READING Roxanne Sorooshian’s column in the Sunday National on July 19 (Birthday wishes … and fingers crossed for a safe staycation) brought back lots of memories. Readers who accessed my wartime memories of Blackford in Perthshire in these pages some months ago will possibly also remember that this village had one other claim to fame: the notorious railway level crossing.

Particularly in the late fifties and early sixties, when an increasing number of people had cars and few were yet going abroad for their holidays, Glasgow Fair Saturday was a day to be dreaded in the village.

Situated as it is where the main road from Glasgow and the west, to the east coast and the north, coincided with the main railway line, the potential for chaos was huge, especially for those of us who lived outside the village and traditionally did our weekly shop on a Saturday.

READ MORE: Birthday wishes … and fingers crossed for a safe staycation

From early forenoon the queue of traffic through the village grew to huge proportions, backing up from the level crossing right through the main street out into the approach to the village for well over a mile. Buses and coaches of all sorts, cars and caravans all doing their best to get to the east coast resorts as quickly as they could.

People could leave their vehicles and nip into a shop for a quick bar of chocolate or the like if they wanted, and catch up on their bus a little further down the street.

Once built up, the traffic jam took hours to clear because of the frequency of the trains in those days. The level crossing gates are still there and in use, but the village now sits astride a bypass loop and is rarely encountered by passing traffic.

One of the other points in Roxanne’s column – the kids in the van bit – brought back many enjoyable memories. Move on from the above times and by the seventies I had a wife, three small children, and a caravan. As well as normal small weekend trips we would, once a year, plan an “expedition” for a special holiday lasting a couple of weeks and going on occasion as far as Cornwall. For this the agricultural four-wheel-drive truck, which did the towing, was kitted out, with the area behind the seats being fitted with carpet, sleeping bags and all sorts of junk, along with three excited kids. We would then set off around ten at night to drive through the night, and one by one they would eventually drop off to sleep until our first all-day stop around ten hours later.

No safety belts or the like, and not much traffic about. Kids loved it, and of course it would nowadays be seriously frowned upon. Great times though.

George M Mitchell

THE balance of the news now seems to concentrate on the economy rather than the virus. We constantly hear what we can do to save the economy. Holiday locally, buy locally etc, as if the survival of the economy is down totally to us.

We are quite rightly reminded daily that the airlines, some restaurants (those that didn’t devise a home delivery service), pubs, gyms and hairdressers have really struggled and need our custom to survive. But what about the businesses that have boomed? All the supermarkets, especially those that have home delivery services, eg Tesco, Asda, the large companies like Amazon or Netflix for example. Amazon shares have massively increased. Other companies have allowed staff to work from home and made savings by doing so.

These mega international companies that avoid tax ... what’s the government doing about this? We don’t hear much about this. Surely if they addressed this matter and taxed them properly, that would also help our economy to survive.

It’s not just down to us. Westminster, get your act together, do your day job and tax them properly.

Robin MacLean
Fort Augustus