Peter Rhodes on double standards, gull-free meals and why a bald head has become a prized scalp
Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.
Authors and publishers are reported to be working hard on plots that involve coronavirus and social spacing. Hugging, kissing and crowded trains are vanishing from love stories. It sounds as though Mills&Boon is becoming Mills - - - -& ---- Boon.
In Tuesday's column I suggested that on the Today programme (Radio 4) the BBC's Nick Robinson reacted to a report that Dominic Cummings could soon resign by uttering the one word “good” - and that this was evidence of bias at the Beeb. Mr Robinson has been in touch. He points out: “I'm afraid you misheard. I said 'could,' not 'good' . I was trying to highlight and raise an eyebrow at the speculative story that Mishal (Husain) had just read out. Having listened again, I can see why you may have misheard me but I have not spent 30 years arguing for impartial broadcasting to throw it away with one careless word.” I am happy to put the record straight.
Here's a puzzle. Why are those who called for the sacking of Cummings not calling for the sacking of Labour's Rosie Duffield as an MP?
She not only broke the lockdown rules to see her lover but, having tweeted would-be trippers with “this is a DEADLY virus - stop spreading it to my vulnerable constituents!!!" might also be accused of double standards. What's more, while Cummings is a mere government employee, Duffield is an MP, elected on the votes of people who put their trust in her character and integrity. So why has he faced the white-hot wrath of politicians and pundits while her offence has barely been mentioned after she chose to resign as a whip?
Cummings wants to scrap the TV licence, see Brexit finished and reform the Civil Service. Never in the field of human politics has one man had so many enemies in such high places. Never has such a bald head been such a prized scalp.
But that doesn't explain why Duffield has not been widely criticised by her fellow MPs. Why the silence? Can it be, heaven forbid, that among our 650 Honourable Members, there are one or two – or maybe more – with their own guilty little lockdown secrets? Best not rock the boat, eh?
The Press has always been coy about reporting personal relationships. Sex is usually referred to as romping or bonking, although “Ugandan discussions,” as invented by Private Eye, has some followers. “Canoodling” is a useful catch-all when the facts are not known while any secret meeting is “a tryst”. Ms Duffield says she and her partner were trying to “navigate a difficult personal situation.” I can see that passing into the media's lexicon of love. “So anyway, I was navigating this difficult personal situation . . .”
Reasons to be thankful that your holiday by the sea has had to be cancelled (my readers in Jersey can skip this bit). You can enjoy chips in your garden without them being nicked by seagulls.
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