Peter Rhodes on the Uncivil Service, a forgotten victory and what Boris really said

STILL no reply from TV Licensing on why their reminders have adopted a more threatening tone of late.

The Blackadder version
The Blackadder version

In the meantime, a reader points out that the vehicle-tax reminder from the DVLA now begins: "Tax it or lose it." First the threat, then the demand for money. And we pay their wages. I seem to remember a time when every communication from the Civil Service ended: "I remain your most obedient servant."

THE way things are going it's only a matter of time before all these official reminders begin with: "Pay up or we'll send the boys round."

GREAT dates in history. August 8, 2018: Britain discovers the Battle of Amiens. This week's wall-to-wall coverage of the centenary of the battle was a lesson for the nation, delivered rather late.

THE problem this country's influential liberal-Left has always had with the First World War is that for almost 100 years the only acceptable narrative was one of butchery, failure, waste, stupidity, lions led by donkeys, Blackadder and Oh, What a Lovely War. So it's a bit awkward having to explain to a forgetful and ignorant nation that Britain and her Allies, led by the same "donkeys" as in 1916, actually won the war in the summer and autumn of 1918. They did it in a series of fast, mobile battles, skillfully co-ordinating armour, artillery, air power and infantry in a way never seen before. The Tommies of 1918 were proud of their victories, and we should be, too.

I AM not a fan of Boris Johnson. He was a dismal foreign secretary and would be a monumentally bad prime minister. But as a commentator and columnist who gets the nation talking, he is in a class of his own. And if you haven't read his Daily Telegraph column on the burka, then do. After all the fuss and fury, you may expect to find a beer-hall rant, a tub-thumping demand for burkas to be banned. It is exactly the opposite.

JOHNSON'S column is a timely, considered, intelligent and humane plea for Britain not to follow Denmark and France by imposing a ban on all face-coverings. Johnson clearly dislikes such forms of dress - hence his "letter box" jibe - but there is absolutely no way that his column, in an upmarket newspaper, could stir up racial or religious hatred - although some of the hysterical and politically-inspired reactions to it might. The howling-down, the demands for him to be punished are chilling.We are supposed to live in a free country. Some days I barely recognise it.

I WROTE a couple of days ago about a 1930s novel whose female hero was called Sidney. If it ever was a popular girl's name in Britain, those days have long gone. However, it is not unknown in the United States, as O J Simpson's daughter, Sydney Brooke Simpson, will confirm. And, of course, Sidonie of Poděbrady (1449-1510) was the daughter of the King of Bohemia. However did we manage before Wikipedia?

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