Nothing to fear
Sir: Many of us await the day when we can travel abroad for much-anticipated holidays — but surely there is a distinction between immunisation passports and Tony Blair-type IDs (‘Papers, please’, 13 February)? If a country requires you to be immunised to travel there in order to protect its citizens against Covid, then I would be happy to have that ‘passport’ requirement. It is quite different from carrying ID with you in your own country.
Let’s face it, the danger from Covid will fade in time, and the ‘passport’ requirement along with it. After all we happily travel with a passport in our pockets to show who we are when we go abroad. Didn’t people have the same worries when passports were introduced? Why would one requirement necessarily lead to another? Passports didn’t lead to IDs here in the UK, after all.
Open to worshippers
Sir: We are glad to hear that Charles Moore recently attended St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield to deliver his lecture (The Spectator’s Notes, 20 February). But we cannot let his assertion that St Bartholomew’s is one of only two of the City of London’s 45 churches to be currently open go unchallenged.
We are the Incumbents (or equivalent) of five Anglo-Catholic churches in the City, all of which have remained open for public worship and private prayer during this lockdown. We know of many more churches in the City of London which have also remained open. We rejoice that, alongside the provision of worship online for those unable to attend church as usual, these glorious and sacred buildings have continued to offer safe space for prayer, worship and the celebration of the sacraments. We look forward to welcoming Charles Moore to our churches whenever he would like to visit.
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker
St Andrew, Holborn Circus
The Revd Tim Handley
St James, Garlickhythe
The Ven Luke Miller
The Revd Philip Warner
St Magnus the Martyr
The Revd James Wilkinson
Sir: The Archbishops’ spirited defence of their conduct during lockdown was interesting and sincere (‘A Christian vision’, 13 February). Where they have gone wrong is in the lack of their presence on the street. We see the Prime Minister visiting factories and hospitals all the time, and rightly so, but never it seems their Graces. It would do so much for the morale of the public to see and hear more from our spiritual leaders.
What would Jesus think of the pandemic? I believe he would have been out there putting the Word about with words of comfort. Holy communion from his kitchen on Easter Day and a brief appearance on breakfast TV is not good enough from Canterbury. As for York, no one knows what he looks like.
Looking for action
Sir: Jeremy Clarke (Low Life, 20 February) recounts how his foreign-correspondent neighbour had got by for around 20 years in France using just a handful of stock English words. My late father-in-law maintained that he was able to travel widely through Germany using English alongside three German phrases: ‘Es regnet’ (It is raining), ‘Das ist meine frau’ (This is my wife) and ‘Zwei bier, bitte!’ (Two beers, please!).
His command of French was equally meagre. During the war, he served as a ship’s surgeon aboard a Royal Navy destroyer in the Mediterranean. After striking a German mine, his badly listing ship limped into a north African port for repair, whereupon he was given a new posting. This required a journey by train. Instead of asking, ‘Où est la gare?’ (Where is the station?), he enquired, ‘Où est la guerre?’ (Where is the war?). The bemused sentry at the dockyard gate simply shrugged his shoulders and replied: ‘Partout [everywhere], Monsieur, partout!’
Dr Andrew Mason
Mike, Michael, Mike
Sir: Dot Wordsworth’s assertion that her husband is ‘old enough to remember surnames used alone as a mark of friendship between men’ (Mind Your Language, 13 February) reminded me of Farr’s Law of Mean Familiarity, as expounded by Stephen Potter in One-Upmanship (1952). According to this, the boss of a business would refer to co-director Michael Yates as Mike, to assistant director Michael Yates as Michael, to sectional manager Michael Yates as Mr Yates, to sectional assistant Michael Yates as Yates, to indispensable secretary Michael Yates as Mr Yates, to apprentice Michael Yates as Michael, and to nightwatchman Michael Yates as Mike. These social nuances are, alas, lost in our egalitarian and overfamiliar modern world.
Sir: You quote official statistics suggesting a decrease in Home Detention Curfews, down from 2,716 to 2,276 in 2021 (Barometer, 20 February). I’d respectfully submit that there is an understatement by somewhere in the region of 67 million.
Sir: I’m just about to enter the Pol Roger competition for subscribers (Diary, 20 February) and have thought of a name for Fraser Nelson’s new kitten: Polly.
Streat, East Sussex
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