Peter Rhodes casts his eye over the week's big news.
YOU will read (in large headlines) that a new report says the HS2 rail project could “boost the UK economy by £15 billion a year.” You may read (in the small print) that this report was commissioned by HS2 Ltd.
MICHAEL Parkinson longs for the television-news programmes of the 1960s and 1970s which he recalls as “thrilling and exhilarating.” That’s right, Parky. And back then folk all stuck together, you didn’t need to lock your door, beer was stronger, chicken had real flavour and you could buy six penny buns for a farthing.
THERE is no point in raging against the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision which, in effect, makes it legal to destroy babies in the womb purely for being female. The Third World custom of strangling baby girls at birth or leaving them in the cold to die has been sanitised and updated. The service is now provided with the agreement of NHS doctors in NHS hospitals at the taxpayers’ expense. An unholy alliance of “cultural values” and rampant feminism has sentenced thousands of British girls never to be born. And who’s going to stand up against this revolting genocide by gender? Not the politicians, terrified of being branded racist. Not the feminists, some of whom are so besotted with “a woman’s right to choose” that they would sanction the abortion of a foetus which didn’t have exactly the right shade of blue eyes. We, the British people, are outraged, horrified, betrayed. But who ever listens to us?
IS TECHNOLOGY advancing too quickly? Motorway Cops (BBC1) covered a chilling incident when a brand-new Range Rover, bristling with all the latest electronic gizmos, came to a juddering and utterly inexplicable stop in the fast lane. Two experienced traffic cops struggled to get the three-ton beast out of harm’s way, only to be confronted with a glitch in the system which repeatedly applied the handbrake. Eventually the Range Rover was hauled on to a recovery vehicle, still with its wheels locked solid. What was wrong, one of the cops demanded in frustration, with a simple, old-fashioned lever handbrake? One for the boffins.
A FRIEND fell and banged her head. I took her to A&E. She was seen, assessed, treated and discharged in just over an hour. It’s not all calamity, congestion and cock-up. Sometimes the NHS is pretty good.
THE Syrian war has concentrated minds on the horrors of chemical warfare and the various treaties which were designed to forbid the use of such terrible weapons.
But the chief aim of all the treaties was to prevent the aggressive use of such chemicals. Traditionally, an army would wait until the wind was right, unleash gas on the enemy and attack behind the gas cloud. But do the same rules apply in defence? Imagine you are prime minister. Britain is at war and it’s going badly. London is in a state of panic. The enemy is approaching Essex, slaughtering every village and sharpening their knives for an orgy of bloodletting. The only weapon left in your armoury is a nerve-gas bomb. What do you do? Abide by a convention written many years ago and sentence your people to rape and butchery? Or do you use the bomb?
ACTUALLY, the above questions have been answered. We now know that if the Germans had attempted to invade England in 1940, Winston Churchill was quite prepared to spray the beaches with mustard gas, chlorine and phosgene. The stuff was mixed, loaded and ready and waiting for the Nazi hordes. The lesson of history is that the winners decide what is moral.
I KNEW the brilliant PR image enjoyed by dolphins for the past 50 years couldn’t last for ever. Sure enough, in a new book, zoologist Justin Gregg says: “In terms of intelligence they are nowhere near as special as they have been portrayed.” Gregg admits that dolphins are gregarious and empathise with their mates, but points out that so do pigs and chickens. Just because dolphins can swim backwards and have a sort of language and a permanent smile, it doesn’t make them super-bright. I have long believed that if we humans had evolved in the oceans and moved ashore a few thousand years ago, we would instantly have transferred our affections from noisy, needy, clacketty –chattering dolphins to a far more intelligent mammal. “See this little chap? He can fetch sticks, round up sheep and keep your feet warm. He’s ten times more fun than a dolphin. Let’s call him the dog.”
THE war on clichés. A fascinating thread of letters in the Daily Telegraph reminds us that while British warships “patrol” the world’s oceans, foreign warships “lurk”. Catholics are always “devout,” Protestants are “staunch” and nudists invariably “frolic” or “cavort.” In the same way, it strikes me as odd that soldiers are always “heavily armed,” even when they are carrying only their rifles. Any similar clichés you’d care to report?