JUST as people are trying to come to terms with the effects of the coronavirus comes the sad news of the death of John McKie ("Crossword genius, gentleman and teacher John McKie dies aged 80", The Herald, March 17). Addicts of the Wee Stinker, which I have completed with the encouragement of my sister-in-law for 27 years after declaring that it was far too difficult for me, will have to change their ways of life on Saturday mornings.

One anecdote which may be apocryphal concerns John's tardiness in producing the crossword in time for publication. The deadline on one occasion was fast approaching when John's wife took a call from your office asking about that week's Wee Stinker. "Tell them I'm at one across", said John.

Another sad illustration of how life will never be the same.

David Miller, Milngavie.

THOUGH saddened to read of the passing of John McKie at only 80, I was delighted to see nearly a page given to his inspiring life as a Classics teacher, crossword expert, and community-serving Christian. Privileged to meet him when I was a student teacher on practice at Hutchesons' Grammar School for Boys in 1969, it was clear to me that he enjoyed the respect of pupils and staff alike, and well deserved promotion to head the department as successor to Bob Eadie. His younger perspective and crisp logic offset the Scottishness of traditional Bob, and the feisty enthusiasms of Douglas MacLennan.

When a pupil at the Crown Street site, John would know the open coal fires in some classrooms, where bigger guys crowded lesser fry out of the front seats so as to catch the most heat.

As for the crossword world, since I had later to restrict myself to English as Classics was crowded out of timetables in the 1960 and 70s, I specially enjoyed trying to bring crosswords alive for less able pupils with simpler crosswords, an excellent way to build their word-hoard. Having enjoyed opportunity in the care of a lively and cultured department at Hyndland Secondary School, whose motto was Spero meliora – I hope for better things" it was a pleasure to work with Classics staff at the High School in Elmbank Street in my first post, teaching Greek as well as English. Faith, hope and love to the McKie family in their memories of a great father, and to his wider family of former colleagues and pupils.

Martin Archibald, Paisley.