Peter Rhodes on that RAF flypast, foot fetishism in history and how Captain Poldark created the Welfare State

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

OH, isn't it fun, sneering at the ill-educated lower orders?

The Great Reformer

From the Guardian website comes this lofty put-down: "After all this hot weather Trump is going to feel at home. Rednecks everyware." Brilliant, darling - except that's not how you spell "everywhere."

BEFORE long, a certain amount of wet stuff will presumably fall from the heavens and end England's drought. Here are two things about rain that always take us by surprise. First, a few hours before the deluge, your house fills with big, black hairy spiders looking for shelter (how do they know?). Secondly, as water reacts with rubber and oil, the road turn into ice-rinks. Bad times for arachnophobes, great opportunities for insurance companies to bump up your premiums. Drive slowly and carry a big slipper.

TALKING of scary creatures, a friend has had some success photographing bats at twilight. The snag, he says, is that the flash from his camera goes straight through the wing membranes and the little horrors look like flying skeletons.

UNDER the scheme announced in Parliament on Sunday, wages will be augmented by a new state benefit so that no-one will go hungry but nobody will be better-off not working than working. So it seems Poldark (BBC1) actually invented Universal Credit. How long before the 18th century peasantry of Truro claim their payments are late and become the revolting peasantry (see below)?

IT never occurred to me that in Poldark's time, when ye streets were paved with manure and folk washed once every decade or so, that foot fetishism would be quite as popular as the ill-fated Reverend Osbourne Whitworth (Christian Brassington) suggests. Tic Tac, vicar?

"WE won't see anything like this again," declared one proud visitor in the Mall as the RAF's 100th anniversary flypast roared overhead this week . Damn right, you won't. And I wonder, in these cash-strapped times, how many aircraft had to be cannibalised by RAF technicians to put all those 103 planes in the air at the same time. It took me back to the First Gulf War in 1990 when I was at the RAF base in Bahrain as the Tornados were being prepared for battle. In the heart of the plane is an access shaft where techies squeeze in to get at various black boxes and widgets. It was a job reserved for the smallest, thinnest bloke in the team and you couldn't help thinking of Victorian children being sent up chimneys.

BUT my ultimate RAF memory will always be the approach to the Falkland Islands in 1986 when our escort, two drab grey Phantom jet fighters, appeared off each wingtip of our troop plane. They were, as the Americans say, loaded for bear, carrying their full complement of missiles. They looked plain deadly and they seemed far too close for comfort. I was reminded of the Duke of Wellington's comment on his own warriors: "I don't know what effect these men will have on the enemy, but by God, they terrify me."

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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