Carole Cadwalladr’s courage in pursuing the involvement of Arron Banks with the Russian government must be applauded (“Arron Banks almost crushed me in court. Instead, my quest for the facts was vindicated”, Comment). But it is now clearer than ever that a future British government, not mired in mendacity as the current administration is, should appoint a judge-led royal commission that is unconstrained in its right and ability to probe every aspect of the campaigns supporting Britain’s leaving the European Union.
Cadwalladr’s case is only a foot in the door. A royal commission must expose every lie that was uttered that demonstrates how British politicians have been corrupted by Kremlin influence. Such an inquiry will not only go some way to expose the flaws in the country’s electoral funding and function, it may also reveal to our fellow Europeans that the Brexit campaign was an enterprise engineered by a few to deceive many. And that could help build the bridges Britain needs to restore a relationship with the EU.
I am proud to be one of the 28,887 who donated to Carole Cadwalladr’s defence fund and I would not hesitate to donate again, should she need it.
Hest Bank, Lancaster
Eugenics is nonsense for a reason that Adam Rutherford misses and has only become apparent relatively recently (“Where science meets history: the dark history of eugenics”, the New Review). The brilliance of Mendel was that he chose traits that bred true, and this was because there was a direct link between the underlying genes and their effect on next-generation peas.
Such Mendelian genes are however very rare and have minimal roles in the sorts of traits that eugenicists care about. The great majority of genes produce proteins that work only indirectly; this is because they cooperate with many other proteins in networks whose collective output is a trait, such as growth, pigmentation or height.
Such is the complexity of these networks that we still cannot predict how the mix of maternal and paternal proteins in a child will lead to its traits, unless mutations incapacitate a network. Two examples: there was no reason to expect that just one of the offspring of the unexceptional Herr and Frau Einstein would become the most brilliant physicist ever; and the breeding of racehorses for speed is anything other than Mendelian, as every punter intuitively knows.
Your article stating that 25% of prisoners have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (News) does not mention the lack of treatment once diagnosed. I am a consultant liaison psychiatrist working in a general hospital. I have seen numerous examples where patients’ impulsivity, due to ADHD, has led to severe trauma through self harm, attempted suicide and accidents. The cost to the individual and society is great.
In addition, I often see cases where patients have left hospital without completing treatment, again in part at least, due to ADHD. Despite identifying patients with ADHD and knowing I have the skills and medication to treat it effectively, I cannot do so because our local clinical commissioning group does not fund a service for these patients.
ADHD is one of the most treatable mental illnesses. Treatment is low risk, cheap and effective. Identification and treatment has been proved to reduce recidivism, substance misuse and mortality. Why am I not allowed to treat these patients in the knowledge that there will be adequate follow-up?
Dr Vicky Cleak
The fact that there is no longer the same need for phone booths is no reason to see them as “clutter” (Notebook). They can serve valuable community functions. One outstanding example I noticed was in Bishop’s Stortford, where a surviving booth, as well as being an attractive piece of street furniture, houses a defibrillator, available for public use in emergencies.
As someone who a few years ago had a cardiac arrest in a public place, I am acutely aware of the value of these devices being readily available. To waste this attractive resource is purblind vandalism.
Kaitlyn Tiffany sketches an interesting history of teenage fandom (“The truth about screaming fangirls”, the New Review) and it ties in well with another Caitlin (Moran’s) opinions in How to be Famous about the need for pubescent girls to find an identity and be on a team. But the case of the Beatles is interesting in that it cut across age, gender and class. Beatles and Rolling Stones’ fans back then could be 12-year-old girls and 22-year-old guys. Each new album was eagerly anticipated and assessed for music development. Families would sit watching the pop TV programmes to decide whether groups’ new singles might be hits.
But it only lasted a while. The Monkees were an obvious American construct based around a TV series and when David Cassidy and the Osmonds came along the hip 22-year-olds turned away in disgust. It started to polarise and ghettoise thereafter, but for a while the UK was the centre of the universe.
Saltdean, East Sussex
One of my Bulgarian pub boys, who has been with me for 10 years, has just sent me a fabulous article by Rachel Cooke: “I have the answer to the restaurant staffing crisis. First, let me put on my apron…” (the Observer Food Monthly). It was an apt read, as finding staff is nigh on impossible right now because of the impact of both Brexit and Covid. It’s hard work serving people but it’s rewarding when you do it well. There’s nothing better than going out for a meal with family and being taken care of by a helpful, knowledgeable waiter who knows their stuff.
In the rest of the world, working in hospitality is something to be proud of. To be good takes years of training and hard work and the ability to really read people. I’ve been in the industry for 30 years and I’m ashamed when I hear customers asking my team what they’re going to do for their “real career”. Being a brilliant waiter or barman is a skill just like being a CEO or a fireman.
The next time you’re eating out, remember that when we’re looking after you, we could be with our own loved ones, enjoying the same kind of experience. Instead we’ve chosen to give our care to you; it might be Christmas, Easter or a busy bank holiday, time when all “normal” people are having a well-earned rest and we’re still working so that you can do just that. Let’s stand by our hospitality staff, some of the most hard-working professionals we have but still entirely undervalued in this country.
Barbara Cossins, landlady
Tarrant Monkton, Dorset