Letters: Loneliness is not just for Christmas

The following letters appear in the 14th November edition of the Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Friday 13 November 2015 17:47


I'm thrilled that this very moving commercial has had such an impact and raised awareness of the hugely important issue of loneliness and isolation among older people – particularly at Christmas (John Lewis Christmas advert inspires thousands to volunteer to help the elderly, 13th November 2015) . Indeed, The Silver Line has also felt the effect with an increase in the number of daily calls and over 500 volunteer enquiries since the ad launched.

Last year our phone-line handled more than twice the number of calls over the days around Christmas than they do on the average day; and based on current projections it is anticipated we will be handling twice that again this year. Last year I spoke to a caller on Christmas Day and when I spoke to them again on New Year’s Day they had not spoken to anyone since that Christmas Day call.

However, it is important to remember that loneliness is not just for Christmas – indeed, it can be the only time when those that are alone for the rest of the year find themselves surrounded by family and friends, which in some ways serves to exacerbate their plight.

The Silver Line provides a vital service 24/7 every single day and night including Christmas and New Year. For some callers, The Silver Line may be the only people at all that know they can speak to regularly, and many have even called it a lifeline.

Kind regards

Dame Esther Rantzen, DBE

Founder of The Silver Line

We mustn't let the miseries sanitise our language

I read Simon Kelner’s column (12 November) with increasing levels of disbelief. Do we really want broadcasters to reflect a world which no one would find anywhere other than in Stepford with its famous wives?

I am fed up with television companies constantly kowtowing to a small number of lemon-faced puritans who want to believe that no one uses language that would have been the everyday parlance of the rustics, and with which Shakespeare larded his plays in order to bring the high-flown sentiments and language down to earth. Just say “bollocks to the lot of them” – there is nothing wrong with this type of language, and anyone who is offended by it should simply get over themselves.

What a dry existence it would be to have language sanitised in this way. If it was good enough for the Bard, it is good enough for anyone.

I am reminded of a story passed on to me by the late Lawrence E Perkins (one-time editor of the publication Aquarist and Pondkeeper): two academically inclined persons were disagreeing about A’s proposition, to which B said: “If that is true, my prick’s a kipper!” When A was proved right, he wrote to advise B that “he was, indeed, the proud owner of a piscatorial gonopodium”.

That is how it is done: a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and Latin. Get over yourselves, you miserable lot!

Russell Pearce

Haywards Heath

Your front page (12 November) with its word that I associate with a men’s changing room rather than a civilised paper such as The Independent, makes me think of the remark of Sam Elliott’s cowboy to the Dude in The Big Lebowski: “Do you have to use so many cuss words?”

Simon Kelner is entitled to use his column to argue for the acceptance of the b******* word; but must you put the word on your front page?

I associate your paper with good writing: that is, thoughts well expressed; the word in question does not exemplify that. I appreciate that Simon Kelner thinks otherwise, but what is not offensive to him is offensive to other people, and such a word should not be on the front of a quality paper.

John Dakin

Toddington, Bedfordshire

Reading Simon Kelner’s item about pre-watershed swearing on the BBC, I am reminded of an interview a couple of years ago on a local BBC station. A Norwegian film director let slip the f-word and was, rightly, reprimanded by the presenter. In reply, the director apologised, “Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t realise you couldn’t say fuck on the BBC.”

Tom Montgomerie

Wallington, Greater London

What happened to the rule of law?

With reference to the reported death of Mohammed Emwazi, otherwise known by his stage name of Jihadi John, the Prime Minister has stated that the killing of Mr Emwazi was “the right thing to do”.

When did the summary execution without trial of British citizens in foreign countries become “the right thing to do”?

I deplore the alleged actions of Mr Emwazi and his colleagues. However, we are not at war with his faction, Isis. Were we, it might be legal to target him. As we are not, the British Prime Minister has either sat idly by as the US assassinated one of our citizens, or he has agreed to such an assassination contrary to the principles of justice and the rule of law.

The fight against Isis is an important one – perhaps the defining fight of this generation. But by killing Mr Emwazi without trial, we have each become complicit in the very same act that Jihadi John was so famous for. We have also undermined our credibility to defend that which Isis would tear to shreds – the rule of law.

If Mr Cameron believed in this principle, as I am sure he would maintain, it was incumbent upon him to persuade Parliament to enter Syria with armed forces to procure Mr Emwazi’s arrest and trial before the Old Bailey for the various crimes by which his assassination will now be justified.

Joseph de Lacey

London E9

Cameron’s world of fantasy

Your report “Tory cuts under fire from... David Cameron” (12 November) confirms what has been apparent since he got to be Prime Minister. Cameron lives in his own private world, into which reality is not intended to intrude.

Martin London

Henllan, Denbighshire

Corbyn’s tactics are typical of the left

It should come as no surprise that Corbyn and Co are seeking to change the rules to bolster his position. As a veteran of union meetings where the activists were totally divorced from the beliefs of the rank and file and yet used every proceedable trick to involve them in far-left activities, I see these as the default hard-left tactics.

Fanaticism always stinks, even when it is cloaked in British “niceness”.

Lyn Brooks

Ongar, Essex

Police have almost vanished

Theresa May says that police forces had cut spending by £1.5bn since 2010 “without the roof falling in”.

That depends on your perspective. If you are a member of the public, you are likely to find that community policing is a thing of the past, and that the police no longer attend the scene of “minor” crimes such as burglary and don’t investigate them either. If you call about antisocial behaviour, there is nothing they can do.

You might conclude that in terms of protecting you and your family from crime, the police have largely vanished. The roof has fallen in if the police have been cut to the point that they are no longer able to do their core job – or that it has to be redefined to meet the budget.

Dan Johnston


Don’t demonise junior doctors

Sections of the print media (not The Independent) are stooping to the gutter to demonise junior doctors at the forefront of their dispute by referring to them as “militant” – a clear indication that the Government is losing the argument. The politics of individual junior doctors is irrelevant.

The facts of Jeremy Hunt’s imposed contract are as follows. Despite the misleading 11 per cent addition to basic pay, Mr Hunt has said that the pay bill will remain the same. So, it’s clearly not a pay rise for all or even most.

Hours deemed to be unsocial will be dramatically slashed, so that junior doctors working on a Saturday evening till 10pm get the same pay as if they were working on a Wednesday morning.

Pay progression will be interrupted if junior doctors take a break, for example to have a baby or undertake research. This discriminates against women in particular.

Penalties against hospitals that force junior doctors to work excessive hours will be relaxed so hospitals can pressure doctors to work longer, thereby increasing fatigue, sapping morale and jeopardising care of patients. This is not safe for patients and not fair for junior doctors.

Junior doctors are right to stand up to bullying by the Government and stand up for patients and their own health. We and our members stand with them.

Dr Ron Singer


Dr David Wrigley


Dr Louise Irvine


Dr Gerard Reismann


Medical Practitioners’ Union - Unite

Dr Deborah Colvin

MPU-Unite representative

Dr Jackie Applebee


BMA General Practitioners Committee

Iran – modern or medieval?

Kim Sengupta’s report (11 November) says President Rouhani of Iran wants to be seen as the modern leader of a modern country.

In view of the 2,000 people executed since he took office, whose executions he publicly supports, shouldn’t that be “medieval leader of a medieval country”?

Carolyn Beckingham


Boris should know better

As the Johnson famliy changed its name from Kemal – presumably in part to avoid anti-Muslim and anti-Turkish prejudices – it is very sad and ironic that Boris shows disrespect to Palestinians under military occupation.

Peter Brooker

West Wickham, Greater London

The Mayor of London thinks that supporters of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Israeli government’s policies towards the Palestinian population are “corduroy-jacketed, snaggle-toothed, lefty academics”.

As a floating-voter BDS supporter with dress sense and good dental health, and after a career largely spent in business, I deny the charge.

But I know a rumple-suited, tousle-haired, greasy-pole-climbing, opportunistic, public-school-educated smart-arse when I see one.

Paul Clifford

Kirtlington, Oxfordshire

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