I NOTE that there appears to be a flicker of interest again in addressing the influence of early years in children's lives ("Duchess of Cambridge in call for early years mental care", The Herald, June 17).

It is a matter of logic, as much as the outcome of structured research, that every factor in the course of early development is influenced by, and builds on, what has gone on before, and before that... This is self-evident, and research over many decades has demonstrated the serious implications of poverty and inequality for physical and mental health, educational achievement and many other parameters in later life. Early experiences can define lives.

Why do we need the imprimatur of a duchess, seeking to do "good works" and to lessen her own irrelevance, to have these matters seriously addressed? And what, pray, does the Duchess of Cambridge know about poverty and inequality?

Dr Angus Macmillan, Dumfries.


WHILST reading the Agenda column regarding bus services ("Let’s work together for a clean air approach to bus transport", The Herald, June 16), I was somewhat taken aback by the sheer hypocrisy of the author, Fiona Doherty of Stagecoach West, advocating greater use of public transport to help improve the air quality in towns and cities. This from a company which, if its wishes are met, will consign a large number of the population of North Ayrshire back into their cars.

If Stagecoach has its way the X34/36 bus service from Irvine/Ardrossan via the Garnock Valley to Glasgow will be withdrawn in July. This service is essential for disparate sections of the population, children going to school, people going to work both locally and in Glasgow, students going to college or university and even for people going shopping in the city.

The company's excuses are many and varied, some may be valid, others less so. It mitigates the decision by stating that you can still get a bus from Kilmarnock to Glasgow. I'm not sure if its management realises how ludicrous this suggestion is. Someone from the Garnock Valley would be required to get a bus to Irvine, a bus from Irvine to Kilmarnock and then Kilmarnock to Glasgow and the same process on their return. They say you can use the train; really, when we see the chaos on the rail network at the moment, where trains are cancelled at the drop of a hat? What they appear to forget are the words "public transport". If they are allowed to cut or withdraw services on a whim, then before long there will be no "public transport".

It is past time for all agencies, government, transport authorities and companies to get round a table and decide where the priorities lie. If they wish to lessen our use of the motor car then they are required to provide the means to achieve that. Continuing to cut services is not the answer.

Jack Cruickshanks, Dalry.


ONCE again we have another example of myopia by a Scottish Government body; Holyrood’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee has decided not to hear the opinions of Sharron Davies and other prominent British female athletes on the subject of reform of Scotland’s gender recognition process. What is the point of holding hearings if you are not going to listen to all points of view? This gives the very firm impression that, as a body, you have already decided what the outcome of the process will be.

Behaviour of this nature is more akin to an autocracy than a democracy.

W MacIntyre, East Kilbride.


THE World Health Organisation says Glasgow will suffer increased flooding and heat stress due to climate change ("Glasgow’s public health ‘will be impacted by climate change’", The Herald, June 16). I do not know about the heat stress, but if the city council cleaned the street gullies in the city and got together with the Clyde Port Authority and dredged the river, there would be no chance of flooding in the city.

William McCarron, Glasgow.


AS the great McGonagall's biographer (Birlinn 2010), I can say with confidence that the Bard of Paton's Lane would be tickled pink by the attention he's getting in your columns (Letters, June 10, 11, 14, 15 & 16). I suspect he's presently taking curtain call after curtain call – despite the best efforts of the angels to remove him from his heavenly stage.

Keep them coming.

(Dr) Norman Watson, Perth.

• IN response to Mary Duncan’s remarks about the respective "merits" of my McGonagall and Darwin quotes (Letters, June 15) I can only plead that the aesthetics of badness so totally transcend those pertaining to more excellence as to make The Herald’s correspondence columns an inadequate forum in which to pursue a satisfactory resolution of so recondite a matter.

(This isn’t to deny that Ms Duncan is absolutely right, but is merely to demonstrate stout repudiation of criticism).

Robin Dow, Rothesay.


MY compliments and warmest felicitations to James Sleigh on the publication of his novel and for his Herald article ("An evocative Scots word conveys more meaning than half a dozen in English", The Herald, June 17 ).

Or to put it differently: “Lang may your lum reek”.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

• I HAVE always been interested in the diversity of language in our country. I use Scots words, which can be very expressive, and enjoyed the article by James Sleigh. I am also a not-very-fluent Gaelic speaker. Gaelic was the language of both sides of my family until discouraged in my mother’s generation, but my father continued to use Gaelic all his days.

It is interesting to see the word "bùrach" turning up in The Herald from time to time – meaning a mess, or guddle. However, I would make a plea to non-Gaelic speakers who use this word to spell it properly. See Iain Macwhirter on Friday ("SNP partly to blame for Brexit bourach", The Herald, June 17). There is no "o" in bùrach, and the "ù" makes a long "ooo" sound.

Dorothy Dennis, Port Ellen, Islay.