Letters, Friday, June 6, 2014

Have your say

Be considerate of wheelchair users

I THINK it would be beneficial if everyone spent a month in a wheelchair, especially those drivers who park their cars on pavements often forcing the chair onto the road straight into oncoming traffic.

Maybe those dog owners too lazy to pick up after their dog would like to spend an afternoon cleaning the wheels of their chair.

You can’t just walk to the cupboard and pick up the bleach, gloves, cloths and bucket of hot water, and then you get to clean the carpet after you have cleaned the wheels.

But for every selfish person, someone comes along to lighten the day.

So I will forever be grateful to the staff and drivers of Sunderland City Taxis for their professionalism and good humour.

I’m lucky, I won’t be in this chair for much longer but I will never forget just how difficult life can be in a chair

Margaret Cassap,


‘Casting a clout’

AS many know, I basically live in the past and superstitions and old wives’ tales can still have an influence on how I behave.

For example saluting the odd magpie as these are the true birds of ill omen. Early Christians demonised the raven which were known as messengers of the gods.

I never walk under ladders as it stems from breaking the Holy Trinity or the fact that the condemned man had to walk under the ladder on his way to the gallows. I always “touch my collar, touch my nose” when a hearse passes me by, although I am not sure why?

Recently, I was listening to a chap on my radiogram explaining why it is seven years bad luck if you break a mirror. This, apparently, stems from Roman times when the mirror was a very expensive item. Should a servant break a mirror, it would take them seven years salary to repay for the breakage. Likewise it is bad luck to light three cigarettes from one match. This stems from the First World War – the first light you were spotted, the second you were sighted and the final light you were shot. Many other superstitions abound, but one I believe I can put one to rest, which has puzzled generations for years, is ye olde chestnut “never cast a clout ‘til May is out” or in other words keep your warm clothing handy until May finishes, but which May is often the cry – the flower May or the month?

While I was travelling about a month or so back I noticed the roadside was awash with the Mayflower in the warm sunshine and people, myself included, had “cast our clouts” only to be caught out a week or so later by cold weather. This included frost during the night which would have damaged, or even killed young plants popping up to enjoy the warm weather. On the basis of my observations, I can safely say “never cast a clout ‘til May is out” unquestionably relates to the month of May.

Alan ‘The Quill’ Vincent,

Old Penshaw

Be a puppy walker

EVERY Guide Dog puppy makes an amazing journey from a tiny buddle of fur to being a fully-fledged Guide Dog, providing increased mobility and independence to someone with sight loss.

Now you can be part of that journey as a volunteer puppy walker and make a key contribution to someone being able to live life on their own terms.

Puppy Walkers have the pup from six weeks until about 14 months and help to socialise it and get it used to as many situations and environments as possible.

You have the satisfaction of seeing your little charge flourish into a Guide Dog and have the fun and joy that a puppy involves (as well as the odd ‘accident’ or chewed shoe).

The role is incredibly rewarding but requires real dedication as the pup is with you 24/7 and feeding, training and generally caring for a puppy’s needs on a daily basis is time consuming and, particularly when very young. They cannot be left on their own for more than three hours.

The Guide Dogs puppy walking community is friendly and welcoming so this could also be an opportunity for you and your pup to meet up with people socially and get out and about exercising the dog.

There is the option of monthly group puppy training classes and regular and frequent support from the Puppy Training Supervisor and an experienced Volunteer Puppy Walking Mentor.

To find out more about this unique volunteer opportunity, please contact me on 08453727423 or claire.devine@guidedogs.org.uk

Claire Devine,

Volunteering Consultant,

North East and Cumbria

Protection needed

I AM sorry to read that David Lawson was attacked in Hendon while canvassing for the Green Party (Echo, May 21).

The story was made worse because the people living nearby were too afraid to help Mr Lawson in his hour of need.

Mr Lawson should not be discouraged as good will come of this dreadful experience as hopefully this incident will raise awareness of his courage and sincerity.

An asylum seeker was murdered in a street in the same area and on another occasion a group of visitors were attacked.

I hope our police commissioner will hear of what has happened and offers police protection to candidates who wish to visit unfriendly areas.

John Watson,


It’s a ‘topper’ idea

MICK the Pen is right (Echo, May 24) baseball caps and hoodies should be banned.

What puzzles me is why youths wear baseball caps in the depths of winter, but wear a thick woolly ‘dut’ at the height of summer?

Unlike Mick, I do not think that there is anything sinister about the caps being worn back to front, it’s probably because they do not know if they are coming or going.

Instead of going about in a hoodie, looking like the Grim Reaper, wouldn’t it be grand if all the young men in this country wore a bowler hat or a top hat?

What could be smarter or more British than this?

To be more casual, but just as British they could wear a knotted hanky.

Personally I prefer the Morris Dancers headgear, but anything rather than baseball cap, or hoodie.

As far as The Pen is concerned, I think that he should wear a mortarboard, in fact, he is very probably entitled to. That said we all know he doesn’t like flat caps, so perhaps he would prefer a “topper”, maybe with a feather or a flower in, like the guest that Alice met a that party?

R Tomlinson,


Growth of atheism

RELIGION is difficult to eradicate because it has roots.

Atheism is rootless.

There has never been a race of people lacking in religious belief, whereas atheism is so rare in history as to be freakish.

It is more common today, as Ged Taylor has indicated; and one result of this relatively recent phenomenon has been the emergence of a new branch of psychology devoted to the study of atheism and a pathological condition.

The psychologist and former atheist, Professor Paul C Vitz, studied the lives of about 20 of the most influential atheists over the past four centuries and found that a recurring feature in childhood was the absence of a father or a father figure.

Where the father was about, he was weak or abusive (Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism).

A control group comprising the most prominent defenders of religion over the same period revealed the common factor of a stable and happy home environment.

Noting that, the Freudian theory, the dominent motive in childhood is hatred of the father and the desire for him not to exist. Quoting or citing the works of other researchers in the same field of study, Professor Vitz concludes that adults can be predisposed to reject God as a result of childhood experience. While other, superficial, factors can contribute to unbelief, such as peer pressure or a bad experience of religion, it is nonetheless significant that in the leading representatives of modern atheism, those thinkers who made a major contribution to the present climate of unbelief – Humes, d’Alembert, Schopenhauer, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Freud to name but a few – there is commonly found an experience of childhood blighted by a disastrous or non-existent relationship with the father.

PJ McPartland,


Wornerful bravery

I AM going to be 70 years of age on September 26 this year, and my mother was carrying me on June 6, 1944.

I may not have survived to have the lovely, eventful life I’ve had and still enjoy, had it not been for the brave and determined men and women who fought to keep our island home safe.

These wonderful brave people who fought through in all the wars put the great into Great Britain.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Flora O’Wellen,


Thanks for votes

I WOULD like to thank the People of Hendon Ward for voting for me.

I received 158 votes.

David Lawson

Green Party candidate for Hendon