Sir: After reading Jonathan Beswick (‘Critical mass’, 16 January) I am writing to express the shame I feel as a lifetime member of the Church of England at our Church’s attitude to this pandemic.
Here was the greatest opportunity in 70 years to demonstrate care for our fellow people, to advertise our faith and love and to keep the Church in the public eye. I hoped that there would be thousands of Church members flocking to help the lonely and the isolated. But I find my local church locked. This was the chance for the Church to show commitment and sacrifice for the good of the community, to cast aside timidity and get on with normal life, as does the postman, the milkman, the parcel delivery brigade, the health service and many others. Why are our priests so timid and frightened? They are supposed to be our leaders and consolers in times of crisis. The very people who believe death holds no fear for them seem afraid to open their own doors, let alone the doors of their empty churches.
If that had been Jesus’s attitude there would have been no Christian culture for the past two millennia. There may soon be no C of E after this exhibition. What a tragedy. What a disgrace.
Poling, West Sussex
Sir: I loved Simon Barnes’s article on the magnificence of octopuses and the ethics of eating them (‘Brain food’, 16 January).
I was first put on to this issue by the story of Inky the octopus, kept as an exhibit in the New Zealand National Aquarium. One day he managed to escape. He had worked out that there was a pipe that he could get down if his keeper forgot to seal it after feeding him. After months of ‘thought’, Inky made good his plans and escaped to freedom. Maybe we might find an octopus who can help us with our own escape to freedom in the months ahead.
The Revd Steve Morris
St Cuthbert’s Church, North Wembley
Sir: As James Forsyth reports (Politics,
16 January), the government is concerned about the fate of the Uyghur Muslims. What I don’t understand is why the fate of Christians in China is rarely mentioned. I would expect this of the BBC, but do not know why the UK government also ignores the fate of Christians in China. The same is true of reporting on the fate of Christians in Myanmar and the fate of Christians in the parts of Syria under the control of the Sunni Muslims (who our government supports), whereas Christians are safe in Bashar Al-Asad’s part of Syria (who we do not support). Perhaps The Spectator would like to redress the balance.
Sir: There was an egregious error in my review of Peter Hart’s At Close Range: Life and Death in the Artillery Regiment 1939-45 (Books, 16 January). Owing to my poor editing, it said that the 5.5” medium gun could throw four times the weight of the 25-pounder’s shell ‘nearly a mile’. It should of course have read ‘nearly ten miles’.
The ‘five-five’ was still in service with the demonstration battery at the School of Artillery on Salisbury Plain in the 1990s, there being so much ammunition left from the Cold War. Some of us non-Gunners had the pleasure of being bombarded by it for ‘battle inoculation’, in the safety of bunkers, and also for practising fire adjustment. The huge fountain of earth its hundred-pound shell threw up made spotting far easier than with the 25-pounder. On one memorable occasion, by some mix-up the gun position was just behind the collecting ring at a Royal Artillery Hunt Pony Club competition. The firing unnerved ponies and riders from visiting clubs, but not so much those of the RA’s. As the Master of the RA Hunt was also the battery commander, there were Betjemanesque suggestions of foul play.
Sir: Damian Thompson’s article on Alfred Brendel (Arts, 16 January) reminded me of how the great man used to wear sticking plasters on his fingers. I was once fortunate enough to briefly meet him and when I asked him about this he replied that he only used a product which had been made in East Germany since before the war and that once they stopped manufacturing it he would stop playing. I assume they stopped…
Worth its salt
Sir: Jamie Steel is correct in stating that there are no molten salt reactors now operating in Canada (Letters, 16 January). Tim Ambler was jumping the gun — but only by a year or two. Regulatory approval may well be a long way off in the UK, but it is very close in other countries. USNC is on track to get approval in 2022 for a solid-fuel-based molten salt reactor to be constructed in Ontario, Canada. Also in 2022 Thorcon will start constructing phase 1 of its thorium-based nuclear reactor for Indonesia. These projects are estimated to be able to produce electricity at significantly lower prices than Hinkley Point C or Sizewell C. The UK can hasten regulatory approval when it wants to, as we have seen with the Covid-19 vaccines. We do not need to wait for the 2040s for molten salt reactors when we could be making a start now.
Who’s telling porkies?
Sir: Mandarin segments are always called ‘pigs’ in my family (Mind your language, 9 January). Don’t others call them this?
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