Peter Rhodes on freezing schools, commuting by jetpack and the scandal of Britain's dumped dogs

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

How far, how high? (photo: Youtube/Gravity Industries)
How far, how high? (photo: Youtube/Gravity Industries)

I'm guessing we saw last month's launch of the flying paramedic swooping over the Lake District with a jetpack and assumed this was a low-level, short-range, mode of transport. It looks ideal for little hops over the fells to reach injured hikers but, seriously, how much fuel can a jet pack carry?

The answer, judging by two recent sightings near Los Angeles, is more than you think. Two airline pilots have reported close encounters with jetpack fliers, one at an altitude of 3,000 feet, the other at a dizzying 6,500 feet. What's going on?

I suspect these are not standard jetpacks but the result of secret private or military research. If this sort of range and height is already possible, the age of commuter jetpacks cannot be far away. I would put a small bet on a practical jetpack for everyday use being with us within a decade, zipping between cities. Still think we need HS2?

Germany is fighting Covid-19 by ordering schools to open their windows every 20 minutes. Kids have been advised to wear coats, hats and scarves during lessons. I cannot see English schools doing the same; a warm and fetid fug is part of the modern British way of education. It was not always so. When the first standard classrooms were designed in the 1800s, those most praised by teachers were the ones with high windows which opened with long poles. You may remember them. They not only brought gales of fresh air into the class but also carried away the stink of unwashed kids. The good old days were smelly old days.

Our changing language. In the above item, should it be scarfs or scarves? Apparently, scarfs is the original form but scarves is taking over. Which is curious at a time when roofs is taking over from rooves. I have no idea who makes the rules.

According to a survey by something called The Knowledge Academy, the most feared phrase to be heard in the workplace is: “Let's have a chat.” But isn't this a tad out of date? Scarier by far is: “That's a nasty cough you've got.”

A dog is for lockdown, not for life. The RSPCA reports a “huge surge” in demand for domestic pets during lockdown, followed by animals being handed over in their hundreds to sanctuaries. One rescue centre in Cumbria has taken in 120 dogs and cats in the past three months. The good news? There'll be plenty of cheap mutts and moggies for Xmas.

Talking of which, a Daily Telegraph reader reports that his wife has returned a batch of Christmas cards because they were “too relentlessly merry” and she wants “Covid-appropriate cards.” I've got in mind a manger scene on a card which folds into a handy little face mask. And may all your Yuletide tests be negative . . .

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