IT is sad and revealing that Edinburgh City Council has replaced the Melville Monument plaque with the same misleading, partial and biased wording as the previous one ("Council replaces controversial plaque at Melville Monument", The Herald, March 19), despite the many objections generated by genuine experts.

It might have portrayed some magnanimity in admitting that Viscount Dundas's action in promoting a more gradual abolition of the appalling Atlantic slave trade - deemed the only practical solution likely to succeed in the UK Parliament in the 1790s - may well in the end have saved more lives than the half-million souls tragically transported in the 15 subsequent years.

Also, why did the council's panel appointed to determine such a contentious topic not include even a single relevant historian of that period, and why was it chaired by a professor of brewing, albeit the respected Sir Geoffrey Palmer, rather than such an expert?

John Birkett, St Andrews.

When the only way is down

THE rise and fall of Jason Leitch ("Leitch set to step down from clinical director role", The Herald, March 13) follows a path identifiable in the lives of many people in public life. So much good work by so many goes largely unnoticed, except by those who have been touched by it.

The rise culminates in the summit of public recognition and resultant adulation. From there, it seems, the only way is down.

There is, I believe, in all of us, a little seed desperate to be nourished and to grow into someone acclaimed by the people. Give it even a little attention and the growth is phenomenal. The need for nourishment becomes a craving, an addiction. Is it any wonder we hear so much about the peccadillos of public figures? Why are we surprised that politicians fail us? All of us have skeletons, big or small.There are exceptions, of course. Not just in the sphere of politics is this an issue; it afflicts all who succumb to the power which comes with fame.

I've read many erudite columns in newspapers written by folk I know little or nothing about, except that their words make so much sense that I am left wishing they could run the country. I check myself at that point, however, because that might just be the start of their downfall. Public life is not for everyone but, for those who choose to follow that path, they would do well to prepare themselves for the tumble.

I remember wise words spoken to a beleaguered public figure, berated after an ego-driven speech: "If you'd gone up there the way you came down, you'd have come down the way you went up".

John O'Kane, Glasgow.

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Poor show at Glasgow Airport

IT’S long after my normal bedtime, having left Nelson, New Zealand, approximately 40 hours ago. If I sound frazzled, I probably am. I am writing to declare my huge disappointment in the baggage handling company, SwissAir, at Glasgow Airport, having “survived” (baggage, immigration, customs etc) Shanghai, Nelson, Auckland, and Amsterdam.

There were only a few, no more than 30 passengers and the KLM crew, waiting at the carousel in Glasgow for their luggage, and it took more than 30 minutes, with no announcements. The excuse was that several flights had arrived at the same time. So? Management means managing such an event. Glasgow deserves better, and the several overseas visitors waiting were far from impressed, as was I.

Lesley Mackiggan, Glasgow.

Titanic struggle

TITAN, the unique Finnieston Crane, is an iconic structure which should be preserved for the future in all its majesty as a reminder of the proud working history of Glasgow and the river Clyde. Thanks to Stuart Neville’s photo in The Herald (Picture of the Day, March 19) it can be seen to be rusting extensively, which indicates it is being neglected by the Clyde Navigation Trustees or whoever else is responsible for its care. If this photo does not shame them into remedial action, perhaps you could sponsor a fundraising campaign for that work before it is too late and we are told it is a fait accompli that it has to be demolished.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

The Herald: Jason LeitchJason Leitch (Image: Newsquest)

Miserly act from the SFA

THE Scotland Deaf football team are hoping to play in the Euro championships for the first time, in Turkey. Unfortunately they need to raise £40k. So far the public has given 55%.

The contribution (sic) from the SFA is to supply them with a strip. This is nothing short of disgraceful.

Obviously inclusion is sadly lacking in the hallowed halls of Hampden.

PS: I've chipped in £100 from my old age pension.

Roy Gardiner, Kilmarnock.

Trying hard

IT is disappointing to read press criticism of the Scottish rugby team in the Six Nations.

Scotland have 50-60% the player numbers of Wales/Italy/Ireland and a mere 10-12% of those of England and France so should never be expected to finish anywhere other than last.

This year all teams other than Ireland under-performed.

Well done Scotland for finishing fourth.

Niall Mackie, Mauchline.

Iconic or not?

A PROFESSOR of literature should know that contrary to what is supposed by those who guess at meanings instead of deigning to consult a dictionary, an icon is a piece of kitsch, hastily executed to a conventional pattern, usually with minimal skill and by definition without imagination ("Burns is Scotland's one blue-chip literary icon, and should be on every curriculum", The Herald, March 16). Hence "iconic" means more or less the opposite of what now seems to be commonly supposed).

Moreover, as a Burns enthusiast Kevin McKenna should know that the name of the poem he discusses is Holy Willie's (not Wullie's) Prayer. This error seems analogous to that made by the lit crit type who write of a character called Bill Sykes, suggesting that though they've seen the movie they haven't bothered to read the book.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.

Wide angle

YOU report that losses widened in an investment firm chaired by Martin Gilbert ("Scottish investment chief sees losses widen at fund manager", The Herald, March 21). Do profits widen too, or do they just rise and fall?

This sort of language is used by utility companies, who write and tell me that prices will be changing. Knowing that " changing" means "increasing", I read no further and reach for my wpb (sorry, waste paper bin).

David Miller, Milngavie.