SIR – Let me get this right. The Prime Minister is saying that I must wear a mask in a shop, even if I'm the only one in there and I'm in and out in a matter of minutes, but I can spend all night in a pub with scores of other people and I don't need a mask.
SIR – What is the logic behind allowing us free access to cinemas with no face masks where, if the auditorium is full, one can observe no sort of distancing, yet in a supermarket, where observing social distancing doesn't present much of a problem, we have to mask up?
SIR – I'm done. No more masks, distancing, avoiding social gatherings, bumping elbows. My plans for a family Christmas will continue. I'm triple-jabbed and I'm in my seventies. I don't have any more time to waste.
SIR – It is, simply and absolutely, selfish not to wear a mask. Otherwise it would be like saying during the Blitz: "I don't want to turn off my lights or shut my curtains because I'm happy to take the personal risk." The bombs this attracted would have been 100 times more likely to kill someone other than yourself.
This is also why, counter-intuitively, in a free and liberal society it is sometimes necessary to legislate and enforce rather than appeal to people's better selves. We get too used to "Why should I?" and "Me, me, me." The government knew this in 1940.
SIR – Three people are found with the omicron variant on Saturday and masks become mandatory three days later. Parliament will vote on the law in the next 28 days. That is just lip service to democratic governance. We are no longer a parliamentary democracy.
SIR – There might have been greater take-up of the Covid vaccine if the Government had been positive and removed all restrictions from those fully vaccinated with the three doses.
The unvaccinated look at those who made the effort, see no new freedoms, and wonder why they should bother. All stick and no carrot never works.
SIR – I have Covid. I got the news at 7am on Sunday after taking a PCR test at a drive-through centre on Saturday. It was my third test last week.
I first PCR tested last Tuesday with my daughter when she felt unwell. She was positive, I was negative. I tested again first thing on Thursday. Again I was negative, as was my elder daughter, but my husband was positive.
For the third time, I tested on Saturday, this time with a cough. A lateral flow at home showed negative, but my feeling was that I was positive, so five days after my younger child tested positive, I was back at the drive-through centre. Had I relied on my first test, I would have been out and about in the community.
So testing for travellers should be on Day 5, with isolation before it.
SIR – My wife was recently relieved of her purse, credit cards and cash in a two-man sting at a supermarket checkout. But at least the perpetrators had taken the trouble to be fully masked for the occasion.
SIR – The classical Greek alphabet has two types of O: the large O-mega, and the small O-micron. The latter is pronounced O-my-cron, stressed on the middle syllable (Letters, November 29). The classics staff at Eton must be squirming in their shoes to hear that even the Prime Minister has joined the Ommi-cron brigade.
Cold in a power cut
SIR – During Storm Arwen our electricity supply failed for 24 hours. We have an "all-electric" house as recommended by the Government.
With no other means of heating, we were cold. How we missed our wood stove, which kept our last house warm, heated our water and boiled our kettle.
We tried to buy a gas heater but were told that they can be dangerous, giving off poisonous carbon monoxide.
In the end we went to bed with our dog and cat to keep warm. This is obviously not the answer.
SIR – The Prime Minister's Brexit rhetoric about taking back control of our borders has come back to haunt him and the country. He knew that from January 1 2021 the EU's Dublin Regulation no longer applied.
With no return arrangement with any EU country, it is not surprising that only five migrants have been returned this year.
Unless Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, can negotiate a bilateral agreement with France soon, people smugglers will continue to ply their trade and more loss of life will occur.
Mobile phone bills
SIR – The brass neck of mobile phone companies is breathtaking. Most apply the RPI inflation plus 3.9 per cent annually. RPI is currently 6 per cent. Supposedly if RPI is negative, only the 3.9 per cent will apply. Mobile phone users will endure increases of 10 per cent in the new year, and no one appears to complain.
SIR – The "crisis in literary fiction” is not being mirrored in crime fiction sales in Britain, which are healthier than ever.
This new Golden Age may be because the genre mirrors our stressful times but also promises a happy ending in which baddies get their comeuppance. As P D James put it: "Crime fiction confirms our belief, despite some evidence to the contrary, that we live in a rational, comprehensible and moral universe."
Dwindling land forces
SIR – For years successive British governments have used investment in technology as an excuse for running down conventional Army land forces.
In March, Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, introduced his defence review by stating that, "as the threat changes, we must change with it, remaining clear-eyed about what capabilities we retire".
He proposed a further reduction in the number of Challenger main battle tanks from 225 to 148, while upgrading the remaining fleet. However, with 100,000 or so Russian land forces massing on the Ukrainian border, the Government has hurriedly committed "extra" tanks from this dwindling fleet to the Nato Forward Holding Facility in Sennelager, Germany.
Technology on its own, in the absence of an adequate head count, is unlikely to be an effective conventional deterrent.
Baby at work
SIR – Patients attending a north London GP surgery in 1965 didn't have to imagine what it would be like consulting a mother and baby (Letters, November 29) .
When we were let down at the very last minute by my babysitter, it was suggested that I bring my six-week-old with me; the receptionists would look after him while I saw my patients.
Unfortunately it didn't quite work out that way. It soon became clear that a bawling baby in his Moses basket under the reception desk was likely to be more disturbing to patients than a quiet one sleeping on his mother's lap. Far from there being any complaints, my patients were delighted with this arrangement and thanked me profusely for such an enjoyable and unforgettable consultation.
Dr Elizabeth Stanley
Old-school car care
SIR – Michael Nicholson (Letters, November 25) refers to the AA's guidance from the 1950s on how to pass a lighted cigarette.
I have a car maintenance manual from the same period advising the do-it-yourself motor mechanic to dispose of used engine oil "in a quiet corner of the garden, about one spit deep". Times do, occasionally, change for the better.
A decorative lavatory that made an impression
SIR – My great-grandmother was the daughter of George Jennings, the engineer who devised and installed the first public lavatories in the 1850s (Letters, November 19) .
In the 1930s my father took me, aged four or five, on various occasions to visit her in Oxford, where I really enjoyed my visits to her lavatory. The china base was highly decorated in bright colours and the wide seat was of a deep mahogany. The lavatory was raised on a dais like a throne. The top half of the door was filled with an elaborate design in brightly coloured stained glass.
I do not know if it was a George Jennings, but it was impressive.
SIR – I was sad to read that the public lavatories on Epsom Downs will be demolished (Letters, November 25) .
Maybe sponsorship is the answer. It seems a poor contribution to local life when a roundabout or similar is sponsored, but a public lavatory, sponsored by a local business or private individual, would provide a valued public service.
GPs' receptionists judging medical problems
SIR – I phoned for a face-to-face GP appointment (Letters, November 29) for a suspected kidney infection.
After an embarrassing conversation, the receptionist said that a "medical professional" would ring me on a date in 23 days' time. I found a different GP practice that took me on later that day.
Receptionists are not medically trained. How long before one causes a death?
SIR – My wife is a GP practice manager of over 15 years' experience and her practice uses the triage system to ask for information about why someone is seeking an appointment.
This isn't done out of nosiness, but so that the correct clinical resource is given to the call. They use systems which, like calls to 999, ensure that the resource provided matches the patient's need.
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