Peter Rhodes on hyphens, PayPal and Prince Andrew's line that simply refuses to be drawn

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes

Martin Clunes as Doc Martin
Martin Clunes as Doc Martin

The academic journal English Today condemns some famous writers for overusing the hyphen. It may have a point. On the other hand, it is the humble hyphen that makes the important distinction between extra marital sex and extra-marital sex.

Talking of sex, four days have passed and Prince Andrew must be beginning to ask himself whatever happened to The Line. This is the line he had hoped would be drawn under all those frightful sex-trafficking allegations. How did the prince's thought processes go again? Call Auntie Beeb. Have a quick chat with that Maitlis girl, deny everything, tell them about your very rare no-sweating medical condition. Oh, and don't forget the Pizza Express line; if you can't be woke then at least be in Woking. And then everybody will know HRH is a jolly honourable bloke who is clearly telling the truth and all the scandal will blow away, everyone will lose interest and the decks will be cleared for Andy's 60th birthday bash in February. What could possibly go wrong?

One of the many joys of Doc Martin (ITV) is the cheeky names of patients in the GP's waiting room, slipped into the script: Paul Mycock, Dan Gleballs, Drew Peacock and so on. They seem to have been toned down for the latest series but I smiled at Albert Ross and Iona Castle, and the patient who was referred to several times as Mrs House before being addressed as Wendy.

Last week's tale of the sergeant-major who specialised in a particularly short Grace before dinner reminded a reader of his days in the RAF when the senior padre in the officers' mess was notorious for embarking on "prolonged and convoluted" Graces when the lads were starving. A new RC chaplain took over, began the meal with a simple "Thank God!" and was rewarded with a round of applause. Truly, an amazing Grace.

If you use the online payment system PayPal, you'll probably agree that the last thing it needs is to be made any simpler or any faster. It devours our money quite quickly enough, thanks. I received notification a few days ago that I had activated a version called One Touch which meant every time I used my laptop in future I could make purchases on PayPal without being asked for PIN, password or any other security check. See the problem? If you can make lightning-fast, check-free purchases on your laptop, so can anybody else. Hence PayPal's warning: "If you share your device, or if it’s stolen, please turn off One Touch TM immediately, otherwise you may not be covered for unauthorised transactions." How you are supposed to turn it off if your laptop has been stolen is not explained. We don't all possess smartphones.

I'm a Celebrity has announced that no more live insects will be eaten in its retch-inducing Bushtucker Trials. Pity. There's nothing like a mouthful of locusts for taking away the taste of wallaby testicles.

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