Peter Rhodes on growing apples, transplanting kites and the wrong time to make new enemies

Apple growers in Northern Ireland are expecting a bumper harvest this autumn but English growers warn their crop may suffer from a shortage of foreign labour. Pomme ci, pomme ça , as the French say.

Fiery – Liz Truss
Fiery – Liz Truss

Still en France, when the great writer Voltaire was on his deathbed, a priest invited him to renounce the Devil. Voltaire allegedly replied: “This is no time to be making new enemies.” I was reminded of him a few days ago when our alarmingly fiery Foreign Secretary Liz Truss suggested Britain should consider sending weapons to Taiwan which is threatened with invasion by China. Here's a better idea. Let's deal with one nuclear-armed superpower at a time, shall we? This is no time to be making new enemies.

Schools in Hong Kong are being told to teach children that HK was never a British colony because British rule was the result of “unequal treaties.” I visited the place four times before the 1997 handover to China and it always struck me as copper-bottomed convincingly colonial.

I seem to recall lots of union jacks and crown badges, double-decker buses, Blackpool-style trams, English-speaking taxi drivers, a Royal police force, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Her Majesty's Armed Forces Headquarters, English street names, Victoria Park and the daily ceremonial firing of the ex-Royal Navy Noon Day Gun. Oh, and G&T. It was more British than Britain.

Told you so. The last hope of cheap motoring in electric cars evaporates as the Government's Climate Change Committee recommends “a simple charge per mile.” Behold, the ultimate zero-emission vehicle, a car so expensive to run that you'll never dare switch it on.

British-hatched red kites from this country's dazzlingly successful reintroduction programme are being exported to build up Spain's kite population. They should do well, assuming the Spanish are as generous as the Brits in leaving chunks of meat and poultry in the garden to attract them. For red kites are not merely agile, elegant and beautiful. Above all, they are scroungers.

If you have Netflix and a few spare moments, catch Rowan Atkinson's brilliant slapstick series, Man vs Bee. The genius of Chaplin and Keaton lives on and if you don't laugh, well, you will.

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