Letter of the Day - Festival should be cancelled

I love the Edinburgh Festival, I’ve been attending it most years for more than 50 years – every year I go to ­every ­morning concert in the Queens Hall and every evening for concerts or ­operas in the Usher Hall or the ­Festival ­Theatre.
Should it be 'lights out' for the Festival until 2021?Should it be 'lights out' for the Festival until 2021?
Should it be 'lights out' for the Festival until 2021?

In recent years I’ve been reviewing festival events for The Wee Review and was looking forward to reviewing for my new online magazine, The Edinburgh Music Review. So why am I calling for it to be cancelled now?

After Monday’s lockdown from Boris Johnson I would really think this is an ­academic question – I’m certain that the Festival and the Fringe will be cancelled.

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I have attempted to talk to the Festival director and press officer about this but with no response. I suspect they may be a little busy, but when you send an email as editor of an online music magazine to the director of the Festival and you get a response that says, not only are they too busy to reply but they will never bother to read it, you have to make your own judgement.

It’s my judgement that the virus crisis won’t be over by August, and that even if the Festival was held, no one would come, or at least many fewer, making the event an economic disaster.

Performers need to know as soon as possible to plan their alternatives, people who come from overseas need to know to cancel their travel, we all need to know to plan our ­summers even if we aren’t locked 

Some in Edinburgh will ­welcome a Festival-free August and maybe it will give us time to rethink its role and the scale for the future.

Edinburgh is greater than the Festival but we do need it; let’s cancel it now to save it for the future!

Hugh Kerr

Editor, Edinburgh Music Review
Wharton Square, Edinburgh

Shock tactics

As well as the repeated ­messages about hand washing, symptoms etc, the 
Government should have been putting the frighteners on a recalcitrant public weeks ago by instigating a ­
hard-hitting advertising ­campaign like the apparently very effective AIDS: Don’t Die of 
Ignorance campaign in the 1980s.

David J Mackay

Gladhouse Place, Edinburgh

Good science

John Cameron’s letter about Covid-19 (23 March) is as ill-informed as it is dangerous.

I heard Sir David King, then scientific advisor to the UK Government, with whom I worked for seven years and whose integrity as a scientist I unequivocally respect, lecture on how the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001 was eradicated.

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He showed several graphs of animal deaths that were ­predicted to occur if various scenarios were adopted. ­Killing all the cattle within ten miles of an infected animal was predicted to give by far the least number of overall deaths.

He then showed a comparison of the actual deaths that occurred compared with the model and the two were ­superimposable.

If the modellers predict that so accurately, we MUST listen to them now. Please everyone, obey the Government and stay at home if you are not needed on the front line.

David Cole-Hamilton

Emeritus Professor of Chemistry
Buchanan Gardens, St Andrews

Silver slots

Surely I am not the only ­‘elderly’ 70-plus person who was constantly being told by government not to go out of my home. However, as I am still reasonably active at 81, and have been able to push my trolley around my supermarkets until the coronavirus emergency occurred, I have never needed online home delivery. However, there are no slots available until ­mid-April and no way of contacting these stores to find out if ever, when and how!

This is a real problem as I feel shoppers like me will have missed the boat to secure a slot. Neighbours are very obliging, but with their own families to consider, can we expect them to do our weekly or fortnightly shop as well? It seems that the supermarkets have forgotten that it is not possible for us all to benefit from the erroneously called ‘silver shopping hours’.

However, the Scottish ­Grocers Federation and smaller convenience stores have been more than helpful.

Margaret Campbell

Dovecot Loan, Edinburgh

Bring us home

In view of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement about actions being taken to limit the spread of Covid-19, and requesting one million travellers abroad to return home, I do feel there is a need to arrange repatriation flights, as many of us are stuck due to local restrictions.

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After a General Medical Council appeal for doctors, we arranged our flight on 23 March from Lahore to Edinburgh, then all flights were banned until 4 April, with a possibility of extension. For British nationals, and British doctors needed to help NHS, it is imperative to organise ­repatriation.

Hasan Beg

Harcourt Road, Kirkcaldy,
currently in Lahore, Pakistan

I believe in Boris

“Better together.” This phrase comes to the fore again, ­perhaps this time because the circumstances are more demanding. The current crisis is, as we all know, extremely serious; our politicians are doing a marvellous job at all levels in all parts of the UK.

Boris Johnson may come under fire from various quarters, but personally I believe he is the sort of leader we need in such times. As far as I am ­concerned the emergency measures will be handled best by a Government which, through our electoral ­system has the responsibility for the whole of the UK, with the resources to tackle the enormous problems relating to the economy, unemployment, and the health and the wellbeing of the population.

This crisis could put an end to any attempt to cause political division in future years. In Scotland the SNP has passed its sell-by date. Hopefully the flag-bearing, tartan-clad, woad-painted marches will be a thing of the past. Scotland needs to remain part of the strong UK economy, with optimum employment and minimum taxation.

I believe that we will emerge from the present crisis as a stronger and more united UK.

Robert IG Scott

Ceres, Fife

Rich pickings

Not so long ago, ‘millions’ and ‘millionaires’ were common words in our vocabulary. Now ‘billions’ and ‘trillions’ trip just as easily off our tongues. But do we really appreciate just how many zeroes there are in each?

A billion is 1,000 times a ­million, i.e. 1,000,000,000. A trillion is 1,000 times a billion, i.e. 1,000,000,000,000.

Can it be just that there are trillionaires in this world, when so many millions can’t even put a crust of bread on the table? How long till there are many quadrillionaires (15 zeros)? The world has gone crazy.

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We are all going to have many months to think in ­isolation about real issues. Let’s hope it is a wake-up call that teaches us some important lessons. Three of the most important are that Covid-19 (like Noah’s flood) is no respecter of wealth; we all depend on one another for health (mental as well as physical) and well-being; and we achieve more by working together than by ­simply thinking of ourselves.

Hopefully, some good will come out of this crisis and we will begin to work together to make this world a fairer place for billions of people – soon to be trillions, even if millions more die from Covid-19 than from the many causes that already exist.

Henry L Philip

Grange Loan, Edinburgh

Let’s be better

I am glad our governments are at last taking more drastic measures to counter the ­Covid-19 pandemic. Sadly, they missed the best opportunity to slow its spread by ­failing early on to institute and continue a strict testing policy and tracing of all contacts of positive cases with subsequent ­isolation.

Now we have people being told to self-isolate needlessly because their child has a cough, yet no tests are done to verify the need for this.

Presumably we don’t have enough testing kits, in line with the shortages across the NHS, which has been starved of resources for years and is in danger of being overloaded with seriously ill patients. China, which appears to have done a great job of ­controlling this virus, produced many more testing kits quickly and used them and isolation ­effectively.

Make no mistake, this is a serious pandemic, caused by a virus which spreads very ­rapidly. Sadly the death rate globally will climb relentlessly. Also, we do not yet know what the long term pulmonary complications may be for those who survive severe, or even moderate, attacks.

I appeal to people to obey official instructions about hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation. I hope that ­Government, along with ­charities and volunteers, will continue to help out those who are financially affected by ­various closures. The economy and the markets will ­eventually recover.

May this emergency cause us to be less selfish, less ­materialistic and more ­caring for others. At an international level, may nations learn to cooperate rather than ­compete, to negotiate ­rather than threaten, to aim for peace rather than conflict.

Donald M MacDonald

Blackford Avenue, Edinburgh

Halfwits house

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Having experienced hundreds of cars, campervans and caravans arriving in our small village with a ­population of mainly older people, I can see how the draconian move of a lockdown is the only result these halfwits will recognise.

Asking them why they were ignoring the stay at home request resulted in responses of “...but the weans are on their holidays”; “It is a lovely day and I was fed up” and “we needed a break with the kids”.

The selfish minority always blows it for the reasonable majority, whatever it may be. Margaret Thatcher once said “there is no such thing as 
society” and for once I am almost persuaded that she was right.

Ronald H Oliver

Woodside Road, Elie



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