IoS letters, emails & online postings (29 April 2012)


What an extraordinary view Sir Barney White-Spunner, head of the Countryside Alliance, has of morality ("The man who wants kids to shoot", 22 April). By his lights, it is perfectly all right to cause terrible suffering and pain to a hunted animal. What music to the ears to all those who indulge in cruel activities: murderers, rapists, child molesters, badger baiters, people who beat their dogs and starve their cats. All you need is a clear conscience!

Tell this to the victims of violence, to the heartbroken child who has had a beloved pet killed, often in its own garden, by out-of-control hounds, to those who truly respect the countryside and love to watch wild animals and birds, to the motorists endangered by hunts on country roads.

Many respect soldiers who have fought for their country, but few will look up to this man.

Helen Weeks

West Coker, Somerset

I had the privilege to sit near Jack Ashley in the Commons ("Lord Ashley, champion of disabled, dies", 22 April). Alongside him, a small television displayed all the speeches as they were being made, in a form of shorthand, typed and transmitted with astonishing immediacy by a lady in the press gallery. Also, Mr Speaker would indicate specially to Jack that he intended to call him after the MP who was on his feet sat down. These were excellent examples of how the Mother of Parliaments improvised for a Member with a particular need.

Michael Meadowcroft


In his interview with Jonathan King (22 April), Robert Chalmers remarks that Oscar Wilde "abused minors on at least two continents". In four years researching a PhD on Wilde, I found no evidence that any of Wilde's sexual partners were under 16 (the age of consent for girls at the time), nor that relations were anything other than consensual. The rent boys who gave evidence at the Wilde trials were all in their late teens or early twenties at the time of their association with him.

Iain Ross

Colchester, Essex

Thank you, Robert Chalmers, for the excellent article but can I correct the inaccuracy that my mother was bisexual? Although the wonderful lady would, I'm sure, have considered it a compliment and not an insult.

Jonathan King

London W1

Janet Street-Porter is right to emphasise the need for less academic status and more of the artisan skills required to make this country worthy of worldly status (22 April). Hands and brain are needed to solve the problem, not brains alone, with no solutions. I need a mechanic to repair my car, my washing machine, electrics. At 72, I don't need an academic "expert" to tell me how to manage my meagre finances, nor to tell me how to save for my future. Without artisan skills, there is no future!

Harry Brown

via email

I am surprised to read in Sarah Morrison's report on the growing acceptance of tattoos of a 17-year-old from London with two tattoos ("Ink Inc: Why having a tattoo is no longer taboo", 22 April). Under the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969, it is illegal to tattoo someone under the age of 18. Tattoo artists must seek proof of age before starting inking, as young people are more likely to want removal in the future, which is very expensive.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

In his review of Stuart Nadler's debut short-story collection (22 April), Doug Johnstone mentions that Nadler is "another graduate of the famous Iowa Writers' Workshop whose alumni – including Cheever and Roth – have won 17 Pulitzer prizes between them". In fact, neither John Cheever nor Philip Roth is an alumnus of the Iowa programme. They both taught on the programme briefly – in Roth's case, very early in his career; in Cheever's case, late on – but were not graduates of it.

David Brauner

University of Reading

Here in south-west France, Asian hornets are established and commonplace ("Kill on sight! Fire at Will!", 22 April). I see them quite regularly in the summer. Both these and the native European hornet are formidable but, if left alone, are harmless. As an entomologist, I would suggest that few people can differentiate with certainty between types. So to instigate a witch hunt is akin to encouraging people to store petrol in jerrycans: useless, dangerous and potentially counterproductive. Interfering with a nest without the proper equipment is to invite a potentially fatal mass attack, and many nests will be hidden by the leaves of trees. When they are visible, in the autumn, the queens have already gone into hibernation, the nest abandoned. Attempts to prevent the spread of these hornets in Britain will prove as unsuccessful as in France. Better to convert to Asian bees which are able to defend themselves against hornet attacks.

Terence Hollingworth

Blagnac, France

via email

The Isle of Man is not part of England, as shown in your map ("Vote 2012: what to look out for", 22 April). It is not even in the United Kingdom and never was.

Brian Stowell

Douglas, Isle of Man

The viola is the butt of Matthew Bell's favourite classical music joke (The Feral Beast, 22 April). A parallel deprecating quip from another musical genre is one I first heard from the late jazz musician Ronnie Scott. What's the difference between a banjo and an onion? When you chop up a banjo, nobody cries.

Alan Bunting

Harpenden, Hertfordshire

The IoS Happy List

The IoS list of100 people who make Britain a better place – our fifth such list of selfless citizens – prompted a chorus of tweets and comments online. Here are a few:

These deserving and wonderful people rarely get recognised. A piece like this goes some way to restoring faith in human nature, at a time when bad news, the evil, greedy and downright stupid tend to grab the headlines.


posted online

Congrats @IndyOnSunday on the 2012 #happylist An inspiring, uplifting list of heroes of happiness cultivating the positive#realbigsociety.

Miriam Akhtar


It would appear that 70 to 75 per cent are women. No surprise there.


posted online

Inspirational. We should all be doing more.

Tracey Wood


Hope Margaret Thatcher reads this list cos it only goes to prove that "society" isn't dead.


posted online

Well done! Can I suggest a list for under-18s? Children and young people are the most vilified group in the media.


posted online

Here's a list of real heroes. It's very easy to mock; harder to make positive change

Will Harrison


A great antidote to the usual diet of hate figures and self-servers who make up 99 per cent of news coverage and skew our perceptions of life.


posted online

I may never be on a list that makes me as happy as this... The IoS Happy List 2012.

Clare Balding


Could be a good start for an elected House of Lords.


posted online

Loved that the @IndyOnSunday did a Happy List instead of those odious Rich Lists.



Those from disadvantaged backgrounds are an antidote to media spite against "chavs".

Lucy Atkinson

posted online

WOW!! The Happiest Girl in the World and so so proud to be on The Independent on Sunday's Top 100 Happy List!! xxx

Meg Styles


I challenge all media outlets to follow the lead of @IndyOnSunday#HappyList & show the good news out there too.

Chance UK


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