Nothing to fear
Sir: So long as we are not breaking any law, we have nothing to fear from the police being able to access our mobiles (‘Licence to snoop’, 11 October). They, however, would be committing a crime if they released any information so gleaned to anyone except to the judiciary if we are being accused of a crime.
In these difficult times it is reassuring that the police should have every means at their disposal in pursuing those who would do us harm or commit criminal activity.
South Cerney, Cirencester
In defence of KP
Sir: Peter Oborne is right that some of Kevin Pietersen’s most brilliant innings over the past ten years will stay with cricket lovers for ever (‘An excess of spin’, 11 October), but wrong that his autobiography, KP, won’t. The vivid prose has lifted the lid on what has been said in the dressing room and challenged the adage that what is said there should remain there. As Pietersen puts it, ‘There was a story that had to be told’; cutting against the spin, there is also a case to answer. What comes over most clearly is that any enjoyment had gone out of playing for England. Pietersen may best be served by a period of silence on his part, while a new chief executive of the ECB takes up the post. I’m not betting on the silence, but something better must surely emerge for players and cricket lovers alike. The book will stay among my cricket books, alphabetically by author, alongside Oborne’s brilliant Basil D’Oliveira (2004) for as long as I have them; to be joined, I hope, by future memoirs of players whose joy at playing for this country is once again palpable and for whom some fun is restored to touring abroad.
Sir: I am pleased to report that I have never, while in Scotland, been on the receiving end of the dismal service meted out to Rory Sutherland on his visit there (The Wiki Man, 11 October). Perhaps I don’t visit Scotland often enough.
But as a contented settler in Essex, I was delighted to see, at long last, someone from sophisticated cosmopolitan circles singing the praises of the much-maligned folk of that county. The cheap slurs regularly hurled at the brash materialism of Basildon (or indeed Clacton) Man and the allegedly highly developed libido of the Essex Girl (I am the proud — but far from naive — father of three of the species) probably mask a secret envy of the targets’ entrepreneurial flair and chutzpah. Essex is often, as Mr Sutherland suggests, Britain at its best. I only wish he had also drawn attention to the fact that a good number of those paragons of ‘service culture’ in the county of Essex speak with broad Glaswegian or (increasingly) Polish accents. Scotland and Poland’s loss is Essex and Kent’s gain.
Monsters on the beach
Sir: Justin Marozzi’s experience on Wells beach did not surprise me (‘Dogs of war’, 11 October). I live in west Norfolk and own two terriers. I would not walk them unless they were on a lead. This habit of allowing dogs to run free on our beaches is a common one. To me, it says: ‘Look at me, I can control my dog, and it doesn’t need a leash.’ I was attacked last year; same scenario. A dog came from nowhere and, being repelled by one of my dogs, it threw its head against my leg instead. Fortunately, I only suffered severe swelling, but I was shocked. Dogs are unpredictable, and it is naive to expect them to always behave as we would wish. Bull terriers are in a league of their own, often with owners who see them as an extension of their macho image. Perhaps we need to revisit the Dangerous Dogs Act, in a sensible and measured way.
Sir: Having just lost 15 minutes of my life trying to decrypt the cartoon with Nick Cohen’s story (‘Our suicidal media’, 11 October), I’m hoping you will run the correct caption this week. I’m guessing something involving boots on the ground, but I’m buggered if I can work out what.
Balmain, NSW, Australia
Yes – with our apologies. Here it is:
Dining with Vivaldi
Sir: The late Christopher Hogwood (Music, 4 October) was not only an early musician but also an early activist against piped music. Dining one day at Midsummer House, Cambridge, Hogwood asked if the inevitable Vivaldi might at least be turned down. As the waiter went off to attend to the request, a fellow diner at the next table leant over and murmured sympathetically, ‘We’re not musical either.’
Wanstead Park, Essex
Sir: The Army also has some excellent mnemonics (Letters, 11 October). On my young officers’ course our sergeant major instructor in gunnery helpfully provided us with ‘Charlie’s Balls Are Whoppers’ for the order in which the elements were entered into the graph to calculate the correction of the moment for the guns: charge temperature, barometric pressure, air temperature and wind.
Colonel John Wilson