Letters to the BV Editor October 2021


A correction
I very much agree with C. Owen, who said the photograph of Compton Abbas church doesn’t look anything like Compton Abbas St Mary. Not that it matters but may I suggest an internet search by the editor to decide for themself?
N. Dallison

You are quite correct, as was C.Owen last month – the church in the image in question is indeed not St Mary’s, Compton Abbas, but Sutton Waldron church. The photographer apologises for his mistake, and thanks your eagle eyes! Ed.

On Hardy once more
May I say how much I have enjoyed the back-and-forth on Hardy on the last couple of issues? In fact, I should probably say how much I enjoy the entire magazine, the warm tone of which is a surprising and refreshing change.
However, I am aware that such a good letters page does not waste its space with banal pleasantries. So I would like to add my thoughts: does it matter that Hardy is inescapably miserable? Even Dr Tracy Hayes acknowledges he is.
And yet – he gave us Tess. So fully realised and deeply felt. Tess may not be the smartest, or the bravest, or the most adventurous heroine in literature. She has very traditional goals and doesn’t particularly concern herself with affairs that occur outside of her small, countrified world. She isn’t what you would call a Strong Female Character. But I think her story is incredibly important and relevant today. It’s a mistake to overlook or dismiss her – or many of Hardy’s characters. He writes a compassionate and overwhelmingly insightful view of the double standards that women were, and still are,
held to.
A. Trevett

How amazing that you published the full historic speech by Neville Chamberlain declaring war on Germany on the 82nd anniversary of the event.
As a retired English teacher I was not aware of the beauty, elegance and clarity of the words – and wish I had been when teaching as I’d have used it as a perfect example of communication. I urge today’s teachers to think about enhancing students’ lives with this.
I wonder if I could make a further point: during the war British people pulled together despite great danger and insecurity. All we’re facing today is a temporary lack of petrol and, yes, a pandemic which has largely been beaten yet our nation appears more divided
than ever.
B Simmons, Verwood

We’re coming into winter and the roads and lanes around my rural community are getting plastered in muck – yet last year I was stopped by a police car while in Yeovil and they threatened me with an £80 fine as they said my number plate was unreadable.
Can I urge our police through
your pages to be more understanding? I can’t stop my car every five miles to clean the plates – it’s dangerous, for a start.
Name and address withheld

One of our columnists was stopped for a similar offence (again in Yeovil) and he explained the matter politely to the police. He said he’d wipe the plates immediately. They agreed to let it pass and added, ‘but next time you’re stopped for the same offence…’.
The law is the law. We have the fortune to live in a beautiful county and we must bear the not very onerous consequences. And I note that you do not say you were actually fined. That shows tolerance. I’m with the police on this one. Ed.

Your photos of the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Fair presented images of hundreds of attendees – and not one is wearing a Covid mask!
Is that responsible journalism?

P Lyons, Yeovil

We wore masks, as did many others, inside the marquees. Outdoors they are not necessary, and personal choice. There was, however, noticeably little hand shaking or hugged greetings amongst the crowd. Ed.

I would like to thank you for raising awareness of the issue of food poverty in our seemingly rich county (Sep issue, p.21).
It was especially interesting to read that those families with children with special needs are particularly affected – lack of care once they’re no longer classed as children (or simply not being able to access care which is built to cater for complex needs) must be very isolating for the parents. North Dorset also has a high level of households with older residents affected by income deprivation and fuel poverty.
Hopefully we can all remember to add a few extra items to our shopping baskets for the local food banks, or drop off an extra pack of tampons or laundry powder to the Vale Pantry – for it is of course not just food that affected families are in need of.
I am deeply concerned at the coming £20 cuts to the Universal Credit – as cost of living continues to rise, and energy bills frighten us all, this will indeed affect the very poorest. And I think we all all know that it is not, in fact, a simple matter of ‘get a job’. Here in the South West, almost 40% of claimants are already in work.
Those that are not are more likely to be those with personal circumstances which prevent them taking on more paid hours outside the home.
How are we justifying this removal of a basic living? With careful and frugal shopping, this is not just ‘a few coffees’ to those on the most basic of income. £20 can genuinely be the difference between eating and heating.

Amy W, Sturminster Newton.

What an alarm call Rupert Hardy’s last column was. regarding Ash Dieback (September issue p.24). I clearly remember the national distress as we lost our elm trees 40 years ago. And yet here we are watching the slow death of 80% of our ash trees, with barely a murmur being made on a national stage?
Since reading his column I have taken notice of the ash trees I pass – and far too many show the grievous signs of the dreaded dieback. When I see a large ash standing alone, I cheer silently, and resist the urge to rush to pat it with encouragement.
What can be done? I can find no mention of a national scheme to replace these bastions of our native countryside?

F Winter, Shaftesbury.


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