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The ultimate weepy? Peter Rhodes on sentimental TV, disrespecting dowsers and that nasty little Red Book

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

IN this age of impersonal, soulless banking, I loved the tale from a reader whose little garage business was struggling some years ago. He went to his bank manager for a small loan and explained his cash-flow problem. The manager opened his drawer and tossed his car keys to him with the words: “I’ve got a new car on order. Sell this one for me and take a cut for yourself.” No loan, no interest, no paperwork. Just fond memories of a simpler and more humane age.

The Ahhh Factor. Jo Brand with kitten

TELLY has ticked all the schmaltz boxes and flicked all the weepy switches with Jo Brand’s Cats & Kittens (C5). This is reality telly at its most heart-tugging where the stars are felines, the plot is all about horrible injuries and miraculous recoveries, and the presenter is that plump lass everybody loves. The icing on this extremely sugary cake is that it’s set in Britain’s most sentimental city, Liverpool. Having put all the aah-factor ingredients together so well, where does C5 go next? I had a brilliant idea about fluffy little orphaned baby hamsters being taught to sing Christmas carols by Aled Jones. What could possibly go wrong?

SALLY Le Page, described as “an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford and an award winning science communicator and YouTuber,” was surprised to hear that two Severn Trent workers were using a divining rod as they tried to find a water main near her parents’ home. She has duly tweeted against this “mediaeval” practice and is “astonished” to discover that other water companies use the same techniques. Frankly, I’m astonished that she’s astonished. Isn’t it well known that water companies and many private citizens use divining? Over the years it has been reported in many TV and newspaper features. How can anyone become an evolutionary biologist at Oxford without knowing such things?

I HAVE a friend who is a dowser. I can’t produce any scientifically acceptable proof that it works, but he makes a reasonable living at it, which suggests he has a fair success rate. I once had a go with his divining kit and, as a fully paid-up sceptic, was surprised at the “pull” on the L-shaped rods swivelling in biro tubes. It could have been self-delusion or I may have stumbled upon an underground stream, who knows? But if I were a Severn-Trent worker with a van stuffed full of hi-tech leak-detection devices which do not always work perfectly (because that’s how real life goes), I might be tempted to carry divining rods, just as back-up. Where’s the harm and what’s the problem?

ONE Guardian website reader put it admirably: “When did science become so shrill and intolerant? “ I bet the answer is when science took over from religion. They both have their inquisitions.

DON’T believe anyone who claims to understand the Budget on Budget Day. All the little nasties are hidden away in something called the Red Book and will probably come to light just about the time you are reading this. It’s that oh, **** moment.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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