The Spectator

Letters to the Editor | 8 September 2007

Theodore Dalrymple’s cover story about our sentimental and brutal society (‘Too many teardrops’, 1 September) has given me an idea.

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Theodore Dalrymple’s cover story about our sentimental and brutal society (‘Too many teardrops’, 1 September) has given me an idea.

Our thuggish society

Sir: Theodore Dalrymple’s cover story about our sentimental and brutal society (‘Too many teardrops’, 1 September) has given me an idea. In order to reduce the impact of the British disease of vulgarity and rudeness, the principle of offsetting could be extended beyond carbon pollution.

I concede that a donation to the society of polite gentlefolk would not necessarily solve the problem, but it would help and it would remind us that incivility is not morally neutral.

The offset system could also be applied to all forms of ‘isms’, allowing guilt to be offset by generous donations to the appropriate charity or movement. It’s too late, perhaps, to change our horrible ways, but at least someone would benefit.

Rodney Garrood

Amersham, Buckinghamshire

Sir: The killing of Rhys Jones indeed resulted in the ‘ersatz emotion’ so characteristic of the value-less British society which has developed in the past 20 years.

These attacks of ‘emotional incontinence’ can only increase until families realise that their abiding by basic values, and instilling them in their children, is a necessity.

N.K.C. Whalley

Hindhead, Surrey

Sir: Theodore Dalrymple has caught the spirit of the age; it’s called Dianafication. The maudlin, sentimental reaction he describes following the murder of Rhys Jones presents further evidence of the moral rot and degeneration of the British people.

Michael J. Wingert

Penn Bottom, Buckinghamshire

Who are the enemy in Iraq?

Sir: William Shawcross in your cover story (‘Now, more than ever, Britain must stay in Iraq’, 25 August) argues that the US needs support from British forces in Iraq to continue on course with the destruction of al-Qa’eda in that war-torn country. Destroying al-Qa’eda in Iraq will not restore order. American commanders say no more than 5 per cent of the fighters they encounter in Iraq are al-Qa’eda.

The foolish decision to dissolve the Iraqi army and security services led directly to the catastrophe enveloping Iraq. Grave warnings by Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia were ignored. The Saudis would not have allowed the Americans to use their bases to invade Iraq if they had not been given to believe that the Iraqi army and security services would be kept intact to maintain public order after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Here in Seattle, I discuss the Iraq war at length with well-informed people, and not one of them has told me that the withdrawal of British forces would be a betrayal by Britain of America.

Tony Blair ignored Jacques Chirac’s warning to him (and to George W. Bush) that a Shia government in Iraq must not be confused with a democracy. The French diplomatic community believe the civil war will continue until one faction or another gains a decisive victory. The dissolution of the Iraqi army by the Americans meant that the central government would be controlled by the Shia, with the only issue being which faction or factions among the Shia emerged victorious. So who are the ‘enemy’ the Americans and British are supposed to defeat?

The insane slaughter that enveloped Cambodia in the wake of the American defeat in Vietnam was a direct result of US efforts to delay withdrawal. If Richard Nixon had carried through with his original plans (upon taking office in early 1969), the disaster in Cambodia would have been avoided.

James Canning

Seattle, Washington

Blonde bombshell

Sir: Anna Blundy is justifiably outraged by the ‘dumb blonde’ imputation (‘We blondes face prejudice’, 25 August), but there is in fact a medical explanation at the heart of the prejudice. According to my neurologist, blue-eyed blondes have a genetic propensity to develop pernicious anaemia (PA), which is a physical inability to absorb Vitamin B12. The symptoms of PA include slowed thought processes and impaired memory. Apparent dumb blondes are not really dimwitted, they just have a vitamin deficiency, which is readily treatable. The syndrome is not restricted to women: male blonds are equally susceptible, even if (like me) they have little hair left.

Lance Dickson

San Jose, California

Woodhouse’s cricket heroes

Sir: Mr Alan Magid draws attention to the excellent Mike by P.G. Wodehouse as both a major cricket novel and the best school story ever (Letters, 25 August). I am sure he is right on both counts and this is at least partly because P.G. Wodehouse was basing his book on facts, which would have been even better known at the date of publication. The Jackson brothers in Mike are clearly based, as N.T.P. Murphy’s Wodehouse Handbook points out, on the cricketing Fosters of Malvern College. The school in the book is plainly Malvern as Wodehouse describes perfectly the cricket grounds, the Senior and the Junior, as terraces cut into the (Malvern) Hills. The climax of the book is the Ripton match; a principal fixture for Malvern is against Repton. Wodehouse knew Malvern well as he frequently stayed in Worcestershire, or Fostershire as the county side came to be known.

Timothy Straker

Gray’s Inn, London WC1

End of an era

Sir: Thank you to Taki for mentioning Louis, that wonderful maître d’ at Annabel’s, in High life last week. How sad and ironic that within a week of Mark Birley’s death Louis Emanuelli should also die, also following advanced Alzheimer’s. It’s the end of an era for sure.

Terry Druce

Ash, Somerset