The real road menace
Sir: I write in anger after reading Mark Mason’s malicious attack on mobility scooters (‘Hell on wheels’, 11 April).
The motorcar has, since its invention, killed many hundreds of thousands of innocent pedestrians. Meanwhile, whole tracts of our beautiful and productive countryside have been flattened or destroyed to accommodate its traffic. I have been a devoted walker for over 80 years and remember how many favourite walks have been erased or spoiled for the construction of motorways.
Now that I am unable to do more than dodder, I get about on a mobility scooter. I like it even less than the pedestrians I may inconvenience, but my only alternative is a reclusive life indoors.
Lyme Regis, Dorset
We need our scooters
Sir: At 94 I do not own a bikini, but for the past three years I have been driving a mobility scooter with relief. It is a godsend to be able to drive down pavements. Pedestrians, however, are curiously unaware of my existence, and as a rule I generally have to slow down behind them while they saunter along merrily. Recently a woman popped up, back turned, onto a pavement without looking, and proceeded to walk on slowly. When I called ‘Look out’, she turned and answered, ‘No, you look out.’ Using the roads is also risky, as cars whizz past despite the priority assumed.
Most people, however, are tolerant. I would be unable to live where I do, at the top of a steep hill, without this welcome aid. I have yet to see anyone driving a mobile scooter without necessity.
Drop the pilot
Sir: The Wiki Man seems to have missed the elephant in the cockpit when considering why plane crashes are getting weirder (11 April). The number of fatal accidents caused by pilots has always been more than twice that caused by mechanical failure. The obvious solution is to remove the on-board pilot, whose job nowadays is to monitor the computer that flies the aircraft, with a few other tasks thrown in to stop him falling asleep. Most aircraft functions are already controlled autonomously by computer because they are too skilled/complex/fast/precise for humans to perform.
Balls is no Gromit
Sir: Your front cover illustration depicting Ed Miliband and Ed Balls as Wallace and Gromit (11 April) is only partially justified. In the animated film, Gromit is a quick-thinking and highly resourceful companion who rescues Wallace from difficult situations. On the available evidence, Ed Balls does not fit that description.
How to keep a vicar
Sir: Quentin Letts’s entertaining article (‘How to pick a vicar’, 21 March) missed a crucial point, which is that having found its ideal vicar, a rural parish probably could not afford him. After a vacancy of 18 months, we now share our vicar with eight parishes, and yet the contribution required by the diocese has doubled in ten years. Of course, head office has its own problems: too many bishops, a pension fund black hole and so on — but the presence of a vicar in the village is still the best recruiting aid the church has. A vicar-less village means less of a congregation, which means less income, which again means less vicar. As one despairing churchwarden put it: ‘God knows what the answer is.’ If so, I do hope He tells us soon.
Sir: Like Hugo Rifkind, I have seen a photograph of my grandfather wearing a three-piece suit on a beach (‘Why are so many men dieting?’, 4 April). In the deckchair next to him is my grandmother. It was 1913 and they were on their honeymoon in Margate. Next to them are my grandmother’s parents; her father is also wearing a three-piece suit. Dieting would have been completely alien to all of them, and it seems that a sensible equality between the sexes benefited the waistlines.
West Byfleet, Surrey
Sir: Hugo Rifkind’s article brought back fond memories of standing with my husband in a cubicle at Hector Powe, tailors. He was being measured for a new suit and the ‘oldish, fruity gent with a measuring tape round his neck’ muttered, tactfully, ‘Ah yes, sir has a forward waistline.’ The suit was a perfect fit.
Where are the tortoises?
Sir: Regarding the non-appearance of the tortoises in his care, (Long life, 11 April) Alexander Chancellor might take comfort in an anecdote of my colleague, who some years ago was in a similar state of anxiety. The little chap in question came bursting forth from his garden tomb on Easter Sunday and was therefore renamed Jesus.
Sir: What would Rory Sutherland (‘Looking for answers you can’t see’, 28 March) think, while anxiously looking for the road to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, of coming up to a T-junction in Avignon signposted, to the left, ‘Toutes Directions’ and, to the right, ‘Autres Directions’?
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