I HOPED – we all hoped – it would have a short shelf life, a not-too-distant sell-by date. And that it would do what it said on the tin. No such luck. I have therefore taken out an injunction to ensure that the word for leaving Europe cannot be used within 100 yards (or 200 words) of me without the speaker being obliged to eat their own weight in Belgian chocolate. Remind him or her what surfeit feels like.

I briefly flirted with the idea of referring to it as a “neologism”, this coinage that pervades every day and wrecks it, unlike actual coinage. But constant repetition over the years has removed anything that was ever new or interesting about it. Nowadays it sounds more like a curse than a political ambition. What is it Macbeth says about vaulting ambition falling flat on its face? (Well, that’s what he ought to have said.)

Mentioning the Scottish play reminds me that this country voted to remain in Europe, wisely steering clear of the need for any word that rhymed with exit. But as usual no heed was taken by the Westminster gang, who by this time were perversely dedicated to a cause very few of them originally espoused – including the head girl. Indeed, many of them seemed taken aback when the will of the people did not fall into step with their own firm belief that there ought to be a gravy train in Brussels as well as in London, an alternative trough for etiolated politicians to feed from.

In most other areas of life in which people undertake to carry out a technical feat of paper-shuffling within a certain time, rather than hex it, failure to do so would normally entail some sort of consequence – dismissal and disgrace spring happily to my mind – but when it comes to leaving you-know-where, dragging one’s feet is simply par for the course. It belongs to the system whereby Channel Tunnels and the like take twice as long to build and cost three times as much as stated in the initial building estimate. Those builders, what are they like?

As a fan of the radio panel game Just a Minute, in which contestants are required to speak on a given subject for 60 seconds without hesitation, repetition or deviation, I sometimes wish our alleged representatives could be held to such strict account. Imagine how they would wriggle on the hook as they contemplated straight-talking, and being allowed to blame the previous incumbents only once. Not to mention Jacques Delors.

It seems astonishing that a word that didn’t even exist before the whole process started back in the mists of time can now send small babies crawling from the room whimpering. We can but hope that at some distant point in the future, when you and I are long gone, the word itself will also fall into disuse, except in Scrabble, which would seem highly appropriate. The very thought makes me shiver in delicious anticipation. Brrr… no, I can’t bring myself to say it.

David Aitken
via email

THANK you L McGregor, (Letters, July 2) for clarifying in my mind that it is not only me who is baffled by the dark web woven by Westminster regarding the financial arrangements of the Barnett formula. Not to mention the labyrinth that is the mysterious GERS!

As a returning long-exiled Scot, I have tried to untangle and understand how this works between Westminster and Holyrood, and L McGregor shows that I am not alone.

According to Johnson, “Scotland is sent £20 billion a year as a kind of present”. Phillip Hammond says: “Scotland gets its fair share and precious little thanks we get for it”

L McGregor states his or her family have been studying Treasury accounts since the end of World War One and are still unclear about the credit deficit between the two countries.

As I am economically illiterate, it follows I have no chance of understanding.

However, I am puzzled. Scots have long had a reputation for fiscal rectitude and are experts in the banking and tax field. I therefore find it incomprehensible that this very aware nation does not know what the financial differentials are between London and Edinburgh.

Since I have returned I have been very aware of the “too wee, too stupid and too poor” lament. Arguably the case when I left all those years ago but certainly not now. On the contrary, I find Scotland changed beyond recognition – confident, outward-looking, socially empathetic and certainly international in perspective.

L McGregor suggests a Freedom of Information request might provide the information. It is certainly one of the most important things we need to know in the quest for independence.

I am still dumbfounded that this savvy shrewd nation doesn’t know the answer. This information must be available somewhere and must be made available to us all.

My mind returns to the McCrone report and all the skullduggery entailed in that.

We are not going over that cliff with Thelma or Louise.

Bob Harper