Peter Rhodes on a suspicious closure, hatred on the streets and the never-ending commemoration of war
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
YOU know how it is. Our local building-society branch has just closed "for refurbishment lasting about six weeks." Which sounds fine and dandy except that it didn't seem in need of refurbishment, and it's not unknown for valuable high-street premises to close "temporarily" and never re-open, except as flats or coffee bars. I think I trust them but . . .
THE nastiest image of this month so far was a Trump supporter being attacked by a mob in London. One of them, a woman screaming abuse into his face, had the decency to apologise later. She seemed genuinely contrite. Maybe she was as surprised as the rest of us at the sudden explosion of hatred from people allegedly trying to build a better and kinder world. But the lesson of zealotry throughout history is that when some people convince themselves they're on the side of the angels, they can behave like the very devil.
HOLD the bagpipes. Hold the podiums. Hold the Royal Marines drummers, the marching bands and Sheridan Smith with her bluebirds over Dover. You might think the D-Day 75th anniversary celebrations marked an end of commemoration. No chance. There is an infinite number of heroic and epoch-changing events to remember, in that blend of national solemnity and knees-up that is unique to the Brits. Five years from now some of those hale and hearty Normandy veterans will still be around, determined to mark D-Day 80, and salute their fallen comrades on last time. In the meantime, later this year we'll have the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, followed next year by the 80th anniversaries of Dunkirk, the Blitz and the Battle of Britain. We'll meet again, and again, and again.
IT is one of the commonest cliches of combat. It cropped up repeatedly during the D-Day 75th anniversary. I have used it myself many times. But how do you actually "dodge bullets?"
ONE of the national newspaper websites informed us that the New Orleans musician Dr John had not died on Thursday but "died Thursday." It's another little example of American English taking over. The dropping of the word "on" gives us sentences such as: "I'll write you Wednesday" and "The council meets Fridays." It may grate on English ears but without the US construction the world would have been denied a classic headline. According to folklore (and these things are always impossible to pin down), the New York socialite Gloria Vanderbilt had to be moved when she was unwell, producing the wonderful headline: "Sick Gloria in Transit Monday." Your local priest will explain.
PEDANT corner. Last week I described raccoon dogs as "pug ugly." The correct term, dating from American gang culture of the 1850s, is "plug-ugly." Having said that, pugs are pretty ugly, too.