Peter Rhodes casts his eye on the week's big news
AUNTIE Beeb informed us in her most deferential tones that Prince William, in his new job of dispensing honours, will be required “to stand for an hour at a time.” Phew.
SCIENTISTS studying bonobo apes in Africa have discovered they are capable of empathy, reaching out to comfort and embrace bonobos in distress. Bonobos – similar to humans, but Godlier.
I'M NOT surprised that Scotland Yard was “overwhelmed” by the response to its Crimewatch appeal on the abduction of Madeleine McCann. No crime in recent times has attracted such massive attention from so many fruitcakes, bigots and conspiracy theorists. There are thousands of internet postings on who did it and why, and a depressing, ongoing tirade of hatred against the parents for either being rich or leaving their children unattended, or both. As Scotland Yard sifted the precious wheat from tons of chaff following Crimewatch, it was significant that one of the greatest barometers of British public opinion decided not to pander to the Maddy ghouls and simply switched itself off. For one day after Crimewatch, Sky News online, the nation's sounding board for Sid and Doris Bonkers, was not accepting comments on the story, and who can blame it?
A REPORT this week says universities should be brought into the heart of the British economy and given public money to turn great ideas into real business. The report, by GlaxoSmithKline boss Sir Andrew Witty, says £1,000 million should be pumped into what he calls “Arrow Projects.” It looks good on paper but, in real life, how business-friendly are our universities? The spat over Ed Miliband's father, Ralph, is a reminder of the half-baked, anti-business Marxist theories which once infested British campuses. We are encouraged to believe all that nonsense was swept away by Thatcherism. But was it? After the riots of 2011 a lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton wrote a blog, which is still online, describing the trashing of the city as “a tiny bit of damage.” He suggests the looters were no worse than businessmen. As he puts it: “They decided to acquire stuff in the way the businessmen and barons do: by theft. More direct theft than their social superiors, but not so different.” I bet the Chamber of Trade love that.
THE more food banks that are set up, the more people become “dependent” on them. One charity reports this week that the number using its food banks has tripled in a single year, which reveals “the scandal of food poverty.” Does it? Or does it simply prove that if you give anything away for nothing, people will queue up for it?
IF THE pubs started offering free beer, I bet we'd see an awful lot of beer poverty.
THIS week I fulfilled a lifelong ambition of watching The Third Man, uninterrupted from start to finish. Millions of words have been written about Carol Reed's 1949 masterpiece so I'll keep this short. Why is smoking so damn cool in black and white? And is the zither the most irritating instrument even invented?
THE scariest part of the politicians' plan to regulate the Press is the draconian penalty for those newspapers which decide not to sign up to the regulating body. Any refusenik publication which was later sued for libel would have to pay all the costs, possibly running into millions - even if it won the case. So the courts, in effect, would be employed to drive opt-out newspapers into bankruptcy. This is such a monstrous abuse of the judicial system, such a gross denial of natural justice, such an affront to our freedoms of conscience and expression that it could simply never happen in this sceptre'd isle. Agreed? Think again. The latest edition of Private Eye reports that the law is already drafted and ready to go.
THE recycling zealots are about to increase the number of bins, bags, boxes and slop-buckets we will have to fill. Already, once-pretty avenues and terraces are made hideous by the jumbled, blown-over, plastic receptacles of the new religion. Kitchens become foul, fetid mini recycling centres. It was announced this week that by 2015 every household in Britain will have at least four bins. So we protect our environment by despoiling our environment.
AFTER the recent snippet about kids being addicted to internet tablet devices, a reader wonders whether researchers will one day produce a medication to cure tablet addiction and, if so, will it be, er, a tablet?
I REFERRED recently to the many ways of pronouncing “ough”. Even so, in Nottingham of all places you'd think they'd get Brian Clough's name right. A friend reports driving through the city when the voice in her sat-nav suddenly began giving directions to “Brian Cloe Way.”
THE BBC has wisely withdrawn a segment from The House That £100k Built (BBC2) showing how to saw off the top of a propane cylinder to make a ceiling light. Coming next week: How to convert that old car petrol tank into a candle holder.