SIR – Those calling for the implementation of “Plan B” – the compulsory wearing of masks and a return to working from home – must have very short memories.
Surely we have learnt the hard way that, whatever such action may do to reduce the spread of infections, these infections rise again once the measures are removed. In the interim plenty of damage is done to the economy, children’s education and many people’s mental health. If vaccinations are not enough, we are left with the only option that has ever really made sense: learning to live with the virus.
Plan B will not, incidentally, prevent another lockdown. That will be achieved only by the Government not ordering one. It is to be hoped that it will maintain its resolve.
SIR – In my GP surgery I have dealt with barely any Covid cases in the past month but large numbers of patients, especially children and babies, with other respiratory infections, largely caused by low natural immunity due to prolonged lockdowns last winter. I have also been visited by suicidal and despairing teenagers who see no future, and patients whose conditions are deteriorating as they languish on interminable hospital waiting lists.
The Government was warned of all these issues months ago but seems to have done nothing to prepare the NHS to cope. Instead we have thousands fewer hospital beds than last year, and one of the lowest number of beds per 100,000 people in Europe.
More restrictions are not the answer. Nor is more money unless it goes on more beds and medical staff rather than overpaid managers.
Dr Fiona Underhill
Woodford Green, Essex
SIR – It is clear from recent letters that there is huge variation in the efficacy of surgeries and other vaccination centres across the country. (My wife and I have benefited from cheerful cooperation between two general practices in Barnes and East Sheen.)
The health authorities need to examine and strengthen whatever arrangements there are for learning lessons and spreading best practice; it would be interesting to be told what these are.
Sir Harold Walker
SIR – Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, says we can go on to the NHS website and book our booster jabs after we become eligible.
Why not let us book in advance? This would help scheduling and ensure that jabs are received as soon as people qualify.
Wadhurst, East Sussex
SIR – I recently overheard a gentleman who had driven to Taunton, 60 miles away, to receive his booster jab. I have decided to save the planet instead.
SIR – As a sheep and beef farmer, I agree that we should eat less meat (Letters, October 23) but better meat.
What does that mean? Meat, like energy, is inherently neither good nor bad – it depends on how it is produced. A steer bred, grazed and finished on the pastures of Exmoor is a different beast from the American feedlot animal finished on soya grown on land carved out of the Brazilian rainforest.
The debate needs to be much deeper and more informed than it is.
SIR – Regarding Harry de Quetteville’s article, we would not be able to supplement a meat-free diet with dairy products because there would not be any. Farmers cannot keep producing calves, lambs and kids to perpetuate lactation if there is no market for those offspring as meat.
On top of which, the resulting lack of leather and wool production would necessitate major industrial expansion to provide synthetic replacements – not exactly environmentally sound. There would also have to be a huge expansion of arable farming, involving more mechanisation, cultivation and use of artificial fertilisers, all detrimental to the environment. Less meat, maybe. But no meat? No way.
SIR – If Britain goes meat free, we will lose the fertilisers provided by cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens.
Man-made fertilisers are ammonia-based, so in the absence of animals we will need to make more ammonia. This is an energy-hungry process that requires hydrogen. We cannot make sufficient “green” hydrogen for our current ammonia production. So we will need more derived from natural gas – with CO2 as a by-product.
SIR – John Stephen’s letter (October 22) reminded me that, after 10 years of trying, I finally got an invitation into the cockpit on a flight over the Alps to Nice.
Two jets flew across in front of us before I could get my camera going, and two months later it was 9/11, so such an experience would never be possible again.
SIR – I might well have been on the 1993 flight to which Mike Glegg refers (Letters, October 23).
In the middle of the night the pilot suddenly announced that he was witnessing the greatest Northern Lights display he’d ever seen.
I woke my wife up so she could enjoy with me this once-in-a-lifetime event, but the response was a disgruntled shrug and an immediate return to the land of nod.
SIR – Forty years ago I was on a night flight with Iberia from Madrid to Miami.
My wife and all the other passengers dropped off to sleep. I walked forward and opened the door into the cockpit, where there were seven crew, with all but one asleep. He was a boy of about 17, who had been told to wake the pilots if anything happened.
I asked him how he knew we were on course. He said he was to make sure we were pointing at that “white thing”. The only white thing was the moon, so I withdrew and got a glass of something for my nerves.
Dying in peace
SIR – Lord Field backed the Assisted Dying Bill debated in the Lords last Friday because he has a terminal illness and has, in the past, observed a close friend go through the hellish misery that is dying of cancer.
If every peer and MP were to witness, at first hand, the grotesquely unfair treatment of the terminally ill, whereby they are denied a peaceful passing, I am convinced that the Bill would receive almost unanimous support.
Mark S Davies FRCS
Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
SIR – More than the possible pain of terminal cancer, what people fear is a diagnosis of dementia, with its erosion of personality and of the physical structures of the brain.
Yet this terrible disease is nowhere mentioned in the discussions about assisted dying. We need to consider an advance directive for when agency may be grossly impaired.
In potential legislation, dementia should be treated in the same way as conditions that destroy the body while leaving the mind intact.
SIR – It was Tony Armstrong-Jones who seemed to set the fashion for wearing roll-neck sweaters instead of shirts (Letters, October 23).
I bought plain white nylon ones for my husband, Lynn Lewis, to wear when he was working as a film reporter on the BBC’s Nationwide programme. They looked smart with a suit.
Eventually, Armstrong-Jones and roll-neck sweaters went out of fashion. But the garments were so easy to wash and dry, and required no ironing. M&S, please bring them back.
SIR – In the early 1980s my wife and I went with another couple to the theatre in the West End.
Afterwards we all went to the Savoy for coffee, but the two men were not permitted to enter as we were not wearing ties.
What did we do?
My wife, who is an artist, visited the lavatory, took a quantity of paper and, using her lipstick, adorned it with a pattern of large red dots to create two cravats. After that we just sailed past the doorman.
New Barnet, Hertfordshire
Seafood lovers won’t defect to Kiwi mussels
SIR – I don’t think the British mussels industry has anything to worry about over the trade deal with New Zealand.
Having been to that country many times and sampled the mussels, I have found that they are different from those in Europe, being larger and greenish in colour. Eating them, in my experience, is akin to chewing on elastic bands.
There is no comparison. I know which I prefer and I will not be alone in my choice.
Simon Bathurst Brown
The art of interpreting obscure addresses
SIR – On the subject of postal deliveries to unusual addresses (Letters, October 23), my cousin had a holiday home 30 metres off the N165 Brest-to-Nantes highway in Brittany, which, before some road realignment, was a roadside café for lorry drivers.
The side wall was adorned with huge letters advertising Texaco petrol and the property subsequently became registered as “Texaco”.
I was to visit my cousin and dared to send him a postcard simply addressed: “Texaco, Southern Brittany, France”. On arrival a week later, I was amazed to see the card sitting on his fireplace. It had taken three days to get there.
SIR – Decades ago in the BBC consumer programme That’s Life! we featured dozens of postmen and women who managed to deliver letters inscribed with house descriptions instead of addresses. At the time I was often described as toothy and letters began to arrive in our office unaddressed, apart from unflattering sketches of my teeth.
After a couple of weeks we had to implore viewers to stop because the British Dental Association complained that important post addressed to them was being delivered to me.
SIR – A dear friend of mine grew up in a castle in Perthshire. He told me how, decades ago, the family had received a well-travelled letter, originally dispatched in Britain, addressed only to “Murthly Castle, Perth”. Possibly this was an era when its intended destination should have been fairly clear, even without a postcode.
Postmarks on the envelope indicated that it had passed through the postal system in Perth, Western Australia, where an Aussie postman had laconically (but accurately) scrawled: “Not here. Try Scotland.”
L R E Holland
SIR – My late father, George MacDonald Fraser, once received a letter addressed simply to “Colonel Flashman, Isle of Man”.
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