THERE has been much comment of an adverse nature about the alleged influence wielded by the unelected Dominic Cummings as Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister. The situation has been subjected to considerable condemnation from various quarters since Boris Johnson occupied 10 Downing Street. It is worth remembering that the situation is not entirely unprecedented. Consider Tony Blair when Prime Minister and his relationships with Jonathan Powell, Chief of Staff, and Alastair Campbell, Press Secretary. The former came to be viewed as the power behind the throne and the latter as the publicly identifiable power.

One is left wondering what the nature of the relationship is between the Prime Minister today and his Chief Adviser. Mr Johnson does not appear to wish to function as Prime Minister without Mr Cummings as his right-hand man. The Prime Minister may not have promised Mr Cummings a rose garden at any time, but he indulged him in large measure by making the one at 10 Downing Street available to him to make his exculpatory remarks about visiting the Durham area during the lockdown, which were greeted with something less than acclamation.

No doubt in the meantime many will continue to speculate on the nature of this particular special relationship and how it operates. Some may compare it with other duos such as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Others might consider Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. I think I would go for Wooster and Jeeves with Wooster being the affable youngish gentleman with a bit of money and a tendency from time to time to get into scrapes and Jeeves being the bright and competent valet with a skill for extrication from said scrapes.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


WITH regard to reaching the turning-point with Gaelic, despite it having "a massive store of oral culture" (Letters, July 15), it seems to be dying on its feet. Who decided we needed road signs shown in Gaelic? Did they think it would help the tourists who have difficulty with Weegie?

Some languages die naturally, others unnaturally, like Yiddish – a composite basically German, with Hebrew and the Slavic languages thrown in, spoken by the approximately six million Jews killed by the Nazis. It also had "a massive store of oral culture".

My immigrant grandparents, escaping the pogroms which were Russian policy, spoke only Yiddish, my parents English, and Yiddish when they didn't want me to understand (I fooled them; I learned German at school – they didn't know!) my children understand the occasional word, and my grandchildren and great-grandchildren know nothing of it. Some words have been adopted by English – who hasn't eaten a bagel? Who hasn't occasionally shown chutzpah? It even has a word that has no equivalent in English – mechutonim – the parents of my son or daughter-in-law.

Although it is still spoken by an enclave in New York, it is considered a heritage language.

Never mind the history lesson. Gaelic – Requiescat in pace.

Irene Conway, Giffnock.


I LOVED Uzma Mir's column ("Some folk will cringe but I love the 'keep the heid' message", The Herald, July 17) but was she surprised, and possibly even cringing, to wake up to a name and gender change? Mark Smith has never looked better.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow G1.


I FULLY sympathise with Morag Thomson (Letters, July 17) concerning the wearing of face masks along with behind-the-ear hearing aids plus donning spectacles. It is impossible, quite frankly, the hearing aids liable to be pulled out and they of necessity are of more importance to me as an individual and certainly cost-wise vis-a-vis a piece of cloth covering. Not venturing far as it is in these times, shopping-wise I will have to resort to pocketing my hearing aids and putting on my mask on entering a shop. Any conversation likely to arise will be avoided as best I can.

John Macnab, Falkirk.