Peter Rhodes on strange names, deadly confusion and sleepless nights in tents

Words to worry you. With its traditional sternness, TV Licensing sends my annual reminder headed: “You've just days left to renew your TV Licence.” Yes, but that's only because TV Licensing, an organisation regularly criticised for its tactics, delays sending out the reminder until “just days” before payment is due. It's almost as though they enjoy scaring people. What's wrong with a simple, polite: “Your licence expires on July 31”?

NORTH COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 09/06/2017  New Skate Park now open next to Market Drayton Swimming Pool.  In Picture L>R: Alex Devries 19 from Standon near Ecclesall on his skateboard.
NORTH COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 09/06/2017 New Skate Park now open next to Market Drayton Swimming Pool. In Picture L>R: Alex Devries 19 from Standon near Ecclesall on his skateboard.

Sales of big tents have shot up, a result of Covid, foreign travel confusion and the hot weather. One report refers to sales of “family tents which can accommodate at least four people.” Reality check, please. Just because it says “sleeps four” on the label, never assume four of you will be able to sleep at the same time.

My golden rule of camping, which applies to tents, caravans, glamping pods and narrowboats, is to take the quoted number of berths, halve it and then delete one. Thus, an “eight berth” caravan is suitable for three and a “sleeps four” tent is comfortable for one. “Two-person tent” is dangerously optimistic, as is “double airbed.” Both can lead to fights at 3am.

Tucked away in the massive Covid coverage is the worrying news of a “cluster” of incidents of medical staff apparently using ventilators wrongly. An inquest on two patients in London will be held in October but the coroner has taken the rare step of issuing a warning beforehand, raising concerns about staff training with “extremely confusing” equipment. An independent expert points out that there is no standard colour coding of filters used with ventilators and claims that “few doctors and nurses working in ICU are knowledgeable about all these different filters.” Way back in the early days of the pandemic, Britain led the world in a vast programme to build and supply ventilators. Can it be that millions of pounds of investment was wasted for the want of a few minutes of training?

Curious names department. The judge who convicted the Extinction Rebellion protestors who blockaded a press works was Judge Fudge. One of the Team GB skateboarders at the Olympics is Bombette Martin.

Bombette's team-mate, 13-year-old Sky Brown, aims to make history as Britain's youngest-ever Olympic competitor. I dare say she may also set a record for the number of injuries sustained by teenage skateboarders trying to copy her at their local parks. Sky declares: “You’re more fearless when you’re young.” Well, that's one word for it.

Our changing language. The Guardian, no less, describes the US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles as “gravity-scoffing.” (This may be an example of grammar-scoffing).

Faced with Covid staff absences, a holiday-camp owner in Cornwall has invited guests to help clean the toilet blocks. Some have refused outright but a few are going through the motions.

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