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It’s sim­ply hu­man na­ture

ALL hu­mans have one thing in com­mon: in­di­vid­ual per­sonal au­ton­omy. We have the power to de­cide whether to em­bark on cre­ative, con­struc­tive, al­tru­is­tic cour­ses of ac­tion, or de­struc­tive, ni­hilis­tic, malev­o­lent ones.

We also have the power to choose whom we love, like, dis­like or hate. But how do we make up our minds?

If I were hon­est, I would con­fess I don’t feel a fan­tas­tic amount of em­pa­thy with peo­ple who were born and brought up in the same part of the world as me. But nor do I have much of an axe to grind with peo­ple who weren’t, so it makes no odds to me who lives nearby.

In fact, most of my fel­low coun­try­men and women strike me as child­like, he­do­nis­tic, thrill-seek­ing, narcissistic, self-ob­sessed sim­ple­tons who labour un­der the delu­sion that some­one else is duty-bound to as­sume re­spon­si­bil­ity for per­pet­u­at­ing their ap­par­ently point­less ex­is­tence.

To be fair, 99 per cent of those who have suf­fered the tragic mis­for­tune of be­ing born abroad are, by and large, no bet­ter than those born here.

This might lead a ca­sual ob­server to con­clude that I am an in­vet­er­ate mis­an­thrope, but this is not true. De­spite the ef­forts of the pow­er­sthat-be to trans­form me into some­thing I am not, my psy­che seems de­ter­mined to re­tain its in­nate soft spot for na­tive, English-speak­ing, nom­i­nally Bri­tish, Euro-cau­casians ev­ery­where.

Un­for­tu­nately, un­der the pre­vail­ing ethos of 21st-cen­tury global so­ci­ety, my state of mind is con­strued as un­equiv­o­cally evil. But at least I don’t go around killing, dis­mem­ber­ing or rap­ing peo­ple, or smash­ing up other peo­ple’s houses and cars.

I have erad­i­cated my habit of us­ing deroga­tory t erms to de­scribe mem­bers of for­eign eth­nic and ge­o­graph­i­cal groups, for os­ten­si­bly hu­mor­ous ef­fect. Come to think of it, the world could do with a few more evil fiends, like me.

JIM PRICE, Lu­ton, Beds.

Net gains — for whom?

IN MICHAEL HAN­LON’S view of ‘How the in­ter­net is rewiring our brains’ (Mail), he falls into the same trap as Anne Robin­son when she pil­lo­ried a con­tes­tant on The Weak­est Link and a mem­ber of Mensa for get­ting an­swers wrong.

‘Far from be­com­ing more stupid, peo­ple are be­com­ing brighter,’ Han­lon claimed. But IQ is a mea­sure of the way the brain thinks rather than of the knowl­edge it con­tains — which was Robin­son’s er­ror.

That said, how much of the ‘rewiring’ is brought about by Mi­crosoft, Google et al’s de­sire to take over the world and have us do things their way?

Han­lon blames the net for our de­creas­ing abil­ity to have the ap­pli­ca­tion to read a book in its en­tirety, the most well-re­searched of which can be a valu­able source of gen­eral knowl­edge, even though it might be classed as a ‘novel’.

P. WIL­SON, Ch­ester.

Dis­taste­ful hypocrisy

HOW il­lu­mi­nat­ing is the re­sponse of each of the prospec­tive Labour lead­er­ship can­di­dates, with the ex­cep­tion of Diane Abbott.

They were out­lin­ing their newly acquired views on im­mi­gra­tion, its de­fi­cien­cies and lack of long-term ben­e­fit t owards t his coun­try’s econ­omy.

Ed Balls is the lat­est to make known the dis­quiet he se­cretly held over the im­po­si­tion of this mul­ti­cul­tural ex­per­i­ment and its de­fi­cien­cies,

Andy Burn­ham and the Milibands have pre­vi­ously come clean — own­ing up to the fact that al­though ap­par­ently sup­port­ing Labour’s pol­icy for 13 years, in truth they all had griev­ous doubts about its worth.

It is now ob­vi­ous that this bunch of char­la­tans be­lieved they could do and say any­thing, and that the ‘thickos out there’ — the elec­torate — would swal­low their ev­ery word.

Un­for­tu­nately, those who ac­tu­ally did were many of the well-paid po­lit­i­cal pun­dits who now im­ply that, un­til An­drew Neather dis­closed that Labour had set an agenda to ‘rub the noses of the right in di­ver­sity’, they re­mained un­aware such a di­rec­tion had ac­tu­ally been taken by the Labour govern­ment.

I find this hypocrisy dis­taste­ful. I de­test the de­nials of those who claim to have been un­aware of Labour’s in­ten­tions, yet were ob­vi­ously pre­pared to ac­cept what that ad­min­is­tra­tion was per­pe­trat­ing.

PETER O’CON­NELL, Leigh, Lancs.

Lost Sum­mer val­ues

ALAS, Last Of The Sum­mer Wine is to end, like nu­mer­ous other Bri­tish traits now filed un­der nostal­gia. Writer Roy Clarke should be given ap­pro­pri­ate recog­ni­tion for giv­ing us price­less en­ter­tain­ment.

Maybe the ego­cen­tric man­darins of the BBC should pro­mote pro­grammes of this ilk, if only to re­mind us of days gone by and real val­ues.

R. WOOT­TON, Bil­ston, W. Mids. KEN DODD still packs halls through­out the coun­try with pure com­edy. He is a leg­end. Even when he’s not tread­ing the boards, he is help­ing some good cause. I trust the new pow­er­sthat-be recog­nise his great­ness with an ap­pro­pri­ate hon­our.

OWEN TAY­LOR, Bick­er­staffe, Lancs.

Vi­sion on

FUR­THER to cataract op­er­a­tions (Letters), in case any­one is put off by ac­counts of rather less suc­cess­ful treat­ment, it seems wis­est to be treated in a mod­ern hos­pi­tal.

My op­er­a­tion, at May­day NHS hos­pi­tal in Croy­don, did not in­volve an eye in­jec­tion but one in my arm. And I, too, found the suc­cess­ful treat­ment an ‘eye-opener’.

Miss M. LLOYD, Old Couls­don, Sur­rey. I AM hor­ri­fied to read the NHS plans to axe cataract op­er­a­tions. This will im­pact on older peo­ple, who will face a bleak fu­ture and loss of in­de­pen­dence be­cause of fail­ing sight.


Num­ber one woman

FOR­GET your Cheryls, Ker­rys or Vic­to­rias. There’s only one woman who stands head and shoul­ders above the rest: Christina Sch­mid, widow of Staff Sergeant Olaf Sch­mid.

She is an at­trac­tive, com­pas­sion­ate and in­tel­li­gent woman who has said what an amaz­ing man her hus­band was. I’d like to add that he mar­ried an in­cred­i­ble woman. He would be so proud of her. I wish her and her young son a long and happy life. Num­ber one woman, no con­test.

Mrs PHIL LIN­GARD, Nor­wich.

Not-so-se­cret squir­rel

AF­TER see­ing the ‘ boxing’ squir­rel (Mail), I had to write about what hap­pened in our back gar­den.

We had put a few peanuts on a bird ta­ble for the squir­rels when a huge seag­ull came down. But he was walloped sev­eral times by a tiny squir­rel, un­til he flew away.

My hus­band and I fell about laugh­ing, and we put out ex­tra nuts for our squir­rel, which he promptly buried in the back gar­den.

Mrs R. CAMP­BELL, Low­est­oft, Suf­folk. IN THESE hard times, we can all do our bit to help the planet and feed wildlife too. When fat from meat has cooled, put it into yo­ghurt pots. When set, make a hole in the bot­tom and put a knot­ted string through. This can be hung up for birds to peck at.

Cut­ting the rind off ba­con saves you eat­ing too much fat and, if tied to a post or sim­i­lar, it will give birds a lot of fun while feed­ing.

Nuts and raisins left in hedge-bot­toms will also feed hedge­hogs, who eat slugs and other pests. ROBERT McGRE­GOR,

Mal­ton, North Yorks.

Don’t be foxed

I’VE BEEN in­volved in pest con­trol for more than 60 years and know that one of the ways in which to call in foxes in or­der to shoot them is to squeak like a rab­bit in dis­tress.

So if a baby cries, even qui­etly, it could sound to a fox like an an­i­mal in dis­tress, and the fox’s in­stinct is to at­tack. And a fox can hear the slight­est squeak from a long dis­tance.

Those twin ba­bies must have had their bed­clothes up around their throat ar­eas or they would not have sur­vived — a fox has teeth like ra­zors.

Our biggest prob­lem to­day is the at­ti­tude of peo­ple who feed foxes, think­ing it clever to have what they re­gard as ‘their own fox’.

MIKE PEART, Black­wood, Gwent.

Fan­tasy foot­ball

SURELY Jeff Pow­ell (Mail) can find enough great play­ers with­out hav­ing

al­most to in­vent po­si­tions. Mov­ing Dun­can Ed­wards, the best at­tack­ing wing-half in the world, is ridicu­lous be­cause he never played cen­tre-half.

As some­one who saw Ed­wards play, I can as­sure you if he had played un­til he was 35, he would never have been a cen­tre-half.

And what about Kevin Kee­gan on the left side? It would make more sense to play him rightside and play Tom Fin­ney on the left, where he played many times for Eng­land.

I know it’s only fan­tasy, but try to give it some cred­i­bil­ity by pick­ing peo­ple in po­si­tions they ac­tu­ally played in.

M. CAINE, Coven­try.

Too old to mat­ter

HOW are Brits meant to sur­vive with­out a job when the Govern­ment’s way of re­duc­ing ben­e­fits i s sim­ply to stop pay­ing them? My hus­band has been out of work for two years and is un­likely ever to work in IT again. He is on the scrapheap in his 50s, as all the jobs will go to younger folk, even though we are meant to work past 65 now.

He can­not get any help to re­train and suf­fers from a life-short­en­ing dis­ease, but the wel­fare sys­tem re­fuses to pay him any­thing.

My hus­band had a mis­spent youth but, as an adult, has never put a foot wrong. Yet a petty crim­i­nal record fol­lows him wher­ever he goes.

One con­vic­tion was for steal­ing a bis­cuit from a su­per­mar­ket, for which he served time. Can you imag­ine that sen­tence be­ing im­posed to­day?

Name and ad­dress supplied.

Di­vine right

RE­GARD­ING chil­dren forced to write with their right hands (Letters), a re­la­tion of mine was a teacher in Glas­gow and loved to tell the story of one such child.

The boy be­came very frus­trated at his teacher, say­ing: ‘I can­not write with my right hand, Miss, and why should I? God didn’t.’ The teacher, a de­vout Chris­tian, paused. ‘What do you mean?’ she said, shocked.

‘God did not write with his right hand. How could he? Je­sus was sat on it.’

G. SPEIGHT, Leeds.

Blitz spirit

IN RE­MEM­BER­ING World War II and the work peo­ple did, I have found no men­tion of the doc­tors, nurses and other staff who kept the hos­pi­tals run­ning dur­ing the bomb­ing of London. I was one of those nurses and I can re­mem­ber try­ing to calm pa­tients while on night duty when the bombs were fall­ing around us. My hos­pi­tal was bombed, but we all car­ried on car­ing for our pa­tients. Mrs D. E. LOVE­DAY,

Ruis­lip, Middx.

No EU ben­e­fits

I HOPED Wil­liam Hague would ask peo­ple whether they wanted to be in the EU or not be­fore he started mak­ing over­tures to Europe about how we are all pant­ing to be­come a big­ger part of it. Cameron has promised a ref­er­en­dum on more in­te­gra­tion, but he broke his word on a vote on the Lis­bon Treaty.

I be­lieve no govern­ment has the guts to tell us all the won­der­ful ben­e­fits of mem­ber­ship be­cause they are few and far be­tween.

R. E. TUCKER, Sheer­ness, Kent.

Shift change use­less

PLANS to save money by bring­ing in com­plex po­lice shift pat­terns could be point­less.

Years ago, most of­fi­cers worked eight-hour shifts. There some­times ap­peared to be an abun­dance of of­fi­cers on duty, but these pe­ri­ods were used to catch up on pa­per­work and build good com­mu­nity re­la­tions. It was easy to com­pare the shifts in terms of crime pre­ven­tion and over­time earned.

The ad­van­tages of the eighthour shift sys­tem would ap­pear t o out­weigh any per­ceived ben­e­fits of new, more com­plex sys­tems, but only time will tell.

JOHN KENNY, Acle, Nor­folk.

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