ONCE upon a time we all had electricity meters and most of us had gas meters. These meters were read quarterly by meter readers who used to visit every house in the country.

A part of everyone’s bill was the standing charge which covered the supplied cost of the meter plus the reading charge.

The original cost of the meter has long since been paid for and now, because just about everyone reads their own consumption and delivers it via the internet or has a smart meter, the meter readers have gone. So the logical conclusion is that the standing charge would disappear.

But instead, the electricity standing charge has just increased to 60p per day. This means for me that even if I used no energy, standing charges will still cost me £319 per year.

It is time to remove this iniquitous tax on households.

Paul McKay, Largs.

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Occupational health needs more support

AS representatives of occupational health professionals in Scotland, we read with interest and alarm your recent three-day investigation into the crisis facing GPs in Scotland ("General Practice in crisis", The Herald, March 13-15).

Doctors, and other healthcare professionals, are under levels of strain that they have rarely faced before. The fact that so many, as you report, are considering leaving the NHS is concerning. What is happening in the NHS also reflects the situation across the wider workforce and economy. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, around 600,000 people have dropped out of work, at a cost of £150 billion to the economy.

While we were glad to welcome the focus on workplace health in the Spring Budget, your reports highlight why a strategy that puts occupational health at the heart of tackling workforce drop-outs in NHS Scotland is necessary. The investigation points to the need for investment in occupational health to support the healthcare workforce and prevent workplace illness. The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) and leading occupational health physicians wish to work with NHS Scotland to support this.

If more occupational health support is not offered, we will continue to see the NHS face difficulties in attracting and retaining staff – which will ultimately have a detrimental impact on patients. It’s worth noting that investment in occupational health to support the workforce is necessary to achieve sustainable positive change – “workplace wellness” on its own is just a sticking plaster and simply won’t cut it.

Prof Ewan Macdonald, University of Glasgow, Chair of Scottish Occupational Health Action Group, and Dr Oli Asatiani, Chair, SOM Scottish Group, Aberdeen.

Working from home causes confusion

I HAVE just had a phone call that displayed "Private Number". I very nearly did not answer it as such calls are usually nuisance calls.

It turned out to be Glasgow council tax office with a query. I asked the girl how I was to know that this was indeed the tax office. This stumped her and I suggested I call her back, but she said that they do not take incoming calls.

I listened to what she was querying and realised that she actually was from the council tax office. She confirmed to me that she was still working from home.

I am amazed that the council is using private numbers and still working from home. It causes confusion, delay and anxiety.

No wonder the collection of Glasgow's council tax is totally inefficient and frustrating.

David Falconer, Glasgow.

Read more: We must improve on cyclists delivering junk food in an unsafe way

A potted history of Latin grammar

HAVING read recent letters concerning the teaching of Latin, I recall being told many years ago that one of my ancient forebears had taught Latin in Roman times. As an aide to the then Pictish leader Heidbumma he had been liaising with the local Roman commander Grammaticus during the building of the Antonine Wall. Things were not going well and he suggested it might help smooth relations if his fellow Picts were taught the basics of Latin grammar.

Grammaticus was sympathetic to this idea as he’d had problems with asterisks in Gaul. However he was concerned lest it interfere with Roman patrols along the Wall. It was therefore agreed that teaching be confined to the watchtowers situated above the ramparts. Thus the Higher Latin exam was born.

Things initially went well but the Romans soon noticed that the Picts were much slower learners than their Northumbrian counterparts based around Hadrian’s Wall 50 miles to the south. This became known amongst the Roman hierarchy as “the attainment gap” .

The Picts were predictably outraged and pointed out that it was harder to learn Latin when their climate was that much colder. As a concession therefore the Romans reluctantly agreed to install a fireplace in the watchtower complete with a circular stone chimney. The circular lum for excellence was duly created.

Unfortunately it didn’t help improve matters and my ancestor was punished with six months' imprisonment in the Bar L Fort followed by a further six months' community service collecting honey from spelling bees. He did however pass his woad work exam and went on to run a successful business providing military tattoos. As they say, history repeats itself.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.

Our ancient tartan I READ with astonishment your report of the finding of the “oldest” tartan, dating from the 16th century ("‘Oldest tartan’ unearthed from bog set to go on display at V&A", The Herald, March 27). It is of course quite young, being 1,600-1,700 years younger than the Falkirk Tartan, which dates from the Roman occupation. Should a reader wish to learn more I would refer them to the Falkirk Historical Society and their excellent Calabria publications. Also, books on the Wilson’s of Bannockburn tartans make reference to it.

Ron Wilson, Brightons, near Falkirk.

The bottom line

AVRIL McDonald's Picture of the Day (The Herald, March 28) was a pretty scene indeed, the small boats lying on the shore with the creels in the foreground and a little island offshore. What caught my eye however, was the name painted on the dinghy in the centre of the picture, Ton Ri Gaoth. I wonder if Ms McDonald has the Gaelic? If she does, she might know that in English it would be translated as "Arse to the Wind".

Maureen McGarry-O'Hanlon, Balloch.

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