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MAILBOX; ONLY WAY TO SOLVE THE SCHOOL SCANDAL.

FULL marks to the Sunday Mail for highlighting the plight of Scotland's dilapidated and dangerous schools.

Your excellent investigation showed that our teachers and pupils face health and safety hazards.

Following in the wake of the NHS scandals in Scotland, your reports confirm that the majority of Scottish state schools are in a chronic state of disrepair, including incidents of collapsed masonry and many classrooms not even being wind and watertight.

This is a scandalous indictment of successive Westminster Governments and Scottish local authorities who have allowed this to happen.

It's time our 129 MSPs at Holyrood demanded the return of the hundreds of millions in revenue plundered from Scotland over the decades.

We could then upgrade our schools, hospitals and other essential needs. - John F. O'Hare, Arden, Glasgow.

No escape

I DON'T blame Andrew and Fergie for withdrawing Princess Beatrice from the Swiss school where a girl was allegedly raped. But they are going to have to accept that no matter where they send her there will be things going on that they won't like - for example, smoking, parties, etc. This is life no matter which school the girls attend. - S.F., Stranraer

Rising anger

YET another way has been decided for us on how to spend our OAP pension rise - the bus fares are up, even before the increase comes in. Then there's the increase in postage stamps, TV licence and council tax. Our money is spent before we get it. - Mrs Joan Whyte, Simshill, Glasgow

Crazy cans

NOWADAYS our food is so carefully packaged it's a major feat to get at the contents but corned beef tins still take the prize as the most difficult to open. Many people must be fed up cutting themselves trying to open the stubborn things. - Mrs M. Hutcheon, Kemnay, Aberdeenshire.

Cost of dogs

I WOULD like to thank Melanie Reid for her responsible piece on dog bites in last week's Sunday Mail.

The idea of a postman in flight, pursued by a yapping hound, is often considered a comic scene.

Well, it's not. Not if you're the postal worker in question. No one should be threatened with violence at work, yet last year 6191 postmen reported being attacked by dogs.

A total of 5969 days were lost as a result. Royal Mail calculate that dog attacks cost more than pounds 2 million a year.

Dog owners who fail to control their pets are irresponsible. - Derek Hodgson, General Secretary, Communication Workers Union.

Lost chance

AMERICA'S Tartan Day was a missed opportunity by the First Minister to lead all Scottish opinion in Washington to press for the nuclear test ban treaty to be ratified, for a lifting of economic sanctions on Iraq, and for treaties such as the 1972 ABM agreement to be maintained.

This was a great chance for Scotland to punch her weight. Instead, it was missed because of Westminster dogma. - Andrew Kerr, Jedburgh.

Give her peace

AS Victoria Beckham is finding out, the novelty of being photographed all the time soon runs out.

When you can't even go shopping on the quiet, without being caught, it is no longer worth it. - D. Goldie, Glasgow.

Keep it axed

MPs are demanding the return of News at Ten but let's hope they don't succeed. When there was a good film, ITV had to break for the news. - J. Kirkwood, Grangemouth.

Wrong man for the job

WHAT were the education authorities thinking about when they invited Mick Jagger to return to the school he hated when he was a boy?

The Rolling Stones lead singer has spent years building up a fortune, largely thanks to his anti-social behaviour.

To have him parade around Dartford Grammar School in Kent last week as if he owned the place surely sent out the wrong signals to the pupils.

We are, after all, trying to educate our children to be responsible adults when they grow up. To respect their partners and their elders.

Mick, great singer that he is, could not be described as a paragon of virtue. He has, in common with many rock stars, left a trail of failed romances behind him.

I suppose it would have been too much for the school to find a genuinely nice personality to visit.

A sad sign of the times, perhaps. - Mr T. Knight, Paisley Road West, Glasgow.

Browned off

by fuel rise

GORDON BROWN is out of touch with the financial concerns of ordinary people, who now pay more for everything because of his 2p a litre diesel rise. This is the man who didn't have enough money to pay for his breakfast in the Treasury canteen on Budget Day.

Scottish islanders will bear the brunt of the diesel rise. Transport costs will go up and so will all food and materials brought there. - William Blair, Rothesay, Bute.

Family matters

IT'S high-handed of Melanie Reid to say the reason men don't take paternity leave is because they think more of their jobs than their families.

Most middle-income families want to be more involved in their child's early days but can't afford the time off.

The Blairs have no such problem. The country has survived when he's been on holiday, so he needn't use that excuse. - Mrs M.L. Georgeson, Monifieth.

Pie in the Skye

I SEE the Macleod of Macleod is selling the Cuillin mountains on Skye for pounds 10 million.

It's scandalous one person can own so much of a country that morally belongs to everyone. - T. Lyness, Bellshill.

A fast one

OUR town is getting two fast food restaurants. Why do we eat on the hoof so much? Nothing beats being served by a smart waitress in a nice restaurant. Or am I getting old? - Diana Storrie, Ayr.

Net curtains

WHY didn't Prince Philip wear a hairnet in that cheese factory in Australia? Because he might look like a dork? - M. Rowan, Musselburgh.

JUST ASK... WE'LL ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS

NEWS that Sara Cox has done her first Radio 1 Breakfast Show, made me wonder when the first ever radio broadcast was made. - Alison Wilson, Glasgow.

nTHE first was on Christmas Eve 1906 in Massachusetts, when Professor Reginald Aubrey Fessenden opened the show by playing O, Holy Night on the violin and then reading verses from the Gospel of Luke.

WHICH Formula 1 Grand Prix Driver has won the greatest number of World Drivers' Championships? - Mr S. Clarke, Dumfries.

nTHE Argentine driver, Juan-Manuel Fangio won five times before retiring in 1958 and still holds this record. He took his titles in 1951 and from 1954 to 1957.

MY friend says SOS does not stand for Save Our Souls. Surely he is wrong? - Liz Scott, Aberdeen.

YOUR friend is right. The distress message doesn't stand for anything. Instead, the letters SOS were chosen because they make up an easy Morse code message to remember and recognise. In Morse, the code is three dots, three dashes and three dots.

DO vampire bats suck blood from victims after puncturing the skin with Dracula-style fangs? - J. Dow, Ayr.

NO. These bats, found in Central and South America, live solely on a diet of blood. But they don't pierce their victim's skin with fangs, they use their razor-sharp incisor teeth.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 2, 2000
Words:1199
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