From: Mrs Joan Walters, Fairfields Drive, Skelton, York.
CHRIS Benfield's comments regarding the contents of the Birds Brittanica book (Yorkshire Post, September 13) reminds me of hearing oral histories from two elderly women who both mentioned our village men, at one time, meeting annually for a day's shoot of blackbirds.
After the shoot, all the crows were handed to one of their number who was a local gamekeeper.
He would take them home and make them into crow pie. Later, during the evening, the men met for their annual crow pie supper.
I was unable to ascertain exactly where they ate the pie, but both women thought it probable they met in the British Legion hut. I've not discovered when this annual ritual started or ended, but it was in full swing during the Second World War.
Apparently, some RAF "boys" were billeted in the Hall, a large village house and the young girls told "the boys" about crow pie which was heard in disbelief.
To prove it, one of the girls made them a crow pie and gave it to them. She said that afterwards "the boys" never mentioned the pie again.
Incidentally, she married a serviceman stationed in the village; not an RAF "boy" but a member of the artillery.
Recently, I heard that only the crow's breasts were used and with the addition of carrot and onion, salt and pepper, a tasty mix filled the pastry. Crow tastes similar to chicken.
Riven Tories should form two parties
From: David Wright, Little Lane, Easingwold, North Yorkshire.
WHILE I am sure that most disillusioned and former Conservative Party supporters will agree with Nick Martinck's appraisal (Letters, September 12) of the unsuitability of Ken Clarke to lead the party, the fundamental problem still remains for the reconciliation of the two sections of the party – the modernisers/wets on one hand, and on the other the realists/Right wing/anti-EU faction.
It is now more than painfully obvious, after more than eight years in Opposition and endless internal wrangling and disagreements about leaders and policies, that there is an irreconcilable split in the party. The only answer is for the Right wing/realists to withdraw from the mess and form a new party.
This is also strengthened by the views of Gordon Rees (Letters, September 12) and others over the poison of multi-culturalism and other issues such as social engineering, political correctness, the failing educational and health services, the appalling asylum and immigration system and our continued membership of the EU superstate.
These issues have got to be faced urgently for neither Tony Blair nor the opposition has any answers or the guts to implement radical policies to get UK Ltd back on track.
It is now or never for both the future of the country and the "real" Conservatives – what's left of them.
Arrogance on pensions
From: Robert Bottamley, Thorn Road, Hedon.
IN the article under the heading "Mass strike warning in pensions crisis" (September 15), Sir Digby Jones (director general of the CBI) advised employees to abandon their battle for decent pensions, and instead to join what he called the "real world".
What appalling arrogance – what utter hypocrisy.
Members of the organisation led by Mr Jones inhabit a world wherein they are paid (or award themselves) more during a single year than most ordinary employees could hope to receive for a lifetime of honest work.
In retirement, the people Mr Jones represents draw pensions scarcely less generous than their salaries. Not infrequently, they do so well before the age of 60.
If this is the "real world" to which Sir Digby Jones refers, then TUC members will doubtless be delighted to accept his generous invitation.
Dismay at beach plan
From: Anna Paulin, Sheppard Avenue, East Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.
I FELT I just had to voice my dismay at the article I read in the online version of the Yorkshire Post concerning the proposed beach centre on the beach in Whitby ("Beach centre project sails into trouble at historic port", September 10).
I was born in Leeds (in the 1940s) and even though I've lived in Canada for the past 30 years, every trip "home" is not complete without a visit to Whitby.
As a child, my family spent summers enjoying the camaraderie of our fellow holidaymakers and the wonderful view from the wide part of the sea wall.
I am sure thousands of visitors to Whitby beach share my views on the chalets staying just as they are, and the beach centre being built in another location.
The idea of the centre is sound but the location needs further work. Just imagine a lifeguard up on the sea-wall: by the time he could get to the swimmer in distress, it would probably be a tad late.
Dangers of euthanasia
From: Anne Ellis, Hill Foot, Shipley.
WHAT Charles Carter ("Right to die", September 13) is suggesting is that the protection of the law is removed from some of the most vulnerable members of society, namely the terminally ill, who may also be suffering from depression.
This seems very dangerous.
He may regard himself to be on the same level as the animal kingdom, but I do not.
Some time ago a doctor wrote in the Yorkshire Post that palliative care was now so good and improving that euthanasia would be unnecessary.
Mrs Diane Pretty, who was refused assisted suicide by the law courts, was then cared for in a hospice and had a pain-free and peaceful death. That to me is compassion and humanity in action.
From: David Rhodes (Old Peterite), Keble Park North, Bishopthorpe, York.
I READ with interest the article regarding Dr John Roden's book entitled The Minster School, York: A Centenary History 1903-2004 (Yorkshire Post, September 15).
I wonder if its relationship to St Peter's School is mentioned. After all, I believe Dr Roden was a master there as well.
St Peter's was also founded in 627AD by Paulinus. During its time, St Peter's has moved about nine times, all within a relatively small radius and it can be assumed that some of these moves would have been done by handcart.
One of these sites was originally a Turkish baths. In 1833, the Minster School site was purpose built for St Peter's School, but after a turbulent period under the then headmaster, the school moved to its present location in 1844. Appropriately, the land was once owned by Guy Fawkes.
This letter is in no way intended to diminish the achievement of the Minster School, but to clarify the co-existence (from the same roots) of two historical seats of learning in the City of York. May both prosper.
The case for small schools
From: Mervyn Benford, National Association for Small Schools, Cloudshill, Shutford.
ROBERT Bottamley (Letters, September 7) is certainly right to argue that parents and teachers are central to defending small schools from closure.
Despite the Government's and Ofsted's frequently-expressed recognition of the worth of small schools, local authority officers often have an inherent suspicion of them.
They propose closure on educational grounds, masking financial motives.
They never substantiate their claims. All the evidence flies in the face of these claims. The smallest schools can be seen to be highly effective.
They are incredibly popular. The National Association for Small Schools (NASS) argues we need more small schools, not fewer.
The Government has told NASS that surplus places are not a reason to close village schools – community wise, even mothballing is a better alternative.
But still they are being closed.
Merged police forces would help fight crime
From: F Richards, Yeadon, Leeds.
THERE are two points that arise from your article and Editorial comment (Yorkshire Post, September 16) about the planned merger of police forces.
First, I agree that this makes eminent sense. Crime knows no boundaries. As such, should the Home Secretary, and our local police leaders, be advocating the need for a single police force to cover the whole of Yorkshire instead of the four constabularies which serve this area at present?
This is particularly pertinent, bearing in mind the terror raids this month in South and West Yorkshire that were linked to the July 7 bombings.
There is a precedent for this.
Devon and Cornwall has just one constabulary. And the Thames Valley force comprises three counties – Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.
No less an authority than Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, believes one force would be appropriate for Norfolk (where he is an MP), Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
One force for Yorkshire would reduce the police overheads considerably, and mean there was absolutely no excuse for no officers being on the beat.
I moved to a quiet residential estate in March this year near the Green Lane sports fields in Leeds. It is opposite a park where there have been many problems with young vandals, and teenage tearaways riding mopeds and the like without crash helmets.
This has been reported to West Yorkshire Police on countless occasions. Yet neither I, nor my neighbours, have seen an officer patrolling this area – or speaking to the young miscreants about their anti-social behaviour.
Perhaps they may be less likely to become the criminals of tomorrow if the police had nipped their nuisance conduct in the bud when first contacted. I'll support anything that means more community officers and fewer senior officers who sit in meetings, or swan around in their expensive cars paid for by the taxpayer. I trust that others agree.
Poor driving calls for more stringent speed limits
From: Allan Grice, Boston Spa, near Wetherby.
PETER Horton might well be correct in his view that "the selective use" of the 20mph speed limit near schools would be "more widely respected by the majority of drivers...." (Letters, September 13 ).
However, his arguments would be more complete and compelling if he was able to reassure us that the "majority" he refers to are all fully competent in their driving skills and personal attitudes to road safety and accident prevention. This is something which is patently not the case for a high percentage of those on our roads today, many of whom flout road traffic laws daily and who would not pass any driving test if they reproduced the quite appalling errors they make so frequently.
Many drivers flout the law because they know that they are unlikely to be spotted and apprehended by police forces which have depleted their road traffic patrols in many areas.
In my view, and in the knowledge that speeding offences and poor driving standards in general will increase in the absence of effective enforcement and adequate deterrent penalties, such organisations as Brake will have little option but to seek a comprehensive, rather than selective, application of the 20mph limit in the vicinity of schools.
This would be for all those occasions when pupils may be present.
Coach's battle for citizenship
From: Mike Searle, Hillcrest Rise, Cookridge, Leeds.
WHAT strange laws we have in our country.
Duncan Fletcher, a man who has coached our cricket team to Ashes glory and brought pride to our nation, has had to battle for 15 years for British citizenship.
Others who are at the other end of the spectrum, and are a total disgrace to us all, seem to have no problem being offered British citizenship.
From: Peter Oldfield, Oakwood Green, Oakwood, Leeds.
I REALISE that our Ashes win may be old news now – but make what you will of what happened when my 10-year old daughter, Bethany, attended a confirmation class.
The vicar explained that at baptisms, a sign of the cross was made on the forehead – and he then asked the candidates if they knew any other time that the sign of the cross was put on the forehead?
The children began getting excited: "I know! I know"
"It's Ash Wednesday."
What, asked the Vicar, were the ashes made of?
And Bethany told him: the bails off the top of the stumps.
That's my girl.
From: Andrew Nursey, Sowerby, Thirsk.
AS the 2005 cricket season draws to a close, I felt it was time to write to compliment the Yorkshire Post's sports team on its excellent cricket reporting. The coverage afforded to the England v Australia series and that of Yorkshire's season has been outstanding. The new-style previews of county games have been particularly impressive.
Chris Waters joins an impressive list of cricket commentators following the superb past reporting of Terry Brindle and the late Robert Mills.
Meekness from the mighty
From: Margaret Claxton, Arden Court, Northallerton, North Yorkshire.
I COULD hardly believe my ears when listening to the news on the morning of September 16.
Not only was George Bush apologising for the pathetic efforts of his government at the start of the Katrina hurricane crisis, but we also had the Labour Party, via Tony Blair, admitting at last that "with rights come responsibilities".
Can the end of the world be nigh?
From: Jack Kinsman, Stainton Drive, Grimsby.
IF Prince Harry is going to stay in the Army, he will have to learn 24 new "euro" languages if he is going to avoid terrible embarrassment.
Envisage the scenario where our illustrious Prince is leading his division of a thousand of the new European Rapid Reaction Force into action. The Officer Commanding shouts the order, "Nastrnoga, Broja!" and our Harry, along with all the other division commanders, says: "What did he say?"