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15:27 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2007

How about printing some letters that don't either (a) offer some trivial mis-reading of a news headline, or (b) end with the self-styled humourist offering to get his coat?
Clothilde Simon, Leeds

Gertrude Himmelfarb [in answer to Friday's Paper Monitor ] is the fierce advocate of social justice and old-fashioned morality who Gordon Brown admires (enough to have written the preface to her new book, according to the Indy). Therefore I reckon the reference to Gray's Elegy is Bagehot saying that Gordon Brown may actually do something to improve social policy and "spread opportunity fairly", in contrast to all those who have had the potential to be as Himmelfarb is, but remained "mute, inglorious" and never actually did it.
Mat, London

The phrase "mute inglorious" comes from Thomas Gray's "Elegy written in a Country Churchyard", referring to Milton's grave. Milton Himmelfarb was a respected Jewish-American sociologist, and his sister - Gertrude Himmelfarb - is known as the "Queen Bee of Neoconservatism". Gordon Brown is a big fan of Gertrude, and in particular her views on the need for a compassionate, redistributive element to politics (hence the reference to Brown's desire to "spread opportunity more fairly").
Rob Stanton, Kenilworth, UK

The position adopted by Jeff Powell [Friday's Paper Monitor ] is not necessarily contradictory. Ill-advised though his comment may have been last year, he has seen the error of his ways and now looks to the frozen bacteria on Mars to lead England to victory in the 2010 World Cup.
Nick Jones, Dorking

Times must indeed be tough for Guinness: judging by the cover of the Radio Times this week it looks as though Guinness have roped in the Queen to a spot of advertising for them.
Paul Davidson, Edinburgh

Proof that Britain is multicultural: A sign on my local butcher's shop saying "get your Halal turkeys in time for Christmas".
George, Manchester, UK

"We need to change attitudes towards condom use. It should be clunk clip every trip." I have absolutely no idea how Professor Borriello is putting on a condom but it doesn't sound like the proper way.
Basil Long, Newark Notts

James Spencer [Thursday's letters]: 300 billion stars per solar system? I find this a bit unlikely. I'd say the number you want is, on average, slightly more than 1. Or possibly you were after "galaxies".
Ben Jones, Kilburn NW2

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