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Peter Rhodes on being bowled over by a Chinook, a sleepy, sleepless town and the problem with electoral pacts

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Chinook in action

ITS camera team had barely arrived in Whaley Bridge than Channel 4 News described the place as "a sleepy Derbyshire town." Which was odd, given that so many residents said they had been unable to sleep for days. In this context, "sleepy" doesn't actually mean snoozy or sleep-deprived. It's just a lazy term the London media use to describe any smallish settlement beyond the M25.

AFTER the record-breaking heatwave, followed by dam-breaking rainfall, the experts popped up to inform us solemnly that, although this weather couldn't definitely be blamed on climate change, it sets the pattern for the sort of climate we might expect in the future - blazing hot summers and occasional deluges. Purely by chance, I recently found a column from January 2014 on research at Reading University which suggested our summers could become cooler but less rainy - the exact opposite of the latest predictions. Much of the art of climate forecasting depends on the punters having short memories.

WONDERFUL to see the RAF Chinooks in action at Whaley Bridge. It's hard to describe the power of these huge helicopters but many years ago, on a jungle exercise with Arkansas National Guard (it's a long story), I tried to film directly underneath a Chinook and was blown clean off my feet.

WHEN the exercise ended, the National Guard had to get me from Fort Chaffee to Tennessee, 300 miles east. Having been raised in the penny-pinching ways of the Ministry of Defence, I expected a bus. Instead, the National Guard cheerfully provided a Chinook to take one British TA officer to Memphis. I shudder to think how big my carbon footprint was that year.

AFTER the Green Party and Plaid Cymru stood aside to let the Lib-Dems win the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election, there's much talk of more electoral pacts to maximise the Leave and Remain votes in some constituencies. But don't overlook the naked ambition that makes somebody want to be an MP. It takes hard work and dedication to get selected as a PPC (prospective parliamentary candidate). It must be heartbreaking, or infuriating, on the verge of your first election, to be asked to sacrifice your hopes for the greater good. The crunch test of Project Pact will come when the Greens are invited to stand aside to give the Lib-Dems a clear run and the Green candidate agrees - on condition they adopt him or her as the Lib-Dem candidate. And that's when the fur starts flying.

AN ONLINE form arrived from a club I joined some time ago. After all the usual, predictable questions about how we rate the facilities, it veers off into more sinister territory with "Which gender do you most closely identify with?" and offers the choice of: "Male, female, transgender female, transgender male, gender variant / non-conforming, prefer not to say." Tricky one. I'm inclined to go for "none of the above."

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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