Peter Rhodes' Express & Star column, taking a sideways look at the week's big news.
SCIENTISTS claim to have identified genes which determine whether we will die in the morning or the evening. Thankfully, they haven’t yet come up with the date.
THURSDAYS In The Park, by 62-year-old Hilary Boyd, is a tale of sex for the over-60s and has become a sudden sensation. It had to happen. Our big, cosseted, super-confident Babyboomer generation has yelled about its sex life from the rooftops for the past 50 years, so why stop now? The big difference is that back in the 1960s you lit the candles, switched the music on low, slipped into the kitchen for that bottle of champagne and va-va-voom. Half a century on, you light the candles, switch the music on low, slip into the kitchen, can’t remember what you’re doing there and decide to dismantle the thermostat on the boiler. Exciting, but how do you turn it into a novel?
ON the four days preceding last Wednesday (NOV 21), the forecast was wall-to-wall sunshine across England. Come Wednesday, the heavens opened. It was the sort of downpour you could probably have predicted with a pine cone and a bit of seaweed yet the professionals, with billions of pounds’ worth of satellites and computers, missed it.
A FEW weeks ago a friend decided, on the strength of a forecast of 24C, to book a balmy autumnal week in Mid-Wales. Four days later he booked into his hotel in Llangollen where the temperature was not 24C but 12C. Getting the forecasts spectacularly wrong is part of the black art of meteorology. But it is worth remembering, in the endless debate about global warming, that the experts who so confidently tell us the planet will be 1.75C warmer 50 years from now are the same people who cannot spot a deluge 48 hours away and have no idea on Monday what Llangollen will be like on Friday.
MEANWHILE, global warming appears to have cooled down. Met Office figures show temperatures dropped during 2011 and 2012 from the high levels of 2010. It goes without saying that the experts dismiss this as “statistically meaningless.” (It only becomes meaningful when the temperature goes up).
UNDETERRED by the weather, Mrs Rhodes and I wrapped up warm and strolled into town, pausing for light entertainment at our local ford which was full and foaming and too much for some drivers to resist. It is one of the eternal mysteries of life that a man (rarely a woman) will risk £20,000 worth of car in a ford rather than make a short detour. Sure enough, a BMW was up to its axles, the owner very red-faced.
AND thence to the pub which was full of old people in wet cagoules who chattered and steamed gently as they spent their pensions on steak pie and red wine. Be honest. It’s not a bad time of life, is it?
ONE of the great myths of our time is that if developers are allowed to cover the Green Belt with houses and factories, Britain’s economy will boom again. Bunkum. The Town & Country Planning Act which created the Green Belt, has been with us for the past 65 years. In that time, Britain has been through both booms and busts, which suggests that the Green Belt is not a big factor in the economy. It is, however, a huge factor in making this country a decent place to live. And when David Cameron announces he will limit the right of citizens to ask for judicial reviews of controversial plans, alarm bells should ring. The Green Belt made Britain pretty when it had a population of 50 million, keeps it comfortable with 60 million and is the only thing that will make it bearable if our leaders in Whitehall are stupid enough to let it rise to 70 million. If we lose the Green Belt we lose the England we knew.
DAVID Cameron suggests a simpler list of energy tariffs and the gas industry says this will deny the customers “choice”. Oh, God rot choice. Choice is the C-word of our age. Choice has turned gas, electricity, train tickets and telephone bills into a labyrinthine mess that no-one understands. As this festive season approaches may I, in the sentiments of Mr Scrooge, wish that any mealy-mouthed industrialist brandishing the word “choice” should be boiled in heating oil, electrified from the National Grid and buried in a gas pipeline with a railway ticket machine stuck in an appropriate orifice. To hell with choice. Just give us cheap.
GOD rot? It is a fine old curse which fell out of favour several centuries ago when any oath using the word God was considered blasphemous. Thus “God’s wounds!” was softened to “zounds!” and “God’s bodkins!” to “odds bodkins!” The curse “God rot!” was shortened to “drot!” and finally to the meekest of expletives “drat!”
THIS little announcement is tucked away in this month’s statement for my credit card: “From your next statement the minimum payment on your credit card will be rounded up to the nearest pound.” Multiply that a few million times and it’s a very nice little earner.