Reply from Matthew Parris's boss

Following my polite but incensed email over Christmas about THAT article, I had the following email today from James Harding, Editor of the Times.

"Thank you for taking the time to write to me about Matthew Parris's article (My Week, December 7).

As someone who regularly rides to work and who likes to go on cycling holidays, I shared your alarm, initially fearing that Matthew had it in for me too. But I think it was immediately clear that he was exaggerating for effect - and for a good cause: cyclists, as much as anyone else, must share his determination to protect the natural world from litter and pollution.

I have received many similar e-mails and take note of the heartfelt indignation. You may also have seen the piece that ran in the paper on Monday in defence of the cyclist. While I admire the passion of the cycling lobby and count myself one of their number, I think we do ourselves no favours when we lose our sense of humour and I hope that you, like me, will continue to enjoy Matthew Parris’s excellent writing. That said, two wheels good etc.

Yours,

James Harding"

I'm slightly mollified (and very pleased he's a cycle tourist too) but can't understand how AS A CYCLIST he let that kind of article get away! And I still don't think it's funny.

But I am pleased he replied properly.
 

wafflycat

New Member
It's a stock reply that's being sent out to many folk who wrote in.

see here
 
I don't buy the 'he was only kidding' line and no, he shouldn't have let it go out. There was no humour in that article. However it seems like a pretty reasonable reply. Hopefully some of the grief that Mr Harding has had will have been passsed on to Mr Parris.
Being sent to the (hundreds?) of annoyed correspondents doesn't make it any less valid.
 

barq

Senior Member
Location
Birmingham, UK
I guess it is fair enough sending out a standard reply to what will have been basically very similar complaints. I accept that it was exaggeration for effect, but it wasn't actually funny. "I was only joking" is a standard rhetorical manoeuvre for people defending the indefensible.
 

snorri

Legendary Member
It has happened so often in the press, following a complaint the first response is to accuse the complainer of having a sense of humour bypass.xx(

Edit woops barq got in before me!
 

bof

Senior member. Oi! Less of the senior please
Location
The world
Is he really a cyclist?

This is a technique I came across once...

Me encountering a cycle path (it's a contraflow down a main shopping street hence the road was not an alternative) blocked by building work sign, to builders "hey, move your sign its blocking the path".

Nearby Plod who I'd not spotted walks up to me and says "they're building"

Me "They may be, but it does not give them the right to block the path"

Plod "I'm a too cyclist but blah, blah, blah"

Site foreman who didnt hear me but saw me talking to Plod "Oh is there a problem officer, let me move this sign", promptly moves sign.

Plod who's lost face "Blah, blah, blah, I'm a cyclist on my days off, blah, blah"

Basically if I'd been drinking Thunderbird in the park his technique would have been "I yell at pigeons on my day off too sir, but I am nicking you for peeing in public"...
 

yello

Legendary Member
I think we do ourselves no favours when we lose our sense of humour
I find that patronising... and the use of "we" and "our" does not the man off. There is nothing in the slightest bit funny about

stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists
 

bof

Senior member. Oi! Less of the senior please
Location
The world
My reply...

Mr Harding

Thank you for taking the time to write to me personally about Matthew Parris's article.

I feel however that the article went way beyond a joke - cyclists and motor-cyclists have been seriously injured and killed by wire strung across a road - and if he said that about Jews, Muslims, homosexuals or deaf people he'd have been shown the door by you PDQ.

I have been cycling long enough that I do not get wound up about much of the prejudiced rubbish that is written or spoken on the subject of cyclists, but this article was completely out of order. I am truly astonished that someone who claims to be a keen cyclist just finds it a joke.


Yours sincerely
 
I had a 4x4 pass me and cut in at a point where there is a pedestrian island.

I braked hard and he missed me by about 6 inches.

Came across him in a queue a few hundred yards ahead, so asked him if he realised how close he was....

His reply " I'm a cyclist so I know how much room you really need".. That's alright then?
 

bonj2

Guest
yadda yadda yadda...
Cathryn said:
I'm slightly mollified (and very pleased he's a cycle tourist too) but can't understand how AS A CYCLIST he let that kind of article get away! And I still don't think it's funny.

But I am pleased he replied properly.
well he isn't, is he. He'll have gone to Max Clifford or the equivalent, who'll have told him that the best thing to write in reply to the thousands of cyclists would be that he's a cyclist himself - in order to make a few of them think that their letters have been read past the name, address and first few identifying words, and thus be more likely to buy the paper again - thus maximising his profits.
 
+1 bof - good words.

As an edit: As Mr Harding is an 'ardent' cyclist, maybe his organ could see their way to making a 'without prejudice' donation to some good cycling cause or the other...aka Shaun and CycleChat? (How much Shaun...enough to supply another tranche of jerseys and bibs, maybe the 'group beer tab' at the grand meet?!)
 
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