Peter Rhodes on a curious code, Georgian bonking and regrets over wiping out wasps

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Harlots (BBC2) – culture?

In my continuing, and frankly unrewarding, hunt for unlikely names for TV detectives (to date: Adverse Camber, Sticker Foxhole, Polgooth St Blazey, Faecal Plume), I am most grateful to Monty Don on Gardener's World (BBC1) for introducing us to a variety of pea: Hurst Greenshaft. What a great name for a gumshoe. Damn you, Hurst Greenshaft, you've got me bang to rights.

The bizarre digitalising of our local council continues with two emails, one to me and the other to Mrs Rhodes, to confirm who is on the electoral role. We are each ordered to fill in the online update form. We are each issued with two “unique security codes,” each comprising two sets of numbers, in order to access the form. First surprise is that both she and I have been issued with exactly the same “unique security codes.”

Second surprise, when I open the online form, is that my “unique security codes” are already entered on the form. So it looks as though they are neither unique, secure or even much of a code. At times like this I tell myself that greater brains than mine have been at work.

But this concentration on texts, emails and websites is a dangerous step. Some people change their email addresses, others rarely look at their mobile phone. A home can last a lifetime and there's nothing quite so potent and attention-grabbing as an old-fashioned envelope through your old-fashioned letterbox.

The bean-counters in Whitehall are said to be looking at new taxes to refill the black hole in the Treasury created by coronavirus. A levy of two per cent on all goods bought online would raise about £2 billion a year. Another plan is a tax on consumer deliveries. Why stop there? How about a tax of one penny on every text or email you send. It would bring in a few billion and also make people think twice before pressing those wretched buttons. Result, a less frazzled and infinitely happier planet. Let's call it the Blabbertax.

If Harlots (BBC2) were set in 21st century London and filmed in (and out of) modern dress, it would be described as soft porn, titillation or a skin-flick. But set it in the 18th century, chuck in a few perukes, patches and farthingales and, behold, it becomes historical drama and is therefore culture.

We called in the professionals to get rid of a wasp nest in an air brick at Chateau Rhodes. There is a baby in the house and so we really had no choice. The week-long buzzing stopped. A terrible silence descended and the guilt lingers on. We humans are safer but what happened to all those wasps in the airbrick that became their tomb? And just supposing that when we die, we arrive at the Pearly Gates and discover that Heaven is run entirely by wasps with long memories and sharp stings

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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