Fat chance of turning this tide of old cobblers

Could Lord Bragg not use a more sensitive phrase, like `a naturally heavy-boned lot of good'?

I HAVE received some interesting letters about the conduct of the war against Serbia, and I think that together they provide an absorbing cross-section of public opinion, so I am taking the liberty of reprinting a few of them today.

From General Sir Nigel

Curmudgeon MC

Sir, Am I the only one who thinks that we have already lost the war against Milosevic? The agreed purpose of the Nato offensive was to stop the atrocities against the inhabitants of Kosovo. As far as anyone can make out, the only result of our bombing was to increase the carnage practised by the Serb militia. Nor does Milosevic's grasp on power appear to be loosened by our bombardment. We keep rabbiting on about Milosevic being like Hitler, but it must be remembered that however vile Hitler was, there was never any sign of a popular uprising by the Germans against him. On the contrary.

Yours etc

From Dr Ben Salamander

Sir, As a past President of the British Rabbit Society, I must protest in the strongest possible terms against the previous letter-writer. "Rabbiting on about Milosevic", indeed! Although the rabbit is capable of communication, very few people have ever heard one make a noise. Those who know the rabbit well can testify that this noble creature, which makes a fine friend and companion as well as a tasty supper dish, is taciturn to the point of solemnity, and in these days of sound-bites and media overkill, we could well learn from the refusal of the rabbit to utter unnecessary sounds. To pretend that this reticent creature has anything to do with "rabbiting on" cannot but make my blood boil.

Yours etc

From Lord `Melvyn' Bragg

Sir, At a time when some of us are trying to bring science closer to the public, and make the ordinary man in the street aware of a few basic scientific principles, it makes me despair to hear a casual reference (as in the last letter) to such things as "making my blood boil". Does the writer not know that were his blood to reach anything like boiling point, he would be dead? I know that it is only a figure of speech, but if we only made our figures of speech a little more fact-based, the world would be a better place. A fat lot of good it is for me and my mates to hold little scientific seminars on Radio 4 if nobody is going to take them seriously.

Yours etc

From Mrs Nora Duckett

Sir, It makes me want to scream out loud when I hear otherwise respected people use phrases like "a fat lot of good". Does Lord "Melvyn" Bragg have any idea how hurtful this is to those of us who, through no fault of our own, are grotesquely obese? Could he not use a more sensitive phrase, like "a well-built lot of good" or "a naturally heavy-boned lot of good"? Radio 4 used to be a Mecca for common sense. No longer, I fear.

Yours etc

From Mr Shafeeq Obady

Sir, Here we go again! Do any non-Muslims ever realise how offensive it is to hear the name of the holy city being used lightly? "Mecca for common sense", indeed! Do we go around saying "a Canterbury for common sense"? Or even "a Jerusalem for common sense"? I think not. At least we have got rid of the once-common Mecca Ballroom, but I think that is because ballrooms have gone out of fashion, not because people are more sensitive. Frankly, you can take it from a Muslim that the idea that people are getting any more sensitive is a load of cobblers.

Yours etc

From Mrs Wilma Norrington

Sir, My late husband, who was a master shoe-maker and expert shoe-mender, would have been horrified at the unthinking use by the previous writer of the word "cobblers" to signify "rubbish". Every profession, he used to say, has its own dignity, and for that reason he would never have referred to Milosevic as, for instance, "the butcher of Belgrade". And nor will I.

Yours etc

From Mrs Dora Williams

Sir, Why on earth do people always refer to King Canute's inability to stop the tide coming in as if he had somehow failed? The whole point is that he knew he couldn't stop the tide. I know that none of your correspondents has made this error or even referred to Canute, but I just wanted to get in on things somehow. Thanks!

Yours etc

Thanks for all your letters - I only wish I had space for more.

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders