With the use of powerful imagery in his words, Boris Johnson has rekindled the debate concerning burkas and face veils. I suspect many people share his views but this does not make Boris or others racists or Islamophobists.
If Caucasian women started to wear similar headgear, there would probably be a an outcry.
Young men wearing hoods which hide their faces create a feeling of unease. Instant thoughts could be “What are they up to or what are they hiding?”
Motorcyclists who wear all-over head helmets look like aliens from outer space. But they do it for safety reasons and I am sure that they are only too glad to take them off.
My point is that the disquiet is not related necessarily to race or religion, but to the basic psychology behind personal communication, although it may provide ammunition to groups with extremist agendas.
For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have developed sophisticated and complex means of communicating with one another, which puts them apart from other species.
In addition to sounds and words, body language is fundamental and the face, with all its multiplicity of expressions, plays a key part.
The eyes provide direct communication with other individuals.
The size of pupils can change depending upon situations, good or bad. The mouth can turn into smiles or snarls.
In turn they are both surrounded by facial muscles which, in combination, help to express friendship, happiness, sadness, anger and many other feelings.
Burkas and face veils hinder this process of personal communication.
Boris may have used inappropriate words in his article but he has certainly brought the controversy back into the limelight.
Let us now debate the issues openly and sensibly, but with sensitivity and tolerance to other people’s feelings.
How safe are smart meters?
You ran a recent article on the safety of smart meters, the contents of which are not entirely accurate.
All smart meters contain a supply switch which causes heat build-up within the meter at high loads.
Smart meters are rated at 100 amps and international practice is to fit an 80 amp fuse in order to prevent overheating but in the UK the fuse is not changed and is often rated at 100 amps. UK meters have to pass extra safety tests to ensure they can withstand 145 amps for two hours. (BS7856).
Today such high loads are uncommon but when electric vehicles become more popular, this situation will change.
Overheating meters may then become an issue.
The old Ferraris disk meters were made from Bakelite which is not flammable, smart meters are made from glass-filled plastics.
Some may not be self-extinguishing and could pose a fire risk if over-heated, particularly the plastic housing surrounding the switch.
The responsibility for the safety of the protection (fuse) lies with the networks company, the responsibility for fitting a smart meter lies with the energy supplier.
The energy supplier is not authorised to make any changes to the incoming fuse. The fuse may or may not be suitable to protect a smart meter.
Some houses are fitted with re-wireable fuses which do not provide adequate protection to a smart meter and hence present a fire hazard.
The networks company should be informed of any issues.
Experience with one meter manufacturer who failed to follow international standards saw customers having their supply cut off due to the failure of the switch. This left them without power until a new one could be fitted, this could have posed a safety risk for vulnerable customers.
Smart Energy Networks
Well done to youngsters
A massive congratulations to our Lancaster team who took part in the International Youth Games recently in Almere, near Amsterdam, in the scorching heat and came home with an armful of medals. Also special thanks to our cultural team which staged a stunning production of West Side Story. The Games are worth supporting as a way of building international friendships across Europe, particularly at this time!
Mayor of Lancaster
I am surprised that the current generation of feminists have not objected to being addressed as ‘guys’.
The Collins English Dictionary definition of guy – an informal noun for a man or youth. Should we, in support of women’s quest for equality, now call the men ‘gals’?
Mrs M Watkins
I have read the report on the death of Rachel and Shelby (LP August 8).
How can a six-year sentence be justice for the lost lives of these two young people? There is no deterrent in this sentence for anyone to not use their mobile phone while driving, an absolute disgrace.
Liz Boden via email