SIR – How come we, the water companies’ customers, have to do all the work of scrimping and saving water?
These companies do nothing but complain about the lack of it, then expect us to solve their problem. They need to take more responsibility.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
SIR – The water main through my village has been leaking intermittently for years. Each time a repair is carried out it causes disruption.
The response from Anglian Water is that, as the leaks occur only twice a year, they are not considered a critical problem. It is clear that the water main is not fit for purpose. I wonder what counts as critical.
For now, however, there are no plans for a hosepipe ban here.
SIR – Our latest water bill from South West Water shows that, in our two-person household, we consume 70 litres of water a day each – less than half the reported national average. We achieve this through a combination of thrift and common sense.
Why should we be subject to blanket prohibitions on usage? The water companies must know which of their customers are using more water. Why can’t they target the wasters?
David and Val Garland
SIR – Allotments make an important contribution to Britain’s food production. They should be exempt from hosepipe bans.
SIR – I well remember the debates during the 1976 drought. One politician came up with the idea of linking sections of our canal system to transfer water from north to south. Why wasn’t this followed through?
SIR – Here in the Thames Water area we are lucky. The CEO of our supplier is so good at her job that she has received a £727,000 bonus this year, in addition to her £2 million salary. This must mean that we have no shortages, and that Thames Water is delivering the service I have paid for.
SIR – If people wish to save on water and energy costs, they should adopt the “submariner’s shower”, especially during this pleasant summer weather. Turn on the water to wet your hair and body, turn it off while you soap and shampoo, then turn it back on to rinse.
This method is used on nuclear submarines, which can produce enough water for limited showering. On my former home, the diesel-electric submarine HMS Ocelot (now an attraction at The Historic Dockyard Chatham), we were not even allowed this luxury.
Tories’ rural policies
SIR – Policy affecting rural areas is too often focused on farming and tourism. While both make an important economic contribution, wider rural economies and businesses are overlooked. Their success is hampered by lack of access to skilled labour, training and funding.
Both Conservative leadership candidates have visited the West Country and pledged to “champion the rural way of life”. As they approach the next round of hustings, the Rural Coalition – an alliance of 13 national organisations committed to a living, working countryside – asks them to commit themselves to ensuring that rural communities and businesses receive the attention they deserve.
Rural areas make a vital contribution to the nation’s economic and social well-being, but many are held back by limited opportunities (including access to skills and post-16 education), poor access to health and social services, a lack of affordable housing and higher costs of living, all exacerbated by poor or non-existent public transport. Despite offering solutions for the transition to net zero, rural areas struggle with restricted infrastructure, especially for energy, broadband and mobile phone coverage.
Although home to 9.3 million people, rural areas receive more than 35 per cent less per head in local government funding, and residents pay 20 per cent more in council tax for fewer services. This disparity must be addressed.
We challenge the new prime minister to set out a programme of action for rural areas that unlocks their potential and puts them at the heart of the nation’s future prosperity.
Rt Rev Alan Smith
Bishop of St Albans
President, Rural Coalition
SIR – As the last leader of the now extinct West Somerset District Council, I partially agree with Rishi Sunak’s comments about transferring funding from deprived urban areas.
Before 1997 urban areas received slightly more funding than rural ones. Gordon Brown then shovelled money into the Labour-leaning urban areas, to the detriment of rural ones. Twelve years of Conservative-led government have failed to redress the balance. There is deprivation in the countryside but it is simply harder to see.
Hopefully, as both leadership contenders represent rural constituencies, a rebalancing will take place. The Conservatives must not take their countryside voters for granted.
SIR – After Liz Truss was heckled, she said she would bring in laws to stop “our democracy being disrupted by unfair protests”. What does she think is “unfair” – being disagreed with? Why are the Tory leadership candidates so terrified of being challenged?
Democracy means being free to say what you feel, or object to something without fear or punishment. We need to be worried by any talk of curtailing free speech and peaceful protest.
SIR – At my convent boarding school in the 1960s, the morning break during the winter term was taken outside, where we were served watery cocoa and beef dripping sandwiches on white bread (Letters, August 6). Surprisingly delicious.
Bridget de Margary
SIR – You really must try a muscovado sugar sandwich made with good, well-buttered bread.
A classical education
SIR – Simon Heffer is right to draw attention to the demise of a classical education.
When asked some years ago what I considered to be the purpose of a university, I replied that it is to teach students to think logically. This can be achieved irrespective of subject – whether mathematics or physics, history or literature.
It is more difficult to acquire through courses in dance or theatre, fashion or photography.
SIR – Simon Heffer presents a powerful argument for the humanities.
Marcel Proust was similarly aware of their importance. In his description of Monsieur Legrandin, an engineer, in Swann’s Way, Proust notes: “He was one of that class of men who, apart from a scientific career in which they may well have proved brilliantly successful, have acquired an entirely different kind of culture, literary or artistic, for which their professional specialisation has no use but by which their conversation profits.”
Swarming spider crabs
SIR – We now apparently have a plague of spider crabs, following a “plague” of shark attacks (one minor nip 10 miles offshore). Whatever next? Frogs? Locusts?
In fact, what we are seeing is an overreaction to the annual spider crab moult, which happens in August all over the coasts of southern Britain, not just in Cornwall. The other day I had 16 of the blighters in my lobster pot.
They are now clustering for protection, as they shed their spiny carapaces before returning to deep water. The white meat on their claws and legs is sweet and delicious – a welcome compensation for the temporary absence of lobsters.
SIR – As I opened my new box of cereal – half full, as usual – on Saturday, I wondered why the producers don’t reduce the size of the packaging.
They would save themselves a fortune, and reduce the amount of cardboard I have to recycle. Win-win, as far as I can see – except for the packaging manufacturers.
G R Booth
Thrills and spills in the Anglo-Saxon canon
SIR – When I read English at Oxford, the course included mandatory study of Anglo-Saxon.
I wrote to a newspaper complaining about this. Unfortunately, my letter was published and was not warmly received by my professor. But reading about the trigger warnings just issued for Beowulf, I think I shall return to the text: it sounds much more interesting now.
North Berwick, East Lothian
SIR – I am currently reading a 1965 paperback edition of Iris Murdoch’s A Severed Head.
On the back cover it advises: “With its sombre and often symbolic handling of adultery, incest, castration, sexual confusion, violence and suicide, A Severed Head seems at times as macabre as Jacobean tragedy, at times as frivolous as restoration comedy.”
I saw that as marketing to encourage me to read the book – not as a caution to prepare me for the horrors within. I am half way through and, so far, untraumatised.
SIR – We used to teach the “Grendel’s mother” section of Beowulf to 11-year-olds at my comprehensive school every year.
They always listened with rapt attention. I don’t recall anyone fainting.
Stop Russia holding the world to ransom – now
SIR – The British people are once more being punished financially for Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
The cost of living crisis and inflation are now almost exclusively being caused by food and fuel inflation, as a result of this war. The cost of fuel before the war was between 40p and 50p lower than it is today. Imagine what a return to that level would do to inflation.
The top priority of the Government should be to enable Ukraine to prevail as quickly as possible to end the war. Most importantly, this will save thousands of Ukrainian lives. It will also prevent “embedded” inflation far more effectively than ever-increasing bank rates.
Col Hamish de Bretton-Gordon (retd)
SIR – James Masters (Letters, August 6) misses the point about fracking.
Yes, the gas fracked would be sold on the international market, but increased supply decreases prices. Every cubic metre produced here is one less that is funding Vladimir Putin’s war machine. Finally, it would underwrite energy security, should international supplies be cut off.
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