Letters, Monday, June 18th, 2012

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Pageants prove nothing changes

WATCHING the Royal Pageants, how do I feel? Well, I thought “the credit card was maxed out”.

How much did all this pomp and frippery cost? Tens of millions? Perhaps more, perhaps less. While the majority are suffering, at least our “betters” are living it up.

All the royal social parasites on one barge – Queen Liz, Phil the Greek, number one plant

friend and whisperer Charlie, philandering Andy. Oh, feckless Fergie was absent, or was she?

Their issue, Beatrice and Eugenie – possibly dodging their work-based employment training – were there.

The issue of parasites are not employed as it’s beneath their station. Eddy, I couldn’t stand the Royal Marines training?

All these feckless, grinning fools in one place, lapping up the adulation of the even more

foolish onlookers. They who screeched, screamed and bellowed their adulation for those who

have never, nor will ever, suffer their penury and suffering.

“We are all in it together”? I think not, nay I know not. Talk about flaunting it in the faces of workers, us, the majority who, by our ignorance, allow this travesty to continue, getting excited about outdated throwbacks of a long-passed feudalist history.

Oh, I forgot, the garden party invitees got a “free” hamper, put together by Estha Bloomingthing. Well, that makes it fine and dandy. That will cushion them from the cuts, well, for at least a day, as long as they are childless.

And the celebs, or should I say, minor celebs, whose careers will be reinvigorated from singing at the concert, or talking about the same. As if they need the cash, or kudos.

Pointless irrelevancy for us. Nothing changes, everything stays the same. Unmerited adulation for her and them. Once again, nothing changes, everything stays the same.

Steve Colborn, Ivy Avenue, Deneside, Seaham

Vaux car park

WELL, it is far from a final solution, but for the time being the Vaux site is to become a car park. Sunderland Council see this as a short-term source of revenue. However, at a cost of around £3million there will need to be a lot of parking tickets sold before they break even on this scheme.

Let’s hope with the car park’s completion it will make that area of the city centre look a little less like a builder’s yard, at least until something substantial can be done with the massive plot.

But I really wouldn’t count on that. There will probably be someone with the bright idea of beginning roadworks the week after the car park opens, just to disrupt the traffic system.

These things can sometimes be unavoidable, although with the record of this city’s planners with every new project, it has become expected.

It’s a pity they flattened the Vaux site, because a brewery could have come in handy for what this council couldn’t organise.

G. Engel, High Barnes, Sunderland

Read carefully

IT is a pity that when a person writes to the Letters Page, as I did recently when raising some issues, that those who respond do not read the contents carefully before going into print.

Such is the style of W. Quinn (Letters, June 12) with his generalisations and assumptions, that it is totally pointless to try and pursue an intelligent exchange.

However, the next time W. Quinn attends a Labour Party meeting, if indeed he attends Labour Party meetings and is just not a scriptwriter, and Chris Mullin is there, it may be a good idea for them, as fellow socialists, to engage in a sensible debate on their conflicting views on foreign aid.

The comrades are clearly divided, and speaking from his past, first-hand experience in Government, it is highly likely that the ex-Sunderland South Labour MP could teach W. Quinn a thing or two on that particular subject.

Michael Dixon, Sunderland

Beauty on the box

KEITH Newbery (June 8) rages against Fiona Bruce’s television documentaries and complains about her “undulating hind quarters” taking centre stage.

I disagree. Fiona Bruce is a magnificent specimen of female beauty. I pay my licence fee too, and I want to see more of her programmes.

Get real, Keith. We aren’t living in the age of Richard Dimbleby any more. We don’t want some bald, fat middle-aged bloke hosting the news.

Did you see the “Antiques Roadshow Special” Fiona did on Victoria and Albert? She was certainly the star of the show, not the antiques. She strode through the royal palaces as if to say “How good do I look in straight jeans?” No wonder she won the Rear of the Year Award.

Call it dumbing down if you like, but point a camera at a beautiful woman and – hey presto! – you have a hit programme. Look at the shameless way Pippa Middleton upstaged her sister on her wedding day. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

William Crane, Langley Close, Washington

Such generosity

SALT of the earth, milk of human kindness, generosity personified. Any of these three phrases would be a compliment to any individual or group of people. However, all three together go nowhere near describing the generosity of all you North East folk.

In the three weeks from May 18 to June 9, you donated the fantastic sum of £3,352 to Grace House via that daft clown who collects for them.

During National Children’s Hospice week (May 18-25) he collected every day in Market Square and you gave an awesome £2,409. (That did not include donations to other loyal volunteers in the city centre).

The £2,409 was the contents of 16 full collection boxes, a cheque for £50 off Mr A. Ridler, a gallon whisky bottle containing nearly £57 off Mr Clinton of Planet House, and over £70 in coinage off an elderly lady whose name I did not get unfortunately. The total exceeded all expectations.

On May 25, after collecting in Market Square, the clown went to an evening performance at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle where the audience gave nearly £230 when they left the theatre.

He went to a smaller Sainsburys at Gilesgate the next day where over £201 was raised.

On June 2 another £200 was given at another smaller Sainsburys in South Shields.

On June 3 I gave six lads, who were playing football next to my home, some chews/lollies which I give away to children when I’m collecting.

They asked questions about Grace House. I thought no more of it. However, at 8pm they came to my door with over £30 in a plastic bag which they had collected for Grace House.

They did the same for a couple of hours on June 4, with a note of authorisation from me, and they collected a total of over £60.

I thought it was a totally selfless, generous and mature gesture by six 12 to 14-year-olds. I am so proud of them. Grace House is grateful and proud of them. All their parents have every reason to feel proud of their sons.

They were Owen Mather, Johnathan Thirlwell, Kaylem Graham, Brooklyn Donnelly and Matthew Johnson who all attend Seaham School of Technology and Ross Guy who attends St Aidans.

I also intend to ring their headmasters to make them aware of their very special pupils. All too often people make a blatant criticism of all youngsters, but these six lads prove them all wrong.

Finally, on June 9 at Clays Garden Centre their customers donated, as usual, a generous £251.

£3,352 in just three weeks is a staggering sum. I was going to say that it won’t be bettered, but I have learnt to “never say never” about the generosity of you all in your support of Grace House.

If you see that geriatric, one-legged clown please continue to be generous, and tell him to stop whingeing!

God Bless you all.

Jeff Coxon, Lawnside, Seaham

Circus act PM

PETER Hitchins of the Daily Mail likened him to a snake oil salesman, but snake oil being one of the few tipples thus far eluding even my intemperate pallet, I’m not sure whether or not David Cameron should be offended.

I see David Cameron as the circus entertainer who, following an awe-inspiring introduction and a rousing fanfare, glides to the centre of the ring where his pretty assistant sweet Georgina “O”, of the fluttering eyelashes, has prepared the spinning plates on sticks trick.

Georgina has all the plates spinning gently and awaiting the masters’ touch. Excitement and expectation rise to fever pitch while the audience anticipate how the Premier will keep all these plates spinning ever faster.

Will he produce countless rabbits from hats or will he conjure up gold fishes in bowls? Who knows? He may even make Georgina disappear.

He prances up to the first stick and gives it a deft twirl. Oh dear! Bump, splinter, off flops the first plate and breaks on the floor in true Greek taverna style.

Unfazed, on to the next stick which, while beaming beguilingly at the audience, he twiddles with similar effect. Crash! Another broken plate, and so on to the end of the line of wobbling plates, all awaiting his attention, all suffering the same fate – one twiddle and then crash, another broken plate.

He has yet to find a trick he can master and yet our Prime Minister offers advice to the rest of the world on subjects as diverse as regime change in the Middle East and how to save the euro.

We are surely now at the point where he should either play a few requests (attend to business at home ) or take an early bath, but a swift glance at the programme indicates that there is nothing better waiting in the wings, so we are in for a long night of it.

I may even give snake oil a try.

Denis Gillon, Sunderland

Theatre size issue

WE are delighted to be working with Sunderland University on our latest stage play, Amazing Grace, about the Victorian sea heroine Grace Darling who, with her father in 1848, defied a raging sea to rescue 9 people off the coast at Bamburgh, Northumberland.

Because of Grace’s links with what became the RNLI (the organisation has a museum dedicated to her at Bamburgh), there will be a collection for the RNLI at every one of the 22 shows in the region.

The Queen, as patron of the RNLI, has even sent us a letter of support.

The show will premiere at Alnwick on October 17, and tour to nine other venues in the region. What is sad, however, is that the sizable list does not include Sunderland.

When Dirty Dusting was touring nationally five years ago, our gripe was that it couldn’t play Sunderland because there are no appropriate professional venues for the show.

The Royalty Theatre is a great example of an amateur theatre and this is not intended in any way as a criticism of the hard work conducted by the dedicated people associated with that venue, but it only holds 200 people.

The only professional theatre in Sunderland is the Empire and, as wonderful as that venue is, it holds 2,000 people – too big and expensive for anything but West End shows and musicals.

Thus, because Sunderland lacks a mid-size professional theatre (500 seats), anyone interested in shows like ours have to travel to either South Shields or Durham (or Newcastle’s Theatre Royal).

This is a sad testament to the cultural priorities of Sunderland Council and it’s patently obvious it should be rectified as soon as possible.

Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood (playwrights)

Kids will miss out

IT’S a great shame that the Sunderland schoolchildren mentioned in your article about the Adelaide letter-writing project have been denied the opportunity to grow up with physical access to the ship.

Having gone to school in Sunderland between 1991 and 2003, I know how difficult it can be to understand the significance of Sunderland’s industrial past, and the huge impact it had on the city’s identity and history.

A physical reminder as magnificent as the Adelaide, a ship that their ancestors actually made, would have helped children engage with and be proud of a past that is otherwise very difficult to imagine.

The irony of the letter-writing project is that it encourages children to identify with a part of their history that is at the same time being taken away from them.

After this generation of children have written their letters, the Adelaide will doubtless be forgotten in a way that would not have happened if the ship remained in Sunderland.

While forging cultural links and studying Sunderland’s global role in history is obviously important, the sad truth remains that unless the city is willing to invest in the evidence of that history in the form of material things that children are able to see and touch, then Sunderland’s past will remain so remote that it may as well be in Australia.

Roisin Inglesby, Victoria and Albert Museum, London