i Editor's Letter: Plunging into the hornets' nest


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The Independent Online

Choices, choices! Into which hornets' nest shall we plunge today?

In his stout defence of Manchester, Simon Kelner has now offended the good people of Merthyr Tydfil. Oddly, we have readers lining up to suggest their home town as the UK's grimiest: Birmingham, Grimsby, Glasgow or Dundee? It's great to see you having a sense of humour about your roots. I should know, coming from Croydon. That said, it's good enough for Ronnie Corbett CBE, who lives in Shirley.

Maybe we should kick over the nest that contains Deborah Ross's "funny" (your quotation marks) column in i about "Christian values". I bow to no one in my admiration for Deborah's ability to pluck something amusing from thin air twice a week. And, sorry to disagree with many of you, but I fail to see why religion is less fair game for satire than, say, family life. The quibbling over whether Deborah should be drawing from the New, not the Old Testament (p16) is puzzling in the extreme to this lapsed Catholic who spent years of misery having the OT pummelled into him.

The nest I've chosen is that inspired by Steve Richards and my pleas for more responsibility in our drinking culture yesterday. I'm not really sure how that's a "Daily Mail" point of view. For one, i is not a paper that will tell you how to behave, whichever way you roll; and Steve and I, and Simon and Deborah – for that matter – are all employed to give individual views.

Is it somehow anti-liberal to not judge your night out by how sozzled you got? Is it "Tory" to wish for our town centres to not be so blighted by drunken madness every weekend? Is it an attack on the poor to wish to do something about it?

Britain has a drink problem. It will not be solved if we bury our heads in the sand about it, nor if we try to turn public drunkenness into yet another spurious political or class issue.