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Latin lovers

Peter Mullen, the retired Holyrood Secondary head who now represents the Catholic church on Glasgow education committee, knew what he was doing at the schools sub-committee meeting last week. He casually observed that modern languages could be at risk because of the disappearance of Latin from the curriculum.

And who should be at the meeting? None other than Ken Corsar, director of education and classics graduate from St Andrews University; Malcolm Green, education convener and lecturer in Roman history at Glasgow University; and Jean McFadden, former Glasgow Labour group leader and ex-classics teacher.

McFadden seemed to feel Latin had been a guarantee of grammatical knowledge, as she recalled two Strathclyde University students who asked her what a verb was. But John Young, the veteran Tory councillor, pronounced Latin dead and said even master wordsmith Winston Churchill had trouble with it.

Chris Mason, the Liberal Democrat leader on the council, also bemoaned the current lack of grammatical awareness. But he is a poetic soul as well and thought that "In the gentle air we heard the sound, Of axes being gently ground"

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