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Peter Rhodes on a perfect funeral, more predictive texts and the day they tried to burn down Nelson's Column

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

HERE'S something new. For the first time, the notification for my routine blood-pressure check begins: "It is recommended that all patients with a chronic disease are seen annually."

Mr Babbage, we presume?

Until now, as far as I can recall, hypertension has always been a condition, not a disease. Goodness knows what the change will do to my blood pressure.

PREDICTIVE text department. On the vexed issue of Babbage predictively texting as Cabbage, a reader writes: "I've just entered Babbage in and cabbage, baggage, bandage and Hannah's came up. I understand the first three, but why Hannah's? So I entered Hannah's. Batman came up!"

A FEATURE in the Times, no less, suggests, as I have been saying for years, that the expression "innit?" will become a normal, respectable part of the English language in the next few decades. In the process it will make redundant all those baffling little tag-questions with which we Brits end our sentences: wasn't it, aren't they, didn't we, weren't they, wasn't she, and so on. The simple all-purpose "innit?" will suit all occasions, all tenses and every pronoun. I can't think why it's taken so long, innit?

HISTORIC England, the government body responsible for protecting our heritage, posted an animated online movie of Nelson's Column being demolished with a wrecking ball. The image, since deleted, was apparently intended to inspire debate about "controversial" statues and memorials. Instead, it generated outrage. From the public fury, you might assume that the column has always been regarded with great reverence. Think again. One hundred years ago it was almost destroyed by arson. In his excellent book about the Armistice, A Stillness Heard Around the World, Stanley Weintraub recalls how, as the peace celebrations reached London in November 1918, some "wild" Australian and Canadian soldiers lit a huge bonfire at the base of the column. It blazed for hours, possibly days. When the fire brigade arrived, the soldiers grabbed the hoses and drenched the firemen. Nelson's Column bore the scars of this fire for many years afterwards.

I WAS moved by the readers who recently sent their condolences after I wrote about the death of an old friend, Harry. I'm just back from his funeral. He'd been a church bell ringer for 70 years and his bell rope was laid on his coffin. The service included Abide With Me and St Paul's letter concerning Faith, Hope and Love, followed by sandwiches, pies and ale at the village hall. The sun shone, the birds sang and the heavens rang as his old mates pealed the bells for the passing of a gentleman. The perfect send-off.

AFTER the service, one of the guests tripped on the stairs in the beer garden while carrying a huge cream bun on a plate. He performed a brilliant half-roll on the lawn and sprang to his feet with the bun still on its plate and miraculously undamaged, to some applause. The fact that he is a vicar in his 70s somehow makes the story better.

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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