Peter Rhodes casts his eye over the weeks big news.
A READER tells me he was a little surprised when, having reinsured his vehicle online, the insurer asked whether he wanted the documents sent in large print or Braille.
I MUST be missing something here. Dame Sally Davies, 63, the UK Chief Medical Officer, is reported to have made a “shock admission” that in her university days she experimented with cannabis. Are you shocked? Me neither. The shock would be finding any sixtysomething who was at uni in the 1960s who did not touch the stuff. Wacky backy was everywhere. In fact, of all the politicians I have interviewed of that generation, I can think of only one who was at pains to point out that he never, ever touched cannabis. That was Tony Blair, currently bringing peace to the Middle East.
WHY is it that so many of the great and good admit to “experimenting” with cannabis yet no-one claims to experiment with alcohol?
THIS was the week when two men and two women living in Sheffield went public on their “polyamorous” relationship. One man has sex with both women, the women have sex with each other and the men are great chums. This jolly web of relationships appears to suit them all very well. The word “polyamorous” has appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary since 2006, defined as: “The fact of having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals, viewed as an alternative to monogamy, especially in regard to matters of sexual fidelity; the custom or practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned." The Sheffield Four are planning “an unofficial ceremony” to mark their commitment to each other. You can see where this is leading, can’t you? Why stop at an unofficial ceremony? Now that 2,000 years of religious tradition have been re-written with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act and the first gay marriages will soon be held, can anyone offer a single convincing reason why marriage should not be extended to groups of three, four or more people? I know I can’t. Polyamorous weddings – coming soon to an altar near you.
HERE’S one for the conspiracy theorists. Can it be coincidence that the BBC unveils its wildlife series The Burrowers, portraying baby badgers as the sweetest ookums-snookums adorable little chappies, just as the Government begins killing badgers in its “trial culling” programme?
THE Burrowers involved digging three enormous artificial burrows, at licence-payers’ expense, to observe the intimate lives of badgers, water voles and rabbits. So it is, literally, a ground-breaking programme. Get it? Educated people have always recognised the use of “literally” as a device to brighten up one’s conversation and writing. Sadly, educated people are in the minority these days which is why the Oxford English Dictionary has reluctantly accepted that “literally” can be used for extra emphasis to mean, well, like, literally anyfink, innit? All languages evolve but this isn’t evolution. It’s an admission that the English no longer understand English.
I AM breathing a little more easily this week, having had my latest “normal” result on the NHS national bowel-cancer screening programme. The test kit (or Pooh sticks as I like to think of it) is designed to detect bowel cancer at an early stage when it is easier to cure. You would imagine that every over-60 sent this kit would go through the motions (literally; see above) in the hope of staying alive. Not so. Health authorities across the UK report that barely half these kits are returned. Embarrassment is cited as a factor in this dismal response. But it has to be said that the instructions for taking and returning samples are fairly complicated. How many over-60 Brits actually have the capacity to read and follow the instructions? Are we dying of illiteracy?
A READER tells me one of his friends recently applied to re-home a kitten from the RSPCA. She had to wait more than two weeks for an RSPCA inspector to check that her home was fit for a cat. Strangely enough, a few months ago the same woman gave birth in an NHS hospital and they let her take the baby home without any checks.
MEANWHILE, back at the badger sett. If badgers are so innocent, what happened to all the hedgehogs? What you and I see as sweet old Mrs Tiggywinkle, Mr Badger sees as a crunchy snackette. Oh, wicked Brock.
MANY thanks for your selection of memorable lines from legal-aid lawyers trying to get their clients off the hook. One reader was moved to poetry: I am a lawyer, I defended a thief. / He had a long record, right up to his teeth. / I got an adjournment, by guile and fine prose. / He went and skipped bail, to where no-one knows