Letters, August 20: Bongo Bongo Land revisited
Language makes a world of difference
Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom is apparently in trouble for insulting the people of Bongo Bongo Land in what have been claimed are racist comments when he was protesting about the £1 billion per month in aid we send abroad.
I have scoured both my latest world atlas and the internet for this Bongo Bongo Land but have found no reference to it; I am therefore assuming there is no such place. It is logical then to assume that Mr Bloom used the term specifically in order not to cause offence to anyone, as opposed to mentioning an actual nation or people.
Can someone who disagrees with Mr Bloom's comments please explain how it is possible to use racist language or insult a people who quite simply are a figment of his imagination?
I would suggest the "outrage" is more to discredit the party and deflect attention away from the overseas aid budget, the thing we should be discussing here, by Ukip's political opponents than any real feelings against Mr Bloom.
Sad to see appetite for worship decline
I read that in the 17th century Jonathan Swift, a famous Irishman said: "We all have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."
While I would not agree with the word "all" there, I would ask, has anything changed, except that hatred seems to have been passed down to this present generation?
After Joshua and his generation passed away there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. Since the Rev John Wesley and that generation passed away there has been a decline in the public worship of God. While many of us grandparents have held the ground, it would seem that there has arisen a generation who have not taught their children the commandments, and to obey the Lord.
Christ commanded His followers to teach all that He commanded them. Have the children been taught to love their enemies? Yes, hate has been passed down not only in Ireland, but in the world. It is sad that while people used to stand outside chapels to hear Methodist preachers in the Methodist revival, and many children were in Sunday schools, in recent years, there are probably more children being taken to sport fields on the Sabbath day than are being taken to church.
Mrs E Stuart
Thornbury, South Gloucestershire
Cyclists used the moor as racetrack
A few weeks ago my wife and I decided to spend a few days on Dartmoor.
During this visit, we climbed up to see the church at Brentor, wandered through Lydford Gorge, walked to Belliver Tor, visited Castle Drogo and the lovely Garden House and generally spent time viewing the magnificent scenery.
The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and at times the cuckoo was cuckooing. It was all a very pleasant experience, except that is, for one fly in the ointment.
The moor seemed to be infested with battalions of what we consider to be "want to be Wiggins" cyclists. Not for them a gentle sight-seeing ride through glorious Dartmoor, oh no! They were there for one reason and that in my opinion was to use the roads as a race track. Wearing predominantly low visibility clothing including buttock squeezing plastic pants and aerodynamic helmets (what's that all about?) they were riding as though Old Nick himself was after them and hell bent on chucking them into the fiery furnace.
These cyclists attacked steep hills with vein-bulging, sweat-flying determination on the upward climb and, bearing in mind the poor road surfaces, completely unsuitable speeds on the downward run, generally with disregard to following queuing traffic, wandering animals, and indeed their own safety.
Now, I have absolutely nothing against cyclists riding sensibly but using the public highway as a race track does not come into this category. Perhaps some of the £4 million or so government grant given to Devon County Council and the Dartmoor National Park to improve cycle routes across Dartmoor can be used to provide a suitable area off the public highway where these Wiggos can indulge their hobby.
R E Russell
Rail project remains a costly white elephant
I know that many people have concerns about the environmental impact of fracking.
However, its economic benefits are clear. You cannot say the same thing about the proposed HS2 rail link between London and the North. I accept the country needs to renew our infrastructure to grow, but any such proposals have to be shown to represent value for money. I read recently in the newspapers some rather damning research from the Institute of Economic Affairs, which suggests that the Government's HS2 project will end up costing us double the initial estimate. This is a shocking assessment.
The IEA accuses policymakers of driving up expenses by trying to "buy off" opposition with tricks such as extended tunnelling or diverting the line, and says that local authorities, transport bureaucracies and business groups are pressurising the Government to finance loss-making, taxpayer-funded projects along the route. The final price tag could reach £80billion.
We cannot justify such expense – simply to shave off a few minutes of travel time. The idea that this relatively modest reduction will transform Britain's business climate is far-fetched, especially when so much work is done online rather than in person – reducing the necessity of commuting long distances. The potential impact on the environment needs to be considered, too; the development will affect hundreds of acres of Green Belt land, more than 1,000 buildings, at least 100 important wildlife habitats and dozens of ancient woodlands. Supporters would argue that this is the price of progress, that sometimes a government has to spend and destroy in order to build and grow the economy. But the economic case for HS2 has not been convincingly made. Until it is, it will continue to be a white elephant.