20 SEPTEMBER 2003, Page 36

Burma nights

From John Jenkins Sir: Theodore Dalrymple (second opinion, 30 August) may remember his visit to the Strand Hotel in Rangoon under the SLORC (it was 'Restoration' not 'Restitution' Council, by the way) with nostalgia — in spite of the food. The food there is now much better, though at a price few Burmese could afford. But I do not think the late General Ne Win would have been quite the solution he imagines for the social ills he sees all around him in England. Ne Win had a notoriously evil temper, as the following stories, still widely told in Rangoon, illustrate. One evening he is said to have marched into what is now the Inya Lake Hotel, across the water from his own house, assaulted the guests and, with the help of his bodyguards and some of the band's own equipment, beat up those musicians who were, in his opinion, playing too loudly. One of his earlier wives, the great beauty June Rose Bellamy, reportedly ran away to Italy after an incident involving, I believe, the throwing of a large ashtray. His sons, arrested last year, were accused among other things of terrorising Rangoon for years with their gangsterisrn.

John Jenkins

British Consulate General, Jerusalem