Best not to try oak apples

Oak apples
Oak apples
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An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but maybe best not to try these oak apples!

Oak Apple Day is May 29, until 1859 a public holiday to celebrate the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. By coincidence it coincides with the Spring Bank Holiday in 2017. Oak apples are caused by chemicals injected by the larva of some gall wasps. The adult female lays single eggs in developing leaf buds. The wasp larvae feed on the gall tissue resulting from their secretions and this is what puffs up!

Chris Morgan

by email

Austerity ahead?

According to Petra Schleiter, Professor of Comparative Politics at Oxford University, governments call snap elections when they cannot be confident of maintaining their current high level of popularity and performance through to the next regular election; thus begging the question (if she is right) as to what pitfalls PM May is perceiving befalling the country in the near future, that she seeks to avoid taking the consequences for.

Or could it be a case of a continuing painful, austerity-based hidden agenda that she has in mind? And hence she is seeking to use the current Brexit negotiations as a means of generating a “strong and stable government” backed by a large Tory majority, that will give her carte blanche to do as she pleases on both the domestic as well as the European front? After all, I strongly suspect that her idea of “strong and stable government” will turn out to be a Tory dictatorship with her the unbridled dictator, utilising untrammelled power to implement continued austerity measures, in an effort to achieve the free market nirvana so beloved of politicians committed to the cause.

Hence the strategy of: privatisation, deregulation and public expenditure reduction (preferably eradication) via mainly welfare abolition, will be pursued with a vengeance; to the ostensible purpose of balancing the budget by 2022. The definition of welfare has been expanded to include continued reductions in disability benefits, state, military and civil service pensions, together with tax credits. The overall aim is to cement into place a plutocracy, made up of the extravagantly rich and run to their benefit at everyone else’s expense.

At the same time, tax rises appear to be on the agenda despite PM May stating that the tax base and VAT will not rise. This doesn’t omit rises within some tax bands while reducing others, at the same time that VAT is spread to products currently not charged. In other words, place the burden increasingly on those least able to pay in order to provide tax cuts for those least in need of them.

Indeed, the latest Institute of Fiscal Studies report Two Parliaments of Pain, relates that the government measures announced since 2015 amount to £15 billion in extra tax; while if the budget is to balance by 2022, then, a further £15bn in tax increases and public expenditure cuts will be needed.

However, the concept of a balanced budget by a specific date is a practical nonsense really. It is simply a notion being utilised to justify the strategy of austerity to achieve the hidden agenda in mind.

There will be some who are still true believers in the current economic orthodoxy, which seeks to simplify reality to suit its purposes but as Brian Clegg wrote: “In some circumstances such simplification to make a problem tractable is dangerous because you can draw conclusions about the model that don’t have any significance in reality.”

This implies that if the conclusions drawn bear no resemblance to reality, then, neither will any policies derived from them. Something to bear in mind when deciding how to vote come June 8 ?

Michael Parker

Robertshaw Crescent, Deepcar, Sheffield, S36

Peregrine falcon chicks

Forgive me if I don’t get excited about the arrival of three peregrine falcon chicks which have hatched on a building in Mappin Street.

My concern is how many small birds will be killed by the parents in order to feed these chicks and how many more will suffer the same fate once the chicks are able to feed themselves?

There are about 15 species of birds of prey which feed on smaller birds, so obviously the more birds of prey in the skies the fewer the smaller birds. I have noticed a decline in the number of birds in my garden over the years. We have a bird-friendly garden, plenty of food, nesting boxes, no cats, and yet we see only the usual suspects, ie. a few sparrows, the odd blackbird, a couple of great tits and two or three pigeons.

Two years ago, a sparrowhawk flew into a neighbour’s garden clutching a great tit in its talons and earlier this week I found a large number of feathers where, probably, a pigeon had met its maker.

So, if there is or will be a society dedicated to the enjoyment of watching birds of prey, please don’t ask me to join it!

JD Arnold

S7

Go and get a life, you lot

I see Jayne Grayson has joined Ched Evans’ critics.

Her son must be so perfect! He will make his own decisions who to look up to one day, whether she likes his choice or not.

Ched is back at The Lane like it or not, so let him get on with his life and doing what he loves, playing for SUFC.

I’m glad Mr McCabe has seen sense and had him back. I will watch him and not even think about his past, so go you lot and get a life.

BT

Chesterfield

Oh what a night

A very special evening for a very special football club, Sheffield United FC.

It was amazing to see all the Blades supporters turn out to see the champions on parade. Everybody was in such a party mood, dancing and singing with big smiles on their faces, which we have not had for a long six years – just magic.

I’m so proud to be a Blade. To see the team on the open-top bus with the word “Champions” and the manager holding the League One trophy, absolutely fantastic.

What can I say about the man Chris Wilder? I was so proud to see him make time to hug and shake hands with our disabled supporters. It brought a tear to my eye because I am disabled.

I will never forget the evening of May 2 in Sheffield for the rest of my life. What a night.

Mark

Woodhouse Blade

Labour will self-destruct

I am 80 years old, a former miner, who has voted Labour all my life, but not this time. While ever Mr Corbyn is leader Labour will be humiliated but I doubt he will stand down.

Labour will self-destruct under him I’m very sad to say. In his heart he knows, I hope he can live with himself.

Arnie Outram

by email

Time people moved on

Liberal Democrats, Labour, yap yap yap about offering a another vote on Brexit.

Is it going to be the best of three? I didn’t vote leave but it was voted in favour of.

It’s time people moved on.

Jayne Grayson