LETTERS: A cluster of islands which could make common cause

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Neal Ascherson ("A tale of two islands...", 2 June) seems to consider it offensive to speak of anywhere as being the mainland in relation to somewhere else unless that somewhere else is a) uninhabited or b) Britain. Ihave no objection to the use of "mainland" as a relative term in an appropriate context. I would only expect it to offend those with a strong predisposition to take offence.

Might I suggest to Mr Ascherson's friend, who finds "British Isles" more offensive than "mainland", that perhaps Britain is named after the Isles and not vice versa. The expression "British Isles" need not then be demeaning to the inhabitants of the other islands. In support of this view it could be noted that "Great Britain" would be the geographically correct name for the largest of the group of islands. John Riseley

County Antrim