FRANK Sinatra died 20 years ago, on May 14th, 1998. I saw and heard him sing in Dundee 45 years before, in July 1953.

A friend who visited Dundee and sat inside the Caird Hall for the first time was impressed by its size and perfect acoustics. “It could house a small railway,” he said, little realising that it had been known to do just that, when the seats were being removed from the floor to be cleaned.

I was just six years old when I first passed through the doors of the hall named after James Key Caird, who donated £100,000 towards its construction but sadly did not live to see it finished. I think my dad must have been attempting to instil some musical culture into a son who had not long given up the practice of playing with earthworms. Whatever the reason, he took me with him to listen to Frank Sinatra.

During the 1940s, Sinatra was the first singing teen idol. He had to be guarded by police officers whenever he appeared in public. By 1945, his earnings were in excess of one and a quarter million dollars a year and he received thousands of fan letters daily. Hundreds of thousands of young girls between the ages of 12 and 18 started wearing polka-dotted bow ties because he did. Dotty, or what?

By the time he appeared in this neck of the woods, Sinatra’s career was in a slump caused partly by the fact that his young “bobby-soxer” fans had outgrown their white socks and climbed into high heels. It wouldn’t be long before his star rose again with an Oscar-winning role in From Here to Eternity, but meanwhile he was singing for his supper in Dundee.

In the early 1950s it would have been difficult to find more than a handful of people in the city able or willing to fork out the 15 shillings needed to install themselves in the best seats near the front of the concert hall. The result of this was that the fallen idol came onstage to remote applause from those of us in the five-bob section.

When he realised the situation, Frank motioned to me and my dad – and to those surrounding us as well, I suppose – to come forward and sit near him. He himself spent a large part of the show sitting on the edge of the stage treating us to a display of vocal brilliance the like of which in 1990 was to cost the producers of his Glasgow concert one million pounds.

After Sinatra died, there was no mention in the press of his having entertained me and my dad. I remember thinking that his death probably wouldn’t do his career much harm – in fact, as in the case of Elvis, it would probably send sales rocketing. And no doubt soon he too would be spotted working as a short-order cook in a fast-food restaurant in Inverness, or a ticket collector for ScotRail.

It’s strange the things that revenant superstars seem to go in for once they have shuffled off this mortal coil, isn’t it? There never seems to be much of a connection with what they did before. Perhaps I’ll come back as a famous writer.

David Aitken
Broughty Ferry, Dundee

SINCE its collapse in 2008, Royal Bank of Scotland has made losses of £58 billion, in addition to the government’s £45bn bailout. Now another £3bn has gone, as a fine for selling dud products in the US.

Then the unconvincing explanations of CEO Ross McEwan, when grilled on branch closures, makes one ask just what is this zombie bank actually for.

It will no doubt soon be sold at bargain price to the City vultures, and the taxpayer stiffed for the £106bn lost.

The fate of RBS is a lesson for an independent Scotland, and that lesson is that the money supply of a country should be created and issued by government itself, not as debt by the private banking system as at present. Independence is a glorious opportunity for Scotland to be free from the debt slavery of the private banks, and the risk of their expensive collapse.

Malcolm Parkin
Kinnesswood, Kinross

I WAS sorry to see that you wrongly reported that the Free Church of Scotland opposed the building of the Stornoway Mosque. It was the Free Church (Continuing) who opposed the mosque.

The minister of the Stornoway Free Church said: “As a Christian and a minster in Stornoway I do not agree with the Islamic faith, but more importantly by far, I maintain that freedom of religion is a fundamental tenet of a free society as did those who founded the Free Church in 1843.” He quoted Dr Thomas Guthrie, one of the founders, who said before a Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1847: “I would grant a site to any man who desired to worship God according to his conscience.”

The editor of The Record, the Free Church monthly magazine, said: “It is unfortunate that the self-styled Free Church Continuing who made the complaint seem to be unaware of the traditional Free Church position on religious liberty and the freedom to worship. It is also unfortunate that the FCC are far too often equated with the Free Church.”

Catriona Grigg

As Catriona points out, in our story “Island mosque opens in time for Ramadan” (May 12) we incorrectly stated that The Free Church of Scotland had opposed its creation. It was in fact The Free Church of Scotland (Continuing). We regret the error.