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23 Comments on Letters to the editor

  1. Just a thought. Has anybody seen the relationship between Cov (whatever) and the Orson Welles broadcast (can’t remember the date) about the Martian Invasion. Lots of panic about nothing!!

    • It was 1938 and they now say a lot of people thought it was a German attack being announced, not paying full attention, and rattled by reports of subs and warships off shore. Not so mad perhaps?
      I hope you’re right about CV. At the moment you have only Bolsonara in your corner and he makes Mr T, for all his manifest qualities, look like a vicar’s daughter (if vicar’s daughters are still like they were when I was a swain).

  2. Perhaps it’s shocking. Perhaps it isn’t. I am shocked by it, but then perhaps I think about different things to most. ‘It’, by the way, is the complete absence of thought from most people about our current, Corona-filled circumstances, and the direction of travel.
    I can’t say I think about end-of-the-world scenarios every day, but they are a perennial thought. How I’d respond to London getting nuked. Not in the long term, but what the first steps of the response are. How one might respond to a zombie apocalypse, is another scenario I have given thought. Pandemics less so. Nevertheless, the same kind of considerations apply, albeit perhaps to a less severe extent.
    I’m a political person. A philosopher by training, too. I spend as much time thinking about how the state, and the apparatus of the state might be employed in responding to what’s going on. Consequentialist reasoning, or rather, the conclusions one might expect a committed consequentialist to reach, strike me as obvious and inevitable. They’re immediately obvious and inevitable, too.
    Fifteen days ago, a colleague of mine claimed I was catastrophising. This was before Italy had 3,400+ dead. Another colleague said to me just after that it was no worse than the flu. Except that Covid-19 was thought to have about 200 times the death rate, of course.
    I can’t believe how many of them, or ordinary people generally, hadn’t observed what had happened in Wuhan. How could anyone look at what China had done and not realise the gravity of what was coming. One doesn’t just lock down a city larger than London and bring it to a complete standstill for something ‘no worse than the flu’. Where are their brains at?
    Perhaps it’s a coping mechanism on their part. A third colleague said to me that she’d unfollowed me on Facebook. She said that what I was posting was scaring her. Well to be fair, she said ‘I’ was scaring her. I wasn’t, I think. The facts were. She’d rather not see them, and not bear to think about their consequences. Fair enough. Musing about the apocalypse isn’t for everyone.
    Nor was it ever for my sister. If you ever wanted to see her cry, all you would need to do is think aloud about how to survive a nuclear holocaust and what it would take. She’d cry upon considering the scenario.
    Perhaps I’m the oddball. Much like moves on a chess board, I just see actions that make sense or not, moves which seem likely or not, and consequences which may follow or not. The emotions of it all are irrelevant. It being scary or funny or silly or not are neither here nor there. The question before me is whether any proposed action is reasonable or not, given the information I have available to me. This is why I have no sympathy for those A level students who have had one or two sleepless nights worrying about their exam results. Believe it or not, there are considerably more important things going on. How they feel is simply irrelevant.
    Life is not fair, and you’re a bit anxious. Get over it.
    My colleagues now agree with me. Well, two do. I couldn’t say for the third. They appear to have awoken to some of the seriousness of it. One in particular, a mathematician by training, seems to have woken to it especially, though I think she derives no joy from mapping out where it’s heading. To some degree, I think she prefers to bury her head in the sand. I don’t blame her for that. I think the view down there might be nicer. There’s also the added benefit of not being able to touch your face when your head is buried below ground.

  3. Dear John Stevens

    Thank you for your comments. You will see at the end of the article that I express my gratitude to the Christian Brothers for not only my education but for the tens of thousands of other boys all over the world who benefited similar. The idea that the magazine should only publish articles with the ‘correct’ alignment, in case the enemy should benefit, is not my idea of press freedom. If Marx rose from the grave and wrote me a decently written article, I would put it on the front page.

    Sincerely

    Myles Harris

    You might be interested in a book about the Christian Brothers, not immediately to hand (next week perhaps) which describes their sacrifice in bringing literacy to millworkers in the late 19th century.

    • Myles, I thought your gratitude was satirical. My only knowledge of the CBs comes from novels by William Trevor and he didn’t like them.

  4. Date: Sat, 7 Mar 2020 10:46:50 +0000
    To: Salisbury Review
    Subject: Spring 2020, A Lesson in Metaphysics, Myles Harris

    Holding no brief either for or against the Roman Catholic Church or the Christian Brothers, I read Myles Harris’s article with some interest.

    The burden of the first few paragraphs, that Catholic schools taught Catholic doctrine, is hardly news. The attentive reader will however glean that Dr Harris also learned Physics and Shakespeare, the kind of subjects I learned in my (non-denominational) state Grammar School. He was presumably taught them well enough to go on to A Levels, University and a professional career and should perhaps have some gratitude for this at least.

    The nub of the matter is that Dr Harris was inattentive in class and was punished for it. So would I have been. Lines at my school were the most common reward for inattentiveness but the stick was regularly used for more serious misdemeanours. The masters of the lower school were many of them ex-army officers who could I am sure have given “the monk” a run for his money. It may be a cliché, but I don’t think it did me any harm.

    The punishment in Dr Harris’s case seems to have been meted out with undue zeal and severity but we are told nothing of the history of the matter; it would in particular be interesting to know whether Dr Harris had been a model pupil up to the time he started doodling in his exercise book that morning. It would not be surprising if “the monk” was sexually frustrated and he was clearly a heavy smoker; so were millions at the time. I can see nothing to warrant dubbing him a “madman”.

    The biggest objection to Dr Harris’s article, however, is one that I hope he as editor will take to heart. It appeared in a journal which prides itself on antagonising the liberal-left and (to quote your new masthead) holding “absolutely the wrong opinion on everything”. This article, by contrast, if you excise one or two non-PC remarks about Irishmen, could have appeared word for word in the Guardian or the Independent. It is not for this that we subscribe to the SR.

    John Stevens

  5. Dear Sir,
    John Beveridge must not be allowed to get away with repeating the canard that all Labour governments end in economic failure. Things in general were in a poor shape when Ramsey MacDonald’s minority government lost power in 1924, the postwar boom having petered out under the previous administration (the Zinoviev letter did not help, either), but it would be hard to say that things got materially better under the Conservative administration which took over.
    The financial crisis of 1931 which saw off Ramsay MacDonald for the second time was partly the result of the Wall Street crash (nobody ever accused President Hoover of being a socialist), partly the result of the UK’s return to the gold standard, the work of Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill (likewise). We might note in passing that the incoming government soon abandoned the gold standard.
    In 1951, unemployment was vanishingly low and living standards were rising. The Labour party polled almost a quarter of a million votes more than the Conservatives and their National Liberal allies combined; won the most votes that Labour has ever won; and won the most votes of any political party in any election in British political history, a record not surpassed until the Conservative Party ‘s victory in 1992 . In spite of that, they lost – blame first-past-the-post, not financial incompetence.
    In 1969, the last full year of Harold Wilson’s first administration, the UK had a current account surplus for the first time in many years. This was achieved against a background of full employment and a continuing rise in living standards. Nevertheless, Edward Heath won the election for the Conservatives in 1970. It did not take long for Anthony Barber to unleash the infamous boom which takes his name, a mess to which Wilson would return.
    To be fair, the election of 1979 will always be remembered for uncollected rubbish in the street and dead bodies unburied. While Denis Healy had, with the help of the IMF, restored the UK’s finances to sanity, irresponsible union power had grown in the Seventies: a nettle which no Labour government could afford to grasp.
    The election of 2010 was held not long after the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. For all his faults, Gordon Brown can hardly be blamed for that. Indeed, he attracted international praise for his swift and decisive reaction to the event which haunts us to this day.
    Mr. Beveridge’s main point is the rise and rise of what may be called Political Correctness or cultural Marxism, which the left has eagerly embraced, much to the bewilderment of its former base. To be honest, I much preferred them when they were more concerned with the economic welfare of the masses than with the “appropriate” use of pronouns.
    Yours faithfully,
    Joseph B. Fox
    Redhill
    Surrey

  6. Brian Ridley on Science.
    Hoyle was right to mock the Big bang theory surely. Is it not a physical fact that something cannot be created out of nothing? So what was there before the alleged Bang? And what is the expending universe expanding into?
    Seems to me the only possibly universe is one that has always existed and always will and that is neither expanding not contracting being all that exists. Surely it’s more likely that observations made by astronomers or physicists that say different are illusionary than that something was created from nothing and is expanding into nothing?

  7. Surgical Harm.
    To think that so many agencies scoured South America for Dr Mengele when he was in a London clinic all along.

  8. It’s a pity Roger Scruton has left us.
    but his memory lives on.
    Without his liberation of hearts and minds of Czech Capital, Czech population might still be downtrodden by popular misconceptions.

  9. Dear Sir
    The death of Roger Scruton was a real stomach-gutting shock. A unique, truly great Englishman. There was a small – yet significant – coincidence in our political trajectories, his justifiably major and mine comparatively minuscule: we got an early stimulus from finding Oswald Spengler’s magnum opus in our respective grammar school libraries. What a sad way to go! What a loss for his family – and our civilization!
    David Ashton

  10. Dear Sir,

    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced their intention to retire from royal duties; or, as our more proletarian newsheets put it, “Harry and Meg to quite the firm.” And by “the firm,” they mean, of course, the royal family. But the conceot of the royal family is only a spurious modern contrivance.

    In this country the political reality is that we have an heredity Monarch who should receive our homage and be afforded due sustenance and protection. Appropriate care should be taken of her heir and a decent courtesy extended to her Consort.

    The so-called royal family is merely that ancillary group of aristocrats – or hangers-on, depending on the scope of one’s vocabulary – who receive gratuitous funding by the taxpayer to enable them to fulfil their “royal duties”: that is to allow their names to appear on the letterheads of various charitable quangos.

    Yours faithfully,

    Rev’d Dr Peter Mullen

  11. Dr Berenice Langdon’s piece on cannabis in the NHS is excellent and informative. Far from being a ‘soft’ drug and miracle medicine, cannabis is a prime factor in countless cases of mental illness, suicide and psychopathic violence. Its alleged ‘medicinal’ properties are quite clearly being used as a red herring to soften attitudes to the pleasure drug. I am pleased that sensible people like Dr Langdon have urged patience (‘We should not rush in to prescribe cannabis simply because other countries have done’) until we have all the necessary information, particularly regarding cannabidoil (CBD), which is claimed as a miracle cure for all sorts of ailments, including cancer.

    The billionaire Big Dope lobby, which has now infected our political and media classes, couldn’t care less about the tiny number of severely ill children who may or may not benefit from CBD. The real money is in the pleasure drug, which they came close to legalising last year through now-departed Liberal Democrat shill Sir Norman Lamb. They will, though, come again. If we can rubbish their ‘medicinal’ propaganda once and for all they may yet be defeated, and scuttle off back to the Brave New World of North America.

  12. How Woke was Jesus? Priestley writes about ‘biblical’ Christians when he really means Fundamentalist Christians – those who believe everything in the Bible to be the absolute word of God (despite numerous contradictions.) They ignore the sections on slavery (seen to be a good thing AT THE TIME), what you can or cannot eat, (which we now ignore), the position of women in society…etc. etc. He states that ‘faithful biblical Christians are not rejecting them (transgendered and homosexual people) but only those of their activities which are manifestly unchristian.’ Really? Are they? Has they even bothered to read the word of Jesus as in the Gospels? ‘the Christian faith has a very definite content which is set out plainly for us in the words of scripture.’ Clearly it’s not that obvious, otherwise we wouldn’t be having the arguments between the misguided fundamentalists and the modernists who wish to see sensible interpretation of the scripture in the light of 2020. How can Priestly write ‘trans-gendering cannot possibly be included in any form of Christianity … for it is against both Scripture and Reason.’ Alas, Mr Priestley, they are against neither. If you continue to think so, tell me what you think a good price would be for my daughter when I sell her into slavery? (Exodus 21 7,) exactly how should I kill my neighbour who works on the Sabboth? (Exodus 35, 2) is touching the skin of a dead pig still likely to make me unclean? (Lev 11, 6-8) And many, many more examples. Perhaps such an article is an attempt to justify a deep rooted hatred of the LGBT community? I expect better in such a serious journal. Peter Atkins

    • Peter. Slavery (like the status of women) is a baffling issue in the ancient world and it is possible that our image of slavery from the US South distorts the old reality. It might have amounted in some cases to something akin to C19th employment in mills and mines. One of Pompeii’s best homes was owned by former slaves and others prospered: what we now have as public-service professionals – medics and teachers – were often slaves. Your quotes are from the OT not the NT which is silent on slavery.

      On the trans business – while one can accept that there might be aberrant psycho-biologies which some will say are best treated as illnesses, others not, the bullying that is taking place is another matter. The Human Rights ideology is weak here: how are the rights of a man-to-woman balanced against the rights of a born-woman in female sports and spaces? We need recourse to notions of justice and charity (in St Paul’s sense 1 Cor 13). The trans ideologues take it for granted that their interests trump all others and no politician dares challenge them. A cynic might say that those men/women who compete in female sports show, by their arrogance, that they are still men all right.

      • How do these people know that they feel like women. I am a woman and I can’t begin to describe how it feels since I have nothing to which I can compare it. Perhaps they are just constipated.

  13. LIVING FOREVER
    The ancients thought about this of course. Eos who had a thing for Tithonus asked Zeus to give him eternal life which, being a goddess, she had herself. The request was granted but all too literally and omitting to include eternal youth. Odysseus was offered eternal life by either Circe or Calypso (I forget which) if he stayed with her but he opted to return to Penelope. Now wasn’t that nice of him?

  14. Christmas at Foulacre Hall.
    Don’t want to make y’all enviously green, but I’m new to Peter Simple. I was laughing fit to choke when my eye caught sight of newspaper headline (‘British ISIS captives to be handed over to Assad’) and I nearly died.

  15. Sage prophet.

    I’m reading a compilation (The Stretchford Chronicles) of Peter Simple comments in the Daily Telegraph from 1955 – 1980 which are both bitingly funny and remarkably prescient and I felt compelled to quote this from 1972 titled ”Threshold of Hell’.

    ————- THRESHOLD OF HELL ———–

    “The lowering of the grievance threshold is a feature of our society”, says the Observer on the existing laws against “racial discrimination”, the attempt, so far foiled, to bring in a law against “sexual discrimination and the proposal – even more preposterous, if possible – for a law against “age discrimination”.

    “the lowering of the grievance threshold” – translated into English, what does this painful jargon mean? It means that ours is a society in which envy, spite, discontent and petty-mindedness are growing daily, and are being encouraged to grow daily by every means open to publicists and politicians.

    The normal, unselfishness relation of one human being with another human being, whether of different race, sex or age, is being systematically distorted and perverted. In the name of an unattainable equality, the individual man, woman and even child is being turned into a member of a category, a militant group moved not by human love but by inhuman malice and hatred.

    What would our society be like if this process reached its ultimate though fortunately unattainable conclusion, in which every single person saw himself as a victim of discrimination by some other person? What will our society be like if this process continues, as at present, unabated and unopposed?’

    ——————- O —————–

    Well, after nearly a half-century, we can see the result of this trend today.

  16. Dear Sir

    What to do with the daily deluge of LibDem leaflets and personally-addressed letters from Madam Jo Swinson? It seems deflating or desultory to simply toss them in the bin. These are artefacts of a party that offends the Trades Description Act, with the brazen cheek of seeking my vote when it plans to cancel the biggest mandate in British political history.

    I’m in a LibDem seat that voted decisively to leave the EU. Current MP Tom Brake has clung on for six elections, mainly due to tactical voting and UKIP thwarting the Tory challenge. But I sense that constituents have had enough. Those fake handwritten letters from Swinson, in the style of a 13-year-old ‘girly swot’ inspired by Greta Thunberg, are too manipulative for any lucid adult. Tom and Jo refer to Brexit as a ‘national embarrassment’. They are ‘winning here’, according to the few placards, but perhaps the postal votes will tell them otherwise – they do like a sneak preview, these extremists masquerading as nice moderates.

    With over a fortnight to wait for election night, can I do anything more satisfying with these desperate deliveries? I am your obedient servant, etc.

    Niall McCrae
    Carshalton
    Surrey