TWO items in Monday's Herald (October 11) got my attention. First, David Leask's story of the disgraceful treatment of the Spanish cleaning lady at an Edinburgh university ("Spanish cleaner goes viral hitting out at ‘snobby, messy’ uni staff and students"). The other, the letter by WR McCrindle on the dearth of apprenticeships over the past decades. A certain snobbery and entitlement shone through both.

Far too many youngsters are going to university only to leave in debt with little prospect of a decent job. Many are under pressure from parents and teachers. There are parents who think that any form of manual work is for other people's children, and many schools are desperate to send pupils to university to make their stats look good.

I fully appreciate that there are horses for courses and pupils with no manual skills may be better in academia or higher education. However, those who have could be utilising these skills to the nation's benefit. I recently required the services of a plumber for a non-emergency repair and was very lucky to get one within three days. In conversation with this self-employed tradesman I discovered that he had, and has always had, more work than he can handle. The same applies to the roofer who cleans our roof gutters each winter. I have two nephews, both tradesmen, who have never been unemployed since leaving school 20 years ago. The supposed statistics that a graduate will earn more than a tradesman in a lifetime may be wishful thinking in the present state of our economy.

It would be interesting to get the stats of the percentage of university students gaining jobs related to their degree, versus the apprentices leaving vocational education and into their desired vocation. Many graduates are in relatively menial jobs just to earn a living. This must be soul-destroying and demotivating and not what they signed up for. Successive governments have failed to invest in vocational education and as Mr McCrindle rightly states, due to this, we will be at a disadvantage as a nation for many years to come.

Ian Smith, Symington.


ROSEMARY Goring refers to the "unhappy career" of Mary Queen of Scots ("A new twist in the story of Mary, Queen of Scots", The Herald, October 13). I believe that one of the most unfortunate aspects of that career was the nature of her relationship with her son, James VI. She states that James did nothing to facilitate his mother being released from captivity in England and that he had been reared to "despise and detest her".

The controlling Protestant interests in Scotland determined that James’s education should be placed in the hands of the historian and scholar George Buchanan, who set out during that process to turn him against his mother. James did not know his parents. His upbringing was, therefore, very much influenced by Buchanan, who had become one of the strongest critics of his mother. Given that background, it comes as not much of a surprise that the proposal for Mary, a Roman Catholic and James, a Protestant, to share the Scottish throne was not further pursued.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.


LIVING in a complex of some 40 flats, all of which have some form of fire/heat alarms, it was more than interesting to read Christopher W Ide's letter (October 12),with its reference to the excellent letter of September 6 from Neil Sinclair, formally of Strathclyde Fire Brigade, on the subject of the necessity of every house in Scotland now having to be equipped with an upgraded fire alarm system by February, 2022 (aye, right). While it is clear that it will not be a criminal offence it seems that it will be enforced by the local authorities (aye, right).

The devil lies elsewhere. It is probable that before a residence can be sold, the Home Report that has to be filed, and complied with, will require the residence to have the requisite number of alarms.

What is surprising is the total lack of response from housing associations and local authorities. It is a great pity that more voices have not been raised in protest. As to expecting the law makers to change their minds in response to logical argument and practical advice: nae chance.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.


WITH previous excellent coverage by female columnists on endometriosis, period poverty, the menopause, faulty breast and pelvic mesh implants, more recently a correspondent's schooldays racy bottle-green knickers (Letters, October 5), the intricacies of corsets ("Sorry Adele, but is a corset really the right image to send out to your fans?", The Herald, October 12 ), and a refresher course on female anatomy (Letters, October 13), the Letters Editor can be reassured regarding his query “Do readers think The Herald is too male oriented?” ("Your view on letters gender imbalance", The Herald, October 9).

Apart from regular reports on goals scored and missed penalties assessed, perhaps gender balance could be addressed by informed comment on erectile dysfunction, boxer shorts and baldness for the male readership.

R Russell Smith, Largs.


LOVELY pictures abound of the Queen walking for the first time in public with the aid of a stick ("Queen uses stick", The Herald October 13). Could I respectfully suggest that if this is to be the norm from now on, she might perhaps ditch the big handbag, as it nearly made her drop the little posy she was presented with at Westminster Abbey. A small shoulder bag might be more practical. Just a thought, Your Majesty.

Celia Judge, Ayr.