What’s in a name

Andrew HN Gray (Letters, 21 August), uses a disgusting tactic to try to tie in the SNP with the IRA and does so by inventing a fairytale. He claims that the IRA came up with the word “Brit” as an insult and that finance secretary John Swinney also used it as an insult.

Meanwhile, “we”, whosoever they are, “wear it as a badge of pride”.

What rubbish. I use “Brit” often as a totally neutral term. (I note my spell-checker doesn’t challenge it). I first used the word, along with my comrades, back in the 1960s while in the British Army of the Rhine.

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We would get briefings on multi-national exercises where the “Brits” would be in this sector, the “Yanks” in that one and the “Jerries” somewhere else.

Brit was a common term just as “Blighty” was the usual term for the UK.

I was quite often called “Brit” by Americans, just as I called them “Yanks” to their faces, no insult meant on either side.

I’ve seen references to Pershing’s troops talking about “Brits”, so the term goes back a century and more and is most likely American in origin.

As for the IRA using it, sure they did. It was used in a general manner, not always insulting unless spat out or snarled.

The Protestant side, in turn, did the same with the term, “Free Stater”.

When the mobs on the Falls Road, Turf Lodge and elsewhere got insulting, “Brit” didn’t come into it. It was straight forward chants of “English b*****ds”.

I’ve still never forgiven them for that – calling me “English”, I mean!

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I shall finish by not calling Mr Gray “Scottish”. I wouldn’t want to insult him.

Thomas R Burgess

St Catherine’s Square


I usually have a lot of time for David Fiddimore’s opinions so I was astonished and disappointed to read his latest letter in which he defends people’s right to say offensive things (22 August).

He writes: “Words can only hurt you if you if you are soft enough to let them.”

Words hurt like hell if you are in a vulnerable position and defending yourself could result in you being physically harmed or losing your job.

They hurt when you’re a lone woman being harassed by men in the street.

They hurt when you’re a young gay person being taunted by his or her peers.

It’s not always a question of lively banter. Some people get a kick out of picking on those half their size.


Dundas Street


I am proud to possess a pewter pint pot presented to me on my 21st birthday when I was in national service basic training at RAF Bridgenorth in 1962. It is inscribed: “To Jock from the boys of Hut 181.”

Should I now be pursuing the boys of Hut 181 with a view to a racial discrimination claim?

John Malcolm