Peter Rhodes' Express & Star column, taking a sideways look at the week's big news.
DOWNTON Abbey. Anyone else think Bates dunnit?
STRANGE old world. When I wrote recently that Kate should not have sunbathed topless, I put on my tin hat, retreated to my slit trench, expecting endless flak defending a woman’s right to disrobe. In fact the vast majority of correspondents share my view. Show us Brits a human right worth defending and we will fight for it to the death. Removing one’s bikini top in view of a public highway is a self-indulgence, nothing more.
IF the Profile (Radio 4) programme on Andy Murray was intended to make us warm to the champion of the Olympics and the US Open, it failed. Murray came across as a young man who, from childhood, has been a terrible loser with a shocking temper. There is a world of difference between a champion and a national treasure.
I HAVE just spent an afternoon in hell assembling three flat-pack kitchen units. Much blood, sweat and tears went into installing the soft-close drawers. These are the ones that can never be slammed. Instead, a dinky little piston gently pulls the drawers closed. But why? When did we become a nation of compulsive drawer slammers, cupboard slammers or, for that matter, toilet-seat slammers? I blame EastEnders.
AND off to the hairdresser for my last number-four all over, love, before my daughter’s wedding. According to the experts, a haircut takes between two and three weeks to look its best. We shall see.
AS THE Wedding of the Century draws ever nearer, we have confusion on the wedding-present front. A guest points out that one of the happy couple’s requested items has two meanings, depending on how you pronounce it. What is an aubergine toaster?
I SHARED my tale of flat-pack woe with the hairdresser who said she, too, once tangled with kitchen cupboards and was left with terrible blisters from using a screwdriver. Fortunately, she added, her husband stepped in to help. He bought her an electric screwdriver. Ah, the age of chivalry is still with us.
IT OCCURRED to me, as the Government this week announced that as the definition of domestic abuse is being widened, refusing to help your wife with the flat-pack may become a jailable offence. The authorities do seem to be spreading the net awfully wide. Does anyone seriously believe that extending the definition to include such vague concepts as money control will reduce the toll of battered and murdered spouses? Of course not. The aim is simply to drag more husbands into the judicial process, in much the same way that lowering the speed limit or reducing the blood-alcohol level produces more prosecutions without having any effect on the most serious offenders. I would not be at all surprised if, as an alternative to jail, abusive husbands are sent on spouse-improvement courses run by a commercial company at, say, £1,000 a time. Watch this space.
THERE is no case for issuing all British cops with guns. If the two murdered police officers in Manchester had been armed, they would still have been killed, because that is how ambushes work. The only difference is that their guns and ammunition would have been stolen, to be used in yet more murders.
A READER sends me one of those occasional round-robin emails about how wonderful things were in the good old days. This one is a hymn of praise to the simple foods we all loved back in the 1950s when olive oil was used purely for medical purposes and no-one had heard of curry. Listen, my nostalgic friends. If cookery was so wonderful in the 1950s, there is no reason why you cannot recreate it in your own home. Simply chuck out the fridge, freezer and microwave. Buy your food fresh every day from the dismal, wilting selection at an old-fashioned corner shop. Boil the vegetables until they are mushy and braise the beef until it is an appetising shade of grey. Serve with a delicious bottle of Double Diamond. I bet you wouldn’t last a fortnight.
I AM still struggling with Ed Miliband’s assertion that being rich is fine, so long as “you make it the hard way.” He got to be Labour leader by standing against his own brother and destroying his political dreams. So was that hard or easy, Ed?
IT IS a curious thing, too, that the less work people do for their money, the more the rest of us applaud it (literally in the case of TV game shows). A company boss who has worked all his life, provided employment for others and security for his family will be envied and despised as a fat cat, but a lardarse couple who win millions of pounds doing nothing cleverer than getting the right numbers on Lotto become national heroes. Strange.
FRIEND says he has a dilemma choosing a birthday present for his 15-year-old granddaughter. In my limited experience of teenage offspring, nothing touches them quite so much as a thoughtful birthday card with a truly sincere message, folded around a £20 note.