Sir, Is it possible to share a few doubts without being seen as a heartless villain?
I read with considerable sympathy about many families, including teachers, members of the armed forces, nurses and midwives all facing economic problems (CEN 20 January). I sit in my warm house, wellfed and (apparently) secure, so I am vulnerable to criticism.
But we war-children were accustomed to an age of austerity. Our toys were simple and valued (Lego later kept children busy for hours); our food was simple but nourishing. Is it not accepted that the population was never fitter than 1939-45? This week the programme “What a waste” (ITV1 on Thursday 17 January) showed how proper planning cut food bills by half for the featured family, as well as showing all sorts of areas where appalling degrees of waste occurs.
Which raises the question: how can people be taught to expect less and to make much better use of what they have?
In 1996 my wife and I left affluent Britain with VSO to teach in Tessenei, on the edge of the desert in Eritrea. Our diet was very simple; we had no fridge and the temperature was usually around 38 to 40C. We only became ill when politeness meant that we had to accept drink based on unfiltered water, but that is another story (Go for it WaterAid). The children in our compound had a broken wheelbarrow to play with and there were seven of them, but it was warm. No electronic games, and no TV. No urgent to need to have the latest gadget that the children in UK had. Which was the happier group?!
Education, Education, Education... for the willing horse looking for the appropriate water. Tony Cullingford, Tewkesbury