Interference angers blood donor

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From: Alec Denton, Oxford Avenue, Guiseley.

THE NHS Blood and Transplant Service (NHS-BT) has suffered in recent years from a surfeit of petty bureaucracy and, together with the present atmosphere of fear and risk aversion, this makes donating an increasingly irritating experience.

We are subject to changes every four months, although the “spot the difference” game does at least provide a talking point during our post-donating drink.

Recent irritations? Being told aggressively that I must drink a pint of water before donating, instead of just offering the option of a drink.

Preventing the booking of my next appointment due to a planned visit to (unhealthy) New York and, on the previous occasion, not allowing the transfer of my English appointment to Scotland for a family visit, as the English and Scottish NHS-BT’s are no longer part of the same NHS and my records are not transferable – so much for our United Kingdom.

Finally, for many years, I donated in my hometown of Guiseley. This is no longer possible as NHS-BT management have decided that the badminton court they formerly used is no longer big enough and have dropped the Guiseley sessions.

This means that not only do Guiseley donors now have to travel, but NHS-BT have lost at a stroke new donors from the large sixth form at Guiseley School and the young mothers who used to donate on their way to collect their infants.

I am, therefore, not surprised at the dramatic fall in the number of young blood donors and believe this service would benefit financially and otherwise from a lot less management interference.

Reassessing Etty the man

From: William Dixon Smith, Welland Rise, Acomb, York.

TO round off the character of William Etty (Yorkshire Post, June 11), it is necessary to refer to qualities scarcely touched on by his biographers: his extraordinary physical courage, his unremitting kindness, and his capacity for enduring friendship. These qualities did not serve to make him a better painter, but they certainly recommended him to his contemporaries.

It is incorrect to suggest that there is no evidence to show that Etty attended school in Pocklington. As with all matters concerning this remarkable artist, there is no more reliable witness than the man himself. His letter of November 26, 1848 (ed 198) refers to his pupillage there, apparently with nostalgia. This letter may be viewed in its entirety at

It is worse than incorrect to suggest that Etty “never established a relationship”. Etty’s relationship with his niece Betsy was life-defining. It is perhaps the most poignant love affair of the 19th century. That they were deeply and passionately in love, there can be no doubt whatsoever. Again we have the irrefutable evidence of the letters.

Whether their love was ever consummated, we shall never know. William Etty was the most reticent of men, in an age when reticence in relationships between men and women was considered a virtue. However, we cannot categorically suppose that couples in love were any more inhibited than they are today.

Betsy co-habited with William from the age of 22. They stayed together for the rest of Etty’s life. Not surprisingly, some of Etty’s friends accepted that this long, devoted relationship encompassed a physical one. Once again we merely need turn to the evidence of the letters: the teasing of neighbours when Etty was detained in York, and the frank invitation of John Sheepshanks to provide the couple with a holiday “love nest” (letter ed 305).

The exhibition at York Art Gallery must naturally concentrate on Etty the artist, but perhaps it is high time we reassessed Etty the man as well.

Language barrier

From: Eric S Wood, Doncaster.

PLEASE publish a thank you to Father McNicholas (Yorkshire Post, June 15) for his criticism of the language allowed on the BBC.

Surely many others, along with myself of the older generation, are disgusted with the use of such language in what could otherwise be a reasonable or even a good programme?

From: John Gordon, Whitcliffe Lane, Ripon.

I SYMPATHISE with Father McNicholas’s complaint about strong language on the BBC. It is very difficult to avoid. I sat down to see the latest Wallander film on BBC4, thinking that as my knowledge of the Swedish language is nil, I should be spared the “strong language” warning.

But no, the subtitles obligingly provided a sprinkling of these words. They were not offensive to the ear, but they had the effect of graffiti on the walls as you travel through a rather shady area instead of safe in the sanctity of your own home.

Super power in giving

From: John Rookes, Bramley, Rotherham.

WHEN will this Government start listening to the electorate, and carry out the wishes of the majority by looking after the interests of the people of this country first?

It seems as though British people have been relegated to the bottom of the pile when it comes to spending money; billions ringfenced for overseas aid when countless care homes are closing up and down the country, teachers losing their jobs in the thousands, students rioting, education in general being starved of funds, and yet we have just sent a further £650m to Pakistan for educational needs.

Surely our priorities are wrong. Yes, by all means give aid but only when the country can afford it. According to news reports, Britain is a “super power” when it come to overseas aid, giving more than the US and Germany combined. Can this be right, or more to the point afforded?