Peter Rhodes on jailing Boris, a surfeit of spiders, and drones - the crossbows of the 21st century

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Smoke fills the sky at the Abqaiq oil processing facility after the attack (UGC/AP)
Smoke fills the sky at the Abqaiq oil processing facility after the attack (UGC/AP)

THE Who release a new album. There's a seasonal warning of arachnids invading our homes. And what of the Prime Minister's adopted forename? You have to be a bit of an old rocker to see the connection.

IN ye olden days, the Vatican tried to ban the use of crossbows by Christians against Christians on the battlefield. The weapons were seen as evil because they enabled a low-born commoner to kill a knight, or even a king which, in an age when people believed kings were appointed by God, was beyond the pale. Fast forward 10 centuries and the drone has become the modern crossbow. As the fabulously rich princes of Saudi Arabia have discovered, a few drones in the hands of rag-tag guerilla rebels can wreck your oil industry in a matter of minutes, and your billion-dollar jets and missiles are useless. The old order is under threat.

IF you think the effect of 20 drones on Saudi oilfields is dramatic, imagine what 100 inexpensive drones might do to Britain's shiny new pair of massive aircraft carriers. In his poem, Arithmetic on the Frontier written 130 years ago, Rudyard Kipling described young British officers, educated at fabulous expense, being sniped by penniless guerillas: "Strike hard who cares - shoot straight who can / The odds are on the cheaper man. " Especially if the cheaper man has a couple of dirt-cheap drones.

TRANSPORT Secretary Grant Shapps is putting his money where his eco-mouth is, having just taken delivery of a £44,000 Tesla electric car. How green, how clean. But there's one tiny snag. Under current tax rules, Shapps and other purchasers of electric vehicles, get a £3,500 subsidy on the purchase price which is generously paid by me and you and other taxpayers who can't afford £44,000 cars. Shapps says he understands the resentment and "we want to remove all the subsidy". Get the loot and pull up the drawbridge behind you.

IF there's one claim I can't reconcile between David Cameron as revealed in his memoirs and the David Cameron I met several times on the election trail it is the assertion that he was "off his head" on cannabis while at Eton. I wonder if that particular quote began as something like "I smoked a few joints and got a bit squiffy" and has been ramped up for marketing purposes. "Off my head" has the fragrant whiff of a sound-bite designed to sell books.

NO prizes for today's opening puzzle. The arachnids in question are spiders. The name adopted by Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is Boris. One of The Who's tracks on an early album was Boris the Spider. Save this for your trivia quiz. The long winter evenings will simply fly by.

INCIDENTALLY, if Boris Johnson breaks the EU no-deal law and goes to prison for a few days, I bet after five years at Eton College, a spell in clink would be a doddle.

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