Letter: Banana bonanza warms the heart

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The Independent Online
Sir: I think that your editorial misses the point about "Bananaman" Phil Calcott ("A bargain? No, it's a banana", 15 January). This isn't an initiative to be assessed by standard economic parameters.

Seven years ago I was driving with friends through New York City and got terribly lost, heading out of Manhattan by mistake across the tolled Newark Bridge. Attempts to turn the car round, or requests for help from other drivers, met with standard New York aggression and expletives, and our car was soon a collective nervous wreck.

As we came to the toll booth, without the correct change, I prepared for another round of robust New York "conversation". Instead, I was politely informed that "the lady ahead has paid your fare" and waved through with a smile. The gesture and spirit behind it immediately changed the atmosphere of our car (and a queue of others behind) and touched all of us.

The giving away of huge quantities of bananas, while making a small profit courtesy of Tesco, should not be assessed using life-cycle analysis techniques, as your editorial implies. Phil Calcott's gesture was much more about unconditional giving in a world dominated by "everything having its price" and an increasing fear of social interaction with strangers.

Also, what value do you place on fun?

STEWART T BOYLE

Rotherfield, East Sussex

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