LESS than a third of the average wage, our basic state pension pays a single person £137.60 a week, not enough to buy a TV licence.

The full state pension is £179.60 per week. Over a year, that is an income of £7,155, or £9,340: neither seems generous.

The UK pensioner is the poor man of Europe, existing on less than half the average EU pension. And though UK pensions were protected by a mandatory triple lock, Westminster broke that as soon as the average rise in earnings looked expensive at 8%.

And here is another inequality: life expectancy at birth in London is, on average, seven years’ more than that in Glasgow, and yet everyone makes the same National Insurance contributions.

Statistically, females in the UK can expect three more years of pension than males.

If you are a woman living in the rich South-East of England on a full state pension, you may receive £93,400 more over your lifetime than someone living in Glasgow.

There is little value in being old, following 40 years of work and contributions.

It is just as well that grandmas know how to suck eggs, because they may be the only protein they can afford. It is not so much “push your granny off as bus” as “push your granny under a bus”.

Frances Scott, Edinburgh.




DAVID Leask’s article about his discussion with the Dundee University lecturer, Dr Alan Kennedy (“Scottish history is more than a mere subplot of Britain’s ‘island story’”, November 19) reminded me of an observation made by Paul H. Scott in 1993, prompted by the lack of application to Scottish studies.

“It is possible”, he said, “to go through even a Scottish education at all levels from nursery school to a post-graduate degree and emerge in almost complete ignorance of Scotland’s outstanding contribution to civilisation”.

Dr Kennedy is said to be frustrated “by how little many of us know about Scotland’s past” .

That makes one wonder how significant the changes in the study of Scottish history have been since 1993.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.





I REFER to the item on glue traps to catch rats (“Tory MP says rats are ‘not friends’”, November 20).

I lived in Kuwait from 1995 until 1998 due to my husband’s work, and I did animal rescue. We found a stray cat which came looking for food, and we discovered it had a horrendous injury.

A large patch of fur and flesh was missing from its flank, and when we took it to the vet, he said it had been caught in a glue trap set for rats. It must have gnawed its flesh off to escape, leaving the horrendous injury. It had to be put to sleep.

I’m not saying we have to accept rats as friends, but it is not beyond the talents of humankind to invent a humane trap for animals we don’t want in our homes and workplaces.

The human being invents such unspeakable weapons. When is humankind going to become civilised? Is that too much to ask? Glue traps should be banned.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.





YOUR columnist Maggie Ritchie extols the virtues of our library service. and what a library service. I couldn’t agree more (“Why I am putting going back to the library on my post-Covid to-do list”, November 19).

The magnificent Mitchell, as she says, with the City Archives; but not forgetting the Glasgow Room, and the Genealogy Centre, there, side by side, on the fifth floor. A veritable treasure-trove, if ever there was one.

Brian D Henderson, Glasgow.




WORDS are tools. They inform, charm, comfort, praise, and honour, and they are weapons to warn, blame, chastise, and insult.

In response to our esteemed Letters Editor’s article (“Sleazy? Mind your language”, November 20 ), I offer some alternatives from the weapons category, which may be used by aspirational lexicographers, philologists, and word-grubbers, and by those who grace our pages with analysis, insight, opinion.

They are taken from a list of 500 in “The Superior Person’s Book of Words” (Peter Bowler, Bloomsbury), and are likely to be applied to the most distrusted and too-often maligned professions, politicians, estate agents, lawyers, etc, or indeed anyone with whom at the time we happen to disagree.

In abecedarian order: aporia, battology, bavardage, barmecide, bovaristic, fabulist, jawboning, mountebank, nefandous, nescience, sciolism, oligophrenia, rebarbative, queer plunger, rodomontage, vapulation.

Beauxesprits, enjoy and employ.

“Be warned in time, James, and remain, as I do, incomprehensible: to be great is to be misunderstood”, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

R Russell Smith, Largs.



A TEACHER of English should know that “the reason is because”, though used by many eminent writers past and present, is incorrect. (letters, 20 November).

Fowler regards it as tautologous and recommends “the reason is that”.

He might have suggested “it is because” which, since it says the same thing in fewer words, avoids being pleonastic.

Yet, whereas tautology is considered to be an error, pleonasm is deemed to be a figure of speech.

I supposed it is analogous to the difference between an absent worker presumed to be skiving, while an executive will be said to be “re-charging the batteries”.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.