Peter Rhodes on the crisis in the Gulf, service at the Naafi and marking your own homework

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Not our business?

THE veteran columnist and pillar of the Establishment, Charles Moore thundered this week that Iran was able to seize the tanker Stena Impero "because there simply wasn't a British frigate available to prevent it." And what if there had been? Stena Impero is not a British ship; it is owned by a Swedish company. Its cargo of oil is not British-owned. Not a single member of the crew is British. Like so many cargo ships, it flies the UK flag not out of any loyalty to this country but for technical reasons.

SO, assuming the Royal Navy had enough frigates to confront the Iranians, how many British lives should be risked to defend any ship that, realistically, is nothing to do with Britain? And where in this case, we might ask, is the Swedish navy?

WE were promised an independent review of HS2, the high-speed railway that nobody wants and whose cost has risen from £50 billion to £100 billion-plus. Turns out the inquiry is to be led by Douglas Oakervee who from 2012-13 was chairman of, er, HS2 Ltd. The tireless anti-HS2 campaigner Joe Rukin says Oakervee will be "marking his own homework" and it's hard to argue with that. Maybe "independent" doesn't mean the same in Whitehall as it does out here in the sticks.

IT is all very well giving more money to the NHS. But how well do they spend it? News reaches me of a surgery forced to put up a sign warning visitors not to abuse the staff and reporting difficulty in recruiting receptionists because of the behaviour of some patients. It may be connected to the latest re-build at the clinic which has created a very stylish open-plan waiting area and reception. It looks great but patients can't discuss anything about their condition without everyone hearing. Can't you understand tempers fraying?

I WROTE yesterday about the horrors of being ordered to leave your home in response to an emergency. This dread may be a genetic thing. In his teens, my father spent time in London and experienced several air raids. But he spent only one night in the Underground shelter. In popular folklore, the wartime Tube was a jolly place where chirpy Cockneys rolled out the barrel, sang about bluebirds and generally cocked a bloomin' snook at Adolf. The reality, my father recalled, was a revolting, fetid mass of frightened humanity. He spent the rest of the Blitz in his flat.

INCIDENTALLY, Fiona Bruce was able to order a cup of tea from the restored wartime Naafi wagon on Antiques Roadshow (BBC1) with no problems. More authenticity, please. As anyone of a certain age will tell you, the traditional Naafi response to such a request is either "I've only got one pair of 'ands" or "Don't you know there's a war on?"

AND before you old sweats write in, I am aware what Naafi stands for, thanks. Both versions.

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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