THERE was once a wee girl called Dodie Abbers with copper-coloured hair and green eyes and a very large opinion of her place on this planet. At least as far as our back garden in Prescot, Lancashire was concerned. Being a redhead she had to be covered in sun-cream and wear a sun-bonnet. She rode in the garden on her rocking-horse (made by us, her doting parents for Christmas), when she wasn't busy stripping the pods from the lupins and petals from the roses to make her version of soup.

She wore "dinger-bars", which were wee blue slippers with little tinkling balls sewn onto the toes, but she couldn't say "jingle-bells". The same slippers were worn to chase my mother's budgie around the floor as it chased the ping-pong ball around in a game of football. This young madam would stand hands-on-hips demanding things or threatened that she would leave home. I often offered her the bus fare to her granny's house but it was never accepted. She could speak by eight months old, read by three years old and do proper baking by five.

By the age of 34, in 1996, she was dead ... a suicide. I had lost my beautiful girl. If she would come back I would stock the house with orange juice and budgies which loved tinkling bells on slippers and never offer her the bus fare to leave home again. My darling Dodie Abbers (Julie Edwards, but she couldn't say her name properly as a small person) is still very much here with me. I have photos, letters we wrote to each other over the years, the commonplace books I keep with jottings I make for her in case, one day, she comes through the door, hands on hips, demanding that we read poetry together ... NOW!

Daniella Theis wrote about needing to keep remembering and talking about those we have loved and lost ("Time to break the taboos on talking about our grief", The Herald, June 5) and I would like to say that I admire her for talking about the people she has loved and lost in her own life. If we always remember them, talk about them, then they will always be here. Thank you, Daniella.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

• I GUESS there are no shortcuts to coping with grief at the loss of a loved one and that for most of us talking with a relative or trusted friend will be helpful.

As octogenarians my wife and I have lost a good number of dear friends over the years and while this loss is not going to top the bereavement barometer of grief we look back with affection and with a smile remember all the laughter which we shared.

“Always look on the bright side of life” (Eric Idle).

R Russell Smith, Largs.

Read more: Time we break the taboos when it comes to talking about grief

Filling the council house void

I AGREE with the points JB Drummond raised in his letter (May 31) in regards to the Thatcher policy on the Right to Buy for council houses; however, the second point made – that councils were not allowed to invest the income from sales of council houses for the construction of new council houses – needs to be clarified.

Scottish councils stopped building in the 1980s because the discount awarded to the purchasing tenant was up to 40% off the District Valuers' estimation. Thus building a replacement house was not viable and any outstanding debt (mortgage) and the cost of building any new houses would have to be paid for through the council tax and the remaining council tenants rents: it just did not financially stack up.

However, housing associations were in a position to develop and build locally (meeting a housing need) with housing grants from government.

Here in Alloa a housing association has recently built 60 quality flats in the town centre with smaller size accommodation – 18 x one-bedroom; 26 x three-bedroom, and three apartments with one and two bedrooms for wheelchair users.

There will be other examples across Scotland but there is still an urgent need for even more affordable houses to be built in communities across Scotland.

Housing is so much more than a commodity and an asset; it’s someone’s home.

Teresa McNally, Alloa.

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Time to halt vaping sales

I WAS delighted to hear that Australia is to ban the sale of vaping materials as it's now become the first nicotine experience for children.

Any product that produces smoke for inhalation cannot be good for anyone's health.

The Scottish Government must waken up to the warnings and introduce legislation banning vaping and restrict smoking in public parks and beaches.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen.

Concert Hall and a poor show

LAST Saturday I attended Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and was seated beside an American couple from Boston who thoroughly enjoyed the performance by the RSNO. On leaving the venue via the Buchanan Street steps we were confronted by a sea of litter and I was berating the citizens of Glasgow for such a sorry site, only to find, on reaching two large litter bins, that they were crammed to overflowing so it was impossible to deposit litter in them.

Surely the city council could make some effort to ensure that these bins are emptied frequently. At the moment it’s not "Glasgow’s miles better”, it’s" Glasgow’s miles dirtier".

Cameron McDougall, Langbank.

Can chimp outdo Cheetah?

SO Koko, one of our oldest chimpanzees, has recently reached half a century ("Zoo’s oldest chimp celebrates reaching grand old age of 50", The Herald, June 6). In her life she has lived in three English zoos, wondering, perhaps, if this was all there was to life, unlike that lived by contemporaries in the tropical forests and savannas of Equatorial Africa. Her life, however, has not been without some dramatic incident in that she survived escaping one of her zoo residences in 2007, while her fellow escapee, Johnnie, was shot because of the risk he posed to the public.

Some of us are old enough to remember some Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller, in which appeared Cheetah, the chimpanzee. Koko at 50 has outlived a chimpanzee’s average life expectancy by more than 10 years. However, she has a bit to go to match Cheetah, if some of the stories stating that Cheetah lived to 80 are correct.

Sorry that you missed out on being a film star, Koko, but here’s to a few more happy birthdays.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.