse
Totland Bay, Isle of Wight

SIR – My mother’s advice was to dry washing outside, as it kills germs. I have always followed her dictum, but is there any scientific proof of this?

Elisabeth Chaston
Enfield, Middlesex

SIR – Alex Salmond is now saying that Westminster would have to respect the “sovereign will” of the Scottish people to keep the pound in the event of a Yes vote.

In my opinion Westminster should now make a firm commitment to the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland that it will not agree to a currency union with an independent Scotland without determining, by a further referendum of the remainder of the British people, that they would be willing for their taxes to be used to bail out a foreign Scotland.

Such a commitment should convince Scottish voters that Westminster politicians are serious in saying No to a currency union despite Mr Salmond’s insistence that they are bluffing.

Lionel Steele
Coventry, Warwickshire

SIR – The main problem with choosing a currency to use in the event of a Yes vote is that all of our mortgages are denominated in pounds sterling. That means that we have to pay them back in pounds sterling. If we don’t know the currency we’ll be paid in, when working in an independent Scotland, then repaying a sterling mortgage might be difficult.

If Scotland took its own, new currency then it would have to weaken relative to the pound in order to keep Scotland competitive relative to the rest of the United Kingdom (and everywhere else, too). We’d be earning Scottish buttons and still repaying debts in pounds sterling.

If Scotland continued to use the pound sterling outside a currency union, then Scotland would also need to undergo an internal devaluation. Wage levels would fall in order to maintain Scottish competitiveness relative to everywhere else. So we’d be earning fewer pounds, but still repaying the same amount in pounds on our mortgages.

Given that the SNP has had seven years to work towards the referendum, how come they’ve not had currency, banking and taxation systems all planned and running in parallel for a smooth switchover? That would have removed much of the uncertainty.

It’s hard to believe that we Scots could do a worse job of running our country than the Westminster incumbents but I really do have my doubts.

Stuart Kelly
Innellan, Argyll

SIR – Jim Barrack (Letters, August 7) does not understand the Scots’ wish for independence. It is certainly not built on speculation or sentiment. We Scots are confident in our abilities, as we administered the British Empire and have made significant contributions in science and the arts.

If we attain independence we will be able to decide our own government – which won’t be Labour. It is unlikely in England that a Labour government will be elected either.

John M Scott
Shefford, Bedfordshire

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Madam – It’s almost here. In October the water charges will begin, so who will raise their hands to show that they fully understand the billing system and in turn are content to pay when the water authorities tell you how much you’ve used and how much you must pay for it.

If you happen to be one of those who fully understands all of the above then I congratulate you. I must admit that I am one of the people who do not understand any of it at all.

What I do know however is that when I stop at any garage to buy fuel, I insert the nozzle, press the lever and it immediately shows me the amount I am getting and the cost per litre. I do not have to ask or enquire from the assistant behind the counter how much I owe because I already know.

The same should apply when I turn on my tap or have a shower or use the toilet.

Surely every household is entitled to have a similar meter installed inside of their home to show what water is being used and the cost per litre.

The water charges will sweep over us like a tsunami but unlike that freak happening which quickly disappears, the water charges will remain with us forever just like the bin charge, the household charge and the property tax.

Once a charge comes in it will never be removed, but it will change – it will increase. The only things likely to go in the other direction are pensions, social welfare benefits, and medical cards.

The water board do have an advisory section on line dealing with many of the questions that may be asked. There are some 40 headings, each heading having several pages. To understand any of it you will probably need the help and advice of a Senior Counsel and a team of reputable accountants. You will also need some time off work if you are one of the few who have a job.

For far too long we citizens have been fobbed off by our elected representatives with jargon that most of us do not understand until we are finally told “well that’s the law! You have to pay it.”

Now is the time to stand up and demand that we are made fully aware of the total cost of what I consider to be a human right. And I want to be told in plain English exactly what is the position.

Fred Molloy


Dublin 15

Let them collect levies

Madam – In your Letters Page (Sunday Independent, August 3) A Leavy disagrees with your previous editorial in which  you stated bureaucrats were responsible for the austerity forced on us today and he suggests that it was just a few powerful people.

Can I mediate by suggesting you are both wrong – and that our downfall was caused by having inept fools, bureaucrats and powerful people (all rolled into one), in jobs they sometimes had no qualifications to hold.

Last year there was an outstanding €750m in uncollected planning levies. Developers built these costs into the purchase price of homes. We are now paying Local Property Tax to fund the services that these planning levies should have provided.

Of the €750m outstanding in planning levies, most of it is now owed by banks or their receivers as attached liability to businesses they took possession of. Planning permission under which a lot of hotels and pubs are being operated by receivers is subject to the planning levies being paid and if they are not paid the premises should be closed down by the local authorities. If they are not, then why should we pay LPT to fund services for them?

Tom Fennelly,

Firhouse, Dublin 24

First World War was a just cause

Madam – I disagree with Anthony Cronin’s article on the first World War (Sunday Independent, August 3).

In August 1916 Germany was de facto under the control of General Ludendorff when the Third Supreme Command took over. Sultanate Turkey was a pyramid power and it carried out the first holocaust by the massacre of one and half million Armenian Catholics.

We should remember that Roger Casement recruited Irish prisoners of our “gallant allies” – Turkey, Germany and Austria-Hungary. Both Germany and Austria-Hungary had used poison gas by this stage.

President Woodrow Wilson stated his war aims: “we do not want territory or sovereignty but the world must be made safe for democracy… we are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind”.

After the war the Allies set up the League of Nations to promote democracy and preserve peace. Most right thinking people now consider the use of force in defence of human rights as a “just war”.

Noel Flannery

South Circular Road


Bruton was right about Home Rule

Madam – I would like to respond to Mr. Gerry Adams and his inane and predictably drone-like attack upon ex-Taoiseach Mr. John Bruton, and his courageous, and wholly justified analytical and ethical critique of the 1916 insurrection – and by implication its myriad apologists for those six days of blood sacrifice instigated by its chief ideologue Patrick Pearse.

The year 1916 saw the sequel to the 1867 insurrection which within a year had degenerated into outright terrorism. This represented the first wave of a nightmare of murderous Fenian insurgency directed against liberal democracy in Ireland, and in what was then mainland Britain.

This relentless fanatical campaign lasted for 19 years ending in 1886. Had the Irish Constabulary been as well trained, and as well equipped as they had been from 1867 to 1886, the 1916 terrroists would have been crushed, and deposited into the proverbial dust-bin of history – a place incidentally where Mr Adams together with his Sinn Fein-IRA comrades belong.

Mr Bruton believes in political evolution (an alien concept to Mr Adams ) and in respect for civilized political institutions inside a liberal State, and in real politics of which 1916 was an arrogant and contemptuous denial as was all of the insurgent violence that followed up to 1921-23 – a denial of the option of politics.

It might be salutary to reflect that Pearse’s Fenian Programme which he announced in 1915, over the grave of O’Donovan Rossa was on the verge of extinction before the great blood-bath propaganda of the event of 1916. Home Rule secured by John Redmond on September 18 1914 for most of Ireland (placed in abeyance until after the war) was a stepping stone to any future narrative course including that of independence – if so wished by the people for most of the island.

The six counties of Ulster would always be problematic and quite understandably so, owing to – among many other rational reasons – the power of the Catholic Church in the South.

Pierce Martin,


Co Kildare

Spirit of 1916 is needed today

Madam – Mr John Bruton is incorrect and lacking in empathetic understanding when he disparages the fundamental importance of the 1916 Easter Rising in our country’s history.

Tom Clarke,Pearse, Connolly, MacDiarmada, MacDonagh, Eamonn Ceannt, Plunkett -these men were not thugs. They were to a man high-minded idealists, whose desire to see Ireland free of British rule was fostered from their youth by a resurgence of pride in our language, culture, games and ancient history which kicked in from the late 19th century.

At their mothers’ knees their mental development was shaped in reactionary mode, by stories of the woeful annihilation of the recent Great Famine. They were men who embodied the old Fenian belief – that England’s crisis was Ireland’s opportunity to strike for independence.

They lost their gambit, they lost their lives, but their republican spirit electrified the Irish people, very evident in the ecstatic welcome for the surviving freed Irish prisoners by hundreds of thousands in Dublin on June 1917.

We need that spirit now and ever, to fight for justice, truth, fairness, honour and safety in Irish, European and World societies.

Eileen McGough,

Author, ‘Diarmuid Lynch a Forgotten Irish Patriot’


Better chance for more female TDs

Madam – In your paper on Sunday last (August 3) both Roger Jupp and John Drennan highlight the fact that women are dissatisfied that too few women were promoted in the recent government reshuffle.

Women are more than 50 per cent of the electorate but only 15 per cent of TDs are women.

The Government has imposed a quota which penalises the public funding of political parties with less than 30 per cent female candidates – a great opportunity to increase in the next election.

Governments will then not have the excuse of having too few women available for high office when choosing ministers and junior ministers..

A Leavy,

Sutton, Dublin 13

Antonia’s heroin article worthwhile

Madam – Antonia Leslie’s article about heroin, (Sunday Independent, 27 July ) was the best I have ever read explaining the mind-set of those unfortunate people who get trapped using heroin.

This article should be read out to students in every school in Ireland, to show the terrible consequences of this killer drug.

Antonia, if your superb article stops just one person from using heroin, it will have been worthwhile. Well done.

Maurice Curtin,

Co Cork

Letter writers should keep at it

Madam – Brian Mc Devitt praises the Letters page (Sunday Independent, 27 July, 2014).

Since I began to speak publicly three years ago, mostly about depression, through the letters pages, I receive regular contacts from people in distress or their relatives. Letter writers keep doing your thing and papers keep publishing them.

Tommy Roddy,


Good wishes to the journeying swifts

Madam – What an appropriate piece on swifts by Joe Kennedy (Sunday Independent, August 3). Swifts come to Ireland to breed in late April and leave to head back for the African continent in late July and early August. So basically they are here for the creme-de-lá-creme of our insect hatch.

They spend all their life on the wing and only touch down to breed. They are amazing to watch as they glide, twist, bank, and fly like an aerial acrobatic show.

However they are decreasing in number due to modern building methods where all cracks and crevices are sealed. Thankfully this summer of fantastic weather has been good to them. Long may we enjoy their skyfest. We wish them well on their challenging journey southwards and look forward to their return next spring.

Tom Lynch,

Ennis, Co Clare

These screamers are no devil birds

Madam – The title “Scythe-shaped screamers” caught my eye in last week’s paper and, with it, came another enlightening article from Joe Kennedy’s Country Matters.

The screamers, of course, are our welcome summer visitor, the swift – the bird equivalent of a Japanese bullet train. The screaming, although shrill and piercing, does not cause alarm or fear. Rather it denotes all is well with nature.

Like Joe I have had the good fortune to rescue a bird which had temporally become grounded and I hope it brought me good luck!. ‘Devil Birds’ they most certainly are not.

Damien Boyd,


Cry of despair over Gaza war

Madam – I despair. I despair at the absence of courage among our World leaders. I despair reading the accounts by Norwegian Dr. Mads Gilbertof, who is battling to save innocent civilians in Gaza’s crumbling hospital. I despair looking at the countless pictures of lifeless children. They could be my children. I despair seeing the destruction of a people, by machines paid for by a great nation, one that values liberty and equality.

How can the Western World champion universal human rights and the rule of law while standing by watching the brutal deaths of civilians in Palestine? That I voice this opinion does not make me anti-Semitic. I do not condone the actions of Hamas.

Róisín Lawless,

Áth Buí,

Contae na Mí

The hypocrisy of calls for boycott

Madam – I am becoming more and more annoyed, frustrated and saddened by the daily clamour for boycotts of Israeli goods by every little organisation, disaffected person and trade union as a result of the war in Gaza.

I am not an apologist for Israel but the stench of hypocrisy from all the “anti-Israeli” voices in becoming rank and pitiful.

A friend just posted on Facebook that he is proud to be working for SuperValu/Musgraves as they had announced a boycott of Israeli goods, but he and Musgraves are not calling for a boycott of Syrian, Iranian or ISIS area goods and they are killing far more innocent people and kids in those areas than in Gaza.

There are as many reasons for what is happening in Gaza as there are proponents for each side. Israelis (Jews) grabbed the land after the Second World War (after being nearly exterminated in Europe), but not all of it Palestine – Palestine used also contain parts of what is now Egypt, Jordan and Syria, but nobody is calling for those areas to be returned.

The Israelis have maintained a blockade of Gaza for the last few years, to reduce the amount of weaponry reaching Hamas, who have sworn to annihilate each and every Jew – kids too.

I for one won’t be bullied by the loudest screamer demanding a boycott but I will be boycotting any retail outlet who announces their own boycott of Israeli goods and denying me my rightful choice – and that starts today with SuperValu.

Robert Daly,


Condemnation from here is easy

Madam – The Palestinian people are oppressed.No right thinking person can think otherwise. However they are as much if not more oppressed by Hamas as Israel.

Like so many peoples and nations their rulers are to blame for so much of their troubles. Like it or not, Israel was created as a state by the United Nations in 1948. Within hours it was invaded by all its neighbouring Arab countries with one intent – to wipe it off the map.

Israel is the only truly democratic country in the Middle East that gives all its citizens protected equal 
rights under its basic laws whether they be Jew, Muslim, Christian or Dissenter. It must 
be protected.

As time moves on people naturally tend to forget the horrendous murderous suffering the Jewish people endured as a race all through history. That hatred and murderous intent is still with us. Its easy from a distance to condemn Israel.

Thankfully Israel has a defence system that can and has destroyed most of the thousands of rockets that have been fired indiscriminately into Israel with one aim – to kill as many Israei citzens as possible.

John Naylor

Dublin 12

Do not fight in the name of God

Madam – We watched Simon Scharma on Charles I last evening and then we watched the news. Israelis, Muslims, all fighting in the name of God.

Oh, merciful God, save us from those who think they are inspired.

Cal Hyland,
West Cork

Sunday Independent


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