The Spectator

Letters: Bully XL owners are deluding themselves


Bed and breakfast

Sir: Cindy Yu asks, in her ‘Leaving Hong Kong’ piece (23 September): ‘Where are they?’ I can help with that one. I live near Epsom, Surrey, and there has been a huge influx of people from Hong Kong here over the past 18 months. The area is attractive because housing is affordable in south-east terms compared, price-wise, with where they have come from. There are half a dozen very good schools in Epsom, Sutton and Cheam – and the area has very low crime rates. If anybody wants to seek positives from controlled immigration then it is here.

The influx of the Hong Kongers (as Yu described them) has undoubtedly stimulated the local economy in terms of house and car sales and given the hospitality industry a big boost. New businesses, such as oriental food supermarkets, are opening up and seem to be thriving.

But perhaps the biggest visible effect of the arrival of our Asian friends is the dramatic increase in the demand for the full English breakfast. Each morning the cafés and early opening pubs in the towns around here are having to cope with what I am told is a 400 per cent increase in orders for bacon, sausage, beans, tomato and egg platters. They can’t get enough of them and one local hostelry has extended its breakfast serving times and hired a new chef to cope with the demand.

I hope other communities in the UK which have seen the arrival of families from Hong Kong have had an equally positive experience.

Mike Parry

Epsom, Surrey

Voice without vote

Sir: The most surprising thing about Matthew Parris’s article (‘Australia’s disastrous referendum’, 23 September) is that Australia doesn’t already have a federal advisory board comprised of Aboriginals and Islanders. Surely after many decades of trying to put things right, such a forum should have been created years ago?

Furthermore, why does it need a referendum? Why can’t the government just set up such a forum? It’s apparently advisory only and could be done without the stress and cost of a vote.

John Roberts

Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire

Bully tactics

Sir: Toby Young’s argument that we don’t need to ban XL Bully dogs on the grounds of their ability to cause serious harm as we already have a law that allows owners to be prosecuted after the event, is baffling (No sacred cows, 23 September). Is the fact of the owner going to prison supposed to make up for one’s child being gobbled up? These dogs are bred to fight and are much too strong for almost all owners to hold on to.

The owners’ belief that their ‘training’ has been sufficient should not be all that stands between the rest of us and serious injury or worse. They’re being asked to muzzle and keep them on a lead, neuter them and let the breed come to an end naturally – hardly ‘draconian’. Mr Young should remember that the freedoms he desires may come at the expense of someone else’s.

Heidi Appleby


In poor taste

Sir: Here in the Fens things move slowly so it has taken me till now to fully digest Douglas Murray’s crack about my co-habitees (‘Silicon Valley stuck in the mud’, 9 September). He quips that when visiting friends in Norfolk he might bring something they don’t have, namely someone unrelated to them. My wife and I (related only by marriage) admire Douglas but it seems incredible that he would believe this to be humorous. What next – Irish jokes?

David Meacock

Downham Market, Norfolk

Full-fat faith

Sir: Dan Hitchens points out that the more charismatic and evangelical churches in the UK are growing while the others are in danger of terminal decline (‘A tale of two churches’, 23 September). This has been the case for decades. Twenty years ago, at a meeting of the leaders of the larger evangelical churches in the Diocese of Oxford with the then Bishop of Oxford, one of our number asked him to name some non-evangelical churches in his diocese that were growing. He struggled to name one.

Evangelical churches come in many shapes and sizes with different theological emphases, but they have four features in common and it is these that lead to their growth: teaching the ‘full-fat’ faith from the Bible, prayerful dependence on God, lively worship that engages the heart, and careful pastoral care of everyone. It’s not easy to grow a church but it’s not complicated.

Richard Coombs

Rector of Cheltenham

Little utterings

Sir: As a father of three – ages four, two and seven months – I found Leah McLaren’s thoughts about audio recordings of her young son Frank (‘Heard but not seen’, 23 September) profound. Her description of ‘hurrying him into the future’ at bathtime was all too familiar, and the thought of not being able to visit that landscape again was genuinely moving. I’m off to dig out my dictaphone.

David Spiers

Bonnyrigg, Midlothian

It’s all Greek

Sir: Peter Jones asks the question ‘Did cancel culture start with the Greeks?’ (Ancient and Modern, 23 September). The question was both asked and answered last year in Howard Brenton’s excellent play Cancelling Socrates, performed at the bijou Jermyn Street Theatre.

Chris Wilkins

Lewes, East Sussex