Peter Rhodes' Express & Star column, taking a sideways look at the week's big news.
THE summer of 2013? It was last Tuesday.
NO SURPRISES in the Europe-wide report on the dangers of eating processed meat. As a general rule of nature, the better something tastes, the worse it is for you. And can you think of anything in the natural world that tastes quite as good as a bacon sarnie with brown sauce? It is the food of the gods. The only snag is that the more you eat, the sooner you will be with the gods.
SCIENTISTS in East Anglia say half of Britain’s 1.5 million deer should be culled to prevent “devastation” of the countryside. Any driver whose car has been written off by a jaywalking muntjac will agree with that. But there is no need for wholesale slaughter. Britain has too many deer because we have exterminated all their natural predators. If the shy, beautiful Eurasian lynx were reintroduced to remote areas of our land, the deer problem would be sorted before you could say Bambi.
THE Budget approaches and Chancellor George Osborne is being showered with the usual advice from “experts” who have no idea what shape the economy is really in. It reminds me of any premier football game where there is one manager doing his best and 20,000 fans who all know they could do the job better. From the sidelines of politics come the demands: “Cut taxes, George!” “Increase public spending, George!” And, of course, when the Budget finally arrives: “Resign, George!” I admit I have an unfashionable admiration for Osborne. He became Chancellor at the worst possible time in the past 100 years. His is a thankless job which will never lead to anything better. As a succession of U-turns shows, he doesn’t always get it right. But George Osborne possesses one quality which is incredibly rare in politics. He has not the slightest interest in being popular. In a House of Commons crammed with self-adoring super-egos he keeps his head down and gets on with the worst job in Westminster. He will get the usual barracking from the sidelines but I suspect history will judge him kindly.
STREET artists. Do they draw the crowds?
IN LIFE, as in all the best jokes, the secret of success is timing. Last week came news of a great British breakthrough in driverless-vehicle technology. This week, scientists in Massachusetts have revealed a revolutionary coating which stops car windscreens steaming up. The way things are going, the Yanks will be making the first unsteamable windscreens at about the same time as the Brits are building the first cars without windscreens. Aw, shucks.
WE went along to Wild Night Out, naturalist Chris Packham’s one-man show which is currently touring Middle England. The affable Springwatch presenter and wildlife photographer is a great raconteur and he presents some breathtaking snaps of everything from pondskaters to tigers. But what of his central ecological argument, that we can only have a thriving, animal-rich countryside if we Brits are prepared to pay more for food, thus encouraging less intensive farming? Try telling a struggling housing-estate mum that there could be barn owls and goshawks on every English farm - if only she would pay an extra £20 a week for food. We are a divided nation. A green, middle-class argument that brings applause in Lichfield or Leamington Spa goes down like a lead balloon in Bilston.
BEING terribly polite, no-one asked Packham the most important question of all. What’s that Kate Humble really like?
THERE are two mysteries in ITV’s new crime drama, Broadchurch. The first is who committed the murder. The second is why no senior officer has got a grip on the scruffy, stubbly, newly promoted DI Hardy (David Tennant) and told him to smarten himself up.
COME to think of it, there was a particularly stubbly constable operating the speed trap at the end of our lane the other day. I was tempted to offer him a disposable razor but I dare say it would be some sort of offence.
IF YOU suffer from high blood pressure, you may find simply being close to a doctor or nurse sends your pressure soaring, thanks to something called “white-coat syndrome.” So what happens if you remove the human factor entirely? Does your pressure go up or down? Do you really need to ask? A reader describes his encounter with a futuristic machine which appears to have replaced the nurse at his GP’s surgery. It ordered him to put his wrist into a cuff and then produced two print-outs. Unsurprisingly, this brush with 21st century medicine left him “agitated and stressed” – and his BP was high, too. Bring back the white coats.
JUST supposing Britain and the United States were stupid enough to supply weapons to the rag-tag insurgents in Syria, as the Syrian resistance is demanding. . How long before those weapons would find their way into Afghanistan and be used against British and US troops? The road to Damascus, like the road to hell, is paved with good intentions.