Letters, Friday, September 28th, 2012

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We must all find common ground

I STRONGLY believe the council should take a hard look at itself and instead of being a reactive council, does the correct thing and becomes proactive in matters concerning the mosque to be built in St Marks Road in Millfield.

Surely the powers that be and readers of the Echo letters page can sense the tensions this matter is causing?

Again, I strongly object to the word “Nazis” being used in a flippant manner.

I would like to ask Gary Duncan (Letters, September 17), who planned to have the first meeting of “Sunderland Anti-Fascist Coalition” this week, what his agenda is.

Why entertain the extreme right-wing groups by turning up and making the situation worse? We live in a democratic society and they, right or wrong, do have the right to do this in peace.

It’s also a shame, Mr Duncan, that you never attended the planning meeting as I made representations against the mosque as did several other concerned residents, and race was never the issue – it was all about facts.

I am planning a meeting at the Willow Pond at 7pm on Wednesday, October 3. This will be an open meeting with no social exclusions, so maybe if you would like to identify yourself to me I will gladly put a seat at the top table for you to challenge the people you infiltrated.

Unless some rather fast proactive work is done by all communities to come to a common ground, we may have some serious problems on our doorstep.

Phil Pike, Shepherd Street, Millfield

Lollipop lady

THE school crossing lady on the main Durham Road at Middle Herrington retired last week after 21 years of crossing children on what can only be described as a very busy and dangerous road.

My daughter is now 33 years old and Sandy looked after her and my son of 19 years in all weathers.

The council sent a chap on her last day to take her lollipop and no one else came to say thanks or acknowledge her loyal service. What an absolute disgrace!

Sandy, on behalf of every mother in the area, I publicly thank you and wish you all the best for your retirement.

Audrey Williams, Durham Road, Middle Herrington, Sunderland

Tuition fees

THERE is so much talk about tuition fees, it makes me mad.

I am 70 and would have loved to have gone to university. But back in my day only the rich went to those hallowed places of learning. Today we are hearing how badly the students are being treated.

Students go to college to learn so that they can gain the qualifications and go out into the world and get a real job with good prospects. They are not asked to pay in advance for this teaching – they can pay their fees years later. So what is all the fuss about?

When I took a night-time course years ago I had to pay up front and did so gladly. There are no free dinners anywhere in the world – we have to pay for everything we want or need. So this is good. We all know where we stand. If I go into a shop for an item, I have to pay. If I go to solicitor for advice, I have to pay etc et. That’s life, so why should the students get their qualifications on tick?

They should not be complaining but be thankful for the opportunities they have now that we oldies did not have.

David Rogers, Byron Street, Sunderland

Sign our petition

THE Paralympics got everyone thinking about disability in a positive way, but many readers may not realise that families with disabled children face huge challenges in everyday life.

Many families have to fight long and complicated battles just to find an appropriate school or therapy for their disabled child and often the support can only be found far away from their home.

The impact on family life cannot be underestimated. Families are unable to spend quality time together and may even miss occasions such as birthdays.

At Scope, we believe all families with disabled children should get the support they need through local services.

We are launching a campaign called “Keep Us Close” to put pressure on the Government to make the changes that will stop families having to fight for services or travel long distances, but we need your help.

We’re asking the residents of Peterlee to come into the Scope shop between October 1 and 21 and sign our petition cards to help families with disabled children get the support they need.

While you’re in the shop, you never know, you may be able to pick up a bargain too.

Sheila Beatty, Shop manager, Scope, Yoden Way, Peterlee

Fab Four on Wearside

RE Gary Langdon’s letter “Tales of the Fab Four” (September 20): Michael Braun’s account of The Beatles’ visit to Sunderland on Saturday, November 30, 1963, was written in 1995.

Gary asked if these things really did happen. I have done some research and can say that for a recollection 32 years later it is remarkably accurate. Michael said that he arrived at night and was at the show. This means he was in Sunderland the night before the show. That was the night The Beatles stayed in Sunderland.

I found no record of which hotel. His account of The Beatles talking to the girls standing in the road from an upstairs window suggests it was the Seaburn Hotel. It hosted celebrities and visiting football teams then. Only the girls themselves can confirm if it is true. They will be in their 60s now.

His account of The Beatles escaping the crowd at the Empire via the fire station does not ring true. However, I found that the night before, they played the ABC Cinema in Huddersfield. At the end of that show, while National Anthem was playing, they dashed off stage through the emergency door into the side street into a waiting police van. A decoy car at the front went in one direction, and the van set off at breakneck speed in a different direction through red lights to the fire station.  

They amused themselves sliding down the pole until their crew and equipment arrived for the onward journey to Sunderland. It is unlikely that the police would repeat this tactic as the fans would simply wait at the fire station.

In the 49 years since, I have never heard anyone suggest that this happened in Sunderland. The Huddersfield incident was reported in the local press. Many first-hand accounts have been published, including those of supporting artistes, police and fire officers. This would have been fresh in The Beatles’ minds when they met Michael Braun a few hours later.

Michael Braun described the scene backstage before the Sunderland concert: “In the room the Beatles are talking with a priest”. This is true. A week later a Sunday tabloid published a story that The Beatles had assaulted the priest, witnessed by a teacher. A completely different story appeared next day in the regional morning papers.

The priest had not been assaulted and never said he had. The Beatles had bought him a brandy and they had a lively discussion. The teacher was not even in the room. It was dubbed “a storm in a brandy glass”. The Sunderland Echo did not mention it that evening. Possibly the biggest non-event in history. Nevertheless it does support Michael Braun’s account, which is the purpose of this letter.

Peter Melvin, Sunderland

No offence meant

MR Pleydell, a self-adopted Mackem, was apparently offended at my reference to “sandal-wearing do-gooders of Epping” (Letters, September 25). I therefore apologise profusely as it was not my intent to offend or to suggest for a minute that people from Essex should be pigeon-holed in any way. Just as I suppose Peter did not consider the feelings of Bangladeshis or the French in his reference to others.

For information purposes, I have holidayed in the South East many times and worked extensively in London, so I do recognise the difference, as others up north do too. One only has to watch a couple of episodes of “The Only Way is Essex” and then compare this to “Eastenders” and one immediately grasps the answer.

Sadly the population of the South has an inability to share our brand of humour, or sense when someone is being serious. Consequently you can take the man out of Essex but not Essex out of the man. As for my denigration of others, I would hate to think my column is really responsible for any of the current conflicts in the world. Is my readership that big and varied?

Dr Mick Thurlbeck

Blatant distortion

I WAS disgusted to read Marjorie Matthews’ blatant distortion (Letters, September 22) of what I said in my last letter. Her opening words, which constitute a grotesque lie, were: “So Gary Duncan says we are all racists in Millfield and the rest of Sunderland because we say a mosque in St Mark’s Road is in the wrong place.”

I did not say that all Millfield residents were racist. Indeed I did not even mention all Millfield residents. I simply pointed out that some of the Millfield residents involved in the anti-mosque campaign expressed racist views when I and several other people questioned them on one of their demonstrations last year.

Fact is, the vast majority of Millfield residents are not racist and have no problem with a new mosque opening in the area. Most people living in Millfield, and beyond, accept Asian people and their customs and do not wish to cause trouble for Sunderland’s Muslim community.

But let’s not forget that Marjorie Matthews is a Tory election candidate and has supported some of the most despicable anti-working class policies we’ve seen in decades.

I’d like to ask the good residents of Millfield not to believe the words of a Tory. It is not a mosque they should be worried about, but the attacks on their living standards by a right wing government hell-bent on making them pay for the mistakes of the banking elite.

Gary Duncan, Sunderland

Sporting turn-off

THE Culture Minister is putting pressure on television channels to show more women’s sport.

Oh no! Isn’t there enough tripe on the television these days without inflicting that on us? Didn’t we have enough during the Olympics? Who in his right mind wants to watch hour after hour of young women in bikinis playing beach volleyball?

I despair for the future of television. What’s a nice girl like Hazel Irvine doing on golf and snooker programmes? Shouldn’t she be at home getting her husband’s dinner ready?

Don’t encourage girls to take up boxing – it’s not ladylike.

And when I watch women trying to play football, I’m reminded of Doctor Johnson’s comment after he saw dogs walking on their back legs – the wonder is not that they do it so well, but that they do it at all.

Frank Seely, Cotswold Close, Washington

Kitchen opening

BANK Head Independent Methodist Church in Fence Houses recently installed a new kitchen in the church hall after being successful in an application for a Community Chest grant from Sunderland City Council.

Every Tuesday we have an open coffee morning in the church hall and together with local people we have a party of residents from the Pavilion Care Centre who attend every week. Some of these are in wheelchairs and we have a great time with them.

On September 18 we had an official opening of our new facilities and one of the residents, Linda Rutherford, cut the ribbon for us.

We are deeply indebted to the council for the support we enjoyed in this venture and we would like to thank them for this.

Colin Hood, Church elder, Longacre, Dairy Lane Estate, Houghton