Peter Rhodes on a tuneless nation, getting billed for a bin and young people drifting to the right

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Recycling - at a price
Recycling - at a price

HERE'S how the system works. The council gives you a green bin and, over the next few years, the recycling lads knock it about in their big lorry. When they have broken it beyond use, you order a new one and the council charges you £30 for the replacement. Cunningly, our bin re-ordering section is in the public library, which discourages any shouting.

DOES anybody use public libraries for serious study any more? While part of ours is taken over by council services (I use the term loosely), another section is set aside for computer access and the other part is for the baby-and-toddler group. It may be possible to revise for your exams while 30 tiny throats are belting out The Wheels on the Bus, but I doubt it.

WHAT made the toddlers' singing more distracting was the curious fact that none of their adult helpers could sing The Grand Old Duke of York to the right tune. As I have said before, probably because of the demise of Sunday schools, we are becoming a less musical nation.

MEANWHILE, my sciatica saga rumbles on. It began in mid-June and since then three doctors have said, just give it time. After six weeks I was given a form to apply for physiotherapy. You have to allow three days for it to be delivered and six days for the admin to happen. So this week I rang to fix the appointment. I was met by a blank silence from an NHS lady who couldn't find me in the system, but could find somebody with the same name, in Exeter. I suggested this was probably because that's where I fell ill. After much harrumphing, and a stern warning that I must inform my GP I do not live in Exeter, she fixed an appointment for the soonest possible date. My appointment is on October 3 at my local clinic. Or possibly in Exeter, who knows?

PREPARE to be horrified, all you woolly liberals. A survey by a Tory think tank called Onward suggests that more than a third of voters aged 25 to 34 are in favour of the army running the country, while two-thirds would support "strong leaders who do not have to bother with parliament." The concept of personal freedom seems to be regarded as old-fashioned. Two-thirds of the 5,000 people questioned wanted a society that gives people more security rather than more freedoms.

THE bad news is that it's young people who favour these hard-line solutions. The good news, if you can call it that, is that the move away from liberal democratic values and the drift to the Right is found in every age group, social background and ethnicity. Overall, a quarter of those questioned thought democracy was a bad way to run the country. Come to think of it, if it's democracy that delivers the state-sponsored smashing of wheelie bins and a health service that can't find the right city, who can blame them?

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