Peter Rhodes on the price of fame, old-fashioned court reporting and a new breed of fairies
WELCOME to autumn, defined by the Met Office as September, October and November. Summery, isn't it?
IN a rather high-minded column, Andrew Marr explains why he agreed to appear as himself interviewing the Home Secretary (Keeley Hawes) in the BBC political drama, Bodyguard. He says he did it "because I was starstruck, in part by Hawes . . . But I was perhaps most fascinated by Jed Mercurio, the writer. " Really? Amid all this star-struckness and fascination, what about the money? Marr doesn't mention a fee which makes it hard for readers to assess his motivation. People do things for a million that they'd never do for a fiver.
MY eye was caught by a feature on women who believe they are fairies. Not just dressing-up fairies but genuine fairies who are put on this world to be nice to everybody. One explained that you know you're turning into a fairy when you see bright little flashes of light. Only a miserable old sceptic with a history of eye surgery would point out that, while flashing lights may indicate that Tinkerbell is coming out to play, they are also a common symptom of a detached retina. I wonder how many fairies set off for fairyland but end up at the eye clinic.
AH, memories. I found myself in Warwick this week and adjourned to the pub where, nearly half a century ago, I was introduced to liquid lunches, magistrates' court reporting and phoning copy. Telephoning the day's cases involved a strange, sing-song performance with every punctuation mark read out for the benefit of the copy-typist back at the office. It went something like: "Judge Nigel McBrood cap M small C cap B comma presiding comma said colon open quotes you are a fraudster comma a cheat and a liar full point. You deserve a custodial sentence full point close quotes new par . . . "
COURT reporting to a tight deadline was intricate and demanding and was often enlivened by the appearance in the pub of the defendants whose cases you were covering. You'd be phoning something on the lines of "Bloggins, described in court as a danger to women," and look up to see Bloggins himself, glaring.
IT was in the pub, too, that new offenders discovered a great truth about the English legal system. Until then they assumed their lawyer, eloquently defending them, was on their side. In the pub, they discovered he was best mates with the chief inspector, the prosecuting solicitor and the clerk of the court. Another four pints of bitter, love.
THE Labour Party is rumoured to be planning to adopt the internationally-agreed definition of antisemitism, but making it non-retrospective, so that members who made dubious remarks in the past will not be called out. A mature and intelligent party leader would now make a full apology for past offence. Quiet, isn't it?