Sir: Kate Andrews illuminates how, for us British, the successful diagnosis of a major medical condition is frequently a matter of chance and, even then, usually occurs later than it should (‘Why are the British so anti-doctor?’, 2 September). The near asymptomatic nature of many serious conditions combined with the cultural pressures of stoicism and reluctance to be the bearer of bad news allows many cancers, for example, to run free for years before discovery. In addition, while treatments from the NHS can be brilliant, they vary enormously across the country in terms of accessibility and availability.
South Beddington, Sutton
Spare the Rod
Sir: I was of course thrilled and delighted to be the focus of Charles Moore’s typically elegant – and kindly – wrath last week (Notes, 2 September). However, please let me, for the sake of accuracy, address the principal charge Charles levels at me – that I am, in effect, a ghastly metropolitan who wouldn’t know a hawk from a handsaw. This suggestion was implicit throughout the piece – for example, that I can never have seen a red grouse, or heard a curlew. This is as far from the truth as it is possible to get. Unlike Charles, I do not visit a grouse moor for a single weekend out of the year. I live on one. Further, I have spent the majority of my life in the countryside, beginning as a child when I would tramp the North York Moors with my mum and dad. I can hear a curlew right now, outside my back door (it has been late leaving this year) and not a day goes by without my witnessing the mundane spectacle of panicked grouse. The problem for Charles is that once this canard is blasted from the sky, there does not seem to be very much of an argument left.