Peter Rhodes casts his eye over the week's big news.
POOR old devil, I thought, as a mobility scooter wobbled uncertainly towards me on the pavement, the driver hunched awkwardly over the handlebars, seemingly unable to lift his head. What terrible deformity makes somebody so bent? Turned out he wasn’t deformed at all. He was texting.
WHILE Labour and Tory politicians heap scorn upon Ukip, remember this: Ukip is their child. The Labour and Conservative governments created the policies on the EU and immigration which gave birth to Ukip. They sustained those policies with lies and deception which nurtured the growing infant. Today, Ukip is a stroppy adolescent with an awful lot of bad friends and its parents know that, before long, it will punch them very hard. That is why Fleet Street’s finest, who support a two-party system, set out to scupper Ukip’s conference. But I suspect most voters recognise an ambush when they see one, and may even sympathise with the embattled Nigel Farage. The EU Parliament elections are next year and, barring a disaster, I expect Mr Farage’s party to give the Tories such a whacking that Call-me-Dave will feel a sudden urge to dump his adopted child Nick and embrace his true son Nigel.
ED Balls, hoping to be the next Chancellor, says he would scrap HS2t if the costs rose. So is this the end of the line? Don’t bank on it. There is a theory that Balls is merely “surfing the wave” of public opposition to HS2. Some readers may recall that in the 1990s John Prescott told protestors that a Labour government would not build the controversial M6 Toll, then known as BNRR, the Birmingham Northern Relief Road. Labour got elected. The road was built.
THE Daily Mail’s latest columnist, introduced with a huge fanfare (“wickedly mischievous!”) a few weeks ago, is one Sarah Vine. In this week’s offering she complains that her husband has “almost as many pictures of the late Margaret Thatcher in his office as there are of me and the children.” Hubby sounds a bit weird, unless you happen to know that in private life Sarah Vine is Mrs Michael Gove, wife of the Secretary of State for Education.
GREAT women columnists in history. “Forsooth, my husband doth spend all his time scribbling up in ye study,” writes wickedly mischievous Anne Hathaway in the Stratford Herald. And: “My husband is always complaining that some of his political enemies just don’t get the point.” Doris Impaler, Transylvania Echo. (Similar nonsense gratefully received).
BLIMEY, you don’t want to fall out with Stephen Fry, do you? A Daily Telegraph columnist spotted Fry chatting with an actor this week, at the same time as Fry was sending Twitter messages. The writer dared to suggest that Fry did not write his own Tweets. The truth is that “scheduled Tweeting” can send your messages at any time. Infuriated by the column, Fry responded with a raging, frothing, incandescent 1,000-word tirade which must rate as one of the greatest rants of all time. He peppers his online attack with the vilest insults against the hack (“this creep from the inner ring of Satan’s rectum”), the Telegraph and the printed media in general. Do have a look at it. It is magnificently venomous and I guarantee you’ll never think of Stephen Fry, formerly Jeeves the valet and now the camply erudite presenter of the quiz show QI, in quite the same way again. But please don’t tell him I said so. It’s here.
AFTER a recent item on the use of the word “pop,” a reader writes: “I took in a delivery of bubble wrap at work. The boss told me to pop it in a corner. It took all afternoon.”
ED MILIBAND says a Labour government will prevent energy companies from raising their prices. This may look like bad news for the power generators but it’s fantastic news for candlemakers.
IT MAY be good news for Britain, too. Miliband is threatening to allow towns to expand and build a million new homes in five years, concentrated in “garden cities.” Huge parts of the Green Belt could vanish under concrete and tarmac. The good news is that, come the power cuts, we won’t be able to see them. Joined-up government.
GARDEN cities? They’re still cities.
TEMPTED by a £25 M&S voucher, I took part in a phone survey on household insurance. I may not be getting the voucher because I didn’t really answer the last question. They asked: “Are you satisfied with the level of cover and the service you receive from your insurance company?” I replied: “Can I answer that question the morning after the house burns down?” No-one knows how good an insurer is until something goes wrong.
HOW many cars have been stolen while their owners were queuing to buy Grand Theft Auto 5?
AFTER the slaughter in Nairobi, I wonder how many women in Britain have decided their religion doesn’t oblige them to wear the veil, after all.