HAVING read Chris Green's letter (D&S letters, Jan 25) concerning loud conversations in coffee houses and the further comment by Marion Moverley (Feb 1), there is one further aspect which might be worth considering; that of sheer entertainment.

Lurking in my bureau drawer are a collection of slightly crumpled paper napkins bearing hastily scribbled notes of conversations quite accidentally overheard over the years in cafes and restaurants. By far the richest vein of such humour used to be a quiet little area away from the main restaurant in Bettys, Northallerton, which seemed to attract a fairly elderly clientele, ie about my own age.

Many a cup of Bettys' excellent coffee grew cold as my pen flew over the scraps of paper, in the vain hope of recording some of the hysterically funny comments being made most seriously by my fellow ancients.

Phrases of the purest Alan Bennett variety followed in often rapid succession as I strove to keep up with the flow, while fighting to keep a straight face in order not to draw attention to myself. (The theatrical term 'corpsing' is one which I try to avoid these days!)

Chris Green wrote. "The dialogue was so very loud that we could hear every word." (An amdram theatre director's dream, by the way). May I suggest writing down the best bits for further enjoyment at home, or even as the basis for a script or novel?

Marion Moverley hit the nail on the head in saying: "We are fortunate to live in a free society where we can meet together to exchange views on all subjects."

Other people's overheard conversations can, on occasion, be a source of annoyance, irritation and ultimately, exasperation, but brush these emotions aside and let your own sense of humour reign. You may find your laughter hard to control.

Michael Waldman, Worton

Farm safety

IN reference to a report about health and safety inspections on farms (D&S Times, Feb 1).

The Health and Safety Executive are now self financed ie they need to find only the smallest infringement

to execute a fine, there are no warnings, no advisories, only what they term as prohibition orders, these

can result in very severe costly fines.

Very few, if any farms will achieve a clean bill of health. None of us want to hear of harm, injuries, or fatalities, but accidents will always happen. I feel so sorry for the farmers, my heart goes out to you, all hard working people, working long hours but you are all sitting ducks for HSE and there is no closed season.

Trevor Mason, Swainby

Hotel closed

THE closure of the St George Hotel at Durham Tees Valley Airport in December 2018 was a sad occasion for many people, not least the staff but also others who have emotional ties going back many years.

This former Second World War Officers Mess building is the spiritual home of the Middleton St George Memorial Association whose members continue to care for the RCAF and RAF memorials and the statue of Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski VC, RCAF.

The auction of hotel fixtures and fittings left a quantity of surplus items for disposal. The Memorial Association offered local knowledge, contacts and volunteers who, with the active support and approval of the hotel staff and airport management team, were able to distribute food, bedding, and furniture etc to local charities and community groups who welcomed the boost to their resources.

The organisations who benefited asked us to convey their thanks to the hotel staff and airport management which we are pleased to do through the medium of the local press. We too add the thanks of our association for years of support from many people at DTVA and we wish them well in the many forthcoming changes.

John Hardy, Hon Secretary, Middleton St George Memorial Association

No surprise

AS the author of Bedale’s Clockmakers I was particularly interested in your report of a clock by William Terry of Bedale being seen in a museum near Brisbane, Australia (D&S Times, Feb 1).

Tim Mitchell, who spotted the clock, expressed his surprise that a Bedale long-case clock had been transported across the world. I was not surprised. I am aware of clocks by William Terry to be found in New Zealand and Canada and I have seen a clock by him displayed in the foyer of a hotel in Haarlem in the Netherlands.

That I am aware of only four of his clocks to be found overseas, and none by other Bedale clockmakers, is because I have searched for Bedale clocks for only some ten years.

I have searched for clocks and watches made in Northallerton for over 50 years and I am aware of no less than 39 examples to be found abroad including six in Australia and two in New Zealand.

Some of the clocks taken to the other side of the world were taken by families who emigrated, some were bought in England by Australians and shipped there by their new owners and others were taken by Australian dealers who bought in the UK and sold to customers over there.

I myself have helped descendants of Bedale and Stokesley clockmakers to buy and ship long-case-clocks made by their ancestors to the USA and Australia respectively. Good English long-case clocks are comparatively rare in Australasia and the USA and they are much treasured.

The sign underneath the Brisbane clock is inaccurate. It is just possible that William Terry served his apprenticeship in Askrigg but he was never in business there.

He worked in Bedale all his adult life and he was certainly there in 1770. I have written to the museum to give them accurate information.

Your report was also inaccurate in that I had indeed found only 13 clocks by William Terry when I published my Bedale book eight years ago but I have since found 11 more examples of his work including a bracket clock and two watches.

The clock seen by Tim Mitchell is therefore not the 14th but the 25th William Terry example of which I am aware.

I am always pleased to hear about clocks and watches made in Northallerton, Stokesley, Bedale and Ripon – the four places about whose clockmakers I have written books.

Dr David Severs, Northallerton

Thank you

HAVING needed to call 111 for my partner, Fred Richardson, who was having breathing difficulties, the care that followed, from the time the lovely paramedics arrived, to the time I was able to bring him home was just wonderful.

He was admitted to A&E where having assessed him, after a short wait he was transferred to the Clinical Decisions Unit.

During the times I visited, it never ceased to amaze me how they never stopped making decisions as to who was to possibly stay, who needed to be transferred to other wards and finding everyone a bed wherever.

Every day we hear complaints abut the NHS, but may I say not at the Friarage Hospital.

A huge thank you to all at A&E and CDU for taking such good care of my Fred!

Betty Woodhams, Sowerby


FIONA OLUYINKA ONASANYA is an MP and former practising solicitor, who was elected as the Labour member of parliament for Peterborough in 2017. On December 19 2018, after a re-trial, Onasanya was found guilty of perverting the course of justice for lying to police to avoid a speeding fine. On January 29, she was jailed for three months, a sentence that she is appealing.

It appears to me that members of parliament can be jailed for lying in a court of law, however if they lie in Parliament they only get a slap on the wrist but if they lie to the public, nothing happens.

I am sure if I complained to my MP about the behaviour of Miss Onasanya I would be told that it was a matter for the Labour Party. I do not see it that way.

I think that Parliament itself should have its own rules that all MPs should abide by. All MPs should be told that if they lie they will be thrown out of Parliament and not allowed to re-enter public life. That way we would have MPs with integrity.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham


AS a member of the West Burton School Representative Group I am very aware that the debate about the request to defederate the school (D&S Times, Jan 25) has fuelled a lot of misinformation about education, schools and the optimum size of classes.

The principle purpose of a school is to equip children with the knowledge and skills to be successful in their lives and be useful members of their community and the wider universe.

It should be providing opportunities to enable the children to access knowledge as well as providing a stable, safe, inclusive and comfortable environment in which the children can learn. It should be concentrating on learning before teaching.

Learning is an individual process.

All schools should be concentrating on the above "shoulds" with the children as the central main priority.

Teaching should be adapted to the needs of the children. There is much supporting evidence that most children thrive and learn better in small groups. In fact some children would be submerged in large groups and may then need special provision. Teaching is imposed on learning and requires very special people to ensure that all children's individual needs for learning are met.

These are the basic premises that govern a successful school. Does your child’s school meet these standards?

A school should not be training children to pass tests and to help to get a good Ofsted or other reports, so it can meet financial targets. It should not be stealing and misusing the children’s time in useless exercises (such as in-school-day bussing).

Time is our only non-renewable resource.

Every adult with any contact with the school has a responsibility to enable and support the learning and teaching to be achieved, to the highest standards.

D.G.Pointon, Leyburn