FOLLOWING on from the failed promises over the last 16 years to upgrade the A9 trunk road between Perth and Inverness comes four months of traffic disruption and delays due to work on a gas main.

A single-carriageway section of the road near Dunkeld is reduced to a single lane with traffic controlled by temporary traffic signals. There is no alternative route that can be used as a diversion. As has been widely reported, this results in queues of traffic and long delays.

I have recently travelled from Inverness to the Glasgow area and back. On my southbound journey early on Thursday evening (October 26) there was a queue over six miles in length. On my return at around lunchtime on Sunday (October 29) there were again significant delays. On both occasions there was no sign of work taking place on the gas main.

It would appear that road users are to accept delays at these works 24 hours a day and seven days a week until February. Is it really possible that, in these circumstances, the contractor works only a 40-hour week between Monday and Friday?

If it is essential that the gas main must be laid in the carriageway, then it should have been possible for Transport Scotland to stipulate that the work should be done in overnight possessions with traffic flow not impeded between say 7am and 9pm.

It is hard to imagine a more striking example of how little regard politicians and their agencies based in the central belt give to those who live in the Highlands. I find it impossible to imagine that any other community in Scotland would be subjected to such disruption.

George Rennie, Inverness.

Grappling with a sad loss

I WOULD like to voice appreciation to Jack Davidson for his fitting tribute to the illustrious wrestling stalwart Willie Baxter ("Wrestler, referee and coach who was a tireless advocate for the sport", Herald Obituary, October 28). He certainly captured this amazing man's character.

Shortly after Willie's funeral, Mr Davidson contacted me to ask for any information about the great man that he could use. Unfortunately, I could not help as I was on a cruise through the Baltic Ocean at that point.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know “Billy” Baxter: his father and my grandfather were close friends. They served together as elected representatives on the local council and both were elders in a local church.

I would like to add a couple of stories to Jack’s piece: one which highlights Willie's great sense of humour and one which illustrates his determination, sense of right and wrong, and formidable grappling skills.

Read more: Wrestler, referee, and coach who was tireless advocate for the sport

Because of his love for wrestling, Willie was a stalwart of Highland gatherings and games and he would often tour these events with "The Manhood Stone": a smooth egg-shaped rock which weighed a considerable amount. He would ask spectators, “big strong lads”, to step forward and lift the stone, place it atop an old whisky barrel and if they were successful they would be rewarded with a dram. In his best impression of a snake oil salesman, Willie would call one of the lighter wrestlers - sometimes me - to show how it was done. It was a test of strength, but there was also a knack to it. Yet when "big strong lads" saw a seemingly thin and weak callant lift it, they thought it must be easy and tried to show their masculinity and earn themselves a drop of the amber nectar. Let's just say that there must be quite a few "big strong lads" cutting about Scotland with hernias.

My second story concerns a time, back in the 1960s, when the Scottish Open judo championships were being held at Jordanhill College of Education. Willie turned up to take part, but was refused entry due to the fact he had never competed in judo before, had no belt and that the championships were reserved for black belts only. He took the organisers to task about the use of the word "open" and, being worn down by his philippic and thinking that as he was a novice he would get trounced anyway, they acquiesced. Of course, one of our country's greatest-ever grapplers won the competition and, as well as receiving the gold medal, was awarded an honorary brown belt – awarding a black was out of the question as he had undertaken no formal gradings.

I remember a few years ago being with a mutual friend and discussing Willie and his many, many talents. We concluded that when Willie passed on, our world would be a much duller place. Believe me, it certainly is.

Gordon Fisher, Stewarton.

Rugby and the rule of six

MANY of the matches in the Rugby World Cup, including the final, seemed to me to be trials of brute strength rather than elusive running skill. I agree that it is time for change to get away from the negativity of the current style of play exemplified by the reliance on rush defence to stifle free-flowing movement. This results in the ball being moved with little forward movement from side to side across the pitch as both teams engage physically until it is booted into touch or there is a knock-on or a foul which brings a stop to play. The noisy reaction of the crowd if a player manages to break through, or when the backs mount a free-flowing open running attack, demonstrates clearly their excitement at and approval of that style of play rather than the alternative arm wrestling of the heavy-brigade forwards.

Could Rugby Union learn from Rugby League which seems more open to fast running play presumably because there are fewer players and no slow, grinding scrums?

How about limiting to six forwards for a start?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

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Former irritations

THIS morning as I sat down to consume (formerly known as eat) my breakfast superfood (formerly known as porridge), having consumed (formerly known as read) my digital version of The Herald (formerly known as the Glasgow Herald), I turned to the news website of the British Broadcasting Corporation (formerly known as the British Broadcasting Company). As is now usual, the BBC in its reports would use material first reported on X (formerly known, apparently, as Twitter).

Whether news or sport, article after article reminded me that X was formerly known as Twitter.

Dear BBC, please desist from this very irritating (formerly known as patronising) unnecessary repetition. Understand this (formerly known as "with an exasperated sigh I am telling you that"), I know, and so I believe do all your consumers (formerly known as readers), that X was Twitter.

Alastair Clark (formerly known as young and good-looking (well, young at least), Stranraer.