Peter Rhodes on Carrie Gracie, Jeremy Bowen and the BBC pay row

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Isn't the BBC Middle East editor more likely to get shot in the line of duty?

Carrie Gracie and, right, Jeremy Bowen

Peter Rhodes on rough sleepers, a pay row at the Beeb and an alleged EU conspiracy

OUR changing language. A spokesman for the US drinks company Molson Coors told Radio 4 listeners that buying the Suffolk cider maker Aspall would "premiumize our portfolio."

AFTER last week's item in defence of the countryside, a reader sends me statistics allegedly proving that only a tiny percentage of the UK is built on. Note the use of "UK" which always appears in such research. The vast empty heartlands of Scotland and Wales help to give an average UK population density of 265 people per square km, making us only the fourth most populated country in Europe. This is a godsend for anyone trying to make the case for building on the Green Belt. But do the same population-density sum for England alone and you discover it is the most crowded major nation in Europe, with 413 people per square kilometre.

BETTER still, if you are of a certain age, simply remember the green fields you knew in your childhood which have vanished under housing estates or industrial zones. When statistics strike you as dodgy, rely on your own senses.

INTERESTING conspiracy theory from Dominic Lawson. In a column he suggests the anti-Brexit brigade (Heseltine, Blair, Clegg, Adonis, etc) actually want Britain to leave the EU, in order that it can rejoin later, "in the position of all new applicants." In other words, being forced to drop the pound and adopt the euro. Food for thought.

THE council leader in Windsor has asked police to deal with "aggressive begging and intimidation" by rough sleepers and vagrants in the build-up to the Harry and Meghan wedding in May. As a veteran of two royal weddings and the Diana funeral, take it from me that on the night before the big day the streets will be stuffed with rough sleepers. They tend to be parties of grannies from Lancashire and families from Canada who have grabbed their prized spot on the pavement and will not be budged by anyone, including the cops. A little old lady wearing a Union Jack bowler hat and defending her patch of English pavement does a fair impression of a limpet.

MEANWHILE, the Sunday Times set out to count the number of rough sleepers in Windsor and discovered that of the 13 they found, ten had vanished by 11pm,suggesting they had warm beds elsewhere. No-one is denying that Britain has a huge housing problem. The problem is knowing whether the poor wretch wrapped in a sleeping bag and asking for change is genuinely hungry and homeless or a professional beggar. As a general rule, if you offer a hot pastie instead of cash and they tell you to go forth and multiply, they are pros.

IT may be a terrible, sexist crime that the BBC China Editor Carrie Gracie was paid less than the BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. On the other hand, isn't the Middle East editor more likely to get shot in the line of duty?

THEN again, when two people doing similar jobs are paid different rates, it could be that one has a better agent than the other.

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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