IoS letters, emails & online postings (19 August 2012)

Thank God for Joan Smith's voice of sanity amid the undignified mass hysteria engendered by the Games ("Not liking the Olympics does not make me a bad person", 12 August). Two weeks of listening to platitudes about a "once in a lifetime" opportunity and putting the "Great" back in Britain, and to a Prime Minister jumping on the bandwagon of urging more school sports, have brought back miserable memories of a sports-obsessed school that I had the misfortune to attend at great cost to my misguided family.

During the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, Britain did rather poorly. The government vowed to ensure better performance in the future and pumped millions into sporting activities, especially from the National Lottery. Result: huge success in 2012. But at the time of the Atlanta Olympics, Britain was high in the world's league tables of literacy and numeracy. By the 2012 Olympics, it had slipped to the upper 20s.

Will David Cameron now pledge millions to improve literacy and numeracy? Then perhaps millions more would have the literacy and thinking skills to read your leading article and disagree, and to read Joan Smith and cheer her on!

Faysal Mikdadi

Dorchester, Dorset

It was the real Britain that roared our sportsmen and women on at so many events, who supported the Olympic ideal and believed in making something good, something to share and something of which to be proud. They were supporting a team who gave everything for their country, for the little man and not for themselves. The competitors were not footballers, Kevin Pietersen or those who are in it for what they can get out of it, but good and honest people. Let's follow them and not have to wait until 2016 to discover them again.

John Watson

Clitheroe, Lancashire

You are right that Britain's Olympic team and medallists represented the modern face of the country ("The days of our lives", 12 August). The problem is that when one looks at the Cabinet it really does not represent the same thing. One or the other will have to give. That is the real battle for the Olympic legacy.

Keith Flett

London N17

Amy McLellan makes it clear that no undergraduate pays anything upfront, is ever asked for the capital sum, is charged no interest and makes no repayments until he or she is earning £420 per week, at which point the former student begins to pay a small amount ("Fees, loans and grants", Parents' Guide, 12 August). The loan is written off after 30 years and cannot be taken into account when a mortgage is being considered. It sounds a very good deal, and any young people put off from going on to higher education by worries about the burden of a big loan should be able to sue their student advisers for the equivalent of mis-selling.

Michael Meadowcroft


D J Taylor is wrong to suggest BBC Look East viewers would have been "bemused" to see an outside broadcast from Milton Keynes (12 August). The town has been part of the programme's coverage area since the Sandy Heath transmitter began relaying the BBC's Eastern regional broadcasts, albeit mere 41 years ago.

John Cranston

News producer, BBC East

Tom Mangold writes "Several dockland characters – prostitutes, pimps, small time criminals, gays and drifters – were interviewed, but none could identify the killer" ("An injustice that won't go away", 12 August). The inclusion of "gays" with social outcasts is offensive. "Gay" is too often used as a term of abuse. This article endorses that. This should not happen.

James Byrne

London SW19

Considering the subject of Tom Hodgkinson's column, I was saddened by a grammatical error ("How grammar can keep you out of jail", The New Review, 12 August): "My own children, who I have attempted to shield...". Just as Tom writes that he could "teach the difference between 'its' and 'it's' in about five minutes", so could I as quickly explain the difference between "who" and "whom".

Sara Neill

Tunbridge Wells, Kent


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