THE world seems to have entered a new, more entertaining phase. Ukraine has elected as its new president a comic actor ("TV comedian in landslide victory", The Herald, April 23). Italy has its Five Star Movement in government, founded by a comedian. The UK has a funny dancer (who can also pull faces) as its Prime Minister. The United States has a petulant clown with a fine line in catchphrases, to bring a grimace to the cold heart of its politics. Kim Jong-un, Putin, Crown Prince Mohammed – not-so-funny jokers the lot of them.

If Scotland is to join this “new” world, it obviously needs to be led by a pub singer. Alas for me: my singing would empty that pub.

GR Weir,

17 Mill Street, Ochiltree.

JUST when we thought things couldn't get any worse some halfwit decides Donald Trump should be invited on a state visit. The man is no doubt nice enough on a personal level but his public image presents a cheat, a liar and a foul, objectionable personality who might possibly face impeachment if many decent US people can arrange it. Could the intention be to distract us from our other impending disgrace?

Kenneth Roberts,

86 Larkfield Road, Lenzie.

Origins of the ‘deserving’ poor

AS Owen Kelly (Letters, April 23) observed, the subject of poverty has always been controversial both as regards its definition and what can be done about it. Thomas Chalmers, the great Scottish divine of the first half of the 19th century, has been taken to task for originally promoting the idea of the "deserving" poor.

Yet it was a revolutionary concept to preach in Scotland's early Victorian Kirk which clung to John Calvin's belief in predestination: that the poor were poor because it was the will of God. Chalmers rightly argued that Calvin's radical belief in the "sovereignty of God" had led him into a very dark place.

Chalmers organised welfare for the “deserving” who had worked, kept their families and homes clean but had fallen on hard times. As for the "undeserving", the drunken scroungers who never worked and were always in trouble, he argued that merely giving them hand-outs encouraged irresponsibility.

Rev Dr John Cameron,

10 Howard Place, St Andrews.

Shooting down The Lark Ascending

MY wife and I tend to have Classic FM radio on as background music when we are at home (and when I am not watching television). Throughout the Easter weekend every year the channel broadcasts the 300 pieces most popular pieces of music as voted for in an open poll of listeners, with the final 10 and the winner announced on Monday evening at 9 pm.

Over the last few years, including last night, the winner has been The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams, which must be the most simplistic and boringly repetitive piece of music ever written. Why is it so popular? Is there some magical musical element in it that I am unable to comprehend? Can any reader enlighten and educate me, please?

Iain AD Mann,

7 Kelvin Court, Glasgow.