Post office

23 November 2014 Postoffice

I still have arthritis in my left toe I am stricken with gout. But I manage to get to do the housework and I go to the Post Office.

Mary’s back much better today, breakfast weight down nothing for tea and her tummy pain is still there but decreasing.


Trevor Pharo – obituary

Trevor Pharo was a sales executive better known as Bingo the Clown, who brought slapstick and custard pies to Bognor Regis

Trevor Pharo as Bingo The Clown (right) with fellow clown Doni.

Trevor Pharo as Bingo The Clown (right) with fellow clown Doni.

5:16PM GMT 21 Nov 2014


Trevor Pharo, who has died aged 60, was a south coast sales executive who became better known to younger customers as Bingo the Clown.

As Bingo, Pharo made clowning history in 1985 by staging the first ever International Clown Convention, when, for a weekend, the staid seaside town of Bognor Regis became “Clown Town”. Local policemen wore red noses and some 100,000 visitors turned up to watch a huge street parade, led by Bingo, and enjoy seminars in slapstick, tumbling and custard pies given by masters of the craft.

The conventions continued for about a decade until funding ran out, attracting the support of stars such as Ken Dodd, Jeremy Beadle, and Norman Wisdom, who opened the 1988 convention. One year the local council estimated the event had attracted 200,000 visitors and as many as 700 clowns, 300 of whom had flown in on a specially chartered flight from the United States.

Bingo was the first British clown to entertain Arab audiences in Kuwait, and he made numerous stage and television appearances, most notably at the Children’s Royal Variety Show at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1988.

But his career was not without controversy. In 1989 he was accused by his fellow clown Bluey (alias Blue Brattle) of bringing their calling into disrepute after he had appeared in clown costume on Kilroy to discuss whether clowns were paid enough. He was said to have infringed the rule that a clown should never be serious when wearing motley, though some of his colleagues appear to have reacted badly to his suggestion that some involved in the business were more interested in profits than entertainment. Pharo brushed off suggestions that he should hang up his red nose. “Of course I’m serious from time to time – even if I’m in full make-up,” he said. “I can’t forever be dropping my trousers.”

Trevor Pharo was born at Croydon, Surrey, on April 6 1954 and fell in love with the circus when Billy Smart’s came to town in 1972. After leaving school he helped Smart’s by persuading shopkeepers to put circus posters in their windows and, while working as a graphics and printing supplies salesman, eventually founding his own business, learnt the rudiments of clowning from Billy Gay, the circus’s advance publicity manager who doubled as a clown.

He began to take on weekend clowning jobs at children’s parties and local carnivals and amusement parks. As his reputation grew, he travelled abroad and appeared on stage and television.

He raised large sums for charities, including the Variety Club of Great Britain, the Anthony Nolan Trust, and the children’s charity Dream Flight, giving up his own holidays to accompany planeloads of children, many terminally ill, on a “holiday of a lifetime” to Florida. In 2000 he was presented with an award at an international clown convention for his charitable work.

Trevor Pharo (left) with circus proprietor, Gerry Cottle

In 2009, to raise money for a care centre in Brighton for people with HIV/Aids-related illnesses, he promoted two “adults only” nights of entertainment under the big top of Zippo’s Circus. The shows featured some of the circus’s top stars, led by ringmaster Norman Barrett, alongside a line-up of local cabaret regulars . Music was provided by the Brighton and Hove Gay Men’s Chorus and the “alternative” panto star Robert James, “the Naked Singer”.

Trevor Pharo’s marriage to his wife Angela was dissolved, and in September this year he married his partner, Ian Bromilow, with whom he had lived for 25 years and who survives him with two sons and a daughter of his first marriage.

Trevor Pharo, born April 6 1954, died November 8 2014


occupy london The Occupy London tent protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral. Photograph: Jack MacDonald for the Observer

Bankers keep cheating, but where are the protests?”, (leader). The Occupy movement was one, though smartly driven from the temple-yard of the Stock Exchange on to the cobbles outside St Paul’s.

The occupiers were right and the problem is not limited to banks. Will Hutton half-acknowledges this when he says: “The [banking] industry structure should never have been allowed” and adds: “Companies (in general) are seen by too many people, notably shareholders, as just instruments for self-enrichment.” (“Banking is changing, slowly, but its culture is still corrupt”, Comment.

“Just”? The confusion is at the heart of company law. The banking industry is no more or less committed to customers and community than the food industry is to consumer health or the fossil-fuel extractors to green hills and valleys. Bankers and CEOs are not uniquely greedy, but their job description puts company success and shareholder profit before any other social or environmental interest. The directors’ prime duty under the Companies Act of 2006 is to the success of their company “in a way that benefits the shareholders”.

They must merely “have regard” for other factors – employment, customers and suppliers, community, environment and long-term consequences. Where the choice is between clear-cut profit margins and such a range of ill-defined variables, it’s obvious which side the bosses’ bread is buttered on. Until these social and environmental “regards” are hardened up as duties, clearly defined and structured into company law and practice, no amount of top-down tinkering will redress the legacy of inbuilt injustice or clean up a “corrupt” culture that is just being true to itself.

Greg Wilkinson


Your leader asks why there are no pickets outside the banks, no protests from “ordinary citizens under the economic cosh”. I think I know why: those ordinary citizens have been sold the lie that their economic woes are due to the profligacy of the last government, nothing to do with bankers. Over the page, Will Hutton reminds us how laissez-faire bank regulation facilitates the cheating. If the last government attracts any blame, it is for under-regulation rather than overspending. Is that too nuanced for today’s political debate?

John Filby



There always has been and always will be fraud in financial services but there are ways of making it less attractive to the fraudsters. Really swingeing fines on the banks, fines of, say, 10 times what they have gained would concentrate directors’ and shareholders’ minds. The perpetrators of the frauds ought to face long prison sentences, sequestration of their assets and a lifelong ban on working in financial services. As a last resort, the bankers ought to face having their businesses taken over by the government. That ought to concentrate minds.

Posted online

Not much point in transferring your money from a bank to a credit union – the credit unions all have accounts with the banks. They are not, at present, big enough to be their own banks.And nowadays it is almost impossible for someone to operate without a bank account. Wages, pensions, benefits are all paid into bank accounts. The days of the pension book you took to the post office, or the little brown envelope you got each payday, are gone. The banks have us by the short and curlies and they know it.

Posted online

'Britain Needs A Pay Rise' National Demonstration in London The Britain Needs a Pay Rise demonstration in London. Photograph: Dave Evans/ Demotix/Corbis

Sarah Kwei made a number of important and valid points in her comment piece (Comment). However, I believe a subhead declaring that “It’s the community, not work, that’s the new site of protest” did her arguments a disservice. Journalism and academia have been dominated by ideas of fragmented power and the end of workplace organisation for a decade and more. It is true that we can see a decline in union influence since the 80s but this is not because of the new character of work but because (sadly) of the character of too many trade union leaderships.

Business unionism, so encouraged by those who argued that the working class and workplace organisation have ceased to exist, has allowed big business and their political representatives in the three main parties to drive down real wages and shift the tax burden from the wealthy on to working-class people. My union, the Rail Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT), continues to organise successfully in the workplace. The £50K paid to train drivers by many train-operating companies is well publicised but RMT has also fought and ended zero-hours contracts for cleaners on the Tyne & Wear Metro and continues to organise subcontracted cleaners on London Underground behind a demand for £13 an hour.

Where trade unions get out and organise marginalised workers, victories can be won. But I also agree wholeheartedly that a new collaboration between trade unions and community movements is needed. Years ago, that collaboration manifested itself through the Labour party. Those days are gone.

Jared Wood

Political officer, RMT London Transport Regional Council

London NW1

Why I choose not to vote

Barbara Ellen describes me as “bone idle, ill-informed and immature”, (“Democracy matters – use your vote”, Comment).

Her wrath is directed at non-voters, a section of the community that I am very happy to inhabit for several reasons and is based on the  assumption that, should I be unimpressed by all of the candidates I should choose one out of a sense of duty. She conveniently ignores the multitude of politicians who shamelessly abstain from voting on parliamentary debates and bills. I venture to suggest that a minority of these non-voters have genuine reservations, but the majority are abstaining due to nothing more than moral cowardice.

Rather than condemning those of us who weigh up the options and then act accordingly, perhaps she could reflect on the historical consequences of compulsory voting that have resulted in the plethora of elected monsters who have wreaked evil, misery and devastation on our planet.

Andrew Thompson


Landowners need to lay off

Catherine Bennett’s interesting article “The countryside is too vital to leave to its greedy owners” (Comment) argues that large landowners claiming special knowledge of the land are despoiling it with profitable ugly developments. However, as the accompanying picture shows, they have already ruined the landscape itself by ripping out beautiful old hedges and trees and cultivating huge, bleak fields of monocultural grass. Somehow, we need a radical and mandatory programme of land restoration for now and the future.

Tricia Cusack


The other face of Bristol

As a Bristolian born and bred, I did not recognise my city in your article (“Networked and superfast: welcome to Bristol, the UK’s smartest city”, News).  I do get tired of seeing Bristol portrayed almost exclusively in pictures of the suspension bridge, and hearing how the small group of ex-Bristol University alumni, living in Clifton, are making the city swing. There are acres of deprived 50s council estates. The congestion in the city is worse than London and the air quality in many places fails to reach EU standards. Our public transport is a joke. Our council is among the worst in Britain. Our mayor is a tech whiz but he is also presiding over the wholesale destruction of green spaces and prime food-growing land to build an overbridge for the Metrobus scheme. This ill-planned scheme is opposed by most Bristolians except those who will benefit financially. As for super-connection, I live well within the city borders and have to go outside the house to get a mobile signal. The article reinforces the impression that Bristol is a wealthy city, making it hard to attract government help. In fact, there are huge inequalities in quality of life, housing and income.

Jane Ghosh


Driven to heavy sarcasm

Your front-page revelation that the coalition “has helped the rich by hitting (the) poor”, News, has totally disillusioned me. I had imagined that the bedroom tax, cuts in benefits, tighter jobcentre rules, zero-hours contracts, increased VAT and the remorseless fragmentation of our national health and education services, were all part of the coalition strategy to improve everybody’s lot. We are, after all, all in this together, aren’t we?

John Merrigan

East Molesey


Emily Thornberry: lost her shadow cabinet job over a tweet. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Emily Thornberry: lost her shadow cabinet job over a tweet. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Before the Rochester picture affair is allowed to fade, it badly needs some deeper consideration (Labour rocked by ‘sneering’ blunder, 21 November).

A house draped in statements of national allegiance, upstaged by a big white van representing a way of earning a living, is clearly an arresting image, and Emily Thornberry responded accordingly. Her caption was factual, minimal and comment-free. The household concerned decided to put this striking image into the public domain, so can have no complaint. The result was an instant witchhunt conducted by a political party leader who aspires to run the country.

The image was real. The politician who “naively” acknowledged this particular aspect of reality had to be humiliated and disowned. Labour had to get desperate about its survival before it would admit that there were aspects of UK reality it had been systematically denying. Now it is revealing how quickly the preference for avoiding even talking about reality has reasserted itself. It is Thornberry who is sane and reasonable, and all the rest who are deranged.
Dave Bradney
Llanrhystud, Ceredigion

• Why shouldn’t Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South, declare publicly that she considers St George’s flags to be awfully low-brow and probably indicative of closet BNP voters, that Islington is just so much more multicultural and tolerant, and that it’s vastly preferable better to live somewhere where one can get organic Ocado deliveries all day long? The public are crying out for authenticity in politicians.
Jeremy Brier

• From Gordon Brown’s “bigotgate” to Emily Thornberry’s tweet, Labour has consistently ignored concerns about the squeeze that mass immigration has had on jobs, schools and hospitals. Those of us whose generations of family have worked to pay for these resources might justifiably feel frustration at their current disintegration. The flag wavers are not all bigots and racists. Many are just frustrated that UK passports seem to have been handed out like cheap candy.
Lucie Payne
Sutton, Surrey

• Poor Emily Thornberry. I taught with her mother Sally in Guildford in the early 1970s. Money was scarce in the Thornberry household on the Park Barn council estate: socialist ideals were not. She will bounce back.
John Mair

• Could Emily Thornberry be persuaded to defect to the Green party and cause a by-election in Islington?
Rev Richard Syms
Knebworth, Hertfordfordshire

• I attended my first Green party meeting this week. How refreshing to spend almost all the time discussing nuclear power, housing, public transport and the environment instead of the minutes of the last meeting and matters arising. And then to do so well in Rochester.
Richard Bull
Woodbridge, Suffolk

• It seems inconceivable that the Lib Dems’ support should have disappeared entirely in Rochester and Strood. A lot of the Lib Dem vote, and a large part of the Labour vote, undoubtedly migrated temporarily to the Tories in an attempt to prevent the election of the Ukip candidate. The swing from Tory to Ukip may have been much greater than the figures suggest.
Terry Graham
Grasmere, Cumberland

• The rise of Ukip and the likely advent of regular coalition government are symptoms of the inability of the first past the post system to deliver representative parliaments. When only the marginals, one-sixth of seats, determines the outcome, it is inevitable that significant parts of the electorate will be disenfranchised. They’ve now put in motion a process of change that will end in proportional representation.
Richard Cohen

• Almost 80% of the electorate of Rochester and Strood did not vote for the successful Ukip candidate. Time for electoral reform?
Patrick Billingham

• Ukip’s plan to quit the EU to give the UK more control over immigration takes no account of the fact that history has a habit of repeating itself. At the moment we’re doing better economically than other EU countries, particularly those in the eurozone.

But one day the position will no doubt be reversed with high unemployment in this country forcing workers to look for jobs abroad as for example happened in the 1980s. But with the UK out of the EU there won’t be a repeat of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
Roger Hinds
Coulsdon, Surrey

mozambique beach letters Very few programmes ever feature the magical beaches of Mozambique. Photograph: Gary Cook/Alamy

I must compliment you on Why I had to turn down Band Aid (19 November). Most people talk or write about Africa as though it were a single unitary state and appear to be unaware that there are 54 countries (or 58 counting the islands) in this very large continent. It is also very apropos that you point out that that seven out of 10 of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa.

I first went to Africa in 1966 for a six-month shoot on part of a documentary series for CBS-TV in New York, travelling down the east of Africa from Cairo to Cape Town and missing out only Somalia. I was ashamed of my ignorance and became angry at educational authorities for having virtually nothing in the curriculum I studied about African history. This was aggravated even further when I recently discovered Max Hasting’s statistics in All Hell Let Loose on the Commonwealth troop losses in the second world war: British losses were approximately 340,000. Commonwealth losses were 550,000.

Of course, most of the programmes that I worked on in Africa over the next 45 years were about famine, disease or war, so I have contributed to this image of Africa. Very few programmes ever feature the magical beaches of, for example, Angola and Mozambique, or the ancient heritages of Ethiopia, Benin, Mali, among others. It is further interesting that Paris has a museum solely for African art (well worth a visit) while London has none.
Christian Wangler

06.00 GMT

Michael Abraham pays tribute to Tommy Flowers, who designed and built the Colossus computer (Letters, 18 November). I would add another hidden hero on the engineering side: Harold “Doc” Keene, who worked for the British Tabulating Machine Co in Letchworth and turned the Turing’s ideas into useable machines, the Bletchley Park/Letchworth Bombes.

There are other omissions. The worst is that of the Polish mathematicians Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rózycki and Henryk Zygalski, who were streets ahead of the British when it came to deciphering Enigma messages at the beginning of war. They passed on their discoveries.

Mention might also be made of Gordon Welchman, a fine cryptographer in his own right, who set up the management system for dealing with the vast number of Enigma decrypts, and Colonel John Tiltman, who made the initial breakthrough in decoding Lorentz messages.

The Lorentz machine wasn’t replacement for Enigma, which continued in use throughout the war. It was used for “secure” communication between Hitler and his senior military commanders. Colossus wasn’t a programmable computer in the modern sense and didn’t translate Lorentz messages. It used statistical techniques to suggest the most likely wheel settings that allowed the German text to be recovered. The translation was carried out by human beings.
Ken Vines
Yelverton, Devon

Alan Turing and his fellow mathematicians are rightly being celebrated for the enormously valuable contribution they made during the second world war at Bletchley Park, not least in the new film The Imitation Game. Their efforts would, however, have been for nought had it not been for the many talented linguists – among whom both of my parents – who translated their decrypted letters into meaningful messages that made sense and which could be turned into usable military intelligence. We need to celebrate both the mathematicians and the linguists for their remarkable contributions. Here, as in many other contexts, we need to draw on the assets of talented individuals from across the intellectual spectrum.
Helen Wallace


It is to be commended that Charlie Gilmour is taking Chris Grayling to task (“Mr Grayling, how do you account for these prison suicides?”, 16 November). But the emotional and mental health problems that prompt self-harm start much earlier.

Children in custody will have experienced abuse and domestic violence, have learning or speech and language difficulties and untreated mental health problems. One fifth of them will have self-harmed and 11 per cent attempted suicide before they went into custody. These children need care, therapy and a regime that assists in their rehabilitation if they are not to continue to offend.

It is therefore of great concern that the plans to spend £87m on a “secure college” are being pushed through parliament. How can an establishment, designed to be a cheap option and holding more than 300 children aged 12 to 17, hope to address these complex issues? In particular, we learn that the secure college will allow force to be used to ensure “good order and discipline”. A 14-year-old boy committed suicide in custody because he had been restrained for this purpose.

All the evidence tells us that warehousing children in a large establishment is more likely to increase the risk of self-harm and suicide, and will do nothing to reintegrate these children back into society.

Pam Hibbert, OBE

Chair, National Association for Youth Justice Professor Dame Sue Bailey

Chair Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition Peter Hindley

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Your editorial, “Summits need tact, not insults” (16 November) was spot on. President Putin was humiliated, whatever genuine opprobrium his actions in Ukraine may deserve, and he won’t forget it when it comes to negotiating with the perpetrators.

Wars can be started by the ego posturing of heads of state, and they can escalate in no time at all. There never was a greater need for intelligent, mature statesmanship which recognises the underlying causes of conflict and seeks constructive ways to remedy what has become an unnecessarily dangerous situation. A little more mindfulness and a lot less Bullingdon.

Sierra Hutton-Wilson

Evercreech, Somerset

Your editorial alludes to the deal struck by China and the US over climate change but fails to mention that China’s emissions will rise until 2030. Since 1990, annual emissions of carbon dioxide have risen by 60 per cent globally, and the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has now passed 400 parts per million. Irreversible climate change will kick in at 450 ppm, a level which will be reached in 20 years, about the same time that China’s emissions will peak. This deal is nothing more than posturing by the planet’s two biggest polluters.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Joan Smith was wrong to characterise the Catholic Church as opposing human progress (16 November). At the time of Galileo’s arrest, the correct model of the solar system was a matter of genuine debate. Galileo was badly treated but his dispute was (largely) as a result of a personal argument when he implied that the Pope was an idiot for believing the orthodox view.

The orthodox view had been developed mainly by Greek philosopher Ptolomy (not the Bible). It had held up to scrutiny for hundreds of years. Opponents of it had not been able to demonstrate that the Earth rotated at the enormous speed it would be required to (our experience is that we live on unmoving ground).

Adam Huntley

St Albans, Hertfordshire

I’m not much interested in football. The playing field is so uneven nowadays. However, I do enjoy another game called “The Rooney Count”. Before you open a newspaper, you guess how many photos of Mr Rooney will be inside. It’s always exciting and unlike football, involves minimal cost. Last week The Independent on Sunday managed six. I’d guessed seven. Never mind, better luck next time. It’s almost as exciting as “The Cumberbatch Count”!

Pete Butchers

Meldreth, Cambridgeshire


Despite claims by the government that it wants to protect the countryside, its planning reforms have facilitated development in rural communities Despite claims by the government that it wants to protect the countryside, its planning reforms have facilitated development in rural communities

West’s broken promises have played part in Ukraine drama

THE former US assistant secretary of state James Rubin omits any mention of the West’s role in his article “Putin has exploited our weakness in Ukraine — and now the Baltic states are in danger” (Focus, last week).

He ignores Mikhail Gorbachev’s recent observation that Russia feels betrayed by the West breaking its promise that German reunification would not lead to an eastward expansion of Nato. This went ahead, moreover, despite Russia giving America invaluable territorial access for its war in Afghanistan. Then came Ukraine’s tilt to the West.

It is not clear Ukraine is our responsibility. It was part of Russia’s domain for a large period during the 20th century and it is not a member of Nato, whereas a number of the Baltic states now are. Georgia and Ukraine may be one thing, but attacks on Nato allies are different. We know that — and Putin knows we know.
Gordon Bonnyman, Frant, East Sussex


Rubin asserts that this “is what happens when a bully is not confronted right away and becomes drunk with his own apparent success”. Was this not Anthony Eden’s argument about the former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser? America’s response was to pull the rug from under our currency until we gave Nasser a free hand. Has America changed its spots?
David Drury, Swanage, Dorset

Planning rural blight from Westminster

THE housing and planning minister, Brandon Lewis, says “countryside protection” is at the heart of what this government is doing to reform planning (“Countryside alliance”, Letters, last week).

I live in rural Somerset and I can assure him that nothing is further from the truth. Lewis has been in his job for just a few months and demonstrates his lack of understanding of the reality outside his Westminster bubble.

Here we have opportunist, land-grabbing housing developers putting in planning applications for large unsightly estates on prime agricultural greenfield sites with the near certainty that local authorities are unable to stop them. Any refusal will be appealed against by developers, which know that councils are unable to afford the cost of appeals.
Robin Lea, Congresbury, Somerset


Our parish of 500 houses, two pubs, one village shop/post office and one junior school is facing planning applications for 200 homes. The issues involved are complex and include the relaxation of planning consent, the removal of a local development plan, poor transport links, insufficient infrastructure, farmers selling up and so on.

It was therefore interesting to read the minister’s gift of local determination and his recognition of environment protection. What guff.
Howard Day, Swadlincote, Leicestershire

US general in the line of fire

AS TWO senior officers who served with General Sir Nick Carter in Kandahar in 2009 and 2010 we are appalled at the portrayal that the retired US general Daniel Bolger has given of operations in southern Afghanistan under the new chief of the general staff’s leadership (“British Army chief ‘cost lives’ ”, News, last week).

The Nato International Security Assistance Force’s (Isaf) policy of “courageous restraint” was controversial, but it was specifically designed to protect the civilian population whose trust and support we were trying to win.

This required a subtly different kind of courage from our soldiers on occasion, but British and US troops were never denied the right of self-defence or prevented from accessing the considerable support available in southern Afghanistan, as suggested by Bolger. Far from General Carter residing in a “well-appointed command post” we frequently stood in for him as he ventured into the population centres, holding countless meetings with our Afghan partners and getting a real feel for the situation on the ground.

We never saw Bolger on the ground in Kandahar, and therefore the authority with which he appears to speak on the relationships that existed between Isaf headquarters in Kabul and its HQ in Kandahar should be treated with much scepticism. We believe he has made his assertions on the basis of third-hand information.
Major-General Richard Davis, British Army, and Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges, Commanding General, US Army Europe


I am lucky to have lived through an extraordinary period of space endeavours (“One giant step”, Focus, last week). The grainy pictures of the first moon landing in 1969 are something I shall never forget, and the Rosetta mission was driven by scientists — many of them British — to find why we are here and how. I hope through such ventures, God will be taken out of the equation.
Harvey Clegg, Woodbridge, Suffolk


Simon Green, senior lecturer in space science at the Open University, states: “The cost of Rosetta pales into insignificance next to what people spend on shampoo and mascara”. But at least they have something to show for the outlay.
Terry Slater, Harlow, Essex


Why is the cost of space exploration always compared with expenditure on female products such as mascara rather than male products such as aftershave?
David Greenwood, Barnet, London

Fifa deserves red card for whitewash

THE Fifa scandal surrounding World Cup bidding continues unabated (“Fixer’s World Cup offer to England”, News, and “Fifa’s whitewash can’t hide stain of corruption”, Editorial, last week), and there is now surely no doubt that this inept and seemingly corrupt organisation is totally unfit for purpose.

If the world of football had anything about it, it would ensure that Fifa in its present form is abolished and replaced by a totally new organisation run by an executive with no connections to the past. Unfortunately, one suspects that there are far too many people at the top of world football with their snouts in the trough to take this necessary action for the benefit of the game.
Bob Watson, Baildon, West Yorkshire


The mention of a “Fifa ethics judge” is rather like referring to a “Nazi equal-opportunities officer” or a “mafia non-violence committee”. The most honourable thing English football could do would be to leave Fifa, but with money holding the central place in the game that it does, this is never going to happen.
Colin Jordan, London W4


I write as director of the largest West Midlands pathology service, a six-year member of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence cancer services and a former president of the Association of Clinical Pathologists.Your front-page article “Surgeons told to publish deaths”(News, last week) is detrimental to patients. A surgeon faced with a patient destined to die without an emergency operation, where that procedure carries an 80-90% risk of death, will now not try. As a 63-year-old, can I expect that the surgeon will consider his “position” before considering my own as a very sick patient whom he could save, albeit by operating at risk of an increased death rate? Should I die in such circumstances, it should not be wrongly attributed to the surgeon who tried their best in such dire circumstances.
Professor Archie J Malcolm,Shrewsbury, Shropshire


I am not sure which is more shocking — that a con artist should issue a death threat (“ ‘Try to find your £380,000 watch and you’ll die’ ”, News, last week) or that anyone would pay that amount for a watch when a smartphone has more “super complication” than a Patek Philippe timepiece and tells the time more accurately.
Mark Solon, London SW12


The claim that in the First World War “1.2m Indians fought in the mud in Belgium and France and they died in vast numbers” is misleading (“Let every school saddle up for a war course”, News Review, November 9). The 1.2m figure is the total number of men who served in the Indian army anywhere in the world, including India itself, during the war. For the western front the figures are roughly 90,000 soldiers (of whom almost 9,000 gave their lives) and 50,000 non-combatants in labour units. At least 5,000 have no known grave.
TA Heathcote, Author of The Military in British India


Your data on the domination of some grammar schools by children from ethnic minorities is deliciously ironic (“White pupils fail to make grade for grammar school”, News, last week). Those middle-class, professional and media folk who have been so condescending and laid-back about immigration will soon feel the impact of migrant competition on their children’s careers and prospects. Something about sowing and reaping?
Peter Richards, Poole, Dorset


I have spent 35 years in food production and expected more from your article on the employment of Hungarians in a UK sandwich factory (“Feeding the sandwich generation”, Focus, last week). Where was the mention of the benefits the sandwich industry has for our farmers, bread makers and packaging companies, and of the tax they generate? Britain leads the way in large-scale modern food production. Look at any manufacturer of chilled food, from fruit packing to ready meals, and it will be filled with hard-working, tax-paying foreigners without whom Nigel Farage would not get his Christmas turkey and sliced salmon next month.
Stephen A Minall, Radlett, Hertfordshire


May I correct an error regarding the cause of death of Sally Mugabe, the first wife of Robert Mugabe (“Power rival feels Mrs Mugabe’s claws”, World News, November 9)? I had intermittently attended Sally for 12 years up to her death. She had been on kidney dialysis for 10 years and died of an infection in 1992. There was no question of cancer, as was reported.
Dr Roger Gabriel, Emeritus Consultant Renal Physician, Guildford, Surrey


What a shame The Sunday Times has fallen for the myth of body mass index (BMI) being an indicator of obesity (“Britain’s (not so) light infantry”, News, last week). When I was serving in the army I attended my annual medical check and, despite being successful in whatever fitness test I undertook, I was horrified to see that my weight classified me as obese. I was told by the military medical orderly that the BMI was “just for civvies”.
Mark Newnham, York


Is it so outrageous to suggest that exercise is a more effective and beneficial solution to the claimed obesity crisis than trying to control fast-food portion sizes? That said, a little common sense would be a far more useful solution to many of today’s problems than the ever-increasing effort to regulate our lives.
Hamish Hossick, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Corrections and clarifications

In last week’s newspaper the masthead “UK’s top 600 primary & prep schools” and pages of the Parent Power supplement in News Review headed “Britain’s top 300 primary and prep schools” should have read “England’s top 600…” and “England’s top 300… ” respectively. We apologise to our readers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the misleading nature of the headlines.

The article “Let every school saddle up for a war course” (News Review, November 9) attributed the claim that “1.2m Indians fought in the mud in Belgium and France and they died in vast numbers” to Michael Morpurgo. This is incorrect and was added during the editing process. We apologise to Mr Morpurgo for this 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.


Zoë Ball, broadcaster, 44; Miley Cyrus, singer, 22; Joe Eszterhas, screenwriter, 70; Kevin Gallacher, footballer, 48; Shane Gould, former Olympic champion swimmer, 58; Bruce Hornsby, musician, 60; Sue Nicholls, actress, 71; Diana Quick, actress, 68; Robert Towne, screenwriter, 80; Kirsty Young, broadcaster, 46


1924 Edwin Hubble publishes discovery that Milky Way is not the only galaxy; 1963 first episode of Doctor Who; 1990 Roald Dahl, author, dies; 1996 hijacked Ethiopian Airlines plane crash-lands, killing 125; 2002 rioting over the country’s hosting of the Miss World contest leaves 215 dead in Kaduna, Nigeria


Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Madam – My stance in favour of water charges all along has been because of conservation. Now that we know the details of the charges it seems the conservation argument has gone out the window. Now it seems that what my anti-water charges friends were telling me was correct – it is just a tax under another name.

With a cap in place on charges, it seems it doesn’t matter how much water you use. We are now being told that the meters will help reduce bills if you use a small amount of water. In reality the reduction will be minuscule and will not be worth the effort. Granted the meters may find a few leaks but if you are effectively not being penalized for them, what’s the point in getting them fixed.

€500 million worth of meters will effectively be a white elephant of epic proportions compared to the €50 million spent on e-voting machines.

While I have not taken part in any protests so far I am seriously thinking of taking part in the next nationwide protest on December 10. Let’s derail this out of control speeding train before there is an almighty crash,

Thomas Roddy,


Give with the hope of reward

Madam – This Christmas Irish people should reach out to neighbours with charitable donations. I know of a man who, over many years, helped others anonymously. He never spoke of these good deeds but many had cause to be grateful, for the blank envelope found in the post box.

Just put some money in an envelope and post it to someone in need. There are millions of euro leaving the State on behalf of the Irish people every single day. It is time to look after our own needy.

Harry Mulhern,


Show respect for dead and injured

Madam – The recent death of a two-year-old girl, who was killed in a road traffic accident in Waterford, was tragic and heart-rending. I cannot begin to imagine the grief that her family are going through.

It is deplorable that members of the public that happened upon the scene began capturing videos and photo images with their phones.

Yet it has become so widespread that Waterford Fire Services has appealed to the public to let them get on with their work and to show respect and dignity to those involved in accidents. Curiosity is normal; taking pictures of dying, injured and distraught victims is not.

John Bellew

Dunleer, Co Louth

Good friends are worth a lot

Madam – What a truly poignant piece from Eleanor Goggin – “A friend through thick, thin and laughter” in the Sunday Independent (16 November). I was in tears after reading it.

We have all had these best friends, in childhood, school, college and later years and they are more than worth their weight in gold.

I can totally empathise with Eleanor’s description. My friends and I have been through so much together over the past 25 years including parents’ deaths, ill-health, etc, and I can honestly say anything to them. We can sit in silence reading or laugh hysterically at the most stupid things. We all put up with each other’s oddities.

My thoughts are with Eleanor and her friend’s family. I am going to make a point of touching base with some of my closest friends, for you never know the day nor the hour.

Mary Quinn,

Dun Laoghaire,

Co Dublin

There’s a need for new politics

Madam – What I found most revealing about last weekend’s water charges demonstration was that it was timed to coincide with a group of adults receiving graduation certificates – people improving their lives through hard work and application.

We now see that the hard-Left offers a politics of perpetual adolescence – angry with “the system”, but never offering a viable, or affordable alternative.

We also have a huge number of people – myself included – who will never again vote for any of the big three parties who have ruled this State since independence.

Their tribalism and cronyism, along with their contempt for the taxpayer, make their version of “democracy” too far from what’s required in the 21st century.

The vacuum in Irish politics needs to be filled by responsible politicians – and a responsible electorate.

We need grassroots democracy, a genuine “public service”, elected mayors with real clout, balanced budgets and an end to generations of welfare dependency in an economy still able to attract large numbers of immigrants.

A real republic would be a fitting tribute to the 1916 generation, and leave a far better legacy for the generations to come.

Over to you, Independents with vision.

Gerry Kelly,


Dublin 6.

Protests can get hijacked

Madam – As we witnessed in Jobstown last week, peaceful protests can be hijacked by other less savoury elements.

I believe politicians calling for a “show of anger” should bear this in mind in relation to the planned protest on December 10.

In my humble opinion, and I hope I am wrong, I think there is a good chance that every Garda-hater and malcontent will see this event as an early Christmas present.

I have visions of the “Love Ulster” debacle, when similar elements showed their own particular version of protest.

If this turns out to be the case on December 10 the aforementioned politicians should start preparing their respective speeches.

Pat Burke Walsh,


Co Wexford

We need a strong leader

Madam – While watching the disgraceful behaviour of a sinister element to the water charges protests, and the total disrespect for our democratically elected ministers, it behoves the Catholic Church to come out strongly, and show their utter abhorrence at this sordid show of violence and anarchy.

Shame on those thugs, and also on those who abused Mairia Cahill and all the other victims. Where is the voice of reason, before we step over the precipice. We need a strong leader now more so than ever.

Una Heaton,


Change can come quick if we want it

Madam – Isn’t it surprising how quickly this government acted to rein in its more extreme tendencies – once its own future prospects were put in jeopardy, regarding the protests over Irish Water?

May we all live long enough to witness a few more epiphanies!

Richard Dowling,


Co Laois

Should we leave EU to mark 1916?

Madam – The debate about how we should commemorate the 1916 Rising is just beginning. No doubt it will be used and abused by politicians to justify every point on the political spectrum.

Perhaps the best way to truly recall the memory of the men and women who paid the ultimate price for the right to self-determination would be to hold a referendum about our support for the disgraceful usurpation of the Irish people by our so-called EU partners.

The Irish people should be afforded an opportunity to assert our support or otherwise for the forced bailout of the European and international private banking system and the German-dominated political institution (the EU) that imposed such cruel terms on this nation. It is timely, on the centenary of our most significant historical moment, that we take courage and consider leaving the EU, a body that will never again respect this nation’s right to equal treatment.

The wording of the referendum is partly in place, courtesy of Thomas J Clarke, Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, PH Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett.

“We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.”

Declan Doyle,

Lisdowney, Kilkenny

Water charges made worm turn

adam – Enda Kenny spoke of a democratic revolution on his accession to power but, as we have seen, this was not the case. The bailout is over, the Troika has come (though it pops over every now and again), but the same vested interests and people at the top of the pile sail serenely on.

Politicians, developers, bankers and regulators lost us our independence and our sovereignty; our children took the emigrant boat/plane again; and our shops and industries closed by the thousand. We bailed them out, but got little thanks for it.

Finally, in the shape of the water protests, the Celtic worm has turned. I think most of us were too terrified by the suddenness of the bust to be angry at the time, which explains why there were so few protests during the height of austerity.

We were left in a parlous position of needing to be bailed out, we saw that our leaders in the political and banking sectors literally were clueless and we were afraid.

Now that fear has somewhat subsided, and has been gradually replaced by a slow-burning anger.

With this anger, the chimera of Enda’s democratic revolution is gradually taking shape. The water protests saw ordinary people tell those in charge that we won’t take any more. The problem is both financial and philosophical.

We are already paying for water, and if leaks need fixing, then use this money to get them fixed. It should not take a new monopoly, complete with inbuilt bonus culture (and we saw where that got us in the financial sector during the Celtic Tiger), to do this job.

Nor should this company, which is set up to manage water, immediately pay millions to consultants to tell them how to do their job!

Given that all of this boils down to “fix the leaks”, it is no wonder that people are angry.

This will not just be water under the bridge for this government. The Irish people showed Fianna Fail and the Greens what they thought of them in the last election – and election 2016 is coming soon. What a fitting date to begin a real democratic revolution.

Dr Eugene O’Brien,

Dept of English,

Mary Immaculate College

University of Limerick

Let’s put the children first

Madam – In last week’s Sunday Independent, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly speaking about Sinn Fein and abuse allegations said: “If we are to address the failings of our past, which we know are many, we must recognise we have a duty to put children first. This means all of us all of the time. Otherwise we will fail our children again.”

I say, forget the pomp and ceremony of commemorating 1916. Instead use the €26m to get the children’s hospital started, and I mean started – bricks-and-mortar started. A united Ireland that so much blood has been shed for is increasingly a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic population. Let’s drop the romantic sentiment, do our duty and put children first. They are after all, always going to be our future.

Cut through the red tape, bureaucracy and let’s face it, egotistical bullshit, and use the opportunity to put the children of Ireland first. For once.

Anne Lawlor,

Marino, Dublin 3

Things could get worse – wake up

Madam – Gerry Adams spends much of his time in his native jurisdiction, ie, Northern  Ireland, where he keeps busy preparing his people for the British general election, coming up soon.

Anyone who finds the spectacle of an “Irish republican” TD gearing up to campaign for potential MPs in a British parliament somewhat confusing, can be assured that under the guise of SF being a “national party”, we only need to think for one minute to realise Gerry’s outfit are indeed a partitionist political entity. Of course this is something they abhor in our own legitimate democracy here in Eire.

They accuse others in Leinster House of being what they represent more than anyone in politics, themselves. And we wonder why an American journalist might get bamboozled as to exactly who and where we are?

The current mantra of Sinn Fein in what they used to call disparagingly the “Free State,” is ‘tax the rich’, whatever that means. The ‘rich’ already are paying. The propaganda SF issues in polite circles is to portray concern for the hard-pressed payers of tax while the perceived rich are ‘getting away’ with murder, if you’ll pardon the pun.

There is a distinct lack of clarity when they speak of the unspeakable “rich”, but among many of their supporters this simply means anyone who has a small business; someone who owns a nice car, or indeed everyone with a job already paying tax but not known to vote for Sinn Fein.

A lot of the ‘thinking’ among the Shinners’ rank and file is that their time has come and the taxing to extinction of the movers and shakers in business, and the supposed well paid, means more for themselves as they contemplate the revolution with a few extra special offer cans on their sofas from the un-Irish local supermarket, while watching ‘Match of the Day’ wearing Liverpool and Chelsea shirts.

Wake up Ireland,if you think things cannot get any worse than they are now.

Robert Sullivan,

Bantry, Co Cork.

We’re still waiting, Mary Lou

Madam – Last week, in Dail Eireann, Mary Lou McDonald stated “anyone associated with the abuse of a child or the cover-up of abuse must face the full rigours of the law”.

A week later and I have not heard of her mentioning her party leader who has admitted he was aware of his brother’s abuse of his niece and took no action?

Cal Hyland,

Rosscarbery, West Cork

Why do we keep knocking Bob?

Madam – Please, Please, Madam, tell me it was a big mistake to publish Declan Doyle’s letter “Give ’em your money, Bob” (Sunday Independent, 16 November).

I will not even go into the reasons why, they are so obvious.

Why, oh why Madam, do we so often, try to knock really good people in this country?

(By the way, thank you so much for publishing my letter about the wonderful school choirs – I was just sorry it was so close to Mr Doyle’s rubbish.)

Brian McDevitt,

Glenties, Co Donegal

Bob is a real leader with Band Aid 30

Madam – I am sure I am not alone when expressing my disgust at one Mr Doyle in the Letters Page (Sunday Independent, 16 November), having a go at Bob Geldof and Band Aid 30 re-doing Do They Know It’s Christmas.

Geldof is someone who tries to make a difference when others wait for someone else to do something. He’s an example to us all.

Why would anyone who is mourning the loss of their daughter be bothered to launch another campaign this time to help Ebola victims? This is the mark of the man, taking action rather than moaning that something should be done.

John Walsh,


Sunday Independent


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