Sir: Why does Matthew Parris think I am ‘secretly terrified’ of having voted to leave the EU (‘Brexiteers need ladders to climb down’, 4 February)? Anyone over the age of 50 knew that choosing to vote Leave or Remain was not an easy decision. My own beliefs nudged me just far enough to vote Leave; my partner’s beliefs nudged him just far enough to vote Remain. Mr Parris admits that he can imagine Brexit being a surprising success, and I may have to face the fact that it could be a failure. We are both reasonable people.
I was satisfied with the result, but since June I have shut up and kept my head down (I do live in Brighton!). It is largely Remain voters who have been in crisis: at having to share their country with 17 million thick racists — people like me. I do not see enemies everywhere but I have seen a lot of wan Guardian readers having hysterics.
Sir: We have lost a gem with the death of Alexander Chancellor and I am sure that many other readers will, like me, sorely miss his ‘Long Life’ column, one of my weekly pleasures. As Charles Moore mentioned in his excellent piece on 4 February, he always appeared modest yet firm in his views, and I thank him for introducing us to the wonderful Jeffrey Bernard and for taking on Taki, whose outlandish escapades still delight. I send my condolences to his family. He was special and will be missed.
Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Hall things considered
Sir: Charles Moore’s assertion (Notes, 28 January) that members voluntarily transfer £5 million a year to running the Royal Albert Hall is misleading. Members contribute a net £1.2 million. So, what’s the balance of £3.8 million? This represents the notional value of seats surrendered by members under interim arrangements where they agree to be excluded from more events than is specified under the 1966 Royal Albert Hall Act. Most of the money from these seats goes to the promoter of shows at the hall, not to the hall itself.
A 2014 review by the eminent former judge Sir Robert Owen concluded that these ‘interim arrangements are necessary, proportionate, to the benefit of the charity, and to the incidental benefit of the members’. In other words, it’s a win-win situation for all stakeholders in the hall — including the members. These interim arrangements are, however, also one reason why the hall needs a replacement for the 1966 Act.
Jon Moynihan, the current president, is correct to emphasise the strength of its member-controlled governance system when compared to publicly funded arts bodies (Letters, 4 February). But he should also recognise the Charity Commission’s legitimate concerns over issues such as commercial ticket sales by trustees.
Greater transparency at council level about trustee ticket sales would probably satisfy the commission and not affect the alignment of interest between private and public benefit which is such a feature of the hall’s enduring success.
Member of Council of the Royal Albert Hall 2004–2015, family seat-holder since 1871,
Barcombe, East Sussex
Sir: Mark Mason’s notes on the historical significance of British placenames (4 February) brought Chester-le-Street to mind. This town a few miles north of Durham has the possibly unique distinction of a name (which means ‘camp by the road’) bearing witness to three of England’s invasions.
The first part of the name denotes its origins as a Roman fort; the linking middle word is, of course, from Norman French; and the third part, of Saxon origin, signifies that it stood by an important road, or ‘straete’.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Sir: Marcus Berkmann (Notes on corduroy, 28 January) need only come to Aldeburgh, where corduroy trousers are de rigueur for the gent (retd) and always available, in every hue and tint, from the men’s outfitter.
Sir: David Butterfield omits the most important reason for retaining cash (‘Keep the change’, 28 January). If all our income and payments are channelled through a digital system controlled by banks or institutions which are licensed and regulated by the state, there is nothing to stop a government imposing a wealth levy or punitive rates of tax, which it could collect fairly effectively.
While an alternative cash system exists, governments know that they cannot do this, as income and wealth can be hidden from the state’s predatory grasp. Taxation rates therefore have to be kept at reasonable levels.
Logging a protest
Sir: I don’t want to disappoint Rod Liddle (‘Protest all you like. I won’t listen until you burn’, 4 February) but there are ‘wood-burning stove people’ who don’t quite fit his analysis of post-Brexit British socio-political division. I almost always agree with Mr Liddle’s erudite observations (except perhaps on hunting). However, can I count myself a true Rod-follower when our draughty and damp cottage is so effectively rendered habitable by the enthusiastic burning of logs in our wonderful stove? No self-immolation for us, I’m afraid.
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