I HAVE further bad news for Denis Bruce (Letters, February 28), who laments the censorship of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton. For the 70th anniversary republication of the 14 James Bond books, due in April this year, Ian Fleming Publications has enlisted the help of a team of "sensitivity readers" to remove racist references.

It is a useful exercise to put oneself in the position of victim of a racial slur. In 2004, when Boris Johnson was editor of the Spectator, he published "Friendly Fire" by James Michie:

"The Scotch – what a verminous race!
Canny, pushy, chippy, they're all over the place,
Battening off us with false bonhomie,
Polluting our stock, undermining our economy.
Down with sandy hair and knobbly knees!
Suppress the tartan dwarves and the Wee Frees!
Ban the kilt, the skean-dhu and the sporran
As provocatively, offensively foreign!
It's time Hadrian's Wall was refortified
To pen them in a ghetto on the other side.
I would go further. The nation
Deserves not merely isolation
But comprehensive extermination.
We must not flinch from a solution.
(I await legal prosecution.)"

Well, as you can imagine, there was a stooshie. Ian Blackford asked questions in the House. The Spectator removed the poem from its website.

I wish it hadn't. I would prefer the purveyors of "friendly" fire to remain in full view, out in the open, shooting themselves in the foot. Perhaps in 70 years' time Friendly Fire will be republished, heavily redacted, with the rider: "This language which seems entirely unacceptable to us, was commonplace in its day and reflected societal views widely held at the time." Duh.

Freedom to critique is the reciprocal of freedom of expression and should not be micromanaged by any self-appointed arbiters of taste. One of the most basic freedoms to be cherished, perhaps the most basic, is the right we each have as individuals to make up our own minds.
Dr Hamish Maclaren, Stirling

• BLYTON bowdlerised. Golly (politically incorrect) gosh, I need a ginger beer. Will Timmy the dog still be allowed to say "Woof"?
Margaret MH Lyth, Glasgow

We must improve driving standards

I STRONGLY disagree with the findings in the survey conducted by IAM RoadSmart, formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists ("Aggressive cyclists are a threat", The Herald, February 27). I find it difficult to imagine how an average cyclist on a machine weighing about 25lbs can possibly be a threat to someone sitting inside a one-tonne vehicle and protected by airbags.

The statistics quoted show the true story, with almost 500 cyclists killed by motor vehicles, compared to four car drivers killed in accidents involving cyclists. The stats on accidents involving pedestrians show a similar disparity.

It is impossible to disguise the fact that motorised vehicles are almost entirely responsible for the annual toll of killed and seriously injured in Scotland's roads. If 175 people were killed in a train or a plane crash, a public inquiry would be held and remedial steps taken, probably costing millions, yet this is the average number of road deaths in Scotland per annum since 2014 and is accepted as though it is a natural cause.

It would be good to see evidence that IAM RoadSmart has engaged with or promoted good cycling practice and given support to the provision of safe segregated cycle lanes, so painfully lacking in our towns or on our rural roads. I am a car driver, motorcyclist and a cyclist, in that order of mileage, but it is worrying that current driving standards are now so poor and the aggression levels so high.

We must introduce a system of further testing, not perhaps in the IAM RoadSmart model which encourages high-performance driving, but regular checks of basic competence and skill, together with tolerance and understanding of the needs of other road users.
Jack Fordy, Alexandria

Burns project to be welcomed

THE project to develop the site of Ellisland Farm is imaginative and one to be welcomed ("Vision to turn Robert Burns' farm into tourist attraction and hub for writers", The Herald, February 27). The farm played a significant role in the life and work of Robert Burns. He wrote that "the banks of the Nith are as sweet poetic ground as any I ever saw".

In March 1789 in a letter to a friend he said that, in taking on a lease from Whitsun 1788 of Ellisland he had "ventured on a bargain" which "is and will be a very, very hard bargain". The property did not contain a farmhouse in which the family could live and Burns had to have one erected with a contribution from the landowner towards the cost. Moreover, he put an application in to the Excise Service in order to provide, if appointed, extra income. He realised that Ellisland, at least for a time, would not be able to provide for a wife and family.

Eventually the new farmhouse was completed in the spring of 1789 and Robert and Jean proceeded to work hard in efforts to make the farm a success. Upon taking up a position with the Excise, he found that work, combined with that on Ellisland, to be a heavy load, which began to take its toll on his health. Eventually, Burns determined that he had to dispose of Ellisland and he negotiated with the landowner to return the lease. Burns and his family then moved to reside in Dumfries in 1791.

While Burns wrote some of his finest work at Ellisland, such as Auld Lang Syne and Tam O 'Shanter and in excess of 130 songs and poems, his life on "the banks of the Nith" was at times arduous, challenging and far from trouble-free.
Ian W Thomson, Lenzie

Whichever way you look at it...

R RUSSELL Smith's tale of Kog as an acronym for Keep off the grass (Letters, February 28) reminds me of the good doctor's story last year of difficult diagnoses resulting in Kog's palindrome GOK, God only knows, not to be recorded in the patient's records.

In godly terms, SOS might be an apt palindromic acronym.
David Miller, Milngavie

Ate tea, Brutus?

LETTERS on mock Latin teasers (February 27) remind us what Caesar had for tea, but omit the lot of Brutus. The full stanza goes:

Caesar adsum iam forte
Brutus aderat.

I was not taught this by my Latin mistress at a girls school; I think I got it from my father or brother.
Helen Ross, Bridge of Allan


Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.