AS we watched Notre Dame Cathedral burning on our screens, we saw crowds of onlookers who, like us, were transfixed by the flames. In their faces we saw tears and we heard their songs as they came together in the spectacle of tragedy.

Though far away in another country, we felt something too. Structures like Notre Dame are not just buildings but fixed points of personal and cultural reference in an otherwise chaotic world: they help give a sense of place that is so important to us all.

They are more than assemblages of stones and wood, they represent millions of experiences, collective and individual, layered over time. To walk within them and physically touch the fruits of the labour that built them is to journey through time.

If there’s a message of hope from the flames, it’s the outpouring of support, the pledges to rebuild and the commitment to honour what’s gone before.

Ultimately, it’s the realisation that heritage matters to us all. Let’s not take it for granted or wait for the next tragedy to recognise and celebrate what we have. Experience it now and, together, let us protect it.

Simon Skinner,

Chief Executive, National Trust for Scotland,

Hermiston Quay, Cultins Road, Edinburgh.

AS I was typing "Notre Dame" into the subject line of this emailed letter the spell checker came up with the suggestion "not really. How appropriate.

Before the dust has settled on Notre Dame, French President Emmanuel Macron has pulled the old politicians' trick of suggesting a ridiculously unrealistic deadline of five years for the reconstruction.

The hundreds of real experts, once they had finished laughing, must now be appalled at the intolerable pressure this cheap headline will impose on them.

Stuart Neville,

23 Lilac Avenue, Clydebank.

Hankering for a hooker doon

DID I miss “hooker doon” in the letters about Scottish workers’ headgear? (Letters, April 13, 16 & 17)

There is a song in the Scottish Students’ Song book with the lines: “at his gate there sat a human reckium/In a hooker-doon, with a grauvit round his neckium.”

The Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL) has the following irresistible quotation from H Foulis, better known as Neil Munro of Para Handy fame: “Ye'll go and buy a kep. A hat like that's no use at a Gleska fitba' match; ye need a hooker.”

The DSL describes a “hooker”, or more commonly a “hooker doon”, as a cloth cap with a peak and gives the probable etymology as arising from the action of putting it on the back of the head and pulling down the peak as if hooking it on.

Hugh Boyd,

65 Antonine Road, Bearsden.

IT’S all hats in the ring in the current headgear names debate (Letters, April 17 ), and hat, cap, bunnet, scone or whatever have their devotees, but the old doolander heads the list for me as I prepare to head off up the road with the bonce suitably adorned.

R Russell Smith,

96 Milton Road, Kilbirnie.

Birthday eyesore

CAN anyone explain why those people who put up sheets at street corners to celebrate a 30th/40th/50th birthday and the like, invariably omit to come back to remove the sheet after the happy occasion?

It becomes just one more example of rubbish littering our streets. I have removed two sheets after a few days within my area recently.

Allan Merry,

Eglinton Road, Ardrossan