THE UK Government has failed to recognise the very important role played by the BBC in the last two years. For many isolated people unable to leave their homes, or reluctant to receive visitors, it has provided a vital link to the world outside their "bubbles"; it has helped the morale and mental health of the population in stressful times. Now we have been told by UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries that BBC reporters are guilty of "group-think": might not the Government remove the beam from its own eye? Lord Reith established the mission of the BBC: to educate, to inform, and to entertain, not to peddle ever-changing and fatuous slogans.

The Tories of Margaret Thatcher's persuasion were determined to dismantle and break up "statist" monopolies, whether the Post Office, the railways, or the NHS. Now they have belatedly realised the popularity of such enterprises, but have declared Kultur-kampf on the BBC, one of the few remaining British institutions which are admired around the democratic world, and feared elsewhere. Lord Reith's vision remains; in 50 years' time, people will ask "Nadine who? Tim who? – perhaps "Boris who?"

Graeme Orr, Neilston.


AT the weekend, Boris Johnson explained to the media that the Roman Empire had fallen because of "uncontrolled immigration". Presumably these "immigrants" were the captives brought to Rome as slaves from all over the empire, there being few who went voluntarily. Most historians suggest that the Roman Empire fell because it overreached itself, on the orders of corrupt, delusional, gibberish Emperors. That Mr Johnson went on to mention Brexit, while in the middle of the ruined Colosseum, was perhaps logical: or as the Romans would have said, "ipsi dixit".

T J Dowds, Cumbernauld.


PEOPLE have asked me “how many books do you own”? The answer is none ... they are friends, companions and if there is any owning going on then they own me.

In my previous home they were more or less arranged so that I could locate the one I wanted but here, on the beautifully crafted bookshelves that line the walls, and onto which they were hastily placed from the many boxes they had travelled in from Skye, they seem to have agreed to sit in no order at all, allowing warfare, witchcraft, poetry and The Domesday Book, amongst three thousand of other subjects, to just do as they please.

I wish that I had Rosemary Goring’s neat and tidy mind to arrange them more carefully (“Empty bookshelves this Christmas? Whatever next?”, The Herald, October 27). The task is now impossible ... I stand here, one book in hand, wondering where it would like to be, but it might disrupt the life of another which does not want to be moved anyway.

There are currently three sharing my sofa as I join the attempt to avert the insect apocalypse (The Silent Earth by Dave Gaulson), then periodically join that “drunk man” who likes to look at thistles (Hugh MacDiarmid) whilst looking forward to joining some 18th century gentlemen as they indulge their passion for plants (The Brother Gardeners – Botany, Empire and the birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf.)

All the bookshelves are overflowing; books sit on the furniture and the floor but I love them all to bits. They are the most perfect part of life.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

* ONE of my earliest memories is of my “wee” granny reading to me, and later of my “big” granny in her old age, pre-television, deaf and less mobile, rarely seen without book and magnifying glass ("Pay attention everyone: Reading is a priceless and timeless gift to us all, The Herald, November 1). Almost 80 years later I still appreciate the gift from my two grannies that cost nothing.

R Russell Smith, Largs.


I HAVE just managed to catch up with Mark Smith’s Thursday column, in which he informs us that the beaches in Northumberland are "the best beaches in Britain (“What the English can teach us about masks”, The Herald, March 28). I confess that I was gobsmacked. I now await a column in which he advises us that the Northumberland National Park contains the most wonderful mountain landscape in Britain, that the Tyne is as magnificent as the Danube and Newcastle a veritable Athens of the North. Before he does that, however, may I suggest that he might visit, say, the Cairngorms or the Alps, the Danube itself, more or less any other European city and, dare I suggest, practically any beach on the west coast of Scotland. Perhaps he has never visited the Hebrides.

I’ve been on the beaches of Northumberland, and never did I think "well, this beats Luskintyre into a cocked hat".

Ken MacVicar, Lesmahagow.


I WHOLEHEARTEDLY concur with Maggie Ritchie’s views on what is perhaps more honestly described as compulsory music ("If you want to visit a pub or restaurant these days, don’t forget your ear plugs", The Herald, October 29).

Ms Ritchie and readers may be interested to hear that an organisation exists to oppose this blight of modern life and to explode the myths of its alleged benefits, as peddled by those who promote it (often for financial reasons).

It is called Pipedown, and a simple computer search will reveal its website.

Alan Jenkins, Glasgow.


MY good friend Prince Doug Maughan (Letters, Ocrtober 30) may not be the sole member of aspirant royalty stalking your columns.

My six-greats-grandfather Alexander Polson fought as an ensign in the army of The Prince at Culloden, and I have it on good authority that had the outcome that day been otherwise, Alexander would have been ennobled.

(HRH) Gordon Casely, Crathes.