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Peter Rhodes on the world before Python, recognising the Queen and polishing Theresa May's agreement

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Not so original?

THE speech in Downing Street that Boris Johnson should have made. "Vote for me or the puppy gets it."

SOME American tourists walking in the Balmoral estate failed to recognise the Queen. They struck up a conversation and asked this little old lady if she had ever met the Queen. "No," replied Her Majesty, indicating her protection officer, "but this policeman has." Not a bad joke for a 93-year-old.

I'M not surprised that the Yanks didn't recognise the monarch. In July, 1981 I was in the press corps covering the wedding of Charles and Diana, from St Paul's Cathedral. A small lady in a hat arrived and sat down about 30 feet away. I wanted to shout: "No! That's the Queen's seat!" before realising that the small lady in question was the Queen.

COME to think of it, the Yanks in the press corps on that memorable wedding day weren't too hot on identifying other world leaders. An Arab prince in traditional gown and headgear entered and took his seat in the cathedral. "Who's that?" hissed an American journalist behind me. In a moment of mischief I told her it was Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and, at that time, one of the world's most wanted terrorists. She shared this information with a colleague who leaned across to ask me: "So why is Yasser Arafat sitting in front of Nancy Reagan?"

IT'S 50 years since Monty Python first appeared on our tellies.Whatever you may be told now, back in 1969 Monty Python did not exactly burst on an unprepared public. We already knew about John Cleese and the Cambridge Footlights brand of humour from the radio show I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again which was broadcast from 1964 and the TV comedy series At Last The 1948 Show which first appeared in 1967. Indeed, that definitive Pythonesque sketch, The Four Yorkshireman, was first performed on At Last The 1948 Show. We 1960s kids were word-perfect with the Four Yorkshiremen before Monty Python was even heard of. You try an' tell the young people of today that, and they won't believe you...

I NEVER expected to see the Parliament of the United Kingdom considering a Bill which would force a prime minister to beg a time extension from a foreign power and, if that foreign power insisted on a longer extension, to meekly accept it. Or at least I never expected to see such a thing unless we had first been defeated by a foreign power.

MEANWHILE, I bet Boris Johnson is quietly poring over the Withdrawal Agreement presented to the Commons three times by Theresa May, and rejected three times, and wondering how it can be dressed up into something that looks new, acceptable, feasible and save-his-skinnable. There is a wonderfully graphic description for this process of rolling something unpleasant in glitter dust but it's a bit ripe for a family newspaper.

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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