PERHAPS not a direct answer to Patricia Dewar Gibb's question about where all the tradesman have gone (Letters, October 13), but an explanation.

My son is a self-employed painter and decorator with an excellent reputation. He has a long client list and regular customers. However, he is frequently asked by new potential clients to carry out work at short notice. "You mean you can't do it next week?"

Like any other business of his kind, he has to plan and allocate work methodically, external painting in time of good weather for example.

Perhaps clients wishing to have work done should also pre-plan and approach firms with membership of trade associations such as the Scottish Decorators' Federation or word of mouth recommendations from family, friends or neighbours.

Brendan J Keenan, Founder of Dumbreck Decorators (now retired), Glasgow G43.

PATRICIA Dewar Gibb (Letters, October 13) accurately highlights the apparent indifference of certain tradesmen as to their availability for work. Even worse is when a tradesman starts a job or agrees a price and then fails to return without any follow up explanation. Such action can occasion a frustrated householder to succumb to the overtures of "cowboy" operators who cruise the streets seeking work at exorbitant prices. Admittedly local councils provide recommended trade guides and no-cold-canvasser stickers, but neither method seems to resolve the problem of locating reliable tradespeople or dissuading marauding chancers.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.


MARK Smith ("The pro-trans campaigners have got it wrong this time", The Herald, October 12) speaks out for the right of men who have self-identified as trans-women to be treated equally and calls for balance on rights and risks and says opponents of gender reform have established a small risk exists for women in men-free spaces, perhaps better described as women-only spaces, which presumably includes toilets. Mr Smith acknowledges it is a matter of “rights and risks being balanced on a scale and it’s tricky”.

I agree minority interests have to be taken into account in a fair and just society but equally, the view of the majority should not be disproportionally compromised by the few. With more than 30 million women in the UK, what percentage of women are perfectly happy for trans-women to share women-only spaces with them and indeed what percentage of the male population wish to be so identified? Broad answers to these two difficult questions may well help in finding the tricky balance Mark Smith is looking for.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield.


I NOTE with interest the appointment of a new Clydeport director ("New port director unveils cruise ship plan for Clyde", The Herald, October 12).

My congratulation to Jim McSporran who, according to the report, is going to sort out shipbuilding and Ardrossan harbour among many other major projects.

Anyone who has had cause to follow the Fergusons' ferry debacle and the protracted Ardrossan harbour project will have some realisation of the scale of the task placed on this man's shoulders. It is not clear whether he has been supplied with a magic wand – if he hasn’t, he’d better get one. He'll need it.

Neil HC Arthur, Kilpatrick, Isle of Arran.


I WAS heartened to read Clare Henry’s excellent obituary of Dr Helen Cargill Thompson (The Herald, October 13).

She captured the essence of the woman, along with her idiosyncrasies.

Helen was a woman who appreciated the importance of art, and put her money where it mattered – to support artists.

Strathclyde University staff were very grateful to her for providing them with paintings and sculptures, to enliven their walls and offices.

Her knowledge of Glasgow was encyclopaedic, and up till the end, she never tired of learning new things.

The art world of Glasgow may have lost one of its greatest champions, but the Cargill Thompson Collection lives on, on the walls of Strathclyde University.

Dr Rose Mary Harley, Glasgow G44.