Peter Rhodes on the rising price of your mid-life crisis, paying for sport and a very strange night in Jerusalem

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Where, oh where, is the evidence?

High-price Harley

HOW to be a government. 1) Allow the population to grow by 500,000 a year. 2) Blame local councils for not permitting enough houses. 3) Blame developers for not building enough houses. 4) Blame landowners for not releasing land for more houses. 5) Blame everybody but yourselves.

I WROTE yesterday about how I recognised the class divisions in my own British society only after a 1987 trip to Israel where they do things differently. The Israelis also took a fierce pride in their free Press and freedom of expression, as shown in one of the oddest interviews I ever had. A few nights before we arrived, two fighters of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) had flown into northern Israel on hang-gliders and killed six Israeli soldiers. The Palestinians in the occupied West Bank were delighted; their riots turned into the first Intifada. The Israelis were shocked and humiliated. At an impromptu briefing for our press party in Jerusalem, a senior Israeli official outlined sadly what had happened.

AND then the strangest thing happened. The official said: "I suppose you want to hear the PLO view on this?" Puzzled, we agreed and a mini-bus was summoned. It took us across Jerusalem to the offices of the PLO where a Palestinian spokesman gleefully described the killings as a great operation and praised the bravery of the slain PLO fighters. It was bizarre. This was the equivalent of the British Army, at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, giving reporters a lift across Belfast to interview the Provisional IRA. To this day, I have no idea why the Israelis felt they had to provide a platform for their enemies. It was a very odd sort of night.

THE European Union warns that if Donald Trump imposes tariffs, Brussels may retaliate with tariffs on Levi jeans, Harley Davidson motorbikes and bourbon whiskey. The price of that mid-life crisis could go through the roof.

INCIDENTALLY, it's "whisky" if it's from Scotland and "whiskey" if it's from Ireland, the United States or anywhere else. I have absolutely no idea why this is so but it was the first thing I spotted flicking through the pages of my first newspaper's style book. This is the document, once used by all newspapers and magazines, to ensure every writer spelled words the same way, even if the style-book spelling was questionable. It explains why some newspapers insist on "guerilla" even if the preferred dictionary spelling is "guerrilla."

ACCORDING to my local council's latest report, "sport" is the second biggest item of its expenditure. It spends more on maintaining tennis courts and providing pitches where talentless amateur footballers can scream obscenities at each other on Sunday mornings than it does on public safety, street cleaning, theatres and museums, and I dare say it's not alone. This country spends billions every year subsidising the entrenched and unchallenged notion that sport is A Good Thing which produces a fit and healthy nation that aims to win but is noble in defeat. Where, oh where, is the evidence?

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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