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Spectator letters: Atomic morality; Norman Stone on migrants and Greek islands

Plus: poor treatment by the French; a paean to Sussex wines; and Ravel’s sexuality

22 August 2015

9:00 AM

22 August 2015

9:00 AM

The morality of the A bomb

Sir: In questioning whether we should celebrate VJ Day (Diary, 15 August), A.N. Wilson is confusing ‘why’ with ‘how’. The debate on the rights or wrongs of the nuclear attack will continue probably until long after the grandchildren of the last survivors have passed on. What should not be forgotten is the necessity to defeat the cruel, expansionist, militaristic regime that arose in Japan between the wars.

Something happened to Japan during that period. The treatment of Allied prisoners of war and the atrocities in China during the second world war are well documented. What is less well known is the Japanese treatment of prisoners of war during the first world war. The German garrison of Tsingtao, captured by the Japanese after a short campaign in 1914, reported on their repatriation in 1919 about how well they had been treated during four years of captivity in Japan. Whatever that ‘something’ was, it needed to be stopped.
N.J. Ridout
Lt Col (Rtd), Ingham, Lincs

Dodecanese solution

Sir: Taki is of course right when he says that ‘poor, craggy’ islands in the eastern Aegean, the Dodecanese, cannot possibly deal with the influx of migrants from Turkey (High life, 15 August) . But things are made worse by their anomalous situation. The islands’ natural hinterland is Anatolia, but they are part of ‘Europe’ and Schengen, and therefore a natural target for migrants who can paddle to them by boat. The islands are, in any event, expensive, because they get their water, electricity (and tax privileges) from the mainland, not Turkey; and then there is the ‘defence’ expenditure (for what?). The Turks now have money, but face tiresome visa restrictions. Would it not make sense for these islands, with Chios and Lesbos, to be declared a special zone, exempt from Schengen, where Turkish tourism and investment could be encouraged? One of the islands, maybe Karpathos, could even be used as a holding camp for the migrants while they are sorted out, and prevented from swamping Europe. Greek nationalists might wail about surrender to, as Taki puts it, ‘vile’ Turkey (does he really mean that?). But even they might see that a higher national interest is involved.
Norman Stone
Bilkent University, Ankara

Poor treatment

Sir: I think your leader may be out of date (‘Stop health tourism’, 15 August). In March, I ran up a bill in a French hospital for €186. I later claimed on my European Health Insurance card and was told that it would take four months to process and that the French would decide how much I should be reimbursed. In July, I received £13.08. I think this is a worrying tale for UK residents who thought they were covered by the card.
Peter Cullinan
Padstow, Cornwall

Shame on Hugh

Sir: Hugh Anderson (Commander RN (Rtd)) doth protest too much when he claims to favour scrapping the RAF (Letters, 15 August). His mother brought him into this world in a wonderful RAF hospital in Cyprus and he lived very happily with us there and in RAF houses for several years. He loved watching the planes on many RAF airfields and only in his late teens did he decide the Royal Navy was for him — and he did well. As his father, I still wonder how much better he might have done had he joined the RAF.
Roger Anderson
Squadron Leader RAF (Rtd),
Chagford, Devon

In praise of Sussex wines

Sir: I cannot let Charles Moore’s slighting remark on Sussex wine (Notes, 15 August) pass unnoticed. There are at least six reputable winemakers in Sussex producing award-winning reds, whites and rosés. East and West Sussex vineyards also have sparkling wines that regularly beat what Champagne can offer, due to having the same chalky subsoil.
Peter Brown
London SW15

The magic of Annes Grove

Sir: In contrast to Prue Leith’s unfortunate experience at Annes Grove (Diary, 8 August), we were welcomed by one of the Annesley family three years ago with the loan of gum boots and brollies. Annes Grove, like Ninfa, must be one of the most magical gardens in Europe. Wait till the winter damage is repaired, then go!
M.E. Brocklebank
Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk

Ravel, closet heterosexual

Sir: Michael Tanner is not alone in being taken in by Robert Craft’s claim that Ravel and Stravinsky had an on-off affair for several years (Arts, 15 August). Stravinsky’s biographer Stephen Walsh concurs with me that there is no evidence whatever for this claim. Such evidence as we have from Ravel’s side indicates strongly that he was a heterosexual, albeit a closet one. The conductor Inghelbrecht, who had known the composer from before 1905, later stated, as did Ravel’s friend and pupil Manuel Rosenthal, that he consorted with ‘filles de joie’; Vaughan Williams strongly implied that in 1908, after a lunch with Ravel’s publisher, both of them were included in the latter’s invitation to ‘go see some jolly tarts’; and in an unpublished letter of 1895 Ravel offered a young lady his ‘hommages les plus respectueux’, while admitting that ‘inwardly, my thoughts are quite different’.
Roger Nichols
Kington, Herefordshire

Girl talk

Sir: Mark Mason isn’t alone (‘Old boys’ network’, 15 August). I still call myself and friends ‘girls’, and I haven’t decided what to do when I grow up. (I was born in 1934.)
Celia Cameron

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