I NOTE the tweeted remarks Philip Pullman made recently about Meghan Markle and the British Press – 'Of course Meghan Markle is attacked by the British press because she is black'.

She may have been criticised by the press but his assumption of racism is a typically lazy and over-used use of that word whenever people of colour are simply criticised nowadays (I am not referring to the abuse which abounds on social media which I am sure Pullman finds as totally unacceptable as I do).

But what I really take issue with is his last sentence – 'What a foul country this is'.

Pullman, a fine author whose trilogy I have read, is, remember, a Knight of the Realm but seems, by extension of throwaway comments, to be calling us all racists!

As someone who is proud to be British, I find that deeply offensive. And if he finds this country foul then there are alternatives.


Old Marston


I WRITE after the article regarding asbestos.

I worked at Pressed Steel from 1958 to the mid-1980s and was heavily involved in asbestos: part of our job was to replace worn brake and clutch plates on the big presses.

We were told by management that this was perfectly safe to do as they had been checked in their laboratories and the amount of asbestos involved was very small.

However when removing the old linings the fumes could be quite toxic.

We had to drill and counter-bore the new linings and fit them to the plates with copper rivets.

A few years later I think we were given two rubber masks which we were all expected to use, but whenever I used the mask it seemed to leave me with a skin problem.

Later it was decided to soak the worn plates for 24 hours in water. Later again an area was designated for the drilling and all old asbestos bagged.

Of all the people I worked with, all but one has passed away, some quite young and some with asbestos-related diseases.

I am approaching 86 so maybe I have been lucky.

Strangely, I think the other survivor and myself were the only non-smokers.


Spring Lane


WE ARE very successful as a species, but our success is now having a devastating effect on the natural world.

We are so good at making things – building, farming, looking after ourselves, but there needs to be a balance.

Nature is being pushed further back into little pockets of land.

When we watch nature programmes we learn that many animals have to fight so hard to survive against the odds: extreme weather, finding enough food, predators – but we make their plight so much harder and the consequences for many of them are dire.

We think of them as just another commodity for us to use.

The window for change is getting smaller and smaller.

As humans we want the best for our families – nice clothes, a nice home, plenty of food, a good job.

I don't believe we will change in time to save the natural world, we are quite selfish as a species.

I love to watch nature programmes, but now they are tainted with sadness, because in the future many animals may become extinct, all because of us, as our population continues to grow around the world.

We share this planet with other life forms, we do not own it.


Harwood Road

East Hagbourne