THE day before New Year’s Eve I walked home in cold, heavy rain past the swollen Water of Leith which had burst its banks despite recent expensive and disruptive flood defences. I encountered a woman trying to "sweep" road water away from her front path and door.

She complained to me that she’d contacted the council and they’d done nothing… however, then I looked along both sides of her street. It was a familiar and depressing sight.

Front garden after front garden was paved over or block-paved or concreted or gravelled. Hedges were ripped out as per my own neighbours, losing precious urban habitat, often for vehicle access. God forbid any living thing should mar these sterile monstrosities.

Any chance for excess water to be absorbed naturally is blocked. Each front garden had been turned into an ugly water-repellent void where run-off rain gushes into roads and along to drains that can’t cope.

The people responsible for her immediate minor flooding were the woman’s own neighbours.

I wonder if 2023 will be the year we finally take personal responsibility for our immediate environment if not the global one.
Amanda Baker, Edinburgh

Don't be sick on a holiday

I HAVE some advice for readers – do not be ill on January 3. I speak from personal experience. After several days of a racking cough and other unmentionable symptoms, I finally decided to phone my local medical practice – for advice as opposed to a face-to-face consultation. Unfortunately, as the recorded message told me, the practice was shut for the annual holiday. Fair enough – we’re all entitled to a holiday.

Next stop – a local pharmacy in Bearsden. An online search flagged up three chemists which, I was told, were "open now". After a quick tour by car I established that all three were, in fact, shut. At this point, I decided that it would be best to try the nearest busy shopping centre – Anniesland – where I knew there were at least two pharmacists.

On arrival, I quickly established that they also were shut. Everything else seemed to be open – I could have bought a steak bake, got a haircut, had my nails done or even placed a bet if I were so inclined. I could even have gone to the gym for a workout. But I couldn’t go to the chemist’s. As a last throw of the dice I tried Morrison’s supermarket. Success: a nice lady at the in-house pharmacy was able to provide advice and I duly made my purchase.

We’re all entitled to a holiday, aren’t we? Unfortunately, illness doesn’t take a holiday.
Rob Kelly, Bearsden

Eagles flight of fancy

A NATURESCOT report finds that at least 33 birds of prey have been killed in Scotland by onshore wind turbines since 2019 (“Concern for birds of prey amid rise in onshore wind turbine collisions”, The Herald, January 3). A spokesperson from Scottish Renewables says “wind energy is one of the key technologies we are able to deploy at scale to reduce the carbon emissions which cause climate change – the greatest long-term threat to Scotland's wildlife”. So effectively she's saying we have to kill eagles to save eagles.
Geoff Moore, Alness

Was Pele Brazil's best?

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed Kevin McKenna’s superb tribute to Pele ("In a monochrome Glasgow childhood, Pele mattered", The Herald, January 2). It brought back some warm memories of that great and glamorous 1970 World Cup and I can recall the great moments he mentions. Pele reigned supreme.

It also provoked another slightly earlier memory, that of being allowed, aged eight, to stay up to watch the 1968 European Cup final won by Manchester United and thus turning me in to a lifelong fan.

So, do readers agree with me that Pele was the Brazilian George Best?
Keith Swinley, Ayr

A singer here in my heart

OF course any list of the top singers has to be subjective, and I couldn’t disagree more with the one just published by the Rolling Stone organisation ("Sir Rod still wears it well after being named in top 50 singers", The Herald, January 3). I suppose it depends to a great extent on the lasting influence of what you listened to as you grew up, which in my case rules out many of those listed; and to list Frank Sinatra at 19 and, even worse, Ella Fitzgerald at 45, does not do justice to two of the truly greats.

Personally, showing my age, I would include also an honourable mention of Al Martino for his superb rendition of Here In My Heart, which was the first top single in the UK, a spot it held for weeks, as well as topping the US charts.
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop

• I AM puzzled by the report on "the top 50 singers of all time". In noting Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra languishing at number 14, 17 and 19 respectively I would ask in whose interests this poll was commissioned.

I accept all nominees may be first-class exponents in their own category. However, to compare rock, blues, jazz and popular artists under the single heading of " top " is flawed.

Keep music live. Enjoy the artistry of the individual but stay clear of a best "of all time" accolade.
Allan C Steele, Giffnock

Short-changed by Radio Scotland

MY usual routine at 6am is to select BBC Radio Scotland on my bedside radio to listen to Good Morning Scotland (GMS). In the 10 days covering December 25 and January 3 I have been able to hear that programme on only three days. Meanwhile, BBC Radio 4 has broadcast its usual news programme, Today, at its usual times with the exception of Christmas Day.

I pay the same licence fee as people in England where the Today programme is produced and broadcast. Why am I being offered a lesser news service from BBC Scotland?
John Jamieson, Ayr

Interesting footnote

IAN W Thomson's beginning a sentence with "It is interesting" (Letters, January 3) brings back memories of a golf group, one of whom would frequently preface a story with "This is interesting", or with " This is a good one".

Someone would always interrupt with "We'll be the judge of that".
David Miller, Milngavie


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