2 November 2014 Grass

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 clear the leaves from the lawn

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


Anita Cerquetti – obituary

Anita Cerquetti was an Italian soprano who commuted between Naples and Rome to stand in for a troubled Maria Callas in 1958

Anita Cerquetti in a signed photograph showing her performing in Vincenzo Bellini 's 'Norma'

Anita Cerquetti in a signed photograph showing her performing in Vincenzo Bellini ‘s ‘Norma’ Photo: Private Collection/Lebrecht

6:23PM GMT 31 Oct 2014


Anita Cerquetti, who has died aged 83, was an Italian dramatic soprano with a magnificent voice who famously substituted for Maria Callas in January 1958; three years later, however, she retired from the stage while at the peak of her career.

Cerquetti had been singing the title role in Bellini’s Norma in Naples when Callas, who had been singing the same part in Rome, walked out after the first act on opening night. Despite Callas’s claim that her voice was troubling her, the incident — in front of President Giovanni Gronchi of Italy — created a major scandal.

Fortunately, the performances in Rome and Naples were on alternate dates. For several weeks Anita Cerquetti commuted the 140 miles between the two opera houses, an achievement that earned her widespread praise but left her exhausted.

Previously she had attracted attention for her work, which had largely been in Italy with many of the leading singers of her time, among them Giulietta Simionata and Flaviano Labò. However, soon she stopped signing contracts and, after a concert in Amsterdam in 1961, was heard no more.

Speculation has persisted about her withdrawal: physical infirmity, the stress of performing life, the perceived rivalry with Callas, and the desire to have a family have all been mentioned. Whatever the reason — or reasons — hers was a remarkable voice.

Anita Cerquetti was born in Montecosaro, on the east coast of Italy, on April 13 1931. As a teenager she moved to Città di Castello in Umbria. She spent eight years playing the violin and giving concerts. However, when she was 16, a bassoon professor heard her singing Gounod’s Ave Maria at a friend’s wedding. He insisted that her voice had potential and urged her to take lessons. “I discovered a big thing,” she said. “I could communicate.”

After a year studying with Aldo Zeetti in Perugia, Anita defied her teacher to enter a competition in Spoleto in 1951. She took first place and made her debut in the opera house there, singing the title role in Aïda. After that, she recalled, “all the cards fell into place. Every opera house showed interest in me, and my career exploded like a meteor.”

During the 1950s she sang in Il Trovatore in Verona, Nabucco at La Scala, Milan, and other works largely by Rossini and Verdi around Italy. She also recorded Ponchielli’s La Gioconda with Maria Del Monaco and Cesare Siepi for Decca.

After her Rome-Naples triumph, Anita Cerquetti had been due to sing Bellini’s Il Pirata in Palermo. However, not having learnt the role, she asked to withdraw, leading to suggestions that she could no longer remember a part, and even that she had a brain disease. “It wasn’t that I’d lost my memory; it was simply that I hadn’t studied,” she insisted many years later.

She had been due to appear at Covent Garden in July 1958, succeeding Callas in Aïda. However, on this occasion it was Cerquetti who was laid low, with appendicitis .

American audiences fared slightly better: in 1955 Cerquetti sang Amelia in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at Chicago Lyric Opera under Tullio Serafin, while in 1957 her sole New York appearance was at the Town Hall in Gluck’s Paride ed Elena. She turned down offers from Rudolf Bing to appear at the Met because of the amount of time she would have to be away from Italy.

Anita Cerquetti could be dismissive of modern composers. “I never accepted contemporary works, and it is my conviction that today’s composers — Berio, Nono, Stockhausen and a number of others — loathe singers and are hell-bent on wrecking their voices,” she told one interviewer. “It is a form of sadism which perhaps is unconscious.”

In retirement she lived in Rome with her husband, Edo Ferretti, and their daughter.

Anita Cerquetti, born April 13 1931, died October 11 2014


The European Union flag flies alongside those of member states at the European parliament in Strasbourg. The European Union flag flies alongside those of member states at the European parliament in Strasbourg. Photograph: Frederick Florin/Getty

Will Hutton makes some telling points about the cross-border tasks that Europe needs to tackle co-operatively – climate change, air traffic control, overfishing, etc (“This crude assault on Europe strikes at the very heart of Enlightenment values”, Comment). But his obsession with the need for open borders blinds him to the real threat to a progressive future for Europe, which is the rising insecurity of its population. This is the inevitable consequence of ever more open markets, a global obsession with international competitiveness and the ability of big business to use the threat of relocation to cow governments into lowering taxes and allowing real wages and conditions to deteriorate for the majority. We need a debate about replacing the neoliberal Treaty of Rome with a progressive “Treaty of Home”. At its core, this would allow governments to take back control of their economies by grouping together, rejecting international competitiveness and maintaining their borders to allow local economies to flourish. This regained ability to overcome economic insecurity might even tempt today’s resentful electorate back to being genuinely pro-European.

Colin Hines

East Twickenham

Cameron mute on tax dodgers

David Cameron goes red in the face and thumps the lectern protesting about the EU’s £1.7bn bill (“Cameron fury over budget risks alienating European partners”, News). But where is his fury about the money denied the Treasury by legal tax avoiders such as Amazon, Topshop, Vodafone etc, estimated at about £35bn in total? Your leader (“Don’t be evil, tech giants. Pay your taxes”) describes clearly the slimy manipulations these and many other companies and individuals make. By refusing to contribute to the very society that provides their obscene profits, these unethical companies display a greed that acts, through its magnitude, as a key driver of unnecessary public service cuts leading to ever-increasing levels of inequality, poverty and exclusion. Cameron doesn’t care, and this is an open goal for Labour – will they take it?

Max Fishel


In praise of UK hospices

Ed Cumming’s article (“Should we do anything we can to keep people alive? This surgeon says no”, In Focus) disjointedly combined the stories of the difficult deaths of two British women with the views of an American surgeon (with a book to promote). He apparently advocates “improved hospices, of a sort that have begun to crop up in America… [which] concentrate on quality of life, with pets, music and other activities for residents”. An American surgeon might not know that the British hospice movement has been flourishing for 50 years, providing all of this combined with expert pain and symptom control, compassionate care and clinical research. But a British writer should have found this out and it would have been useful to readers to hear this.

Rosemary Cook


Yet more rich consumers

In January last year, the Royal Society published a paper called Can a collapse of global civilisation be avoided?. The message was that civilisation is under threat from the burdens of consumption and population growth. Now your article “High-fliers have more babies, according to study”, (News) tells us wealthy, high-powered women are having large families, up to nine, because they can afford to employ cleaners and nannies. So now we have the biggest consumers producing lots of little big consumers, increasing both population and consumption in one go. And all that an economist can find to say is that it’s “good news for growth”. Oh, joy!

Roger Plenty


Problems of Portsmouth

I have lived my whole life in Portsmouth and worked here for most of it. I love it but I recognise many of the problems identified by Mark Townsend (“The Pompey jihadis”, News). Portsmouth is a city whose history and economy has been built on warfare. It is, I suppose in the DNA. Think of Portsmouth and you think perhaps of the country’s most topsy-turvy football club but probably you think of centuries of naval history. Other English cities can be recalled and imagined through their representations in popular culture or art. But Portsmouth? Almost nothing. Alasdair Gray once wrote: “If a city hasn’t been used by an artist, not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively.” Portsmouth may be in the leafy, privileged south but it is not a part of it. Perhaps at last you see that you ignore us at your peril.

Dr Dave Allen


You don’t need money to get fit

Last week, Barbara Ellen condescendingly asserted that poor people can’t attain or maintain physical fitness because doing so is a prohibitively “expensive and complicated business” (“Poverty, not gluttony, is the cause of obesity”).

A quick look at the world outside of the middle-class professional bubble suggests otherwise. Human beings have always kept in shape in a variety of ways without need for personal trainers, private gym membership, DVDs or flash clothing. What’s more, they still do: are we expected to believe that, for example, the many world-beating athletes from rural Ethiopia and Kenya are either from affluent backgrounds or are unfit? Try exercising the grey matter, Ms Ellen.

Sean Cordell

Whalley Range, Manchester

St. Ives Sunset, Cornwall. Sunset in St Ives in Cornwall. Photograph: Alamy

For the Observer glibly to recommend the splitting of the UK into multiple time zones is disappointing, especially considering the newspaper’s passionate arguments for the continuation of the union less than two months ago (“Let’s see the light and stop putting our clocks back”, editorial).

Having Scotland and England on different times would incur significant costs to business, especially those in the transport, broadcasting and banking sectors. It would also be highly inconvenient to those living close to the border, in either country.

Just as Canada has little choice but to follow the time-related decisions made by the US, I have no doubt that Scotland would feel obliged to follow in England’s steps. It would, however, be a boon to the cause of Scottish nationalism and increase the chances of another independence referendum.

To address the underlying issue, BST in the winter months would bring me, as a resident of the south-east of England, a few minor benefits. Unfortunately they would come at the cost to my nephews, living in the north-east of Scotland, of having to travel to school in the dark for four months of the year. A major disadvantage for a minority should outweigh a minor advantage for the many.

William Hern


In acknowledging the benefits of the extra hour of daylight in the evening on every day of the year if our clocks were put forward by an additional hour, your leader then expresses sympathy for the Scots in the far north, where about one in 1,500 of the UK population lives, as the sun would not rise there until 10am in the depths of winter.

Would not this sympathy be better placed because at present clocks on GMT result in the sun setting there at that time of year before 3pm? This means that, as well as going to school in the dark, children also have to go home in the dark, a far more dangerous time of the day owing to the higher volume of traffic. Surely, sunset at 4pm would be preferable?

Dr Mayer Hillman

Senior fellow emeritus, Policy Studies Institute, London NW3

A move to Central European Time would not end the practice of putting the clocks back in winter and forward in spring. Supporters of CET regularly quote this falsehood.

An experiment with permanent summer time took place from 1968 to 1971 and was abandoned as it was deeply unpopular, even here in Dorset. Portugal abandoned a four-year experiment with CET in 1996. It was found that children didn’t want to go to school in the dark and on summer evenings people couldn’t sleep as it was still daylight. Far from people becoming “healthier” (another falsehood), it caused stress and depression. Russia is set to abandon permanent summer time this autumn as the Russians couldn’t stand the dark mornings.

Terry Miller

Christchurch, Dorset

Your enthusiasm for CET is misplaced: we do not live in central Europe. Nor are Scots’ doubts about the idea primarily driven by their being further north, but by Scotland’s being further west, with Edinburgh about as far west as Bristol. The whole United Kingdom, with the Irish Republic, pretends in winter that its time is that of an eastern suburb of London and in summer that it is an hour later. Central European Time will have people in Scotland and Cornwall pretending they live in Berlin.

The British experiment of 45 years ago – just keeping summer time all year round – did not conclusively demonstrate safety benefits. The sun produces heat as well as light and pretending that 6am is 7am in winter caused ice-related accidents. As for Scots looking south of the border for the “benefits” of your proposal, they can already look well south, to Portugal. In 1992, that country, sharing a long land border with Spain, decided to join it in the Central European Time. After four years the Portuguese reverted to GMT, fed up with their children being unable to get to sleep in their land of the midnight sun.

Alan T Harrison



Having to face years of poverty (front page, 26 Oct) is the grim reality for many people. With working hours being cut, and less opportunity to change direction, the statistics for families living in poverty will increase. Sadly, most leading politicians have no empathy with people living on low incomes. I would suggest they start taking a pay cut themselves, make the corporate tax dodgers pay what they should be paying, and let’s have a Radical Robin Hood Tax.

David Whitaker

Morecambe, Lancashire

Your article “Flagship police descends into farce” (19 Oct) was wide of the mark. The Independent Ethics Committee for policing in Greater Manchester is certainly not there to “oversee” the Police and Crime Commissioner, as your article stated. Our role is to look at issues with an ethical dimension which affect policing and to make suggestions, recommendations and, where necessary, challenge police policy and practice.

We comprise an advisory body which aims both to improve public confidence in the police service in Greater Manchester and, hopefully, to help police deliver a better service to the public. Issues we are examining, or will look into soon, include the use of body-worn cameras, data collection, policing culture and promotion processes. I am astonished that you consider this “plumbing new depths of farce”. I would have thought your newspaper would welcome independent scrutiny of ethics in policing. Our role is entirely different to that of the Police and Crime Panel, which is there to scrutinise the work of the Commissioner.

You did not include in your report the views of any members of our committee or of Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner or PCCs elsewhere in the country. Perhaps you should have done.

Rt Rev David Walker

The Bishop of Manchester

John Rentoul’s piece on the benefits to an election candidate of having a name high up on the ballot paper (“Running for Parliament? Change your name to Aardvark”, 26 Oct) has been dealt with very simply. A system known as “Robson Rotation” has been used in Tasmania since 1980 and in the Australian Capital Territory from 1995. Under this rule, the ballot papers are printed in equal batches, with the order of names rotated, so that each candidate appears in each position with equal frequency. Thus the bias of the alphabetical order is avoided.

Michael Meadowcroft

Leeds LS13

I fear that your editorial is premature (“Era of climate fatalism is over”, 26 Oct). The European Union has done all it can to stitch together an agreement on carbon emissions, but the climate does not respond to non-binding political compromise, only to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It may be encouraging that businesses now recognise that our current path is unsustainable, but so long as international agreements are non-binding, levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will continue to rise.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones

Stoke Poges, Bucks

On Sunday, 12 October, you published (in a letter from Dr S Michael Crawford) a haiku I wrote many years ago. I’m honoured by your interest in this piece of juvenilia, but I’m afraid the text is misquoted. First published in the King Edward VII School Magazine (Sheffield), Spring 1967, it should read: “Many people think / that composing haikus is / just a waste of time”.

John Charles Smith

St Catherine’s College, Oxford

Mark Leftly is being unfair to the Liberal Democrats when he says that they “have been unsuccessful in promoting gender equality in Parliament, with just seven women among 56 MPs” (“Lib Dem women criticise all-male Cabinet team”, 26 Oct). The party wins so few seats compared to the major parties that it is unfair to make a comparison. At the last election 21 per cent of selected candidates were female.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands


French riot police remove stowaways bound for Britain from a lorry at the Calais ferry terminal French riot police remove stowaways bound for Britain from a lorry at the Calais ferry terminal (Pascal Rossigno)

Europeans must join forces to stop flow of illegal migrants

IT MAY seem heartless, but letting in illegal immigrants is unacceptable and is causing grave concern in every host nation (“The promised land”, Magazine, and “Merkel: I will block PM on immigrants”, News, last week).

The vast amount of aid the UK distributes must be used to contain the population growth and religious outrages that are prevalent in the countries from where many of these individuals have come.

As the people traffickers become more sophisticated, what is now a trickle will soon become uncontrollable. Sadly Europe must unite to deport illegals to their home countries in order to break this culture of, and belief in, easy access.
Bill Westsmith
Cobham, Surrey


Identity cards go a long way towards resolving this problem. Most Europeans are astonished the British do not have them.
Sue Cormack


If the eurozone economies continue to stagnate, and if the UK’s finances receive a shot in the arm from the exploitation of shale gas and oil, along with increased export revenues and even greater development of industrial investment, how would opponents of a measured system of controlling migration propose to deal with millions of potential immigrants from the rest of the EU?

The only country in a similar position is Norway, and there is no prospect of it surrendering its border controls in the foreseeable future.
Richard Elsy


It should be clarified that asylum seekers cannot claim jobseeker’s allowance until the claim for asylum is determined, though they may get some support from the government. An asylum seeker also needs permission to work, which is often refused.
Sally Goldman
London NW6


Why should Europe’s leaders be expected to help David Cameron (“Back off, Europe, and cut Cameron some slack”, Editorial, last week)? If they want Britain to stay in an unreformed EU, then making life tough for Cameron and encouraging votes for Ukip is likely to lead to a Labour or a Labour-Liberal Democrat government that would be committed to staying in the EU.
David Lancaster


The billions we contribute to the EU budget would be better spent on reducing our debt and expanding into emerging markets. There is no reason we cannot negotiate trade deals with our European neighbours from outside the EU, as others do.

We can maintain military alliances and co-operate on terrorism and criminal issues, as America does. We are being warned we will lose influence on the world stage, but we are still part of the G7 and Nato. It saddens me that this European experiment has not been a success, as I have been a defender of it for 40 years.
Mike Hunter
Bosham, West Sussex


Would it not be prudent for the prime minister to request a copy of the latest audited accounts before contributing £1.7bn to the EU budget? This should buy him some time.
John Farrow
Newport, Gwent


Your correspondent Mark Kozlowski says of the Poles that “we fight in your wars” (“European migrants are part of the fabric of British society”, Letters, last week). While the contributions the Poles made in wartime are appreciated, it should not be forgotten that the reason we entered into “our war” was that Adolf Hitler invaded Poland.
Derrick Salmon
London NW8


Kozlowski writes that the presence of European migrants upsets many British nationals, but plenty of us can see the advantages of eastern European workers settling here.

Large numbers of them are talented and contribute to the UK’s financial growth, but I wonder why they don’t use their skills to help improve the economies of their homelands. What will happen to these nations if the majority of their talented young people make it an ambition to settle here?
R Roberts


THE chairman of the HS2 project, Sir David Higgins, would have us believe that because of the railway’s high speed it will enable people to commute to London from Birmingham quicker, which apparently means that we can build lots of houses in the Midlands and save the green belt around the capital.

Is destroying the Chilterns and other beautiful parts of Britain a sensible way to save the green belt? Is the green belt round Birmingham any less valuable than the one round London? Does he really expect rail users to make the journey into central Birmingham before a second commute to London?

Higgins should say that the sole aim of HS2 is to enable businesspeople to get to the capital city more quickly and in more comfort at everyone else’s expense. And there are not enough of them to fill 18 trains an hour in each direction, hence the need for commuters.

The £50bn budget should be used to fix the existing problems of commuter overcrowding and to make better connections between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Hull.
Peter Edwards
Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire


I do so agree with Higgins. Our borough council in Guildford, Surrey, is proposing to build large numbers of houses on green-belt land and to lay waste the villages on the edge of the Surrey Hills.

Rather than constructing yet more homes in the overpopulated south of England, we need to regenerate parts of the country that desperately need new jobs.
Christopher Tailby
By email


I was never quite sure what the former education secretary Michael Gove was trying to solve with his near-complete ban on term-time absence (“Victory for parents over holiday ban”, News, last week). It was an overreaction to a minor problem involving a few parents that punished the majority.
Ted Coffin, Salisbury


In the frenzy over parents taking children out of school before the holidays, it is astonishing nothing was said when pupils were sent back to their families’ countries of origin for months in term time.
Rita Bobbin, Hitchin, Hertfordshire


There are many good reasons to take pupils out of class during term, but some parents do not want their lives messed up by their children, so they take holidays regardless of a child’s wellbeing.
Graham Ward, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire


WELL done for the brilliant critiques by Christopher Hart and Camilla Long of the attention-seeking conspiracy theorist Russell Brand (“How Russell wants to change the world”, Books, and “Hush, Russell. I won’t be told what to think by a prancing perm on a stick”, Comment, last week). Long asks, “Is there any escape from Russell Brand?” Yes — deny him the oxygen of publicity he so obviously craves. Who would read his rantings other than those entering their teens?
Keith Giles


I wonder if Long saw the irony in complaining about Brand’s use of words such as “autodidact” and “hegemony” while herself writing about his “mincing tintinnabulations”.
Peter Saunders


I saw Brand’s Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman and it seemed to me he had learnt a few words and phrases and proceeded to trot them out. It was like watching someone make a Lego construction. He clicked the words and phrases together as though he was determined to get them in at all costs, regardless of their aptness.
Walter Houser
London SW14



We should avoid giving legitimacy to the self-styled Islamic State. It is not true to Islam and it is not a state but an insurgency. Islam’s leaders worldwide have condemned its teachings. The name Islamic State carries with it the implied threat of waging war against non-Muslims.
John Morrell
Farnham Common


The fuss about whether Fiona Woolf is part of the Establishment is ludicrous (“The lord mayor’s street is paved with problems”, Profile, last week). Anybody who has the knowledge, skill, experience and character to lead an inquiry of this sort will be part of the Establishment.
Colin Angwin
London W14


I couldn’t agree more with Karren Brady that weekend jobs are an important way to develop skills not available in the classroom (“You’re hired — as long as you’ve had a Saturday job, says Brady”, News, and “The world of work starts with a Saturday job”, Editorial, last week). However, there is another obstacle in their way in addition to those mentioned. My 15-year-old son has been trying to find a Sunday job to fund a World Challenge expedition to Borneo. He got a job offer, only for it to be withdrawn when they discovered his age. Under-16s can work for up to eight hours on a Saturday but for only two hours on Sundays.
Lisa Jenner


Eleanor Mills (“Saying ‘I do’ matters for Brad and me”, News Review, last week) is correct to emphasise that marriage is a formal commitment, and to express concern about the suggestion that the same principles of property redistribution should be applicable to married and unmarried couples. She ignores, however, research suggesting that a majority of cohabiting couples believe that the law will treat them as though they are married after a certain period of time. This belief may cause them to attach no legal significance to the marriage ceremony. In 2007 the Law Commission proposed a nuanced property redistribution scheme that sought to address the problem while taking account of the fact a cohabiting couple had not gone through a marriage ceremony. The proposal fell on deaf ears, even though the Labour government of the time was much less marriage-obsessed than the coalition Tories are today.
Dr Brian Sloan
Lecturer and Fellow in Law,
Robinson College, Cambridge


Courting the vote of “potwallopers” — men with a hearth large enough to boil a pan of water over a fire — as advocated by Roland White (Atticus, October 19), would be a doomed strategy for the Liberal Democrats, something that in their current plight they might wish to avoid. Atticus is wrong that the liberal Whigs extended the vote to potwallopers in 1832. It was abolished under the Reform Act of that year, so any former potwallopers are unlikely to feel gratitude to the Whigs and their Lib Dem descendants.
Harry Webster, Katie Clarke, Natasha Lewis, Chad Wrenn and Chris Delaney (aged 16)
Waseley Hills High School


Gadzooks! Fifty quid for a bottle of gin (“Make mine a London gin with a dash of conservation, by juniper”, Charles Clover, October 19)? In its heyday it was: “Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for twopence, clean straw for nothing.”
Dr William Larkworthy
Malaucène, France


In “Starbucks hit by probe into sweetheart tax deal with Dutch” (Business last week) we said the American company reduced its taxable profits in overseas markets by legally funnelling royalty payments through its Dutch division. It has stopped doing this as of last month, having moved its European headquarters to Britain. We apologise for the error.

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


Danny Cipriani, rugby player, 27; Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man, 87; Keith Emerson, keyboard player, 70; Shere Hite, feminist, 72; Alan Jones, racing driver, 68; KD Lang, singer, 53; Nelly, rapper, 40; Stefanie Powers, actress, 72; Ken Rosewall, tennis player, 80; David Schwimmer, actor, 48; Bruce Welch, guitarist, 73


1755 birth of Marie-Antoinette; 1917 Balfour Declaration, stating British support for “the establishment in Palestine of a homeland for the Jewish people”; 1950 playwright George Bernard Shaw dies; 1959 M1 opens; 1960 Penguin Books cleared of obscenity for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover; 1982 launch of Channel 4


Torn into vertical strips, a copy of the Telegraph can be used as bedding for a hedgehog Photo: GETTY

6:56AM GMT 01 Nov 2014


SIR – I have a better use for my “used” copies of The Daily Telegraph than Malcolm Parkin’s friend (Letters, October 30).

I have three working English springer spaniels and when they come home from a shoot on a wet day in winter the Telegraph comes into its own. It is the only paper I can tear into inch-wide vertical strips: just tear down and shake into the dogs’ box. Once the dogs are dry in the morning the used paper can be sent for recycling in the usual way. A very versatile newspaper.

I don’t know what paper the Telegraph uses for its newsprint, but please don’t change it.

Bob Preston
Marlborough, Wiltshire

SIR – While it is indeed admirable to recycle The Daily Telegraph by lighting a daily fire, I must confess to finding that certain sections of the Saturday edition – Property in particular – more reluctant to burn than others. Is there a reason? I have no difficulty at all burning the Money section.

Andrew Woodhouse
Clipsham, Rutland

SIR – I give my used Telegraphs to a hedgehog sanctuary to be used as bedding.

Apparently they are far superior to other newspapers for this purpose.

Ros Fitton
Solihull, Warwickshire

The right of the students to elect a rector is enshrined by Parliament in the Universities Act (Scotland) 1858 Photo: Alamy

6:57AM GMT 01 Nov 2014


SIR – I noted with sadness this week the appointment of Catherine Stihler, the Labour MEP, to the post of Rector of St Andrews University, without election.

The right of the students to elect a rector is an ancient one, enshrined by Parliament in the Universities Act (Scotland) 1858, but a recent change in the rules has allowed a nominee to be appointed straight away if no other candidates come forward. While an election was due to take place next month, the decision of a second candidate, the writer Val McDermid, not to stand allowed Mrs Stihler to be selected unopposed.

Surely the university should have allowed more time for another candidate to come forward so that students would have a proper democratic choice?

Jhonti Bird
Kirriemuir, Angus

Poppies bloom early

SIR – The day to wear the poppy (Letters, October 31) is when The Daily Telegraph prints a poppy on its masthead. Mine was ready for today.

Geoffrey Aldridge
Wingrave, Buckinghamshire

SIR – There is no better example to follow than that of the Queen. Yesterday’s paper carried a picture of her without a poppy.

Liam Mackinnon
Sturminster Newton, Dorset

Sunk by Churchill

SIR – Today marks the centenary of the Battle of Coronel, at the time the worst British naval disaster for over 100 years.

Rear Admiral Sir Christopher (Kit) Cradock and over 1,600 of his men were lost in an unequal, brave and futile fight against a superior foe, the German squadron of Vice Admiral Graf von Spee. Poorly armed, ill-equipped and badly advised by the Admiralty, Cradock was sent to his death by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, who wrongly believed that Cradock’s scrapyard flotilla was a match for his enemy.

Rightly, the focus of this year’s commemorations of the First World War has been the tragedy on the Western Front. But we should not forget those who died for their country at sea – the more so when, in common with so many recent military operations, they were sent there by politicians who had no understanding of the consequences of their actions.

Steve R Dunn
Barnt Green, Worcestershire

Mid 19th-century cow creamer: dairy products provide calcium and a range of vitamins Photo:

6:58AM GMT 01 Nov 2014


SIR – Your report “Three glasses of milk a day can lead to early death” was based on a study suggesting that there is an association between milk consumption and mortality and fracture, yet an opposite trend with cheese and fermented milk consumption.

With regards to milk, it is essential to highlight that a number of other studies actually contradict these findings. For instance, a similar study from Japan published this month shows that drinking milk was associated with lower all-cause mortality in both men and women.

The nutritional benefits of milk and dairy products, including calcium, potassium, and a range of vitamins are well documented. Scientists, including the authors of this research, vehemently warn that observational studies such as this should be viewed with caution.

Dr Anne Mullen
Director of Nutrition, Dairy Council
London W1

Encouragement to borrow cheap money and irresponsible lending contributed to the financial crisis Photo: PA

6:59AM GMT 01 Nov 2014


SIR – David Cameron’s enthusiasm for low interest rates is unhelpful to the economy.

There are 35 million savers in Britain as opposed to 12 million mortgages. The artificially low interest rates of the past five years have taken savers’ money out of the economy while subsidising cheap mortgages. Encouragement to borrow cheap money and irresponsible lending contributed to the financial crisis; a low interest rate does little to break this cycle.

A less dogmatic approach, no more quantitative easing and the raising of interest rates to around 2 or 3 per cent could inject more money into the economy and reward frugal savers at last.

Clifford Baxter
Wareham, Dorset

SIR – David Cameron has said it would be “lovely” for interest rates to remain low “for ever”. Clearly all those public-sector workers in central government, including MPs, have no worries concerning their pensions, as these are paid by the taxpayer.

Bill Parish
Bromley, Kent

Fighter sales

SIR – Peter Oborne says that BAE Systems has a potential £5 billion order for its Typhoon jets in the pipeline, which could end up going to the French instead. This is incorrect.

The UAE did talk to France about purchasing the Rafale fighter but walked away from discussions last year. They also talked to BAE about a possible Typhoon purchase but ceased negotiations in December 2013.

In January this year, the UAE ordered 30 F-16 fighter aircraft from the Americans and decided to upgrade the F-16s they currently have in service.

The Saudis and the Gulf States value their relationship with the United Kingdom, and our ongoing support to Oman is an example of that.

Alan Quinn
Skilled Fitter, BAE Systems
Prestwich, Lancashire

Hard to swallow

SIR – A sports club to which I belong is run by the members, who have a rota to organise the sport and prepare food and drink for members after competing.

We are now faced with obligations to supply allergen information for the food and drink served. A sensible strategy would have been for those with allergies to ask about the food contents.

However, this is EU regulation, backed by Parliament. We therefore have to list any of 14 allergens, which can be as small as components of stock cubes or Worcester Sauce. It is going to put an impossible burden on volunteers, so we may have to stop providing food or employ someone to do so, which would raise costs significantly.

I understand the need – I have a grandchild with severe coeliac disease – but this approach is complete overkill for organisations like ours.

Stephen Green
Weymouth, Dorset

Same old screams

SIR – What’s truly horrifying about horror films is the way that the same formula is repeated over and over again. Hollywood either seeks to remake classics – such as Psycho, Dawn Of The Dead and The Thing – or trash them with dire sequels, as with Scream.

Audiences want something new. And scary.

Emilie Lamplough
Trowbridge, Wiltshire

It is very rare for a defendant to be sent to prison mere for possessing a controlled drug

The ONS estimated that including spending on drugs such as cocaine and heroin in the national accounts would add £6.7 billion a year to spending across the UK

Prison sentences are most often for offences, of a serious kind, that addicts commit in order to pay for drugs Photo: Alamy

7:00AM GMT 01 Nov 2014


SIR – Pronouncements by some leading politicians make one suspect that they are entirely ignorant of what happens when the courts deal with those who commit offences in relation to the possession of controlled drugs.

It is very rare for a defendant to be sent to prison for the simple possession of a controlled drug (heroin, cocaine and cannabis being the most commonly encountered). Prison sentences are most often for offences, of a serious kind, that addicts commit in order to pay for drugs. Supplying controlled drugs, domestic burglary and street robbery are examples.

Even when a court would be justified in passing such a sentence, it is not unusual, when so recommended by the Probation Service – in a formal report – for an addict to be made subject to a drug rehabilitation requirement (a DRR). Such an order may require the addict to undergo treatment as an in-patient, or in a less rigorous fashion, for varying lengths of time. Thereafter it is common for review hearings to take place. This involves the subject of a DRR returning to court regularly so that his/her progress (or lack of it) can be monitored.

Should an offender not abide by the terms of a DRR, breach proceedings can be instituted. If a breach is proved, then the court may re-sentence the offender as if he or she had just been convicted by it. In such circumstances a prison sentence is usually the order of the day.

In my experience, about 40 per cent of those made the subject of a DRR take full advantage of it. That being the position, why, I wonder, is there any need for the latest raft of observations on the subject?

His Honour Judge Philip Shorrock
Woolwich Crown Court
London SE28

SIR – The report purporting to show no correlation between severity of punishment and drug-taking or dealing is being used by some to argue for a more relaxed approach. People contemplating this change of policy are flying in the face of the evidence. My wife and I have worked for years to pay to send our daughter to South Africa for drug rehabilitation because Britain fails to provide affordable, incarceration-based services for hardened drug addicts. If we decriminalise drug handling in favour of a more health-based approach, I do not believe such services would come into being.

Drug-rehabilitation competes with dementia, diabetes and GP-access for funds. I can’t see it outranking these.

We need to keep drug dealers away from vulnerable people. Unless we are prepared to pay for treating the consequences of drug-addiction we need to stop it at source.

Dr David Cottam
Dormansland, Surrey

SIR – Decriminalising drug possession might reduce the burden on the criminal justice system, but at what cost and increased burden for the NHS?

Anthony Barnes
Keston, Kent

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Madam – The protests directed specifically at the Roma community in Waterford were deeply disturbing. Rough justice at the hands of a mob is never reliable, as the handling of Mairia Cahill’s horrific ordeal by a paramilitary so-called “court” has demonstrated so frighteningly.

But it is the racist nature of the recent anti-Roma protests that I find most sickening and shameful. What must it be like to sit in your house while a large gathering of people stand outside chanting and howling slurs on the ethnic group to which you belong? It’s amazing how so many of us can be so admiring of Anne Frank, writing her famous diary in that shadowy attic in wartime Amsterdam, or Rosa Parks defying the racist laws of 1950s Montgomery by sitting in a seat reserved for white people… and then, maybe next day or even an hour or a minute later we indulge our prejudices against one or other of the various ethnic groups with whom we share this island.

Let’s shun racism. It’s always the case that the “cure” is far worse than the disease.

John Fitzgerald, Kilkenny

Church and SF abuse not alike

Madam – There are at least three major different characteristics between child abuse involving the Catholic Church and that arising from Sinn Fein/IRA’s practise of kneecapping and punishment beating of children.

Because of the systemic methods applied to the latter it is clear that it was authorised by the leadership. This is hardly likely in the case of the  Church; Many concerned people came forward to speak out and complain about  the Church – no parent of a victim of IRA/Sinn Fein punishment has spoken out. The reason for this is obvious.

If the Mairia Cahill outrage involved the Catholic Church, the water charge controversy would not be the lead story on RTE news.

GT Pierse,


Co Dublin


Game is up for  Adams and SF

Madam – Well, the game is over Gerry. You can stop your well-modulated denials and asinine belief that if you say it enough we are all going to believe you.

Not now.

Enda Kenny can stop wasting his energy on trying to persuade a mendacious man to acknowledg his membership of the IRA.

Mairia Cahill’s challenge to Gerry Adams may well herald the demise of the man with selective amnesia. To those members of the Irish electorate who have indulged in a suicidal electoral flirtation with Sinn Fein in the past, I have to ask the following:  do you really want to be ruled by such a man and his cowardly cohorts? Do you really want to vote for a group of cultists who can’t debate, dissent or discuss the basic issues of the day? Do they want to vote for women like Mary Lou Mc Donald who doesn’t have the political savvy to realise that her ‘stand by your man’ ideology is making the women of Ireland heave into their morning coffees?

Mairie Cahill deserves our unequivocal love and support. She has stepped onto the stage of dirty  politics, risked her life, lost her home and community for the moral simplicity of the truth. She deserves to be protected and shielded from the crossfire of a dying military dynasty as it tries to discredit, intimidate and manipulate her story from which she has never deviated.

She deserves our admiration and collective anger as she battles to honour and vindicate the appalling abuse, violence and horror of the rape of her innocent sixteen year old self and the subsequent reign of terror that was visited upon her by the IRA.

Shame on those women TDs from all parties who failed to offer comment on her story or bleated that they didn’t know enough. Big thanks to Eilis O’Hanlon for her stalwart articles in recent issues of the Sunday Independent.

Mona Daly,



SF should change – like the Church

Madam – Much has been made of comparing Sinn Fein and the Catholic Church in terms of both organisations putting their interests before that of protecting children.

But there is a difference in that, unlike Sinn Fein,the Church has learned painful lessons, it has paid compensation, put robust child protection procedures in place and has opened its records to audit. Even Pope Benedict resigned, perhaps realising that there might be someone more able to take on a leadership role without the baggage of past scandals. Surely it is time for  Sinn Fein to put it’s house in order too.

Frank Browne,

Templeogue, Dublin 16

Praise for Mairia’s courage

Madam – Just to let you know, I sent the following text to Eoghan Harris after reading his article in your paper (“Mairia Cahill shows the Nelson touch to Sinn Fein” Sunday 26 October), which was just one of the many excellent articles with regard to the dreadful Mairia Cahill abuse case in the last few Sundays:

“A wonderful brave lady, Mairia, her courage puts the rest of us to shame – I know I speak for all the really good people of this country.”

Brian McDevitt,

Glenties, Co Donegal


Six reasons not to vote SF

Madam – There are six reasons for not voting Sinn Fein in the next general election: Mairia Cahill, Eamon Collins, Robert McCartney, Joe Rafferty, Jerry McCabe, Jean McConville.

Fiat justitia ruat caelum (‘Let justice be done though the heavens fall’).

Stephen J Costello

Ranelagh, Dublin 6


There are reasons to be fearful

Madam – When we are young, we are easily influenced, and those from the “Old IRA” background, were brainwashed more than most when Gerry Adams and his pals came on the scene. I used to argue with my father when I suggested the Provos were the same as the men of ‘his day,’ but he always said with regret in his answers, that if I meant murder and slaughter made them the same, then I was right.

It is when we mature and live a fairly long life, that we begin to see the truth of the misplaced “romance” when “taking to the gun” is dangled like a carrot in front of impressionable young eyes. Then the “lads” make sure the youthful naive enthusiasm soon turns to fear — of them.

Thankfully, most young men and women in this politically peaceful republic were not infected by the nationalist poison of “armed struggle”, which has put too many in their graves in Northern Ireland, while the search for the disappeared continues in this jurisdiction.

For Gerry and his cohorts, the dream of political success on the back of the “war” they wallowed in for so long, is turning sour. This can be seen  as some form of natural justice the universe inflicts to let humans know we get away with nothing bad we do in life, as they now reap the resultant nightmare.

If Sinn Fein gets to form a government, all it will mean to decent people is that we will have every reason to fear them even more.

The treatment of Ms Cahill by the heads of  Sinn Fein/IRA shows they are without shame, caring only to save their own skins.

Over the decades I am spending more and more time in England, a place and people I have come to love, and it has become my own sadness to realise the Irish do/did great evil under the guise of so called revolutionary politics, than ever did England and the English.

The Irish myth of the 800 years of oppression is meaningless in the context of “freedom” when we learn the English peasant suffered in the same way as the Irish.

In my kitchen I have two large picture frames. One is a certificate my father owned which gives testimony to his involvement in the War of Independence, complete with his medal.

The other is of an old sailor friend from Bantry, who served on the HMS Sheffield, a battle cruiser which saw much action and was hit by a shell fired by the DKM Bismarck. His frame has a poppy on each lower corner.

Over the years my father’s words and mature sentiments set me to thinking deeply about Ireland and the big “armed resistance” lie we perpetrated as a nation.

My dad’s thoughts on such things as the IRA and freedom were never as black and white as the breed of Shinners today who are at war with the world, like troubled youngsters who have got into so much trouble over the years they don’t know right from wrong, anymore. My dad’s certificate carries the words, at variance with reality concerning so-called republicanism: “Truth on our lips/Purity in our hearts/Strength in our arms.”

The time has come for me now, to take this down. I know he wouldn’t mind. The other one stays on the wall.

Robert Sullivan,

Bantry, Co Cork

Ebola death chance here slim

Madam – Recently at the Mater Hospital we saw streets being cordoned off  as they held a dry run in case the Ebola virus reaches Ireland.

But the risk of death in Ireland on our roads is far more probable than is death from a virus originating from West Africa.

Why would we quarantine one person because of our fear of death by a virus and allow a person who drinks, drives and speeds, who may have a record of such reckless behaviour, to carry on without an effective sanction?

Susan Gray,   

PARC Road Safety Group, Donegal


Greed at core of bonuses    

Madam – Why would already well-paid people also require a bonus (or a “performance enhancing increment”) or whatever they’re calling it today?

Human beings are naturally creative and will achieve satisfaction and fulfilment when doing any job to the best of their ability. Research has shown that employees in any supportive and encouraging environment will actually perform better than if the reward is a bonus. When the focus becomes the bonus rather than the work, the quality of the work suffers.

Not only that, but emphasis on bonuses can result in a focus on short-term goals to the ultimate detriment of the organisation – witness the recent bank debacles.

In spite of those factors, leaders may well be tempted to foster a bonus culture since they are the very ones who stand to benefit most. Should disaster follow such a policy, well, maybe the taxpayer will pick up the tab?

There can then be but one answer to the question I pose above: greed.

William J Silke,



Government is in full retreat

Madam – The news that Brendan Howlin & Co are going to gut the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 and start the procedure to increase the Public Service Pay Bill once again proves beyond a shadow of doubt that this government is in full retreat from the financial policies that have brought this country back from bankruptcy.

At a time when growth is tenuous and government expenditure still outstrips public income, the government is leaving the path of financial rectitude and taking the path of Charlie McCreevy. Labour can foresee a large number of its TDs joining the dole queues after the next election and it’s trying to shore up its support among some of its strongest supporters – the public service unions.

It should be noted that the government will also have to make some meaningful concessions to the protesters against Irish Water. All in all it is clear what direction the government is taking – it is rapidly advancing to the rear as fast as it can to avoid electoral annihilation.

We are back to the old ways – welcome back Fianna Fail. They haven’t gone away, you know.

Liam Cooke,

Coolock, Dublin 17     

Sunday Independent


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