Watching paint dry is more exciting than watching the Lions - Readers' Letters

I had the great pleasure of watching live rugby for the first time in 17 months on Saturday when Hawick Linden and Gala YM played a pre-season warm-up match of three 20-minute sessions. Considering how long it was since these players had last played the tackling was fierce but fair and the wish to pass the ball along the threequarter line by both teams was commendable.

Scotland star Stuart Hogg takes on Lukhanyo Am during this weekend's match between the British and Irish Lions and South Africa in Cape Town

Going home full of enthusiasm to watch the British and Irish Lions despite the poor game the previous week I could not believe what I was witnessing – kick kick kick with virtually no attempt at trying to be constructive and actually pass the ball by the backs and petulance being displayed as every refereeing decision was questioned.

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This was 80 minutes of unadulterated garbage and a poor spectacle which fortunately for the public was without spectators. If this is meant to advertise the sport and encourage people to play and pay to watch then it is not a great way of doing it.

Finally, the total time taken to play the game including the half-time interval was 130 minutes due to all the stoppages to confirm decisions and stop petted little boys from pushing and prodding each other. This is totally unacceptable.

So next Saturday it will be a tough choice whether to watch more of this boredom, which I am sure will be the same as the two previous weeks, or watch paint dry. In the past it would have been an easy decision but now I am not sure.

George Storey, Hawick, Scottish Borders

No solution

I could not disagree more with the headline on the Letters Page of yesterday’s Scotsman (“It’s time to decriminalise drug usage”). The legalisation of drug use is simply an invitation to our children to experiment with substances already proven to wreak havoc with body and mind.

By all means let us treat humanely, all those who were foolish enough to become substance-addicted in the past.

But no more empathy and understanding for this illegal pharma trade that is killing more people than Covid.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Mantle of failure

As expected, SNP apologists Gill Turner and Mary Thomas manage to cite Westminster as the culprit for the Scot Government’s dismal drugs policy failures (Letters, 2 August).

They also insist that Portugal and other countries have policies to envy, but conveniently ignore the uncomfortable truth that the country next door has a three times better record with the same tools at their disposal as we have.

Post-Brexit the mantle of worst drugs toll in the EU now rests elsewhere, and at that this rate any future vote on Scotland’s membership will be assured of at least one vote in order to hand it right back.

Andrew Kemp, Rosyth, Fife

Drug clinics

The First Minister has called for ideas to end Scottish drug deaths. Pilot this one: undercut the barons and pushers by supplying clean drugs at below street costs to all registered addicts via policed 24/7 NHS drug taking clinics.

Over time new addictions will cease, especially if illegal suppliers are severely punished and all other venues where drugs are taken are closed. In the meantime safe doses and monitoring will reduce and perhaps even end drug deaths.

Tim Finn, Garvald, East Lothian

Covid parallels

Your editorial about the deaths from drug overdoses in Scotland (31 July) is a distortion of the truth. It quotes the leader of the Tories in Scotland: "The drugs crisis is a national shame – people crushed by a system that is thoroughly broken." This is an example of the practice of Scotland being a country when there is something bad to report but only part of the UK when success is being described. The quotation is a correct picture of the UK with its poverty, lack of democracy and the lack modern system of medical care for addicts with safe havens, as prevented by Westminster.

The piece compares Scotland with Sweden, Finland and Norway, which underlines the faulty basis of the comparison as these are independent countries. Every time England farms out another branch of medicine such as protective clothing to private enterprise, the Scottish NHS loses revenue which would have enabled the appropriate care to be offered to sufferers. But even if we were allowed to have safe havens we cannot afford them. It is a catch-22. The same applies to welfare payments.

The sad deaths from drugs have been highlighted in The Scotsman, but it does not see the relationship between that and the other statistic that Scotland, while ruled by Westminster, has had 10,000 deaths from Covid. New Zealand, which is the same size as Scotland, has 26.

In April of last year you published a letter from me arguing that we should have a different approach to Covid fom England. I think that the same applies to the compassionate treatment of drug addicts and for that matter all our many ethical decisions.

Iain WD Forde, Scotlandwell. Perth and Kinross

Olympic spirit

In an Olympics chock full of crybabies claiming mental health issues to duck out of losing on track and field fair and squarely (risking lucrutive sponsorships in the process), well done to Italian Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim, who suggested sharing the gold as joint men's high jump champions.

Long-time friends and sporting rivals, both had come back from devestating injuries to compete, each coaxing the other not to quit, and on the night gave the performance of their lives. Theirs is the true Olympic spirit.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

With God's help...

I have found myself surprisingly moved by some of less well-known sports, and the marvellous responses of some of the athletes at the Olympics. What a wonderful testament to the human spirit.

However, I have been disappointed to see so many athletes asking God to help them win. The concept of an omnipotent creator choosing which athlete to support is simply ludicrous but, sadly, all too prevalent.

Brian Bannatyne Scott, Edinbjurgh

No flags, please

The Tokyo Olympics have been a stunning success. In spite of every possible setback, the Japanese have produced a wonderful spectacle in a controlled and so far healthy atmosphere and it has been a joy to watch.

My only complaint would be that I wish all the flag-waving and anthem playing at the medal ceremonies and in the opening parade could be dropped entirely. The participants could merely be presented with their medals, wearing their team colours, and in the opening parade march past without any nationalistic ostentatiousness.

These are outdated rituals that tend to inspire in some sectors of society all the ugly nationalist emotions at present crippling the world.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Highway Code

I read last week that the Highway Code is to be revised to afford more protection to pedestrians and cyclists. One revision was that a road user should stop at a junction, whether exiting or entering.

The former is generally followed today as one stops before exiting to check oncoming traffic. But imagine the chaos if cars or bikes (as if they would?) stopped on a busy road to let someone cross a side road.

A major step forward would actually be if all road and pavement users followed the existing Highway Code (assuming they know it exists).

Derek Sharp, Edinburgh

Threat from Iran

The deaths of a British citizen and the Romanian captain of the ship the MV Mercer Street in a suspected Iranian drone attack in the Arabian Sea should remind us that Iran is far from a normal country.

In a normal country, the president elect (Ebrahim Raisi) is not a former key member of a death commission responsible for the secret execution of thousand of political prisoners in 1988.

In a normal country, the destruction of a far away country (Israel) and the genocide of its people is not a key objective of the regime, which is given priority over the welfare of the people.

In a normal country, there is no Revolutionary Guard Corps functioning as a state within the state with its own armed forces to suppress internal dissent and special forces engaged in terrorism far beyond the country’s borders.

In a normal country awash with oil and natural gas to cheaply satisfy all its energy needs, there would not be an obsessive pursuit of highly enriched uranium.

Our politicians, diplomats and journalists must realise that the totalitarian regime in Iran is not just a problem for Israel and the Gulf Arabs.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Greenhouse gases

Dr Richard Dixon claims that “emissions have to fall to zero before temperatures stop rising” (Scotsman, 29 July).

Not exactly. Perhaps he refers to “net zero”, the idea that greenhouse gas emissions balance sinks. In that case, zero emissions would not cause the global temperature to fall unless they were balanced by sinks. Net zero is a pious hope.

Even then the temperature would not fall because of the amount of greenouse gas already in the atmosphere. With net zero, global warming would continue unless some means is found to remove the excess greenhouse gases. This seems improbable.

The only other way to lower temperature is some kind of geoengineering system that cools the planet. Prof Sir David King has proposed such a method to cool the Arctic Ocean, refreezing it. Such a desperate measure is surely necessary to save civilisation.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

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