ALONG with others, I find the errors of grammar and syntax frequently noted by your correspondents irritating, but am only too well aware of the root cause of these, and it does not lie with current or even recent education systems.

In fact, it lies as far back as the directive from those “on high” who did not themselves have to teach, commonly referred to as the ‘65 Memorandum, which forbade primary teachers, from 1965, any longer to teach grammar, syntax or even spelling, just as they were banned from teaching times tables. Any teacher found not to be following this directive would have been severely reprimanded.

An example of this, which I saw for myself as a teacher, was the instruction to teach primary seven how to create complex sentences, using adjectival clauses starting with who, which or that, but without using any form of or reference to the word "adjective”. Such use, we were told, would stunt the pupils’ imaginations and enthusiasm for learning. What did they do? They wrote out the first sentence, stuck a pin in to decide which of the three “joining” words to use, and wrote out the second.

Consider the timescale of these primary pupils passing through secondary education, university and college and becoming teachers themselves and you have about 40 years during which they were teaching, without themselves having any real understanding of grammar and syntax to pass on. These teachers have only recently begun to retire, having passed on this unintentional ignorance to another generation.

No wonder we see and hear “different to”, instead of “from”, and “me and him are going …” .

P Davidson, Falkirk.


THE approval of the "game changer" Oxford vaccine for public use is a welcome development in the fight against the coronavirus and shows more light at the end of the tunnel although it's still some way off. Now the biggest danger is complacency as the public waits for the vaccine to be rolled out. Along with the arrogance and selfishness of those who have ignored the restrictions all along, dropping our guard and flouting the rules will lead to more unnecessary pressure on the NHS as the virus, particularly the variant type, is still rampant within our communities.

Patience will bring earlier rewards. The spike in Shetland is an example of what can happen if restrictions are lessened . One must question whether Nicola Sturgeon was right in not putting the islands in Tier 4 along with the rest of the country.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


THE soaring rate of fuel poverty in Scotland is causing great hardship. Citizens Advice Scotland is doing a good job to highlight this and suggesting solutions ("Appeals for energy bills aid soars as extreme fuel poverty on rise", The Herald, December 30).

More radically, if “levelling up” really means anything it is long past time that the UK Government and Ofgem removed the electricity distribution surcharge levied on all consumers in 50 per cent of Scotland. None of the other utilities such as gas or water has this punitive imposition, nor does the Royal Mail.

Coping with the pandemic is bad enough, but levying unnecessary extra costs on the basic right to warmth is unforgivable.

With just fewer than a million consumers affected, the UK Government has, until now, turned a blind eye, ignoring the fact that we keep the lights on in one-sixth of the UK by area. “Levelling up” to it seems to mean planning to reduce three huge parliamentary constituency areas in the Highlands down to two.

There is one chink of light in that Ofgem recently accepted that Shetland consumers could not reasonably be expected to bear all the cost of a major upgrade to the islands’ electricity transmission. However, it has once again refused to tackle the full problem by comprehensively improving the Hydro Benefit Replacement Scheme.

Surely the pandemic has shown how much lives matter? Being able to keep warm is an important part of that.

RJ Ardern, Inverness.


AS the sister in charge of the accident/orthopaedic department of the Southern General Hospital on January 2, 1971, may I point out that your photograph of the nurse running into Ibrox ("‘They kept bringing in bodies in bags... they covered the dressing room floor’", The Herald, December 30) was in fact a sister from the Victoria Infirmary.

My colleague Sister Jean Fowler was also in attendance pitchside. Indeed, 1971 was a terrible year for Glasgow, as 10 months later in October, the Clarkston disaster occurred, when 22 people, mainly women, out shopping were killed.

On both occasions, two great Southside hospitals, namely the Southern General Hospital and the Victoria Infirmary, performed their duties with distinction.

Following a TV programme which was made 30 years after the disaster, I corresponded with Mrs Gisella Easton, whose eloquence and grief for her beloved son Peter were unforgettable.

Time may make the pain and memories more bearable but the sense of loss is unending.

In everything safety should be a priority and must never play second best to financial gain.

Mrs Margaret Lavery, Johnstone.


MAY I add the opportunity to assume an air of quiet reflection when greeted “How are you”, and reply “Still got a pulse”, to Rosemary Goring’s 50 excellent list of unexpected benefits ("The 50 unexpected fringe benefits of a year thwarted by Covid pandemic", The Herald, December 30) ?

R Russell Smith, Largs.