In the early 2000s I produced a booklet, Talk to Your Child, which was funded by Sure Start. The text to one of the photos in the book was “Talk to your child, not your mobile” (Let’s take the baby for a scroll, Weekend, 8 December). I wore a badge with the same slogan on it, and wrote to various MPs raising my concerns about the excessive use of phones by parents but never received a response. I’m retired now but talk to my own grandchildren on buses, in parks, anywhere in fact, in the hope that some parents will get the message and put their phones away.
• Paul Evans quotes John Clare as referring to an “old huge ash-dotterel” (Country diary, 12 December). I’ve never heard the word dotterel since my Northamptonshire grandfather (who died in 1977) used it to mean a sapling in a hedgerow, so it’s good to know it still survives in some form. The two trunks growing from a single base are presumably because the seedling tree was bitten off by some grazing animal and grew back with an extra shoot.
• In G2 on Tuesday, pages 6 and 7 highlighted the amount of unpaid work many women carry out to celebrate Christmas for their families. Then pages 8 and 9 had recipes from Kim-Joy to make women feel guilty, with millions of ingredients, taking hours and days to make. Irony?
• I note from Thursday’s quick crossword that austerity is the “self-denial of pleasures”. Nothing to do with 10 years of savage Tory policy, then; it’s our choice!
• One cannot “reach a crescendo” (This country’s divides run far deeper than simply Brexit, Journal, 10 December). One can, however, reach a climax via a crescendo.
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