Peter Rhodes on wacky races, sex after 60 and why are the ruling classes so fearless?

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Perfect breeding ground?

Amanda Redman says British audiences find sex scenes between older people “repulsive,” while Americans are more comfortable with such things. And how. There's never been a more relaxed commentary on sex for the over-60s than Michael Douglas's line in The Kominsky Method (Netflix) as he escorts his new, middle-aged girlfriend up the stairs: “There's a 50 per cent chance nothing's gonna happen.”

After my recent item on toilet-roll profiteering, a correspondent writes: “There is no such thing as profiteering, it is simply supply and demand.” This is a reminder that, while most people see their fellow humans as brothers and sisters to be helped, others see them as suckers to be exploited. And there's nothing quite like a pandemic for discovering who's who.

The loo-paper debate led on naturally to discussion of the days when fish and chips were wrapped in newspapers. This came to be regarded as unhygienic but I never understood why. Chippies always wrapped their food in greaseproof paper or a paper bag first. There was no direct contact between food and the outer wrapping of newsprint. In this age of recycling, maybe our time will come again. Double saveloy and the sport section, please.

Sir Nicholas Soames welcomed the Cheltenham Gold Cup festival as “the oak-like English virtues of steeplechasing at its best.” Oak-like? Or thick as a plank? By my reckoning, if allowing the Cheltenham Festival to go ahead was a terrible mistake, the first fever and sniffles among racegoers will be emerging any day now.

Those tight-packed stands crammed with 60,000 international racegoers yelling their hearts out looked like the perfect breeding ground for coronavirus, although perhaps not as perfect as the House of Commons with 650 MPs jammed, sweaty cheek to coughing jowl. What is it about our ruling classes, whether harrumphing in Westminster or hurrahing at Cheltenham, that makes them think they are immune? There is a theory that the British aristocracy might be brighter if they didn't consume quite so much lead shot in their pheasants.

We pray all will be well. But I have this grim vision of medical students looking at images of the Cheltenham crowds a few years from now with the caption: “How not to deal with a pandemic.”

The Department of Transport has proposed a total ban on parking on pavements in England. Cars on pavements are at best a nuisance and at worst a hazard for pedestrians. However, nobody pavement-parks for the fun of it. Drivers do it because streets are too narrow and cars have become too big. So this could be a problem that solves itself in a few years as tiny electric cars, already the norm in Japan, become common here. Small cars equal more space. Quite how plump English drivers fit into tiny cars is another issue. Traffic wardens equipped with big shoehorns and a tub of grease, perhaps?

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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