'Yours faithfully': Letters to the London Times

Geraldine Segal

September 12, 1990|By Geraldine Segal

I HAVE always found the "letters-to-the-editor" section to be one of the most fascinating parts of a newspaper, and that is the page I eagerly turned to one day this summer in the Times of London.

There were three letters that dealt with an incident in which animal rights extremists were thought to have thrown a smoke bomb that seriously injured a small child. Apparently, the real target of their wrath was "veterinary surgeons." It was one of several incidents, in one of which a business was bombed because it happened to sell furs. All of the writers deplored the violence in the name of "animal rights."

As an indication of the seriousness of this issue, a noted British writer, Bernard Levin, headlined his column on the opposite page, "Only tortured minds can perpetrate such infamy." He predicted that the members of the "animal liberation front" inevitably would commit murder.

In a lighter vein, a number of writers commented on the United Kingdom's new five-pound note, on which Queen Elizabeth's formerly youthful picture has been replaced by a much more matronly one. (The queen, admitting that the picture looks old, had added good-naturedly, "I am old.) A writer had this to say about the new note: "Two hundred million of these notes have been printed, and although money passes rapidly through one's hands these days, it cannot pass fast enough for this ugly note." Another angry writer said, "What a shame God couldn't save our queen from the designer of the new five-pound note."

Two letters, captioned "On Animal Farm?", were quite amusing. The first quoted Nikita Khrushchev in 1956 on the likelihood of the Soviet Union rejecting communism: "Those who wait for that must wait until a shrimp learns to whistle!" Somehow, I don't think Nikita and Mikhail Gorbachev would have gotten along.

A retired colonel's contribution followed the Khrushchev quote: "The cold war in over. Last Friday starlings were nesting in the breech mechanism of one of the 15-inch guns guarding the Imperial War Museum."

One letter, titled "School Priorities," would certainly have been appropriate in The Evening Sun's Forum. The writer, a teacher spoke of the job he had at a secondary school. Among his many complaints: "The practice of sharing tatty, dated texts between two or even three pupils is commonplace." (That certainly sounds familiar.)

Incidentally, there is a pronounced difference between the British writers and their American counterparts. Not only do they write "Yours faithfully" at the bottom of their letters; their complete home addresses are given.

Geraldine Segal writes from Randallstown.

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