26 October 2014 Ringing

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage to get round the park. A busy day sweep the drive some trouble over a ‘Servas’ visitor won’t answer the phone!

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


David Redfern – obituary

David Redfern was a photographer who captured the Beatles, Louis Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix on tour

David Redfern, music photographer

David Redfern, music photographer, at the London Jazz Festival in 2009 Photo: PHOTOSHOT/GETTY

6:00PM BST 25 Oct 2014


David Redfern, who has died aged 78, was a British photographer noted for capturing jazz musicians and rock stars in live performance.

During the 1960s Redfern became a fixture of London’s jazz scene, photographing artists from home-grown talent such as George Melly and Kenny Ball to visiting greats like Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. He spent his nights darting between smoky Soho venues such as the Marquee Club on Wardour Street and Ronnie Scott’s, a short late-night dash away on Frith Street. “He’s the Cartier-Bresson of jazz,” said the drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich.

However, Redfern’s career was not defined by the genre: “I guess I was in the right place at the right time: swinging London at the start of the Sixties. The British trad jazz phenomenon of the late Fifties was followed by the British rock and pop explosion.”

As the decade progressed he started photographing acts who were recording shows at television studios. On these occasions he took many of his best-known early shots, including a series of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones performing on a tiny box stage in Birmingham for Thank Your Lucky Stars.

From the 1960s Redfern enjoyed unrivalled access to the biggest acts. He photographed John Lennon in top hat and feathers fooling around on the Magical Mystery Tour shoot; Jerry Lee Lewis pummelling his piano with a cowboy-booted foot; and Frank Sinatra lighting up the Albert Hall.

Of all his photographs it was, perhaps, those of Jimi Hendrix which proved most popular. “I was never really into rock ’n’ roll, you know, but Hendrix was special,” he said. “He had a charisma, which helps so much as a photographer, when you have to capture some of that on film.” The stars, however, could be unpredictable — Marlene Dietrich, for example, once had him thrown out of a venue. “If the musician has an attitude, or gives me aggro as a photographer,” said Redfern, “I won’t hang around longer than I have to. You just get the picture and get out.”

The Beatles by David Redfern, taken at Alpha Television Studios in Birmingham in 1963

David Redfern was born on June 7 1936 at Ashbourne in Derbyshire. As a young man he worked for Kodak. “This was to be the last proper job I held,” he later recalled. “With it went all the securities of proper employment. I didn’t know anything about business, but I did know how to take a picture.”

In 1965 the UK Tamla-Motown Revue arrived, and Redfern was there to capture the national tour in vivid colour. Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, the Supremes and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles played a whistle-stop 36 shows, from London to Glasgow.

“Getting the picture was a challenge. You had, perhaps, a couple of numbers in which to do it,” Redfern said. “My favourite artist was Marvin Gaye. But he wasn’t easy to photograph. He had all these wonderful arm movements.”

Marvin Gaye at Television House in Kingsway, London,1964, by David Redfern

Fuelled by his success in Britain, Redfern began attending the big international festivals, including the jazz events in Antibes, Newport and Montreux, as well as stadium rock shows. In America he photographed Hendrix, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan and Louis Armstrong.

In 1980 Redfern became Frank Sinatra’s official tour photographer, replacing Terry O’Neill. He was even asked to take the singer’s passport photograph: “His people got in contact because they wanted a photographer they could trust. I just took four or five pictures, click click click, and handed the film over. I was nervous as hell!”

Redfern also represented other music photographers and built up a vast picture library which grew into the defining record of rock, pop and jazz performance during the past half-century. In 1989 he moved the library into premises in Notting Hill. “We represent over 400 photographers,” he said later, “so we’ve got people employed here just to constantly scan old dupes and negatives for the digital archive.”

In 1995 Redfern’s images of Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk and Coleman Hawkins were included in a series of 10 jazz postage stamps issued by the US post office.

Jimi Hendrix peforming at the Royal Albert Hall, photographed by David Redfern

He published two books of his photographs: Jazz Album (1980), a survey of his pictures of the jazz world; and The Unclosed Eye (1999), in which he offered a selection of 300 photographs from his life’s work.

Since 1992 Redfern had been president of the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies. Although he had been suffering from cancer since 2009, he continued to work until the end of his life, documenting the Vienne Jazz and Juan les Pins festivals this summer. He had hoped to photograph the London Jazz Festival next month.

He sold Redferns Music Picture Library to Getty Images in 2008.

Looking back over his career, he acknowledged that it had perfectly melded his two loves: music and photography. “Of course, the 64,000-dollar question was: could I make a living at it?” he said. “But there was no question that that was what I was going to do. And, what else could I do? I was definitely not up for snapping weddings and parties.”

Redfern received the Milt Hinton Award for Excellence in jazz photography in 2007 and, earlier this year, a Parliamentary Jazz Award for Services to Jazz, presented to him at the Houses of Parliament.

He is survived by his wife Suzy and three children.

David Redfern, born June 7 1936, died October 23 2014


green belt herts The green belt round Stevenage in Hertfordshire. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

Rowan Moore’s discussion of the green belt (“Is it time to rethink the green belt?”, New Review) was partly based on the premise that green belts have proved inviolate since they were first designated. The permanence of green belt is one of its essential characteristics, but this does not mean that green belts are truly unchanging.

Planning policy has always allowed for the review of green belt boundaries in appropriate circumstances. If there are no better alternatives, and green belts do need to be reviewed, the Campaign to Protect Rural England would prefer to see this done strategically rather than through the current piecemeal erosion. Any review would have to take into account the needs of the whole of the relevant green belt area and consider the reasons for designating land in the first place.

Ultimately, the green belt does not exist to provide recreational land or to protect landscape and biodiversity; it is there to protect the character of towns and villages and encourage urban regeneration.

Matt Thomson

Campaign to Protect Rural England

London SE1

The problem with the green belt lies in our need to own space. The Englishman’s view of his home as his castle has led to the two-dimension sprawl of matchbox houses across suburbia. Shared outdoor space could lead to a more innovative approach to building on the green belt. We could improve the green belt, building under and around it, interlocking with each other and sharing space in three dimensions. Shared parks, allotments and play areas could save space. It’s time to rethink how we plan our suburbs.

George Wade

Architect, ALL Design

London SW11

Oxford is no longer a tight-knit medieval town with a few charming Victorian suburbs; it is economically and socially intertwined with the towns and villages around it, which, as much as the green belt countryside, represent the “setting” of Oxford. This interdependency makes transport a key issue and road congestion as well as air pollution are at crisis level.

Planning functions for this city region are in the hands of five different authorities, while a sixth, the county council, is responsible for transport policy. Oxford and Oxfordshire cry out for properly coordinated, rigorous planning and transport policies based on pragmatic common sense, and objective analysis of the facts, not tainted by political antagonism.

A university-commissioned report last year, The Oxford Innovation Engine, identified the potential for an additional contribution from the region to the national economy of “at least” £1bn, if the constraints were removed. Foremost of the constraints is the infrastructure – housing, employment space and transport systems. We have to look not at how we can prevent development but how we can do it to the benefit of future generations.

Suggesting that all we need to do to preserve the setting of our city, towns and villages, to prevent “urban sprawl” and to safeguard our countryside is to keep green belts intact is naive. Our own report, Oxford Futures , sets out some suggestions for a way forward. To denounce these ideas on the grounds that they might fail as a result of corruption, while clinging to patently inadequate, 65-year-old legislation in the belief that this way lies salvation from the concrete jungle, is nonsense.

Peter Thompson

Chairman, Oxford Civic Society

Your article did not include the equally important national parks. Here on the overcrowded south coast urban strip, our green belt is effectively the new South Downs national park and I dare say others fulfil similar functions in other parts of England. All play an important part in preserving natural landscape heritage and once built on they are gone forever.

Dr James Walsh

West Sussex county councillor


W Sussex

fat man Will obesity be classified as a disability? Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Your front-page story “NHS chief urges hospital staff to join gyms in anti-obesity fight” (News) highlights how important an issue obesity is becoming for employers but a case currently before the European court of justice may have the effect of treating obesity as a disability.

English law doesn’t attribute blame; it only looks at the employee’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Where an employee’s ability is considerably hampered by obesity the employer has a duty to consider making reasonable adjustments, no matter what the underlying cause may be, and implementing reasonable changes could be costly.

Provided schemes such as subsidised gym membership are aimed at all employees, and participation is voluntary, then they do not give rise to any particular concerns. But where employers form individual judgments about the causes of obesity, possibly ones about lifestyle or eating habits, without medical input, they may be accused of acting on stereotypical assumptions. Claims of discrimination may ensue, depending on whether obesity is treated as a disability.

Ellen Temperton

Lewis Silkin LLP

London EC4

Higher education policy wrong

In “The Observer was wrong: our higher education policy is progressive” (News), David Willetts states that increasing the full-time undergraduate fee so that it covers the full cost of teaching most subjects is “a progressive policy spreading educational opportunity and funding it on a fair basis”. What he does not acknowledge is that by introducing what is in effect a voucher system the government has completed the task of turning higher education into a private good, the benefits accruing to the individual alone, rather than to both the individual and society. Willetts should admit that, as in the NHS, social welfare and social housing, the aim of the government’s higher education policy is to shrink the state and privatise what is left.

Roger Brown

Emeritus professor of higher education policy, Liverpool Hope University

A clear statement from the pope

The Roman Catholic church will always be judged on how it engages with victims and survivors of abuse (“The sins of the fathers”, Magazine). Unfortunately, the account of the experience of victims in relation to the then Verona Fathers reflects a stark difference of attitude from that of Pope Francis.

I was present at the mass where Pope Francis addressed all victims and survivors of abuse in a Catholic church setting. Where the leader of the now Comboni Missionaries indicates that if anyone (and note the qualification) has been hurt by one of its priests his thoughts and prayers are with them, Pope Francis identified the experience of survivors of abuse and humbly asked forgiveness. He even more profoundly begged forgiveness of those who were not believed or listened to and he praised the courage of survivors in coming forward, recognising how difficult that is in itself.

Evidence shows that paedophiles have on average at least four victims and often significantly more the longer they remain undetected, a profoundly painful reality that all of us in the Catholic church need to recognise. Victims and survivors of abuse will only believe statements from the church when private practice matches public pronouncements.

Pope Francis this year, by approving the removal from ministry of an archbishop accused of abuse who was a papal nuncio and placing him under house arrest and subject to trial in Vatican State, is making a clear statement of intent to all victims.

“The sins of our fathers” shows just how far we yet have to go. Thank you for publishing it.

Danny Sullivan

Chair, National Catholic Safeguarding Commission for England and Wales

TV drama needs a new approach

In his advocacy of contemporary television (“Is British drama taking enough risks?”, New Review), Dominic Savage ignores the way the centralised economics of the industry dictate the kind of programmes that television offers.  In the 50s and 60s, one-off plays made economically in the studio went out to huge audiences.

Savage argues that “at its best, British TV drama is now able to rival that of films”. Fifty years ago, teledrama was streets ahead of British cinema. All teledrama except soaps is now made on film and uses the grammar of cinema, much of it wasted on all but the swankiest domestic screens. Viewers are happy to watch sitcoms and chat shows made in studios on multi-camera video. They would surely accept drama made like this. Such a form would allow writers to widen the output’s narrow consensus.

W Stephen Gilbert

Corsham, Wilts

Why Labour voters love Nicola

Although a Labour member for over 50 years, I must join Kevin McKenna in welcoming the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s first minister (“A timely ascent to the throne by Nicola Sturgeon”, Comment). She worked in the deprived area of Drumchapel for five year and she uses the word “equality” more often than all the Labour leaders put together. If Labour wants to stop her winning the votes of the many Labour supporters who backed independence, then it must offer them policies that tackle poverty, oppose the welfare cuts and promote public services.

Bob Holman



The country has needed a constitutional convention for at least a century (“Stop changing laws behind closed doors”, 19 October).

If it is to serve any useful purpose it would not just look at the West Lothian question and devolution in general but at the monarchy, the House of Lords, the voting system and the relationship between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

The Americans sorted this out over the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia but British refusal to think that there is ever anything better than muddling along ensures that a convention will never happen. Shame.

Simon Sedgwick-Jell


David Goodhart is over-optimistic if he thinks that extending the time immigrants must wait before they can use the public services and benefits system will allay opposition to them (“My proposal that could keep us in Europe”, 19 October). The standard complaint is that they take our jobs and live off benefits. Letting them in provided they have work would simply emphasise the first prong of the fork.

Harvey Cole

Winchester, Hampshire

The comment by Martin Vander Weyer on the failure of capitalism is both timely and apt (“Shareholders are the only ones who can heal capitalism now”, 19 October). Excessive executive pay is at the heart of the problem. Regardless of whether a company has performed well executives receive higher pay awards and bonuses. And pay at the bottom is frozen or insufferably low.

Some of these employees will claim benefits to support themselves and their families. In other words the state is subsidising business and executive pay.

Ideally, shareholders should put a stop to this. But many of them are large companies whose own executives enjoy high pay. Small shareholders are too few and widely dispersed. A concerted effort is needed from all quarters; the Opposition, the trade unions and those shareholders who see beyond their short-term interests. Let’s put an end to such self-interested greed.

Elizabeth Chell

Lyndhurst, Hampshire

The Question Time audience was right to show its disapproval of Angela Eagle’s point-scoring at Lord Freud’s embarrassment over his disability remarks (“We owe a debt to Lord Freud” 19 October). We are in danger of becoming a society in which those expressing off-message remarks on sensitive but important issues are pilloried by sanctimonious zealots who believe only one politically correct viewpoint is possible. Whatever happened to nuanced debate?

Stan Labovitch

Windsor, Berkshire

I was intrigued by Simmy Richman’s piece about the adaptation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes under the title Stink Foot at an east London theatre. Stinkfoot was the name of the first venture into musical theatre by the late great Bonzo Dog alumnus Vivian Stanshall, which somehow made it into the West End. It apparently featured singing lobsters, but maybe Viv would have been impressed by a later loftier conception bearing his work’s name alluding to Newton’s Principia Mathematica in which the cast were covered in treacle. Is writer/director Jeff James a closet Bonzo fan?

Simon Ashley

Harwich, Essex

It is preposterous for the European Union to demand an additional £1.7bn from the UK just because we have been prudent and are performing economically better than poor old Germany or France.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

Bucksburn, Aberdeen

I was disappointed to read in Steve Connor’s article on Jack the Ripper that “Kosminski …. died in a lunatic asylum” (19 October). That may have been the 19th-century terminology but as we are working hard to eradicate the stigma attached to mental illness, I would have hoped to read mental hospital or almost any term that avoids “lunatic”.

Dr Carol Henshaw

Sandbach, Cheshire


This Polish delicatessen in east London is a typical example of a business that has become part of the community This Polish delicatessen in east London is a typical example of a business that has become part of the community

European migrants are part of the fabric of British society

UKIP supporters complain about the influx of eastern Europeans (“PM threatens quotas for EU workers”, News, last week). I am a second- generation Pole, and my response is this: we fight in your wars, we pray in your churches and we share your family values. We do not attempt to change your society for the benefit of our community and yet our presence still offends many.
Mark Kozlowski

Staffing crisis

I have an elderly relative who suffers from dementia and lives in a care home. Most of her carers are migrants, who arrive here unskilled and receive dementia training, as in many care homes and hospitals.

If David Cameron is successful in limiting the numbers of unskilled workers, how does he propose to ensure adequate staff are available to help our older citizens? Policy should relate to the situation on the ground rather than pander to prejudice.
Richard Arthur
London N6

Soming home to roost

Adam Boulton is correct (“Spineless Cameron is letting Farage’s foxes into the Tory henhouse”, Comment), but it is not just Cameron’s fault. Conservatives who appreciate the hard-working values that countless immigrants have brought have stayed silent. They are also silent on the economic and security benefits of EU membership.

Before the Tory hens start laying more Ukip-flavoured eggs, those MPs elected on core Conservative principles of low taxes, safer streets, a free NHS at the point of delivery, respect for all and a reward for hard work had better start to crow.
David Boddy
Twickenham, London

Power handover

Cameron says the British people are “my boss”, but the only reason Westminster is entertaining the idea of leaving the EU is the formidable challenge presented by Ukip. If the Conservative party — or Labour — wins the next election, it will be business as usual of handing more British sovereignty to Brussels.
Roger Hayes
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Hollow victory

The defection of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless to Ukip has been presented as a triumph for the party. On the contrary, it represents the triumph of the politically correct establishment, blunting the party’s radical edge. The Ukip dream is surely dead.
Bill Marsh
By email

Rich pickings

Ukip, latter-day Thatcherites, lacks the intelligence to see that the oligarchs and foreign corporations taking slices of our property and industry have become a long-term economic problem. Irrationally, the party likes to vilify skilled, working migrants.
George Colerick
London W14

Promoting debate on wages for disabled

MANY excellent points can be drawn from Dominic Lawson’s column on Lord Freud and the fallout from his comments on the disabled and minimum wages (“Lord Freud’s slip I don’t mind, but the confected outrage disgusts me”, Comment, last week). It’s sad that politics has come to this and especially that a well-meaning public servant has been vilified in such a way.

I have an 18-year-old son with Asperger’s and I want him to derive happiness and purpose from work even if we have to top up his wages. His mother gave his employer the £5 an hour he was paid in his first Saturday trainee role, as he was not hired on a commercial basis; it was to help him develop his social skills and confidence.

I employ 180 people in a dynamic mid-size company, and all have to contribute fully. The discussion of a lower wage or top-ups is entirely relevant and it’s healthy that the subject was raised and is now in the wider public domain.

David Kelly


Employment exchange

All credit to Lawson for writing a sensitive article containing good common sense. Having worked in the employment field with school-leavers of mixed ability, I can well remember the challenge of finding work for them. One particular girl could neither read nor write but was placed in a supermarket to fill shelves, using the pictures on the labels of tins and packets. She was very pleased to be working and proved a loyal and diligent employee.

Her placement was part of a government training scheme in which she was paid £25 a week. I’m going back to the 1980s, but couldn’t this experience equate to the basic minimum wage? Give financial assistance to employers for the time it takes to train and supervise those of us who need extra help.

Liz Dahl

Pewsey, Wiltshire

Elderly treated like infants in hospital

THANKS to Nicci Gerrard for a poignant article on old age (“Once we were young”, Style, last week). My own father died almost two years ago, and he too was a highly intelligent, unfailingly courteous, reserved and dignified gentleman.

In hospital, towards the end of his life, nobody seemed interested in what he used to be. He too was addressed as “dear” or “darling” or as part of the ubiquitous “we”. He hated it. I hated it.

I know that elderly patients need a lot of time and care in an NHS system that is hugely overstretched. But at a time when their dignity is already compromised by their need for help with everyday tasks such as washing, dressing and feeding, surely we can still grant them the courtesy of a polite form of address. They should be accorded just as much respect at the close of their life as they were in its heyday.

Katharine Nell

Great Boughton, Cheshire

Omission statement

Labour has promised more “doctors and nurses”, and now you report that “Labour pledges wait of 7 days for test results” (News, last week). There is a shortage of radiologists, and while image interpretation can be outsourced, performing the tests and the interpersonal skills required to put the patients at ease at a difficult time cannot. Michael Sleight (former radiographer)

Castle Donington, Leicestershire

Bonus question

Construction contracts usually contain a penalty clause about late completion, but this is enforceable only if there is an equivalent bonus for early completion. While I disagree with doctors getting a bonus for doing their job (£55 for diagnosing dementia in England), perhaps they should get an equivalent penalty for a non-diagnosis or misdiagnosis.

Peter Jensen

Skipness, Argyll

Polls apart on assisted dying for aged

YOUR YouGov poll seemed to indicate only 48% supported the actions of 86-year-old Jean Davies in taking her own life (“Starving myself to death is hell, but the law leaves me no choice”, News, last week).

The questions asked apparently made no reference to an individual’s age, and did not inquire who would assist in someone’s suicide. In March 2013 in an ICM opinion poll 70% agreed that a mentally competent “very elderly” adult suffering unbearably from various health problems should be legally allowed to receive a doctor’s assistance to die, if it was their persistent request.

A fortnight before she died, I told Jean (whom I knew well for 20 years) about this ICM poll. It did not in any way influence her decision to continue with her fast, but she smiled and thanked me for this information.

Michael Irwin (Society for Old Age Rational Suicide) Cranleigh, Surrey

Death duty

When I was a young doctor, it was implicit that there were patients whose last days and hours were distressing beyond belief but whom we could assist to a bearable death. That is what we did, without drama or reproach.

Politicisation of death has allowed merciless endings to replace what could have been the rounding-off of a life of commitment and service.

Vivien Sleight

By email


Osborne’s pension plan

Becky Barrow in the feature “Hitting the pension jackpot” (Focus, last week) does not mention the recipient of the greatest payout — the Treasury. It will be the winner because it will be collecting income tax many years earlier on amounts taken by pensioners that would otherwise have been taxed gradually over the life of their annuities. Perhaps this is all a cunning plan by the chancellor, George Osborne, to bring down the deficit without anyone noticing how.

Jan Manning

West Chiltington, West Sussex

Vintage wardrobe

As I dressed in my Thames-mud-coloured baggy linen overshirt (with hole-showing vest underneath), teamed with trousers in a shade of pale cream cracker, I rejoiced in my sartorial independence (“Colour is life”, India Knight, Style, last week). The point about ageing is that you can dress as you like. No one is looking at you.

Abigail Watson


Wrongful prosecution

It seems that police have insufficient resources to prosecute those who are driving an international epidemic of child sexual abuse today, yet they have plenty of manpower to prosecute ageing entertainers to the ends of the earth over historic cases. Something is not right.

Name and address withheld

Coup de gras

The anti-foie-gras vigilantes in Primrose Hill (aka the London Vegan Actions group) have vowed to carry on protesting until they stop a north London butcher selling the delicacy (“Battle of Primrose Hill over butcher’s foie gras”, News, last week). They are entitled to object but they do not have a divine right to stop him selling it and they certainly don’t have the right to tell us what we should and should not eat.

Bill Hollowell,


Cheap shot

Jamie Blandford, the 12th Duke of Marlborough, is fair game for a bit of sport with his record of drug convictions, even though addiction is actually an illness and more to be pitied than damned (“Bloody good show, what — giving this halfwit a duke’s pad”, Rod Liddle, Comment, last week). But for Liddle to refer to the much-loved Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, saviour of a national treasure such as Chatsworth House, as “some woman called ‘Debo’ Cavendish”, mocking her reference to a tea date with Adolf Hitler, is childish.

Deborah Condon

Shaftesbury, Dorset

He’s my man

Please ask Katie Glass to take me with her if she gets to meet Leonard Cohen (“Next on my bucket list: meeting my heroes — preferably in the pub”, Magazine, last week). I’ve kept the faith since my boyfriend (and husband now of 44 years) put the Songs of Leonard Cohen album on my record player in 1968, so I qualify. I won’t be any trouble — she can do the talking.

Lynne Birch

Totnes, Devon

Penalty decision

There is a lot of discussion on whether or not Sheffield United should re-engage Ched Evans, given the sexual offence he was convicted of (“Sexes split on return of rapist footballer”, News, last week). Surely this is not a decision for the club to be making but one that the Football Association should be responsible for — a decision that should have been made when he was convicted, not on his release from prison.

David Hay

Washington, Tyne and Wear

Corrections and clarifications

A story on the use of a personal services company (“Top council earner avoids income tax”, News, August 24) reported that a person paid by dividends “faces only flat-rate corporation tax”.This was incorrect: such income would also be subject to dividend tax, depending on when the dividends were paid out in the life of the company.

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


Nicola Adams, boxer, 32; Douglas Alexander, shadow foreign secretary, 47; Hillary Clinton, former US secretary of state, 67; Pat Conroy, novelist, 69; Audley Harrison, boxer, 43; Austin Healey, rugby player, 41; Seth MacFarlane, animator, 41; Sir Andrew Motion, former poet laureate, 62; Julian Schnabel, film director, 63; Rita Wilson, actress, 58


899 Alfred the Great dies; 1764 William Hogarth, painter, dies; 1863 the FA is founded; 1881 Gunfight at the OK Corral, Tombstone, Arizona; 1994 Israel and Jordan sign peace treaty ending 46 years of war; 2002 death of 130 hostages and the 40 Chechen separatists holding them when Russian forces storm the Dubrovka Theatre in Moscow


Much of the available fresh produce in supermarkets is sold in bulk Photo: ALAMY

6:56AM BST 25 Oct 2014


SIR – It is a welcome admission from the Waitrose supermarket chief that supermarkets are 20 years out of date in their conceptions of weekly shops by their customers.

Perhaps now we will see the end of vegetables and fruits in ready-packed weights, designed to boost sales but targeted at families. Singles of all ages do not want so much produce bought in that way because they waste much of it. Can we please see a return to vegetables and fruits being sold loosely, so that customers can choose exactly what they want?

If the supermarkets want to help large families, they can give a discount for weights sold over a certain limit, thus allowing all customers the choice.

Joyce Chadwick
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

SIR – When Tesco and the other major supermarkets came into our lives some 50-plus years ago, they were able to employ buyers and managers with expertise from the many wholesale fruit, meat and fish markets of those days, as well as grocers who knew their business and how to control it.

The overwhelming growth of the supermarket has been responsible for the demise of most of these businesses, and the talent pools that they had previously plundered have subsequently dried up.

The majority of their skilled staff have now retired and supermarkets are being run by a generation relying on computer-fed information, with no hands-on experience of the commodities under their control.

George Wilkie
Hemingford Grey, Huntingdonshire

SIR – While I admire Samantha Shelford’s tenacity in searching out the best shopping deals (“The supermarket supershopper”) I would not want to be behind her in the checkout queue.

I dread the moment when the shopper in front of me opens their purse or wallet and, in place of a card, produce a copious collection of discount coupons.

Roger Gentry
Sutton at Hone, Kent

Ghoulish grin: swede lanterns, popular in decades gone by, have now ceded to the pumpkin  Photo: alamy

6:58AM BST 25 Oct 2014


SIR – As a child growing up in the Forties and Fifties, we always scooped out turnips to make our Hallowe’en lanterns; when I moved south, it was swede lanterns for my own children.

In either case, it was jolly hard work scooping them out, but at least the contents were an immediate asset as a cooked vegetable for the dinner table. I am interested to know when it was that pumpkin lanterns became the fashion – presumably arriving here from America. I understand they are now grown by the million in British fields.

Isobel Whatrup
Gillingham, Kent

Experiments with drugs at the end of a patient’s life could cause unnecessary suffering Photo: ALAMY

7:00AM BST 25 Oct 2014


SIR – As a doctor who has worked in palliative care, I would advise caution with regard to the Medical Innovation Bill.

I have seen countless patients mis-sold chemotherapy in the last weeks of their lives, leading to avoidable consultations, hospital stays and toxic side effects. Expanding oncologists’ drug catalogue to treatments without an evidence base will make these “last ditch” attempts all the more appealing.

Perhaps the Bill should stipulate that a palliative care specialist should be the second doctor to sign off the intervention?

Dr Aaron Hughes
London NW3

SIR – We, along with many other medical organisations, have repeatedly voiced our concerns about this Bill, and believe it should not be passed into law.

Doctors are already able to try innovative treatments, as long as they do so within a governance framework designed to protect patients. The current law on medical negligence is framed to deter clinical interventions that risk harm to patients out of proportion to the potential benefits, and the BMA is not aware of any evidence which shows innovative and potentially successful treatments not being trialled because of the threat of litigation.

During consultation the Bill has been improved to put back some of the patient safety protections missing from early drafts. It’s less unsafe than it was, but will do nothing to bypass the court review whose removal was the original reason for the Bill.

What patients need is better support for scientifically based medical research, but what they will get is a Bill that undermines the established principles of patient safety.

Dr Mark Porter
British Medical Association
London WC1

Easy listening

SIR – Your correspondent who takes me to task for back-announcing the slow movement of Beethoven’s sonata Pathétique on Classic FM with the words “But you probably know it better as More than Love by Ken Dodd” (Letters, October 24) is clearly suffering from an inability to differentiate between philistinism and a sense of humour.

Mercifully, Classic FM has never fallen into the trap of believing that those who know and love classical music are unaware of popular culture. I myself subscribe to Dame Margot Fonteyn’s dictum that “To take one’s job seriously is imperative; to take oneself seriously is disastrous.”

Alan Titchmarsh
Holybourne, Hampshire

Cheap flights

SIR – Your report Fly to the US for less than £100 (first stop Iceland)” reminded me of my first trip to the United States on Icelandic Airlines, 50 years ago.

At that time it was the cheapest way to cross the Atlantic. The stipulation was that one had to stop overnight in Reykjavik. Although the first stage of the flight from Glasgow was by jet, the Reykjavik to New York leg was by a propeller-driven aircraft that vibrated a lot.

Benjamin Smith
Frinton on Sea, Essex

Family dilemma

SIR – One of your headlines yesterday was Let parents take children out of school for holidays”.

Who will clean their teeth?

Peter Wickison

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Sunday 26 October 2014

Madam – Thank you for the great coverage on the terrible sexual violence against Mairia Cahill. Every page told it how it is. I hope this will not be forgotten about. We are great in this country for quickly forgetting and sweeping things as grave as this under the carpet. Shame on those who allow the victims of Sinn/Fein/IRA violence to be forgotten. It was disturbing to watch RTE’s Primetime on Thursday evening. For 10 minutes while the Mairia Cahill abuse was discussed, Sinn Fein/IRA were shamelessly absent . What a pity that RTE devoted so little time to this extremely shocking time in Mairia Cahill’s life .

Published 26/10/2014 | 02:30

Madam – Thank you for the great coverage on the terrible sexual violence against Mairia Cahill. Every page told it how it is. I hope this will not be forgotten about. We are great in this country for quickly forgetting and sweeping things as grave as this under the carpet. Shame on those who allow the victims of Sinn/Fein/IRA violence to be forgotten. It was disturbing to watch RTE’s Primetime on Thursday evening. For 10 minutes while the Mairia Cahill abuse was discussed, Sinn Fein/IRA were shamelessly absent . What a pity that RTE devoted so little time to this extremely shocking time in Mairia Cahill’s life .

Sinn Fein are trying to rewrite history.

Una Heaton,


Sunday Independent

Madam – The case of Mairia Cahill points to a very challenging issue and raises further questions about Sinn Fein that demand answers.

Gerry Adams seems to have a uniquely clear appreciation of what did and did not go on in the IRA, describing as he does “their acting as a police force, IRA members were singularly ill-equipped to deal with such matters. The IRA on occasions shot alleged sex offenders or expelled them. While this may have been expedient at the time, it was not appropriate.”

Sinn Féin are masters at the art of language abuse. Shooting has become “not appropriate” but is not condemned perhaps because it was either authorised or condoned from the top. As a loud and oft proclaimed “non-member” of the IRA how does Mr. Adams have such detailed knowledge of their activities? Has he reported these matters to the police as he now exhorts others to do? Will he do so now even at this late stage?

While the current revelations by Ms. Cahill are disgusting, and degrading, not to mention so distressing for her parents and family, all normal people will be full of regard and respect for her courage and will want to see her situation properly and rightly investigated. But bad as the perpetration of sexual violence is, and it is horrible, what about all the other violence visited on children such as beatings, knee-cappings. If Mr. Adams knew such details about IRA policing of sexual violence, is it not reasonable to presume that he knows lots more about other forms of violence. It is reported too that Mary Lou McDonald, claims Sinn Féin has no information on child abuse. This seems an extraordinary claim.

A political party, seeking a mandate from the electorate, aligned very closely to a proscribed organisation, needs very careful examination by voters so that we know exactly what we are voing for. Every political party standing for election should make an explicit statement on their attitude to coalition with Sinn Féin, and all elected members of the Dáil Éireann should take an oath of allegiance to this State. Decency is a term much used by Mary Lou McDonald. Will she join with all right- thinking people in admiring the decency, the integrity and the courage of the McConville children, the McCartney Sisters, Mairia Cahill and indeed Eilis O’Hanlon of the Sunday Independent for highlighting in a manner that we can no longer ignore, the darker side of our past and its ability to undermine our very democracy.

Shay O’Donoghue, Stillorgan, Co Dublin


Mairia’s story was too long hidden

Madam – When any group takes unto itself, without reference to objective moral norms or without legal authority, the role of being arbiter of right and wrong for its community there is the ultimate inevitably of mayhem, brutality and murder.

That sad reality is gradually becoming ever more clear in relation to the activities over thirty years of the Provisional IRA and their parallel [at the very least] fellow-travellers Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland of ‘The Troubles’ era.

The Provisionals established their ghettos and took upon themselves the right to determine how each person should behave and to whom they should be answerable. Failure to comply led to beatings, knee- cappings, tarring and feathering and ultimately to brutal murders. Much of this was given the gloss of being in defence of a beleaguered people or clothed with words that gave a veneer of respectability. Thus for all too long we have heard of ‘The Disappeared’, as if they walked voluntarily into the setting sun. The cruel truth is that they were kidnapped, brutalised, shot and callously buried in lonely bogs far from home and loved ones.

Mairia Cahill’s terrible story of being raped and arrogantly interrogated is another manifestation of the reality that has for too long remained hidden.

It is high time that we all treated with great caution those who make great play of their new- found love for freedom and democracy

Fascists- types rarely change their spots. They simply relocate.

Councillor Michael Gleeson, Killarney, Co Kerry


Knee-cappings and beatings are abuse

Madam – Sinn Fein Vice President, Ms. Mary Lou McDonald, is reported as claiming that the party has no information on child abuse. Does she really believe that punishment beatings and kneecappings of children is not real child abuse and does she really believe that Sinn Fein had no involvement in this? Incredible.

Pat O’Mahony, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin


God help us if SF get into power

Madam – Regarding the articles on Mairia Cahill’s ordeal at the hands of Sinn Fein/IRA, the Sunday Independent has done a great public service. Ms Cahill is indeed a very courageous and brave lady, to expose Sinn Fein/IRA for what they are. If this is how they treat one of their own, God help the rest of us if. God forbid, they ever get into Government. As Michelle Mulherin TD states in your ‘paper, the republican movement have acted for years as a law onto themselves with terrible consequences for many who have been maimed or lost their lives.

Noel Peers, Torremolinos, Spain


Mairia’s bravery will help others

Madam – The Mairia Cahill expose as drawn attention to the dark and sinister elements of Sinn Fein that people down here seem to be unaware of. Mary Lou McDonald would be naive, indeed foolish, if she imagined for one minute that the hard men of the IRA in Northern Ireland would allow her to be privy to the business and secrets of their organisation. So when she states, as she has done, that Sinn Fein does not cover up cases of sexual abuse against young women by Sinn Fein/IRA activists she is speaking from a position of ignorance. In the nationalist areas of Belfast and Derry the IRA still rules and they police the local communities with a firm hand. The people know the rules and the consequences of breaking them. They keep their heads down and their mouths shut. Nobody says a word out of line – except, of course Mairia Cahill. Hopefully the bravery of this young woman will encourage others who have been abused to come forward and expose the evil godfathers of power in nationalist Northern Ireland.

Would you want to live in an Ireland governed by a party with such strong links with a group of insidious men in the North of Ireland. Remember one thing about the IRA. As Gerry Adams once famously said, “They haven’t gone away you know.”

Raymond Kernan, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan


Were McConville’s killers “decent?”

Madam – I think I heard Gerry Adams correctly when he said in the Dail (Wednesday, 22 October) that the three republicans who sat in judgement of Mairia Cahill were “decent people.” This begs the question: were the republicans who sat in judgement of widowed mother of ten, Jean McConville, decent people? And were those republicans who sat in judgement of the disappeared also decent people? Does Mr Adams understand the meaning of the word ‘decent’?

Niall Ginty, Killester, Dublin 5


SF must first tell truth about Mairia

Madam – Alice: ‘I mean what I say and I say what I mean. It’s the same thing.’

Mad Hatter: ‘It’s not the same. You might as well say, ‘I eat what I see’ is the same as ‘I see what I eat.’

Such convoluted arguments are the stock in trade of Gerry Adams, for whom we must make allowances.

By his own account, some closest to him were informers, e.g.Denis Donaldson, Sinn Fein’s head of administration, Freddie Scappiaticci, head of internal security.

Paid informers also planted bugs in his offices and cars. So Gerry’s words and meanings had to be deniable – hence repeated denials of links to the IRA.

Moreover, Gerry Adams was born into the narrow Sinn Fein tradition, which subordinates truth to outdated republican beliefs.

Now it seems Sinn Fein’s new cunning plan is to campaign for a border poll, where an enforced united Ireland is achievable – provided demographics in the North produce a 51 per cent vote for political merger with the South. Would the minority 49 per cent then meekly submit to the will of the 51 percenters?


A peaceful consensus is achievable only by first developing a society where wrongs are righted, people reconciled and differences respected. Therefore Sinn Fein must first engage in truthful encounters with those such as Mairia Cahill, before credibly proposing a return of the wide-ranging Haass talks.

Brian Rooney, Downpatrick, Co Down


Mary Lou should believe Mairia

Madam – As Mary Lou “doesn’t believe” the allegations being made against the ‘bearded one’ it would be interesting to know how she came to that conclusion, not having any first hand knowledge of events that happened at that time. Which makes the statement patently ludicrous and obviously just aping the party line.

Liam Heron, Swords, Co Dublin


Most people see through Sinn Fein

Madam – I hold nothing but great admiration for Maíria Cahill, who, since going public with her story has shown immense courage in the face of a concerted effort by Sinn Féin to discredit her. Most right-thinking people see through Sinn Féin’s prevarication and its penchant for euphemisms when offering explanations or evading questions about some indefensible act or other. One thing is certain; Maíria’s story is not going to go away as some might wish.

(Name and address with Editor)


Disgusted at Sinn Fein response

Madam – I have just been reading your distressing articles (Sunday Independent, 19 October) about Mairia Cahill and I am disgusted and slightly frightened by the response from Sinn Fein.

When I think,that there are still people in our country, voting for this party, with all that we know about them, and their links to the IRA it makes me wonder.

Do these voters know about Robert McCartney in Belfast, or Mrs. Quinn in Cullyhanna, who was handed the body of her son Paul, with every bone in his body broken. Don’t forget what Gerry Adams told us: “They have not gone away you know”.

Be afraid, be very afraid!

(Name and address with Editor)


Lucinda’s tip was appreciated

Madam – You recently published an article by Lucinda O’Sullivan encouraging your readers to enjoy the delights of Brittany. This provoked my wife and I to go there and book with four of your suggested hotels. Without exception they were exactly as described. It’s most frustrating trying to identify good French hotels in advance, due to their ridiculous star system, so we were delighted with all your suggestions. Unfortunately only one of the restaurants was  open when we called –  Auberge Du Terroir –  which was excellent. The owner kindly offered to book us a table at a nearby competitor,  Le Guy Du Holme. This proved to be probably the best meal ever in France if not our best meal ever, period.  The trip was a great decision and raised both of our spirits at a time when it was needed.

Thank you for giving us the impetus to go, and for your sterling advice. I would give you ten out of ten for entirely accurate information.With best wishes and keep up the good work.

John and Jackie Phelan, Tralee, Co Kerry

Emer’s lunchtime review criticised

Madam – For the second time in as many weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of attending Bewleys Lunchtime Theatre on Grafton Street. Last Monday, I brought along a visitor from Denver and for a cost of €12 per person, we had a wonderful one man show – ” Patrick Kavanagh ; A Life ” by PJ Brady , plus an excellent bowl of soup and home made brown bread. At the end of the show, a lady sitting beside me spoke in very irate terms about Emer O’Kelly’s review in the Sunday Independent, which I later read and found it to be grossly unfair. The show info describes Kavanagh as ” dishevelled poet, whiskey drinker and curmudgeon.” In her review Ms O’Kelly states “Curmudgeon is a polite term for a loutish ignoramus ” The many definitions of that word I’ve read all seem to say it represents an ill-tempered person, stubborn and bad mannered. She states that Brady is also ” physically utterly unlike Kavanagh,” which is both petty and inaccurate. . This is lunchtime theatre, Emer, not The Royal Shakespeare Company. Get a Life.

Tom Savage, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin


Party politics has failed the people

Madam – Eddie Molloy’s article on ‘Moral Compasses’ (Sunday Independent, 12 October) hits the spot. Like many of our educated young people, democracy has also left our shores.

Successive Irish governments have proven the party political system has failed the Irish people and demoralised the nation.

Joe Brennan, Co Cork


Church in Dublin is far from dead

Madam – Your editorial of last Sunday (Time for politics to find new way) refers to the tragedy and shame of child abuse in the ‘once all-powerful Catholic church’ , deeming that ‘all that is left of the Church in Ireland is (sic) the current skeletal remnants’.

In my opinion the pastoral life and fidelity in Dublin parishes at least, with whom I am familiar, certainly does not answer that description.

Despite the damage incurred, local Christian communities are certainly not ‘dead’ (as in skeleton)

Tom Stack, Milltown, Dublin 6

Will owes Sean an apology

Madam – The cover headline for Will Hanafin’s interview with Donald Trump (Sunday Independent Life magazine, 19 October). was scandalous, hurtful and offensive to Sean O’Rourke. How would Will Hanafin’s family or Will Hanafin himself feel if the RTE Guide had a front cover emblazoned with the headline “Will Hanafin is a dick head?” He would not like it one little bit.

Will owes Sean an apology.

William Carroll, Mountmellick, Co Laois

Sunday Independent



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