12 AUGUST 1972, Page 15

Striking oil

Sir: In June I borrowed from the library a detective story, French Strikes On, written twenty years ago by the late Freeman Wills Crofts.

I assumed the title to be purely metaphorical, but found the book dealt with the discovery of oil on a Somerset estate and the murder of the eldest son who wanted to leave the infernal stuff in the ground; he expressed the blasphemous view that for his family to make money mattered less than the preservation of a corner of England. At the same moment, and only some thirty miles from the scene of this novel, the Berkeley Petroleum Company were busy drilling on Welcome Hill near Nettlecombe In Dorset, with permission of the government and the county council, starting the destruction of a landscape which the combined talents of these three bodies never could create. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings and whodunit writers . . . .

Parliament could study a modern version of a certain eighteenthcentury motion: That the influence of the Oily League has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.

A. D. Margolis Little Croft, Tudwick Hall Farm Road, Tudwick, near Tiptree, Essex