Sir: Sajid Javid is quoted as saying that the biggest constraint on building more houses is the ‘lack of land’ (‘Javid’s home truths’, 11 February). While he is right to call for government intervention, I don’t agree with this view. We may live on a small island in relative terms, but that doesn’t diminish our actual land mass. For argument’s sake, let us say the average house takes up 100 square metres. This means that you could fit 10,000 houses into a single square kilometre. To put that into perspective, the Isle of Wight, with an area of 380 km², has the capacity to accommodate 3,800,000 houses.
Obviously, housing estates require much less land. Singapore (twice the size of the Isle of Wight) can accommodate most of its 5.6 million residents in high-rise flats.
Farmland, amenities and public infra-structure must be accounted for, too. But the UK does not have a shortage of land.
Even up the score
Sir: Rod Liddle does a great job lampooning the shady honours system and the over-hyping of David Beckham’s talents (‘The dishonouring of David Beckham’, February 11). However, he is himself guilty of hyping up Golden Balls when he says Beckham’s goal against Greece was a case of ‘clutching victory from defeat’. In fact the game ended 2-2, although the point earned from the draw earned England a World Cup finals place.
Sir: On David Beckham, Rod Liddle utters many a heresy in maintaining that the boy from Chingford is far from worthy of a knighthood. One can understand how Beckham might be miffed when his mate Elton John was fast-tracked to National Treasure status by his own ‘K’. But in the spirit of restoring the honours system, may I suggest that our cricketing supremo Andrew Strauss is as worthy as anyone?
He has been in three Ashes-winning sides, captaining two, with one in Australia (a very rare achievement). He has been handed the England captaincy three times and had it taken away twice, never complaining. But more than all that he has called Kevin Pietersen the C-word live on air and got away with it. Surely that makes him as worthy as anyone else alive?
Sir: Cosmo Landesman’s rejection of a ‘crazy and posh’ girl – much given to outrageous antics and bedchamber incendiarism – was a sensible decision (‘Why do the middle classes let posh people be so rude?’, 11 February). Mind you, Mr Landesman’s leaving of the field raises an obvious question from men of taste and refinement: what’s her telephone number?
Sir: I was disgusted, but not surprised, to read a letter to a national newspaper from Professor Alan Sked (LSE) awarding himself sole honours for getting the UK out of the EU. The message he trumpeted was ‘No Sked no Ukip; no Ukip no referendum; no referendum no Brexit’. He also claimed to be a ‘professional historian wanting to set the record straight’.
It is true that in 1991 he founded the party which became Ukip two years later. He did not mention that he soon fell out with the party, left it, and from then on has regularly published anti-Ukip letters in the press. I think it is fair to say that Nigel Farage and Ukip’s success has been in spite of its founder, not because of him.
Sir George Earle Bt.
Sir: James Delingpole blames his ‘wretched genetic input’ for making his son, who is leaving Eton, carefree about his future (‘My poor Boy. He’s going to end up just like me’, 11 February). He worries that his son doesn’t seem bothered about putting his own sons through Eton. But he is being too hard on himself. After all, James didn’t go to Eton. Through tenacity and perseverance he managed to get his child educated there. His son, if lucky enough to have inherited such ambitious genes, might go a step further, and send his progeny to an even better school, such as Westminster or Winchester.
Green with envy
Sir: Marcus Berkmann’s green corduroy jacket, which hangs in his cupboard in grief-stricken solitude, has caused me tearful contemplation (Notes on Corduroy, 4 February). Why doesn’t he wear it with a pair of grey flannel bags and set forth to admiring glances? Failing that, if the jacket is size 46 and has regular length sleeves, I’d be happy to take it off his hands.
Sir: I was delighted to see Susan Hill (Diary, 11 February) commending St Anthony’s ability to find lost property. I recently stood before the large statue of the saint in our church and more or less shouted: ‘St Anthony, find me my keys!’ In ten minutes, he had done it. In one of my previous parishes, somebody dissatisfied with his saintly services pushed him off his plinth, causing his head to break off. He was reattached with iron collar and chain round his neck, like a holy rottweiler.
Anybody worried that St Anthony is overworked could follow the more full-blooded Spanish practice of calling on St Cucufato. You tie three knots in your handkerchief and say: ‘Cucufato, Cucufato, I’m tying up your balls; find me my (lost object) and I’ll untie them again.’ It always works, and he is never resentful.
Father David Sillince
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