Peter Rhodes' Express & Star column, taking a sideways look at the week's big news.
AN AUSTRALIAN billionaire, Clive Palmer, has unveiled plans to build a new liner identical to the ill-fated Titanic. Rumour has it the Canadians are working on a replica iceberg.
TWENTY years from now, with a power cut every day, our seas fished to extinction and our sovereignty eroded to the state where young British men are conscripted into an EU army to fight in Africa, our grandchildren will ask, what were the politicians doing back in 2013? And we will have to tell them that instead of planning for the future or looking after this nation’s interests, they were spending an awful lot of time trying to find out whether a lord had put his hand on a lady’s leg.
SPOT the difference. A reporter who exposes your political enemy as a bounder is an investigative journalist in the finest traditions of the profession. A reporter who exposes scandal in your own political party is, if I may quote Nick Clegg, “a self-appointed detective.” As a general rule, beware of any politician who says: “I believe in a free Press,” and then adds the word “but.”
FIFTEEN days after a tree brought down our phone line, BT finally got around to repairing it. In the great scheme of things 15 days is not an eternity. Even so, it is pretty damn irritating, especially when every time you switch on the telly BT seems to be advertising its “totally unlimited” broadband. Believe me, if the line comes down, your broadband is not only limited but kaput.
THANKS for your tales of woe about BT dragging its corporate heels over line faults. Some of you report waiting weeks for repairs. Two letters moved me greatly and ought to be required reading for BT bosses. Both were from people whose line faults coincided with serious illness, in one case a stroke and the other cancer. At a time when these BT customers were desperate for information about their conditions, they were suddenly deprived of access to the internet. The cancer victim, disconnected for seven weeks, was also unable to run his business from home, with all the added stress and anxiety that involved. A BT engineer who called at one property told them his bosses were reluctant to repair cables in remote areas because of the expense. PS: BT last year reported annual pre-tax profits up by 42 per cent to £2,400 million.
THE last words come from someone who waited five days for a line repair and then got an email from BT inviting him to nominate a friend for BT’s service. He says: “I really don’t dislike anybody that much.”
WAG! the magazine of the Dogs Trust, has a feature in its Spring edition on preparing tasty meals for pooches. It is headlined: The Great British Bark Off.
ANYONE who did National Service will recognise the process by which the Pope is being eased out of the Vatican. It is Benedict’s demob day, the moment when he hands in all the kit that goes with uniformed service and picks up a new thirty-bob suit to see him into civvy street. “Right, your Holiness. Sign here for one cloak (white), one hat (ex- papal) and one pair brogues (leather, brown). Oi, Mr Emeritus! Where d’you think you’re going with them red shoes?”
SOME will accuse the BBC of censorship in blanking-out so many paragraphs in the report on the Jimmy Savile affair. That’s one interpretation. However, it could be argued that XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Or possibly not.
THE late, great Richard Briers once told me a delightful story against himself, a tale of thespian pride colliding with hard-headed capitalism. It was 20-odd years ago when the Good Life star joined Kenneth Branagh’s theatre company and got rave reviews as King Lear. At the same time Briers was the public face of the Nescafe TV ads. He recalled turning up to record an advert. “Richard,” said the director sternly. “That beard. It’s got to go.” “Oh, no,” Briers explained. It’s for the stage.” “The beard goes,” insisted the director. “But I’m playing Lear in Branagh’s new company,” protested the actor. And the outcome? “The beard went,” Briers told me with a chuckle as we chatted at Birmingham Hippodrome. In the great scheme of things, those 30-second coffee commercials paid far more than the theatre. In fact, as Briers confided: “One Nescafe ad pays my tax for the year.” He who pays the piper not only calls the tune but also wields the razor. It seems unnecessary to add that Briers was a delightful interview, but he was.
BY WHAT strange consensus did we all decide that while dog meat, pig meat and sheep meat are all two words, horsemeat is one word?
AND talking of horses on the menu, a reader asks whether it is yet safe to order a pint and a cob at his local.