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The Guardian e-paper Journal - May 10, 2018

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Section:GDN 1J PaGe:1 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 9/5/2018 18:15
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
?
At last, reason to celebrate ? house prices are falling Larry Elliott, page 3
Rihanna?s dazzle casts a revealing light on the church Catherine Pepinster, page 4
You?ve been framed: inside the glasses industry The long read, page 9
The Guardian Thursday 10 May 2018
Opinion
and ideas
Europe must
make Trump
pay for trashing
the Iran deal
Simon
Tisdall
D
onald Trump?s torpedoing of the
Iran nuclear deal on highly specious
and misleading grounds is an act of
wanton diplomatic vandalism fraught
with dangers. Many in Tehran will
see the sweeping re-imposition of US
sanctions as a declaration of war. As
for Trump, he has once again proved
himself the master of chaos.
This aggressive bid to further isolate Iran appears
designed to ultimately enforce regime change. In the
short-term it will destroy remaining mutual goodwill,
undermine pro-western Iranian opinion, empower
hardliners, trigger an oil price crisis, and increase the
risk of conflict centred on Syria and Israel. It raises the
spectre of a regional nuclear arms race, and damages the
western alliance, to the advantage of Russia.
Yet Trump?s short-sighted folly is entirely consistent
with a long history of similarly disastrous Middle East
policy missteps by previous US presidents. The region is
littered with the corpses of momentously misconceived
and wrong-headed US policies, spawned by the same
noxious mix of ignorance and arrogance now permeating
the White House. In this respect, Trump is no different
from many of his modern predecessors.
Iran is a case in point. The 1979-81 Tehran hostage
crisis is usually referenced by those seeking to explain
enduring, official US enmity. It?s true America?s national
humiliation was considerable, and Jimmy Carter paid the
political price. But the Iranian people?s real offence was
their presumptuous overthrow of the shah?s autocratic,
pro-American regime in the 1979 revolution.
The US and the UK, after all, had gone to considerable
trouble in 1953 to keep Iran in line, covertly ousting the
democratically elected government of prime minister
Mohammad Mosaddegh. Their loss of influence,
following Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini?s assertion of
absolutist clerical rule, was the product of their own
machinations. Here was the genesis of lethal US backing
for Saddam Hussein in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
The fight to repel Saddam?s invasion took 300,000
Iranian lives. Its cost, and causes, are not forgotten.
Close by the Khomeini mausoleum south of Tehran,
I once walked among the well-tended, shaded graves
of hundreds of ?martyrs? interred in Behesht-e Zahra
cemetery. The war was a national trauma. Yet there has
been no US apology, nor any thought of one.
Among the many US-fomented
catastrophes in the Middle East, George W
Bush?s 2003 decision to invade Iraq without
ILLUSTRATION:
EVA BEE
?
Simon Tisdall
is a foreign
affairs
commentator
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:2 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 9/5/2018 18:34
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
The Guardian Thursday 10 May 2018
?
2
Europe must make Trump pay
for trashing the Iran deal
Simon Tisdall
Continued from front
a plan was a standout moment, unrivalled
in its strategic incoherence and staggering
incompetence. Bush?s ?axis of evil? rhetoric
and ?global war on terror? fuelled sectarian violence
and jihadism, playing midwife to Islamic State. And the
ensuing, lengthy occupation failed to entrench inclusive
democratic governance, as this weekend?s elections in
Iraq may again demonstrate.
Bill Clinton tried to end the Palestine-Israeli conflict,
inspiring great optimism. I recall standing on the White
House?s south lawn in 1993 as Clinton physically pulled
Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin together for a reluctant
handshake that had taken decades in coming. ?Enough
of blood and tears, enough ? The time for peace has
come,? Rabin solemnly declared.
But the time had not come. Blood continued to flow.
Clinton?s efforts to play honest broker failed, like those
of other American presidents, because, ultimately, the
just claims of the Palestinians always proved unequal
to Israel?s political, emotional and financial clout in
Washington. Far from endowing peace in Palestine,
US policy has underwritten a deepening divide,
the expansion of illegal settlements, and now the
provocative recognition of Jerusalem as Israel?s capital
city. Arafat and Rabin are both dead. So too, almost, is
the two-state solution.
I
n the decades after the Suez crisis in 1956,
when Britain and France were shoved aside,
successive US administrations war-gamed the
Middle East as part of a bigger strategic contest
with the Soviet Union. If that meant propping
up pro-western dictators such as Egypt?s Hosni
Mubarak and the Saudi and Gulf monarchs,
then so be it. Yet as Condoleezza Rice, the then
US secretary of state, conceded in Cairo in 2005, it
was a self-defeating policy. ?For 60 years, my country,
the United States, pursued stability at the expense of
democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and
we achieved neither,? she said.
In another famous Cairo speech, in 2009, Barack
Obama promised a ?new beginning? that would tackle
religious extremism, Palestine, nuclear proliferation,
democratic deficits and women?s rights. Yet for all that,
not much changed in the Obama years. Only the Iran
deal marked a clear shift ? until Trump wrecked it.
In many respects, the region?s problems have grown
steadily worse under US tutelage. Witness Somalia,
a failed state turned shooting range for US special
forces.燱itness Yemen, a humanitarian disaster
wrought by the US-armed Saudi regime. Witness Libya,
anarchic product of made-in-America regime change.
Witness Turkey, where human rights increasingly count
for naught.
Unsurprisingly, terrorism, in many forms, is
proliferating, as is displacement, poverty and youth
unemployment. And all this without mentioning the
post-2011 Syrian holocaust of half a million dead. Syria?s
fate symbolises perhaps the biggest US failure of all: its
hard-nosed refusal to support the Arab spring uprisings
and stand up for democratic self-determination.
Know-nothing Trump is the direct heir to this grim
litany of catastrophic presidential blundering. But
that is not to say Britain and Europe should tolerate
yet another avoidable Middle East disaster made in
Washington. Just as Russia has been told certain actions
are unacceptable and incur painful consequences if not
reversed, so too should the US.
The European allies must, by all available means,
undercut, circumvent and subvert Trump?s attempt
to wreck the Iran deal. Closer ties should be pursued
with Tehran, while escalating, punitive diplomatic and
economic sanctions are levelled at Washington. Joint
action should also be taken to censure the US at the UN.
A price must be paid for perfidy.
Theresa May can make a start by withdrawing her
ill-judged invitation to Trump to visit Britain. With his
Middle East warmongering, as with his climate change
denial and his other dangerous and divisive policies,
Trump threatens British interests and international
peace and security. It is no longer enough simply
to complain and condemn. The moment for active
resistance has arrived.
Founded 1821 Independently owned by the Scott Trust ? 53,405
?Comment is free? but facts are sacred? CP Scott
Iran nuclear deal
Without resorting to facts,
Donald Trump is creating
a narrative for con?ict
Donald Trump?s voice in foreign affairs is one that slips
between brash arrogance and oily smugness. He touts
supremacy from behind thinly concealed contempt. In
withdrawing America from the Iran nuclear agreement,
officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of
Action (JCPOA), Mr Trump risks pushing Iran out into
the燾old, triggering a nuclear arms race in the Middle
East燼nd handing power to the hardliners in Tehran.
In place of the UN-approved deal is little more than
Mr Trump?s bombastic promises of greater American
independence and fewer unnecessary constraints.
Mr Trump all but declared war on Iran in a speech
largely estranged from fact. Contrary to his claims,
Iran爃as abided by the agreement, as UN weapons
inspectors attest. Tehran is not on the ?cusp of acquiring
the world?s most dangerous weapons?. In fact the
deal allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium ? but
it is neither allowed nor technically able to use this
process to爌roduce weapons-grade uranium. Under the
agreement, Iran cannot reprocess plutonium either,
an alternative path to a nuclear explosive. Mr Trump?s
invective should surprise no one; he relies on assertions
that reinforce prejudices but have no basis in truth.
The premise of the JCPOA was to allow Iran to
benefit from the global economy in exchange for
denuclearisation. It is now incumbent on the US to, in
Mr Trump?s words, find a ?lasting solution to the Iranian
nuclear threat?. Yet there is no plan forthcoming from
the White House. The absence of American leadership in
the world will mean that the Europeans ? principally the
Party membership
Dissent is essential when
politicians claim to know
the ?will of the people?
President Richard Nixon famously invoked the
support爋f ?the great silent majority? of his fellow
Americans, in defiance of protests against the Vietnam
war. He was not the first or last politician to imagine
that爊oisy opposition conceals a friendlier national
mood. People prefer praise to criticism, so assume that
the latter is exaggerated. But it is often true that the
loudest voices are on the fringe and drown out a larger,
more nuanced body of opinion.
Last week?s local elections are a case in point. The
fever of partisan spin has now died down and it seems
there was no single message from the electorate. Neither
Theresa May nor Jeremy Corbyn can claim to speak
for a ?silent majority?. Turnout was only 36%, which
is normal for council ballots. But there is evidence
elsewhere of an uptick in political participation. Data
published last week by the House of Commons library
show an overall increase in party membership in recent
years. Labour?s rise is by far the biggest, with around
552,000 members, up from 388,000 in December
2015. The Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists
have grown over the same period. Ukip has shown the
steepest decline, with 21,200 members now ? around
half of its 2015 total. The Conservatives are secretive with
their data, but their current membership is estimated
at around 124,000. That is a tiny pool that could, in
the event of a Tory leadership contest before a general
election, end up燾hoosing Britain?s next prime minister.
Around 1.6% of the electorate are members of one
of the three biggest parties in England, up from a
main powers of the UK, Germany and France ? will
have to work reluctantly with Russia and China to
uphold the agreement. This will require protection
for firms and banks engaged in trade and financial
transactions with Iran. Without Washington?s support
this may mean resorting to non-dollar deals to evade
US sanctions. Like his rejection of the Paris climate
deal, Mr Trump opposed the Iranian nuclear deal not
because he understood the details and consequences
of a complex agreement?s terms but because he
wanted, scandalously, to signal that former US
president Barack Obama did not necessarily have US
interests at heart when he negotiated the agreement.
When international agreements are not insulated
from partisanship by constitutional principle, then
deals are likely to be stop-gap solutions. North Korea
will understand this lesson only too well.
The US is the author of Iran?s success. Its disastrous
invasion of Iraq saw Iranian influence grow along a
Shia crescent in the northern Middle East. Tehran?s
proxies prop up the murderous dictatorship of
Bashar al-Assad in Syria and have emerged as
powerful political blocks in Lebanon and Iraq. The
anti-Iranian outbursts by Mr Trump and his team
create a narrative in which war with Tehran is the
only爒iable爌olicy.
Goading Iran?s hardliners to restart weapons
programmes is an extremely high-risk strategy likely
to trigger to a military confrontation between the
US and Iran and probably the Syrian regime. The
problem is that such a conflict would most likely also
involve Russia and Israel, the latter an undeclared
nuclear power and Iran?s most vocal critic. Meanwhile
Saudi Arabia is pushing for the right to either enrich
or reprocess nuclear material. If it is allowed to then
no doubt the United Arab Emirates, with its history
of turning a blind eye to illicit nuclear weapons
programmes, would want to do the same. Mr Trump
is opening a Pandora?s box in the Middle East. The
world needs to convince him to close it.
historic low of 0.8% in 2013. Most people tune in to
party messages only when big decisions must be
made. Those who monitor every twist and turn in
Westminster are unusual. Their priorities cannot be
presumed to be universal.
There is no doubt that the two recent referendums
? on Scottish independence and EU membership
? brought people out to vote who had previously
felt disenfranchised. Mr Corbyn?s bid for the
Labour leadership enthused a generation of young
people whose voices had been ignored. Those
effects are rightly celebrated as signs of renewed
democratic engagement. There is also more subtlety
and variety of motive behind those votes than is
sometimes爄mplied by common stereotypes of
?Nats?, ?Brexiteers? and ?Corbynistas?.
Ballots give a snapshot of opinion, which can
change. Election results must be honoured, but
dissenting voices must also be heard. That ethos is
currently endangered in the two biggest parties. On
the Labour side, there is a tendency to forget that MPs
represent all of their constituents, not just the ones
who admire Mr Corbyn. MPs should respect local
activists but are not obliged to obey them completely.
On the Tory side, there is a habit of believing that
MPs? function is to enact Brexit, defined in the
hardest possible terms, and that anything less is
defiance of the people.
The reality is that majority opinion is fluid, and
parties have patchwork coalitions of support.
Some people are moved to become members, some
routinely switch allegiance. Effective leaders do not
seek comfort in the cheers of an ultra-loyal minority,
nor do they pretend, like Nixon, that the silence of the
majority indicates support. The will of the people is
not contained in activist ardour or non-voting apathy,
but in the spectrum the runs between them. It is a
messy, complex thing, and anyone claiming exclusive,
absolute knowledge of it has not understood what is
involved in governing a democracy.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:3 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 10 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:29
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
?
Opinion
3
You don?t see
headlines
screaming, Boomboom Britain: joy for
commuters as rail
fares rise by 10% for
third year in a row
At last, reason
to celebrate:
house prices
are爁alling
Larry
Elliott
T
he housing market is dead. Britain?s
biggest mortgage lender, the Halifax,
says that prices fell in April by 3.1%, the
biggest monthly drop in almost eight
years. Newspapers bury this disastrous
news way back in their editions for
fear that it will spread gloom and
despondency.
We need to wean ourselves off this way of thinking.
Falling house prices are not disastrous, and only in a
country with such a perverted relationship with bricks
and mortar could they be seen as such. In Germany,
they scratch their heads in bemusement when they hear
Britons boast of how the value of their house has soared.
The Germans are right. Ever-rising house prices are a
curse. They are bad for social mobility. They are bad for
young people. And they are bad for the economy. The
billions that are spent pushing up property prices could
be more productively invested elsewhere.
Imagine for a second that the next time you went
to the train station the rail operating company had
unexpectedly cut fares by 5%. Or that when doing your
weekly shop you discovered that the supermarket had
slashed your normal bill by �. Would you think this
was an unwelcome development?
Daft question. Of course you would be happy, because
your money would go further. Conversely, you would be
less than chuffed to find more of your pay being spent on
getting to work or putting food on the table. That?s why
there are no headlines in the papers screaming ?Boomboom Britain: joy for commuters as rail fares rise by 10%
for third year in a row?, or ?Good news for families as
supermarkets add � a week to the average shop?. The
papers stand up for their readers when they think they
are being gouged by train companies and supermarkets.
They stick up for buyers rather than sellers.
But different rules apply to property. If the average
house price had risen rather than fallen by �000 in
April, that would have been front-page news and hailed
as a sign that all was well with the economy. The papers
tend to side with owner-occupiers rather than the buyers
of property getting the rough end of the deal.
This fetishisation of rising house prices is relatively
recent. For the first 25 years after the second world war,
a combination of mass housebuilding and strict controls
An aerial view of
houses in Bristol
PHOTOGRAPH:
BLOOMBERG/GETTY
on credit meant that the cost of property rose only
modestly. But since 1970, financial deregulation, much
lower levels of housebuilding and a tax system heavily
weighted in favour of owner-occupation have meant
demand for housing in parts of the country has tended
to outstrip supply. There have been four big house-price
booms ? the early 1970s, the late 80s, the mid 00s and
the mid 10s. None of them have ended well.
The biggest and longest bust was in the early 90s,
when people who had bought at the peak of the late-80s
boom were clobbered by 15% interest rates and rising
unemployment. Record levels of home repossession
were the result.
But since the market collapsed in 1995, housing has
become more and more expensive. Owner-occupation
rates have fallen from a peak of just under 70% to less
than 64% in the past 15 years, as young people have
found buying a home of their own unaffordable. Rents
have risen, making it harder to save for a deposit.
So bad is the intergenerational imbalance
between the property haves and have-nots that the
Resolution燜oundation thinktank wants each person
in Britain to be given �,000 when they turn 25. This
would certainly help young people stump up the money
for a deposit on a home ? especially outside London and
the south east, where prices are a lot lower ? but in the
absence of an increase in housing supply it would be
bound to drive up prices.
One definition of inflation is that it results from too
much money chasing too few goods, and that?s a perfect
description of what has happened over the past decade.
Thanks to the Bank of England and the Treasury, there
has been plenty of cheap money knocking about. The
Bank?s quantitative-easing programme is essentially a
giant money-creation scheme, and the proceeds have
been recycled into mortgage lending. George Osborne
did his bit with help to buy, a subsidy for first-time
buyers that further inflated prices. Giving every 25-yearold �,000 would have a similar impact.
W
eaning Britain off its
obsession with rising house
prices won?t be easy. The
economy now only has two
settings: strong growth when
the housing market is buzzing
and owner-occupiers feel
confident enough to borrow
against the rising value of their homes; and much
weaker growth when the housing market is dormant.
A second problem is that for many people their house
is easily their most valuable asset, and they are relying
on being able to downsize when they retire. That makes
a large chunk of the population highly resistant to
policies that might drive down prices, such as higher
property taxes or changes to planning laws.
With unemployment at its lowest level for more
than 40 years and interest rates at 0.5%, the chance of
a house-price crash is currently remote. More likely,
prices will stay where they are while incomes catch up.
Property will become cheaper as a result.
This breathing space should be exploited to make the
tax system less biased in favour of owner-occupation
and to start a mass public-sector housebuilding
programme. After repeated boom-bust cycles, it should
be clear that an economic model that cannot function
without repeated injections of property inflation is built
on the shakiest of foundations.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:4 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 9/5/2018 18:29
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
The Guardian Thursday 10 May 2018
?
4
Opinion
Here?s what
police gang lists
do ? ruin lives
on a hunch
Becky
Clarke
S
o now we know: appearing in a music
video, or simply associating yourself
with a particular type of music online,
can land you on a database of people
purporting to show ?propensity for
violence?. Amnesty International?s
report on the Metropolitan police?s list
of gang suspects ? known as the gangs
violence matrix ? presents an abundance of evidence
that challenges the assumed relationship between
serious youth violence and the policing of gangs. It also
highlights how flawed policy, discretionary everyday
practice and unaccountable data-sharing combine to
hardwire racism into society.
What we see is the extent to which the labelling of
young men ? sometimes boys and almost exclusively
from black communities ? as ?gang nominals? is often
based on hunch or feeling. These uncorroborated
assumptions then travel, appearing as ?flags? on the
case management systems of a range of agencies
extending well beyond the criminal justice system.
Individuals and their families become marked. The
stigma leads to serious harms including criminalisation,
imprisonment, exclusion from school, eviction from
home, removal of children, and deportation.
Amnesty?s report focuses solely on the gangs list
operated in London by the Met police. Yet research I
have been involved in demonstrates that these practices
Young men are stopped and searched at London?s Notting
Hill燙arnival PHOTOGRAPH: JANINE WIEDEL/REX
Rihanna?s
sparkle casts a
revealing light
on爐he church
exist beyond the capital. In 2012 Patrick Williams and I
were asked by Manchester city council to profile those
in gangs, alongside those who had committed serious
youth violence: two distinct groups of people. The city
was preparing to become one of the initial 33 local areas
to implement the coalition government?s Ending Gang
and Youth Violence policy.
Our analysis challenged the conflation of these policy
areas. We found that while serious youth violence occurs
in all communities, the distinct approach to policing
gangs under the guise of fighting serious youth violence
targets black communities almost exclusively. Threequarters of those convicted of youth violence were
white; nine out of 10 individuals on the Manchester
gangs list were black or minority ethnic.
These facts contest the basic associations maintained
in the dominant narrative about ?gangs? and youth
violence. Yet both national policy and local strategy
remain fixated with tying the solution to youth violence
to a strategy of ?fighting gangs?. This conflation is a
political manoeuvre, whereby criminal justice agencies
and politicians are able to both (re)define the problem of
youth violence and create communities to be policed.
While singling out racialised communities for different
policing practice is by no means new ? identifying
and flagging young black men as gang nominals flows
squarely from the government?s Ending Gang and Youth
Violence policy. It is possible that all towns and cities
where the policy has been implemented operate similar
matrices or gang lists. That runs to 52 local authority
areas in total. A public inquiry by the Information
Commissioner?s Office, as recommended by Amnesty,
would do well to follow the EGYV policy in seeking to
examine these harmful practices.
While Amnesty concludes that the gathering and
sharing of data from the matrix presents a risk of
infringing human rights, such information-sharing has,
in and of itself, become a key measure of the success of
the EGYV policy.�
Amnesty?s report exposes many of the damaging
consequences of being labelled a ?gang nominal?, but
it is by no means exhaustive. In Manchester, we have
seen the increased use of ?threat to life? notices; one
consequence of these can be the removal of children
from the family home.
Catherine
Pepinster
R
I
n a recent case, a local judge publicly called into
question the use of police intelligence in a family
court case where social services were seeking to
remove two brothers from their family on the basis
of their older brothers? reported gang association.
Judge Iain Hamilton refused the request, arguing
that the ?court has no way of assessing how
reliable or otherwise the police intelligence is?.
If only more judges were as circumspect about the
use of police gang intelligence. Our national research,
published in 2016, demonstrated how the racialised
narrative of the ?gang? becomes a central strategy for
prosecution teams to secure joint enterprise convictions,
even when defendants were not at the scene of a crime.
A recent case in Manchester, in which 11 young black
people were sentenced to 168 years in prison, bears the
hallmarks of this process. The prosecution QC called an
officer from the police gang unit as an expert witness. He
talked the jury through an extended version of the story
of gangs in Manchester, seeking to connect the young
people to Los燗ngeles gangs. Later in the trial, it was
accepted that the majority of the young people had no
convictions or intelligence connecting them to gangs. Yet
the story was set, demonstrating how the racialised gang
narrative can be a rich resource in the courtroom.
Rather than support an effective solution to youth
violence ? an urgent issue of harm in society ? such
policing and punishment strategies contribute to
injustice and feed a lack of trust in the criminal justice
system. The report highlights what those trapped in the
matrix already know: that being on a gangs list marks
you for different treatment.
This week E Tendayi Achiume,爐he UN?s special
rapporteur on racism, is in the UK. Last month, human
rights experts expressed serious concerns about racism
rooted in the fabric of our society. The use of gang lists
compounds this. It?s time to address the harm they do.
?
Becky Clarke
is a senior
lecturer in
sociology at
Manchester
Metropolitan
University
Catherine
Pepinster
is the author of
The Keys and the
Kingdom: The
British and the
Papacy
ihanna turned up in a glittering mitre
and Madonna sang Like a Prayer,
and together with the frocks of other
A-list celebrities attending New York?s
Met Gala with its Catholic church
theme, they sent some commentators
into overdrive. The fulminations
ranged from accusations of
blasphemy to cultural appropriation. Piers Morgan
wrote that the event ?crossed a line and was openly,
brazenly disrespectful? to his religion.
What the critics failed to mention was the extent
to which the Met Ball and the exhibition from which
it took its inspiration ? Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and
the Catholic Imagination, at the Metropolitan Museum
of Art?s Costume Institute ? have the support of the
Vatican. It has loaned dozens of items from its priceless
collection to the show; it sent the Sistine Chapel choir
to sing at the Met Ball; and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of
New York attended too. Dolan joked: ?I?m the only one
who didn?t have to go out and buy an outfit.?
So if there was any cultural appropriation, the
Vatican encouraged it. After all, the church is itself a
past master at appropriation. It took pagan symbols
and traditions such as mistletoe and eggs to become
parts of Christmas and Easter. In parts of Africa and
Latin America, music and dance of different cultures
have often been incorporated into Catholic liturgies.
What Dolan?s appreciation of the show reveals,
though, is the extent to which the Catholic church
wants to engage with contemporary culture. Heavenly
Bodies is evidence of new thinking inside the Vatican.
The show highlights not only this engagement,
but also shows quite how profound an influence
Catholicism can have on culture. Curator Andrew
Bolton has said that when he started researching
religions and fashion he discovered that most of the
designers he was studying were baptised Catholics.
Catholicism is certainly a visual religion: visit a
church and you will find statues of the Virgin Mary,
the saints and martyrs. Then there is the stained glass,
the crucifixes, the richly embroidered vestments.
Catholic iconography isn?t just found in church
either,燽ut in the home. My grandmother kept a
statue爋f the Sacred燞eart in her kitchen, and used
it for爃er爏pare爀lastic bands: if she?d been granny to
Gaultier, Galliano or Balenciaga, imagine what that
might have inspired.
Something else is evident about the designers
chosen for the Met?s show: their imaginations were
fired by the church, but mostly they are lapsed
Catholics. If lapsed Catholics I know are typical, it?s
more likely that the designers are horrified by the
church?s record on abuse and find its approach to sex,
and especially to gay people, too rigid. Dolan and Pope
Francis need to think hard about why, for so many
brought up Catholic, the church means nostalgia for
the past, rather than a guiding light for the present.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:5 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 10 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:40
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
?
5
Soft Brexit can
happen. Thank
the Lords
Martin
Kettle
N
ext week the EU withdrawal bill
finally emerges from the House
of Lords. The bill is now a very
different piece of legislation to the
one launched in the Commons
by David Davis last September. It
was significantly amended in the
Commons just before Christmas.
Now the Lords have fundamentally transformed it.
MPs must therefore decide what to do with the many
changes that the Lords have made. It will be the most
important few months of parliamentary activity in a
generation, perhaps more.
This week there have been some particularly
striking government defeats in the Lords. The first,
moved by the bishop of Leeds, would keep the UK as a
participant in EU agencies such as Europol. The second,
moved by the Duke of Wellington no less, removes the
government?s preferred Brexit date ? 29 March 2019 ?
from the bill.
The most wide-ranging, however, was the
amendment tabled by Labour?s Lord Alli to keep the UK
in the European Economic Area, which was passed on
Tuesday by a majority of 29, against the advice of both
major parties. This would put Britain in a relationship
with the EU that is comparable to that of Norway.
When the bill went through the Commons last
autumn, the one big defeat for Theresa May in the
Commons was Dominic Grieve?s amendment that, in
effect, requires parliament to vote to approve the final
withdrawal agreement. This remains a crunch issue, but
it is now joined by the 13 or so Lords amendments on
a wide range of other issues. These include continued
membership of the customs union in some form,
the adoption of the EU charter of fundamental rights
into domestic UK law, and Chris Patten?s amendment
ensuring that the UK and Ireland must agree any new
Irish border rules.
For parliament these are all very big questions,
on which there could be Commons majorities if MPs
were not forced to follow party lines. Coalitions
similar to the one that passed the Grieve amendment
could be assembled again. Don?t forget, also, that the
withdrawal bill is not the only Brexit-related legislation
currently under consideration in parliament (the
trade bill is particularly significant). And there is the
hugely significant possibility that any new bill on the
withdrawal terms could be defeated or amended.
May?s Brexit strategy is to hold the Tory party
together by withdrawing entirely from the EU, while
making serious practical compromises to maintain as
?frictionless? a relationship as possible with the EU.
Government defeats on crucial questions such as the
single market, the customs union or the Irish border
would overturn the entire strategy. Yet this is becoming
more likely now. May?s strategy worked for her first
months as prime minister. But the ?lost election? of 2017
and the fundamental differences among Conservative
MPs and ministers over Brexit issues that cannot be
permanently postponed mean its lifetime is now almost
spent. Labour?s caution on Brexit shows little sign of
changing, but there are enormous temptations for
Jeremy Corbyn to overcome his anti-EU instincts in
order to humiliate the government on at least some of
the Lords amendments.
This explains why May still acts as if she is hoping
that something unexpected will turn up. There is
now talk at Westminster of the Brexit bill votes being
delayed to the autumn, partly to avoid embarrassing
Commons defeats affecting the June EU summit at
which the future relationship will be discussed ? and
partly because Conservative rebels on both sides of the
argument might be more disciplined if the talks appear
to be nearing a successful conclusion.
It is hard to imagine that the Tory party?s Commons
discipline is about to collapse on every single issue
that the Lords have put on the table. Nevertheless, the
Tory soft Brexiters seem a bit bolder now. That is partly
because their numbers are gently creeping up ? and also
because, in the end, these moderate Tories feel they
have to fight harder now if they are to prevent their
party collapsing even further to the Ukip right.
That is why every disloyal provocation by
Boris燡ohnson or other ministers ? such as the foreign
secretary?s ?crazy? jibe this week ? acts as a recruiting
sergeant for the soft Brexiters. The coming weeks and
months may be their moment. A hung parliament
gives them the means. The slide to the right gives them
the motive. And now the Lords have given them their
opportunity. It will be a hot political summer.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:6 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:58
The Guardian Thursday 10 May 2018
?
6
Letters
Millennials need a fairer
society, not handouts
The Resolution Foundation?s
recommendation to give �,000
to all young people when
they turn 25 (Report, 8 May),
irrespective of income, may make
a small contribution to reducing
generational inequalities, but it
is also highly likely to increase
inequality. For those young
people who are already well off,
it will provide additional family
capital, by potentially reducing
the dependence on ?the bank
of mum and dad? for funding
accommodation and educational
and business opportunities, but at
the same time increase inequalities
between better-off and poorer
parents. Surely a simpler and
more equitable policy to meet the
changing income, housing, health
and social care needs of different
generations would be to introduce a
single progressive system of income
tax which incorporates inheritance
tax and replaces national insurance,
which overall has a regressive impact.
Prof Mike Stein
University Of York
? It is proposed that the ?citizen?s
inheritance? be funded by a change
in tax law such that all gifts and
inheritances up to �0k attract a
20% charge and any above �0k,
30%. The current regime levies
nothing on in-life gifts (provided
the giver lives for seven years more),
nothing on estates valued at less
than � and 40% thereafter. The
Resolution Foundation?s ostensible
benevolence towards millennials is
misguided in its approach, given that
it would move the tax burden away
from the richest in society and back
towards the masses, irrespective of
age. A cynic might even consider the
CBI?s stake in this plan to be indicative
of positive intent in this aim.
Richard Wayre
Ashford, Kent
? There is considerable evidence
that the following would be far
more effective in helping the young
achieve their aspirations: improving
access to universal and free highquality education and public
services; strengthening worker
protection; ensuring an adequate
supply of good accommodation
for rent and purchase by fixing and
regulating the housing market;
a progressive taxation/benefits
system and government initiatives
to stimulate the infrastructure
required for a sustainable, highproductivity economy. Other
countries do it ? why can?t we?
Brenda Allan
London
? Of course the relationship between
pensioners? benefits and the finances
of the struggling young are out of
kilter. When we bought our first
house in the early 1960s, in south
London, it cost two-and-a-half
times my salary as a junior local
government officer. Today that house
would cost someone in a similar job
over 20 times his/her salary.
Now, in our late eighties, my wife
and I enjoy free travel in London,
free medical prescriptions, a free TV
licence and a winter fuel allowance, all
Trump?s folly over the Iran deal
comes through loud and clear
Natalie Nougayr鑔e highlights
the most prevalent manifestation
of the debasement of democracy
through the ages, namely that of
the invariably male, loud, rude and
hectoring voice which threatens
to destroy truth and silence
others (As the Iran crisis looms,
prepare for a battle over facts,
9 May). Little wonder the effect
of angry male barracking was to
?intimidate other people in the
room? at Nougayr鑔e?s conference,
supporting the observation that
?Dialogue was not what those angry
men ? wanted?.
From Donald Trump shouting
down Hillary Clinton on the
campaign trail, Nigel Farage
flooding the EU debate with twisted
hysteria, to Jordan Peterson?s scorn
in the interview by Cathy Newman
on Channel 4 News, these are
voices爐hat must be challenged.
In response to Trump cancelling
US participation in the Iran deal,
Obama has reminded us ?Debates
in our country should be informed
by facts?. This is what the blusterers
hate the most and will always seek
to silence should we fail to defend
democratic debate at all times.
Nick Mayer
Southampton
? The collapse of the Iran nuclear
deal means the US will now press
ahead with the full imposition of
sanctions on Iran. Such sanctions,
if implemented, will not only hurt
Iran; they will also hurt countries
that import Iranian oil.
Last time, India, for example, was
forced to reduce Iranian oil imports
from 12% to 9%. The cumulative
effect, coupled with the increase in
the international oil price, was to
push India?s GDP growth燿ownward.
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
of which must be worth at least �000
a year to the two of us. In addition
we no longer have deductions from
our pay for pension contributions or
DWP deductions, and we use the NHS
much more than in our youth. We
are amazed and embarrassed that we
don?t have to pay more tax ? at least on
the benefits we receive. It?s not fair.
John Howes
London
? For the Tories, a handout to
25-year-olds might seem an easy way
of capturing their votes but, from
the growing support for Momentum,
I think they?ll see through this. We
need a reversal of all the policies that
feed more wealth to the already rich ?
stop the attack on our social structure
and level the playing field for working
people. It will not be a five-minute fix.
Joan Green
Cambridge
? In the talk about evening things
out among the generations I have
yet to see a reference to the Child
Trust Fund, set up under Labour at
the start of this century, with exactly
that aim in mind, benefitting all
children born on or after 1燬eptember
2002. Grandparents were happy
to put additional amounts into the
savings accounts, partly because,
being a protected fund until the
child was 18, the money couldn?t
be diverted into general family
The foundation?s
approach would move
the tax burden away
from the richest and
back towards the masses
Richard Wayre
While the US may be right to
inflict sufficient economic pain
on average Iranians for them to
threaten the current regime?s
survival, what moral principle, if
any, is served by punishing citizens
of India, who are not even remotely
connected to the Iranian regime?
Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Essex
? Has Natalie Nougayr鑔e ever
considered the possibility that
it is not ?totalitarian systems?
but western governments and
corporations that deploy the most
expensive, sophisticated and
successful propaganda campaigns?
As the ?father of public relations?
Edward Bernays explained in his
1928 PR manual: ?The conscious
and intelligent manipulation of the
organized habits and opinions of
the爉asses is an important element
in democratic society.?
For example, last year Chatham
House?s Micah Zenko estimated
that爐he Pentagon spends
?nearly�$600m annually on public
relations? in an attempt ?to shape
finances. It changed national
behaviour by encouraging saving.
If only that had been continued,
instead of being abolished by
George Osborne in 2010. Yet another
example of Tory short-termism.
Sally Cheseldine
Edinburgh
? The best intergenerational
compensation would be the effective
cancellation of student fees debt.
This could be achieved by allowing
all those who have incurred student
fees to be able to offset a proportion
of those fees against their UK tax
bill for each year, with a comparable
adjustment for those taking other
qualifications. The rationale for
charging fees is false. If degree
holders do earn that extra �0,000
over their lifetime, then the Treasury
take (33% of total income for most
families ? including VAT etc) gives
a return to the taxpayer of �,000,
far爀xceeding the �,000 fees.
Peter Redman
Dorchester, Dorset
? After years of governments
deliberately creating austerity, we
now see the way out: tax the elderly,
thereby making them less financially
safe, despite their hardworking for
pensions, and the government can
walk away smiling. Disgusting.
Prebendary Neil Richardson
Braintree, Essex
? The only reason we are having a
debate about generational inequality
is because all public sector money
is disappearing down a plug hole
called PFI. We should not set one
generation against another when all
our true enemies are those ripping
off our public services, through
these awful deals Whitehall keeps
signing us all up to.
Nigel Boddy
Darlington, County Durham
public opinion?, while David
Miller, professor of sociology at
the University of Bath, recently
estimated there are likely over 5,000
people working on propaganda for
the British government.
Indeed Nougayr鑔e herself seems
to have fallen victim to the western
propaganda machine when she
asserted that President Obama has
?refrained from getting involved in
Syria? (Opinion, 11 August 2015) ,
noting ?the US has this year found
only 60 rebels it could vet for a
train-and-equip programme?. In the
real world a June 2015 Washington
Post report explained that the CIA?s
Timber Sycamore programme in
Syria ? ?one of the agency?s largest
covert operations? ? was spending
$1bn a year and had trained and
equipped 10,000 rebels.
Ian Sinclair
London
? This action by Trump could have
only been written by George Orwell.
Who is the enemy now?
Linda Karlsen
Whitstable, Kent
Free as
a燽ird
A lesser Antillean
bullfinch in
Martinique,
an overseas
department of
France in the
Lesser Antilles
in the eastern
Caribbean sea.
?It was shot
just next to
my shoulder,?
says C閏ile
Gaston-Carrere.
Taken爋n 2 April
C蒀ILE GASTONCARRERE/
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Teletubbies has vital
lessons for toddlers
Catherine Shoard has jumped on the
?malign influence of TV? bandwagon
(Is children?s TV raising a crop of
raving narcissists?, 7 May). Does she
really think that at 13 months her
son is an empty vessel waiting for TV
programmes to pour attitudes into
his head that will be fixed for life? I
suggest she takes a closer look at what
her son is actually doing as he watches
In the Night Garden and Teletubbies ?
both of which present extraordinary,
surreal worlds that stretch small
children?s imaginations and invite
repeated viewing. My research on
toddlers? viewing habits indicates
they invest immense amounts of
energy in learning how to make
sense of television: not just content,
but also the rules of storytelling and
genre. This is important learning and
we shouldn?t belittle it.
Dr Cary Bazalgette
London
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:7 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 10 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:58
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
?
7
? guardian.letters@theguardian.com
? @guardianletters
Corrections and
clarifications
? Leon Brittan, as home secretary,
arrived by the front door for his
controversial 1985 appearance at
the University of Manchester?s
student union ? not a back door as
an opinion piece said (Free-speech
warriors mistake student protest for
censorship, 7 May, page 3, Journal).
? With a piece about BP profits,
we爑sed a picture of a California
refinery said to be owned by BP.
The爋il company sold that site
in 2013 (Profits soar 71% at BP to
highest level since 2014, 2 May,
page�, early editions).
Editorial complaints and corrections can be sent to
guardian.readers@theguardian.com or The readers? editor,
King?s Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU.
Here?s to Stockport?s
unsung attractions
I read with interest Dave Simpson?s
review (7 May) of Blossoms? concert
at The Plaza in Stockport, but was
dismayed my beloved Stockport
County FC were described as
?struggling?, coupled with hints that
us Stopfordians have little to sing
about. Fifth place in the National
League North, home to the largest
brick-built structure, along with
the only museum dedicated to the
hat爄ndustry, in the UK, the birthplace
of Fred Perry, not forgetting the
legendary Strawberry Studios.
Tony Ranells
Hampton Hill, Middlesex
Schools must teach
art, for all our sakes
Like many people, I view the
exclusion of arts subjects from
the爊ew English baccalaureate
(Report, 9 May) as a major step
backwards in our education
system. In my first 18 years, living
outside Swansea, access to musical
training was limited. A violinist
gave optional lessons in my
grammar school. In charge of the
local youth orchestra, the county
music adviser couldn?t read a score
and conducted from a violin part,
leaving me, at the piano, to hold
the ensemble together. Succeeding
decades saw all that replaced by
widespread professional training
in music for youngsters, so that
our爕outh orchestras became the
envy of the world.
The arts are an essential basis
for the development of a civilised
society. After graduating in music
from university, I taught music in
art schools and a polytechnic, under
the umbrella of so-called ?liberal
studies?. This gave students a
special new dimension to their lives:
a few opted for careers in music. Far
from being cut, the arts should be
more extensively taught, with young
people encouraged to cultivate
them. Their lives and relationships
will be greatly enriched as a result.
Meirion Bowen
London
? George Monbiot (Opinion, 15
February 2017) made the point that
those seeking jobs in future must
be as unlike machines as possible:
creative, critical and socially
skilled, and that teaching children
the skills required by robots can
only lead to redundancy. Most
of the subjects covered by Ebacc
(maths, the sciences, geography or
history and languages) are those
in which computers increasingly
excel. We need a complete review of
educational policy, as the artists said
in their letter (9 May).
Dr Richard Turner
Beverley, East Yorkshire
Ideas way above
their station
Who on earth were those 92% who
so admired the rebuilt Reading and
Birmingham New Street railway
stations (Glasgow Queen Street and
Gatwick top poll of Britain?s worst
stations, 7 May)? The concourse at
Reading ? the only place you can get
coffee ? is a freezing wind tunnel as
the external doors are located so they
provide a constant through draught.
Last time I was changing there I had
to leave the station to use a town cafe
so as to avoid freezing. As for New
Street, the new look incorporates
red, blue and yellow lounges ? since
when has it been an airport ? and
because the various areas do not
always link up I find the layout
baffling despite the fact I have been
using this station since childhood.
Stations should not be places whose
prime purpose is retail therapy.
Maureen Panton
Malvern, Worcestershire
? Your editorial (8 May) wonders
?whether a truly radical operatic
storyline would foreground women?s
agency. And let the characters walk
away, alive, at the end?. Beethoven
did just that in his only opera, Fidelio
? though most productions leave out
the bit at the end where Leonore walks
away from an explosion at the prison.
Derrick Cameron
Stoke-on-Trent
? In a stunning victory for trade
union activism and justice, the sacked
workers at the Royal Opera House
(Letters, 24 March) have all been
reinstated. The Cleaners and Allied
Independent Workers Union is an
inspiration to workers everywhere.
Bill Hawkes
Canterbury, Kent
? The ?thing? about predictive
texting, Brendan Kelly, is that it learns
from the user?s own word usage
(Letters, 9 May). Your mother may
know this too?
Danielle Lowy
Manchester
? My email address, which starts
Geri, is automatically corrected to
Geriatric. A reflection on my great
age, I suppose.
Geraldine Blake
Worthing, West Sussex
Established 1906
Country diary
Sandy,
Bedfordshire
A pond skater?s feet feel prey
landing on the drumskin-tight
surface of the water. Just how can
this skater skate on thin ?ice? while
a fly the size of its eye falls through?
Though the fly tries to drag its legs
free, surface tension binds it to a
sheet of elastic glue.
I lean forward and the skater
darts away in a series of fitful
starts.燗 water measurer beneath
my gaze stays put at the pond?s
edge. An aquatic stick insect,
Hydrometra stagnorum could
easily燽e mistaken for a strand of
dark human hair.
My eyes are just a爃andspan
away, so I can observe the
detail爋f燼lternating light and dark
strips along its abdomen, which
remind me of a ruler. However,
it gets its name from the爓ay it
walks爋ver the surface with a
measured tread.
A movement under the water
draws my attention. A blob of a
beetle, a black pinhead in motion,
bustles about on an important
errand. At a more leisurely
slide, a爐ype of flatworm called a
planarian, looking like an ironedout tadpole, is oozing by.
It meets a grazing ramshorn
snail燼 hundred times bigger,
slithers up its face and begins to
coil itself around one of the snail?s
eye stalks, grazing the grazer.
The爏nail bats an eye, still waving
its tentacles as if unencumbered
by the爌lanarian, which can only
maintain a loose coil, at that
moment resembling a curl of
grated爉ilk chocolate.
Deeper below, I spot a cyclops,
a lifeform so small I can only
see its shape, a dot with a tail,
jerking爀rratically.
I am being eyeballed by a
newt.燭here are times when a
newt爁licks its tail with fishy grace.
And there are others when it
bobs up like a long-bodied frog.
This one爂ives me a pop-eyed
amphibian爏tare and I look into its
inscrutable orbs.
The fingers of its weedy arms,
held out crab-like, stroke the
duckweed. And then, with a
quick,燿eft twist of its head and
a body thrust, the carnivorous
newt爏hoots off. I look again to
rescue the fly, but it has vanished.
I爓onder where.
Derek Niemann
Twitter: @gdncountrydiary
ILLUSTRATION: CLIFFORD HARPER
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:8 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:54
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
The Guardian Thursday 10 May 2018
?
8
Obituaries
? obituaries@theguardian.com
? @guardianobits
Birthdays
Ronald Chesney
Writer behind decades of
TV hits including The Rag
Trade and On the Buses
R
onald Chesney,
who has died aged
97, was one half
of a comedy duo
known as ?the
two Ronnies?
before Barker and
Corbett launched
themselves as a TV double act with
that name. Chesney and Ronald
Wolfe worked behind the cameras,
scripting two of the most popular
sitcoms of all time, The Rag Trade
and On the Buses, both set in
the workplace and with a bawdy
humour not always appreciated by
TV critics but lapped up by millions
of viewers. Chesney also had the
distinction of being Britain?s most
famous harmonica player in the
years after the second world war.
?Everybody out!? was the
catchphrase from Fenner Fashions?
militant shop steward Paddy,
played by Miriam Karlin, in The
Rag Trade (1961-63). It caught the
imagination of a nation that was
putting the austerity of the war
years behind it and beginning to
question the establishment.
Paddy was pitted against the
dressmaking workshop boss,
On the Buses,
above, regularly
attracted up
to 20 million
viewers over its
73 episodes.
Below, Chesney
was also
a virtuoso
harmonica
player
Mr Fenner (Peter Jones), and his
foreman, Reg (Reg Varney), while
the seamstresses ? played by a cast
that included Barbara Windsor and
Sheila Hancock ? had all the best putdowns. Karlin and Jones reprised
their roles for a popular but shortlived revival a decade later (1977-78).
By then, Chesney and Wolfe
had enjoyed even bigger success
with On the Buses (1969-73), which
regularly attracted up to 20 million
viewers over its 73 episodes and
seven series. ?Get that bus out!? was
one of several catchphrases uttered
by Stephen Lewis as Inspector
Blake, trying to keep the Luxton Bus
Company on the road.
Varney starred as Stan Butler,
chirpy driver of the No 11, with
Bob Grant as his conductor, Jack,
and both spent much of their time
chatting up women. ?I ?ate you? and
?I?ve got you this time, Butler!? was
how the miserable Blakey reacted to
the various goings-on.
The sitcom?s popularity led to
three spin-off films, On the Buses
(1971) ? the British box office?s hit of
the year ? Mutiny on the Buses (1972)
and Holiday on the Buses (1973),
all of which Chesney and Wolfe
produced. Its format was sold to the
US as Lotsa Luck (1973-74).
Chesney was born Ren� Cadier in
London to French parents, Marius, a
silk trader, and Jeanne (nee Basset).
His career choice was influenced by
a toy mouth organ in his Christmas
stocking one year, along with
hearing Larry Adler playing the
chromatic harmonica.
On leaving the French Lyc閑
school, London, at 16, he became
a professional harmonica player,
anglicising his name to Ronald
Chesney, and established himself
as a virtuoso when he toured ABC
cinemas to perform between films.
He made his radio debut on the BBC
National Programme?s Palace of
Varieties in 1937 and played in many
other shows, eventually combining
classical music with Gershwin, Cole
Porter and even boogie.
Exempted from serving during
the second world war after having
a TB-infected kidney removed,
Chesney instead taught musical
skills to the troops and other
listeners in the radio programme
Let?s Play the Mouth-Organ (1940).
His own show followed in 1941 and
1947, along with lengthy runs in the
radio series Variety Band-Box (194451) and Workers? Playtime (1949-56).
He performed in concerts around the
world and released records.
While providing musical
interludes with his ?talking
harmonica? during the entire run of
the radio comedy Educating Archie
(1950-60), Chesney met Wolfe, who
joined the show as a scriptwriter in
1955. Along with Marty Feldman,
they wrote for the final two series, as
well as a TV version (1958-59).
When Feldman left to team up
Dennis
Bergkamp,
footballer and
coach, 49;
Donovan, singersongwriter and
poet, 72; Sly
Dunbar, musician
and producer,
66; Jonathan
Edwards, athlete
and broadcaster,
52; Diarmuid
Gavin, gardener
and broadcaster,
54; Sir Chris
Gent, former
chief executive,
Vodafone, 70;
Bono, singer, 58;
Oliver Jeffers,
writer and
illustrator, 41;
Alex Jennings,
actor, 61;
Adam Lallana,
footballer, 30;
Lady Lucinda
Lambton, writer,
broadcaster and
photographer,
75; Maureen
Lipman, actor,
72; Al Murray,
comedian,
50; Sally
Phillips, actor,
48; Timothy
Robinson, tenor,
54; Manuel
Santana, tennis
player, 80;
Barbara Taylor
Bradford, author,
85; Venetia
Williams,
racehorse
trainer,�.
with Barry Took, Chesney and Wolfe
continued together ? Chesney giving
up his career as a harmonica player
? and created the 1961 radio sitcom
It?s a Deal, starring Sid James as a
bungling property developer.
The Rag Trade began 20 years
of hit comedies for the pair on
television: Meet the Wife (1963-66),
starring Thora Hird; The Bed-Sit
Girl (1965-66), with Sheila Hancock;
Sorry I?m Single (1967), featuring
Derek Nimmo; Wild, Wild Women
(1968-69), including Windsor and
Pat Coombs; Arthur Mullard and
Queenie Watts in a caravan in
Romany Jones (1972-75), then in a
council house in Yus My Dear (1976);
Lewis?s Blakey from On the Buses
retiring to Spain in Don?t Drink the
Water (1974-75); and John Inman in
Take a Letter Mr Jones (1981).
They also wrote a 1989 episode of
?Allo ?Allo, and Fredrikssons Fabrikk
(1990-93), the Norwegian television
version of The Rag Trade, as well as
its 1994 film spin-off.
Chesney is survived by his wife,
Patricia (nee Martin), whom he
married in 1947, and their children,
Marianne and Michael.
Anthony Hayward
Ronald Chesney (Ren� Lucien Cadier),
writer and harmonica player, born
4燤ay 1920; died 12 April 2018
Announcements
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:9 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 10 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:51
?
The long read
I
ILLUSTRATION:
LEE MARTIN/
GUARDIAN DESIGN
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
f you have been wearing glasses for years, like me,
it can be surprising to discover that you perceive
the world thanks to a few giant companies that
you have never heard of. Worrying about the
fraying edge of motorway lights at night, or
words that slide on the page, and occasionally
spending a fortune at the opticians is, for many
of爑s, enough to think about. And spectacles are
unusual things. It is hard to think of another object in our
society which is both a medical device that you don?t
want and a fashion accessory which you do.
Buying them, in my experience anyway, is a fraught,
somewhat exciting exercise that starts in a darkened
room, where you contemplate the blurred letters and the
degeneration of your visual cortex, and ends in a bright,
gallery-like space where you enjoy the spry feel of acetate
in your fingers, listen to what you are told, pay more than
you were expecting to, and look forward to inhabiting
a爊ew, slightly sharper version of your existing self.
The $100bn (�bn) eyewear industry is built on
feelings such as this. In the trade, the choreography that
takes you from the consulting room to the enticing, barebrick display of �0 frames is known as ?romancing the
product?. The number of eye tests that turn into sales is
the ?capture rate?, which most opticians in Britain set at
around 60%. During the 20th century, the eyewear
business worked hard to transform a physical deficiency
into a statement of style. In the process, optical retailers
learned the strange fact that for something that costs
only a few pounds to make (even top-of-the-range
frames and lenses cost, combined, no more than about
� to produce), we are happy, happier in fact, when
paying 10 or 20 times that amount. ?The margins,? as one
veteran of the sector told me carefully, ?are outrageous.?
The co-founder of Specsavers, May Perkins, is Britain?s
first self-made female billionaire.
Almost everyone wears glasses at some point in their
lives. In developed countries, the rule of thumb is that
around 70% of adults need corrective lenses to see well.
In Britain, that translates to some 35 million people. But
it?s hardly a topic of national conversation. To the casual
observer, the optical market also presents a busy and
confusing sight. In Britain, thousands of independent
opticians rub alongside a few big retail chains such as
Specsavers, Vision Express and Boots. The wall displays
in even a small optician hold several hundred frames,
while posters advertise a range of lenses with scienceysounding properties ? ?freeform?, ?photo-fusion?,
?reflex vision? ? and names so bland they are hard to
remember even when you are looking straight at them.
But what we see masks the underlying structure of the
global eyewear business. Over the last generation, just
two companies have risen above all the rest to dominate
the industry. The lenses in my glasses ? and yours too,
most likely ? are made by Essilor, a French multinational
that controls almost half of the world?s prescription lens
business and has acquired more than�0 other
companies in the past 20 years.
There is a good chance, meanwhile, that your frames
are made by Luxottica, an Italian company with an
unparalleled combination of factories, designer labels
and retail outlets. Luxottica pioneered the use of luxury
brands in the optical business, and one of the many
powerful functions of names such as Ray-Ban (which is
owned by Luxottica) or Vogue (which is owned by Luxottica) or Prada (whose glasses are made by Luxottica) or
Oliver Peoples (which is owned by Luxottica) or highstreet outlets such as LensCrafters, the largest optical
retailer in the US (which is owned by Luxottica), or John
Lewis Opticians in the UK (which is run by Luxottica), or
Sunglass Hut (which is owned by Luxottica) is to make
the marketplace feel more varied than it actually is.
Between them, Essilor and Luxottica play a central,
intimate role in the lives of a remarkable number of
people. Around 1.4 billion of us rely on their products to
drive to work, read on the beach, follow the board in
lessons, type text messages to our grandchildren, land
aircraft, watch old movies, write dissertations and glance
across restaurants, hoping to look slightly more intelligent and interesting than we actually are. Last year, the
two companies had a combined customer base that is
somewhere between Apple?s and Facebook?s, but with
none of the hassle and scrutiny of being as well known.
Now they are becoming one. On 1 March, regulators
in爐he EU and the US gave permission for them to
form燼爏ingle corporation, which will be known as
EssilorLuxottica. The new firm will not technically be
a爉onopoly: Essilor currently has around 45% of the
prescription lenses market, and Luxottica 25% of the
frames. But in seven centuries of spectacles, there has
never been anything like it. The new entity will be worth
around $50bn (�bn), sell close to a billion pairs of
lenses and frames every year, and have a workforce of
You?ve been framed
How one company came to dominate the way
the爓hole world sees. By Sam Knight
9
more than 140,000 people. EssilorLuxottica intends
to燿ominate what its executives call ?the visual
experience? for decades to come.
The creation of EssilorLuxottica is a big deal. It will
have knock-on consequences for opticians and eyewear
manufacturers from Hong Kong to Peru. But it is also a
response to an unprecedented moment in the story of
human vision ? namely, the accelerating degradation of
our eyes. For several thousand years, human beings
have lived in more or less advanced societies, reading,
writing and doing business with one another, mostly
without the aid of glasses. But that is coming to an end.
No one is exactly sure what it is about early 21st-century
urban living ? the time we spend indoors, the screens,
LED lighting, or ageing populations ? but across the
world, we are becoming a species wearing lenses. The
need varies depending where you go, because different
populations have different genetic predispositions to
poor eyesight, but it is there, and growing. In Nigeria,
around 90 million people, or half the population, are
now thought to need corrective eyewear.
There are actually two things going on. The first is
a爈argely unreported global epidemic of myopia, or
shortsightedness, which has doubled among young
people within a generation. For a long time, scientists
thought myopia was primarily determined
by our genes. But about 10 years ago, it
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10
became clear that the way children were growing up
was harming their eyesight, too. The effect is starkest in
east Asia, where myopia has燼lways been more
common, but the rate of increase has been uniform,
more or less, across the world.
At the same time, across the developing world, a
slower and more complex process is underway, as populations age and urbanise and move indoors to work.
The history of eyewear tells us that people do not start
wearing glasses because they notice everything has gone
a little out of focus. It is in order to take part in new forms
of entertainment and labour. The mass market in
spectacles did not emerge when they were invented,
in�th-century Italy, but 200 years later, alongside
printing in Germany, because people wanted to read.
In 2018, an estimated 2.5 billion people, mostly in
India, Africa and China, are thought to need spectacles,
but have no means to have their eyes tested or to buy
them. ?The visual divide?, as NGOs call it, is one of
those vast global shortcomings that suddenly makes
sense when you think about it. Across the developing
world, myopia and presbyopia (longsightedness) have
been linked with everything from high road deaths to
low educational achievement and poor productivity in
factories. Eye-health campaigners call it the largest
untreated disability in the world.
It is also a staggering business opportunity. Essilor
and Luxottica know this. It was Essilor that worked out
and first publicised the 2.5 billion statistic, in 2012.
?For�000 years people were living mainly outside,?
said Hubert Sagni鑢es, Essilor?s chairman and chief
executive, when we met recently in Paris. ?Suddenly,
we live inside, and we use this.? He tapped his mobile
phone on the table. The legal and technical details of the
EssilorLuxottica merger will take a few years to iron out,
but Sagni鑢es was transparent about its mission: to
equip the planet with eyewear over the coming decades.
?I am driving a very profitable company,? Sagni鑢es told
me. ?You know, between 2020 and 2050, governments
will not solve all the problems of the world.?
The looming power of EssilorLuxottica is the subject
of morbid obsession within the eyewear world.
Everyone knows the new company is poised to have a
profound impact. ?Forgive me,? said one longtime
entrepreneur in爐he sector. ?But it is nothing short of
control of the industry.? One investor described the new
corporation as燼 ?category killer?. In many
conversations, people described its arrival as both
extraordinary and somehow inevitable at the same
time. That struck me as the kind of燾ontradiction you
come across more often in a person than in a business.
And it is true of EssilorLuxottica and, to some extent,
the business of vision itself, because it is ? to an amazing
degree ? the legacy of a single man.
Leonardo Del Vecchio is the patron, legend and haunting spirit of the global eyewear business. He is its Citizen Kane and its Captain Ahab. His father died before
he was燽orn; his mother was poor; and he was raised in
an orphanage in wartime Milan, where he went out to
work as a metal engraver at the age of 14. In 1961, Del
Vecchio opened a workshop in Agordo in the Dolomite
mountains. He was 25, and starting out on his own. The
valley around Agordo was emptying out because of the
closure of a mine, and the town was giving away land to
companies that were willing to move there. Del Vecchio
asked for 3,000 sq metres on the riverbank to build a
factory to make parts for spectacles. He had a young
family, and in time, he built a house next door to the
workshop so he could step from one to the other,
starting his day at 3am.
Over the next half century, Del Vecchio grew his
company into the world?s greatest maker of glasses
frames. In an industry that was traditionally fragmented
and small-scale, the totality of燚el Vecchio?s ambition
took his rivals by surprise. He sought to control every
element in the business, from the metal alloys of the
hinges to the stores where eyewear is sold. ?Never
assume that you have arrived, or look at the world as
your only point of reference,? he liked to say. In a series
of audacious takeovers, Del Vecchio acquired brands
such as Ray-Ban and Oakley and Persol, and signed
contracts with Armani, Ralph Lauren and Chanel. He
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The Guardian Thursday 10 May 2018
Luxottica
transformed glasses
from a medical
device爐o a means
of爏elf-expression
built factories in China, acquired vision insurance
schemes in the US and retail chains on four continents.
Since 1994, Del Vecchio has been Italy?s highest individual taxpayer and second-richest man. A爁ew years ago,
people thought his career had run its course. But in
January 2017, at the age of 81, Del Vecchio announced the
greatest deal of his life, in which he also secured the final
missing part for his frames ? the lenses ? when Luxottica
agreed to merge with Essilor. ?He爓ants to do this merger,?
a former colleague said, ?thinking he爓ill leave behind
this great company that爓ill last for�0 years.?
Del Vecchio built the empire of Luxottica on two ideas.
The first was to do everything itself. After the company?s
initial progression from parts to frames in the 1970s, it
set out to control the entire process of making and selling
glasses, from acquiring the raw materials to selling its
own products in its own stores. No one had done this
before. ?There is a simplicity to him,? one former colleague told me. ?To him it is a very simple equation:
I爉ake the best stuff, why doesn?t everybody buy it??
For 25 years, Luxottica stayed on the wholesale side of
the industry, selling its glasses through opticians to the
public. In the 1990s, however, Del Vecchio decided he
wanted a retail network too. First, he got Luxottica listed
on the New York stock exchange, an almost-unheard
of爉ove for a mid-sized Italian business. ?A lot of big
experts said it was impossible,? said Roberto Chemello,
the chief executive at the time. Luxottica later estimated
the listing to have been worth around $100m in
advertising in the US ? and it laid the ground for Del
Vecchio?s hostile takeover of US Shoe, a conglomerate
that owned LensCrafters, the country?s largest optical
chain, in 1995. On paper, the deal appeared outlandish.
US Shoe was five times larger than Luxottica, and its
board did not want to sell. Having its own shops would
also put Luxottica in direct competition with the
thousands of optometrists it had been supplying
for燿ecades. ?You have to be not only courageous,? said
Chemello, of the transaction, ?but a little bit crazy.?
Luxottica bought US Shoe for $1.4bn.
Once the deal was done, Del Vecchio promptly broke
up US Shoe, whose roots went back to 1879, until all that
was left were the LensCrafters stores that he wanted in
the first place, which he proceeded to fill with Luxottica
frames. ?That is exactly the formula they have used ever
since,? said Jeff Cole, the former chief executive of Cole
National Corporation, an even larger optical retailer
that爏old out to Luxottica in 2004. ?When they buy
a燾ompany, they spend a little time figuring it out and
kick out all the other suppliers.?
The formula means that when you or I walk into a
LensCrafters, or a Sunglass Hut, or a David Clulow, or an
觮icas Carol in Brazil or a Xueliang Glasses in Shanghai,
or a Ming Long in Hong Kong, around 80% of the frames
on display will be made by Luxottica. Having its own
designers, engineers, factories, supply depots and retail
outlets ? Luxottica currently has almost 9,000 stores and
contracts with a further 100,000 opticians around the
world ? means it can bring products to market faster and
in greater quantities than any of its rivals. It also keeps
a爈arger proportion of its profits as a result.
In the factory in Agordo, I saw robots pinning together
the front and temples of Ray-Ban Wayfarers, and basket
after basket of metal frames being dunked in a series of
chemical baths to coat and colour them. Glasses involve
between 180 and 230 manufacturing stages to produce.
With its own designers, lasers and machines, Luxottica
can take a pencil sketch to global production in about
three weeks. ?We are in a closed loop,? said Striano, the
operations chief. Taking into account all the different
colours and face shapes (Japanese noses are not the same
as Latino noses), Luxottica has around 27,000 models in
production at any one time. Its plants turn out 400,000
pairs of frames per day. I asked Striano if any other
company came close. ?I think nobody,? he said.
Del Vecchio?s second great insight is the one that
changed the optical business ? and that was to combine
it爓ith the fashion industry. Although designers such as
Pierre Cardin and Christian Dior had been experimenting
with frames since the 1960s, Del Vecchio saw a way to
take their ideas, and more importantly, their labels, to
a爉ass market. In 1988, he signed a licensing deal with
Giorgio Armani, another self-made tycoon. The deal
transformed the glasses game. Until then, consumers in
Europe and America who wanted fancy spectacles had to
rely on staid, industry names such as Zeiss, Rodenstock or
Silhouette. After the Armani deal, they could buy Prada,
Gucci and Chanel, and were willing to pay for it. ?It
created something,? as one Luxottica manager artfully
told me, ?to make the needs where probably they are not.?
The transformation of glasses from a medical device
to a means of self-expression, like clothes or sneakers,
has been a source of joy for millions of people. But it has
also obscured their original purpose, and complicated
efforts to distribute them as easily as, say, mosquito nets
or aspirin. When I mentioned this to Mollo, he recalled a
recent trip he had taken with Luxottica?s corporate social
responsibility programme, conducting eye tests and
distributing glasses in rural China. ?They were so happy
having the possibility to see. They were hugging us. It
was really not for fashion,? he said. ?Then they started,
you know, looking at themselves,? ? Mollo paused for
a爏econd ? ?and the fashion moment arrived.?
My last stop in Agordo was Luxottica?s sample room,
a爍uiet, carpeted space looking out over the river. The
room contains every current Luxottica design, arranged
on various tables and ranked in order of sales. The system
has been in place since the plant was built in 1972,
and燿uring that time, it has been the domain of Luigi
Francavilla, Luxottica?s deputy chairman, who is now in
his early 80s. ?Glasses are beautiful,? he said, pausing
among the hierarchies of Ralph Lauren, Valentino and
Bulgari models. ?Especially the ones that sell the most.?
It was snowing outside and Francavilla was wearing
a爐hick blue cardigan. One of the first things he did was to
take my glasses off my face to identify the tortoiseshell
acetate, which is known as Havana. His own glasses
were燼 pair of rimless Ray-Bans with pink carbon-fibre
temples. Luxottica bought Ray-Ban from Bausch &
Lomb, one of the 20th century?s great optical companies,
in 1999. At the time, the label was washed up. You could
buy a pair of Aviators at a petrol station for $19 (�). ?It
was a train smash,? a former senior Luxottica executive
told me. ?They were selling Wayfarers at Walmart.?
Del Vecchio paid $645m (�6m) for Ray-Ban. During
the negotiations, he promised to protect thousands of
jobs at four factories in the US and Ireland. Three months
later, he closed the plants and shifted production to
China and Italy. Over the next year and a half, Luxottica
withdrew Ray-Ban from 13,000 retail outlets, hiked their
prices and radically improved the quality: increasing the
layers of lacquer on a pair of Wayfarers from two to 31. In
2004, to the disbelief of many of his subordinates, del
Vecchio decided that Ray-Ban, which had been invented
for American pilots in the 1930s, should branch out from
sunglasses into optical lenses, too. ?A lot of us were
sceptical. Really? Ray. Ban. Banning rays from the sun??
the former manager said. ?But he was right.?
Ray-Ban is now the most valuable optical brand in the
world. It generates more than $2bn (�5bn) in sales for
Luxottica each year, and is thought to account for as much
as 40% of its profits. Francavilla joined the company in
1968. I asked him how a man with a small workshop in
the Dolomites had come to bestride the global eyewear
industry. ?L?appetito cresce con il mangiare,? said
Francavilla. The appetite grows with eating.
How did just two companies ? one in frames, and one
in爈enses ? come to dominate something as generic, as
obvious, as glasses? It?s almost as if the world had one
manufacturer for pens, and another for ink. The conditions that have allowed for the rise of Essilor and Luxottica are rooted, deep down, in the way spectacles are
sold. Until the end of the 19th century, you could buy a
cheap pair of glasses ? for reading or for distance ? out of
a rack in Woolworth?s, or from a jewellery shop, or a爂uy
in the street. Eyewear was a craft of tinkerers and inventors. ?I this evening did buy me a pair of green spectacles,? Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary on Christmas Eve
1666, ?to see whether they will help my eyes or no.?
(They didn?t; Pepys? failing eyesight forced him to give
up his journal three years later.)
It was the birth of the optometry profession, around
1900, that changed things. This was a new breed of sober,
respectable spectacle-sellers who wanted to standardise
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cYanmaGentaYellowbla
?
The company is eager to
reach the next 2.5 billion
consumers who don?t
yet爓ear glasses. It calls
them ?The Uncorrected?
eye tests and to restrict the sale of glasses to licensed
professionals. Their aim, for the most part, was to raise
standards. Eyeglass pedlars in the 18th and 19th centuries
were notorious for scams and faulty lenses. But there
was also another compelling reason to take a cheap,
widely available product and put it in the hands of a
few燼uthorised sellers ? and that was to make money.
But the new professionals persevered and, in a way,
the story of optometry for much of the 20th century was
of finding new ways to protect their patch. Across Europe
and in the US, optometry laws and regulations were
passed to control the prescription and selling of eyewear.
Limiting the number of glasses sellers gave the largest
optical manufacturers opportunities to try and corner
the market. As early as 1923, the US government was
investigating a scam to fix prices of the nation?s bestselling Kryptok bifocal lenses. After the second world
war, investigators at the US Department of Justice
uncovered a vast kickback scheme ? thought to amount
to $35m a year, and to involve some 3,000 eye doctors ?
in which the American Optical Company and Bausch &
Lomb effectively bribed practitioners to prescribe their
lenses. In 1966, after another scandal, the two
companies, which at one time manufactured around
60% of the glasses sold in the US, were banned from
opening new retail and wholesale outlets for 20 years.
This was when Essilor came on the scene. In 1972,
Essel and Silor, two French optical companies, merged
and began sell aggressively into the US market. Essilor
specialised in plastic lenses, which were replacing glass,
and it also had a magical product: ?Varilux?, the world?s
first progressive lens, invented by an Essel engineer
named Bernard Maitenaz in 1959. Progressive lenses
allow people who are both long- and shortsighted ? typically older customers ? to combine their prescriptions
into a single, graduated lens. The early Varilux models
were experimental and not everyone could adapt to
them, but they were probably the most important
innovation in eyewear since the invention of bifocals
around the time of the French revolution. The company
set out to make sure that Varilux and the rest of its
products (Essilor?s current sales manual runs to around
400 pages) were sold in every optometrist in the world.
Lenses are the pixie dust of the optical business.
Barely anyone knows what they are made of, how they
are constructed and, especially at the high end, exactly
how they work. The profit margins within the optical
business are a closely guarded secret, but insiders
explained to me that while opticians might sell frames
for two, or two and a half times, their wholesale price, it
is the lenses where they make the most money, charging
markups of 700% or 800% to their customers. The
largest margins of all are on complex progressive lenses
and protective coatings ? for scratch resistance, or to cut
out blue light ? features that cost Essilor a few cents to
make, and which opticians sell for between � and � a
pop. Even Luxottica executives are awed by this. ?RayBan did a good job of saying Ray-Ban would cost $150,
�0, ?150 and the equivalent across the world. A little
bit like the Big Mac, right?? one former marketing
manager told me. ?But lenses? Nobody knows how much
lenses cost. The consumers don?t know. Nobody knows.?
Some opticians call Essilor ?The Big E?. The company
boasts of supplying between 300,000 and 400,000
stores around the world ? three or four times as many as
Luxottica. ?The strategy has to be absolutely global,?
Sagni鑢es, the chief executive, told me. ?Not just for the
rich or poor.? The company has not restricted itself to
lenses by any means. If Luxottica has spent the last
quarter of a century buying up the most conspicuous
elements of the optical business (the frames, the brands
and the high-street chains) then Essilor has busied itself
in the invisible parts, acquiring lens manufacturers,
instrument makers, prescription labs (where glasses are
put together) and the science of sight itself.
The company holds more than 8,000 patents and
funds university ophthalmology chairs around the
world. In deals that rarely make the business pages,
Essilor buys up Belgian optical laboratories, Chinese
resin manufacturers, Israeli instrument makers and
British e-commerce websites. You can find threads on
optometrist message boards with headings like ?Essilor
Has Purchased and Now Owns (Insert Company Name
Anti-reflection
treatment
being applied
to lenses in the
Essilor factory in
eastern France
Here)?, which attempt to record all the independent lens
makers and laboratories that used to exist. Within the
industry, the Big E is generally considered less rapacious
than Del Vecchio?s Luxottica; people regard it instead as a
kind of unstoppable, enveloping tide.
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE
VERHAEGEN/AFP/
GETTY IMAGES
Over the coming decades, EssilorLuxottica will have
the power to decide how billions of people will see,
and爓hat they can expect to pay for it. Public health
systems are always likely to have more urgent problems than poor eyesight: until 2008, the World Health
Organization did not measure rates of myopia and
presbyopia at all. The combined company can choose
to interpret its mission more or less however it wants.
It could share new technologies, screen populations
for爀ye problems and flood the world with good,
affordable eyewear; or it could use its commercial
dominance to燾hoke supply, jack up prices and make
billions. It could go either way.
Right now it is EssilorLuxottica?s putative rivals in
developed markets, such as the US and Europe, that are
most anxious about the power of the new company. ?It is
always better if there is more diversity in the market,?
said Prof Naidoo, of the Brien Holden Institute, about the
impact of the merger. ?I don?t think anyone can argue
with that.? In 2013, Naidoo was one of the authors on a
groundbreaking paper that forecast that half the world?s
population will be myopic by 2050 ? almost 5 billion
people. In the course of a single generation, across the
world, from Inuit communities in Alaska to secondaryschool students in Northern Ireland, researchers have
recorded a rough doubling in the number of people who
become short-sighted as children.
Vision campaigners forecast that the myopia epidemic
will put enormous strain on health systems across the
developing world, which are already unable to equip
their populations with a medical device that has been
around since the Middle Ages. ?We are barely managing
in healthcare systems to provide eyecare,? said Naidoo.
He corrected himself. ?Not barely. We are not managing.
Can you imagine, when those numbers are doubling and
tripling, what is going to happen??
Naidoo was reluctant to criticise EssilorLuxottica,
however. In part that is because Essilor is the world?s
leading commercial funder of research into eye health,
and a prominent force in improving access to corrective
lenses. (Naidoo sits on the board of the company?s Vision
Impact Institute in Paris.) Essilor?s ?200m R&D budget is
three times the size of the rest of the industry combined,
and it has a division called 2.5 New Vision Generation,
named for the 2.5 billion people who currently need
glasses but don?t have them. The company is investing in
schemes such as mobile optometry, putting eye-health
workers on motorbikes in Indonesia; at network of
around 4,000 village-level optical stores in India; doorto-door salespeople in the favelas in Brazil; and working
with the Liberian health system to get its products to
what it calls the ?base of the pyramid?. Last month,
Essilor pledged to provide 200m pairs of free ophthalmic
lenses to the estimated 900 million people living in the
Commonwealth without access to glasses.
No one at Luxottica was willing to speak in detail
about its plans for the merged company. It was a different
?
Sam Knight
is a regular
contributor to
the long read
11
story when I visited Essilor?s global headquarters, which
is on a quiet street in Charenton-le-Pont, in south-east
Paris. The company?s senior executives are, as a rule,
noticeably more nerdy and less well-dressed than
their營talian counterparts, but they are much more
comfortable in their role as titans of the global optical
industry. Sagni鑢es, the company?s 62-year-old chief
executive and chairman, had the guileless glee of a highschool geography teacher whose class had just aced
their exams. ?I won!? he said, describing the deal with
Luxottica. ?Anything can happen. I won already. You
won. Your kids won! Seriously, this is how it is.?
Sagni鑢es told me that the company has calculated ?
on the basis that a simple pair of glasses costs ?5 ? that
the world can be supplied with eyewear for around
?500m a year for the next 30 years. Just as importantly,
any investment that EssilorLuxottica ploughs into the
bottom end of the market is likely to pay off in the end.
?We know that in three or five or 10 years, one day their
life will have changed that much that they will afford to
pay $50 for a better lens or $50 for branded frames,?
said燬agni鑢es. ?I am fine with that.?
A few days later, I visited one of Essilor?s research
facilities in Cr閠eil, on the southern edge of the city. In
a爎oom full of brightly coloured furniture and signs that
said things like ?How can boomers enjoy their vision
in燼ll light conditions?? I met Dr Norbert Gorny, the
company?s head of R&D. Gorny is a tall, direct, German
veteran of the optical scene, who explained that Essilor
has spent much of the last decade expanding what it
calls ?the acuity corridor? on its progressive lenses, to
help people read digital devices as they move around,
compared to the more static way we used to read books
and newspapers. But the company is increasingly keen
to reach what it calls its ?Next Generation Consumers? ?
people in the developing world who don?t wear glasses
yet. Gorny called them ?The Uncorrected?.
?We do things for the 2.5 billion uncorrected,? he said.
?But we also do things for needs that are not already
expressed.? During the afternoon, he showed me rooms
where researchers put on motion sensors to measure
the depth of vision required for everyday tasks. Gorny
also talked teasingly about new lenses that the company
is developing with tech companies to supersede
Google?s failed ?Google glass? project of a decade ago.
This time, the idea is to project information from the
internet ? maps, messages, and Twitter, I suppose ?
directly on to the back of people?s eyes. ?You can read
easily ? always sharp ? information about where to go,
the email that you did not want to miss,? said Gorny.
?I爈eave it to your fantasy.?
It was possible, listening to Gorny and thinking of the
teenagers of Seoul, urbanising populations in Africa,
and people walking through European cities with their
eyes fixed to their phones, to imagine a point where
more or less the whole of humanity is watching the
world through intermediating screens on their eyes. I
asked Gorny whether he thought the 21st century, with
its demographic changes, myopia epidemic and urge for
digital information, would bring about a second optical
revolution, in the manner of Germany?s printing presses
in the 15th century. Will EssilorLuxottica become the
Facebook of seeing? ?I don?t know whether we are
starting a revolution, witnessing a major change like we
witnessed 500 years ago,? Gorny said. ?What I believe
is爓e are in the right industry at the right time.?
The question is whether there is anyone, beyond its
shareholders, able to hold EssilorLuxottica to account.
The next few years might be rocky, as the new company
grapples with its size and attempts to find a new leader
who can define the corporation and its ultimate goals
under the fading shadow of Del Vecchio. But after that,
the field is open and the fundamentals are clear.
On my way back to London, Gorny gave me a lift to
the station. ?There is nothing close to that firepower
once the combination is done,? he said. ?You have the
global footprint. You can play all the courts.? And I
thought about how one of the telling aspects of wearing
glasses is that they help you notice everything else ? and
for the most part, see the world as it actually is ? but it is
only occasionally, through a chance reflection, or when
you really take a moment to stop and look, that you see
what is sitting on the top of your nose. ?
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:12 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 9/5/2018 18:31
cYanmaGentaYellowbla
The Guardian Thursday 10 May 2018
?
12
Puzzles
Yesterday?s
solutions
Killer Sudoku
Codeword
Easy
Each letter of the alphabet makes at least one appearance in the grid,
and is represented by the same number wherever it appears. The letters
decoded should help you to identify other letters and words in the grid.
Killer Sudoku
Easy
The normal rules of
Sudoku apply: fill each
row, column and 3x3 box
with all the numbers from
1 to 9. In addition, the
digits in each inner shape
(marked by dots) must
add up to the number in
the top corner of that box.
No digit can be repeated
within an inner shape.
Medium
Medium
Codeword
Cryptic crossword
Solution No. 27,504
C OM P A D R E S O C C AM
A A N E E P O U
R E F I T QUANTOC K S
C I
I U R
O T
ADO PH I L I P P I NE S
S S R T N E U E
E P I SODE GAROT T E
T
C
CUC KOL D J OHNSON
H A N E A L H A
EXPOSTFACTO AL I
D S
I O R M V
D I T H Y R AMB AMA Z E
A A E N I T N T
R E N EW T E NN E S S E E
Guardian cryptic crossword No 27,505 set by Picaroon
1
2
3
4
5
6
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
24
23
25
26
Stuck? For help call 0906�0��.
Calls cost �10 per minute, plus your
phone company?s access charge.
Service爏upplied by ATS.
Call�30�3�46 for customer
service�(charged at standard rate).
Want more? Get access to more than
4,000 puzzles at theguardian.com/
crossword. To buy puzzle books, visit
guardianbookshop.com or call
0330�3�46.
7
27
Across
1 PM once ditching head of state in
Barnet (6)
4 Retiring soldiers work with
country prone to infiltration (6)
9 Drug that doesn?t work for man?
(4)
10 Medical substitute aces academic
assignment (10)
11 Information on length for
supporting beam (6)
12,21 What makes daughter a palace
attraction? (8,3,5)
13 American rockers make time for
artist (9)
15 Coat?s wrapped round figure (4)
16 Billionaire?s acquired island (4)
17 A feature film?s about manual
worker (9)
21 See 12
22 Works out riddle, having
succeeded finally (6)
24 Doing without six-pack, having
drunk 9 etc (10)
25 Rounds with ham, more
sandwiches (4)
26 Slightly tight clothing for damsel
in order to go around (6)
27 Good God! This is a bit of a pig (6)
Down
1 Bully?s horrible nature, one
admitted? (7)
2 Addle-pated or highly able? (5)
3 Star?s sleeveless garment lifted
completely (7)
5 Cost of no longer popular piece
of music (6)
6 After a few balls, berobed queen?s
running wild (9)
7 Penny wearing Eve?s top? (7)
8 Killer arrested by lawman,
getting sudden comedown (6,7)
14 Missing king to get dubbed
ignorant (9)
16 People wearing religious clothing
(7)
18 High tea during hard period for
concubine (7)
19 Fifty Shades-type behaviour an
unwelcome sight in the bedroom
(7)
20 Lascivious, heartless church
bigwig (6)
23 Signal recalling marines (5)
r,燽ut in the home. My grandmother kept a
statue爋f the Sacred燞eart in her kitchen, and used
it for爃er爏pare爀lastic bands: if she?d been granny to
Gaultier, Galliano or Balenciaga, imagine what that
might have inspired.
Something else is evident about the designers
chosen for the Met?s show: their imaginations were
fired by the church, but mostly they are lapsed
Catholics. If lapsed Catholics I know are typical, it?s
more likely that the designers are horrified by the
church?s record on abuse and find its approach to sex,
and especially to gay people, too rigid. Dolan and Pope
Francis need to think hard about why, for so many
brought up Catholic, the church means nostalgia for
the past, rather than a guiding light for the present.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:5 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 10 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:40
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
?
5
Soft Brexit can
happen. Thank
the Lords
Martin
Kettle
N
ext week the EU withdrawal bill
finally emerges from the House
of Lords. The bill is now a very
different piece of legislation to the
one launched in the Commons
by David Davis last September. It
was significantly amended in the
Commons just before Christmas.
Now the Lords have fundamentally transformed it.
MPs must therefore decide what to do with the many
changes that the Lords have made. It will be the most
important few months of parliamentary activity in a
generation, perhaps more.
This week there have been some particularly
striking government defeats in the Lords. The first,
moved by the bishop of Leeds, would keep the UK as a
participant in EU agencies such as Europol. The second,
moved by the Duke of Wellington no less, removes the
government?s preferred Brexit date ? 29 March 2019 ?
from the bill.
The most wide-ranging, however, was the
amendment tabled by Labour?s Lord Alli to keep the UK
in the European Economic Area, which was passed on
Tuesday by a majority of 29, against the advice of both
major parties. This would put Britain in a relationship
with the EU that is comparable to that of Norway.
When the bill went through the Commons last
autumn, the one big defeat for Theresa May in the
Commons was Dominic Grieve?s amendment that, in
effect, requires parliament to vote to approve the final
withdrawal agreement. This remains a crunch issue, but
it is now joined by the 13 or so Lords amendments on
a wide range of other issues. These include continued
membership of the customs union in some form,
the adoption of the EU charter of fundamental rights
into domestic UK law, and Chris Patten?s amendment
ensuring that the UK and Ireland must agree any new
Irish border rules.
For parliament these are all very big questions,
on which there could be Commons majorities if MPs
were not forced to follow party lines. Coalitions
similar to the one that passed the Grieve amendment
could be assembled again. Don?t forget, also, that the
withdrawal bill is not the only Brexit-related legislation
currently under consideration in parliament (the
trade bill is particularly significant). And there is the
hugely significant possibility that any new bill on the
withdrawal terms could be defeated or amended.
May?s Brexit strategy is to hold the Tory party
together by withdrawing entirely from the EU, while
making serious practical compromises to maintain as
?frictionless? a relationship as possible with the EU.
Government defeats on crucial questions such as the
single market, the customs union or the Irish border
would overturn the entire strategy. Yet this is becoming
more likely now. May?s strategy worked for her first
months as prime minister. But the ?lost election? of 2017
and the fundamental differences among Conservative
MPs and ministers over Brexit issues that cannot be
permanently postponed mean its lifetime is now almost
spent. Labour?s caution on Brexit shows little sign of
changing, but there are enormous temptations for
Jeremy Corbyn to overcome his anti-EU instincts in
order to humiliate the government on at least some of
the Lords amendments.
This explains why May still acts as if she is hoping
that something unexpected will turn up. There is
now talk at Westminster of the Brexit bill votes being
delayed to the autumn, partly to avoid embarrassing
Commons defeats affecting the June EU summit at
which the future relationship will be discussed ? and
partly because Conservative rebels on both sides of the
argument might be more disciplined if the talks appear
to be nearing a successful conclusion.
It is hard to imagine that the Tory party?s Commons
discipline is about to collapse on every single issue
that the Lords have put on the table. Nevertheless, the
Tory soft Brexiters seem a bit bolder now. That is partly
because their numbers are gently creeping up ? and also
because, in the end, these moderate Tories feel they
have to fight harder now if they are to prevent their
party collapsing even further to the Ukip right.
That is why every disloyal provocation by
Boris燡ohnson or other ministers ? such as the foreign
secretary?s ?crazy? jibe this week ? acts as a recruiting
sergeant for the soft Brexiters. The coming weeks and
months may be their moment. A hung parliament
gives them the means. The slide to the right gives them
the motive. And now the Lords have given them their
opportunity. It will be a hot political summer.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:6 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:58
The Guardian Thursday 10 May 2018
?
6
Letters
Millennials need a fairer
society, not handouts
The Resolution Foundation?s
recommendation to give �,000
to all young people when
they turn 25 (Report, 8 May),
irrespective of income, may make
a small contribution to reducing
generational inequalities, but it
is also highly likely to increase
inequality. For those young
people who are already well off,
it will provide additional family
capital, by potentially reducing
the dependence on ?the bank
of mum and dad? for funding
accommodation and educational
and business opportunities, but at
the same time increase inequalities
between better-off and poorer
parents. Surely a simpler and
more equitable policy to meet the
changing income, housing, health
and social care needs of different
generations would be to introduce a
single progressive system of income
tax which incorporates inheritance
tax and replaces national insurance,
which overall has a regressive impact.
Prof Mike Stein
University Of York
? It is proposed that the ?citizen?s
inheritance? be funded by a change
in tax law such that all gifts and
inheritances up to �0k attract a
20% charge and any above �0k,
30%. The current regime levies
nothing on in-life gifts (provided
the giver lives for seven years more),
nothing on estates valued at less
than � and 40% thereafter. The
Resolution Foundation?s ostensible
benevolence towards millennials is
misguided in its approach, given that
it would move the tax burden away
from the richest in society and back
towards the masses, irrespective of
age. A cynic might even consider the
CBI?s stake in this plan to be indicative
of positive intent in this aim.
Richard Wayre
Ashford, Kent
? There is considerable evidence
that the following would be far
more effective in helping the young
achieve their aspirations: improving
access to universal and free highquality education and public
services; strengthening worker
protection; ensuring an adequate
supply of good accommodation
for rent and purchase by fixing and
regulating the housing market;
a progressive taxation/benefits
system and government initiatives
to stimulate the infrastructure
required for a sustainable, highproductivity economy. Other
countries do it ? why can?t we?
Brenda Allan
London
? Of course the relationship between
pensioners? benefits and the finances
of the struggling young are out of
kilter. When we bought our first
house in the early 1960s, in south
London, it cost two-and-a-half
times my salary as a junior local
government officer. Today that house
would cost someone in a similar job
over 20 times his/her salary.
Now, in our late eighties, my wife
and I enjoy free travel in London,
free medical prescriptions, a free TV
licence and a winter fuel allowance, all
Trump?s folly over the Iran deal
comes through loud and clear
Natalie Nougayr鑔e highlights
the most prevalent manifestation
of the debasement of democracy
through the ages, namely that of
the invariably male, loud, rude and
hectoring voice which threatens
to destroy truth and silence
others (As the Iran crisis looms,
prepare for a battle over facts,
9 May). Little wonder the effect
of angry male barracking was to
?intimidate other people in the
room? at Nougayr鑔e?s conference,
supporting the observation that
?Dialogue was not what those angry
men ? wanted?.
From Donald Trump shouting
down Hillary Clinton on the
campaign trail, Nigel Farage
flooding the EU debate with twisted
hysteria, to Jordan Peterson?s scorn
in the interview by Cathy Newman
on Channel 4 News, these are
voices爐hat must be challenged.
In response to Trump cancelling
US participation in the Iran deal,
Obama has reminded us ?Debates
in our country should be informed
by facts?. This is what the blusterers
hate the most and will always seek
to silence should we fail to defend
democratic debate at all times.
Nick Mayer
Southampton
? The collapse of the Iran nuclear
deal means the US will now press
ahead with the full imposition of
sanctions on Iran. Such sanctions,
if implemented, will not only hurt
Iran; they will also hurt countries
that import Iranian oil.
Last time, India, for example, was
forced to reduce Iranian oil imports
from 12% to 9%. The cumulative
effect, coupled with the increase in
the international oil price, was to
push India?s GDP growth燿ownward.
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
of which must be worth at least �000
a year to the two of us. In addition
we no longer have deductions from
our pay for pension contributions or
DWP deductions, and we use the NHS
much more than in our youth. We
are amazed and embarrassed that we
don?t have to pay more tax ? at least on
the benefits we receive. It?s not fair.
John Howes
London
? For the Tories, a handout to
25-year-olds might seem an easy way
of capturing their votes but, from
the growing support for Momentum,
I think they?ll see through this. We
need a reversal of all the policies that
feed more wealth to the already rich ?
stop the attack on our social structure
and level the playing field for working
people. It will not be a five-minute fix.
Joan Green
Cambridge
? In the talk about evening things
out among the generations I have
yet to see a reference to the Child
Trust Fund, set up under Labour at
the start of this century, with exactly
that aim in mind, benefitting all
children born on or after 1燬eptember
2002. Grandparents were happy
to put additional amounts into the
savings accounts, partly because,
being a protected fund until the
child was 18, the money couldn?t
be diverted into general family
The foundation?s
approach would move
the tax burden away
from the richest and
back towards the masses
Richard Wayre
While the US may be right to
inflict sufficient economic pain
on average Iranians for them to
threaten the current regime?s
survival, what moral principle, if
any, is served by punishing citizens
of India, who are not even remotely
connected to the Iranian regime?
Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Essex
? Has Natalie Nougayr鑔e ever
considered the possibility that
it is not ?totalitarian systems?
but western governments and
corporations that deploy the most
expensive, sophisticated and
successful propaganda campaigns?
As the ?father of public relations?
Edward Bernays explained in his
1928 PR manual: ?The conscious
and intelligent manipulation of the
organized habits and opinions of
the爉asses is an important element
in democratic society.?
For example, last year Chatham
House?s Micah Zenko estimated
that爐he Pentagon spends
?nearly�$600m annually on public
relations? in an attempt ?to shape
finances. It changed national
behaviour by encouraging saving.
If only that had been continued,
instead of being abolished by
George Osborne in 2010. Yet another
example of Tory short-termism.
Sally Cheseldine
Edinburgh
? The best intergenerational
compensation would be the effective
cancellation of student fees debt.
This could be achieved by allowing
all those who have incurred student
fees to be able to offset a proportion
of those fees against their UK tax
bill for each year, with a comparable
adjustment for those taking other
qualifications. The rationale for
charging fees is false. If degree
holders do earn that extra �0,000
over their lifetime, then the Treasury
take (33% of total income for most
families ? including VAT etc) gives
a return to the taxpayer of �,000,
far爀xceeding the �,000 fees.
Peter Redman
Dorchester, Dorset
? After years of governments
deliberately creating austerity, we
now see the way out: tax the elderly,
thereby making them less financially
safe, despite their hardworking for
pensions, and the government can
walk away smiling. Disgusting.
Prebendary Neil Richardson
Braintree, Essex
? The only reason we are having a
debate about generational inequality
is because all public sector money
is disappearing down a plug hole
called PFI. We should not set one
generation against another when all
our true enemies are those ripping
off our public services, through
these awful deals Whitehall keeps
signing us all up to.
Nigel Boddy
Darlington, County Durham
public opinion?, while David
Miller, professor of sociology at
the University of Bath, recently
estimated there are likely over 5,000
people working on propaganda for
the British government.
Indeed Nougayr鑔e herself seems
to have fallen victim to the western
propaganda machine when she
asserted that President Obama has
?refrained from getting involved in
Syria? (Opinion, 11 August 2015) ,
noting ?the US has this year found
only 60 rebels it could vet for a
train-and-equip programme?. In the
real world a June 2015 Washington
Post report explained that the CIA?s
Timber Sycamore programme in
Syria ? ?one of the agency?s largest
covert operations? ? was spending
$1bn a year and had trained and
equipped 10,000 rebels.
Ian Sinclair
London
? This action by Trump could have
only been written by George Orwell.
Who is the enemy now?
Linda Karlsen
Whitstable, Kent
Free as
a燽ird
A lesser Antillean
bullfinch in
Martinique,
an overseas
department of
France in the
Lesser Antilles
in the eastern
Caribbean sea.
?It was shot
just next to
my shoulder,?
says C閏ile
Gaston-Carrere.
Taken爋n 2 April
C蒀ILE GASTONCARRERE/
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Teletubbies has vital
lessons for toddlers
Catherine Shoard has jumped on the
?malign influence of TV? bandwagon
(Is children?s TV raising a crop of
raving narcissists?, 7 May). Does she
really think that at 13 months her
son is an empty vessel waiting for TV
programmes to pour attitudes into
his head that will be fixed for life? I
suggest she takes a closer look at what
her son is actually doing as he watches
In the Night Garden and Teletubbies ?
both of which present extraordinary,
surreal worlds that stretch small
children?s imaginations and invite
repeated viewing. My research on
toddlers? viewing habits indicates
they invest immense amounts of
energy in learning how to make
sense of television: not just content,
but also the rules of storytelling and
genre. This is important learning and
we shouldn?t belittle it.
Dr Cary Bazalgette
London
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:7 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 10 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:58
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
?
7
? guardian.letters@theguardian.com
? @guardianletters
Corrections and
clarifications
? Leon Brittan, as home secretary,
arrived by the front door for his
controversial 1985 appearance at
the University of Manchester?s
student union ? not a back door as
an opinion piece said (Free-speech
warriors mistake student protest for
censorship, 7 May, page 3, Journal).
? With a piece about BP profits,
we爑sed a picture of a California
refinery said to be owned by BP.
The爋il company sold that site
in 2013 (Profits soar 71% at BP to
highest level since 2014, 2 May,
page�, early editions).
Editorial complaints and corrections can be sent to
guardian.readers@theguardian.com or The readers? editor,
King?s Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU.
Here?s to Stockport?s
unsung attractions
I read with interest Dave Simpson?s
review (7 May) of Blossoms? concert
at The Plaza in Stockport, but was
dismayed my beloved Stockport
County FC were described as
?struggling?, coupled with hints that
us Stopfordians have little to sing
about. Fifth place in the National
League North, home to the largest
brick-built structure, along with
the only museum dedicated to the
hat爄ndustry, in the UK, the birthplace
of Fred Perry, not forgetting the
legendary Strawberry Studios.
Tony Ranells
Hampton Hill, Middlesex
Schools must teach
art, for all our sakes
Like many people, I view the
exclusion of arts subjects from
the爊ew English baccalaureate
(Report, 9 May) as a major step
backwards in our education
system. In my first 18 years, living
outside Swansea, access to musical
training was limited. A violinist
gave optional lessons in my
grammar school. In charge of the
local youth orchestra, the county
music adviser couldn?t read a score
and conducted from a violin part,
leaving me, at the piano, to hold
the ensemble together. Succeeding
decades saw all that replaced by
widespread professional training
in music for youngsters, so that
our爕outh orchestras became the
envy of the world.
The arts are an essential basis
for the development of a civilised
society. After graduating in music
from university, I taught music in
art schools and a polytechnic, under
the umbrella of so-called ?liberal
studies?. This gave students a
special new dimension to their lives:
a few opted for careers in music. Far
from being cut, the arts should be
more extensively taught, with young
people encouraged to cultivate
them. Their lives and relationships
will be greatly enriched as a result.
Meirion Bowen
London
? George Monbiot (Opinion, 15
February 2017) made the point that
those seeking jobs in future must
be as unlike machines as possible:
creative, critical and socially
skilled, and that teaching children
the skills required by robots can
only lead to redundancy. Most
of the subjects covered by Ebacc
(maths, the sciences, geography or
history and languages) are those
in which computers increasingly
excel. We need a complete review of
educational policy, as the artists said
in their letter (9 May).
Dr Richard Turner
Beverley, East Yorkshire
Ideas way above
their station
Who on earth were those 92% who
so admired the rebuilt Reading and
Birmingham New Street railway
stations (Glasgow Queen Street and
Gatwick top poll of Britain?s worst
stations, 7 May)? The concourse at
Reading ? the only place you can get
coffee ? is a freezing wind tunnel as
the external doors are located so they
provide a constant through draught.
Last time I was changing there I had
to leave the station to use a town cafe
so as to avoid freezing. As for New
Street, the new look incorporates
red, blue and yellow lounges ? since
when has it been an airport ? and
because the various areas do not
always link up I find the layout
baffling despite the fact I have been
using this station since childhood.
Stations should not be places whose
prime purpose is retail therapy.
Maureen Panton
Malvern, Worcestershire
? Your editorial (8 May) wonders
?whether a truly radical operatic
storyline would foreground women?s
agency. And let the characters walk
away, alive, at the end?. Beethoven
did just that in his only opera, Fidelio
? though most productions leave out
the bit at the end where Leonore walks
away from an explosion at the prison.
Derrick Cameron
Stoke-on-Trent
? In a stunning victory for trade
union activism and justice, the sacked
workers at the Royal Opera House
(Letters, 24 March) have all been
reinstated. The Cleaners and Allied
Independent Workers Union is an
inspiration to workers everywhere.
Bill Hawkes
Canterbury, Kent
? The ?thing? about predictive
texting, Brendan Kelly, is that it learns
from the user?s own word usage
(Letters, 9 May). Your mother may
know this too?
Danielle Lowy
Manchester
? My email address, which starts
Geri, is automatically corrected to
Geriatric. A reflection on my great
age, I suppose.
Geraldine Blake
Worthing, West Sussex
Established 1906
Country diary
Sandy,
Bedfordshire
A pond skater?s feet feel prey
landing on the drumskin-tight
surface of the water. Just how can
this skater skate on thin ?ice? while
a fly the size of its eye falls through?
Though the fly tries to drag its legs
free, surface tension binds it to a
sheet of elastic glue.
I lean forward and the skater
darts away in a series of fitful
starts.燗 water measurer beneath
my gaze stays put at the pond?s
edge. An aquatic stick insect,
Hydrometra stagnorum could
easily燽e mistaken for a strand of
dark human hair.
My eyes are just a爃andspan
away, so I can observe the
detail爋f燼lternating light and dark
strips along its abdomen, which
remind me of a ruler. However,
it gets its name from the爓ay it
walks爋ver the surface with a
measured tread.
A movement under the water
draws my attention. A blob of a
beetle, a black pinhead in motion,
bustles about on an important
errand. At a more leisurely
slide, a爐ype of flatworm called a
planarian, looking like an ironedout tadpole, is oozing by.
It meets a grazing ramshorn
snail燼 hundred times bigger,
slithers up its face and begins to
coil itself around one of the snail?s
eye stalks, grazing the grazer.
The爏nail bats an eye, still waving
its tentacles as if unencumbered
by the爌lanarian, which can only
maintain a loose coil, at that
moment resembling a curl of
grated爉ilk chocolate.
Deeper below, I spot a cyclops,
a lifeform so small I can only
see its shape, a dot with a tail,
jerking爀rratically.
I am being eyeballed by a
newt.燭here are times when a
newt爁licks its tail with fishy grace.
And there are others when it
bobs up like a long-bodied frog.
This one爂ives me a pop-eyed
amphibian爏tare and I look into its
inscrutable orbs.
The fingers of its weedy arms,
held out crab-like, stroke the
duckweed. And then, with a
quick,燿eft twist of its head and
a body thrust, the carnivorous
newt爏hoots off. I look again to
rescue the fly, but it has vanished.
I爓onder where.
Derek Niemann
Twitter: @gdncountrydiary
ILLUSTRATION: CLIFFORD HARPER
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:8 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:54
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
The Guardian Thursday 10 May 2018
?
8
Obituaries
? obituaries@theguardian.com
? @guardianobits
Birthdays
Ronald Chesney
Writer behind decades of
TV hits including The Rag
Trade and On the Buses
R
onald Chesney,
who has died aged
97, was one half
of a comedy duo
known as ?the
two Ronnies?
before Barker and
Corbett launched
themselves as a TV double act with
that name. Chesney and Ronald
Wolfe worked behind the cameras,
scripting two of the most popular
sitcoms of all time, The Rag Trade
and On the Buses, both set in
the workplace and with a bawdy
humour not always appreciated by
TV critics but lapped up by millions
of viewers. Chesney also had the
distinction of being Britain?s most
famous harmonica player in the
years after the second world war.
?Everybody out!? was the
catchphrase from Fenner Fashions?
militant shop steward Paddy,
played by Miriam Karlin, in The
Rag Trade (1961-63). It caught the
imagination of a nation that was
putting the austerity of the war
years behind it and beginning to
question the establishment.
Paddy was pitted against the
dressmaking workshop boss,
On the Buses,
above, regularly
attracted up
to 20 million
viewers over its
73 episodes.
Below, Chesney
was also
a virtuoso
harmonica
player
Mr Fenner (Peter Jones), and his
foreman, Reg (Reg Varney), while
the seamstresses ? played by a cast
that included Barbara Windsor and
Sheila Hancock ? had all the best putdowns. Karlin and Jones reprised
their roles for a popular but shortlived revival a decade later (1977-78).
By then, Chesney and Wolfe
had enjoyed even bigger success
with On the Buses (1969-73), which
regularly attracted up to 20 million
viewers over its 73 episodes and
seven series. ?Get that bus out!? was
one of several catchphrases uttered
by Stephen Lewis as Inspector
Blake, trying to keep the Luxton Bus
Company on the road.
Varney starred as Stan Butler,
chirpy driver of the No 11, with
Bob Grant as his conductor, Jack,
and both spent much of their time
chatting up women. ?I ?ate you? and
?I?ve got you this time, Butler!? was
how the miserable Blakey reacted to
the various goings-on.
The sitcom?s popularity led to
three spin-off films, On the Buses
(1971) ? the British box office?s hit of
the year ? Mutiny on the Buses (1972)
and Holiday on the Buses (1973),
all of which Chesney and Wolfe
produced. Its format was sold to the
US as Lotsa Luck (1973-74).
Chesney was born Ren� Cadier in
London to French parents, Marius, a
silk trader, and Jeanne (nee Basset).
His career choice was influenced by
a toy mouth organ in his Christmas
stocking one year, along with
hearing Larry Adler playing the
chromatic harmonica.
On leaving the French Lyc閑
school, London, at 16, he became
a professional harmonica player,
anglicising his name to Ronald
Chesney, and established himself
as a virtuoso when he toured ABC
cinemas to perform between films.
He made his radio debut on the BBC
National Programme?s Palace of
Varieties in 1937 and played in many
other shows, eventually combining
classical music with Gershwin, Cole
Porter and even boogie.
Exempted from serving during
the second world war after having
a TB-infected kidney removed,
Chesney instead taught musical
skills to the troops and other
listeners in the radio programme
Let?s Play the Mouth-Organ (1940).
His own show followed in 1941 and
1947, along with lengthy runs in the
radio series Variety Band-Box (194451) and Workers? Playtime (1949-56).
He performed in concerts around the
world and released records.
While providing musical
interludes with his ?talking
harmonica? during the entire run of
the radio comedy Educating Archie
(1950-60), Chesney met Wolfe, who
joined the show as a scriptwriter in
1955. Along with Marty Feldman,
they wrote for the final two series, as
well as a TV version (1958-59).
When Feldman left to team up
Dennis
Bergkamp,
footballer and
coach, 49;
Donovan, singersongwriter and
poet, 72; Sly
Dunbar, musician
and producer,
66; Jonathan
Edwards, athlete
and broadcaster,
52; Diarmuid
Gavin, gardener
and broadcaster,
54; Sir Chris
Gent, former
chief executive,
Vodafone, 70;
Bono, singer, 58;
Oliver Jeffers,
writer and
illustrator, 41;
Alex Jennings,
actor, 61;
Adam Lallana,
footballer, 30;
Lady Lucinda
Lambton, writer,
broadcaster and
photographer,
75; Maureen
Lipman, actor,
72; Al Murray,
comedian,
50; Sally
Phillips, actor,
48; Timothy
Robinson, tenor,
54; Manuel
Santana, tennis
player, 80;
Barbara Taylor
Bradford, author,
85; Venetia
Williams,
racehorse
trainer,�.
with Barry Took, Chesney and Wolfe
continued together ? Chesney giving
up his career as a harmonica player
? and created the 1961 radio sitcom
It?s a Deal, starring Sid James as a
bungling property developer.
The Rag Trade began 20 years
of hit comedies for the pair on
television: Meet the Wife (1963-66),
starring Thora Hird; The Bed-Sit
Girl (1965-66), with Sheila Hancock;
Sorry I?m Single (1967), featuring
Derek Nimmo; Wild, Wild Women
(1968-69), including Windsor and
Pat Coombs; Arthur Mullard and
Queenie Watts in a caravan in
Romany Jones (1972-75), then in a
council house in Yus My Dear (1976);
Lewis?s Blakey from On the Buses
retiring to Spain in Don?t Drink the
Water (1974-75); and John Inman in
Take a Letter Mr Jones (1981).
They also wrote a 1989 episode of
?Allo ?Allo, and Fredrikssons Fabrikk
(1990-93), the Norwegian television
version of The Rag Trade, as well as
its 1994 film spin-off.
Chesney is survived by his wife,
Patricia (nee Martin), whom he
married in 1947, and their children,
Marianne and Michael.
Anthony Hayward
Ronald Chesney (Ren� Lucien Cadier),
writer and harmonica player, born
4燤ay 1920; died 12 April 2018
Announcements
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:9 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 10 May 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:51
?
The long read
I
ILLUSTRATION:
LEE MARTIN/
GUARDIAN DESIGN
cYanmaGentaYellowblac
f you have been wearing glasses for years, like me,
it can be surprising to discover that you perceive
the world thanks to a few giant companies that
you have never heard of. Worrying about the
fraying edge of motorway lights at night, or
words that slide on the page, and occasionally
spending a fortune at the opticians is, for many
of爑s, enough to think about. And spectacles are
unusual things. It is hard to think of another object in our
society which is both a medical device that you don?t
want and a fashion accessory which you do.
Buying them, in my experience anyway, is a fraught,
somewhat exciting exercise that starts in a darkened
room, where you contemplate the blurred letters and the
degeneration of your visual cortex, and ends in a bright,
gallery-like space where you enjoy the spry feel of acetate
in your fingers, listen to what you are told, pay more than
you were expecting to, and look forward to inhabiting
a爊ew, slightly sharper version of your existing self.
The $100bn (�bn) eyewear industry is built on
feelings such as this. In the trade, the choreography that
takes you from the consulting room to the enticing, barebrick display of �0 frames is known as ?romancing the
product?. The number of eye tests that turn into sales is
the ?capture rate?, which most opticians in Britain set at
around 60%. During the 20th century, the eyewear
business worked hard to transform a physical deficiency
into a statement of style. In the process, optical retailers
learned the strange fact that for something that costs
only a few pounds to make (even top-of-the-range
frames and lenses cost, combined, no more than about
� to produce), we are happy, happier in fact, when
paying 10 or 20 times that amount. ?The margins,? as one
veteran of the sector told me carefully, ?are outrageous.?
The co-founder of Specsavers, May Perkins, is Britain?s
first self-made female billionaire.
Almost everyone wears glasses at some point in their
lives. In developed countries, the rule of thumb is that
around 70% of adults need corrective lenses to see well.
In Britain, that translates to some 35 million people. But
it?s hardly a topic of national conversation. To the casual
observer, the optical market also presents a busy and
confusing sight. In Britain, thousands of independent
opticians rub alongside a few big retail chains such as
Specsavers, Vision Express and Boots. The wall displays
in even a small optician hold several hundred frames,
while posters advertise a range of lenses with scienceysounding properties ? ?freeform?, ?photo-fusion?,
?reflex vision? ? and names so bland they are hard to
remember even when you are looking straight at them.
But what we see masks the underlying structure of the
global eyewear business. Over the last generation, just
two companies have risen above all the rest to dominate
the industry. The lenses in my glasses ? and yours too,
most likely ? are made by Essilor, a French multinational
that controls almost half of the world?s prescription lens
business and has acquired more than�0 other
companies in the past 20 years.
There is a good chance, meanwhile, that your frames
are made by Luxottica, an Italian company with an
unparalleled combination of factories, designer labels
and retail outlets. Luxottica pioneered the use of luxury
brands in the optical business, and one of the many
powerful functions of names such as Ray-Ban (which is
owned by Luxottica) or Vogue (which is owned by Luxottica) or Prada (whose glasses are made by Luxottica) or
Oliver Peoples (which is owned by Luxottica) or highstreet outlets such as LensCrafters, the largest optical
retailer in the US (which is owned by Luxottica), or John
Lewis Opticians in the UK (which is run by Luxottica), or
Sunglass Hut (which is owned by Luxottica) is to make
the marketplace feel more varied than it actually is.
Between them, Essilor and Luxottica play a central,
intimate role in the lives of a remarkable number of
people. Around 1.4 billion of us rely on their products to
drive to work, read on the beach, follow the board in
lessons, type text messages to our grandchildren, land
aircraft, watch old movies, write dissertations and glance
across restaurants, hoping to look slightly more intelligent and interesting than we actually are. Last year, the
two companies had a combined customer base that is
somewhere between Apple?s and Facebook?s, but with
none of the hassle and scrutiny of being as well known.
Now they are becoming one. On 1 March, regulators
in爐he EU and the US gave permission for them to
form燼爏ingle corporation, which will be known as
EssilorLuxottica. The new firm will not technically be
a爉onopoly: Essilor currently has around 45% of the
prescription lenses market, and Luxottica 25% of the
frames. But in seven centuries of spectacles, there has
never been anything like it. The new entity will be worth
around $50bn (�bn), sell close to a billion pairs of
lenses and frames every year, and have a workforce of
You?ve been framed
How one company came to dominate the way
the爓hole world sees. By Sam Knight
9
more than 140,000 people. EssilorLuxottica intends
to燿ominate what its executives call ?the visual
experience? for decades to come.
The creation of EssilorLuxottica is a big deal. It will
have knock-on consequences for opticians and eyewear
manufacturers from Hong Kong to Peru. But it is also a
response to an unprecedented moment in the story of
human vision ? namely, the accelerating degradation of
our eyes. For several thousand years, human beings
have lived in more or less advanced societies, reading,
writing and doing business with one another, mostly
without the aid of glasses. But that is coming to an end.
No one is exactly sure what it is about early 21st-century
urban living ? the time we spend indoors, the screens,
LED lighting, or ageing populations ? but across the
world, we are becoming a species wearing lenses. The
need varies depending where you go, because different
populations have different genetic predispositions to
poor eyesight, but it is there, and growing. In Nigeria,
around 90 million people, or half the population, are
now thought to need corrective eyewear.
There are actually two things going on. The first is
a爈argely unreported global epidemic of myopia, or
shortsightedness, which has doubled among young
people within a generation. For a long time, scientists
thought myopia was primarily determined
by our genes. But about 10 years ago, it
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:10 Edition Date:180510 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 9/5/2018 17:52
?
10
became clear that the way children were growing up
was harming their eyesight, too. The effect is starkest in
east Asia, where myopia has燼lways been more
common, but the rate of increase has been uniform,
more or less, across the world.
At the same time, across the developing world, a
slower and more complex process is underway, as populations age and urbanise and move in
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