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Tuesday 10 July 2012
Letters: Tennis and money
Tennis is too expensive for youngsters today
On the Today programme, Evan Davis asked why there is only one UK man in the top 100 tennis players.
I have two sons and a daughter who are all sports-mad and love tennis, I have three cousins who have won multiple Wimbledon doubles titles and I live just around the corner from a tennis club with well-maintained, floodlit all-weather courts.
The attitude, genetics and facilities are all in place, so one would think that we are well-placed to produce a candidate for the future top 100. Sadly, it's not going to happen because a family membership at the tennis club costs more than £360 a year, and although I earn a good salary, the cost of bringing up three children in the South-east of England means we just can't afford it.
We do play at the free municipal courts in the town but they are five miles away, there are only two courts and they are very poorly maintained and, of course, without floodlights.
Surely some of the vast amount of money generated by the LTA could be channelled into subsidising children's membership of tennis clubs. If there is any left over after that they could spend it on tennis infrastructure in schools and on free public courts.
In the UK, we have to deal with poor weather, short winter days and time-poor parents, Surely the LTA can use its funds to alleviate the one negative it can control, the very high cost of access to tennis courts.
Maresfield, East Sussex
When did the craze for instant interviewing after a sporting event begin?
Following the Derby, we get a morning-suited broadcaster holding his hat as he rushes up to the successful jockey still astride his horse. No football game is complete without a string of sweaty players, articulate or otherwise, being questioned about the match. And now, with television the all-important god of the event, the Wimbledon finalist, whether winner or loser, no matter the emotion evolving, is subject to inquisition.
Why not celebritise all areas of human activity? At the next Coronation, perhaps Clare Balding will be on hand as the new monarch leaves the Abbey, ready with the inevitable, "How did the anointing go, Your Majesty?" Or we could have a surgeon in mask and gown emerging from the theatre to deal with, "Just take us through the difficulties of removing Tracy's spleen".
In sport, women now compete in disciplines previously reserved for men: they box, weightlift, run marathons and compete in many endurance events.
The presumption is that they have stamina equal to their male counterparts. Why then, in tennis, are they still restricted to three-set matches when the men must labour through five?
I'm assuming those criticising Andy Murray's lack of ability and big-match mentality are the second- or third-best in the world in their own professions?
Does anyone else feel that Roger Federer, if he just put a bit of effort into it, could be quite good?
All religions are obsessed with sexual behaviour
John Sweeney (article, 9 July) claims ex-Scientologists report that the cult's leader, David Miscavige, is "obsessed with sex and especially other people's sex lives".
Surely this is a common feature among religions and their leaders? Has John Sweeney not noticed how the Catholic and Anglican churches and their respective leaderships have been, throughout history, and remain to this day, utterly obsessed with what consenting adults might be getting up to behind the bedroom curtains?
Given both these churches have been mired in scandals concerning the rape of children by their clergy, many would suggest their concerns should be more inwardly focused. Motes and beams, and all that. Scientology has many unique faults, but an obsessive and destructive voyeurism is by no means unique. It is unfair to single out it or its leader in this regard.
National Secular Society, London WC1
In your article on Scientology (9 July), you quote me as describing John Sweeney's report of my comments in Parliament as being "selective".
Mr Sweeney quotes me as saying of Scientology that, "It is not a cult". The actual words I used in Parliament were that Scientology has been able to broadcast on television by "satisfying the Independent Television Commission that it is not a cult".
To say he was quoting selectively was an understatement.
Charles Hendry MP
House of Commons
Osborne should remember Keynes
The latest quantitative easing démarche indicates how desperate the government is to pump demand into the economy, and of course it may possibly work, to some degree. But why on earth can George Osborne not bring himself to take the direct route from A to B, namely either spend the money directly or cut taxes? (I cannot take credit for this suggestion, as J M Keynes got there first.) This is a clear case of pure right-wing dogma getting in the way of the national welfare.
South Harrow, Middlesex
I hope that the parliamentary inquiry into the unpleasant activities of the banking community will also be allowed time to take apart the appalling misuse of the English language by the likes of Mr Diamond. He has talked constantly about his obscenely high level of pay as being "compensation".
"For what?" we may ask.
Portree, Isle of Skye
For the good name of Barclays to be restored, I would propose a radical solution: go back to the future. Fire the entire board and key senior managers and replace them with Quakers to revive the original Quaker owners' precepts of honesty, integrity and plain dealing, from the top down.
Adrian Hamilton (6 July) plays down the difference between a parliamentary and a judicial inquiry. The main difference is that if you lie to the first you get away with it but if you lie to the second you are in contempt of court.
Professor Raymond Levy
King's College, London
In the unlikely event that I get into legal trouble, can I be investigated by a Commons select committee please?
Thatcham, West Berkshire
Undemocratic Lords reform
What right has the Coalition to lecture anyone, least of all Syria, over what it means to be a democracy when they are bartering our constitution away as if it consisted of goodies in an egg-and-spoon race?
The "reforms" put forward by Nick Clegg for the House of Lords are illiberal. Why are the elections in the House of Lords concerned by a system which ensures proportional representation of (and therefore dominance by) the political parties?
But, should any Tory MP wish to understand fully the ramifications of the reforms by not rushing them through this parliament, then the Lib Dems will take their ball back by blocking plans to redraw parliamentary boundaries and slash MPs from 650 to 600.
When did we come to this? If these so called reforms have proved anything then it is that Rowan Williams was right to question what democracy means in the context of the remarkable speed the Coalition is committing us to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted.
To alter our constitution without reference to the electorate is scandalous and should be resisted by anyone who truly values our democracy.
Data loss can wreck your books
Although the loss of all the back issues of 3:AM (report, 7 July) may be unfortunate, it's not the first time business has been wrecked through electronic data loss. Causes run from not paying fees on time to the servers being shut down after being found to be hosting some one else's illegal content.
There is a growing, if deeply boring, literature on the goverance on data retention. I know, I've written a draft European standard on the subject, but the starting point for this is the Trustworthy Repositories Audit and Checklist, which gives the criteria for trusting your data to the ether. Read the licence on your Kindle, and ask what happens to your books if Amazon goes out of business.
God particle? Just ask Tony
Another prime example of profligacy: it has reportedly cost $9bn to discover the God Particle. Surely to God, at a fraction of the cost the answer could have been found with a quick tweet or text to the Office of Tony Blair and its Supreme Being ?
Foreign language opens doors
This is precisely why it is important to learn other languages (letters, passim). Just from a simple train warning sign we can see that there are significant cultural differences between peoples, and if we speak only English we understand only ourselves. Voltaire said that for each language we learn we are a new person. It is also true that only by learning other peoples' languages can we begin to understand other people. Try reading and watching the news in German and French as I do. Makes the BBC look another world.
The freaks of fashion
Ah, what fun at the Spring 2013 men's fashion collections and a big thank you to Adam Welch (9 July) for bringing these to our attention. The accompanying photos of male models contrived, in their misery, to appear variously as demented psychopaths or charity-shop refugees, conveying the message that however ridiculous anyone might feel about their dubious wardrobe there is always someone who will think it's great.
All this talk about national ranking that Mr Gove is keen to introduce for maths made me remember the time I brought my end-of-term report home. I must have been nine or 10 years old, and while handing it to my mother I proudly exlaimed, "Look: 27/28; I only got one wrong". My mother looked at me with great affection and said, "No darling, that is where you are in the class."
Query for Noah
I know how to start rain: I just clean my car. But how can I make the rain stop?
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