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12 January 2022

Letter of the week: The cradle of hippiedom

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By New Statesman

As a life-long admirer of Joni Mitchell I really enjoyed Kate Mossman’s interview (The Critics, 7 January) with Cary Raditz – the subject of Mitchell’s song “Carey”. I’ve always found it symptomatic of the insular world of popular music that while Mitchell was writing her songs in Matala, Crete, she was next door to Phaistos, one of the premier sites of the amazing Minoan civilisation (approximately 1,800 BCE).

One distinctive feature of Minoan culture is its marvellous “natural” art: flowers, octopuses, starfish, dolphins and multicoloured, patterned pottery. Women are portrayed dressed in finery, with long dark hair and jewellery – the prominent members of an audience in a theatre. Priestesses performed ecstatic dances as if in search of a higher consciousness.

In short, it was an ancient culture that mirrored the new hippy world of Mitchell and Raditz. But, of course, I am not sure how this might compare to Mitchell’s “white linen” and “French cologne”!

Michael Moore, Loughton, Essex

[see also: “I didn’t want anyone to know it was me”: on being Joni Mitchell’s “Carey”]

Team effort

Stephen Bush’s fear (Politics, 7 January) that tribalism will derail Liberal Democrat/Labour cooperation may be exaggerated. The support among constituency parties for proportional representation shown at last year’s Labour conference implies the acceptance of a future of deals and coalitions, as well as a recognition that (unless and until the SNP bubble bursts) Labour is extremely unlikely to gain an absolute majority of seats.

Philip Jones, Morden, Greater London

Stephen Bush has chosen a topic bound to be a favourite of columnists up until the next general election. But anyone concerned about the UK’s decrepit political culture should consider our archaic first-past-the-post voting system. How can Britain move forwards when,  in some constituencies, the same party  has won in every election since they were created in the 1830s?

Alan Story, Get PR Done!, Sheffield

Taxing times

Robert Halfon (The Critics, 7 January) argues that “the way to empower working people is to cut taxes”. That might help, but it depends on which taxes are cut. Yes, reverse the National Insurance increase; cut VAT on necessities; raise the income tax threshold. But providing “affordable housing and quality public services”, as he advocates, surely requires increases in taxes on higher incomes, wealth and profits.

Jenny Woodhouse, Bath

A new arrival

Katie Stallard’s article (Reporter at Large, 7 January) wove the powerful story of Peng Shuai into a novel analysis of the West’s hypocritical financial relationship with China. But my favourite part was the news that Stallard is joining the NS permanently.

Dave McElroy, Reading

Off grid

Is it my shame to be the only reader to have solved all the clues of Anorak’s special double alphabetical Christmas puzzle (10 December) without managing to fit them into the grids provided? I suspect not.

Tony Benjamin, Bristol

Note: We apologise for the grid error in this puzzle, which made it impossible to fit in all the solutions. The correct answer grids can be viewed for free at  Readers can also request a copy from

Desert island disco

Pippa Bailey’s pick-me-up playlist (Deleted Scenes, 7 January) is like my own copying of a friend’s preparation for Desert Island Discs. My list always changes, with the exception of Lindisfarne’s “We Can Swing Together”, which, irrespective of the Geordie in me, I recommend to everyone.

[see also: I have compiled a new playlist for 2022 – “Songs you can’t feel sad to”]

Karl Brown, London N13

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This article appears in the 12 Jan 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The age of economic rage