Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Blessed, overcrowded plot

From CA. Latimer

Sir: We should all be glad that Anne Applebaum ('Why I am proud to be a subject of The Queen', 6 May) has achieved her aim, but she is quite wrong if she thinks that those of us who were born here fail to appreciate the appeal of Britain. We appreciate it all too well; that is why there is what she calls 'hysteria' in reaction to asylumseekers. I would call it common sense. She accepts that this is a crowded island, but that doesn't seem to have affected her thinking. Presumably she wouldn't expect, say, the Isle of Man to have a relaxed immigration policy. To get the problem into perspective: England is a quarter the size of France. If France's population was as dense as ours, it would be 200 million. Would she not think that was quite enough? Or, to take another example, Poland has a land mass two and a half times that of England, with a population of 14 million fewer. As Anne Applebaum's husband is a government minister there, perhaps he could use his influence to sponsor the immigration of a few million Chinese into the country. I'm sure the Poles would welcome them.

C.A. Latimer

Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk

From Mr Tom Massey Lynch

Sir: Anne Applebaum reports elegantly on the lack of official emotion following her taking on our nationality, with the perceptive suggestion that only a fundamentally stable country would offer such indifference. This sounded familiar to me. In Brussels in 1945 British and Dominion prisoners returning from the Oflags and Stalags were sorted out. On arrival we met notices and banners: 'Canada welcomes you back', 'Well done, New Zealanders', 'Australia is proud of you'. The British notice read, 'You are reminded that you are still under military discipline'.

Tom Massey Lynch

Little Crosby, Merseyside

From Hayes Williams

Sir: Who is the more insecure: Anne Applebaum - who wants to be 'in'; or Anthony Hopkins - who seems happy to be 'out'?

Hayes Williams London W4

Dealing at ease

From Mr Nicky Samengo- Turner

Sir: Simon Nixon's excellent piece ('What news from Ekaterinburg?', 6 May) on Robert Fleming reminded me of an observation made by one of my former comrades from Camberley Comprehensive, aka the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, after what he considered to be a rather uninteresting interview at the bank.

'Flemings', he observed, 'seems to be a rest home for retired young officers from the Household Division, some of whom I observed adopting the "at ease" position in the dealing room.'

Nicky Samengo-Turner Cambridge

From Mr Andrew Roberts

Sir: Like Simon Nixon I worked at Flemings for three years. They very decently kept me on despite that fact that it was very obvious to everyone that I was utterly useless at merchant banking. Although he seems to have experienced the same charm and gentlemanly behaviour that I did, there was a tone of asperity to his article which I could not fathom.

His underlying argument was that the Fleming family had somehow failed, despite the fact that they have sold their stake in the company for Ll.5 billion, a figure Mr Nixon accepts is an astonishing topof-the-market price valuing the whole company at L4.9 billion - an outlay which Chase Manhattan might never recoup. If that can be described as 'the demise of a dynasty', I'm sure that there are many other families that would love to fail in the same way. By any objective criteria, the Flemings have done staggeringly well by themselves, their employees and their shareholders, and the original Robert Fleming would have been proud of his descendants.

Andrew Roberts London SW3

Love the sinner

From Mr Tom Benyon

Sir: Philip Hensher (Books, 8 April) gives a savage thumbs-down to both Jonathan Aitken and to his book, Pride and Perjury. While one can perhaps forgive his scepticism, whether the contumely was overdone is a matter for his conscience and our taste. …

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