The Spectator

Letters | 21 July 2012

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Beyond a boundary

Sir: This is the first time that I have been really annoyed by an article in your magazine. Your leader ‘The Tories are back’ (14 July) concludes by stating that the redrawing of constituency boundaries is a piece of blatant gerrymandering. But the present boundaries are grossly unfair to the Conservatives.

When Tony Blair and Labour won the 2005 election the party gained 35.3 per cent of the vote and won 356 seats. When David Cameron and the Tories gained 36.1 per cent of the vote in 2010 they won only 307 seats — hence the coalition. The present constituencies do not provide a fair and level playing field. The article’s suggestion of gerrymandering is offensive and, more importantly, ill-informed.
Adrian Snow

Sport without tears

Sir: I agree with Charles Moore’s comments (Notes, 14 July) on Andy Murray crying at the end of the men’s final at Wimbledon. My four-year-old son also expressed surprise: ‘How can Andy Murray be British, Daddy, when he’s crying? You told me British gentlemen don’t cry when they lose and don’t show off when they win.’ The public praise of the tearfest led me to question how I was bringing up my son, with one colleague telling me I was ‘emotionally stunting’ him. That reappraisal was halted when I read The Spectator’s Notes. I can report that at his school sports day Wilfred lost all but one of the events that he took part in, despite his best efforts. Not a tear was shed and he thoroughly enjoyed competing. I could not have been prouder of my aspiring British gentleman of a son.

Stephen Rand
London SW1

Take a letter

Sir: Reading Charles Moore (Notes,

14 July) on the wives of men who ran off with their secretaries (‘they could always comfort themselves with the idea that the Other Woman was an airhead, or a submissive slave’), one assumes there are no secretaries on the staff of The Spectator.
Anne Carey
London W8

Deadlier than the bull

Sir: There is another way Alexander Fiske-Harrison could risk his life rather than running among the bulls of Pamplona (‘A good run’, 14 July), and cheaper too. For instance, the roads around here at school opening times provide no end of excitement. Parents in monster four-wheel-drive vehicles brook no opposition as they rid themselves of their charges. Bulls or mums? I’d chance the former.

Robert Vincent

Sir: How lucky for Alexander Fiske-Harrison to have escaped with his life because he was able to run away from the bulls in the streets of Pamplona.

Unfortunately the bulls get no such chance. They will be locked inside a bullring where, confused and bewildered by blaring music and a baying crowd, they will be tortured to death. After being stabbed with lances wielded by men on blindfolded horses, having their neck muscles broken and having lost a huge quantity of blood, they meet their sad death. As a final insult they may get their ears cut off as a trophy for their killer, before being dragged away like a useless bloodstained rag.
Aart van Kruiselbergen
By email

A touch of Frost

Sir: Matthew Parris (14 July) quotes Robert Frost — ‘Something there is that does not like a wall’ — in support of his dislike of dry-stone walling. He must surely also have been taught the last line of the same poem: ‘Good fences make good neighbours.’

Alan Doyle

The real Rod Liddle

Sir: I enjoy no regular contributor to The Spectator more than Rod Liddle, whose well-argued vitriol is invariably thought-provoking and usually, in my view, correct. But he becomes rather wearisome when he feels obliged to pretend, as on 14 July, that he’s a lefty. He cannot really believe that the decreasing number of those of us paying for the increasing number of the idle and criminal should not require that the beneficiaries of our largesse are subject to modest restraint in these straitened times.

Paul Goodson
Plaxtol, Kent

Ballsy responses

Sir: Ed Cumming (Letters, 14 July) declares that feisty, a word connoting excitable dogs and the breaking of wind, has to his ear ‘a sexual undertone’ that he wanted to avoid when writing about a woman. This sexual undertone, he assures us, is absent in the word ballsy. I find this judgment baffling.

Mr Cumming is mistaken in thinking I wish to encourage the use of feisty, but, since he habitually writes well, he might be warned of the consequences of an obsession with balls by the example of Tina Brown, also once regarded as an admirable writer. By 2007, in her book The Diana Chronicles, she was happy with sentences like this: ‘The girl who’d been picked to be the Royal Mouse of Windsor had turned into a hellacious ball breaker.’
Dot Wordsworth
London SW1
Sir: Surely ballsy has more sexual connotations than the word feisty? Ballsy, one assumes, refers to that part of the male anatomy never found in ladies and therefore is not appropriate in this context.
Peggy Carlaw
By email