THE Government has pledged to provide every region in England with funding for a specialist maths school. Surely, no other subject is victim to such unremitting negative sentiments. Far too often one hears comments like ''I hated maths in school'' or ''I was rubbish at maths'' expressed openly and almost proudly. The Chancellor clearly understands the power and value of mathematics to both our society and the economy. While England produced Isaac Newton and Alan Turing, Scotland produced James Clerk Maxwell, whose genius was recognised by Einstein. Let us hope that the Scottish Government matches this wonderful initiative.

Mathematics is a verb – a doing subject. The present lamentable attitude to mathematics will not change until parents themselves show a positive attitude towards the subject, and those who teach it truly love it and are enthusiastic to share that love with their pupils.

As the recently deceased African-American mathematician, Katherine Johnson, said: ''Some things will drop out of the public eye and go away, but there will always be science, engineering, and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics.''

Doug Clark, Currie.

Rebel with a cause

GORDON Casely, of the airt of Crathes, seeks advice with regard to whether or not he should sally forth and refuse to pay his TV licence later this year as one over 75 years of age (Letters, March 11). Along the lines of giving him assistance short of actual help, let me encourage him, having sustained a blow at least figuratively, to adopt the motto of the Burnetts of Ley, long associated with Crathes Castle –Virescit Vulnere Virtus (Courage Flourishes at a Wound ) – and follow his present disinclination to stump up. I and all the other over-75s will watch his progress with interest.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

IT is astonishing that Gordon Casey, feels inclined “towards a criminal act” in being unwilling to pay 43p per day for the benefit of the best and most respected broadcaster in the world, the BBC. Perhaps a few weeks banged-up would provide the thinking time to appreciate the BBC as opposed to the inferior stuff produced by lesser broadcasters.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar.

Magic of the Alhambra

THE late, lamented Alhambra Theatre features in your “Those were the days” article courtesy of Miss Shirley Bassey ("Shirley Bassey in Glasgow, 1967", The Herald, March 10).

This coming December – six days before Christmas – will see the 110th anniversary of the Alhambra’s opening. Designed by Messrs John Burnet and Son, one commentator wrote of the handsome exterior giving way to a delightful internal harmony.

Alfred Butt, director, and already of London’s Palace Theatre fame, hailed the new house worthy of refined performances; and, indeed, with around 2,400 to a full house, the Alhambra’s Five Past Eight in the Fifties, among other class acts, would wow Glasgow audiences, until economics forced an early “Final Curtain” in the late Sixties. Halcyon days, indeed.

Brian D Henderson, Glasgow G42.

The death of conversation

MY wife and I have become increasingly aware recently of couples or very small groups of people coming into local diners for breakfast and immediately placing a cellphone beside them on the table, ignoring their partner(s) and devoting all their time to the phone. It used to make me wonder if they were communicating with each other – or even placing an order – by text but I think it’s simply something to give their hands to do. Either way, they don’t seem to regard it as exceptionally rude.

Barry Lees, Greenock.