Peter Rhodes: Born a lord, die a varlet
Improving the honours system, a dilemma for van-hire firms and whatever happened to block-release courses?
"THINK twice, look twice" is the advice allegedly being given by government officials to van-hire companies in the wake of atrocities in London and Barcelona. Sounds like common sense. but how long before there is outrage about a van-hire company using "racist" profiling of potential customers? By now, we all know what the average Islamist terrorist looks like. But the moment a hire company starts focusing closely on young males of North African or Pakistani appearance, expect the skies of political correctness to fall in. In order to pacify the race-equality industry, everyone must be treated with equal suspicion, no matter how bonkers the results. We have seen such nonsense at airports where little old ladies from Bournemouth are singled out for searches, just to keep the race-profile figures balanced.
IN any case, the maniac-in-van scenario may already be on the way out. According to the latest reports, jihadist websites are already offering would-be terrorists advice on how to derail trains. I fear we ain't seen nothing yet.
ELEVEN honours, including MBEs and OBEs, have been snatched back by the Government after the recipients were convicted of various offences. It is surely time to introduce the Born-a-Lord honours system I have been promoting (with absolutely no success) for some years. It works like this. At birth, every child in the UK is automatically created a Lord or Lady. Live a good, honest life and you will die with that same esteemed title. But break the law or offend public morals and you will be downgraded to baronet or esquire and finally, if you are a thoroughly bad egg, to vassal, varlet, knave or worse. You may be born Lord Bloggs but die Poltroon Bloggs. What a great system.
AS yet another generation prepares for university life, with all the pleasures and debt that entails, whatever happened to block-release courses? In ye olden days we school-leavers signed up for apprenticeships which included courses at college. During the second two years of my apprenticeship I found myself at a technical college in Preston, when we studied government, printing technology, shorthand, law and suchlike. It was intensive. Each course delivered eights hours of lessons, five days a week for two months. We had more face-to-face tuition in those eight weeks than many of today's university students see in a year. Block release was cheap and effective. Yet in the headlong rush to turn half of all school-leavers into graduates, it seems almost to have vanished. Why?
A SUNDAY Times reader takes issue with a recent headline likening train commuters to sheep. He points out that, under animal-protection laws, sheep are protected from the 40C temperatures experienced recently when a train's air-conditioning failed. Humans are not.
TALKING of which, a few days ago the lambs on the farm next door broke out of their meadow, a big, lush field with plenty of good grazing, and headed up the farm track. They started leaping and bouncing like young gazelles. Those lambs seemed to understand, and celebrate, the joys of freedom and mischief . But of course, we should not imbue animals with human emotions. It makes it harder to eat them.