Peter Rhodes on Spanish terms of abuse and why we're all happier than ever
WE are bombarded with so many facts, figures and dire warnings from the NHS that it's easy to assume we are all ill, all the time. I bumped into an old friend for the first time in ages and expected to trade the usual chit-chat about our decaying bodies. He had nothing to offer. He is tall, alert, has no illnesses and never takes any medication. He is 80 and for people like him, while they're glad to know its services are available, the NHS is something that happens to other people.
MORE unusual car names. I thought a reader was pulling my leg when he told me about the Mitsubishi Pajero, but it seems to be true. Mitsubishi, looking for a suitably agile and powerful image, named their new vehicle after the South American pampas cat whose Latin name is Leopardus pajeros. Unfortunately, the term Pajero is a common form of abuse in the Spanish-speaking world. It translates as one of the many words I am not allowed to use in a family newspaper. Rhymes with banker.
I WROTE recently about how the words we heard from a teacher in infant school can stay with us for ever. A reader who was at school in the early 60s recalls a teacher asking a hard question. Not a single hand was raised to answer it. "Ah," said the teacher surveying the class, "a cacophony of silence."
THIS month marks the 100th anniversary of the Charge at Huj, a cavalry action by the yeomanry regiments of Warwickshire and Worcestershire which is reckoned by many to be the last classic cavalry charge in the history of the British Army. So why have you never heard of it? At a reception in Warwick to mark the centenary a few days ago, the military historian Major-General Sir Sebastian Roberts listed dozens of huge military and political events of 1917, including the appalling Battle of Passchendaele, that simply overshadowed the heroism of 150 troopers in far-off Palestine who put 2,000 Turks to flight and seized their guns at sword point. So the Charge at Huj never really made it into the history books. But one day, if there is any justice, it might make a great movie.
THIS snippet may have passed you by. According to the Office for National Statistics, people in England are the happiest they have been since records began. The proportion of "very happy" folk rose from 31.39 to 35.08 per cent this year. And while I hate dragging Brexit into everything,the ONS suggests that fewer people are now worried about leaving the EU.
AS for those who have invested all their dread and deepest fears in Brexit, I'm not sure what would make them feel better. If Brexit were abandoned tomorrow and Britain decided to stay in the EU for ever, would those people who are deeply unhappy about Brexit suddenly become happy people? Somehow I doubt it.
HOWEVER, while happiness must always be welcomed, beware of premature and boundless optimism. Forget any Brexit negotiations, scrap the idea of a transition period. Tim Martin, chairman of the Wetherspoon pub chain, says his company is ready now to quit the EU. I'll have whatever he's having.