Gazette Letters 12.11.15

Pancreatic cancer day

Tragically, just five per cent of people with pancreatic cancer in Scotland live for five years or more after diagnosis, and almost 800 people in Scotland die of the disease every year.

This Friday (13th November) is World Pancreatic Cancer Day so I would like to invite your readers to know the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and help us spread the word about this dreadful disease, because in Scotland as across the rest of the world, we simply don’t know enough about it.

Yet if more people were aware of the potential symptoms, which include tummy pain, itchy skin or eyes or yellow skin, unexplained weight loss and oily floating poo, more people could be diagnosed earlier.

And we know that the earlier people are diagnosed, the longer they are likely to live. Your readers can find more vital information at

Thank you and best wishes.

Dianne Dobson

Pancreatic Cancer

UK Nurse Specialist

Reuniting shipmates

This is a big thank you to this newspaper, who, along with other local newspapers across the UK, printed a letter of mine recently, explaining that the best way for those who have served in the Royal Navy to find their old shipmates, was to get in touch with their old Ship’s Association and attend one of the reunions, this would almost certainly lead to reliving the camaraderie they once knew.

Well, thanks to you, the response has been terrific, at the moment I have over 60 Royal Navy Ship’s Association Reunions listed, complete with the first point of contact. (This alone could be an old shipmate!!)

So if any ex Royal Navy reader missed the first letter, drop me an email or with brief details of your service and who you are looking for and from which ship, and I will send the latest list through, along with the latest monthly news sheet full of messages.

This goes to over 400 Ship’s Associations and Royal Naval Association Branches. All done by email so no printing, stationery, or postage and subs. etc.

And if you served on one of the Twelve Blackwood Class Frigates, thanks again to the letters being printed and the response, a new Association has started for you. Get your name on the list. (Again no subs). The Type 14 Blackwood Class Association has been launched and the first reunion organised!!

Thank you local newspapers! If you want attention and action, write to “Letters to the Editor. I wonder if you know just how much you are read!

Mike Crowe

Isle of Wight

Gaelic language

The Gael who wishes to see and hear Gaelic on television lives in curious times. We have our own television station, apparently, called BBC Alba. But scratch the surface, and the story becomes a bit more complex.

Firstly, the station broadcasts for around seven hours per day - one hour for children, one aimed at teens, and five, or six at most, for adults.

Of these precious hours, there are too many occasions when less than 50% of the material is actually in Gaelic.

Despite going under the name BBC Alba, which offers a pretence of existing to serve the Gaelic community, there are times when it acts as a sports channel for the rest of Scotland.

We have to accept regular doses of football and rugby, where commentary may be in Gaelic, but interviews are, almost inevitably, in English. And these are not additional, but can take up a considerable slice of the few hours available to us.

If we are to cover football, why not film an island match instead of, yet again, Rangers versus St Mirren (or whoever).

That the service is underfunded is obvious. Machair, a rather elderly soap, was first recorded in 1992, and is now among the many repeats to be found on the channel.

Other material drawn from the archive includes Speaking Our Language, a series designed for those wishing to learn the language - which was first transmitted in 1993, and is available on DVD!

Recent musical transmissions included a five minute music slot, Barbara Dickson singing ‘Rigs o Rye’ (inevitably repeated a couple of days later) and a full half-hour of Rachel Sermanni, who can claim Highland connections, being from Carrbridge, in Strathspey, but as her surname indicates, is unlikely to include Gaelic in her repertoire.

These are fine singers, who should add welcome variety to BBC Scotland’s schedules, but they shouldn’t be used to undermine the already diluted service Gaels receive.

The “History Shorts” series may last only five minutes, but being entirely in English, only serve to reinforce the myth that Gaeldom contributed nothing to history

We do, inevitably, have to live with the numbers game. There aren’t too many Gaels left, are there? But we may counter by reference to a couple of centuries of active repression followed by neglect. Before the brutalities of the Highland Clearances, around 20% of Scots spoke Gaelic.

Then the 1872 Education Act, which introduced compulsory schooling, ignored the very existence of the language. And, of course, the Gaelic male was a willing volunteer, in two world wars, to devastating effect.

So, the number we would wish to engage with is that which might have applied without such depredations on our culture.

If, at peak, a minimum of 20% of Scots were Gaelic-speaking, it may be assumed at least a million of us would still be communicating with each other through the language.

The perceived benefits of multilingualism would probably mean that even more would have set about learning it, and ensuring their children did likewise.

Even were such assertions arguable, there would certainly be many more speakers than at present.

Given such a repressive history, we might expect to read sympathetic letters demanding full compensation from the government, in order that we may begin to recover from the institutionalised cultural damage done.

Instead, we read letter after letter treating us as some kind of profligate enemy of reason: the subtext being “eliminate Gaelic and the problem will go away.”

While we are a resilient lot, with no intention of “going away”, we are also numerically fragile.

But Gaelic is a language, not a label, and it is imperative that the necessary demand for reparations is made, with urgency and clarity, so that both UK and Holyrood governments acknowledge the need to act.

Aonghas MacNeacail

The Rock

Peeblesshire EH26 9NF

Victims of war

In view of the Remembrance Day ceremonies, it is important to remember that war is not just a human catastrophe.

Millions of animals have also been killed and maimed in human conflicts. On the frontline, animals such as dolphins have been used to detect mines, and dogs have been parachuted into enemy territory where many of them died.

Animals also suffer in laboratories across the globe. Monkeys, rats and guinea pigs are used to test weaponry and made to suffer the devastating effects of chemical warfare agents.

Farm and companion animals are also victims of war – when the bombs start to fall, and people flee, the animals are left to take the brunt of the bombing.

Animals don’t start wars and they don’t create weaponry, yet because humans do, they are made to suffer.

The very least we can do is to remember those animals for what they truly are – victims not heroes.

Tod Bradbury

Campaigns Team

Animal Aid

Beautiful Islands Image - Reader Ronnie MacAlpine captured this lovely scene, saying: “Migrating Whooper swans are a common sight on Loch Tiumpan ( Point ), but when a flock of 54 landed on the loch, I felt it was worth capturing the sight on camera.”

Image was taken with a Camera Nikon D3200, Lens 55-300mm @3oomm, ISO 800, A priority mode, 1000th sec. @ f6.3

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