I have lived in Gascony, in southwest France, for 14 years and recently was approached by the county agricultural college to come and speak to a group of students who are planning to visit Edinburgh in April next year.
They want me to prepare and give a two-hour presentation on Scotland. The content of my discourse has to contain economics, politics, history, social outlook and so on.
I was extremely proud not only that they selected myself but that they have a keen interest in my homeland. However when they informed me they had contacted ten Scottish high schools (seven of which are in the Edinburgh area) asking if they could visit in order to study and compare our educational approach and teaching systems with their own, and did not receive one single reply, I was bitterly disappointed and ashamed.
What kind of image does this portray of our great nation and the “entente cordial” that we frequently banner wave; surely with the forthcoming opportunity to become independent we must look for new alliances in order to evolve.
I did ask a fellow Scot, who is well connected with the current government, to help, but I was told in no uncertain terms that these country agricultural students would not be suitable for Edinburgh, and anyway, Mandarin is the preferred language taught in Edinburgh schools, not French.
Where is Scotland going? Do we now see ourselves as too elitist to entertain or bother with other countries and cultures? What happened to Jock Thomson and his bairns? I would appreciate if any Edinburgh educational establishment would like to help. Please contact me.
John Bauld, en tutets, 32260 Durban, France
Police costs paid by organisers
I REFER to the article in which you publish the cost of policing this year’s Royal Highland Show (News, October 30).
I would like clarify that the £69,241 cost is billed directly to the society with no associated policing costs borne by the rate payer.
I hope this clears up any misunderstandings.
Stephen Hutt, chief executive, the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston
Amazon should be brought to book
In your feature about Amazon (Everything’s present and correct, News, November 1), you omitted one important statistic from the “In store at Dunfermline” list: Amount paid by Amazon to the UK Government in tax.
Karen Keil, Drumbrae South, Edinburgh
Watch out for the animals tonight
Fireworks may be beautiful and exciting for us, but for animals they can be terrifying.
Cats and dogs are reduced to fearful, shivering wrecks; horses gallop into fences; and rabbits have been known to die from the shock.
However, there are steps we can take to minimise their suffering.
Firstly, please consider attending a public fireworks display rather than setting them off in your back garden. One central display will scare fewer animals, and is likely to be set further away from homes and their animal inhabitants.
Keep cats and dogs indoors from the afternoon onwards and bring rabbits and guinea pigs inside as well (or at least cover their home with a thick blanket to muffle the noise).
Also, be sure to check that hedgehogs and other wild animals have not made a home in your bonfire before you light it.
Have a happy, and safe, fireworks night!
Ashley Owen, Animal Aid
No-one immune to gay badinage
Cardinal Keith O’Brien has oft expressed his animus against homosexuals who offend against the instructions he claims to receive from his imaginary friend.
Whilst he should be free to believe and say what he likes, other people’s mileage varies and many think he’s a sanctimonious fool who should be pitied rather than respected.
Stonewall may see fit to label him as “Bigot of the Year”. Whilst my label is more succinct, it is one with which I am sure he would have no dispute: “Christian”.
Such gay (and, to some, offensive) badinage is part and parcel of everyday debate and nobody should be immune. Especially the Cardinal!
John Hein, editor, ScotsGay magazine