IoS letters, emails & online postings (5 January 2014)

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How I agree with Michael Desborough's and John Hannett's comments (22 December), regarding showing respect to shopworkers, especially at Christmas, but also to realise just what it means for them and their families when they are required to work on Boxing Day. Exactly what can anyone possibly want or need that can't wait another day?

I watched the news in which a family was being interviewed. The mother just kept shrugging when asked what she or her children might want, apart from spending their Christmas money, when the day before they'd been loaded with gifts. Others thought it was fun to stand in the cold for hours until the shops opened in the middle of the night. What a crazy world. I'm sure it was much more fun when sales started on 1 January, but 27 December would be better than Boxing Day, then all shopworkers could have a bit more of a break. Can't someone make a new law?

What is never discussed are the statistics on retail income for this particular day. Many of those "shopping" are actually bringing back all the carefully-chosen gifts they've received to get a refund, and they will stand in a queue for hours to get it.

I was so pleased to find that Tesco was closed on Boxing Day, along with Waitrose and John Lewis. They have made a stand. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everybody else did as well and give all our hard-working shop staff the decent break they all deserve?

Jan Hynes

Via email

DJ Taylor may have a point that 1973 was the most significant year in recent British history but the reasons remain open to debate (29 December).

The economic crisis caused largely by the end of cheap oil after the Arab-Israeli war in the autumn of 1973, led the subsequent Labour government to call in the International Monetary Fund and begin an era of cuts in public spending which we remain stuck in.

The energy crisis was surely the key though. Tory Minister John Davies told his family it might be their last Christmas. While this has been supposed to refer to the influence of trade unions that Taylor refers to, it may be that Davies had appreciated, as indeed had the shadow Energy Minister Tony Benn, that more expensive energy would challenge the economic model that British society was built on. Forty years on this still seems to be very much the case.

Keith Flett

London N17

If smoking doubles the risk of dying from a stroke ("Cigarettes damage your brain" 29 December), isn't it time we protected the majority of the population who don't smoke? Since this unsavoury habit was banned from public places in 2007, non-smokers have had to run the daily gauntlet of exiled addicts belching smoke from every doorway. If ever there was an example of the law of unintended consequences, this is it.

Stan Labovitch

Windsor, Berkshire

"The way we... drove" and "the way we... travelled" (29 December) don't mention either buses or trains, the modes of transport used by millions like myself who don't have a driving licence. Yet I thought you were committed to public transport?

Tim Mickleburgh,

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

So, according to Dom Joly, for "two weeks after the holiday... nobody is back to work" (29 December). Well, for those of us who are back to work on 27 December (and sometimes work through Christmas, too) that is insultingly dismissive. Without the "nobodies" manning the airlines, he wouldn't be in Hong Kong at all.

Jo Russell

Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

It would be a big mistake for Labour to do early deals on the possibility of a Lab/Lib Dem coalition in 2015 ("Balls no longer sticking point in Lib-Lab coalition", 29 December). The Lib Dems are finished, and to flag up this possibility will encourage Lib Dem voters to stay loyal to their principle-free party, so harming Labour's chances. Ed Miliband should rule out any form of coalition and go for the outright win that is entirely on the cards.

Eddie Dougall

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

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