Peter Rhodes on crashing cars, creeping Americanisms and the fatal illusion of privacy in cyberspace
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
THE Yanks are coming. A reader reports a new store being prepared in Dudley behind a hoarding proclaiming: "We open in the fall."
AN oxymoron is a term that contradicts itself, such as "fun run" or "military intelligence". The spat over the British ambassador to Washington reveals yet another. Sir Kim Darroch's downfall is said to be the result of "private emails."
THERE is little privacy in cyberspace. As a general rule, you shouldn't commit anything to your emails that you wouldn't happily shout from your roof. If you are Ambassador to the US and have some ripe views on Donald Trump, the only safe option is to return to Britain every few days to brief the monarch and prime minister face-to-face in a remote part of the grounds of Buckingham Palace, with all parties using paper fans to cover their mouths against satellite lip-reading technology. And if they can do it all in Welsh, so much the better. Tidy, as they say in Barry Island.
THEY haven't got the time to investigate your burglary. They haven't got the resources to discover who has nicked your car. They haven't got the staff to track down the vandals wrecking your town. But if a newspaper is about to publish leaked reports embarrassing some politicians, somehow the Metropolitan Police can find the time, the resources and the staff to start threatening arrests. When the state adopts those sort of priorities it is, almost by definition, a police state.
ACCORDING to research by an insurance company, large numbers of young drivers have accidents after taking a long break from driving. Typically, the kids pass their driving test at 17 or 18 but then, because of a gap year or the sheer cost of car insurance, do not drive for months or even years. And when they get behind the wheel again - bang. Mind you, I raised an eyebrow at the tale of one lad who passed his test at the third attempt and took a three-year break from the roads. Shortly after starting to drive again, according to the research, "he forgot to look over his shoulder while parking and bumped into another car." That's not forgetfulness. That's nature's way of telling you to get a bicycle.
YOU may recall on May 21 this column drew a comparison between Boris Johnson's rise to power and the 1660 Restoration of the "Merry Monarch," Charles II. Both were flawed yet each had the ability to cheer people up. Three weeks on, I'm privileged to report that one of Britain's most popular historians, David Starkey, agrees with me.
IN a Daily Telegraph feature entitled "Boris is Truly the Merry Monarch of Brexit," Starkey compares the grey days of 17th century puritanism with today's grim, deadlocked politics. Boris, like Charles, promises a cunning plan to unite the nation. But confronted with real politics and hard facts, Charles retreated into cynicism and duplicity and, says Starkey, "I expect Boris will do the same." Enjoy the merriness. It may not last.