The Loop: Home, cones and brainy sports
- 15 November 2013
Welcome to The Loop, the Magazine's letters column, including the best of your thoughts from Twitter and Facebook.
Going home can be difficult, especially when one's notions of where home is change. This was the message behind the comics journalism tale of Amiir and family which the Magazine ran this week. Amiir fled with his wife and children from Somalia to Norway in 1991, but as the family grew up he wanted to take them back to his homeland. The children didn't like it. Amiir concluded: "When I looked at my children, I saw for the first time that Somali or not, their true home is here in Norway. For a while I felt as though I had made a great mistake, raising them this way. As though I had somehow lost them or given them up to another parent..."
The story certainly hit a chord with many readers who have been in similar positions. Rudra V Kapila tweeted: Love this!! Think my Dad and I can totally relate." Ann-Marie Foster added that the tale was "for immigrants and emigrants everywhere".
But that wasn't the only view. Reader Dan Pearce wrote on the BBC News Facebook page: "Load of lefty nonsense." Derek Benson agreed, saying: "Dear, oh dear, more BBC politically-correct twaddle." Meriel Green countered, adding: "Implying that immigrants have hopes and dreams and love their families is considered 'lefty nonsense' now?"
BBCTrending, our new blog which looks at stories behind trends in social media, has been having a busy week, examining the story of Batman Bin Suparman, as well as attitudes in China towards the Philippines. One story which was particularly intriguing was a video of homeless American man Jim Wolf in which he was given a makeover. There have been other similar examples of money pouring in for rough sleepers whose plight was highlighted.
What is it about homelessness which makes such rich material for social media, Trending asked. One of the people it spoke to was Alastair Murray of charity Housing Justice, who said the video reminds the audience they too could lose a job, a home, and a stable life, and transforms Wolf from someone who could make you feel awkward into a person with whom you'd be happy to have a chat.
One altered appearance that hasn't been so widely welcomed is the Duke of Wellington statue in Glasgow, which has been forcibly behatted with a traffic cone so many times that the council is trying to think of ways to, well, put a lid on it. Our article looked at why people did this and traced the custom back to Ancient Rome. "Why do people put traffic cones on statues? Because it's really funny," emailed Jon Partington from Mold in Flintshire, adding: "I laughed all the way through your article." R Barnes noted that the statue in Glasgow "has had a cone on it for so long nobody can recall what it looks like without."
As a touching aside, Henry Sunderland from Christchurch in New Zealand says his city has become the road cone capital of the world since the earthquakes of February 2011. Each year people put flowers in all the roadcones in Christchurch, he says, as a gesture of remembrance.
Our 10 reasons why chess will never become a mass spectator sport provoked a flurry of emails. The real reason is that most people understand muscles not minds, says John Graham in Hoogstraten, Belgium. Don't tell that to Sanket Korgaonkar from Olathe in Kansas, US. Fresh from a 3.30am alarm call to watch the world championship final, Sanket emailed to say: "I never expect chess to become spectator sport or being diluted by 20/20 - we don't need to appeal to the lowest common denominator. If the layman wants to understand chess, well ... go study. Chess takes a ton of calibre, character, courage and presence of mind - and I take a certain comfort and pride in being one of the people to understand the finer points of a chess game. It separates you from the layman!! We love it that way!"
"In the 1970s and 80s, The Master Game was a very popular international chess tournament that was shown on BBC2," recalls Sandy Ruxton, Oxford. "A unique feature was that the players explained their thoughts during the game after it was finished. If chess is not a spectator sport, how come this show survived for so long - and some of the series have recently been re-released? It's high time for a new series for a new generation of chess players."
So there, Mr Graham.
H Golding in Dorking calls for a celebration of all "cerebral sports". A recent competitor in the World Sudoku Championships and the World Puzzle Championships, Golding says the finals were thrilling, and televised by the host city, Beijing, but not given a mention in the British press.
Consider that rectified.