Sir: I agree completely with Leo McKinstry that care for parents should be paid out of their estate (‘Home economics’, 15 May). The costs of care are what people effectively work for, not for the passing on of wealth paid for by the taxpayer.
My mother lived until she was 100, and was in care for almost 14 years. Although she had a property and shares, we funded her care until her cash/share balance was £15,000. After this time she was means-tested and between her pension and the rent from her flat, we were able to pay for some of the care, with the rest paid for by the local council.
On her death the property was sold and the effective loan from the local authority was paid out of the proceeds of the sale. She was not forced to sell her property until she died, which allowed rent to be used to pay for some of the care. Obviously our inheritance was reduced, but why should the taxpayer subsidy my mother’s care so that we could inherit more? This is the system in Scotland and I believe it is fair and equitable to all.
Sir: Matthew Parris is so right when he says that ‘There are battles we should not pick — particularly if they can be won by subtler means’ (‘My fears about an Irish border poll’, 22 May). In an ideal world, Sinn Fein will shortly decide they cannot work with the Poots nominee for First Minister. Stormont will be suspended under the Belfast Agreement and direct rule will return. We would then have possibly a five- to ten-year strategic period to test cross-border co-operation in health, housing, education and especially the economy. Energy is already working on this basis. The dreaded paramilitaries will wake up one morning and realise Ireland is operating perfectly as one. The referendum would be a mere formality. Now for some prayers please.
Sir: Further to Mary Wakefield’s article ‘The writing’s on the wall’ (15 May), I would like to add another significant benefit to handwriting. In January I was in the middle of a Zoom meeting from my empty office. I was scribbling notes, and suddenly noticed my handwriting had become much worse. After the meeting I had to certify various documents, but I felt my signature wasn’t good enough for the certification to be recognisable. Thinking this wasn’t right, I drove to A&E as it was on the way home. I was just explaining to the nurses that my writing had changed when an acute stroke kicked in, paralysing my right side completely. I spent six weeks at the superb stroke unit in the Isle of Man hospital, and was released only after I had regained the ability to walk — albeit with a crutch. Noticing the deterioration of my handwriting probably saved my life.
Douglas, Isle of Man
Sir: As a qualified graphologist, I can explain to Mary Wakefield why it is common to see similar-looking handwriting among family members. Many children either model themselves on a parent or inherit some of a parent’s personality traits. These will be shown in the handwriting of both parent and child. Everyone’s handwriting is an expression of their emotions, which is why their handwriting is as unique as their fingerprints. The trained eye will always spot differences however similar the handwriting may appear.
Building a Stowe man
Sir: Tristram Hunt wonders what adult life can possibly offer to the pupils of Stowe School, who roam the grounds and spend their childhoods playing cricket beneath a rotunda displaying the ‘Venus de’ Medici’ (Diary, 22 May). The answer was given by J.F. Roxburgh, the first headmaster of Stowe, who said: ‘Every boy who goes out from Stowe will know beauty when he sees it for the rest of his life.’ As one who had the immense privilege of being educated there, I can attest to the truth of his dictum.
Letter of the lawn
Sir: In exchange for mowing the lawns of a recently widowed lady, I am being given old copies of your magazine dating back to 2004. It’s pretty good payment for the pleasure of cutting the grass while swerving round the cowslips in an Oxfordshire village garden. Recently I read an article, ‘The triumph of the bores’ by Cosmo Landesman (18 May, 2014), subtitled ‘Being boring was once the worst of all social sins — now it’s practically compulsory’. I haven’t read many of your more recent issues but may I thank you for not being boring but instead being educated, charming and amusing?
The cuckoo’s calling
Sir: Julian Bunkall is wrong to write off cuckoos in Dorset (Letters, 15 May). Their call was late this year, but on the day I read Charles Moore’s piece I heard the first one on the farm where I live. A day later they could be heard all around the farm. Please don’t just keep blaming farmers.
Sir: Clearly it is time for the editor of The Spectator to take charge of the preparations for next year’s Eurovision. The only course of action is to instruct the good Mr Liddle to organise his kindly friends at Millwall FC to represent us singing their well-known anthem ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’.
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