Sir: Congratulations to Melissa Kite for her article ‘Paving paradise’ (2/9 June). She has perfectly expressed the view that we ‘country bumpkins’ have of the invidious invasion of the countryside by Fulham farmers in their Chelsea tractors.
Unfortunately, anyone with the wit to read her article will be nodding their head in agreement, whilst those she criticises will be turning the page in search of Armani and Ralph Lauren adverts. Or if they did actually manage to read it, they would probably not understand her point and certainly would not recognise themselves in her descriptions.
My enjoyment of the countryside is constantly undermined by these ‘incomers’ who demand that our precious rights of way are downgraded to footpaths or closed altogether — but that subject would fill several articles on its own.
Sir: Well said, Matthew Parris (‘I hope our Jubilee Queen, unlike the last, outlives a hopeless foreign war’, 2/9 June). It was hard to feel a full sense of national pride over the Jubilee weekend, when we know that our boys in the forces are still dying in an utterly futile conflict in Afghanistan — a fight that everybody knows is lost. On Sunday, as we celebrated the river pageant in the rain, Private Gregg Stone was shot and killed out on patrol in the Helmand. He should have been home.
Sir: Andrew Roberts (‘#JustStopIt’, 2/9 June) might also have dwelt upon the irony of MPs’ fondness for self-indulgent tweeting. Given their desire to reform the House of Lords as being irrelevant in this day and age, perhaps members should consider their own position. Hitherto, Mps were called upon to represent the concerns of their constituents, but one might suggest that these are now more widely and powerfully disseminated by social media.
Sir: Charles Moore (Notes, 2/9 June) tells of his grandfather at the time of the Coronation in 1953. My grandfather, John Holt Jnr, who was a boy at Shrewsbury at the time of Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, used to delight in telling of a senior boy who absconded from the school for the day to witness the procession in London, where the crowd was so tightly packed that the boy was compelled to wet himself.
Led astray by passion
Sir: Barry Humphries (Diary, 2/9 June) thinks that the word ‘passion’ is being debased. I disagree. It is in the nature of things that passion leads to a cock-up, and there is ample evidence that the word is appropriately used by many organisations where spin has replaced pragmatism.
Duck and cover
Sir: I think Alexander Chancellor (Long life, 2/9 June) is mistaken when he says the taxpayer paid for Sir Peter Viggers’s duck house. According to the Daily Telegraph’s The Complete Expenses Files, which I keep handy, Sir Peter’s claim for £1,645 for the duck house was rejected by the fees office. Nevertheless, the Telegraph put a duck on the cover of its historic report.
Sir: I refer to the article ‘Failing Britain’ by James Delingpole (Television, 26 May). The author uses the word ‘Jap’ four times. Japanese people find this term offensive irrespective of the circumstances. This is precisely why this term should not be used. It is a derogatory term that was frequently used in anti-Japanese propaganda during the second world war. It is my strong hope that this word is never allowed to appear again in any future articles in your magazine.
Sir: I was fascinated by Rory Sutherland’s plan to make Europe happier by creating two rival alliances (‘Divided we stand’, 2/9 June). This idea has succeeded before, but some would say the treatment wasn’t worth the side-effects. It produced one of the most fondly remembered periods of European history, ending in 1914.
Sir: Australia has more than its fair share of pests, but there is none more noxious or persistent than the John Howard Hater (Letters, 2/9 June). Large groups of Howard Haters can still be found infesting Australia’s inner cities and university campuses, but there is no denser population than in the nation’s capital. Members of the group can be identified by reflexive barking at the mention of John Howard’s name. Five years after the former prime minister left politics, the Howard Hater is still unable to reconcile the fact of his many awards — member of the Order of Merit, Congressional Medal of Freedom, Companion of the Order of Australia, etc. — with their own blinkered and parochial views of his place in history. What particularly confounds the Howard Hater is the simple fact that before losing in 2007, John Howard won a popular mandate at four successive general elections. An extraordinary record by any measure.