SIR – My wife and I decided months ago to stop buying goods from China (Letters, January 16), but the sheer breadth of its products makes this almost impossible.
Searching online, my wife could not find the country of manufacture listed for any of the clothing on offer, let alone the source of the cotton content.
I recently purchased a retractable ladder, designed and sold by a British company. On asking, I was told that it was made in China as the cost would be prohibitive if it was made in the UK.
Given the damage caused to the economy by the pandemic, the Government must encourage the rebirth of our manufacturing industries so that we can buy British.
Woodford Green, Essex
SIR – I agree with His Honour Ian Alexander – goods should display their country of origin (Letters, January 16), but there is another point.
The Government also needs to make the importer responsible for ensuring that the manufacturing of items meets UK health and safety, and environmental standards. Failure to do so would make them liable for heavy fines.
We would be exporting better work and environmental protections, while levelling the playing field for British manufacturers.
SIR – I recently purchased a pair of Hunter wellington boots, an iconic British brand, only to discover that all Hunter boots are now made in China, even though the company holds a Royal warrant.
Dr James Foxall
SIR – An assembled product’s country of origin is labelled as the country in which it is assembled, not where its parts have come from. Many parts originate in China; it is therefore impossible to avoid buying Chinese.
SIR – In a free society, we have the option to buy the cheapest, which is often made in China. Many of the less well-off may not have a choice.
Craven Arms, Shropshire
SIR – Although I am now 74, I was given a Meccano set for Christmas. It is proving to be a most absorbing time-filler, but I was disappointed to find that it was made in China.
Luckily, I still have the spanner from my Fifties childhood set and have convinced myself that this original, proudly stamped Made in England, tightens the nuts with greater authority.
James L Shearer
SIR – I too am fed up with the “Made in China” labels on everything from T-shirts to tennis balls).
So I was delighted to find there are a number of websites devoted to British-made products. Our manufacturers need our support now more than ever.
Brompton Ralph, Somerset
Black day for pubs
SIR – Nick Mackenzie, CEO of Greene King, has said the pub chain will work to “eradicate racism” by renaming four pubs (report, January 16).
The name The Black Boy, a common one for pubs, is not racist, however. It’s said to refer to a genuine description of King Charles II, who was in power between 1660 and 1685, and one of whose nicknames was “the black boy”.
With his dark complexion, black hair and dark eyes, he resembled his Italian maternal grandmother, Marie de’ Medici. During his escape after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, parliamentary wanted posters referred to him as “a tall, black man”.
SIR – If Greene King is determined to change the names of its Black Boy pubs (which I have always believed were called after Charles II), perhaps they should become the Royal Oaks instead. This would commemorate his escape after the Battle of Worcester.
Great Shefford, Berkshire
SIR – In our part of the world, where years ago the main industries were charcoaling and foundry work, the term “black boy” referred to the labourers who enjoyed a drink after work before returning home. Their faces were inevitably covered in soot, and the pubs were named in their honour.
SIR – There is a Black Boy pub on the road between Henley and Hurley.
I have always understood it was named in the 17th century as a coded message to supporters of William of Orange that they were approaching Ladye Place, the home of Lord Lovelace, who was a principal supporter of the Glorious Revolution. William III was nicknamed the Black Boy, having been being born into a house of mourning with a shock of black hair
SIR – Beautiful or not, the real trouble with parakeets (Letters, January 14) is their appetite for fruit.
My modest urban orchard has been completely despoiled and I view their increasing numbers with disquiet.
The trees cannot be protected from them and, unless they are controlled, home-grown fruit will become a memory.
SIR – Were I to travel abroad, my return trip would likely include a Piccadilly Line journey from Heathrow to St Pancras, an intercity train to Derby, and a local train home. The virus would have an extra 200 miles and multiple opportunities on several modes of public transport to find new hosts. These would themselves provide an expanding web of possible infection nodes covering the country. That is how epidemics spread.
When a friend returned to New Zealand last year he was required to stay isolated in a single room in a designated hotel near to his point of arrival for two weeks. Other countries have similar arrangements.
I can see little sense in requiring people to self-quarantine here if they are left to do it at home – wherever that might be, however they might get there, and however they might interpret the rules on picking up a few essentials for their isolation on the way.
Matlock Bath, Derbyshire
SIR – Thank goodness the air travel corridors are being closed. We can now get on with the vaccines and stop the spread of Covid-19 once and for all. For those people who booked or who are on a holiday, one has to ask, "Have they not got a brain?".
Simon and Deidre Burton
SIR – Some have questioned why international air travel is still permitted at all. As an airline pilot, I admit to a vested interest. However, a joint report published in December by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency concluded that, in view of the endemic nature of Covid-19 in most countries, restrictions on air travel was by then pointless. Only where a country, such as New Zealand, has eradicated the disease almost completely might they be effective.
Air travel is not just a frivolous luxury for the middle classes, but a vital component of international commerce, Zoom notwithstanding.
Lindfield, West Sussex
SIR – Your editorial “ Travel restrictions must not be permanent ” (January 16) makes the point about the ease with which restrictions, justifiable at the time of their introduction, can become permanent.
In 2006, in response to a foiled terror plot, restrictions on liquids in airline hand luggage were introduced. In 2021, they are still with us.
Dr Hilary Aitken
A piquant story
SIR – How satisfying to read about the hedgehog using a cat flap (Letters, January 16). Some years ago, we became suspicious when we found our cats’ food bowls emptied of the biscuits we knew had been left in them.
My husband decided to stay up to see what was taking them. After a couple of hours, with much snuffling and shuffling, a hedgehog entered via the cat flap, feasted on the biscuits and departed by the same route.
Many friends found this story hard to believe. Perhaps now they will.
Biron, Charente Maritime, France
Symbols of hope
SIR – It gives me pleasure to be able to share with you the joy I experienced when discovering the first snowdrops in my garden. Symbols of hope and the promise of spring in these dark times.
Buller’s statue is part of our sculptural heritage
SIR – As an enthusiast for British sculpture, I was saddened to read of the proposed removal of the Redvers Buller statue (report, January 14), which would be an artistic loss.
The sculptor, Adrian Jones, a former Army veterinary surgeon, sculpted finely modelled horses, his most famous work being the Quadriga on the Wellington Arch. He also made war memorials, both equestrian (such as the Cavalry Memorial in Hyde Park) and non-equestrian (such as the Royal Marines Memorial in the Mall and the Uxbridge “angel” War Memorial).
SIR – The equestrian statue of General Sir Redvers Buller VC in Exeter is a fine example of public sculpture by Adrian Jones. It is a measure of its national significance that it was listed Grade II in 1953.
Jones was an outstanding 20th-century sculptor, and while Exeter City Council may have voted to move the statue, the decision is not its to take.
As a listed structure, prior listed building consent is required from the Secretary of State, based on expert advice from Historic England and the national amenity societies who will, I hope, give it short shrift.
Commonwealth Heritage Forum
SIR – During the pandemic, the people of this country have been grateful for logistical support from the Services, the basis for which was created by General Buller. Without this support there would be no Nightingale hospitals and a slower supply of vaccines.
British orchestras need help in order to survive
SIR – When the pandemic first hit our country last year, bringing live music-making to a halt, many classical musicians – including Sir Simon Rattle – spoke of how a rebirth and rethink of their art and profession was inevitable.
However, the cry that “we cannot go back to how we were” seems to have faded, with Sir Simon’s departure from the London Symphony Orchestra (report, January 13).
It is disappointing that our most high-profile conductor is leaving at this hour of need, especially in the light of the huge financial problems now facing our orchestras – including the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, whose presence acts as a guarantee for the continuation of classical music in this country.
So much needs to be done, to reassure and re-employ the many freelancers who staff our London and regional ensembles. British orchestras badly need leadership and powerful advocacy at this time of crisis.
East Malling, Kent
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