Reading Gary Younge (Nationalism needn’t be negative – but it has to be honest, Journal, 3 January), I couldn’t help but view it all through the lens of the comment by Stephen Maturin, in Patrick O’Brian’s novel Master and Commander, that patriotism is a word “that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile”.
Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire
• Hannah Fry (Journal, 6 January) suggests a problem about deciding on the location of decontamination units boils down to maths, needing top minds to solve. The “where” in the problem should have suggested geography, which even 10 years ago would have provided a speedy solution, neatly coloured in as well. Otherwise, I agree with her.
Professor emerita, department of geography, Maynooth University, Ireland
• Re purchases outlasting purchasers (Letters, 8 January), when the charge for shopping bags was introduced, a young lady at the checkout in a well known store asked me if I wanted a 5p bag or a “bag for life”. I asked her if the “bag for life” was guaranteed. She looked at me very intently and said: “In your case, sir, certainly.” I am 86 and still have the bag.
• About 18 months ago we gave a home to a rescue kitten. We are now 67 and 68. It’s anyone’s guess which of the three of us will be the first to go.
Godfrey Keller (plus partner and cat)
Department of economics, University of Oxford
• Please pass my congratulations to the Wordsearch team. Cunningly concealed in Tuesday’s challenge to find the names of British prime ministers were ego, flab and wino. Do they have someone in mind?
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