Peter Rhodes on imperial guilt, the demise of plain English and an over-designed cottage

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Rage in Hong Kong

AN email from E.ON says they are switching us from quarterly to monthly billing. This is a pain in the neck for customers. It must also mean extra work for the energy company. So why do it? I suspect it is to get everyone off bills and on to direct debits. I objected, to no avail.

ANNOUNCING in large red type that "I've stopped working on your complaint," a complaints-resolution manager at E.ON explained: "As the complaint is based of a business decision Mr Rhodes. I have closed marked this as resolved as the only resolution is above and the business has made this decision. Take care." Does anybody still use plain English?

OUR holiday cottage in Devon was a triumph of design over practicality, refurbished with the chief aim of making it look good in the brochure. So it had 42 light fittings but only one clock. And while there were many useful tables, all had been rendered useless by covering them with designer jugs and lamps. Ideally, the bathroom mirror would be positioned over the basin. However, in the interests of symmetry it is hung exactly in the centre of the wall which means you see one half of your face while shaving and the other half while peeing. How very Ideal Home. How very silly.

AS Extinction Rebellion threatened to strike at Wimbledon, was anybody else getting fed up with the pious little plea: “This is a non-violent protest," as if that excuses everything? It is a very snowflakey view and should not be tolerated. If an action is technically non-violent but it is clearly aggressive and causes annoyance, it should be regarded as the first punch. How does this work in practice? You non-violently superglue my tennis racket to my seat. I smack you on the nose. Sounds a perfectly fair exchange to me.

KEEP that old imperial guilt going, folks. Have you noticed when some draconian law is criticised in the Commonwealth, the BBC can't resist referring to it as a "colonial-era law." The implication is that half the nasty legislation in today's developing world is really the fault of the British Empire (which was, of course, A Bad Thing). So were you surprised this week to see the pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong unfurling the old flag, incorporating the Union Jack, which was flown over the territory during its time as a British colony? And didn't it make you wonder how many people around the world might have preferred to remain under British administration than under some of the "liberation" movements that followed?

MIND you, I visited Hong Kong four times before it was handed back to China and never detected any great patriotic enthusiasm for Commonwealth, Queen or Union Jack. What the Hong Kongers really seemed to appreciate from their British rulers was, as far as possible, being left alone. It might be worth a try here.

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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