Peter Rhodes on our amazing ancestors, a cosmic statement and the same old response to terrorism

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

How local is local?

Terrorist killings in Britain always get the same well-trodden response. First, a senior police office tells us how very rare such incidents are. Next, a priest assures us that our prayers are with the bereaved. Then a councillor pops up to tell us what a robust community it is and how it will emerge from the trauma stronger than ever. It's all defiant, confident and reassuring. And it's all pure guff.

Rare? These “lone wolf” killings as seen at Reading are as rare or as commonplace as the killers want them to be because they are easy to plan and virtually impossible to stop. Prayers are irrelevant. As for making communities stronger, try telling that to the families, firms and schools suddenly robbed of inspirational and much-loved people. Many things can strengthen a society, but not bereavement.

Clearly, public figures must say something in the wake of such atrocities. But how about saying something truly game-changing on the lines of: Anyone found carrying a knife by the use of metal detectors or physical searches, will be jailed. Any “asylum seeker” convicted of any crime meriting a jail sentence or possessing extremist material will be instantly deported. And any silver-tongued barrister trying to keep a hardened terrorist in the country by arguing for his human rights will be toppled by the mob and chucked in Bristol docks. Just thinking aloud.

Professor Peter Piot , director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says he expects any second wave of coronavirus in the UK to be “a series of local outbreaks” rather than a “tsunami” across the country. Let's hope he is right, But if this pandemic has taught us anything it is that we really do live in a global village where “local” means less than ever before and a food market or a bio-lab in China is just at the end of your street.

Pedant corner. I suggested yesterday that people in Leicester get their kicks up the A46. It has been pointed out to me that since the opening of the M69 in 1972, the old A46 between Coventry and Leicester has been downgraded to B roads. Entirely true. However, “I get my kicks on the B4065” doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?

And talking of a ring, how can we even understand the immense 4,500-year-old structure being explored at Durrington Walls, near Stonehenge? We assume our ancient ancestors were hairy, primitive grunters unable to count beyond their fingers. Yet here is evidence of a creation more than a mile in diameter. It was accurately measured and based on 200 shafts 30 feet in diameter, 20 feet deep and all dug thousands of years before shovels. It is beyond baffling.

An archeologist at the Durrington Walls site talks almost mystically of “a huge cosmological statement and the need to inscribe it into the earth itself.” Do you think the statement might by any chance have been 42?

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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