Tired

21 September 2014 Tired

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

Mary’s back much better today, breakfast wt up gammon for tea and her back pain is still there.

Obituary:

Sheila Stewart – obituary

Writer brought up by the Waifs and Strays Society who chronicled a lost rural way of life

Sheila Stewart

Sheila Stewart

6:00PM BST 20 Sep 2014

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SHEILA STEWART, who has died aged 86, was the illegitimate child of a servant who, from the age of three, was brought up in homes run by the Waifs and Strays Society (now the Church of England Children’s Society); in later life she became a successful author of books and plays which chronicled traditional life in rural communities of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.

Nowadays children’s homes have something of a bad press but as Sheila Stewart recounted in A Home from Home (1967), a memoir of her early life, while their residents often endured loneliness and misery, the homes could also be places where children were given compassion and support that enabled them to make something positive of their lives.

She was born Sheila McCairn in the fishing community of Appledore, Devon, on January 6 1928 and it was only later in life that she discovered, from her birth certificate, that she was illegitimate. Shortly after her birth, her mother Maisie moved to London, leaving her in the care of “Danma” and “Danpa” Cox, elderly and impoverished relatives whose diet, she recalled, consisted largely of shellfish collected on the Taw estuary.

One day, when Sheila was three, a “lady” turned up at their tiny cottage: “Danma gave the lady a brown paper bundle tied up with string and I trustingly held out my hand to her,” she recalled. “I did not know that I was walking away from Danma Cox for ever.” From then on she was brought up in various children’s homes under the supervision of Waifs’ and Strays’ Society committees and patrons. She remained in sporadic contact with an “Auntie Flo” in Barnstable, but never saw the Coxes again. It was only later in life that she learned from her “auntie” how the elderly couple had fretted after she had been taken away by “the welfare” and how, though illiterate, they had treasured the piece of paper upon which the lady had written Sheila’s name and address.

Sheila Stewart, third from right in checked dress

Sheila Stewart recalled the terrible shock of abandonment, the bullying by other girls, the harsh regime in some homes where corporal punishment was the norm, and the petty humiliations that were the lot of “Home” children (she hated the term Waifs and Strays): they could have their heads shaved to combat lice, or be compelled to wear clogs, leading them to be ostracised by classmates at school. Sheila was forced to wear the same pair of boots for several years, resulting in her needing an operation on her deformed feet in later life.

But she also recalled close friendships and the kindness of many staff, notably a “Matron Bailey” to whom she dedicated her memoir — and the good intentions of the Society which, in general, tried to do its best for those in its care with meagre resources.

Maurice Home, Ealing: Sheila Stewart is sixth from the right, centre row

Most of Sheila’s companions left school at 14 to work as domestic servants, so when Sheila confounded expectations by becoming the first Home girl to pass the exam to grammar school (in Ealing), to begin with the Society was loath to give such a privilege to one girl when it might lead to resentment among the rest. However, Sheila had some strong supporters and, after 18 months of prevarication (by which time her home had been evacuated to Englemere Wood, Ascot for the duration of the Second World War), she was allowed to attend the grammar school at nearby Bracknell for a trial period of a year. Despite her late start, she thrived in the academic environment, and the Society allowed her to stay on to take higher school certificate.

Even after she left the care of the Society and her last children’s home, Grenville House in Ascot, to train as a teacher at Bishop Otter College, Chichester, Sheila’s old matron continued to send her parcels of “tuck” and pocket money. When she married her husband, Eric Stewart, in 1952, the matron and her staff gave her a white wedding and reception at the home.

After qualifying as a teacher, Sheila Stewart taught PE and English at the Friends’ School in Sibford, Oxfordshire. Then, after the birth of her three children, she established a private nursery school in her home, later moving to purpose-built premises in Bloxham. Many of the ideas she pioneered at the school were documented as “best practice” by the Department of Education.

After the publication of her memoir in 1967 Sheila Stewart sold her school to concentrate on her writing, and the family moved to the village of Ascott in Warwickshire, later settling in the Warwickshire village of Brailes.

Her second book, Country Kate (1971) was a charming family portrait, largely written in Warwickshire dialect, based on the recollections of an elderly countrywoman who had grown up as the daughter of the local vet in a Cotswold village before the Great War. Her adaptation of the book for radio won the Writers’ Guild Award of 1974 for Best Radio Feature Script.

Sheila Stewart’s technique of writing in the vernacular would be shown to best effect in Lifting the Latch; A Life on the Land (1987), on which she began work after a local butcher suggested she write the life story of Mont Abbott, an elderly former farm labourer living in the Oxfordshire village of Enstone. “Thee can come if thee wants,” Abbott wrote in reply to her letter of introduction. “I have no transport, only a wheelbarrow.”

With his permission, Sheila Stewart recorded all their conversations and then worked his words into book form. The result was a lyrical masterpiece of social history that evoked a lost world of carting and shepherding, thriving church choirs, country fairs and the day-to-day life of a tightly-knit rural community. Reviewers compared it to Lark Rise to Candleford as a classic of time and place.

Sheila Stewart’s final book, Ramlin Rose: The Boatwoman’s Story (1993), drew on recorded interviews to describe the experiences of women who had lived and worked on horse-drawn narrow boats, plying the country’s canals.

A keen member of the WI and an enthusiastic gardener, Sheila Stewart was an active member of her village community, often playing a leading role in organising flower shows, pensioners’ Christmas parties and other events.

She is survived by her husband and their daughter and two sons.

Sheila Stewart, born January 6 1928, died September 3 2014

Guardian:

Peggy Mount & Judi Dench

The way it was: Judi Dench as Juliet with Peggy Mount as the nurse in the Old Vic’s production of Romeo and Juliet in 1960. Photograph: PA Archive

Many older actors in Britain will be cheering Judi Dench to the rafters for her display of anger that new financial barriers to training have made the acting profession more elitist (“Dench laments actors held back by wealth divide“, News). And also for the regret she expresses at the demise of repertory theatre, which provided such splendid experiences that were the basis of the acclaimed excellence of many British actors.

For all that drama schools endeavour to help their chosen students find a financial way through the usually three-year course, there are many students who fall by the wayside. Worse still, many are too daunted by the impossibly high fees even to apply.

Young people with rich parents have other unfair advantages. Their private schools, such as Eton, may employ a theatre professional to stage school plays. They can afford the average £45 charged to audition for a drama school and they can apply to dozen of schools to give themselves many chances. They can pay £800 to do a two-week course on how to audition or £10,000 to do a six-month foundation course at a recognised drama school.

Philip Hedley

Director emeritus

Theatre Royal Stratford East

As a 25-year-old struggling actor, it is a daily frustration to me that opportunities seem open only to an “elite” few.

However, I am confused by how in this article it is lamented that acting has become too “middle class” while in the same breath it is said that our top actors come from a handful of elite schools. How are these one and the same thing? I would consider myself middle class, having grown up in perfectly comfortable circumstances, but I was educated in the state system and certainly have no “connections”.

The idea that drama school is too expensive is, I believe, distorting the point. Most drama schools are now affiliated to universities and offer BA courses at exactly the same price as any university course. Therefore it is possible, as I did, to get a student loan. It is still expensive, but less so than it used to be and certainly no more so than a normal degree course.

Many of the posh actors who are big at the moment did not even go to drama school, but were, rather, fast-tracked into the profession by connections. It is this network at the top of the industry that must be stopped for the sake of our acting industry.

Natalie Bray

London EC1

Judi Dench is absolutely right about the impossibility of the less well off now entering the acting profession, and she is also right to ascribe this to the demise of local repertory theatres.

May I add a further point?

Not only does the disappearance of the local rep deprive Britain’s potential talent of its chance to develop, but it also denies the public access to what is perhaps our greatest artistic achievement of the last 400 years: live drama. In what Dame Judi rightly calls “a civilised country”, everyone, from their very earliest years and on their own doorstep, should be able and encouraged to enjoy the excitement of our national genius through familiarity, and not just as part of the GCSE syllabus. Let us have cinema, television, popular music, DVDs, the internet – and live theatre. The latter is globally acknowledged to be the greatest since Athens, as my own experiences in Moscow, Japan, Brazil, China and elsewhere testify. Yet it is denied to most of us in the UK.

As with swimming pools, libraries and museums, there should be an active professional theatre in every town and city. People, their children, and their talented forebears deserve no less.

Ian Flintoff

Former RSC and National Theatre actor

Oxford

There will come a point when the elderly can only afford basic foodstuffs. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

Katie Allen could have included in her article (“After the house deposit, pensions are just a saving too far“, Business) reference to the fact that in 30 or so years’ time there will, in addition to increased hardship for individual pensioners, also be serious implications for retailers and for HMRC.

If perhaps millions more of our people are having to live on subsistence levels of income (state pensions), their retail spending will almost entirely be limited to basic foodstuffs and they will probably have nil liability to pay income tax. There will be an additional drain on the state because the state pensions of these unfortunate citizens will need to be supplemented by whatever benefits are by then replacing pension credits. Not good forward planning by the powers that be.

Tony Parker

London SE1

Garden bridge is blooming big

My colleague Mark Whitby and I read with great interest Rowan Moore’s article on London’s proposed garden bridge (“A walk on the wild side? It’ll cost you“, New Review). From an engineering viewpoint, this bridge is an unnecessarily complex structure. Much of the cost will be the result of the very extensive foundations in the river. The proposed costs could be significantly reduced by rationalising engineering with the bonus of potential for improving the architectural aesthetic.

Dr Wilem W Frischmann

Pell Frischmann

London W1

Turkey’s strong record on Isis

Your article “Isis surges towards the borders of Turkey as west mulls options” (News) implies that Turkish borders are “the only way to smuggle oil, weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria” and claims that “Turkey has a lack of will to confront the jihadis” and “Turkey has facilitated an extremist threat either through neglect or undeclared policy”.

These claims not only ignore the threat that these terrorists pose to Turkey but also disregard the sacrifice of the Turkish people and security forces: 46 staff and family members of the Turkish consulate general in Mosul in Iraq are still being held hostage by Isis; 74 Turkish citizens have lost their lives in the Syrian crisis and 337 people have been injured by mortar shells being fired into Turkey, terrorist attacks linked to Syria and illegal crossings at the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey hosts more than one million Syrian refugees and helps many more in Iraq.

Turkey maintains a no-entry list of 6,000 names. Since 2011, almost 1,000 suspected foreign fighters have been deported by Turkish authorities. Turkey designated Isis as a terrorist group in 2005, under their previous names.

Turkey, as the co-chair of the Global Counter Terrorism Forum, works closely with friends and allies and hopes to see the same co-operation from other countries, in particular the nations where foreign fighters emerge. I am glad to see that the bilateral co-operation between Turkey and the UK gets even stronger. We are unfortunately witnessing a wave of misinformation, blaming Turkey for almost all aspects of the crisis caused by Isis. Some journalists advocate the closure of the border with Syria, but consider this: at 565 miles, it is virtually the same distance as from London to Inverness.

Abdurrahman Bilgiç

Ambassador, Embassy of Turkey

London SW7

UK exports at risk from TV sale

Will Hutton is right to be concerned over the possible sale of ITV to overseas interests (“If ITV is sold to a foreign mogul, a vital part of our culture is threatened“, Comment). There is not just the threat to our nation’s cultural capital to consider, there is also the effect on the exchange rate of an inflow of foreign capital resulting from the sale. If we continue exporting our national assets (Mr Hutton estimates we have sold £440bn of British business abroad in the last decade), we continue to crowd out the export of UK goods and services, thereby undermining the competitiveness of our economy. The benefit to the UK of such trade is by no means clear.

Kevin Albertson

Manchester Metropolitan University

Let’s get coherent over culture

Nick Cohen’s article “The privileged few are tightening their grip on the arts” (Comment) exposes the malaise but fails to provide a cure. Cultural institutions such as the Arts Council are run like a fifth-rate hedge fund. They “invest” in a rag-bag of “national portfolio organisations”, but this exercise is not informed by coherent policies for individual art forms. For example, there is no policy for music and its creation, promotion, marketing, education and export. The BBC also has an enormous output of music but there is seemingly no policy that joins the whole lot up. It is high time that the  taxpayer was better served with a concrete policy rather than with this incoherent and disjointed approach to the arts and culture.

Chris Hodgkins

London W13

Independent:

Times:

Two voters in the referendum wear their political colours proudly. Now Scotland has decided to stay in the Union, will Westminster’s pledges be kept? Two voters in the referendum wear their political colours proudly. Now Scotland has decided to stay in the Union, will Westminster’s pledges be kept? (Robert Perry)

The Scots have spoken. Now let England have its say

IT IS excellent news that the sensible Scots have voted for the beloved status quo. In our contribution to world peace, democracy and commerce we are more influential together. What would it have cost us to reorganise institutions, set up border patrols and relocate our nuclear submarines, among other things?

The tail should not wag the dog, however, and there should be no more special treatment for Scotland over funding or votes at Westminster. Any further devolution must be openly debated and voted on by the English electorate. That’s what we have been denied by most British political parties over the debate on Europe.
Malcolm Hey, Portsmouth

TOO LATE IN THE DAY

The “no” vote on Scottish independence is due to the common sense of the Scottish people and in no way due to David Cameron, whose panicky last-minute promises showed how little he plans ahead.

Let us hope he will do better over the renegotiation of our relationship with Europe and will tell us his specific aims rather than leaving it to the last minute before declaring his hand, as he did with Scotland.
Dr Douglas Model, London SW1

BROKEN PROMISES

For the first time I am ashamed of my fellow Scots, who have been bought off in the referendum by a series of half-thought-out promises from the Westminster trinity of Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. Does anyone believe that Westminster will honour pledges to give greater powers to Scotland when these three are fighting for their political lives at next year’s general election?

The promises will all be lost in a porridge of excuses and Scotland will degenerate into a backwater of England.
Dr Don Campbell-Thomson, Glasgow

BROWN COUP

The star of the Better Together campaign was Gordon Brown. This was his finest hour. He deserves at the very least a knighthood.
Pamela Shimell, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

YOUNG SHOULDERS

Alex Salmond’s ingenious idea to give the vote to children of 16 has not had the desired effect.
Don Roberts, Birkenhead, Merseyside

CONVERSION COURSE

What is clear is that Salmond is the smartest and wiliest politician in Britain today by some margin. Should the Scottish National party (SNP) convert itself into a British political force, he could reconsider his decision to step down and lead the party at the general election next year.
Douglas Lindsay, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

TAKING LIBERTIES

I cannot express how delighted I am that the independence referendum proved to be a triumph for those who wished the UK to remain intact. My reasons are not political, constitutional, financial or even emotional.

Rather, I would be fearful of a Scotland run in the manner displayed by so many in the SNP and its allies during the campaign — a Scotland where opponents are labelled anti-Scottish, or are threatened with retribution for their opinions. I would also have been fearful of a country where free speech and expression are no longer precious.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

CHANGING THEIR TUNE

Having conceded that they can’t rise now and be a nation again, shouldn’t the Scots change their “national” anthem?
Walter Roberts, Edinburgh

ENGLAND EXPECTS

The MP John Redwood asks: “Who speaks for England?” (“If the marriage is saved, the English deserve new rights too”, Comment, last week). While MPs may speak on England’s behalf, they are neither elected nor mandated to do so.

The 2012 Future of England survey showed 56% support a form of governance that treats England as a distinct political unit, compared with 8% in support of regions in England having elected assemblies.

MPs of all parties in English constituencies need to reject any further attempts at imposing regionalisation — and call for an English parliament.
Matthew Aldridge, Campaign for an English Parliament, London SE6

SEATING ARRANGEMENTS

I do not normally agree with Redwood, but much of what he wrote made good sense. Should Scotland get devo max, its MPs ought not be allowed to vote on English-only issues.

There are 59 Scottish seats at present in Westminster, so who will form the government after the next election? The party with the most seats overall, or the one with most in England and Wales? I fear there may be trouble ahead.
Gareth Bennett, Cardiff

QUESTION TIME

The resolution of the West Lothian question is overdue. Politicians must grasp the nettle.
Robin Knott, By email

WESTMINSTER COUNSEL

Scottish MPs are likely to be excluded from English topics at Westminster. How are they going to react to working two or three days a week on a pro-rata salary? Perhaps it is time to follow the example of the Northern Ireland and the Welsh assemblies and send representatives of the Scottish government to Westminster instead of the present MPs, who vote as instructed by their whips.
Brian Chilles, Alva, Clackmannanshire

OFF COLOUR

Shame on Camilla Long for her sneering and offensive description of the Loyal Orange Lodges’ march in Edinburgh (“Own goal by Hobbit horde in pompoms and braids”, News, last week). To refer to the marchers as “Hobbits” and the meeting as being “like a nuclear version of Ladies’ Day at Aintree” is cheap journalism.

I had the privilege of coalmining with lodge members in Fife as a young man. They were hard-working Christians whose core values embraced loyalty to Queen and country and a strong family life.
Professor Andrew Porteous, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire

DEMOCRATIC VICTORY

We should appreciate living in such a democratic country. An independent Scotland lost and the UK won. There were no riots in the street, no heads rolled and no leaders were thrown in prison. No wonder this little island is the utopia for so many repressed people.
Mavis Goldberg, Manchester

Give children gift of time with parents

How sad that Sian Griffiths urged parents to congratulate themselves for choosing daycare instead of home-based care (“The nursery kids are all right”, News Review, last week). Time and time again we’re told that more childcare, more paid work for mothers and fathers and less family life is progress. But for whom? Not for babies and young children, who, if they could express themselves, would always rather be with their parents at that tender age.

If we’re talking “research”, there’s plenty to show that parents would dearly like to have more family time and that children benefit enormously from the loving care provided by a special person in their lives when they are young. It gives them the secure base they need and it’s the best place for learning about life. Family time is also important for teenagers and for elderly relatives. What a miserable world if we don’t have time to care.
Marie Peacock, Mothers at Home Matter

POINTS

FORCED ENTRY

While sympathising with the UK’s plight regarding illegal immigration from Calais, I also urge it not to forget the pickle Malta has landed itself in as a result of its EU membership (“Leaky EU borders behind tide of migrants to UK”, Letters, last week). We are now being invaded by hundreds of illegal African migrants, whom under various EU regulations we are forced to keep, despite being a tiny, overpopulated island with a very small economy. The best the EU commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom could offer us was to urge our government not to detain these illegal immigrants but to “integrate” them as soon as possible.
Dr Charles Gauci, Gozo, Malta

JIM SLIP

Richard Brooks (Biteback, Culture, September 7) called attention to the increasing absurdity of cross-gender casting in plays. Surely the most ludicrous outrage will be perpetrated in the National Theatre’s scheduled production of Treasure Island, in which Jim Hawkins is to be transmogrified into the “innkeeper’s granddaughter”. As Robert Louis Stevenson made clear, his classic was written for boys, and it is probably the finest male adventure story of all. One cannot imagine boys taken to the show as a Christmas treat will be pleased to see that Jim is not a lad at all. Some theatres complain that it is difficult to attract young men. Treasure Island would be an ideal introduction, so why emasculate it?
Alan Stockwell, Smarden, Kent

DUTY OF CARE

Theresa May said after the resignation of Shaun Wright, the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, over the Rotherham scandal that anyone who fails in their duty should step down. So why is Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, considering standing for mayor of London after failing to act over the allegations of child abuse in Islington care homes when she was the council’s leader (“Hodge’s choices”, Magazine, last week)?
Dermot Donegan, Darwen, Lancashire

BIG MISTAKE

I can’t decide if India Knight is being ironic or a fool in her column “Bite your lip, chew your knuckles, but never tell a child they’re fat” (Comment, last week). Obesity is the biggest health crisis this country faces: in 25 years it will be the cause of an NHS crash. And yet Knight feels we should not mention to anyone that they are fat for fear of hurting their feelings. Obesity should be socially unacceptable in the way drink driving and smoking are.
Terry Whitehead, Bourne, Lincolnshire

HOME TRUTHS

Eleanor Mills fails to understand the nature of any big expansion of historic cities such as Oxford (“New builds to keep the spires dreaming”, News Review, September 7). You would see not a new Bloomsbury or Regent’s Park but endless dour estates, as no finance would be available if the object was to provide affordable housing. The historic centres would crumble under the strain of increased pressure. The figure of 100,000 new homes for Oxfordshire is based on a dubious report for a business-led organisation with its own agenda, and the leadership of the Oxford Civic Society does not express any public desire for more urban sprawl.
Paul Hornby, Oxford

PAISLEY PRAISE

I think everyone expected Ian Paisley, a fiery politician turned gentle giant, to be around for ever. The tributes on television were poignant and the words from the deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, were moving. It showed how far the people of Northern Ireland have moved on since the Troubles, and Paisley’s positive relationship with McGuinness served as an example of this for all to see.
Colin NevinTel Aviv, Israel

Corrections and clarifications

Rod Liddle (“Yours at a snip: a Jo’burg heaven with murder at the gate”, Comment, last week) wrote that Oscar Pistorius’s house where he shot dead his girlfriend was in one of Johannesburg’s most salubrious suburbs. This is incorrect. It is in a suburb of Pretoria. We apologise for the error.

Our property report “Country club”, featuring 10 vibrant but commutable villages (Home, last week), confused Whipton, a district of Exeter, with Whimple, a village near the city, and contained inaccurate information. We apologise for the error.

Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, should be addressed to complaints@sunday-times.co.uk or Complaints, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF. In addition, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) will examine formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines. Please go to our website for full details of how to lodge a complaint.

Birthdays

Curtly Ambrose, cricketer, 51; Jimmy Armfield, footballer and pundit, 79; Jerry Bruckheimer, film and TV producer, 71; Ethan Coen, film maker, 57; Leonard Cohen, singer, 80; Don Felder, guitarist, 67; Liam Gallagher, singer, 42; Stephen King, author, 67; Ricki Lake, chat-show host, 46; Bill Murray, actor, 64

Anniversaries

1792 the National Convention in France abolishes the monarchy; 1937 JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit is published; 1964 Malta gains independence from UK; 1981 Belize gains independence from UK; 1999 earthquake strikes Taiwan, killing about 2,400 people; 2013 al-Shabaab Islamists attack shopping centre in Nairobi, killing at least 67

Telegraph:

The morning after: dejected Yes supporters head home up the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

SIR – Those who voted No in Scotland did not necessarily do so because politicians were offering pledges of more devolution. Many may have simply made up their minds and just wouldn’t tell the pollsters.

Politicians are in danger of compounding the mistakes of this distracting campaign and pursuing the federalisation of the United Kingdom. Further devolution was promised by politicians, but that question was not asked of the Scots, so it was certainly not voted for.

No one asked the silent majority of the UK whether they’d like to save money, reduce costs of the public sector, and whether they are perhaps happy with a single Parliament, sitting in Westminster.

Ann Grant
Pluckley, Kent

SIR – Politicians keep telling me I want change. They are wrong.

Peter Washington
Presteigne, Radnorshire

SIR – The residents of Scotland were asked one, very specific question and answered it. No one could vote for or against any individual politician or accept or reject any particular campaign promise; we could merely answer Yes or No.

We did not embrace or reject more devolved powers; we did not embrace or reject the leaders of the political establishment. We answered one question. If all those now pontificating about the implications learn nothing else from this, they should learn not to assume.

If they wish to ask more questions of us, they have an opportunity to do so in May.

Hamish Hossick
Dundee

SIR – Just over 3.6 million citizens have taken part in a “democratic process” which could have resulted in lasting damage to the whole country. They gave a welcome, but hardly ringing, endorsement of the status quo. Would anyone in Westminster care to hear the views of the other 58 million of us?

Robin Howden
Mayfield, East Sussex

SIR – Now that Westminster has had its own unexpected ice-bucket shower of chilling reality, may we hope to see the bursting of the Westminster bubble?

Mik Shaw
Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex

SIR – How kind of the Scots to decide they would like to stay in the UK. Perhaps the English could now have a referendum on our own independence.

Pippa Bly
West Molesey, Surrey

SIR – I find it a rather curious kind of democracy that it has taken a Scottish vote on independence for England to get a promise of a form of devolution.

Rodney Silk
Billericay, Essex

SIR – The Scots have spoken. Who will speak for England?

Labour and the Lib Dems gain from Scottish votes, so they will remain in favour of the status quo. The Conservatives failed to get the last boundary commission proposals through.

England needs and deserves better.

Andrew Wauchope
London SE11

SIR – Is it not time for England to have its own “First Minister” and its own devolved parliament?

Barry Jackson
Tadley, Hampshire

SIR – The West Lothian Question is back at the head of the agenda. Already we hear cries from Labour that English votes for English laws would create two classes of MP, one class with the right to vote on England-only matters and another class without such a right.

This is a situation of Labour’s own making. From the time devolution was first looked at in the Seventies this problem was flagged up, but in the Nineties Labour went ahead regardless and it now has to suffer the consequences.

Until now there have been two classes of citizen: Scots, with a say over their own affairs and those of the rest of the United Kingdom, and the other citizens, who have no say in many Scottish matters. If a choice must be made, far better to have two classes of MP than two classes of citizen.

Richard Dowling
Pinner, Middlesex

SIR – The English may live to thank the Scots for precipitating a crisis which will restore English political independence. However, there is a danger of missing a crucial point in talking of English votes for English matters.

The three Celtic nations have both devolved parliaments (legislature) and devolved governments (executive).

Simply allowing only English MPs to vote on English matters doesn’t give England a government, for it would leave the cabinet of the United Kingdom in charge of English government. We need not just an English parliament; we need an English cabinet as well.

Harry Fuchs
Flecknoe, Warwickshire

SIR – The Scottish referendum has been a political triumph for David Cameron. His insistence on a simple Yes/No question has been justified. A devo-max option would have allowed the fundamental issue to drag on, while people argued as to whether or not the devo was max enough. Perhaps Conservative MPs and commentators who have been attacking the Prime Minister for his supposed poor judgment will now stop, and accept his leadership on the constitutional issues to be settled.

In any case, we need the party to unite behind him in this pre-election period.

Anthony Pick
Newbury, Berkshire

SIR – Giving Scotland a referendum was not part of the Tory manifesto, and David Cameron had no mandate to grant one.

The devolving of more powers to the Scottish Parliament was not on the agenda either, so again he has no mandate to carry out his panic-stricken promises.

Like other taxpayers in England, I find it galling that many children in England cannot afford to go to university, while our taxes fund free university education in Scotland. The English pay for their prescriptions. In Scotland these are paid for by the taxpayers of England.

If Scotland is granted more devolution and the power to raise and keep taxes, this must be matched by a reduction in the amount paid under the Barnett formula.

R W Mansell
Lincoln

SIR – David Cameron’s unnecessary decision to give the Scots a referendum and his panic attack when the polls appeared to be moving against him do not bode well for his renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s EU membership.

A strategy based on bribing the Scots has plunged the country into a complicated constitutional crisis. There will surely be a high political price for the Prime Minister to pay when Parliament rejects his expensive promises and the terms of a new settlement, which are likely not to be in the interests of the English people.

John Barker
Prestbury, Cheshire

SIR – Mr Cameron continues to make promises he can’t keep. There will be no English votes for English law, any more than there are now British votes for British law. Politicians at Westminster, Holyrood and in the Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies only determine policy within the law set by unelected officials in Europe.

The only promises the Prime Minister can keep are those which increase the subsidies paid by the English to the Scots.

Peter Jones
St Neots, Huntingdonshire

SIR – The Union owes a huge debt of gratitude to Gordon Brown, a man most of us had written off with his political demise in 2010. Were it not for his passionate and convincing speeches, the result of the referendum might have been different.

Anthony Haslam
Farnham, Surrey

SIR – As the SNP blames the BBC and everyone else for the referendum result, perhaps it should ponder a piece of betting-shop lore that has been the salvation of many gamblers. If you make excuses for beaten horses, you’ll end up living in a cardboard box.

Michael Stanford
London SE23

SIR – Scotland has spoken. May we now hope that it will shut up?

David Cole
Salisbury, Wiltshire

SIR – How can we motivate 84 per cent of voters to turn out at the general election?

Drew Brooke-Mellor
Hastings, East Sussex

SIR – During the referendum campaign, life in Scotland has been unpleasant, divisive and upsetting. I pray that we never have to go through this again.

Rosemary Gould
St Andrews, Fife

SIR – Had the result been a Yes vote, David Cameron said that this would be for ever, with no going back.

Now he tells us that the No vote is for a generation. Have we got to go through all this again in 25 years’ time?

Nicola Knill-Jones
South Petherton, Somerset

SIR – Apart from all the understandable fervour and pressure from the Yes campaign, we should be heartened that, at the end of the day, British people vote as they will, in the silence of the ballot booth.

Graham Aston
Weybridge, Surrey

SIR – The slogan for one side was “No thanks” while the other just had “Yes” without the “please”. Look who came out on top.

Cate Goodwin
Easton-on-the-Hill, Northamptonshire

SIR – Well, that solves the problem of having to think up a new name for Union Street in Aberdeen.

John Godfrey
Hitchin, Hertfordshire

SIR – Common sense has prevailed. All the same, I had been rather looking forward to Alex Salmond being revealed as a mendacious fantasist after a Yes vote.

Roger White
London SW12

SIR – Alex Salmond did achieve his aim of keeping the pound as Scotland’s currency.

Iain Purchase
Wilmslow, Cheshire

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Madam – May I congratulate Lucinda O’Sullivan on her interview with Alison de Vere Hunt of Cashel Mart (Sunday Independent, 14 September). She articulated the intolerable pressures experienced by the farming community in rural Ireland today, some, unfortunately, even leading to loss of life, as happened in Alison’s family.

At last year’s Agricultural Science Association conference in Waterford, I asked the Government to

introduce a “yellow card” system for farm inspections for this very reason. The recent response to me was: “We would have to get EU permission.”

Since then I was told it is operating in France. Why not here?

Politicians have abandoned rural Ireland and are now carrying out the suggestions raised in Huxley’s “Brave New World” to take people out of rural Ireland.

Their tactics of extra charges, reduced or no public services, encouraging rural crime and using fear for our property and even our lives to drive us out, are just a few of their conceived methods.

The commission for the development of rural areas chaired by Pat Spillane have reported on “34 ways to improve Irish country life” but have omitted to include the number one priority – remove the fear factor which is a priority issue for families and the elderly.

May I call on our law makers, our public representatives and all politicians to read Lucinda’s article  on Alison’s experiences and act immediately on the issues raised.

Save rural Ireland where the very roots of our great image of beautiful countryside , natural health-giving food production and Irish friendliness is born. It’s intentional destruction experienced today will ruin Ireland as a nation.

David Thompson, B Agr Sc,

Cappamore,  Co Limerick

 

Are there no Irish Navvies?

Madam – Recently on the return leg of a 40 km journey along the scenic Wicklow Way with my son,   water and supplies were running low. We decided to make a slight change to our pre-planned route in order to take respite at a well known traditional Irish pub. This was located near the small village of Glencullen.

Enjoying the weather, flora and fauna we descended from Glencullen Mountain onto the R116 when. Then, upon rounding a bend a few hundred meters from the pub, we stumbled upon a rare sight indeed.

No, it wasn’t the red deer we had seen in the hills, nor was it the elusive red grouse, but to our surprise a large fleet of  UK- registered  vehicles and  machinery together with with several dozen men, all busy laying tarmacadam and chippings along the road.

I consulted my OS maps  – sheets 56 & 50  – and no,  I hadn’t made a map reading error, we had not strayed into the UK and were in fact still in the Republic.

While sitting down outside the pub enjoying our well earned refreshments, perusing our maps and planning route home, a few questions sprang to mind.

How was it viable for a UK company to undertake such road works in the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains; and  given that wages here in Ireland have been driven to a record low since the end of the Celtic Tiger era, and that we still have record numbers here in Ireland unemployed, why can we not compete with these companies for such contracts?

 Have all of our own home-grown road maintenance technicians emigrated to the four corners of the world?

Noel Tuohy,

Drogheda, Co.Meath

 

First, face up to past mistakes

Madam – Jody Corcoran’s article (Sunday Independent, 14 September) about celebrating the lives of public figures like Bertie Ahern before they die, misses the point.

He doesn’t seem to understand that the reason there was a genuine response to the death of Albert Reynolds is not because people glossed over his mistakes, nor even that people had ever supported Fianna Fáil. It was because on his death, the mistakes he made became part of history to be debated at another time and place.  The public’s compassion came from the recognition that he didn’t pretend he was something he was not. Also, his funeral was not about what political offices he held but was about his wife, his children and his grandchildren.  There were no political speeches, no line of old time party hacks.  Just his family whose clear warmth touched an emotional chord within people. They empathised when they saw Kathleen Reynolds and her children quite clearly distraught at their loss on their journey through this life, with all its ups and downs. In a nutshell, you get the sense that if the Reynolds family invited you into their home for dinner, you’d feel welcome and you’d enjoy the meal.

But when it comes to people like Bertie Ahern, or Gerry Adams for that matter, the fact is they continue to wallow in denial about their past and their contribution to the damage caused to our country and the impact their mistakes had on all our lives.  Until they face up to their past and admit it, there can be no forgiveness for what they did or the mistakes they made.

You cannot draw a line unless you know what it is you’re drawing a line under and the permission to draw such a line must come from their victims, not in Mr Adams’ case some squalid secret deal with the British government. In Mr Ahern’s case it must come from the Irish people whose lives he destroyed, the hundreds of thousands of emigrants, the people who lost jobs or homes or businesses.

 Desmond FitzGerald

Canary Wharf, London

 

‘Scurrilous’ article on John Paul II

Madam – I was astonished to read the scurrilous attack on St John Paul 11 by John Boyne in the Sunday Independent last week. For someone who said he didn’t want to be hard on the Church, he seemed to operate on the principle that you can’t libel the dead, when he accused him of criminal behaviour.      As the world and his wife know, the process of canonisation involves a rigorous examination of the deceased’s actions, writings, speeches, etc. I doubt very much if John Boyne applied the same rigour to his judgement of John Paul, a man who fought the evils of Nazism, Communism, capitalism and secularism.

Sean Ryan,

Dundrum, Dublin 16

 

Water supply now has to be asked for

Madam – Irish Water are sending out to every household, what they are calling an “application form” for supply and billing.

This must in fact mean the life-giving liquid can only

be obtained if we are asking for it to be provided by Irish Water.

“Application Form” implies we have a choice in whether we drink and wash with ‘their’ water, or if we decide to paddle our own canoe, without he benefit of a flow from the only supplier.

In the midst of the destruction of so many lives in this cruel country through existing taxes and levies, to think people have the added fear of not being able to afford water in their  homes, is the last straw. We are merely taxable units now, and not citizens with valid rights and concerns.

If and when there comes a widespread demand for water barrels with which to catch rain water in the future, be assured there will also be some other tax imposed through a follow-up lie.

Robert Sullivan,

Bantry, Co.Cork

 

Kealy’s piece on socialism ‘spot on’

Madam – I wish to defend Willie Kealy’s article (Sunday Independent, 7 September) –  “Socialist Ireland pushes capitalism to the margins, “ after the response it received from Vincent Kennedy who was “aghast” last week.

Mr Kealy was spot on, when he wrote that those who work for the State “do not produce anything which can be sold for real money”.     It is of huge importance that we all grasp this fact.  The private sector which is the wealth- producing part of the economy,  pays the taxes that support public and civil servants.

As well, the government continues to borrow €800 million per month of “consumptive debt”  to service, completely unaffordable salaries, golden handshakes and pensions to those embedded in the top tier of the public service system as well as politicians and those on extremely lucrative state contracts, namely  legal, accountancy and managment consultant firms. These people  have been  protected  to the core, at huge cost to the private sector and the economy in general since  2008.  We can therefore safely say,  we have a new form of neo-capitalism, where the Irish state has become the economy; capitalism has been turned on its ear, and the private sector is subservient to the State.

If we do not put a stop to this, the parasites at the top will bring the entire system crashing down upon us.

Olivia Hazell,

Clane, Co Kildare

 

First class flights damaged Ferris

Madam – I find the revelation in the Sunday Independent that Martin Ferris TD flew business class on a 27 hour plane trip to Melborne both astonishing and disappointing, given his numerous calls on this and previous governments to quit reckless expenditure on junkets or unnecessary travel around the world.

His party paid for his luxury flight. How must all those people who contributed money to it feel? The many dedicated men and women who organized fund-raisers, large and small,  across the country must feel like twats after hearing about this.

His credibility as a defender of the poor and underprivileged is in ruins. The precious party funds spent on that trip down under could have put food on the table for hundreds of Irish people whose lives have been ravaged by the recession and cruel austerity regime. And to think his supporters have frequently asserted that he walks in the footsteps of the great Connolly!

Sinn Fein must as a priority expel Martin Ferris and he should also resign his Dail Seat for the sake of the very cause he claims to hold dear: a political system under which all are equal, where wealth is distributed fairly and that is purged of the cute-hoorism that has bedeviled Irish politics. If James Connolly, a true socialist, had foreseen Ferris’s pathetic party-financed luxury jaunt he might well have stayed at home in Easter Week…or maybe just called to the GPO to buy a stamp.

John Fitzgerald ,

Callan, Co. Kilkenny

 

Only one way to clear Ragworth

Madam – Approximately 30 years ago while living up the Dublin mountains, I was approached by a local farmer to give him a hand for two days removing Ragworth weed from his field. We agreed on a fee for the work and to my astonishment he wanted each one hand-pulled and piled  into large haycock-type stacks. It was a three acre field and needless to say my back ached for weeks after. About a fortnight later he doused the stacks with diesel and lit them; a week after that he put ten goats on the field.

I passed that same field a month ago and its smooth clean weedless surface resembles a snooker table. Clearly removing this pesky weed by hand followed by the goats is the only permanent solution.

Proinsias O Rathaille,

Killiney, Co Dublin

 

Giving and sharing is the true path

Madam – Some very good points were raised in Colum Kenny’s article concerning the Irish bishops. I concur with most of what he had to say in his article; and, in particular, the need for embracing women completely into the ‘priestly role.’

God treats all of us equally and with the same love. When mankind can learn to love as Christ taught in a total giving/sharing way for the good of all, only then will our pilgrim journey on earth be completed.

Our  sin is in not recognising the beauty of Christ in our

Lives, and our inability to

forgive our enemies their

worst acts against us.

Thomas O’Reilly

Monasterevin, Kildare

 

Sharia Law is not for Irish women

Madam – Claire Mc Cormack’s article ‘Rows erupts over wearing hijabs …’ (Sunday Independent, 14 September) prompts me to think there are some people out there who have but a single agenda: that of softening up their audiences into thinking Sharia Law is the best thing that has ever happened to humanity. Well, it is not.

 Having lived for six years in countries ruled by Sharia Law, and having studied it, I have a fair idea of what I am talking about. A Rubik’s Cube is still a Rubik’s Cube ever which way you turn it. However eloquently and scholarly Sharia Law is presented it still remains a means of repressing women.

David Quinn of the Iona Institute is on the right track when he says he has “issues” with what he is hearing. The only inclusiveness that Sharia Law unabashedly upholds is that of the subjugation of women.

Women of Ireland – this is a major attack on your dignity, and ultimately a destroyer of our nonpareil Irish culture. Let your hair blow freely in the wind; your eyes be glistened by the sun, and your lips by the rain sweetly kissed.

Richard Mc Sweeney,

Tallow, Co. Waterford

 

Penal law memory puts us off Sharia

Madam – Having read Carol Hunt’s article (Sunday Independent, 7 September) and Adrian Burke’s letter (Sunday Independent 14 September) regarding the views of Dr. Ali Selim, I feel compelled to say I could not agree more with the sentiments of both.

 It seem extraordinary that Dr. Selim should lecture this country on our educational obligations knowing full well that the system we in Ireland have enjoyed since independence has served the nation very well indeed.

I would be able to take and digest his suggestions about removing school emblems depicting Christian beliefs seriously if I could travel to his country wearing a crucifix or other such Christian emblem and be certain that I was not subject to Sharia Law or that my wife could accompany me and not be required to wear the Burka.

Perhaps Dr Selim is familiar with our history in penal times when the Irish were forced to express their Christian beliefs in secret in fear of being caught by the imperial masters of that time.   This generation is more enlightened and Dr. Selim should be so aware.

Tom Butler, Co. Dublin.

 

We need a new  plan for Palestine

Madam – I am so disappointed in your publishing such a tendentious letter as that from W. Dunphy (“Writers ‘were wrong’ about Israel/Gaza , Sunday Independent, 14 September) in which he had the chutzpah to claim not to be “anti-Jewish or anti-Zionist” while referring to “the murderous, land-grabbing Israelis”.

The claim that “the people of Gaza are living in a virtual concentration camp”, let alone the allegation of “the destruction of a people”, is ludicrous and shows how easily one can be misled by mendacious Palestinian propaganda.

As it happens, the population density of the Gaza strip is lower than, for example, that of Singapore and Hong Kong, both highly successful economically. There is no reason why Gaza should not be equally so if only it could be rid of Hamas’s stifling crypto-theocratic control or, what would be almost equally disastrous, its replacement by Abbas’s Fatah kleptocracy.

The first step for its rehabilitation must be the abolition of UNRWA which encourages a perpetual dependency culture by its definition of Palestinian refugee as anyone with an ancestor who was displaced as a result of the invasion of Palestine in 1948. Its place should be taken by the UNHCR whose definition should be implemented whereby only those actually displaced would qualify, and then only where nothing else can be done to help them rebuild their lives, as was the case with all other refugees elsewhere in the world.

  I find the writer’s comment on “the indifference of you and some of your columnists to the plight of these poor people” utterly appalling and implore you not to be bullied into taking a partisan line on this complex international problem.

Martin D. Stern,

Salford,  England

 

Penal law memory puts us off Sharia

Madam – Having read Carol Hunt’s article (Sunday Independent, 7 September) and Adrian Burke’s letter (Sunday Independent 14 September) regarding the views of Dr. Ali Selim, I feel compelled to say I could not agree more with the sentiments of both.   It seem extraordinary that Dr. Selim should lecture this country on our educational obligations knowing full well that the system we in Ireland have enjoyed since independence has served the nation very well indeed.      I would be able to take and digest his suggestions about removing school emblems depicting Christian beliefs seriously if I could travel to his country wearing a crucifix or other such Christian emblem and be certain that I was not subject to Sharia Law or that my wife could accompany me and not be required to wear the Burka.    Perhaps Dr Selim is familiar with our history in penal times when the Irish were forced to express their Christian beliefs in secret in fear of being caught by the imperial masters of that time.   This generation is more enlightened and Dr. Selim should be so aware.

Tom Butler, Co. Dublin.

 

We need a new plan for Palestine

Madam – I am so disappointed in your publishing such a tendentious and bigoted letter as that from W. Dunphy (“Writers ‘were wrong’ about Israel/Gaza , Sunday Independent, 14 September) in which he had the chutzpah to claim not to be “anti-Jewish or anti-Zionist” while referring to “the murderous, land-grabbing Israelis”.

The claim that “the people of Gaza are living in a virtual concentration camp”, let alone the allegation of “the destruction of a people”, is ludicrous and shows how easily one can be misled by mendacious Palestinian propaganda.

As it happens, the population density of the Gaza strip is lower than, for example, that of Singapore and Hong Kong, both highly successful economically. There is no reason why Gaza should not be equally so if only it could be rid of Hamas’s stifling crypto-theocratic control or, what would be almost equally disastrous, its replacement by Abbas’s Fatah kleptocracy.

The first step for its rehabilitation must be the abolition of UNRWA which encourages a perpetual dependency culture by its definition of Palestinian refugee as anyone with an ancestor who was displaced as a result of the invasion of Palestine in 1948. Its place should be taken by the UNHCR whose definition should be implemented whereby only those actually displaced would qualify, and then only where nothing else can be done to help them rebuild their lives, as was the case with all other refugees elsewhere in the world.

I find the writer’s comment on “the indifference of you and some of your columnists to the plight of these poor people” utterly appalling and implore you not to be bullied into taking a partisan line on this complex international problem.

Martin D. Stern,

Salford, England

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