AN interesting letter from CalMac’s managing director, Robbie Drummond (Letters, September 4) but one which omits more than it says. I understand the distinction between CalMac and Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) but it is disingenuous to suggest that there is no link between the two. While CalMac does not design the ferries it stretches imagination to hint that they do not have any input.

That said, his suggestion that CalMac is delivering a reliable service is open to debate. Looking from my living room window at Wemyss Bay pier there are times when I think that the published timetable is merely a suggestion and one could be forgiven for thinking that when a butterfly breaks wind in Saltcoats, ferries arriving and departing Ardrossan are immediately placed on amber alert.

Tourism is not only a mainstay of the islands but also necessary to ensure the financial viability of CalMac as well as that of the ancillary connecting services such as West Coast Motors. Yet the last twice when I have taken the Wemyss Bay-Rothesay ferry, on the first such occasion the ferry seemed deliberately timed to miss the hourly bus to Mount Stuart (a major tourist attraction) and Kilchattan Bay by five minutes and the second time, despite a 35-minute turnaround at Wemyss Bay, the ferry was sufficiently late so as to dock just a few minutes before the bus was due to depart, resulting in it pulling away when we were 20 yards from it. (It should be noted that despite the long turnaround time vehicle loading commenced only five or six minutes before scheduled departure.)

Each company blames the other: meanwhile tourists resolve not to return to an island that needs all the help it can get. One would have thought that a simple communication between the two organisations to hold the connection for a couple of minutes could be implemented but joined up thinking does not appear to have reached CalMac.

In my experience on the Arran ferry, a full load of vehicles on and off at either end appears to preclude any possibility of adhering to the published schedule.

Mr Drummond preaches a good sermon on CalMac reliability; unfortunately it hasn’t quite been put into practice.

Bob Buntin, Skelmorlie.


I READ with great interest Mark Smith's article on the 70th anniversary of the Knockshinnoch mining disaster ("Triumph and tragedy of great mining rescue is remembered 70 years on", The Herald, September 7).

This was a disaster in which 13 men died but 116 were saved thanks to the efforts of the mine rescue team, who dug through hundreds of tons of earth to free the trapped miners.

I am proud that my father was part of that rescue team. I remember as a small boy sitting with my family listening on the radio to the progress of the team.

Amongst my son's treasured possessions is the medal that his grandad won for bravery and which he gave to him.

George Kay, Burntisland.


NOT everyone shares Derek Petrie's craze for using contactless, or any other kind of payment card (Letters, September 5). I am one of millions who still like to keep track of our spending, and hope that real money has a long future.

I particularly object to shops just assuming I wish to use a card. The pandemic is being used as an excuse by businesses to make life easier for themselves in this regard; such a cavalier attitude towards the customer should not be encouraged.

M Carr, Glasgow G40.


AS an avid cruciverbalist I have for years been cowed by puzzles set by the late Myops, believing my intellect and solving skills to be deeply inferior to those who cracked The Wee Stinker and his other challenges.

Until I stumbled across a "classic" Myops puzzle published by The Herald, with the answers, only the other day. And the penny dropped. I'm not thick after all.

Anyone who can solve "Headless vermifuges - i.e. sea ears (6)" (answer: ormers) without recourse to a reference book really needs to get out more.

I'm sticking with Boz & Co.

Steve Brennan, Coatbridge.