Our terrified youth
Sir: Both Claire Fox’s ‘Generation Snowflake’ and Mary Wakefield’s recent column (What’s to blame for a generation’s desperation?, 16 July) get to the root of the terrified pessimism which (I am told) afflicts much of today’s youth.
At 67, I’m fortunate enough to mix with quite a few thoroughly aware, thoughtful and successful young ’uns who eschew the sanctity of ‘safe spaces’ for the rumbustious joy of boozing, singing, dancing, loving and socialising and generally tackling that fearful world head on in ferocious defiance. As Chesterton so perfectly put it in his reply ‘To Young Pessimists’
Some sneer; some snigger; some simper;
In youth where we laughed, and sang.
And ‘they’ may end with a whimper
But ‘we’ will end with a bang.
I know which side I was on in my youth. Lighten up, kids; there’s always hope. But first, you must go through the scary process of opening your eyes to look for it.
Not another Joe!
Sir: I very much hope that Theresa May does not intend to ‘follow in the footsteps of “Radical Joe”’ (‘She’s another Chamberlain’, 16 July). Chamberlain broke the Liberal party in 1886, when he deserted Gladstone over Irish home rule; and the Conservatives in 1906, when he split the party over his campaign for imperial preference, a policy that none of the dominions supported. He was mercurial, poor at economics and was not a man many found it comfortable to work with.
He was, however, a great businessman, helping drive Nettlefold and Chamberlain (now GKN Limited) to dominance in the screw trade.
How’s that sovereignty?
Sir: Charles Moore makes a valid point in his Notes of 9 July when he says that Parliament needs to improve. If it had been more on the ball, it would never have sanctioned a referendum, the result of which has flown in the face of the will of a significant parliamentary majority. The extent to which membership of the EU actually curtailed that sovereignty at all was largely unexplored by the lamentably superficial campaigns of both sides; but the referendum surely has left its significance looking shaky. Am I alone in wondering how this whole process is helping it ‘recover’ its so-called sovereignty?
Do be a pilgrim
Sir: Two years ago I walked the Camino Frances from the Pyrenees to the Atlantic, approx 750 miles (‘Pilgrimage’s progress’, 16 July). No iPhone or iPad; just a pack on my back and municipal hostels every night. It was gruelling, but my fellow pilgrims were entertaining, the Spanish extremely hospitable, and the craic inexpressible. I returned a new man, a stone and a half lighter, my head clear. I recommend this purgation to anyone of any or no faith.
Sir: To set the record straight, I can attest to the pleasures of a good marmot casserole (Letters, 16 July). While walking in Graubünden in early autumn a few years ago, the proprietor of our hotel told us that it was the local practice to cull the marmot periodically and that they made ‘good eating’. They did — served with a rich sauce, the meat was like a cross between venison and rabbit, albeit rather bonier than either. The accompanying Swiss red wine had also obviously improved since the Reverend Norton’s visit.
St Peter Port, Guernsey
Sir: In your issue of 9 July, there is a review by Justin Marozzi of Malcolm Lambert’s Crusade and Jihad: Origins, History and Aftermath. Mr Marozzi mentions ‘a crescendo of blood-spilling in Jerusalem’ which occurred when the soldiers of the First Crusade took the city. He then goes on to say that it was as a result of that atrocity that Jerusalem became important to Muslims. The fact is that Jerusalem was a Muslim holy site from the beginnings of Islam and that the earliest Muslims had faced Jerusalem when praying. The direction of prayer was later changed and Muslims now face Mecca when praying.
Gainesville, Florida, USA
Sir: Now that we know the results of May’s reshuffle, I am glad to see Jeremy Hunt remains as Health Secretary. I work in the NHS and despite his vilification by many members of staff, I believe he is the best person for the job. The NHS is suffering terribly and needs consistency to help guide it through the storm. Jeremy Hunt is strong enough to make the difficult, unpopular decisions that need to be made to ensure the NHS’s long-term future. He also has the somewhat unfortunate benefit of being so thoroughly (and unfairly) despised that he need no longer fear taking unpopular decisions. He has a chance to be known for saving the NHS. Let’s hope he takes it.
Sir: I was far from comfortable with the appointment of Theresa May as our new Prime Minister. But if it upsets James Delingpole that much (16 July), she must have something going for her.
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