EVERY time I see on television an individual in floods of tears because their mother or father won't be able to gather round the Christmas table this year, I find myself reflecting on what effect this outpouring of sentiment is having on sons and daughters who won't have their parents for Christmas this year, or any year from now on, because they have succumbed to Covid-19.

The harsh truth is that statistically, even without any new restrictions, some would have had Christmas cancelled this year through a loved one having succumbed to the virus between now and Christmas Day.

I suggest that there is also the possibility that this envisaged family Christmas would be little different from one where greetings are shared by telephone, WhatsApp or Zoom, as there could be no hugs and potentially a strained atmosphere as everyone tries to curb (a) the exuberance of the very young, high as kites, and naturally attempting to hug everyone in sight; and (b) dear old uncle or aunt – full of embraces after a surfeit of wine and spirits.

James Watson, Dunbar.


WHILE we all know Covid is serious, especially this new strain, I wonder where is the scientific evidence that almost the whole of Scotland requires to go into Tier 4 from Boxing Day?

Do businesses in Wick, Ullapool or Campbeltown, to mention a few, require the same lockdown rules as Glasgow or Lanarkshire?

Thank goodness the UK Exchequer can fund these new furlough costs for Scotland’s lockdown. A word of appreciation from the First Minister would be nice to hear.

Andrew Livingstone, Kilmacolm.


THE source of at least some of Alistair Gibbons’ evident confusion (Letters, December 21) about the First Minister’s broadcast is his misinterpretation of data included in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Coronavirus (Covid-19) Bulletin of December 18. The headline numbers he quotes are the ONS estimates of prevalence, and are expressed in the document not as rate affected per 100,000 as he assumes, but as number of unaffected people for every one affected. So a larger number indicates a lower prevalence, and the 1 in 95 he quotes for England represents a higher prevalence than the 1 in 100 for Scotland. Wales is higher than England at 1:90, Northern Ireland much lower at 1:270.

The rate per 100,000 is often used, by the World Health Organisation amongst others, in reporting infections, so to some extent, his mistake is understandable, and he is not the first Herald correspondent to make it.

Stewart Douglas, Rutherglen


HAVING watched the mass exodus from St Pancras and Liverpool Street railway stations when London was placed in Tier 4, I was reminded of the mass suicide of the lemmings, but this is a natural phenomenon. Seeing the irresponsible actions of Londoners, it represented a total disregard for the NHS and the guidelines from the Government. I worry how many of these people will be making their way to Scotland to spread this virulent virus?

Neil Stewart, Balfron.


I ENJOYED and appreciated Kevin McKenna's article today ("Nativity story belongs in the age of the Covid pandemic", The Herald, December 21).

There was no evangelical zeal, nor anything to offend in an article that simply stated that we Scots could only benefit from a story that brings hope and solace in the circumstances of the birth of the child born to be king. Yes, it takes faith to believe the supernatural events related to the Christmas story that is pivotal to Christianity, but during this time of pandemic there have been plenty of examples of selfless giving and sacrifice by people of all ilks for the betterment of each other; something that is wrapped up in the Story of the Nativity.

So, rather than avoid something that may seem outdated and irrelevant to the 21st century, perhaps during these times, when we've had to reassess a lot of what we took for granted only last year, we should embrace the Story of Christ's birth and the hope for the future.

Willie Ferguson, Irvine.


I WAS most interested to read Kevin McKenna’s defence of the Nativity story. I found his whole message somewhat incoherent and not a little confusing.

Whilst I agree with his claim that keeping the birth of Christ central to Christmas celebrations is wise, I am perplexed by his ensuing analysis of political attitudes. He rounds mainly on the Conservatives, attacking the excesses of Boris Johnson and the chumocracy. And though he exposes the militant secularism of the Labour Party and the Greens, the malleable nature of the Liberal Democrats and the authoritarian approach of the SNP, he seems unaware of where that leaves him.

If he is a practising Catholic, then he should know that the only sizeable political party in Scotland with a membership which does not consider him an extremist is the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

John McArthur, Glasgow G73.


I'M not sure I agree with the honours system but if anyone deserves a knighthood it's the King himself, Denis Law.

Ian McNair, Cellardyke.


THE headline "Johnston Carmichael elevates colleagues" (The Herald, December 21) caught my eye. Had I told any of my accountancy colleagues that I was about to elevate them, I suspect I might have been met with a few quizzical looks.

David Miller, Milngavie.