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Peter Rhodes on home deliveries, Independent London and being replaced by a rubber plant

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

City-state inside the M25?

I wrote recently about supermarket-delivery firms making odd substitutions. A reader told me he had ordered Kiwi fruit but was sent Kiwi shoe polish instead. Another reader told me the same tale. And then a third. When the historians compile Great Urban Myths of the Pandemic this will be among them. When a yarn seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Our latest doorstep delivery included Gordon's gin and Aptamil baby milk in the same bag. What wicked things you can do when there are no nosy shoppers peeking in your trolley.

The baby milk is for Ruben, our little lockdown grandson, who is almost six months and doing wonderfully. A few days ago, complaining bitterly about the bottle running dry, he took a breath during the inconsolable-howling routine and exclaimed, clear as a bell, his first word: “Mama.” That happens only once in a lifetime and if you are blessed enough to hear it, my goodness, it knocks you sideways.

Much response to my item on VCS or Vanishing Chair Syndrome, the unexplained disappearance of your office chair when you are away on holiday or furlough. I bet many of us have experienced it. My personal theory is that bosses save money by never buying quite enough chairs and if it results in fisticuffs, the fittest will survive, thus benefiting the company health scheme.

I recall returning from holiday to my office (long ago and far away, naturally) to find not only that my chair had been nicked but my place had been given over to an enormous leafy thing. It is bad enough to be replaced by a fellow human. To be replaced by a rubber plant is bitter indeed.

One plan allegedly being examined to defeat a second-spike pandemic is to ban Londoners from travelling outside the M25. This would merely hasten the day when London, so different from the rest of England in so many ways, finally evolves into a global city-state. And the capital of England then becomes Birmingham? Manchester? York? Over to you.

The parable of the firm that did everything right. Asked to provide a garden party in these troubled times, a mobile bar business in Sutton Coldfield submitted the correct “temporary event notice” to the local council, explaining how it would cater for people from three households, two of which were already in an anti-virus “bubble.” Social distancing would be achieved by staggering the arrival and departure of guests. Pre-payment had been agreed to prevent any money handling. They duly submitted their well-planned and squeaky-clean scheme. The councillors refused permission.

Now the question. Having seen what happens when you abide by the rules, would you do the same for your garden party? Or would you, in the immortal words of Nike, goddess of victory and trainers, Just Do It?

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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