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Peter Rhodes on good and bad squirrels, defining pansexuality and a train called Dooh Nibor

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Guilty of being successful

Qassem Suleimani, killed in a US drone strike, was the supreme warlord and kingpin of the Middle East, an icon for revolutionaries, the second most powerful man in Iran, a potential future president and was loved or loathed by millions. You may be thinking what I'm thinking. How come this time last week we'd never heard of him?

All the best campaigns must have goodies and baddies. Thus, the campaign to reduce grey squirrel numbers and let red squirrels multiply and thrive has no problems with demonising greys while praising reds. According to one weekend report on the differences between the two species, “red squirrels have a mainly vegan diet.” This suggests reds are morally superior animals, with each red squirrel making a solemn lifestyle decision to eat no flesh while those frightful greys (boo, hiss) are busy biting the heads off baby birds. Reality check, please. The only sin of grey squirrels is being hugely successful.

AS I suggested many months ago, the likely bill for HS2, the high-speed railway that nobody wants, has soared from about £50 billion to more than £108 billion, according to the latest bombshell report by Lord Berkeley. He says MPs have been misled about the true costs. Joe Rukin, campaign manager of Stop HS2, goes further: “This report shows HS2 is beyond scandal . . . nothing more than a decade-long, calculated exercise to ignore the evidence, dismiss all criticism, bury the truth and defraud the taxpayer.” Strong stuff.

The fear of us peasants is not that that HS2 might become so expensive that we won't be able to afford to use it, but that tickets will be so massively subsidised from the public purse that we'll end up paying a fortune in taxation for the rich to use it; they'll rob the poor to help the rich. If HS2 are looking for a suitable name for their first locomotive, how about Dooh Nibor? It is Robin Hood in reverse.

The Tories' promise to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers appears to have strings attached. Lincolnshire chief constable Bill Skelly says the Government is “going down the road of targets.” On closer inspection, this seems to mean Whitehall is prepared to spend £500 million a year on new bobbies, but expects to see crime fall significantly as a result. Any why not? Anything else would be a crime.

In December 2016 the word “pansexual” cropped up in the news and a reader asked: “Isn't it awfully noisy?” I explained back then that pansexuality has nothing to do with saucepans but means being attracted to all genders in a non-binary sort of way. Clearly someone was not paying attention. The Lib-Dem leadership contender Layla Moran marked the New Year by coming out as pansexual. A reader writes: “I thought that meant someone like me who loves a fry-up.” Do try to keep up.

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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