The Carlile report
Sir: The Bishop of Bath and Wells tells us (Letters, 2 December) that nobody is holding up publication of the Carlile report into the Church of England’s hole-in-corner kangaroo condemnation of the late George Bell. Is it then just accidental that the church is still making excuses for not publishing it, and presumably for fiddling about with it, more than eight weeks after receiving it on 7 October? The church was swift to condemn George Bell on paltry evidence. It was swifter still to denounce those who stood up for him, falsely accusing them of attacking Bell’s accuser. Yet it is miserably slow to accept just criticism of itself. Somehow, I suspect that, had Lord Carlile exonerated the apparatchiks involved, his report would long ago have been released. May I commend to the Bishop the words of Our Lord (Matthew 5:25): ‘Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him.’
Why the war went on
Sir: Simon Kerry’s article (18 November) about his grandfather Lord Lansdowne’s peace proposals during the first world war is a rare gem. Much of the focus of published works has been on the causes of the war, but virtually nothing has been published on why it continued for as long as it did.
My father, Colin Clark, was an Oxford academic who repeatedly claimed that a peace accord was on the cards right up to 1916, pointing out that the royal family only discarded their German titles that year. This coincided with Lansdowne’s memo of November 1916 which was knocked down by Lloyd George. My father never revealed his sources for this assertion, but claimed that Lloyd George, together with Beaverbrook and Churchill, were responsible for killing off peace proposals. He did say that the Beaverbrook papers in Canada held the secrets.
Riding round the world
Sir: In his kind words about my book Churchill at the Gallop, Charles Moore was quite right to query the claim that ‘Winston Churchill rode more extensively than any Prime Minister before or since’ (The Spectator’s Notes, 2 December). My defence admits to a degree of sophistry in that it uses ‘extensively’ in the geographic sense. The Duke of Wellington certainly rode more often than Churchill — just about every day of his adult life — and he and Copenhagen famously jumped their way out of trouble at Waterloo. But unlike Churchill, he never rode in Cuba, Canada, Malta, Sudan or South Africa. Neither could he match Winston at scoring a cup final hat trick in India, since the first British polo club was not established there until 1862 — ten years after the Iron Duke’s demise.
Harry’s alternative bride
Sir: While I applaud Melanie McDonagh on being a lone voice in pointing out that a ‘groomed and glossy’ Netflix celebrity may not be the best role model for young women (‘The trouble with Miss Markle’, 2 December), I think our local vicar has come up with an inspired solution to the nation’s problems. During Sunday’s service he said that, while preparing his sermon on the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, he had the radio on and caught two headlines: about the German Chancellor trying to revitalise the Brexit negotiations; and about Prince Harry’s engagement. Somehow he confused the two stories and for one glorious moment believed that, with Brexit hitting the buffers, Prince Harry was to marry Mrs Merkel. Now that really could work miracles.
Sir: In his letter (25 November) Alexander Waugh denies that his grandfather, Evelyn Waugh, ‘scraped a third at Hertford’ and that he graduated from Oxford or anywhere else. If Evelyn did not attend the graduation ceremony, then he did not graduate from Oxford. All reference to a third is not out of place, however, since the Oxford University Calendar, 1932, lists him in the third class ‘In Historia Moderna’ for 1924 (p. 232). By what margin he was assigned to this class, I have naturally no idea. ‘Scraped’ might be the right word.
Dr Geoffrey Thomas
Sir: Reading Tanya Gold’s review of Farmacy (Food, 25 November), I was strongly reminded of a passage in Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It concerns one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Famine, who invented nouvelle cuisine while visiting Paris. After visiting a restaurant, he muses: ‘He was remembering the exclusive little restaurant. It had occurred to him that he had never seen so many rich people so hungry.’
Keep on trucking
Sir: Matthew Parris should not be concerned about driving a 20-year-old truck (‘The era when you could love a car is over’, 25 November). Indeed, he could be congratulated for being green. Many other truck users might buy two, three or more new vehicles during that period. The impact on the environment of building them would far outweigh that of his old truck chugging around for a few miles each week. Of course, the downside of everybody keeping their vehicles for so long would be the significant loss of jobs.
Shipston on Stour, Warwickshire
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