<i>IoS</i> letters, emails &amp; texts, 27 July 2008

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The Independent Online

DJ Taylor says "the childhood memories of anyone over 40, before the age of cheap flights, will be dominated by rain ("Happy when it rains ...", 20 July). Over 50 years ago, as the RAF's project manager for an anti-aircraft weapon system, I was required to brief its manufacturer of the weather it would be required to withstand on its launchers in East Anglia, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In East Anglia, it then rained, on average, for only about 6 per cent of the time. The sun shone for 40 per cent of daylight hours (six times as much as it rained). The rest of the time it was cloudy but dry. It only rained at all on half of the days of the year; on those days when it did rain, it rained on average only 12 per cent of the time. That 12 per cent would be about three hours; but that varied between only a few minutes and, exceptionally, the whole 24 hours. Those may be the sort of days remembered by Mr Taylor.

I often offered odds of 10 to one against it raining on any specified time and day more than a week ahead; but got few takers when I explained that the real odds were 16 to one. To test that, try taking any short daily period when you may be outdoors (eg, going from house to garage, from car park to office, or putting the cat out) and count how many times it rained then, over a month. Of a single daily check, it will rain, on average, only twice in a month.

Sir Reginald E W Harland

Bury St Edmunds, suffolk

Climate change notwithstanding, the fact that it rains so much in the UK, is one of the reasons why our traditions of popular revolt are not as robust as some other countries. A riot in the rain is a rare thing indeed.

Keith Flett

London N17



Gordon Brown plumbs new depths of despair as he is pictured sitting behind a rapid-fire cannon in a helicopter ("About-turn!", 20 July). What sort of voter is he hoping to attract? Or kill?

Allan Friswell

Cowling, North Yorkshire



Cole Moreton showed what is happening in the stratospheric levels of Anglican churches ("God help the church", 20 July) but for most people in the pews, from Plymouth to Newcastle, you will find that what happens with the bishops is of no interest. Go to any of our great cities and you will find parish churches (the clergy and people) committed to the well-being of those outside the formal membership of the church. They are working in development projects, in tough schools and grim estates, and they are making life better. The C of E is not simply about the worship of God, or talking about God, but about bringing change, and this is true in the countryside as well.

Stephen Griffith

Woking, Surrey

Far from being a "national scandal", our adult literacy and numeracy programmes are helping millions of adults change their lives for the better ("Adult literacy classes 'are failing millions of school dropouts'", 20 July). When the Labour government came to power, one in five adults could not read or write. That's why the Government has invested around £5bn in the Skills for Life strategy since 2001.

Only nine learners were involved in C4's Can't Read, Can't Write programme, whereas Skills for Life has so far supported 5.7 million learners, of which 2.25 million have gained accredited qualifications in literacy and numeracy. Our teachers are also more highly qualified than ever before.

Adults who cannot read or write need provision that is tailored and appropriate for adults, not children. Phonics is one method for teaching literacy, but by no means the only method. The Government produced the first-ever curriculum and national standards for adult literacy, as well as a range of learning materials at various levels, and we expect teachers to choose the most appropriate methods and materials for their learners.

John Denham

Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills

london SW1



If John Lichfield had listened to the reasons a lot of Irish people gave for voting "No" to the Lisbon Treaty, he would understand it wasn't because they were necessarily anti-EU ("Sarkozy needs Carla ... to solve the Irish problem", 20 July).

Many confirmed they were in fact pro-EU but didn't understand the proposed treaty and weren't going to vote for something that the government hadn't taken the trouble to explain to them. They wanted proof of its merit, and in its absence they gave the responsible riposte. In all the years I lived in Ireland it struck me as a country populated by a bright and independent-minded people. Those qualities were clearly evident in that vote. While it's true Ireland that received more per capita from the EU in grants during the 1980s and 1990s than any other member state, it was the policy of attracting foreign investment with a corporate tax rate of 10 per cent that ignited the economy and led to its rapid growth, not one-off payments from Brussels on infrastructure. They helped economic growth but were not its cause.

Richard Early

Eastbourne, East Sussex

Nick Townsend's excellent column highlights the plight of many small football clubs and the incompetence of the Football League management committee ("This penalty won't bring sunshine into murky waters", 20 July).

Lord Mawhinney, chairman of the Football League, and the FA seem happy to drive clubs such as Luton, Rotherham and Bournemouth out of existence. Remembering that Scarborough disappeared and Halifax and Boston are barely clinging on at UniBond League level, surely there is a better way of tackling insolvency than the points deduction system?

With the Big Four in the Premiership awash with money, it's a pity that grassroots clubs at the other end could not have some safeguard against going bust.

M Walton

Doncaster, South Yorkshire

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