I HAVE a book; in fact I have 12 of them – Commonplace Books – but it is that first one that began my battle against grief. It says on the inside cover that it was given to me “to collect things of importance, and none, by my daughter Julie in 1996”. It was a gift for Mother’s Day and just a few weeks later she was dead – by suicide.
I was greatly saddened by the words written by Teddy Jamieson, some of them spoken to him by Richard Coles (“When David died he took the future with him, so I have to put together another future”, Herald Magazine, April 3) Both Teddy and Richard have quite recently lost greatly-loved people from their lives and are struggling to cope, and wonder how long the pain is going to last.
Bereaved people find so many different ways to cope and instead of walking into the loch below my home on Skye in 1996, just to stop the agony, I was fortunate to have just read a book by Cormac McCarthy called The Crossing. The words of the “sepulterero” (the undertaker in the book) would not leave my mind. Of the dead, the sepulterero whispered: “Faces fade, voices dim. Seize them back, speak with them, call their names. Do this and do not let sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift.”
One day I opened that empty book and began to write. “I will be your child to hold and you be me when I am old. The world grows cold, the heathen rage, the story’s told, turn the page”. Again written by McCarthy. Now onto the 12th book, I have collected poems, quotations, drawings, great screeds of words, some my own, some from letters and articles in The Herald and all are things I would have shared with Julie and she with me. I read those books over and over, I add to them constantly, they are my way of calling her name, speaking with her.
I have a photo in the first book, of my Julie taken at 16, and the poem that accompanies it was written by e.e.cummings and ends with the words “nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands”. Her hands were indeed small but her heart and mind were immense. I have many more empty books to fill so I will continue to turn the pages; I will continue to write; I will continue to call her name.
I hope that Richard and Teddy find something to give them comfort.
Thelma Edwards, Kelso.
WHERE ARE THE GREEN JOBS?
CLAIRE Mack makes several mistakes in her article promoting offshore wind (“Unleashing the potential of offshore wind energy”, The Herald, April 5).
First, she says that the wind is predictable. It may be predictable most of the time up to a day or two ahead, but nobody knows what wind speeds will be next week or next month.
Then she describes the investment as “inward” and promises lots of green jobs. Really she should be calling the investment “outward” as all the turbines are made in foreign countries, and according to a recent report 93 per cent of UK offshore wind is owned by non-UK entities, so they are reaping 93% of the profits. And in 2010 the Scottish Government predicted that there would be 28,377 jobs in Scottish offshore wind by 2020, but the eventual outcome was between 1,700 and 1,900 jobs.
Geoff Moore, Alness.
CITY CENTRES NEED BOLD VISION
HUGH Macdonald (“City centres are on life support so how can society revive them?”, The Herald, April 3) details both the symptoms and causes of the decline of our city centres, a decline he suggests could be terminal “if bold action is not taken now”.
It makes me think that activities which, unlike shopping, are not done online could help save our city centres. Glasgow already has some of the finest bars, restaurants and hotels as well as a night-time economy which generates a multi-million pound income, so all over Scotland city centres (and high streets) could surely benefit if support at government and local level is provided coupled with a review of our outdated method of calculating business rates.
We need bold vision and decisive action to nurture and support local businesses which, allied to more affordable housing in our inner cities, could help make our city centres attractive places to live in and to visit.
Billy Gold, Hielan Jessie bar, Glasgow.
MAKE LITTER FINES PUNITIVE
SCOTLAND’S bothy culture is at risk as idiots scatter litter and vandalise trees. Crowds of teenagers flocked to The Meadows in Edinburgh to blast music, drink and leave rubbish behind. Litter is a major problem. but what does the Scottish Government do? It puts up the price of carrier bags from 5p to 10p. Wow.
The Scottish Government will introduce a 20p Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in July 2022 but existing bottle banks in council areas are extremely successful. So people, especially the elderly, will have to trek to their nearest DRS point. The idiots who trash our streets, roadsides and parks are not going to be deterred by a 20p bottle deposit or 10p for a plastic bag, since they will have paid £5-£10 for their carry-out. Fines for deliberate littering should be increased to £1,000. This would solve the problem, not the softly-softly educational approach which has failed miserably for more than 50 years.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow.
BREAKAST? BOTTOMS UP
DAVID J Crawford (Letters, April 5) is right not to worry about enhancing his chateaubriand with “fish poo with a pinch of salt”. Just think where his hens eggs have been hiding.
R Russell Smith, Largs.
A COUPLE of days ago I was cycling on a B road, a rural narrow road. As I came down the hill a car approached. As it passed I heard shouting. The car driver was screaming that I should get of the way, that he was in a hurry, that I had a cheek being out on the road. The comments continued as he drove up the hill.
I gave a sigh: how rude. Then I smiled; he still had to come across the half-dozen cyclists I had passed a minute ago, the dog walker with six frantic animals and the two women on horses, riding side by side.
Allan McDougall, Neilston.