SIR – The recommendation from Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, that all food and drink except water be banned on urban public transport as part of efforts to tackle Britain’s obesity epidemic (report, October 11) is utterly outlandish. To enforce it there would presumably have to be a large increase in transport police numbers, or the employment of other officials for the purpose.
Would sandwiches on longer journeys be allowed under such a ban, and would a blind eye be turned to the popping of a pellet of chewing gum?
Horsham, West Sussex
SIR – In the Sixties I often travelled from King’s Cross to York sitting in a well-upholstered seat in the dining car, where stewards served such delicacies as steak and kidney pie. There was even time for apple pie and coffee. Sadly, such luxury has all but disappeared.
Modern train travel has become tedious and very expensive. I suggest that before any decisions on further rules for passengers are made, there should be widespread customer consultation.
SIR – If Dame Sally Davies wants to stop me from eating a burger on a bus then that’s fine – it is a fairly antisocial activity in the first place. I don’t mind too much if chocolate bars and boiled sweets are hidden away behind the counter along with the cigarettes.
But if someone tries to stop me sucking a sherbet lemon or even a sugar-based cough sweet on the back seat of a bus, then there could be a public order incident.
SIR – Britain’s obesity epidemic is a public health emergency.
Currently 26,000 children aged 10-11 are severely obese and are likely to experience long-term health problems. If we are to help our children stay fit and healthy, we need a cultural shift towards a more active lifestyle, as well as a healthier diet. This needs to be instilled from an early age so that healthy habits are continued into adulthood.
Walking and cycling for everyday journeys, such as the trip to school, is one of the best and most natural ways to embed physical activity into our children’s daily life.
Among other priorities, the new report from the Chief Medical Officer recommends cross-government action to rebalance investment in road infrastructure towards walking and cycling, which has been historically underfunded in this country. At a time when 45 per cent of children travel to school by car, a one per cent increase from last year’s figures, governments at all levels need to act on these recommendations and ensure that every child is able to travel to school on foot or by cycle, in safety and with confidence.
Newcastle upon Tyne
SIR – It can hardly be a coincidence that the obesity epidemic has developed in the period since schools were encouraged to sell off playing fields. .Thus the amount of exercise children get has been much reduced. Additionally, the curriculum has become crammed with so many more subjects that time is limited for PE and sport.
It would be interesting to compare obesity rates in independent schools, where games lessons have generally been preserved, against those in state schools – though I appreciate that socio-economic factors could also affect the outcome to minimise this. There will not be one solution to fighting obesity, but increased exercise for children should play a role.
SIR – There has been much sensible advice regarding exercise and diet, yet for many there seems little redress.
With every form of exercise it is most important that it is straightforward to do and consistently practised. Skipping suggests itself as such a form of exercise; it is very effective in burning off calories , and can easily be carried out in one’s home.
Lt Col Paul French (retd)
Forced to go cashless
SIR – I see that Barclays bank plans to remove a vital service for those who live in rural communities. From January 2020 the facility to withdraw cash from the Post Office will be gone.
Barclays says that cash can be withdrawn from ATMs. However, the nearest one to us is an eight-mile round trip. It is unfair to expect small village retailers to provide a cash facility. Here a visit to a Barclays bank is also complicated, being a 16-mile round trip that incurs parking charges.
I like using cash. I don’t want to be part of the cashless society. Nor do I want to move house just to be able to get cash from my bank account.
Merrill Janna Bate
Kurds in wartime
SIR – President Donald Trump questions the whereabouts of the Kurds at the time of the US invasion of Normandy (report, October 11).
They were fighting in the Middle East. By 1942, the Iraq Levies (whose origins could be traced back to the British occupation of Mesopotamia) was comprised of Assyrians and a smaller number of Kurdish soldiers, with British officers serving in Palestine, Iraq and Cyprus.
In 1943-4 the Iraq Levies were renamed the Royal Air Force Levies.
Paul Wavell Ridgway
It’s good to talk
SIR – Jemima Lewis (Comment, October 11) maintains that no one enjoys talking on the phone.
As someone who lives on her own, a conversation with a familiar voice is a very welcome interruption to my day. Emails and texts are convenient, but they feel clinical and are, I believe, contributing to the increasing sense of loneliness felt by a lot of us.
SIR – Dr Simon Young (Letters, October 11) writes on the preservation of local folklore.
In Somerset, Herefordshire and Worcestershire it is considered bad luck to start a job on a Friday as it will never be finished – an adage my father, a farmer, stuck to all his life.
A cousin of mine married on a Friday for the same reason.
Law and disorder
SIR – Have the police effectively lost control of the streets, given that they may be unable to clear them of protesters for the Queen to travel to Parliament (report, October 10)? If so, then what is the point of the police?
SIR – It would seem, according to Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor of the Metropolitan Police, that buying an air ticket with no intention to fly, solely to prevent an aircraft, its passengers and crew from going about their lawful business, does not warrant police intervention, since this is reserved for “really serious circumstances” (report, October 11).
I think there would be many thousands of people eager to disagree with him.
SIR – Geoff Crome (Letters, October 11) may well be right in suggesting that protesters would have us all live in a world before fossil fuels were invented. He is, however, mistaken in thinking that there was no coal in 14th-century England.
Surviving physical evidence shows that the Romans were consuming and trading in coal in Britain by the end of the second century; and in Bath, a brazier of burning coal was a permanent display on the altar of Minerva.
The Chinese were the world’s largest consumers of coal as a source of energy as long ago as 1,000BC – and, 3,000 years later, they still are.
SIR – I’m delighted that HMV is making such a bold step with a new mega-store in Birmingham (report, October 11). CDs and vinyl are still one of the few ways that musicians can make money from their profession. I was devastated when branches of HMV closed nearer to home in at Portsmouth and Chichester.
I just hope that this turnaround can work, and we can welcome HMV back to more of our high streets in future.
Selsey, West Sussex
SIR – Mark Solon (Letters, October 11) questions why some people insist on wearing dark glasses indoors. Perhaps I can help him.
A brain haemorrhage in 2013 left me partially sighted and with extreme sensitivity to light; I need darkened prescription glasses all the time. Without them, even moderate lighting leaves me like a rabbit in the headlights, unable to see. Some disabilities, literally, can’t be seen.
SIR – I enjoyed looking at innovative ways to decorate a child’s bedroom (Features, October 11), but would like to add a note of caution.
Some years ago, we decorated our infant daughter’s bedroom with a cheery wallpaper featuring colourful crocodiles. The next day, we became aware that something was amiss. Closer examination revealed that in the early hours of a summer dawn, having clearly taken an aversion to being watched, she had methodically scratched out the eyes of all the crocodiles that were within her reach.
Tariffs on Scotch could make whisky no more
SIR – Next week a 25 per cent tariff will be imposed on exports of single malt Scotch whisky to the United States, a result of a long-running trade dispute between Airbus and Boeing over government subsidies.
As small producers of Scotch whisky, we are deeply concerned.
For the past 25 years our whisky has been exported to America tariff-free and our businesses have thrived. America is now Scotch whisky’s single largest market, and last year imports of single malt totalled more than £400 million ($500m).
This new 25 per cent tariff is significant. We will not be able to protect our loyal consumers in the US for long. We expect to have to raise prices. Single malts will become less competitive and we will lose market share that has taken us years to build up. We estimate that imports to America will fall by about 20 per cent in a year.
Our distilleries, bottling halls and export operations employ thousands of people in communities across Scotland. Our supply chain employs thousands more nationwide. This tariff poses a risk to investment and jobs in one of Scotland’s most productive sectors.
Our industry has nothing to do with this trade dispute, yet we will be paying more than 60 per cent of Britain’s tariff liabilities. We are thus calling urgently on the British Government to press the EU and America to de-escalate the dispute.
The Government must also ensure that it supports our industry at this difficult time, as we try to manage the impact of tariffs alongside Brexit, including through continuing to freeze excise duty in Britain. Not to act will cause our craft industry – and a key part of Scotland’s heritage – irreparable damage in the months and years ahead.
A D Rattray Ltd
Adelphi Distillery Limited
The Vintage Malt Whisky Company
The Malt Whisky Company
MacDuff International (Scotch Whisky) Ltd
Gordon and MacPhail Ltd
Andrew Mckenzie Smith
Lindores Distilling Company Ltd
Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd
John Fergus & Co Ltd
Loch Lomond Group
Dr James Espey OBE
Last Drop Distillers
Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd
Old St Andrews Limited
James Eadie Ltd
Douglas Laing & Co Ltd
Whyte & Mackay Ltd
The Borders Distillery
Jane Austen’s aunt, theft and haberdashery
SIR – Reading Valerie Phelps’s letter (October 10) on Jane Austen and her description of the delights of shopping in a haberdasher’s, I wonder whether readers are aware that Jane Austen’s maternal aunt, Jane Leigh-Perrot, was accused of stealing lace from a haberdasher’s shop in Taunton in 1799.
She was found not guilty, due to other people testifying that they too had been similarly accused, and a scam of planting false evidence for the purposes of blackmail was discovered.
The story was used by Edward Rutherfurd, in a fictional setting, for his book The Forest.
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