Peter Rhodes on how we measure rainfall, TV claustrophobia and doing the right thing in the case of Caroline Flack
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
Welcome to blowy Britain where storms are measured in miles per hour but rain comes in millimetres.
It gets stranger. Having fallen metrically, the wet stuff settles imperially. Thus, 200mm of rainfall equals a foot and a half of water in your front room.
Meanwhile, if it's any comfort as you pump floodwater out of your scullery, historically England always welcomed “February Fill-dyke.” A good soaking in February meant the water penetrated deep into the ground, replenishing the wells and water-bearing rocks. Rain falling a few weeks later on to March's warmed soil would fail to seep far underground, being gulped down by grass, trees and plants coming into leaf. If your well stayed full all year, you'd give thanks for February Fill-dyke. These days water comes in plastic bottles, so we're not so grateful.
Imagine if the Crown Prosecution Service had announced last week that it was dropping the assault charge against Caroline Flack on the grounds that it was “not in the public interest.” All hell would have broken loose.
Those tabloids, TV pundits and internet know-alls who are today blaming the CPS for pursuing the Flack case, and allegedly driving her to suicide, would instead be berating the CPS for letting her off because she happened to be rich, famous and beautiful. They would demand to know whatever happened to equality before the law. They would accuse the CPS of not having the guts to stand up for the thousands of men routinely assaulted by violent women. They would allege the Establishment was looking after one of its own. The CPS was in a lose-lose situation, and duly lost.
I use the word “allegedly” with care. Reporters are taught from our editorial infancy that deciding how somebody died is a matter for the coroner, not for friends, lawyers, cops or hacks. But in the Flack case, the coroner's inquest was pre-empted by a family lawyer who simply announced within hours of the body being found, that Flack had taken her own life. The media accepted that unquestioningly and it may well be the truth. But let's see what the coroner has to say, and what the inquest finds.
The TV historian Dan Snow is a hefty 6ft 5ins. The robbers who have been tunnelling into the ash-covered remains of Pompeii over the past 1,000 years to “mine” precious statues and marble were wiry little chaps. So as Snow lowered himself into one of their tunnels in Pompeii's Final Hours: New Evidence (C5) his shoulders stuck. He pressed on, squeezing into the unknown like a hamster in a U-bend. TV always gives us advance warning of sex, violence and scenes that may cause distress. But there's never a word when you're about to be confronted with the ultimate nightmare - claustrophobia. Yabba-dabba-doo, Dan.