12 October 2014 Sandy

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage to get round the park. A busy day Sandy comes to visit, fixes dead laptop.

Mary’s back much better today, breakfast weight down gammon for tea and her back pain is still there but decreasing.


Shirley Baker – obituary

Shirley Baker was a photographer who chronicled a fast-vanishing world with gentle humour and pathos

Three girls skipping in the middle of a Manchester street photographed by Shirley Baker, 1962

Three girls skipping in the middle of a Manchester street, photographed by Shirley Baker, 1962 Photo: Mary Evans Picture Library

6:00PM BST 11 Oct 2014


Shirley Baker, who has died aged 82, was a photographer who recorded and celebrated life in the streets of working-class Manchester, as the terraces occupied by thousands of families were being demolished in favour of a “brighter future”.

Slum clearances in Britain had started in the 1930s, but were interrupted by the Second World War. They resumed in earnest in the 1950s, and in the two decades after 1955 around 1.3 million homes were demolished nationally, to be replaced by tower blocks which many believe have never been able to re-create a lost sense of community.

Sheila Baker’s best-known work was done during those years, in and around the streets of Salford, and from the very first she was keenly aware that she was preserving images of a vanishing world. People’s lives, she felt, were being destroyed; yet she was touched by the fact that, even as the terraces were being demolished, they remained as house-proud as ever, even scrubbing their front doorsteps as the dust descended around them. She was also moved by the resilience and good humour of the children, who smiled through the incipient chaos and fashioned toys from whatever scraps came to hand.

Thus she set about recording the trivia of everyday life: elderly women sitting on the doorsteps in a row of condemned houses; children playing amid the rubble and the rusting old cars. Her images are poignant, yet at the same time infused with a gentle humour.

“I love the immediacy of unposed, spontaneous photographs,” she once said, “and the ability of the camera to capture the serious, the funny, the sublime and the ridiculous. Despite the many wonderful pictures of the great and famous, I feel that less formal, quotidian images can often convey more of the life and spirit of the time.”

Two young girls outside a cornershop in Hulme, Manchester, photographed by Shirley Baker, 1965 (Photo: Mary Evans Picture Library)

Her photographs have appeared on book covers and music albums, and been exhibited in galleries and museums in Britain and abroad, including the Tate and the Louvre.

One of identical twins, Shirley Baker was born on July 9 1932 in Salford, where her father and his brothers ran a carpentry business. After attending Penrhos Girls’ School in Wales , she studied photography at Manchester College of Technology, going on to Regent Street Polytechnic and the London College of Printing. She later taught photography at Salford College of Art.

In 1957 she married Tony Levy, a GP with a practice in the North West, and from the 1960s she and her husband also had a house in the South of France, where she took the opportunity to record life on the beaches around St Tropez.

In the 1980s she was commissioned to produce a series of images at Manchester Airport, a project to which she brought her particular brand of wry humour; rather than taking the obvious course of photographing aircraft, she concentrated on the wearisome nature of travel, portraying the way in which people occupy space as they while away the dead hours, falling asleep on benches, or propped up against the terminal’s walls.

As a rule, though, Shirley Baker rarely worked to commission, preferring to record life as it occurred around her. She took a particular interest in the behaviour of couples, and how they went about creating an “amorous” space in the public arena. In the 1980s — when her husband’s work took them to London for a time — she produced a series of pictures of punks in and around Camden Lock and Camden Market. Another of her subjects was people and their pets.

Shirley Baker published two books: Street Photographs: Manchester and Salford (1989), and Streets and Spaces: Urban Photography — Salford and Manchester — 1960s-2000, which appeared in 1999 and showed how the same streets had been transformed in the intervening four decades.

On April 17 next year an exhibition entitled “Shirley Baker: Women and Children; and Loitering Men” opens at the Photographers Gallery in London .

An essentially modest and private personality, Shirley Baker expressed surprise when people admired her work. Outside photography, throughout her life she took a keen interest in sport. After an injury on the pitch forced her to abandon hockey when she was in her forties, she took up squash and was soon representing Cheshire’s first team. She was also a nifty table-tennis player, and enjoyed sailing.

She is survived by her husband and their daughter, Nan, and by her twin sister, Barbara, an artist.

Shirley Baker, born July 9 1932, died September 21 2014


Pressure point: Successive governments have increased the demands made of medical workers. Pressure point: Successive governments have increased the demands made of medical workers. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

I’m almost made ill by the spectacle of fly-by-night career politicians pontificating about the “impossible” public-service professions (as Freud tellingly called them), when in reality the narrow politicised calculations fuelling their pronouncements do a kind of violence to the complex and highly demanding services that dedicated health and education professionals provide for us all (“Health minister tells GPs: stop moaning about the job”, News, last week).

Such politicians commonly have neither the slightest idea about the emotionally challenging nature of these professions, nor any insight into how their political meddling and hyperactive “initiatives” make these jobs all the more “impossible”.

No wonder there are mounting GP and teacher recruitment and retention crises in this Gabraithian age of government-induced “public squalor” – and that the Royal College of GPs and the teaching unions are “moaning”; for recent Tory fag-packet policy pronouncements only reinforce what a catastrophe it would be for professionals’ working conditions if the Conservatives were to win next May.

Dr Richard Housel

Stroud, Glos

The health secretary Jeremy Hunt has decided that NHS staff are not worth the 1% universal pay rise that was proposed, despite this being the recommendation of the independent NHS pay review body (“Most Tory MPs back NHS pay rise, says poll”, News last week). One assumes that this decision would have been made with David Cameron’s approval, despite his waxing so lyrical on the NHS at his party conference.

The recommendations of all other public sector pay review bodies have been accepted, except for health workers. Indeed, the justification for the MPs’ 10% salary hike is that it is the recommendation of an independent regulator and irreversible, despite public objection from the prime minister, his deputy and the chancellor.

I fail to understand the logic that a single minister can overrule one independent recommendation whereas the three most senior members of the government have no sway over another.

If the NHS is to be a major issue during the forthcoming election debates, then I fear the Tories may come to regret Mr Hunt’s decision. I suspect that the public’s sympathy will rest more with health workers than avaricious MPs. One potential compromise would be to offer the 1% to all NHS workers earning less than an MP’s salary.

Dr John Trounce

Hove, East Sussex

Earl Howe thinks GPs are “moaning” too much, putting young doctors off a career in general practice

We are in this sorry state of affairs due to constant reorganisation of the NHS, thanks to Conservative, Labour and now the coalition governments.

It is not only affecting the morale of GPs but also that of hospital doctors. The increased bureaucracy with diminishing resources is affecting the care that we provide for our patients. Recent election manifesto pledges such as 48-hour access and seven- day/8am to 8pm access will only make this worse. That, to me, is a very good reason to be moaning.

Dr Richard Ma

London N7

The anachronistic Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 mentality being so doggedly defended by members of Britain’s medical profession has no place in a modern seven-day, 24-hour society. Everybody else has embraced the idea, including other public servants. Now the promises must become reality.

Jane Stevens



As Paul Vallely says, Ebola has brutally exposed the inequity inherent in global health systems (“Different rules apply in Africa”, 5 October). In addition to lost lives, Ebola is dealing a severe economic blow to West Africa, with closed borders and abandoned farms driving up the cost of food. The necessity of emergency spending on health services is drawing money from already cash-strapped government budgets.

The epidemic is reversing years of economic gains. A disease that was identified five months ago and has spiralled out of control, threatening the lives of over a million people, shames the world. This is particularly true when comparing the millions spent on tackling the few cases in the West with what is being allocated to the thousands dying in West Africa. The international response is accelerating, yet ultimately, if the motor of Ebola – poverty – is to be overcome, the world must do more than donate aid.

Mike Noyes

Head of humanitarian response, ActionAid UK

It is “make-or-break time for Nick Clegg” (Jane Merrick, 5 October): well no, it’s break time. Some columnists are disinterring their “I agree with Nick” feelings, seeking comfort in collective amnesia for the past four years. It helps assuage the guilt of having been gulled by the Orange-bookers who enabled Cameron to wreak his havoc throughout the NHS. It is wishful thinking to imagine that Nick, or his party, have any chance of rehabilitation in 2015, and way too late for the Lib Dems to don another mask from their impressive collection.

Eddie Dougall

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Last week’s front page referred to the ghastly killing of Alan Henning as a propaganda stunt by IS. No one but a psychopath is likely to wish to embrace a belief system based on crude brutality. If IS’s reason for carrying out such barbarous acts is to frighten other nations and other Muslims that do not share their warped view of Islam, it has not learnt the lessons of history. Tyranny is the author of its own downfall.

Patrick Cleary

Honiton, Devon

It is often forgotten that, in prosecuting the Marquess of Queensberry for libel, Oscar Wilde was trying to get an innocent man sent to prison (Arts & Books. 5 October).

As I point out in my book, Oscar Wilde’s Scandalous Summer, the law took a stern view of those that accused others of homosexual behaviour without proof.

As Wilde wrote himself, much of his testimony consisted of “absurd and silly perjuries”. If Queensberry had not had various youths with whom Wilde had had sex waiting in the wings, the trial would almost certainly have ended with Queensberry being imprisoned for criminal libel.

Antony Edmonds

Waterlooville, Hampshire

I was pleased to read Ben Chu (Comment, 5 October) say Jobseekers’ Allowance counts for less than 5 per cent of benefits paid to those of working age. For people on JSA, which included myself prior to May, are regularly targeted by a government which wants to portray those unemployed as skivers.

In many parts of the country, the work just doesn’t exist for people to go to. We can meet all the requirements, and attend scheme after scheme of cheap labour. But if there aren’t the jobs, individuals will remain claiming a dole that pays £72 a week, and whose value has fallen over the past two years thanks to a reduction in council tax support. A two-year benefit freeze to subsidise tax cuts for above-average earners shows again the oxymoron that is compassionate Conservatism.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Simmy Richman tells us about the greatest haiku ever written (5 October). I wonder how this one would rate; it appeared in the school magazine of King Edward VII School, Sheffield in the late 1960s written, as I recall, by John C Smith:

Many people think/that composing haikus is/such a waste of time.

Dr S Michael Crawford

Airedale General Hospital, West Yorkshire


Plaudits for creating a positive image of Muslims

I COMMEND The Sunday Times for last week’s excellent editorial “There is some hope despite this act of evil” and the “#IamMuslim” feature in the Magazine. You started the bold initiative several weeks ago by publishing a front-page report about a fatwa — a religious decree — issued by senior Muslim clerics in Britain against Isis, or Islamic State.

You have shown leadership in helping to break down Islamophobia and ignorance — including that of a tiny number of young, disenchanted British Muslims. There is a fascinating diversity in the Islamic world. Sadly, it took the brutality of Isis and the murder of Alan Henning for many to start the journey of discovery.
Riaz Nanji, London N6

dispelling ignorance

More of these testimonials, please — we live in ignorance, with irrational fears that breed intolerance. I greatly admire these young people. We need to engage at every opportunity and every level.
Gillian Moore, Chicago, USA

greater understanding

I am a middle-aged Jewish atheist who loves being Jewish and I loved every word of your article. Thank you for helping me understand more about this important religion.
Stevens A Scheermann, London NW3

on the offensive

As an ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust, I am horrified by the beheading of Henning and others, but I am equally dismayed by much of the response on social media. Police have removed 28,000 pieces of terrorist-related material from the internet this year.

Perhaps the same could be done with regard to anti-Muslim content.
Rebecca Wilkinson, Student, University College London

empty words

It is futile for David Cameron to vow to bring to justice those who have beheaded British citizens; without the use of ground troops in territories controlled by Isis, this would be impossible.

Moreover, the identity of the man who wields the knife is irrelevant: he is selected by his commander and cannot refuse, even if he is against the task.
Silas Krendel, London NW3

human angle

Congratulations on this humane and truthful feature.
Jack MacInnes, London W6

everything to play for

I’m heartened by such positive coverage. It’s a game-changer.
Rebecca Myers, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire

wonderfully normal

What fabulous young people you interviewed. They are great people living their lives like the rest of us. Keep it up.
Liz Mount, Milton Keynes

Turbulence over Heathrow flight paths

I WAS shocked by the article “Suburbia in revolt at new flight paths” (News, last week), revealing that Heathrow prematurely stopped a trial of a new approach that went over Ascot in Berkshire. It led me to understand that because Amanda Smerczak, the partner of Adrian Newey, the chief technical officer of the Red Bull Formula One racing team, organised a petition, she forced an early end to the trial.

Does it mean that the quality of life of those who live under the current flight paths is less valuable than that of the people of Ascot?
Sylvie Vaughan, London SW6

frequent high-flyer

How delightful to read about a campaign against Heathrow flight paths led by the partner of an F1 executive. It would be interesting to know how many flights he takes to keep up with the sport’s travelling circus.

Presumably it is convenient to live near the airport, but to ensure that the noise is over someone else’s head.
Steve Mann, Ringwood, Hampshire

for whom the decibel tolls

It appears we must now add the “Nomas” (not over my airspace) to a growing band of Nimbys. Surely flight paths should be spread over a wider area to lessen the frequency of any slight increase in decibels in any particular community. For those who feel they would have to move, I’m sure there would be queues of people waiting to purchase their properties at knockdown prices because of the terrible noise problems.
Chris Brockman (BA captain, retired), Crowthorne, Berkshire

sounding off

How awful — new flight paths are interrupting garden conversations. I can’t image how people cope. Hang on, maybe I can. I live in what the press likes to call “a sleepy Suffolk village” and for 35 years was obliged to tolerate noisy US jet fighters taking off every few minutes from nearby airbases. Life is a compromise. The basic problem is one of attitude.
Roderick Macmillan, Ipswich

cleared for take-off

The office of the London mayor, Boris Johnson, was notified regarding the flight trials at Heathrow. A representative from Transport for London, the organisation Johnson charged with promoting the concept of a new hub airport to the east of the capital, attended the Heathrow noise forum. It was in this forum that information about the trials and the approach taken to communicating with the public was agreed.

Heathrow is committed to providing predictable periods of noise respite for residents — an issue that we know from feedback is a priority for local communities.
Matt Gorman, Director of Sustainability, Heathrow

Making a singular case for the beaver

AS A Canadian, I wince every time I hear talk about beavers (“Before we let beavers in, who’s going to control the dam things?”, Charles Clover, September 28). There is no such word. Beaver is like fish and sheep — one beaver, 10 beaver, no plural form. You don’t speak of a beavers’ dam; it is a beaver dam. The magazine Canada’s History used to be called The Beaver (singular) when it was published by the Hudson’s Bay Company and before the word had a rude connotation. And, yes, to introduce beaver into the wild in Britain is beyond nuts. Soon they will be planting poison ivy in public parks.Judith Steiner, London N6

honeybees endangered by mites

Clover is right that hornets eat bees, and there is a huge concern that the Asian hornet (now in France) will cross the Channel, as its appetite for honeybees is voracious (“An unexpected birdcall from the black redstart: more building, please”, Comment, last week). But the main reason for the decline in the size of swarms is the varroa parasitic mite. The swarms will not last another winter; there are no wild colonies — including swarms — that are known to survive into a third year in England.
Vince Johns (Beekeeper in the Forest of Dean) Soudley, Gloucestershire

Beating a retreat from Falklands question

THE humiliation suffered by Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear production crew in Tierra del Fuego highlights the malaise between Britain and Argentina (“Make no mistake, lives were at risk”, Focus, last week). In December 2015 it will be 50 years since the UN passed resolution 2065 on the question of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas, calling for the two nations to discuss the disputed sovereignty. Until this happens, more incidents à la Clarkson can be expected.
Peter Hamilton, Ledbury, Herefordshire

gone with the wind

Who is interested anyway in the routine hot air that issues forth from the leader of a gang of laddish middle-aged egoists joyriding at BBC licence-payers’ expense?
Rachael Swift, Hassocks, West Sussex

friendly welcome at odds with Clarkson fiasco

WE spent six days in Ushuaia, Argentina, in February and March this year en route to and from Antarctica (“Make no mistake, lives were at risk”, Focus, last week).

We also spent four days in Buenos Aires. Throughout our visit we were impressed by the unfailing courtesy and friendliness of all whom we met. When obviously lost on the streets in Buenos Aires, complete strangers would approach and offer their help. At no time did we sense any resentment that we were from Britain.

The tone of Jeremy Clarkson’s article, in our view, was deeply irresponsible in portraying Ushuaia as a place where people from Britain are not made welcome.
Kevin and Linda Clarke, Kippen, Stirlingshire

conflict of interest

During the winter of 2000-1,

I spent 3½ months as a fishing guide in Patagonia, Argentina, near the towns of Trevelin and Esquel, as well as overnight stops in Buenos Aires. This was 14 years closer to the Falklands War. At no time was I accosted or even reminded of the conflict by anyone.

I found the Argentinians to be always welcoming. Is it just possible that Clarkson’s unique gifts of tact and diplomacy went unnoticed?
Franz Grimley, Falkirk

Capital captured the Scottish mood

MIKE STEVENSON’s article “Why Glasgow should be the people’s capital of Scotland” (Comment, last week) is as divisive and stereotypical as the campaign run by the “yes” camp during the referendum and is rooted in the same tub-thumping, misty-eyed, optimistic clichés that were trotted out at the time.

That this should be the outcome of a fierce political debate beggars belief, particularly given the fallacious nature of the premise used by Stevenson, namely that Glasgow is more representative of the mood of the nation. In the topsy-turvy world of the Thinktastic, the fact that most of the rest of Scotland voted with Edinburgh is a detail that can be conveniently ignored.

The name for Stevenson’s proposal is parochialism. The real debate is happening not only in Glasgow’s trendy West End but in Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, and all points west.

Much of that debate centres on the SNP’s continued push for independence by any means in the face of the sovereign will of the Scottish people. Many are scandalised by this. We don’t want devo-max that will be badly administered by third-rate politicians. We do want honesty, transparency and accountability from our politicians and the strength and stability of the UK.
G A Simpson, Edinburgh

sliding scale

Stevenson doesn’t seem to have noticed that Edinburgh, in voting “no”, was a lot closer to the feeling in the country than Glasgow in voting “yes”. Alex Salmond regularly describes his slender, one-seat majority after the 2011 election as a “landslide victory for the SNP”. On that reckoning, the 28-4 regional vote for “no” can only be described as an avalanche.
Aline Templeton, Edinburgh

minority report

Stevenson offered more divisive nonsense. Glasgow was one of the tiny minority of areas which favoured “yes” in the referendum; Edinburgh, like the vast majority of Scotland, did not. In a recent survey of “happiness” in Scotland, Glasgow was one of the least happy.

Edinburgh is therefore more in touch with Scotland as a whole and Glasgow has issues which may or may not be addressed by the vast amounts of taxpayers’ money which is to be hurled at it. We have a referendum answer, we have a capital city, let’s grow up and get on with our lives without any more half-baked nonsense.
Hamish Hossick, Dundee

taxing issues

Michael McMenemy and Mrs A McMenemy-Rudge asked if the 45% who said “yes” are unaware of the additional benefits we receive while the remainder of the UK does not (“Union dues”, Letters, last week).

Perhaps the McMenemys should take a trip to London, for example, and see where most of Scotland’s taxes are spent.James Noel, Aberdeen

no rich pickings

Now that the Scottish people have shown that they do not wish to become McTribal again, perhaps it is time to invite those who voted for a single socialist-party state north of the border to visit towns such as Maidstone, Tonbridge, Slough and Crawley to see just how the so-called “rich” London commuters live in their under-invested towns with old schools, roads and often hospitals (“Gallant losers and Game of Thrones point to a stronger Britain”, News Review, September 28).

But the Scottish people have a point in that London is past its sell-by date and, in particular, parliament and its civil service are indeed a long way from Scotland — not as far away as Brussels, however.
Colin Gatenby, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire

powerful priorities

How do you get it into the heads of the English that the majority of people in Wales don’t want devolution and have never wanted it?

Now the health service is on its knees and the Welsh education system has slipped further down the international league tables, politicians are proposing to give the Welsh National Assembly even more powers. How about another referendum asking whether people want money spent on a better health service or on a gravy train for the political class?
Graham Jones, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan


sense of belonging

The answer to the question “To which continent does the UK belong?” is simple (“This charter for criminals deserves the death penalty”, Comment, last week).
It is Europe. And there is nothing Ukip or the Tories can do about that. Nor can any result of a referendum. Face the facts, separatists.
Nick Papadimitriou, London NW2

peer pressure

Lords Noon and Levy clearly believe that what the Labour party is short of is money and big-business friends (“Labour barons hammer ‘death wish’ Miliband”, News, last week). Wrong. What the party lacks is members and (as Lord Prescott remarks) more robust policies to attract them. Their lordships represent everything that made me abandon a lifelong Labour allegiance 11 years ago.
The Reverend Colin Smith, St Helens, Merseyside

trust account

It was interesting to see how David Cameron and Miliband scored against each other in your poll, and that the public doesn’t trust either of them on any subject (“General Paddy plots counterattack as Ukip prepares to grab beachhead”, News, last week). That’s the most important fact in British politics today.
Peter Richards, Poole

it’s a gas

Regarding greenhouse gases, what about the flatus from more than 7bn humans (“Whiff of success in fight to cut cow methane”, News, last week)?
Marion Judd, Didcot, Oxfordshire

taxing answer

What gives Crista Lyon the idea that pensioners are exempt from paying into the NHS (“Paying their way”, Letters, last week)? If she’s lived in Britain since the 1970s she should know pensioners are taxed on income just the same as anyone else. Maybe she believes that national insurance contributions support the NHS.
Sue Bright, Twickenham, London

contributory factors

As a British pensioner with years of experience of working in Germany, and a German wife, may I point out that many British pensioners would undoubtedly be pleased to pay NHS contributions if the UK state pension were to be raised to German levels.
David Sansom, Wells, Somerset

home truths

Geoff Kite’s claim (“London homes fair game for mansion tax”, Letters, last week) that a Labour peer’s £43m profit justifies “a tough mansion tax” does, in fact, quite the opposite. By taking the profit on his principal residence, he actually pays no tax at all, leaving the rest of us still in our “mansions” (as my semi is now called, apparently) to pick up the bill.
Ian Jefferson, London W6

no place for grammar schools in a democracy

EVEN if there was evidence that grammar schools conferred an advantage on those who attended them — at most 30% of the population — such a system, which left the remaining 70% in the old, unsuccessful, secondary modern schools, is not acceptable in a democracy (“Hands up for the return of grammar schools”, Letters, last week).
Robert Batchelor (retired headmaster, Hatch End High School, Harrow), Northwood, London

graduate nurses with healthy pay packets

Your excellent article “Geeks inherit the best graduate pay” (News, last week) highlights the need to choose both the right university and the right course, but it also raises a further question. What is so special about the nurses from Portsmouth University that they are earning more than £37,000 six months after graduating when the entry point for graduate nurses is £21,388, with salaries in London attracting a high-cost area supplement?
Alistair Nicoll, Sheffield

blame game

Paddy Ashdown was spot on with his comments on the SNP (“General Paddy plots counterattack”, News, last week). They are indeed Scotland’s Ukip and despite the rhetoric very much in line with the blame others, grievance ridden, one issue parties of protest now flourishing across Europe. Change the target of their grievances and they are all identical in attempting to cash in on general discontent with an all-things-to-all-men, grossly oversimplified approach to complex problems, and pie in the sky solutions.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

french rejection

Rod Liddle is completely out of order with his comments about the French (“Sorry, mon vieux. France really is skint, sapped and squalid”, Comment, last week). Gare du Nord is not the best station in the world, but the French have some of the best trains, and safest signalling systems. The French health service is also one of the finest. I am not French, I am Scottish. Being a Scot is why, when I am in France, I get a wonderful welcome. Andy Street of John Lewis, even though he has apologised, and Liddle should be stopped at the French border and refused entry.
Ann Jack, Cambridge

Corrections and clarifications

The article “Israel plans ‘iron spade’ to foil Hamas tunnellers” (World News, August 17) incorrectly stated that destruction of the tunnels under Gaza was the “pretext” for Israel’s land invasion. It should have been “reason”.

Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, should be addressed to 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.


Martin Corry, rugby player, 41; Les Dennis, comedian, 61; Hugh Jackman, actor, 46; Ledley King, footballer, 34; Aggie MacKenzie, TV presenter, 59; Martie Maguire, musician, 45; Michael Mansfield QC, 73; Rick Parfitt, guitarist, 66; Angela Rippon, TV presenter, 70; David Threlfall, actor, 61; David Vanian, singer, 58


1492 Christopher Columbus makes first sighting of the New World; 1859 engineer Robert Stephenson dies; 1872 composer Ralph Vaughan Williams born; 1915 British nurse Edith Cavell shot as a spy by the Germans; 1984 IRA bombs Grand hotel, Brighton, where Conservatives are staying for their party conference, killing five


Andrew Whalley of REG Windpower says that 70 per cent of the British public support onshore wind Photo: Alamy

6:56AM BST 11 Oct 2014


SIR – Andrew Whalley of REG Windpower (Letters, October 9) claims that 70 per cent of the British public support onshore wind.

This is not really surprising, as at least 70 per cent of the British public live in places where these unsightly and inefficient edifices are unlikely to be erected. The main function of turbines seems to be that of making a fortune for the companies (most of which are not British) that promote and develop them.

E Peter Mosley

SIR – Should Mr Whalley look with disinterested eyes at the evidence on his product, he would realise that the reason for our poor energy security is that 25 per cent of our energy capacity is invested in wind power.

Wind turbines are spectacularly unreliable and have nothing to justify their use – except for the massive subsidies that are paid to him and his colleagues by the taxpayer and end user.

Pamela Wheeler
Shrewsbury, Shropshire

SIR – If, as Mr Whalley suggests, onshore wind power is considerably less expensive than other forms of generation, then the Government should withdraw the subsidy to companies like his, which the consumer pays through higher electricity bills.

Spencer Atwell
Felbridge, Surrey

£4,966.01 makes for 900 pair of Next’s best ankle socks

6:57AM BST 11 Oct 2014


SIR – My wife received her monthly statement from Next this week. I am pleased to say that her expenditure has been modest: one pack of ankle socks and two pairs of children’s trousers were purchased for £22.50. When added to items bought earlier, the balance came to £33.99.

What I find extraordinary is that, according to the statement, her available credit limit now stands at £4,966.01.

The bad news is that this is one of the reasons why our country is in the midst of an enormous consumer debt crisis.

The good news is that we are able to acquire 584 pairs of trousers or 900 pairs of ankle socks, should we wish to.

Simon Stokoe
Slinfold, West Sussex

Age appropriate

SIR – Why shouldn’t employers specify an age-range in job advertisements? Surely it’s better than wasting the time of people who don’t meet their criteria.

I was once due to travel for a job interview at an Asian embassy when the agency called to ask my height. It transpired that I would have dwarfed my boss and his colleagues, so the interview was cancelled. That could now be considered discrimination, but I am glad that my time wasn’t wasted.

Celia Middleton
Warminster, Wiltshire

Campaign medals

SIR – Action in the Netherlands would have been covered by the 1939-1945 Star (Letters, October 7), as were both Crete and Greece, where my father saw action.

Captain John Maioha Stewart (retd)
Breisach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Valuable deposits

SIR – When I was a child, horse manure was highly prized in our garden (Letters, October 10). Milk was delivered from a cart pulled by a horse named Jill. Should she deposit an offering within range of our terrace house, my grandmother and our next-door neighbour would emerge, armed with their shovels, and race to scoop up the prize. My grandmother invariably won and her roses benefited.

E M Blyth
Laxey, Isle of Man

SIR – All horses in Bruges wear nappies.

Peter de Snoo
Truro, Cornwall

Few moderate Palestinian factions wish to abandon their long-term goal in the fight against Israel

.A Palestinian child from the Msabeh family sits in a room of her family home which was destroyed during the 50-day war between Israel's army and militants from Hamas

A Palestinian girl this week amid the ruins of her home, destroyed during the 50-day conflict

6:59AM BST 11 Oct 2014


SIR – The fundamental flaw in the case for Britain’s recognition of Palestinian statehood is that the probable consequence would be the opposite of Peter Oborne’s aspiration to assist those Palestinians who argue for “peaceful negotiation rather than resort to arms” (Comment, October 9).

The harsh reality is there are very few proponents among moderate Palestinian factions willing to countenance the essential requirement for a lasting two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict – namely the abandonment of the Palestinians’ long-standing goal to eradicate the state of Israel.

History is replete with examples of Palestinian intransigence: in 1947 when the UN proposed a two-state partition; in 1967 following the Six-Day War when the defeated Arab leaders issued their Three Noes of Khartoum; in 1993 following the Oslo peace accords; and in 2001 when the Palestinians rejected the offer of a sovereign state.

Recognition of Palestinian statehood, far from assisting the search for lasting peace, provides succour to the hard-line Palestinian leadership that has consistently sought statehood in order to isolate Israel and circumvent bilateral peace negotiations that inevitably require both parties to make monumental concessions.

Philip Duly
Haslemere, Surrey

Fighters of the Islamic State wave the group’s flag from a damaged display of a government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria Photo: AP

7:00AM BST 11 Oct 2014


SIR – I was appalled to hear the diplomat Jonathan Powell remark that we might – somehow – negotiate with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He draws historical parallels with “terrorists” reformed in the past, such as Makarios, Kenyatta, and Sinn Fein.

But surely there can be no equivalence here. Isil has proved itself to be a vilely murderous entity, with unacceptable aims. For any historical resemblance in the Middle East, one would have to reach back to medieval Tamburlaine, and his boasted “Mountain of Skulls”.

I wonder what kind of advice Mr Powell would have given as chief of staff to Tony Blair during his little sortie in the Middle East.

Sir Alistair Horne
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

SIR – In saying that we should “keep out” of affairs in the Middle East, Ian Harris (Letters, October 9) fails to consider two important points.

First, there are a considerable number of fundamentalists whose ambitions stretch well beyond North Africa. Allowing Isil to destroy its immediate rivals before turning its attention to Europe does not strike me as a reasonable strategy.

Secondly, I suspect that there are a considerable number of people in North Africa who already blame the West for not intervening against Isil. I’m afraid that we might well end up being hated by all sides in this conflict.

Peter Davey
Bournemouth, Dorset

Rooney’s score card

SIR – Why all the nonsense about Wayne Rooney’s catching up with Jimmy Greaves in the England goal tally?

The total is immaterial. On average Greaves scored every 117 minutes, whereas Rooney has only achieved an average of a goal every 171 minutes, and that with the help of a couple of penalties.

Paul Fulton
Dereham, Norfolk

Riding westward

SIR – You report (October 3) that drivers have difficulty at this time of year with low-level sunshine coinciding with the rush hour, particularly on the M4.

My father was born in 1903, long before motorways were commonplace, and his advice was: “Never live west of your work.”

Meriel Thurstan
Taunton, Somerset

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Madam – The fifth season of Love/Hate hit our screens on Sunday night with horrible violence. During the week Garda figures revealed knife murders have more than doubled so far this year.

Bad temper is one of the main causes of violence and it is in the home this should be nipped at the bud through child discipline, advice and example.

The gist of a story goes:  In a certain home there was a little boy who continually lost his temper, becoming quite nasty.  His father gave him a bag of nails and a hammer, warning him every time in future he lost his temper he must hammer a nail into the back door of the garage.

On the first day the boy had driven 32 nails into the door.  Over the next few weeks as he learned to take control of his temper, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down.  Eventually, he discovered it was easier to hold his temper than driving nails into the door.

Finally, the day came when he didn’t lose his temper at all.  On telling his father of his success, the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day he was able to hold his temper.  The days passed and the young fellow was finally able to tell his father all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the door of the garage.  He said: “You have done well, but look at all the marks on the door — it’ll never be the same again”.

When you say things in anger they leave scars just like these.  Stick a knife in a man and pull it out. It will not matter how many times you say “I’m sorry”, the wound is still there.  So, control your temper and never ‘do’ nor ‘say’ anything you will regret later.

James Gleeson,



Emer should have declined

Madam –  I read Emer O’Kelly’s piece (Sunday Independent 5 October) in which she is careful to point out she was never a PD supporter but that she was appointed to the Arts Council because Mary Harney was sick of her whinging about the arts.

And then Ms O’Kelly makes sure to mention she didn’t benefit financially directly while omitting to mention the very fact she was in attendance at all these arts events in her official Arts Council capacity has done her later career no harm at all.

It didn’t seem to have occurred to Ms O’Kelly to graciously decline the invitation from the Minister because she’d rather obtain it through an open and transparent application process.

It may surprise Ms O’Kelly that she’s not the only person to have been approached by various politicians over the years with the gift of appointment to one or other quango, but some of us have declined. She should try it if only for the look of incomprehension when you explain you don’t think it’s right to accept an appointment you didn’t apply for.

So if Ms O’Kelly thinks her little story about how she did us all a favour is meant to make us feel sorry for her she should think again.

The result of the story for me is that I think less of Ms O’Kelly for her lack of ethical standards in accepting the appointment.

Desmond FitzGerald,

Canary Wharf, London

Emer O’Kelly replies: Desmond Fitzgerald has things upside-down. I was a lifelong attender at arts events (at my own expense,). That’s what gave me the expertise that Mary Harney wanted to harness. Nor did I , or do I, expect anyone to be sorry for me. It was a privilege to give public service in thanks for the pleasure and enlightenment the arts have given me.

And I certainly didn’t learn about theatre “on the job” as a drama critic for this newspaper.

I was appointed because of my knowledge of theatre…through life-long attendance and study. And that appointment long preceded my membership of the Arts Council.

Is Enda Kenny getting fair play?

Madam – I have been buying the Sunday Independent for 50 years, but last Sunday’s edition (October 5) really annoyed me.

I had some students survey of the amount of derogatory remarks applied to Enda Kenny, not to mention the Taoiseach. It came to 112 times. Is this fair?

Margaret Hough,

Borrisokane, Co Tipperary

Have media too much power?

Madam – The power of the media in opinion forming and influencing our political attitudes will be measured by the survival or non-survival of the present Taoiseach in political life between now and the next general election.

Just one sentence by a prominent commentator recently highlights that fact: if the Taoiseach “dared to subject himself to even a single one-on-one encounter, any interviewer worth his or her salt would have destroyed him live on air.”

The implication of that sentence is that all citizens have an equal right to vote for people to represent them at the highest level of government.

But according to media, if media themselves so decide, people who are elected can be instantly destroyed live on air.

A Leavy,

Sutton, Dublin 13


Cronyism is a part of what we are

Madam – There is a hidden depth in Jody Corcoran’s analysis on power, (Sunday Independent, 5 October). It seems that cronyism may indeed be ingrained in the human condition. He quotes an explanation that “the system” was flawed from the outset, from the foundation of the state. There is a possibility that it goes back further, even as far back as Adam and Eve.

It would not make sense, in the pursuit of an endeavour, to surround oneself with competent strangers or for a government minister to appoint a member of the opposition as a director to the board of a quango to avoid being labelled a stroker. It would be more empowering to choose from one’s trusted associates, friends and family, gifted with ability, skills, shared beliefs and goals. This alliance is the route to go to in order to hold power.

After all, our public representatives resemble their fallible electorate. They mean well, have good intentions, and are sincere. They also make mistakes, errors of judgement and occasionally come before the courts. Imagine what it would be like if they were perfect. No scandals. No blunders. Nobody to blame. Nobody to write or report about. No hypocrisy to fuel outrage and indignation. Utopia could be very boring !

Mankind is in the twenty first century and yet governed by the primal and the tribal,

Alan O’Dwyer,

Carlow, Co Carlow


Space needed for children’s hospital

Madam – Regarding Claire Mc Cormack’s article (5 October) on the location of the National Children’s Hospital I agree with Dr Roisin Healy that it would be better to locate beside Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown where there is a large site of 145 acres available, rather than on the 15 acres at St James Hospital.

The site at Blanchardstown is near the M50 with good access to the whole 32 counties. It would also be very convenient to Dublin Airport for emergencies where air ambulances would be used, as we have a large number of airstrips all over Ireland.

There has also been a debate on a new maternity hospital for Dublin as older buildings go out of date. If it was decided to build a new maternity hospital in Dublin it would seem sensible to co-locate it beside the National Children’s Hospital. There is adequate space.

Conal Shovlin,


Co Donegal


Bizzare advice from celibate men

Madam – Pope Frances has gathered 300 bishops in Rome to discuss family life. Does anyone find it a bit strange that this group of old men, all celibate (at least officially) never married, never had children, are to pontificate on family life.

It is even more bizarre that they all wear skirts in public.

Mike Mahon


Dublin 6


Greed will cramp our living space

Madam – Hubert Fitzpatrick, of the construction federation in Ireland suggests that we need to make buildings taller and dwellings smaller to accommodate more people.

This reminds me of a great Genesis song Get ’em out by Friday. In this song the offices of ‘Genetic Control’ forcefully reduce human height so that developers can get “twice as many in the same building site”.

Perhaps we should put down our Orwell and our HG Wells and look to Peter Gabriel for our portents to a new dystopia?

Darren Williams,


Dublin 18


Better ways to spend social cash

Madam – It was interesting to read the article with regard to ‘Many long-term unemployed who are too depressed to seek work’ (Sunday Independent, 5 October).

Do people who behave in such a manner not feel guilty taking money they have not earned?

The country spent over €20bn on social welfare in 2013. This money could be well spent in the pockets of the ordinary PAYE workers.

Tommy Deenihan,

Blackrock, Cork


Joe’s spider article was appreciated

Madam – Based on Joe Kennedy’s article (Country Matters, Sunday Independent, 5 October), spiders are much more useful to mankind than the public thinks.

A natural pest controller, we see them working fastidiously on their webs and then waiting patiently for welcome visitors.

Some spiders swim, some fly and some even swing in order to trap live prey. Thankfully, The Irish spider varieties are relatively benign and we will celebrate their infamous reputation for spookiness as Halloween approaches. Thanks for the objective article, Joe.

Damien Boyd,


Sunday Independent

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