Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

A Virgin impounded

From Mr Michael Gadsden

Sir: I should like to enter the really silly rail competition (`Heard any good excuses lately?', 25 September). On the 6.39 a.m. train out of Dundee, for Penzance, on Monday, 9 August, things had got crowded by Newcastle. Virgin excuse no. 148 (paragraph 2b): `This train has been delayed because the police have impounded one of our trains.'

Much hilarity among the groundlings. Had the driver not displayed an up-to-date road-tax disc? Perhaps the wheels did not have the minimum tread on the tyres.

Michael Gadsden 12 Keir Street, Perth, Scotland

From Mr David Heaton

Sir: Heard on the West Coast line a year or two ago: `We are sorry this train has stopped. This is due to a lack of forward motion.'

David Heaton 53 Murray Road, London SW19

Good guy, bad guy

From Mrs MK Fowler

Sir: I was very sorry to read that the BBC has dispensed with Boris Johnson's services as presenter of the programme The Week in Westminster (Another Voice, 9 October).

My father - Major Guy Lloyd, MP Con., as he then was - presented the same programme in about 1949. His boss was Guy Burgess.

After working under him for some time, my father told Lord Reith that he was convinced that Guy Burgess was not just a raging queer, but also a communist of the deepest dye - political correctness had not been invented at that time - and that Lord Reith must choose between Burgess and Guy Lloyd.

Needless to say, Guy Burgess kept his job. `Plus qa change'.

Mrs MK Fowler Shirley Holms, South Park Drive, Gerrards Cross,


From Mr Roger Ordish

Sir: Boris Johnson speaks of John Peel's `Liverpudlian sort of voice'. John Peel was educated at Shrewsbury and has bravely confessed on the wireless that he used to talk posh, but has since mended his ways and acquired an 'acceptable' designeraccent. (Hear also Janet Street-Porter, Harry Enfield, etc.)

Mr Johnson should perhaps take a leaf out of the Prime Minister's book and go for the Australian sounds of the post-Neighbours generation. For example, Mr Blair gives the same pronunciation to the words 'backbenchers' and 'backbenches' (and incidentally - treats one much as the other).

Roger Ordish Marshlands, Kingston Road, Lewes, East Sussex

From Mr Lionel Trippett

Sir: I'm sorry that Boris Johnson was rejected by Radio Four. I was rejected by Radio Five a few months ago. They wanted someone to comment on a nuclear matter but I was deemed unsuitable on the grounds that I `sounded too Radio Four'.

Lionel Trippett Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 162 Holloway Road, London N7

Not so soft

From Mr Howard Blackett

Sir: I was delighted to see that Dover College was featured in Simon Barnes's article on sport in schools (No rough stuff, please, we're British', 9 October). We have, indeed, abandoned rugby in favour of soccer - a somewhat controversial decision after 128 years with the `elliptical ball'.

I would like to reassure you that the change from rugby to soccer has not led to our pupils becoming a `bunch of softies' or `big girls' blouses'. Far from it - the boys (and girls in due course) have played soccer with the grit and determination expected of public-school pupils.

The decision to drop rugby was a personal blow - I was brought up on the playing fields of St Edward's, Oxford and I even played twice on the hallowed turf at Rugby School. Nevertheless, I am very conscious of the moral decline of rugby: late tackles, eye-gouging, huge player wages and drug scandals seem at odds with the `muscular Christianity' with which the game has traditionally been associated. It is only a matter of time before the undeniable educational benefits of playing rugby will have gone for ever and then its decline in public schools will indeed be serious, if not irreversible.

Howard Blackett Headmaster, Dover College, Dover, Kent

Wrong pope

From Mr John Co ave

Sir: James McDonald in his letter of 2 October attributes the papal encyclicals Mit Brennender Sorge and Divini Redemptoris to Pius XII. …

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