Goers and go-getters

Sir: In her interesting article on the rising equality in the female world (‘Sex and success, 27 April), Alison Wolf states that A*/top-stream girls stay virgins until 20 ‘because they have more important things on their minds’. I am not sure about this. I certainly remember that this was not the case when I was at Wellington in the late 1990s: the A* girls were usually the goers.
Nolan Walker
London EC1

Ms Kite’s elitism

Sir: We would like to take issue with Melissa Kite’s piece (‘Two-wheeled tyranny’, 27 April). I write on behalf of CTC, the national cycling charity. I was delighted to find two of our members are active cycle campaigners with firsthand knowledge of the Kenilworth Greenway, referred to in her article. One of them, George Riches, was even a member of the steering group during the planning stages of the route. He thought Ms Kite’s view high-handed and elitist. Mr Riches remembers the 1970s when he cycled along the disused railway line to Berkwell and says: ‘Now the track is open to all, it is tremendously well-used’. He added that the Kenilworth Greenway is busy at weekends, allowing families and wheelchair users to enjoy the countryside together on the smooth tarmacked surface that seems to offend Ms Kite so much. CTC understands the Greenway is enjoyed by a local ladies’ cycling group and is not, as Ms Kite sees it, the sole domain of the much-maligned Mamils (Middle-aged men in Lycra).

The Kenilworth Greenway is now providing happy childhood memories for a new generation of cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians alike. Warwickshire County Council quite rightly say this provides more opportunities for ‘all members of society’ to enjoy the countryside.

Seeing the fulsome negative responses to the article that have already posted online, perhaps Ms Kite should get off her high horse — or her Louboutin heels — and on to a bike. We can even recommend some designer models and cycling accessories.
Laura Raymond
Senior communications and media co-ordinator, CTC, Guildford

Desecration by cycle path

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Sir: Melissa Kite says ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’. A late Victorian photograph shows a leafy country lane winding through farmland which is now Verulamium Park in St Albans. Preserved in this form until last year, the council has now installed a two-lane arrangement for cyclists and pedestrians. Leading up to the wonderful ‘causeway’ next to the Roman wall, this footpath is now divided by kerbs and contrasting surfacing with signs and urban paraphernalia at regular intervals. Whatever your mode of transport, the simple experience of a passage through time is now constantly interrupted by modernity.
Peter Baker
St Albans, Hertfordshire

Another club

Sir: Buck’s was not the only club of which Lady T was a member (Letters, 27 April). When she became Tory leader in 1975, the then all-male Carlton was delighted to find that there was no bar on her becoming an honorary member, as all her predecessors had. She accepted with alacrity and visited the club frequently over the years for lunches, dinners and receptions, which were always packed with her admirers. In 1979 Harold Macmillan, the first person to be elected president of the club, unveiled a fine bust of her by Oscar Nemon. Shuffling towards it in his carefully practised manner, he said in a stage whisper heard by everyone, ‘Now I must remember I am unveiling a bust of Margaret Thatcher, not Margaret Thatcher’s bust.’

She strengthened the affection in which she was held by rushing round to St James’s Street in July 1990 to inspect the damage and comfort the injured among staff and members alike following an IRA bomb attack. In 2009 she became the club’s second president.
Lord Lexden
Carlton Club Historian, London SW1

Iran’s aggression

Sir: Peter Oborne (Diary, 27 April) says it is ‘nonsense’ to consider Iran an aggressive power. Iran’s leadership has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. If that isn’t threatening one’s neighbours in the region, what is? (Mr Oborne and some other apologists of the regime claim that this threat has been mistranslated from Farsi; but the alternative translation they offer amounts to the same thing.)

Reinforcing this threat with action, the Iranian regime has funded and armed organisations — Hezbollah and Hamas — which target Israeli civilians and which are publicly committed to Israel’s destruction. Why Mr Oborne doesn’t think that these are the words and deeds of an aggressive power is beyond reason.
Michael Grenfell
London NW11

The missing hobgoblins

Sir: I do not think, pace Peter Oborne, that ‘the cathedral authorities’ were guilty of ‘bowdlerisation’ or of consciously deciding ‘to cut out John Bunyan’s famous line about hobgoblins and foul fiends’ from the hymn ‘To Be a Pilgrim’ at Mrs Thatcher’s funeral. They simply reproduced Percy Dearmer’s version from The English Hymnal of 1906, down to its last comma and full stop, which with Vaughan Williams’s splendid setting of a folk tune, ‘Monks Gate’, made it a famous hymn in the first place. Later hymnals (Ancient and Modern from 1916) perhaps wisely reverted to Bunyan’s words, but the ‘bowdlerisation’, if such, is still in common use and is more than a century old.
Sheridan Gilley
Durham

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated

Tags: Alison Wolf, Carlton Club, Kenilworth Greenway, Margaret, Melissa kite