Peter Rhodes: A bear in the studio

PETER RHODES on predictable politics, an infamous bishop and the bogus white-van rebellion.

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No rebellion here?

A READER says he's fed up with predictable questions on TV political shows with predictable answers from predictable guests. He says: “I personally look forward to the day I switch on and see, seated on the front row, a bear clutching a roll of toilet paper.”

WAS anyone convinced, this time last week, that the raging fury over the Budget was the authentic voice of White Van Man, roused to rebellion at the prospect of higher National Insurance payments? No, me neither. It all happened far too quickly. MPs simply didn't have time to consult their white-van supporters, even assuming they know any. But then we shouldn't assume that all self-employed folk are horny-handed sons of toil, nor that Chancellor Philip Hammond's U-turn in scrapping the NI rises this week will be celebrated in back-street pubs with pints of mild and a bag of crisps for the whippet. The term “self-employed” covers some extremely wealthy, well-connected and influential types, such as barristers, Fleet Street columnists and broadcasters who did not take kindly to Hammond's rises. History will record that this was a rebellion among white collars, not white vans.

PITY we didn't have a public naming competition for the Royal Navy's latest aircraft carrier which, as reported yesterday, is overdue, over budget, understaffed and still waiting for its warplanes. HMS Whiteelephant McWhiteelephantface?

AS you have probably noticed, it's a golden rule of our legal system that the nastier a villain becomes and the more he deserves locking up, the more robustly the lawyers will defend his human rights. I suspect most of us take the view that all UK citizens start off in life with 100 per cent of our human rights intact. But if some people behave badly by, for instance, creeping into a house at night with a cosh, a face mask and a large sack marked “swag,” the entitlement to human rights tumbles all the way from 100 per cent to zero. And at that stage of wickedness, if they get seriously battered by an angry and frightened householder, it serves 'em right.

THINGS reached that stage when two convicted criminals ventured into farmer Kenneth Hugill's land at 2am and allegedly drove their vehicle at him. Mr Hugill, 83, who said he was “petrified,” fired his shotgun, wounding one of the men. The jury at Hull Crown Court took just 24 minutes to clear him of causing grievous bodily harm. I'd like to think that was 23 minutes for the tea and biscuits and 60 seconds to find a good man innocent. Well done.

SO requiescat in pace, The Right Reverend Eamon Casey. He was the Irish priest who, as older readers may recall, was not always right and sometimes not even reverend. He was a popular priest with a great social conscience and only one human failing. In 1974 his secret affair with an American divorcee Annie Murphy resulted in the birth of a son. She suspected Casey, who was apparently a skilled lover, had had other affairs. As she put it in her book: “He was a goddam bishop - where had he learned all this?” Bet they don't put that on his gravestone.

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Comments for: "Peter Rhodes: A bear in the studio"


frightened householder

The policy should be that anyone entering a person's property without permission leaves his rights on the footpath. There is a legal principle in civil law called "the thin skull rule" which is applicable in the tort of negligence. The principle is that if your actions have caused more harm than expected because the victim was particularly fragile, you are still liable for the full amount of the injury caused. You take your victim as you find him.

This should be applied to criminal law whereby a trespasser enters a property he takes his victim as he find him. If the householder is the local vicar he may forgive him his sins and give him £50 out of charity. On the other hand if the victim is a martial arts expert and the trespasser is beaten to a pulp then he has taken his victim as he found him.