In the recent debate over whether or not Boris Johnson should apologise for his description of women who wear face veils as “post-boxes”, I have seen little attention paid to the perspective of those of us who are on the receiving end of such sartorial behaviour.

As surely the main point of wearing one is to impact on other people through preventing them seeing the wearer, the wearing of veils is most certainly not the business of Muslim women alone. If, when communicating with someone she denies me the opportunity for basic non-verbal communication and thus invades my psychological space then it is most certainly my business as well as hers.

Beyond the basic practicalities of communication there is also the issue of what values we choose to live by in British society. I am deeply irritated by a situation in which I have to explain to my young daughter why in 21st century Britain, after 200 years of campaigning to implement the values of the Western Enlightenment, we have a religious subculture in which some British women (and men) are so uncomfortable with their sexuality that they see retreating behind the veil as a desirable lifestyle, and one which they demand should be respected by wider society.

I am sure the supporters of veil-wearing would not support me if I claimed it is my own business if I chose to wear inappropriate and offensive (by Muslim standards) clothes in an Islamic country – rather they would demand that I respect the values of the culture. Well, in modern Britain when I see a woman wearing a full-face veil my values are most definitely offended, and I have no intention of suppressing this feeling of offence in the interests of woolly minded multiculturalism.

Much of the 20th century was taken up with creating a western world that is more at ease with itself in terms of sexuality and gender relations, so while I am not in favour of a ban I believe veil-wearing should be exposed to the full glare of modern scepticism and debate. And it has long been a British tradition that such debate often includes a healthy degree of mockery, seen in the satirical cartoons of Gillray, the puppets of Spitting Image, and the recent writing of Boris Johnson; mockery which contributes a healthy perspective to such discussions.

Ronald McGrath

Langley Way, Watford