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Saturday 3 December 2011
Letters: Jeremy Clarkson
Another lovely furore for naughty little Jeremy
Jeremy Clarkson is clearly like a naughty child who loves to say shocking things and relishes the attention they attract.
Who with the misfortune to know of his output hasn't known that for years?
The BBC has failed, for years, to control his determined efforts to shock and offend. The BBC must now recognise that the only credible way to stop further offence is to remove his opportunity and cease their relationship with him immediately.
They should also recognise that the situation has existed for years and they are at fault for allowing it to continue for so long with so little negative consequence to him. Given his enjoyment of a furore he is, in fact, rewarded for each outburst.
An apology from Clarkson or the BBC (or anyone else) without a credible commitment to try to do better is at best worthless, and must not be accepted.
Crawley, West Sussex
Jeremy Clarkson is a friend of our Prime Minister. What does this tell us about David Cameron? Saki said: "A man is known by the company he keeps." The writer of Proverbs said: "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." (Proverbs 13.20.) The Prime Minister should choose his friends more carefully.
There are a number of exceptions to the rule but, by and large, it is not illegal in this country to say stuff. There is also no such thing as a right not to be offended, even by people like Jeremy Clarkson.
It is also not illegal (and rightly so) for Unison to go on strike and demonstrate peacefully. This is called freedom, and we are very fortunate to have it.
In fact we must always be wary of people who want to take such privileges away from us. As the late, great Tony Hancock once quipped: "Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?".
Have most people in the UK had a sense of humour bypass? My son and I burst out laughing when we heard Clarkson's comments on The One Show, as it was quite obviously said tongue-in-cheek. Why place so much importance on what he says anyway? He's only another journalist. For heaven's sake, Britain, grow up.
Jeremy Clarkson plus two offensive remarks, plus one BBC book advertising slot filler show, minus one ritual apology equals a general furore and loads of free publicity for his lowbrow Christmas stocking-filler. What need has he to spend his pension pot to promote his self-indulgent twaddle when he can get the gullible media to do it for free?
If Jeremy Clarkson were to be sacked from television presenting there is a vacant position to which the PM may feel his aggressive manner might be perfectly suited: British ambassador in Iran.
All useless, unfunny, overpaid, macho presenters of mindless car programmes should be hung, drawn and quartered and their families forced to watch!
Only joking, Jeremy.
A walk across an occupied city
Trying to get from Charing Cross Station to Marylebone on Wednesday across central London was like crossing an occupied city.
There were no buses in the Strand so, the Tube giving me claustrophobia, I walked from the station to Marylebone, asking permission from one of the hundreds of police deployed, to pass along almost every street around Trafalgar Square.
The Strand was blocked by rows of police, both mounted and on foot. Trafalgar Square, otherwise totally deserted, was surrounded by police vans. More police vans and lines of police were used to render the Haymarket impassable.
As well as being deserted, it was very quiet, the peace broken only by the screaming of police sirens as vans hurtled from one road block to another, and the rattle of helicopters overhead.
The only demonstrators I saw on my long walk were a few quiet, and very polite, workers handing out leaflets outside the National Portrait Gallery, and a group of about 50 people, completely hemmed in by the forces of law and order, singing and dancing merrily in the Strand.
I know there were riots in the summer for which the police were accused of being unready, but since then we have had no trouble whatsoever from the 99 per cent, whose protests against the 1 per cent have continued peacefully outside St Paul's for several weeks.
What in Heaven's name were the so-called forces of law and order expecting on Wednesday? Librarians with Molotov cocktails? Rioting dinner ladies?
Yes, I did feel threatened as I went about my business on the day of the strike. I felt an alien in the town where I was born and bred – much, I imagine, as those must feel who live under a dictatorship. I felt threatened not by the workers who do so much to keep this country running on civilised lines, but by the brandishing of a big stick by the state.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
A measure of happiness
I agree that government happiness surveys are a waste of time (leading article, 2 December). It is beyond our power to make happy even those closest to us, and there is no hope whatsoever that distant centralised governments – or well-meaning social movements – will be able to achieve this on our behalf.
Indeed the state and its agencies are too often the source of unhappiness. Consider the misery and distress caused by millions of incorrect tax codes, or the damage done to children who leave school barely literate or numerate, or health services that too often appear to put the patient last, or our seeming inability to enforce the rule of law. Consider the mismanagement of the public finances whose belated correction will cause untold heartache to millions.
The best thing the Government can do to promote the happiness of the population is to do its job properly and let us get on with our lives.
Dr Gary Kitchen
While spending our "ever-onerous" taxes on this survey may seem paradoxical at a time of economic austerity, this is exactly why it needs to be done: when money is tight it is even more essential that it is spent on the right policies, ones that improve our well-being.
As a Downing Street source said at the launch of the initiative: "Next time we have a comprehensive spending review, let's not just guess what effect various policies will have on people's well-being. Let's actually know." More data means better evidence, and better evidence can mean better decision-making, something everyone should be happy about.
Centre for Well-being
I am sorry that The Independent regards the national well-being index as pointless. Seems to me eminently sensible that we be informed about well-being rather than rely entirely on misleading proxies like economic growth.
If we're all so happy I wish someone had told the faces of the Christmas shoppers I have been seeing recently.
Not just Mr Gove's favourite history
I read Michael Gove's complaints about the teaching of history with increasing irritation. I began teaching the subject back in the early 1970s and don't actually recall ever specifically teaching the Magna Carta or the Great Reform Bill.
I did however teach the Romans in Britain when it was still a secondary school topic (it is now taught in primary school), 1066 and all that, the Tudors, the English Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, the First World War, between the wars, the Second World War (and yes, Nazism) as well as, I confess all, a term on the Native Americans – all prior to GCSE. You can't do all that in one hour a week and include all the facts, figures and dates.
Someone please tell Mr Gove there's been a lot of history and we can't just do the bits he liked best. Whatever students are taught, what's important is the way they are taught it and the ability to apply the skills they are taught (inquiry, evaluation, empathy etc) when they visit historical sites or watch historical programmes on TV. That's important, not whether they know what happened on 12 June 1215.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Street map of dishonour
In these straitened times local authorities should consider renaming some of the worst streets in some of our most run-down inner cities. A few Sir Fred Goodwin Roads and Rupert Murdoch Lanes will serve as a testament to what greed can lead to. There is also the chance that the named individuals might give a little to their namesakes in the hope of improving their prospects.
East Boldon, Tyne & Wear
Passport to misery
I too have a "European Union" passport (letter, 29 November). I did not ask for it; I do not like it. Who will pay for a new British passport for me when the EU folds? This is just one of myriad problems caused by British governments' insistence on remaining in the EU without consulting the people.
Guide to soup etiquette
The debate about "eating" or "drinking" soup reminds me that a redoubtable great-aunt, probably born about 1890, instructed me that we take soup, whereas we eat solid food and drink liquids. She took soup using a table-spoon and ate fish using two forks, having been born before soup spoons and fish knives were commonplace.
Humbled by a gong
Bryan Ferry is the latest celebrity to describe receiving a so-called honour as "humbling". Does this mean "I am not worth it; I don't deserve it"? If it does, why does the person not refuse the "honour"? No, what it really means is "I am even more smug and self-satisfied than ever." Humbling? Humbug is more like it.
Endless talks on the Middle East
Chris Bryant (26 November) tells us about the word games the Labour Friends of Israel played with Shimon Peres on a trip to Jerusalem, in order to "keep them going". If this is a strategy used by politicians it is easy to understand why the Middle East question is taking so long to resolve.
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