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Peter Rhodes on reporting a crisis, stockpiling cliches and how oldies may slip under the wire

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peer Rhodes.

Don't mention it

Blitz spirit. Keep Calm. Remember Dunkirk. Steady, the Buffs. All pull together. Shoulders to the wheel. Noses to the grindstone. At a time like this it is impossible to stockpile too many cliches. Steady as she goes....

If the Government goes ahead with its draconian plan to sentence all the over-70s to virtual house arrest, there will, of course be a resistance movement. This is not a generation that likes to be ordered about, especially by cops who look too young to be out of school. I foresee thousands of wrinklies breaking out and sneaking into town disguised as younger people. This may be a good time to buy shares in Grecian 2000.

For those older readers already planning their version of The Great Escape (The Grey Escape?), I can only advise you, on the other side of the wire, to avoid incriminating words and terms that may betray your advanced years. Say as little as possible in company. Do not mention Stanley Matthews, Suez, juke boxes, the Cisco Kid or Ford Cortinas. If you are challenged by the Age Police outside the pensioner-quarantine barriers, act casually and be sure to use the language of 2020. A useful opener might be: “Yo, that new Ed Sheeran song is dead cool. I bet it gets into the Hit Parade, innit?” Try rehearsing it now.

It is also time for parts of the national media to realise we have moved on from the pre-war period to full-scale hostilities against the covid-9 virus. Until now, the mind-set of many journalists is that whatever the Government does must be wrong. Their natural response to any government announcement or plan is to find a posse of experts who will rubbish it. At a time when the whole nation needs a united front, they are still pursuing old political skirmishes (you have probably seen reports blaming Brexit for this contagion).

In May we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe. If some of today's hacks had been working back then, and were fixated on challenging every word from Downing Street, what sort of stories and headlines would they have produced in May 1945? “Suicide in the bunker – could counselling have saved Mr Hitler?”

Meanwhile, does anyone doubt that panic buying has been caused, in part, by media reports of panic buying?

There is some light amid the gloom. If mass gatherings are to be banned, how about including those hundreds of pointless £100-a-time sessions where one alleged “expert” pumps many litres of hot air at an unwilling audience, with no proven benefits? Yes, it's time to mothball the “driver awareness” industry. Not before time.

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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