In telling MPs that they have a “deeper duty to the voters than obeying how they voted that day” [for Brexit] Polly Toynbee (31 January) reveals exactly the sort of we-know-best attitude that prepared the way for the debacle that she (rightly) fears. Her scorn for Jeremy Corbyn’s principled acceptance of the referendum result does nothing but offer succour to the hard Brexiteers.
Holmfirth, West Yorkshire
• Re the use of the definite article in place names (Letters, 31 January), the practice in English is to use it with all plural place names – hence the United States, the Netherlands – and also island groups (the Bahamas, the Maldives etc) and mountain ranges (the Alps). We also use it with rivers: hence the Gambia.
• Your obituary of Christopher Bland (31 January) evokes a colourful personality: A favourite Bland retort, even heard in the BBC boardroom, was: “Bollocks! Next question!” So much for the theory of nominative determinism so often aired in your correspondence columns.
• Letters about mixed units (31 January) remind me that when I began my assistant governor training, I visited Leicester prison in 1970, where one of the workshops was making plastic decimal coins to prepare schoolchildren for the impending switchover – in packs of 12.
Helperby, North Yorkshire
• I remember my mother telling me that after reaching 60 (Letters, 30 January) she was always particularly careful when crossing the road, as she knew any accident report would say “Pensioner knocked down by bus”.
• The legendary archaeologist Leslie Grinsell, while still an amateur on a low salary, created much of his database of bronze age barrows using the cardboard flaps from Weetabix boxes as index cards (Letters, 31 January). Presumably the Weetabix itself sustained him over long and gruelling days of fieldwork.
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