I UNDERSTAND that an assisted dying survey is being undertaken by the British Medical Association (it closes on February 27) with doctors being asked whether the organisation should support, oppose or remain neutral on a change in the law to permit doctors to prescribe drugs for adults of sound mind, who are either incurably suffering or terminally ill, to end their life.

Whilst I recognise this issue may give doctors a serious challenge, I do believe it is now time, in this advanced society, that this decision should actually lie in the hands of the patient themselves – with the doctors simply providing to means to an end.

Clearly I am aware of the risks – "greedy off-spring trying to get their hands on the money" and so on – but in this day and age, when technology can keep people "alive" virtually indefinitely, surely it is time entrust this decision to the patient.

I have already advised my doctor that, were I to collapse, I do not wish to be resuscitated and understand that my medical notes have been amended to include this instruction. So it is not such a great step forward to accept, were I of sound mind and either incurably suffering or terminally ill, that I should have the power to end it all.

Alan McKinney, Edinburgh EH16.

The name game

WHAT’S in a name? Quite a lot nowadays, it seems, when researchers have found that two-thirds of parents would consider giving the new arrival a ‘made-up’ name to help their child stand out in life ("Parents lead boom in ‘made-up’ names", The Herald, February 8).

In my early days stand-out monikers were earned, such as "Two Ton" Tessie O’Shea, "Buster" Crabbe, The Brown Bomber, and George "Corky" Young of Rangers FC fame, and more recently in the news "Randy Andy".

One does wonder, however, if Dundee’s poet and tragedian William McGonagall (1825-1902 ), would have been recognized as "the world’s best bad poet" if not endowed with the gem "Topaz" as middle name; and closer to home I sometimes wonder if life would have been more interesting if unimaginative Ma and Pa Smith had allowed me "Romeo" for starters instead of the more prosaic "Robert".

R Russell Smith, Kilbirnie.

Sound advice

THE adverse criticism of commentary on sporting action (Letters, February 10 & 11) employed by Steve Barnet, brings to mind the wise words of that peerless commentator, Richie Benaud, who had previously captained the Australian cricket team with distinction. He had set out eight rules for commentators to follow. They included: "Avoid cliches and banalities. Put your brain into gear before opening your mouth. There are no teams in the world called 'we' and 'they'.

"Above all, don't take yourself too seriously, and have fun."

His rules should be required reading not only for tyro commentators, but also for those who consider themselves old hands at the game.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.