Peter Rhodes on stockpiling baked beans, the dangers of cycling and the lure of a foaming pint

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Robert Webb in Peep Show
Robert Webb in Peep Show

What is it about baked beans that makes them so attractive to panic-buyers? What will become of all those millions of tins of flatulence-inducing protein? It's a fair bet that this contagion will disappear not with a bang or a whimper, but with something in between.

And while the disease will eventually vanish, as such infections always do, it may leave some deeply unpleasant and unsettling echoes. In the past people simply caught the latest pestilence. They didn't blame anybody, because there was no point. And if a sufferer perished, the inquest verdict was likely to be “death by the visitation of God.”

But today we have traceability. The moment a case of Covid-19 is identified, the victim is questioned about any contacts. For example, a case in Ireland last week was quickly traced to “a previously reported case that involved recent travel to Northern Italy.” By this process, especially in small communities with access to social media, victims may discover who infected them and carriers may discover whom they have infected. There is the potential for a terrible burden of suspicion, guilt and blame. And that's before the lawyers get involved.

How the other half cope. A Guardian writer, locked down against the virus in the agreeable surroundings of Italy's Lombardy countryside, tells her readers: “I am trying to keep a basic routine: I exercise in the morning (my pilates instructor has shared videos via WhatsApp), then I work.” The pilates is getting through. Oh, thank God.

Among all the coronavirus headlines, I spotted a news item about something called “climate change.” It all seemed very last-year.

This is a bit of a non-story, too. After nearly ten years of research, scientists at the University of Glasgow report that people who cycle to work are nearly 50 per cent more likely to get injured than those travelling by bus or car. Who knows, another decade of research might prove it has something to do with cars, buses and cycles all sharing the same roads.

News from France where domestic sales of Bordeaux wine are falling dramatically as younger drinkers turn to alternatives including craft beer. Anybody surprised? We may like to pose knowledgeably with a glass of red, and babble on about its complexity and blackberry aftertones but the average glass of stale wine-bar plonk is never going to compete with a fresh, hoppy pint from a decent micro-brewery. In Peep Show (C4) the deeply uncultured Jeremy (Robert Webb) spoke for many imbibers when he sampled a glass of red wine and declared: "Obviously it's not really delicious like hot chocolate or Coke, but for wine . . brilliant." Own up. We all know exactly what he means.

Bizarre headlines of our time: “Sailor accused of groping colleague's breasts blames clumsy basketball skills.” (Daily Telegraph).

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