Peter Rhodes on virtuous Christmas trees, a skip-hire mystery and Mr Kumar's encounter with diversity

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Nish Kumar – comfort zone?
Nish Kumar – comfort zone?

My recent item on hiring a skip reminds a reader of a curious experience. He needed a skip and found three local hire firms online. He phoned each in turn. And although the prices varied slightly, no matter which of the three numbers he rang, the same person answered. Strange.

Nish Kumar is the not-very-funny comedian who presents The Mash Report on BBC2. He is anti-Brexit, anti-Trump and anti-Boris and gets his laughs from anti-Brexit, anti-Trump and anti-Boris studio audiences. This is his undemanding comfort zone. But he recently strayed out of that zone with a booking to entertain the Lords Taverners at a charity bash. Kumar went straight into his anti-Brexit routine with a few jokes about Tory politicians. Far from roaring with right-on laughter, some members of the audience booed and barracked him. A bread roll was thrown. One of Kumar’s fans described the audience’s behaviour as “appalling.”

No, it wasn’t appalling. It was the natural reaction of people who deeply resented Kumar’s assumption that they would all agree with his politics (because only racists or dimwits could disagree, right?). This was an elite Remainer colliding head-on with Middle England. Welcome to diversity, Nish.

If you want a better definition of appalling, how about The Mash Report’s spoof advert a few weeks ago for a commemorative painted plate to mark Brexit – featuring a picture of a dead diabetic? Now, that’s appalling.

There has been much debate about sentencing since the latest terror outrage in London. The bereaved father of Jack Merritt, the 25-year-old Cambridge graduate murdered in the London Bridge outrage, has been incredibly dignified. His comments reopen the issue of how we deal with people guilty of serious offences. He shares his son’s passionate belief that all humans, no matter how bad they have been in the past, can be rehabilitated, reformed and restored. I understand this is a sensitive issue, but I believe the London Bridge killings suggest otherwise. Some people are simply beyond redemption and the most dangerous terrorists will include those assessed as “model prisoners” because the really wicked ones know how to play the system, bide their time and fool the gullible. If Usman Khan had been in prison serving his due sentence instead of being let out early, Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones would still be alive. That to me is common sense.

And down to our local church where the annual Christmas tree competition has been taken over by virtue-signalling. A Scout group showed off their tree made from reclaimed timber with a pious little notice explaining that it contained no plastic. But next to it was a tree fashioned, with equal piety, entirely from single-use plastic bottles. So is it better never to use plastic or to recycle the plastic we’ve got? There must be a sermon in this somewhere.

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