19 October 2014 Books

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage to get round the park. A busy day I manage to sell three books

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


Sir John Bradfield – obituary

Sir John Bradfield was the financial brain who transformed the fortunes of Trinity College, Cambridge

Sir John Bradfield

Sir John Bradfield

6:00PM BST 18 Oct 2014


SIR JOHN BRADFIELD, who has died aged 89, was an outstandingly successful and enterprising college bursar who turned Trinity College, Cambridge, into the richest of all the Oxbridge colleges, while kick-starting what has become known as the “Cambridge Phenomenon” — the explosion of technology, life sciences and service companies that has occurred in the city since the 1970s — by founding Europe’s first “science park”.

Under his predecessor, Tressilian Nicholas, the focus of Trinity’s investment portfolio had been agricultural land. After Bradfield stepped into his shoes in 1956, the college increased the percentage of its capital held in equities and pursued a strategic move towards commercial property development.

The foundation for Trinity’s huge financial success in the following years was the acquisition by Nicholas in 1933 of the Trimley estate of nearly 3,800 acres in Suffolk, along the road from Ipswich to the then derelict port of Felixstowe. Nicholas thought that the estate might become valuable for housing development; but as the port, free from the stranglehold of the old Dock Labour Scheme, began to develop in the early 1960s under new ownership, Bradfield surmised that, with Trinity’s help, it could become a competitor to Rotterdam and Le Havre.

He borrowed money to put up buildings to let on part of the estate, and, after helping to fight off nationalisation plans by the Labour administration in the 1970s, made use of his contacts book to persuade Margaret Thatcher’s government to introduce enabling legislation, setting in motion a process which has seen Felixstowe develop, mostly on Trinity-owned land, into Britain’s largest container port.

At around the same time, inspired by the latest thinking in America on how to foster links between universities and industry, he conceived the idea – revolutionary at the time – of establishing a “science park”, on a 140-acre farm just north of Cambridge that the college had owned since the time of Henry VIII.

The Napp building at the Cambridge Science Park

The notion was enthusiastically received by Harold Wilson, the prime minister, and by his technology minister Tony Benn, who was pressing the universities to commercialise their research.

Founded in 1970, the Cambridge Science Park started slowly as Bradfield, working closely with Sir Francis Pemberton of the property consultants Bidwells, struggled to get it up and running in the depths of the early 1970s economic gloom. By 1978 only seven companies had signed up for premises.

However, the development gathered momentum in the 1980s, with tenants ranging from small software companies created by groups of graduates from the university’s computing and engineering departments, to multinational firms such as Schlumberger and IBM, keen to establish what Bradfield described as “listening posts” tuned into research being carried out in the university’s laboratories.

By 2010, when the park celebrated its 40th anniversary, it could boast nearly 100 firms employing more than 5,000 people.

During Bradfield’s time as Trinity bursar, from 1956 to 1992, when retail prices increased 12 times, the college’s external revenue rose nearly 80-fold, from £200,000 to £15.3 million, while the value of shares in its trust fund increased nearly 30 times. In the early 1950s Trinity had been lagging behind King’s in the college wealth tables. By 2006 the college’s external revenue was £33 million, while King’s had dropped to third place (lagging behind St John’s) with £4.1 million.

When Rab Butler was Master of Trinity, he liked to boast that the college’s new-found wealth had enabled it to harbour as many Nobel prizewinners as in the whole of France. Among other things, it financed major college extension plans which more than doubled the size of the college.

Trinity Great Court: Bradfield increased college revenue by 80 times

But Bradfield was keen to reassure Trinity’s rivals that the money would benefit the university more generally. In 1964, together with the bursars of St John’s and Caius, he was instrumental in the foundation of Darwin College, to meet the need for more fellowships and better accommodation for graduate students. In 1988, at a time of cutbacks in higher education funding, Trinity established the Newton Trust, a multi-million-pound fund to help the university’s research costs and student scholarships.

John Richard Grenfell Bradfield was born in Cambridge on May 20 1925 and educated at Cambridge and County High School for Boys, from where he won a scholarship to Trinity to read Natural Sciences. He went on to take a PhD, and was appointed to a research fellowship in cell biology. In one of his studies he borrowed his mother’s chickens to elucidate how the eggshell is secreted within the adult hen, and became the first to report that the shell forms with the sharp end nearest the exit, before rotating 180 degrees just before laying. Other work included protein synthesis and secretion in the silk glands of caterpillars and spiders, and plant enzymes. He would no doubt have gone on to a distinguished career as a biologist had he not accepted the job of college bursar, which he took in 1956 after serving as junior bursar for five years.

As well as his investments at Felixstowe and the Cambridge Science Park, in the 1960s Bradfield purchased land in Kent, which was developed into a business and science park within easy reach of the Channel Tunnel. The huge success of his investments allowed him to be sanguine when Trinity was named as one of the biggest losers from the collapse of Polly Peck in 1990. While admitting to being somewhat irritated, Bradfield could reassure his colleagues that it would not mean “soup at High Table”.

Bradfield served as the first chairman of the Addenbrooke’s NHS Trust, from 1993 to 1997, and as last chairman of the Commission for New Towns. He was also a founding trustee of the Fund for Addenbrooke’s (now the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust).

John Bradfield was appointed CBE in 1986 and knighted in 2007.

He married, in 1951, Jane Wood, who survives him with their son.

Sir John Bradfield, born May 20 1925, died October 13 2014


King's Cross railway station in London United Kingdom King’s Cross station in its new glory. Photograph: Iain Masterton /Alamy

I enjoyed Rowan Moore’s article (“All hail the new King’s Cross – but can other developers repeat the trick?”, New Review) with its enthusiastic support for the approach adopted by the developer Argent. There is merit in the simple, robust architecture but I’m with Michael Edwards in wishing there was more for the community.

Although the article did acknowledge the role of Camden’s planners since 2000, the new King’s Cross now emerging owes much to the work of these planners over several decades, reaching back to the 1970s. I am thinking of the influence they had on the appearance of the British Library, the efforts they made (along with others) to bring the St Pancras Midland hotel back to use, the sheer hard work they put into the parliamentary bills necessary to make St Pancras the Eurostar terminus, their dogged pursuit of the need to create a new transport interchange and remove the hideous booking office in front of King’s Cross station to reveal its beautiful facade and create a new square.

I was director of planning (and later environment) from 1986-96 and remember meetings I had with Central St Martins College to encourage it to come to King’s Cross along with other cultural and educational activities. My point is that the success or otherwise of the development of an area as complex and sensitive as King’s Cross cannot be attributed solely to the developer, community groups or planners who happen to be there when things eventually emerge. There have been some truly brilliant Camden planners and politicians, far too many to mention, who have left their mark on King’s Cross. They know who they are.

David Pike

London N5

Really cross about Crossrail

On principle, I don’t really mind that our transport system has been “renationalised” (“Dutch and Germans pocket benefits while British taxpayers are being taken for a ride”, Business). After all, the Dutch, German and French beneficiaries are compatriots in the European Union and we must be able to share in any general prosperity that results. I draw the line, however, at Crossrail being operated by MTR Corporation, owned by that exemplar of freedom and democracy, the government of the special administrative region of Hong Kong. You couldn’t make it up.

David Jackson



My Liverpool northern soul

No argument, northern soul was established and popularised in Wigan during the 1970s (“My life as a northern soul boy: flashback to rebellion on the 1970s dancefloor”, New Review). However, living in Liverpool at the age of 18, I can remember going to dances at Reeces ballroom in Parker Street that were a prototype form of northern soul. There was no evident DJ and the records played were American black R&B, Motown or soul, including Martha and the Vandellas, Dancing in the Street and Heatwave and Twist and Shout by the Isley Brothers. Unlike other dance events I attended, young black men were very much in evidence. They had enviable dance moves, including moonwalk. Unfortunately, there were no black girls at these dances, possibly due to parental authority at the time.

Jack Eaton

Pont Robert, Meifod

Don’t judge all priests by one

It is a pity that Catherine Deveney (The View From…, Comment) takes such a myopic view of the first few days of the synod in Rome. Yes, the “rightwing” (her words) Cardinal Burke says “no” to parents of a gay son who asks whether he can invite his partner to Christmas dinner. Apart from the fact that ordinary Catholic laity are invited to address this synod and voice their questions on many sexual issues, I would suspect that other cardinals and bishops at the synod might take an alternative view from Cardinal Burke. Pope Francis has been quoted on such issues, saying that we can never judge.

John Southworth


We need debates on class

How refreshing to see the word “class” mentioned in an article (“Who cares about normal women’s work-life balance?”, Comment). In the good old 70s and 80s, we discussed inequalities in sex, race, sexuality and class. It seems “class” issues went out of vogue somewhere along the way with the Blair years. It’s not a north/south divide – it’s a class divide; many women do have material equality but very many on low wages do not. Maybe if we had kept real and honest debates on “class” simmering, the political landscape might not be in the mess it is now!

Debbie Cameron


You’re not selling it very well

Francis Ingham, of the Public Relations Consultants Association, seeks to demonstrate the value of the PR “industry” by claiming that the average salary in it is £54,000 pa. (Letters). At a time of pay freezes for health workers, this seems to display a strange lack of self-awareness.

Better PR required, I think.

John Old



nigel farage Nigel Farage’s party seems to some voters a viable alternative in their disenchantment with the mainstream parties. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Observer

Sarah Wollaston was elected MP for Totnes in May 2010 after winning the UK’s first American-style primary election – open to every voter in Totnes – for the Conservative candidacy. Four years later, there has been no movement on getting “real people” elected (“Ukip has risen on the back of broken politics”, leading article).

Labour is entrenched in its old ways. A growing number of politicians on all sides seem to have slid into politics via public relations, short-lived media jobs and thinktanks. Few of them appear to have got their hands dirty working in manufacturing, agriculture, services or not-for-profit work.

This lack of “real” world experience and an informed view of how people live creates a lack of empathy with the electorate. Reinforce this with the culture of parliament that engenders delusions of adequacy and power that inevitably corrupts sensibility. Then add to this lethal cocktail the continuing downward trajectory of the turnout of the electorate and you will end up with politicians pinning the blame on someone else, usually the other party, and when that fails, the electorate.

The malaise and its treatment rests entirely with the politicians to provide a dynamic for positive political reform where it counts – at the ballot box.

Chris Hodgkins

London W13

I share the alienation from Westminster politics of Ukip supporters. Cameron richly deserves his acute discomfort. He has been throwing the “red meat” of reheated Thatcherism at the ultra-rightwing since 2010. This has simply whetted their appetite for more. The Lib Dems, whom I supported repeatedly in my Tory/Lib Dem marginal constituency, have lost all credibility with their duplicity and stupidity in giving the Tories the opportunity, without a mandate, to shrink the state, privatise public services and immiserate the most vulnerable.

This ought to be an open goal for Labour but their leadership is woeful and lack a coherent centre/left populist agenda that would bring potential voters, like myself, back in droves. This agenda requires a clean break with the discredited neoliberal narrative that has deformed Britain since 1979.

It should include the renationalisation of rail, energy and water and an end to being ripped off by the City and corporate capital. Until Labour is led by someone with passion and character, such as Margaret Hodge, Alan Johnson or Andy Burnham, it will continue to drift towards the electoral rocks.

Philip Wood



Analyses of the Ukip phenomenon are of value, but a serious probe at Labour’s grassroots yields a more straightforward historic explanation. In the heady and somewhat juvenile early days of New Labour it was often understood, and I have actually heard it said: “We don’t need to bother about the working class, the less well off or sink-estate votes because they’ll have to stick with Labour, they’ve nowhere else to go.”

Unfortunately for self-righteousness, time passes. Loyalties fade as new generations arise. Politicians start to look all the same – and ordinary folk find that there is, after all, somewhere else to go. The politically vigorous in Scotland turned to independence. The ignored in the rest of the UK turn to Ukip. This can be cured, but only by a once-for-all abandonment of the top-down PR-style politics of the last 20 years and a fully-blown democracy of the people themselves, a vigorous, even passionate electorate that includes the sink estates as well as those who travel business class.

Can Ed Miliband do it? Hand on heart, I believe he is the very best man for the job: his background, his intelligence and his heart tell me so.

Ian Flintoff

(former Labour parliamentary candidate and Kensington councillor)



I’m not sure in what sense Jamie Merrill finds it “refreshing” that Natalie Bennett is open about describing herself as a “watermelon” (Interview, 12 October). Is it refreshing that the party is becoming red rather than green, or refreshing that what looks like duplicity is being revealed?

This is one side of a trend in environmental politics which should alarm us all. That is the false association of environmentalist concerns with one or other of the left-right wings of traditional politics. While the Green Party continues to raise the issue of climate change, there is an increasing push to blame capitalism and see the solution as socialism. This plays into the hands of the climate-change deniers who want people to believe that climate change is a myth dreamed up as part of a socialist plot.

At the same time, the Green Party has abandoned any pretence of tackling population growth – a primary green concern – and its connection with ecological sustainability, apparently because to do so would require a more nuanced approach to migration than shouting “racism”, thus a central green concern is treated as if it was a preserve of the right. The world’s environmental problems belong at the centre of politics. Their answers lie in realism and practicalities, not in the outdated dogma of left/right politics.

Christopher Padley


Patrick Cockburn misses the context of President Obama’s “plan” (“US strategy in tatters as Isis marches on,” 12 October). Obama has no intention of destroying Islamic State (Isis). Rather, he is engaging in deception to prevent a pincer’s pinch on election day (4 November) that will cause his Democratic Party to lose its Senate majority. One arm of the pincer is the Americans who know that General David Petraeus masterminded victory in Iraq, and President Obama threw it away by not leaving soldiers there to guarantee the peace. He thinks bombing Isis will placate these voters.

The other arm is a large segment of the Democratic Party that rejects US intervention anywhere. President Obama does not want to turn off these voters by engaging in serious military action in Iraq and Syria.

Scott Varland

Purley, Greater London

How can you compare food prices based on the cost per calorie (Ellen E Jones, 12 October)? Healthy food by its nature is generally lower in calories then junk food, so 1,000 calories’ worth of broccoli is going to cost more than 1,000 calories of junk food. I don’t understand how this draws the conclusion healthy food is rising in price faster than junk food.

Alison Wood


Years ago, along with other proud parents, I was invited to hear our children play their musical offerings for their GCSEs. Sitting through Mozart, Beethoven and so on applauded to the roof, my daughter’s rendering of the Twin Peaks theme was met with the same reaction the show had, bewilderment. Twin Peaks and my daughter were obviously ahead of their time. A remake (Simmy Richman, 12 October) will never recapture the magic!

Mary Hodgson


I am surprised that Bill Granger’s autumn-fruit recipes feature fruits already out of season. Blueberries and plums are long finished, even autumn raspberries have come to the end of their season. Blackberries in October are known as the “fruit of the Devil” and elderberries by now are only fit for the birds.

Jo Burrill

Hexham, Northumberland

It was not Oscar Wilde’s testimony “against the Marquess of Queensberry” that consisted of “absurd and silly perjuries”, as you incorrectly quoted me as saying (Letters, 12 October). The “absurd and silly perjuries” Wilde subsequently referred to were the lies he told when he denied under cross-examination that he had had sexual relations with various youths who had given statements to Queensberry’s solicitors.

Antony Edmonds

Waterlooville, Hampshire



Workers from other European states fill many important roles, including barista, for the minimum wage Photo: Jeff Gilbert

6:56AM BST 18 Oct 2014


SIR – Amid the clamour to restrict immigration fuelled by the Rochester by-election, one thing seems to have been forgotten. Indigenous Britons simply do not want to do the jobs so willingly occupied by those from other European states for the minimum wage.

Who will clean our public lavatories, serve refreshments in countless coffee joints, take menial but important jobs in nursing homes or harvest vegetables in the fields of Lincolnshire?

If foreign labour is excluded from categories of work that silently keep the country going, we will all pay a heavy price.

Peter Mahaffey
Cardington, Bedfordshire

Paying for the NHS

SIR – It is a common misconception that the NHS is paid for out of National Insurance contributions (Letters, October 16). Access to NHS treatment is based on residency, not on NI contributions.

It is for this very reason that visitors to Britain should (unless benefiting from certain exemptions) be obliged to pay for any treatment they receive – particularly for expensive operations and for pre-existing conditions. That the NHS does not recoup much of the payment owed depletes the coffers of much-needed revenue.

Liz Edmunds
Hassocks, West Sussex

SIR – Letters from my NHS hospital consultant now include the date when they were dictated. From this, I can work out that it takes at least three weeks for a letter to be typed and posted.

Apparently it isn’t clinical and nursing pressures that cause long waiting times, but the inability to run an office.

Dr Stephen Bell
Woodbridge, Suffolk

On the one hand

SIR – When my father was at primary school early in the last century, he received several smacks for being left-handed but persevered. However, he lost his left arm in a road accident and so became right-handed.

While the Duke of Cambridge may claim that all the cleverest people are left-handed, I would argue that the brightest are ambidextrous. Like the cricketer David Gower, I bat and deal cards with my left hand, mainly write right-handed and use a screwdriver with whichever hand can best get at the screw.

Duncan Wood
Bean, Kent

SIR – I would like to explain the difficulties for a rightie married to a leftie.

My husband is certainly a leftie when it comes to hanging clothes in the wardrobe, making it difficult to get an item out since the hook is the wrong way round, and he always has the boiling kettle turned so that steam drifts into the shelves above.

Dancing has always been impossible as he wants to grab my left hand and turn me in a difficult manoeuvre, which takes the edge off my excellent moves.

Rosemary Almond
Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire

By any other name

SIR – Though divorced I retain my married name (Letters, October 17), because I have held it for longer than my maiden name and therefore it is who I am. Should I marry again, then maybe I will have a change of heart and surname.

Reverting after 30 years of marriage seems a very odd thing to do.

Heather M Tanner
Earl Soham, Suffolk

“We have two major problems in Germany – the recession and the long waiting list for a new Mercedes” Photo: Alamy

6:57AM BST 18 Oct 2014


SIR – I find Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s views on Germany’s apparent economic woes difficult to reconcile with my impressions as a resident of Germany.

After much infrastructure investment in eastern Germany, attention has again turned westward. Ambitious projects, such as the high-speed rail link between Frankfurt and Cologne, are finished – albeit usually late and over budget.

When I moved here in 1991, Germany was apparently in a recession. My then-boss told me: “Yes, we have two major problems in Germany – the recession and the long waiting list for a new Mercedes. Don’t worry about it.”

Matthew Whittall
Schönaich, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Jobs for the disabled

SIR – If it costs an employer the same whoever does the job, why would they employ someone less able (Letters, October 17)?

It is a social welfare issue and should not be outsourced to the private sector. But it can go too far: the Government’s own figures suggest that each job in the state’s disabled enterprise, Remploy, costs the taxpayer £25,000.

Ian Johnson
Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Imported road kill

SIR – Frances Evans writes of suicidal pheasants on the roads.

Many poults are raised in France before being shipped to these shores for sport. Perhaps road manners picked up on the Continent ultimately contribute to their death in Britain.

Nicholas Sherriff
London SW11

A local Liberian artist paints a mural forming part of the countrys fight against the deadly Ebola virus by education in the city of Monrovia, Liberia Photo: AP

6:59AM BST 18 Oct 2014


SIR – Fraser Nelson (Ebola may be gruesome but it’s not the biggest threat to Africa, October 17) states that poverty is the root cause of Africa’s problems.

One of the main reasons for this poverty is the continent’s rapidly increasing population, which continues to outstrip its ability to feed itself. The population in Nigeria has increased by 300 per cent in the last 40 years: that in Ethiopia by 380 per cent. Even developed nations would find it almost impossible to cope with such burgeoning increases.

In order to reduce this poverty, resources must first be concentrated on stabilising the population growth by introducing contraception methods such as vasectomy. As harsh as it sounds, there seems little point in reducing child mortality if children are subsequently to starve. In tandem with birth control, the developed world must invest in agriculture and industry to enable Africans to feed and support themselves.

Such investment ought to be managed by donors as many African leaders are renowned for diverting aid money for their own use, particularly in procuring arms.

It is time that the United Nations managed controlled change instead of just fighting fires.

Tony Ellis
Northwood, Middlesex

SIR – As we now have to face the prospect of the global spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola, we must surely begin to pay even more attention to public hygiene.

When one sees the disgusting state of many of our bank’s hole-in-the-wall cash machines, I do wonder if we are overlooking a potential source of infection.

Should not banks and retailers be obliged by law to clean these devices regularly with a powerful disinfectant?

Richard Mann
Bideford, Devon

SIR – There seems little point in border checks for potential Ebola victims if we proactively import infected patients who then, due to arguably foreseeable errors, infect their carers.

Laurence Williams
Louth, Lincolnshire

The Big Smoke: an anti-rudeness campaign in Marseille’s Saint-Charles railway station  Photo: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/GettyImages

7:00AM BST 18 Oct 2014


SIR – Owing to a medical condition, my husband rarely takes walks. When visiting parks or gardens, he will sit on a bench and have a smoke while I take a short walk around on my own. A ban on smoking in public parks would deny both of us this small pleasure.

If the sight of smokers is considered dangerous for children, then I would argue that they cannot be protected from all dangers in life – encountering them is how they learn to make choices.

Jennifer Edwards
Sidcup, Kent

SIR – Lord Darzi’s proposal to introduce a smoking ban for public areas such as parks is welcome. Children are influenced by the behaviour of adults. Two-thirds of adult smokers admit that they began to smoke before the age of 18, and almost two-fifths before the age of 16.

Some 200,000 children in Britain take up smoking every year – that’s 550 every day – increasing their risk of chest infections and asthma, as well as lung cancer and heart problems later in life.

If we are to help prevent smoking in young people, then changing the environment is essential, but this must be coupled with measures such as high-quality personal, social and health education lessons in schools.

Prof Mitch Blair
Officer for Health Promotion, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
London WC1

SIR – As far as I am aware, smoking is not illegal, unlike many other addictive habits. It may be undesirable and unhealthy, but there are millions of people who are hooked on cigarettes and need them just as much as I need my six mugs of tea a day.

To prevent hospital patients, who are under a lot of stress, from having a quick puff outside the hospital (Letters, October 17) would be cruel.

I used to wheel my mother round the garden of her rehab unit and she looked forward to her daily cigarette in the fresh air. She had smoked since she joined the Army in 1940 and was given her first one.

Incidentally, what did make her give up her six-a-day habit was the cost of a pack of 20 in comparison to what £7.50 would provide for a hungry child in Africa.

Jane O’Nions
Sevenoaks, Kent

SIR – It’s not the smoke, it’s the filthy fag ends.

S A Langton
London N1

SIR – Why stop at banning smoking in parks and public places? How about closing all pubs, off-licences and wine outlets to stop the exorbitant cost of alcohol abuse?

For that matter, let’s ban all fast-food joints and vending machines, as they contribute to obesity; and why not limit car ownership to essential users, as the automobile causes too much pollution.

Alice Harper
Colchester, Essex

Wit, whimsy – and not a single item about Gordon Brown. It was a bumper year for a collection of unpublished letters to the Telegraph

This year, the sixth in a row, Iain Hollingshead says there is no subject too weighty not to be punctured by the readers’ ready wit

This year, the sixth in a row, Iain Hollingshead says there is no subject too weighty not to be punctured by the readers’ ready wit Photo: Clara Molden/The Telegraph

By Iain Hollingshead

7:20AM BST 18 Oct 2014


Is there a conspiracy to keep women off the letters pages? During the summer, someone counted all the letters to the Financial Times over a three-week period and found that just three were written by women. Frankly, the more surprising revelation was that the pink paper had a letters page. After all, where’s the fun in debating the FTSE compared with swapping tips on how best to swing bowl an unwanted snail into a neighbour’s garden?

There is, of course, no conspiracy. The letters editors at The Daily Telegraph are gender-blind, colour-blind and even county-blind, despite accusations that we only print letters from Dorset. Men are, perhaps, more prone to being gloriously and eccentrically alone in thinking the way they do. They certainly write more often, and at greater length. Yet the criteria for publication are the same whether you’re Lt-Cdr Joe Bloggs (retd) from Blandford Forum, Dorset or Josephine Bloggs from Dobcross, West Yorkshire.

The same goes for the hundreds of letters which, for whatever reason, don’t make the newspaper but appear in the books of previously unpublished letters. This year, the sixth in a row, is, I believe, a particularly bumper crop. There is no subject too weighty not to be punctured by the readers’ ready wit.

This was the year of Putin and Pietersen, Sharon and Suarez, Harris and Holland and, thankfully, for the first time since these books began, not a single letter about Gordon Brown. Whether explaining Ukip’s rise through the horrors of Eurovision or wondering how to insure the Lamborghini on which they might blow their pension pot, one thing is certain: no one has any idea what they will think of next.

Family life and tribulations

SIR – Walking in a Brighton street I was surprised when an elderly lady going in the opposite direction muttered, “You sexy beast.” I am 81. It made my day.

Richard Pitcairn-Knowles, Otford, Kent

SIR – When I married, 48 years ago, my bride and I, as naturists, were clothed as were Adam and Eve. The priest, a fellow naturist, was similarly naked. Give or take the odd wrinkle, our wedding attire has been in daily use as foundation garments, topped invariably, in my case, by a regimental tie.

Lt-Col A. St. John-Grahame (retd), Whitstable, Devon

SIR – I recently celebrated my 60th birthday. My dear wife’s present to me was a new “health band”. Its principal function appears to be to send an alert to my wife’s iPad whenever I sit still for longer than 12 minutes. She assures me this guarantees I will live to a ripe old age. Isn’t progress wonderful?

J.C., London SW6

SIR – For days now you have forecast dark clouds and lightning over Gloucestershire while the weather has been generally sunny and warm. Are you actually forecasting an unplanned visit by my mother-in-law? Please clarify.

Martyn Dymott, Gloucester

SIR – Sex after 50, asks your report? I should say so! My partner and I are in our late seventies and still enjoy a stimulating and fulfilling sex life. Long may it continue!


SIR – Now that my throwing of unwanted garden snails has been curtailed by arthritis, I am considering making a scaled-down medieval trebuchet. Searching in our barn for suitable materials, I came across an old clay pigeon trap. Trials last evening, witnessed by my dog, have proved most effective, with considerable distances achieved.

This method may not be practical for town dwellers. So for those living on the South Coast, could I suggest putting unwanted English snails in strawberry punnets attached to balloons? A brisk prevailing wind should achieve a speedy Channel crossing, possibly sparking off competitive snail flying races and, at the same time, feeding hungry Frenchmen.

Paul Spencer Schofield, Harewood, West Yorkshire

Sporting triumph and disaster

SIR – Just when it appears that matters cannot get any worse, we are subject to the England captain telling us in the post-match press conference that “only Broads and Stokesie came out of the series with any credit”. I despair. Somebody should remind “Cookie” (pictured) that he is in charge of the national team, not the local pub team, and that in the current circumstances a little decorum is required.

Neil Parsons, Laceby, Lincolnshire

SIR – Following the recent embarrassing performances of our national football and cricket teams, is there any way we could swap the sports over, thus playing Sri Lanka at football, and Uruguay and Italy at cricket?

Bob McCallum, Waltham St Lawrence, Berkshire

SIR – Not being in the same room as the television, but well within earshot, I was unsure if I was listening to Wimbledon or Casualty.

John Townshend, South Wootton, Norfolk

SIR – Yorkshire embraced the Tour de France with magnificence: hospitality, friendly atmosphere, beautiful scenery and roads lined with supporters. Cambridge, meanwhile, complained because one road is going to be closed for a few hours. Does this prove once and for all that Northerners are more friendly?

Janice Moss, Altrincham, Cheshire

SIR – The biggest surprise of the English stage of the Tour was that no cyclists were seen on the pavements.

Guy Rose, London SW14

Royal flushes

SIR – Many congratulations to Prince Philip on his 93rd birthday. I see he is going to Germany on Thursday. Where does he get his travel insurance?

Brian Baxter, Oakington, Cambridgeshire

SIR – While watching the Prince of Wales touring the Somerset Levels, I spotted his tie. For the life of me I cannot remember him attending Consett Grammar, but then he must have been four forms above me.

David Laybourne, Ilfracombe, Devon

SIR – We should send Prince Harry to the Antipodes, to prove we can be just as mental as they are, thus preserving the Commonwealth.

David Alsop, Churchdown, Gloucestershire

Anti-social media

SIR – Having endured the Eurovision Song Contest, any remaining doubts I might have had about voting Ukip have now been dispelled.

Allan Kirtley, Valley End, Surrey

Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst of Austria (GETTY)

SIR – In future Eurovision Song Contests, to avoid political voting and expensive razzmatazz, I think the female singer with the best beard should be declared the winner.

Nairn Lawson, Portbury, Somerset

SIR – Both Melita Norwood, the KGB spy, and Rolf Harris were exposed in their early eighties as wicked people. Harris, quite rightly, has felt the full force of the law. Unfairly, Letty, as she was known during her childhood friendship with my Aunt Blanche, was spared police action.

On the other hand, Harris did not have to suffer the ignominy of being crossed off my aunt’s Christmas card list.

Rosemary Earle, Swindon, Wiltshire

SIR – The BBC’s production of Jamaica Inn included, unusually, not one Scottish accent, so I rather enjoyed it.

Paul Downey, Cutwell, Gloucestershire

A year in politics

SIR – A headline states: “Lord Rennard could sue his way back into Lib Dem Party.” Pray, why would he bother?

Colin Cummings, Yelvertoft, Northamptonshire

SIR – Although I hate to admit it, I have to side with EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker when he says David Cameron has no common sense. Cameron may have had an Eton education, but he has zilch up top. No way would I trust him on the battlefield. He would be a disaster.

Lt-Col Dale Hemming-Tayler (retd), Edith Weston, Rutland

SIR – Blow my pension fund on a Lamborghini? I think not. Like most over-55s, even if I could get into one, I certainly wouldn’t be able to get out.

Michael Gilbert, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

The use and abuse of language

SIR – Having just read the letters about waiters saying “Enjoy”, I thought I must tell you that I went into our local cut-price chemists to buy some loo rolls and the young man, as he handed them to me, said, “Enjoy”. I replied: “I’ll try.”

Graham Upton, Eastbourne, East Sussex

SIR – Is there no end to the Americanisation of our once proud English tongue? At Wimbledon they are now taking “a bathroom break”. I would have thought four minutes to get undressed, take a bath and get dressed again was beyond belief.

R.M. Flaherty, Auchterarder, Kinross

SIR – With regards to the “conscious uncoupling” of Gwyneth (pictured) and Chris Martin, which poor soul is going to be lumbered with that CD collection?

Marlon Zoglowek, Cam, Gloucestershire

Home thoughts on abroad

SIR – The answer to François Hollande’s affairs of the heart is that he should abandon the title of First Lady and instead institute First Mistress, Second Mistress and so on. All of his lady friends would then know where they stand – or lie down.

Ron Mason, East Grinstead, West Sussex

SIR – As the situation in the Middle East deteriorates, would now be an appropriate time for Tony Blair to reveal his divinity? I am sure that the sight of him descending into Jerusalem in clouds of glory would bring about an instant end to hostilities.

Tony Hines, Longframlington, Northumberland

SIR – Why is the battery life of the “pinger” in the 5kg black box on Flight MH370 only around 30 days, when the battery in my cardiac pacemaker, weighing 40 grams, lasts in the region of 10 years?

Dr Steven Langerman, Watford, Hertfordshire

Dear Daily Telegraph

SIR – Three pictures of Esther McVey in two days – hurrah! Has she replaced the Duchess of Cambridge as your preferred totty? Thank you on behalf of the older man.

Brian Inns, Chertsey, Surrey

SIR – Thursday’s online edition supplied Friday’s Cryptic Crossword, thus giving me a welcome head start over my wife, who completes the printed version. I wonder if you would consider extending this feature to the racing results?

Stephen McWeeney, Hartburn, Northumberland

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Madam – Last week former government minister Liz O’Donnell called for an end to the “hounding” of Sinn Fein by people who object to their continued cheerleading for the most murderous organization this island has ever seen, namely the Provisional IRA.

Ms O’Donnell is entitled to her viewpoint but I wonder what her thoughts were if she was watching BBC’s Spotlight on Tuesday last about the rape of Mairia Cahill by a member of Sinn Fein’s republican guard in Belfast in 2010. The comparisons with Iran’s Republican Guard are striking.

There, girls who are raped by members of the Republican Guard are investigated by the same grouping, just like Mairia was, and usually found guilty.

In Iran they hang them from a crane. In Catholic Belfast, with the aid of the authorities, they hang them out to dry.

I’ve long held the belief that people in the Catholic communities in the North suffer from Stockholm Syndrome hemmed in as they are by so-called peace walls and oppressed by the tunnel vision of republicans to the point where they not only tolerate the intolerable they support it at the ballot box. Liz O Donnell has no such excuse.

Mairia Cahill needs someone to hound Sinn Fein for justice. I’m sure she’d welcome support from Liz O’Donnell.

Eddie Naughton,

The Coombe,

Dublin 8


Female answers don’t help men

Madam – Brendan O’Connor compliments Enda Kenny on the speech he gave to the Irish Association of Suicidology conference – (“A glimpse of our lost leader,” Sunday Independent, 12 October).

As someone who attended the conference I thought it was indeed a fine speech in which the Taoiseach referred to Paul Quinnett, another speak who addressed the topic: “Why can’t a man be more like a woman?”

The male suicide rate in Ireland is four times that of women. The point Paul Quinnett was making is that men are inherently “wired” differently to women as a result of countless generations of hereditary warrior-like traits being passed from one generation to the next when the name of the game with our forefathers was either kill or be killed.

Mr Quinnett maintains that this results in men being unresponsive to current mental health strategies of encouraging men to seek help. This may work for women but not for men.

He maintains a more proactive approach is needed: “Step in. Step up. Say something. Do whatever it takes to stop some guy from taking that terrifying plunge to oblivion.”

He also highlighted the importance that men place in being needed, not just wanted.

So trying to make a man like a woman will not work in suicide prevention.

Tommy Roddy



Depression needs more compassion

Madam – Tommy Deenihan’s letter (Sunday Independent, 12 October) bemoaning depressed people complaining for claiming social welfare is an utter disgrace.

Just a few days after World Mental Health day Mr. Deenihan portrays the depressed as a burden on society and stigmatises mental illnesses.

It is well known our country has a problem with depression and we can only overcome this if we take a more compassionate view toward those suffering from mental illness. I don’t think anyone would ever claim the State is squandering money by treating cancer patients. Perhaps it may comfort Mr. Deenihan that many depressed people take their own lives in order to become less of a burden on the State and their families.

John Fogarty


Co Wicklow


We need truth from Adams

Madam – When are we going to really get honesty and the truth from Mr Gerry Adams. I feel so sorry for Mairia Cahill and other victims of Sinn Fein/IRA sexual violence, and their kangaroo court.

Are they a mafia/fascist/terrorist/untouchable, above the law? What a shame that they can get away with this. Shame on the people that protect such evil.

Is this the Ireland of the future – lie down, keep quiet, don’t upset the status quo?

Una Heaton,

North Circular Road,



Now Bono can stop looking

Madam – It seems that the long search is over, Bono has finally found what he has been looking for. In an interview with the UKs Observer newspaper last week, Bono said: “We are a tiny little country, we don’t have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known.”

Pride in the name of tax competitiveness, if you like.

It’s funny how the rich view the world. Tax avoidance becomes clever, innovative and somehow competitive. Another way of looking at Bono’s vision is that so-called tax competitiveness is destroying societies everywhere.

The reason governments everywhere have to sell bonds is because industry, the wealth funds that control industry, and personal wealth funds like Bono’s, have very successfully lobbied governments to the point where the profits made now are higher than at any point in history.

Corporations, hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds, then have to find some safe places to put their vast wealth; so, amongst other things, they invest in government bonds, or debt as we call it.

Simple logic suggests that if the vastly wealthy were taxed fairly, then governments everywhere would need to issue less debt bonds. I suspect Bono and his tax competitive friends will pass through the eye of a needle before they will come to see the world as poor people do.

Declan Doyle



Eight glasses is overdoing it

Madam – How disappointing to see Dr Ciara Kelly trot out that old chestnut about drinking at least eight glasses of water per day (Sunday Independent, 12 October).

Yes, the body consists mainly of water and we do need some water daily, but nothing like eight glasses which would just put unnecessary pressure on the bladder and kidneys.

The problem is that no one knows how or when this fallacy began. As one doctor said a few years ago: “I wrote a book on the benefits of water, and in spite of all my research I was unable to find out where this nonsense originated”.

Paul Reilly,




Thanks via Sindo out on the Algarve

Madam – My husband and I took a short break in the Algarve recently. We called into a church to sort out Mass times, then had a cup of coffee in a nearby cafe. As I sat down I reached into my bag to phone home.

It was with shock and dismay that I discovered my phone was not there. I was positive I had taken it with me, but just in case, we hurried back to the hotel to check the room.

It wasn’t there.

So I called reception to report it was missing in case I had mislaid it somewhere around the premises. About 20 minutes later they called me back.

Someone had found the phone in church – I had put it down on a seat while rooting in my bag for some change to light a candle and then forgotten about it.

The person who found it had phoned our home and been told where we were staying. They brought it to the hotel.. It was a great relief to me and a great start to the short holiday.

Out in the Algarve I was able to buy the Sunday Independent, so now I want to say a big thank you to the finder whoever you are.

I noticed that the Sunday Independent is very well read on the Algarve, so I am hoping this message will get through to them, via your newspaper.

(Name and address with Editor)


I don’t mind paying for water

Madam – The people make me sick marching about water charges. They should go to the poor parts of Africa where the poor women have to walk miles for a bucket of dirty water.

Tell them to go back to the 1930’s and 1940’s when we Irish had to go a mile to a pump or a well. They were grumbling about that too, and now that the government has piped all their homes with running water they are still grumbling about paying for it. I am an old age pensioner and I don’t mind paying for my water. I have to pay for everything else.

Phil Cribbin,


Co Kildare


Missing all our children abroad

Madam – Do you miss your daughter or your son/

Both been gone now for so long/

Every room seems empty since they went away/

Do you feel robbed of what should be special years/

Do you anger when some politician speaks/

Of a scheme called job creation/

€50 a week plus welfare payment

Offered to the youth of the nation/

Do you pray every time the phone rings/

That they might be home again/

But the words are the same as before/

“Sorry Mum, can’t make it home this year”/

Another year older, they’re still gone/

We’re invited to pay more for this and that/

Listen to garbage political chat/

Could an election perhaps change all of that/

Missing the love of our children in their prime/

Is indeed, a terrible, terrible crime.

Fred Molloy

Clonsilla, Dublin 15

Sunday Independent


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: