Letters, Thursday, July 3, 2014

Have your say

Churchill – a man playing at war

THERE have been some great letters recently concerning our wartime leader Winston Churchill.

 Having read a couple of biographies on him, I thought I’d have my two peneth.

 Born into aristocracy, a world of

privilege, Churchill’s life was one of never having to want for anything.When he grew up he became a leader not by hard work and earning his position, but by his birthright.

 When the wars were in full flight, he could practice the war games he’d played as a child with toy soldiers on the legions of men at his disposal.

 His daughter summed him up when she said he wasn’t a happy peace time politician, I take that to mean he was only happy when him and hitler were playing out their toy soldiering fantasies with the brave men who did the fighting.

 The one thing you can’t take away from him is his inspirational speeches, that is why he reminds me of another great orator Rab C Nesbit – both alcohol fuelled and belligerent and both extremely witty.

 But Rab spoke for the desperate and downtrodden, where Churchill spoke for aristocracy and business. As he said during the miners’ strike, get the rats back in their holes.

 A great man – not in my book.

Ged Taylor,


A tough decision

AT 1962 aged 14, I took exams, with my mother’s permission, to enlist in the Royal Navy.

 My father had my name down to work at Wearmouth Colliery. My plans were far from following in the pit boots of my elder brother Joe, our father Honest Joe, our forefathers and relatives who had worked down that hole in the bowels of the earth since the sinking of its first shaft in 1826.

 I was already a paper boy at Glendenings, Carley Road, and an errand boy for Gallons grocery shop, in league with Billy Bakers the Butchers. Pay was nine bob and seven and a tanner respectively. I gave the majority of my wages to my mother as I believed then, as I do now, loving mams are trustworthy and the affection and love I received from her made up for the hard upbringing within a pit family.

 I suffered, but was all the better for it, and became immune to ‘the belt’. That and the constant sticks (canes) at Grange Park School set me up for what was about to develop.

 In February 1963, I received call up papers and, without my father’s knowledge, I had signed for a life on the ocean waves, a jack tar. I craved to be at sea after years living near and reaping the treats from it, willicks, crabs and fish only found in the North Sea, rollmops, bloaters and chods.

 One week before I was to travel to HMS Ganges to start a naval career, a fortnight after I left school having turned 15, I told my dad I had falsified his and mother’s signatures to join up. He was not chuffed, and did not wave me off.

 I was excited but a little scared. Here was a scrawny kid, four feet eleven and a half inches tall and just eight stone embarking on an adventure of everyone’s dreams.

 I was immensely proud the day I left, but saddened to leave best mate Sid Tonkinson.

 As I walked down Amy Street back lane, heading to the old railway train station, childhood memories came flooding back, trekking up the quarry (quacks), nesting at the jungle and spuggies arch, newting at Boldon flats, sliding down steep banks on corrugated sheets in the ghosty (ghost town). Games came to mind, kick the tin, muggles, diddlyido, catchykiss, knockeyninedoors, swimming in the Vedra down the wharf.

 However, it was my duty to move on – so long Suddick.

 Leaving with a heavy heart, tight drainpipe jeans, wedgie shoes and donkey jacket on, along with the family motto – never give up, which I’d often heard my father say to my elder brother. The trains to Newcastle/London/Kings Cross then back to Shotley near Ipswich into HMS Ganges annexe awaited.

 The toughest year of my life was about to happen.

Ken Harding,

Wearmouth Miner,


An incorrect notion

THE Letter from Mr D Swann (June 30) claims “everybody keeps saying that people use their benefits on going on holiday, tabs or drink”.

 I hate to disabuse you of this notion, but you are incorrect when you state “everybody”.

 I for one (and I know of many others), do not share this view.

 It is an oft stated refrain, for the bigoted and narrow minded, and merely reinforces the wrongful belief that those on benefits are lazy, idle scroungers.

 An idea perpetuated by politicians of many persuasions, along with the press and media et al.

 For more than 10 years, those on benefits have been used as modern day scapegoats for many of the todays ills, which are not their fault, nor within their remit to influence.

 This view merely reinforces the erroneous conclusion and further alienates those, who in many instances, society has already excluded.

 Finally, the idea that benefits be put on some sort of “debit card” is not going to be introduced. If it were, then whichever Government that was in power, would have to justify why, in the vast, vast majority of cases, those on benefits had to “exist” on such a pitiful amount.

 How many single unemployed people can live on about £60 per week to cover food, electric, gas, water, council tax, household necessities etc which many well heeled MPs have claimed in the past?

 Or is Mr Swann going to fall back on the tactic of obfuscation and misdirection of comparing the employed and unemployed poor?

Steve Colborn,


Hate the World Cup

I WAS outraged to read the letter from Mick The Pen, who wants big games from the World Cup shown on all channels – ITV and BBC together.

 How selfish, does he not realise that many people cannot afford Sky TV to avoid football and they are home alone.

 I know many people dread World Cup year because they hate football but it’s everywhere.

 Just for the record, commentators like Wolstenholme and Coleman died years ago, so I do not know what decade Mick The Pen is living in, probably the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

J Askew,