Below is a collection of recent letters to the Daily Telegraph (DT) that all failed to impress the Editor and probably anybody else for that matter:
A Real Tonic
Oh good! After four years of debate the European Commission has ruled that Britain can keep the name ‘Tonic’. Many will be wondering what other vital investigations are being expensively pursued by the politically directed EU bureaucrats while the rest of the world is worrying about such trivial issues as climate change and fair trade. Perhaps proof will soon be needed to justify the claim of a certain lozenge being described as ‘Fisherman’s Friend’.
The Advice of So Called ‘Experts’
Theresa May’s key adviser for her disastrous 2016 General Election, Nick Timothy, is now dishing out advice to Members of Parliament (DT 12 March). I wonder if many will follow it!
In suggesting that “the best mathematicians do not make the best teachers” Fiona Wild (DT 18 March) is partly correct – in fact they usually the worst teachers. In my day the fundamental problem was that the clever mathematician could not understand that many of us simply did not understand the logic of mathematics. Further, our comprehension of the subject was not aided by their inclination to plaster the blackboard with complex formulae at presto pace. Another consequence of the clever approach was that mathematics became an isolated intellectual exercise disconnected from reality; in other words the ‘big picture’ was never explained and it is almost impossible to motivate a student where an activity appears to offer no end-product. My views are spawned from bitter experience since, for some inexplicable reason, I was planted in the top maths set but within three Terms found myself in the bottom set and the subject has remained a complete mystery to me.
Unlucky Bin Bag Widow
You report that Mary Jane Cowan was made the “principle beneficiary” in her husband’s Will (ST 17th March). However, in taking her case to Court to release yet more money from said Will, she must have been disappointed not to have been accorded the more relevant appellation of “principal beneficiary”.
Sherelle Jacobs (DT 28 Nov) is surely correct in bemoaning the loss of decent sitcoms from our allegedly main sources of TV entertainment – namely BBC and ITV. Perhaps ‘middle England; has been conned into to believing that the genuinely amusing apolitical, non-sneering sitcom is alive and well since we, thankfully, have ready repeat access via Dave TV to many gems that have stood the test of time such as The Two Ronnies, Fawlty Towers, ‘Allo ‘Allo and Only Fools and Horses. To be fair, it might be suggested that the BBC’s Not Going Out and Outnumbered are doing their best to keep the sitcom tradition alive. Sherrelle also suggested that ‘the world of competitive front gardens, multi-storey car parks and ram raiding invaders’ offer script potential for a series that might satisfy her yearning for a series that would offer a break from the endless fare aimed at the metropolitan elite. Although based on the unpromising social arena of high rise flats in Glasgow, BBC’s Still Game would, I suspect, satisfy that yearning for a genuinely funny and cleverly plotted sitcom – it works for me!
Keeping the Army in the Public Eye (KAPE)
High Street Recruitment Offices offered a number of advantages that, being hard to quantify in financial terms, the modern military bean counters choose to ignore. For example, they kept the Services in the public eye (defined by the Army in olden days as KAPE) which, as the Armed Forces shrink year-on-year, is becoming increasingly important lest the general public think its members hail from another planet. Those offices also provided an initial sift of candidates and the cost saving benefit of encouraging those candidates who were manifestly unsuited for the military to consider other career options. As for attracting suitable candidates there used to be a ‘Satisfied Soldier’ scheme that rewarded serving personnel some extra leave if they succeeded in persuading someone to enlist (a much more powerful, honest and cost-effective process than glossy advertisements that all too often offer only half truths).
The Headmistress of St Catherine’s School, Bramley is correct, in my view, in pointing out the important contribution of Independent Schools to social mobility. In the 1990s our daughter attended her excellent school via the Assisted Place Scheme, without which we could never have afforded to send her there. What a pity that one of the first acts of the Tony Blair Government was to stop the scheme.