i Editor's Letter: It's the differences between places that make Britain great


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The Independent Online


With Stefano taking a well-earned break, many of you will be disappointed that this slot will be a Fulham FC-free zone for a week. But I can reassure you that rumours he is entering the Celebrity Big Brother house today are untrue.

What a welcome you've given me. The i inbox was, ahem, overflowing with good luck messages. OK, I may have exaggerated slightly, but it's the thought that counts. And, as promised yesterday, I won't go on about Welsh rugby, although that's probably more down to the Six Nations not starting until February.

But I couldn't let a suggestion that I would have been Irish, if only I could swim, pass without comment. Perhaps I shouldn't dismiss the thought after seeing the Met Office's rainfall figures for 2012.

They show that while the UK has had its second-wettest year on record (see page 4), it's the wettest for England, third for Wales, 17th for Scotland, but only 40th for Northern Ireland. It's less than a year since politicians held a "water summit" to address supply concerns. We are yet to see the full impact flooding has had on the rural economy – especially in the South-west of England, which was particularly badly affected.

Perhaps, as I can run, I should go west of the Severn bridge, where train travel is cheaper. As Mary Dejevsky argues today (page 23), we shouldn't really be outraged at an inflation plus 1 per cent rise in fares – although from our letters I'm not sure you agree with that.

Then again, maybe we should all head north or into Scotland, with the average house price in London at £360,000, compared with £160,000 in Scotland. The soaring cost of mortgages and rents is a huge problem for many, with record numbers battling to keep a roof over their heads (page 6).

But we can't all live in the same place and the differences are what makes Britain great. Besides, who would Wales then beat to win the Grand Slam…?

Stefano Hatfield is away