Your piece by Ronnie Smith (13 January) contains a number of errors. He claims that: 'Every major trunk road linking English cities north to south and east to west is being significantly upgraded, widened, improved, resurfaced and having impressive new junctions constructed along the way', while: 'The A9 from Perth to Inverness cannot be widened because, apparently, there is too much land on either side...There are no government plans to upgrade the Scottish rail network in any meaningful way using state funding...'.
In fact the A9 is scheduled for dualled from Perth to Inverness with work currently proceeding at Kincraig. The M8/M73/M74 improvement works, completion of the M90 with the new Queensferry Crossing, and the Aberdeen bypass are all currently building, with the A96 dualling to follow. The M80 and M74 completions are already open. The EGIP programme currently under way will result in electrification, capacity enhancement, and journey time reductions on the main Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line and the lines from each to Stirling. All of these works are funded by Transport Scotland under the direction of the current Scottish Government of whom he is so dismissive, and they compare rather well with the modest achievements of the previous administration.
I feel Walter Humes (13 January) is being rather unfair to Nicola Sturgeon when he describes her as rarely being seen in the same outfit twice. As someone who notices what female and male politicians wear, I can assure him that I have frequently seen the first minister in the same outfit. Given she admitted that she was advised she would have to do something about her image as her profile rose, and that she also stated she resented having to do so, I think it highly improbable that she would then go to the other extreme and don a new outfit for each occasion.
It appears female politicians cannot win: if they dress badly, they are criticised; if they pay attention to their appearance, they are accused of being clotheshorses. Mr Humes may consider the SNP government to be lacking in substance, but he should confine his remarks to their political achievements, or lack thereof, rather than making a jibe about Nicola Sturgeon’s dress sense which would not be out of place in the pages of the Daily Mail.
Contrary to your report on talkScot (14 January), Victor Borge wasn't an American comedian. He was Danish, and indeed also Jewish – lovely acerbic combination,
and his satirical sense would likely have accelerated his journey to the gas chamber, if he'd not managed to escape sometime around 1940. He might have been a major concert pianist if it hadn't been for the additional survival value of a comedian (outside Nazi Germandom). He did have a Scottish piano teacher – the internationally celebrated Frederick Lamond, sometime pupil of Franz Liszt – but they did not get on very well.
I did send a German pianist friend a DVD of the great man suggesting here was the clue to his future career. My friend and his wife made the mistake of watching it one night to fill in the hour before bedtime. The following morning they were wrecked, since any time one of them woke during the night, once they finally managed to stop laughing for long enough to nod off, he or she would remember one of the jokes and, unable to stifle their laughter, inevitably wake their partner. Unfair to ethnic humour, calling Borge an American.
Robert R Calder
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