Brief letters: Yvonne Burney obituary | Italian CDs | Misuse of fortuitous | ‘Middle-class’ cords | Winter fuel allowance
Juliette Pattinson’s fascinating obituary of the remarkably courageous Yvonne Burney (11 November), the Special Operations Executive wireless operator who was parachuted into occupied France in 1944, played a key role in the resistance and survived imprisonment in Ravensbrück concentration camp, mentions that France awarded her the Croix de Guerre and made her a chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur. Britain deemed her worthy of nothing higher than the MBE. The defectiveness of the honours system evidently has deep roots.
• I too am grateful to the Guardian for inspiring me to learn a language (Letters, 8 November), Italian. Several years ago the Guardian gave away Michel Thomas’s Italian CDs which prompted me to stimulate my ageing brain by learning a new language. Many years later I am still learning. With the help of books and CDs augmented by an adult learning class with a brilliant and inspiring teacher at the Crieff Learning Centre of the University of Highlands and Islands.
• How pleasing to read Maslanka’s rant about “fulsome” (11 November). Please can we have a similar demolition of the misuse of “fortuitous”? English already has “fortunate” to mean “lucky”. “Fortuitous”, meaning “by chance” or “by coincidence”, is useful precisely because it stresses randomness, without implications of good or bad luck.
• Tory councillor Paul Warrick claims people on the World’s End estate wear “middle-class” cord trousers (People look down on us because of where we live, but we’re no different, 13 November). Presumably he’s never heard of charity shops.
Dr Brigid Purcell
• When I first received winter fuel allowance in 2008, it purchased 74.5 pints of bitter. Now it is only worth 57 pints. I trust the chancellor will prioritise this shortfall in his forthcoming budget.
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