LYCRA MOMENT: IT was interesting to read Sarah Foster's article, "Why I still love my Lycra", about Derrick Evans, more commonly known as Mr Motivator (Echo, Jan 9).

I remember him from the days when he made breakfast TV a hot favourite for housewives up and down the country, when he wore his Lycra garments while trying to get the nation into shape before venturing off to work.

As a joke, I once purchased yellow Lycra swimwear when I went on holiday to Greece, but I only wore the garment for one day, as I spent most of the morning beside the pool trying to chase away wasps. It appears that my only Lycra moment impressed nobody else but the summertime insects.

Since then, I have never tried to carry out poolside exercises on holiday in such tight luminous swimwear.

Christopher Wardell, Darlington.


RE your letter from E Reynolds on the subject of the hazard of airport fog (HAS, Dec 29).

Mr Reynolds refers to FIDO, a method of fog dispersal on wartime airfields, particularly Bomber Command.

The initials FIDO stood for Fog Investigation Dispersal Operation, but I have also heard the term he used (Fog Intensive Dispersal Of).

FIDO was first used on the night of November 19, 1943, when four Halifaxes from 35 Squadron landed safely landed at Graveley, near Huntingdon.

A total of 15 airfields were to use this system and, during the remainder of war, approximately 2,500 aircraft were able to land by this method.

Two other airfields using this system were Fiskerton, near Lincoln, and Woodbridge, near Ipswich, the latter saving 1,200 aircraft.

There was, however, a great cost to this because more than 100,000 gallons of fuel was burned in the "goosenecks" that were placed along the length of the runways.

Dennis Lawson, Wingate, Co Durham.

I AM indebted to Ken Walton, (HAS, Jan 9) for reinforcing the knowledge I already have about FIDO (fog dispersal system).

However, while I have always known of the success it had, I still don't know of its overall level of success. Was it successful in dispersing every type of fog, on every occasion, in all circumstances, or did it have a failure rate? If there was a failure rate, what was it?

Over the many years I have been involved in engineering and computing I haven't heard much about any development in using the FIDO principle, but I do know that research and experimentation is being done whereby fog and the flight deck crew can be taken out of the fogbound airport equation.

This, to me, seems to be a logical way to make progress because an aircraft, under remote-guided control, doesn't worry about fog when it is being brought down onto the runway, as long as the runway surface is good.

However, one area of uncertainty that still needs attention occurs when the aircraft is given back to the crew so that they can "plod" about taxiing and the other sort of things that they do when the aircraft is in their hands.

Eric Woodley, Billingham.


THERE are occasions when I am asked to write a character reference for someone seeking employment.

I am not aware that honesty is measured by degree, but I was asked to write a reference for someone who was described to me as fairly honest. I was unable to do so because I maintain that people are honest or dishonest.

Listening to the Prime Minister speaking on TV I hear him say: "I honestly believe". What about the other times when he speaks?

An analyst reviewing a football match broadcast on TV says: "Let's be honest". Are we to assume that what has been said previously was not said in honesty?

Ron Davies-Evans, Darlington.


APPROACHING my eighties, with mortality looming, I look rather despairingly at the state of our country and the conflicts raging around our rather sad world.

However, hope springs eternal and soon Tony Blair and then George Bush will have departed the political scene, not before time.

For the last decade, they have sought to impose their vision of the Middle East on a largely apathetic populace.

Domestically, the situation is a bit better, but still leaves a lot to be desired.

With a new president in the US and a new Prime Minister, hopefully we will see an enlightened approach to the problems which afflict us.

Hugh Pender, Darlington.


IT would seem Bernard McCormick thinks Tony Blair is a hero to the Labour Party (HAS, Jan 9).

Why are so many Labour MPs who represent marginal constituencies running scared because of the decline in party activists and supporters?

He's carried on the run-everything-down policies that the Conservatives had been operating before the Labour Party won in 1997, throwing money at everything his business friends have asked him to support to maintain their profit margins.

The latest hit for our region is the announcement that the recently-built Bishop Auckland General Hospital is to close a ward with the loss of 15 nursing jobs (Echo, Jan 9) but the people involved in its construction will still be taking their share of the profits.

The strong Blairite, Ruth Kelly, is a prime example of Tony Blair and his New Labour policies, as are all cabinet ministers, which appear to follow the line "what's right for the country may not be right for us", as seen with her stance on education.

So, please Mr McCormick, stop telling us that Tony is a good guy because we know he isn't.

Peter Dolan, Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham.


EDUCATION, education, education and tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime are but two of the vacuous soundbites of this cynical, sarcastic and hypocritical Government.

The education system for not only mainstream pupils but for those who require special needs has been placed into disarray over the past ten years by politicians who, contrary to promises, have destroyed it.

They can buy their way out for their own children - Tony Blair, Harriet Harman and Ruth Kelly, to name but three - but those they treat with contempt cannot afford to do so.

Mr Blair wants to leave a legacy. Indeed, he leaves many lies on Iraq, dodgy dossiers, a health service presided over by bureaucrats, a criminal justice system in complete meltdown (is your neighbour a convict on the run? You don't know, neither does the Home Office).

While not of that ilk, true Labour supporters must shudder at this current debacle. In fact, to quote "Wor Tony", things can only get better.

Colin Mortimer, Pity Me, Durham City.


RE your story about English Heritage having withdrawn its objections to proposed quarrying around Thornborough Henges, North Yorkshire (Echo, Jan 10).

Over recent years, the debate on this proposal has ignited strong emotions from people on all sides of the argument.

Through your newspaper, I made several appeals to be allowed to organise a search of the area with metal detectors and, eventually, in September last year this took place with 300 metal detectors searching the area, in the presence of archaeologists .

There was very little evidence of archaeology found, apart from one Stone Age axe-head and a Bronze Age axe-head. Other than these finds there were a number of medieval coins, which one would expect to find in any area of North Yorkshire.

These results were forwarded to English Heritage and I am certain the withdrawal of their objections was based on the findings of the metal detecting project. This is an example of how metal detection and archaeology can work together and I ask archaeologists and archaeological contractors to bear in mind the decision of English Heritage and view metal detection as a valuable aid.

Norman Smith, Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham.