The Spectator

Letters | 11 May 2017

Letters: in defence of side-saddle, Kelvin MacKenzie, the original Lucozade, and the clothes moth

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It’s a Unionist revival

Sir: Contrary to Alex Massie’s claims, there is no rebirth of Scottish Conservatism in Scotland (‘Queen of Scots’, 6 May). Rather, there is a strident Unionist vote from 2014 that has found its home in the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party — the latter part being the key. Mr Massie makes the error of confusing support for Unionism with support for Conservatism. It is widely acknowledged that Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives have no discernible policies or philosophy other than opposing a second independence referendum.

This was clear in the recent Scottish local elections on 4 May, where their campaign was based solely on ‘sending the SNP a message that we don’t want a second referendum’ and was entirely devoid of local policies. It is also notable that during the 2016 Scottish parliament elections, Ruth Davidson went to great lengths to hide the name of the party that she leads. In addition, as Mr Massie himself notes, the Scottish Conservatives are often uncomfortable with the more Conservative policies of the UK government, which are not as sellable in Scotland. All in, Mr Massie’s Tory revival is a Unionist one, not a Conservative one.

Ashley Douglas


Riding to the rescue

Sir: As a member of the Side Saddle Association and a former National Side Saddle Rider, I have to take issue with Sylvia Loch’s reply to Simon Barnes (Letters, 29 April). Firstly, side-saddle riding does not cause inevitable suffering to both horse and rider. If it does, why is it that my own horse can compete happily both side-saddle and astride, and is currently competing at a high level?

Saddle-fitting today is much improved and I have never had a horse end up sore or rubbed. As long as the length of time spent riding is built up gradually and regular saddle checks are made, there is no problem. As for the rider not remaining square to the axis, I have been competing side-saddle for over 30 years and am still perfectly sound.

Thanks to the Side Saddle Association, this form of riding has been preserved for future generations. Perhaps Sylvia should visit our National Show in August to see how elegant and classical the side-saddle riders of today are?

Clarissa Dawson BHSI, former National Side Saddle Rider

Darlingscott, Warwickshire

Who are the real racists?

Sir: Kelvin MacKenzie states that if he had known about Ross Barkley’s family tree he would never have compared him to a gorilla (Diary, 29 April). But why should this be so? It is clear that the footballer’s race played no part in Mr MacKenzie’s description of him, but it strikes me that to relate black people to gorillas in the first place hints at racism. This controversy only arose following the dredging up of a half-Nigerian grandfather by those who seem to spend their lives looking for reasons to be offended. By their broadcasting of their perceived link between a Nigerian and a great ape, it is they who should be condemned, not Kelvin MacKenzie.

Tim Coles

Carlton, Bedfordshire

The nectar of childhood

Sir: James Delingpole is correct to criticise the owners of the Lucozade brand for fiddling with its formula to the severe detriment of its flavour (6 May). The previous owner, Beechams, once fiddled with its formula, again on the sly, in about 1973, and I complained to them then that the flavour had been degraded.

Mr Delingpole is not so right in saying that recycling had not intruded in our lives in the glory days of Lucozade. The glass bottles were returnable for a 3d deposit, and I happily returned them in quantity and in that way received a decent boost to my pocket money.

The sugar tax sucks. Lucozade should bring back the glass bottles, the golden foil cap, the yellow cellophane pharmaceutical wrap and the original formula with the full glucose slug, and I — and many other Lucozade aficionados — will gladly pay the tax and a premium for the privilege of drinking the nectar of our childhood.

Chris Butler

Borough Green, Kent

Blame the carpet beetle

Sir: Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s article on the subject of the clothes moths that vandalise our cashmere and wool was interesting and very timely (‘Moths vs the middle classes’, 6 May). I possess a red cardigan which seems to be very tasty to the creatures.

What may be of interest to your readers is that my husband — now retired, but by profession an entomologist — says that he suspects that much of the destruction for which clothes moths are blamed is actually the fault of Anthrenus scrophulariae, otherwise known as the carpet beetle. I have found quite a few of these little brown offenders sunning themselves on the bedroom window ledges, either before or after depositing their larvae in my wardrobe, and so believe my husband could be correct. I hope this information may save somebody else’s unsuspecting knitwear as they follow me by declaring war on the little pests.

Clare Johnson

Glossop, Derbyshire

Management nonsense

Sir: Rory Sutherland’s piece last week (‘The MBA idiocies that ruin everything’, 6 May) reminded me of the old saw about management consultants, to wit: ‘A management consultant is someone who knows 100 different ways of making love to a woman, but doesn’t know any women.’

Charles Fuchter

Maidstone, Kent