Peter Rhodes on potholes, politicians and that old Shrewsbury puzzle

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Rebecca Front in The Thick of It

The violent rain over the past few weeks has created some truly horrendous pot holes. News reaches me of a driver who, on the way to a business meeting hit a hole, bursting a tyre. He changed wheels and decided to take a photo of the pot hole on his return journey, a few hours later, to claim compensation from the local council. By the time he got there the council had repaired the pot hole. No delay. No evidence. No compensation.

The Daily Mail seems to be stuck in a Meghan v Kate controversy of its own making, locked in comparisons so utterly silly that even those great TV media satires Spitting Image and Brass Eye would have rejected them as too bizarre. This week, according to the Mail, Meghan (boo, hiss) was causing the Queen endless distress over the use of the trademark “Royal” while super, kindly Kate was helping with the lambing. Next week's Mail headlines: “Saint Kate cures injured koalas.” “Meghan – is she secretly working for Islamic State?”

Talking of classic TV series, I was idly watching a 2009 episode of that savage political satire The Thick of It (BBC4). Minister Nicola Murray (Rebecca Front) was unveiling one of her pet policies, to replace new, and possibly cancer-causing, plastic toys with traditional wooden ones. Her own civil servants mocked the idea. With hoots of derision, the Guardian dismissed it as “one of her gems.” Today, not pledging to scrap plastic is political suicide for any party and the Guardian would hail a minister committed to wooden toys as the new Messiah. Any guesses what the next 11 years will bring?

Some real wars have been settled more quickly than the battle over finding a new leader for Labour, now dragging into its final act with a decision due this week. My hunch is that a party which endlessly trumpets its commitment to socialism, diversity, radicalism and gender equality, will elect the white, middle-aged male who, of all the candidates, looks most like a Tory.

Re-writing history, Auntie Beeb? A showing of the 1958 drama, Dunkirk, a few days ago was billed by BBC2 as “a dramatic reconstruction of the World War 2 defeat at Dunkirk.” Defeat? It was actually more like a miracle of deliverance. That is how, back in 1940, the BBC reported the epic rescue of 340,000 troops from under the noses of the Nazis. In those days, lest we forget, the British people cherished the BBC. Today, not so much.

As the Severn rose, the national media arrived, converging on the county town of Shropshire. They can find Shrewsbury, they can report from Shrewsbury, they can gather the views of people in and around Shrewsbury. The one thing the broadcasters can't agree on is how to pronounce Shrewsbury. If it's any consolation, neither can the locals.

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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