Peter Rhodes' Express & Star column, taking a sideways look at the week's big news.
JUST supposing we did eventually get rid of Abu Qatada. Do you think we might miss him?
RESEARCHERS in America claim there’s more to a sneeze than we imagine. An outgoing person delivers a big, noisy sneeze while a shy person holds it in, producing a stifled squeak. In this way, say the scientists, a sneeze reveals your true character. Or should that be your true catarrh?
IT WAS good viewing but let’s not pretend that Broadchurch (ITV) was cleverer than it actually was. Its creator, Chris Chibnall, now reveals a trail of “little clues,” including the slug that Ellie found on her carpet and squashed in the final episode. This was apparently a metaphor for an intruder in the house. Oh, really? This must be the first slug in history to go over everybody’s head. As for the scene where cops allowed the murdered boy’s father to the door of the police cell so that he could harangue the killer, it was plain daft.
THE BBC is to mark the Great War with a drama series next year. You will not be surprised to hear that there are two heroes, one British and one German. Auntie’s right-on message is that in the 1914-18 conflict there was no right, no wrong, no good guys, no villains. And it’s bunkum. The German invasion of Belgium in 1914, which brought Britain into the war, was unspeakably savage. German troops destroyed innocent villages and executed hundreds of men, women and children by firing squad. The rape of Belgium by the Kaiser’s thugs was probably more bestial than the 1940 invasion by Hitler’s stormtroopers. No villains, Auntie?
IN AN appeal to our sense of Englishness, that portly, true-blue Tory Eric Pickles promises to restore ye ancient county names such as Westmorland, Cumberland and Huntingdonshire. The Local Government Minister thunders: “Administrative restructuring by previous governments has sought to suppress and undermine such local identities.” You can almost hear the tankards clinking in Conservative clubs all over the land. All hail the old county names. God rot those who suppressed and undermined our heritage. And who were these subversive Trotskyites of yore who swept away our precious old counties? It was Ted Heath’s Conservative government.
THE referendum on Scottish independence is only 17 months away. Yet we learn this week that it hasn’t even been decided if an independent Scotland would keep the pound, join the euro or have its own currency. This is absolutely basic stuff and should have been thrashed out ages ago. At this rate, Scots won’t have a clue what they are voting for. It makes you wonder whether any serious thought processes have gone into this campaign or is it all simply based on Braveheart?
USEFUL terms for our time. “Safari round” = frantic search by doctors for patients lost in hospitals, as revealed this week by the Royal College of Nursing.
A REPORT by something called the Institute for Economics and Peace claims that Britain is becoming more peaceful with violent crime down by a quarter in nine years. On the same day it was reported to MPs that nearly 1,500 sex attackers were let off last year with a caution. Something doesn’t add up.
BILLY Connolly, now a teetotaller aged 70 but a hard drinker in his youth, says he’s having trouble remembering the punchlines of his jokes. Nae bother, Billy. If in doubt, just crank up the Glaswegian accent and give them the old faithful: “Say, doctor, can ye nae take away the pain but leave the swelling?”
A ROUNDABOUT in Warsaw may be renamed after Baroness Thatcher. Local politicians say a roundabout makes U-turns unnecessary, and Mrs T was famously not for turning. It’s a fine tribute to a lady who was often more appreciated overseas than at home. Meanwhile in Barnsley, crowds gather for the grand opening of the Margaret Thatcher Memorial Urinal.
RICHIE Havens, the folk singer who has died at 72, will forever be remembered for saving the day at Woodstock in 1969. As traffic jams held up the stars heading for the great pop festival, Havens literally played for time, on stage for three gruelling hours. I am reminded of another, lesser-known musical hero who saved the night many years ago at a friend’s stag party. The highlight of the evening was what used to be called an exotic dancer but her tape-recorder, loaded with raunchy music, suddenly broke down. Amid the dismay, a volunteer stepped forward, brandishing his new ukulele. Unfortunately, the only tune he knew was George Formby’s Leaning on a Lamppost which he played repeatedly as the stripper did her act. It was, by all accounts, a memorable performance. Makes you proud to be British.
THE Metropolitan Police have spent a whopping £68,000 having that distinctive three-cornered sign moved just 15 yards at New Scotland Yard. That’s almost enough to pay for a police and crime commissioner. The difference is that everyone knows what a sign is for.
A DEPARTMENT for Business, Innovation & Skills spokesman, commenting on declining student numbers, declares: “There are no financial barriers to higher education.” In the real world, a reader responds: “My Open University course has so far set me back £1,200.”