JULIAN COLE’S column (The Press, December 13) on the tragic consequences of the hospital phone call hoax is a balanced and sensible analysis.

He is right that the two Australian DJs cannot have foreseen the consequences of their prank.

As is so often the case when extraordinary things occur, it is the result of converging circumstances. Like many plane crashes, it is a lot of things coming together that cause the disaster.

There were lots of “ifs” and the absence of any one of these would have changed events. If the duchess was not pregnant the situation would never have arisen. If she did not suffer sickness she would not have been in hospital.

The lesson to be learned is contained in the old Phil Ochs song: there but for fortune go you or I.

Matthew Laverack, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York.


• IN REPLY to David Quarrie’s letter about nurse Jacintha Saldanha (Letters, December 12), I would like to point out how important “face” is to people from the east.

During 15 years of service as an engineer in the Merchant Navy, I sailed mainly on Indian and Pakistani-crewed ships and got a great understanding of the importance of “face”.

On one of my first voyages, I had cause to give the engine room Serang (a British equivalent would be a bosun) a dressing-down for not carrying out a task to my satisfaction.

Due to my inexperience I made the grave mistake of reprimanding the Serang in front of his men. Luckily, I realised very quickly that I had committed an incredible gaffe and was able to turn the whole thing into a joke which caused the Serang not to lose face.

We in the west would have been mortally embarrassed at falling for such a childish prank (as this call was), but we wouldn’t have felt any loss of face.

Philip Roe, Roman Avenue South, Stamford Bridge, York.