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Peter Rhodes on a detective's tash, bad news for vegans and a Christmas sales pitch worth spreading

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes

John Malkovich as Poirot

THE prize for this year's most crass and overblown yuletide sales pitch - so far - goes to: "Christmas deserves Lurpak." Isn't it good to know that the greatest festival in Christianity, a joyous event celebrated by billions of folk for 2,000 years, is finally worthy of a tub of spread? If that doesn't get the heavenly host singing, nothing will.

IN the BBC Christmas adaptation of Agatha Christie's Poirot, John Malkovich will dispense with those two defining features of the character, the moustache and the Belgian accent. So all that remains is a private detective with a normal accent. It's like playing the Elephant Man as a pantomime horse.

IN just two days the Daily Mail reckons it has signed up thousands of readers to become hospital volunteers, providing "priceless support" for patients and staff. Well, good luck with that. But how many of these willing masses will stick with it through the endless, intrusive checks run by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and Occupational Health? Officialdom has a rare talent for making good-hearted volunteers feel like weirdos. In the small print the scheme warns that the vetting process could take up to six months. And by that time, I wouldn't be surprised if thousands of once-keen volunteers have had a bellyful of red tape and taken their enthusiasm elsewhere.

BAD news for veganism? Jordi Casamitjana claims he was discriminated against by his employer, the League Against Cruel Sports, because of his beliefs. He describes himself as an "ethical vegan" and is asking a tribunal to decide whether veganism is a "philosophical belief akin to a religion" and should thus be protected in law. Big mistake.

WHATEVER you may think of them, vegetarians and vegans rely heavily on science and rational thought. They can produce endless research papers proving that meat is bad for us, vegetables are good for us, milk is cruel and fish feel pain. A religion, by definition, is a belief system based not on hard evidence but on faith, usually involving a supernatural creator. In the days when the vast majority of people believed in such stuff, having your beliefs accepted as a religion gave them some status. But the times they are a-changing. We are an increasingly Godless society. Last year's landmark survey by British Social Attitudes found that, for the first time, more than half the population say they have no religion. We may respect (or pretend to respect) other people's faiths but millions of Brits regard religions as little more than superstitions. Do vegans really want the world to think that way about their convictions and lifestyle?

MEANWHILE, the animal-rights organisation Peta wants us to replace animal-based expressions with veggie terms. Thus, "there's more than one way to skin a cat" would become "there's more than one way to peel a potato." Has anybody asked the potatoes how they feel about this? And now, over to the Prince of Wales . . . .

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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