The Loop: Clint meets Heimlich

Clint Eastwood Image copyright Getty Images

Welcome to The Loop, the Magazine's letters column, including the best of your thoughts from Twitter and Facebook.

The story that garnered the biggest response from our readers this week was the Who, What, Why: How easy is it to do the Heimlich manoeuvre? We asked Winston Marshall from St John Ambulance to demonstrate it after Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood was credited with saving the life of another man who was choking on a piece of cheese.

"Well done Clint, after 38 years in ER work you are the only person I have known to have been successful with this manoeuvre. Can I come and dine next to you from now on please," asked Anthony Humes from Karaoglanoglu - which is in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus. Go ahead Clint, make his day.

But Robin Dahling in Beijing said that as a medic for over 10 years, he was "shocked" to see the suggestion to slap someone on the back. He explained that this may dislodge a partial obstruction and make it a "complete obstruction, which is worse". "It is one of the first things we're told NOT to do when learning this procedure, but it may be the difference between Canadian and British first aid practices," he wrote.

Now don't try this at home. "Whilst on holiday in the south of France I thought it would be a good idea to try and swallow a peach stone having seen a performer ingest snooker balls on Britain's Got Talent," writes Alistair from Bury St Edmunds. "Needless to say it became stuck in my throat and was a really scary experience. There was nobody in the house able to drive, and it was only because my friend knew how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre that we managed to dislodge the peach stone."

Brenda Millington from Chertsey reckons everyone should be taught the manoeuvre - although it might help if it were given an easier name. "My life was saved by a friend at a party. As I was choking, I was aware of everyone running about shouting different advice." She says she managed to gasp the name of her friend because she would know what to do. "She immediately performed this on me and dislodged the food. My advice - do not eat, drink and talk at the same time." Noted.

Also this week, we asked 10 leading historians to give us their views on who started World War One. Sir Richard J Evans, regius professor of history, University of Cambridge, said Serbia, while Dr Heather Jones - associate professor in international history, LSE, named a number of powers - Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia. Gerhard Hirschfeld - professor of modern and contemporary history, University of Stuttgart put the blame on Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France, Britain and Serbia.

"Who cares," said Jamie-Mark Foster. "Let's remember our dead, and move on."

Beavers. Some love them, some hate them. On Monday, we asked whether reintroducing beavers would prevent flooding.

Image copyright Thinkstock

Rob Morton was enthusiastic about the idea: "They keep water upstream longer which raises the water table helping there and delaying floods downstream," he wrote. "Exactly the opposite of the national river authority's policy of dredging and straightening rivers and building on the flood plains, causing flooding downstream and the misery we see today."

But S Rowe from London saw this as a bad, bad idea. "Anyone seriously thinking about introducing beavers back into the UK without strict controls over their spread should look at what has happened in Tierra del Fuego in the past 60 years. Increasing devastation and a problem that has become too big to eradicate."

Image copyright Thinkstock

Re Tierra del Fuego and beavers - a quick search on the BBC News website brought up this piece with a headline evoking a calamity of Biblical proportions: "Argentina's great beaver plague".

From beavers to seagulls - and sardines. Last weekend controversial US actor Shia LaBeouf stormed out of a news conference after quoting footballer Eric Cantona's comment about seagulls and fish. Magazine asked: "Why is this baffling line about sardines so well remembered?"

Two clearly irked readers replied: "Why do you insist on referring to Eric Cantona's comment as mysterious? It is obvious what he was saying and is mysterious only if uneducated. To suggest otherwise is a ploy to make him seem unhinged rather than creative," spluttered Kevin Moloney from Maidstone.

John Bains from Warrington added: "Could never understand what the mystery was about the trawler sentence. He was simply telling the journalists that they were there, waiting for him to give a "bon mot".

Au revoir et merci pour tous les poissons.

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