The letter below was written in 2004.  10 years after writing to The Independent, the word ‘honour’ is still used to describe brutal murders.

Letter: Matter of dishonour: Independent, The (London), Feb 21, 2004 by Sylvia Vetta

Sir: We should not abuse the English language. Your headline of 19 February is “Police investigate if body found in river is a victim of an honour killing”. Dictionary definitions of “honour” talk of “nobleness of mind” and “allegiance to what is right”. What is happening to the beautiful young people in some British families should be labelled for what it is: dishonour killings.


Threatened Library Closures

Kennington was one of the 20 libraries threatened with closure in November 2011.  Because of cuts to their revenue, the County needed to reduce the library budget by 25 %. Instead of coming up with a proposal to impose cuts on all libraries the County came up with a much fairer plan? They decided that it was reasonable to close 20 village and suburban libraries and give the remaining town or hub libraries extra money!!!

You will not be surprised that if you lived  in one of those villages or districts you felt the injustice acutely. Castaways Korky Paul and MG Harris responded to my request to lead our Pied Piper Procession from St Swithuns School to the Village Centre. The regional TV and press recorded the 300 yard long procession. The children played noisy percussion instruments or carried posters. We invited the leader of the council to tea to receive 600 letters and the children’s posters. We didn’t make speeches but let him speak. We did, however, insist that Councillor Mitchell stay to listen to Korky read to the children and witness for himself the importance of children being exposed to reading for pleasure. We rounded up the tea party with our children’s choir Music Mayhem singing Consider  yourself at Home  from  Oliver and urged him to rethink – he did!

Letter to the Oxford Times: published Dec 19  2011

Dear Sir,

In his summing up at the cabinet meeting, Councillor Mitchell could not refrain from insulting the library campaigners by telling us to get off our backsides and volunteer.

It is sad that he cannot learn from his mistakes. Earlier this year, he personally criticised, Dr Diana Saunders by saying she didn’t care about people only about books. After it was pointed out that she counsels terminally ill patients, he still went on to call library campaigners lefties and worthies who don’t care about social care.

One of our Friends group responded in a letter to this paper.  What Gillian Cox did not say, because she is a modest person, was the role she played in the founding of the Alzheimer’s Disease Society and still does in the Oxfordshire branch.  Another of our Friends is Barbara Boyne, the Chair of Kennington Good Neighbours, who has given more lifts and help to housebound people than Keith has conducted meetings.

On Monday December 12, faced with a room full of volunteers, whom his consultation has diverted into weeks of unnecessary work- as it appears to us that the conclusion was decided in advance- he heaped insult upon injury.

Volunteers have a superb contribution to make in the community but, as a baby boomer, the very idea of making poorly paid young librarians redundant and using   taxpayers’ money to train older people to do their work for free is not a worthy aim.

Sylvia Vetta (Chair of the Friends of Kennington Library)

Published in The Oxford Times on January 29, 2009

The editor titled it The Best of Both Worlds

 In The Observer on January 18, there were two contrasting articles. One talked about why Obama is ‘black’ but the other reported on a group of successful young mixed- race Britons.

Talking together in a London bar, they wondered why Lewis Hamilton and Barrack Obama are described as black when they are not; they are of mixed race. The inspiring thing about this group who have founded ‘The Torquoise Association’ is that they regard themselves as enjoying the best of both worlds. I have personal reasons for welcoming a mixed race President as well as admiration for him as a person.

In 1969, I had a surprise visitor to my home in Handsworth (incidentally opposite Bill Morris, starting out as a shop steward). A Daily Mail reporter wanted to discuss my marriage to my academic husband. Well not really; all she was interested in was the colour of his skin.

 Atam was born in India. She was not at all pleased when I said ’I didn’t marry an Indian, I married Atam’. ‘Surely’ she probed ‘your parents must have been shocked?’  I replied that my parents admired Atam and she left disappointed. When I was given a copy of the sensational and humiliating feature she wrote about other mixed race couples, I realised that despite my young age I had acted wisely.

My attitude to people has always been the same. Racism and prejudice is not white, it is human. Each one of us, even identical twins, is unique so I always try to approach people as individuals. The idea whose time has come is Martin Luther King’s advice to judge people on the content of their character and not on the colour of their skin.

Barrack Obama’s appeal is that he does not identify with one particular race and can connect with Africa and Asia, Europe and America and hopefully with Muslims as well as Christians. Most young people of mixed race in this country are proud to be British but they cannot identify with a single racial heritage. That is what I find inspiring. They can lead us to think of the human race as one people.

Sylvia Vetta


Letter to the editor Oxford Times March 28 2013

Topic : The Desecration of Port Meadow- a personal experience with planning in Oxford city.

In your excellent leader, Varied Views (March 21), you informed us that Nick Wordlledge’s report on The Port Meadow Development was not seen by the councillors. Why does this not surprise me?

In the early nineties, I was one of the directors of Oxford Antiques Centre. (The Jam Factory)  We had reason to believe that the new head lessor had other plans for the building so when The Old School Gloucester Green owned by the City Council was offered for rent and development, we were interested.

During my discussion with the Chief Planning Officer, I was told that the prime concern for the council was having a tenant who would enliven Gloucester Green. Because we had made a success of the Jam Factory despite its unfavourable location (at that time) we were well fitted to fulfil that role. While our partners in the bid, the architects Berman Geddes, and Adkins did a fine job on the structural survey and providing an honest business report, the antiques consortium set about producing a plan of  the events we could organise in Gloucester Green. We were not informed of the date of the planning meeting.  Councillor John Power rang us after the event and said that our report was not given to the Council. The Old School was let to the brewers Green King and, in 1998 the city lost a popular business.

Sylvia Vetta

The Sunday Times December 16 2007

RECYCLING FURNITURE: According to Jeremy Clarkson “the Victorians didn’t buy Georgian. The Edwardians didn’t buy Victorian” (News Review, last week). He is wrong. How else would the Jacobean, Queen Anne, Georgian, Regency and Victorian styles have survived? They were, unlike much modern furniture with sawdust at its heart, built to last. In other sections of your paper you write of climate change and threats to the rainforests. What greener activity is there than buying and selling antiques? I think our grandchildren will regard built-in obsolescence with repugnance. – Sylvia Vetta, Kennington, Oxford.