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Peter Rhodes on Boris's Bonanza, the Devil at play and a question - does remembrance really make us remember?

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Devilment in Bridgnorth?

BORIS Johnson's war-cry for the Tory leadership seems to be: "Let's make the rich even richer." His plan is to raise the higher tax threshold from £50,000 to £80,000. It seems an odd thing to do in these austere and desperately unequal times. At least it would be odd if Johnson were making his pitch at the Great British Public.

BUT, of course, he isn't. So can anyone think of one group of people with a basic salary just below £80,000 who would do very nicely out of Boris's Bonanza and whose goodwill he badly needs? There are about 650 of them. They work in a big building in Whitehall. They sit on green leather benches. They get about 80 days holiday a year. You're getting warmer. . .

I HAD that old-fashioned thing, a misdialled number. It was a Yorkshireman, proving the first rule of God's Country, namely that if summat goes wrong, it's nivver thine own fault. "You've dialled the wrong number," I told him. "Well, you must have our Christine's old number," he grumped, hanging up.

MY eye was caught by an old-fashioned word from Bridgnorth where kids have been chucking brick-sized stones from a footpath high above the houses below. Locals fear that someone may get killed. One local described it as "devilment." It's as though a sudden madness comes over children, usually boys. For a split-second any sense of consequences vanishes and they lob stones at trains, greenhouses, narrowboats or anything else in range. It's as if there really is a bright red character with a forked tail and pitchfork who lands on their shoulders and whispers evil in their ears. You don't have to believe in the Devil to explain childhood wickedness, but it helps.

SIMON Jenkins, the columnist and former Times editor, was massively out of kilter with the mood of the nation when he wrote a few days ago: "Recalling past wars is the most dangerous thing a nation can do. Too much remembering has lain at the root of almost every conflict in Europe’s history." I bet most of us subscribe to the alternative view that remembrance is the beginning of the end of conflict and, so long as we do it solemnly and wisely, it is a good thing. The snag is that both these conflicting views start from the assumption that commemoration brings knowledge. And I'm not convinced it does.

WE live in an age of constant stimulation where one day's events are swallowed by the next day's and folk have the memory-span of a goldfish. I suspect, even after last week's 24/7 commemoration of the Normandy landings, if you stopped 100 British citizens at random in the street today and asked them: "What was D-Day?" half of them wouldn't have a clue.

AND how many could point to Normandy on a map?

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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