Peter Rhodes' Express & Star column, taking a sideways look at the week's big news.
FRIDAY was National Stockings Day. Thanks goodness it’s over. I was so glad to get back into woolly socks.
ANYONE know the medical term for an irrational fear of being struck by Austrian stuntmen in spacesuits falling out of the sky? Terrifying, isn’t it?
SO SCOTLAND alone is to decide whether the United Kingdom should break apart. And if the Scots quit, but 10 or 20 years from now realise it was a terrible mistake and want to rejoin, will the rest of us have a vote on letting them back in?
OUR changing language. An ambulance service press release tells us the victim of an accident suffered injuries “that were incompatible with life.” Or, as we used to say, fatal.
TWO elderly readers in quick succession report receiving letters posted in England but supposedly sent by someone called Li Wu in China. It’s the old inheritance scam. Someone has died and left a huge fortune and Li Wu has been given your name as a trustworthy person who can help in tracing the relatives. They will pay you £1 million or so in commission. And all they need is your bank details. . . . .
BUT for sheer brass neck and unbridled confidence, this week’s gold award for attempted scamming goes to the bloke in a call centre a long, long way away who, in an almost impenetrable accent, assured me: “Hello. My name is Harry Jones.”
I AM fully aware that duck is meant to be served pink. But when Nigel Slater stuck his fork into the glistening red flesh of his fried duck on his excellent Dish of the Day (BBC1, repeat), was I the only one expecting it to quack?
NEWCASTLE United has a new sponsor, the loan company Wonga. A reader asks, will the players be expected to go out on the pitch and give 1,471 per cent?
I TAKE voting seriously. I cannot see a polling booth without thinking of the beaches of Normandy or the battlefields of the Somme where the price of liberty and democracy was paid in blood. But I will make one exception. I have absolutely no intention of voting on November 15 for a police commissioner. I do not like the notion of replacing a police authority with a single person. Inevitably, no matter how low the turnout, these commissioners will be elected. But the smaller the poll, the less they will be able to boast of their “democratic mandate”. If their majority is counted in dozens rather than thousands, they might even bring that rare and precious quality to the job. Humility.
IN THE 40 years that Jimmy Savile was abusing a string of boys, girls, hospital patients and prison inmates while the authorities looked the other way, how many thousands of decent British citizens went through the costly, intrusive and utterly time-wasting business of passing a Criminal Records Bureau check?
WHY didn’t more victims report being molested by Savile? The scandal reminds me of an interview I did some years ago with a woman who had worked with the stars. She told me of her career in the 1950s as a nanny in a succession of wealthy homes. One of her bosses was a famous comedian. She described, almost matter-of-factly, how he once entered the bathroom, dragged her out of the bath by her ankles and raped her. She did not go to the police. He was a rich, famous and hugely popular celebrity. She was just the nanny. She knew how the system worked. It is hard to imagine, only a few decades ago, the utter helplessness felt by victims of sexual abuse. Jimmy Savile understood it perfectly.
THE European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to peace and democracy in Europe. It is a truly bonkers decision by the Norwegian judges. The riot-torn streets of Spain and Greece are hardly peaceful these days and the democratic process in Athens has been suspended because of the euro crisis. The real reason we no longer have wars in Europe has nothing to do with the EU. It is because the Germans have turned from aggressors into decent citizens who no longer start wars, and because Britain and France have nuclear weapons which make wars between neighbours unthinkable As for democracy, the EU is happy for us to vote about anything – except leaving.
AND if the proud, prosperous, democratic, freedom-loving and slightly holier-than-thou Norwegians think the EU is such a wonderful thing, why have they twice voted not to join?Subscribe to our Newsletter