LIKE Neil Mackay ("We can’t allow the culture war to infect the study of great literature in schools", The Herald, July 8), I have taught Animal Farm. I was explaining how one set of "politicians" in the novel demonises an opponent when I saw in the Tory press a picture of Tony Blair whose eyes had been altered to resemble those of a devil – a perfect example to show to the class. Is not one point about great literature that it speaks both to its own time and to future times, and the latter is necessary if it is to appeal to school pupils? There are likely therefore to be social attitudes and language in literature from the past which need explained.

Of Mice and Men has a racist incident, racist language and presents itinerant farm workers in the 1930s in the United States, but it also shows friendship, hopes of a better life, hopes destroyed, a young woman who rushes into a toxic marriage and what it is like to be trapped at the bottom of the pile in something like the gig economy. Do these latter themes not appeal to all young people?

As Mr Mackay says, the curriculum needs diversified. Inevitably some works will now be too much of their time and have little to say to the present day school student. I doubt if many schools now teach The Ascent of Everest, the account of the successful 1953 expedition which I was taught in the late 1950s, though given the current Government's attitudes, who knows what will happen?

The one problem no-one has mentioned is how to fit more content into the English curriculum. What is to be missed out if more is to be added?

Ewan Henderson, Haddington.


I AM pleased that Neil Mackay does not like the word "woke" and the way that it is used nowadays.

I did not know what it meant, so I asked and got this back: "Hey, man, stay cool, ain't nothing but a salutation, that's all. The brothers and sisters use it all the time, mostly when splitting. Stay woke. That's all, just a salutation – or was until you white folk got hold of it – now look at what you've done.'

I think that I've got the gist now.

Donald Macaskill, Glasgow.


ON the divisive subject of the proposed bill on assisted dying, John NE Rankin (Letters, July 8) makes the point in support that this will have a built-in safeguard that patients must be of sound mind to make a decision on their own end. Anything less would surely be unacceptable.

This safeguard appears at first sight reassuring. However it raises a number of questions dependent on how “of sound mind" is to be defined in this context. Importantly, how and by whom is it to be measured, and how to treat anyone considered to be not of sound mind? For example, is a patient diagnosed with dementia considered still to be of sound mind, or would that diagnosis preclude that patient from deciding his or her own fate, or is it all a matter of degree?

In general, would being considered not of sound mind open up the slippery slope of permitting another, possibly someone holding power of attorney for that patient, to make that fateful decision for that patient ?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


OVER the past few days you have had contributions from correspondents promoting and applauding the current trend of female pundits/commentators on men's football matches (Letters, July 3, 5 & 6).

The gist of justification is that the females concerned have by and large played football, in many cases at international level and are therefore qualified to pontificate on football per se. My own view is that this is a false premise and any football fan who has watched a women's game will recognise it's as different from the men's game as chalk and cheese in terms of skill, physicality, pace, movement and general tactical awareness... the less said about the goalkeeping prowess the better.

It all comes down to, as most of us know but many deny, virtual-signalling gender equalisation issues and is insulting to both sexes. Why not females commentating on female sport and men commentating on men's?

Contrary to previous correspondents supporting females in men's sport, any poll of football fans would laugh this out of court by a massive majority.

If printed I await the wrath of my wife.

James Martin, Bearsden.


I WELCOME the new study being undertaken at Glasgow Caledonian University into the relationship between anger and sport, ("You cannot be serious: Anger can actually help sports stars", The Herald, July 8).

My own observations have found that anger, controlled and channelled, can help performance, but that the ability to throw a golf club (or racquet), for distance and accuracy is counter-productive.

With regard to gender influences, a 19th hole analysis of shortcomings led me to observe that trying to hit the ball too hard was more often a male characteristic and testosterone-related, drawing disagreement and a plaintive “I don’t have any” from my octogenarian fellow sufferer.

R Russell Smith, Largs.