SIR – The Government threatens, or intends, wholesale lockdown because of a few alleged irresponsibilities. I am reminded of teachers long ago who kept the whole class in after school because of the misdemeanours of a few.
Even as children of a tender age, we instinctively felt that this was not only unfair on those of us who'd behaved but also the sign of a bad teacher. Such teachers were usually, and swiftly, replaced.
SIR – Yesterday I watched two scientists deliver an entirely political briefing. What on earth is going on with our Government?
SIR – With the very real prospect of being thrust into lockdown once more, the quotation from an unnamed United States infantry major during the Vietnam War comes to mind. He was interviewed by Peter Arnett after the battle of Ben Tre and said: "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it."
SIR – Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, tells us the epidemic is doubling every seven days.
Thus, he calculates – somewhat frighteningly – that we will have 50,000 new infections a day by mid-October and 200 deaths a day a couple of weeks later.
Applying exactly the same method, the entire population will have had Covid-19 and 11.5 million of us will be dead before Christmas Day. Shortly after New Year's Day, all human life in the United Kingdom will have ended.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
SIR – The testing system is certainly being ineptly run, but that is not its real flaw. Matt Hancock has stated that the rate of false positive results is only around 1 per cent. Trivial, then? No!
Out of 100,000 tests you will get 1,000 "cases" that are no such thing. A large percentage of cases reported in shocked tones on the news represent people who do not have the virus. So much for following "the science".
SIR – Boris Johnson says he is "fighting the virus" by reimposing restrictions. He isn't. He is simply inviting the virus to bide its time until an economic meltdown or public rebellion against the lockdown forces a change in policy and allows it to spread again.
The only way in which it will be defeated is through herd immunity or a vaccine, both of which seem a long way off. We must learn to live with it.
Dr Mike Ruscoe
SIR – I don't think I have ever seen a more worrying time for free speech and the sanity of the nation. Parliament should insist that rule by ministerial decree ends and that we get back to being a functioning democracy.
No draconian lockdown measures should be implemented without full debate in Parliament. To learn you could be fined £10,000 for leaving your front door is unacceptable.
Boris Johnson and the Government need to inspire the country. We are in grave danger of losing the compliant goodwill of the people.
I consider myself to be a law-abiding citizen but when I hear of proposed changes to restrictions, the first thing I think of is how to circumvent them.
SIR – Might I suggest that those of us who disapprove of the Government's lockdown measures demonstrate our dissent by standing on our doorsteps on Thursday evening and banging a saucepan with a wooden spoon?
SIR – In attempting to deal with the migrants crossing the English Channel ( Letters, September 19 ), we are looking at the result, not the cause.
Those who cross are able to do so only through the gangsters who make large profits by supplying the boats and advice on how to land in England.
Tackling the French Gendarmerie Maritime is too late. We must tackle the cause effectively.
SIR – B G Seiver ( Letters September 19 ) asks how safe it is to cross the English Channel.
I expect that most masters would post extra lookouts on the bridge when in waters used by the migrants. Then, as the crossings are usually by day and in flattish sea conditions, these people would be seen and avoided. However, there is a good possibility they would not show up as a strong signal on the radar screen.
Captain Nairn Lawson (retd)
Licence to repeat
SIR – Last week, BBC Two screened 166 programmes, spread over a period of 142 hours. Of these, 111 were repeats, five were old films and 21 were "news and current affairs" programmes. I prefer to call them "propaganda for Remainers" and would not waste my time watching such biased reports.
Discounting such riveting items as Best of Top Gear , Louis Theroux revisits and Live [sic] at the Apollo , I am left with 15 per cent of the total scheduled programmes to view.
David Lloyd Reekie
Stamps, postage extra
SIR – The Post Office has is closed its online stamp sales buying website, leaving the market open to more commercially minded companies such as Viking.
Could the one of the reasons for this closure be that the Post Office lost customers who were frustrated and turned off by the illogical decision to charge for postage on stamp orders?
SIR – Starlings seem not to eat elderberries any more. Our valley is weighed down with the crop this year but they have not been touched, nor in recent previous years.
Feeding the grid
SIR – We had a Smets 2 meter fitted in January ( Letters, September 21) . The first advantage was that we could see how much our solar panels exported to the grid, meaning we could plan how to use the spare electricity. The second advantage has been higher payment for the electricity we do export.
Any risk of the lights going out can be countered by the electric car. We are happy to use the 30 kW battery in ours to feed the grid during peak times and recharge it during off-peak times. We will be even happier when we can use it to meet our power needs. The technology exists. Let us make it work.
SIR – I had a British Gas smart meter, and wanted to change my tariff to "Economy 7". But the smart meter could not send peak and off-peak readings as required, so I paid for it to be replaced with a "non-smart" dual-rate meter. This cannot be installed until October 5 – even though I booked and paid for it in January.
I suspect we needn't fear "time-of-day" billing or remote disconnection at times of peak demand. The energy companies will be unable to cope with the programming required.
SIR – You ran an advertisement for smart meters that claimed they "help give Britain greener energy". How can a device bring about such a change? Surely the customer needs to act.
I would also like to know how much CO2 is produced when these meters are made, delivered and installed. And how much energy is used by the computing technology that makes them work (which they often don't)?
SIR – In 1946, my father changed the breed of cattle on his farm from Shorthorn to Ayrshire.
Born that year, I was given the middle name Ayr ( Letters, September 21 ). I've always been glad it wasn't the other way round.
John Ayr Pickford
SIR – When I type "Boris" on my touchscreen phone, it is replaced with "virus" ( Letters, September 18 ).
One horse-fair – three million glasses of sherry
SIR – If the sherry shelves are empty ( Letters, September 19 ), it is because dry sherry has been one of lockdown's great success stories. Most retailers have seen a welcome increased s in sales. Sherry, unlike ordinary wine, can be happily kept in an opened bottle for weeks – ideal for steady home consumption.
There is plenty of dry sherry in Jerez, not least because the annual Feria del Caballo (horse-fair) in May was cancelled. During this week-long flamenco extravaganza about three million glasses of fino are enjoyed. Sadly not this year, but at least there is more for us.
My book on sherry heralds the long-awaited revival of this unique Andaluscian wine.
SIR – I'm sorry that some of your readers are suffering from a dry sherry shortage. Here we buy fino in litre bottles at our local Co-op.
The cleaning of churches before they can open
SIR – Our chapel was closed ( Letters, September 18 ) for the Suffolk Churches Ride and Stride event this month because it had been disinfected for the Sunday service the next day – no small task.
Yet our gates were open, and we had a welcome on the notice board with a request to sign a list pinned to the door. It was ideal weather for cycling and we had more visitors than usual.
SIR – I was surprised to read the instructions that have apparently been given to the churchwardens at Little Horsted ( Letters, September 21 ).
On Sunday we held our first service since Christmas, our church having initially been put out of action by the theft of its roof before being closed because of lockdown.
The previous Thursday, three volunteers (two from one household plus one other) cleaned it (wearing masks, as much for the dust and bat droppings as for the threat of Covid) and 72 hours later 13 people attended the service.
No one has said anything to me about professional cleaning being required. Why would they, given that the church hasn't been used for nine months?
SIR – I am a churchwarden and would be happy to leave our church open every day for Clive Fewins ( Letters September 18 ), as it was pre-Covid, if he pays our cleaner to do a full Covid clean every day.
Otherwise it is open twice a week, meaning enough time is left between openings for any virus to die off.
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