Campaign for real cricket
Sir: Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s splendid article ‘Cricket, unlovely cricket’ (28 April) remonstrated against the threat to Test matches and the County Championship posed by the juggernaut of what he termed ‘Twenty20Trash’. He ended with the words ‘after the very successful Campaign for Real Ale, what about a Campaign for Real Cricket?’ As one of the four traditional beer lovers who founded Camra and as an MCC member, I wholeheartedly agree. We must rescue our beloved sport from the hands of the money-obsessed administrators who are foisting an apology for beach cricket on true lovers of traditional forms of a noble game.
Love in a cold climate
Sir: I write in praise of Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s article on my return from a freezing trip to Lord’s to watch the truncated county match between Middlesex and Glamorgan. Only 100 spectators braved the conditions, among whom the majority were over 65, but we all enjoyed the play on show, despite being buffeted by the winds. Why were we there? Because we adore the proper game and not T20 trash. We like to spot emerging talent. Perhaps young Tom Barber, bowling fast if erratically on his debut, might one day make the England Test team? If, that is, the ECB permits that format of the game to continue.
A Bridge too far
Sir: Aidan Hartley’s highly selective defence of Bridge International Academies (‘Let kids learn’, 21 April), ignores decades of evidence that school fees are a significant barrier to primary school education in Africa. Far from being the panacea for decades of underfunding, there is no evidence that charging fees and replacing qualified teachers with individuals who read highly scripted lessons from electronic tablets improves educational outcomes. The UK parliament’s international development select committee was right to describe Bridge International Academies as controversial. The Ugandan government, supported by the courts, ordered the closure of 63 of these schools ‘because of the danger from poor hygiene and sanitation’ and concerns about the use of ‘non-professional, non-licensed’ teachers. Rather than pushing an evil ideology, organisations that work for quality education, human rights and an end to poverty are demanding that governments implement the sustainable development goal on education and ‘ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education’ by 2030.
Unison general secretary
Correct use of cucumber
Sir: Jenny McCartney (‘Meghan’s hour’, 28 April) says that Meghan Markle’s lifestyle blog was ‘an uncontroversial collection of tips on the virtues of self-care, kindness, mindfulness and how to make your bedroom feel like a boutique hotel by putting a cucumber slice in the water jug’. I can’t argue with kindness, but I must draw the line at cucumbers in jugs. To my mind, that really is controversial. It has become almost de rigueur in certain places — not just hotels, but cafés, pubs and restaurants — to shove cucumber into water receptacles. This is meant to make water seem more interesting but it doesn’t work. Not everything has to be sexed-up with a healthy twist. Cold water is fine on its own. British women are deeply familiar with cucumbers. Perhaps we can teach Meghan about how to use them in sandwiches.
Fighting for the vote
Sir: Sarah Ditum’s excellent review of Fern Riddell’s flawed book Death in Ten Minutes: Kitty Marion, Activist. Arsonist. Suffragette (28 April) makes many pertinent points. However, it should be noted that Riddell’s claim that she is the first historian to discuss the ‘violent terrorism’ committed by the suffragettes is untrue. In BBC History Magazine in May 2007, the late C.J. Bearman and myself had an exchange of views on this subject under the title ‘The Suffragettes: Heroes or Terrorists?’ Simon Webb in his 2014 book The Suffragette Bombers: Britain’s Forgotten Terrorists also discusses the topic. Riddell’s failure to acknowledge such sources is accompanied by the absence of any definition of ‘terrorism’. Her downplaying of state violence against the suffragettes, in pursuit of their just cause, is complemented by too many dramatic assertions with no supporting evidence. Marion, whose singing voice was destroyed during one imprisonment, when she was forcibly fed 232 times, deserves better.
June Purvis, Emeritus Professor
University of Portsmouth
Not worth killing for
Sir: If Flora Malton’s client (‘Notes on Chelsea Green’, 28 April) had witnessed the results of the wholesale slaughter of the endangered chiru antelope during their annual migration on the Tibetan Plateau by poachers using AK-47s, she mightn’t feel so sanguine about never travelling without her illegal shahtoosh shawl. Like the elephant and rhino, the chiru is in rapid decline due to man’s (and woman’s) insatiable greed.
Wild Camel Protection Foundation, Benenden, Kent
The hole problem
Sir: Charles Moore (Notes, 28 April) writes that the tapestry moth has barely been seen in Britain for 50 years. I have a small collection of tapestries, and — at the risk of being accused of lepidopterophobia — feel obliged to point out that the occasional hole does appear in them. I do not bear a grudge, however, because I rather enjoy repairing the holes. But I wonder: if not the tapestry moth, who could the culprit be?
Scouting for everyone
Sir: Ross Clark’s piece ‘Save the Scouts’ (28 April) makes some interesting points about the difficulties of providing a programme suitable for all young people in scouting. Having been a volunteer in the Scout Association for almost eight years, I have first-hand experience of the challenges involved. I feel Ross Clark didn’t emphasise enough that, despite the difficulties, it is possible to cater for all young people without diluting the scouting experience or holding anybody back. Parents appreciate that leaders are volunteers and not experts in child behaviour, so are always cooperative and helpful in ensuring that their child’s needs are met. He mentions a case of compensation being paid to the parents of one young person, of which I do not know the details so can’t make fair comment, other than that is a rare and isolated case and I hope it will not become the norm. Adult volunteers are in short supply and it would be a shame if anyone was to be put off volunteering for fear of being sued. It would only lead to young people missing out on the opportunity to join the scouting movement.
Rod is right
Sir: I am Welsh and I found Rod Liddle’s piece very funny (‘Joking about vowels is a hate crime now’, 21 April). All Celtic languages suffer from too many letters in their words, and from a paucity of vowels. Only fools would have taken Rod’s comments seriously and I utterly disassociate myself from them.
Toby is wrong
Sir: Toby Young is agonising about finding a new career (Spectator Life, April 2018), but he should stop beating himself up now and go back to the old one. He’s made a magnificent contribution to education and should continue. Nobody else can do what he can. Instead, he’s become part of the problem. Every time one of the sisterhood or some other offended minority screeches ‘resign’, the innocent target of this fascism obediently does as he (usually he) is told, proving that fascist bullying works. If you don’t think it should work Toby, don’t resign, don’t give in, don’t gaze at your navel, don’t do what they want. It’s shockingly simple now for right-on political activists to shut down debate and get their way, so hang in there and fight your fight, with defiance and righteous anger.
God and gays
Sir: Dr Allan Chapman suggests that scriptural admonitions on gays are limited to the Old Testament (Letters, 21 April). It seems that, notwithstanding his ‘many readings’ of the Gospels, he must be unaware of Matthew 5:17-19. ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.’ Thus Jesus upheld the law, both revealed and natural. He did not condemn sodomy, nor did he outlaw abortion or the use of chemical weapons. But it is impossible to imagine he would approve of any of them. St Thomas Aquinas, in his moral evaluation of homosexual acts, writes that ‘a sin against nature in which the natural order itself is violated is a sin against God who is the creator of that order’. Contrary to what many believe, the Catholic Church does not condemn gays; but it does regard their orientation as ‘intrinsically disordered’ and just as much evidence of the malign effects of the Fall as the presence in the world of sickness and disease.
Revd Allan R.G. Hawkins
Fort Worth, Texas
Don’t knock Enoch
Sir: It is easy enough for a remorseless liberal like Matthew Parris (‘They say Enoch Powell had a fine mind. Hmm’, 28 April) to denigrate Enoch Powell on the strength of his widely execrated speech on immigration and some tortured comments on homosexuality. Powell should be remembered as the man who restored conservatism to intellectual coherence in the 1960s. He pointed it away from an outmoded imperialism to a realistic patriotism, and from a largely dirigiste and paternalistic view of economic policy to a radical economic liberalism. It is surely a view of conservatism that will achieve a remarkable vindication in March next year when Britain leaves the EU.
House of Lords
The case for Tory theatre
Sir: According to Quentin Letts (Diary, 21 April), RSC boss Greg Doran claims that ‘theatre must reflect the society in which we are living’. Does Mr Doran really want theatre to reflect a society where 42.4 per cent of his audience, actors and writers, vote Conservative? I doubt it very much. It’s a radical idea, though.
Iskeroon, Co. Kerry
The bottom line
Sir: Bruce Anderson marks the arrival of summer weather, so he tells us, by going to an Italian restaurant where he drinks Gavi while lecherously feasting his eyes on the bottoms of ‘young girls in flower’ (Drink, 28 April). In future could he please stick to the browsing and sluicing, and keep his perving and slobbering to himself?