Among the stories of those who experienced the nightmare of sudden and unexpected homelessness was that of a woman suffering from cancer ("One day you're riding high... the next you're on the street", 9 December). She was abandoned by her husband and evicted from her home after falling behind with mortgage payments. According to the report, the bank declined an arrangement by which payments could continue, and chose to repossess. Considering the vast amounts of public money given to our greedy, dishonest, incompetent financial institutions to stop them closing, the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant would not be an inappropriate text here. The Government should act immediately to prevent banks from taking action that leads to eviction: let them wait for their payments.
Hedon, East Yorkshire
As a teacher, I sadly share the same sentiments about the education system that Paul Vallely expresses about nursing ("The NHS was forged from care, not box-ticking", 9 December). He is right to argue that the proliferation of managers and targets has meant nursing is more about measurable tick-box exercises than caring and compassion, which are unmeasurable. In education, the same proliferation has meant teaching is more about drill exercises than education. And the harm caused by these exercises take many years to become apparent to the student.
West Bromwich, West Midlands
I met the German marathon runner Klaus Goldammer in Budapest in 1986, when I was working for the sponsor and also running in the marathon there ("Ron Hill has run every day for 48 years....", Sport 9 December). After the fall of the Berlin Wall, I invited Klaus, and two Hungarians, to run the marathon in London, since, for the first time, they were all allowed to travel to the West. Klaus by then had met Ron Hill, pioneer of synthetic running gear, as Simon Turnbull reports. In the London marathon, and wearing a Ron Hill vest, he ran all the way with Wanda Panfil – this was before the women started separately – the eventual women's winner. He decided not to run full out, as he had another race coming up which he won, making him marathon champion of the former East Germany – a title that he holds to this day. Like Hill, Klaus, who was 60 this year, is still running competitively.
South Croydon, Surrey
Where did D J Taylor get the idea that HS2 is "opposed by practically everybody else" ("Civil disobedience in middle England", 9 December? Perhaps his article should have been titled "Civil disobedience in southern England". He obviously has never talked to anyone north of Birmingham, or those who regularly use long-distance trains out of London Euston. Perhaps he thinks the only people who read The IoS live in the Chilterns?
Ian K Watson
If anyone "humiliated" Jacintha Saldanha ("Shattered DJs in hiding as bosses say hoax was not illegal", 9 December), it was the media outlets who spread this petty story as if a most important thing had happened.
As you note, beards are a popular feature with advertisers this Christmas ("Have a very hairy Christmas, everyone!" 9 December). It reflects the positive image hirsuteness has in the modern world. But an understanding that beards are an accepted part of our society has not reached all parts, and we still await the first hirsute BBC TV newsreader.
England on the verge of a second consecutive Test victory in India, and what is the main story in "Sport on Sunday"? (9 December)? That's right, Sir Alex Ferguson whingeing again, this time about "ridiculous" TV scheduling. No wonder many of us are turned off by football these days.
Like your Books of the Year list, I recommend Letters from Father Christmas by J R R Tolkien (9 December). But you misspelt the author's name....
The Tolkien Society
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