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Spectator letters: Silence in Scotland, the man who predicted the election result, and what to do with hair clippings

Plus: Parsonages, vicars and Sir John Eliot Gardiner

16 May 2015

9:00 AM

16 May 2015

9:00 AM

Scotland’s silent majority

Sir: Hugo Rifkind’s article (‘Scotland’s nasty party’, 9 May) is a first for the media. It expresses the dismay, disbelief and incomprehension felt at the rise of the SNP by least one — and I suspect many — of the silent majority in Scotland. When will the media confront Nicola Sturgeon’s claim to speak for Scotland, as opposed to allowing her to deliver an unchallenged party political broadcast? She can only speak for the SNP, who at best can speak for half of Scottish voters. Not in my name. I want no part of her strident, demanding, aggressive brand.

The article did omit one issue. Thousands of young Scots work in England and abroad, developing and enhancing their expertise before returning home. That wider world view and knowledge benefits Scotland but, with the spectre of independence, how many of these young people will now chose not to return, making us a socially, intellectually and financially poorer, more parochial place?
Name withheld (I really don’t want my windows broken), Glasgow

Top tipster

Sir: The Conservatives and Labour were ‘neck and neck’ or ‘too close to call’, according to all the so-called professional pollsters in the lead-up to the events of last Thursday. In five years’ time they should just ring up the dentist/jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, and save themselves time and no doubt a reasonable amount of wasted expense. He was spot on in his Grand National notebook (11 April). Now, who does he fancy in the 4.30 at Doncaster?
Mark Peeters
Bigbury, Devon

Remembrance of lost Time

Sir: Taki’s obsequies for Time magazine (High life, 2 May) were most evocative. In my teenage years, much of my knowledge of foreign affairs came the local cinema and the March of Time shorts. The stirring signature music and the closing slogan, ‘time marches on’, remain permanently in my memory.


As for the magazine itself, over the past few years it has become progressively more boring. Taki did, however, take me back to the days of its pomp when the letters pages were fascinating: I recall during the Eisenhower years an example of lèse-majesté when the President was referred to as ‘that golf-playing idiot in Washington’.

There was also the response to an article on the anthropologist Margaret Mead, who had been exploring the sexual habits of South Sea islanders and condemned the masculinity of one tribe where the wives had to withdraw the special soup of the area until the men had performed. One correspondent replied: ‘I don’t think that the men are sexless — they just don’t like soup.’
Ken Wortelhock
Orewa, New Zealand

Keeping parsonages

Sir: Could I please clear up the confusion caused by the letter from Canon John Fellows (9 May)? He asks where the vicar is to live when a parsonage is let out. Our lettings proposal relates to former parsonages that are no longer in clergy use. Having declared a house redundant, against the wishes of our members in the parish, the Church then sells it off. It should be keeping it to preserve its capital value, and letting it out to the hedge-fund manager cited by the canon for valuable income, rather than selling it off.

My point about the importance of keeping the traditional parsonage in the first place is that it gives the Church the vital presence, both symbolic and practical, that it loses when the vicar is hidden away on an anonymous suburban estate.
Anthony Jennings
Director, Save Our Parsonages
London WC1

Missing vicars

Sir: I totally support the recent comments about the place of the church in the community (Letters, 18 April, 2 May). The church is not just about an ancient historic building, splendid though that may be; it is about people worshipping together week by week and it is those very people who have to maintain the buildings, dearly loved as they are. In so many communities where there is no resident priest, churches are locked and appear unloved, with services at irregular times due to the workload of a priest trying to cover many parishes.

The Church is becoming more and more dependent on lay people and yet there are so many constraints on what they can do. Where is the diocese that looks to invest in people, building up the number of priests and local church leaders and enabling local churches to meet the needs of its parishioners? To make all this happen will need lower costs at the diocesan centre. Let’s bring back spiritual hope and joy to the heart of our communities.
Mike Tedstone
Churchwarden, St Paul’s, Kewstoke, Somerset

Brass neck

Sir: Damian Thompson (‘The heckler’, 2 May) is if anything charitable of Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s interpersonal failings. Nonetheless, may we not admire the conductor’s sheer nerve in losing his temper with one of the LSO’s trumpeters? Anyone who has spent two minutes in front of an orchestra (or a couple of hours in the pub after) knows you never tangle with the brass.
Richard Abram
Wanstead Park, Essex

The kindest cut

Sir: My hairdressers send any hair cuttings over six inches long to a charity for children suffering hair loss called the Little Princess Trust. A worthy alternative to using them to repel foxes (Letters, 16 May)?
Elizabeth Hines
St Albans, Hertfordshire

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London SW1H 9HP; letters@spectator.co.uk


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