Long ago, when I was a student, we had grants to cover term-time costs, but they did not cover vacations. The solution for many students was working picking fruit and other crops in the summer and early autumn. This system avoided seasonal labour shortages. Perhaps something along similar lines could be considered today (Up to £60m in UK crops left to rot owing to lack of workers, says NFU, 15 August)?
• We do indeed need to let go of “our societal fixation with cleanliness” (UK heatwave: easy ways to save water during a drought, 13 August). When I was growing up, a weekly bath was the norm, and you wore your school blouse from Monday to Friday. A clean one every day would have been considered unthinkable. We did not feel dirty and we were perfectly healthy.
• Chris Webster (Letters, 14 August) says crippling energy bills are designed to force people back into the office. Which office are we pensioners supposed to go back to? Libraries are being closed.
Baildon, West Yorkshire
• As all egg prickers know, you prick the blunt end to release the air pocket (Letters, 15 August). No gadget needed – just a dressmaker’s pin as I’ve used for years.
• I’ve always wondered why I doze off doing the cryptic crossword. Now I know (Brain drain: scientists look at why mental exertion triggers exhaustion, 11 August).
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