I COULDN'T agree more with Professor Andrew Elder about the drastic consequences of our attitudes to the elderly ("Elderly all too often sentenced to death by our uncaring attitudes", The Herald, September 3). Nowhere and at no time has this been so overtly evident than last year in the care home killing fields of Covid.

The causes of the debacle have been well rehearsed: testing unavailable to care home residents and staff; adequate personal protective equipment not provided; and cries for medical help and succour largely ignored. Even those elderly in hospital testing positive for the virus were forced upon care homes. Government decided the elderly were expendable. No other conclusion can be drawn.

Unbelievably, in the early days of the outbreak, Public Health England issued a statement that it was "very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected" and that care home staff need not wear face masks. This is described in the harrowing book, Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain's Battle with Coronavirus (HarperCollins 2021), by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott, investigative journalists. Anyone with any common sense would know that infection can spread like wildfire in a closed community, like a care home, college hall of residence or army barracks.

Many of those seriously ill with Covid who managed to get into hospital were denied intensive care if their "triage score'" – in a document distributed to hospitals by Government – exceeded a certain figure. This effectively sentenced many over the age of 75 to death. For sure, Government faced a crisis – and what elderly person would not give way to a child or grandchild? – but its poor handling of it and the drastic death rate were substantially due to negligent unpreparedness.

We all grow old and society needs to look at its conscience. It could start by demanding that TV stations stop stereotyping the elderly with their pictures of gnarled hands, worn slippers, bedraggled dress, the ever-present Zimmer and the ubiquitous shabby armchair, all a picture of decrepitude. It's a depressing and dangerous drip-feed of images.

Dr Stefan Slater, Edinburgh.


TO follow up Neil Fraser's excellent letter (September 4) on the oppressive and intrusive legislation requiring us all to install new systems of interconnected smoke alarms, the folly of these measures will become glaringly apparent when the very small numbers implementing them becomes clear. No-one I know has implemented the measures or intends to. For very many, the cost will be prohibitive, many others will not understand what they have to do, and others will find the practical steps difficult and inconvenient; more still will resent the cost and trouble of replacing perfectly adequate systems and many will resist authoritarian intrusion into our private space as a matter of principle; in the unlikely event that there was a rush to install these devices, the demand would hugely outweigh the presently very small supply (there are 2.5 million households in Scotland required to purchase them).

Democracy is based fundamentally on the principle of consent; this measure will greatly harm the credibility of devolved government in Scotland by exposing in a very obvious way the almost universal absence of consent for this absurd and unnecessary law. The only winners from this will be insurance companies who will use widespread non-compliance as yet another excuse for wriggling out of their obligations to policyholders.

Stephen Smith, Glasgow.


GREAT news that the Burrell is reopening in March 2022 ("Home’s where the art is as Burrell Collection exhibits stage a return", The Herald, September 3). How sad then to see that neither Councillor David MacDonald, chairman of Glasgow Life, nor Bridget McConnell, chief executive of Glasgow Life nor Sir Angus Grossart, chair of Burrell Renaissance are recorded as mentioning that the collection was gifted to the city by Lady Constance Burrell and Sir William. We live in an era when there has been widespread discussion of how women have been marginalised and forgotten in the art world.

Given Glasgow Life's current financial crisis you would think that as well as respecting Lady Burrell as a previous generous donor it might have an eye to future help with reopening Glasgow Life's cultural venues. Let's not alienate future donors by erasing former donors from memory.

I hope that in future our civic leaders keep in mind the old adage that "behind every great man there is a woman rolling her eyes" and be mindful that she may well be the one signing the cheques.

Helen Garner, Glasgow.


THE older and more mature one becomes one tries, not always successfully, to ignore the words "tempus fugit". However, it provided serious pause for thought when one learned recently that Bjorn of Abba is 76 and Benny is 74 ("So, are you ready for the return of Abba?", The Herald, September 3). I have refrained from including the ages of the ladies, Frida and Agnetha. This is a group which continues to be regarded as a musical phenomenon and appeals across generations. When things are flagging at a party, Dancing Queen will usually get people on to the dance floor.

People say that you start to understand you are getting older when those in the police force begin to look younger. However, I can say that I was given a strong dose of reality when learning that time had obviously not been standing still for those highly talented members of one of the best products ever to emerge from Sweden and that they were about to start to perform again in digital versions of their younger forms.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.