Peter Rhodes on a wizard interview, the horrors of social media and a biblical approach to grammar

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Done, over, unrecorded.

David Duke

A READER writes with the eternal complaint about journalists and others starting sentences with "and" or "but" and says she would have been "well chastised" at school for doing so. I suspect millions of British children were taught the same. I can only assume their teachers never read the Bible. Have a look at the standard King James Version. You will find that 25 of the first 26 verses of Genesis begin with "And."

AND on the 27th day God created grammar.

THE abiding image from this week's Reading Festival inspired the Daily Star to adopt an oddly mediaeval sort of language that goes with rude bits and embarrassment. As the newspaper put it: "Pics include a lass holding aloft a blow-up penis. A lass? Aloft? Yea, verily, dilly-dilly and juggle my firkins.

THE inflatable-penis stunt must have seemed a great idea at the time. But then the image goes viral and I'm guessing the girl's family are mortified. It gets worse. These days, thanks to social media, an image is forever. Years from now, in her smartest City outfit, this lass is being interviewed for a dream job. The boss looks up from his computer with a thin smile and asks: "Miss Scroggins, would you describe yourself as impetuous . . ?" And in that awful moment she knows precisely which image he's got on his screen. She is forever the Reading Todger Girl.

I AM eternally thankful that my mates and I grew up in an age when a moment of stupidity was precisely that. Done, over, unrecorded. In the Swinging Sixties, nobody thought to whip out an Instamatic to snap our embarrassments. Our folly was folded into the merciful dark cloak of obscurity.

DAVID Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has been in the news lately. First, he is a character in the new Spike Lee film, BlacKkKlansman. Next, he joined that other far-Right character Nick Griffin last week in praising Jeremy Corbyn's alleged - and strongly denied - comments on Zionists.

THE KKK leader divides the film critics. According to the Daily Mail's Toby Young, David Duke (as played by Topher Grace) is "a deeply unpleasant man" yet in the Times Ed Potton says the Grace version of Duke is "alarmingly lucid." The Daily Beast website once described the real Duke as "the most charming bigot you ever met." I can understand that. In all my years in this job, involving thousands of interviewees from princes to paupers, I met only two men whom I knew were close to evil but who came across as polite, engaging and disturbingly charming. One was Gerry Adams. The other was David Duke.

AFTER the David Duke interview I returned to my office and told my worldly-wise chief reporter about this soft-spoken charmer from the Ku Klux Klan. The old hack replied: "Well, if he had horns and a forked tail he'd be rumbled right away, wouldn't he?"

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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