Peter Rhodes on sunny autumn, creeping Americanisms and a surprisingly fond farewell to Wonga
Don't tell me summer is really over
WE have the information, the technology and the political will to identify tax-dodgers and deny them anything in the Honours List. So why can't we get the money off them?
WONGA, the payday-loan company has gone bust, amid much rejoicing. But a reader takes a different view. A former customer, he says paying Wonga £10 to borrow £100 for a few days was a lot cheaper than incurring overdraft or other fees imposed by respectable high-street banks. "The idiots have ruined everything again," he rages.
I'M not entirely convinced. Nor am I persuaded by nostalgic references to those "cuddly" OAP puppets used in the Wonga TV adverts. I always thought they looked sinister, like a trio of former concentration-camp guards.
YES, I know it's officially autumn and we should be sewing ourselves in our vests and saving money for the arctic weather to come, but don't tell me summer is really over. We are off to Rutland Water for a few days. At this time of year, as the sun sinks and the water sparkles on this massive reservoir, the views are terrific. Is there any better way to improve a panorama than to fill it with water?
OUR changing language. According to one newspaper, President Trump has "doubled down" on his attacks on the press. The phrase, based on raising your stakes in the card game blackjack is an Americanism. It should stay in America where people understand it. Sadly, some British journalists seem more interested in showing off their US-cred newspeak than in communicating anything meaningful. I include those political pundits who refer to "GOP" in their dispatches, assuming that English listeners know it stands for Grand Old Party, otherwise known as the Republican Party. And don't get me started on POTUS, FLOTUS and Veep. If you mean President of the United States, First Lady and Vice-President, for the benefit of us Limeys, just say so.
A HOT air balloon made an unplanned landing in a suburban street in Gloucester. A spokesman for the company declared: "It was a text-book landing." Oh, yeah? Show us the text book. I bet that somewhere on page one of the Balloon Flyers' Text Book is the advice: "Do not land this balloon anywhere in a city."
THERE appears to be an outbreak of fudge, compromise and battle-weariness in Brussels and we may at last be stumbling towards some sort of Brexit agreement. Best-case scenario is that six months from now we will slip painlessly from one trading arrangement to another and rediscover our historical identity as a sovereign nation with global horizons. There will be no collapse, no catastrophe, no "you're stealing my future" hysterics from millennials. We will wonder what all the fuss was about.
AND those who cannot live without some impending nightmare will have to find themselves a new Armageddon to fret about. May I suggest solar flares? A biggy is long overdue.